Book 7, Chapter 42

Rumours

When the first rays of dawn finally broke up the darkness over Floe Bay, they lit up a few trails in varying shades of purple that stretched across the sky. These were tears in spacetime that had been left behind by the battle, the broken fabric of existence slowly repairing itself. People were running all over the Deepblue, supplies being moved out constantly from the now-open warehouse to where they would be used.

Scaffolding had already been erected all around the tower to allow the stoneworkers to begin repairs, countless mages shuttling back and forth as they used levitation spells to send the heavier components upwards. The more experienced ones were examining all the floors for weak points that had risen from the damage, mending them carefully. Since Sharon had awoken with all her powers intact, the residents of the tower were working with maximal efficiency.

The top floor was the most severely damaged of them all. Nearly half the place had collapsed, in turn damaging the lower levels as well. These top three were Sharon’s private residence; the majority of a century’s accumulated wealth had been placed here. The legendary mage had been like a little girl building her own utopia, laying brick by brick herself over the years to build the most beautiful world she could. While her sense for aesthetics could only be described as peculiar in daily life, her ability to construct an ethereal impression would leave even grandmasters of art marvelling.

Many mages were labouring on the terrace, laying the floor with blackstone and filling the gaps with sapphire crystals before fusing the two with molten blue amber. One could see from up above that they were repairing an enormous and complex spell formation; it would have taken a long time to even make the calculations for it, but thankfully the blueprints had been placed in the public library down below. The mages only needed to follow the original plans.

There were many enormous spell formations in Norland, quite a few that were even larger than the one in the Deepblue, but most of those were made from individual functional modules that were laid separately before being fused together. However, the Deepblue Crown did not have any individual modules; designed personally by Sharon, it was one single entity. None of her subordinates had the ability to come up with something so grand.

The main application of this enormous formation was to suppress any space fluctuations that could arise around the Deepblue, and also to act as a beacon for Sharon who spent a lot of time deep in the void.

Blackstone and sapphire weren’t particularly expensive, but at this scale they definitely were tough to swallow. The material costs alone would end up at tens of millions of gold, with the payment to the mages another considerable sum. Fortunately, Blackgold had the foresight during the initial construction and subsequent expansions of the tower to stock up on extra materials; whenever Sharon wanted new toys, she didn’t have the patience to wait for large inflows of stone from the market.  The restoration had begun immediately without any need to wait, so there would be no price inflation from emergency bulk purchases that soured Sharon’s mood further.

The first meeting after Sharon’s return was held in the hall where the grand mages met every day. It wasn’t as grand as her own hall in the Mirror of a Thousand Forms, but all of that had been destroyed when Voidbones passed through it. Even if the market had enough materials, it would take months to finish rebuilding.

The legendary mage had changed into a blue gown, her normally playful face now extremely solemn as she sat upright on her throne. The crowd of grand mages were stood in rows on either side, with Blackgold and Fayr the closest to her. However, only eleven of the seventeen grand mages were present; three of them had died to Voidbones while three more were critically injured. The dwarf himself had forced himself to be present through sheer will; he was currently in a metal brace because of a broken spine. Fortunately, Voidbones had held back; the blow hadn’t been fatal or even crippling.

Two of the other grand mages were lightly wounded, while the rest weren’t injured at all. However, this wasn’t because of any combat ability; they had just remained neutral in the battle. This was a privilege Sharon afforded to her subordinates; since they weren’t master and follower, they had the right to choose whether to fight for her.

The first matter to discuss wasn’t the reconstruction of the Deepblue but the relief and compensation for casualties. The grey dwarf had dragged his nearly maimed body around the tower throughout the night, remaining awake so he could note the names of every single person who had lost their lives in the fight. The final figure came up to something rather suffocating: 17 million.

“How much do we have in the treasury?” Sharon asked as she looked over the numbers.

“Three million, Your Excellency,” he answered immediately. This was the minimum amount the Deepblue needed to sustain operations.

Sharon pulled out a pair of spider crystals from one of her rings, “Here, use this for relief and compensation. Any surplus can go towards reconstruction fees. As for the rest… I’ll come up with something.”

The legendary mage was absurdly wealthy, but most of that wealth came in artefacts and rare materials that she regularly auctioned off. None of it could be liquidated immediately, and outside of the magic crystals that would be used up in rebuilding the spell formations the only money left was in the form of these two beyslace spider crystals. She was now effectively broke.

With that taken care of, the discussion continued further for a while and the atmosphere in the hall gradually warmed up. However, Fayr suddenly asked, “Your Excellency, would you like to enter Faust?”

Killing intent immediately flashed across Sharon’s face, the temperature dropping once more, but the legendary mage pursed her lips and gritted her teeth to calm down, “Forget it, this is nothing big. There’s no need to break the agreement just yet.”

When Sharon had just built the Deepblue, the reigning emperor of the Sacred Alliance had already been paying attention to her. The Alliance had gifted her a considerable amount of resources and even helped with military support, just giving away the region around Floe Bay for her to own. In exchange, she was placed in charge of blocking the North's advance and also couldn’t enter Faust.

The latter clause was so that she wouldn’t interfere in the Alliance’s internal affairs when she grew into the dominating power she would soon become. Although Apeiron had fought Sharon and even molested her for a moment, it wasn’t too much of a transgression. She had still left Richard alive when she could have killed him easily, something that would have been justified with the near-death of her own servant.

Hearing this response, Fayr nodded, although the action evidently caused some pain, “Then I won’t mobilise anyone.”

With memories of the previous night being jogged, the grand mages immediately grew a little fidgety. They had all heard Apeiron’s declaration before she left, but while it was rather taunting they wouldn’t dare even smile. The biggest impact had come from Sharon’s terrifying display of power; the idea of a portal being used to destroy everything within kilometres left them shivering with fear.

There had been rumours about Richard and Sharon before— she was clearly closer to him than to her other students— but that had all been chalked up to Richard being the son of two good friends. However, Apeiron’s declaration about a lover brought many other coincidences to mind: the legendary mage had spent a lot of time searching for Richard when he first disappeared, and then entered hibernation due to injuries right after his first return. Richard’s own willingness to protect her from Voidbones at the cost of his very life made much more sense as well…

Many dots were being connected, and Richard who was once considered just a pet student Sharon liked was now elevated in everyone’s minds. Even if they had dismissed the possibility before, the Empress herself had no reason to lie.

Sharon had wanted to ask about Richard’s injuries, but sensing the atmosphere in the hall she suddenly felt awkward and stopped herself. Signalling for the meeting to end, she left the hall and headed towards the laboratory herself. Some of the best labs of the Deepblue had been vacated for the treatment of her most important subordinates, and Ensio and Richard had been placed in the absolute best one.

The entire room was glowing with a blue radiance as mana floated everywhere, with two large leaf-shaped tubes placed against the wall on one side. Deep asleep, Richard and Ensio were half-submerged in some sort of liquid as complicated spell formations on the vessels were pumping mana into their bodies. An aged elven mage was busy recording the reactions of the formations while paying attention to the magic crystals powering them.

Sharon’s gaze swept past Ensio and Richard when she entered the laboratory, but it clearly lingered on the latter for much longer. The aged magician didn’t notice her arrival in his immersed state, pulling out the depleted magic crystals and replacing them with fresh ones to keep the arrays in operation.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Hestia

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA