98 The Turning Point of a Girl's Fate (Part 1)


 That day, he stretched out his hand and pulled me out of the swamps of my fate - Frost Queen Rylai Gassling.

At the Flamingo Band of Mercenary's headquarters.

...

Link was naturally unaware that he was dragged into someone's secret schemes. In this cabin, he was surrounded by loyal followers who all respected him and even revered him, so he let his guard down completely here.

Upon noticing that the beautiful girl was so frightened that she couldn't move a muscle, Link used Magician's Hand to gently take the small wooden bow from her hands and place it on a weapon shelf near him. Then, he took out a short wooden stick that was engraved with a web of silver magic runes.

It was a basic wand and it could enhance the power of spells by about 20%. He had created it from scratch when he first started learning the art of enchantment.

Link then handed the wand to the stunned girl.

"A bow and arrow doesn't suit you," he told her, "From today onwards, you'll learn magic with me."

The girl was in awe. Her bright eyes suddenly widened to the size of saucers; she couldn't believe what she just heard.

Rylai stared at the wand that Link handed her but didn't dare stretch her hand out to reach it.

"My lord, is it true?" the girl heard herself saying, her voice as quiet as a mosquito.

Learning magic required a lot of money-only the aristocrats had the resources needed to do it. She never imagined that one day a mighty Magician would be willing to accept her as a disciple and give her a wand as soon as they met.

It's a real magic wand!

When she was nine-years-old, her father had taken her to the Southern Free Paradise of Mollendan. There, they passed by a shop run by a Magician. At that moment, the young Rylai gazed into the shop, only to see a well-dressed Magician arranging a pile of golden coins into neat rows on the table. There must've been more than 30 gold coins there, yet the only thing he bought was a single magic scroll.

Her father had seen it too, and she remembered how he had turned away from the sight of such unimaginable wealth in regret and sorrow.

This incident had left a deep impression on her young mind. Since then, she had assumed that all things related to magic were settled in gold coins. She was born in an ordinary trader's family; it was impossible for someone like her to reach such heights.

In fact, her father had once told her that even the cheapest magic wands cost more than 50 gold coins. Their family's income, even at their most prosperous, was no more than 15 gold coins a year.

And yet, right now, this strange man with a gentle smile on his face had offered to teach her magic and give her an expensive wand. It was all so incredible that she had to pinch herself to make sure she wasn't dreaming.

"Take it. It belongs to you now," Link insisted.

The beautiful girl was as timid as a rabbit, so Link made sure he spoke only in the gentlest tone to her and even remembered to put on a smile. He then placed the wand into the girl's hands.

As he did so, he noticed how even her hands were so delicate and lovely. Each of her fingers was as long and slender like the green tops of a spring onion. Her hands were so fair and so soft that Link felt sorely tempted to hold them in his own and caress them gently.

Such a lovely girl-how could she not be famous in the game? Link wondered.

But when he thought of it, he could understand why the girl wouldn't appear in the game at all. Had it not been thanks to Lucy's intervention, she would have been sold to a rich man in Springs City as a slave. The beautiful yet completely powerless girl would be treated as the rich merchants' goods that could be bought and sold by anyone who was willing to pay the price. Link was sure that the girl wouldn't survive such a life for long, though, and she would've died after two or three years and end up buried in someone's garden with no name to her grave.

Rylai herself still couldn't believe that any of this was true. Link's assurance had finally given her the courage and though she hesitated for a while, she finally closed her hand around the wand. The moment the wand touched her hand, she felt an inexplicable affinity to it and she clasped the wand to her bosom as if embracing an old friend.

In her eyes, this ordinary wand was as powerful as a king's scepter. Her body trembled slightly and she tried her best to hold the wand steadily in her hand. The wand was light and the runes on it glowed in a mysterious aura. This was a fateful moment in her life, as she was about to take her first step into the mysterious world of magic.

A month ago, her parents were killed and she was taken by the slave traders to the North. She felt that her whole world had collapsed. She thought of her father day and night and she often secretly shed tears for her own miserable destiny. She had lost all hope then.

But two weeks ago, Lucy had rescued her and brought her here. It was as if the glorious Lord of Light had given her a blessing after suffering a harsh fate. She began to practice archery in the hope of becoming a mighty mercenary and one day, she hoped she would seek vengeance for her parents.

But ever since her infancy, she had been cherished and brought up tenderly and lovingly by her parents. She never had to do anything that would require her to exert any energy, so her body had always been very weak. She was only strong enough to handle the smallest bow. Although she practiced hard every day until the skin on the palms of her hands peeled and her shoulder was so sore she couldn't raise her arm, her progress was still negligibly small.

If it hadn't been for Lucy, she might now be the lowest maid in the household. But she couldn't rely on Lucy forever. She resolved that if she was unable to develop any strength that would be useful to the group, she would concede to be a maid or a servant. Then she would bury all her dreams of strength and revenge.

But just as she felt very confused about the future, she was bestowed with a chance to learn powerful magic. She did not know how to describe her luck.

Link laughed and joked as he usually did, as if he'd done nothing special at all.

"I'm hungry. Is lunch ready yet?" he asked Lucy.

"One moment, my lord," said Lucy in a warm tone.

She then went into the kitchen. Now that Link was back, she wanted to prepare the food for him herself.

Under the respectful gaze of each new member, Link walked into the cabin, but after walking a few steps, he turned back and waved his hand and said to the girl, "Let's go, kid."

Rylai was nervously picking at her lips, but as soon as she heard Link's voice, her body seemed to automatically follow his orders and she quickly got up and followed Link's footsteps.

He's the master who will teach me magic; I must follow him closely, thought the girl.

Rylai didn't mind how Link called her a kid at all, and neither did anyone else in the mercenary band. Although Link himself looked to be about 17 or 18 years old, but his strength was clear to everyone there. All of them looked up to Link regardless of their age.

Meanwhile, Link was talking to Gildern in the cabin.

"Where's Jacker?" he asked.

"Someone found some information about the Cliff of Howling Winds," answered Gildern, "So he went with them to check it out. He should be back after three days."

"Oh, good." Link didn't worry about Jacker's safety. He was a level-4 Warrior and he had magic gear with him. He even had the experience of fighting against a Magician. So even if he did encounter Felidia, Link was sure that Jacker could retreat safely and come back in one piece.

Then it was time for lunch. The food was so delicious that Link savored each bite.

Once he was full, Link turned to Rylai who was still very tense.

"I want to rest for a while," he told her, "Come and find me in my room two hours from now."

"Yes, my lord," replied the girl, nodding earnestly.

"No, don't address me as 'my lord'," corrected Link, gently tapping his wand on the girl's smooth forehead, "From today onwards, I shall be your magic tutor." Link wore a gentle smile on his face and had a warmth in his tone when he was speaking to Rylai.

"Yes... tutor," Rylai responded, she was beginning to open up to Link. She glanced up at Link's face and saw that her tutor was a very young man who couldn't be more than a few years older than her. Although he wasn't strikingly handsome, his dark eyes were clear and very enigmatic. Rylai thought they looked like a pair of black diamonds.

Suddenly she realized that she was rudely staring at Link for too long, so she quickly lowered her head while the exquisite face of hers blushed in embarrassment.