It was a beautiful day.
The sky was bright and blue like pure tourmaline. The golden sunlight was filtered through the leafy canopy, sketching a painting of mottled light and shadows on the ground.
Green-feathered birds sang praises to mother nature, squirrels scurried from tree to tree, storing as much food as they could before winter came.
In River Cove town, not far from the small headquarters of the Flamingo Band of Mercenaries, there was a clearing in the middle of the forest.
This clearing was about 100 feet wide. It was thoroughly cleared by the mercenaries, its ground was leveled and then covered with fine sand. It was installed with training wood dummies and arrow targets, and there was also a resting hut. In the area surrounding the clearing, thorny shrubs were planted and many anti-trespassing devices were set up. If any strangers were to break in, the devices would make loud noises.
Ever since Link used the Hidden Power spell on Jacker, Jacker had been training his combat skills in this clearing area. His body was originally very strong, but now that he received Battle Art, his strength kept accumulating and rapidly progressing. After only a few days, he had progressed to Level-3, and there were signs that he might even break through to Level-4.
Lucy and Gildern looked on, immensely envious of Jacker's progress. They could only hope that Link's Mana recovered quickly so he would use this enigmatic spell on them too.
Link had been resting for five days, he should have replenished all his Mana by now.
These few days, Link's life had been very convenient. Because he didn't like to be disturbed, he stayed in the attic room of the inn. But Lucy went there to clean his room until it was spotless. The spider webs were removed, his shabby mattress was changed to a nice little bed, his blanket and bed cover were all changed, now crisp with the scent of sunshine and clean linen, and his dirty laundry was all cleaned.
Even Link had to admit, having someone take care of his daily chores this way wasn't bad at all.
Today, he was stuck writing his thesis, but his new spell experiment was successful. The weather was good anyway, so he went to the clearing to rest a little. He would also use this opportunity to cast Hidden Power on Lucy.
When Link arrived at the clearing, Gildern was practicing with his bow and Jacker was practicing his shield attack on a heavy sandbag-there was no sign of Lucy anywhere.
"Where's Lucy?" Link asked. The mercenaries had agreed earlier among themselves that Lucy would be the second one to receive Hidden Power.
As they saw him, Jacker and Gildern immediately stopped practicing. Jacker grabbed a rag and wiped the sweat off his face, and said, "Lucy went to the market to hire some people, she'll be back in an hour or so."
"Oh, fine. I'm not in a hurry anyway," Link nodded then said to Jacker, "Come on, before she comes back, come and try out a new spell I've just developed."
"No problem." Jacker took his big iron shield and covered the front of his body. He got into a defensive stance and then activated his earth element Combat Aura.
Immediately, his body and the shield were shrouded in a solid layer of yellow gemstone-like light-this was the light of his Combat Aura. Compared to the Jacker that Link first met, the light was brighter and more concentrated now; it could even rival that of a Level-4 Warrior.
"Great progress," Link applauded, "But my spell's pretty powerful, so be careful."
Jacker knew the power of Link's spells very well, so he didn't take the warning lightly. Jacker focused his concentration.
When he saw that Jacker was prepared, Link began to cast the spell. He didn't want to catch Jacker off guard so he did it slower.
Mana slowly flowed into the New Moon wand. A continuous flow of runic shadows flowed out from the tip then combined to form Runic Aura.
Link was inspired by this Hidden Power's Runic Aura, which was an essential component in high-level spells. So, he adapted the modular structure of the spell to develop his own new spell.
There were three Runic Auras: transparent water aura, fiery red aura, and pure white aura. Each one of these Runic Auras contained massive quantities of magic runes, and all of them created a truly magical sight.
When the Runic Aura was forming, Link used his left hand to take something from a pouch that was hanging on his waist. He took a powdery substance out of the pouch - they were iron filings.
He opened his palm and the iron filings flowed towards the tip of the wand which then glowed brilliantly in a white aura. This was the color of the metal element aura. Except in places like mineral caves, naturally occuring metal was scarce. By bringing his own supply of metal elements in the form of iron filings, Link was able to increase his spellcasting speed remarkably. However, Iron filings were rare and expensive in this world-he couldn't even find them at the blacksmith's. So in the end, he got them from a sawmill where they were carved out by a hydraulic saw. Twenty pounds of iron filings had cost him 20 gold coins.
From the same spot at the tip of the wand where the metal element flowed into, a stream of red flame accumulated and these two elements rapidly combined with each other. The metal element formed the shell and the fire element formed the core, combining to make a fist-sized silvery iron ball.
Instantly, after the iron ball was formed, the third rune circling at the tip of the wand began to work. A streak of brilliant light shot towards the silvery iron ball and it began to rotate rapidly.
Not only did it start to rotate, it was also changing shapes. It started to transform into a pointy shape and the light orb's rotation also became the axis of the rotation of the spike.
