247 A Corruption Scheme

 The greatest drive for someone to attain more knowledge is their curiosity.

There was no distinction of good and bad in curiosity. However, magic was a different story altogether.

Without constraints, a Magician would venture further into the path of magic and eventually succumb to the immense knowledge, becoming merely a lifeless puppet of magic. That would already be the optimal result. More often than not, many Magicians would end up dabbling in dark magic out of curiosity and eventually becoming a degenerate slave of darkness.

There had been many of such examples in history. Blood Demon Talon, Morestern, Andrew and just recently, Wavier were all exceptional talents with a bright future that ended up on the wrong path.

This applied even to the Dark Elves. There had been many cases where talented young Magicians fell to the dark side, and so, when Milda saw this magic letter engraved in dark runes, she started looking at Link suspiciously. After Wavier of the South-would the magic genius of the Norton Kingdom be the next to succumb to the forbidden knowledge of dark magic?

This was Milda's first-day meeting Link, and she had no prior understanding of his personality. She instinctively doubted Link and found a serious problem with this magic letter.

She stared at Link coldly and said, "Link, I believe this needs some explanation."

Link frowned as well. He still had not rationalized the purpose of this letter, or even the identity of the person who had sent it. However, he had a clear conscience and he said, "Let's first enter the house and go to the second floor. I will open the letter on the spot to see what exactly is written."

The three High Elves exchanged glances as guarded expressions appeared on their faces. They started grabbing their wands tightly in their hands. Milda then said, "There is no need to. Here will do."

They looked ready to strike the moment they felt something was amiss.

One could not blame them for overreacting. After all, the incident regarding Wavier had already reached the ears of the High Elves.

Wavier had attacked his fellow Magicians and even his mentor in the heat of the moment and resulted in a tragedy. Link was at least ten times more dangerous than Wavier. If he went insane right on the spot, the situation would be even more disastrous than what happened in the South. They had to be prepared.

From Link's perspective, he would have agreed to open that letter on the spot if he were the only one present. However, many people were standing next to him. Joshua, the mercenaries and the residents of Scorched Ridge had all crowded around to join in the commotion.

A few Magicians clad in glamorous robes looking at each other under a tense atmosphere was bound to attract attention. Before long, there would be rumors spreading around.

It was extremely disadvantageous for Link for this incident to have happened on his territory.

Link was slightly enraged by Milda's actions. However, after seeing the determined expression on the High Elves' faces, he knew that getting angry would be for naught. The other part was a High Elf Princess, and she had two Level-7 Magicians as her bodyguards. She had personally attended to many crises and important events before. It would be difficult to change her mind once she had decided on something.

Going against such a strong-willed person would only make things worse.

I wonder who is plotting against me? To think that they would send me such a sinister thing!

Keeping his anger under control, Link took a step back and said, "As you wish."

He then prepared to open the letter.

At that moment, a voice sounded from his side, "Master Link, you have finally returned. We were expecting you."

Link looked behind him and saw Master Ferdinand and Master Grenci walking towards him.

As they came closer, Grenci glanced at the letter in Link's hand then looked at the guarded expressions on the High Elves' face before saying calmly, "It's just a magic letter. There is nothing too serious about it. Let's talk in the room."

As he spoke, he stretched his hand to take the letter from Link's hand and entered the house.

Ferdinand then followed as he patted Link gently on the shoulders. He then faced the three High Elves and said, "Young people, don't worry too much. It is merely a small affair. Let's go."

With the help of two experienced Master Magicians, Milda and the other two High Elves hesitated for a moment before they finally agreed to enter the wooden house.

They then reached the parliament hall on the second floor and got seated.

After they got settled, Grenci said, "This letter arrived two days ago. We felt something was amiss the moment it arrived. However, the letter was addressed to Master Link. We left it untouched until he returned."

After which, he stared at Link. Although his expression was calm, it could be seen that he was also waiting for Link's explanation.

Link then replied with a puzzled expression, "I am also curious as to who would send such things to me."

Following which, he pushed this letter to the middle of the table and said, "Your Highness Milda seems to suspect my integrity. For fairness sake, I will not open this letter myself. Your Highness, I would like you to open it personally."

"Alright." Milda nodded her head and activated the Magician's Hand, opening the letter from afar.

