209 Windy Cove


 Dorias had gone out for three days. On the second day, there were two violent storms that seemed to come out of nowhere in Ferde Wilderness. On the afternoon of the third day, Dorias dragged himself back, and he seemed to be acting strangely.

As soon as he arrived, he rushed back to the big shed that Link had built specially for him.

"Give me some roast meat and make it quick!" he shouted. "I'm almost starved to death! Make sure you add hot peppers and sea salt to my meat!"

At that point, Link was studying the design blueprint of the magic puppet in his room. When he heard of the commotion outside, he stepped out of the wooden cabin and saw some of his servants pouring a bucket of clean water onto Dorias' body. The water that flowed from his body was full of mud and dirt.

"Where have you been?" asked Link as he approached the tiger. "Did you fall into a mud swamp?"

Dorias shook his giant head and wore a strangely proud expression on his face.

"I've found the source of the storms," he revealed. "It was on a bizarre island out in the sea, probably about a hundred miles away from here. It had been quiet and calm before I reached the island, but the moment I set foot on it, a violent storm formed very quickly. I was almost blown into the sky by the storm!"

"An island a hundred miles away from here?" asked Link. "Did you notice any cliffs or caves there?"

Dorias stared at Link in shock.

"Oh, so you know about the caves on the island?" he asked.

Link was in fact reminded of the records in the book War History of the Ancestors where King Lionheart said that he was blown adrift to a cave. It seemed that this description was true and that he was, in fact, blown from the mainland to the island in the middle of the sea.

Once he'd found the target, Link felt that half of the problem was solved. He decided that what he must do now was to go and see the place for himself.

"I'll take you there when I'm full," said Dorias. He could guess exactly what was on Link's mind.

The head cook of the camp was very good at his job. He'd roasted two cows perfectly to Dorias' taste, so naturally, he wanted to savor every bite of food he was served. Once he'd picked all the bones clean, he burped loudly and shook his fur dry.

"Let's go," he said, turning to Link.

Link relayed the appropriate orders to his clerk, Joshua before climbing onto the giant tiger's back. They sped all the way towards the sea.

Once on the beach, Link saw that the harbor was under construction. The Yabba people were truly as efficient as they were rumored to be. It hadn't been more than half a month since they arrived, but Link could already see the rough structure of a port. If they kept on working at this pace, the harbor would be ready to use in less than a month.

The construction of the estate is on the right track now, thought Link. And I've got all the magic materials and gold coins in place. Now, it is only the matter of solving the climate problem!

Meanwhile, Dorias had already reached the edge of the shore. He then roared, and his body was immediately shrouded in glimmering blue light. Then, the tiger jumped down the cliff, and when his feet touched the surface of the water, it was as if he'd landed on firm ground. He proceeded to run as fast as the wind on the surface of the sea.

Dorias proudly shook his head to and fro against the wind as he ran.

"What do you think of my moves, Link?" he asked.

"Very smooth," answered Link with a smile.

Roar!!! Rooooaaarrrr!!!

Dorias then got more adjusted to the new surface he was running on and his speed gradually increased. It only took him under an hour to travel the 100 miles' distance. Soon enough, Link spotted a black dot over the horizon.

"Do you see that? That's the place," said Dorias. "It looks like a desert island and seems normal from afar. There was nothing out of the ordinary around it either. But as soon as you get 300 feet to the island, there's a huge gust of wind so strong that you almost can't stand it. I tried it twice when I got here, and it resulted in the same outcome both times. It really is very strange."

Link had no idea what was going on himself. He only waited to approach the island himself and experience it first-hand.

Soon afterwards, they were both on the island. It was a bleak and barren place where not even grass could grow. There was a sandy beach near the shore while the inner part of the island was made up of rusty, brown stones that were so heavily weathered they looked like honeycombs.

From afar, these stones seemed to form into caves where gentle breeze blew from their depths.

"Everything still seems normal here," said Dorias, "but once we walk further into the island things will change drastically."

