Rhode had completed the Castel Plateau Ruins Mission after receiving the phylactery . Apart from receiving a huge amount of EXP as a reward, he also received the Fantasy Key and the Construct Guards Defense Formation . The reason why Rhode chose this mission was to obtain the Construct Guards Defense Formation . After all, these lifeless, aggressive Constructs would be the best choice to defend the Fortress in the upcoming war . If not, he wouldn’t have wasted the precious second opportunity to unlock Gillian’s seal . However, Rhode realized that this reward was somewhat different from what he expected .
Rhode thought that this Construct Guards Defense Formation would simply expand the available features in the guild’s Construction System . This way, he just needed to spend some money to put everything into place . However, the reward he received was presented in the form of a blueprint which contained a series of production workflows for the Constructs . In that moment, Rhode finally realized the meaning of this reward — Although he had unspoken criticism about how illogical the guild Construction System could be to even build high-rise buildings, systems were after all systems and Rhode couldn’t grumble to the Game Masters directly . Fortunately, he was somewhat experienced in this aspect . In the game, it was always a necessity to pass these blueprints to the Alchemist players of the Production subclass to manage . Therefore, Rhode thought of Lapis as soon as he received this blueprint .
“Construct Guards?” Lapis widened her eyes in astonishment before taking the blueprint .
The young lady leaned on the doorframe and examined the details carefully . At this moment, Lapis finally presented herself as the descendant of the Behermes Family’s and the panicky, timid little girl had vanished away in the blink of an eye . Lapis scanned the blueprint with her utmost attention, at the same time, mumbling softly while her eyes were full of brilliant wisdom and seriousness .
Rhode, Marlene, and Christie stood by the side silently and observed Lapis’s right hand wandering along the strange patterns and complicated equations on the blueprint . The young lady’s eyes shifted in rows accurately from left to right accurately as though she were scanning everything into her brain .
Until a few moments later, Lapis shut her eyes and let out a long breath . Then, she lifted her head . As soon as Rhode came into view, her steady calmness disappeared instantly and the young lady with her usual reserved personality returned abruptly . “Ah, sorry, Sir Rhode, I accidentally…”
“No, it’s fine . ” Rhode gestured and interrupted Lapis’ apologies . Then, he gazed at Lapis sternly and said, “What do you think about this Construct Defense Formation?”
“It is really comprehensive . Although some aspects may be a little complicated, it is still very valuable,” explained Lapis .
“Good,” Rhode nodded in satisfaction at Lapis’s answer . “So then, Lapis . From now on, I hope you can focus on creating these Construct Guards . The more the better . Are there any problems? If you need any materials, I can get Marlene to provide you with them . Of course, I hope we can use cheaper materials as far as possible considering our budget . ”
“This…” Lapis tilted her head and considered carefully . Then, the young lady lifted her head hesitantly with a difficult expression . “S-Sorry… Sir Rhode, I don’t think I can manage…”
“Hmm?” Rhode stared blankly as this was the last answer he expected from Lapis . What’s going on? Aren’t the Construct Guards made by Alchemists? Furthermore, Lapis’s abilities are more than enough for this task, so why can’t she manage it? “What’s wrong? What are the difficulties?”
“This… This… This…” Lapis stuttered under Rhode’s concerned gaze . She lowered her head helplessly and shut her eyes before finally giving an explanation . “I can’t cast metal, not to mention magical metal…”
“…” Rhode was speechless .
A scientist who could build nuclear reactors on their own didn’t necessarily mean that they could build an intercontinental nuclear warhead by himself . This was the problem that Rhode was currently facing .
Facing Lapis’ sullen expression, Rhode gaped and realized that he had made a big mistake . After all, in the game, the casting of magical metal wasn’t difficult for Alchemists with the Production subclass . Besides, there would always be a group of such players in every guild . Therefore, Rhode just needed to hand out the blueprint and his men would figure out ways to accomplish it . But now, there was no person with this capability in Starlight . Furthermore, NPCs who could cast magical metal were extremely rare, which was also the reason why a large number of craftsmen players could survive in the game . “How much manpower do you need?”
“This… If we need to constantly produce the Construct Guards as per your instructions, we will need at least 50 craftsmen to cast the equipment and components because there are a total of 150 production workflows . Also, they must be extremely skillful because the internal compositions of the Construct Guards are highly complex and a single mistake will put all the effort to waste,” explained Lapis .
“I see…” Rhode gave up on this idea even though he had some craftsmen on hand . During those days when Rhode first arrived at Deep Stone City, he had received a magic craftsman shop from the Keller Family . At the same time, he had gotten three to four craftsmen who could produce magical weapons . However, Rhode knew that their skills weren’t wonderful and if it weren’t for the special forging table that they had in the shop, perhaps they couldn’t even forge a proper magical weapon . Therefore, it was rather far-fetched to rely on these craftsmen to produce a proper Construct Guard . Furthermore, Rhode needed at least 50 of them .
“Are there no other ways?” It seemed that Rhode could forget about producing the ideal Construct Guards troop for the time being . However, he was still not resigned to give up because this felt as though he had won the top lottery prize but couldn’t use the money won . What was the point of having this blueprint in the first place?
“Hmm…” Lapis puckered her brows with a sullen face . After a few moments of pondering, she said, “there is indeed another way…”
“Oh? What about it?” Rhode asked in a curious tone .
