51 My Brother! (Part 1)

 Link's current Maximum Mana limit was 99.1 points. When a Magician's Mana was full, his body would glow with an aura and his eyes would look bright. These were simply the effects of magic. But right now, Link's Mana was down to 9 points, and so the magic aura around his body dimmed drastically, and his eyes were now noticeably dulled.

When the three mercenaries first met Link, this unremarkable looking appearance was exactly what they saw.

Link considered Lucy and Gildern's vow of loyalty towards him and decided to accept them. The three members were all equally important to the Flamingo Band of Mercenaries and Lucy and Gildern both showed promising talents and had proven themselves to be reliable comrades in battles. So Link nodded in agreement.

"I will grant you Battle Art too, but not right now because I've depleted all my Mana. By the way, I must remind you that Battle Art is only an instruction of the proper practice method. If you want to develop your Combat Aura, you'll still need to work hard."

Hidden Power was only a Level-3 spell after all, and it was only the basic version purchased with Omni Points. In other words, this was only an average-level Battle Art, so the resulting Combat Aura wouldn't be too spectacular either. Link calculated that if the mercenaries practiced hard enough, at 35 years old they would be able to reach Level-5 but from then on it would get harder and harder to advance further. Lucy and Gildern would probably peak at Level-6, while Jacker might reach a little bit higher, but still, no higher than Level-7.

But that was only temporary, of course. If the three turned out to be very useful to him, Link might consider giving them a higher-level Battle Art in the future.

"Understood!" The three mercenaries all nodded. They never shirked from discipline and hard work. What they dreaded were useless and wasted efforts where they pushed through and gave it their all and but still remained at the same level.

The mercenaries noticed how bone-weary Link looked, so they excused themselves, said their farewells and left the attic. Once they reached the inn's hall, Jacker exclaimed, "Now I can feel that my dreams are within my grasp!"

Lucy was still shaken by what happened in the attic. "These days, I feel as if I'm in a dream. Jacker, should we give Lord Link all the money that we have left? I heard learning magic uses up a lot of gold coins. Once the tuition is all paid, he might not have much left to use," she murmured.

They still had 1500 gold coins left, and this was a sum too big to ever spend for them. In the end, all they could do was hide it somewhere safe and leave it there.

"Lucy's right. Jacker, what do you say?" Gildern said.

Gildern felt no more resentment towards Link. With Battle Art, he now dared to hope for a brighter future. Money was nothing at all compared to how invaluable Battle Art was to Warriors, and yet Link had granted them such a precious thing so graciously. If he still begrudged Link because of money, then he was nothing more than a self-serving ridiculous little mouse.

Jacker had no objections, of course. He had devoted his life to Link. Now that everyone in the Flamingo Band of Mercenaries had become Link's followers, he knew that whatever benefited Link would benefit them too. The more powerful Link got, the more promising their future would be as well.

And so, he would do anything in his power to support Link's progress.

"Not only should we give the remaining money to him, we must also strive to strengthen ourselves as fast as we can, and earn as much money as we can to support Lord Link's studies!" Jacker said.

Lucy and Gildern were both smart enough to understand the wisdom of Jacker's words. They both nodded in agreement.

Jacker added in a low, serious voice, "One more thing, we must lay low for the time being. Let's not make any commotion lest anyone takes notice of us, at least until this storm settles down. Right now, the best thing we can do is to go back and focus on practicing. I will share the instructions I received from my Battle Art with both of you, so you can practice them too."

They were sailing close to the wind lately, with many people from the underworld trying to sniff them out. Even today, they had to be especially careful when coming to the River Cove inn, anxious that Link's life might be endangered. In these circumstances, the wisest thing to do was to learn from the tortoise and hide in their shells for a while.

Once the three came to an agreement, they decided to go back to their makeshift headquarter to get the money. But just as they were making their way out of the inn, they noticed a carriage right in front of the entrance.

