The guards from the barbarian tribe were all very skilled. They stared daggers at Richard, making him feel like dozens of swords continually pierced through his body. The immense stress left him unable to catch his breath, bursting out in cold sweat. No matter how slow-witted he was he would’ve understood not to mess with these guards, but he was clearly in the young lady’s way.
As Richard started to break out into a cold sweat, the young lady’s nose fidgeted more and her footsteps sped up. She was in front of him in a split second. As Richard moved two steps to his left, the young lady turned right at the same time, increasing her pace. It was as if she was already jogging.
The moment the young lady picked up her pace, Richard’s mind became a mess, the scenery in front of him changed drastically and the graceful and pretty young lady disappeared all of a sudden. She was replaced by a behemoth pouncing towards him, and at that point a single thought flooded his mind— if he didn’t dodge in time, he’d be crushed to pieces. The creature wouldn’t even realised that it had stepped on something!
At a point of life and death, Richard subconsciously burst forth with his innate power, using pure strength from the tip of his heel to move himself. Without even shaking his upper body he’d managed to move five metres to the right. This monstrous method of movement was clearly a battle technique from the underworld— once one avoided the enemy’s strike, they would follow up with a thunderous counter.
Richard was garbed in mage attire from head to toe, but he displayed the strength of a powerful soldier and exquisite techniques from the underworld. The sudden movement shocked everyone, especially those who knew his identity prior. Steven, who’d been standing in the same spot the whole time, suddenly broke out into a cold sweat. He finally realised that it was actually very dangerous to stand close to Richard.
In the blink of an eye, the group of warriors behind the young woman unsheathed their weapons and positioned themselves like they were planning an attack. However, nobody actually struck forth, nor did anyone make a single noise! Even having witnessed Richard’s ability, they seemed confident in being able to kill him before he even attacked.
At that moment, a strange ambience permeated the hall. Be it the unsheathing of the weapons or Richard’s movements, nobody had made a sound. There wasn’t even a rustle of clothing, the only movements being the graceful young lady’s footsteps.
However, the girl was caught off guard in the air, falling down. She gasped in surprise, but she kept her eyes closed as she straightened her legs to gently step onto the floor. Her body then changed directions, chasing after Richard like a lightning bolt. Even if Richard was using Eruption she was still twice as fast as him.
A web of cracks spread around her foot, penetrating a few metres into the solid lazurite floor. Richard felt a wind blowing his way from her, unable to breathe at all. He wouldn’t be surprised to be broken into pieces if the both of them were to collide. He quickly considered between a counterattack and a dodge, deciding to dodge even though he knew that he wouldn’t be able to get away in time.
Right at that moment, he lost his focus. He couldn’t help but look towards the barbarians, where the old man opened his eyes. That pair of eyes was everything in his vision all of a sudden, but the illusion passed in a split second.
However, Richard realised that both his feet seemed to be pinned to the ground. They couldn’t move an inch, while the young lady was still charging towards him at an unbelievable speed. The surprising part was that her eyes were still closed! Richard’s eyes rolled up, and he waited for the last hit in despair. He doubted whether that thick stone wall behind him could stop him from being rocketed out of the hall.
However, the collision he was expecting did not happen. The young lady stopped right in front of Richard, the tips of their noses less than ten centimetres apart. He was clueless as to how she managed to stop that much momentum so suddenly.
The young lady’s eyes was still closed, but her small nose kept twitching. Her tiny face started to show an engrossed expression as she moved closer to him. Richard wouldn’t be more scared even if a fierce tiger was sniffing like this, and cold sweat continually trickled down his forehead, but his legs were still fixed. The best he could do was try and move his upper body back, but the girl kept her hands at her back and tiptoed constantly towards him. By the end of it all, his body was 45 degrees to the ground, completely mismatched with what he knew about the world. Indeed, when faced with elites, general knowledge often failed.
Richard had already bent backwards to the extreme, but the young lady continued to bend over, their noses eventually touching. She finally opened her eyes, revealing two bottomless pits as vast as the stars.
There was strength within that space. Richard felt his very soul sucked in by those two pitch black dots, freezing and unable to move a single step. Even if he wanted to move, he wouldn’t even be able to lift a finger. He already felt numb throughout his body, as if he was being locked down by more than ten assassins. If not for some mysterious power having shunned the murderous intent, he may not even have been able to bend backwards earlier. He’d already realised that power came from the elder, and if that elder stopped he’d grow numb once more.
Just as Richard was attracted by the girl’s pupils, she was looking at him as well. Her small nose continued to twitch non stop, and she suddenly beamed with joy like a scene of a thousand mountains and rivers had appeared in front of Richard. She then stuck out her tongue… and firmly licked Richard’s lips. She then straightened up, her eyes already smiling with satisfaction.
Richard was traumatised, and found it difficult to straighten his body. Eruption had been cancelled out when he’d made eye contact with the old man, so right now he had to rely on his own physical strength to support himself. If he continued to endure this position, he suspected he’d likely fracture his lower back.
The young lady’s scent still lingered on his lips. It was difficult to describe, not sweet but cold and distant. It was as bold as ten thousand mountains, making it difficult for him to differentiate it from her overpowering aura.
