In one hour, Noah had gotten twenty-six runes. At least, that was how many runes his grimoire was willing to show him. He had the sneaking suspicion it was storing more than a few of them for itself, but given the amount he had to work with, he wasn’t going to complain.

Of the runes, seven of them were Monster Runes. It seemed that the grimoire had focused the ‘normal’ ones. That worked out quite well for him, as the others weren’t going to be useful to anyone other than Lee.

And I’m not letting Otto ever get any of these. They’re either going to my grimoire or to Lee. After the story of what a Monster Rune does to you, I don’t have any plans to take one into myself quite yet. But the other runes are a whole different story.

He’d gotten nine Rank 2s, seven Rank 3s, and 3 rank 4s. Every single one of them was based around space. The Rank 2s were all variations of plain Space Runes in a variety of different qualities ranging from True Space — which were much closer to perfect by nature, as they were composed entirely of Greater Rank 1 Runes of the exact same type — to borderline unusable trash that almost weren’t worth the effort of reconstructing with Sunder.

The Rank 3s weren’t in too much of a different situation, but they were more clustered around the middle of the line rather than the extremes. Three of them were borderline worthless aside from being ripped apart for power. The remaining four were a Shifting Space, a Churning Warp, A Rippling Pulse, and a Thrumming Spatial Wave. All four were usable and, judging by the energy he could feel from the pages, were probably somewhere around 20 or 25% full when they’d first been formed.

As for the Rank 4 Runes — two of them were trash. They still had power and components that would be invaluable for when he got around to taking them apart and putting everything together into a new Rune, but there was no way he’d ever consider using them himself.

The final Rank 4 Rune was a little more interesting. It was called Warped Elastic Expanse and was, like the others, heavily leaning in the space direction from what Noah could tell. The rune seemed to be roughly around 35% full when it had been made.


Several seconds passed as he studied all his earnings. There was a lot to take in. Even the poorly made runes were worth a fortune. But, even if he’d wanted to sell them, it would have been slightly problematic.

He’d have to sell them under disguise, and selling a bunch of Space Runes so quickly after attending Otto’s special space-dungeon felt like a great way to rat out just how many runes he’d gotten from it.

I suppose I could just sell one at a time at an auction or something. That’s worth considering with the lower quality ones. For now, I’m not going to worry about profit. I just want to make the absolute best Rank 4 Rune that I can.

That was, of course, the crux of the matter. If he’d wanted to, he could have ripped the runes apart then and there to form a Rank 4. It would have wasted a considerable amount of energy, but as long as Otto was going to buy Monster Runes from him, he wasn’t in any shortage of that.

Then again, he doesn’t buy them that often. I don’t want to overcommit and waste everything, only to find out he doesn’t want another Monster Rune for a month. That’s a lot of time given how fast things have been moving.

Noah drummed his fingers against his thigh and dismissed the thoughts. Money trouble could come later. Right now, he had all the components he needed to build a new Space Rune. He just had to figure out which one he’d make.


“Do I make a Rank 3 True Space Rune?” Noah mused, letting his hand drop and starting to pace around the room. The grimoire fluttered on his bed impatiently, but he ignored it. “Then I’d have to find other things to fit in for the other disasters, and I could make a Rank 4 Unnatural Disaster Rune.”

That would fit in with his current path. There were a lot of disasters that could probably be considered unnatural, and he could set out to get a Matter based rune next. Alexandra had said Gero had one, so they couldn’t have been completely impossible to acquire.

Hm. But what other runes would go into Unnatural Disaster? That seems like a ridiculously broad concept. It’s basically every single disaster other than Natural Disasters. Am I trying to match too closely to Natural Disaster?

Noah came to a stop by Moxie’s desk, the frown on his face growing deeper. Now that he actually had the runes he needed, the decision as to what to make somehow seemed even more difficult. He sat down and leaned back in the chair. Noah rocked back and forth, chewing his lower lip.

“The hell do I do? I suppose I could just throw something together and see how it works, but that would be a pretty big waste.”

“Do about what?” Moxie asked.This story has been stolen from Royal Road. If you read it on Amazon, please report it

Noah nearly pitched out of his chair. A vine caught its back and righted him, and he turned as Moxie stepped into the room, a vine snaking back into her shirt sleeve and a wry smile on her face.

“I didn’t hear you get back,” Noah said. “Thanks for the save. Where were you?”

“I technically caused the situation, but no problem. And I was out training and practicing patterns,” Moxie said as she shut the door behind her. There was a thin sheen of sweat on her forehead. “I take it things went well with Otto?”

Noah grimaced. “Er… yeah. They went. And, most importantly, I got runes. A lot of them.”

“So why do you look like you ate a rotten fruit?” Moxie took the travel bag off her shoulder and set it down. She wiped her face with the back of a sleeve and headed over to her closet to pull out a change of clothes.

