Chapter 10

Mana Armament

The old mage stared at Beye for a long time, displaying an extravagant desire that Richard could not agree with before he eventually tidied up what she had thrown to the ground. He started rummaging through the loot, shouting every once in a while, “Aha, the eyeball of a draconic reptilian? Good stuff… What’s this? Damn it, the ice is too thick, don’t waste my strength! Let’s see what’s inside… Hmm… heart of a centaur captain, not bad! What, you have the heart but not the backbone? Such a waste…”

The geezer mumbled on and on, sifting through most of the materials and tossing them to one side. He suddenly picked up a blue crystal and shouted, “The soul crystal of an ursa warlord! And it’s the highest quality at that!” He immediately looked up, eyes filled with protestation as he exclaimed in a sharp, urgent voice, “Where are the member and sperm vesicles? You have the soul crystal, so how could you not have gotten the other two?”

“I accidentally stepped on it and smashed it,” Beye stated dully.

The old mage jumped in front of her, grabbing her by the chest and practically spitting saliva at her face, “You smashed them? Don’t you know it’s the most treasured part of an ursa warlord? There are only so many that can be killed every year, and you SMASHED it?!”

She nonchalantly freed herself, speaking in her signature cold voice, “I don’t know how precious it is, but I do know an old man like you can’t get hard without it. If you want me to cash in that promise, I can do it anytime.”

The man’s entire body trembled with anger, his voice growing extremely loud, “I won’t let things be so easy for you! The capital of the Unsetting Sun is huge, I don’t believe I can’t buy the vesicles of an ursa warlord!”

Beye flashed a terrifying little smile, “I don’t believe there’s anyone who dares to sell, however. I’ve already announced that I’ll grind the balls of anyone who does that with a skaven’s molars.”

“You…” The mage was so furious he was nearly gasping, to the point that Richard started to think he would just die. Still, he was much stronger than Richard had expected, vulgarly grabbing Beye’s crotch before he crouched down and continued to pick through the materials.

The scene left Richard startled. Beye hadn’t dodged or even retaliated. She seemed to notice the question in his eyes, explaining in a calm voice, “This is one of the prices of selling materials here.”

Richard didn’t feel like she needed to explain this to him. However, the fact that she was willing to pay this price meant this old man definitely wasn’t an easy character. Or at least, he hadn’t been one in the past.

It wasn’t long after before the man was done checking the materials, heading behind the counter to open a cabinet. Beye suddenly grabbed the centaur heart and threw it towards him, “Treat this as something from the little guy.”

“How generous!” The old mage gave Richard a quick look, asking bluntly, “What, is this kid making you feel good?”

Beye actually nodded, “He’s young and fresh, and quite big too.”

Richard immediately felt faint.

The geezer glared at Richard with eyes full of poison, but he didn’t say anything else. He took out two sacks, one larger than the other, pouring out quite a few magic crystals from it into the smaller one. After weighing it, he tossed it to Richard, “Take it, kid. Anyone who dares to touch Beye isn’t ordinary. I hope you’ll live a little longer; if you’re in the capital of the Unsetting Sun again in the future and I’m still alive, you can look for me.”

Richard flashed a glance at Beye, who replied, “You deserve this. Take it.” He didn’t decline further, stowing the crystals away. The large sack in her hand disappeared as well, stashed into her spatial ring.

Before they could leave, however, the old mage suddenly glanced at Richard. His murky eyes shone with light for a moment, making Richard feel as though every part of him from head to toe had been seen through, as though every cell had been examined! The light disappeared immediately after, but he was left in a cold sweat, not knowing if he was allowed to get angry. The one thing he was sure of was the fact that this was not detection magic, but it still left him feeling very uneasy.

“Wait!” the man stopped them, heading behind the counter before taking out three pieces of hide from a dusty sack. He passed them to Richard, “Kid, if you promise to get me the member and vesicles of an ursa warlord when you’re strong enough, this will be yours!”

