Because a Runic Formation, which kept the sky overhead clear of clouds and the land directly below clear of mist, was running, sunlight was entering the garden at this time of the day and permeating much of its long-winded paths and corners, allowing travelers like Roy & Amelia to see the road ahead and what they were stepping on.
Runic formations, like their names, were derived from rune stones.
A bunch of great mages researched rune stones for countless years and realized that they were a product of ancient alchemy, a combination of various items that held great power.
Alone, those items werent worth fretting over.
But once an Alchemist joins them into one piece, they become the most desired runic stones.
But the art of ancient alchemy had become a part of lost history unknown years ago.
The alchemy of today was limited not only to recipes of runic stones but also the materials needed to make them.
Creatures and ores of time ancients were no longer seen in these lands, making many alchemy recipes of day-old utterly useless.
Alchemists were few and the least desired job of many, for Alchemy was hard, and only a chosen few stood at its peak, overseeing the world from their mighty Mage Towers.
There were many types of formation.
Some were capable of creating pillars of fire.
Others could create a shield huge and sturdy enough to block out a rain of arrows and fireballs.
But they all had two things in common…
And that was their ranking system and their need of countless mana stones to run properly.
Depending on their strength and effects, they were divided into 5 ranks, starting from rank 5 and going up to rank 1.
Rank-5 runic formations were the weakest while rank-1 were the strongest.
There werent many formations capable of changing the environment of a selected area as per a persons desire on a large scale, but each one of them was above rank-3.
The formation regulating the temperature of the counts garden was capable of changing the weather, so while not rank-1, it was infinitely closer to one.
That meant it eats away at Mana stone like a child overdosing on candies or a druggie snorting dream-inducing white powder till death embraces him.
Roy, too, found out about the existence of the rank-2 formation when he stood at the edge of the garden.
A landscape full of thick mist reflected in his eyes.
By just taking a single step, he will leave a bright and sunny garden and enter a cold, damp, and dark road sparsely brightened by the street lamps.
“Is the count so rich he doesnt need to fret over the cost of running a weather-changing formation all the time to keep his garden looking pretty and his house warm”
Roy really didnt want to call Count Badulf his father, so he mentioned him by his title instead. That man might be his biological father, but he wasnt spiritually. Add on the fact that Badulf didnt visit Old Roy one last time after he fell inside the pond, and youll get why Roy Fisher was reluctant to call him father.
“The vegetation in the counts garden is of a magical nature. They need sunlight daily to survive. If they go without it for more than 24 hours, they will begin withering, becoming closer to death. It would take lots of resources to revive them then. The cost will be more than that of running the formation to fulfill their need for sunlight.”
Roy was talking to himself, but his attentive maid thought that he had directed a question her way, and hence she answered him.
“Why not just let them die and save the money for rare kinds of trees that look pleasing to the eyes and can survive in the cold”
This was a world of magic. All kinds of things existed in it. There was no telling that trees capable of blooming in sub-zero temperatures might exist somewhere in the world too.
Amelia pointed at the tree all around her. “The Count hired the mages to tend to their every need for a reason. They are all of the exotic variety. They produce a bunch of fruits weekly. The count store some of them and puts the others up for auction. In the auction house, there are plenty who like these types of fruits. They can benefit mages as well. So they cost quite a lot. You can say the amount earned from selling them far out weights the cost of running the formation and the monthly expenditures used on taking care of the garden.”
‘It seems like Amelia is knowledgeable about what goes on around in the counts house. Good for me.
The count was one greedy man. He wasnt satisfied with only exotic tea leaves selling business, so he opened a magic fruit selling business.
Was he a knight of the Empire or a businessman Ah yes, he was an ambitious count looking out to pile more gold over his mountain of wealth!
“Its the mages job to maximize the profit and minimize the losses of their lord by keeping them well-fed, but they only get to enjoy the leftover bones he throws their way. My father –Im cringing because of calling him that – is a success-oriented cunning man.”
“The morning is quite misty. The road to our destination is long, cold, and barely illuminated, not suitable to be treaded. How about we come back at another time” Amelia was reluctant to see her just recovered young master go to that place to train. It would be better if he just went back and had tea and cookies for breakfast.
Roy turned to Amelia. “You can go back if you want to, but I wont. If I let an environment unsuitable for training stop me, Im afraid Ill not step out of my brothers shadow in this life.”
