56 A Serendipitous Meeting

 The gambling house was in the north-western part of River Cove town. It was a big two-story wooden house. It was probably the busiest and most successful business in the area. Rumors said that the gambling house was owned by the mayor's nephew, which was why they could operate in broad daylight and the militia would still never bother them.

As they entered the gambling house, Jacker and Gildern each stood on either side of Link, protecting him in the middle.

There were many people there; most of them were red-eyed gamblers. In front of each card table, there was a female dealer with a voluptuous figure wearing skimpy clothing. In every key spot of the gambling house, there were strongly built bodyguards keeping watch of any situations.

This was where prostitutes, pickpockets, cheats, crooks, and indeed the whole dregs of society mixed.

After entering the gambling house, Jacker scanned the room and walked to a table in the corner.

As he walked, he told Link, "My Lord, do you see that yellow-haired boy there? That's Jimi, rumors say he knows how to get a message to Syndicate's people."

This was definitely one of Jacker's strengths. He had been socializing with lowlifes, so he knew the ins and outs of this society very well, just the thing that Link lacked.

Link turned to where Jacker indicated and saw that Jimi wasn't participating in the card game, but was standing at the side watching. Jimi's hands and feet weren't very clean. Just as Link saw him, he was extending his hand and reached into the pockets of two gamblers.

He didn't steal much, only a few copper coins from each gambler. He was quick and discreet, like a dragonfly skimming across the water's surface.

"But he's just a pickpocket," Link said.

"Yes, but Syndicate is a group of thieves," said Gildern.

As they talked, the three walked to Jimi and surrounded him. Jimi attempted to bolt, but Jacker and Gildern had cornered him, blocking every possible escape route.

"What are you people trying to do? I'm telling you, I don't like to be pushed around." Jimi gulped. One of his hands was extending in front of his chest, and his other was grabbing at his pockets, where a dagger was hidden.

But just as his hand moved, Gildern raised a pocket knife and with lightning speed cut Jimi's wrist.

This was not a light cut, Jimi's wrist shook and he gasped. His other hand rushed to hold his cut wrist. Just like that, both of his hands were now subdued.

Link walked up to him, pointed the wooden-looking New Moon wand to Jimi's heart, the tip of the wand glowing dimly, and said, "I hear you can get a message to Syndicate?"

Link spoke with a very low voice. They didn't want to raise any commotion in the loud gambling house. The guards glanced over at their direction but saw nothing out of the ordinary, so they turned elsewhere.

In the gambling house, small disagreements were normal occurrences, they couldn't possibly check for every problem that arose. So as long as there were no big commotions, the guards wouldn't interfere.

Jimi felt differently, though. He could feel that there was something pressing on his heart. It felt a little cold and a little painful, and he saw that there was very dim light at the tip of the wand, so he was sure that this person was definitely a Magician. He was so terrified that his body shivered and his voice shook when he spoke. "Yes, yes, yes, I can send the message."

"Then tell them that I have what they want. If that woman dies or if there is even a scratch on her, then they can forget about getting it. Remember, my name is Link, and I'm a Magician. If they want to meet me, I'll be at the River Cove Inn!" Link's voice was low, but his gaze was cold as ice when he was talking. He released the Mana in his body, charging the air around him and created a noticeable air around him.

He now had close 100 Mana points and he was fully replenished. This was normal for a Level-2 Magician. If he made it visible now, it could easily shock and terrify people who were not familiar with magic, and that was enough for him.

Yellow-haired Jimi had never seen such a thing, he violently nodded and said, "I will convey your message. Now! I'll go now!"

Link then kept his aura and pointed the wand at Jimi's heart. In the dark, he cast the spell Magician 's Hand, then he penetrated Jimi's flesh and bone and grabbed at Jimi's beating heart.

Jimi could feel the horrifying sensation of his heart being gripped. He was soaked in sweat and his whole body was petrified with fear.

"Do not tell lies, and be quick. Otherwise, the magic that I planted in your heart will explode to a thousand pieces!" said Link, and then he ended his Magician 's Hand.

This spell was very useful in scaring ordinary people who were foreign to magic. If it had been a powerful Warrior, this trick would never work because the magic power in this spell was just too weak. Their body's strength alone could stop him from penetrating through their flesh and bones.

Jimi almost went crazy, then Link released him. The moment he was free he began to run, while running he said, "I will report your message immediately."

Good, now all they could do was wait.

Link said to Jacker and Gildern, "Let's go, we'll wait for the people from Syndicate at the River Cove Inn."

He knew that the powerful people behind the scenes valued the magic runes very much, and the rune was hidden by Link in his crystal pendant. It was undetectable, that was why they could never find him.

Because they couldn't find it, Link had threatened them with such bold words. They would not dare make any rash moves; the only option was to send someone to deal it.

This way, they had a chance of saving Lucy's life.

The next step would depend on the message sent by the Syndicate.

The three exited the gambling house. While on the road, Link said, "I know both of you must have some questions."

"My Lord, we'd like to know what Syndicate actually wants," asked Jacker.

Gildern was similarly curious.

Link didn't hide anything, "Remember that black crystal that Viktor had? It had a proper name, Magic Runes. I'm guessing that's what they want."

"My Lord, then should we give them this thing?" Jacker asked.

