Tactical Present

Richard found multiple magic-sealing boxes on a shelf in the southern part of the laboratory building. Silently counting through, he found that Rosie had actually completed a total of 21 partial runes in his absence!

The young lady needed about three days to complete these semi-runes. In other words, she had to have worked tirelessly day after day to finish all these, improving at the craft significantly. He’d naturally taken his divine pen away with him when he left, only leaving behind a superior-grade pen for her. It was enough for an apprentice, but even to just a normal runemaster it would seem crude.

With the half a day of time saved for each of these half-complete runes, she had earned him more than ten days in total. For someone who prized time as much as he did, this was of great significance. Richard walked up behind Rosie and waited till she was done with the line she was currently working on to call out to her, “Not bad. You could do a little better in these parts though…”

She looked up at him with some shock, a quiet smile flashing across her face, “Master, you’re back.” Looking at the places he had pointed out, she frowned, “Ah, those. For some reason, my mana grows unstable whenever I get to that point and it becomes difficult to control the pen.”

It was only then that he remembered she was only a level 9 mage, and one that had recently advanced. She needed to be level 12 at minimum to finish all these curves perfectly— even he with his great blessings had only perfected them at level 10. The very fact that they weren’t complete failures at level 9 was amazing.

Richard thought it over for a bit, “Hmm… Take some more time off to meditate, you need to increase your mana pool. I’ll teach you the Deepblue Fantasy once you hit level 10.”

A look of surprise rose upon Rosie’s face, “That… Is it the meditation technique Her Excellency Sharon designed personally?”

The huge reaction was entirely out of Richard’s anticipation, “Umm… Yes? This is Master’s meditation technique, but the elementary version isn’t any big secret. What’s wrong?”

Rosie sighed, her head bowing down as she went quiet for a moment, “... I don’t think you’re aware just how precious that technique is. Aren’t you afraid of me betraying you? After all, my surname is still Mensa.”

Richard chuckled, reaching out to pat her face, “Nyris talked to me about this before. I promised him not to give you the chance. Heh, there aren’t many things more stupid than betraying a future saint runemaster.”

Rosie smiled, “Are you that confident in yourself?”

“No, this isn’t confidence. It’s a promise I need to…” Richard’s voice trailed off as memories of that dream-like night surged into his heart. The image of the Deepblue Aria and its majesty filled his mind once more.

Rosie suddenly had the strange feeling that becoming a saint wasn’t Richard’s limit in the future. The man in front of her always seemed to be looking further ahead.

Richard quickly snapped out of it, walking over to the shelf and opening one of the boxes to examine the half-complete runes in detail. He was extremely pleased with her work, asking curiously, “Did you even get any rest in the past three months?”

“Yes. Isn’t meditation rest?” she asked.

Richard went silent, extremely familiar with the mindset behind that sentence. This was the way he himself had answered to the grand mages of the Deepblue more than once, but he had never expected to hear it coming from someone else. This wasn’t the first time he was seeing shadows of his past self in her.

“Why are you so desperate? Aren’t you tired?”

Rosie gathered the messy hair in front of her forehead and said indifferently, “I’m living the life I’ve always dreamt about. How can it be tiring?”

He nodded in response, “Alright then. Now, there’s something else I need your opinion on. Lina hasn’t been in a good state of mind lately, and I heard she sold all of her epic-grade equipment to maintain the situation on this plane earlier. I’m planning to compensate for that, so should I just give her some epic equipment or make a rune for her?”

“You want to both raise her power and improve her mood, right?:

He nodded. Rosie was the best person he knew with regards to matters of the heart. Not anyone could leave Flowsand the loser in a battle of words.

She thought it over for a bit, “Hmm, I suggest you give her enough gold to let her buy whatever equipment she wants to raise her strength. In the meanwhile, you could give her some little gifts to improve her mood. They don’t need to be expensive, just enough to show your intentions.”

“Little gifts?” Money was not an issue for him, but gifts were. He had nothing to gift someone outside of his runes.

“I have some trinkets if need be.” Rosie pulled out a little box and handed it over. He opened the box to find two earrings in their, small gold hoops ending with black crystals in the shape of droplets. Richard could tell the materials even with his eyes closed— they were extremely common materials in his runecrafting. These beautiful things were actually made of scrap!

“You made this?”

“Yes, to practice keeping my hands steady. Well… I’m also a girl, you know. We like accessories,” she quietly stuck her tongue out rather endearingly.

“Why didn’t you just buy some then?”

Rosie shrugged, “I have no money, to time, and no chance to do that. Where will I get earrings in this place?”

A lack of time or opportunities was understandable, but only when she said she had no money did Richard realise that he hadn’t given Rosie any money since she had come to live under his wing. Of course, up until very recently he wouldn’t even have considered letting her go shopping.

“I think this pair of earrings is even more valuable to Lina than epic-grade equipment right now,” Rosie continued, “However, you have to tell her that you made them yourself.”

“What? That… That’s not a good idea!” The earrings weren’t all that valuable, but if he claimed to have made them himself there would be a different meaning to it. Besides, taking someone else’s work for his own didn’t sit well with him.

“There’s nothing wrong with it.” Rosie closed the accessory box and stuffed it into his pocket, “Lina is very important to you right now, while my time isn’t worth much. A tiny lie can put her in a good mood and save you a great deal of time without hurting anyone, so why not? Weren’t you going to become someone we can’t betray? If you can’t even pull off such a small trick, how will you convince me of that?”

These words were similar to something else he had heard before. Still, Richard had no rebuttal and could only pinch Rosie’s cheeks once more before leaving to find Lina. It was only after he walked out of the lab that he remembered who else spoke such words.

The broodmother.


Within the magic tower on the perimeter of Emerald City, Dragon Mage Lina sat lazily on the sofa as before, looking at the endless green outside in a daze while thinking about something.

It was only alone that she removed the mask on her face, but now she was dressed in black robes that were quite ordinary. Although they couldn’t conceal her gorgeous curves, they weren’t close to the deep cleavage and open collar of what she used to wear.

“Lina, it’s me,” a voice sounded outside her door. Her body trembled as she answered in a hurry, hastily grabbing the mask and fastening it to her face taking a few deep breaths to calm her heart and open the door.

Richard was stood tall outside the door, cleaned up and bright as the sun. “Why so slow?” he asked.

“It’s nothing. I was… I was just busy cleaning something up. Come in!”

Richard closed the door behind him and surveyed the room that had changed since he last saw it. He conveniently took a seat on the only chair within, leaving the Dragon Mage with no option but to use the sofa.

In the past, Lina would have lain down on it without hesitation, not caring that the pose would let him see deep down her cleavage. Now, however, she sat primly to one side. Richard looked her up and down, “Ugh, this doesn’t suit you at all. Also, there aren’t any outsiders here, you can remove the mask.”

“It…” she hesitated, “It’ll startle you.”

“I’ve seen it before.”

Lina gritted her teeth and tossed the mask aside, revealing the scars covering her face. Richard took an earnest look at it and smiled, “How are you so beautiful with only half a face?”

She turned a little red and scoffed at him, but the compliment had let her relax a little.

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