Woo, woo. There was the deep sound of the conch. In the Ferde Sea pier, a flat sail cargo ship slowly approached the dock. The sailor at the bow sounded the horn, asking for permission to dock.
A soldier ran on the pier while waving a bright command flag. Bit by bit, he guided the large ship to dock in the respective berth.
Ten minutes later, the large ship about 150 feet long safety stopped in the pier's berth. With a whoosh, the plank was put up. The physical laborers rushed over, fighting for a chance to work. They were all farmers from the Ferde Wilderness with land newly partitioned to them. However, it was off-season, so they all came to the pier to make some extra money.
A buff sailor walked down from the ship. He pointed at some stronger men casually. "You, you, and you guys, come and transport the goods. You get 100 coppers when it's done."
The chosen laborers were overjoyed. They strode up the ship and started moving the goods on the deck. The sailors helped while maintaining order. After a while, the bottom cabin was opened. Countless young men and women in rags and shackles walked out.
"Look, it's the slaves the lord bought."
"Look at that woman, the one with the torn shirt. Geez, her titties are so big and round."
"Wow, is that a Warrior? He's so muscular!"
The laborers discussed the slaves while transporting the goods. On the other hand, the slaves were terrified. Some of the women carried babies who were crying and waiting to be nursed. Because they were in an unfamiliar environment, they hugged their mothers and howled. Occasionally, there was the crack of a whip from sailors forcing the slaves to hurry up.
The pier instantly grew lively.
Another plank was propped against the other end of the ship. A few well-dressed merchants walked down. The leader was Warter, the owner of the Green Leaf Merchant Firm.
As the owner of the goods, he didn't have to oversee the unloading personally. After walking down the ship, he walked quickly to the Pier Office Building. He said to the guard, "I am Warter. I have an emergency and must see Sir Alloson."
Alloson was the man in charge of the pier. Warter had interacted with him many times before. The guard recognized Warter too, so he moved aside. "Sir Alloson is in the second floor. Please go on ahead."
Warter walked briskly. His steps were hurried, and his expression was somber. Finally, he reached the main hall of the second floor and saw Alloson behind the business table.
Alloson used to be a mercenary. Due to his extraordinary abilities, he became a core member of Ferde and was sent to manage the new pier. He was only 30 years old and was in his prime.
Right now, he was processing some documents speedily. When his subordinates asked questions, he could explain clearly within a few sentences. He was obviously a competent worker.
Warter waited patiently at the side. When Alloson finished with the task at hand, he walked over and said quietly, "Sir..."
Recognizing him, Alloson smiled and said, "Oh, my friend, just call me Alloson."
Warter nodded and continued, "I just came back from the Kingdom of Delonga in the South. Something horrible happened in Delonga, and I'm afraid it might affect Ferde."
Alloson narrowed his eyes at Warter and asked, "What exactly happened?"
The Kingdom of Delonga was to the south of the Ferde Wilderness with only the Blackwater River between them. If something happened in Delonga, Ferde would definitely be affected.
Warter glanced around at the other people in the hall. He looked hesitant.
Alloson quickly waved. "Come, let's go to my room." He rose and led the way out the hall, up to the third floor, and into the room overlooking the sea.
Here, Warter pulled out a scroll to Alloson. He said, "The scroll contains a Magic Image. I bought it from an escaping Court Magician at a high price. The image recorded some secret things that happened among the Delonga royalty."
Alloson opened the scroll. There was a very clear image recorded on it. Under the light, he could see that the location was in a secret room. There were seven or eight men, mostly Magicians. One man had a gold crown. A Magician with red eyes and a dark aura was bowing to him.
Warter explained, "The one with the crown is King Roy the Fifth of Delonga. According to the escaping Court Magician, the Magician beside him had shocking dark waves. He promised to help King Roy create a secret army and the king agreed."
Alloson couldn't believe it. "How can a Magic Image with such a secret be preserved? Is the Court Magician reliable?"
"Very reliable. He actually is Master Emmandel, the head Magician of Delonga. After he felt something was amiss, he quietly escaped. When I saw him, he was being pursued and then he gave me this."
Alloson was quiet for a few minutes. Then he asked, "This is very important. I'll take you to see the lord."
This was what Warter wanted. The Ferde Wilderness was developing rapidly, and Link's reputation was rising. It was getting harder and harder for him, a mere merchant, to see him, which was why he came to ask Alloson for help.
The two left the building. Getting horses and a dozen guards, they hurried to Scorched Ridge, dozens of miles away.
