102 The Scroll of Enlightenment

 The reputation of the Legendary Magician Bryant was well-known throughout the Firuman continent, and in the East Cove Magic Academy he was even revered as one of the gods. To think that this magic scroll was created by such an exalted figure and was even given such a name as the Scroll of Enlightenment - there was no doubt that this was an extraordinarily priceless treasure.

"Bryant's Scroll of Enlightenment?" Link was stunned. He recalled how there was something like this in the game, too, and in fact, Link had even owned such a thing himself.

There were six Scrolls of Enlightenment in total and each scroll was of Epic quality. Once a player obtained one of these scrolls, they would enjoy a permanent boost and enhancement in their attributes. And if the six scrolls were gathered together, a Legendary Scroll would then be created.

The Legendary scroll was called the Apocalypse Scroll and it could significantly enhance the players' various attributes, especially their Maximum Mana, which could be increased by 100% with the scroll's help. Ever since obtaining the Scroll of Enlightening, Link had never run out of Mana, even after fighting against Boss-level opponents.

Link never expected to find the scrolls here in the real Firuman continent. The revelation of their existence thrilled him to the core.

The scrolls were precious, not only because of their ability to promote the attributes of the owner, but the knowledge contained in the scroll alone was priceless in itself. If one was to study all six Scrolls of Enlightenment thoroughly, it would be the equivalent of inheriting most of Bryant's knowledge and wisdom.

Darris didn't know what was on Link's mind. He thought Link was silent because he anticipated more information from him, so he added, "Yes, my tutor owns a Scroll of Enlightenment. Though incomplete, it still contains amazing magic wisdom. I was able to become a Level-4 Magician at the age of 30, mostly thanks to the Scroll of Enlightenment."

"Just one scroll? That's too bad. What would happen if there was a full set of six Scrolls of Enlightenment?" asked Link.

"The complete set of...six...How did you know there were six of them?!" Darris' eyes widened in shock, as if he had seen a ghost. The existence of the Scroll of Apocalypse was his tutor's greatest secret-the only people in the whole academy who knew of it were him and his tutor alone. How was it possible that Link would know there were six Scrolls of Enlightenment in total?

Darris' expression startled Link as well, though he quickly regained his composure. He'd forgotten the fact that the existence of Bryant's Scrolls of Enlightenment was supposed to be a secret here, but of course he wouldn't bother explaining himself to Darris.

"I know much more than you think I do. You should've gotten used to that by now," said Link.

Darris stared at Link searchingly, only to realize that Link was shrouded in a cloud of mystery. The more he tried to understand him, the less he did.

"Go on, don't stop talking!" Link urged.

Darris was silent for a while longer, forming sentences in his mind before he began again. "You're right that there are six Scrolls of Enlightenment. Legends have it that they contained the ultimate secret to Bryant's ascension to Legendary-level. But too much time had passed since then, and these scrolls were presumed to be lost. However, apart from myself, no one knows that my tutor possesses the scroll. I know the exact location of the reel. If you let me go, I'll tell you about it," said Darris.

Darris saw his chance, and he used the Scroll of Enlightenment as the bargaining chip in exchange for his freedom. To be perfectly honest, even Link was tempted by the deal. Still, after considering it for a moment, Link shook his head and refused.

"The scroll has been in Bale's hands for so many years, yet he is still no more than a Level-6 Magician. It seems that his Scroll isn't so impressive, after all. You might as well just give up, Darris."

"No, you don't understand," Darris added, "The six scrolls are connected, so as long as you have one of them, you can search it for clues of the location of the other five. My tutor is only a Level-6 Magician because the Scroll of Enlightenment in his hands was the most basic one. The other five must contain the secret to ascension to the Legendary-level. Trust me, I'm not lying to you!"

As they got closer and closer to the East Cove Magic Academy, Darris' tone became more anxious and more urgent. He knew that the moment they reached the academy, he would be doomed.

After hearing what Darris had to say, Link laughed and glanced down at him and said, "Do you take me for a fool?" said Link.

"But...everything I said is true," stammered Darris, suddenly with a tinge of guilt in his voice.

"If you could really find the other five scrolls from one scroll, why didn't Bale find them himself after so many years?" asked Link.

"You don't understand," answered Darris hastily, "He knows where the other scrolls are, but he couldn't get to them - these scrolls were all in treacherous places, and he was already 60 years old when he received the scroll. He was just too old to do it!"

"I see..." said Link, "And he must've thought that it was too great an opportunity to pass up, so he turned to studying black magic in order to find ways to extend his life and then he would go find the other scrolls. My guess is that he's also promised you that if you helped him find them, he'd let you study the Enlightenment scrolls too, isn't that right?"

