Chapter 542: Capturing the Ethereal Prince
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
On the outside, the South was bustling with activity as always.
Golle Kingdom, which housed the largest port in the South, had grown so prosperous that it was known as the "money bag of the Free Trade Federation."
The accumulation of wealth naturally drew much-unwanted attention to the kingdom. This had always been the case in the past. The thieves of the Syndicate were not immune to the lure of the kingdom's prosperity.
The Syndicate issue was especially serious in Golle Kingdom.
Golle Kingdom, Port Antique
Ding, ding... A clear bell sounded as a merchant vessel slowly entered the port. As it approached the dock, ten or so people disembarked from their sampans. These were the passengers of the merchant's vessel.
Once on the dock, two men and two women quickly left the crowd. All four of them were disguised as normal travelers. The clothes they had put on were somewhat worn. One of the men had black hair, while the other had dark green hair. They were dressed in almost the same way, wearing leather armors, and equipped with steel swords dangling from their waists. One of the two women was wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a long dress woven with a coarse fabric. The other woman had hidden her face behind a mask and was wearing a conspicuously oversized leather armor which had tufts of fur coming out of its edges.
The party of four walked along a small alley and before long integrated themselves with the throng of people like fish in the great ocean.
Half an hour later, the four people appeared before the entrance of an inn called "Adventurer" to the west of the port city. The black-haired man was first to approach the counter. He handed ten silver coins to the innkeeper. "One large room for the four of us."
"No problem." The innkeeper giddily put the silver coins in a drawer and took out a large copper lock. "Third floor, just follow the signs, and you'll find it. Here's your key and lock. Don't lose them."
The black-haired man nodded and beckoned at his companions. The other three followed behind him as they walked up the stairs.
Once they were inside their room and the door was securely locked, the black-haired man cast a magical barrier around them. The young woman wearing the leather armor let out a long sigh and laughed. "Finally, some fresh air. It was really stuffy back in the ship."
Saying this, she sat on a chair in the corner and began wiping her long magic rifle with a piece of deerskin cloth.
The magic rifle was a pale blue from tip to stock, and it gleamed with the faint light of magic runes. Three delicate lenses were equipped on its barrel. There was also a rune crystal with a diameter of about an inch on the middle of the barrel.
Its user was apparently quite fond of its exquisite details, which contrasted with its rather crude design. Such a magical item befitted the woman's status, which one could infer from her luxurious garment.
The woman was Celine. The other three in the room were Link, Eliard and Evelina.
Link had seated himself on a chair as well. He held in his hand a dark red, hollowed-out metal ball which was as big as a fist. He began inspecting the magical runes contained within. He then said, "Evelina, I trust your injuries have healed by now?"
Evelina took down her wide-brimmed hat and handed it over to Eliard. She then undid her cape and threw it onto a clothes-rack nearby. Finally, she stretched out her arms rather sensually before Eliard, who could not help but stare at her.
She glanced at Eliard and grinned, satisfied by his reaction. Evelina then said, "My father's part of the dragon race. I've been recuperating for half a month. I would be damned if my injuries were not healed by now."
Link began infusing his Dragon Power into the hollow metal ball. With a whoosh, a spherical display of countless magical runes with a diameter of more than twenty inches spread out. The runes floated in the air, twinkling like intricate constellations. They felt almost palpable.
The ball was an Ethereal Trapper of the highest level that they had created. Its main purpose was to capture the entity pulling the strings of the Ethereal Warriors, the Ethereal Prince.
The Ethereal Prince was extremely crafty. Even with the leads that Evelina had provided, Ferde's scouts had searched for him for half a month and was only able to estimate that the Ethereal Prince was currently in Golle Kingdom.
The Ethereal Prince was also very powerful. He was not something a normal Warrior would be able to deal with himself. Naturally, any Ethereal Crystal made using the Prince as its material would also be extremely powerful. Link needed such a crystal to forge a strategic-level set of magical equipment, and so he had personally come down south with the other three to capture the Ethereal Prince.
He tested the magical runes for a bit. Then he said, "I think that should do it."
After completing another one of his tests, Link spoke again, "I think I've found an answer to the problem concerning the purification of Dragon Power that you asked me back on the ship. My answer is: I can't do it, but Gretel the Red Dragon Queen may be able to."
Hearing him mention Gretel, Celine raised her head to look at Link. She was a bit sensitive about any subject concerning the Red Dragon Queen. When she saw that Link remained expressionless, she lowered her head in relief and resumed inspecting her magic rifle.
Evelina was disappointed. "I see. I hear that the Red Dragon Queen isn't an easy person to get along with. She's a fossil like the High Elves. If she actually agrees to help me purify my Dragon Power, chances are she'll apply limitations to it as per the customs of the dragon race. I am curious, though. Link, you managed to receive the Heart of the Dragon, and yet, here you are, far away from Dragon Valley. How did you do it?"
Link was almost finished with his adjustments of the Ethereal Trapper. He put away the metal ball and walked to Celine's side. He then began looking over her new rifle for her.
For this mission, Link had made some improvements to her rifle. A large number of Ethereal runes and an Ethereal crystal had been added to it. Her shots were now capable of inflicting Level-11 damage. With its spatial acceleration ability and Celine's clairvoyant talent, there was no escaping from her bullets.
