Herrera went straight back to the academy after leaving the palace to report on the incident on Jade Street to the dean. Link was only a Magician with no rank or position at the moment, so there was no need for him to hurry anywhere. He took his time staying at an inn in the capital city, waiting for the title deed and declaration letter from the king.
Despite the terrible calamity caused by the Dark Elves recently, the Magician's Fair still went on as usual. Not only did the size of the crowd at the fair not decrease, there were, in fact, more people now who flocked to this part of the city to visit the site of the disaster.
Seeing that the fair was still going on, Herrera had placed Link's Matchstick wand and his other magic gear at a magical equipment shop in Jade Street. Link was sure that someone would buy them up soon enough.
Link stayed at the inn and didn't venture out anywhere at all. He spent all his time in his room working on the Flame Blast bracelet that was meant for the black-dressed lady.
He'd completed the rough sketches for the bracelet in the palace and had spent another day perfecting the details. By early morning of the second day, he was ready to roll up his sleeves start the real work.
He had all the best materials on hand - thorium, gold, and Fire Crystals. Furthermore, no one was there to interfere with his work. Thus, Link was able to devote all his energy to the intricate manipulation of the high-quality materials into complicated structure and patterns. As time went by, Link became more and more engrossed with his work that he began to take pleasure in it. There was nothing else in the world that he would rather be doing at that moment.
The whole process lasted for three whole days, after which Link successfully produced a beautiful Flame Blast bracelet with its main body made of gold and its Mana-conducting lines of thorium. The Fire Crystals were used as the nodes that made up the magic seal on the bracelet.
The bracelet was shaped like a Phoenix that would wrap around the wearer's wrist with its head connected to its tail. The Phoenix was well known to die in a burst of flames and rise again from its ashes, so it was a becoming design to use in a Flame Blast bracelet. Each of its feathers was delicately rendered by Link's dexterous skills, and surrounding each feather were lines of thorium while beads of Fire Crystals were placed right in the middle of the feathers. They acted as magic seal nodes, with the biggest Fire Crystal bead making up the eye of the Phoenix. It was truly an immaculate magic gear both in its design and in its function.
The Fire Crystal that was the bird's eye was different from the rest on the feathers, though. The crystals on the feathers had sharp edges so they would sparkle as light danced on the bracelet's surface when it moved. The Fire Crystal that was the eye of the Phoenix, on the other hand, had been polished into a smooth teardrop shape that seemed to radiate with mysterious charm - in fact, it was the presence of this eye that had made the Phoenix bracelet look so uncannily life-like.
Viewed simply from the aspect of its appearance, this bracelet was impeccable.
As for the bracelet's functionality, Link had incorporated two very useful Supreme Magical Techniques modifications in the Flame Blast spell that was stored inside the Phoenix bracelet - resonance and accuracy. He'd also designed a robust pattern for the runic lines so that the spell wouldn't be misfired or destroyed unless if it was bent and distorted by an external force.
And finally, there was the signature Link had left on the bracelet. Although it was just a gift he still thought leaving his signature on his work was a must because each piece of work successfully produced was a source of pride for the enchantment Magician. And so Link left his signature on the inside of the bracelet where it would be hidden when worn.
Now the bracelet was complete. Link's heart was filled with pride as he inspected the finished product. He even felt slightly reluctant to give it away to someone else.
He then put away the bracelet and went back to his work table to check the materials that he had left. He discovered that he had an ounce of thorium, 3 ounces of gold and 15 pieces of cut Fire Crystal left.
Naturally, Link kept all these materials for his own use in the future.
This was the time he really understood how much money an enchantment Magician could make. He no longer wondered how Herrera could earn enough profits from her enchantment skills to buy a huge amount of magic materials. Even the leftover materials could be sold for an ample amount of gold coins.
As his work was now done, all that was left was to wait patiently. Link was confident that the black-dressed woman would soon come to meet him, so in the meantime, he stayed in the inn reading his magic books. When he had time to spare, he would take the wooden box given to him by the High Elf prince out and examine it.
The wooden box was lovely and very well-made with some masterful carving done on its surface. Imagine Link's confusion then, when he opened it and discovered that there was nothing but a thumb-sized white stone inside.
Yes, it really was just an ordinary-looking stone and nothing else. The stone's only unique feature was probably its somewhat smooth surface, but other than that, Link simply couldn't see what was special about this rock.
