Two days later, Dorias entered the Ferde Wilderness together with Link and Celine.
After running through the area for around ten minutes, Dorias could not help but comment, "Link, is this truly your territory? This is the most barren land I've seen in my entire 400 years in Firuman. You cannot even find a proper place to take a dump in this place."
Celine also frowned at the sight of this territory as she said, "This is a lot worse than what I've imagined."
Along the way, Link had warned the both of them that the territory was extremely barren so as to prepare them psychologically on what to expect. Celine and Dorias originally thought that it was normal for a wild plain to be barren and thought nothing much of it. However, it was still difficult for them to accept it the moment they saw the Ferde Wilderness' true form.
This was more than just barren. The whole area was simply a pile of rubble that seemed to be unsalvageable no matter how much gold coins one invested.
Although Link was ambitious and already had a detailed plan in his mind, it was undeniable that the current situation was unsatisfactory. He simply laughed, "It will get better. This is just temporary."
As those optimistic words were said, the weather began to change. It was only a few gusts of wind at the start, but ten minutes later, the wind started howling, and one could distinctly feel the raindrops splattering onto their bodies. It did not take long for the weather to completely turn hostile, into a storm with hailstones and lightning. What a way to welcome two new guests into the area.
"No wonder you wanted to change the climate." Celine gasped as she was horrified at this sudden change in weather. Dorias immediately activated his wind elemental shield and protected them from the rainwater and the hailstones. However, an ordinary person would be powerless in the face of such weather. It would not be possible to grow crops or house farmers in this area.
As Dorias carefully trod through the mud, he asked, "You mentioned that there would be people serving me. Can I just not take up your offer? Just let me go to the Girvent Forest and hide to the end of my life."
Dorias felt that this place was extremely unsuitable for a Wind Tiger to call home. His lifespan would be shortened by 100 years.
"We had a deal. Are you going to go back on your words? What about the pride of the Wind Tiger clan?" Link rebutted.
Dorias roared in despair and continued forward helplessly. He felt as though he had been deceived. He was unable to go back on his words as he had to protect the legacy of the Wind Tiger clan. Furthermore, Link had promised to find him some female tigers as companions.
The Scorched Ridge appeared in sight after half a day.
Although there were no Magicians in the Scorched Ridge, Link was not about to take any chances. Before they entered the camp, Link handed an intricate pendant over to Celine.
"This is an aura concealing pendant. It can also double up as a dimensional storage pendant if you'd like."
This was a pendant Link crafted in the carriage while he was heading south. Although it was a rushed work, Link still ensured it was delicate and aesthetically pleasing so that it would not trigger his Obsessive Compulsion Disorder.
The pendant was created from Khorium and shone with a lavender hue. There was a hint of thorium used as well, which gave it speckles of silver much like the stars in the night sky. Finally, Link used a high-quality Dokun stone to create the dimensional storage function in the pendant. The stone was milky white in color and was polished almost perfectly by Link, making it crystal clear and smooth.
Celine loved the pendant at first sight. However, she did not take it from Link's hand. Instead, she lifted her chin slightly and spoke with her back facing Link, "Put it on for me."
Link smiled and gently put the pendant around Celine's slender neck. From his angle, he could vaguely see the enticing scene right under Celine's blouse.
Link was suddenly flustered and immediately averted his gaze and changed the subject, "Dorias, do not lose your temper when you get to the camp. Also, don't joke around too much; you might cause panic amongst the people."
"Alright. Just don't forget what you promised."
Link then turned to Celine and said, "Do not showcase your powers as well. Just stay secretive."
"Then what will be my identity?" Celine looked at Link expectantly as she asked.
This question was tough. Link thought for a moment and said, "You are a friend I brought back from the South...a very good friend. That's all."
He wanted to make their relationship sound more intimate, but at the same time, he was afraid that Celine would be unhappy. It would also not be right to make it sound as though they were strangers. Hence, friends would be the most valid term.
