86 What a Pity!


 There were two squares within the gates of the East Cove Magic Academy. The one near the entrance was called the Square of Glory, while the other one was a small courtyard inside the academy called Bryant's Inspiration Courtyard.

Who was Bryant?

As the only Magician who rose to Legendary level for nearly a thousand years, Bryant was a household name in the Norton kingdom. Within the Magicians' circle, he was also known as the "Child of the Apocalypse".

It was said that this courtyard was where he received the inspiration that would later lead to his upgrade to the Legendary level. A century later, the East Cove Magic Academy was built on this valley, and as a tribute to the Master Magician Bryant. This piece of land was preserved and turned into a courtyard.

Rumors had it that once a Magician got Bryant's blessings, they would then receive inspiration from the unrivaled Legendary Magician which would help them break through their current level and reach a higher one. There was, of course, no truth to this hearsay, and no Magician actually took it seriously.

However, only Link knew that this so-called Inspiration Courtyard should be called the Seal Courtyard instead, because deep under the grounds of the courtyard was exactly where the demon Tarviss was sealed!

With very few exceptions, no one in the entire academy knew about it.

The events that led up to the capture and confinement of the demon Tarviss happened hundreds of years ago. The horror of the past had faded through the ravaging tooth of time. Nowadays, the courtyard was a nice little place with a meticulously trimmed garden, surrounded by woods and streams. In fact, it was now the Magicians' favorite place to take leisurely walks whenever they needed a break or had time on their hands.

Link and Eliard had agreed to meet here.

Link walked past lush green grounds, went around the Enchanted Fountain Garden, and finally to the willow grove by the stream. From afar he could see Eliard who was under the willow trees.

There were tables and chairs under the shade of the trees. Link walked over and saw Eliard engrossed a magic textbook.

"Hey, you're early today," said Link, who then sat down on the chair opposite of Eliard. He reached for a round wooden box on the table, opened the lid, and was immediately hit by an appetizing aroma of food that wafted out of it.

"Wow...sea bass soup, soft wheat bread, mushrooms and bacon...what a feast! Tsk tsk, Eliard, you lucky bastard; the best cook in the world is in your Mage Tower!"

Link tore into the piece of bread. It was both fragrant and soft, and it even had a savory seasoned buttery filling inside - it was just a piece of bread, yet it was irresistibly delectable!

This was all thanks to Herrera, the Angel of Light, otherwise known as the tutor Moira, who put particular emphasis on the quality of life of her apprentices. She employed the best chef in the academy in her Mage Tower. The apprentices in her Mage Tower only had to pay a small fee and the cook would prepare a scrumptious meal for them.

Whenever Eliard came, he would bring along some food with him to share it with Link.

Eliard put down the magic book, smiled and said, "Food can only bring joy to the body. The only thing that can enrich and delight the soul is magic."

"I wouldn't mind indulging in these earthly luxuries though," replied Link with a laugh.

Link finished his bread, wiped his hand, then flipped through the textbook in Eliard's hand. It was a book that he'd read before, titled Progress in Magic.

"So you've started to learn Level-1 spells, Eliard?" asked Link, slightly surprised.

"Yeah, I've recently just started to dive into it," Eliard nodded.

Link could not help but marvel at the revelation. Eliard really deserved to be called a peerless genius. A month ago, he was still a beginner in magic who had absolutely no skill or knowledge. But now, he had advanced so quickly to Level-1 spells. Link couldn't imagine how shocked the other apprentices in the academy would be if they found out.

Any Magician's Apprentice who could begin to learn Level-1 spells within six months would already be deemed a genius. But in a mere month, Eliard could achieve what most other geniuses would need half a year to accomplish - this was irrefutable proof of his formidable talents!

"Eliard, that's amazing!" Link was genuinely impressed. Link knew that the only reason he himself could make progress so quickly was because of the help from the Lord of Light. Eliard, on the other hand, was a pure and unadulterated genius!

"You're mocking me," said Eliard jokingly while looking at Link with a wry smile. "I'm only better than you in the strength of my Mana. As for everything else, I'm lagging far behind you."

He admired Link's profound insight in magic theory and he knew that he had a long way to go before he could reach Link's level of wisdom. But unfortunately, Link's natural Mana was just too weak, and Eliard feared that Link's future paths might be limited because of it.

Although Link had told him that his Mana was low because of a serious injury, Eliard always assumed that this was something Link believed as a way to encourage himself and never took it seriously.

"Alright, alright, let's stop licking each other's boots," said Link, "Here, I've brought you six Earth Spike magical scrolls."

Link then handed Eliard the magic scrolls that he smuggled out of his Mage Tower.

Eliard was a favorite of Moira's and she didn't have many apprentices in her Mage Tower anyway, so Eliard quickly became her chief apprentice who was now in charge of managing the tower's income. Both the income and status of Moira's Mage Tower were roughly equal to that of Bale's.

The magic scrolls and potions that the apprentices prepared, along with the magic materials that they collected were all handed by Eliard, who then sold it. So Link handed over his scrolls for him to sell, which Link thought a most convenient arrangement.