The spike's rotation speed was very quick, so much so that a tornado began to form around it and the air made a high-pitched hissing sound.
Seeing this, Jacker inadvertently gulped. Because Link cast the spell slowly, he saw the whole process of the spell materializing, and it looked absolutely terrifying.
"Get ready, I'm releasing it!" Link warned.
Jacker nodded, then held on to his iron shield tightly. His whole body was hidden behind the shield's cover.
And then, Link released the ball of magic.
Instantly, this flaming hot metal spike that contained condensed fire elements shot through the air as fast as lightning; it traveled almost 100 feet, hitting the middle of Jacker's shield.
Clang! There was a deep and resonant chime, and on Jacker's shield, the yellow tinge of his Combat Aura scattered in all directions like firecrackers.
Jacker was hit by an enormous force-although he was still standing, he was pushed three feet backwards. His feet had carved the sand into two channels.
He felt his arm go numb and there were a few seconds where he simply couldn't find the energy to fight against this force. He checked his shield and discovered a fist-sized dent about an inch deep on his thick shield.
Jacker stood motionless as he witnessed such awesome power. He knew Link also had spells for fireballs that looked like glass orbs, and if Link had decided to use that on him now, Jacker could be finished off swiftly and sent to the kingdom of gods with just one move.
"My Lord, what kind of spell was that?" Gildern asked, horrified.
They had been trying to learn and understand magic with Link recently, and they now had a rough idea of what spells were and what they involved. Still, this new move was an enigma to them. If it was a fireball, then its power was just too terrifying, and if it were a metal ball, then its speed and charging power were also too powerful. What's scarier was the fact that the four rays of metal that scattered after impact were powerful as well. If they had been in a crowd, the scattered shards would've caused unimaginable damage.
Link put his wand away, then gave a rough explanation, "I used some higher level magic techniques. This spell combined the techniques of fire elements, metal elements, and some transforming elements. When it shoots through the air, it makes a high-pitched sound, so I call it Whistle."
This was originally a Level-1 spell, and its original version was Vector Throw, but Link had improved and transformed it-now, it looked nothing like its predecessor.
The spell Whistle had an incredibly high speed of 650 feet per second, so its attack range was also very large.
At the same time, it also had special magical elements. Link could change its trajectory mid-flight. Of course, because the speed was very high, its magic energy would be big too, so its change in trajectory might not be as agile as that of normal elemental spells. But, it was powerful enough to kill!
Whether it was a PVP or a group battle, Whistle was at an advantage in both situations because as soon as Link willed it to, the fire element inside the metal shell would explode. In other words, it was just like a grenade with shrapnel.
After testing it out, Link was satisfied with the spell's power. Even the defenses of a Level-3 Earth Element Warrior could be suppressed by this spell.
The most critical point of the spell was its spellcasting speed. Even though this high-level spell's structure was much more complicated than normal Level-1 spells, Link was able to release it successfully in 0.2 seconds due to the number of times he had practiced it. This was mostly thanks to the aid of the game system.
With such speed and power, Whistle had become Link's new killer move.
Jacker had experienced the power of the spell himself, and there was a lingering fear inside him. Whistle? It should be called the Whistle of Death, he thought to himself.
Link laughed-he was satisfied. This spell had combined all of the insights he recently gained on magic, and after creating it, he received 5 Omni Points from the system; it was definitely a big gain.
At this point, Lucy wasn't back yet. Link was not in a rush, so he sat on a stool and chatted with Gildern. Gildern told him about the things the mercenaries heard and saw and Link explained some basic knowledge regarding magic.
Jacker listened to Link's explanation about magic while he continued to practice.
They chatted and chatted until two hours passed. But there was still no sign of Lucy.
Things started to feel anxious.
"Jacker, are you sure it's just an hour?" Link furrowed his brows slightly, it's been quite some time now.
Jacker knitted his brows, he had no heart to continue practicing. "This isn't right; Lucy has always been punctual. Even if something unexpected happened, she would send someone to inform us, especially at a time like this... could it be that something bad happened?"
Gildern's face went pale, "It couldn't be that someone from the Dark Brotherhood was exacting revenge, could it? But it can't be that bad, we are in River Cove after all!"
Even if chaos ruled outside of the town, inside, the militia was patrolling the town. Moreover, it was still daytime and Lucy wasn't a weak little girl. Who would dare to fight her?
Link stood up and said, "We'll achieve nothing just guessing here, pack everything up, we'll go to the market and ask around."
Lucy was now his follower, now that she was in trouble he had no option but to help her.
Jacker and Gildern nodded. In the fight against the Dark Brotherhood, Link had built a strong prestige among them, and now he was a lord that the two were loyal to. So now that there was a problem, the two subconsciously obeyed his words.
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