186 Only Stones Were Left

 A loud rumble startled a flock of seagulls casually relaxing on a cliff. On the coast, the crashing waves created a tall water pillar that sprayed water in all directions. Under the shining rays of the sun, a faint rainbow could be momentarily seen.

A few figures with stark differences in height stood on the cliff.

The tall people consisted of Link and the captain of the Flamingo Band of Mercenaries, Jacker. The shorter people were the Yabba race. The leader of the three-man team was called Aberdeen, the supervisor of the waterway development project. The two people standing by his side were his assistants.

This place was located on the East Coast of the Ferde Wilderness called the Tigers Cliff. It was an extremely tall cliff with a concave area 900 feet wide and 90 feet deep in the middle. The slope after the concave area was gentle, making it easy to walk onto the coast from this area.

If this cliff did not exist on this coast, it would have made an extremely good spot to build a port.

In order to develop his territory, Link would require a lot of resources. The most economical and efficient way to do this was through the sea. Therefore, once Link had a basic understanding of the situation, the first thing he did was request the Yabba engineering team to open the seaway.

Staring at the crashing waves, Link asked, "How long will it take to build a usable waterway?"

Previously, all these matters were left in the hands of the Flamingo Band of Mercenaries. Link merely gave some general instructions through letters and did not have a clear picture in his mind. Now that he was personally involved, he would have to inquire the experts and make sure that the project was done to his standards.

Aberdeen knew that the young man in front of him was a gold mine and a powerful Magician. He would not be able to deceive him. Aberdeen then adopted a serious tone and said, "We have already sent divers to explore the area. The whole area within 50 nautical miles from here is filled with reefs. However, only the ones within a 2.5-mile radius from the Tiger Cliff have to be removed. In order to clear up this area, the estimated time will be two months. We have already started, and it will be done in a months' time."

A month sounded good.

Link then pressed on, "Do we need to mark a safe sailing route for the area outside of the 2.5-mile radius then?"

Aberdeen patiently explained, "There is no need to. Nowadays, every ship is enchanted with some basic water elemental magic runes. An experienced captain would be able to judge the depth of the water in front of them from the change in the brightness of the runes. As long as the reefs are not too densely populated, they'll be able to avoid them with ease."

Upon hearing these words, Link immediately knew that he had complicated the situation in his mind. In the real world, people would often look for the most economical and reliable ways to solve problems. Furthermore, he was a complete novice at sea trade. If he probed too much into the methods of the experts, he might unknowingly make a joke out of himself.

"So what would be the estimated cost?" Link asked. This was something he had to keep track of.

"4827 gold coins. This is an extremely accurate cost. The Yabba race has always been fair in our pricing, especially to our good friends." Aberdeen patted his chest and quoted an extremely specific number.

Link, on the other hand, had his own ideas. "I would like the harbor to have enough room for expansion as well. If we manage to do well in the future, we would then be able to develop it without much hassle."

Aberdeen then had an embarrassed expression on his face. "Sir, if that is the case, we will have to level all the stones under our feet. The workload would immediately double ..."

"My budget is 10000 gold coins," Link said as he stuck out one finger with confidence.

"Consider it done." Aberdeen's eyes immediately glowed as he spoke.

He then turned around and started discussing with his two assistants. His assistants held a blueprint each in their hands, and after a moment of whispering and flailing of arms, Aberdeen said, "Sir, that would increase the time required by another half a month."

The addition of work naturally meant that more time was needed. Link nodded without question. The group then walked back along the Tiger Cliff before they went their separate ways. Link then followed Jacker all the way back to the camp on a horse.

Jacker looked like he wanted to say something on the way.

Link noticed it immediately and understood his concerns. He laughed, "Jacker, are you afraid that we will not have enough gold coins?"

This was exactly what Jacker wanted to say. He turned around and looked at the port which was under construction. "Sir, including the money you spent on the port, the total cost for the development of the Ferde Wilderness has already amounted to 30000 gold coins, and this is only the beginning."

Not long ago, they had just cleared all the bandits out of the area and built a small camp for themselves. In the blink of an eye, 30000 gold coins were spent. The speed at which they were depleting their resources was simply insane!

Jacker had never seen such extravagant spending before. Apart from him, Lucy and Gildern were also horrified, and even Magician Carrido also started having doubts. While Link could indeed earn money with his enchanting skills, it was not enough to keep up with their spending.

They were afraid that Link would deplete all their resources before the Ferde Wilderness could even take flight.

Link laughed, "This is a necessary investment. If we save now, we will only spend more next time."

Jacker's lips seemed to move ever so slightly. He was usually a straightforward person, however, some things were really difficult for him to put into words.

Link laughed loudly and teased, "It has only been a few months since I last saw you. What happened?"

Jacker smiled bitterly and decided to confide in Link with a worried expression on his face, "My lord, the Ferde Wilderness is really barren. No place in this area can be used to grow crops. There is also gravel and stones everywhere. Apart from a few weeds, there are no trees and rivers in sight. It is also often a victim of hurricanes, and this barren land provides absolutely no shelter. Can such a place really prosper?"