Dorias crouched down a little as he walked on slowly and cautiously as if bracing for the sudden appearance of a violent storm. Link jumped down from the tiger's back and cast the Crimson Edelweiss spell on himself as protection. He then walked slowly forward while remaining close to Dorias' side.

After walking for about 30 feet, Dorias suddenly wiggled his nose as if he smelled something in the air.

"Did you sense that?" he asked. "The wind has changed."

It was an obvious change. At first, it had only been a mild breeze that they could hardly feel, but now the wind started to blow more quickly. It was strong enough to blow up the grains of sand on the beach. Without the Edelweiss spell, those grains of sand would've gotten into Link's eyes by now.

"Looks like the island has woken up," whispered Link.

"Exactly!" replied Dorias. "It's as if there's a ferocious beast in the cave and our presence disturbed its slumber."

Dorias then crouched down even lower to the ground and moved even slower. He squinted his eyes to prevent the sand from getting into his eyes. At that moment, he looked just like a cat who was ready to pounce.

Link and Dorias then walked for a further 150 feet. The gusts of wind had now turned into a storm that whistled and howled and picked up stones and sand into the air. Through the Edelweiss shield, Link could feel waves of air pressure coming from the wind. He was sure to be blown off into the distance by now if he hadn't cast a defensive spell earlier.

Dorias also began to release the blue aura around him. He crouched down almost to the ground now and would shake his head from time to time to remove the sand and stone that got caught between his fur.

"Link, it's getting a bit unbearable for me," said Dorias. "Are we still going to move forward?" Dorias had to stretch out his claws and dig deep into the ground to prevent from getting blown away by the storm. Even so, his body was visibly moving backwards, and he'd left a long deep channel on the ground where his claws were dragged backwards by the wind.

Link fared better as the Edelweiss shield helped protect him from most of the wind's power. But even he felt quite overwhelmed by the storm's sheer force. He turned around and could see nothing else in the surroundings except sand and stones.

After focusing his eyes for a while, Link could see that thick clouds were already taking form in the sky. Soon, dark clouds gathered, and a huge storm was looming over them.

It wasn't just gusts of wind around the caves now. Instead, the whole region seemed to be caught in a strong hurricane!

Link felt a wave of panic surging over him.

Is this how the storms in Ferde Wilderness are formed? Link thought. Is this place really hiding the souls of the ancient lords? But thousands of years have passed since then; how could their powers still be this ferocious?

Whoosh! Whoooosh!

The storm got louder and stronger. It now sounded like the roar of an immensely strong giant. The clouds gathered in the sky and almost completely blocked the sunlight from penetrating to the ground.

"You should stay back now, Dorias," said Link. "I'll go on for a little bit further." Link thought he'd be able to handle the storm for just a little while longer. He'd come to solve the climate problem in the Ferde Wilderness, so he couldn't back out before reaching his limits.

"Be careful, Link," yelled Dorias. He then turned around and ran towards the sea. He then jumped into the water and hid there, only keeping his head above the water to keep watch on Link from afar.

He didn't know what would happen next, but his big eyes were full of worry and apprehension.

Meanwhile, on the coven island, Link continued to move forward. The force field of Edelweiss was pulled back by the wind, making it look like a comet's tail behind Link. The force field in front of Link had been compressed and weathered by the storm until all that was left was a thin layer.

If he pressed on this way, Link knew that Edelweiss could only protect him for another 30 feet or so.

Link activated the Glyph of Soul and cast the Vulcan's Hand. Then, he quickly canceled the spell and used the Mana structure resonance to transform it into the Titan's hand.

Whoosh!

A giant hand appeared in front of Link's body, protecting him from the force of the storm.

A Level-6 spell would naturally be more stable than the Level-5 Crimson Edelweiss. Link found that he could now step forwards more easily now that he was protected by the Titan's Hand.

Link wasn't sure how long it took, but suddenly he felt that the pressure exerted on the Titan's Hand suddenly seemed to ease up. It wasn't because the strength of the wind decreased though, but rather because the storm's power had reached the point where it could slash like knives. Without the Titan's Hand, the storm would've behaved like a thousand blades of knives that surrounded Link, and he would be slashed all over his body.

