Gildern was pretty smart and could vaguely understand Link's motive. He admired how Link managed to make this decision. He could feel that they were no longer the small mercenary troop they were in the past. They were now in charge of developing a territory with great prospects. Their decisions might determine the fate of thousands of people. This meant that they had to handle everything that happened in the territory more cautiously as compared to before.
Recollecting Link's handling of the situation, he felt extremely inspired. He hence ran to execute it immediately.
After Link reached the parliament hall on the second floor, the core members Jacker, Lucy, Gildern, Carrido, and Celine arrived within 15 minutes.
Amongst the five of them, four had followed Link very early in his journey. Celine was the only one that joined recently. Although she did not show any capabilities in terms of combat power, she seemed to be extremely smart and was on good terms with Lucy. Celine would often give Lucy inspiring advice and solved many problems regarding the territory. She had proved herself to be a capable person.
"Please take a seat."
Link nodded to the five of them to acknowledge their presence. When he saw Celine, he felt a warm fuzzy feeling in his heart and smiled.
Link immediately went straight to the point and said, "I will have to leave the territory for a while. Before I leave, there are some things that I have to arrange."
Everyone listened carefully.
"Firstly, I have already seen the refugees. Most of them are ordinary people. However, to be able to get past the Black River and travel all the way here is a testament to their adventurous spirit and courage. If we manage them well, they will definitely prove themselves to be excellent citizens."
Link had no reason not to take these refugees in.
Upon hearing this, Lucy said, "I'm afraid we might encounter some problems with the Kingdom of Delonga. They are essentially still citizens of that kingdom. If they request that we hand them over, we have no reason to refuse."
This was truly an issue. Although the Ferde Wilderness could simply give an outright rejection, they would still have to trade with the Delonga Kingdom in the future. It was not cost-effective to make that move. The mercenary band had grown over this period. They all now understood the dangers without anyone specifically voicing them out. However, their experience of dealing with these issues was still limited. Jacker, Gildern, and Carrido all frowned at the thought.
Celine then interrupted, "I have an idea."
Link smiled as he said, "Please continue."
Celine said, "Please think. The Kingdom of Delonga has suffered a defeat in the war. They might even have to pay reparations to the South Moon Kingdom in the future and will definitely be in financial crisis. If the Kingdom of Delonga truly wants to claim their citizens back, we can simply purchase them using gold coins. They should be very happy with this trade."
The relationship between two nations boiled down simply to interests. As long as their interests aligned, anything was possible.
The Ferde Wilderness would never run out of gold coins after all.
Lucy thought for a moment and commended, "That is a good idea. There is no problem then."
Link also nodded. He then continued, "The Syndicate in the North is running rampant trying to spread their sinister doctrines. They will probably try to infiltrate our territory. Jacker, please make sure that the Syndicate does not extend its reach into our territory."
"I understand!" Jacker's voice was low and reassuring. As the military commander of the territory, he had been practicing even harder to meet that expectation. He had already reached Level-4 and was about to breakthrough to Level-5, becoming the strongest Warrior in the entire territory. This was already a significant strength. However, as the one holding the highest military power in the entire territory, it was still lacking.
The limitations of Jacker's power lay in the Level-3 Secret Battle Aura Link taught him. It was merely a low-level Battle Aura skill, and Level-5 was probably the maximum anyone could go practicing that skill. It was preposterous to even think about reaching greater heights.
Previously, Link was also out of options. He could only find the Level-3 Secret Battle Aura in the game system. However, he now had seven Epic Battle Aura scrolls and many other ordinary ones with him. It was time to bring them out.
"That is all for the refugees' case. Now let's move on to the next issue."
As Link spoke, he brought out a scroll and gave it to Jacker. "Open it."
Jacker was slightly puzzled by Link's actions. After browsing through the scroll briefly, his eyes widened and immediately stood up, "My lord, this...this is way too valuable for me!"
Jacker had a natural affinity for the earth elements. Link hence gave him a scroll named the Ares Tactic, an earth elemental Epic Battle Aura stance that focused on defensive techniques. Jacker had already learned how to read. Although he could not understand the technique at a glance, he knew that it was a terribly strong Battle Aura the moment he saw the named Ares Tactic. He was extremely honored to be entrusted with such a piece of treasure.
Link merely smiled before giving Lucy a wind elemental Emperor Duel Battle Aura scroll and Gildern, a fire elemental Overlord Tactics Battle Aura scroll.
"This is only meant for the three of you. No spreading of the scroll without my permission," Link commanded.
