Chapter 512: Let Time Decide (3/3)
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
That’s a good question. How should you repay me? Link wondered.
Hearing those words, Link immediately saw an opportunity presenting itself to him. He then chose his words carefully. “Actually, I’ve been having this idea.”
“What is it? Speak.” Gretel blinked innocently, her eyes twinkling as she smiled at him.
Link began explaining his idea of propagating Dragon Power and developing Dragon Warriors among the human race. Like Dragon Elder Pettalong, he had been thinking about it himself from the perspective of the dragon race.
When he was finished, the smile on Gretel’s face had waned a bit. Neither disagreeing nor agreeing with Link’s suggestion, she simply asked, “The cycle of life and death is an inevitable journey all mortals must take. Though they have survived countless catastrophes for generations, aren’t they still well off in general?”
The human race had occupied the more prosperous regions of the Firuman continent, and it had the greatest populations among all the other races. As he could find no fault in Gretel’s words, Link simply nodded in acknowledgement. However, he sensed that this time, he was not going to get what he wanted.
Gretel then said, “If mortal men were to receive an even greater power after being trained as Dragon Warriors, who knows what manner of catastrophe that might bring to the other races?”
Link was stunned upon hearing this. “I am a human being by birth, perhaps the most respected among my peers. The High Elves schemed still to assassinate me. The Dwarves too are wary of me, and who knows what the Beastmen and their king, whose strength knows no equal, might have in store for me? Every race has a powerful guardian protecting their own interests. Why should the human race be any different?”
One of Gretel’s main concerns had always been the balance of the dragon race. Link, however, was of a different opinion. He had always believed in being more powerful than the other. With enough power in one’s hand, the law of the survival of the fittest, indiscriminating and fair in its judgment, would naturally maintain balance and order among the races of the continent.
At this point, a distinct difference in opinion had surfaced between the two of them.
In truth, Link and Gretel never saw things the same way. It was only when Link had expressed his opinion that such a difference was finally brought to light.
Gretel tried to explain herself, “Link you don’t understand. Being stronger than everyone else isn’t always a good thing, even if you’re just trying to defend your own race. As an example, the dragon race had always lived in near secrecy in Dragon Valley. We never felt the need to interfere with the affairs of mortals, and as a result, trouble from the mortal world never came knocking on our doors. This is how we’ve managed to survive for thousands of years. The fact that the human race has thrived for so long is due to the balance that we have kept in that time. If you do anything to upset this balance, you’ll bring only destruction to your kind.”
“Only our actions will decide whether destruction will come to us, and as a member of the human race…”
“No, you are a duke of the dragon race!” Gretel raised her voice a little. She then spoke seriously, “Balance and our neutrality has been the dragons’ way of life for thousands of years. These two points have been tried and tested by time to be our true path.”
The atmosphere between them had become tenser. Link frowned. “What about the spatial crack? And the Void Tyrant?”
“Those were only temporary troubles. They will soon be resolved. Isn’t that why you’re here with the dragon race?”
At this point, Link sensed that they were not going anywhere with their conversation. Their opinions were just too different.
Gretel had hoped that Link would one day accept his duties as a Red Dragon Duke. But Link never intended to do such a thing. What he wanted was to build a prosperous human city, extend the humans’ influence and one day establish their hegemony over all of Firuman. As the humans inevitably took their place on the pinnacle of the realm, he would also be able to gather all the necessary resources and materials to further his research on magic.
It was a win-win situation for him and the human race in general.
As for the dragon race, Link found their insistence to adhere to their outdated ways stifling and oppressive. Such a mentality might suit the elderly, but it was certainly not something needed by someone like Link, who craved above all else progress and power.
There was no point in continuing the conversation. Both were Legendary masters, their wills hard as steel. They each had their own ideas about the world around them, and the only thing capable of convincing them otherwise was also the world itself. To them, words meant nothing.
Link finally said, “Your Highness, I take it that you don’t agree with me?”