Yet the young woman was ignorant of Richard’s feelings. She just squinted her eyes as she revelled in the taste, “Mmm, such a rich smell of sulfur, and burning lava… what, there was supposed to be a strange smell of a few abyssal devils, where did it go? Mmm, such a sweet and familiar smell, is this…… the smell of an elf? The smells mixed so well together, no wonder it’s so nice!”
The young girl had mumbled this in an ancient barbarian language, so not everybody in the hall could understand her words. The aged man opened his eyes again, throwing a deliberate glance at Richard.
The young lady shuddered all of a sudden, regaining her senses. That incomparably arrogant aura was donned once more, and she pointed at Richard. “You, accompany me for 3 months! I like your smell, this money is for you!” she said, her tone leaving no room for question.
She pulled out some beyslace spider crystals from her pocket at the same time, forcing about five or six into Richard’s hands without letting him say a word.
Richard immediately felt the stares on him intensify, the daggerlike glares increasing tenfold. These were spider crystals, and there was a bunch of them! However, the people in this hall were wise. Even if they glowered in Richard’s way, there were no looks of greed towards the pouch at the girl’s waist, not even a quick glimpse.
Perhaps Richard was still unfamiliar with most precious and uncommon goods, but he’d surely heard of beyslace crystals; after all, he was a budding runemaster and they were materials used in high-end runes. He obviously knew the value of this bunch of crystals, and that this was a sum of money he probably wouldn’t be able to earn in his whole life. Ordinary elites could basically forget about this term; without reaching the legendary realm it would be impossible for them to get a hold of such things.
Richard shook his head and returned the bunch of crystals back into the girl’s hands. “Sorry, I can’t accept these. I won’t be able to accompany you for three months, either.”
The girl was shocked by this. “Why? I thought you people from the mainland would do anything for money. Did I not give enough money? It’s just three months!”
Honestly, Richard felt a little hesitant and uncertain when he handed back that huge sum of money. After all, it was a shocking amount of wealth. But once the crystals were handed back, he felt extremely relieved. He smiled at the girl, saying, “I’m not short on money. I have many things lined up for me, so I can’t accompany you.”
“Not short of money?” The young lady looked at Richard and then the lizard’s skin, confusion written all over her face, “Then why are you spending so much time calculating here? Isn’t this priced in gold? Gold isn’t even worth anything! Ah, or are you interested in monitor lizards and want to become a lizard man? You don’t need to take that trouble, nagas already exist. There are even draconians, who are much stronger. You don’t have to sacrifice yourself!”
The young lady’s words almost made Richard collapse. He said helplessly, “Alright, I don’t have much money. Still, I can live with what I have, so I don’t need your money.”
“Ah! I understand now, are you saying that I offered you too little? Then you can have all this!” The young woman actually took out the pouch made of hide from her waist.
More than half the people in the hall were sent to the verge of insanity at that moment. She actually took off that pouch? Didn’t she know that it was spatial equipment?
“No!” Richard was starting to feel frustrated. The solution he’d almost arrived at was starting to fade away from his mind. He didn’t want that, and he couldn’t let this piece of skin go to waste.
“How about a month?” the girl asked with clenched teeth.
“I’m not free for a single day!” Richard rejected her firmly.
Her face gradually turned murderous, but that didn’t scare Richard. He lifted the magic paper that had fallen to the ground, continuing his calculations. The quill moved rapidly across the paper— outside of the lizard skin, the most precious thing to him right now was time.
Richard’s actions were a little rude, but the young lady smiled all of a sudden. She turned around and ran towards the old man, shouting in their tribe’s language, “This person doesn’t want money!”
The elderly man opened his turbid eyes and nodded. The girl cheered, ran to Richard, and grabbed him by the collar, lifting him up till he was one centimetre away from her face. She then shouted, “You! You have a nice scent and don’t want money! I’ve decided, you’ll be my man!”
This time around, the shock was not small. Both of them were similar in height, so Richard felt like he’d hit that continuously moving mouth if he moved even a bit. However, the girl had tremendous strength, and after eruption he’d lost all his own. Caught in her hands, he couldn’t even move an inch. There was no result to his struggles, and Richard was sure that nobody would help him out of this situation. He could only force a smile and say to the young lady, “That is not a good idea.”
The young woman instantly groaned and said, “What’s not good about it? I’ll throw anyone who has a problem with it into the sea! Last time, my father brought a troop of soldiers to attack our tribe’s territory and was eventually defeated by my mother. He then became my mother’s man and that was how I came about. Since you cannot win against me, then you should follow me! Don’t worry, I won’t bully you immediately. We have to live together for at least one to two years for me to know if you are annoying, in case you take advantage of me and I cannot train up skillful warriors. If I find out that your strength is only in your fragrance, I’ll throw you into the sea too!”
Richard was left speechless after the young woman’s declaration. The elder coughed all of a sudden, and Steelrock stepped forward and whispered to the girl in their language. She frowned and glanced at the elder, and then inspected Richard. She asked, “What is your name?”
