While contemplating, Isaac had come to the realisation that he would be unable to carry his sculpture around despite his arduous efforts. The piece of wood would be cumbersome, and there was little excuse to have such a thing with him at all times, as it was lacking in many features necessary to be called an accessory. But the most critical flaw was the magic circle, which would be exposed in plain sight.
Isaac considered sculpting metal instead of wood at first, but that was wishful thinking. Crafting a solid piece of metal would be beyond his capabilities, especially when he struggled so hard with a mere piece of wood. So the conclusion he reached was the saying, ‘hide the tree in a forest.’
Nothing was impossible with enough money, and Isaac considered that to be the indisputable truth of the world. Isaac commissioned the Silver Magic Spire, which was the most renowned magical spire in terms of defensive magic. The commission was to create a piece of clothing which was enchanted with the strongest defensive magic. Isaac’s request was met with a reply from the Silver Spire, stating that such a project had been attempted in the past. They attempted to craft clothing with the defensive capabilities of a fortress. But this was abandoned in its concept stages as they struggled to raise enough funds for the project. Isaac gave his approval to have the clothing made, and the Silver Spire quickly started crafting the clothing.
The masterpiece came at a heavy price, as the cost of its production was equal to an entire year’s worth of funding for the Silver Spire. Cordnell’s eyes dripped with blood as he haggled down its price, nitpicking at the smallest of flaws. Cordnell’s attempts were aided by the fact that the Silver Spire added a very small commission on their product, as they were more satisfied in knowing that they managed to create something that should have been strictly fictional given the costs. But despite these factors coming together, the cost of the piece of clothing was still beyond extravagant. With that, the abominable coat was created. Its design and appearance were repugnant, as the only thing that mattered was having protective properties of a fortress.
“Are you really going to walk around wearing that?”
“… Isaac looks cool.”
“Huhuhu. I see Kunette has a great taste in style.”
Kunette’s eyes shone, and she began playing with the edge of the cloak, while Rizzly looked at Isaac with distaste on his face.
“But what’s with those strange looking symbols on it?”
Rizzly asked when his eyes caught the symbols as Kunette played around with the coat.
“This? This is my crest representing my noble lineage. What do you think? Doesn’t it look cool?”
Isaac proudly showed off his crest. Within a square, there was a checker pattern and many, many circles that overlapped within it. Looking at it was almost hypnotising.
The same crest was covering the white cloak with golden fabric. And for some unknown reason, this man, who never even looked at accessories, was carrying with him three or four necklaces and a ring for each finger. He wore bracers on both wrists.. All of these accessories were engraved with the same eccentric crest. All of these golden accessories glittered whenever Isaac moved, and his appearance looked like what you’d expect from someone who suddenly became wealthier than one would imagine.
“… Don’t tell me all of the stones on those accessories are mana crystals.”
“Hm? How did you know? They are all pures, might I add.”
“And are all those stones placed inside each crest on that coat also mana crystals?”
“Kunette, you’re not supposed to eat that.”
In the middle of each crest was a mana crystal that glowed with blue light. Isaac showed it off with great pride, but Kunette seemed to mistake it for candy and began gnawing at it. Isaac carefully pulled his coat from her mouth, only to have Kunette jump and chase him around. Rizzly could almost hear Cordnell’s phantom wailing as he watched the two chase one another.
“All of these necklaces, rings and bracers were specially made by the magic spires.”
The chase ended quickly, as Isaac’s stamina couldn’t keep up against Kunette. Isaac continued to show off his accessories with pride, all the while forfeiting one side of the coat to Kunette.
“You said magic spires… are they magical artefacts?”
“Yep. I commissioned all of the magical spires that are established in Meta District. I also told them that they need not worry about the costs of its production.”
The main reason Isaac wore the coat was for disguise. The coat was already known for its defensive capability, but the crests were a distraction; the outfit’s true power came from his accessories. The carefully engraved crests were perfect in every aspect, as they were hand-crafted by master craftsmen.
If Isaac drew mana onto the engraved crest, a mana circle that only Isaac could see was formed. And Isaac ordered various types of magical artefacts to strengthen his disguise, so even if Isaac were to be cornered, he could always lie that it was the effect of an artefact he had bought. The only flaw was that it looked hideous, but Isaac wasn’t one to dwell on such things.
