217 We Can’t Afford to Lose You!

 A few months had gone past since Link last met the Dean Anthony. His hair had gone much grayer, and that natural charisma and dignity of his had clearly been somewhat weathered as well. Even his back was slightly bent now, revealing his old age as it never used to.

Obviously, the terrible war in the North had not only plagued the minds of King Leon and Grinth alone-even the dean of East Cove Academy had now sunk into deep melancholy because of it.

Because he walked with the aid of magical prosthetics, Anthony moved very slowly.

"I heard you're going north," said Anthony.

Link wasn't surprised that the dean would know this. He was an important figure in the kingdom, while Link had been a student of the East Cove Academy. Naturally, Anthony had the right to know of his decision to go north.

Anthony walked up to Link and was about to say something when he was suddenly distracted by the wand in Link's hand.

"What is that?" he asked.

"It's my new wand," answered Link. "I call it the Burning Wraths of the Heavens." He then handed over the wand for the old dean to inspect.

Anthony carefully took the wand into both of his hands and examined it very closely. After ten long minutes, he gently stroked the wand and turned back to Link.

"This has to be the most powerful wand to be created in the last hundred years," he said softly, full of awe. "The Burning Wraths of the Heavens-what an apt name!"

He then paused in silence for a few seconds before continuing.

"May I have the honor to add a suffix to its name?" asked the dean.

In normal circumstances, it would be an honor to the student if the dean bestowed a name to their wand. But now, the tables had turned. Anthony felt that it would be a great honor for him if he were allowed to name a wand so powerful from such an outstandingly talented student.

To Link, though, a name was just a name. This wasn't the first epic-quality wand he'd created, and it wouldn't be the last either. What the dean asked for was but a small request to him.

"Dean Anthony," he said, pointing to the smooth surface of the wand, "you can engrave the name of the wand right here."

Anthony was instantly glad to hear it. He thought silently for a while before activating the Higgs field and carefully carving elegant runic characters on the wand. There were 13 runes in total, and the full name of the wand was "The Burning Wraths of the Heavens, Scepter of the Flame Controller."

Once the dean was done, Link looked at the wand again through the gaming system. He then noticed that the wand's name had now changed to "The Burning Wraths of the Heavens, Scepter of the Flame Controller."

Link thought the name sounded portentous enough. He liked it very much.

"I heard you're going north," said Anthony again after returning the wand to Link. "I'd planned to give you my wand to use on the battlefield, but now it seems that it would be unnecessary. Burning Wraths is a much better weapon for you."

There were powerful wands, and there were weak wands, but the best wand for a Magician wasn't necessarily the most powerful one. What was most important was that the wand suited the spellcaster's individual strength. For instance, if Link were given a wand that specialized in secret spells, then it would be useless no matter how well-made it was.

"But I have something else for you," continued the dean with a smile. "Here, it's a vial of medicinal potion."

As he spoke, Anthony slipped out a clear vial that was glowing red. Through the crystal surface, Link could see that the vial contained a similarly red potion inside it. What was more peculiar was how the potion seemed to exert a mysterious kind of pressure on Link as soon as the dean took it out.

"What is it?" asked Link. This time, it was his turn to be surprised. He did, in fact, know what kind of potion it was, but he just couldn't believe that the dean would be so generous to him.

"This is an epic-quality potion called the Red Dragon Queen's Blessing," said the dean. "The previous dean, Level-9 Master Magician Ambron once saved the whole race of the Red Dragons more than 400 years ago. This potion was the gift the Red Dragon Queen bestowed upon him. There were three vials of this potion in total. 230 years ago, the Necromancer Andrew had launched an army of the undead to attack the Realm of Light, so one vial was used then. 156 years ago, the dragon, Aloz from the North went on a rampage, so the second vial was used up. Now there's only one bottle left, and you should use it to protect yourself in the North."

As the dean explained, a notification appeared on the interface.

Red Dragon Queen's Blessing

Quality: Epic

Effects: After drinking this potion, the drinker will possess the essence of the Red Dragon and enter the Red Dragon Magician state for ten minutes.

Red Dragon Magician State: Instant spellcasting for all elemental spells of Level-7 and below. 500% increase in power of all elemental spells below Level-9.

