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Twenty years had pa.s.sed since Dream saved Ak.u.mu from the ruthless attacks by the dirty merchant. During that time, Dream's constant ability to churn out invention after invention had revolutionised society, particularly that of Yume Metropolis. Before, it was hard-pressed to find lit up streets in the fog of midnight. However, with the new Domestic Lighting System that Dream implemented, candles were swapped housing lamps, making the Metropolis radiate even brighter. It wasn't just the lights that experienced an upheaval.
Facilities that tethered on the edge of fiction just decades ago were now coming alive. A state-of-the-art drainage system that connected toilets throughout the city. Hospitals that provided groundbreaking healthcare. Schools that taught postgraduate studies to the common public… Yume Metropolis was unquestionably at the forefront of human development.
The three superpowers could only look on in envy as this small city-state, which no one really bothered about before, pull ahead of them in terms of finance and development. And all that development… was due to the brains of one ent.i.ty.
The peerless genius, Dream.
Alongside her elite team of scientists, Dream led the charge on all technological and scientific fields. On average, there would be an invention a day among her thirty-four prime laboratories. With her dedication to educating the public, even those that seemed to have no future, Dream had created a vast pool of talent to pick from. In Yume Metropolis, becoming a researcher was more lucrative than becoming a dominant cultivator. There were no innate talent requirements, and neither does one need to have superior genes. Anyone, be it an orphan that was forced to beg, or a n.o.ble that hated their caged life, were able to join this elite crew of scientists if they had the desire to.
And thus, Dream had single-handedly created a new age in the city-state. Dream had triggered the Age of Enlightenment. Millions had benefited from Dream's inventions, which were churned out at a rapid pace. Dominant superpowers, such as the Lantis Republic and the Kori Federation spent astronomical sums of money to secure a partnership with Dream Labs. That had made Yume Metropolis the most wealthy ent.i.ty outside of the three superpowers.
The Blacksmith's League, Mercenary Guild and Healer's a.s.sociation had also opened up new branches in the city-state, in hopes of improving their infrastructure and methods. Dream's innovations weren't just limited to science, after all. There were many times where she would come up with new blueprints that would increase forge's efficiency. Additionally, her latest invention, the Cikai Mirror, had become a must-have for the Mercenary Guild. The Healer's a.s.sociation also received many kindnesses from the peerless genius. The most prominent of which, was how to store their legendary 'Heal' ability in Aether Crystals. With that, Dream had created the first-ever hereditary opuscule.
It was safe to say that the world now relied heavily on Dream and Yume Metropolis. In due time, the country and their nominal leader would soon reach superpower status. Not to mention, Dream was now deep into the Spirit Venerate Realm. In fact, people were already calling her the twenty-first Spirit Immortal, even though she was still a long way from Rank 99.
A genius that the world needed. That was the term that was coined for Dream. However, at this moment, the world's greatest genius was currently…
Crying like a baby.
"Hic! Kuro bit me again!" Dream flashed her index finger, which was now swollen and red. It was adorable, seeing the world's most famous woman sob while holding her strained finger.
Years ago, Dream was a breathtaking beauty that could topple any nation. Now that she had the chance to fully mature, there was only a rare handful of men that dared to look directly at her perfect proportions. Her white hair, which seemingly never fades its colour, was tied up into a scorpion braid, showing off her seductive nape. Dream's womanly body wasn't one to be scoffed at either. Though she'd spent most of her time indoors, the woman had a perfect body, possibly due to her superior cultivation levels.
"Ak.u.mu! How the h.e.l.l did you raise this Spirit Beast?! Why does it only bite me and not the others?!"
A fully bearded man walked over while supporting his two temples. Full head of ruffled hair, the man seemed like he hadn't seen the light of day for many years now. He wasn't particularly handsome. Still, one could sense the sheer amount of knowledge that he hid, just by gazing into his hazel-brown eyes. That man was the youngster that Dream had saved so many years ago… The second-in-command of Dream Labs… Ak.u.mu.
"Others don't try to poke Kuro in odd places to investigate his reproductive organs…" Ak.u.mu sighed as the black wolf leapt right into his arms.
"Awoooooo!" The black wolf nuzzled itself closer into Ak.u.mu's chest like an infant would to its mother. Kuro acted as if he were pleading: 'Help! Help! Get me away from that monster!'
"Dream, you really need to kick that habit of yours. I know that Kuro is unique, but if you want him to like you, you shouldn't keep looking at him as a research specimen. Spirit Beasts have feelings too, you know?"
"I know that..." Dream puckered her lips and frowned. "It's just… Kuro is really, really odd! A one of a kind specimen! How about this? I'll cast my ability on him so that he'll enter deep sleep. I can even give him a pleasant dream if he wishes to. Just give me two… no three hours! I would solve everything about its heritage by then!"
