Bale's Mage Tower
Not only did he manage to produce 15 magic scrolls a day, but each scroll's quality was this exquisite, too? Derek stared incredulously at the Lesser Protective Armor magic scrolls unfolded on the table in front of him.
Even lay people with no experience in magic would perceive the exquisite beauty of these magic scrolls. In Derek's eyes, as a full-fledged Magician one word ran through his mind-perfection.
Even low-quality blank scrolls and ordinary magical ink provided by the Mage Tower could not conceal the preternatural elegance of the silvery magic aura that the magic runes on the scrolls exuded.
The aura of the magic scrolls seemed as graceful and agile as a silvery trout that cruised in a lake bathed in moonlight, while shrouded in the mysterious aura of magic. Derek couldn't peel his eyes away from these scrolls; at times they were so breathtaking that it almost suffocated him.
These sublime magic scrolls are too precious to be touched by the coarse hands of those barbaric soldiers, thought Derek. They should be framed and sold at a high price as works of art instead!
Yes, it would be much more appropriate to sell these as pieces of artwork rather than as cheap weapons. But perhaps even that was not good enough for these unearthly magic scrolls.
Their only minute flaws were the inferior blank scrolls and magical ink, as well as the low-level spell. Nothing could be done about the low-level spell, since the creator of these magic scrolls was only a beginner Magician's Apprentice. He could easily improve the other two factors, though.
Young aristocrats love to collect magical items and wealthy merchants like to use them to decorate their storefronts as well. If I were to sell these to them, I'm sure they could fetch at least 10 gold coins each.
Derek was short of money, so he had to squeeze out the meager entrepreneurial talents that he had out of desperation. In fact, he even surprised himself for having been able to come up with what he considered to be a shrewd idea.
The kid can produce 15 scrolls a day which means that a daily income of 100 gold is a given. As for the kid, I'm sure he'd be happy with 10 gold coins a day.
Derek gently coughed and told Warwick, "Well, I'm relieved there are no apparent problems. Why don't you take these magic scrolls? I bought them in the River Cove Town at a high price. Although there are only 20 of them here, I'm sure they could at least slightly ease your stress burden."
"How much did these scrolls cost?" Warwick hastily asked.
Experience taught Warwick that Derek was a very stingy man, he would never spend money on anything that would not profit him in the end.
But to his surprise, Derek only waved his hand and said, "You don't have to pay me for them this time. Just keep on with your hard work and complete the task."
"Thank you very much for your help, Mr. Derek," said the stunned Warwick, his heart filled with gratitude. Derek replied with a nod.
Twenty scrolls really weren't much at all, but still, it was the equivalent of an average Magician's Apprentices' five days' worth of effort. So now they had 440 completed magic scrolls. In the remaining ten days they'd only need to prepare 360 more magic scrolls which wasn't too much to deal with.
"Where's Link?" asked Derek, "I'd like to meet him."
"He was tired after preparing the magic scrolls, so he went out for a walk," answered Warwick.
"I see. When he returns, tell him to come to my room," said Derek.
"I will," replied Warwick.
Meanwhile, Link was oblivious to how he had been a part of Derek's scheme. Although to be honest, he had deliberately demonstrated his talents in the magic scrolls because he wanted to attract the attention of some high-ranking Magicians in the Mage Tower. If he kept on mingling with low-level apprentices, there would be no way for him to investigate Bale or learn his secrets.
In fact, Link wasn't out for a simple walk either, but was instead going to Moira's Mage Tower. He was going there under the guise of visiting his friend Eliard, but in truth, he was going to conduct magic experiments.
After ten days of preparing magic scrolls, Link had reaped quite a few benefits from the sustained intense focus required in the activity.
Through his strict perfectionism, he learned how to control his Mana more precisely. If he could focus his Mana into a point as small as the breadth of a strand of human hair before this, now he had improved so much that he could focus his Mana to a point as fine as the breadth of a spider's silk.
The smaller the point he could focus his Mana onto, the finer the thread of Mana that would be used to construct spell structures would be. That meant that the Mana consumption for each spellcasting process would be reduced as well and allow for more intricate spell structures to be built.
For example, Link now only needed 0.9 Mana points to release a Glass Orb of the same power, while one Whistle only consumed 3.5 points.
But this wasn't the only benefit Link acquired.
