The candle burned brightly all through the night in the attic of the River Cove Inn. The two young Magicians inside were both hard at work.
One was engrossed in studying the magic textbook, the other was immersed in the former's thesis. Time flew by and none of them noticed that it was already midnight.
Link felt tired, so he put down the textbook and prepared to go to sleep. His body was quite frail, so he had to be cautious and mindful of his health. Even though he would often be so immersed in a task that he would forget the time, the moment he remembered, he would always ensure that he got enough rest.
While settling down under his blanket, he noticed Eliard was still poring over his thesis. "Hey, Eliard, it's late. Why don't you get some rest?" he said.
"Just a minute, there's something I'm trying to understand here," Eliard said as he quickly jotted down notes with a goose feather quill. He was keenly trying to work out a point about Mana transformation in Link's thesis.
He might not know much about the application or usage of this theory, but he couldn't help but be fascinated by it. As a Magician, he could easily perceive a sense of elegance in this simple Mana formula, even though he was just an apprentice. Just as a lecherous man would be captivated when he saw a beautiful woman-he was, similarly, completely sucked in.
Link saw how focused Eliard was-he knew that there was no way he could convince him to rest, so he said nothing more and went to sleep himself.
And so the night passed silently.
At three in the morning the following day, Link woke up automatically like clockwork. His concentration was now razor-sharp, and he sensed there were some quiet movements in the room. As he opened his eyes, he saw Eliard still sitting at the table exactly as he was before Link went to sleep. His eyes were as red as a rabbit's, but he didn't seem to be the least bit sleepy.
So he's just as obsessive as I am. It was no coincidence that in the game Eliard managed to become a Legendary Pinnacle Magician.
Link was careful not to disturb him as he sat up and cast the Illumination spell. He then began to read the textbook that Eliard had brought with him.
The magic textbook was a property of the East Cove Magic Academy, so he would have to return it soon. He read through the entire book once, just to memorize its contents. Then he would slowly make sense of what he memorized later.
He had an extraordinary memory, plus he had just woken up so his concentration right now was working at its full capacity. He only had to read through the textbook once and he would remember everything, including the graphs and illustrations. He read it a second time to go over some details he might have missed, then once more to strengthen his memory. Now he was at his fourth reading, and he could remember clearly each and every detail in this Level-1 magic textbook titled Progress in Magic Spells. A quick search through his memory and he would recall every detail from the book as vividly as if he were watching a slide film.
It sure is nice to have an incredible brain, thought Link proudly. He was grateful for the exceptional memory he now possessed.
By this time, it was getting light outside. Link checked on Eliard again and saw that he was still as immersed in the thesis as ever. He noticed Eliard's face was getting pale, and thought that if he continued this way, his body would soon collapse.
So Link walked up to him and forcibly pulled away his thesis. "Hey, you really need to get some rest."
"Wait, let me read it just a little longer," pleaded Eliard. He was staring wide-eyed at the goatskin paper in Link's hand. He looked as if he was going to grab it but was hesitant to do so.
"It's not even finished yet, so what's the rush?" Link was taken aback by how fascinated Eliard was. He thought what he'd written was still too disorganized, with no clear line of thought. He thought it was nowhere near presentable and nowhere near finished. Why exactly was Eliard so interested in it?
"What? It's not even finished yet?" Eliard looked discouraged.
He had read through it for the whole night, but in the end only managed to finish reading three pages. Of what he'd read, he only understood half of it at most, but Link had, in fact, written about fifteen or sixteen pages in total. Last night, he glanced through the last few pages but realized he couldn't make head nor tail of its contents.
But even so, he was certain that this thesis contained novel and revolutionary ideas!
"Link, I think if you could just reorganize some points in the thesis, then think up a suitable title, I'm sure it could get approved by the academy... or rather, what if I copy down parts of your thesis and bring it back to the academy, so my tutor could have a look?" said Eliard. It was a spur-of-the-moment idea that he just came up with.
He believed that even if the thesis couldn't get Link admitted into the academy, it would definitely improve his tutor's opinion of Link even further. She might even lend Link more textbooks too.
Eliard would do anything he could to help Link, without any hesitation.
It's too bad Link's innate magic talent wasn't sufficient, otherwise, he would've been accepted by the academy a long time ago.
Eliard sighed. He noticed that Link's current magic aura was as dim as before. It was obvious that Link had only been consoling himself when he told Eliard previously that his magic aura was so dim because he was hurt.
Link didn't know what went through Eliard's mind at that moment. He considered Eliard's idea then nodded and said, "Fine. You haven't had rest yet, so you'd better have some sleep after breakfast. I'll organize the parts of my thesis that I've already written, and you can take it back with you."
He had only just roughly read through the book Progress in Magic Spells, but he'd lapped up all the knowledge he could glean. He was like a wanderer in a desert who would drink up all the water of the first pool he'd finally stumbled upon.
If Link could feel this way with a book, he was sure that when he finally became a student of the East Cove Magic Academy, it would feel as if he was a beggar that had walked into Aladdin's cave of hidden treasures!
These thoughts made Link's desire to enter the academy deepen.
Eliard, on the other hand, was indeed very tired. He went to bed after having his breakfast and Link began to clean up his thesis.
Even though he still had a long way before the completion of his paper, Link noticed that a clear outline began to emerge. As the author, he was very familiar with the contents, so in no time at all, he managed to organize it all into distinct parts.
Of the many parts it was divided into, the very first was devoted to the formulas of Newton's Universal Law of Gravitation.