"Hah… No can do, Dream..." Ak.u.mu gently slapped the crown of the woman's head, slightly peeved that she hadn't learnt from her lesson. Dream was beloved by all humans, young and old alike. However, animals avoided the genius as if she were the plague. It wasn't that she smelt foul or had any particular oddity that would deter an animal's superior senses. It was just… Dream had no boundaries when it came to research.
The master scientist wouldn't mind defiling a Spirit Beast to sate her curiosity. Due to that fact, whenever any animal or Spirit Beast came close to the woman, a primal fear would overrun their senses. It wouldn't be surprising if a litter of puppies yelped when Dream came near to them. If not for his a.s.sociation with Ak.u.mu, there was no way that Kuro would stay within ten metres of the woman.
"Go, run along." Ak.u.mu winked at Kuro, whose nails were already pointed towards the exit. Evidently, the Spirit Beast didn't want to stay too long with Dream.
"Awoooo!" Kuro howled once more before bolting all the way out into the open. Dream, who had just lost her target for research, pouted furiously at the black-haired man.
"Hmph! Mark my words, Ak.u.mu! One day, I'll make you give up that Spirit Beast!"
"Yeah, yeah..." Ak.u.mu rolled his eyes. How many times had Dream threatened him now? Though her cultivation far surpa.s.sed his own, Ak.u.mu didn't fear the Spirit Venerate at all. It was the contrary. The bearded man even dared to chastise and lightly hit Dream on the head if she went out of line, which had been occurring more frequently now.
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"By the way, the Mercenary Guild has issued a new commission." Ak.u.mu dropped the brown file that he'd brought on Dream's table, and his wrists turned slightly. Curious, Dream picked up the doc.u.ment and started to scour through it. "They want us to find a method to ma.s.s-produce Aether Crystals that could transmit messages. The council had agreed on the terms. All that's left is for you to accept it."
Dream flipped through the doc.u.ment, and her radiant eyes gradually turned dull: "Something as simple as this… The newbies should be capable of handling it, why come to me?"
"Protocol." A succinct reply came from Ak.u.mu's mouth. Dream was the President of Yume Metropolis and the head-of-state. Tremendous power for a single person. However, Dream had largely washed her hands off politics to dedicate her time for research.
Most of the time, Dream would complete her own innovations and the world would react with awe. But as her reputation grew, so did the greed of others. Major organisations all thought: 'Maybe I could give Yume Metropolis a commission to develop something for us, and the supergenius would give me a solution?'
At the time, it was a win-win situation for all. Dream would get new research topics to solve, Yume Metropolis' treasury would grow even further, researchers at Dream Labs would have higher pay, and the organisations that gave the commissions would have the problem solved. Initially, Dream was thrilled at the notion. However, as time went by, the commissions started to turn more and more money-oriented and thus, less attractive for Dream to work on.
Dream eventually grew bored and threw the commissions to her subordinates to solve. "Eyy, I should really reprimand that council… Shouldn't they have some filters set in place to separate the boring commissions from the interesting ones?"
"Hah… Grow up, Dream. You may be the 'Supreme Leader', but if you want to continue to spend gold as if it were water, these commissions are a must."
"I don't think my spending is THAT much..."
".. Sorry," after being confronted by Ak.u.mu's glare, Dream cowered back.
Research was expensive, and Dream had to learn that the hard way. A few years back, Dream approved a multimillion gold project, the most costly scientific enquiry in modern times. With that one project, she emptied half of Yume Metropolis' vaults.
Back then, Dream had a success rate of a hundred percent, and though the government were hesitant to spend that much money, they still allowed Dream to do her thing. Alas, the research project led to a dead-end wasting all of the gold that Dream had spent.
Dream wasn't disheartened by the failure though. Only through defeat, could one learn to taste success. She was ready to spend all of Yume Metropolis' money to give her project a second try, but this time, the council was forced to put their foot down. They simply couldn't afford to let Dream spend whatever resources they had. Fortunately, a compromise was made. If Dream solved the commissions sent by the government, she could get all the funding she wanted.
"Just come up with a theory or something. Given your abilities, you should be able to concoct a blueprint in an hour or two." Ak.u.mu snorted.
"Overestimating me much?"
"No, I'm being conservative." The black-haired man broke into a smile. Ak.u.mu had complete faith in Dream's abilities, particularly after learning the Crown of Wisdom's true nature. "Anyway, the deadline is in two years. You can return to the commission whenever you're bored or something."
"Psshhh, I don't want to hear that from you." Ak.u.mu folded his arms before lifting the brown file up from Dream's table. History's greatest genius calling him a genius? That sounded more like an insult than a compliment. Ak.u.mu moved towards the cabinet, where all the other commissions were being 'stored' for the future. Just as the twenty-nine-year-old was about to leave and reunite with Kuro, an angelic voice echoed in the chamber.
"So… When were you going to tell me about your promotion?"
"... As expected, you've found out." Ak.u.mu unwillingly let out a sigh. "Yes, I've broken through into the Spirit Spectre realm. I've now... pa.s.sed the second barrier of mortality."
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