By continuously producing magic scrolls of Lesser Protective Armor, he was hit with an inspiration on how to modify the structure of the spell. After dozens of changes, he finally created a new Supreme Magical Skill modification for the spell and integrated it into the Level-2 Guarding Barrier spell. As a result, he made drastic changes to these spells while also upgrading their levels!
The original Guarding Barrier would cover the surface of the spellcaster's body with a layer of elemental magic which would provide some protection against magic spell attacks. But after modification, a more powerful repulsive field was added on top of the existing barrier, making the spellcaster immune to physical attacks as well.
However, because Link spent most of his time in Bale's Mage Tower, this spell had only been running around in his mind with no chance for him to actually test it. Although he had been running countless simulations in his mind to ensure that there were no serious flaws, the newly-modified Guarding Barrier had now been upgraded to a Level-3 spell. That meant that there would be a higher risk that serious accidents may occur even from the slightest imbalance of energy. Link wouldn't risk testing it out in his room and thought it best to do it in the protective environment of the Elemental Pool.
As he entered Moira's Mage Tower, Eliard was already at the door waiting to meet him. His face lit up the moment he saw Link.
"Link, I didn't expect you to be able to produce magic scrolls so quickly! I tried it myself, but I could never exceed ten scrolls a day, yet you managed to produce 15! That's just scary!" said Eliard.
"I guess I had a lot of practice. I wasn't so quick myself when I first started," said Link, laughing.
"I'm sure a little bit of genius didn't hurt as well. I mean, I could never produce magic scrolls as sublime as yours in a million years." Eliard understood how difficult it was to create magic scrolls, so he knew there was more to Link's achievement than blind practice.
They both chatted and laughed while they walked into the tower. It was Link's first time here, and he noticed how the interior of this Mage Tower was similar to Bale's, except in a slightly smaller scale and with an additional air of compassion and warmth versus the cold and competitive atmosphere in Bale's Mage Tower. Link also noticed how the apprentices here laughed and smiled while they were chatting with each other-a foreign sight in Bale's Mage Tower. When they reached the hall, the apprentices all turned to Eliard and greeted him warmly.
"My Prince, is this your friend?" A beautiful female apprentice came up to Eliard and flirtatiously leaned her body on his while giving Link an inquisitive look.
Even though everyone had heard the news of a magic scroll genius in Bale's Mage Tower, very few people knew what he looked like.
"Elena, stop bothering me!" said Eliard as he shoved the girl away, looking somewhat embarrassed.
Although his tone sounded cold, Link could sense a tinge of guilt in Eliard's voice. He knew then that the girl Elena must have had him wrapped around her fingers.
Poor Eliard, I guess being handsome does come with its own trouble, Link thought sarcastically.
Link then diverted his eyes to Elena. She seemed to be about 18 years old and she had long flowing pale blond hair. She blinked her large sky-blue eyes a great deal, making her look like an innocent child. But judging from the strength of her Mana, she must already be a high-level Magician's Apprentice. This made her seem mysterious and effervescent.
From Link's first glance, Elena seemed to be both an innocent young girl and a gifted Magician. But by the second glance he immediately discarded his first impression of her. He could sense that she had been putting on act.
The Magician's robe on her body hugged her waist line snugly and she seemed to have spent a great deal of time and effort on her exquisite hairstyle. Finally, there was that affected curiosity she put on when she's around Eliard. Considering how fast she was able to get familiar with Eliard, it seemed she must've understood Eliard's obsessive devotion to magic learning and used it to her advantage. Her only fault was that she was still quite young, so her inexperience had made her acts obvious to Link's scrutinizing eyes. Link thought this innocent-looking girl was not to be underestimated.
Elena, Elena... What a familiar name. Link couldn't quite put a finger on where he'd heard that name before, though he felt it was uncannily familiar.
Then, Eliard turned to Link, wordlessly asking for his permission before he introduced Link to everyone in the hall, to which Link nodded in assent. He had no need to hide his identity here.
"Everyone," Eliard began. "This is Link, the magic scroll genius from Bale's Mage Tower. You've all heard about him, haven't you?"
"Oh...!" Before Eliard could finish his sentence, gasps echoed through the hall. The apprentices all turned their eyes to Link. They examined Link up and down, eager to find out what a genius looked like.
