161 Monetary Incentive (Part 4)

 Fire Star Thorium

Quality: EpicMetal Summary: Fire Star Thorium is the perfect alloy consisting of thorium

and fire elements which act as a superconductor for Mana. It has a very stable structure that makes it ideal as a component for eternal magic seals. It is especially effective for fire element spells!

(Note: It can only be found in Tybo Volcano at the Yabba Mountain Range.)

Not only was there no other place in the world to get Fire Star Thorium, it was also a type of metal that could not be created artificially. It was precisely for this reason that the metal was inconceivably expensive. In the world of humans, only most of the users of the metal were high-level Magicians, and it was rarely available in the mass market.

The metal was priced at 2840 gold coins per ounce in the Magician's District in Springs City, and it was one of the very few precious metals that was worth more than a thousand gold coins per ounce. Almost no one else other than the high-level Magicians could afford or had any use for such a ridiculously priced item.

What reason would Elin have for bringing out a lump of Fire Star Thorium that was as big as a baby's fist? Thorium was an extremely dense metal, only a cubic foot of the metal would weigh close to a ton, so that lump of Fire Star Thorium Elin had there must weigh more than two pounds!

At that moment even the ever calm Link was flabbergasted. This lump of Fire Star Thorium must cost at least around a hundred thousand gold coins! Even the annual income of the royal Abel family was only 130,000 gold coins! It was just a gift that was too precious and too expensive for Link to accept in good conscience.

"No, I can't accept this," Link said.

This wasn't just about the gift being too precious. There was no free lunch in the world, so he knew that he would be under some kind of obligation if he received this gift. Although Link wanted the Fire Star Thorium more than anything, he was afraid that he might have to spend all his life to pay for this debt of gratitude.

Nothing could prepare him for the way Elin reacted to his refusal, though.

Elin had been smiling and laughing just moments ago, yet the second she heard Link, her expression changed. She silently put the Fire Star Thorium back in her pouch, then tugged at Link's sleeve and looked up at him with those pair of eyes that were brimming with tears.

"Why don't you want my gifts?" she said with a pout. "You despise me, don't you?"

"..." Link just couldn't wrap his head around this little dwarf's moods. One minute she was happy and joking around, and next minute she was crying and throwing tantrums. How would he deal with this girl?

"That's not... I didn't mean it that way..." Link tried to explain.

"Yes you did!" Elin then exploded into a loud wail. "Aaahhh...I know you despise me! You must think that I'm too short and I'm too small and that's why you don't like me!" Elin's voice was very loud now, and she'd attracted the wrong attention from everyone around and causing them to misunderstand the situation.

Several Magicians who just happened to pass by had heard Elin's words and they suddenly gave Link and Elin a peculiar kind of gaze that showed their confusion of the kind of drama going on between the two.

Can humans and dwarves have that kind of relationship? Some people thought. But the size is just wrong...

Isn't that the famous Link who's in the limelight recently? How did he attract a dwarf girl?

Morality is dead! That was the idea that came into the head of an old-fashioned gentleman Magician passing by.

Although none of these Magicians had voiced their thoughts, their gazes were enough to express what they were thinking in their heads. Link never thought that he would be caught in such an embarrassing situation, even less so with a powerful Level-6 Master Magician - all because he'd refused her gift!

For a time, Link was so confused that he could neither stand still nor walk away. Once Elin saw how her actions had produced an effect on Link, she smiled mischievously and stopped her crying for a while.

"So, are you going to accept it now?" she said as she leaned forward. "If you still refuse then I'll keep on making so much noise you'll be the talk of the town tomorrow."

"...give it here then," said Link as he massaged his temple with his fingers. He was considerably shocked at how adept Elin was at getting her way.

Link's words had just left his lips when he felt something warm touching his hand. He turned to look at it and realized that Elin had slid the lump of priceless Fire Star Thorium into his palm.

The Fire Star Thorium was naturally warm, yet now Link somehow felt as if it was a lump of hot coal and he just wanted to throw it away as far as he could. But then he turned around and saw Elin's doe-eyed face. Even though he knew that she had faked her crying, he still couldn't help but feel sorry for her. She had looked genuinely miserable with the tears streaming from those innocent blue eyes, not to mention how childlike she looked when she sniffled with her pert, little nose. She looked nothing like someone who'd just put an act on.

