Published at 2nd of April 2024 01:22:58 PM

Chapter 70

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“…A headmaster of a Magus academy.” Silence enveloped the room as he uttered those words. The weight of his words hung in the air, momentarily catching Eleanor off guard. However, she quickly regained her composure.

“Say what? You are the top dog, Sir Astralium?” she inquired. “I already have some guesses that you have a dwelling deeper inside, but for it to be a Magus academy is beyond me…”

Huh, so she’s quite knowledgeable about Magus academies? This will make it simple, Victor thought to himself. Nevertheless, with all the things she had revealed to him, he began suspecting that this girl really did have something more than what met the eye. Either way, if she wasn’t a threat to his plans, he had no reason to probe further.

“Well, it is not wrong to say that. While I may be the headmaster of a Magus academy, it’s still sprouting and not yet a big academy. There are only about a hundred or so acolytes at the moment,” he frankly revealed. “It’s nestled deep within the Thornwood Forest, and that’s where I plan to take you. You can still refuse if you are unwilling.”

“I see…” Eleanor looked like she was in deep thought, then her face lit up with determination. “Anyway! I’ve already committed to making you my sponsor; even if you turned out to be a devil in disguise, I wouldn’t renege on my words. Besides, building an academy sounds like a fun project!”

A devil? The comparison really struck a chord with Victor. In a way, his actions toward the players could indeed be seen as devilishly cunning. The whole charade of tricking players into serving him and turning them into pawns in his grand plan was quite Machiavellian. It was like slavery with extra steps.

“Excellent. Since you have heard what I have to say and agreed, then pack up your stuff and get ready. We will depart later today,” he stated.

“Aye! Sure, I’ll have everything packed and ready by noon!” Eleanor gave Victor a thumbs-up and made a toothy smile.

“That’s good.” Victor nodded his head and then lowered his voice. “But I have something to tell you beforehand: The play— the acolytes of my academy are a bit special; they like to talk nonsense and get excited over nothing, so you don’t have to answer all their queries.”

“Special?” She tilted her head.

“Yes. I will tell you more about them once we get into the academy.” Victor decided to hold on from explaining further until he could decide how much he should show her at the academy.

“Mm, okay!”

With the arrangements settled, Victor bid farewell and stepped out of the workshop.


Having successfully recruited Eleanor, Victor next headed to the village head’s house. As before, he instructed the players to remain outside to stand guard. While he had an intention to trade with the merchants, some items, like seeds and others, required the assistance of the head of this village. Additionally, he planned to buy some of the freshly harvested wheat as well as dairy products to enrich the player’s diet. It wasn’t that Victor himself wanted to eat some baguette or cake.

Just half a month prior, Victor had purchased enough seeds to cover six hectares of fields. With six more hectares now ready for sowing, the only obstacle to accruing more progression value points was the actual planting. Interestingly enough, the “Farming Simulator” mission series always doubled the area of the fields from the previous one, meaning the next task would involve twelve hectares. However, he noticed that the progression value points awarded for each mission only increased by five points, regardless of the doubled effort.

In any case, Victor wasn’t going to expand the field any further than this because of several reasons. First, twelve hectares of fields were already very large, like seriously large. It already took up a considerable space within the academy. Even with the modest estimation of each hectare being able to sustain five hundred people, twelve of them could easily feed five thousand people. He wouldn’t have to worry about food anymore, not until the player's population skyrocketed.

Another pressing concern was the rapidly depleting seasoning stock in the academy. The players were a spoiled bunch; they would consume well-flavored meals, willingly spending more merit points for taste over bland food whenever possible. Consequently, this led to a quicker diminishing of the seasoning supplies than it should have been otherwise.

Still the same, Victor also planned to replenish the academy’s stock of iron tools and ore. While he could have dealt directly with the merchants, he chose to involve the village head as an intermediary. After all, building a good rapport was better for the long term compared to any minor savings he might have achieved by bypassing the village head. He anticipated this would be his last iron purchase, as he intended to start mining in the ravine soon.

“Sir, I can prepare everything that you have listed. We are currently in the harvesting season and have a surplus of seeds, which should be more than sufficient for your needs,” said the village head as he leaned in his chair. But then, a slight frown formed on his forehead. “However, a significant portion of our wheat harvest is owed to the feudal lord, so our capacity to sell is limited, as we have to prepare for winter.”

Understanding the constraints, Victor nodded. “I see. Well then, let’s discuss the finer details about the price.”

“Certainly, sir!”

Overall, the total value of the trade amounted to five platinum coins, slightly higher than their previous transaction. This increase was primarily due to the seeds and a large quantity of seasonings, which Victor hoped would sustain the academy for at least a month, even if the number of players increased. Opting for more iron ore over tools also helped keep the cost much cheaper.

Still, this made Victor realize that bringing this large amount of seeds would be hard with just his interspatial ring and a wooden cart. So, he purchased one more similar wooden cart, which was sold for one platinum coin. Now, he wouldn’t have to come back and forth like in the past. He would have preferred a horse, but the forest was too thick and dangerous, and the ground was too bumpy. Furthermore, none of the players could ride a horse, or at least he never asked them that. This was just not an option for now.

