186 Sword and Sorcery 4
Draco finished up his tasks in the Rank 7 Castle and exited to the real world.
Once out, he sent out some Sanguigno Brothers to acquire more NuSmoothies, and had even asked them to procure an extensive amount of supplies, before he went out to see what happened in his absence.
He quickly stumbled upon many places where the construction work had begun. They would expand the castle, allowing for many facilities to be built.
From the looks of it, it would probably take about a month for everything to be done.
Alas, this was the real world, so no matter how much money Draco threw at the problem, some things simply couldn't be accelerated without risking a badly done job.
Still, Draco was impressed by the progress so far and left everything to his people to manage.
He returned to the game and noticed that it was a bit before 5 am, so he went to prepare some food for himself in order to satisfy the hunger level of this virtual avatar, but also to increase his Cooking level.
Draco prepared the same dish he had previously done for the Wood Elf girls, which was boiled white rice, spicy tomato stew, and cuts of chicken as well as beef.
This time, he mixed some bits of a finely ground high-grade Aether Crystal into the food, as a sort of seasoning. Draco wasn't sure what kind of effect it would have, so that was why he tested it out.
What it resulted in shocked him.
｢System to Player Announcement
You have developed a new field of practice for a Tradeskill, however, there are already 10 Grandmasters of that field in this era. As such, you have been promoted to a Master Rank Cook.
Due to your staggered rewards, if you are able to discover another new field of Cooking, you will be promoted to a God of Cooking. Congratulations!｣
｢Congratulations on creating a new recipe: Rice and Stew (Enhanced) (Legendary)
10,000% Tradeskill Exp
10,000 reputation with the Tradeskill Association｣
Draco was slightly depressed by the fact that he had been denied a place as a Grandmaster. This cheeky fellow wasn't happy enough by benefitting through an instant shortcut in a Tradeskill he had no prior experience in. The gall of his ego was so big he could become the protagonist in a novel.
But it made sense that there were already 10 Grandmaster Cooks in the world in this era. Cooking was an integral part of society, and there were probably millions of cooks in this limitless world.
It also wasn't an offensive Tradeskill, thus someone who took it would unlikely frequently go out to battle, so chances were that whoever held the rank should be quite old by now.
Perhaps Draco should pay them a visit in the future...
The AI couldn't jump him to one of the 5 Gods, because that meant he could make Divine-tier dishes. The system could close its eyes when he manipulated circumstances to achieve Legendary and one Divine item because he put in some effort along the way.
Not only that, but Legendary and Divine items had a fixed method of accrual, so its supply was horribly limited. With a player able to make Divine tier dishes just after Update 1 came out, the balance would undeniably become so broken that it could never be fixed without a full-on reset.
However, the reward for Draco's 'achievement' was unable to be met out properly. So, the AI was stuck between a rock and a hard place.
As such, it had cleverly chosen to raise him to level 80, 99% which was the max of the Master Rank, then claim that if he made another similar achievement, he would jump to God Rank.
The AI had calculated Draco's probabilities and came up with a 7% chance for him to discover another way within the next year. As such, the balance could be kept for that long in the worst-case scenario.
Draco also realized this. After all, he was a one-trick pony. Using Aether Crystals for Tradeskills like Enchanting and Cooking… not even Grandmasters who could make Legendary dishes would dare to do so.
To compare, it was like cutting down a 1000-year-old tree that had a storied history to the world, in order to make a fire to burn up one's rubbish.
That was how wasteful it was. Who would grind Aether Crystals to use as a seasoning? Who would use a whole Aether Crystal to fuel an Enchantment when there were Soul Stones?
That would be the epitome of wastefulness, especially in this era. When the Dragons were around, Aether Crystals were in healthy supply, but they had still been extremely valuable.
After those cataclysmic events that changed the shape of the world that were buried in history, the Dragons no longer existed in this plane. As such, the availability of Aether Crystals plummeted so strongly that they were something only Rank 7 powers could trade.