Side Effects: Once the Red Dragon Magician State ends, the drinker of this potion will experience an elemental rejection state where the Magician will not be able to cast any elemental spells. This effect will last for a year.

(Note: Have a taste of the dragon's power when you drink the potion!)

These effects...This potion was simply like a cheat code in games!

However, the side-effect of this potion was a bit harsh as well. For a Magician who specialized in fire-elemental spells like Link, not being able to use elemental spells for a year would mean that he would be completely powerless and vulnerable for a whole year.

But it would still be worth it though. Because, in that ten minutes when the potion took effect, it would be possible for a single Magician to completely reverse the power balance in a war and change a near defeat into a victory!

In the face of such a powerful potion, Link felt slightly hesitant to receive it.

"But Dean Anthony," he protested, "this potion is too powerful for a Level-6 Magician like me. I'm afraid that I'll only be wasting its immense potential."

"No, you won't waste it at all," said Anthony, shoving the vial of potion into Link's hand. "Take it first, then listen to me."

Link had no other choice but to take the potion with both of his hands at the dean's insistence. He could feel a burst of numb sensations in his palm as he held the vial. That was a testament to the potion's incredible power.

"This potion has been stored in the Alchemist Tower all these years," the dean explained. "The release of Tarviss had happened so unexpectedly that I didn't have the time to take it. But now when I think about it, drinking this potion wouldn't have been enough for me to defeat Tarviss anyway."

Once he got to this point, he turned to look straight into Link's eyes, and his tone turned graver as it had never been before.

"You saved the East Cove Magic Academy, Link," said the dean. "You are qualified to use this potion. You'll be encountering great dangers when you're in the North. What I mean to say is this-any Warriors can die, even the elite ones. As a matter of fact, it wouldn't matter much if the Dawn Swordsman Karnose died in battle. But you must live, Link! We cannot afford to lose you! You are Bryant's true successor who will decide the fate of humanity. The kingdom needs your strength now, so I can't stop you from going north, but I can still do my best to give you more power."

Finally, the old dean patted Link's shoulder.

"You are the pride of East Cove Academy, Link," he said. "You must live!"

Link didn't know how to respond to this, so he merely nodded.

"I will do my best," he said briefly.

"I believe in you," said the dean. He was about to reach out his hand to stroke Link's head but changed his mind suddenly as he thought it might not be appropriate. So the dean just turned around and left.

Because the magical prosthetics weren't very flexible, the dean walked very slowly and quite awkwardly. Link watched the dean's back as he slowly walked away from him and he gripped the vial of potion in his hand tightly.

This was the real world now, not just a game. These responsibilities on his shoulders were very real too, and they felt immensely heavy.

After standing in the hallway for a long while, Link kept the potion in his storage pendant and walked out of the Miracle Garden. He then saw someone waiting for him in an East Cove Academy carriage outside the garden. When he approached the carriage, a woman climbed out of it-it was Herrera.

The Light Angel looked weak and as pale as a sheet as she approached Link.

"I hear you're going north," she said. "This is for you."

Link took it and discovered that it was a rune stone. The rune stone's surface glowed in a milky white light while pronounced Mana waves lingered in the air around it. This made Link's hair stand on end. He knew that the rune stone contained a terrifying amount of power in it.

"If...if you get caught in danger and are unable to escape," whispered Herrera in Link's ear, "activate this stone, and you'll find an endless amount of light energy in there."

Link could clearly feel Herrera's weakness from that distance. He knew that she must've paid a great price in order to get him this rune stone.

"I understand," said Link simply with a nod of his head.

Herrera said nothing more. She just waved her hand at Link and walked back to the carriage. Link could see that Dean Anthony was sitting in the same carriage too. It seemed that they'd both heard the news of him going north and came together.

The carriage soon drove away from the palace. Link's eyes followed it all the way until it went out of his view.

Then, Grinth walked up to Link from inside the palace.

"It's been five days now, Master Link," he said. "Is there anything else that you need to prepare?"

"I must go back to my estate," said Link, quickly regaining his senses. "I'll have to make some arrangements there. I'll head up north straight away in two days and meet up with the Dawn Swordsman there."

