The River Cove Inn's front door.
The three members of the Flamingo Band of Mercenaries heard a voice, and they all simultaneously turned around.
What they saw at the inn's entrance was a black-haired youth of about 16 to 17 years of age, with a weak and gaunt figure. He was so frail-looking that he looked like he might actually be blown away by the wind. He was clad in a dirty and tattered linen robe, and his leather boots were old and worn, all covered in mud and dirt.
"Ha!" the Archer, Gildern barked out a laugh, "Young chap, if you want to play house, you'd have to go find your brothers and sisters first."
The red-headed swordswoman did not waste her breath to taunt him, she went straight to rejection, "Young man, this isn't something you should get involved with."
Jacker was the only one who stayed silent. He closely examined Link from head to toe.
Link ignored the Archer and the swordswoman, he focused instead on the colossus brute, Jacker. He knew that this Warrior was the most important member of the mercenary band. If his guess was right, the one called Jacker must be their leader.
"What can you do?" Jacker felt there was something special about this young man. He was too calm and collected, his black eyes were too deep and penetrating-he didn't look like the average person at all.
"I am a Magician," said Link with a laugh.
The Archer Gildern and the red-headed swordswoman were both startled when they heard this. They began to scrutinize Link with new-found interest, but no matter how they viewed him, they had just never seen such a decrepit looking Magician before.
Jacker doubted Link's power and abilities, but he dared not underestimate him yet. He asked, "What spells do you know?"
In the eyes of the average person, Magicians were both mysterious and powerful. But Jacker was far from a normal person; he was a strong Level-3 Warrior, and a roving mercenary too. He'd seen extraordinary things common people could never imagine seeing. So even if he'd never personally experienced magic spells before, he had seen as many majestic and divine Master Magicians as decrepit and desperate wandering Magicians.
Even if this young man's claim as a Magician was true, that still didn't guarantee that he possessed an awesome power. Chances were, he might only be capable of some Level-0 spells and not much else.
"Wait here, I'll go get my wand!" Link hurriedly said. His wand was actually right in his storage pendant, but storage gears were not supposed to be exposed publicly, so he turned around and went back to the attic.
While he was gone, the Archer Gildern pursed his lips and said, "Didn't expect him to even own a wand, I'm impressed. Hey Lucy, wanna bet?"
Lucy was the name of the red-headed swordswoman. She laughed and said, "Bet on what?"
"On how many spells this pipsqueak knows. My bet is that he only knows some Level-0 spells."
"No way, who's going to bet against that? How powerful can that boy be, looking like that? If he'd known some Level-1 spells, he would've been in the East Cove Academy."
Gildern chuckled and said, "Who knows? Didn't you hear what happened in Gladstone? They say the Magician who saved the city was a young man just like our Magician here, but he could cast a Flame Blast that single-handedly defeated the Bloody-Handed demon."
Lucy pouted her lips and said, "Do you think such geniuses are walking about everywhere?"
"That's enough, stop bickering. I think there's something peculiar about this young man, so don't be so quick to underestimate him," Jacker waved his hand to stop his comrades from taunting the young man further.
The two turned quiet. Jacker was someone they both held in high regard.
At the same time, Link returned from the inn and in his hand, he was holding a wooden stick that should be his wand.
"That's his wand? That's clearly just a stick!" Gildern whispered.
Link pretended not to hear, he walked towards Jacker, smiled and said, "So far the only spell that I've mastered is Fireball, but I think you'll find my spellcasting skills useful for your mission."
"Just Fireball?" Jacker was disappointed as it really was just a Level-0 spell. To him, casting Fireball was as good as throwing firecrackers-in short, it's a completely useless spell.
This was a normal reaction, so Link explained, "My Fireballs are not like ordinary ones. I've modified them with supreme magical skill."
"Is that so?" Jacker was not impressed. He'd heard that spells could be improved by supreme magical skills, but even if he had the capability to modify and improve spells, a Level-0 spell was still a Level-0 spell. Could it ever rival a Level-1 spell?
"How about we go to the woods and test out my spell, so you can judge it yourselves?" Link suggested. He was in dire need of some money, but if he faced Viktor alone, the possibility of defeat was high. But with the help of these three mercenaries, he might have a chance.
He did not worry about the possibilities of getting betrayed by these three at all, and even if they tried to kill him off after the mission, he believed that he could easily defeat them all with his Fireball. Even the Level-3 Warrior was no match for him!
The three mercenaries looked at each other, then nodded. If the young Magician's skills turned out to be useful, then they would gain another comrade, and that wouldn't be so bad after all.
So the three found a clearing in the woods, then Jacker raised his thick iron shield in front of him and told Link, "Aim your Fireballs at my shield, then I'll judge how powerful you are myself."
Link nodded, but he did not hurry to attack. "My Fireball can travel around your shield though, so you might not be able to block it," he said with a smile.
"Never mind that, just attack me with all your might." Jacker's face turned serious, his shield began to glow in a light of Combat Aura. It was an earthly yellow shade, meaning that his Combat Aura was of the earth element; it was excellent for defense.
In truth, Jacker didn't think much of Link's warning. It would only be a Level-0 spell after all. Once, in the North, Jacker had fought against an opponent who purchased a Fireball magic scroll. When he launched the Fireball at Jacker's body, the only damage it did was leave a scorching mark on his leather armor.
Seeing that Jacker was fully prepared, Link said, "I'll start now then."
"Go on," Jacker nodded.
