An Irresistible Woman
Richard didn’t understand what Gaton meant until half an hour later. Still, it would take him a few more years to understand the deeper significance behind this truly profound experience.
He’d been on a high-backed chair in the meeting, as stiff as a statue. His gaze had been tilted up a little, fixed on a mural above the door.
The meeting had taken place in a small drawing room in the inner part of the castle, located in a different wing from the dining hall that was meant only for the family to use. The grand, lavish decorations here greatly contrasted the rest of the castle, warm and bright with light from illumination spells making it as bright as day inside. The numerous candles in the gorgeous holders added a perfect warmth to the room aside from the lighting as well.
Richard’s siblings were seated on couches to either side of him, two younger brothers and six sisters of various ages. He’d never imagined that he had so many half-siblings; when his cousins were added on, this number would probably grow.
His brothers were seated on his left, and his sisters on his right. He was right in the centre, bearing their scorching looks as they watched him attentively, like a rare demon just waiting to be dissected. Unlike the statue that was him, his siblings were much more unbridled and arrogant.
The two boys were much younger than Richard, but their gazes were filled with explicit curiosity, contempt and hostility; everything but affection. Their stares made the hair on Richard’s neck stand, which only happened when he could feel murderous intent. His six sisters were all of different ages: the eldest proved to be a young lady judging by her swelling bosom, and the youngest was likely less than five years old. The looks they gave him were much more complicated as well; there was inquisitiveness, but also hesitation as they scrutinized him. The two oldest were huddled together, discussing in low voices and glancing over at him from time to time as they occasionally erupted into unbridled laughter. Richard still couldn’t understand what it was, only that it was definitely of no concern to their brothers and younger sisters. It would take some time for him to realise that it was what women did to men they wanted to sleep with.
Richard didn’t speak a word. He didn’t know what to say at all, and his siblings didn’t seem intent on conversation either. They levelled their constant, piercing gazes at him, some filled with such pointed callousness that they threatened to stab a hole through him while others radiated a hatred like they wanted to devour him whole.
They only met for ten minutes, but to Richard it felt like an extremely long day had passed by the time the butler brought him out of the drawing room. He discovered the dress shirt he was wearing underneath his clothes was already drenched.
He later realised that the ten minutes in which he met his siblings was actually a sort of ceremony that represented their approval of him as part of the Archerons, and that he would be part of the family from now on. Such a ceremony also allowed the members of the Archeron Family to get to know each other, giving them opportunities to select each other in the future.
Richard departed Blackrose Castle the next noon, escorted by a small party of troops as he headed west. He hadn’t seen Gaton again since dinner, and his father hadn’t come out even when he left Azan. The meeting was simpler than he had imagined, and also much more cold and indifferent. He hadn’t had any expectations in the first place, but he still felt a vague sense of loss when he left. The number of siblings made him understand that he was just another child to his father.
However, Richard secretly clenched his fist so hard that his fingernails scraped his palm. Two scenes superimposed themselves in front of his eyes: one was of his numerous siblings, and the other was the raging flames that continued to burn that day. He suddenly felt that his mother died such an unjust death.
The team headed west, with Mordred still being Richard’s escort. The knight spoke much less this time, only adding a few sentences in on occasion for the twenty day journey. They passed through dark forests, crossed the Roman River that stretched across continents, trudged along the pale mountain ranges for another ten days, then passed through the territories of a dozen nobles and even a grand duchy before they finally arrived at their destination: the Deepblue, a magical tower in the territory of the legendary Grand Mage Sharon.
Space possessed power of its own. An immensely vast space will always exert some kind of actual pressure on people.
Standing in front of the Deepblue, Richard truly understood how vast a magical tower more than 500 meters tall could be. This wasn't just a standalone structure, but an entire complex of buildings extending from the Everwinter Mountains to one of the tributaries of Floe Bay. The central building was built in gothic style, its flying buttresses adorned with complicated and exquisite carvings. An eye-catching spire and pointed arches supported the door, while colourful clouds of elemental particles and arcane energy encircled the peak. The entire magical tower seemed to be floating up towards the sky.
Richard met Sharon quickly. This was a legendary mage, a guardian of the Sacred Alliance, and the instructor his father had chosen for him. Only face to face with the dragonslayer did he realise that she hadn’t even agreed to coach him; the journey was entirely his father’s wishful thinking.
Richard now stood in Sharon’s magical hall, which was a dreamlike space. The walls and the ground were made of some unknown, sparkling material that was a translucent navy blue. One would be able to peer into the depths of the hall with one glance, but it also felt as though they couldn’t look beyond the surface. Multicoloured optical disks whirled around the walls and the floor from time to time, moving freely like a bunch of fish frolicking around, as agile as though they were alive.