He couldn't detect a trace of Mana or spot any runic patterns on the stone and there were no jolts of energy fluctuations coming from it at all - to put it simply, the white stone was indistinguishable from any other old rock you could find by the riverbank.
The prince wouldn't play a joke on me, would he? Link wondered. What was he thinking giving me this white stone?
Link was confounded and couldn't think of any reason why the prince would bestow him such an odd gift. After scrutinizing it for a while, a notification suddenly appeared on the interface.
White Stone (Indestructible)
(Note: A gift from Prince Philip.)
Well, at least it was true that the stone was indestructible. Link had actually tried to use enchantment techniques to change its properties and appearance, but none of his current tricks had had any effects on the stone. If it hadn't been for this strange property, Link would definitely have thrown the stone into some corner and leave it there a long time ago.
Could it be made of a material with too high a quality that it is beyond my capabilities to do anything to it? Link wondered. Could something like that exist, though?
After examining it for a while longer Link finally gave up with a long and deep sigh. He then closed the lid of the wooden box and put it back in its place. The was the first time he'd come across such a mystifying object ever since arriving in this world.
A day later, a messenger from the palace finally delivered the declaration letter and title deed from the king. Though these were only meant to be official documents, they were nevertheless of such a high quality that they seemed to be luxurious ornaments. The documents were stamped with the royal seal which had magic properties and were so intricate that they were extremely difficult to forge. Most importantly, these documents plainly stated the king's declaration that Link was now a Hereditary Baron of the Norton Kingdom whose seat of power was at the Ferde Wilderness.
The title deed had also clearly marked the boundaries at the south-eastern and north-western edge of the Ferde Wilderness, leaving no opportunities for disputes.
One thing worth mentioning was how King Leon seemed to be afraid that the new Baron would be too poor, so he put the coastal seas on the eastern side of the Ferde Wilderness under Link's ownership as well. Although the sea there was full of jagged reefs and unsuitable to be turned into ports, at least it was teeming with fish and other sea creatures that made some degree of fishing activities possible. Though it was impossible to get rich by relying on this alone, at the very least the new Baron wouldn't starve to death.
King Leon is indeed a considerate and generous man. Link then continued to examine the official documents with a contented heart when the idea of going back home suddenly popped up in his mind.
This body that his soul inhabited was a younger son of the Viscount Hamilton Morani. He'd left home for more than a year now and had successfully entered a prestigious magic academy and had even been awarded the title of a hereditary Baron. It was time for him to go home.
He wasn't going back to show off his glorious achievements, of course, but only because he realized that there was still a duty that he must fulfill back home.
There was no reason to worry about his father - he was a Viscount after all, who had children and grandchildren to look after him. The person Link was worried about was in fact his mother.
Link's mother wasn't the Viscount's first wife, who had died after bearing the Viscount two sons. He then felt lonely so he married Link's mother, who bore him a daughter and another son. This youngest son was Link, of course, while the daughter was Link's own elder sister who had now come of age but because the Viscount could only afford to give her a small dowry, no suitable man had asked for her hand yet.
The Viscount's first wife came from another powerful noble family. Her eldest son was the Viscount's heir apparent, so he would one day inherit all his land and title, while her second son was now a full-fledged knight with a bright future. Link's mother, on the other hand, had come from a minor clan with no name or fortune of her own. The Viscount's two older sons had no respect for her at all and had always tried to force her out of the Viscount's castle since the first day she married into this family.
Link remembered how they finally succeeded in driving his mother out five years ago. She was ousted from the castle by his eldest brother and was now living in a small cottage in the countryside. His sister was allowed to remain in the castle as she could be used as a tool to solidify a political alliance by marrying her off to a suitable family.
These were some of the rotten affairs going on within the Morani family. Link had no intention of interfering in it. He couldn't change the past, but he still had the ability to improve the present. He had the ability to support his mother now, so he planned to make the appropriate arrangements to enable her to come and live with him. Link just couldn't bear to let her live out the rest of her poor life alone and uncared for.
It wasn't that Link was determined to help her out of any emotional attachment since he'd never actually met her, but only because it was the most righteous thing to do.
The Hamilton estate was in the Pufferfish County about a hundred miles north of the Girvent Forest. It shouldn't take too much time to go there, thought Link.