“It’s like this, Sir Rhode . ” Lapis flipped through the blueprint and pointed to one of the pages diligently . “To be honest, Sir Rhode, it is unlikely to produce proper Construct Guards with our current manpower and financial status . But we can build similar and simpler Constructs instead… For example, the Gargoyle…”
“Oh?” Rhode was instantly reminded of the trouble that Matt, Lize, and himself had faced before leaving the Twilight Forest . Strictly speaking, the Gargoyle was indeed a kind of Construct . However, Rhode had forgotten about this matter entirely . “Is it similar to the Gargoyle?”
“Yes, Sir Rhode . ” Lapis nodded with all her might . “An alternative would be the Stone Constructs which are much simpler to produce and require less skillful craftsmen . The craftsmen can carve according to the blueprint that I have drafted whileI can handle the Stone Constructs’s internal circuits and activation of their cores by myself . But the flaw of these Stone Constructs is also rather apparent because they are only capable of executing a single operation at once . Also, they are much weaker compared to Constructs that are made of metal…”
“What about the cores?” Rhode frowned because he was clear about how difficult it was to get his hands on man-made Soul Cores with their sky-high prices .
“No problem with this… Everyone in the Behermes Family knows how to make the Soul Cores . But the materials are very costly…” said Lapis .
“How much are we looking at?” Marlene questioned anxiously . After all, most of Starlight’s spendings were on Lapis’s alchemist tasks ever since Rhode had left the Fortress . If Anne was known as the big eater of the guild, then Lapis would be the other ‘big eater’ from a monetary perspective .
“This…” Lapis lowered her head and counted with her fingers . “Producing a man-made Soul Core will need five times more materials than an Elemental Badge…”
“Five times?!” Marlene exclaimed and stood between Rhode and Lapis hurriedly while gesturing and gazing sternly at Rhode . “Rhode, this is impossible! Five times is too much and Starlight definitely can’t afford it! Maybe we should think of other solutions…”
Rhode puckered his brows and pondered hard for a few moments . He raised his hand to stop Marlene from speaking before turning his gaze towards Lapis . “Non-man-made Soul Cores are also possible, right?”
“Yes, ordinary Soul Cores are possible,” said Lapis .
“Is there any requirement for the powers in the Soul Cores? Or perhaps, the requirement of the Soul Core’s attributes?” Rhode anxiously asked .
“Hmm… the stronger the powers are, the better the Soul Core will be . However, I don’t think its attribute means anything because the Stone Constructs will not be able to sustain the attribute powers in the Soul Cores perfectly, unlike the Constructs made of metal . Moreover, unless the Soul Core contains extreme powers, it is impossible for the Stone Construct to embody the attribute of the Soul Core,” Lapis explained further .
“…” Rhode paused for a few seconds and retrieved two Soul Cores from his spatial bag . These two Soul Cores were the ones he received after defeating the Undead Knight and Necromancer while they were on their way to Eagle City . Rhode had kept them and decided to summon them as his spirits when he had the time, but he had new ideas after listening to Lapis’s words . “Take a look at these two Soul Cores . ”
Lapis took over the Soul Cores and examined cautiously . “These two Soul Cores can be used to build powerful Stone Constructs, Sir Rhode . ”
“Good . ” Rhode heaved a sigh of relief and an idea came up in his mind . “So, what about those Soul Cores with about one-tenth of their powers?”
“Hmm… Those Soul Cores with one-tenth of their powers would still be enough to drive the Stone Constructs and normal attack and defense shouldn’t be a problem for them,” Lapis confirmed .
“Great!” Rhode made his decision and patted Lapis’s shoulder . “So then, I will leave these two Soul Cores with you . Go and figure out which kind of Stone Construct will be the most suitable . Then, hand your sketch to Marlene after you’ve drafted it . Marlene, pass the sketch to Shauna once you receive it and instruct Shauna to purchase and get carvings from the stonemason in Deep Stone City . Also, she can claim that this is needed for decorations in our guild Fortress . Any questions?”
“No problem, Rhode,” Marlene nodded with a sigh of relief .
As the financial assistant, Marlene understood how this arrangement could cut down their spendings . The materials required to produce the Stone Construct wouldn’t be as demanding and furthermore, Deep Stone City was known for their inexpensive ores and stone materials . Moreover, the quality of the materials would be guaranteed if they purchased them through the Keller Family . At least this would be so much cheaper than magical crystals!
At this moment, Christie, who had been quietly observing their conversation, tugged on Rhode’s sleeve lightly . Rhode lowered his head to find the little girl hugging the drawing board that had never left her side . She lifted her head and gazed at Rhode calmly . “… Rhode… Can you let me… design the Stone Construct?”
“Oh?” Rhode was surprised as this was the first time he heard such a request from Christie .
On the contrary, Lapis and Marlene didn’t feel strange at all . “I think that’s a great idea, Sir Rhode . Christie is really great at designing and this Elemental Badge was also designed by her!”
“Really?” Rhode was truly amazed after hearing Lapis’ answer . He retrieved the Elemental Badge and examined it once more . The badge was exquisitely designed, which revealed the guild’s imposing unity . Its unique and distinct pattern made it suitable to be worn as a group as it was easily recognizable by one another . Although Rhode knew that Christie could draw well and he was a total layman in designing, he understood that design and art weren’t similar at all .
But why would Christie want to do this?
“… Christie… wants to help Rhode… and everyone… by doing something…” The little girl lifted her head and gazed at Rhode with her clear, round eyes . “… Everyone takes good care… of Christie… So I think, I can also do something… for everyone…” The little girl said shyly .
“…” What Rhode saw from the little girl’s eyes was her staunch determination and courage despite her frail stature . Rhode revealed a smile and squatted to Christie’s eye level before stroking the little girl’s silky long hair gently . “So then, can I trouble you with this, Christie?”
“… Okay!” Christie grinned from ear to ear and nodded with all her might .