Draco went to the courtyard first thing in the morning after making breakfast for Zaine, Happy Saint, Riveting Night and Hikari.
The succubus had been enraptured by his culinary might and had been unable to stop chewing, despite the fact that her kind hardly needed nourishment from such mundane food.
Happy Saint had been very pleased by the taste, but was even more so shocked by the effects. He once again remembered that his Guildmaster was the pinnacle of pinnacles. After almost 2 months in the game, he could make Legendary dishes.
As if that was not impressive enough, he didn't forget that Draco had become famous for his Blacksmithing, and more recently, for his Enchanting. In other words, Cooking was a sub-Tradeskill for him at best...
Hikari and Riveting Night had already gotten their first taste the day prior, so they didn't make such a fuss about it. Happy Saint went over to the Rank 7 Castle's forge while Draco and his posse of beauties arrived before Richmond.
The old mage looked healthy and happy. His face was red and his energy seemed endless. However, one would notice that the maids who were shuffling about looked drained.
Riveting Night and Zaine noticed this, while Hikari only felt like something was wrong. Draco though, paid it no heed. He had more important tasks at hand.
"Well, you have grasped your cause and effect theory. We shall resume attempting to master it to a basic degree. Let's begin." Richmond stated while gesturing to Draco.
Draco nodded and began. His ability to implement cause and effect took but a few seconds to initiate. Soon, a small ball of Worldly Energy hovered before him, and his brows creased as he tried his hardest to maintain it for the required 5 minutes' worth of time.
After slightly more than three minutes, Draco was sweating and panting. Richmond immediately restored him to full vitality, allowing him to give it another go without taking a break.
Every new attempt allowed Draco to last longer and maintain the Worldly Energy in a more stable manner.
Another unintended consequence - or it might have been intended by Richmond - was that the amount of time it took him to implement his cause and effect theory became shorter and shorter.
By the time it was noon, Draco was able to use 1 second to implement his cause and effect theory, while he could maintain it for 5 minutes and 30 seconds before releasing it, this time without collapsing.
Draco let out a light breath and wiped the sweat off his brow. His chest heaved up and down, but he was relatively stable. Richmond looked at him with praise and commendation.
"That concludes the practical test for the Theory of Cause and Effect. You've done a great job!"
｢Congratulations on completing: Richmond's Theory of Cause and Effect Practicals
Next segment of the Sword and Sorcery Legendary Quest.｣
Draco nodded and waited for Richmond. The old mage simply scrutinized Draco with a cryptic smile, gently caressing his beard as he did so.
After more than 10 minutes of scrutiny, Richmond nodded. "So, as you already possess the knowledge of the elements, and you know the theory of cause and effect, it is time to learn the theory of magic in full."
Richmond sat on the earth and Draco did the same. "I have already shown you the Sphere. Now, I will teach you the Box before we move onto the practicals. Are you ready?"
Draco's expression became firm. "Please teach me."
Richmond began to doodle the shape of a box on the earth. "The Sphere exists to contain and incarnate offensive or destabilizing magic, or what you Immortal Adventurers call 'debuffs'."
"The Sphere is easier to cast than the Box, because the runes needed for it are simple. You just write the functions of the spell in runes and fill it with enough resources to power it. Then you use your will to manage how the spell works."
"However, the Box is more complex. A defensive or support spell is much more versatile than offensive or destabilizing magic. Just like how Creation Energy is more versatile than Destruction Energy."
Richmond tapped on the diagram of the Box with his stick. "The Box requires more control than the Sphere, but fewer initial resources. An offensive spell is simple, it is sent out to attack in order to deal damage."
"A defensive spell stays with you and protects you from damage. For example, if you create a fireball, it is the fire element compressed into the form of a ball. If you create a wind blade, it is the wind compressed into a blade shape."
"When an offensive spell is fired out, you retain some control over it. You can slow its speed, or rapidly increase it, make it dive or rise, etc. These actions will tax on your willpower itself, which you have tempered enough to be able to control them for the simplest maneuvers."
"If you create a defensive spell, however, you are required to do more. If we take a mana shield, you could go for something simple and make it natureless."
"However, it would be weak and susceptible to all forms of damage. As such, it is advised that one should use an element to power the mana shield in order to give it more effectiveness."
Richmond raised one finger up. "Now, here come the parts that make the Box more difficult than the Sphere."
"As stated earlier, the Sphere is fired out and has minimal requirement towards your control once it's gone. All it needs is a hefty amount of resources and the relevant knowledge over the element you use to do its job."
"Spells used by the Box method are usually on a continuous cast, like the mana shield. If you're going to maintain it against - say - an opposing fireball, you'll want to engrave water runes on it to make it into a water shield."
"You will then have to manually control every aspect of the spell to defend against the fireball, which would shake your will itself. After all, it is still attached to the spell, and you have placed most of your focus onto it."