Or rather… He was too curious about the extent of his golden fingers capability to go back.
Who would want to train in the cold
Definitely not a man with a golden finger like him.
But as they say, curiosity killed the cat.
He wasnt willing to die to get the best out of his system but he wasnt willing to sit still either.
“I dont have anything to do at this time of the day. So I will go wherever you go.”
Roy stepped out the barrier stopping the cold and mist from marching into the garden & the huge manor in the center.
Amelia, of course, followed after him.
Roy didnt stop her.
She was adamant about being with him, and he didnt have it in him to sternly tell this silly lass off.
It was cold and all, but if he could bear it with his teeth clenched, then Amelia, who was far more stronger than him physically and magically, could bear it too, without much effort.
In their relationship, he was the weaker party.
The closet Roy got to the training ground for knights, the denser the mist in his path became, to the point it was hard to see what was 5 meters in front.
“Deep inside the mist is a man too bold.
Not only is he bald but also bold, a one & only piece.
Knowing not what it means to fear, he laughs at the Fierce Sword.
Paying a few copper to the miserable spirits, he forces the Creation of clouds.
Hidden in them, he pops open a few jars worth three days worth of meal.
Such luxury… Who dares to dream
Breaking the counts rule the first thing in the morning, he casually have a sip of the good ol Ale.
A cheap one, straight from the pubs musky wine cellar.
Why do I feel this masterpiece of mine is missing something Did I forgot to add something
‘He hides not out of fear of getting caught, but out of choice.
The day had just begun, but someone has started drinking already.
A pot of Cheap Ale from the pub down the alley was emptied by the man in a mere moment, who considered it a luxury.
Where did it go
Inside his tummy.
But some leaked out of his nose as he choked on it mid-way.
The man was fearless, so he drank another pot as if he hadnt just almost crooked to death because of the smelly and stingy piss-like Ale.
He was a man that lived life the hardcore way.
But he had a problem.
He wasnt a good drunk.
Its not like he tortured poor souls with his fists like the drunk rowdy do.
But listening to his poem was worse than that.
His poems normally doesnt see the light of day.
But there were some men forsaken by luck.
They were the ones unlucky enough to hear it and they all had wished they could go back a day in time.
Yet, the heard couldnt be unheard just as time couldnt be reversed.
They could only shed tears in silence, paying a Mental Mage in gold to wipe their memory of that day!
This mans poems sucked just as much as his hairline… Oh right! He didnt have one!
No worries… he was already old and had fathered four so far, so having a head with even a strand of hair didnt really matter to him.
Or did it
The onlookers truly didnt know.
But they were sure if the count found out about the mans deeds, he would be better off dead!
‘Huh Am I hearing things Who would come here at this time of the day
The drunk man became confused after he heard the sound of footsteps.
Although drunk and blurry-eyed, he could tell two lost souls were approaching him.
‘One has heavy footsteps. So maybe they are dressed in full armor. The others are light. An assassin or a petite girl
Without even looking, the man determined what they could be just from the sound of their footsteps. He was, undoubtedly a first grade knight with stats numbering in the hundreds.
Curiosity got the best of him and he looked up, only to see the people he least expected to come here.
The man didnt expect anyone to come here at this time of the day.
The knight of the county usually come to the training hall at evening.
It was, after all, at that time that the countys formation would activate its environmental-changing function, which would in turn, make the temperature in the training ground bearable for half-naked to swing their swords, yell louder than dogs and run a dozen to hundreds of miles no less faster than regular horses.
“What are you doing here” The man was taken aback to see Badulfs youngest son intrude upon his territory at the most unexpected time. This wasnt a place for a sickly youth like him.
Roy didnt answer him immediately. His current reality was far different than the past. He was the counts son. He wasnt obliged to offer an answer to just anyone, especially to a man who looked like a kidnapper.
Roy eyed his maid. “Who is he”
She leaned close to him – bringing along with her a scent Roy found pretty pleasant – before whispering in his ears. “He is your uncle.”
Roy coughed and eyed the man from head to toe suspiciously.
For the first time, He was having a hard time believing his beloved maids words
‘Such a ugly man… He definitely cant be my mothers brother.
Roy didnt want to judge other by their appearance. But he couldnt help it.