Upon opening this letter, the dark aura surrounding it intensified. One could clearly see a cloud of black smoke emerging from the envelope. This smoke then started congregating above the envelope, forming a human face which started speaking in a cheerful voice.

"Hey, Link, my good friend. I'm glad that you are interested in my domain of magic. I missed you so much after we parted last time. I feel extremely honored to receive your letter, and I am happy to answer some of your doubts regarding the domain of Soul Magic."

The voice then rambled on.

He spoke in great detail about the techniques to extract a person's soul from their physical body. This went on for about 15 minutes before he ended by saying, "This method is extremely useful. However, it is merely the foundation. If you are interested to know more, please continue writing to me. I will be more than happy to answer any queries."

The black smoke then dissipated and the magic letter returned to its original form. There was also a grey paper in the letter. Milda pulled out the paper which revealed the exact content of what was just said.

She then looked at the bottom of the paper and saw a detestable name, Wavier Warsling.

Milda was horrified and gasped, "Link, you had connections with Wavier?"

Link denied, "I did not."

Romilson then interrupted, "Master Link, the letter mentioned that you once made a trip to the South...from what I know, you indeed made that trip a while ago. You even brought back a Wind Tiger from that journey."

As the Magician the High Elves valued and feared, they had done comprehensive research on Link's actions and background. While Link's visit to the South could be concealed from the ordinary folks, it was no secret to a Magician, much less the High Elves.

Romilson did not complete his entire sentence. However, his underlying message was clear. This letter showed that Link and Wavier indeed knew each other by name and that he had made a trip to the South especially just to meet him. They seemed to be on good terms.

However, Wavier had already become a Dark Magician. The fact that he was still writing to Link and discussing dark magic issues with him was peculiar.

This was especially so as Wavier fell to the dark side not long after Link's trip to the South.

Link's face remained calm as he explained, "I went to the South to search for Celine. It has nothing to do with Wavier. As for the Wind Tiger, I simply met him on the road. He was on the run from Dark Magician Andrew, and I saved his life."

"Who is Celine?" Milda asked.

"My...good friend." Link said, "If there is a need, I can call her down right now. She is right here at Scorched Ridge."

"There would be no need to; I know Celine personally. She is a wonderful girl." Ferdinand said.

He then looked around before he continued, "I believe that this is a clear set-up against Master Link. I know Master Link very well. If he truly had dabbled into dark magic, he would not allow himself to be exposed by such juvenile tactics. In fact, none of us would be this careless. This is too dumb!"

It was the truth. Sending an open letter and deliberately engraving dark runes on the front of the envelope was an obvious framing technique.

However, Milda shook her head as she said, "No, I don't think that the issue is this simple. This is Link's territory, and the ordinary people will not have recognized the dark runes. It is thus a fallacy to come to a conclusion based on the dark runes alone. While the letter itself is peculiar to begin with, Link had indeed made a recent visit to the South. Other than bringing back Celine and the Wind Tiger, no one knew what happened along the way."

On this note, Milda then turned towards Link as she continued, "I have actually noticed something when I saw your military report in the academy. In the report you made at Ice Peak Fortress, you mentioned a realm scroll that allowed you to travel in between realms. You seemed to have escaped the pursuit of the Divine Gear wielder many times using this scroll. Based on my knowledge, the realm scroll belongs to the domain of Secret Magic. Master Link, are you experimenting with Secret Magic?"

Link fell silent. Princess Milda was indeed extremely sensitive. She had easily discovered the detail Link wanted to cover up in the entire incident.

Milda then continued after getting no reply from Link. She said, "I noticed another problem. You mentioned that Kanorse had been corrupted by the Dark Serpent's venom and was about to be demonized. However, you managed to save him from the depths of despair. How did you do it? You are merely a mortal, and it is impossible for you to cure a status inflicted by a Divine Gear. It does not make any sense."

Grenci then stood up for Link as he sternly reminded, "Your Highness, every Magician has his own unique strength. This has nothing to do with dark magic. You have no right to pursue this matter!"