Of course, such power always came at a great cost. Celine was required to use Dragon Power bullets specially made by Link for her. These bullets were exquisitely designed. Each contained 1000 Dragon Power points. At the moment, Celine only had 5 Dragon Power bullets. Though she still had other bullets at her disposal, they were all normal ones, each with only Level-9 power.
While inspecting her rifle, Link noticed that Celine was especially fixated on this subject. He had guessed what was on her mind. With no intention of hiding the truth from her, Link said, "One thing led to another, I guess. At the time, the dragon race was in need of powerful masters, and I had just attained Dragon Power by accident. At the same time, the Red Dragon Queen thought that she could control me, and so she brought me to the Ancestor Altar."
Saying this, Link stopped inspecting the rifle and began scrutinizing Celine's hand. The back of her hand was soft and white, but her palm was slightly callused, the result of her rigorous training in marksmanship and swordplay. Celine did not pull her hand back from him.
"And then?" Link's story had piqued Eliard's interest. He pulled out another chair and sat on it beside Evelina.
"I managed to obtain the Heart of the Dragon, and when I brought out my Dragon form, it was not the Red Dragon that they had hoped, but rather a Black Dragon. The elders were quite shocked by this, because to them, a Black Dragon is another word for the herald of destruction." Link chuckled at the memory.
"Herald of destruction?" Evelina laughed too. "That's just preposterous. It should have meant 'bringer of change.' I guess it shouldn't be too surprising, since change is exactly what ancient races like the dragons fear most of all."
Link nodded and continued, "True. A series of events happened later, the most significant of which was the time I helped the dragon race defeat a Void Tyrant that had infiltrated our realm. The Red Dragon Queen assumed that I would be able to integrate into the dragon race, and so she made me a Dragon Duke. She assumed wrong, of course. In the end, we parted ways due to the widening gap between our opinions on many things. All of you probably knew the rest of the story. I had wanted to build an army of Dragon Warriors among the human race, but she thought that it was an act of blasphemy against the royal dragon bloodline. She also thought the status quo they had upheld for so long was the safest path to walk on, and that my actions would eventually bring ruin to the human race. We did not split on good terms. My dragon body was even sealed off by her."
Celine seemed visibly upset about this. She twisted her lips. "Humph, I don't think Dragon Power's all that impressive. How selfish can she be?"
Link nodded. "Haha, true. Our Seed of Sunlight may not be as potent as Dragon Power, but in terms of combat power, it certainly holds a candle to Dragon Power itself. That should be enough. However, the road ahead of us is uncertain as ever. The Red Dragon Queen may be right for worrying. One misstep is all it would take to send the human race not on a path towards glory, but plunge it deep into the depths of despair."
His last statement sounded so ominous that the other three could not help but shiver upon hearing it.
The path that Ferde had set out on was indeed fraught with as much peril as climbing up a steep rock face.
Eliard chuckled suddenly. "Even if we fail, we'll drag the High Elves down with us into that abyss. A few hundred years later, our race will be able to accrue enough strength to climb back out of it, while the High Elves will be left lying in the mud hole."
It was true that the human race indeed had more latent potential for growth in comparison to the High Elves.
Link laughed at this and said, "Enough about this. Let's discuss the Ethereal Prince. Evelina, you said that he possesses Level-12 power and is especially proficient in spatial magic. Try to recall what other particularities he has."
Evelina held her forehead in her hand, deep in thought. A few minutes later, she shook her head. "I've only seen him twice. He's always so secretive. He also likes hiding himself in a corner."
"Then let's talk about his get-up," said Celine.
"Get-up? Let's see, he likes to wear a long grey robe. He also usually wears a grey hood over his head. He has a pair of silver gleaming eyes. Uhm, he also wears a bracelet, which is carved with a set of magic runes that I don't even recognize."
"Oh?" Link was now curious. He said, "Do you still remember what those magic runes look like?"
"Of course." Evelina took out her wand. With a few strokes, ten curious magic runes floated in the air.
Celine observed them and shook her head. "I don't understand any of these runes."
Eliard examined the runes intently. He then closed his eyes, ruminating on them. Ten seconds later, he shook his head. "Me neither."
Under Link's instruction, Eliard had seen much himself. Though not as proficient as Link, he had a rough knowledge of dragon runes, time runes, spatial runes and many other profound areas in the mystic arts. But he had never come across such runes in his studies.
All three of them looked at Link.
Link gazed at the runes, mesmerized. In truth, he was reading the game system's translation presented before him.
The runes floating in the air had nothing to do with magic. They were actually a series of words in the Ethereal language. The runes' translation read "Point 1852, master of the secret arts, Haromed the Third."
As soon as the translation appeared, the game system presented a new mission to him.
Mission Activated: Pursue the Intruder
Description: Search the Free Trade Confederation in the South, pinpoint the exact location of Haromed the Third.
Mission Reward 1: Omni Points +500
Mission Reward 2: Moonstone
Link regarded the 500-Omni-Point reward with indifference, but when he saw the Moonstone reward, he immediately accepted the mission. However, a frown appeared on his face when he reread Haromed the Third's name.
He had known the fellow back in the game. His power was impressive, but the man was as timid as a mouse. He always shied away from danger and never stayed in one place for too long. His penchant for disguises made him as slippery as an eel. Even if Link knew that he was in Golle Kingdom, capturing Haromed would still be an extremely difficult hurdle to overcome.
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