Celine simply agreed; it was impossible to tell from her expression what she felt about this identity.
It had merely been four days since Link left the Scorched Ridge. However, the weather in this period had been disastrous. From afar, Link could already see potholes and planks of wood being blown off the rooftop by the strong gale. There would occasionally be a figure that would appear only for a few seconds, only to rush to the next shelter they could find.
It was impossible to continue with the building for the harbor in this weather. Link was also sure that all the other developments were also halted. Everyone was probably staying in their homes and waiting in a state of boredom.
This is not looking good. The climate problem has to be resolved as fast as possible! Link felt that it was a pressing problem that had greatly affected the progress of his territory development.
When Dorias reached within a 150 feet radius of the castle walls, Link could hear the blaring sounds of the alert siren echoing through the Ferde Continent. It seemed like the Flamingo Band of Mercenaries were still vigilant despite the bad weather.
A moment later, the castle guard who was originally taking shelter in the corner of the castle wall rushed out into the storm. Ten seconds later, Jacker also appeared on the castle wall in full battle armor.
Link was extremely satisfied with this reaction speed.
At that moment, Jacker caught a glimpse of Link riding on top of the giant tiger. He wiped his face drenched in rainwater and raised his hand to signal the archers on guard, "It is the lord, put down your weapons!"
Upon knowing that it was Link, the tense atmosphere immediately dissipated.
The pressure coming from a giant beast more than 12 feet tall was immense. However, seeing that their lord was sitting comfortably on its back, there should be no complications. In their eyes, the lord could accomplish almost anything. Even if he came back riding on the back of a giant tiger with a beautiful lady by his side, there was nothing to be surprised about.
As Link entered the Scorched Ridge, Celine and he dismounted from Dorias' back. Jacker, Lucy, and Gildern were already waiting in the storm to welcome him.
Link waved his hand and said, "Don't just stand outside. Let's talk in the house."
He then spoke to a mercenary captain, "Find some workers, a decent number of them. Build a big shed within an hour for Dorias over here. This is an urgent arrangement and remuneration will be given accordingly."
Link then passed ten gold coins to this mercenary captain.
The workers in his territory were all people who came over from the Girvent Forest to earn money. His words as the lord of the Ferde Wilderness held no power over them as they were not citizens of this area. He hence had to use gold coins to mobilize them instead. As for the exact payment, they had a detailed agreement. For example, a task like this which required the workers to be mobilized instantly and to work in the storm would garner the workers at least one silver coin in remuneration.
Link had never defaulted on his payments. Therefore, although the conditions here were tough, there were a number of workers who had decided to make the Ferde Wilderness their base.
"Yes, sir." The mercenary captain said and immediately went off to organize the required manpower.
Link then turned to Lucy. "Get the chef here to roast an entire cow for Dorias. Oh, Dorias is the name of this tiger over here."
Dorias then spoke, "One is not enough. I need two cows. It doesn't even have to be cooked; just give it to me, I am starving."
His ability of speech came as a surprise to everyone present. However, this meant that it would be possible to converse with him, making him a lot less intimidating.
Lucy then immediately went over to the barn for the cows. Dorias followed closely behind as he was simply starving.
The rest of the people entered the house.
Once they reached the hall, Link introduced, "This is Celine Flandre, a Magician's Apprentice of mine, and a good friend."
The Magician's Apprentice part was something Link thought of on the spot. He had remembered that Celine once studied magic in the Flemmings Magic Academy. Following which, he then introduced Jacker and the rest to Celine.
They exchanged greetings as Celine responded with a warm smile on her face. Link observed the expression on her face as he wanted to see her thoughts. However, his usual keen observation skills seemed to have failed him this time round. After failing to get what he wanted, he eventually gave up.
Lucy then came back, and Link introduced her to Celine officially this time.
Lucy had a much sharper expression on her face. After alternating her gaze between Celine and Link, she gave a smile and passionately welcomed, "Celine, look at how pretty you are."
