Tender and Delicious
All sorts of thoughts in his mind, the maestro didn’t dare linger in the place. Knowing that Sharon would give Steven some of her Delight was enough, that piece of news would bring the youth enough joy to net even more benefits.
On the way towards the teleportation point, the maestro suddenly slowed his footsteps. He was shocked at how he’d changed; since when had he grown so philistine as to help a young noble he was not familiar with pursue someone he liked? Was it just for the money?
The man began to struggle in his mind, and a voice told him practically all grand mages were fighting for Sharon’s Delight. Wasn’t that all for gold? If all the great mages did that, then what did a little mage like him have to boast about?
However, rationality and experience ruthlessly reminded this maestro that the two scenarios were different. All the grand mages had their own bottom lines— they contributed to the Deepblue in their own ways to receive the rewards they did. Sharon’s Delight definitely did not come out of nowhere, it was a show of acknowledgement for their achievements and hard work. These grand mages who had aged all viewed Sharon as they would a cute little girl, willing to joke around with her. Of course, there were also people working only for gold, but the common trait between them was that they were loyal to their work. Every gold coin that they earned was earned with a clear conscience. Someone with no principles definitely could not survive by the legendary mage’s side.
With this thought, the art master immediately felt that the gold coins and magic crystals in his pocket were beginning to heat up. He could not help but wonder if it was this self-defeatist attitude that didn’t let him create a work he was truly satisfied with in years.
In the meeting hall, Sharon continued to stare at the portrait after the maestro left. There was a complicated look evident in her eyes that caused the grand mages to exchange glances of worry. Steven’s meaning was obvious, and they weren’t afraid that Sharon didn’t understand it. However, she was acting very strangely now, which left them uneasy. Could this legendary mage be so foolish as to be touched by this shrewd young person?
A while later, Blackgold couldn’t endure it anymore and coughed a few times. Getting Sharon’s attention, the grey dwarf spoke in a loud voice, “Your Excellency, you haven’t decided on Steven’s reward for this month.”
Sharon heard the grey dwarf’s unusual tone, but her eyes were still fixed on her portrait as she said nonchalantly, “Just a hundred gold coins is enough.”
“This... how much?” This was the first time that the grey dwarf found himself doubting his ears. Watching how taken the legendary mage was with the portrait, even a million wouldn’t have shocked him as much as this.
The legendary mage finally peeked out from behind the portrait, answering in annoyance, “A hundred! Have I not made myself clear? How much more do you want to give? Are you going to pay for it?”
“Oh no, of course not! You’re joking here. How could I have the money?” The grey dwarf hastily rose his hands, frightened. The grey dwarves and the dragons had similar likes. Gold was not a currency for him, but a collectible item where more was better. Getting him to give up his money was just as painful as cutting off his beard.
The legendary mage’s little nose wrinkled as she hummed, “That’s fine then. Also, give that guy who just left ten thousand. This was drawn well, and he’s improved quite a lot. He needs to be rewarded.”
Blackgold could not understand why Sharon was gazing at the portrait Steven had given her, yet said that she wanted to reward the art master. A few grand mages seemed to be deep in thought. Based on how familiar they were with each other, they exchanged gazes and then nodded slightly. Of course, nobody thought of clearing up the confusion of the grey dwarf who lacked a single artistic bone in his body.
However, Sharon had no intentions of hiding anything. She waved the portrait in her hands around, “Look, the composition and fundamental colours all have that guy’s style, and only the portrait, layering of colours and details are different. It’s obvious that he made the base sketch and Steven only coloured a little on top. Hmm? What kind of expression did you show just now? Did you really think I couldn’t tell? I’ll remember this! Be careful of your salary next month! And you, Blackgold, it’s about time you learn art. Don’t just focus on money!”
The grey dwarf nodded hard, “Rest assured, Your Excellency! I will definitely study hard. The next time I participate in the Sacred Tree Empire’s treasure meet, I’ll definitely get a few renowned works that will rise in value!”
Sharon’s gaze returned to the portrait of herself, and she took a few more looks before sighing, “Actually, seeing this only urged me to make a decision. Alright, enough of that. Is there anything else from you?”
Fayr took a step forward and reported Richard’s studies with Naya in detail. At the very mention of the young man Sharon’s eyes brightened, and she cut in before Fayr could even finish, “No wonder Richard’s made a breakthrough in runes. So this guy has been interfering. Professor Fayr, do you think he will be a negative influence on Richard?”
Fayr had long since pondered over this question and shook his head, “No, he might be beneficial to Richard’s future.”
Sharon’s eyes immediately glinted dangerously, “Someone is thinking of putting their hands on my Richard?”
Fayr hastily said, “That’s not what I mean. We know that Richard will become a runemaster in the future, and it’s rare for runemasters to avoid the battlefield. Learning a few dark arts will be useful for his survival.”
