Advent Of The Archmage - Chapter 28
It was finally daybreak.
As the Dark Elf Army slowly retreated, Link too sighed, but in relief. The effect of Magical Murmurs was about to wear out. He could already feel the exhaustion seeping into his bones.
He would face three months in the weakened state of Ailing Mana, leaving him no choice but to seriously contemplate his course of action during that time.
He had been too noticeable last night. There was no way the Dark Elves would let him go for what he'd done. He would probably face countless assassinations from the Death Hand throughout those three months.
Gladstone City was very close to the Black Forest. The further he was from the city, the safer he'd be.
Throwing a glance at Annie Abel, Link rejoiced. Not only had he rescued Gladstone City, he had saved the future Legendary Assassin, truly changing the fate of the Firuman Continent.
Annie walked up to him. Link smiled and nodded to her. Then, as she looked on in shock, he leapt off the city walls and cast a Vector Resistance Field once more.
Under the Spell's rebounded effect, Link fell towards one of the small alleys of Gladstone City. He still wore the effects of the Cat's Agility and so he landed lightly.
He had completed his mission and gotten what he wanted. Each second he spent in Gladstone meant more danger. There was no need for goodbyes.
Celine was already waiting for him in the alley.
"Let's leave,"Link said as he smiled at her. They had agreed on this beforehand.
Celine nodded. They walked through the alley for a while before turning onto a small path. When they had sneaked out of the city and reached far beyond the sight of anyone else, Celine took on her demon form. She brought Link close in preparation for the long-distance flight they would undertake. Link did his best to stay calm as the position was quite dangerous. Shaking out her wings, Celine soared into the skies.
Gladstone still didn't know of Link's disappearance. They were still searching for the powerful Magician who had rescued the city. Of course, there was nothing to be found.
Tales of the Magician spread throughout Gladstone.
Some said he was a messenger of the God of Light. Others said that he was a prodigy of magic. While yet others said that he was the master of fire.
All of these were pure speculation. The truth was long buried by the sands of time.
All the people knew was that the Magician had come from the Magic Academy of Flemmings. And so, in the Flower Gardens of the rebuilt Magic Academy stood a large and tall statue.
The statue was that of a young man, his facial features crafted vaguely. Holding a magic staff and wearing a gray robe, he stared into the distance. The statue was called: The Guardian.
A simple line was annotated below: He saved Gladstone.
Of course, this was all in the far future.
When Celine flew past the boundary of Gladstone, Link saw two new notifications appear on his interface.
The first notification read:
Mission Completed: Save Gladstone
Game Player receivers 100 Omni Points.
That was great!
The second notification was:
The effect of Magical Murmurs has worn out. Game player will be in the weakened state of Ailing Mana. All stats will be reduced by 90% for three months.
That was terrible. Link sighed to himself and checked his current condition.
Link Morani (Noble)
Level-4 Normal Magician
Mana Recovery Speed 0.92
Maximum Mana 24.1
Weapon: Fire Crystal Staff
Supreme Magical Skills: None
Condition: Weakened state of Ailing Mana.
His Mana Recovery Speed and Maximum Mana had both reverted to that of the average Magician's Apprentice;it would stay that way for three months! This sucked.
Though he was labeled as a Level-4 Magician, it was only in name, and largely due to the Level-4 Flame Blast he had cast earlier. The skill level of a Magician on the Firuman Continent was equivalent to the highest level of magic they could cast.
Truth be told, Link only had some elementary knowledge of magic theory. He had a long way to go before he could truly become a great Archmage!
"Are you sure that you want to go to the East Cove Magic Academy?"Celine asked.
He'd foraged a lot of basic magic books from the Flemmings Magic Academy's library. He should be able to read and digest them quickly. Once he learned enough of magic's basic foundations, he would apply for enrollment. He probably wouldn't wouldn't lag behind then.
But there was another important reason for him to go to the East Cove Magic Academy.
In the game, a terrible incident had occurred within less than half a year after the Change of the Bloody Moon—the Demon Tarlvess escaped from his three-century-long imprisonment at the East Cove Magic Academy.
Tarlvess was a true demon of the Deeps, and his power was almost Legendary. The only reason he was captured was because a human prodigy in magic three centuries ago by the name of Bryant overpowered him.
Bryant had managed to attain Legendary status despite the low density of Mana at his time and age. His battle with Tarlvess had been fierce and long. It lasted two days and two nights;the aftermath of their battle formed a deep valley where the East Cove Magic Academy now stood.
Now, however, the mighty Mage had long since passed away. Though weakened by the magical barriers Bryant had cast three hundred years ago, Tarlvess still had the formidable strength of a Level-8 Demon.
Blood flowed from the academy in rivers at the cost of his escape. The dean, a Level-7 Master Magician had paid the price of his soul to chase Tarlvess off with the Level-8 Spell, Demon Cage. Even so, less than half of the academy's Magicians survived and the valley was leveled flat. This was the most significant event since the Change of the Bloody Moon. It had been called the Mourning of Magic.
The two successive blows had crippled the Norton Kingdom. They met defeat in each subsequent battle with the Kingdom of Pralync. In just three years, the once mighty kingdom, now hanging on by the skin of its teeth, had no choice but to move its center of power. Its monarchy relocated south to take refuge with the Free Trade Confederation. However, the assassination of King Leon by the fallen Annie Abel in several years'time had caused the complete collapse of the Norton Kingdom. And so, the weak Freedom Confederation of the South, which had been protected by the Norton Kingdom's troops before that, had no choice but to directly confront the Dark Elf forces.