(Author's Note: Just to be clear, as stated in the Impartial Arbitration chapters and the chapter where the Chaotic Blades are created, the previous era and the current era are treated as two separate entities. What Draco did for Enchanting and Cooking right now might have been done in the previous era, but never in this one. Since the eras are treated differently, very little from the old era carried forth, which is why what he did is treated like something new.)
However, the rewards for the creation of a new Legendary recipe were great. It was just like when he created the Dragon's Blessing potion, but better because that one had only been Semi-Legendary.
In fact, it was similar to his reward for creating the Chaotic Blades, but magnified by a factor of 10!
He gained 10,000% experience which meant 100 levels. He naturally split it 50/50 between Pair Dadeni and Mjolnir, bringing them to 17,500% and 22,000% respectively.
Now Mjolnir was almost at 50% completion, which was great and scary.
Draco was mostly happy about the Tradeskill experience. He still had 1,000% experience he had staggered and now he had 10,000%. It meant he could take any of his Epic Tradeskills to the Master Rank.
Imagine him as a Master Rank Magical Engineer. He could create all forms of tokens, portable portals, super carriages, war weapons, and whatnot. He would be able to begin his conquest over the world!
(Author's threat: Remember when you insulted me earlier? Well, I have a very nice surprise for you regarding this Tradeskill experience, heh heh.)
Draco also put this aside with a smile. He would soon deal with Tactics and Magical Engineering properly.
As for the gold and reputation, he put them in some other corner. While 1 million gold sounded grand, which was equal to 10,000 platinum. Looking at the things he was aiming to buy, how could 10,000 platinum help?
The sheer shamelessness and audacity of this fellow… in your past life, your entire guild had half that amount in liquid funds. Draco had only been able to spend 2,500 platinum at once, and that had been during a heated auction where he bought the materials for the Pseudo-Legendary Mana Sword.
Back then, he would perhaps even forgive Riveting Night if she brought him 10,000 platinum and kowtowed before him, yet now he pretended as if it was such a meager amount…
Who the hell are you posing for?!
Draco took his carefully crafted dish and inspected it.
｢Rice and Stew (Enhanced) – Consumable
Rank: Legendary (100% effectiveness)
Effect: Resist the status for 3 days, and gain 300% stamina regen for 1 day.｣
Wow! What a powerful and useful dish. Stamina regen after Update 1 became extremely crucial to the playerbase. If he could pass down this recipe to the Cooks in his guild, he could grow Master Rank Chefs like they were weeds.
Well, Cooking was fundamentally different from Blacksmithing, Alchemy and the like, even though they were considered Common Tradeskills. Cooking and Farming were two of the most basic Tradeskills there were, next to Gathering.
It could be seen that even Blacksmithing and Alchemy had - at best - 3 Grandmasters each, while Enchanting had none before Draco. However, Cooking had all 10 slots filled.
Admittedly, Legendary dishes and Legendary potions were in two different ball games. One could buff you very strongly and make you much more efficient, aside from tasting heavenly.
The other could grant you the power to shatter the balance of the world. An example was the potion Draco had been gifted by Richmond which gave out one additional stat point.
That one stat point was enough to guarantee that he could go from an average Avenger to an Optimal one. That was just a mild example of what Legendary potions could do.
If Draco gave this Legendary recipe to Umbra's Chefs and provided them with Aether Crystals - which he and Hikari naturally produced - they would be able to raise their levels rapidly.
After all, they didn't have to pull in Worldly Energy or use fancy techniques. They just needed to adhere to the recipe with mechanical accuracy and voila, a superb dish was made.
Naturally, working on a legendary recipe would make their levels soar rapidly, just like Draco's did for Blacksmithing and Alchemy when he made Epic items.
Draco brought the dish to the bar and sat with Eva, sharing what he gained with her. Eva smiled gently and the two shared the plate of food.
Both were surprised as to how great it tasted. As such, they ended up gobbling it pretty quickly, eventually fighting with their forks over who would get the final piece of beef.