This sight had reminded Link of the tragic history of the Yabba race in the game. He then thought of the fate of this young dwarf who was also the mighty and wise Lady Fortuna, and he could instantly understand the despair she must be keeping hidden behind her tantrums and jibes.

This little girl is a prophet, so she must've seen a vision of the future, Link thought. She must've seen the unspeakable suffering she must go through, not to mention the catastrophe that would befall her people. What she is doing now is probably her way to find a reliable ally for the Yabba race... But why did she choose me?

The moment this question occurred in his mind Link was reminded of Elin's strange reactions when she picked out the Tarot cards earlier.

I got it now, that prophecy earlier must've proven that I really am the God of Light's Chosen One. Elin had to conceal the details of the prophecy because she feared the knowledge would disrupt the path of destiny that dictates the events of the future.

When he thought of it this way, all of Elin's actions before this now seemed logical.

She indicated that she would help me set up a team immediately and created an opportunity for us to be alone to give me this invaluable Fire Star Thorium. Even though she verbally denied my identity as the Chosen One, her actions were more than enough proof that she supports me.

Link sighed as he realized Elin's true motives. He was reminded of that fire in his soul he felt when he received Lady Fortuna's blessings from her soul in the game when he completed the last task that she set out for the player.

I must defeat the Lord of the Deep, Nozama!

That was what he thought then. With that strong conviction, he marched forward in the game and eventually led his comrades to successfully defeat Nozama before he descended upon the Realm of Light.

Now that he really was in this world, Link wondered if he would shirk away from such a terrifying mission? No, he would not. It was too late for that now.

That being the case, what reason would he have to refuse the Yabba people's offer of alliance? Hadn't his principle in doing things always been to gather as many available helpful forces as possible anyway?

With this thought in mind, Link became calm and the fog in his mind completely cleared away.

He then placed the warm lump of Fire Star Thorium inside his storage pendant. His mood was now back to normal. He even managed to smile a little as he patted Elin's head gently.

"Don't worry," he said, "I will never forget how much you've helped me today."

Can his mind be that sharp? Elin thought with surprise. She could sense the changes in Link's manners as she raised her head to look up at him. She saw how the eyes that could see through a soul had now turned into a pair of kind and gentle ones. She immediately understood that Link had guessed her true motives.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have forced you, but I..." Elin said no more. She knew that Link understood her sentiments perfectly.

Initially, when she saw the vision of her people's fate, she suppressed her emotions because she knew that she only had the power to see the future but none to change it. In that case, all she could do was accept the fate.

But now that she found the savior who would rescue the world from eternal darkness, she had begun to hope again. All the emotions she'd once suppressed exploded in one moment when she was acting up a scene just now. To be frank, even Elin herself was surprised at her almost mad behavior.

"You saw it, didn't you?" whispered Link. He was no longer angry at Elin for what she'd done. If it had been him in her shoes, Link thought he might do something a hundred times worse than what Elin did if it meant he could save his own people.

Elin shuddered for a moment at Link's question, but she soon found the words to reply him with.

"Will you save us?" she asked.

"To the best of my ability," replied Link. "The Yabba people are noble. The Realm of Light cannot afford to lose you."

Link and Elin's exchange would sound completely mysterious and perplexing to an outsider, but this was a conversation between one person who could see into the future and another person who had experienced the future before after all.

These two had powerful souls as well, so they had no need for many words, as that only accounted for a small part of their communication. Instead, they relied heavily on each other's gaze, expressions and the intonation of their voices which all conveyed more truthful and sincere information compared to mere words.

Because of that, both of them could now understand each other's thoughts and feelings, although they did not mention it out loud. The result was that both man and girl were already aware of each other's meaning, but they haven't said it out loud yet.

Those few short sentences had set a solid foundation of an alliance between the two, and now Elin had returned to her normal behavior. She wiped her tears with a slight feeling of embarrassment as she followed behind Link to the Griffin's railing and then stepped onto the Griffin's back.

"Link!" Elin turned around and called out just as the Griffin was going to take off. "The sun will soon set beneath the horizon, and the light in the sky is nothing but just an afterglow."

"But the sun will rise again," replied Link.