These were the exact words Link's mother Lilith used on her that day.
Celine smiled and said, "Miss Lucy, you are a beauty yourself as well."
Lucy simply sighed, "I am already old."
As Lucy spoke, she subconsciously looked at Link. Link, on the other hand, was preoccupied as he was talking to Jacker. Celine could observe the hint of disappointment in Lucy's eyes and immediately went on guard. Not good! Lucy will be a formidable enemy; She seems to like Link as well!
Link was totally oblivious to this psychological battle going on and sat down on the long table before saying, "The climate here is simply horrible. However, I have found one solution. In a week's time, I will be leaving once more, and when I am back, we can start work."
This had helped to boost the morale of the commanding team. A glimmer of hope could be seen on everyone's faces as Link said those words. Although the territory was indeed barren, there was hope after all. The only thing troubling them was the climate, which they had no idea how to resolve. Link's announcement was thus a huge relief.
The atmosphere immediately lightened up as everyone started giving their opinions on the future development. Link listened intently and occasionally interrupted. At the end of the meeting, they came up with a few feasible things they could work on.
At that moment, a person appeared at the door. It was Magician Carrido.
Carrido had been staying in the Girvent Forest recently as he was currently responsible for magic affairs. He was the middleman between Link and Merchant Warter, handling all the magic equipment Link crafted and Warter's payment to the territory. Hence, he would not be in the territory most of the time.
He greeted Link respectfully before handing him a dimensional pendant "Sir, these are the earnings this time around."
Link took a look and found 15000 gold coins within the pendant. It was once again a good trade. After thinking for a moment, he handed his dimensional pendant back to Carrido and said, "Take this money to East Cove Higher Magic Academy and find Master Magician Weissmuller. He is an expert in creating magic puppets. Tell him I want a giant puppet that can do traditional tillage work." Weissmuller's proficiency in magic puppet creation was evident in his notes. The first person Link thought of when he wanted a magic puppet was naturally him.
Carrido did not understand it at first. "Magic puppet for tillage purposes?"
Link explained, "Yes, I have already observed that the inner area of the territory has soil that is completely arable. We simply needed to get rid of the layer of gravel around 2 feet thick on the surface."
Usually, the soil on the surface of any plot of land would be arable. However, the Ferde Wilderness was a peculiar place where the surface of the ground was covered in gravel instead. The arable soil of this land was hidden underneath the two-feet-thick layer of gravel. This magic puppet would thus be responsible for turning the soil over. Furthermore, Link was also prepared to exploit the anti-magic soil that could be found on this land.
Carrido nodded and said, "I will work on it immediately."
"There is no hurry. Take some rest." Link waved his hand before handing over a magic book titled Breath of the Wind to Carrido. He then said, "This book should be helpful to you. Take some time to read it."
Carrido was immediately filled with gratitude. He took the book and carefully put it away.
The magic books that Link recommended were usually of another level. He had already read five of such books by now and had a completely different understanding of magic as he did in the past. He could now be considered half an official Magician due to Link's tutelage.
After a few discussions over superfluous stuff, Link then started arranging a place for Celine to stay.
Lucy said, "The camp is currently full. Miss Celine can stay with me for now. She can move in to the new wooden houses when the construction work is complete."
Link thought that it was a good idea and looked at Celine, to which she nodded with a smile. It was a good chance for her to test out Lucy's true intentions. After which, Link left the hall and returned to his room to craft magic equipment for Warter. He also had to create Vance's magic staff. As the climate problem was indeed pressing, he had to quicken his pace and complete the underground chamber mission as fast as possible.
As Link exited the wooden house, he saw Dorias sitting comfortably under a shed while munching on a large piece of barbecued meat. He looked as though he could swallow the cow whole including the bones. There was also a piece of raw, bloody meat beside him, to which he ignored completely.
It seemed like this creature had already been subdued by the chef's barbecue technique.
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