Rivelia’s face seemed to turn bright red at Isaac’s misbehaviour, but she sighed as if she had given up and no longer had interest.
Kunette and Reisha, however, seemed to be greatly interested and followed Isaac around as if they wanted one of their own. Isaac wanted to present the same thing to them, but when Cordnell got word of it, he wailed that Isaac should just kill him instead and strayed into a darker path as he drenched himself in alcohol. So the presents were nulled. The merchant employees and Isaac’s hubaes acted as if they didn’t care, and the syndicate bosses didn’t even have the time to care about what Isaac was doing since they were busy taking care of their own districts.
“Look, its Isaac.”
“Oh my! So the rumours were true? How shameless! How could he walk around like that?”
“They say all of those shining stones are mana crystals.”
“You think that’s all? They say that all of those accessories he has on him are magical artefacts too.”
“What? Really? Then how many Gigas do you think he is wearing right now?”
The people who visited the city whispered to one another as Isaac marched through the city to show off his new look. Isaac wasn’t exactly doing this because he liked it, but there was no point in preparing something like this at a huge cost if no one noticed it. Only if he patrolled through the city with such a ridiculous look would the rumour of his extreme expenditure spread. He exposed himself to the public because he needed to, but it was quite annoying.
Although he didn’t feel encumbered due to lightweight magic, the accessories clattered whenever he moved, which disturbed his ears. And Isaac also felt some slight regret in regards to his cloak, as the mana crystals he embedded in every single crest shone brightly like a disco ball in a nightclub, which he had never anticipated. Annoyed by the constant clattering and the bright lights, Isaac got back into his chair and stayed there with a blank look thinking about his next move when Axlon visited him.
“What happened? Is there a riot in the mines?”
“It’s much more serious than that.”
“I think you need to see for yourself.”
Axlon turned back and forth looking at his surroundings with a worried look, convincing Isaac that it was indeed serious.
“The mines you say? Hm… you do realise that something serious will happen to you if I don’t consider this to be serious, right?”
“… This is very serious.”
Axlon replied despite Isaac’s indirect threat. Isaac sighed and got off his chair, knowing that he would only get such an answer if it was serious.
“Where are you going?”
Trentor asked with surprise when Isaac came down the stairs.
“I have something to check.”
“Without an escort?”
Trentor spoke with worry, as Isaac, who always had Rizzly with him, was saying that he was going out alone.
“Oh yeah, where is Rizzly today?”
“Baron Rogenic invited Kunette and Reisha to a party, and Rizzly went with them as an escort. They’ll most likely be back in three days.”
“Tsk. Of all times, he’s not here today.”
Isaac complained as he was about to walk out of the city hall when Trentor suddenly shouted.
“Maybe it’s better to go after Mr. Rizzly comes back in three days…”
“There’s no one in the city that can harm me now other than Rivelia, that damsel.”
Isaac may have been treated as a pathetic, laughable opponent for combat in the past, but that was no longer the case thanks to the coat. With the amount of money he had devoted to it, only those who were equal to a sword master could harm Isaac.
“Hooh? It does have its charm when you look at it this way.”
The personal residential area completed most of the construction in Axlon’s district, which was bordering Minolen Mountain. The buildings were nicknamed the ‘coffins,’ as each unit only had enough space to lie down and did not have a single window inside. These ‘coffins’ covered one side of the mountain and its neighboring flat lands, with many magical lamps placed around it to make it a tourist attraction. Its nighttime lights attracted many tourists, and Isaac used the lamps to draw many pictures, making it one of the more popular spots in the city.
Past these residential areas, Axlon and Isaac reached the mines, where Isaac suspiciously looked at Axlon. There was no one who seemed to be working in the area.
“Why’s no one here?”
Axlon figured out the intent behind Isaac’s question, and he carefully looked at his surroundings as he whispered quietly.
“I’ve sent all of them away for security reasons.”
“I see you’re up to something big here. What about the other syndicate bosses?”
“I haven’t told them due to security reasons.”
“Pickaxe mentioning security huh… interesting.”
“You’ll understand when you see it.”
Axlon picked up a torch and entered the mine. Isaac doubted if this was a trap for a second, but he trusted his coat, which was akin to a fortress.
