The Second Blow
Richard’s life resumed as per usual after the Day of Destiny. He’d been at his limit already, so all he could do now was continue to persist with the day to day. He would surprise the grand mages again and again with each day, so much so that even knowing how mysterious the world truly was they were surprised by how such a young body could be the most precise of machines. He worked with no emotions, no fluctuations, pushing on and on without tiring.
The constant diligence brought forth an astounding amount of energy. The youth seemed to be improving so fast it astonished everyone. The only part of his growth that didn’t seem to be taking a shortcut was his mana, which continued to creep up at a normal rate.
Time should’ve flown by like water, but some little incidents disturbed the peace. Richard was determined to hide the events on the Day of Destiny deep in his heart, but it took less than a week for the legendary mage herself to blab about it, proudly emphasising her evaluation of him being ‘tender and delicious.’
Just like any other information this spread quickly through the Deepblue. Most men, and half as many women, remembered the name of Richard Archeron, feeling varying amounts of hatred and wishing they could’ve been the one in his place. While they couldn’t actually beat Richard up, many loved doing that a few times a day in their minds. It gave them pleasure, sometimes a lot of pleasure.
No matter how unthinkable this might seem, nobody had the courage to doubt Sharon. Not one person. The boss was the boss, and the person giving out gold was always right. This was the truth in the Deepblue. With the cost of living here, anyone without Sharon’s Delight would have difficulty even surviving, and most people without the right to even obtain that bill every month had no right to say anything. It was the most effective of lines that separated the residents into the core of the Deepblue and the ‘others.’
Those who knew the Deepblue well knew that this was not Sharon’s intention. The legendary mage did as she liked, and wasn’t proficient in managing societies. It was just that this structure had been formed naturally, and people got used to the hierarchy. Without it many would be at a loss, and the silent mages who formed the foundation of the Deepblue actually liked this lifestyle.
The hierarchy of the Deepblue was just like a feudal society. The residents paid taxes while the feudal lord took over responsibility for their protection. With war everywhere on the continent, being able to live under the wing of a legendary mage was blissful.
The seventeen grand mages gathered by the legendary mage’s side could give her suggestions. However, unlike what many people thought, they were actually happy to see this. For them, the legendary mage’s happiness in body and mind was the most important of all, and the only one who felt conflicted by the events was Blackgold.
The grey dwarf’s first response to Sharon’s proclamation was elation: he felt like Her Excellency had been truly wise to use this method to show her ‘delight.’ It had to be said that Richard was getting more and more Delight lately, and it was growing heavy on his mind. Although it was nothing for the legendary mage’s personal wallet, it was a huge amount for the Deepblue. There did not seem to be a need to be too picky about this.
The grey dwarf had believed resolutely that since Sharon was delighted both in mind and body, there was no need to express her delight in terms of gold. Richard’s stipend should have dropped greatly. But that lucky Richard…
The grey dwarf truly had to call Richard lucky. With the natural judgement of his race he saw the boy’s body strengthening by the day, mana flowing faintly as his bloodline began to reveal its true power. No matter how he looked at it, he couldn’t see how Richard was ‘tender and delicious.’
Blackgold was a special dwarf; he’d left behind the stubborn persistence that flowed in the blood of his species. Thus, since Richard had received such a special honour, he believed he wouldn’t need to hold back when he bought the cheaper runes Richard made in the future. The boy’s gift at runecrafting was increasingly shocking. He’d learnt the craft himself from his other studies, and his knowledge could even be considered expansive at this point. Once he began studying runes officially, the stability and precision of the complex spell formations he created was difficult for anyone to comprehend. They could only say this was enlightenment from the gods.
All great beings, or those dedicated to helping them, possessed amazing foresight. While the grand mages were fixated on Richard’s prospects, Blackgold was focused on the numerous runes he would create in the process.
