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491 Twin Fetal Movements

 Lapis's workshop was still as messy as before.

Rhode pushed the workshop door and the first thing that he saw was the large pile of magical materials stacked by the wall at the far end. Those incomparably valuable magical herbs, crystals, and ores were casually left there like a pile of trash. However, Rhode wasn't that mindful of them. Or perhaps, he was getting used to it. He picked up an iron bar by the door and knocked on the wall a couple of times. Soon, Lapis responded. "Who is it?"

"It's me," said Rhode.

"Ah, Sir Rhode!" Lapis shrieked in a higher pitch than usual. Rhode subconsciously shrunk his body because his body condition wasn't as strong as always and he wouldn't be able to resist it if there would be an explosion from Lapis' franticness.

But fortunately, Lapis seemed rather reliable today. The fatigued-looking young lady scuttled out of the workshop. She had been out of the sun for too long and her complexion didn't look too healthy. Also, Christie had also mentioned to Rhode that Lapis had been working too hard.

Rhode genuinely felt bad as he didn't mean to treat her like a slave. But Lapis was the only one in the entire guild that possessed sufficient Alchemy techniques to create magical equipment and potions. As a guild leader, Rhode understood that Lapis shouldn't bear this much burden. She held the prowess of an Alchemist Master and if it were in the game, she would've been assigned to produce the cores of players and be responsible for creating and inventing more important magical equipment, weapons, and tools. But now, not only did Lapis need to create the magical equipment and research extensively about them, but she also needed to concoct potions like those low-level players with the Production subclass. The recipes of these potions weren't complicated and it was truly demeaning for Lapis to concoct them. A few Alchemy apprentices would be more than enough to work in an assembly line to concoct them, so Rhode felt somewhat unbearable to force them all on Lapis.

But the problem was that it wasn't easy to find Alchemy apprentices. Before Lapis received the inheritance of the Behermes Family, she was also an apprentice who failed constantly and almost couldn't pass as an apprentice. Lapis could also be described as an amateur alchemy fan and Rhode only managed to discover her in the entire Deep Stone City. This went to show how difficult it was to attain an Alchemy apprentice with proper qualifications.

Although Rhode knew where the Alchemist Association was located in the Paphield region, he had never sought help from them because they were just a bunch of prideful, senior researchers. Their Alchemist techniques were indeed superb, but they were also extremely arrogant and proud of the fact that they, as mortals, were able to create mysterious, magical Constructs. Therefore, they often looked down on ordinary humans and even Mages. Most of the times, the relationship between Mages and Alchemists were slightly tense and it was impossible for the Alchemist Association to be willing to offer help. Even in the game, Rhode had never heard of any players that had hired these bad-tempered Alchemists successfully and he wouldn't even bother.

Rhode could also forget about appointing someone within the guild to cultivate the alchemy skills. Mercenaries were generally uncouth and most of them couldn't read difficult characters. Even experienced mercenaries like Shauna and Old Walker could barely recognize and write them out. On the other hand, those that were fluent in reading and could write perfectly were highly respected, which was also why Christie was feared by the villagers in High Cliff Village - Because, in this era where education was not popularized, only a handful of disciples in the village was able to understand and write characters and it was impossible for Christie to receive an education on her own.

The foundation of education was terrible to begin with, not to mention mastering alchemy, which required an understanding of complicated knowledge. Even though Marlene was a magical genius, her mastery in terms of alchemy was similar to those of average Mage's only. Moreover, Marlene's job responsibilities were more important than Lapis and it was impossible for her to be working in an assembly line.

As Rhode had limited the number of members in the guild, the demand for magical potions and equipment weren't that high yet. However, as the guild expanded gradually, the demand would also increase. Now that Lapis was already at her limit, Rhode wouldn't know how to resolve this issue once he expanded the guild. In the game, he didn't need to consider this question at all because players with the Production subclass were everywhere.

But now...

"Sir Rhode, how are you feeling now?" Lapis tidied her messy hair and asked shyly while Rhode let out an undetectable sigh as he realized that he had been neglecting too many people around him. No matter if it was Christie or Lapis, he hadn't been finding time to pay them visits and yet, they were still so concerned about him.