"Alright then." Milda then suppressed her aggressiveness as she continued, "Before this letter, I have totally aligned myself with Master Grenci's point of view. However, the appearance of the letter and Master Link's inability to give a convincing explanation makes him extremely suspicious. Before we get to the bottom of this issue, I'm afraid my race will not be able to render assistance to such a Magician. Link, Romilson and Latour might not be able to help with the construction of your Mage Tower."

Link then laid out his hands helplessly as he said, "I'm sorry to have caused this misunderstanding."

He did not blame Milda for her reaction. She had only known him for a while, and it was understandable that she would not trust him as much as his fellow compatriots. The most important thing now was to figure out the person who was framing him.

Could it be Wavier?

But why would he do that? Although they sparred against each other when Link went South to rescue Celine, he should not have discovered his identity.

"I cannot stay here anymore. We will set off now. Romilson, return to the academy to convey this message. Request that King Leon form a special investigation team for this issue. Latour, accompany me to the port. We will return to the Isle of Dawn with the information regarding the Divine Gear."

"Yes, Your Highness." The two High Elves nodded.

"Then, farewell gentlemen." Milda left without any hesitation as the two High Elves followed behind.

Only three human Magicians were left in the room.

Ferdinand was still infuriated as he said, "The High Elves do not listen to reason! This is obviously a set-up!"

Grenci then stared at the letter on the table as he shook his head and said, "They don't understand Master Link as much as we do. It is understandable that they have such a reaction out of self-protection."

Following which, Grenci turned towards Link and said, "Master Link, there is another thing which we have kept hidden from the High Elves. Apart from this letter, someone sent a box of items. These items exuded an extremely sinister aura, and we had to open it without your permission. The box was filled with dark soul stones. We did not dare to mention this in front of the High Elves."

Link frowned upon hearing these words. After a long while, he muttered, "I thank the two masters for having such faith in me. However, the issue might not be as simple as it seems. Someone is plotting against me."

Grenci and Ferdinand exchanged glances and nodded before saying, "We have the same idea as well. You have been too outstanding recently. The dark forces excel in plotting against someone in the shadows. You are bound to be one of their targets. The problem is that their ploys are often difficult to detect and defend against. No one knows how they are going to execute their plan."

Link then fell into deep thought. Three minutes later, he said, "This letter and the dark soul stones are just child's play. If this is truly a set-up, this is only the beginning.

A letter and a few dark soul stones were obvious framing techniques that could be easily taken care of. However, if something more serious happened, these items would then become added evidence against Link. By then, it would be difficult for Link to explain himself.

Grenci and Ferdinand exchanged glances as they kept a troubled expression on their faces.

"What would happen next?"

"I don't know...there has been an influx of new residents into the territory recently, there must be spies mixed into the lot...Hold up...Milda might be in danger. Yes, not just her, all the Magicians in our territory, especially the High Elves would be in danger. No, they cannot leave right now, it is way too dangerous!"

There were over 30 Magicians in the territory. It was only a modest number, and they were all not strong individually as well. It was only the beginning of the territory's development phase, and the defensive strength of the territory was naturally weak. While they might not be able to kill Link, they should be able to exterminate these Magicians.

They could then frame this heinous act on Link after doing so. That would be disastrous!

Ordinary people would not be able to distinguish such facts and would definitely accuse Link as the perpetrator. The investigative team from East Cove Higher Magic Academy would then find many relevant pieces of evidence against him. Link would then be unable to explain himself and would fall victim to this scheme!

This was the worst result, and despite the slim chances of its occurrence, Link must still be prepared to defend against it.

Ferdinand and Grenci then exchanged glances as fear and horror flashed through their eyes. They then stood up and said, "We will get Romilson back."

Link then nodded and said, "I will take care of Milda and Latour."

The three of them walked briskly out of the wooden house. By the time they reached the entrance, they had realized that the sun had sunk below the horizon and the sky was getting darker by the minute.

Milda was extremely efficient as well. They had already left the territory without leaving any traces behind.

Link then headed towards the shack where Dorias stayed and was prepared to use him as a convenient mode of transport. However, Link did not manage to find him when he reached the shack.

"Where is Dorias?" Link asked a soldier nearby.

"Dorias? He mentioned that he heard something unusual and went out to patrol. He said that he would be back swiftly," the soldier answered.

Link was horrified. Are they luring the tiger out from its home ground?