It was a cold night.
Towards the North, in the northwest corner of a little city called Gladstone, sat the Lower Magic Academy of Flemmings. In the darkest corner on the third floor of its Apprentice Dorm stood room 309.
Blankets were thrown up in a flurry. A black-haired, thin and frail-looking young man sat up with a jolt. The moonlight shone in through the glass window panes, casting a pale white sheen onto his face.
Am I really in the World of Firuman now? A world of darkness, dying gods, that bloody night, the flashing magical lights, saving the world? Was that all real?
The young man's head was in chaos. Utter chaos.
His name was Link. He was from Earth. At least, he had been, up until just an hour ago.
Just recently, he was still in his own home on Earth, playing the game Legend.
Legend had been the most popular online virtual reality game on Earth. It was about a world in a tragic state, slowly being taken over by the Dark Side. In the game, he had been the first ever Archmage, as well as the head Magician of its largest guild: The Guild of Starry Dreams. Just before this, he had challenged the game's Ultimate Boss-the Lord of the Deep, Nozama.
Nozama was a mighty Demi-God. He was one of the three overlords of the Dark Army in the Mortal Realm. Link's battle with Nozama had been an arduous one. Of his team of more than a hundred and ten players, only Link was left standing. By that time, Nozama had worn down his health to the point of almost finishing him off.
Towards the end, Link unlocked the God-level item, the Archangel's Sword. Immense power surged through him, and he became temporarily invincible for five seconds.
In those five seconds, Link and the frenzied boss clashed, each using three Fingers of Death on each other!
Finger of Death
Level-19 Legendary Spell
Effect: When it hits a target, it will carry out divine judgment (magical judgment) according to the condition of the target's body. There is a very large chance that it will cause the target to experience sudden death!
(The version used by the game player is Basic. It can only be used when the Boss' health is below a certain level.)
The scary thing about this spell was that it judged its targets regardless of their skill level. If the spell's judgment was successful, even a God would be killed on the spot!
Link and Nozama's Fingers of Death activated at the same time. They both had literally fought each other to their deaths.
Strangely enough, Link's avatar hadn't been resurrected at the graveyard. Instead, it entered a dark, eerie dimension.
In this dimension, there was a luminescent but dim ball of light. It claimed to be the God of Light hailing from the Legion of Light, a realm in the World of Firuman far away on the verge of defeat. As its supreme God, his powers had been weakened to the point of death, and he begged Link to save his beloved World of Firuman.
Link just listened. Who could believe such a ridiculous thing as saving a world?
He thought that this was a cut scene that had been activated by slaying the Ultimate Boss. Full of pride after having just slain the boss, Link had somehow actually agreed to the God's plea. This caused him to be banished to this godforsaken, wretched place!
Under the silver moonlight, Link looked about and was able to make out the room around him.
The room was neither large nor small, 100 or so square feet. By the window were a distinctively foreign-looking bookshelf and chair. A single bed had been placed against the wall, and at the head of the bed, there was a storage chest. That was all.
There were three books on the bookshelf. Link found that he could recognize their names very quickly: Elemental Magic, The World's Equilibrium, and Light and Dark. All of them were basic learning materials from the academy's library.
More memories began flooding into his head. This body had also been called Link. It was the youngest son of a small baron in the Eastern Dunes of the Norton Kingdom. He was 17 this year, introverted and taciturn. He had only learned an extremely basic Trick (Level-0 Apprentice Spell) throughout his half a year in the Magic Academy -The Magician's Hand.
He was a hermit in the academy. Almost no one noticed him.
But none of that was relevant now.
Jumping down from the bed, without even bothering to put on any shoes, Link strode over to the calendar hanging by the table. Clearly inscribed on the calendar of vellum was today's date.
The Light Ages: The Year 1056, the 9th Day of the 10th Month.
Link gasped. It seemed to be just a normal day, but after today, it would be carved into the history of the World of Firuman for all eternity!
Because late tonight, the vanguard of the Dark Elves would succeed in ambushing Gladstone City. They would follow it up with the atrocious massacre of the whole city - 150,000 people would be wiped out within a day and a night, their souls sacrificed to the Dark Elves' goddess, the Spider Queen, Lolth. There would be less than 1000 survivors.
After the sacrificial ritual, the corpses would be thrown into the Gladstone River beside the city. The river would nearly be cut off by the dam of corpses, the water stained red with blood.
Gladstone was reduced to rubble that night.
This incident was known as The Change of the Bloody Moon!
Soon, a war swept over the entire World of Firuman. The Dark Ages had arrived. Twenty years later, there were still no signs of it ending anytime soon. In fact, it only seemed to have gotten worse.