Eliard suddenly turned serious while he carefully examined the scrolls.

"Link, the quality of your scrolls is getting better and better!" said Eliard, "Is this structure one of your new modifications?"

He examined the scrolls, not to check the quality because he knew it had always been superb-what he was appreciating now was the little details added to the scrolls.

Link glanced at the spot where Eliard pointed out and nodded.

"That's right," replied Link.

These special structures were only present on the scrolls he handed over to Eliard. Those given to Warwick were all normal magic scrolls.

"When I was working on it, I had a sudden revelation how the ordinary scroll writing methods only guaranteed the success rate of magic scrolls production but did not maximize the power of the magic scrolls. So, I tinkered about and made some slight changes. Although the preparation process became slightly more complicated now, the power of this Earth Spike was increased by about 50%, making it much more lethal."

"That's incredible!" exclaimed Eliard, "I'll negotiate with the merchant I sold these scrolls to. These scrolls should be able to get the price of a gold coin. Link, did you know our scrolls have been selling like hot cakes? The merchants told me many mercenaries swear by them. They even gave your Earth Spikes a nickname - they call them 'Spears of Death'! If you could write more of these modified magic scrolls, I'm sure our sales would go through the roof!"

Link nodded. He'd heard similar sentiments from Warwick earlier.

"No problem, I will prepare modified Lesser Protective Armor, Basic Sharpness Spell and Lesser Invisibility as soon as possible. I'll bring them with me the next time we meet."

Link didn't bother to hide his true powers from Eliard. He couldn't even if he wanted to anyway, since they'd been having deep discussions of theories in magic in their letters. They were both well aware of one another's skills and knowledge.

Besides, who would refuse to earn more money?

Link himself had never thought that he would carve out a name for himself from this small business of magic scrolls. It was as if he'd stumbled upon a pot of gold when he had least expected it. He had a sudden inspiration to start up a business of selling magic gear and weapons and expand it across the Firuman continent.

If the business thrived, it could turn him into a millionaire!

But of course, Link's main focus was still on learning magic. As for the matter of earning money, he would only regard it as a diversion, as something that would support his studies in magic. But he was not in a hurry about it and was taking it step by step, slowly building his prestige.

"It's a deal then."

Eliard was not worried about the speed at which Link could produce the modified magic scrolls at all.

He put the magic scrolls away and the two Magicians began to enjoy the lunch that Eliard brought. After they had finished eating, they rested for a while, and then they began to exchange their thoughts and experiences in magic as usual.

There was no doubt that Eliard was a genius. On Earth, his IQ would've definitely been more than 200. Link was an Archmage in his previous life, and on top of that was given a boost by the Lord of Light, so his brain power was no less incredible.

Both young men's thinking speed was astonishingly fast and active. One of them would only say a few words, and the other would immediately catch the other's meaning. They would then answer with their own insights, and these insights were often sharp and instructive.

If someone were to overhear their conversation, they would probably think that the two were talking gibberish.

But that's what happened when two extraordinary minds conversed and engaged. Their discussions were always fast-paced, lively and full of creative ideas. It would be best not to try to understand their thoughts as it would only serve to confuse and bewilder.

Because Link had a deeper insight into magical theories and facts, he was the one who took the lead in most parts of their conversation.

"I was studying the Level-1 Fireball spell recently and I think the fireball's magic structure is far from perfect and can be improved at C-position. What do you think about this?" asked Eliard as he sketched a structure onto a piece of goatskin paper.

Link glanced and shook his head, then erased a small portion of the structure that Eliard had shown him and added changes in two different spots.

"Maybe this is better," said Link.

"Oh... You're right, that's much better. Wait, isn't that the alpha-structure in the Invisibility spell? Is this an Invisible Fireball spell?" asked the bewildered Eliard.

"Haha, it's something I came up with when I was studying Lesser Invisibility," answered Link, "You see, these changes would greatly reduce the light of the Fireball, which would be useful in making sneak attacks...but this is just a theory. You'd have to figure out the way to actually cast the spell yourself."

Eliard was then lost in his thoughts. He was pondering the feasibility of the structure Link had proposed. He believed that there would be no serious structural issue because Link's recommendations were theoretically and logically sound.

Ah, why must Link's Mana be so weak? If only there was a way to strengthen his innate Mana, he would definitely become one of the best Magicians in the East Cove Magic Academy. What a pity!

There was no jealousy in Eliard's heart. All he felt for Link was genuine compassion and sympathy.

Time flew by, and before the two young Magicians knew it, two hours had passed. Both Eliard and Link felt they had learned so much from their conversation.

Link stood up and stretched, then said, "It's late, I must go back now."

Eliard nodded, then slipped out a letter and handed it to Link.

"My tutor wanted me to pass this letter to you," said Eliard.

Link often asked Eliard's tutor, Moira, questions about magic and Eliard was always the messenger between the two. The correspondence between Link and Moira was nothing new to Eliard.

Link, however, was shocked. Herrera had answered the last questions he sent her only two days ago. Why would she send another letter so soon after the last one?

Had something happened?