Although Herrera claimed to have a treasure trove of magic equipment, the real sight of her magnificent storage was extremely underwhelming. Link was prepared to be blown away by the collection but was, in fact, greeted with a container three feet long and two feet wide. It was small enough to be placed under Herrera's bed.
It was difficult for Link to keep his eyes off Herrera, especially when she was only wearing a thin bathrobe. When Herrera leaned over to pull the container from under her bed, her beautiful curves were accentuated by the bathrobe. Link averted his gaze.
He swore to never land himself in this kind of situation again.
Herrera flipped opened the wooden box cover and layers of wooden boards filled with small wooden boxes unfolded itself right in front of his eyes. There were a total of ten layers and at least 100 wooden boxes in this small container. Every wooden box was filled to the brim with little things. The small ones were no larger than a green bean, while the larger items were at least the size of half a fist. There were precious metals and wood, which were basic ingredients for the creation of magic equipment. Link could name some of the materials he saw, but was clueless to the others.
Even if one simply looked at the variety of items present in this chest alone, it was already a large collection. However, the number of items was also amazing.
"The chest is a dimensional equipment enchanted with shrinking magic. For example, this thorium is only the size of a green bean, but in fact..." Herrera took the thorium out of the small wooden box and it immediately increased to the size of a thumb.
Herrera was not lying. Her treasure trove lived up to its name.
"Take your pick and tell me what you chose. I will say in advance, the half-price offer is only limited to five items, any more and they will be charged at their original prices." Herrera stepped aside and gave Link some space.
Link was already spoiled for choice. He saw rare metals like thorium, premium silver and Khorium as well as precious wood like rosewood, Aoki wood and Perilla wood. There were also many mysterious meteorites and crystals of different attributes. It was like a physical encyclopedia of magic.
After browsing for a full half an hour, Link finally decided on the materials he wanted to buy.
Herrera calculated and said, "The original price is 20000 gold coins, after the discount it will be 10000 gold coins."
Link had a pained expression on his face. After all, he only picked five items, he couldn't believe his ears.
"This Perilla wood is of the highest quality, made form the core of a Perilla tree that was struck down by a bolt of lightning. Look at its color, its purple metallic glow was perfectly preserved. The lowest market price for such a high-quality piece of wood is 4000 gold coins. This Khorium is also arguably the best anti-magic metal and a good stabilizing agent. Even though it is only 1 ounce in weight, the market price for this is at least 6000 gold coins. This as well...in essence, this is really the cheapest price you will ever find."
Link was at a loss for words. At that moment, he fully understood how expensive magic research could be. Not only did he lose the 5000 gold coins he just received as a reward, he was even 5000 gold coins more in debt!
"If I sell you my current wand, how much can it fetch?" Link took out his matchstick wand and showed Herrera. He was starting to find his wand outdated and was planning to craft a new one anyway. Since he already bought so many high-quality materials, he should make good use of them.
"This wand is pretty well crafted. The only drawback is the low-quality materials used to craft it. If you are willing to sell, I can give you 3800 gold coins." Herrera gave a reasonable price.
Even though the material was of low-quality and the attributes were slightly lacking in luster for an Epic quality wand, the skills required to craft this wand was well worth the 3800 gold coins.
Link, on the other hand, was shocked, "That much?"
He was estimating the price to be around 2500 gold coins. The materials from this wand came from his New Moon Wand and Fire Crystal Staff. Judging from the materials alone, it would be a bargain even if he managed to sell it at 1300 gold coins. 3800 gold coins was simply daylight robbery!
"Of course, how do you think I managed to collect so many high-quality materials? I earned most of my money from crafting magic equipment and making good use of the leftovers from the crafting process. While the materials are expensive, they would be useless without a Magician skilled enough to craft equipment out of them. This is why our skill is the most valuable."
Herrera pointed to Link's wand and said, "If you are willing to spend some time and alter the attributes of your wand, for example changing Might of a Giant to an offensive or defensive magic, this wand will be able to fetch a much higher price. It can probably be sold for 5000 gold coins, or even 6000 gold coins if you have enough fame. People will usually barter and pay using precious raw materials instead of gold coins due to the insane prices of magic equipment in general."
Link was dumbfounded. Originally, he thought his debt of 5000 gold coins would be extremely difficult to pay off. However, after Herrera's speech, he realized that he was in fact a money-making machine.
He simply needed to concentrate and craft a wand to pay off a debt that amounted to more than what an ordinary human would earn in his lifetime. It was simply amazing!
