72 The Spiked Shield, the Gale Sword and the Executor’s Bow

 No shops in the River Cove town would openly sell such a precious and expensive metal as Mithril which was commonly used in magic spells. But that was not a problem to Jacker because he had his own bag of tricks.

Only a day after Link had explained everything about enchantment to Jacker, he managed to acquire ten pounds of high purity Mithril ore containing more than 60% Mithril by weight. He had spent 2300 gold coins on six pounds of Mithril - not a bad bargain at all.

The reason he could get so much for so little was because Mithril refining was an incredibly complicated process. This Mana conductive metal had an extremely high melting temperature, so normal flames were insufficient to extract them.

If you were a Magician, though, then nothing could be simpler. All Link had to do was to use a displacer spell and in no time, pure Mithril would be extricated out from the ore, giving them 6.2 pounds of Mithril.

Then, he took Jacker's shield, Lucy's sword and Gildern's bow, then went right back into his room and started tinkering with them.

"Give me three days' time." That was the last thing they heard of him before he disappeared into the room.

Outside the room, Jacker and the rest stared at each other, not knowing what was to become of their weapons after three days.

"I wonder what it would feel like wielding a magic shield," said Jacker, earnestly rubbing his hands, anticipating what would happen to his shield.

"Who knows?" said Lucy, "I've got sword practicing to do." She picked up her practicing iron sword, walked out, and started training with a wooden dummy outside near the pavilion.

She seemed focused, but in fact, she was quite distracted today and it affected her performance. Usually, she could swiftly pierce through the dummy. Nine times out of ten she could easily stab the dummy accurately at its heart. But today, she could only manage to do that five times out of ten.

Ah, Link is only seventeen, and he's still as pure as a child, he'd probably get bullied in the academy. Lucy knew Link would be entering the academy soon, and she couldn't help but be worried for him.

Gildern was the only one who was the calmest and most focused among the three. His spirits had been jolted by the fierce battle with Andy and the Dark Elf Magician. He didn't want to feel helpless against a strong opponent as he did that day, so ever since then, he had been training like mad, trying his best to improve his archery skills. He was doing great too. His performance had been stuck on a plateau no matter how much he trained, but recently he had been making some real progress.

And so, three days' time had passed.

On the afternoon of the third day, Link walked out of his room yawning and noticed a servant sweeping the corridor.

"Tell Jon in the kitchen to get me something to eat, I'm hungry," ordered Link.

"Yes, my lord," said the servant before scurrying to the kitchen.

"If you see Jacker and the rest on your way, tell them to come and see me. Their weapons are ready," added Link before the servant got away. The servant nodded deferentially in response.

A few minutes later, Jacker, Lucy, and Gildern were all standing in front of Link's room. Lucy was holding a dish in her hands - it was roasted mutton rolls, her best dish.

Link beamed at the sight of the dish. He grabbed it from Lucy's hand and quickly stuffed the food into his mouth. At the same time, he pointed towards the room and said, "Your weapons are inside, you can go get them."

The three went in and saw a wooden shelf in the middle of Link's room. On it, there was a shield, a sword, and a bow. Three days earlier, these weapons were plain and unremarkable, but now, they were unrecognizable even to the owners.

The heavy steel shield had become jet black, and its surface was now covered with rows and rows of thorns like porcupine spikes. The sword, on the other hand, seemed to be shrouded in a white light. When closely examined, one could see that this white light was caused by small vortices of air. And finally, Gildern's originally pale wooden bow was now pure black with lines of red aura running through its surface like blood vessels.

The eyes of the three mercenaries widened at the sight of their weapons. Their appearance alone would have been able to shock and intimidate anyone.

Link leaned on the wall beside the door chewing on the mutton roll. He smiled and said, "Jacker, I've added the spell, Thorn, and a low-level Guarding Barrier spell on your shield-the magic runes embedded into the shield will also strengthen it and protect you from impact. If you use the shield to block an attack, the opponent will feel the backlash of their attacks from the thorns. This will work for about 100 times. At the same time, the Guarding Barrier spell will protect you from any spell that is under Level-2. I've also fixed a recovery spell on the shield, so even if the shield suffers any physical damage, if it's allowed to recover for three days, it will revert to its original condition, so you could use this shield for as long as a year. After a year, I will have to pour my Mana into it to reinvigorate the magic properties of the shield, but I guess by then you should get yourself a new shield."

The spell, Recovery fell under the field of enchantment-its use was to extend the magical property of gear and weapons. In this world, the magical effects fixed on weapons generally faded over time. The only weapons that didn't fade over time were the ones that had undergone enchantment, and sacred or divine gear (or in other words, gear with mythical levels of quality).

Link's enchantment skills were only considered average now, and although he had a unique experience in building his own wand, his skill was still far removed from the level needed to produce sacred or divine weapons.

But even so, Jacker was more than happy with his newly improved shield. He picked up the brilliant shield, waved it back and forth a few times, and remarked, "This is the best shield I've ever laid my hands on!"