"Yes, my lord!" The three of them answered immediately. A single scroll would be able to be passed off as a treasured heirloom in a strong, noble family. To think that Link could produce three of them at once. However, Link was still not done. He then took out over ten more ordinary Battle Aura scrolls and handed them to Gildern and Jacker.
"There will be more people coming to the territory in the future. We will have to increase the scale of our army and scouts inevitably. If you see any powerful and competent people, you can reward them with these Battle Aura scrolls. Those with exceptional talents can then be temporarily considered to read these Epic Battle Aura scrolls. You can pass the name list to me for the final deliberation."
Jacker was the captain of the army while Gildern was the captain of the scouts. Their eyes flashed with excitement upon hearing those words. With these Battle Aura techniques as a foundation, both of them believed that the strength of their army would increase exponentially.
They then started discussing some other superfluous things which took the rest of the day. The meeting ended in the evening.
Link had not gotten any rest in a long time. After dinner, he was prepared to have a good night's rest and set off to the North the next day. The moment he lay on his bed, he heard knocking on his door. The sound was light, almost as if they did not want to disturb anyone else. From the magic fluctuations, Link could tell that the person behind that door was Celine. He opened the door with his Magician's Hand without any hesitation.
Celine then quickly entered the room and closed the door behind her. Seeing Link lying in bed in just his pajamas, she felt slightly embarrassed. She got these thoughts out of her head before asking, "Are you seriously going to the North?"
Link was speechless. He felt that King Leon was not doing a good job keeping his mission a secret. How else would everyone around him know what he was going to do?
"Who did you hear this from? That's not true..." Link denied.
"I gave Dorias a roasted lamb leg, and he told me everything," Celine silenced Link in just one sentence.
"What a gluttonous overweight cat." Link smiled bitterly. He was, however, certain that Dorias only gave in because the other party was Celine. If it had been anyone else, he would have stayed silent even if they had brought him 100 roasted cows.
Celine said, "Let me accompany you."
Link immediately shook his head. "No, that is a terrible idea. You cannot be exposed, especially in the North. If that happens, the Norton Kingdom army and the Dark Elves will both become your enemies."
Celine rebutted, "But have you ever thought what would happen if I stayed here? My father might send ferocious demons to your territory and cause a disaster."
Link fell silent immediately and frowned. This was indeed a problem that he had neglected. Although sending a large army of demons to Firuman required a huge amount of resources, Celine had a special type of bloodline which till this date, no one knew the value of. What if it was indeed so valuable that Nozama would risk anything to get his hands on it?
Seeing Link's reaction, Celine grabbed his hand and pleaded, "Don't worry bout me. I will just follow you around and hide in the shadows. I'll only appear if you are in danger. What do you think?"
Link still did not reply. Although having Celine with him always put him at ease and allowed him to reach his maximum potential, this mission was way too dangerous. However, if he were not at Celine's side, she would similarly be in danger from her father's pursuit.
As he was at his wit's end, a voice rang in his mind, "What a strange little girl."
This voice came from the sword spirit who claimed that he was too lazy to talk to Link and would enter a state of slumber. Link naturally was not petty enough to care about such things. The moment he heard this, he then remembered Vance's evaluation of Celine's blood. He then asked in excitement, "What do you mean?"
"She reminds me of a man named the Soul Dominator. She has a very similar aura and might be a descendant of that powerful man...I cannot be sure unless I taste her blood."
Link was also very curious about the mystery of Celine's blood. He then thought of an idea and took over the Storm Lord's sword he had placed on his bedside, asking, "Celine, what do you think of this sword?"
Celine thought Link was hesitating as he fell silent after her proposition. She was taken aback by the sudden change of topic. Nonetheless, she still took the sword over and brandished it slightly before handing it back to Link, "Not too bad. Don't try to change the topic; you have not agreed to take me with you."
Link smiled awkwardly and continued, "This sword is not only beautiful, but also very sharp. Look at its blade."
"How is that possible, this blade is obviously blunt." Celine's attention was once again brought to the sword by Link. She took the Storm Lord's sword over and ran her fingers gently over the blade. It was rounded and definitely blunt. To be honest, she had been wondering why Link carried it around with him everywhere he went.
Suddenly, she felt a sharp pain in her fingers and pulled her hand back. She then looked at the supposedly blunt blade and saw a drop of her blood on it.
"That is odd; it is indeed sharp." Celine was now completely absorbed by the sword. She observed it with interest and stopped pressing Link on the matter about him going to the North.
