103 The Missing Magician Bale

 Half an hour after Vincent entered the academy, a carriage emerged from within the academy. From the carriage, Link felt a familiar calming yet divine magic presence-it was Herrera!

Link heaved a sigh of relief.

The carriage stopped in front of Vincent's security wooden hut. Herrera opened the carriage's window and observed Link with her clear blue eyes. She was clearly surprised by what she saw.

Link had the feather of disguise to conceal his magic presence. In the eyes of others, he was no different from any other apprentice. However, Herrera was the one who had given him the feather and was thus not affected by its effect. She could tell from a glance the huge amount of magic power emanating from Link.

It was at least on par with a Level-4 Magician.

A power worthy of the title, the Chosen One, Herrera thought.

The moment Herrera alighted from the carriage, her attention was drawn to the heavily injured Darris who was laid casually on the ground. His whole body was charred and his features disfigured. Based on his appearance alone, no one would believe that this was once the promising and suave Magician Darris. Even Bale might not be able to recognize his chief disciple in this state.

However, Magicians had a different way to determine someone's identity. The most reliable way to check for a person's identity was through their magic presence.

Herrera cast an Aura of Detection spell on herself and confirmed that the charred piece of flesh in front of her was indeed Darris.

"It seems like he was hit by a Level-4 Flame Blast spell...Vincent, I need to talk to Link in private." Herrera looked sternly at Vincent.

"I will go boil some water back in my hut."

Vincent did not question her decision.

"Thank you very much," Herrera replied politely.

Only Herrera and Link were left.

Herrera first released a Soundproof Barrier spell to ensure their privacy before asking, "What exactly happened?"

Link narrated his encounters in the Girvent Forest, not missing out on any detail. He recounted the ambush, the battle, his conversation with Darris and finally his recovery work on the forest.

"I cannot prove what I just said as I do not have a memory crystal. However, you can always question Darris when he wakes up. The battle scene at the Girvent Forest is also a telling evidence. They can prove the accuracy of my account." Link said.

Herrera then waved her hands, "There is no need to, I believe you."

There was no reason for Link to lie. Furthermore, there was nothing illogical or suspicious about his account. The fact that Darris was so severely injured outside of the academy already proved the fact that something sinister was going on.

Darris was supposed to be in the academy at this hour. Leaving the academy without any valid reason was definitely something out of the ordinary, especially for a high-ranking Magician like Darris.

"You handled the situation well. It will be for the best if this issue is settled quietly. We cannot harm the reputation of the academy, much less create the dangerous impression that members of the academy are using magic without consideration of the implications. Now that we have concrete evidence, we will bring him to Principal Anthony directly," Herrera explained.

Magician Bale was a member of the six-person council of the academy. The only person of a higher status than Bale was Principal Anthony, making him the only person who had the authority to deal out any punishment to Bale. Furthermore, Magician Bale was also the strongest Magician in the council. In case of any emergencies, Anthony was probably the only person who could put a stop to his madness.

Link nodded and made use of The Magician's Hand to drag Darris up into Herrera's carriage. With a slight movement of his wand, Darris floated up in the air effortlessly.

Only at that moment did Herrera notice Link's new magic wand. While not aesthetically pleasing, she was surprised by what she saw.

"An Epic quality wand, did you make this yourself?" Herrera was shocked.

Based on her calculations, it had not been a month since Link started learning enchanting magic. It was nearly impossible that he could reach this standard in such a short period of time.

It was an insanely fast speed even for the Chosen One.

Link sat down in the carriage and passed his matchstick to Herrera, "Quite an ordinary wand. In fact, I am thinking of getting a new one soon."

He felt extremely accomplished when he first created the wand. However, after this period of training, he had once again deepened his understanding of magic. Looking at the matchstick now, he felt that it was too unrefined.

Herrera carefully inspected the wand and sighed, "I have nothing more to teach you in the area of enchanting magic. In fact, you have already surpassed me in some areas."

Time really did pass quickly. Just two months ago, Link was inquiring about the fundamentals of enchanting magic. Now, he had already become a mid-level Enchanter like her, and had even developed his own enchantment technique.

She returned the wand to Link and said, "There are indeed obvious flaws in this wand. The main reason for that is probably the quality of the material used. I'll tell you what, when this issue is settled, I will bring you down to my storage. If there are any materials that you'd like, I can sell them to you at half price."

"Is that so...but I might not be able to afford them even then." Link looked expectantly at Herrera.