"I see," said Grinth with a nod. He then gave Link a formal Magician's bow and said, "May the Norton Kingdom's glory shine on forever!"

"May the Norton Kingdom's glory shine on forever!" answered Link.

Then, a royal carriage rode up beside Link. He climbed into it and left the royal palace.

An hour or so later, Link reached the outskirts of Springs City.

"Stop the carriage," he shouted to the coachman. "My mount is waiting for me here."

"Yes, Master Link," said the coachman reverently. He then promptly put the carriage to a halt.

Link got off and went straight into the Girvent Forest. He probably walked for about a mile before taking out his wand and pointing it to the sky and cast the Level-2 spell Wind Blade. Five minutes later, there was a sound of hurried footsteps. Soon after, Dorias appeared.

"Hey, what took you so long this time?" asked the tiger. On his face was a deep and contented smile.

Link almost laughed at the sight, as he knew what it meant.

"Did you find a tigress?" asked Link.

"I did," answered Dorias, "but I was just playing around. Those ladies were too boring for me."

"..." Link was speechless for a while. He then climbed onto the tiger's back and said, "You won't get cold feet once we return to Scorched Ridge, will you?"

"Are you kidding me?" said the tiger. "I, the mighty Dorias, never get cold feet and never-"

Before he finished his sentence, he tripped up on a mound of dirt in front of him. He almost toppled over but regained his balance just in time. Link quickly cast a floating spell on him which saved both of them from getting flung out into the distance.

"Oops, my bad! Hahaha..." said Dorias, slightly embarrassed. He then stopped boasting for the rest of the journey.

After running in the forest for about half an hour, Link suddenly sensed a strange aura from a particular direction.

"Let's head in that direction," he told Dorias. "It seems like there's a friend waiting for us there."

Dorias quickly turned a corner and ran in that direction for half a mile. They then reached a clearing in the middle of the forest, and there stood Eleanor clad in her black dress leaning against a tree trunk with both her hands clasped on her chest.

She took a glance at Dorias and was a little surprised, but her eyes quickly turned to Link, and she smiled warmly.

"I hear you're going to the North?" she asked.

"How did you know?" Link was astounded. He'd expected Anthony and Herrera to find out; but how did Eleanor get wind of this news?

"Have you forgotten that I'm a Magician specializing in secret spells?" replied Eleanor. "The wind in the forest, the currents of the stream, the songs of the bird, the souls of the dead...I hear all the stories they tell. Anyways, here, take this."

Eleanor threw a scroll at Link.

"It's a Dimensional Scroll," she said. "If you're in grave danger, open the scroll, and it will let you enter the World of Shadows. You must be careful when you use it to escape, though. There are nightmarish creatures in that world that you must watch out for."

This scroll might really come in handy. Link took the scroll and kept it in his storage pendant straight away.

"Thank you," he said.

"And now you owe me a magic gear," said Eleanor. "Create a storage pendant for me."

"No problem." Link snapped his fingers and gently patted Dorias' neck. He then picked up his speed and headed towards the Ferde Wilderness.

After running for a while, Dorias could no longer hold his tongue.

"Are you going to the North, Link?" he asked. "But the battlefield can be really dangerous!"

"I must go. I have no other choice," said Link.

Dorias fell into silence for a while.

"Then...I'll go with you," he finally said. "Don't expect me to join in the war, though. I'll only be there to take you away if you are in danger."

"That's good enough," said Link. Naturally, he wouldn't mind having another means to escape danger.

When he came to think of it, Link realized that he now had four great helpers. Now, he felt that even if he were specifically targeted by the Dark Elves, he'd probably still end up safe and sound.

Dorias was extremely fast. After little more than an hour, he'd covered the distance of about 150 miles. Link could now see the outlines of the Scorched Ridge terrains.

"Don't go back there yet," said Link suddenly. "Turn that way. I'm going to meet an old guy."

Although he now had many ways to protect his life, Link was still a bit uneasy. He still wanted to meet the thousand-year-old Lich Vance and ask for his suggestions.

He directed his Mana into the communication rune stone, and within ten seconds there was a response from the stone. Link sensed its message for a few seconds; then, he pointed his finger in the air.

"Turn that way," he told Dorias.