The other equipment in the laboratory was similar to what he had in his own, but even they were still at least three grades lower in quality. Just the work desk alone from the Deepblue was worth more than all the three laboratories of this island combined.
Two assistants, a man and woman both over the age of twenty, were already prepared in the laboratory. The man was a level 8 mage, while the woman a level 10. As Richard walked in, they were carefully cleaning all the apparatus in the place alongside a teenage girl.
Looking at her from behind, Richard found this girl vaguely familiar. When she turned around, it gave him a huge shock, “Coco?”
The last time Richard had seen Coco was when he’d attended the banquet to select a partner. The lights were dim that night, and her demure and elegant demeanour against that romantic volcanic backdrop had left an impression in his mind. However, he’d completely forgotten about her after the banquet. In terms of leaving an impression, she could not compare to Demi or Venica.
Seeing Coco here once more surprised Richard. It seemed to suggest that Coco’s father wasn’t able to support her well. The Archerons did provide some resources to the youths sent to the island, but those resources came largely in the form of free training, and didn’t give much for one’s day to day life.
Even though Faust was cheaper than the Deepblue, it was still more expensive than the rest of the Alliance. The Deepblue’s wares were extravagantly priced because they sold high-end products, with everything able to be described as luxurious goods. On the other hand, even basic necessities like food or clothing were priced unreasonably in Faust. But then again, Faust and the surrounding Eternal Plains weren’t fertile enough for agriculture to be a possibility. Any food had to be transported from far away to the top of the mountain, making just the transportation fee exorbitant. And this wasn’t even considering other expenses.
Coco seemed to grow rather anxious upon seeing Richard. She took a step back, as if to hide herself behind one of the assistants, but because of how small the laboratory was she immediately bumped into a rack of potions. The ten or so test tubes at the front of the rack swayed dangerously, and a few almost fell down.
The female mage furrowed her brows, speaking sternly, “COCO! Why are you always so clumsy? You wouldn’t be able to pay for those test tubes even if you wanted to! What if this happened when Master Richard was in the middle of an experiment? The family gave you a great chance to work here, so stop your vain attempts to amount to something greater. You’ll never be able to rise through the ranks to become Master Richard’s partner!”
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” Coco’s face was pale, as she bowed incessantly. Tears welled up in her eyes, but she forcefully held them back. Having been denounced by the female mage, she stuttered as she tried to explain: “No! I never held those intentions, really!”
“Are you sure? Ha!” The female mage mocked, while the male mage furrowed his brows and remained quiet as well. Richard was undoubtedly the most eligible bachelor in the Archeron Family, the target of even highly-sought-after girls like Demi and Venica. While bloodline was the most important factor, Richard’s talent, future prospects, and stellar appearance were other important reasons. After the night of the trial, the news of him becoming a core member of the family had already been spread around, signifying his entrance into the hierarchy of the family’s power. Perhaps it was a bit too premature to talk about the powers he possessed yet, but Richard was only 15 years old, and everything had just begun.
As for Coco, she could neither choose nor reject a partner for herself. Hence, the two assistants thought that her statement about not having any such thoughts were extremely fake. Any Archeron who chose to come to the floating island had very obvious intentions.
In Norland, one’s strength came from their physical body, while their demeanour originated from factors ranging from one’s bloodline, family background, education, cultivation, and one’s personal abilities. A woman’s worth was the sum of all of the factors above. Those like Coco, who had personal attributes such as an exquisite appearance and a elegant demeanour, were a dime a dozen. In the large-scale slave markets, one would be able to easily find half-elf teenage girls that would rival Coco’s appearance and elegance. Furthermore, Coco’s weak physique and her current status as a level 2 illusionist suggested she had no talent to speak of. As such, it was practically impossible for her to become a woman of standing. If she couldn’t even cast a level 2 illusion, how would she possess any semblance of rich magic and and refined knowledge? Even if she were to memorise everything, she would be at a disadvantage compared to powerful mages who had intellectual capabilities common people could only dream of.
As for artistic abilities… who cared?
The assistants would still be able to accept Coco being inept at the job. However, her defensive attitude had crossed their bottom line. It seemed the girl herself realised this, however, so she stopped trying to explain herself. She instead lowered her head and placed herself at the mercy of the female mage, allowing the woman to berate her. Only this time, the tears that she was fighting hard to control eventually slid down her face, one after another. This job was very important to Coco, which explained why she did not rebut the female mage nor leave without a word even though the woman wasn’t mincing her words. In a place like Norland, where the difference in status and power was pronounced, walking away from such a situation wouldn’t just lead to one losing their job.
Richard furrowed his brows, and tried to defuse the situation, “Alright, end it here. We didn’t lose anything anyway. I’ll be starting an experiment, so please just set up the work table.”
The man began to inject mana into the table, while Richard passed a list he’d prepared before this for the female mage to get from the warehouse. While waiting for the table to be ready, he had Coco, who was about to leave, to bring over an inventory of the materials in the warehouse. When she handed him a thin notebook and was about to leave again, he gave her a list of apparatus that he had written to prepare for later use.
Coco looked at Richard with a confused expression, before nodding her head vigorously as she conscientiously went on to do her work. She too knew that this was an alternate form of protection. If she did whatever Richard told her to well, she would naturally be allocated more work to do. In places like these, many would jump at the chance of doing more work, actually fearing a lack. In brief, she would not be asked to leave the laboratory for no good reason.
As the female mage prepared the materials, Richard read the store checklist and let out a huge sigh. The quality of the materials in the Archeron warehouse was a far cry from that in the Deepblue, and even the quantities couldn’t match up. He saw barely any grade 2 materials in the list, forget grade 3 or 4. Materials in Norland were classified the same way as runes. A rune of a particular grade would require its core materials to be of that grade.
Looking at what he had on hand, Richard realised that there weren’t enough resources to craft even many standard runes here, forget the incomplete custom designs he had. Resource-wise, the Archerons had to be the poorest of the fourteen families of Faust, not comparable even to the minor nobles who didn’t even have their own islands.
At this moment, he thought back to the first words Steelrock had said about them, “They’re poor!”
The second thought that flashed across Richard’s mind was the rune materials Wennington had passed to him a few days ago. It appeared as if those materials couldn’t be from the Archeron warehouse… However, Richard did not put too much thought to it, and quickly tossed the thought to the back of his head.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Jessa
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA