48 An Unprecedented Question!


 Link returned to the River Cove Inn and tossed a stack of about thirty copper coins in the direction of the inn servant. The servant stared at him in alarm. Link laughed and said, "Three pieces of oatmeal bread with butter and a cup of milk, sent to my room, please."

He now had 300 gold coins in his pouch and he could afford a nice meal. There was no need to overindulge, though, since his body didn't need a lot of food to subsist. A small meal would suffice.

"So, you're rich now, Link?" the inn servant joked.

Link chuckled but explained nothing. He went back up to the attic. While waiting for his food to be served, he took the goatskin papers which contained his thesis from his pendant and then by sheer force of habit checked it for any mistakes.

It turned out that his thesis wasn't bad at all. What he had written was a basic paper that had omitted nothing essential. The edited parts had smooth flowing logic and elegance; the whole thing even had an ineffable sense of beauty that he couldn't quite put his finger on.

Even as the author himself, as Link pored over the thesis a sense of incredulity arose. Did I really write this? Or did the God of Light borrow my hands to do it?

This might be the case, but even so, Link didn't take it to heart. To compare himself to a supreme being in a higher plane of existence was simply a foolish thing to do.

Not long after, the food was sent to his room. Link savored each bite and he soon felt reinvigorated. Then, he slipped out the new goatskin papers he bought and continued working on this thesis.

His recent exploit in the Cove of Echoes had possibly transformed his brain because when he began to re-write his thesis, Link discovered that he had a torrent of new ideas. Soon after, he was completely immersed in the task.

This time, he had secured enough gold coins and, so, was not interrupted by thoughts of materialistic woes. He freely spent his whole day writing the thesis and working on his spells.

One week later, Link had already improved three Level-0 spells: Earth Spike, Illumination, and Mud Marsh.

After improving these three spells, Link renamed them as: Spiral Spike, Spark, and Sticky Marsh. These three spells only used up one Mana point. The scale of the spells decreased, but their energy was condensed to the level comparable to that of Level-1 spells. When combined with Link's accuracy, these spells could develop shocking levels of power.

However, after having improved these spells, Link lost all interest in Level-0 spells. Magic of this level was just too simple for him now; it posed absolutely no challenge to him and he now yearned for a more advanced knowledge of magic.

And so, his heart was even more set to get into the East Cove Magic Academy.

What was left was the thesis. Link's determination was as strong as steel, once he set out to do something, he would make sure that he finished it. So, he continued to work on his paper and in his spare time, he would write letters to Eliard. Lately, the questions he asked Eliard in the letters were becoming more and more complicated.

Link himself did not notice this change. He was unaware that the questions he asked had surpassed the level of a Magician's Apprentice.

While Link buried himself in the task of writing his thesis, Eliard received Link's letter. He could only shake his head in bafflement after reading it since out of all the questions Link asked this time he could only understand one. The rest was all an enigma to him.

I give up, I'll just ask the tutor. Eliard copied the question in the letter on a goatskin paper, then climbed the spiral staircase up the Magic Tower until he reached the big hall on the top floor where his tutor resided.

His tutor, Moira, had a sweet and gentle character, except when in class. The fact that she didn't like to be disturbed in her spare time was a common knowledge among the students in the Magic Tower. But the rule did not apply to Eliard.

He could find Moira any time he pleased, to ask her anything he didn't understand or had doubts about. In the beginning, Eliard felt uncomfortable about this, but after Moira's insistence, he gradually became more at ease about it.

Now, he would go straight to Moira whenever there were any questions. And that was what he was doing now.

When he reached the door, he knocked. "Tutor, may I come in?" he said to the Sonicator on the door.

Just as he had finished his sentence, he heard a soft click sound. The magic runes on the door glowed in a dim light and the door opened automatically.

This indicated that the tutor had given him permission to go inside.

As he pushed the door and walked in, there was another click coming from behind him and the door automatically closed. Eliard was now used to all this.

Behind the room door was a wall, and on the wall, there was a colorful painting. This wall completely blocked the view of the hall behind it. On two sides of the wall were passages that entered the large hall. As Eliard walked in, he found himself in a round hall of about 50 feet in diameter. In the middle there was a luxurious set of furniture and the floor was covered in luscious camel fur carpet. Glass windows surrounded the hall, and the glass of the windows was inlaid with precious crystals.

Rays of light shone in through the windows, making the big hall look spacious and airy. Picturesque views around the East Cove made themselves present through the inlaid crystals. Bookshelves lined the walls, and they were packed with rows and rows of books. In front of one bookshelf sat a lady Magician of around 30 years old, reading a book about magic.

She was Eliard's tutor, Moira.

Moira was a Level-5 Magician, age 35. She was the academy dean's proud student and East Cove Magic Academy's top genius.

She had a head full of lustrous blonde hair and her body emanated a thick aura of magic as if she was emanating light. She was wearing a deep blue Magician's robe with silver linings and she was comfortably settled down in a chair quietly reading her book. She was calm and relaxed; sunshine was scattered through the crystals, shining a shimmering light on Moira's delicate features, making her look impalpably elegant.

But Eliard was completely oblivious and unmoved by all this. There was nothing in his mind except magic, and this lady in front of him was just a tutor that he respected.

"Tutor," he calmly said,

Moira nodded and put the book in her hands on the table. Her eyes looked at the goatskin papers in Eliard's hands, and then she cheerfully asked, "What's the question this time?"

She took special notice of this student because she saw the persistence in this young man that was just like hers in the past.

Eliard walked up to her and handed over the scrolls.

Moira unrolled the goatskin paper and attentively read the contents, but after glancing at it, her eyes froze. "You've progressed so far, are you at this level now?" she remarked with surprise.

As a Level-5 Magician, she could see that these questions were very advanced. For someone to be able to ask these questions, their basic understanding of magic theory had to be rock solid.

On the scroll there were six questions, she perused through it once, and found that she could only instantly answer two of them, for the other four, she had to carefully consider it first.

"What excellent questions!" Moira couldn't help exclaiming.

For a Magician of her level, she didn't concern herself much about whether her students were working hard enough because if they didn't work hard, they wouldn't be able to become her students in the first place. Instead, she paid close attention to whether her students were asking excellent questions.

One could only ask advanced questions once they had studied a topic seriously and then considered it thoroughly afterwards. Only then could one ask a high-level question. The questions in this scroll were beyond her expectations. Not only did they approach problems with a unique perspective, but they also possessed a certain level of spirituality that was hard to describe.

She was deeply impressed that Eliard could ask these kinds of questions.

Eliard blushed. This was the second time the tutor had praised him. Heaven knew these questions weren't his, he had only learned magic for a month, and couldn't understand anything in the scroll.

Eliard didn't explain himself last time, but this time, he feared he would have to because the misunderstanding was getting worse. If it went on any longer he could be in trouble.

He formed his sentences in his head, and said, "Tutor, these... these questions aren't mine."

"Hmm?" Moira's didn't change her tone, she looked up from the scrolls at her handsome young student, "Whose are they, then?"

"A friend of mine. He is seventeen just like me, he tried to enter the academy too, but his magic skills were still too low, so he went back to work on it. I... I was able to pay the tuition because of him. He was a great help."

"Explain everything to me in detail, and don't leave anything out." Moira's interest was piqued.

Eliard was faced with his tutor's piercing blue eyes, eyes that could see through any secret. He didn't dare lie, so he divulged every little detail that had happened since his fateful meeting with Link to Moira, including their recent letters.

Moira listened carefully, sometimes stopping Eliard to ask some questions. She then sighed and said, "So he is now in River Cove, writing a thesis that would prove his understanding of magic?"

"Exactly, Tutor."

"Do you know what his thesis is about?" Moira asked again.

Eliard nodded, "Link discussed some of it with me. He told me he is attempting to explain why a stone would always fall back down to the ground when we throw it up... to be honest, I have been thinking about this problem myself lately, but I have absolutely no idea how to solve it."

As she heard it, Moira was instantly startled. She repeated what Eliard said word by word, "Why would a stone always fall back down to the ground? Why would it fall back down to the ground? What a strange question...no one has ever asked it before, and yet, why indeed?"

She tried to use the knowledge that she had to explain this question, but after a while, she gave it up. Her knowledge was insufficient to explain such a common incident.

After some time, she sighed, "This is a truly rare and excellent question. With just this one question his understanding of magic has already been proven."

She started to find this young man named Link very interesting.

She took the goatskin scroll on the table and said, "These questions are all exceptional, I'm afraid I need some time to think about them. Tomorrow, then. I'll give you the answers tomorrow."

"Thank you Tutor...aren't you angry about what I did?" Eliard cautiously asked.

"Why would I be angry?" Moira smiled, "You're an honest person, I should be proud of that."

Eliard heaved a sigh of relief, but the question of Link's entrance into the academy always hung over his head, so he asked, "Since the question in the thesis has proven my friend's understanding of magic, can he enter the academy now?"

Moira carefully considered the question, "Rules are rules, he would still need to submit a thesis. Let Link finish his, then hand it to me. In due time, I'll discuss it with the dean. I think he'll agree with me."

"Thank you!" Eliard was elated. The tutor was the dean's top student, so her words assured him that Link didn't need to actually solve the problem in his thesis. So long as he produced a coherent paper and submitted it, he would definitely be admitted into the academy.

"You're welcome," Moira smiled. She found the young student Eliard impressive, not just because of his talents in magic, but also because of his integrity.

After some consideration, Moira touched one of the bookshelves behind her and a book flew into her hand. "This friend of yours is quite an impressive young man. I think he might find this book helpful. You may hand it to him along with your letter. Magic textbooks are extremely valuable, we can't risk any damage or loss, so you will have to run over and pass it to him yourself. He's only allowed to read it for a day, so on the day after, you must return this book to me."

"No problem!" said the overjoyed Eliard.