"This means that you will directly feel whatever pain or rebound there is from the attack hitting the shield. Even worse, you might lose all concentration if the shield gets broken, or is hit by an attack that is too heavy."
Richmond wagged his upraised finger with a slight smirk. "But let's assume you are able to perfectly defend against the fireball with your water shield. In response, the opposing mage fires out an earth spike to counter the water element of your shield. What do you do?"
Draco answered without thinking. "The ignorant and naive answer would be to cancel the water shield and try to craft a new shield while the earth spike is rushing towards you. The more astute answer would be to strengthen your water shield with more resources."
"However, I think the best - yet most difficult - response would be to alter the runes on your Box, changing the element of the spell just like how you made the fireball into a fire elemental."
Richmond clapped with happiness. "Great! That is exactly it. You took the words right out of my mouth!"
"To try and craft a new shield is the most foolish response. Putting aside everything, we shall assume that you and the opposing mage both have the same knowledge in regards to subjective magic."
"As such, you both take the same amount of time to go through all the processes of creating a spell. Since the enemy has fired the spell and you are responding to it, how can you finish casting before it reaches you? You will just get skewered by their earth spike."
"Trying to strengthen the water shield with more resources to resist the unfavorable elemental matchup was what I had told my own master, and he laughed. He demonstrated how futile that would be, due to one simple fact."
"Willpower is limited. It isn't quantifiable by the system or by any measurement really, but empirical data proves that it is not infinite. It can be linked to one's mental and physical stamina in a way, so every one normally uses that as a gauge."
"If you try to pull more resources into your spell, it becomes stronger, but commanding extra resources takes willpower. Assuming that summoning resources doesn't tax willpower, the increased strength of the spell will."
"After all, the stronger the spell, the more Control required. If you decide to do this, the enemy could keep bombarding you with earth spikes till you reach your limit, then you are free for the killing."
Richmond tapped on the diagram of the Box again. "As such, the only method is to alter the inscribed runes on the spell as that takes effect instantly. But as you said, doing this requires finesse and skill."
"Let me show you the process for creating the Box."
Draco nodded and activated the Eyes of Caelo. He saw that a transparent and ethereal box shape form in front of Richmond.
Then, Draco saw the runes being inscribed on it, which loosely translated to 'a spherical shield of water surrounds me'.
"The knowledge of the elements."
A grayish light surrounded the box with much more fluidity and thickness than it did when Richmond used attack spells.
Then, Worldly Energy rushed to the box and filled it to the brim before it was closed off, allowing the spell to form.
Once it was completed, a water shield that looked like an ever-flowing wave on the sea covered Richmond's form, with only a small segment free to display his face.
"This is the sequence required to create a defensive or support spell. As you can see, it requires constant control and a steady supply for Worldly Energy to keep the spell active."
Richmond dispelled the water shield and smiled. "That covers the theory of magic. Do you understand everything so far?"
｢System to Player Announcement
Do you understand Richmond's Theory of Magic? If yes, a test will be carried out before this segment is completed. If no, the lesson time will be extended and the lesson will be repeated. Accept?
Draco accepted. He had understood what Richmond was saying, so there was no need for a repeat lesson.
Richmond spoke. "Seeing as you have understood, it is time to begin practicals on the theory of magic. Try to create the shape of a Sphere in your mind."
Draco nodded. Richmond naturally assumed Draco couldn't see the Sphere or Box he made because those were not tangible. If it wasn't for the Eyes of Caelo being able to 'see' everything, he would've missed it as well.
As such, he was able to perfectly envision the same type of Sphere that Richmond used when he made the fireball spell for demonstration. It was a plain round ball that was like the most transparent crystal.
Draco raised his hand and envisioned the Sphere hovering over his palm, just like Richmond had done. He wasn't too sure that it was actually there at first, but Richmond's words assured him.
"Good! You managed to create the Sphere quite quickly. Now, hold it in place for as long as possible."
It seemed as if the Mage God could see the Sphere - or at least, sense it - without relying on items like the Eyes of Caelo. Now that Draco had to hold the Sphere in place, he found that this pulled on his concentration.
Concentration and willpower were different aspects of the mind. Concentration dealt with how much attention or focus one placed into a certain activity or object. Willpower dealt with one's ability to make a decision, and how intensely one wanted to do something.
Draco was pleased to find that Concentration was covered under the Focus stat. After all, this was one of the Hidden stats that made the implementation of techniques easier and less costly in terms of stamina.
It didn't kick in for willpower, but concentration only. It was a slight bummer, but Draco took it with a grain of salt.
As such, he was able to hold the Sphere for about 30 minutes before he felt the pressure on his concentration grow. It meant that Draco's Focus stat was large enough to support the Sphere for 30 minutes.