He then started to write a letter home, briefly summarizing his current situation and mentioning the date that they could expect him to be home. Once he was done he dropped it into the mailbox at the entrance of the inn.
When he returned to his room, he could sense something different in the room, as if there was a foreign presence there.
He scanned the room but didn't see anyone there. Then suddenly, he noticed something from the corner of his eyes - a black raven perched proudly on his reading table with its beady eyes staring intently at Link.
"I knew you'd come," said Link as he closed the door. When he turned back around, Eleanor had already transformed back into her human form.
"Is my gear ready?" she asked as she picked up a tool of enchantment on the table. She noticed the debris left on the tool and could guess the answer to her question herself. "I'm guessing it is, huh?"
Link nodded then handed over the Flame Blast bracelet to her.
Eleanor's eyes widened the moment she had her eyes on the bracelet. She turned it over back and forth gently in her hands, visibly getting more and more impressed by Link's creation. She handled the bracelet very carefully as if afraid that she might break it.
"Don't worry," said Link with a laugh. "I've made it to be sturdy enough. It won't break as long as you don't hit it with a hammer."
Link's remarks went unnoticed as Eleanor continued to be deeply enchanted by the Phoenix bracelet. She tried wearing it on her wrist and found that it felt just right - it was neither too tight nor too loose, and it even felt smooth and luxurious as it brushed against her skin.
"It's marvelous!" exclaimed Eleanor. She loved it the moment she set her eyes on it. She'd be more than willing to wear the bracelet all the time even if it didn't contain any magical power.
Oh, that's right. I should check the spell in this bracelet too. Then, the more she examined the bracelet the more astonished she was at its superior quality.
"There's something different about this Flame Blast," remarked Eleanor. "Is it the same kind that you used in that battle? Oooh, but you didn't just improve its accuracy, you've incorporated such...such a sublime structure for this spell!"
She then turned her gaze away from the bracelet and stared at Link with wonder.
"Aren't you worried that I might learn your secret skills from this bracelet?" she asked.
This single bracelet would compensate her lack of direct combat skills. With it she would be able to cast Flame Blast in no time at all - she shuddered just from thinking about possessing such terrifying power.
"You can do whatever you want," replied Link with a shrug. "I just have to do my best once I've set my mind to do something, otherwise I won't be able to go to sleep at night."
He'd only incorporated two Supreme Magical Skills in the bracelet, after all, of which the combined value was minuscule compared to that of the Scroll of Enlightenment. Besides, he wasn't planning on stopping his progress anytime soon. He would surely be learning countless more powerful spells than Flame Blast in the future. Flame Blast wasn't even the best weapon he had in his arsenal anyway, what had given him the crucial edge in battles were in fact his lightning-fast spellcasting and the aid from the gaming system.
Eleanor thought differently, though. She kept admiring the exquisite bracelet and sighed. This quality far exceeds my expectations, she thought. It seems I've struck gold in this deal.
She then handed the Scroll of Enlightenment over to Link.
"I've studied this scroll thoroughly," she said. "I don't think I could glean any more knowledge from it than what I've already learned. I'm giving it to you in return for saving my life."
Even without the exquisite bracelet, the debt of gratitude Eleanor owed Link for saving her the other day in Jade Street alone was great enough that she was willing to give up the scroll for him.
"But isn't this...?" Link was momentarily stupefied. Even though he had memorized every detail of the scroll before, so he possibly had no need for it but... The scroll was nevertheless invaluable because he could use it to look for the five remaining Scrolls of Enlightenment. When he thought of this point, Link immediately decided to accept Eleanor's gift.
"Alright," said Link, "I'll accept it. Thank you."
Eleanor nodded her head, albeit not without a heavy heart. This scroll was her most treasured possession that had been with her for the last thirty years. She was slightly upset that she had to part with it after all these years. Still, it was too late to change her mind now, so she took a deep breath and held back her emotions.
"I've got something else to tell you," she then said. "Do you remember the Dark Elf swordswoman who managed to escape?"
"Of course I do," replied Link, stunned by Eleanor's sudden question.
"Well, I've caught her," she said.
"Where is she?" asked Link enthusiastically.
"Leave Springs City and head back to the East Cove Magic Academy," she said. "I will meet you on the way. Be careful not to let anyone follow you, the MI3 people are hot on her trail right now."
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- A step into the past
- Ancient Cultivator in Modern World
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