It was true that Link had finally managed to churn out the formulas of the Universal Law of Gravitation, but this was just a superficial conclusion to tie up the many complex ideas in his thesis together. There were still premises that were not yet proven. In short, the current thesis did not represent the true depth of Link's analysis.
This part contained the most compelling arguments, so I'll let Eliard take it with him. The rest is still too ambiguous, I'd better work on it more before showing it.
Link made a final decision to let Eliard take the part of his thesis where he derived the formulas of Universal Law of Gravitation. As for the parts where he dug deeper and made more complicated conjectures, he felt they were still too unrefined and was reluctant to show them to anyone.
After deciding which parts he would include, Link copied the revised version down on new goatskin papers. Then, as Eliard was still sleeping, he took out the scrolls on which Eliard's tutor had written her answers to Link's questions and started to read them.
The moment he read the explanation for the first question, Link had to admit that Eliard's tutor was indeed a gifted Magician with a deep knowledge of magic.
Her explanations possess such clarity and conviction. This tutor Moira sure is impressive. Why haven't I heard of this name before from the game? Link wondered. The questions he gave to Eliard were all complicated, but Moira could give him answers that not only cleared all of Link's confusions, but also inspired him with new ideas to advance his thesis.
He searched carefully through his memory but still couldn't find any character named Moira in the game. There was no trace of her even during the infamous accident in the East Cove Magic Academy.
But it's a strange thing that such a knowledgeable Level-5 Magician with her own Mage Tower didn't leave any trace of herself in history.
But it wasn't important, anyway. Link couldn't think of any reason for Moira's invisibility in the game's history, but he decided to leave the matter aside and continued to read the answers on the scroll. His reading speed was fast, so in a short time, he had completed reading all six answers. Just as he was putting the scrolls away, he discovered some messages left by Moira in a neat handwriting.
"I'm glad my student has such an exceptional friend such as you. Your understanding of magic is deep, and your approaches are unique. If there are any questions at all that you have regarding magic or spells, write directly to me, and I will do my best in giving you the answers and explanations. - Moira Droskyn."
These words proved that Link had now received Moira's recognition.
He pondered for a while and realized that he did have some questions. Since Moira insisted she was happy to help, why not write her some questions now?
Link lifted the quill pen and wrote down some new questions. Eliard would be going back to the academy today, so he would just give the letter to him so he could give it to Moira.
At midday, Eliard woke up. Before he departed, he was about to leave 10 gold coins for Link, but Link interjected cordially. "Don't worry, my friend. My father had finally answered my letters and sent me some money too."
"Oh, that's good to hear!" said Eliard, visibly relieved. He knew that Link's father was a nobleman, so it wasn't strange to him that he would send Link some money.
"Well, goodbye, Link," said Eliard.
"Farewell, and safe journey."
And so Eliard took the revised thesis from Link, Moira's textbook, and Link's letter with him. He climbed back into the carriage and made his journey back to the East Cove Magic Academy.
When the carriage was out of his view, Link turned back into the inn. By this time, the way people in the inn hall looked at him changed drastically. They now treated him with more respect and reverence.
Link found it amusing. This was just typical of the common folks-they would be drinking in the hall all day shooting the breeze. Then when a bright star appeared in the sky, they would all point at it and exclaim in awe. But moments later they would go back to their gossips and rumors, wasting their lives away. Getting respect from these people did not make Link feel flattered or honored at all.
He walked up to the counter and told Matt the innkeeper, "Send my dinner and tomorrow's breakfast to my room please, thank you."
Matt's face bloomed as bright as a chrysanthemum flower. "No problem."
Link climbed up the stairs to the attic and then went back to reading.
I know many Level-1 spells. If I could improve a few, then create a few Supreme Magical Skills, my power would increase exponentially. But which spell should I start with?
He considered it for a while and decided to improve the spell Vector Throw. The Mana consumption of this spell was low, its adaptability was boundless, and even if the opponent was armed with anti-magic gear, this spell would still cause considerable damage and pain.
Just as Link was settling into deep concentration, engrossed in the task of modifying the spell, something sinister was unfolding in the underworld of Girvent Forest.
In the Cove of Echoes.
Two black shadows were standing amid the ruins of the cove.
"Did you find the runes?" asked the black shadow who was clad in a loose cloak, with a wand in his hand. Had Viktor still been alive, he would've recognized the cloaked figure as the mysterious Magician who had given him the Occultic Runes.
"No. I couldn't find it anywhere in the cove. But I've found these," said the other black shadow who was clad in a greyish brown leather armor, his face covered by a hood. He had just come out of the cave and was holding a piece of burnt reddish rotten flesh and fragments of leather armor.
The black-robed Magician was alarmed. "There's a trace of magic spells. I've seen this leather armor before... it's Viktor's. He must've been transformed by occult magic, and yet he was killed. Who would have such power? Could it be a Magician from the East Cove Academy?"
"No, Viktor was a cautious man. He wouldn't provoke the ire of the Magicians. I've heard rumors that it was a group of mercenaries who did this."
"Mercenaries?" The black shadow went silent briefly, then reopened his mouth and said, "Find these people, the runes must be found no matter what it takes! Here is your reward."
"Understood." The black shadow took the pouch from the black-robed Magician. He opened it, saw its contents and smiled. Then, his body blurred, became translucent and blended completely into the surroundings of the cove.
Soft rustling footsteps echoed around the cove. It was the sound of this black shadow leaving, masked from his surrounding by a spell that granted him invisibility.
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