On the way, Alloson asked, "Warter, you've been going to the South a lot recently. How is the state of the Southern Trade Federation?"
Warter shook his head and sighed. "There's unprecedented chaos. Delonga is being forced back by Southmoon, and Roy the Fifth has started sparing no costs. The Doska Kingdom is almost entirely controlled by the Syndicate and can barely survive. The Golle Kingdom is corrupted. The officials will do anything for money...I remember that when I went to the South 20 years ago, I didn't need guards on the road. Now, I'm terrified when I go to the wilderness, and I don't even dare to go out at night!"
He sighed continuously. He had truly experienced the downfall of the South.
Hearing this, Alloson's expression darkened. "Norton is also fighting with the Dark Elves. I heard that the North isn't doing well either. The military has already retreated to the Iron Wall Defense Line. It feels like the mainland fell into chaos so suddenly. How can it be like this?"
"Maybe the world is ending." The merchant's brows were knitted.
In a time of unrest, a man's life was like grass. No one wanted this situation, but for some reason, the world just became more and more of a mess. As an unimportant figure, Warter could only watch everything happen without being unable to help.
Both fell silent for the rest of the journey.
More than one hour later, they could see Scorched Ridge in the distance. Gazing at it, Warter sighed. "The changes are so big. When I left last time, the Mage Tower only had its foundations. Now, you can see its general shape. And the camp looks like a small town now."
No matter how the South was, the Ferde Wilderness was still calm and peaceful. Everything was developing rapidly and prospering.
For some reason, Warter felt much better.
Alloson looked a bit proud. "This is only the surface. Let me tell you, even the High Elf Princess is staying here. A lot of powerful High Elf Magicians are helping with the Mage Tower too. They all respect the lord."
Warter smiled. "Our Lord is a smart and powerful man. When I was in Delonga, I saw many refugees from Ferde and guess what?"
"What?" Alloson asked with a smiled.
"They snuck back and then took their friends and family back to Ferde."
Alloson laughed out loud, and the guards laughed as well. The mood had lightened, and the group forged in light spirits. Three hundred feet ahead, there was a rock 13-foot-tall.
Rocks were everywhere in the Ferde Wilderness; there was nothing special about it.
But then, the reddish rock suddenly exploded with a loud boom. The rock, almost 30 feet wide and 13 feet high, cracked into two. Shards flew everywhere, and dust rose up to the sky.
"Careful, it's a Magician's sneak attack! Raise your shields!"
"Where? Where's the Magician?"
"Where are the archers? Archers!"
The procession panicked. Everyone was terrified as if they had run into a huge enemy. They looked side to side, trying to find the Magician who had attacked.
However, this was a prairie, and it was daytime; the vision was great. Everyone looked around but could not find the attacker.
Warter was extremely frightened. He wiped at his sweat and asked quietly, "What's going on? Who attacked?"
Alloson was tense as well. He looked at the boulder that had been split by some power. He said in a wavering voice, "I don't know, but it seems like he's really powerful!"
Warter rolled his eyes. He wasn't blind; it was obvious that the Magician was powerful. The problem was, where was he?! If they couldn't figure it out and there was another attack, they wouldn't even know how they died!
Everyone stood rooted to the spot with their guards up but the Magician didn't appear. The terrifying attack didn't come either.
Just as Alloson and Warter were at a loss, a soldier suddenly pointed at the road before them. "Look, I think it's the lord."
They all looked up. Indeed, there was a Magician clad in a dark red robe, covered in fire light, racing over on a horse. He had a person with him-a woman, to be specific. She wore leather armor and grasped a plain-looking dwarf gun. She looked happy.
Alloson looked closely and let out a sigh of relief. "It truly is our Lord. The one beside him is Celine, the affairs officer of the territory. What just happened was a misunderstanding."
I knew there wouldn't be a Magician attack near Scorched Ridge, Alloson thought.
"Let's go to them."
The group started off again, and the two parties quickly met.
"Sorry about that. I was testing the power of the spell," Link explained voluntarily.
"It's alright." The group shook their heads.
Link went straight to the point. "Alloson, what are you doing away from the pier?"
Lucy had recommended Alloson. He was hardworking, so Link naturally knew him.
Alloson pulled Warter over quickly and said, "He has something to tell you. I was escorting him."
Warter walked up and bowed. "Lord, something terrible happened in Delonga. I must inform you about it."
Link recognized Warter as well. The merchant had helped him greatly before, but they hadn't met recently. Link said, "Tell me after we return to the camp."
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