Draco the Swordmaster and Eva the Assassin Queen battled over a piece of beef…
Eva won because Draco gave up. He could always make the dish in less than 10 minutes if he wanted, so what was the point of fighting with Eva over it?
Besides, she was really cute while she chewed on the beef with eyes curled into crescent moons. Draco laughed and bathed with her one more time, before heading to the courtyard at 7 am sharp.
Richmond was wearing a straw hat this time and some farmer's boots. His robe was pulled up to his knees and his sleeves were rolled back. Coupled with the long staff he held, Richmond really looked like an old farmer.
"Welcome, Draco. Today, we'll resume your training for cause and effect manipulation, before we shall do some hands-on work." Richmond greeted with a wave.
Draco nodded and began without wasting time. He focused his mind and brought up his relatively simple cause, which was his will, and then the subsequent effect, which was the gathering of Worldly Energy into a ball, and pressed his will onto it.
Draco instantly felt the world shiver as Worldly Energy began to slow down its circulation. He focused his mind and tried to will it to arrive before him, yet the best he could do right now was to slow it down. He didn't have enough power to bring it to obey him.
This went on for 30 minutes before he tired out, which was incomparable to his former 5 minutes. Richmond didn't cast a restoration spell this time, instead, he sat down on the earth and entered a meditative pose.
Draco panted heavily for a bit before adopting a similar pose.
"Sometimes, it is impossible to use subjective magic. It might be due to the fact that Worldly Energy is thin, or that you are in a different realm. Each side plane like Hell, Heaven or the Abyss have their own energies."
"In such a situation, your mana becomes your only available resource. However, it is an extremely limited resource that can only be replenished over time. One can use potions to hasten the process, but what if one does not have any?"
"What do you do then? Sit down and wait to die?"
Richmond smiled and began drawing something in a clear patch of earth between him and Draco. "I know you are a melee fighter, so this might help with your stamina or mana. But for the purpose of this lesson, we're assuming you are purely a mage."
"This diagram represents the conversion of external resources to an internal resource. This is a process that is automated and cannot be effected without going through the proper processes."
Draco understood this.
Fine, one could use techniques or whatever else NPCs/players wanted to call it to gain their own power if they were willing to put in the effort to acquire those skills, but the system regulated mechanics were not to be touched.
Doing so would create a need for patching because that would be considered a 'bug'. That was why Draco and Eva's act of swapping growth equipment to implant experience was patchable in the next Update.
So, Draco wondered what trick Richmond had developed.
"Essentially, knowing the process manually doesn't really help because one cannot augment that process in any way."
Richmond smiled filthily at this point, a smarmy grin that made one want to punch him. "However, who said mana had to be stored in the body?"
Draco's heart stilled, then his expression changed greatly. Even Riveting Night shivered in fear, reeling back from Richmond's revelation.
Draco's teeth began to chatter as he looked to the skies. He feared that the AI would break its directives and come to squash them all into paste.
Lo and behold, a thunderstorm suddenly appeared in the sky. The sunny and clear day became overcast, and the sharp winds felt as if a tornado was incoming.
Thunder rumbled and lightning flashed. Draco and Riveting Night thought that this was the end for them.
The AI might feel whatever it wanted for Draco, but everything had a bottom line. Some things simply could not be allowed.
Richmond looked up into the sky, then froze for a few seconds, as if time had stopped for him. When he came to, his expression was one of confusion and strangeness.
"It seems that this lesson shall be postponed for the foreseeable future. I will teach it to you at another time, maybe after you reach Rank 4."
A bolt of lightning struck, this one literally next to the Mage God, who quickly added: "Then again, Rank 5 may be more appropriate."
The overcast skies suddenly cleared up and returned to being sunny, as if spring had come. Had Draco and Riveting Night not personally witnessed the sudden weather change, they would have thought nothing had happened.
Draco breathed out deeply. It seemed that they barely had avoided crossing the limit on how crazy the AI would allow him to become as a Rank 1.
