213 The Unusual Soil


 The merchant Warter moved very quickly. He didn't waste a single minute and began to take Link's orders and his 20,000 gold coins around the continent the same night Link had given him the instructions. He went about very excitedly because he knew that with the construction of Link's estate going on, his Green Leaf Firm would expand at an explosive rate. This would then bring him inexhaustible money. Then, his dream of building a business empire would no longer be pure fantasy.

Because of this, Warter worked very hard!

The following morning, the Magicians of the East Cove Academy also began to work on the construction of the Mage Tower. They wandered around the Ferde Wilderness, not just for fun of course, but to look for the Geodetic Nodes.

When a Mage Tower was built on the Geodetic Nodes, or in full the Geodetic Elemental Equilibrium Nodes, it would greatly stabilize the flow of the Elemental Pool inside the Mage Tower and make it much safer. This was the reason why every Mage Tower in East Cove Magic Academy was built on very stable Geodetic Nodes.

No matter how busy Link was, he'd always find time to study Vance's notes on the magic puppet. On the other hand, Eliard had been following Master Ferdinand around to learn from him.

Thus, a week passed by with everyone busy in their own work and duties.

Everyone had heard of the rumors that the climate in Ferde Wilderness was notoriously bad and that storms and rain were commonplace here. But surprisingly, in the past week, the weather had been mild and sometimes even better than the weather in the nearby Girvent Forest.

Within that week, it was pleasant and sunny for four days, and while it did rain for three days, it was merely mild drizzles, the kind that was common in spring. There hadn't been any thunderstorms or heavy rain at all.

Those Magicians who had just arrived didn't find it too odd, but the mercenaries and the original inhabitants of Ferde Wilderness who had experienced extreme weather here started to circulate the rumor that Lord Link had the "hands of God" that could control the weather.

Master Grenci was inspecting the grounds of Ferde Wilderness with an Elemental Compass in his hands. He was working in a separate section of the land from Master Ferdinand. Within the week, they'd pinpointed the locations of the Geodetic Nodes and were now determining the best place for the site of the new Mage Tower.

Just as he was walking, he suddenly heard a loud clink clank noise from afar. When he raised his head in the direction of the sound, he discovered that it was the giant magic puppet plowing the land on the hillside.

What a terrible craftsmanship from Master Weissmuller, snorted Grenci. He then prepared to walk away in the other direction with his assistants.

He'd just taken a few steps when he heard loud booms coming from behind him. After a while, there was a loud clang followed by thick billowing smoke coming from the same hillside he'd seen the magic puppet earlier.

Grenci was stunned, but he soon recovered.

"Ha! Seems like the damned magic puppet's broken down!" he yelled. "What an embarrassment the old man Weiss' craftsmanship is to the East Cove Academy!"

Although Grenci had specialized in alchemy himself, the Plowing Magic Puppet wasn't that complex, so he should be able to fix it if the cause of its breakdown was just some small problems.

"Let's go see what's going on here," he said, waving to his assistants. He then cast a wind floating spell on himself and floated over to the hillside with very little effort.

There, he saw the magic puppet hoisting itself up with its arms while its two plows were stuck deep in the ground. The soil that had been dug up behind the magic puppet looked greenish black and contained no big clumps of stones at all.

"Huh? But this is just normal soil!" said Grenci. "How did the magic puppet break down when it's only working with this? Weiss' skills can't be that bad, can it?"

He'd sneered at Weissmuller before, but in fact, Grenci had deep respect for the old master's artistry. That was why he thought the magic puppet must've broken down because it had been working on tricky terrain. But judging by the looks of it, it seemed that the magic puppet had simply just broken down for no clear reason.

He walked carefully around the magic puppet and still couldn't find anything wrong with its components. He scratched his head in wonder.

Weiss may be an unreliable old man, he thought, but he's always meticulous in his work. What's going with this magic puppet, then?

Just when Grenci couldn't wrap his head around what was happening there, a Level-4 Magician beside him suddenly pointed something out.

"Master Grenci," he said, "do you notice something odd about the soil that's been turned out?"

Grenci found the question intriguing. He kneeled to the ground and took a clump of the soil in his hand then closely inspected it.

