City of Sin

Book 1, Chapter 27A
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The Power to Change The World

Spring arrived once more, and Richard was about to turn thirteen. Of course, the boy did not know that this spring would hold a special meaning for him.

As controllers of war, it wasn’t truly important for runemasters to kill with their own hands. This was especially true for someone at Richard’s level. However, every night he spent in that little tavern in the outer regions gave Richard a newfound understanding of magic formations, dimensions, or his other homework. What had originally been a bunch of static numbers now connected, everything affecting everything else not just in the moment, in that place, but elsewhere and other times as well.

The fireball spell formation was a simple example. Its instant attack was the same whether it was used in a desert or a forest, but over three to five years the formation would increase the fire elements in a desert. Oases would shift several kilometres away, perhaps drying out further as well. On the other hand, a large formation would burn many trees away in a forest, reducing the density and variety of the greenery. However, once the trees burned to ashes the wind would spread their seeds elsewhere. The soil would recover over time, growing fertile once more.

Such long-term effects were useless in a single battle, but over a prolonged war that lasted more than a century these things could affect the development of societies and entire races. It gave Richard a proper understanding of what runemasters were, of what they did and why they were called controllers of war. However, even he himself was in disbelief of such a thing. Such thoughts could be coincidental, but pure logic told him it was more probable that excessive fatigue was causing him to hallucinate.

One certain night, he found himself unable to sleep. All his experiences from childhood till date suddenly surged to the front of his mind, and the huge amount of knowledge he’d gained in the Deepblue merged and linked to answer many questions he’d had in the past. Inspiration surged like a spring, while his heart began to pound quickly.

He suddenly sat up and charged into his laboratory, preparing over a hundred items in one go. He spread the hide of a high-level beast out, taking a few magic pens with special mithril tips to begin carving a magic formation.

The night silently passed, but the rays of magic never faded, causing one to lose track of time. Switching through twenty two different types of magic pens, damaging six, and using no less than 200 different types of magic ingredients, he finally managed to draw a complete magic formation. The square hide turned extremely rigid, and the rays of light from the formation itself circulated around it. As long as Richard pushed his mana inside, the spell formation would activate automatically to increase his innate agility.

Once he saw this hide, Richard himself couldn’t believe his eyes. This was the result of his entire night passing like a dream, and if one ignored the material issues and small flaws it had it would garner another name in the outside world.

This was a rune! Although only the most basic of runes, Elementary Agility, it was a rune nonetheless!

He may have learnt all the theory and the foundational subjects systematically over the past years, but Richard had yet to start on making runes. Although this rune had a lot of room for improvement, and was almost useless, it was a substantial improvement for him personally! Once a mage could cast a spell of a certain grade it wouldn’t be hard for them to learn other spells of that grade, and the same was true of runemasters and runes!

Holding this crude rune, Richard’s mind was filled with all sorts of thoughts. His hard work, his conjectures, the suffering... it all came to mind. All that time of being unwilling to waste a single moment, working hard bit by bit, had finally come to fruition. The pain and fervour that he’d hidden deep in his veins had pushed him to success.

If one wished to find the source of his motivation now, it could be seen easily with three words: success follows accumulation.

All sorts of feelings welled up in his mind, but Richard only allowed himself three minutes to dwell on them. He knew full well that everything in the Deepblue was built up high in the clouds, where his dreams could be destroyed in an instant.

The massive fees, the great amount of materials he needed to use, the mana potions he drank like water everyday, and this residence that was so huge he felt uneasy living in it... It was all built on Sharon’s Delight. Put bluntly, Richard’s life depended on the legendary mage’s moods. Before his talent gave way to true power, he was just like a painting on the wall, something that could only be admired not used.

A proverb had made it down the annals of history: there was no free lunch in the world. This lunch that came from a legendary mage, so rich and ridiculous, how could it possibly be free?

Naya’s reaction had told Richard that the father of his, who he hated to the core, was definitely someone well-known on the continent. He’d also learnt that people feared Gaton Archeron far more than they liked him. That background gave him some conjectures as to the source of Sharon’s Delight. Of course his own hard work was a part of everything, but Gaton’s influence had a hand in it as well.

Richard knew full well that everything he owned, including the money he was planning to use to help Erin get through her tough situation, had actually come from his father; the man who he was once curious about, but was now unwilling to even recall. However, he could not just reject all this. It was impossible to continue down the path of magic without a great amount of wealth to support him. WIth how stubborn he was, he would definitely return all the money he had gotten from Gaton with interest before he could fulfil his mother’s wishes and never see his father again.

Or perhaps one day the father and son would meet again, on the battlefield in another plane. After all, the world was filled with inconceivable events.

However, Richard had learned a lot from his philosophy classes. Even if he was set on returning everything in the future, with interest, would that mean he could use Gaton’s gold as he wished now? Many would perhaps have no qualms with this, but he could not do so. Deep within his blood was an instinctual pride that came from both his parents, and this pride told him he couldn’t cheat himself so shamelessly.

Now, however, this rune was a turning point. This thin piece of hide was proof that he could create standard runes quite soon, and developing from Elementary Agility into other basic runes. Even as someone who was used to living in the Deepblue the price of the most elementary runes had astonished him in the past, and now he could make money by crafting and selling them. That would make for a sizeable amount of money, even if it couldn’t compare to how much Sharon was giving him in recent months.

Of course Richard wasn’t so stupid as to reject that money now that he had the means to earn some himself. The extra gold would give him more ingredients, allow him to train quicker, and granted him even more freedom.

‘If...’ Just as this word popped up in his mind, Richard forced it down. However, he knew full well what he truly wanted to ask. If he had the ability to craft runes before, would he have been able to save Erin?

This was a young and innocent question, but instinct gave the boy a brutal, practical answer. Nothing would change. What had happened had happened, and time could not flow backwards.

As Richard studied the world of Deepblue more closely, he garnered a better understanding of the laws of the place. He was gaining greater and greater clarity about the expressions behind people’s faces, growing able to see things that were once obscured by numerous veils.

Time lost was simple, but this world was complicated.

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