The legendary mage then nodded, “That’s true. However, Naya’s actually secretly teaching my apprentice without my permission. He’s still as gutsy as he was back then; the Blade of Calamity was extremely annoying. I wanted to give him a lesson he would remember, but that guy actually didn’t care about his reputation and holed up like a little mouse! I left him be, but who knew he was actually hiding inside the Deepblue? Hm, good, very good, hehe, hehe, hehe!”
When the legendary mage’s laughter began to sound strange, all of the grand mages went quiet. Naya was truly gutsy to dare hide in the Deepblue even after offending Sharon. It had to be said that this was both a great surprise and a good idea. However, now that his identity was made public, it would be too late even if he were to leave the Deepblue immediately. Sharon might not be the most powerful legendary, but she was the one who held the most grudges, which was why her tracking and hunting abilities were just as well-known as her magic.
Nobody really minded the Blade of Calamity’s identity as a killer. All kinds of people came to the Deepblue, the flow of residents at the borders comparable to the capital of a small country. Who knew how many of the people living here had once worked in the shadows to survive? As long as they followed the Deepblue’s own laws, nobody would care about their pasts. The Deepblue only upheld their own laws, and the rules in the outside world did not matter in here.
Sharon gritted her teeth and said, slightly vexed, “While the Blade of Calamity offended me before, those were trivial matters now that I think about it. I did also look through his personal treasures decades before... Hmm, it’s been so many years, so forget it. He’s tactful, though, because he’s teaching Richard the real things and hasn’t hidden anything. That makes it a little difficult to handle this...”
At this moment, the grey dwarf took a step forward and reminded her, “Your Excellency, taxes!”
“What?” Sharon froze. It had to be said that her reactions were rather slow these days.
“Your Excellency, Naya isn’t paying his taxes! He takes a thousand gold coins’ worth of fees from your Richard everyday but doesn’t pay taxes! That’s plain stealing gold coins from you!” The grey dwarf became more agitated as he spoke, beginning to wave his arms around to emphasise what he was saying.
The legendary mage’s beautiful eyebrows lifted!
To some extent, she and the grey dwarf had similar interests, and that was money. She quickly got up, exclaiming, “Blackgold! Go get Naya and all the taxes he owes me! Bring a few more people, he always has companions around.”
The grey dwarf immediately straightened his back and, like an ape, began to thump his chest hard while yelling, “There’s no need. I can go myself! This is the Deepblue!”
He seemed like a true warrior as he took big strides out of the room, his vigour matching that of a rune knight preparing to charge. However, the grand mages were indifferent to this all. Having worked together for almost a decade, they knew that the grey dwarf would definitely call for a dozen enforcers before he had the guts to cause trouble for the Blade of Calamity...
The discussion ended there. After the grand mages all left, Sharon stared at this work for a very long time, and then got a servant to call Richard over.
The place where Richard and the legendary mage met was a small hall that was decorated in an elegant and warm manner, rather than those thousand-metre long large halls that created a distance akin to that of mountains and rivers. The legendary mage had worn some long clothing atop her silk robe, with a collar covering her neck embedded with flowery patterns. It caused her little face to seem even younger and more beautiful.
Her long hair had now become incredibly messy, and she bunned it up with two dragon teeth. A few stray strands still fell on her rounded shoulders, however, seeming exceedingly enticing.
When Richard entered, the legendary mage was kneeling on a dark red carpet made of pure fur. Half her body was spread out over the mahogany coffee table, as she stared at a little golden magic scale in front of her eyes.
At the two ends of the scale were standard weights of different sizes. The scale was already imbalanced, the pan on the right practically touching the chassis, and Sharon was playing with an intricate little weight in her left hand, hesitating over where she should put it. This was a very small weight, tinier than any of those on the table, and looked like wherever it was placed, it would not have a decisive effect.
However, Richard soon astutely noticed the faint aura of magic emanating from the coiled dragon and demon carved on the pillar, and immediately realised that this was a magic scale. It was balanced not just based on the weight of the items, but the amount of magic within the item. It was also very sensitive to the surroundings and would react to the erratic elemental energy in the plane, which affected the balance. Hence, it could be a tool to test the quality of magic in items, and also to divine the future.
Richard stood silently and did not disturb her. He liked this sort of silence, and also liked the shocking charm that the legendary mage was unwittingly giving off. Sharon, on the other hand, only noticed him standing there after a long time. She turned to give him a glance, murmuring “tender and delicious” before she tossed the weight to the pan that was sticking high up on the scale.
*Clang!* The sound of magic gold was extremely crisp, and took a long time to disappear. The little weight seemed to be as heavy as a mountain, pressing the pan all the way down to the bottom.
Sharon looked at Richard, then at the scale, and back at Richard. She repeated this a few times, her expression strange.
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