The final owner of the Midren component was a hot topic over the next few days, sparking countless conversations about Rakis, Ironshield, and Shaun. Everyone knew that there would be a good show when the next part appeared on the list, and with the legendary warrior already showing how powerful alliances were, many others were beginning to collaborate as well.
With the Archeron system being so strict in taxing point transfers, many chose to convert their spare points into materials that they then sold on a black market. Nasia chose to turn a blind eye to this, allowing them to make their own profits. This only increased the number of spent points and thus propelled these people back into the battlefield, a result she was more than happy with.
Barely a day had passed before the full story had been dug up. Ironshield had paid a huge price to gather about 300 points from two other friends, using that to surpass Rakis in the rankings. However, this wasn’t something that could be replicated easily; the true contest would still be on the battlefield.
The next fortnight was peaceful, with not even a patrol from the dragons. Only the glowing barrier remained as proof that the enemy was still waiting on the other side. Everyone grew anxious as the days passed, knowing that the length of the silence was just an indicator of the strength of the impending attack. Many were starting to fidget; after all, they could only earn points if there were battles.
New powerhouses were arriving at Dragon Valley almost every day, signing up for the reward point system. Others were likely on the way, stuck exploring the void when the news spread through Norland like wildfire. Many of them were impatient to see what they could get, but fortunately nobody grew hot-headed enough to try and check the other side. The pulsing barrier was proof that the Five-Coloured Dragon still hadn’t left.
While the common folk were awaiting their points, the man at the top was worried about the exact opposite end. After a long six hours of work, he carefully emblazoned his signature on a pair of silver gauntlets with his blue flames. He immediately fell back into his chair, sighing as he saw the crimson lights starting to flow across. This would be the second piece of Midren on the exchange, the Flamepulse Gauntlets.
Manufacturing this pair took him more than ten days in total. A normal grade 4 rune wouldn’t even require a week, but ensuring that any two pieces could activate the set ability even when not connected was difficult to accomplish. It required a good number of reserve connections that skyrocketed the difficulty, but it ensured that many experts would be fighting obediently under him for years to come.
He carefully placed the gauntlets in a chest, finally allowing the exhaustion from depleting his mana to hit him. The runes themselves didn’t need much mana output, but for the sake of finishing quickly he was working six hour stretches with only ten minutes of rest in between.
Opening the cupboard beside the wall, Richard grabbed a refined mana potion and gulped it down. More than half of his reserves had been cleared out in only these few days, but such was the price for speed. Thankfully, he walked outside the workshop to find a full meal waiting on the table for him, kept warm by a magic array. Finally noticing that it was lunchtime, he sat down and started sweeping the entire table of roasted dragon meat clean.
Ever since he had absorbed the abyssal lord’s heart, Richard’s already-monstrous appetite had grown to truly insane levels. Even tens of kilograms of dragon meat couldn’t completely sate him, but even with the number of dragons they were killing on the regular there was a limit to how much he could get.
As he immersed himself into the meal, he saw a small orb flashing on the side of the table; this was a message left by Nasia, using magic instead of soul communication to keep from disturbing him. His mood went a little flat as he grumbled for a moment, sending a strand of mana to reply to the message.
“Are you done?” Nasia was unbelievably quick, entering the room only moments after his response. Busy stuffing himself, he just pointed her into the lab. She zipped in and back out with the chest now in hand, her brows rising up in marvel as she opened it, “Not bad, a full three hours before my deadline. You’re getting better! Well, outside of naming, anyway. Flamepulse Gauntlets? So… tacky, but at least you’ve practiced your signature.”
“What does the name matter?” Richard grunted, “It’s still Midren.”
“It’s Midren a few years from now. Until then, the individual parts are the only things that people can hold.”
“What do you want me to do?” he snorted, inhaling another piece of meat, “You’re going to tell me anyway.”
Nasia softly whistled, leaning across the table to pat his forehead, “Good boy, you’ve been working hard. I’m giving you a full hour to do whatever you want; if you’re eager to fight, I won’t be so courteous.”
Hearing her words, Richard felt the urge to pound his head into the table. Unfortunately, the paladin just ignored him and went to the door, bringing Rosie into the room with a tall stack of documents in hand.
“Here’s a report of the newest week,” she stared, “In terms of raw material conversion, our profit margin is currently sitting at 70%. That drops to about 55% when you add labour on top; that is, eleven offerings in pure profit for every twenty we invest. The margin is predicted to appreciate to 60% over the coming months before stabilising, but it is already showing itself. We have currently exchanged over ten top-tier offerings, gaining more than five’s worth. With the current economy in Norland, that’s 70 million gold.”
Although he had been expecting something that large, Richard had to hold in a gasp, “It’s only been two months.”
“You have twelve legends and more than thirty sky saints working for you, this isn’t much.”
He sighed and sat upright, the numbers filling him with renewed energy more effectively than any potion could. Rosie chuckled, “That’s our earnings, now for the work. First is Midren; you have ample time now, but the third part will need to be out in a month. Also, pick one of the three completed pieces and remake it right afterwards.”
Still busy wolfing down his meal, Richard asked sluggishly, “Won’t that delay the full set?”
“Exactly? We’ll add new bidders to the mix and nobody will be able to gather a full set right away.”
“… Oh, right,” he finally nodded, feeling a little happy that this woman wasn’t in the ranks of his enemies. However, it only took a few minutes before he regretted her being on his side as well.
Twenty more rune knight sets had to be completed in the next two months, but if it was to be done quickly Richard had to personally craft the core arrays. This was a total of 400 arrays, but the kicker was the amount of time he was given to do it: one day.
Technically, Rosie wasn’t wrong. He could indeed complete all those units in a single day, but that needed him at the desk for a full 23 hours. That wasn’t even the end of it either. She also expected him to craft ten more grade 3 and three grade 4 runes; while her workshop could help with the former, the latter would be all him.
On top of all this, she wanted something for those who didn’t want Midren, a saint rune prepared at the earliest. There weren’t any strict rules here, he could craft whatever he wanted, but she suggested Stealthwalker because the rune complemented the many assassins who weren’t suited to open battle with Midren. In the words of Nasia, assassins were amongst the richest of legends. They were an enormous market that had to be served.