Link's words brought a smile to Elin's little face, and her crystalline eyes shone again with the vibrancy of life. Although her lips were smiling, there were still signs of tears on her face. At that moment, she looked just as if she had walked out of a painting.

Then, the Griffin took off and rushed into the sky, flying into the distance towards the North. Link stood there watching the Griffin fly further and further away until it was nothing but a black dot in the sky. Only then did he turn away and head back to the Mage Tower.

He now had another valuable item in the storage pendant. This small lump of metal could smash the financial hurdle that prevented him from building his estate in one stroke. But as an enchantment Magician, would he ever use such a priceless material on a magic gear and sell it to someone else? Most definitely not!

I guess it's time to replace my Star Catcher wand, thought Link. Maybe I'll improve it a little and replace the Domingo crystal with a more superior crystal. It's an epic quality wand made with high-quality materials, so it should fetch me at least 20,000 gold coins. Then maybe I'll create a few pieces of jewelry to sell along with it, and that should cover the initial funds for my estate... oh, right, the merchant from Green Leaf Firm is waiting at the Mage Tower. I'd better get myself a good deal out of him.

Soon, Link was back at the Mage Tower. Warter was still sitting at the bare in the hall on the first floor, and in front of him was indeed a glass of the popular beverage Living Bubbles. Warter seemed to be enjoying himself with the bubbles that jumped around in his mouth.

As for Rylai, she had long gone to one of the tables in the hall and was hard at work studying a magic textbook.

Link had to walk right up to Warter before he realized that Link had returned.

"I'm sorry, sir," Warter said hurriedly, "are you free to see me now?"

"Yes, let's go to my room," replied Link. "We'll talk there."

"No problem at all." Warter then followed behind Link close at his heels.

Once they reached inside the room, Link poured two cups of water and placed it on the table. He then waited for Warter to settle down in his seat.

"I'm guessing my magic gear has caught your attention," said Link. "Before we move on, I have some questions for you. What is the scale of the Green Leaf Merchant Firm? Also, how do you plan to cooperate with me? Do you have any prominent figures who are your patrons that would guarantee the safety and continuous operation of your business?"

These three points were the most important factors in a business deal in Firuman, and Link's questions were all scrupulous and necessary. Warter was shocked at how wise this young man turned out to be. He knew just from these questions that no one would ever be able to take advantage or play tricks on Link.

Unfortunately for Warter, though, the Green Leaf Merchant Firm was only active in Springs City. It was basically an unknown entity outside of the capital. Furthermore, the firm only had one patron in the whole kingdom and he was just an old count who might not be able to protect the firm if it was ever faced with any serious threats.

In short, the firm's network was still in a primitive stage.

Warter began to feel his hopes of cooperating with Link diminish. Nevertheless, he still remained calm and polite with Link and started to tell Link of the history and current status of his merchant firm.

"This is how things stand, Mr. Link..." Warter then went into every detail that concerned his business venture and responded to each of Link's questions clearly and patiently. When he was finished, he sat upright and expected Link to respond with the simple yet portentous word -"no".

Link drummed his fingers gently on the table when Warter finished speaking as he considered his options.

"What is your proposal, then?" Link then asked.

The moment these words were uttered Warter immediately knew that he had a chance.

"The moment you hand over your magic gear to me," he began, "I will pay you at an ordinary market price on the spot. Once it is sold, if there is a premium, I will pay you 10%-no, 15% of the selling price. That is to say, we won't just sell your creations for free, we would also pay you the additional gold coins we earned as well!"

Link was glad as he listened to the plan. He realized that this was no ordinary money-hungry salesman!

If all Warter wanted was to profit from Link's magic gear, he would've shown him the door right now. Yet this man was a visionary. He wanted to use Link's magic gear to build up the reputation of his firm and expand his business, and he didn't mind paying Link a high price as well. A man with such an entrepreneurial spirit was way ahead of his time! Someone like him could end up getting all the gold coins on the continent into his pockets if he was given the right opportunity. Naturally, Link wouldn't mind giving such a man just that opportunity.

"I want 20% of the profits," said Link. "That's not all, though. Your firm's background is too weak. After joining you, the East Cove Magic Academy will become your firm's official patron."

"It's a deal!" exclaimed Warter jubilantly.