A throne carved out of an entire chunk of natural crystal stood atop a platform at the end of the hall, Sharon herself seated on it. Her feet were on the same level as Mordred’s chin, and over Richard’s head––she was literally lofty. But with her legendary status, no one would think she was lacking in manners whatsoever.
Sharon’s golden hair flowed freely, and her long regal dress with a plunging neckline revealed her bare shoulders and much of her snow white bosom. Her complexion was unbelievably fair, and one would have an urge to bite any part of her body if they saw it. Of course, one would choose to lay their teeth upon her full chest if they had a choice, and next would be her face. She seemed seventeen or eighteen at most, with a small face and quiet disposition. The grand mage was the definition of a classic beauty, seated atop the towering crystal throne like a goddess that had just descended.
Those who met her for the first time would totally be unable to associate such a young and beautiful woman with a legendary mage. But even the youngest mage would know that the Deepblue had been around for more than a century.
Her hands were criss-crossed upon her knee, and every single finger was adorned with a long fingernail guard forged from enchanted adamantine, each finger embedded with gems and designs of every colour. The designs on the guards were in fact formed from tiny spells inlaid in the myriad of gems that included rare stones only seen in legends. Those who knew value would be able to see that these guards were all impeccably powerful magical transmitters, or perhaps they were more like godly tools, and Sharon could actually cover all ten of her fingers in them! Her earrings, necklace, and even the string that she used to tie her hair were magic transmitting equipment similar to the fingernail guards!
The crystal throne was so dazzling that even Richard, a child who knew nothing about it, could tell how precious it was. However, this magic hall itself was worth a hundred times the throne. The crystals built into the walls and floors were actually used by mages for their staffs!
Standing in the magical hall, Richard suddenly felt his range of perception expand substantially, and traces of energy had started to enter his body as though they were flowing along some strange passageway. When the fine energy particles entered his body and were gradually absorbed, he suddenly heard the sound of glass shattering in his consciousness. It was as if some protective screen had been smashed into pieces at that very moment, allowing his perception that was once bound and restricted to dissipate completely.
In the next second, Richard came into contact with a magical ocean! Undercurrents ebbed and flowed in this water void of light, flowing along the seabed, ready to silently devour a gigantic whale at any moment. If Richard fell into this ocean he would instantly be engulfed without a single ripple, but he was standing on its surface at this very moment!
The momentary feeling of confusion immediately made Richard turn pale, and he began to tremble involuntarily. It all felt so real, and it was beyond his abilities to determine if it truly was.
Meanwhile, Mordred and Sharon were having a serious discussion about Richard’s tuition fees.
“It is my master’s wish that you put your heart and soul into guiding our young master, on account of old time’s sake.”
“Old time’s sake? Yeah, I recall now. That Marquess from your family still hasn’t paid me for many of my materials!”
“He has already paid the principal amount, hasn’t he?”
“How about the interest?”
Discussing numbers with a mage was not a wise move at all. Mordred immediately changed the topic, and threw out plan B. “Young master Richard has an exceedingly outstanding innate gift for magic.”
“Hmph, dozens of geniuses approach me to learn magic from me every year! I’ve even rejected three to four clerics.”
With a solemn face, Mordred dealt his trump card. “Our young master has the bloodline of the Archerons, and few adults can compare to the degree of purity of his blood. Well, at least no one else among this generation of Archerons is his match.”
The legendary mage was initially calm, but her eyes suddenly lit up so bright that the entire magical hall twinkled a little, as if she had seen an enormous dragon made of jewels. Although she spoke in a composed manner, anyone would be able to tell that she was just putting on an act. “Then what can I do?”
“You can trample on him any way you wish!” This didn’t sound like something that solemn and old-fashioned Mordred would say. As a matter of fact, these were the exact words of the Marquess, not him, but Mordred maintained a solemn expression even as he said those words. Or perhaps his appearance didn’t convey his emotions.
It was then that Sharon and Mordred both became aware of Richard’s peculiar behaviour.
Sharon looked as though she was in deep thought. “This little chap could actually establish a connection with my magical hall’s magic power reservoir, that isn’t an easy feat. Well… I guess he barely qualifies to learn from me,” she said slowly.
“Of course!” Mordred smiled, but he was thinking otherwise. This was a magical hall constructed entirely out of abyss crystals! The magical powers here were so strong that even a knight like himself whose only capability were his fighting abilities could detect it. What’s so hard about that? This excuse was really too far-fetched.
“However, that is not enough.” Sharon said, “The two planes that Gaton has with him are pretty good. I want 10 years of his profits from either one of them.”
“In plane time?”
“No, Norland time.”