Gretel’s face whitened somewhat. She tried to change his mind. “Link, the dragon race exists to protect the realm itself, and you’re already a Legendary master. The matters of the mortal realm should best be left for the mortals to decide among themselves.”
Link shot back, “Then why do the High Elves have their own Legendary master protecting them? Why do the High Elves have the World Tree? Why do they deserve to live on the Isle of Dawn in peace, while the rest of us get to burn in the fires of war? Are they simply better than the human race?”
“The High Elves live by the rules. Have you seen them overtly starting any war with the other races?”
Link shook his head. “Your Highness, times are changing. There are cracks appearing across the world, and the rise of Mana saturation shows no sign of stopping. We may be witnessing the birth of countless Legendary masters in the coming decades. In such times, we either adapt to them or perish. The dragon race would not be an exception to this rule!”
Right now, the Mana concentration all over the world was 50 percent higher than before. Level-9 masters had been popping up everywhere, and it would not be long before the whole world enters the Legendary realm.
At the same time, Link had seen the rise of talents in every race. Kanorse, Princess Annie, Herrera and Skinorse were among the pinnacles of human talent in this era. The Beastmen had the three warlords, while the Dwarves had the Mountain Sage and the King of the Mountains.
In the not so distant future, the appearance of even more Legendary masters would come to pass, as attested by the previous game world.
“No, the Legendary realm could not be so easily reached. You’re too optimistic about this. It’s not solely predicated on the realm’s Mana saturation.” Gretel shook her head in disbelief.
For more than 2000 years, she had seen far too many dragon masters being stuck at Level-9 Pinnacle for most of their lives, never knowing when they would be able to come out of the standstill they were in.
Past experience had informed her that the Legendary barrier was almost impenetrable. A genius capable of breaking through it would only come by once every few hundred, maybe even thousand, years. The large-scale proliferation of Legendary masters that Link had described was just impossible.
Link was unable to convince her to see his point. Thinking about it for a while, he said to her, “Your Highness, there’s no point in arguing about this any longer. I only wish to train a batch of Dragon Warriors among the human race. Why won’t you at least consider carrying out a test?”
Gretel fell silent for ten seconds. She finally shook her head. “No, I won’t agree to this! I’m the Red Dragon Queen, I’m responsible for the welfare of the dragon race! Dragon Power is the foundation of dragon civilization. I can’t just give it out like candy!”
At those words, the whole laboratory immediately fell into a deathly silence.
Link and Gretel were equally strong-willed, befitting their status as Legendary masters. Before, they were able to work together peaceably with each other, as they both shared a common goal. Their viewpoints were now so different that they were beyond all hope of reconciling with one another.
It was not just the fact that Gretel was unwilling to share Dragon Power with the human race; rather, it was the different paths they have chosen to take.
With Dragon Power beyond his grasp, Link would continue looking for other alternatives to empower the human race. He would walk on further in his path. On the other hand, Gretel insisted still on walking the path of balance. Gradually, the gap between them would widen even more.
The alchemical laboratory remained silent for ten minutes.
At last, Link took out a huge scroll of parchment. He then activated a Copy spell and quickly wrote down his thoughts on it. Half an hour later, when he had finished writing, Link took out the time fragment, two meteorite pieces, and the Void Centipede’s stinger, and handed them all over to Gretel. “I’ve already laid out my designs for the magic circle to repair the spatial crack in the scroll. Bring it back to Dragon Valley. You should probably be able to work out a magic circle with it.”
Gretel scanned the scroll thoroughly. She then spoke softly, her eyes lowered. “You’re not coming back with me?”
Link nodded. “No, since the Dragon Power is out of my reach, I’ll just have to look for some other way to build up the strength of the human race.”
He was only a Level-11 Legendary master. This level of power would not let him surpass the realm of Firuman. With the God of Destruction’s covetous gaze still on Firuman itself, he needed to develop his power even further.
Gretel fell silent again. Minutes later, she accepted the scroll and a few other items from him. When she put them all away, Gretel warned him again, “Link, the path you’re on will lead you only to destruction.”