Link vehemently shook his head and said, "Absolutely not. This is an evil magic device and I have sealed it up. If this falls into their hands, it will bring misfortune to the whole Girvent Forest, no, maybe the whole Kingdom of Norton. Then, there will be a calamity that might destroy the whole Girvent Forest. If that happens, no one would be able to escape."

These were all true, technically, because if the academy was in trouble, they would lose half of the kingdom's Magicians and that would make defending against the Dark Elf Army impossible. That would then bring forth the burning of Girvent Forest to ashes. All of this had its origin in this Magic Rune.

Once they heard such terrifying catastrophes, Jacker and Gildern went silent. They knew that Link would never lie to them.

Link's face showed a cold smile, "So Jacker, Gildern, do you know the downfalls of being strong now?"

When your power was increased, you were then able to do what other people normally couldn't. These things you achieved would then attract attention from people who were as strong as you were, so you would face much more terrifying opponents.

Take eliminating the Dark Brotherhood for instance; if it was up to the Flamingo Band of Mercenaries alone, not only would they not have been able to defeat the Brotherhood, they also might not have even been able to kill Viktor. Then, they never would have touched the Magic Rune, and so would never have to deal with this present danger they were facing.

But now, everything was different.

Jacker understood what Link meant, but he chuckled and said, "My Lord, everyone has to die, the only difference is how. If I get killed by the strong opponent who used to look down on me, then that's a life well lived."

Gildern held on to the bow in his hand tightly and said, "My Lord, this is just a fact of life for a mercenary."

Link smiled, he felt he had truly chosen the right allies, "Don't worry, it's not that big a deal, we're only facing a small part of the Syndicate anyway. We defeated the Dark Brotherhood, we even killed the Occult Viktor, those hiding thieves of Syndicate can't be that hard to deal with!"

Although truth be told, there were some worrisome troubles about the Syndicate. The first was the matter of saving Lucy's life, and the second was the Syndicate's power that was spread all over the human realm. Even if they managed to destroy the Girvent Forest division of the Syndicate, that doesn't mean it would be the end of their problems.

Link would be fine; as long as he could enter the Magic Academy, he would be safe inside. But not so for Jacker and the rest. Link felt responsible for landing them into this current mess, so he thought it was his responsibility to think of an idea to decrease the risks his followers would face from the Syndicate in the future.

As for what exactly he should do, Link had no idea at the moment.

Forget it, don't think too much, when the time comes I'll find a way. Let's just take one step at a time and make sure the next step is planned properly. Right now, the most important thing is to save Lucy's life. Link tucked away all of his worries about the future and concentrated on the present most pressing problem.

When they heard what Link was saying, Jacker and Gildern both heaved a sigh of relief. Link was their main strength, their central support, and if he had confidence, then all they needed to do was follow his lead and they were sure that everything would be fine.

Just then Link heard uniform hoof beats coming from behind him. He turned around and saw a beautiful carriage being driven towards their direction.

The carriage was drawn by four beautiful Corot horses. The carriage itself was built with solid iron ebony and there were a few spots where silver runes were etched onto the carriage. The carriage was also armed with some defensive spells.

This carriage was many times more luxurious than the one Eliard was riding!

Must be some members of a noble family. Link and the rest had stepped aside to let the carriage pass. Coming from a noble family himself, he had some understanding of these luxury items that only the nobles and the upper-class people could afford.

This kind of carriage would cost at least 2000 gold coins, his old man Hamilton Morani had one too, but it only cost 300 gold coins, the one in front of him now was certainly more expensive.

River Cove town was not far from the royal capital; its views were beautiful. Important people from the city frequently came into the town for their vacations. Needless to say, carriages of this scale and caliber were not a rare sight.

Because Link's head was full of plans to rescue Lucy, he paid no heed to these nobles. He didn't notice at all how the carriage had stopped immediately after passing the three of them.

The knight who followed behind the carriage rode up to the carriage window and seemed to listen carefully to an order. Then the knight turned his horse around and rode towards Link and the two mercenaries.

Jacker and Gildern were both alarmed, and they both gripped their weapons. Link was shocked too, but he didn't panic. He touched them both on their shoulders and reassured the two mercenaries, "Don't worry, there won't be trouble."

And then, he stepped forward.

The knight quickly reached Link, and then condescendingly he shouted, "Young man, report your name."

Link did not immediately answer, he thoroughly scanned the knight in front of him. He was wearing carved silver plate armor and a sky-blue shirt, and on his chest, there was an imprint of a roaring lion - a family crest.

In the Norton Kingdom, a roaring male lion was a symbol of the royal family of Abel.

That meant the knight in front of him was a high-ranking knight serving directly under the king, and the person in the carriage must also be an important figure too-probably a member of the royal family.

Link didn't know why the knight would want his name, but he gave his usual answer, "I am Link Morani, son of Viscount Hamilton Morani."

He had to mention his own noble family name. When interacting with the nobles, he found that they would communicate better with him if he demonstrated himself to be one of them.

As expected, the moment he mentioned his father's name the knight's hard gaze softened. At the same time, a soft voice was heard from the carriage.

The voice was barely audible, but incredibly familiar. Link instantly knew who was inside the carriage. It was Annie Abel, the Iron Duke's only daughter, and King Leon's own niece.

The only trouble was, shouldn't she be in Gladstone? What was she doing here in River Cove Town?