The apprentices were soon disappointed, though. Because of the greatly improved living conditions in the academy, Link had actually gained some weight and grown slightly taller too, but that did nothing to improve his terribly plain and unremarkable appearance.
"I wouldn't know him from Adam," said one apprentice in a deflated tone.
"He's got a very weak aura," said another, "Honestly, I'm not sure how his Mana could sustain him through the process of preparing 15 magic scrolls."
"I guess the rumors were exaggerated," one of them concluded.
"No, you're all wrong! Eliard is a true genius, so his friend must be great as well!"
That was Elena. She managed to refute the previous remarks while simultaneously flattering Eliard without offending Link.
With all the clamoring voices that erupted after that, Eliard was getting irritated. He thought they were all too tactless and wanted to say a few words in Link's defense.
"Eliard, I don't have much time, let's go," said Link before Eliard could say anything. Link had actually snuck out of the Mage Tower and only had two hours before he must go back.
"Right, follow me." Eliard walked towards the stairs and Link followed him closely behind. No one else was around once they reached the second floor.
"Tell me about Elena. You both seem very intimate with each other. So you've found yourself a lover, huh?" joked Link.
"What are you talking about? I never thought of her that way," replied Eliard, with a wry smile on his face, "But Elena is a nice girl, she's helped me a lot, so I...well..."
"Fine, I get it," said Link, nodding his head. It seemed that Elena really was a sly fox who had identified Eliard's weakness. Shrewdness in a woman wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but it depended on how she used that strength. Link wasn't sure what was going on exactly between Eliard and Elena, so he thought it best to stay away and not to meddle.
The two finally reached the third floor where the Elemental Pool was.
The role of an Element Pool was to control the scale and limit the power of magic spells. When magic spells were cast within the zone of the Elemental Pool, even high-level spells would have the power equivalent to that of Level-0 spells.
This allowed the Magicians to conduct high-energy experiments without having to worry about causing dangerous accidents.
There were three Elemental Pools in Herrera's Mage Tower. The main pool could contain Level-5 magic spells and below, while the other two could contain magic spells that were Level-3 and below. One of the smaller Elemental Pools was open to the apprentices and there was time allotted each week when the apprentices could use it for free. Eliard held the key to this Elemental Pool.
Eliard had 20 hours of free Elemental Pool usage per week. He never used up all the time himself, so Link borrowed his allotted time to conduct his experiment here.
The experiment Link had in mind today was a relatively simple one. He'd only used the Elemental Pool just to be extra cautious, so in the end Link only spent half an hour in there.
Half an hour later, Link's newly-modified defensive spell was fully developed.
The new spell was drastically different from the original Guarding Barrier. After casting the spell, Link's clothes were no longer covered in a glass-like film but was shrouded in a nebulous light instead. The light extended about three feet away from his body. The elemental barrier mingled within the light and when seen from a distance, it had an appearance of a fuzzy white cotton ball.
I'll call it Edelweiss, then, thought Link.
Level-3 Elite Defensive Spell
Mana Consumption: 25 points.
Spellcasting Time: 0.9 seconds
Effects: Effectively resists both physical and magic spell attacks.
(Note: This is Link's Edelweiss.)
When he was done testing out the new spell, a rather familiar notification popped up, containing two messages:
Player Link successfully created a new Level-2 Supreme Magical Skill. 10 Omni Points rewarded.
The other one was an upgrade mission.
Player has successfully mastered a Level-3 spell and advanced to Level-3. 40 Omni Points rewarded.
Level-4 Upgrade Mission Activated.
Mission Details: Master a Level-4 spell and become a Level-4 Magician.
Mission Rewards: 70 Omni Points
Link's total Omni Points was now at 125 points and there were less than 20 days left before the effects of Ailing Mana would disappear.
By that time, his Maximum Mana would be 1480 points, which meant he could then use the Level-4 Flame Blast spell again. Plus, he even had a Level-5 Universal Crystal now, so he would no doubt experience an exponential leap in his strength soon!
Link was very much looking forward to this.
After leaving the Elemental Pool, Link bid farewell to Eliard and immediately headed back to Bale's Mage Tower. As soon as he opened the front door, Warwick was already there waiting for him.
"Link, Derek wants to see you," said Warwick.
Now's my chance! The moment that Link anticipated had arrived.
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