Even Isaac was at a loss for words when he heard of its properties from the Silver Spire. Even if he were to fall into water, it will allow him to breathe for 3 days, and even dirt and earth would slip around him, allowing him to swim through earth if he was buried. That meant he could always exit the mines even if it were to collapse.
After much walking while relying on the dim light of the torch, the two reached the end, where they were greeted by a blue glow lighting up the surrounding.
“What are those?”
“They’re mana crystals.”
“Mana crystals? This is the first time I’ve heard that they form veins?”
“Even I was surprised when I found them. I never considered the possibility that such a treasure would be buried in this mine.”
“How did we never find this until now?”
“I believe it’s because of the recently constructed residential area next to the mines.”
Although the residential area was extremely tiny, they contained massive arrays of all kinds of quality-of-life magic circles. With thirty thousand of them concentrated on the same spot, the mana escaping these residential areas ended up being absorbed by these mana crystals, which had now reached critical levels and were glowing.
“Mana crystals forming a vein huh…”
Isaac frowned as he looked at the mana crystals, which shone like the Milky Way. This wasn’t good. Pure mana crystals were usually only found as one or two individual stones, not in veins of their own.
This was, at its smallest, a change in the common knowledge about mana crystals in general and at its largest, the crash of the pure mana crystal market in the Empire.
Pure mana crystals could be used in all kinds of situations, and because of that property, they were considered more valuable than gold. Most of the wealthy residents in the Empire saved their wealth in the form of mana crystals.
But finding a vein of mana crystals?
The prices would collapse, and those who loaned money using mana crystals as guarantees would go bankrupt within moments. This was a serious problem; the economy of the Empire could collapse in mere seconds.
“But do you have the Queen’s artefact?”
Isaac turned to look at Axlon at the sudden question, only to see his face expressionless, like that of a puppet. A chill went through a corner of Isaac’s brain.
“What is the Queen’s artefact?”
“Huh? What is that?”
Axlon spoke back in confusion at Isaac’s answer.
Isaac stared at Axlon intensely, but all he could see was a baffling Axlon, his previous cold expressionless face missing.
“Did I hear wrong?”
Just when Isaac turned back, Axlon spoke with a deep voice with an expressionless face.
“Do you have the Queen’s artefact?”
Isaac quickly turned the stone on his ring as he pointed it at Axlon without hesitation or thought.
“What the? Did they sell me a defect?”
Axlon’s face went blank for a moment, as if he wasn’t expecting Isaac to attack him instantly. The blank look quickly turned to a sinister smile.
“Kukuku. Do you know why magical artefacts are used as support instead of them being the main weapon? When the mana surrounding it is greater than what the mana crystal contains, it confuses the circuit of the magic circle and leads to activation failure. No matter how many magical artefacts you have, it will be useless in this mine.”
Even Axlon’s voice changed. Instead of Axlon’s deep voice, it was a coarse, disturbing voice, as if his throat was clogged with tar, and a vibration rumbled through the ground with the sound of something collapsing. The mines were quickly filled with dust.
“Did the path collapse?”
Knowing that he had fallen into a trap with no exit, Isaac realised he had let his guard down too much and crossed his arms with a smile.
“So who are you?”
“Huh? Where is this? Huh? Sir Isaac, what are you doing here?”
Axlon seemed like he had finally regained his senses when Isaac asked his question. Just when he looked about in confusion, his shadow jumped out.
“Huk! Wha, what the?”
Axlon jumped with surprise when his shadow moved on its own, but when he landed, his head and body were no longer together. Axlon’s head rolled over to Isaac, his face still oblivious to his own death. Isaac looked at it blankly and tapped it away with his foot.
“Kukuku, don’t be so harsh on him. He has been an excellent puppet of mine up until now.”
The figure that sprouted out of Axlon’s shadow formed that of an old man with a hood covering his face. Looking through the lens of his left eye, Isaac could see a dark and sticky aura like that of tar spiral around him.
With a single wave of his hand, earth sprouted and grabbed at each of Isaac’s limbs. With his trusty magical artefacts disabled and the mines collapsed, it was difficult to expect any help from the outside.
The old man shouted out with glee.
“Finally! The Queen’s artefact is mine!”