It was a handsome carriage, with a sky-blue top and silver-gilt edges. The horses were all majestic, long-legged pedigrees that looked stronger than the horses of some knights they encountered in the North. Even the coachman was wearing a luxurious livery. One look and it was clear that the carriage belonged to someone of high personage.

"Who's that coming into the inn? Must be some hotshot." The inn hall was now filled with droning sibilant voices discussing the identity of the approaching visitor.

"Shhh! Didn't you see that crest on the carriage? It's from the East Cove Magic Academy!" someone in the hall said in a low voice.

"Is that a Magician, then?" the other replied.

As they overheard these conversations, the three hurried to the side to give way. Ever since meeting with Link, they now had a newfound respect for all Magicians. To them, real Magicians were almost as powerful as gods, existing in a completely different plane of reality from those drifting Magicians they'd previously met. Link hadn't been able to enter the academy yet, but his power was already at a fearsome level. They couldn't begin to imagine how much more powerful a Magician from the East Cove Magic Academy would be.

I wonder how powerful this Magician is, the three simultaneously speculated.

When the carriage finally came to a full stop, the door opened. Then, a young man garbed in a sky-blue Magician's robe climbed out of the carriage. Gildern drew a sharp breath the moment he saw him.

"By the God of Light, how could a man be so much more handsome than I am?" Gildern had always thought of himself as a good-looking man and he had won over many women with his looks. But looking at the Magician in front of him, he felt ashamed of his looks for the first time in his life.

Just look at him-that tailor-made Magician's robe, that white jade-like wand in his hand, his tall and well-built body, that dreamy face with its striking features, and that magnificent aura his whole body was basked in-it was as if the Sun God had been dropped from the heavens! Gildern thought in astonishment.

To possess such arresting looks, while also being a true Magician from the academy-he must have been a favorite of the God of Light!

The moment this Magician appeared, he became a distinct focal point of everyone's attention in the room. Everyone around was dwarfed by his presence, even Jacker's almost seven-foot frame with his muscular build now paled in comparison to this glorious creature.

What a lucky bastard! Gildern had felt the magnetic attraction too and couldn't help but envy that Magician.

Lucy was the only one who was unimpressed. She just scowled and cursed, "So what, he's still just a pansy!"

When she was younger, she had been duped by a handsome man. Not only did that bastard cheat on her, what was truly unforgivable was the fact that he had also stolen all of her money! From that moment on, she had been especially suspicious of all good-looking men. She now thought that ordinary-looking men like Link were a much better lot, and definitely much more reliable and trustworthy.

Jacker was the calmest of all. He crooked his eyebrows slightly and wondered aloud, "Why do I have a feeling that this Magician from the East Cove Magic Academy is still not as powerful as Lord Link?"

He was a Level-3 Warrior who now possessed Battle Art. He was much more perceptive now, and when he looked at the Magician in front of him, he sensed how weak the Magician was. Jacker could probably defeat him with just one punch.

"Who knows? Maybe he's just a pretty boy who's good for nothing," said Lucy with a grimace.

By this time, the young Magician had walked into the inn under everyone's mesmerized stare. The three mercenaries then looked away and walked out of the inn and went on their way.

The Magician was none other than Eliard. He was here to visit Link, and not only did he bring the answers to Link's questions, he also brought with him the magic textbook from Moira and some money as well.

He knew that Link wouldn't have much money left after he lent him 1300 gold coins. He still had no way of returning all the money, but now that he was a student in the academy, he realized that in the world of Magicians, 1300 gold coins really was not much at all.

As Moira's favorite student, he utilized his talents to write some Level-0 magic scrolls, created some basic potions, and earned 15 gold coins. He believed Link wouldn't have much money, so he brought 10 gold coins in the hopes that it might alleviate Link's current situation.

When he found the innkeeper, Eliard asked him, "Hey, Matt, which room is my friend Mr. Link staying in?"