This time, Link traveled with the Snow Mountain Archmage alone. Eliard returned to Ferde. He was needed to organize everything and prepare against the upcoming enemy.
Link was now as fast as lightning. Less than 20 minutes later, he brought the Snow Mountain Archmage to the destroyed Shadow Fortress.
When they reached the ruins, the Snow Mountain Archmage's expression changed before Link could even speak. "This place really has the Belief Crystal!"
He sped to the ruins and waved his wand. The fallen rocks all flew back from the force field. Soon, the Archmage cleared all the broken rocks in the ruins, revealing the smooth and flat land.
The ground seemed to be made of lapis lazuli. The zone was around 90 feet long and 150 feet wide. One couldn't see anywhere a secret door could be hidden. The Archmage walked over and circled the lapis lazuli and smiled thinly.
"It's hidden well, but the method is too low. It can only fool amateurs."
As soon as he finished, faint gold light shone from his wand. The light was like a probe that scanned the lazuli. A few seconds later, it stopped somewhere, and the light grew brighter.
Standing to the side, Link could clearly see many faint black veins under the light. Even though the Archmage had pointed it out, the veins were still unclear. They just looked like regular veins while the lazuli was still a sheet of metal. There were no flaws.
Link wouldn't think that there were any problems here. He couldn't tell. This meant that Morpheus' methods had surpassed his knowledge.
"Open!" the Snow Mountain Archmage exclaimed softly. The dark gold light coming out of the wand instantly condensed into a white-gold beam. Like a living worm, it wriggled into one of the veins. Then something miraculous happened.
The faint veins had been hidden, but when the light dug into it, they floated up like blood vessels under skin. Then they started glowing. Under the glow, the lazuli started melting, dissolving, and retreating. Finally, the originally complete piece of lazuli turned into a cellar of more than ten feet wide. It was shrouded in black mist that obstructed Link's vision but not the Archmage.
"Wow, so many things. This Shadow Stalker really did hit it rich." The Archmage's voice was filled with joy. This was the first time Link saw him with emotion.
He pointed his wand at the cellar. Whoosh. Something jumped out. Beside him, Link looked over and saw a dark dagger-shaped crystal in the Archmage's hand. At a glance, the crystal was translucent and colorless. But after a few seconds of being in that area, it became shrouded in shadows. As time went on, the shadows thickened until it turned into heavy mist. The crystal hid inside and disappeared from sight.
"The Shadow Crystal is formed by the believers' belief in the Shadow Stalker Morpheus. There are so many here. It must be because Morpheus only takes and rarely blesses his believers with divine spells. A god and mortal must have a mutually beneficial relationship. No wonder he died." The Snow Mountain Archmage had a face of disdain. If he'd accumulated so many Belief Crystals, he would have become a true god long ago. Not only was Morpheus unable to become a god, but he was also even killed by three juniors, the most powerful at Level-14. It was hilarious.
With that, the Snow Mountain Archmage looked to either side and suddenly sighed. "Dylosen was a pity. I hadn't expected much from him, but he became my last hope."
Sighing again, he turned to Link. "There are many Shadow Crystals here. Each one contains miscellaneous Shadow Power. I didn't meld with the Shadow Divine Fragment, so I can't turn them into pure power. It's a pity. You could've used them to enter Level-18, but you can only enter mid-Level-16 now."
"Mid-Level-16? That's enough!" Link's eyes brightened. His opponent was also Level-16. If he had this power, he would be at the same level. He wouldn't get creamed.
As long as he was at the same level, he would be confident in winning. This confidence came from all his past victories.
The Snow Mountain Archmage nodded. "There isn't much time. I can feel their power approaching. We must hurry! Give me the Divine Fragment, and you start preparing!"
Link did as told.
After the Snow Mountain Archmage received the Divine Fragment, he clutched it with his left hand while holding his wand in his right. His wand danced; crystals kept jumping out of the cellar.
Immediately after, the black-crystal skull shone with dark watery light. They wrapped around the crystals like tentacles. Whenever light got to a crystal, it would glow. The glow was dark purple at first. Slowly, the light divided into different levels. The outer level became as clean and gentle as moonlight while the inner level became pure black.
"The power is coming. Catch!" the Archmage called.
Link focused and guarded his mind. He stood there without moving. An instant later, the pure moonlight flowed towards him. When it got close to his heart, it buried in and disappeared.