The corner of Mordred’s mouth twitched a little, but he eventually nodded. This had already slightly exceeded the baseline that Gaton had set for him, but it was still narrowly acceptable. Norland wasn’t the sole plane in this world, but it was one of the top few. The timeflow here was slower than in most secondary planes, and ten years in Norland could be equivalent to centuries elsewhere. The bottom line that the marquess had initially set was already unimaginably generous. This was half of Gaton’s earnings that they were talking about, which would inevitably affect his plans for expansion in the future. One must know that Gaton’s next goal was to establish his presence in the capital city of the Empire: the legendary city, Faust. In order to establish one’s ground in such a place, no matter how abundant the resources prepared were, it would never be too much.
It was only then that Mordred recalled a title that the elites in the Alliance secretly circulated among themselves, one which was prefixed to Sharon’s name, ‘Bloodsucking Sharon, indeed…’
Her maxim was widely known as well, “I might not be the strongest, but I will definitely be the wealthiest.”
However, Sharon continued, “I’ll help little Gaton a bit during the next prayer to the Eternal Dragon.”
Mordred heaved a sigh of relief. This was unanimous with the baseline that Gaton had set. Yet he immediately felt a bizarre feeling rise in him. Although this was such a significant matter, both parties had quickly reached a deal at their baselines without probing each other numerous times and the push-and-pull process of haggling over prices.
What chemistry they had!
The most important task had already been successfully accomplished, and Mordred departed immediately. Right before he left, he couldn’t help but turn back and take a last glance at Richard, with a complex look in his gaze. When more than a century worth of aggregate profits from a certain plane were stacked together, regardless of what shape or form, anyone would look back at them like that.
Sharon waved gently. Eighteen mages all above level 12 immediately retreated without a noise, leaving her alone with the boy who was straining himself not to get overwhelmed by the magic power. Although his clothes were thoroughly drenched in sweat, Richard still braced himself and didn’t collapse. The tenacity that he had been training since his youth was finally revealing its effects.
The legendary mage sitting atop the crystal throne lightly tapped her fingers, and two of the fingernail guards collided with a “ding”. As the tides of the magic power reservoir hidden underground slowly came to rest, the rich and never-ending illusions in Richard’s mind also vanished. When the tides were all focused upon little Richard, even someone with no talent for magic could display an ‘extraordinary’ innate gift.
This was a tiny disguise that Mordred definitely saw through, and Sharon had no intention of covering it up. It wasn’t that she didn’t have more superior and obscure strategies and excuses, just that she was too lazy to use them. No matter how botched a reason was, it was still a reason. Even if Mordred saw through Sharon’s tricks, he didn’t dare to mention it. That was the crux of the matter.
Richard calmed his breathing and slowly raised his head to meet Sharon’s gaze. He was a little startled; although Sharon was high and mighty, her imposing loftiness was far more powerful and dangerous than the fiercest demon he had ever seen. This woman only looked about 17 or 18, and was so stunningly beautiful with her fair skin and a full chest that one would itch to sink their teeth into. She was going to be his teacher from now on?
“Your father has already sold the next few years of your life to me.” The legendary mage used the word ‘sold’ in a very ambiguous manner, knowing that Richard wouldn’t be able to understand it clearly since he didn’t have the listening skills of a level 7. Even if he heard it distinctly, he wouldn’t understand what it meant for now. While the great magic tutor and the murderous maniac were negotiating over the price, this young man was struggling to endure the tides of the magic power and prevent himself from being washed away, clueless about everything else that was happening.
“From today onwards, you will be my student. You must execute all my orders accurately without fail, regardless of what they are.” Sharon’s voice was stern and distant.
“Yes.” Richard replied. He had already learnt the responsibilities and obligations of an acolyte on the journey here.
Sharon tapped her fingernails together once more. Two powerful mages entered the place and took him away. He maintained his display of respect and humility as her acolyte, not raising his head to look at her because it would be impolite. That’s why he didn’t notice the strange looks being shot at him from the cold beauty, the look bears gave salmon as they salivated with greed.
It wasn’t easy for Sharon to wait until the entire hall cleared out. She might have just erupted into laughter involuntarily moments ago, an unconcealable delight on the legendary mage’s pretty little face as she unrolled an enchanted scroll in one swift motion. The scroll projected an image that formed a three-dimensional magic map, filled with innumerable magic symbols that indicated hundreds of planar coordinates.
Sharon was in high spirits as she scanned through the dozens of dragon signs on the map of the plane. Since she was in a good mood, she decided to pillage a few dragon nests to celebrate the day’s events.
“What should I do tonight? Rob a dragon, or rob a dragon, or rob a few dragons?!” The beautiful legendary mage was distressed in her own way.