“The upper levels? Which floor?” Alice asked.
The steward hesitated for a moment, but under Alice’s sharp gaze he still answered firmly, “The fifth floor, my Lady.”
Alice’s eyes started glowing with rage, her red hair burning like flames as she activated her aura. Blackrose Castle had been renovated a few times after Richard moved in, and the main building now contained seven floors in total. The top floor was Richard’s lab and meditation space, while the one just below had his personal quarters, study, command centre, and private library. The second to fifth were where the rest of the family stayed, but the fifth was reserved for the most important members of the family. Even Richard’s followers had rooms on the fourth floor, with Alice and Goliath being the only ones with access to the fifth. Coco had originally been on the second floor, befitting of her status, but now that she was being moved so far up, the old steward was basically confirming that she was just as important as any of the other lords in the family.
Thankfully, the Earl managed to calm her rage and turn back to her knights, “Let’s go to war, men; the battlefield is where we belong! Let’s leave the castle to the pretty ladies!”
Once done with her disdainful words, Alice ignored the steward and left with her knights in tow. Moments later, a long warhorn resounded from the plaza and the earth started shaking as the fully armoured knights marched out.
Meanwhile, Coco put her belongings down in her new residence and looked around easily. This suite with multiple bedrooms, two living rooms, a dining room and even a private kitchen was just far too big and luxurious for her. There were only four like this, and it was meant for nobles with a large number of servants.
“Isn’t this… too much?” she asked nervously, “I’ll be alone, all the other rooms will be a waste.”
The young girl was obviously worried, not just because of the huge living area but also because of Alice’s undisguised enmity. However, the old steward just smiled, “Of course not. I’ll arrange for some servants and a chef overnight; tell them if you have anything you need from now. I’ll also have a few of the rooms cleaned up for some new guards to move in; those women will be responsible for your safety.”
“Safety?” The girl felt lost, “I’m in the family castle, why would I be worried for my safety?”
“Danger doesn’t just come from outside the castle, my Lady,” the steward answered, reminding her of Alice’s fierce gaze. She shivered softly before accepting those arrangements, her hands drawn to her abdomen where a new life was being birthed.
In her residence in the Deepblue, the legendary mage yawned as she struggled up from bed. A point and wave immediately turned the wall in front of her into a clear window, giving her a complete view of Floe Bay. The wall itself was something she had designed when she was bored, but it had turned out to be a huge boost to comfort now that she could control the entry of sunlight.
“Eeeeehh, it’s just the afternoon.” Sharon mumbled in a daze, “I haven’t slept all that much… Wait, what?”
She suddenly shook her head, pulling a gnomic timepiece towards her that contained eight clocks in total. Looking at the current date, she staggered out of bed, “I’ve slept for ten days?! How? I only sleep for eight… Since when did I get this weak? Ten days to fill up my mana… No, I’m sick!”
As someone who had never fallen sick before in her life, the legendary mage shivered in fright. Just what sort of illness could hurt her? Her limbs turned cold as she tri
However, her stomach suddenly distended for a single moment, a clear heartbeat ringing out from within!
The legendary mage screamed, immediately casting a dozen barriers around herself before looking at her stomach. The sound of the beating heart travelled through her body, each pulse surging with energy that distorted the space around her. As she touched her belly, a complicated expression came over her face until the pulse fell silent once more.
Although it was obvious by now, Sharon still inspected her body thoroughly to confirm that a new life was now being nurtured within her. Her mind went blank, taking a few minutes to process just what had happened.
“I’m pregnant?!” Unprecedented joy suddenly filled her heart, information that was hidden within her bloodline surfacing of its own accord. Hers was a race of low fertility, a normal woman only able to manage two to three descendants in their thousand years of life. The highest ever recorded was seven, something considered a miracle that had never been surpassed. Every member of her race was unimaginably powerful, but their inability to spread quickly had been their downfall.
The legendary mage had never come across or even heard of another member of her species in the past century. She wasn’t certain if she was the last survivor, but there couldn’t be more than a handful left across the myriad planes. And she was going to have a baby!
The small life had fallen asleep once more, but she could tell that it was extraordinarily powerful, much more so than any of the children in her inherited memories. The embryo was only as big as a grain of rice, but its heartbeat could still release so much power; if it continued to grow at this rate, it could even be born a saint!
Joy, worry, confusion… a number of expressions crossed Sharon’s face. She started walking all around her room, pulling at her golden hair and muttering from time to time, “How do I tell Little Richard about this? How?”
To her, this question was more difficult than fighting a dozen legendary beings.
Her pensive thoughts were suddenly interrupted by an elven puppet, “Your Excellency, a mage called Praton is at the Deepblue. He said that he’s your friend.”
“Praton? I don’t think I know someone called that… Wait, is it a baldy? Right, there was that old man!” Sharon recalled that she had met this legendary mage twice, forming a short alliance. She couldn’t recall if or when she had invited him to the Deepblue, but they certainly weren’t enemies. Although a legendary mage visiting would normally be a big event, she ordered the puppet to lead Praton to the lobby while she had a dozen servants dress her before joining him.
If one didn’t know Praton’s identity, their most likely guess would be that he was a merchant. He had all the stereotypical characteristics: bald head, plump body, and a constant smile that was borderline unsettling. The man was shocked by Sharon’s appearance and jumped up from his sofa, casting barriers all over in paranoia. There was almost no angle from which he looked to be a prestigious legendary mage.
However, the old man seemed to forget this embarrassment as soon as it was lived out, smiling in relief and falling back to his seat.
“Speak, why are you looking for me?” Sharon went straight to the point.
Praton leaned forward, “Your Excellency, I’ve chanced upon a natural portal at the edge of a spatial storm in my travels. That portal led to a strange plane that definitely has a lot of resources and powerful beasts; I thought you would be interested, so I came to invite you to explore it with me.”
Sharon’s interest dipped the moment she heard that it was another plane to explore, “There’s like a dozen I haven’t even gotten around to yet. I’m not interested unless there’s something worth it for me.”
“Umm, I discovered some strange beings in that plane, but I don’t have the erudition to recognise them all. I was hoping you could,” the man pulled out a sheet of parchment, clearly not having given up yet, “Have a look, these are some of the beings there.”
Sharon was about to just dismiss it offhand, but she still took the parchment and looked through it absentmindedly. However, her eyes suddenly landed on an unremarkable little drawing and she cried out, “Stonelord!”