Comparing himself to the man was like comparing a pile of dung to a mountain of garbage.
With no eyebrows and hair on his head and a body more than 2 meters tall, that man stood at the opposite side of human aesthetic.
His mother was known for her beauty.
No way in hell did she have a bandit-looking baldy as her brother.
As Roy guessed, the bald man was his new bodys fraternal uncle.
And he didnt have a good first impression of his father.
So naturally he didnt see this man in a good light either.
Apples doesnt fall from the tree.
A rotten apple corrupts all!
One scumbag in the family usually means the entire family is made of scums.
“Uncle, Im here to train.” He answered coolly.
“Here to train You”
Arlo gaped at Roy, his eyes widening. He was sure he wasnt hearing things. This kid who hadnt ran a mile in his life was up so early to swing a sword like he really means it. Had the Sun rose from the West today What was going on!
“Yes, its as youve heard. Brushing past death helped me realize how ridiculously weak I am. Just slipping into a pond at night almost took my life. Luckily, I had a capable maid by my side, taking care of me day & night. I wouldve parted ways with the living if not for her lowering my fever. Ive gained newfound motivation to better myself, so I am here to try my hands at swordsmanship.”
Roy had long prepared a excuse to explain his sudden changes to anyone curious. He didnt expect there to be many. After all, he was almost non-existent to the people of this family. They didnt care about his life & death, waiting for him to rot to death at his room that was more like a cage.
“Alright I believe you. The training ground are open for you until I say otherwise. You must remember, however. Motivation will help you take the first step towards success but only consistency, conviction and hard work will take you a mile ahead. If you have talent for something but dont work hard, youll at best be mediocre at it with thousand if not ten thousand above you.”
Roy could feel it. This man was giving him advice without any ill intention. He was nothing like Badulf.
“I will last long enough to stand before your grave as a proud swordsman, old man.” Roy mumbled beneath his breath.
But the mans eyes twitched, clearly indicating he had caught the words of the boy.
Instead of lashing out, He chuckled and closed his eyes.
“Why are you getting drunk so early in the morning, though Dont you know. Too much of this stuff can be bad for your Kidneys. It might give you an early ticket to the faroff plane.”
Hearing what he said, Arlo coughed.
The faroff plane the boy was talking about… was it not the afterlife!
Was this boy obsessed with talking about death with a man he hadnt seen in a while
He casually threw the empty and full pots up. Gravity came into play, pulling them down. The drunkenness in his eyes evaporated in the blink of an eye as if magic.
His fists shot out like rapid fire cannons, so fast that Roy and Amelia only saw thousand of blurry pictures of his outstretched arms in the air.
Roy swore the world was lagging!
Bam! Bam! Bam!
Most of the sound cancelled each other. The ones they heard came as the afterimages dispersed. Along with that, the evidence of his crime turned to thin air.
He punched out again.
This time, the force behind this attack of his was so great that it created a disastrous shockwave that blasted away every drop of ale, its scent, the mist, and the ashes of the pot from this area, leaving only his nephew and the maid beside him unhurt.
He had great strength and great control over his strength!
“Wine What wine” Said the man in a bewildered tone as he smiled at the boy and his maid who were rooted in their place.
Whether it was out of fear or awe… Only they knew.
[Ability level too low.]
[You cant inspect him.]
Roy used his skill with the man in his vision, but he failed to get any information on him.
“Werent we talking about how good the weather is Hahaha!”
Roy laughed out loud. Internally, he swallowed his saliva.
‘Fuck! This man is unknown times powerful than me. I better not step on his nerves.
“Yes, yes, we were. This be a good time to train. Werent you here for that Hurry up and get to work. Young men shouldnt dilly dally. Thats what old men like me should do, Kuhe.”
I will gladly let you rot!
“Please excuse us.”
Roys tone became more humbler after seeing the ridiculousness the man was capable of.
The man, who had already laid down and had his back to them, nonchalantly waved his hand as if giving them the permission to not stand at his head.
Rou grabbed his petrified maid and went away, not bothering to look back at the scene of the land getting invaded by the swirling mist.
They didnt know someone was crying with his head in his hands.
My four copper worth of wine. It has all gone to waste. damn it all.
After acting cool to impress the kid, Arlo cried tears of blood, feeling as if his soul had left his body.