Sharon was sat lazily on her sofa in the monitoring room, reviewing the report. Truth be told she couldn’t be more clear on the data it contained, but she wanted to review it nonetheless. It showed her approval of the mages, and was also a test of their ability.
“Pretty balanced in all fields, without any obvious strengths or flaws. He has passable mana, and his build isn’t bad. With those well-defined abs and hood flexibility he should last a long while… Well, I can look at that further when he matures. Is this all?” Sharon raised her head from the report, pressing the grand mage.
The mage shuddered under her intense and threatening gaze. He chose to ignore the racy words Sharon muttered under her breath, answering in a respectful tone, “It’s the most comprehensive examination we can conduct for now, rounding up to 16,000 coins. Everything we could find is already on the report, and we didn’t manage to detect any other talents yet.”
The word ‘genius’ was inadequate to describe someone who could reach a stunning level 18 as a mage, but Sharon seemed to think otherwise. Her brows furrowed in perplexion, “All he can advance to is level 18? How useless!” The ‘useless’ level 18 mage’s sincere and humble smile didn’t falter even as he listened to her words.
“This can’t be. His Archeron bloodline is more pure than even Gaton’s. It’s odd for him not to have any other talents, is it a collision with his silvermoon elf lineage?”
“The Archeron bloodline is of a superior grade, and we don’t have the ability to test his bloodline talents yet.”
“Nonsense!” Sharon berated, “I clearly remember there are at least six ways to test the talent of superior bloodlines, even for the best of the best. Do I have to remind you just how important a superior bloodline is? What in the hell are you idiots doing, am I wasting my money on maggots? If he has a chance of possessing a powerful bloodline ability, you should know to give your all in the examination. Forget the price, just test him, am I clear?”
“The cheapest method will cost more than 600,000 coins,” the mage answered, unaffected by Sharon’s outburst.
“Oh? Alright then, forget it.”
All these discussions remained unknown to Richard, who lost himself in dreamland after the day of torture. He’d returned to the village in his dreams, once again carrying the breadfruit he knew all too well home. He saw their little house in the distance, his mother waiting for him at the entrance. The savoury fragrance of pie wafted up his nose, telling him it wouldn’t be the bland fruits teasing his palate tonight, and that newfound happiness seemed to give him a sudden burst of energy as he ran towards his home like never before. Elaine smiled at him.
Then she went back into the cottage all of a sudden, and tongues of flames started to lick the windows.
Richard shot up and screamed, wanting to throw himself into the fire before noticing the room he was in. His sleepwear was drenched in sweat, and he took long, deep breaths in an attempt to calm himself down. He took his time examining his surroundings, to realise he was lying in an extravagant bed big enough to support five or six people. The rest of the room was extremely large as well. Richard only had to scan the area once for precise details to start appearing in his vision.
The room alone was larger than their entire cottage back in Rooseland, measuring sixty by fifty feet while being about twenty feet tall as well. It made him feel like a lone boat in a colossal ocean, puzzling him as to why it only accommodated one person. He pondered for a little while more before getting off the bed and observing everything that was present in the room. It had been a month since the nightmarish fire, a month of him forcing himself to forget whatever had happened. It was no doubt naive of him to believe that forgetting it would let his mother return, but even if he was aware of this he couldn’t help but submit to this belief, even worship it.
The room was furnished lavishly, the ornaments and furniture characteristic of mages and aristocrats. Richard realised he received numbers and data on whatever he focused his vision on, accurate to two decimal spots. This was the second level of the Truth ability he’d received from the enlightenment ceremony: Precision. He’d unlocked it during the examination, where he also felt the lurking power of the third and fourth levels. They would allow him to analyse the body compositions of various organisms, and appraise different materials. However, he did not know when these abilities would be triggered.
Even now he was unsure of the true use of this blessing, only finding himself drowning in wave upon wave of numbers. Thousands of numbers emerged out of literally everything he saw, starting to give him hallucinations. One chair alone had up to 111 numbers, explaining its length, its width, its surface area, so on and so forth. If he wished to he could even increase them thousandfold, by examining say each fibre of the cloth draping the chair, or the microscopic scales of the leather that made the armrest. Both these things were tough and durable, like they were from the skin of some dragon.
However, living in this world of numbers was miserable, and the young boy felt his head throbbing from dizziness. Thankfully his enhanced intelligence came into effect, and he classified and sorted all these numbers and data. He quickly eliminated what was useless, leaving only a few important fields. This took Richard the entire night, cutting down everything pointless and making sure the important bits remained.
The sun soon rose, marking Richard’s first day as an official apprentice of Sharon’s.
The main portion of the first day involved bringing Richard around and letting him gain an understanding of the Deepblue. He was shown the public areas and restricted zones, being informed about how to apply for various supplies and the people he had to look for if he needed any help. He was also given general safety precautions, and given a tour of his personal region.
Indeed. Fitting of the Precision ability, region was an accurate term to describe his personal space. He had his own magic lab complex, with one common lab and six specialised ones. There was the enormous bedroom, and the living area which was made up of eleven rooms with different uses, something that surprised him. One of them was meant just to store hats and clothes when all of his belongings could fit into a single small suitcase! And most of those were prepared by Gaton’s instruction at that, the fires started by his mother’s suicide having burnt down all the magic books and other souvenirs of his childhood. Indeed, the flames from a powerful shaman burning themselves were more powerful than a dragon’s breath.
There were storage areas as well, also divided into several rooms. Richard was beyond loss as he stood in the spacious area with tall shelves, unsure how one could even fill such a huge place. It was big enough to store winter supplies for his entire village!
The guide was a youthful acolyte, her voice as sweet as her appearance. She’d dropped her name multiple times over the course of the tour, hinting for Richard to find her whenever he needed help. She’d even emphasised that ‘whenever’, squinting her pretty eyes into cute crescents. Richard hadn’t understood what ‘could be put to use soon’ and ‘outstanding potential’ meant in his report under the body section yet, but he would in due time.
They bumped into a bustle of mages along the way, most making way for Richard and some even bowing to him. His abilities let him see that their eyes were on the symbol on the fresh robe he was wearing, a sign of status indicating he was hand-picked by Sharon herself. It was then that it dawned upon him; his status wasn’t to be trifled with in the Deepblue.
The official, systemised lessons began the next day, and Richard felt his head spin again when he received the long timetable for it.
The Deepblue had unconventional practices, away from the norms of the magic world. Foundational magic courses, for example, were split up into magic philosophy, the system of the world, planar organism study, planar geography, mathematics, world theory, composition study, material sciences, planar geometry, spatial geometry, the history of races, the analysis of living beings, and so on and so forth. These subjects were divided further the deeper one went, and one could learn their entire life.
The Deepblue’s curriculum placed much emphasis on magic philosophy, and this was where Richard’s lessons truly started.