Ronin felt that growing up took a whole eternity. That was because he was impatient to finally level up somehow and become one step closer to killing Cermin Dryschspiel, who is inhabited by the soul of the transmigrator, Min Cheng.
But it did came eventually. Days turn to weeks, weeks to months. He learned how to crawl, to say his first word, and to go to the potty by himself. His first word was:
And it was very useful indeed. He used it as many times as he could.
Breastfeeding besides the baby bottle? “No.”
Nuzzles and cuddles? “No.”
Reading books for naptime? “No.”
Anyone who violates little Ronin’s ‘No’ would automatically be punished with a CHOMP! And this time he has teeth.
The baby was a really strange one indeed..
He was averse to all types of affection, and often acts like a self-sufficient man. He doesn’t like anyone opening the door for him when he can’t reach the handle nor even have someone change his fantasy diaper made of magical absorbent cloth.
He was also too quiet and reserved. Most toddlers will be curious and try to play with anything, touching and putting them in their mouths. But no matter what toys you give to the Third Young Master Ronin, he would just stare at them like he wanted to set them on fire.
Which he was caught trying to do so about four to five times, finding matches or carrying all those toys to the fireplace.
But there’s also a likable aspect to the baby’s strange behavior.
He never babbles or drools. He wasn’t picky with his food either and finishes everything on his plate.
What he does show a strong interest in were books, and not the children’s books type.
Science of the Magecian’s anatomy and History of Magecia. He reads thick almanacs to know about the seasons and astronomical phenomena, encyclopedias to learn more about the different cultures and facts in the four realms, dictionaries and lexicon guides for the languages, and atlases for the geography and layout of this world.
Those were the types of books he was interested in. Even at just three years old, he can now speak fluently and spends his days in the House Zafeiri’s library, studying.
“He may be cursed to have no Flame in his heart, but perhaps his Flame is in the mind.” One of the servants muttered to the other as they watched the tiny boy carry a book half as big as him to the desk. “That boy may grow up to be one of our era’s greatest scholars.”
“I still cannot believe someone can be a genius at such an early age.” Another one whispered back.
Ronin ignored their mutterings and focused on flipping the pages of his heavy tome, but if one looked closer, they would notice a beam of pride in his beady, dark eyes.
Speaking of servants, Ronin noticed that the House had about 90% Commoner servants. Their skins are mostly dull gray, brown, black, and occasionally yellowish. Even those who served high duties are Commoners, and the few exceptions have very low Flame and have much lower Heartstones than the family they serve. 𝑖n𝚗𝘳e𝗮d.＆nbsp;𝒄𝐨𝗺
He had also learned that this had always been the case for House Zafeiri, not just for Duke Taevas and Duchess Akasa.
It turned out that six generations ago, the head of the household, Duke Toril was betrayed by his half-brother that served as his adviser. His brother put poison on his food, and it was a Coal servant that tended to their chicken coop that saved his life by throwing the food to the chickens, which died instantly upon eating.
As a result, Duke Toril had become wary of servants on the same level as him and preferred to have Commoners who are usually honest and do not have high ambitions. This also became the mindset of the following generations of Zafeiri, and so the only House of Sapphires filled with common people was created.
‘Ah, fear is truly one of the only reasons to be “kind” and “nice” to others.’ Ronin thought bemusingly.
He fears no one, and so he does not need to ‘act nice’. He may only do so if he needs something…..
“Reading again, little brother? What are you reading this time?”
A cheery voice came by his side. Ronin gave a dry smirk. Right on time when he needed it, his eldest brother Maellan appeared.
He did not say anything and pointed at the title of the book.
“The History of Sapphire Heartstones.” Maellan read it and sat next to him. “Ah, you are reading quite a difficult book. You may encounter some of the older languages and runic languages.”
“Runes?” Ronin repeated with his childish voice.
He hated how high-pitched he sounded, he missed his deep and husky voice during the short time of being Level 100 Ronin Dreadborne.
“Yes. Back when there was no official and easier language system, we used runes and pictograms that may have several meanings.” Maellan pointed at a certain image in the book. “This one may mean ‘Zafeiri’, but also sky and lightning. The other houses of Sapphires may have had this rune or other runes for themselves, but it was only ours that kept this symbol up to the present.”
Ronin knew how runes work, and he had encountered them twice in person now. The first was the ones painted or seared into the curtains of his cave in the Abyssal realm, and the second was the Elementi ones carved in Goddess Bezirze’s skin.
It was interesting for him to know that Sapphires have been associated with sky and lightning in runes, since Duchess Akasa herself and her two sons…..
Have lightning powers.
He had learned that the House Zafeiri’s heir was not actually the prude and hot-headed Duke Taevas… but Duchess Akasa.
‘And yet he acts like he owns this household.’ Ronin sneered.
He was from a wealthy family of merchants, and the Zafeiri family’s financial situation was in dire straits. And so, they married into each other like a fair trade.
The Zafeiri gets to have money and may continue its bloodline, while he kept their surname— along with the prestige and power it holds.
But because he was not a Zafeiri by blood, his Mage Focus did not reflect lightning like his wife and his two sons. His was the gifted sword from Vesuvius, and his skill was tied to warfare, not the electric element.
As Ronin touched the rune, he felt a strange pull towards it. Like he can feel energy and meaning in every line and curve of the symbol. It was an image of zigzagging lines that appear as crackles, the usual pattern of lightning, engraved on a stone block.
Ronin touched his lower eyelids, remembering the same type of lines that marked his eyes back when he was a grown man.
He can hear the rune as well. That fizzling, zapping sound… taking its claim to be the meaning of this symbol… making his heart felt like it was being electrified….. a small spark…..
“The rune speaks.”
“Huh?” Maellan looked at him confusedly and tilted his head.
“Nothing.” Ronin shook his head and held his chest with his tiny hand.
He kept his head down, trying to calm his breathing and not alerting his elder brother by his side.
But as he looked up, he saw a holographic screen in front of him.
[Flame unlocked. Congratulations, you have now leveled up.
Level 0 >>> Level 1 ]
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