It was greenish black, felt very sticky, and its grains were very fine. When Grenci sniffed at it, he thought it had no detectable smell at all.

Wait, something's odd here. Mana, yes, the soil seems to be able to block Mana.

Grenci put down the soil and wiped his hands clean. He then took out his wand and pointed it towards the soil on the ground.

"Fireball!" he chanted.

Just as the fireball struck the soil, Grenci could sense that its spell structure was disrupted. Even though he'd strengthened his control over the fireball, it still exploded earlier than he wanted it to.

Bang!

It wasn't a big explosion, and the fire elements simply sizzled away and disappeared. But what took Grenci by surprise was the fact that there were no signs of an explosion on the ground at all, not even a small dent. It seemed as if the soil was completely unaffected by Grenci's fireball.

"It's high-quality anti-magic soil!" exclaimed Grenci.

Now he understood why the Plowing Magic Puppet had broken down. As it plowed into the ground, the soil had interfered with the Mana and spell structure in the magic puppet's main body. It was fine for a while, but as the interference wore on, more and more anomalies accumulated in the magic puppet's body, leading to its eventual breakdown.

Although the specific properties of this soil had yet to be carefully tested, Grenci still couldn't help but sigh at the big field of at least 30 acres that had been plowed by the magic puppet.

Looks like the whole piece of land was made up of this soil, he thought. Link won't have to worry about having enough gold coins to build his estate anymore!

There were many uses for the anti-magic soil. It could be used to construct sturdy city walls, make magic puppets, build Mage Towers and so on. From now on, all Link had to do was sell the soil and he'd be able to make a big fortune for himself. This way he'd be able to complete the construction of his estate in no time at all.

Could it be God's plan?" Grenci wondered. He felt that Link's luck had just been too miraculous.

Having figured out the reasons for its breakdown, Grenci could then easily repair the magic puppet. It only took a few simple steps as well. He only needed to wipe away the anti-magic soil on the magic puppet's crucial Mana points, then add a protective cover on top of it and repair any damaged magic runes. In less than 20 minutes the giant magic puppet could then restart its work without a hitch.

"Ero, bring some of this soil back to the camp," he instructed one of his assistants, "and report this incidence to Master Link."

"Yes, Master Grenci."

An hour later, the Magician reached Scorched Ridge with the soil. Within five minutes, this greenish black soil was placed on Link's table in his study.

"Master Link," said Ero with notable excitement in his voice, "Master Grenci had told me that it possessed superior anti-magic properties." He couldn't help but get excited by this discovery as he'd seen with his own eyes how the magic puppet had turned up this soil in the whole vast field.

Link merely looked at the soil, and there was no change in his expressions at all. It wasn't that the soil wasn't good enough for him, only that he'd expected this discovery. He took the soil sample and pretended to examine it closely. Then, he smiled and gave Ero a nod.

"This is good news indeed," he said. "At least we won't have to purchase anti-magic bricks from other people to build the Mage Tower now."

"I'm afraid you'll have much more than you need for the Mage Tower, Master Link," said Ero. He greatly admired Link's calm demeanor, and he knew that he wouldn't be able to keep his cool if he was Link. Even though Ero hadn't much to do with this anti-magic soil, he was still thrilled by its discovery as he felt that he'd just witnessed a historic moment!

Yes, with a field of this soil, Master Link could even build a magnificent city here on his estate!

Link merely nodded, then he turned to his clerk Joshua.

"Tell Carrido I'd like to see him," he instructed.

Carrido was his magic officer, and although his actual level wasn't high, Link trusted his abilities. He knew that whatever he handed to him would be settled without a problem. Currently, Carrido had become an important helper of his like Lucy and the other mercenaries. As long as the matter was related to magic, Link would always entrust it to Carrido without any hesitation.

Soon afterwards, Carrido arrived.

"My lord, what happened?" he asked.

Link pointed at the soil sample on the table and smiled.

"That giant magic puppet dug that precious thing out of the ground," he told Carrido. "Come and look at it. It's anti-magic soil."

Carrido's face immediately brightened up. All this time, he'd been working for Link and had seen and learned many things in a short span of time. He knew full well how valuable this type of soil was.

Carrido stepped forward and examined the soil carefully.