All this had been a part of the background history of the game Legend. After comparing what he knew with the memories of his body, Link realized that this world he was in was almost identical to the world in Legend.
The only difference was the time-it had been the year 1076 in the game. The Legion of Light had been on the retreat, losing more battles than winning, its territory steadily shrinking. There had also been constant internal squabbles leaving it in extremely poor condition. Now, the world was just about to face the beginning of the disaster.
The Change of the Bloody Moon would happen tonight!
Cold to his core, Link turned to see a pocket watch lying on the chest by the bed. He rushed over and picked it up. It had been made by the dwarves. Opening it, the watch hands glowed in the dark, he could tell the time very easily. It was 9:35 at night.
"There's less than an hour! The Dark Elves' attack will start soon!" Link thought, his heartbeat quickening.
This night, the Dark Elves had been the ones to deal the first blow. They had snuck into Gladstone City in disguises, carrying out an intricate assassination scheme.
In the game's lore, the assassination had been carried out at 10:30 pm and went on for an hour.
Within that one hour, 99% of the leaders of the city had been murdered, leaving the rest mortally injured. When the Dark Elves began their main attack, the city was already in turmoil. The Dark Elf Army hadn't come across any significant resistance.
How did he know all of this so well?
Because in the game Legend, every beginner had to go through The Change of the Bloody Moon as part of their first mission. Their mission was to escape Gladstone.
"How can I save myself?"
Link paced the room, asking himself over and over again.
He would be experiencing a city's massacre in a foreign world. If he didn't run, by morning, he would definitely be one of the corpses in Gladstone River!
Thinking of the events he knew were about to happen made Link break out into a cold sweat. But as the only Archmage in the game, he was very strong in mind. Shocked, but still managing to keep his resolve, he had no real resentments about being placed in such a tight situation. Once he had processed what was going on, he began to think of a strategy to get himself out of his current circumstance.
Suddenly, Link's heart skipped a beat. A glowing numeral had appeared in his head. It was the number 20.
"These are...Omni Points? The God of Light had told the truth!" Link felt his spirits lift.
In the game, The God of Light had been the main God of the Legion of Light. It was the same in this world, Link confirmed with a quick review of his memories.
In the strange dimension that he had been in before being teleported to this world, the God of Light said that for him to leave Gladstone safely, he would receive 20 Omni Points. With them, he would be able to quickly grasp the power of magic.
Link's eyes lit up. He had been an Archmage in a game. He had no idea how magic actually worked. If he were to truly master magic, he would have to study at a magic academy. And that would require a huge amount of time - which he didn't have.
"How do I use Omni Points?" he asked immediately.
Something flashed in the corner of his eye. Link found a line of glowing text appear at the border of his vision. It was exactly the same as in the game.
The text started scrolling.
The gaming system is loading... Loading completed.
Scanning body stats... Scan completed.
Game player: Link Morani (noble)
Title: Magician's Apprentice
Magic Recovery Speed: 0.2 points per hour.
Maximum Mana: 1 (Mana consumption follows the Omni Points chart)
List of Mastered Spells: Level-0 The Magician's Hand (0.2 Mana per use)
Current gear: None
Link was dumbfounded.
What is this? It's so similar to the game's user interface... Anyways, this body is seriously trash. There's almost no difference between this body and a commoner's.
The gaming system went on to give him a thorough explanation.
To help the game player adapt to the real World of Firuman, the game player's body is integrated into the gaming system. The gaming system will give the game player missions, from which the game player can gain Omni Points.
"But what can Omni Points be used for?"
The interface refreshed to show new information.
Omni Points can be used to change the game player's body stats.
Exchange ratio: 1 Omni Point = 1 Mana Speed Recovery = 10 Maximum Mana Points.
Omni Points can be used to purchase spells. The spell prices are as shown below.
Level-0 Spells = 1 Omni Point.
Level-1 Spells = 10 Omni Points.
Level-2 Spells = 20 Omni Points.
Level-10 Spells = 100 Omni Points, and so on.
Level-11 Spells = 500 Omni Points.
Level-12 Spells = 1000 Omni Points.
Level-13 Spells = 2000 Omni Points.
Level-19 Legendary Pinnacle Spells = 128000 Omni Points, and so on.
Demi-God Divine Spells: Locked.
Okay. This definitely made things clear.
That is to say, as long as Link completed the missions given to him by the gaming system, he would receive Omni Points and continue getting stronger until he reached the Legendary Pinnacle of Level-19.
Of course, that would all be in the future.