“It may also be lead me to glory,” countered Link with a smile.
“With that mentality of yours, you have no right to wield the dragon’s body.” Gretel softly touched the Dragon King’s Bracelet on her wrist. An iridescent ball of light appeared, engulfing her whole hand.
“As the Red Dragon Queen, I’ll need to seal your dragon body up. Of course, you can choose to resist and make me fail the sealing process.”
Link shook his head. “No need. It’s probably a good thing, anyway. This way, Dragon Valley won’t be to blame for my actions in the future.”
As he spoke, Link took out the black ring on his finger. It was the seal of the dragon duke.
Tears began welling up in Gretel’s eyes, and glittering teardrops fell from them. She spoke tremblingly, “You can still run. Why aren’t you running? You’re a Spatial Magician. I won’t be able to catch up to you.”
“There’s no need.” Link shook his head, letting the ball of light melt into his body. He distinctly heard a soft chink from the Heart of the Dragon in his body. His dragonification skill was sealed shut.
At that moment, he bade farewell to his Black Dragon body.
When his dragon body was finally sealed, and he had returned the seal of the dragon duke to the Red Dragon Queen, Link gave her a slight bow and then walked out of the room in large strides.
Gretel looked on as he left the room. She had hoped that Link would stop in his tracks, turn back to her and tell her that he finally understood what she had been trying to say, and that he wished to follow her back to Dragon Valley.
None of that happened. As soon as Link left, there was a sudden spatial shockwave from outside the castle. With the sound of a fiercely howling wind, he was gone.
Gretel felt her legs weaken beneath her. She fell to the ground and began shedding tears like pearls falling from a necklace to the ground.
Oh, ancestors, where did I go wrong? asked Gretel, without expecting an answer from anyone.
Outside the castle, Link flew at top speed from the island. Without putting up any defensive spells around him, Link simply let the wind and waves slap about his body.
A thick layer of ice had condensed on his body as he flew for three hours straight. He had also managed to calm himself down.
He was the lord of Ferde, while Gretel was the queen of the dragon race. Both of them had their own responsibilities and opinions. They would gradually lose their own selves if one were to abide by the whims of the other, and they would be no different from puppets pulling on each other’s strings.
It was just unacceptable.
“Let time decide it all.”
Link kept on flying until he finally saw the continent in front of him. It was the southern coastline of the Kingdom of Delonga. Shifting his direction slightly, he began flying towards Ferde.
Half an hour later, after flying for more than 700 miles, he had reached Scorched City. He activated an Invisibility spell and descended on the Mage Tower’s observatory.
He then sensed that the dragons in Scorched City had all left, probably summoned back by the queen herself.
Link sighed. Today had not gone as he had expected. The fact that he was immediately ostracized upon showing his Black Dragon form for the first time back in Dragon Valley must have been a sign for things to come.
He just did not expect things to take a drastic turn so soon.
Link walked to the edge of the observatory and looked out over Scorched City.
The city had expanded considerably since he was gone. The cluttered state of the area outside the city had visibly improved as well. People and carriages teemed the streets, while chimneys busily puffed up columns of smoke into the air.
It was evening. The golden rays from the setting sun gave everything in the city a yellowed, aged quality, accentuating the vibrancy of the bustling city.
At the moment, he was a Level-11 Legendary master, as well as the protector of this city. The High Elves threatened his domain in the East, the God of Destruction in the North. There was also Morpheus the Shadow Stalker. In the west, there were the warlords of the Beastmen of the Golden Plains, and who knew what other threats lurked in the shadows still.
This was the golden age of heroes and great personages. Link just had a head start over the rest of them.
Tellie, I’m sorry… my beloved, my friends, everything I have is right here in this city. I need to become stronger, I need to continue moving forward. Otherwise, I would have disappointed everyone around me, he thought to himself.
Sighing, Link turned back from the evening view and head back into the Mage Tower.