The Morani Castle was located at the highest point in Puffer County. As long as one was standing in an open space with an unobstructed view, they could see the castle clearly.
It was five o'clock in the afternoon. Three Dark Elves carefully disguised as humans were traveling on horses along Hamilton Bridge. As they lifted their heads, they got a clear view of the castle.
The three of them were powerful and had excellent vision. Not only did they get a clear view of the castle, they also saw a turquoise carriage traveling up the hill towards the castle.
"Look, it's a carriage from the East Cove Higher Magic Academy. The person inside must be Link," Hedel spoke. They rushed here the moment they heard that Link was returning back home. The sight of a carriage bearing the academy's crest confirmed their suspicion.
"Quick, we'll go catch him now!" Norisa gripped his sword tightly.
"There is no hurry," Magician Parsons said as he looked at the distant carriage and castle. "This is his family castle where his loved ones reside. We have to deliver the greatest pain to him to avenge the princess. We will wait till its dusk before we sneak into the castle and kill his family members right in front of his eyes. Then, we will burn down his family castle and destroy everything he ever owned!"
"Fantastic!" Hedel smacked his lips in satisfaction. The Dark Elves were blessed children of the night. As an Assassin, he was thus the reaper when dusk fell.
Link's carriage moved towards the castle at a steady pace. While the Morani family was not well-known, the respective heads of the family had been lords for the past 300 years. There was a lot of thought put into the construction of the castle over all these years.
The perimeter of the castle was surrounded by a 15-foot-deep trench. As it was situated on higher ground, there was no water in the trench. Instead, the trench was deliberately filled with wooden spikes. The castle walls were made of a hardy material called Star Stone to defend against external attacks. The wall with the suspension bridge was further reinforced with magic runes. Link could tell in one look that those were anti-magic runes and sturdy runes. After entering the castle gate, one would be greeted by a plaza filled with weapons such as crossbows, catapults and other instrumentals in castle defense. The plaza was surrounded by another layer of tall walls and lead to the second castle gate.
If an enemy were to break through the first layer of defense, they would be trapped within the plaza and greeted by a deadly rain of arrows. There would be no escape.
As Link continued to observe the castle, he felt that the castle was simply a war fortress. If it was stocked with an adequate supply of food and some combat masters, it could probably serve as a defensive foothold for at least one and a half years.
At this moment, the carriage had arrived at the inner castle's courtyard. There was a small garden in the courtyard decorated with neatly trimmed greenery. This slightly dispelled the dark and humid atmosphere present in the castle. The main castle gate lay behind the courtyard. Link saw three people standing in front of the main gate, awaiting his arrival.
There were two women and one man. The two women were dressed in tattered and thin clothes, causing them to shiver in the cold winter. They constantly rubbed their hands against each other and stamped their feet to keep their bodies warm. As Link got closer, their facial features evoked Link's memory and he finally recognized them.
The women with the distressed and worried expression were Lilith, the mother of the true Link Morani. The disheveled lady beside her was his elder sister Molly, and the last person with a head of white hair was the housekeeper of the Morani family, Trevor.
Mother is in the castle? This is unexpected. Link thought. As for his eldest brother, it was normal for him to not appear due to his revolting temperament. Similarly, his second brother was a Kingdom Knight and was on duty at the Silver Fortress in the North. It was thus natural that he would not be around as well.
The carriage stopped right in front of the main gate. Link opened the door and alighted with grace.
Link did not want to be looked down upon by his family members. He wore his turquoise magic robe bearing the crest of the East Cove Higher Magic Academy and had two rings on his hand. One of them was an intricately designed ring bearing the defensive spell, Edelweiss. The second one was a ring given by the King that would affirm his status as a Duke. The Wand of Constellations he deliberately held in his hand also constantly emitted a mysterious and glorious glow.
This was extremely effective. Lilith's eyes lit up the moment she saw her son in this manner. She immediately felt relieved, the signs of distress previously shown on her face dissipated. His sister Molly had also regained some spirit, covering her mouth in shock. They probably did not expect their incompetent brother would grow this much. The contempt on Trevor's face had also greatly lessened, changing into that of respect and awe. He bowed and said, "Third young master."
"Is this really you, Link?" Molly doubted her own eyes. The Morani family had always placed emphasis on physical strength and walked the path of the knight. Link, who was frail and weak from young was thus despised.
However, the young man standing in front of them was lean and confident. He was dressed in a glorious robe and had the demeanor of an extremely powerful Magician. This was the exact opposite of the impression she had of her brother.
"It's me," Link smiled. Even though he did not hold special feelings towards these two women, memories of the true Link Morani were still present inside him. He couldn't help but feel some sort of intimacy.
He walked forward and hugged his sister and mother respectively. When he embraced his mother, Link found the poor woman trembling. He then looked at her and saw tears flowing down her cheek as she stared hard at him. She murmured, "That's good, my son has finally grown up. He looks promising."
Link felt a twinge of pain in his heart. He let out a small sigh before recollecting himself. He turned towards the coachman and handed him five gold coins. "Al, please take a rest. You will have to stay in the castle these few days. Sorry for the trouble."
