Snowflakes drifted down like cotton from the heavens. Link stood on top of the fortress's wall, looking out pensively over the Black Forest.
The High Elves' persistence to merge the two realms would soon bring about an age of darkness. The God of Light was no more. He had transformed into the ravenous Ruler of Light and Darkness. Though he was still in the Fedaro realm, it would soon only be a matter of time before he set his eyes on Firuman. And the human race still had the Army of Destruction in the Black Forest to worry about.
The path set before the human race was fraught with countless obstacles. One false move could mean the extinction of the entire race.
How should they proceed now?
Should they go after the Army of Destruction? No, the Black Forest was just too dangerous. The fortress simply did not have enough manpower right now to confront the Army of Destruction on equal footing. The High Elves would also not stand idly on the sidelines. Whether they chose to continue assisting the Army of Destruction in their war efforts or turn around and attack Ferde themselves at this point, the humans would still suffer.
In any case, there was nothing good to be gained from going after them at the moment.
Should they attack the Isle of Dawn directly? No, that would be folly. The Isle of Dawn was surrounded by precipitous cliffs as well as countless defensive magic seals. It was even protected by the World Tree itself. Any attempts to storm that place would be suicide.
Link knew that the human armies currently did not have the strength to bring the fight to their enemies. Their only option for now was to bolster their own strength while being on the defensive and patiently looking out for any new developments in the situation.
However, the humans' enemies would also be building up their own strength as they stayed on the defensive. They simply could not let the Army of Destruction or the High Elves do as they pleased.
They needed to disrupt their enemies' plans somehow.
But how should they go about it? Having only just returned from the Sea of Void and still not having a good grasp on the situation at hand, Link did not have the slightest idea what his next move should be.
"My Lord." Eliard had come over. In a formal setting like this, he would never casually call out Link's name as he would when it was just the two of them. He was now looking at Link with utmost reverence. "Should we go after them?"
Link shook his head. "No. It would be too dangerous. For now, we should just take advantage of the fact that the Army of Destruction currently do not have the power to carry out a follow-up attack, and continue chipping away at the enemy's forces while we maintain our defenses here."
This was the safest option he could think of.
Eliard immediately understood Link's reasoning. Standing beside Link, he noticed that his brows were furrowed. He asked, "Is something troubling you?"
Link nodded. Realizing that the officers around them were now looking at the two of them, he said, "Yes, there is. However, it's nothing too urgent. Let's go to the stronghold. I need to see how Kanorse is doing now."
Eliard did not raise any objection to this. The two of them then headed towards the stronghold in the middle of Orida Fortress.
Inside the stronghold, Milose, Elovan, the Red Dragon Warrior Felina, Princess Annie and everyone else all came over to greet him. Link nodded at each of them. He was then guided by Princess Annie to Kanorse's room.
Kanorse was sleeping soundly on his bed.
After resting for three days, and under the watchful eye of Eliard and the others, Kanorse's condition was finally improving. Though he still had not woken up, his breathing and pulse were now stable. For now, his life was out of the danger zone.
But Kanorse was a Warrior. A Warrior without both his arms was as good as a dead one.
Princess Annie broke the grave silence in the room by exclaiming, "We should be thankful that he is still in the world of the living."
Link walked forward and closely inspected Kanorse's wounds. He then looked at Eliard. "How much combat power do you think Kanorse will be able to regain if we build him another pair of arms using the Flesh Puppet technique?"
Eliard shook his head. "I've thought of it as well, but it would be extremely difficult to pull off. Kanorse is already quite powerful. His strength is currently at Level-11. We could use the Flesh Puppet technique to reconstitute new arms for him, but to use it in a fight... I'm afraid that his new arm might not be able to handle the strain of having Battle Aura channeled into it."
He recalled the time the High Elf Magician Milose had his arm ruined by the Beastman King Avatar. Link had used the Flesh Puppet technique to fashion him a new arm. The only difference was that as a Magician, Milose was not a physically strong or agile person and so never saw the need to wield highly concentrated power in his body in his everyday life. Thanks to this, Link was able to effectively use the Flesh Puppet technique on the High Elf.
On the other hand, Kanorse was a Warrior. His body was a weapon. In combat, high concentrated levels of power would be circulating throughout his body every second. A Warrior as competent as Kanorse would need to be able to deftly manipulate this flow of power in his body in a split second. The task of building a new arm for someone as formidable as him might not have been possible for Link before his trip into the Sea of Void.