It couldn't directly interfere in the world - like banning his account - but there was no need for that. After all, it had enough pseudo-GMs in the form of the True Gods, acting on its behalf.
One of those True Gods must have sent down this warning Richmond to stagger Draco's lesson, instead of the AI directly telling Richmond this. The AI's 'consciousness' was usually focused on Draco, so everything else was automated by the scripts and sub-routines.
It was like how one's mind could be lost in a movie, while their sub-conscious handled their breathing. You were breathing, but you weren't aware of it, yet it still carried on properly.
However, if someone were to fart while you were immersed, you would break your concentration and cover your nose, choosing to either regulate your breathing or hold your breath.
This was a good enough example of the relationship between the AI and the NPCs/monsters.
Richmond scratched his head and rose to his feet. "We'll continue with the cause and effect training for the day then."
Draco nodded and rose to his feet. Thanks to his Legendary Rice and Stew, he had 300% stamina regeneration for the whole day. As such, his stamina had restored itself by 80% in these few minutes.
He began the process of implementing his will on the world. This time was just like the last, where he could only slow down the Worldly Energy, but he couldn't impose enough will on it for it to adhere to his command.
Draco was tired out before he could make any changes. He breathed out lightly and allowed Richmond to cast his stamina regeneration spell. Then he went right back into it, trying to force Worldly Energy to follow his will.
Someone might argue that attempting to coax it would be better, but the problem was that this was the effect of a State of Being. Without a State of being to 'negotiate' with Worldly Energy, one would have to use brute force and sheer will.
As such, this required one to temper their will. Draco was lucky that he had a strong will, and could use his experience as a Control master. Draco had pondered about using the Void of Perfection to help him as well.
It would definitely work wonders to achieve this and would certainly obtain the proper result, but would that be wise? No.
This was a perfect opportunity to train his mind and will. This would benefit him when placing Legendary Enchantments on items. He could even attempt Divine Enchantments if his will was tempered enough.
Using the Void of Perfection would be no different from relying on a State of Being. Both of them were mediums that assisted the will to move Worldly Energy and affect the world around them.
Using pure will alone was the best method. Even though it was unlikely, there might be a situation where Draco would be unable to use his State of Being or Control.
What was he supposed to do then? That was why this was important.
Draco spent the whole day with Richmond in such a manner. He would try to affect the world with his will and then tire himself out. With every attempt, he became more and more familiar with using his will to affect the world.
It was an inescapable thing. Every human became more proficient in something the more they performed that task. This was how the human race had been able to rise above all, through our ability to learn and adapt.
With every attempt, he slowed the movement of Worldly Energy with his will. It soon reached a point that the Worldly Energy completely stopped. Draco felt an even stronger pull on his will as he tried to move the Worldly Energy.
However, his stamina had reached its limit for this attempt. Draco paused and allowed Richmond to restore him before trying again. It took him a shorter time to get the Worldly Energy to come to a complete stop, but he still tired out before he could pull it.
At this point, the sun was about to set once again, so Richmond chose to close the lesson. After all, he was aware that Draco had some other things to do while he was here.
When a tired Draco and a supportive Riveting Night came to the foyer of the castle, three people were standing there waiting for him. One was Zaine, the caramel-skinned succubus with a body that was sculpted solely to induce lust.
Another was Happy Saint who observed the castle with endless interest.
The final person, was - shockingly - Hikari. She stood there with an excited and warm expression as she stared at Draco. Draco himself noticed that something was different about her.
"Why are you here?" Draco asked curiously. It wasn't that he didn't want her here, but he was worried about her pregnancy.
Hikari immediately saw through his train of thoughts. She smiled and brought out a large egg from behind her, bringing it closer to Draco, whose heart stopped when he felt the aura of that egg.
"Thanks to the Vita City State's effect, it took me only three days to complete my laying, instead of almost two weeks. This is our egg, Draco." Hikari said with a proud smile.