Richard spread out a piece of paper on the desk and partitioned it in two with a vertical line. He started writing on the left:

‘Lost more than a level’s worth of mana forever and sustained serious injuries.

‘The enemies now know my strength; next time, they might set a trap or just attack with someone more powerful.

‘The fact that the Archerons have no powerhouses in Faust has been exposed.’

This was a small habit he had picked up. Around every major incident in his life, he was starting to make a note of the gains and losses thoroughly so he could judge the results in an objective fashion. The left side held the price paid, while the right side held the payoff. It took a long period of thought before he actually started filling that side up:

‘Felt great!

‘Defended the Archerons’ dignity and humiliated those two old fellows.

‘Got rid of two pricks.

‘Stripped a beauty naked.’

He pondered seriously and struck out the last two lines very quickly, leaving behind the line about defending the Archerons’ dignity. In his opinion, the other few weren’t really profits at all. However, after endless hesitation, he eventually kept the words ‘Felt great’ in.

Looking at the final state of that piece of paper, Richard actually shook his head and laughed bitterly. A great price had been paid, but the payoff was pathetically small. The defence of his family’s reputation was the only thing that could be considered worth anything, but even that was in the future and a mere possibility at that.

“Such a great loss,” he said to himself after a long sigh.

Rosie remained standing quietly. Her expression twitched at Richard’s words, but it only took a moment for her to recover her cold pride. Richard raised his head to glance at her, a frown appearing on his face, “What are you still standing there for? Strip!”

The lady’s hands shivered slightly, but she still maintained a tranquil expression as she slowly undid button after button as gracefully as she could. The lace tying her long skirt, petticoat, and undergarments fell to the ground one by one.

Once the last piece of clothing fell to the ground, she took a step forward, revealing herself to Richard completely. Her expression remained undisturbed, but every muscle in her body had gone taut. Her cold face betrayed the perfection of her body, her hands unable to help but try and cover the more sensitive areas of her body.

Richard leaned back into his chair, casually sampling the wine in his glass. His mind had long since been taken away from the alcohol, focused entirely on the beauty before him. Indeed, Rosie’s figure was just as perfect as her face. Her slim waist was a striking contrast to the towering peaks of her breasts, giving way to a pair of long, straight legs. Her bare feet were just as slim and beautiful as her hands, the nails seeming extremely delicate.

She was a beauty through and through, so much so that anyone looking at her would want to take a ferocious bite.

Richard felt a strong flame rushing through his blood, his male instincts stirred irrepressibly; his manhood grew so stiff it was hard to bear. Richard had to admit that Rosie was a special young lady; in terms of looks and figure alone, she was easily the best of all the women he had seen in his life.

In a world where power garnered respect, someone with such meagre strength had become so core to the Mensa Family that they named an entire plane after her. This clearly showed her astonishing charm. However, that wasn’t the source of her fatal attraction to Richard. To him, she was the pearl of his enemies, the perfect lover in the dreams of countless Mensa youths. She was also the fiancée of another of his enemies, Duke Dario. Both these identities left him with the urge to violate her.

Richard suddenly felt a little pity, thinking he should have added a line about using her as he wished in the bet. Or perhaps he could simply have demanded she be given to him. Given the situation at that time, all chances were that Young Mensa would have agreed to such a bet. After all, there was supposed to be no chance of losing at all. The Mensa Family’s only worry was that Richard would be able to bear not taking part in the duel and watching Wennington die.

Wennington was an outstanding young man, but that was all. He had a certain amount of potential, but it wouldn’t be possible for him to become someone like Richard who could reverse the fate of the entire family. In Duke Mensa’s eyes, even if the decision-making was left to the Archeron elders it was quite likely that he would be abandoned. It wasn’t even expected amongst the nobility to sacrifice oneself for their blood. Richard and Wennington even had different mothers; the latter’s only value to the former was in the Archerons’ dignity.

“Hands down,” Richard said as he gently sipped the wine. Rosie hesitated, her hands dropping a little before springing back into place. He saw the thin hairs on the surface of her body standing.