“Hmm, before we finalize the deal.” Victor secretly reached into his interspatial ring and retrieved a chunk of dried magical beast meat, placing it on the table. “Would you be interested in purchasing this meat?” Victor asked, gauging his reaction.

“Sir, if I may… Could you tell what this meat is?” His eyes were fixed on the meat with curiosity.

“It’s a magical beast’s meat, of course.” It was a Thornback Boar meat, but there was almost no distinction in the meat’s color between it and a typical boar meat.

 “M-Magical beast meat?” The revelation seemed to stun the village head as he froze in shock, not daring to touch it in the slightest.

“Yes. Are you or are you not interested in buying this? I still have more where it came from.”

The old village head went into deep thought, a frown forming up. Then, he respectfully declined, “I’m afraid we cannot, sir. Such a luxury is beyond our means. Even the lowest grade of magical beast meat commands a price well over one gold coin per kilogram, and our resources are already allocated for essentials with the merchants.”

The refusal surprised Victor. He had expected the village head to seize the opportunity for profit by reselling the meat to the peddlers and merchants, but he chose to refuse without much thought. This gave Victor a good impression on him. Still, he didn’t mind it one bit, smoothly transitioning to another option. He stored the meat back into his interspatial ring and instead changed it into dried smoke giant boar meat.

“Is that from a giant boar, like the one sir hunted not so long ago?” The village head looked at the meat with curiosity and looked a bit tempted. Apparently, the last time he had hunted a giant boar and brought it to the village had left quite an impression.

“Yes, that’s correct,” Victor confirmed. “This meat should be more within your means, and I’ll offer it at a discounted rate. Consider it a token of goodwill.”

“Thank you, sir! Thank you! This is most generous of you!”

Victor knew that hunting a giant boar was an incredibly rare feat for the local hunters, who were just mere mortals. Even if there were Ki-Warriors among them, they were generally weak and lacked the prowess to take down such formidable prey.

He then proposed, “That said, I have five hundred kilograms of this meat with me. Would you be able to purchase the entire quantity?”

“Five hundred kilograms?” The village head pondered for a moment before replying, “We don’t need that many; two hundred kilograms should suffice. For the rest, please take it to the merchants, sir. They will give a better price for it.”

“All right.” Victor didn’t force him.

With the terms agreed upon, the trade was finalized. Victor exchanged three platinum coins and two hundred kilograms of the smoked dried giant boar meat for the required goods. Though the price was below market value, Victor wasn’t concerned. After all, he — or rather, the players — could always hunt more giant boars whenever necessary.

“Sir, there’s a matter I feel you should be made aware of.” The old village head was barely above a whisper as he said that. “It’s about a rumor that the merchants are talking about.”

“Oh, elaborate then,” he prompted. For an unknown reason, Victor had a hunch about what he was about to report. The image of the hateful figures emerged in his mind. Are they finally coming back after all this time?

He paused momentarily and explained, “I heard that in the nearby City of Brightmoon and other adjacent cities, there’s been an unusual accumulation of weapons, gear, provisions, and manpower. This has become a hot topic among the people coming here, with rumors suggesting that they are going to conduct a large-scale magical beast-hunting expedition around here. That’s why we're seeing an influx of traders acquiring supply here.”

There was no mistaking it. But just to be sure, he asked this question: “Do you know who orchestrated all this?”

Regretfully, the village head shook his head. “I apologize, sir, but I’m not aware of the details. The merchants may know more about it, though.”

“Mm, it’s okay. I will keep that in mind. Thank you.” These people probably didn’t care too much about concealing their activities from the general populace. Yet, to Magi and other extraordinary individuals… Knowing their background, they wouldn’t dare to mess around with them, either. And without the key, accessing the pocket dimension would be all but impossible.

Speaking of being conspicuous, Victor and the players would stick out like a sore thumb among the merchants. Though dark and subdued, the players’ acolyte robes might still draw eyes. To blend in better, he decided to take a precautionary step by asking the village head to borrow four unassuming capes to be worn by him and three of the six players, to which he gladly agreed.

Before he left the place, Victor added, “Oh, and when the time comes, don’t ever reveal my acolytes’ and my identities — for the sake of you or the villagers in this village.”

“We would never!” exclaimed the old village head. “We would definitely keep your identity to our graves.”

Hearing his answer, Victor nodded his head. Of course, he didn’t believe his words completely. However, unless his former comrades were actively searching for him (which was very likely), his existence would remain a secret. Plus, they probably wouldn’t care as much about a mere third-stage Initiate Attunement acolyte without allies.

Upon stepping out of the village head’s house, the players standing guard immediately gathered around him and inquired in tandem, “What will we do now, Esteemed Headmaster?”

“We will go to the marketplace to trade with the merchants,” Victor explained. He then turned to Zero, Thunder, and Aphrodite, addressing them directly, “You three will accompany me. The rest of you will wait near the forest’s edge for the supplies the village head is arranging, and don’t forget to take the hidden wooden cart. Check your Shadowlink Mark for the specifics. Please stay put and don’t wander off; we won’t be long.”

““Understood, Headmaster!””

Interestingly, the players assigned to stay back seemed a bit more excited than those chosen to go with him. They were clearly planning their own little adventure. Victor observed this with a hint of amusement, deciding not to interfere. As an understanding headmaster NPC, allowing the players some autonomy seemed like a good strategy to enhance their gaming experience.


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