Also, Link noticed that all the sand and stones that were blown up into the air had cleared off, leaving only the pure power of the wind elements.

Maybe everything that could get picked up by the wind has been blown away, Link thought, leaving only smooth boulders here.

Link didn't dare to peek his head around the Titan's Hand to see what was happening in front of him. All he could do was walk on forward.

After another thirty steps or so, Link felt that the screaming wind around him had reached a totally unbearable point. It sounded as if he was standing right next to a jet engine!

Even the Titan's Hand was about to reach its limits. Although Link used all his powers to focus on strengthening the force field in front of him and change the form of the Titan's Hand into the more stable fist shape, he could still see that a trail of red-hot fire elements was blown behind him.

The spell would collapse any moment now.

Link realized that it would simply be suicidal for him to keep moving forward. He stopped and tried to estimate the situation around him. He could see much better here than before, but still, his view was distorted as the rapid air flow became transparent ripples.

Finally, Link noticed a faint frosty white aura on the ground where he stood and the stone walls around him.

There must be a light source ahead, not too far away from here, thought Link. But what could it be? Link was very curious but did not dare to risk his life finding out. If he took any more steps further, the Titan's Hand would surely collapse. Then, what would surely follow would be him getting minced to small bits by the violent wind around him.

Should I go back now? Link thought.

Despite the clear danger, Link was still a little hesitant and unwilling to go back. He'd come so far and so near to finding out the truth. Going back now would mean that he still couldn't solve the climate problem in his estate and that he'd have to come back here again.

He considered it for three seconds, then took out the White Prophetic Stone.

The violent climate of Ferde Wilderness was now his last hurdle in building his estate. If he couldn't solve this problem, then there would be no way for him to develop his power and build up his army. Elin, the Lady Fortuna, had warned him that the sun was about to sink under the horizon, so he mustn't waste any more precious time.

Therefore, he felt that using the Prophetic White Stone now would gain him huge and invaluable progress, so he proceeded without any more hesitation.

His Mana began to flow into the stone which caused it to emit a transparent water-like aura. This aura then flowed into the Titan's Hand in front of him, strengthening it within a second and turning it from a tattered force field into solid protection while its size was tripled as well. However, Link's Mana consumption rate increased five times now, and he was expending as high as 200 points of Mana per second.

"Clear Thoughts!" chanted Link as he activated the special powers of his robe. He then took a bottle of high-level Mana potion from his storage pendant and drank it all up in one gulp.

While a mid-level Mana potion could restore 500 points of Mana, high-level Mana potion could restore 1000 points of Mana instantly. Coupled with the effects of Clear Thoughts which boosted his Mana recovery rate, Link estimated that he would be able to hold out for another half minute.

If I can't reach the end of this cave after 20 seconds, Link thought, then I'll be on my way out!

With that decision made up in his mind, Link walked on behind the protection of the Level-6 Titan's Hand.

One second, two seconds, three seconds, four seconds...

The frosty white light got brighter and brighter, the wind became stronger and stronger, and the floor got so smooth that it was starting to be slippery. Link had to struggle just to take a step forward now.

Ten seconds!

Link's Mana consumption rate had reached 300 points per second now, while there were only about 2600 points of Mana left in his body. In two more seconds, he would have to use the spell, Dimensional Jump to get out of here.

Just as he took the last step forward, he noticed a sudden change!

It was as if he'd broken through the layer of a barrier. He could no longer hear the wind's howl nor feel the pressure exerted on the Titan's Hand. He'd entered a calm and silent place.

There were wind elements here, and they were very densely packed too. But instead of being violent and vicious, these wind elements were gentle and calm. There was a frosty white light here as well, and it was so bright that Link couldn't look at its source directly.

Link carefully canceled the Titan's Hand and slowly turned his eyes in the direction of the light source.

A second later, his eyes widened, and he stood there in a daze.

"Isn't this...?"