Still, the young lady seemed to realise her fate. She eventually put both hands down, exposing all her privates. Richard stood up and walked over to her, examining her closely before reaching out to raise her chin, “Do you know what I’m feeling right now?”

Forced to look up, Rosie responded in a calm and indifferent voice, “Yes. Every time you touch me, you feel like you’ve slapped the two old dukes of both the Mensas and Schumpeters.”

The reply was shockingly accurate, to the extent that Richard’s gaze at her warped. “Damn right!” he said after a while, the hand he used to raise her chin gradually moving down along the curves of her body.

Rosie suddenly shook, biting her lower lip. Richard looked at her beautiful blue eyes as his hands continued downwards, saying slowly, “I’ll never get tired of slapping them this way. However, do you have no intentions of resisting? This isn’t a part of the bet.”

Rosie suddenly shivered, sighing at the question, “I know, but I also know what you will take this to if I resist. I don’t want that.”

“Oh?” Richard stopped his hands, asking with curiosity, “Say, which step do you think I want to take this to? Guess correctly and I’ll consider the bet complete.”

Rosie gently bit her lower lip, looking at him with a complicated gaze. She eventually came to a decision, “I heard about your sister. After losing the bet, she… She had to help them see clearly according to their requests, so she had no choice but to make different poses. She also had to reveal certain parts herself… I don’t want that.”

There was a slight stir in Richard’s heart. Rosie and Venica were actually quite similar, both doing their best to resist just in different ways. One chose to take the initiative, while the other chose to remain passive. One would rather endure humiliation than allow someone else to so much as touch her finger, while the other didn’t want him to enjoy the victory of conquering her. In the battle to the death between these two large families, the stories young ladies like them often ended up as tragedies.

Faust, with its rather rigid laws, was a paradise within the hell that was Norland. Duke Mensa and his younger brother trying to attack Richard after the duel was considered extremely abnormal, only happening because of the threat he posed. Outside of Faust, Venica would not have gotten away with just stripping. It was the same for Rosie as well. Compared to the number of lives lost in war, their experiences were far too light to be worth at anything at all.

Richard had waded through the infernal hell that was planar war for more than a year already; these kinds of matters could only shake his mood a little. Still, Richard had to admit that Rosie was quite special, be it clothed or otherwise.

“Alright, you guessed right. The bet is considered complete, you can wear your clothes.” He waved his hand, taking two steps back and sitting on the edge of his table.

Although he’d let her off at last, Richard still wouldn’t miss the wonderful scene of her wearing her clothes. The blessing of truth came into use at that moment, allowing him to store every bit of this scene in his consciousness. As a master artist, he could draw up any moment from memory.

Rosie’s movements were calm, elegant and refined. She treated Richard like he was air, not behaving like she was being watched at all. Seeing her put on the last piece of clothing, Richard shrugged in disappointment and felt a twinge of regret. However, for the sake of his reputation, he certainly would not express his current feelings. Although he had intended to use her to attack the Mensas and Schumpeters, the matter itself wasn’t worth much. That could be seen from the rewards listed on that piece of paper that was still on the desk. Still, he had no choice but to admit that Rosie herself had been a great reward.

He turned back to the paper and made a few strokes, calculating that it would take him less than a month to recover to level 12 and another year to get to level 13. However, that was under the assumption that he would be directing all the astral rays he could to strengthen his elven bloodline.

He then started to look at how fast he could level up if he went all out. This wasn’t a very complicated problem, but because it involved the probabilities of the many grades of astral rays appearing and his chances of capturing them, he needed pen and paper as well as a simple magic array to perform the calculations. He rapidly outlined the sketch in his mind and started to write it out, but then he realised that Rosie was still in his study. He lifted his head and saw the young lady standing quietly in one corner of the room, looking at him with her deep blue eyes.

He frowned, “You’re not going back. Don’t tell me you want an escort or something… Or do you wish to take things further between us?”

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