"Getting them for free is out of the question. They are all my treasures."

Herrera shot a glance at Link, displaying her irritation at his attempt at taking advantage of her kindness.

Even though Herrera had not revealed her true self, she still looked extremely beautiful, even more so when she was being teased.

Link's heart raced and he immediately averted his gaze, "How about paying you in installments?"

"Sure," Herrera spoke, "But there will be interest."

"Have you ever considered being a merchant?" Link did not expect Herrera to be this calculative.

"A successful Magician is usually a shrewd merchant as well. How do you think we are funding our magic research?" Herrera winked.

"It seems like I need to devise my own plan," Link agreed. In fact, he had already made some plans in this aspect.

At that moment, they had arrived at Principal Anthony's Mage Tower.

"When you see my master, let me do the talking. Do not speak unless he tells you to. Understand?" Herrera spoke in a serious tone.

"I understand," Link said.

Link noticed that Herrera was slightly nervous. She took a deep breath before towing the injured Darris down the carriage. Link trailed behind dutifully.

Anthony's Mage Tower had a special name. It was widely known as The Heaven's Thorn as it was the tallest building in the academy. There were also three giant floating runic spheres surrounding the Mage Tower, each one a strong magic tool. When activated, they would form a strong Guarding Barrier around the Mage Tower.

Herrera stood at the entrance and lightly tapped the runes on the gate with her staff. When Herrera's staff came into contact with the respective runes, they would light up in a warm glow. After the third time, the magic gate disintegrated and the path was clear.

A middle-aged man stood behind the gate. Upon seeing Herrera, he smiled cheerfully, "Moira, what brings you here today?" Herrera then replied, "Matthew, I request an audience with Master."

Matthew shook his head, "That is unfortunate. The Principal is not in the academy today. He has departed for Hot Springs City to attend a meeting regarding the upcoming war. The kingdom seems to be choosing Magician candidates to aid them in their fight against the northern borders. He will be back by tonight."

Matthew's attention was then drawn to a disheveled Darris. Being a strong Magician, he could recognize him in a glance. "Is this Darris, what happened?"

This was something out of Herrera's expectation. Their time was tight as Bale might notice Darris' disappearance anytime.

Who knew what a Level-6 Magician was capable of when forced into a corner?

"What do we do now?" Herrera instinctively looked at her only comrade, Link.

This was also something out of Link's expectation. After thinking for a moment, he whispered, "Let's return to your Mage Tower and imprison Darris. After that, we will approach Bale directly."

His voice was extremely soft; Herrera was the only one who heard him.

There was no time to call for a meeting with the six-person council. Furthermore, it would take lots of evidence and investigation before the council would buy their side of the story. By then, Bale would have thought of an alternative.

As such, the best alternative now was to approach Bale directly and catch him off guard. If needed, they could aid each other in combat and secure a victory in a battle against Bale.

Matthew then shot a puzzling glance at Link, "This apprentice is ...?"

Herrera had no time to explain. She waved her wand and carried Darris into the carriage.

"Matthew, I have things I need to attend to. See you later."

"Wait...what exactly is happening?" Matthew was confounded.

But Herrera and Link had already left.

They hurried back to Herrera's Mage Tower and cast a Level-5 Restriction Barrier on Darris. After making sure that Darris was unable to escape, they then made a run for Bale's Mage Tower.

Herrera bolted through the front door and headed straight for Derek, "Where is Magician Bale?"

Derek was clearly shocked. He first bowed politely to Herrera before staring curiously at Link, "Master just left the Mage Tower. Link, did anything happen?"

Herrera was bewildered, "What? He left? Where did he go?"

"How would I know what master is up to?" Derek laid his hands out helplessly.

Herrera and Link had a common understanding and sighed. Bale had already noticed.

Although he had clearly aged and lost some focus, he was after all a Level-6 Magician with a keen instinct.

Since he knew that his secret was exposed, there was no reason for him to stay in the Mage Tower any longer, much less in the East Cove Higher Magic Academy. Naturally, he also would not inform anyone of his whereabouts.

Would he return? No one was sure. However, Link knew that if he was placed in Bale's shoes, he would run as far as he could and never return to the academy.

There would not be any immediate implications if a Level-6 Magician wandered out of the academy. However, a powerful dark Magician roaming the World of Firuman in the future was definitely something to worry about.

"We must find Bale!" Herrera was serious. She would not risk losing the life of innocents to black magic.