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Thrud knew that the seven hundred years old magic of the Golden Griffon couldn't compare with the modern academies that were constantly updated nor did she have any idea how Royal Forgemasters achieved such a result.
Her method was crude and rough, but also very effective. With each bit of the power core that she destroyed and regenerated, Hystar could feel the lost academy growing stronger. New spells appeared in his mind and new abilities became available each day.
He had no need to study them since a living legacy mastered all the enchantments they were imbued with as if they were born with them. His joy would have been boundless if pain didn't fill his mind already to the point that it was the only thing he could feel.
Suddenly, Thrud's Forgemastering hammer fell to the ground and Hystar's agony stopped. The entire Golden Griffon started to quake and rumble as the changes that she had made to the power core spread throughout the lost academy's structure.
To achieve the full extent of its new power, the Golden Griffon assimilated part of the materials that the Mad Queen had brought from her travels with the same hunger of a famished man consuming a hot meal.
"The core's update is complete…" Thrud's delicate features were twisted in a grimace of agony that put Hystar's to shame. "I would have loved to craft a few more pieces before giving birth, but I can't do that without endangering the baby."
"Do you need help, my liege?" Iata the Scorpicore asked.
Like most of the apprentices, the only childbirth Iata had ever witnessed was her own and she had no memory of it for obvious reasons.
"No, but there's one thing you can do for me. Take my amulet and call Jakra. Coming here or not is up to him, but he needs to know that our child is about to be born. If something happens to me, Jakra needs to take the baby away as soon as possible." Thrud replied.
"Do you suspect that there are traitors among our ranks?" Iata asked in outrage.
"No, I trust every one of you." Thrud replied with a huge grin on her face.
Unbeknownst to her soldiers, back when they had voluntarily submitted to the Unwavering Loyalty array in order to survive their Awakening, Thrud had questioned each one of them and then ordered them to forget all about it.
She now knew the strengths and weaknesses of her subjects along with where their loyalty lay.
"It's just that I'm afraid that my child will be the matter of the legends." Thrud let the Scorpicore help her standing while a Warp led them to her bedchambers. "I believe that they will be Awakened from birth, and living on top of a mana geyser would be dangerous for them."
Those words shocked both Iata and Hystar, but while the former felt great joy at the news, the latter could only suck it up and smile. Thrud had violated or rewritten almost all of the plans that Arthan had left, enraging the Headmaster to no end.
Yet there was nothing that Sevenus Hystar could do to her and now even to her kid. Arthan had been a Mad King, but far from stupid. Like Baba Yaga with Night, Arthan had imparted Hystar the command to not harm his descendants directly or indirectly.
Unlike her, however, having no trust in a cursed object that he considered nothing but a tool, Arthan had also left the command that were Hystar to be aware of any threat to the royal blood, the Headmaster had to protect them even at the cost of his life.
This way, even if Hystar set up a trap or divulged some information that led to a threat to Thrud's life, he was bound to be the only victim of his plotting, no matter how convoluted.
Jormun was still in the Empire, recovering from his wounds when he received a text message about the start of the labor. Thrud didn't want to force him to see or even hear from her, afraid to trigger his trauma.
The Emerald Dragon looked at the amulet and then at the calendar in Leegaain's lair. He was surprised realizing that his first reaction had been of worry because the child was a few weeks late.
'I can't tell Dad. He might report it to Tyris. Labor can last for several hours and if Tyris attacks right now, there's no telling what might happen.' Jormun used one of the Warp Gates to reach the borders of Leegaain's turf and then he flew at Dragon Speed.
It took him but a couple of minutes to reach the Golden Griffon academy and to walk along the straight path that went from the entrance to Thrud's chambers that Hystar created for him.
Yet upon his arrival, the baby was already born, announcing their arrival on Mogar with cries that sounded like a screeching roar. The mother was pale and couldn't stop panting from exhaustion.
Blood, urine, and sh*t stained the bedsheets, making Jormun worry that something had gone terribly wrong whereas it was just how life generated more life.
"It's a boy." At a wave of her hand, the academy created a thick curtain to hide Thrud from his sight, leaving visible only her arms offering the baby to Jormun.
In his human form, the newborn was no different from any other. In his other form, however, he had the head, the hands, and the tail of a Griffon. Everything else on his body resembled that of a Dragon and was covered with white scales smaller than a stamp.
A set of still featherless wings emerged from his back while a second set of membranous wings came out from his hips.
"Take this sh- I mean this thing out of my sight!" Jormun roared, veiling Thrud's eyes with tears and breaking her heart as she had ever believed it would have been possible.
At least until he ripped off the curtain that separated them. Jormun then caressed her cheek while using his breathing technique, Scalesong, on Thrud to make sure that she was alright.
"I'm sorry for the swearword. I'm not used to children." He said after confirming that both mother and son were as fit as a fiddle. "By the Father of all Dragons, he's not a hybrid!"
Scalesong didn't just show Jormun a perfectly healthy baby but also a unique life force. The baby's essence looked like a nebula comprised of a thick red gaseous energy inside of which many red stars of all sizes were forming with each breath he took.
"And he really is Awakened! How did you know?" Jormun asked as the baby emitted a soft cooing while searching for warmth.
"I didn't. I just suspected it because of the strength he gave me and because of how he was conceived. The process that turned me into a Griffon, having a Dragon for a father, and living the past three months above a powerful mana geyser must have done the trick." She said, brimming with joy.
"Have you already thought about his name?" Jormun asked.
"Yes, but I have yet to make my mind. At first, I thought about calling him Arthan if he was a boy and Hervor if she was a girl.
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