Wennington was very calm as he watched Richard, also observing the other young ladies. It was Warren who looked at him strangely, his gaze containing an undeniable envy and some hatred as well. There was another boy from a branch family here who was on par with Warren in capability and age, but he seemed far more reserved with it. All three of them were obviously interested in Demi and Venica, as well as another beautiful and provocative young lady that attracted a lot of attention.
Not one of them paid any attention to Coco. Taking her to be one’s partner was almost resigning oneself to tragedy— in a world of power, beauty was the most worthless thing of all.
Conversely, both Venica and Demi had the right to choose their partners, and Demi was a key interest in the family as well. She’d demonstrated outstanding talent at a young age, and with a decisive calmness to her she seemed to many to be the next Alice.
This went even further with Richard. In the mere two days since his arrival people were already discussing the possibility of him becoming the next Gaton. Needless to say it was openly acknowledged that he might never be able to reach his father’s level of power, but the fact that he would become a runemaster would certainly get one’s blood pumping.
The two were entirely different prospects altogether. Richard didn’t need to prove himself in combat— his identity as a runemaster alone was enough to suppress all the youths present in this hall for a relatively long time.
Ordinary runemasters could gear up two to three elementary rune knights. If one were to make a simple comparison of power— the sale of one of these rune knights would make up the cost of manufacturing, and even one of the remaining would be able to wipe out the entire batch of youths here easily. This was an exceptional battle ability of its own kind.
Every young lady in the hall was rather beautiful in general, while the young lads shone in valiance. Venica and Demi were all the more charismatic amongst them, due to their parentage and prowess. This was particularly so for Demi, as indifference could evoke the carnal desires deep within men. Her shapely legs and curvaceous figure also made it clear that her performance on the other battlefield— the bed— would be very much comparable to her gift at battle.
Richard stood alone in a corner, holding onto a glass of wine. He occasionally loosened his collar to get some fresh air. He was not afraid of high temperatures, but he didn’t exactly like the smell of sulphur, and disliked formal occasions like this one even more. The evening suit that he was clad in had cost approximately a thousand gold, and was sewn personally by a top-notch tailor specially recruited by the family’s housekeeper. Richard’s distinctive charm was brought out to the fullest in this attire, a product of his elvish and Archeron blood mixing together. Yet, it only made Richard miss his own magic robes more.
He really liked his robes for the enchantments they had on them. During battles they could enhance one’s concentration despite the chaos, increasing their chances of finishing a spell successfully. As this was a permanent enhancement, it was extremely expensive. Though it did not have much practical use outside of actual combat, its price was more than ten times than the enhancements for stored battle-type magic. Thus, few would choose to get it. However, this was the most important enhancement to Richard, and that was simply because it could further improve his accuracy in runecrafting.
Richard was already used to living and working under the effect of that specific enchantment, and with the suit lacking it the change felt particularly uncomfortable. An article of clothing made by a top-notch tailor was only worth about a thousand gold, but that robe of Richard’s was worth at least ten times as much. This was the difference in costs between the world of magic and the ordinary world, one that could never be bridged.
Disinterested, Richard swirled the wine in his glass, letting the scarlet liquid swish around the insides of the cup. At the same time, he silently began to calculate the time. It had only been slightly more than half an hour since the banquet had begun. This meant that there was still at least another two and a half hours before this ordeal was over. This duration was already equivalent to the amount of time Richard usually took for a meditation session, which was at least a tenth of a point increase in his mana reserves.
There weren’t many shortcuts to increase one’s mana or energy. One had to rely on perseverance and determination, improving gradually over an endless stretch of time. This also meant that if Richard were to do nothing but meditate for thirty years continuously, he would become a great mage purely in terms of his mana. Of course, there was barely any one who could continuously meditate for thirty years, but the meditation technique that Richard was using currently was already close to Norland’s best. Nothing would come close to anything passed down from the Deepblue.
When he passed level 10 he would be able to begin learning the beginning portions of Sharon’s personal meditation technique, the Deepblue Fantasy. When he reached the level of his professors he would be able to practice the Deepblue Dream. Finally, once he stepped into the legendary realm himself, he would be able to practice the Deepblue Aria. Only after stepping out of the Deepblue had Richard realised exactly what it meant to be Sharon’s personal apprentice.
With far too much to be done to fulfill his goals, and things constantly pressing for his attention, Richard was obsessed with time. Despite the strong purpose and atmosphere of his banquet, he couldn’t bring himself to be enthusiastic at all.
In fact, it was not too much of a commitment to choose a partner. More often than not they just ended up being people who shared a bed, going their separate ways after a descendant was born. Richard had long since become a man, so he naturally wasn’t repulsed by woman or resist them either. Moreover, Demi and Venica each had their own attractive qualities, and the rest of the girls were not too bad either. As a partner in bed, they were definitely above the standard. Yet, there was a reason for him to reject the idea of choosing a partner. This entire process was situated with the Archerons, a family Gaton represented.
Richard did not make any move, but that did not mean that the rest did not as well. The youth from a branch family had long since gotten intimate with two girls who also came from branches. Intentionally or otherwise, they brushed past one another at their sensitive zones, and remained wise enough not to attempt to partner with someone of higher status than them. The youth was only able to have one partner, though both girls were vying for him. The youth’s capability and bloodline was considerably good, therefore he was naturally their best option.
The Archeron Family had been on countless quests in the past hundreds of years, and many grown men had died on the battlefield. Thus, there were fewer men in the family than women. Additionally, their ancient bloodline made it a lot harder for them to procreate than normal humans.
In Norland, an average human’s lifespan was around 70 years, while the pregnancy period was 6 months. An average woman could give birth to three children in two years. However, it took an average of three years before Archerons could possibly conceive a child. Together with the pregnancy period, it would take nearly four years for a child to be born. The six-fold increase of birth time may not seem significant in the short term, but if one were to look broadly at the period of sixteen years from when a child reached adulthood, all of this would translate into the fact that every Archeron couple would only be able to give birth to four descendants, while others give birth to twenty-four! As the second generation grew up to become adults and began procreation, this gap would only continue to widen. A century later, the gap would be impossible to bridge.
When it came to war, either on the continent or in the various other planes of existence, the population of a community was always an important factor. Even if the peak of a civilization’s power was able to transcend the boundaries of time, the efficacy would be limited. No matter how formidable any inheritance was, it would need to be passed down and sustained for generations through the bloodline. Thus, this gave rise to the Archerons’ ancient yet divine first rule.
As a means to remedy this, every Archeron also had many non-Archeron partners as well. This increased their chance of having children, but diluted the ancient bloodline as well. The ancestors hoped that, with the sheer number of children born in that way, there was some chance of a child with a particularly strong bloodline. Richard himself was an example of its success.
Not only would procreating take up a lot of time, it also would cause the mother’s power to decline significantly. The more gifted a child was, the greater the extent by which the mother’s power would decline. Of course a strong mother would weaken less, but that only applied to those like Demi and Alice who demonstrated outstanding ability at a young age. For ordinary Archeron women, their social status would be determined by the child they gave birth to. If they had given birth to a child who could meet the basic requirements of unleashing the inherited ability in their veins upon adulthood, the clan would then reward her with a well-provided life and the right to a second chance of choosing her partner.
And this time it was a choice, instead of being forced. Many fortunate Archeron women had climbed up society in this way, or found men with whom to live for the rest of their lives as their second partner.
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