Hearing Nasia’s order, the metal dragon actually bent down and wagged its tail like a pet hound. Everyone was astonished by the spectacle; it was possible to force a dragon into submission, but to do it in such a short time was something else entirely. Not just anyone could convince these prideful creatures to submit.
She smiled cheerily, “As you can see, these dragons are all completely tamed. Half of them will enter the reward list, while the rest will be auctioned off in three days.”
Many lords and legends were reluctant to part with these dragons; a legendary helper in battle would be of great help to anyone. Even those who left immediately only did so to hurry back home and prepare. Three days was far too little to prepare for such a thing.
When Nasia flew out from the weyr, night had already fallen. The lights in the residential area were flickering off as the denizens of this town entered their dreams, but Richard’s lab remained bright as day in stark contrast to everything else. She knew that this light would not go out until dawn; for the following week, he wouldn’t even have much time to eat or sleep.
She sighed softly, “This is all I can help with. Work hard, you don’t have much time left…”
Richard did indeed work diligently, putting aside all politics for others to take care of. Thankfully many problems fixed themselves, especially that of the Sacred Tree Empire. The voices calling for war had quieted down significantly once it was known that over a hundred powerhouses were fighting under the Archeron banner for now; if a war erupted, the entire system could be repurposed for battles internal to Norland as well.
The strong draw of Midren coupled with a number of useful items had worked its magic, and with the Archerons basically offering their core resources on the reward point system there was little reason for anyone to attack them. It was much more efficient to fight with the Archerons and buy whatever one wanted than hope to win against a Richard who was showing near-epic strength.
Many soon realised the secret of the Archeron system, and some even tried to imitate it, but they quickly realised that there was no response. Some of them could take out a lot of resources, but they didn’t have anything to compare to Midren’s sheer might. The Archerons had already announced that a new piece would be put on the list every month, and it wasn’t possible to duplicate even the other rune sets of the broodmother-forged weapons that Richard had on offer.
As Richard busied himself with work, the Dragon Plane eventually accumulated enough strength to begin their invasion. They were full of confidence in this attack, having dispatched many elite tribes and doubled their numbers, but when they flew out of the barrier they were shocked to find that the number of humans had tripled. Their eyes were even gleaming red as they applauded raucously.
The battle saw the ambitious dragons beaten back once more, but the humans still felt like it was too short. There were too many participants now, so each individual could only earn so many points.
Richard was completely oblivious to the existence of this great battle. He only ever focused on his runecrafting, looking up every few hours to gaze at a special magic clock that was counting down to the birth of his child. Sometimes that one look was all he needed to recover from mind-numbing exhaustion, returning to his task with renewed vigour.
He would be at Coco’s side when his child was born. Not only to witness the moment, but also to make sure it entered the world smoothly. Coco had taken many life potions, but her body was still too weak and would be in danger while giving birth.
Time seemed to fly in Faelor, another month slowly slipping away. He progressed much faster than expected, making both the third piece of Midren and another set of pauldrons alongside the core components for fifty sets of Savage Barrier and all of the grade 3 and 4 runes he was tasked with. Stealthwalker was more than half complete.
It was that last rune that he was working on when the countdown timer suddenly rang out. Richard raised his head and looked at the time, quickly finishing the line he was working on before storing the incomplete rune in a magic-sealing case and walking out of the lab. He blinked over to the teleportation gate, porting back to Norland through Bluewater.
Within Blackrose Castle, Coco was browsing through a history book next to her window, occasionally lifted outside. Her belly was huge at this point, bigger than most normal pregnancies, but the rest of her body actually seemed skinnier than normal.
“Do you think His Grace will be back in time?” the maid brushing her hair asked.
Coco smiled and carressed her belly, “He’s busy, it’s alright even if he can’t make it.”
“But that’s unfair!” the maid complained, “Don’t you know how many people hate you in this castle? Those jealous bitches, they can bear his child themselves if they have the ability. His Grace simply doesn’t favour them. You mustn’t let them off once the child is born, some of them are very hateful. They actually say that the child… it isn’t…”
“Enough,” Coco stopped the maid, “You shouldn’t be spreading that gossip to anyone. His Grace can learn of anything he wants; if he hears that, he’ll chase all of you out.”
The maid yelped in fright. She had come from Coco’s family and had barely ever interacted with true nobles, her attitude hardly better than a normal commoner. She was only here because the steward had allowed Coco to choose a familiar caretaker during the later stages of the pregnancy, and entering Blackrose Castle was a huge leap forward. It wasn’t just the powerhouses of the Archerons either; this was the main hub for many powerhouses who were heading for Faelor. If she were lucky one day and had some saint fancy her, her destiny would change greatly.
Coco could sympathise with the woman’s train of thought. The two of them had known each other from youth, and she herself had gone to Faust with a similar mentality. She had been a partner candidate then, which was a little higher in status, but the core idea had been the same. She had never expected Richard to choose her, but many many things had happened after that.
Many complicated emotions whizzed through her heart as she recalled the past. It was all like a big dream, where she had been barrelled across insurmountable obstacles almost through no effort of her own. Now, she had arrived at the best ending she could ask for; the small life in her belly was greedily drawing on her vitality, growing with unfathomable speed. It would be born in two or three days.
Would Richard be back by then? She smiled in agony before looking at the scenery outside. Even if Richard didn’t return, it was no big deal. The child’s birth would fulfil her duties as his companion, and the choice would then be left to him. She could stay by his side and take care of their child, or receive a large reward and return to her hometown to start a new life. She didn’t want to strive for anything anymore, she didn’t want to live in constant fear. Richard had made her father a noble, and promised her a barony if she carried to term.
When she first stepped onto the Archeron island years ago, she would never have imagined that she could become a true noble one day. However, the thought of leaving Blackrose Castle and her strange life here still left her heart throbbing with pain.
Would Richard return?
“How are you feeling?” a gentle voice snapped Coco out of her daze. She bounced up in surprise and delight, turning around to see a tall and handsome figure at the doorside. For a moment she thought she was dreaming, but she still couldn’t bring herself to speak.
The maid behind Coco soundlessly lowered her collar, revealing a pair of breasts that were much larger than her mistress’s as she flashed a charming smile. Richard completely ignored the attempt at seduction, stepping towards Coco and supporting her, “Easy, you’re in the most critical period. Go lie on the bed, I’ll examine your body.”
Coco obediently walked over to the bed, lying down on it and allowing Richard to examine her foetus and herself. Seeing his concentration as he looked through her, she suddenly felt indescribable tranquility. She wanted to reach out to his face, but as she thought of the enormous difference between them her fingers twitched and she quietly lowered them once more.