His own mental fortitude allowed him to hold the Sphere for more than 50 minutes in total, before he had to let it go. Draco's head hurt and he felt like he had stayed up for 3 years without sleep, which was a supremely uncomfortable feeling.
Richmond came to the rescue with his spell of restoration, then he prompted Draco to try again.
"We'll spend the rest of the day holding the form of the Sphere and then tomorrow for attempting the shape of the Box. Carry on then."
Draco nodded and tried again. Half the day had already passed due to his work with the cause and effect theory practicals, so there wasn't much time for him to hold the shape of the Sphere.
Since he took almost an hour for each attempt, he only made about 5 tries before the sun was well into the depths of the horizon. At that point, Richmond stood up from where he sat and dusted himself off.
"That should be enough for today. We'll resume the practicals tomorrow."
Draco nodded and left the courtyard with his posse of beauties, much in the same manner in which he came. Richmond waited till they were gone before happily skipping away with an evil chant that made many squirm.
"Oh maids~ your darling Richie is here~"
Draco entered the Rank 7 castle and took out Pair Dadeni. While he would love to make some equipment, he would work on that later. It was less debilitating to make potions for now.
Draco took out a Common Rank plant similar to the Darike Plant. This one was called a Sere Leaf. It was used to make a potion that granted night vision for a short while.
He filtered the herb thoroughly, and with Hikari's Semi-Epic Alchemy Set, the time he needed for this task became vastly shorter, with the end product being much better. This included the process for the grinding and the mixing.
Draco chose to do the same as he did for the Darike Plants and mix them up in batches of three. This seemed to be the sweet spot for most Common Rank herbs that would soon be transmuted to the Epic Rank.
He threw the batch into the cauldron and began the concoction process. Only, this time he used his will to try and move Worldly Energy. The cause of 'because I am a Black Dragon' and the effect of 'Worldly Energy suffuses the cauldron before me' as his theory.
When he implemented his will, Draco's eyes immediately became red and his veins popped out. He immediately let go of the theory, as it felt like he was lifting a fridge with his pinkie.
After panting and recovering a bit whilst lying down for a minute, he came back up and tried again. However, the fellow had learned his lesson.
Tempting fate would only end with him using up one of his free daily revivals. He stuck to using his State of Being to move Worldly Energy, which almost didn't strain him at all.
Compared to a few days ago where his Low-Rank Source Origin made him struggle a bit, he now felt almost nothing. After struggling to use his will to move Worldly Energy - and succeeding - how could moving Worldly Energy with the help of his State of Being be an issue?
It was the difference between climbing a steep cliff and climbing a rocky cliff with many protrusions. After climbing the steep cliff, how dare he fail to climb the rocky one with many handholds?
Draco carefully worked on the new Epic Variant of the Sere Leaf.
｢Visus – Material
The new reagent was slightly harder to work with than the Viva la Vida Epic Variant of the Darike Plant. As such, it took Draco much longer to complete the action phase than normal.
Upon completion, he bottled it up with Worldly Energy. The completion phase was usually the hardest phase of Alchemy because many needed to control torrents of Worldly Energy to gather the potion or poison.
Ah? Wait, but if one had to use Worldly Energy during the action phase, why would it be an issue to use it during the completion phase?
Using Worldly Energy during Alchemy was only meant for the completion phase. Draco only used it during the action phase for three reasons.
The first was his high State of Being. He was a Black Dragon, one currently at the Low Rank - formerly at the Supreme Rank - so moving Worldly Energy was but a joke. He could even manipulate Aetheric Energy to imbue the sets of hundreds of players.
Of course, that wasn't effortless. He had deservedly died many times on end for being the idiot he was.
The second was the fact that he was making Epic potions, which were above his Rank. If he were to try and use the natural method of relying on the fire and stirring techniques, he could take hours assuming he didn't outright fail.
Worldly Energy helped him break down the ingredient quickly so that he could work on it easily.
The third reason was to strengthen the mixture so that it would be of a higher quality. This was why Draco's potions always had a 100% Effectiveness - aside from the Dragon's Blessing for obvious reasons - which was slightly rare.
When Draco inspected the potion, he was surprised by its stats.
｢All-Sight – Consumable
Rank: Epic (100% effectiveness)
Effect: Resist all status effects related to blindness for 1 hour. Sight is increased to 270° and one can see clearly in any conditions for 1 hour.｣
It was a slightly weaker version of the Eye of Heaven's second passive, which was named Heaven's Eye. While the potion - and the passive - were useless to Draco and Riveting Night, it was a blessing to Elite and above players.
They would be able to raid tough bosses and fight in unfavorable areas without losing their sight for one hour.
This was especially true since visibility in the night was extremely poor, as the Western Fantasy world had nothing like flashlights to illuminate the world. In the wild, the moon was all one had.
And more than often than not, it wasn't enough.