Reopening the Gate
No matter how much concentration one had, how slow they were, it wouldn’t take too long to write these two numbers down. The grey dwarf unwillingly closed the book of accounts and took out a report related to Richard and began to read. This day-to-day account recorded Richard’s daily activities, lessons, and all sorts of expenses, arranged according to time. There was a report similar to this everyday, and there was not much variety in the content. After seeing the densely-packed lessons and experiments, the grey dwarf could not help but feel dizzy. Sometimes, he wondered if Richard was even human or if he was a magic puppet with a refined metal core. Otherwise, how could he spend years studying, studying and studying every single day with basically no time for entertainment?
Even though his own schedule was packed, Blackgold knew well that some of what he called work was extremely entertaining; gemstone appraisal an example. Richard, on the other hand, lived in the most rigorous way that used his time optimally, with no personal hobbies.
Seeing the densely packed day-to-day account, the grey dwarf’s breathing involuntarily became rough. Just seeing this list was giving him a huge amount of pressure. If one were to see a list like this everyday, the accumulated pressure would definitely make anyone go mad.
He suddenly sympathised with Steven, thinking that what this guy had done was not as foolish as he had assumed. If he and Steven were in different positions, perhaps the grey dwarf would long since have made a move. Richard was like an ancient behemoth, anything in his way ruthlessly sent flying, and Steven had the misfortune of being right there. Without Richard, then the dragon warlock would likely blossom in the Deepblue. It wasn’t his fault that Sharon had such a strange rule as to only allow one apprentice runemaster.
Sometimes, luck was a factor that could decide everything. Steven was obviously an unlucky guy, and his strength… The grey dwarf looked at the day-to-day account again, feeling that Steven did not seem to have the upper hand anymore. With Richard’s current progress he would far surpass the dragon warlock when he reached the same age.
The Archerons were a bunch of lunatics, and Richard truly was one of them. Although he only had average magic talent, he was actually able to match up to the others’ improvement in mana with just diligence, and his terrifying talent at runecrafting was just incomprehensible.
If that was the case… The grey dwarf suddenly had a whole bunch of thoughts, and his heart began to pound from excitement. In his eyes Steven was a dying mine, but even a mine that was starting to get exhausted could still draw a lot of value. For instance, there would be fragments of ores scattered around the main vein, associated minerals, and even the slag could be used to extract many uncommon metals. Of course, that was only with the smelting techniques of the dwarves. Back in the day, the grey dwarf had started out by buying abandoned mines at a low price.
If Steven could be excavated, he was even more valuable than ten abandoned mines.
The grey dwarf had already thought up quite a few plans and run them through his mind, finding them feasible. Duke Solam would eventually find himself on the losing end in the future, but what could he do? Challenge the Deepblue? That wasn’t an option at all. Change the target of his hatred to Richard? Good idea, but a mere viscount of the Archeron Family could defeat an allied army of Solam and Niall. What would he do provoking Gaton, who’d used a mere thirteen rune knights to establish a presence in Faust? The grey dwarf felt like a legendary being wouldn’t be that stupid.
The Deepblue continued to operate in peace and order that day, as if none of the disharmonious incidents had occurred. The next day was the same, and the one after that, and the one after that… There was no change whatsoever, as if Blood Parrot and her companions had never appeared in the Deepblue.
Then came the day for Sharon to decide everyone’s rewards again. The discussion still occurred in that meeting room with hills and water, and the grand mages were delighted to see Her Excellency having returned to normal… Well, at least her taste had returned to normal; the two large gold pots of fruit next to the soft couch were obvious proof of that.
Her face was shining and her eyes were clear and bright. An astounding amount of vitality emanated from her entire body, which were all obvious proof that even a blind person could tell— the legendary mage who had once been invincible had not only returned, but her energy was so abundant that it was as if she had just gnawed at a huge, nutritious dragon.
A huge, nutritious… the grand mages all associated this with something in their minds.
The grey dwarf was exceptionally lively today, and gave a lengthy report at thrice the usual speed. He also occasionally used vigorous body language to reinforce his words. This was because he was going to be met with opposition from basically all the grand mages today, and his will to fight for this was therefore exceptionally high.
Actually, the main content of his report was simple. He kept chattering for Sharon to give Steven a chance: while the warlock’s actions to date had completely crossed the Deepblue’s bottom line, the grey dwarf had another point of view.
He felt that there was no proof that Blood Parrot and her people had anything to do with Steven. Erin and Minnie were only somewhat involved in the matter of the assassination of Richard, and with Blood Parrot and her people all dead there wasn’t the testimony to convict Steven. Of course, there was enough evidence to indicate that the dragon warlock had done many things in the shadow targeting Richard, but this could be punished in a more gentle manner, such as with a ‘reasonable’ amount for a fine.
The grey dwarf kept emphasising that Steven was very talented, and those with talent should not be given up on so easily. Richard had yet to fully prove his talent as a runemaster, which was why the door in this path was still open to Steven.
All of the grand mages were shocked by the grey dwarf’s vigour. However, besides volume, the grey dwarf’s logic just could not stand. If Richard’s prior achievements weren’t proof of his talent, then what was? Blood Parrot had disappeared in Naya’s territory, and Richard had been studying with the man. This meant there was an 80 or 90% chance of the Blade of Calamity having done it, so if any of the grand mages went to the scene they could basically piece together the events of that night. The records of the mage enforcers having been moved could not be wiped away, and they had obviously been ordered to keep silent. That could be taken care of with just a word from Her Excellency Sharon.
The grand mages were no fools. While they listened to the grey dwarf’s speech full of loopholes and conflicts, most focused their attention on the legendary mage, though there was a small number of people who suspected he was doing this for his own gain.
Richard obviously was favoured by Sharon, and had had intimate relations with the legendary mage on the Day of Destiny. However, she seemed to have a very ambiguous stance here. Rather than reprimanding the grey dwarf for his over the top and clumsy performance, she even seemed to be encouraging him. What Steven had committed was not a small crime, because he had wanted Richard assassinated!
The strange situation told them there had to be some other secret here, so they all waited calmly for what was to come. When the grey dwarf threw out his final suggestion, everyone came to a sudden realisation.