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825 Final Pike 1

 "I wouldn't be surprised at all if I heard news of your passing, Lapis."

Rhode sighed at the sight of the bombarded workshop and the smoke stain all around. But judging from the tall explosion-proof barriers around-yes, at least she had some places to hide from the explosions.

"This... Sir Rhode..."

Lapis spoke with filthy dust all over her awkward face. This was the first time that Rhode saw her wrapped in a cloak like a rice dumpling. However, what amused him was that after possibly thousands of explosions, the cloak was still in perfect condition.

This can't be another legendary artifact, right?

"Anyway, clean your face first."

Rhode retrieved a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the stains off her cheeks. No matter what, she was still his subordinate and he didn't feel pleasant seeing her in this terrible state.

"No matter what, you're still a girl, Lapis. You'll be in big trouble if you get disfigured."

"... Ah. Yes... Sir..."

Lapis stood blankly on the spot. As soon as Rhode's handkerchief touched her cheek, she had as though turned into a blushing petrified wood. Rhode amusingly gazed at her uncertain, yet embarrassed expression before giving her a slight pinch.

"Alright, Lapis, you said you were looking for me."

"Ah. Yes!"

Lapis came back to her senses instantly. She clapped her palms and led Rhode and Lize to the side platform, where a strange-looking item instantly captured their attention.

"What's that, Lapis?"

Lize asked about the item that resembled a staff. But, unlike an ordinary staff, its body was made of metal and the tip of it was protected by thick armor. Not only that, but Rhode also realized that this item was shaped rather oddly because usual staff for Mages were generally made from cylindrical wood. On the contrary, the body of this item was connected by two circular arcs of metal, forming a small circular hole in the middle.

It doesn't look like a staff. It looks more like a miniature magic cannon of some sort...

"This is the Final Pike that Miss Marlene brought. I've modified it and it can now reach its desired effects..."

I see.

Rhode recalled that after the battle between the North and South, he had once asked Marlene about the production process of the magic cannons. Back then, Marlene mentioned that her family was developing a miniature and portable magic cannon. Although the invention was successful through countless real-time battles, its price was too expensive and it couldn't be mass produced, so this project was abandoned as a result. Marlene passed this weapon to Lapis for modification using skills of the Behermes. But Rhode didn't give too much thought about it and left the matter in Marlene's hands. After all, he was concerned with an upcoming attack from the Country of Darkness during that period of time.

"How's the progress?"

Rhode asked with some interest and Lapis began describing the status eagerly.

"Miss Marlene's biggest concern is its disproportionate input and output. So, I broke it down and examined the parts, only to realize that it requires a whole lot of energy consumption. The main reason is that the energy that it releases is stored in the high-purity magic crystal. After triggering the magic crystal, the power within will be released through a transmission route. The biggest problem is that high-purity magic crystals are hard to mine and costly too..."

Out of a sudden, Lapis became excited.

"... So, I reverse-engineered it. In fact, this weapon is great, but the problem comes from the rarity of the high-purity magic crystals and the short duration of its effects. I guess ordinary magic crystals can be used in place of the magical powers while mottled crystals can be used for attacks!"

"Mottled crystals!"

Lize exclaimed while Rhode twitched his brows somewhat curiously. Of course, he knew what they were. The so-called mottled crystals were in fact impure magic crystals. Such magic crystals were generally mined from the outermost layer of a magic crystal mine and contained various energies. Due to their impurities, basically no one used them because injecting magical powers into them would trigger explosions. But on the other hand... Nothing could beat it in terms of price.

"But... Lapis, the mottled crystals will explode after being magical energy contaminates them."

It was apparent that Lize was knowledgeable about it. After all, as a spell caster, she knew a lot about magical items.

"Of course, so I modified it a little."

Lapis revealed a proud, cheeky smile, which was rare to see. Then, she stooped over and pulled out a cone-shaped metal from under the platform.

"Look at this!"

"... What's... that?"

Lize gazed blankly at the 10-centimeters-long cone-shaped metal wrapped in a layer of brass with a magic crystal within. It was obvious that the magic crystal should be the mottled crystal that Lapis mentioned. Rhode scanned and realized that...

This sure looks familiar.

"After my research, I discovered that it would be a waste to use pure magic to release its power because this weapon can't cast various spells like staff for Mages. In other words, its purpose is to simply explode and destroy the enemies, which is why I produced a trigger mechanism in the form of a tiny magic crystal at the front of its brass shell. When it ejects and hits the target, the tiny magic crystal will be activated and the transmitted energy into the mottled crystal will cause an explosion instantly! Its might is as powerful as a direct hit. I guarantee!"

Yea. I believe that you're in the Legendary Stage in this aspect.

Rhode exclaimed inwardly. Then, he knitted his brows.

"Is this safe?"

"It..."

Lapis revealed a depressed expression.

"... To be honest, Sir Rhode, this problem hasn't been resolved and I'm still searching for a solution. There is a problem in the distance between the triggering mechanism and the mottled crystal. If an ordinary crystal is used, the stability won't be an issue. But, the mottled crystals are too sensitive to external magical powers... I've tested all sorts of magic crystals. The high-purity magic crystals aren't necessary while the other grades of magic crystals meet the requirements. The mottled crystals are the only troublesome ones..."

"..."

Rhode pondered deeply. He knew what sort of changes this invention could bring to this world, just like a modified technique or strategy in the game. As long as it brought sufficient benefits, it would be spread among the entire player base immediately. He understood that Lapis chose mottled crystals to lower the budget, which was also Marlene's biggest headache back then. But now...

"Lapis."

"Yes, Sir Rhode."

Lapis lifted her head and gazed curiously."

"How many people know about this modification plan for the Final Pike?"

"... Even though Miss Marlene said that this is an abandoned project, the Final Pike is still a magical weapon developed by the Senia Family after all, so I didn't mention it to others. Basically, I'm the only one managing it and of course, I've also gotten others to purchase the materials."

"Do they know about this modification plan?"

"Yes. My assistants do. Christie has also provided a lot of suggestions."

Even Christie is aware?

Rhode held his forehead. Lapis was indeed a pure scholar and it seemed like he couldn't rely on her keeping secrets about such military affairs. In this aspect, Sara was much better than her... But, it was a pity that Sara's expertise was different from Lapis'. If not, Rhode would have appointed Sara as Lapis' assistant, so the latter would learn to be less careless. Although Lapis didn't reveal the technical details, the modification of the Final Pike should have been an absolute secret. But now, even Christie knew about it?

Of course, Rhode didn't think that Christie would leak the secrets. But the problem was that the more people the people who knew about it, the more dangerous it would be. It was apparent that Lapis wasn't aware of this.

It seems about time to change this situation.

Rhode knitted his brows. It didn't matter if Lapis talked about producing magical weapons or concocting potions. But it was an entirely different story when it involved a dangerous weapon like the Final Pike.

It looks like I'll need to increase the secrecy level of this place.

Rhode made up his mind.