Darris was rendered speechless. The truth was almost exactly as Link had described it. As he came face-to-face with those dark eyes, all Darris felt was fear and dread. It was as if the eyes were able to pierce the soul.

Seeing Darris' reaction, a faint smile appeared on Link's face.

"You can stop talking nonsense now, I will never believe you and I don't need you to find the Scrolls of Enlightenment. I'll do it myself."

These scrolls may be very powerful, and perhaps they really could help people to ascend to the Legendary level, but so what? Link had the help of the gaming system, so he would never encounter an insuperable stumbling block where he couldn't advance further. As long as he kept completing the missions he was assigned to, he would continue to earn more Omni Points that would help him get stronger. So, why would he do something so risky as releasing Darris?

Seeing Link's cold and indifferent attitude, the fear Darris' heart melted and turned into boiling hatred. The resentment of the words from his mouth constantly spray out. The contempt he held inside him then exploded into a flurry of bitter words.

"I curse you!" he started saying. "I curse you to a life of loneliness! I curse you to be betrayed by the people you trust the most! I curse yo-"

Snap! Without wasting his breath, Link struck Darris' neck and knocked him out.

Curse? That might work in scaring ordinary people. But to a Magician, curses were nothing more than the last innocuous barks of a dying dog.

Soon, the East Cove Magic Academy's front gates came into view. Link could make out from afar that the gatekeeper Vincent was basking in the sun in his garden.

Vincent had not noticed them yet.

To avoid causing a commotion, Link had long halted the Wolf Storm spell, then he used Magician's Hand to carry Darris into the gates of the East Cove Magic Academy.

When they entered the gates, Vincent finally noticed the blackened and burned body of Darris. He rose from his chair and rushed towards them.

"Link, who is this hapless man? What happened to him?" asked Vincent.

Link bowed respectfully at Vincent as he always did, then said, "When I found him, he told me he was Darris, the Magician Bale's chief disciple. But you can see how bad his condition is yourself, so I'm not sure if he really is who he claims to be. Mr. Vincent, what should I do?" Link thought it was wisest to only inform the highest officials in the East Cove Magic Academy of what Bale and Darris were up to. There was no need to spread the news to the others.

Vincent was stunned when he heard the name. Darris? Isn't he the young gifted Magician of the East Cove Magic Academy? But how did he get into such a ghastly state?

He was almost completely disfigured and unrecognizable, so it was not certain at all if this man truly was Darris. But if it really was him, then he must've been attacked by an unimaginably powerful Magician. But who in the Girvent Forest would have the audacity to attack a Magician from the East Cove Magic Academy? This turned out to be a grave situation after all.

Vincent thought that it was much too serious for him to handle, he must bring the matter up to the dean. "You wait for me here," he told Link. "I must report this to the dean!"

Although it was Link's intention to inform the dean of Bale's and Darris' involvement in black magic, still, he couldn't let Vincent go to the dean now. The dean had never met Link and he never suspected Bale. If it all came down to his words against Bale's, Link feared the dean would completely dismiss everything he said as nonsense. Furthermore, if they acted too hastily, the news might get leaked to Bale and he could easily escape before they got to him.

It was even possible that Vincent might think of doing Bale a favor and notify Bale of the situation first.

And that was just one of the possibilities of how things could go wrong. There were countless other ways where problems might arise.

But Link was prepared for all of it. He took a step forward, and held on to Vincent.

"Mr. Vincent, wait, I think it's better not to inform the dean yet. We shouldn't let anyone else know either, in case it was all a misunderstanding. This person might not really be Darris after all, and that could cause a huge problem."

Vincent realized he was acting too rashly. Link was right. When he considered it carefully, it was indeed unwise to go straight to the dean. He was the gatekeeper, if this turned out to be a mistake, it would cast him in a bad light-and he wouldn't want that!

He was satisfied with his current position as the gatekeeper, where the work was easy, and he got to put on airs too. He was planning to work in this position until the last day of his life, if possible. He wouldn't do anything that might put his position at a risk.

"What should we do, then?" asked Vincent.

"Isn't the Magician Moira the dean's favorite disciple? She's kind and gentle, so I think you'd better find her first. Even if this turned out to be a mistake, I'm sure she won't blame you. If it isn't a mistake, then she could promptly report the incident to the dean without delay, don't you agree?"

Vincent slapped his thigh immediately as he heard Link's explanation.

"You're right, I'll go find Moira now!" he said.

He hurried into the academy and went straight to Moira's Mage Tower.