Because of the Day of Destiny the grey dwarf dropped his pricing target for the runes by 40%. The profits at this price weren’t too large, but compared to the general price on the continent it was 70% cheaper. This was a way for him to try and console himself, even as he found himself being very generous. No matter what the price he bought at was, wouldn’t it all go to Her Excellency in the end anyway?
He was in an excellent mood the next few days. The Day of Destiny would reduce his expenses on one hand, and now he had a stream of revenue in the future. There could be nothing greater than that. However, those days came to a sudden halt when Sharon decided Richard’s monthly allowance: the boy’s stipend did not drop at all! The grey dwarf had been left dazed for a long time. The increased revenue in the future still consoled him, but his price was dropped another 10%.
The news rippled out in all directions, like the splash of a pebble falling in a lake. Anyone sensitive to information could judge just how far they were from the core based on how long it took them to receive this news.
Steven was one such sensitive person. He didn’t receive the news too early or too late, but it was definitely later than he had expected. However, he didn’t have the energy to feel angry over his position in the Deepblue; the news itself was so shocking he could never imagine it.
After obtaining the news, Steven appeared to be calm. At the very least, there were no other sounds in his residence. He stood in front of the magic mirror naked, and stared at himself for a whole two hours. Minnie stood by the French window behind him, unmoving as though she was a lifeless statue.
It was still snowing outside, and it felt like the weather had never improved from the day they’d returned from the testing area. While Floe Bay’s springs often had snow, it had never been so heavy and lasted for so long as it had this year.
The residence had always been completely isolated from the callous world outside. Even if one opened the window the magic barrier would be able to block the chill and haze, but now the stifling grey from the outside seemed to pass through the window and extend into the residence. The air seemed stiff, the dark grey mist so heavy it left one feeling suffocated. Minnie subconsciously hugged herself tighter, feeling like her frail body under these magic robes could not take on the ravaging of the storm.
Floe Bay was magnificent, but it was not friendly. Before the blizzard revealed its wrath, there was normally an exceeding calm just like now. The residence was deathly still.
Steven’s residence was very, very large. The space was beautiful, and was a representation of his status and power. In the past she had been intoxicated by this beauty, but now it felt like this place was far too big. It left her uneasy as the two of them stood in this huge space, feeling both the unknown chill as well as the terror of being about to get lost.
Minnie had the urge to escape, but she bit her lips hard and did not allow any movement or sound to escape her. She knew that the longer the silence was, the more terrifying the blizzard would be when it arrived. Steven had already stood there silently for two hours, and who knew how much longer this would last? With only the two of them in this large residence, she would be the person he’d vent on. She’d be the target when the blizzard hit.
Steven finally started moving. He showed off each muscle of his body in front of the mirror, his dragon blood and powerful physique making him far sturdier than the normal mage. The young but mature man in the mirror was tall and strong, with no traces of excess flesh. The proportions of his limbs could be called perfect, and he could be proud of this body that was a personification of male beauty. The dragon bloodline seemed like a dark red mist in the magic mirror, circulating around the surface of his body to give him even greater charm.
Judging himself objectively, Steven could naturally come up with a few evaluations. Most were praises he’d received two years ago, when he’d just turned fifteen and truly stepped into the world of nobles. He could definitely be proud of his body and appearance; unlike that damned Richard who still exuded a juvenile aura due to his age, he had true masculine charm.
There was no lack of words like handsome, determined, sturdy, and powerful in the evaluations Steven had of himself, but there were some things missing.
He turned his head and then asked with an eerie voice, “What does ‘tender and delicious’ mean?”
Minnie’s body trembled without permission; the blizzard had arrived. She lowered her head without saying a word; anything she said at this moment would be like dripping fresh blood in front of a ravenous wolf. It would only make him more brutal.
*Bang!* The skin on Steven’s right hand was sliced open as he punched the magic mirror, blood spurting out from a dozen spots before dripping to the ground. He didn’t seem to sense the pain, however, instead turning and staring at Minnie with bloodshot eyes as he yelled with all the strength in his body, “I’m asking you, WHAT DOES TENDER AND DELICIOUS MEAN?!”