"I'm feeling fine and everything is doing great. Don't worry." Rhode nodded and lowered his head to observe Lapis carefully. "On the other hand, Lapis, you must take care of yourself more because your complexion isn't looking too well... Perhaps I should get someone to look after you or at least..." Rhode paused and shifted his attention toward the workshop that seemed more like a dustheap. He was considering to get Agatha to send an Ocean Elf to look after Lapis' daily needs. "Clean this place up."

"Ah... Er..." After all, Lapis was a female and she fully understood what Rhode meant by that. Even though this wasn't her personal room, she was still embarrassed that a male had seen her in such a disorganized mess. However, Rhode also knew that he shouldn't crack jokes in such a place. He let out a cough and brought the topic back to the right track. "So then, how is everything?"

"It isn't looking too good, Sir," Lapis kept her embarrassed emotions and said with a difficult expression. Then, she beckoned for Rhode to follow her into the deeper parts of the workshop.

Soon, Rhode spotted his targets.

Gracier. Madaras.

The two magical daggers laid silently within a translucent barrier on a resplendent alchemy ritual circle on the marble table. The daggers had lost their usual splendor and were dull in appearances.

After the battle with the Duke Fiend, Rhode had suffered grave losses. All the magical equipment on him including the Zero Refining Equipment had shattered entirely perhaps due to the forced strengthening of his powers. Rhode was devastated and felt as though he had worked for so long and everything was gone in a night. But, fortunately, Marlene's lucky hands saved him and the newly obtained, god-like equipment finally made up for his regrets. Compared to them, his older equipment with Physique +1 and Nimbleness +3 was just slightly better than crap... And Rhode had no intentions of using them forever.

He could give up on his older equipment, but the losses of Gracier and Madaras left him depressed.

Rhode broke away from the Duke Fiend with the two magical equipment and bought himself some time to escape, which he did successfully. Unfortunately, both of them suffered the backlash from the Duke Fiend in Rhode's attack and thereafter, Rhode discovered that his daggers had lost their usual radiance, become heavy, and the system attributes attached to them were nowhere to be seen.

This was a huge problem for Rhode. After all, not only did the two daggers saved his life, but they were also a part of the Holy Sword Card Deck. Therefore, Rhode handed them over to Lapis with hopes that she could 'resurrect' them with her knowledge.

"I've tried to repair them, but strangely, there isn't any sign of damage on them at all. Besides, I couldn't figure out what materials they were made of. I reckoned that it was due to the weakening of the magical powers contained in them. But as I try to force some magical powers into them, I realized that they seemed to be rejecting the magical powers, as though..." Lapis hesitated for a moment as she was finding an appropriate explanation. "... two humans on the brink of death who can't feed themselves with food anymore."

"..." the corner of Rhode's eyes twitched. "Is there any other way?

"I'm trying, Sir. But... these two daggers are so strange that I have never seen any similar records of them in the entire knowledge of the Behermes Family. Where did you get them from? They don't look like they were forged. This is unbelievable..."

Rhode shook his head and he didn't answer to Lapis' question. Instead, he stretched out his hand to touch the daggers tenderly.

The ice-cold sensation was as similar as corpses. Rhode had never felt this from them before. Or perhaps, this was his first time experiencing it. These two weapons were alive. He could even sense their weak pulsations like the weak heart of a dying patient suffering from a serious illness.

What should I do next?

Rhode had no ideas while Lapis had no solutions. Lapis was the heir to the Behermes Family and if she couldn't rescue them, Rhode wouldn't feel hopeful even if he brought them to the Alchemist Association.

But... Am I just gonna look at them 'die' slowly?

-!

As this thought emerged in his mind, something inside his body jumped suddenly. Rhode widened his eyes and stared at the back of his right hand while a scarlet radiance burst out.

"This is..." Rhode narrowed his eyes at the glaring radiance and a soul-ripping pain broke out in his body. Before he could let out a shriek, his vision darkened and he lost his consciousness entirely.