Right now, Link only had 20 Omni Points. He needed to use his Omni Points wisely in order to escape from Gladstone safely.
In the game, Link had chosen to be a Magician. This was why his starting point to escape Gladstone City had been The Lower Magic Academy of Flemmings.
On the night of The Change of the Bloody Moon, the Magic Academy had been one of the places in which the Dark Elves prioritized their attack.
The Magic Academy was very small. It had less than 100 pupils, and of that 100, less than 20 were full-fledged Magicians. The best among those Magicians was only Level-4.
Yet, more than 200 Assassins had been dispatched here. There were at least 20 already in hiding around the place.
Half of the Academy's tutors had been killed in their sleep. Some of them had woken up but had been unable to fight off the throngs of Assassins. As a result, the Magic Academy had fallen and its apprentices massacred!
It had been a real bloodbath!
Remembering the details of his last escape, Link decided to purchase some of the spells he had used back then first.
"Summon Spell Menu."
Many glowing cards appeared in his field of vision. Slowly rotating, each of the cards was a spell. The number on the upper left corner of the card indicated the Mana cost, while the number on the card's upper right corner indicated the spell's level. Every spell was there - up to more than a thousand of them.
The higher the level of magic, the brighter the card glowed.
The Legendary Spell Cards nearly blinded Link. In a sweeping glance, Link spotted Finger of Death, Doomsday Meteor, and Greater Ruin. All famous, and all Legendary.
"I was done in by that God of Light! If I had 2000 Omni Points, I would be able to win this battle single-handedly. But I only have 20 points."
Considering how weak the God of Light had looked, it had probably been difficult to just send him here. Giving him 20 points wasn't bad at all. Any more and that sad old fellow might have died on the spot.
Filter. Show only Level-0 Spells.
High-level spells were powerful. But he couldn't afford any of them. Just one Level-1 Spell cost 10 Omni Points, and their Mana consumption was much higher than a Level-0 Spell.
As for Level-2 Spells, they cost 20 Omni Points and used 30 Mana. The price and cost of using any of them were too high for Link to sustain. He didn't even consider them.
Level-0 Tricks were also known as Apprentice Spells. If not done well, they were just smoke and mirrors. Used properly, they could kill!
He had also chosen them because despite being much less powerful, Tricks required less casting time than the higher level spells.
Link could cast a Level-0 Spell in 0.1 seconds. For a Level-1 Spell, he needed at least 0.3 seconds. And he needed one full second for Level-3 Spells. That was far too long-completely unsuitable for a lone Magician.
Fwoosh. The bright magic cards disappeared, leaving some tens of dimly glowing cards behind. All of them had the number 0 inscribed on their upper right corner.
Link looked through them all one-by-one. Finally, he settled on four Level-0 Spells.
"Purchase Fireball, Earth Spike, Lesser Invisibility, Slumber."
Instantly, those magic cards lit up brightly. They shattered into countless little pinpoints of light then disappeared into thin air. Link felt his consciousness blur for a split second, then recover.
He suddenly found that he was very familiar with the four Level-0 Spells. If he wanted, he could have cast any of them in an instant.
That's it? he thought. The sensation of having learned a spell is exactly the same as back in the game. The familiar sensation gave Link a sense of comfort.
After purchasing the four spells, Link spent another two 2 Omni Points on Maximum Mana Points in order to be able to use his Mana. His Maximum Mana became 21 points, enough to use a Level-0 Spell ten times.
After converting the Omni Points, he felt the full level of Mana surge through his body and heaved a sigh of relief.
The gaming system was quite reliable. The Mana in his body had been filled automatically the first time he increased his Maximum Mana. If it had been empty, it would have needed time to recover. Link's Mana recovery speed of 0.2 Mana Points per hour made it virtually useless to wait for that to happen.
Now, he was left with 14 Omni Points.
Looking down at his pocket watch, just 5 minutes had passed. It was now 9:40.
The assassination would begin in an hour. Before that, it would be safe inside the Apprentices' Dorm. But outside, the Assassins were sure to be in their positions, ready and waiting. Running out now would be as good as suicide.
In the gaming world, to escape from the academy, one had to wait for the assassination to begin. The academy would be in chaos. That was the only way of escaping... and surviving.
There's still an hour left. What should I do? Link racked his brains.
Save the others? Persuade the Apprentices to escape with him?
That was pointless. Link was a nobody in the Magic Academy. Who would listen to someone who had only mastered one pitiful little Trick? They would just take him for a madman.
Get some gear to augment his powers as much as he could?
Yes, that was a good idea!
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