The moment the coachman saw the gold coins, his eyes lit up. Five gold coins were the equivalent of six months of his earnings. He was elated and spoke with excitement, "Thank you, sir."
Housekeeper Trevor gasped at the sight, he gave the coachman five gold coins as a trip?
The entire Morani family merely had an annual income of 700 gold coins. With this income, they had to further split it amongst the 300 over people in the castle. The most generous reward the Duke offered in the past year was five silver coins. To think that Link could offer ten times that amount off the mark; it exceeded his expectations in every way.
The winter breeze was making the cold unbearable. Link could not watch as his mother and sister turned pale in the howling wind. He said, "Mother, sister, let's go in."
"Alright, alright." Lilith's only focus was on her son. She would follow whatever Link said.
As for Molly, she was similarly shocked by Link's lavish action. Her allowance for the entire year was merely six gold coins. She still remembered her struggle when she wanted to purchase a skirt that had cost one gold coin. It took her half a month to come to a decision. She clearly did not expect her brother to tip a coachman an amount that was almost equivalent to her yearly allowance. How extravagant!
She followed closely behind Link with a stunned expression, her eyes staring at her brother the whole time.
On the way, Link told the housekeeper, "I want to see my father, bring me there."
Trevor instinctively said, "The Duke is currently weak...no visitors are allowed."
That was far from the truth. While the Duke was indeed physically weak, it was Hamilton's eldest son, also the person next in line for the position of Duke, Wharton Morani's instruction that the third young master was not allowed to visit the seriously ill Duke.
The reason was simple. He was afraid some of the inheritance would go to Link.
In the past, Trevor would say these things with ease. However, before he could even complete his sentence this time, his speech was interrupted by Link's cold stare. There was not the slightest bit of emotion in those eyes. He immediately felt pressurized the moment their gaze met.
He panicked and sweat broke out on his forehead. He subconsciously muttered, "Third young master, this is your brother's order."
Link sneered. He knew exactly what Wharton was planning. The Morani family's inheritance was sparse to begin with. If Wharton had to split this inheritance with him, Wharton's portion would definitely become smaller. However, Link had no interest in such an insignificant inheritance.
He calmly spoke, "I request to see my father, and not my brother. Lead the way!"
"Yes..." Trevor found himself completely subservient to this young man and agreed immediately. The moment he spoke, he was horrified. Since when did the third master become so powerful. This is weird.
Now that he had agreed, there was no reason to delay the process. Trevor led the way with a pained expression.
When they reached the staircase, a figure appeared on the second floor. A voice came in that direction, "My dear brother, you have finally returned. I missed you so much."
Link looked up and saw a burly young man walked down the stairs.
The man was in his early thirties. He had shoulder-length brown curls and neatly trimmed stubble. He was well-built and wore a brand new black robe with a high-quality fur vest. His shoes were made of exquisite deer leather, and the accessories he wore were double the amount of the total his mother and sister wore altogether.
The sight of this person struck fear into the hearts of his mother and sister. They immediately bowed their heads like a deer shivering in the face of a lion.
This was the eldest brother of the true Link Morani, the successor to the throne, Wharton Morani.
He slowly walked down the stairs and observed Link with great interest. His smile grew wider by the minute and said, "My dear brother, it seems like you have learned your magic well. Look at your beautiful wand, let me have a look at it."
He then proceeded to grab the wand from Link without asking for his permission. This was an old habit. His third brother would never refuse his requests.
However, that was Link from the past.
This pampered bastard meant nothing to him now.
Link's mana surged into the wand, causing it to glow in a blinding light. Under the illumination of this light, Link looked at his arrogant brother and said, "This is not something you should be touching, Wharton."
A Magician's wand is like a Warrior's sword. It should never be in the possession of another person, not even for a moment.
Wharton's expression immediately changed. His face darkened and with his hands still stretched, the brilliance of a strong Battle Aura enveloped his body. He advanced forward, "Why is that so? Have my little brother lost all respect after learning some magic?"
He specialised in the Morani's family Ice Battle Aura and was already a Level-4 Warrior. He was confident that he would be considered a formidable foe even if his strength was compared across the Kingdom. On the other hand, his brother had only studied magic for less than a year.
How strong could a person get after merely a year of practice? The blinding light is probably just something flashy.
He then made an extremely unwise decision.
The next moment, a brilliant light enveloped Link's body and a Level-4 Edelweiss spell was instantly released. Link controlled the energy field carefully and made sure not to injure his mother, sister and the housekeeper. However, on Wharton's side, he deliberately enhanced the strength of the forcefield.
Boom! Wharton was caught unguarded and his whole body was knocked back.
"You little punk! How dare you attack me!" Wharton was enraged. He had been holding the reins in the Morani family for a few years. Even his father dared not go against his will, much less his third brother who had always been meek and frail. To think that he could retaliate!
The anger inside him was overflowing. He charged forward following an explosion of his Battle Aura. He had to teach this disobedient brother a lesson!
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