It was impossible to hide the news that a giant mine of anti-magic soil was found in the Ferde Wilderness. It was as though a giant boulder was thrown into a small pond. The ripples would quickly spread in all directions.
For an ordinary lord-to have chanced upon a goldmine like this would definitely make them go slightly insane and drunk with happiness.
However, Link was an exception.
In his eyes, these gold coins were merely tools for the construction of his capital of magic. His final goal was to accumulate a strength powerful enough to turn the tide of any battle around. The day the anti-magic soil was discovered, Link calmly analyzed the situation and decisively mounted Dorias and headed directly to Hot Springs City, the capital of the Norton Kingdom.
The benefits from the anti-magic soil were far too great. If he chose to hoard all the benefits, he might be in trouble and end up not getting any.
For starters, King Leon would definitely demand a portion of the economic benefits. This was due to the war the kingdom was in against the Dark Elves. The war expenses had reached an all-time high, and the kingdom had never been so in need of money. If Link decided to resist this demand, his future as a Magician might be jeopardized.
Furthermore, if optimistically he could really hoard all the economic benefits for himself, his reputation would also suffer a huge blow. He would be branded as a cheapskate or a Scrooge.
How would he gain more followers then?
After some consideration, Link decided to take the initiative and head to the capital before the news spread.
As Dorias was a magical beast, he naturally could not enter the capital.
Link made Dorias stop in the Girvent Forest right outside the capital and said, "Linger around here for these next few days. Don't go too far away though. I might need to be here for a few days."
"No problem," Dorias said, and he was in fact, elated. From his knowledge, there were also creatures of the tiger species in the Girvent Forest. Although they did not belong to the family of Wind Tigers, Dorias could not care less. He then hopped away ecstatically.
Link then walked into Hot Springs City after donning a robe. Upon reaching the entrance, Link saw an eye-catching conscription notice attached to the bulletin board. A large group of onlookers was attracted to this news board as well. From their accent, one could tell that they came from other provinces.
Link decided to stop and listen to what they had to say.
"I heard that the kingdom had won many wars and many civilians have been given the title of a knight."
"I've heard similar things. A man in the neighboring village rode into his hometown on a large horse while wearing shiny battle armor. He looked amazing!"
"The king is really generous. Two gold coins for a basic salary every month while killing a Dark Elf would garner you five gold coins right away!"
After ten minutes, Link felt shaken by the common conception amongst the civilians. He realized that only the superficial and good news were being conveyed to the civilians, carefully packaged to seem alluring and enticing. Link heard no discussion on the fact that 20000 people died in the war as well as rumors of a stalemate.
The kingdom had also used gold coins as their main tactic to attract men into the army. Two gold coins per month would mean 24 gold coins per year. There were at least 100000 soldiers in the kingdom's army. This meant that the kingdom needed 200000 gold coins per month just to pay off their military expenses. Link had not even considered food, equipment, and compensation, all of which required a great amount of money as well.
Link then walked into the city and was horrified to hear even more misleading news.
"Have you heard? Those Dark Elf bastards dared to resist us! They are simply courting death!"
"Relax! We will definitely secure victory. Just like before, the Dark Elves are merely struggling till their deathbeds."
"Oh, have you heard? There will be some Dark Elves slaves arriving in the next few days. I've heard that the Dark Elven ladies have skin as pure and white as jade. Hehe."
"Have you heard..."
The rumors all had one similarity-they were simply too optimistic. The citizens had not considered the possibility of failure. Link could finally understand Eliard's woes. Eliard's concerns were extremely accurate-the entire kingdom had fallen into a state of frenzied optimism. Link could see the kingdom as a speeding chariot on the road to nowhere, possibly even a dead end.
This scene was extremely shocking. When he reached the gate of the palace, he felt an unexpected chill on his back. He tapped it lightly with his hand and realized he had been breaking out in a cold sweat. This was not due to his fear, but due to his awareness. He had been too aware and could clearly see where the kingdom was heading towards.
Link walked forward in a trance and suddenly heard the sounds of clanging metal. The guards at the gate had blocked his path with their weapons.
"This is forbidden grounds to unauthorized personnel!" The guards frowned at Link.
Link pulled down his hood and allowed the Flame Controller Robe to emit a crimson red hue before speaking. "I am Magician Link. I request an audience with the king."
Link's expression was way too terrifying, and his name was even more so. The guards immediately bowed with respect and said, "Sir, please wait for a moment. I will report your arrival immediately."
They then ran at full speed into the palace.
Ten minutes later, the guard returned with a Kingsguard Knight following behind. The moment Link's face came into view, he was also taken by surprise and bowed, "I am Olaf, in charge of the Kingsguard Knight. Sir, please come with me. The king is waiting."
Link's achievements were made known to the entire higher echelons of the kingdom's security forces. News of a Level-9 Magician would strike fear into anyone's heart, much less the presence of one. Link simply nodded and followed Olaf deeper into the palace.
Link had walked through this path before. He followed the familiar path forward and quickly arrived at the parliament hall. There were two people in the hall. One of them was King Leon, while the other was Kingdom Magician Grinth.
In just a few months, Link felt that King Leon had gained many strands of white hair. His forehead seemed to have a permanent crease over it as well, exuding a lethargic demeanor. While Grinth looked slightly better, he was also not in good shape.
"It seems like the war in the North is going even worse than what Eliard had imagined.
Link interrupted their thoughts. "My King, Master Grinth," Link said as he walked up and gave a slight bow. As they were both Master Magicians, he did not need to give a full formal greeting.