"My lord, this is an excellent high-quality anti-magic soil," he said. "It is of very high purity. We can sell it as it is for ten gold coins per ton, or we could turn it into higher-value products and sell them at 50 gold coins per ton or more. Where was it found, my lord? I'd like to go there and take a look."

It seemed that Carrido had taken the affairs of the Ferde Wilderness as his own affairs now. Although he was still learning magic, his priorities had slightly shifted now. He found that as a magic officer, there was no need for him to have the deepest knowledge in magic. What he needed to pay more attention to was to properly carry out Link's affairs and business.

Carrido was highly optimistic about Link's future, so he was sure that as long as he carried out his duties as Link's magic officer well, his own future would be bright as well.

"He knows the exact location," said Link, pointing at Ero. "Follow him."

"Let's go, then!" said Ero enthusiastically.

Once he'd seen Carrido, an idea popped up in Ero's mind.

Maybe this anti-magic soil is my chance to shine as well, he thought.

Ero's talents could only be regarded as slightly above average. He'd turned thirty this year but was still only a Level-2 Magician. In the future, he estimated that he'd only rise up at most to Level-4, so why should he waste away in the academy? Why couldn't he come out and have a better future working with the genius Magician Link instead?

With this idea in mind, Ero eagerly took Carrido to the location where they discovered the anti-magic soil. Along the way, he kept asking questions about Carrido's roles in Link's estate.

Corrido was no fool; he knew instantly from Ero's attitude that the Magician had the idea of coming to work with Lord Link in his mind. Although he didn't mind that, he also felt slightly threatened by this.

I guess I can't neglect my studies in magic now! Carrido realized. Sooner or later there will be more and more Magicians coming here looking to work for Lord Link. If I don't upgrade my skills, then soon enough I'll be squeezed out of the core position in Lord Link's workforce. Then I'd be in trouble!

With this thought in mind, Carrido suddenly turned to another direction and headed towards Jacker's camp.

"Hey, you're going the wrong way!" said Ero, slightly confused by Carrido's actions.

"I know," replied Carrido with a smile. "But I think Lord Link would want to know the specific volume of the soil, so I should go find some mercenaries to help us make the right estimates."

Ero was impressed with Carrido's shrewdness.

His magic skills are at a lower level than mine, Ero thought. But he seems to be much more efficient and practical than I am. I have much to learn from him.

"Wait for me!" shouted Ero as he quickened his footsteps and tried to catch up to Carrido.

With these thoughts in their minds, the two people naturally worked in a more motivated state and thus got the job done much quicker too.

Seven hours later, a preliminary report about the anti-magic soil was placed on Link's desk.

"My lord," said Carrido, visibly excited, "according to our preliminary estimates, the field that contained the anti-magic soil has an area of about 2000 acres and an average depth of more than a hundred feet. We weren't able to reach the deepest limits where the soil could be found, but it is definitely more than 200 feet. The most conservative estimate of the anti-magic soil's total weight was about 70 million tons or so."

Seventy million tons wasn't a bad figure at all. If the news of this discovery spread out through the kingdom, the price of anti-magic soil would probably nosedive and would probably be sold at the same price as cabbages.

But still, even if the price dropped to a few silver coins per ton, Link would still be able to earn quite a fortune from the anti-magic soil.

Viewed from an individual's point of view, these numbers might seem large and impressive, but Link's main goal was to build a magic capital where all things related to magic would be focused here. In that case, he would still need a lot more gold coins.

"In that case," said Link, "work together with Lucy and set up an exploratory team." He decided to dig the soil and just sell it as it was. Right now, he still had about 70,000 gold coins left, but the construction on his estate was going on at a rapid pace, and his gold coins were used up at an alarming rate. He must now find a stable source of income as soon as possible.

"Yes, my lord!" answered Carrido. "I'll see to it immediately!" He then promptly rushed out of the room and went to work straight away.

Link leaned back in his chair. He wasn't thinking about the soil at all but was instead ruminating about the magnetic island he found in the sea.

The gyromagnetic iron would make a good source of income as well, thought Link. Unfortunately, the island isn't in my estate's territory. Once I've settled everything here, I must establish a navy troop and colonize the island!

It wouldn't hurt to earn more gold coins, anyway.