Link felt that he had come a long way as he looked back on his experiences writing magic scrolls in Bale's Mage Tower.
A successful Magician needed to have a strong magic staff, powerful magic equipment enchanted with defensive or healing spells and also an impressive library of magic books. Most importantly, they needed to have their own Mage Tower!
All of these items required a huge amount of gold coins, tens of thousands of them. A Mage Tower complete with all its functions would, by itself, cost more than 100000 gold coins to build. For example, Herrera spent an estimated 160000 gold coins to construct her mid-level Mage Tower. Furthermore, the Mage Tower still belonged to the academy, Herrera only had its usage rights. She was hence not allowed to alter the Mage Tower to her desires.
Link had always been concentrating on learning magic and ignored planning for his future. As he continued to grow stronger, he would need some plans moving ahead.
I want a Mage Tower that belongs entirely to me! Link thought.
Link was extremely confident in his enchanting skills. After listening to Herrera's words, he immediately took back his matchstick and said, "I will change the attributes accordingly."
"Sure. In a month's time, there will be a grand Magician's market festival held in Hot Springs City. A large number of Magicians from both the Nordic Kingdom and the South will be attending. If you can make the alterations before then, you can fetch a good price with it," Herrera suggested.
The news of an upcoming Magician's market was music to Link's ears. Having just bought a bunch of precious materials, it was the perfect opportunity for him to earn enough money to pay off his debts. There was no time for him to idle around; his eyes brightened as he said, "I will prepare immediately!"
Link left Herrera's room and rushed to the enchanting room on the third floor of the Mage Tower. Originally, only Herrera had access to the enchanting room. However, as Link was her trusted ally, she naturally also gave him the right to use the room to hone his enchanting skills.
Link immediately plunged himself into work the moment he thought of his 5000 gold coins' debt.
He only had one month. He planned to use his available low-quality materials to refine his matchstick wand. He would then use the rare materials he bought from Herrera to make a new wand for himself. He was even thinking of infusing the Domingo Crystal into the wand as well, together with the Perilla wood, thorium and Khorium. He would use up all his high-quality materials in the creation of this new wand.
If there were still materials left after that, he could craft some defensive magic equipment or even some aesthetically pleasing accessories that could fetch a high price at the Magician's market.
As Link was concentrating on crafting his magic equipment, Herrera received a letter from River Cove Town. The letter was from Lucy. Link had once requested that Herrera read his letters on behalf of him while he was busy with his magic experiments. If it was nothing of importance, she would usually reply to them on his behalf as well and would only interrupt him if she required his input.
Herrera opened the letter.
The letter briefly gave an update on the Flamingo Band of Mercenaries and was attached with 1000 gold coins which claimed to be the profits from their endeavors. The letter ended off mentioning the situation at the Cliff of Howling Winds. Jacker seemed to have found traces of magic in the area and he suspected it to be the work of Dark Elf Felidia. If this could be verified, then the Dark Elves could very likely have been there.
Herrera carefully read the letter and frowned.
"Cliff of Howling Winds? How did Link get involved with the Dark Elves?"
Herrera approached Link at night during his break and handed the letter over to him, asking, "Who is Felidia?"
Link was still thinking about the construction of his new wand and simply replied without thinking much, "An enemy-he is one of the main people behind the Syndicate...so Jacker found the Cliff of Howling Winds?"
Link finally reacted to the question and immediately read the letter. He pondered for a moment before speaking in a serious tone, "Herrera, I have something I need to tell you."
Link took a deep breath and took out Tarviss' Occultic Rune from his dimensional pendant. The moment the rune appeared, the brightness of the room dimmed and the temperature dropped by at least five degrees. It was as though darkness itself descended into the room.
He had already decided not to research into this demonic item. He was simply too busy with his research and completely forgot it. Now was a good chance to come clean. Although he was giving up on his research into the Occultic Rune, he would not let it fall into the hands of the dark forces as well. He felt that it would be wise to hand it over to the academy which was far more powerful than he was.
Herrera was shocked. "What is this? Why do you have such a wicked demonic item? Are you studying black magic?"
"I once planned to study it, but I have since given up on that idea. Will you hear me out?" Link's eyes were clear and his expression calm. He placed the Occultic Rune gently on the enchanting table.
Herrera was relieved to hear that. She had once verified with her own eyes the absence of darkness in his soul during the Mist Basin battle. She sat down and nodded, "I am listening."
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