Right now, though it seemed difficult, Link was confident that he could help Kanorse regain his two arms. He would still need to carry out a bit of research to formulate a way to go about this.
Seeing Link standing there without a word, Princess Annie simply assumed that he too thought that Kanorse's situation was hopeless. She sighed inwardly and decided to put the matter aside. She then walked forward, tucked Kanorse even more snugly under his bedsheet and sat down beside his bed silently.
At that moment, a general plan had taken shape in Link's mind. He then said, "There may be a way. But I'll need some help to pull this off. Eliard, let's go back to the Mage Tower. We'll hammer out the details there."
"Is there really hope for Kanorse?" Princess Annie was overjoyed. Though she was ready to accept the reality of Kanorse losing both his arms, she could not be more pleased if there was still a chance for him to be made whole again, however slim it might be.
Link replied consolingly, "I can't make any promises just yet. However, you have my word; I will do everything I can."
Princess Annie's face broke into a smile. Hearing this from the lord of Ferde assured her that he would succeed. He was, after all, a man capable of miracles.
Without further delay, after casting a Rejuvenation spell on Kanorse, he and Kanorse went back to the Mage Tower.
Once there, Eliard could no longer suppress his curiosity. "Link, did you learn some new form of magic?"
He too was a Master Magician. To the best of his knowledge, there was no spell in Firuman capable of giving Kanorse back his arms.
"Guilty as charged," said Link with a smile. He then took out his magic notebook and turned it to the last few pages. On them, he had scrawled all of the magical wisdom he had gathered from the realm of Fedaro. "Look at this."
As if he was being given the holy grail, Eliard gingerly took the book from Link and examined what Link had written in it. He then exclaimed, "It's a completely different magical system from ours, but it's also extremely refined."
"Indeed. By combining the Flesh Puppet technique with these new concepts, we may be able to build a new pair of arms for Kanorse. Of course, it will be an extremely arduous task. The two of us will not be enough. We may need Milose and Elovan for this."
"They should be honored to be a part of this experiment," said Eliard, laughing.
After summoning the two High Elf Magicians into the Mage Tower and explaining the plan to them, Milose and Elovan nodded ecstatically at this. "My Lord, we are yours to command."
Soon, all four Legendary Magicians began pouring everything they had into their research. Link was the main conductor of their experiment, while Eliard and the others simply provided their assistance. The four of them experimented on every possibility without showing any sign of fatigue.
Magical research had always been an arduous process which required concentration above all else. The Magicians soon lost track of time as they delved deeper into their work.
Seeing the lord of Ferde appearing out of nowhere and beating back the Army of Destruction, only to disappear once more for days on end inside the Mage Tower, had left the Warriors of Orida Fortress completely mystified.
This intrigued most people at first. However, half a month later, Kanorse finally regained consciousness. When news of this got out, everyone stopped caring about the lord of Ferde's whereabouts and decided to congratulate Kanorse on his recovery.
When Kanorse woke up, he was completely despondent over the loss of his two arms. If Princess Annie had not told him that the lord of Ferde was still looking for a way to restore his arms, he would have probably started drinking his days away to drown out his grief.
While Kanorse waited with bated breath for Link to emerge from his work and give him the good news, one day, Orida Fortress received a visit from a strange visitor.
The visitor was at least 40 years old. His features were simple. He was clad in an elegant, golden robe. It was far different from anything the human race had ever conceived, and certainly not something worn by any High Elf, Dark Elf or Naga.
His attire suggested that he was a Magician. His features also seemed human. He had entered the fortress alone, and his face did not betray the slightest hint of worry even as he found himself surrounded by the fortress's Warriors. There was a disparaging look on his face as he looked around. It was as if he were being surrounded by a couple of ants that could be easily stomped on.
The Warriors brought the man to Kanorse. When the man saw Kanorse, his gaze immediately fell on the two stumps on his shoulders. He then said with a smile, "Looks like you've just lost both your arms in a battle."
Kanorse frowned slightly. He did not like the man at first sight. He seemed too arrogant. Though the visitor looked human, he had the bearings of a High Elf.
"State your purpose, Magician."
The man's smile did not leave his face. "I heard that the lord of Ferde is the most powerful Magician in this realm. I've come all the way here to see if it's true."
Malice dripped from his words. The man had obviously come here to challenge the lord of Ferde to a duel. Kanorse's brows furrowed even deeper on his forehead. Most of the Warriors around the strange visitor already had their hands resting on the pommels of their swords in case a fight broke out.
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