They originally arrived at the Ferde Wilderness with confidence and passion to develop this land together with Link. However, that was when they were unfamiliar with the situation. In these few months, their enthusiasm had been completely devastated by this desolate land. Food, clothing and even wood had to be transported from other areas. There was no helping this barren hellhole.

Link merely laughed without a hint of worry.

The natural environment of the Ferde Wilderness was indeed lacking. However, if that were not the case, he would never have gotten such a huge piece of land.

Furthermore, the Ferde Wilderness had its benefits as well. Apart from the anti-magic soil, it had an extremely strategic geographical position. It faced the sea and Dawn Island, the home of the High Elves. It had relatively easy access to the southern countries and was close to the capital of the Norton Kingdom in the North. These were acceptable conditions.

As for the natural environment, he simply had to change it.

That would totally be possible in the World of Firuman. As long as one was willing to part with their gold coins, anything was possible. Link currently had 120000 gold coins in his bag. Part of this fortune was earned from his enchanting skills, while 80000 gold coins was the reward from the Magic Academy in the name of helping him develop his territory.

"Relax, Jacker. In ten years, the Ferde Wilderness will definitely turn into a bustling Ferde City," Link assured.

At that moment, the camp came into sight. Link whipped the horse harshly, signaling it to accelerate towards the camp. Jacker, on the other hand, still saw no hope in the territory. He simply sighed and followed closely behind Link.

The camp was called the Scorched Ridge. Although it was merely a temporary camp, Link still had to spend nearly 6000 gold coins for its construction.

The camp was built on high ground and was enclosed by a circle of tall castle walls built from boulders. There were a total of two gates in the castle wall, one of which led to the sea, while the other opened to the Girvent Forest.

The castle wall encircled an area almost 900 feet in radius. A watchtower was also built at the highest point to survey the surrounding area. Below the watchtower were the wooden huts where the mercenary band and workers lived in.

Link alighted the horse and handed the reins over to the soldier on one side before walking towards a large wooden building.

This wooden building was the administrative building of the camp. It had two stories and covered more than 600 square feet. Link could see working personnel hurriedly entering and leaving the building. As Link approached the building, a studious-looking young man immediately came to welcome him. He was Link's extremely competent secretary called Joshua. Link had hired him from River Cove Town.

He held a piece of document in his hand and reported clearly to Link, "My lord, the academy has given their reply. This is a handwritten letter from Anthony."

'Read it to me," Link said.

"Yes," Joshua nodded and continued. "The letter mentioned that your vision is not practical. It is impossible to change the natural environment of the Ferde Wilderness simply by using one Mage Tower. In order to achieve this goal, you need a magic formation formed by at least five powerful Mage Towers with a Master Magician stationed in each one of them. This, similarly, would not be achievable in the near future...the academy can offer to build a Mage Tower for you at half the price, but will be unable to satisfy your request."

It was indeed not practical. One Mage Tower would cost at least 100000 gold coins to build. Five Mage Towers would then add up to 500000 gold coins. Furthermore, it required a Master Magician to be stationed in every one of those Mage Towers. This plan was insane.

Link walked along while Joshua read the letter out to him. When he reached his study room, he had fully understood the message and sat down with a frown on his face. "That is not good news."

In order to develop the Ferde Wilderness, the port was a key component. However, the other key component was to change the climate. These were indispensable parts of Link's plan. The Ferde Wilderness was, on average, hit by four mega-hurricanes and ten smaller hurricanes every year. If this was not changed, it would be impossible for this place to flourish.

A Mage Tower was also an important component in Link's personal growth. Although he had graduated from the academy, there was no limit to magic research. If he wanted to further his strength, he needed a Mage Tower of his own, preferably one similar to the scale of the pivotal Mage Towers in the academy.

Now that the academy was unable to help him, Link had to find an alternative.

The young secretary then brought out another letter. This letter had a magical imprint on it, suggesting that it was a secret letter. Joshua handed this letter to Link and said, "My lord, this letter just arrived."

Link cast a glance and realized that the letter had a magic imprint that glowed ever so slightly. The envelope was made from tough bear leather. There was even a self-destruct rune at the back of the envelope. As long as the letter was opened in the wrong way, it would explode. But what was the correct way to open this letter? There were no explanations or instructions.

Link carefully observed the letter and decoded the meaning and position of each rune. After half a minute, he had broken the code. It was a Malfoy style lock that was intricately designed. However, as long as one was familiar with the conditions, they could easily decode it.

A few months ago, Link might have been stumped by this code. However, after reading through the notes given to him by all the Master Magicians in the academy, his magic foundation had reached a new level. This magic rune lock was a piece of cake for him.

After five or six minutes, Link tapped his fingers lightly on the runes and imbued them with different amounts of mana. After tapping the thirteenth rune, all the magic runes instantly disappeared, and the letter automatically opened.

Before he pulled out the letter, Link could not help but wonder, who is playing charades with me? This is pretty interesting.