He discovered that not only was the shield boosted with magic spells, its shape and physical properties had changed as well. The rough surface was gone and was replaced with a smooth and fine surface. There was an additional grip to prevent slip where the handle was, and even the center of gravity had been adjusted so it fit nicely in his hand, almost as if it were a part of his arm.

"My lord, does it have a name?" asked Jacker.

"If you don't mind, I'd name it Spiked Shield!" said Link with a laugh.

"What a good name." Jacker handled the shield carefully with both hands as if it were made of glass, afraid that he would break or damage it.

Lucy picked up her sword too and the moment it was in her hand, her eyes lit up. The sword was so light as if it had no weight at all, but once held in the hand, it felt as if it merged with her body-as if the sword was an extension of her arm.

"Try thrusting it forward," said Link, as he took another bite of the mutton roll. It was, in fact, his favorite dish. It was a pity he wouldn't get to eat it once he'd entered the academy.

Lucy did as she was instructed and thrust the sword forward.

Whooosh! The tiny air vortices around the blade of the sword suddenly merged and became one big whirlwind. It rushed forward in step with the swing of the sword and the resulting gust of wind was strong enough to topple a chair that was eight feet away.

"Do it one more time," said Link.

Lucy repeated the movement, and the moment she thrust the sword, a translucent dagger-shaped draught surged forth from the sword and shot through the air. It hit a wall 12 feet away. The wind blade scratched the stone wall, leaving a line on it and sent dust flying everywhere. If such power was directed towards human flesh, it would've done great harm.

Lucy believed that this extra aid from the air vortices would definitely give her an edge in battles and help compensate for her lack of physical strength.

"This is a divine weapon!" exclaimed Lucy, lovingly caressing the exquisite sword in her hand.

"It's far inferior to a divine weapon. You can call it Gale Sword," Link responded.

"Gale Sword? What a fitting name." Lucy carefully swiped the sword into its sheath. Just as Jacker cherished his new shield, Lucy's heart would be broken if a single scratch appeared on the sword's blade.

And finally, it was Gildern's turn.

He picked up the bow, nocked an arrow, and then pulled the string. Suddenly, the red aura on the bow accumulated at the tip of the arrow-this surprised him, so he relaxed the string, and the red aura flowed back into the bow.

"Don't be afraid. Try to shoot an arrow with it. How about aiming at that tree outside the window there?" said Link.

Gildern nodded, walked to the window then promptly shot an arrow at the tree.

Shwooosh! One moment later, Gildern could hear a sound coming from the tree, but the arrow he shot was nowhere in sight.

"Where did the arrow go?" the bemused Gildern asked.

"Inside the trunk of that tree," said Link, "Do you see that red aura on the tree?"

Gildern nodded, his face a picture of bewilderment.

"I've fixed a spell on the bow to stabilize the flight of your arrows. I've also fixed the spell, Sharpness on it. With these spells, your arrows will be extremely accurate, and it will be able to pierce through even the hardest surface. I call it the Executioner's Bow."

Gildern immediately hugged the bow to his chest, thinking he would never part with it. He thought the old deer skin haversack that he used to keep his bow in was not good enough for this bow anymore, so he decided to spend some money to buy a mink fur haversack instead.

These three mercenaries were such country bumpkins that it was the first time they'd ever seen or touched magic weapons. Unsurprisingly, they cherished them and treated their weapons with the utmost care.

"All right, now get back to work. I'm going to take a rest." Link waved his hands to dismiss his followers. He had also finished his meal.

He was very tired indeed, so after a quick wash up, he laid down on the bed and went straight to sleep.

He had a good night's rest. When he woke up, it was the morning of the next day. His spirits were now completely reinvigorated. He went downstairs to the main hall and found that a delicious looking breakfast had been laid out on the table and Jacker and the rest were already waiting for him to eat.

Link greeted them, then sat down and began to eat. The breakfast was scrumptious as it was prepared exactly to his taste, so he savored every bite.

Just when they were busy eating, there was a knock on the door. Link raised his head and saw a knight walking into the cabin. He wore a silver full body armor that was full of scratches and score marks and a pair of iron boots that were covered in dirt and mud. Once he was inside and saw Link, he immediately removed his iron helmet, revealing a face of exhaustion. It was the royal knight Anderson.

"Mr. Link, we've found the Syndicate's lair!"

What perfect timing!

Link nodded then greeted the knight, "General, come and have breakfast with us and clean your armor. After that, we'll all set out for the Syndicate together."

Anderson had rushed back overnight because it was an order from Princess Annie before she went to the capital. But he was absolutely fatigued and hungry, so he gratefully accepted Link's invitation. He walked into the main hall, thanked Link, then quickly gulped down the food on the table as soon as his butt settled on the chair.

By this time, Link and the mercenaries had all finished their meals.

"Let's get ready, then," said Link.