King Leon and Grinth bowed in return. Leon then signaled to the servant at his side. With a wave of his fingers, the servant immediately took a chair and placed it behind Link.
After Link sat down, King Leon finally smiled and asked, "Master Link, I've heard that you have been busy with the development of your territory. What brings a busy person like you here today?"
Link smiled in return, "It is precisely because of my territory that I'm here."
King Leon then frowned. "What happened to the territory? Do you need more funds?"
In the past, King Leon would have been absolutely willing to support Link. However, now that the war in the North was not going well, the finances of the kingdom were in bad shape. He did not have any spare money to aid Link in his quest.
In fact, he was troubled over the military expenses for the next month.
Link could detect the minor changes in King Leon's expression. He was not at all surprised at his concerns. A war required a great deal of funding. The war in the North had already lasted for six months. Despite the kingdom's vast reserves, six months of continuous spending would more or less empty out all the finances.
Link then took out a sample of the anti-magic soil from his dimensional pendant and passed it to the servant. He said, "Sir, this is anti-magic soil that I discovered in my territory. From the looks of it, we have it in large reserves."
"What?" King Leon was suddenly jolted out of his fatigue. "What did you say? You found anti-magic soil in your territory? A huge reserve of it as well?"
At that moment, the servant brought the sample to King Leon. He merely gave it a few glances before handing it over the Grinth.
Grinth carefully observed the soil and confirmed, "Sir, this is high-quality anti-magic soil. Such a product can probably sell for ten gold coins per ton on the market right now."
King Leon's eyes glowed at those words. He looked at Link and hastily inquired, "Master Link, you mentioned a great reserve?"
"Yes, probably around 70 million tons," Link replied.
King Leon and Grinth both gasped at this number. If this anti-magic soil could be sold for ten gold coins per ton, 70 million tons was a terrifying amount. Although the revenue from this product could not be calculated simply like that, it would definitely still be a substantial amount.
However, another problem followed. The Ferde Wilderness belonged to Link. As it was Link's territory, anything that was discovered on that land would naturally belong to him as well. The kingdom would have no say in the issue.
King Leon immediately regretted giving the entire Ferde Wilderness away back then. If he had known, he would have kept that gold mine for himself. But now that it had come to this, it was useless to dwell on it any further.
Grinth was in a better state of mind and asked, "Master Link, so the aim of your visit is...?"
Link then took out a document that he prepared and handed it to King Leon using the Magician's Hand as he said, "Sir, this is a huge piece of revenue. I know that the kingdom now requires a huge amount of wealth for the war. This is a transfer agreement. I am willing to transfer 60% of all proceeds from the sale of this anti-magic soil to the kingdom as a form of support."
If this were during peacetime, Link would probably only transfer 20% or even none at all. If it were an ordinary war, Link would transfer 40% of all proceeds. However, as he had knowledge of the future, he knew that this was a war between the light and dark forces where the human race might even face extinction. Therefore, Link decided to transfer 60% of all proceeds to support the war in the North, hoping that they could at least hold out for a while longer.
King Leon was pleasantly shocked. Ecstasy flashed through his eyes followed by an expression of disbelief. Why would anyone in this world hand over such great wealth willingly? Sixty percent would mean that out of the 70 million tons of anti-magic soil, 40 million would belong to the kingdom. With this money, his problems with the military expenses would be settled.
Although Link had already brought the documents with his Duke's stamp on it, Leon was still in disbelief. He said, "Master, isn't this...a bit too much?"
Even if Link were to keep this a secret, the moment Leon knew of this gold mine, he would still use various means such as taxation to reap economic benefits off Link. However, now that Link was so willing to part with his wealth, King Leon felt embarrassed by his generosity.
Being offered money and getting it through sinister means were two completely different approaches after all.
Furthermore, Link had generously transferred 60% of the proceedings. He had originally only expected 40% as it was, after all, Link's territory.
Link spoke in a serious tone, "Sir, from the incident at Gladstone, I have come to realize that human lives are worth less than weeds to the Dark Elves. The war in the North holds the fate of the human race. It cannot fail. My power is limited, and I cannot give much practical help. Now that I have discovered this anti-magic soil, I naturally want to help."
Those were Link's heartfelt words. He also needed a stable environment for the development of his territory. Hence, spending some money to ensure stability and peace was actually part of his plan. They complemented each other perfectly.
King Leon was extremely grateful!
If someone merely gave slight aid to the kingdom, Leon would be happy, though he would not remember this incident for life. However, Link's offer was a timely rescue package in the midst of a financial crisis. The kingdom recently suffered a defeat in the North, and the situation was at the worst since the war.
With this huge amount of money, he could now purchase supplies from the northern countries and seek assistance from Dawn Island. He could even recruit soldiers from other races to join his army.
All in all, with such a large sum of money, his confidence in the war was restored!
King Leon stood up from his throne and felt his eyes getting moist. It had been years since he felt this way. He muttered, "Master Link, the kingdom...I am..."
He choked on his words and seemed to be unable to continue.
Link could tell how King Leon felt and immediately interrupted, "Sir, the document would be my vouch. The first proceeds will soon arrive. I have other things to take care of and shall take my leave now. Please excuse me."
Link then got up to leave without waiting for Leon's reply.
As Link was about to leave the parliament hall, Leon suddenly shouted, "Master Link, wait!"
"Anything else?" Link asked.
King Leon exchanged glances with Grinth. After Grinth nodded, Leon said, "There have been some surprises in the North. I think you need to know this."
"Oh?" Link raised his eyebrows. He knew that his generous move had paved the way for his entrance into the core layer of the Norton Kingdom.
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