That moment, Link felt his chest heat up. His heart started pounding as loudly as thunder. If Link's body wasn't as powerful as it was, his heart would probably burst now.
But if his heart didn't burst and could bear the pressure, this was the best way to quickly meld with outer power.
The heart was a person's core. Whether it was actual blood or power, they both converged in the heart to be cycled through the body. When the power entered Link's heart, it melted into his blood. Link's blood instantly started bubbling. If the outside world could see inside him, it would be a terrifying scene of boiling lava.
Under the powerful pressure of the heart, the boiling "lava" surged through Link's blood vessels. During this, pure energy kept shooting out from the vessels, nurturing the organs along the way, even including Link's brain.
With this nourishment, Link's body started strengthening with his high recovery speed. The strengthening process sounded nice, but it also meant that his body was changing dramatically. During this process, his various nerves were stimulated, making Link feel all sorts of things.
For example, Link felt indescribable things from inside his body. Numbness, itchiness, pain, stuffiness... It was impossible to describe everything.
Faced with this, Link could only grit his teeth and remind himself that the outside was a reflection of the inside. He stood without moving, letting the Archmage pour power into him, letting his body change.
The Snow Mountain Archmage didn't change; Shadow Crystals kept getting used up. Most of the power was actually wasted while only a bit was transformed and added to Link's body. But because there were so many crystals all at Level-19, only 10% of the power was unimaginable to Link.
When half of the crystals were used, Link felt his brain shake. Something seemed to have broken free. His soul suddenly became extremely free. His mind was abnormally transparent. He could practically do whatever he wanted.
This feeling was amazing.
He didn't know why it was like this and didn't think too much into the change because power was still flying into him.
After a while, he suddenly felt his heart heat up. It was as if his heart had become a red-hot piece of steel. But even though it was hot, Link didn't feel pain for some reason. Instead, he felt so comfortable. There was also an indescribable feeling of power. He felt that he could topple a mountain just by blowing.
He didn't know what was happening, but the Snow Mountain Archmage saw everything clearly.
Right now, Link was covered in a layer of fiery light. At first, it had been as serene as moonlight. Gradually, it turned golden like sunlight. The range expanded until spinning images appeared in the air.
The images were unclear at first. The specifics weren't visible. As more power was added, they cleared up. Now, there were huge golden dragons flying and roaring in the sky.
At this time, the light around Link grew thicker. There were more dragons as well. In the end, there were dragons within ten miles. It was like a land of dragons.
The Snow Mountain Archmage knew this was Link's territory. He stood inside, calming observing the characteristics.
Five times more Dragon Power, Level-17 spell immunity, Instant Flash at will, ultimate dragon form... Ooh, nice. The Firuman Realm really blesses this man. He must be blessed to reach this level.
The characteristics of the territory were basically all the lifesaving-tricks Link used before. Now, they'd become solidified as parts of his territory.
There were weaker and stronger territories. It depended on the owner and also the environment. The reason was simple. The territory was the result of the fight between the owner and the realm's principles. It couldn't only depend on one side.
The Snow Mountain Archmage knew countless people and had seen countless territories. He'd never seen one as powerful as Link's. If he wasn't blessed by the realm, he wouldn't reach this level.
Ding. The last Shadow Crystal was used up, and the power input stopped. Link kept standing there quietly. Around ten seconds later, he closed his eyes.
He'd just received the power and couldn't control it yet. Golden light poured out of his eyes as soon as they opened, stretching on for three feet. The dragons in the sky started roaring too. They were soundless, but the mightiness seemed able to destroy the world.
A long while later, Link started collecting his power. The territory and phenomenon disappeared one by one. Finally, only golden veins remained in his eyes.
"Archmage, thank you for your help," Link said.
The Snow Mountain Archmage nodded lightly and handed the Divine Fragment back to Link. "It's up to you to bring this back to my true self."
"I will do my best."
Link took the fragment. Now, he could easily resist the fragment's temptation. This meant his soul had become stronger and more perfect.
Putting the fragment away, Link's ears twitched. He chuckled. "They're almost here."
"Indeed." The Snow Mountain Archmage nodded. "Are you ready?"
Link unsheathed the Ode of a Full Moon and caressed the blade with his left hand. Golden veins snaked around the blade, turning the plain thing into a dazzling sword.
"My sword and I are ready."
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