“I’ve been trying to figure out what Rank 4 Rune to make,” Noah said. “It may be the dumbest problem in the world, but I have too many options. My concept is just so broad.”

Moxie snorted and set the clothes on her bed before heading into the bathroom. A second later, her dirty clothes flew out the door. A vine crept out the bathroom a second later, wrapping around them and delivering them over to her closet before snaking back into the bathroom.

“Want to talk through it? Speaking out loud always seems to help me.”

“I certainly won’t object,” Noah said. He did his best not to look at the open bathroom door as Moxie turned on the shower. He needed to remain focused on the task at hand. There were two entirely different parts of his brain trying to be active at the same time, and feeding the wrong one was a great way to ensure absolutely no more work got accomplished today. “I’m thinking on if I should make my next Rank 4 an Unnatural Disaster Rune. My first one is Natural Disaster, so it kind of fits.”

“Makes sense,” Moxie said from within the shower. “What’s the trouble, then?”

“Well, Natural Disaster is relatively controlled, even if it seems broad. It’s a bunch of physical changes in nature,” Noah said. “And I’ve got a theme in it as well — vibration. So everything is actually tied together. Unnatural Disaster though… that’s just about every other disaster possible.”

“I think I see what you’re getting at,” Moxie said after a moment of thought that was broken only by the sound of pattering water. “You think Unnatural Disaster is too big of a concept to fit as a Rank 4?”

“Yeah. And if I build with it in mind, I’m going to waste a huge amount of energy and time.”

“Definitely good to handle it now before you get that far along. So what’s the alternative?”

“One of them would just be making a Space Disaster Rune and filling in the others as I go. Make each Rank 4 a different kind of disaster, then combine everything into a Disaster Rune at Rank 5. I think the other concepts are large enough that they can basically match up with mundane disasters on their own.”

Moxie finished up in the shower and the water shut off. She snagged a towel from the rack and pulled it behind the curtains. A second later, she stepped out bundled within it.

“Space does seem like a really broad concept. I think I’m leaning more toward that myself,” Moxie said as she wrung her hair out. “You’re going to have some trouble finding the way to make a good Rank 4 Space Rune, but if anyone can do it, it’s going to be you with Sunder.”

Noah leaned back in the chair again. He returned to rocking back and forth — but only taking a look at the ceiling and the window to make sure that Lee wasn’t waiting somewhere to scare the life out of him.

“That’s what I was thinking as well. I admit that it’s also tempting because it means I can do something now instead of sitting around until I can get my hands on the other Disaster based runes to make my Rank 4,” Noah said with a sheepish laugh. “Also, the other issue would be what I’d make my other Runes. Natural Disaster and Unnatural Disaster seem to cover everything.”

“Honestly, I’m just impressed you haven’t jumped to make the rune already. With how impatient you used to be, that’s a huge improvement.” Moxie headed out of the bathroom and sat down on the bed beside her clean change of clothes. “Splitting off the other disasters and making Rank 4s for each of them does seem like the right move. You can get quite a few really high-level disasters that aren’t covered by Natural Disaster, and packing them all into one Rank 4 would probably fail.”

“Great,” Noah said. “So a Space-disaster related Rank 4 is the move.”

“Seems like it to me.” Moxie shrugged, then grinned and stood up. “Close your eyes unless you want to get sidetracked.”

Noah shut his eyes an instant before she dropped her towel, calling on a supreme force of will that he hadn’t even realized he’d had — but that wasn’t quite enough to stop the senses of his Body Imbuement. They didn’t give any amount of detail beyond a general humanoid blob, which was a blessing. The absolute last thing he needed was to be walking around with a magical x-ray that was permanently active.

Moxie stepped toward him. Noah’s eyes opened to find her fully dressed once more.

“Hoping for a look? Or good timing?”

“Body Imbuements,” Noah replied with a chuckle. “And, unfortunately for this specific scenario and fortunately for every single other one, they aren’t good enough to give me any detail.”

“That is both simultaneously fortunate and unfortunate,” Moxie agreed. “I’ll show mercy and stop distracting you. Do you have an idea of what kind of Space Rune you’re going to try to make?”

“Yeah. This helped line my thoughts up a lot,” Noah said as he rose from the chair. “Thanks, Moxie.”

“Any time. Are you going to try to make it now?”

“I wish. I kind of got myself killed again. I’m going to lie down for a bit. I don’t know how long it’ll be until we’re meant to go to that enforcer meeting, but I’m hoping it’ll be really late at night. If they show up earlier, let me know, would you?”

“You died?” Moxie exclaimed. She opened her mouth, then let it close again and shook her head with a sigh. “Fine. I’ll let you know. Rest well.”

Noah pushed his grimoire to the side and flopped onto Moxie’s bed. His eyes drifted shut, but even as the headache pulsed in his mind, the only thought he had was determination. It was about time he got his next Rank 4 Rune.