“Richard. Richard Archeron.” Richard replied impatiently. He suddenly realised that there was an increasing number of times that he needed to use his family name to break away from awkward situations.
“Archeron… never heard of it, are they famous?” the young woman turned around and asked. Steelrock immediately took out a book made of sheepskin, flipping through the pages. He then pointed to a line on one of the last few, shouting out, “They are very poor!”
The leader of the guards whispered to Steelrock, though, and he added, “But they are able in fights. They are true warriors!”
The young woman gently released Richard onto the ground and adjusted his shirt. She then took a few steps back and looked at Richard seriously, saying, “Very good, I like real warriors. You may be weak, but you’re brave, not greedy, and have a nice scent. I still want you to be my man.”
“This…” Richard forced a smile again, he was ready to reject tactfully, but the girl interrupted, saying, “But I have decided to follow the rules of the mainland. My father said, when two people want to get together, they have to become friends first.”
Steelrock moved forward again, trying hard to lower his voice, “Your Highness! The rules on the mainland are that when two people get together, their families have to discuss deals first.”
“Ah, is it like that?” The young lady was astonished, and looked towards the elder helplessly. The old man took a lot of effort to open his eyes once again. He looked at Richard, and then showed an ugly smile and said slowly, “Rules are set by people. In this piece of land, Your Highness can decide what is reasonable. At least, nobody will object here.”
The young lady obviously wanted to make it short. She instantly said, “Alright, let’s be friends then! This is what my father said. Although he cannot defeat my mother, my mother once said he is a wise man.”
The girl fixed her gaze on Richard’s eyes, her right hand clenched into a fist in front of her chest as she asked seriously, “Richard, are you willing to befriend me?”
This was another scene that Richard did not expect, but he could feel that the girl was serious and persistent. The young lady’s straightforward disposition actually matched his own preferences, so he replied seriously as well, “I’m more than willing to be friends. But—”
“Just friends will do,” the girl interrupted him again. “We’ll talk about you wanting to be my man next time. I won’t force it since we’re friends.” Her expression grew divine and solemn, “Since we are friends now, I need to let you know my name. My true name is Jessamine Beshaba Tor Terrathemus…”
Steelrock’s expression had changed drastically the moment the first few syllables were spoken. He wanted to walk over and stop her, but the elder shook his head so he stepped back after some hesitation. The old man gently knocked his cane against the ground, the sound of the impact spreading across the hall to make the girl’s words indiscernible. The crashes continued until the name was completed. Everyone knew what he was trying to do, but didn’t say anything out loud about it.
The young lady’s name was extraordinarily long, taking a whole minute to finish. To Richard it sounded like a long string of syllables pieced together, and were it not for his great memory and his gift of wisdom he wouldn’t have been able to remember it the first time around.
“Did you memorise it?” she asked with expectation.
“Yes.” Richard nodded. This astounded the girl, but then she said with elation, “Great! That was the only time I’ll say it!”
However, Richard’s worry was now how he was going to address someone with such a long name.
The young woman guessed what Richard was thinking and said with a smile, “The people in the tribe call me ‘Mountainsea’, you can call me that too.”
“Mountainsea?” Richard was curious of the reason for such a strange name. Even ignoring her exotic dress and personality, she was astonishingly beautiful by the standards of the mainland. Her name, however, seemed vast and powerful, unlike those used normally to describe girls.
Surprisingly, Mountainsea nodded firmly and said, “Yes, it’s what the elders said. I have a mountain of wealth right now, and my future strength will be as deep and unmeasurable as the sea.”
“Alright then. We’re friends now, Mountainsea!” Richard said.
The girl gave a cunning smile all of a sudden, “Then I have a present for you. Have this!” Thus, before a stunned and dumbfounded Steven, the girl took off the dragonhide she’d just bought and pushed it into Richard’s hands.
Richard frowned instantly in rejection, “No! This is far too precious!”
“No, you will have to give me a present too.” The young lady was very serious.
“Of course, but I don’t have something so expensive. You should take this—” Before he could even complete his sentence Mountainsea reached out her hand and pulled him over. She then kissed him on the lips, separating with a smile, “That will do!”
Richard froze up. To everyone else it looked like the young lady had given him an intimate kiss, but he knew that she actually just bit and licked at his lips. The girl then reminisced in satisfaction, commenting, “So sweet!”
The midsummer festival finally ended, leaving the people with enough to talk about for another four years. That night, Blackgold’s feelings for the girl rose shockingly, to the level of adoration. Both smelled of money to him, but evidently spider crystals far surpassed gold as a unit of transaction.
And yet, that wild night, Steven may or may not have been the most disappointed one. Nobody wanted to talk about the dragon warlock who was thrown away by accident, instead focused on many other topics— the young lady’s leather pouch, Richard and Mountainsea becoming ‘friends’, even Steelrock, that elder, and the Millennial Empire’s elite guards. Across these topics, beyslace spider crystals and self-supporting students were repeated portions. Who would spare the time to care for a small dragon warlock? Even if he was mentioned a few times, Steven was only referred to as the guy who got hit out.
Only he himself was clear that the pressure from Mountainsea wasn’t limited to that impact. Nay, it was crushing him…