The future of the human race had seemed dark indeed.
Considering the behavior of the game server so far, any missions regarding the demon, Tarlvess, would be truly important. He would be able to earn many Omni Points from them.
"Fine. I really don't understand you though,"Celine responded.
Despite that, Celine still carried Link as she flew towards the North.
"The dean of East Cove Magic Academy, Earl Anthony, is a Level-7 Master Magician,"she began to explain, "There are powerful Rune Barriers around the academy. Even the Girvent Forest around the academy is under the surveillance of their watchtower;it's extremely sensitive to dark magic. It'll be very hard to for me to hide myself there, so I can only send you to the border of the forest."
This came as a surprise to Link. He had thought that Celine would be able to enter the academy with him. If that was so, then he and Celine would have to part ways.
Feeling the soft, warm body behind him, Link stayed silent, full of reluctance.
Celine sensed it and said laughingly, "I would have to leave even without the Rune Barriers. As you know, since I showed my true form, my father's lackeys will be after me again. I need to shake them off first."
"Be careful,"Link stirred. Yes, this wasn't the time for romancing. Celine was in constant danger. He needed to get stronger as fast as he could!
"Don't worry. I'm used to it. Those hounds are all idiots,"Celine giggled.
They continued to chat as they traveled. Celine flew very quickly. Half an hour later, a vast expanse of rubber trees appeared beneath them. It was the Girvent Forest, also praised as the Courtyard of the Gods.
Lush green trees and shrubs, dappled sunlight, birdsongs and the aroma of flowers astonished their senses. A wide path stretched out in a straight line through the forest, some clearings appearing beside it every now and then. Those were forest ranches. Further in, at the middle of the forest, there was a bustling small town—the town of River Cove. A clear stream ran through the middle of it.
From up in the sky, Link's heart was filled with joy, yet tinged with regret by the picturesque scene.
In the lore, the Dark Elves had used a God-level item to conquer the South. When the Dark Elves reached Girvent Forest, the East Cove Magic Academy, which had just been rebuilt, had been forced to use powerful magic barriers to stop the Dark Elf Army from advancing. Between the two forces, the beautiful Girvent Forest had been reduced to ashes.
This time, Gladstone was saved, and Annie lived. Would history change because of that? Link had no idea. But he vaguely sensed that all he had changed were some minor details—the main flow of history was not that simple.
They soon reached the western entrance of the forest where Celine landed. "I'll drop you off here."
"Many thanks,"Link smiled. He was reluctant to part with her, but he knew that in order to walk with the Demon Princess in the future, he had first to catch up to her footsteps.
Celine, too, was sentimental. In her heart, she saw Link as a true friend and she was worried considering that he was now in a weakened state of magic.
She gritted her teeth and pulled three feathers from her wings. She quivered in pain as she wrenched them off.
She passed the soft feathers to Link. "Take these with you. Burn one when you're in danger, and I will come to save you."
Link took the pitch-black feathers from her. Information popped up on the game interface.
Feathers of the Demon Princess Celine Flandre
Effect: Summons the Demon Princess to your aid when burned.
(Note: A token of friendship.)
Link carefully hugged the feathers to his chest, making Celine blush a little.
"I'll remember it,"He said.
Celine took out a pendant of mystic silver. "A storage pendant. Most of the magic books from Gladstone are in there. Your New Moon Wand, and Fire Crystal Staff will need to be hidden—you can put them in here."
Dimensional storage gear was very expensive. Such a pendant probably cost more than 2000 gold pieces, but Link needed it, and the books inside it, desperately. He had been rushing around Gladstone and didn't really have time to consider them, but the magic books were especially important to him now. It came as a pleasant surprise that Celine had prepared all this for him.
"You… I'll take it."Link wasn't coy. The greatest favors needed no thanks.
Celine watched as Link put on the pendant. Suddenly, she walked up and planted a kiss on his forehead before taking a few steps back. Her smooth, white face flushed. "My friend, I'll leave now."
Link felt the tingling on his forehead. In a daze, he nodded. By the time he came to, Celine had already left.
It was as if a piece of his heart had gone with her. He touched the pendant that lay on his chest. It felt like Celine was still with him. Strangely comforted by it, he stepped onto the forest path.
The wide path in the forest was also known as the King's Lane. It led Northeast, passing through River Cove Town in the middle of Girvent Forest, past East Cove Magic Academy, and finally to the capital of the Norton Kingdom, Springs City.
It was the only path leading from the South to the capital.
"Springs City must be a mess right now,"Link sighed.
In the game, Norton Kingdom had crumbled not just due to the invasions but also because of internal squabbles. The capital city was in chaos mainly due to the struggle of power between King Leon and his younger brother, the Iron Duke.
The chaos in the capital city had spread throughout the land. Take Girvent Forest, for example—all was peaceful and beautiful. But it was just a façade for the danger that lay within.
Link met that danger within 12 miles of setting foot on the King's Lane.
A skinny old horse had collapsed by the roadside, it's neck slit by a knife. The blood hadn't coagulated yet, so it had probably died not long ago.
Listening carefully, Link could hear some noises coming from within the trees by the road. It sounded like someone was battling.
Just then, the game interface shifted and a new notification appeared.
Mission Activated: Aid and Rescue
Mission Details: Save the master of the old horse.
Mission Reward: 5 Omni Points.
Letting his curiosity get the best of him, Link took the mission without another thought. Then, cloaking himself in the Spell of Silence, he traced the sounds to their origins, deep into the forest.