Gildern who was standing aside was getting impatient, "Hurry up, kid. It's just Fireball, so stop dawdling! Just do it already and let me hear a nice boom."
Before he finished the sentence, Link had made his move.
In an instant, the smile on Link's face disappeared and his eyes turned solemn. His whole body projected an air of seriousness and apathy-this was his calm and concentrated state of spellcasting.
Link waved his wand gently in the air, and then a dimly glowing light blue marble appeared-not just one, but two, then three blue marbles appeared at the same time.
The three glass orbs left three zigzagging trails in the air that seemed to move randomly, and they all aimed for Jacker at the same time from different directions.
One glass orb hit the shield, another went for Jacker's sides near his ear, and the last one aimed at Jacker's lower body.
The Fireball's speed was hypersonic. In an instant, Jacker's pupils shrank to a pinprick, and he was overwhelmed by an ominous feeling. This was nothing like magic scrolls. Is this what it was like when a true Magician cast spells? How was it possible for the spellcasting speed to be this quick? And why did they look nothing like normal Fireballs at all? How could this spell be so nimble and agile?
What he saw in front of him was beyond Jacker's expectation. For the first time, he felt he was in grave danger!
This was definitely not like those firecrackers that he had seen; these Fireballs were out for his life!
Could it be that this is the true power of supreme magical skill? Jacker's mind was trying to guess amidst the chaos. He realized that his knowledge of magic spells had been so limited.
He saw those aberrant Fireballs closing in on him so he gave out a loud roar then raised his shield with one hand to block the Fireball and used the other hand that emanated Combat Aura to deflect the other Fireball that was rushing towards his ear. As for the Fireball that was heading for his lower body, he could only close his legs together and hope that it wouldn't do too much damage.
Bang! The shield was the first to be hit by the fireball. Even though the shield completely blocked the explosion, the brunt of the impact still numbed Jacker's arm.
This is bad! Jacker began to panic.
The Fireball that hit his shield was of no more danger to him, but from the power of the explosion he knew that had his body been any nearer to it, it would've done some serious damage. He wasn't sure if his hands could cope with the other incoming Fireball.
He braced for the looming impact, but the Fireball exploded just a foot away from his body.
Bang! Bang! Two successive explosions boomed, and Jacker felt a gust of hot air hitting his body. He knew Link had eased the power of the attack, and that he was now safe. He heaved a sigh of relief.
"Thank you." Jacker felt a new respect for Link.
This young Magician really was something. Yes, his Fireball was terrifying, and its power was immense, but it wasn't the power that was remarkable. What really was frightening was the Magician's dexterity in spellcasting. While it really was just a Level-0 spell; in the hands of this young man, the spell came to life. It was like being hit with a torrent of spells, making it close to unstoppable.
In that moment of confrontation, Jacker could smell the scent of his own death.
Gildern and Lucy didn't comprehend what had truly happened, so they asked, "Jacker, how was it? How good was he?"
Jacker did not reply, he looked at Link and said, "Let them try it. These two wouldn't know real power if it hit them in their face."
Link didn't object, of course. In his plans to go against Viktor, he would have to lead, and the three mercenaries would be his helping hands. In that position, he would naturally need to display the extent of his power to inspire their respects.
Link waved the New Moon wand twice in the air, and two glass orbs shot towards Gildern and Lucy.
The speed of the Fireball that he released was quick, so quick that Gildern didn't have enough time to nock his arrows!
Bang! A glass orb exploded not far from Gildern's ear, and the impact of the explosion hit him squarely. Before this loudmouthed Archer had the time to utter a word, he fainted instantly.
Link controlled the intensity of the energy in that Fireball so as to not seriously hurt him.
"Ah!" Lucy was shocked, immediately she drew her sword, as soon as the blade reflected the orb's light she cut through the glass orb. Link did not control his spell to evade her attacks, he only allowed Lucy's sword to cut the glass orb. Lucy was only a Level-2 swordswoman-it was enough to let her feel the power of his spell, there was no need to hurt her.
Bang! The Fireball exploded right at the edge of Lucy's sword, and it absorbed the impact of the Fireball's explosion.
The power of Glass Orb was comparable to that of Level-1 Fireballs, and the impact of Level-1 Fireballs was comparable to that of a grenade. So the impact from the explosion of Link's Glass Orbs was equivalent to that of a grenade as well. This kind of power was naturally something the lithe and agile professional swordswoman Lucy couldn't stand.
"Ah!" Lucy cried out in terror. It felt as if her sword was hit by an electric shock, it vibrated violently till her wrist felt numb, and she knew she couldn't fight anymore.
Even though she still held her sword in her hand, she knew she didn't have the energy to fight further. Another Fireball attack and she would end up on the ground just like Gildern.
"I lost," Lucy relented. She didn't wonder why Jacker had that kind of expression just now. This Magician's Fireball was truly a force to be reckoned with.
"How's Gildern?" Jacker looked at the Archer who'd fainted.
"He's fine. But he can be too chatty sometimes," Link laughed.
Jacker and Lucy stared at each other, they now understood that the young man in front of them was nothing like what he seemed. Despite his gaunt and frail figure, his spellcasting skill was something the three of them couldn't match up even if they combined their forces.
He's a diamond in the rough! Jacker and Lucy made eye contact, and both sensed from each other's eyes that the other had the same thought.
"Now, let's talk strategies," Link smiled, his arms waving gently, and the wand danced deftly in his hand.
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