Richard was filled with doubt as he took the hide and glanced over it, finding spots of white and grey. His first reaction was surprise. This was likely leather from a deep-sea animal called the star-spotted magic fish, and was a material that could be used to make grade 3 runes. There were sketches of magic arrays drawn on it, with some annotations and explanations written down inside square boxes. He could tell that this was a rune blueprint at first glance, but he had never even heard of it before.

The name of the rune was written in Norland’s common language at the top of the design. “Mana Armament,” he read out in a whisper.

This rune was obviously grade 3, but about a third of it was just blank space. Interested, he turned to the second piece of hide and found that it was the same rune, but with much of the blank space filled. This version was more complicated than the last, making it as difficult to craft as any other grade 4 rune.

Basically all of the space had been filled by the last piece of paper, leaving behind a small blank the size of three fingernails. The difficulty of the entire rune rose once more, and if not for the incompleteness Richard even suspected it would be a grade 5 rune. However, it was hard to tell how much power the rune could bring out with those three empty spots.

In the eyes of runemasters, these three designs were priceless treasures. This was especially true for a freak like Richard, whose skills were exquisite but were held back by his mana pool. His hands were already beginning to tremble, but he still didn’t agree to the old mage’s request right away. He instead looked at Beye; this deal was obviously targeting her.

Beye glanced at the three pieces of hide and sneered, “You’re willing to part with that?”

The old mage snorted and glared at her hard, not saying a word. In turn, she nonchalantly waved her arms, “Agree to it. He’ll be dead in a few years anyway.”

Having gotten her consent, Richard agreed and stashed the three rune designs carefully.

Seeing that the deal was confirmed, a trace of slyness suddenly flashed in the old mage’s eyes. He stroked his messy beard and laughed, “I’m sorry to say this, Beye, but you’be finally miscalculated things! Haha!”

Beye’s expression changed slightly, but she said nothing more and pulled Richard along to leave.

After they left the old man’s shop, they continued along towards the highest point in the city. Along the way, she explained the circumstances, “That old man is called Lawrence. Twenty years ago, when he was still a runemaster, everyone called him Saint Lawrence.”

Richard was startled, “Saint Lawrence? He was a saint runemaster?”

She nodded, “Yes. Although he has only made one grade 5 rune in his life, there wasn’t any grade 4 rune he could not make as long as he had the design and materials. In its most difficult of times, one of the main reasons this place could hold on was his presence. Without him pumping out high-grade runes without pause, the guards here would not have been able to hold back the crazed attacks from Daxdus.”

While he’d only made one grade 5 rune, that was still something extraordinary. If someone like him was in Norland, he would surely have a superior status. ‘Why would he root himself in a dangerous place like the Unreachable Battlefield?’ Richard wondered.

Beye continued, “Twenty years ago, he fought a great battle with a legendary mage from Daxdus. Although he managed to kill his opponent, he returned with grave injuries. His mana pool drained out, forcing him to drop to level 10 in a single year. Things became stable after that, but he couldn’t even compare to a regular mage in terms of how fast he advanced. His bodily functions had been damaged too; he lost the steady hands of a runemaster.

“Now, he’s surviving as a shopkeeper. Since he was the only saint runemaster who had been willing to help for a long period of time in the Land of Dusk, many people here have received his assistance or… erm, torture before. Thus, although he’s lost his abilities, many still come to make trades in his shop. After all, he was once a saint runemaster and legendary mage. Just a few words of direction from him have allowed people to progress greatly. Then there are those like me… here to repay his kindness.”

Richard found it a little difficult to link that lecherous old man with a saint runemaster and legendary mage. However, he wouldn’t ask what kind of favour Beye owed him that she would tolerate his harassment and still continue to sell materials to his shop. Being curious in the case of a killer like her was suicidal.

“Why not return to Norland?” he asked. If Lawrence went back, his sheer knowledge would net him treatment no worse than a grandmaster’s. Why hole himself up in a small shop like this like an old, destitute pervert?

This time, Beye sighed, “He’s been here for 300 years and can’t bring himself to leave. He said that he’d rather rot away in this city that he fought bravely for most of his life than return to Norland and enjoy a luxurious funeral.”

Richard went quiet. He couldn’t quite empathise with those feelings, but he could at least understand how heavy they were.

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