In this period, Link patiently waited for an answer.
Half a minute later, the sword spirit said, "I was right. She is a descendant of that man, a direct descendant at that. There can be no other reason how her bloodline could be this strong."
Link's curiosity was piqued, "What kind of person is the Soul Dominator exactly?"
"He belonged to neither the light or the dark side. Amongst the Legendary professionals, he had the deepest understanding of the principles of the soul. He could even create a soul directly and also destroy them with ease. My master and the Soul Dominator were good friends. In fact, I owe it to him that I can be speaking to you right now...I kind of owe him a favor."
The sword spirit spoke with nostalgia. He then fell silent before continuing, "This young girl also has dark energy mixed into her blood. This is terrible, simply a blasphemy against the Soul Dominator. I won't allow this to happen; I am going to dispel it to return the favor."
Can you do it? You won't injure her right? Link was not convinced.
"Hmph! You ignorant mortal!"
As soon as he spoke, the Storm Lord's sword in Celine's hand started glowing in a white light. The light was dim and entered Celine's body through her arms. Following which, Celine fainted immediately.
Link hurriedly went over and laid her on the bed.
Furthermore, after Celine fainted, the Storm Lord's sword levitated into the air and pierced right through Celine's heart with a swoosh. Streaks of lightning then enveloped the sword and continuously poured into Celine's heart.
Link looked at the entire scene with horror. If not for the fact that Celine was still breathing and no visible wounds or even blood could be seen, he would have absolutely destroyed the sword.
In order to prevent any magic fluctuations from leaking, Link cast a concealing barrier spell over the wooden house. The situation in the wooden house then became more intense than ever.
Dark energy poured out constantly from Celine's heart. However, the moment it appeared, it would be instantly dispelled by the streaks of light around the sword. At first, the dark energy was extremely concentrated and strong, but as time passed, this energy grew weaker until the last trace of dark energy disappeared.
At that moment, the Storm Lord's sword removed itself from Celine's chest. Link ran over and was surprised to see no visible signs of damage, not even on her clothes. It was as though the Storm Lord's attack was a phantom blow that passed through matter.
A weak voice then rang in Link's mind, "The dark energy is extremely strong. I am certain that it is from some strong demon. If this young girl had already attained Legendary status, there would have been no hope. However, it was still within my power to dispel the dark energy within her as of now. I have dispelled most of the dark energy and have also sealed the remaining. Now, no one can ever trace her from her bloodline.
"What about her powers?" Link asked.
"Power? You mean that measly bit of power? I naturally dispelled it together with the dark energy. But this is only temporary. Without the oppression of the dark energy, the power she inherited from the Soul Dominator will start to awaken."
Link then stared at Celine and realized that she had begun to undergo physical changes. Her hair color had turned from pure black to a deep purple while her skin had become crystal clear with a white glow. The faint evil presence emanating from her previously had also completely disappeared.
Link then carefully opened Celine's eyelids and realized that her irises had also turned a deep purple. Even Celine's trademark the little demon fangs under her lips had also disappeared.
Celine started breathing faster, and before long, she was awake.
"What happened?" Celine sat up with her hand on her forehead as she gasped. She was still slightly confused at first, but upon realizing that she was lying on Link's bed, her cheeks immediately flushed, and she got up in a hurry.
"You passed out and then..."
"Do not mention anything about me!" The sword reminded.
"And I sealed the dark energy in your body. You are now an ordinary human." Link thought of an excuse on the spot.
Celine could feel the changes in her body as well. The surging dark energy within her had completely disappeared. She had mixed feelings at the beginning, happy that she had finally gotten rid of her detestable dark past, but also disappointed that the power she worked so hard to build up was now gone.
Link comforted, "Without the bloodline of the dark energy, the demons will not be able to find you. This means that you are now safe in the territory. As for the North, you don't have to go now, do you?"
"You...Oh, how infuriating!" Celine did not know how to react and stamped her feet all the way out of the room.
"I'll be going back!"
Link did not ask her to stay and watched as she disappeared into the hallway. He then thought for a moment and was still worried about leaving Celine alone in the territory. He then went to look for Dorias.
"What, you are not letting me go to the North? I'd be happy not to!" the tiger exclaimed. "Protect Celine? Oh, rest assured that no harm will come to her!"
Link then went back to rest feeling satisfied.
The next morning, Link bade farewell to everyone in the territory and summoned the Wind Fenrir in front of the on looking crowd before riding his way to the North. This suave action caused the new immigrants and refugees to look on with admiration and respect.
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