The flag representing the black skeletons was slowly lowered from the battleship’s mast, replaced with the bright red flag of the Scarlet Tigers.
“The old Scarlet Tiger is already at the bottom of the sea, but the crew shall now give it a new life. The Black Skeleton shall henceforth be called the Scarlet Tiger!” Leylin announced this decision as he stood on the deck, which immediately attracted cheers from his men.
Compared to the previous Scarlet Tiger which had been built on top of the Black Tiger, this ship was deserving of being Crowe’s flagship. Not only was it fully covered in a layer of magical armour, giving it a shocking defence, just the size of the vessel and the water it displaced far exceeded his former ship’s.
However, Leylin had benefitted at his opponent’s expense. All of this was now his. “Robin Hood, allocate some of the men to start up the battleships behind as well!”
“Aye, boss!” Robin Hood rubbed his hands together excitedly. The fleet of ships under the Black Skeletons was extremely luxurious. There were more than ten large battleships, and none of them was inferior to the previous Scarlet Tiger. The Scarlet Tiger pirate crew could truly eat their fill this time.
“Drive the ships off first, then we’ll replenish our manpower and depart for Hygar Island to take part in the naval battle!” After destroying two large pirate crews in one go, the remaining slaving fleet armed with military equipment was the only force that Marquis Louis was left with. How could Leylin let them off?
However, he was now facing a severe lack of manpower. After barely being able to start up the vessels, there were few people left to participate in battle.
Such a situation made Leylin laugh bitterly.
‘I’m afraid that these large-scale warships have to be kept safe for a period of time. The number of men I’m bringing with me to the naval battle this time round might not take up more than five large boats…’ He clearly had such huge ships, yet didn’t have enough manpower. This was the predicament that Leylin was currently facing.
He even wanted to let his family’s bodyguards disguise themselves as pirates, but quickly gave up that idea. After all, his adversaries this time round were different from pirates. They were a military fleet under an influential nobleman, whose name would not be revealed for purposes of secrecy. The bodyguards of his own family perhaps might not dare to take action.
It was needless to mention the effects of bringing them here. Leylin didn’t want to lose them. Hence, he could only bring his own men to engage in war, but unfortunately, the majority of his subordinates had sacrificed their lives during the previous explosion.
But these were all trivial matters. When news of the Scarlet Tiger destroying the Black Skeletons and Tigershark Pirates spread, there would be plenty of pirates pleading to join him. The two fleets started to part ways, while Leylin hid in the captain’s room and looked through his gains.
Crowe’s cabin was very spacious, and had all kinds of vibrant oil paintings and other artworks on the walls. They were evidently accumulated over his long life as a pirate.
“Crowe’s private treasury is just a small matter. After all, most of his riches are on the magical battleship under my feet. What’s truly valuable is the wizard’s equipment!” Leylin unabashedly occupied the golden seat embedded with precious jewels that once belonged to Crowe. He sized up several items on the table with bright eyes.
The first thing that came into his line of sight was an old-fashioned leather pouch.
“A Bag of Holding!” Leylin’s eyes brightened. He had been envious of this legendary piece of equipment that was standard for high level wizards. It was a pity that it was hard to purchase one even with the Faulens’ current financial resources.
But now, Boruj had actually taken the initiative to deliver it to him. A personal Bag of Holding would definitely have curses and other mechanisms on it, but they could not hide from the A.I. Chip’s scans. Leylin easily broke them.
The Bag of Holding was close to ten cubic metres in size, which pleasantly surprised Leylin. In a corner of the space was a messy heap of gold coins and gems that he estimated to be worth tens of thousands of gold kronas, but it was actually the pile with the lowest value.
“So many… So many high level spell-casting materials… and wizardry books…” Leylin’s smile became wider. These were all items that couldn’t be bought with money. When his eyes paused upon a few ancient-looking scrolls, his smile was the brightest it could ever be.
These scrolls were adorned with complex designs, and the scrolls themselves were made using leather from some sort of animal. There were even traces of its scales on the surface. As Leylin gentle caressed the scrolls, he could sense a subtle layer of mental deterrence.
‘This is the power of a dragon! Dragon skin was used to make these few scrolls!’ Leylin’s eyes glistened as he slowly opened the scrolls.
[Beep! Spiritual energy data detected, initialising scan.]
The scrolls contained a multitude of magic circuits and strangely-shaped writing. This was a way of storing information that allowed a huge amount of characters and resources to be stored within the relatively small scroll. Although there were still other kinds of encryption on it, Leylin felt that they were not worth mentioning.
The A.I. Chip immediately prompted. [Decryption complete. Transmitting to memory…]
Following the A.I. Chip’s voice, Leylin first saw a row of words: “Re: Structure of the magic circuit within the low-level wizard tower…”
‘As expected, are these the materials that Boruj prepared for his own wizard tower?’ Leylin scanned through the next few scrolls. Apart from techniques to construct a wizard tower, there was also information about defensive golems and methods of manufacturing their bodies.
‘Who would’ve thought that Boruj was also a master of golems? But what a pity… Everything he had prepared now belongs to me.’ Leylin was full of ambition. As a wizard, the benefits he could reap from the assistance of a wizard tower on his path of advancement would be unimaginable.
‘Speaking of which, there still seem to be large quantities of raw materials on the Baltic archipelago that Marquis Louis had prepared for the wizard tower, especially mithril and pure gold. It’s practically priceless!’
Leylin secretly made a decision. He quickly stowed the Bag of Holding away, and looked over a few other items. The radiance of the Identify spell kept flickering on Leylin’s palm.
‘A magical staff that stores enchanted missiles, and an anti-detection cloak? Not bad…’ Leylin evaluated the items one by one, and his gaze finally fell on a black ring.
After the Identify spell flashed, the relevant information was revealed and digitalized by the A.I. Chip before being presented in front of Leylin’s eyes.
[Name of item: Wizard Ring. Weight: 11 grams. Materials: Obsidian, wizard alloy, dragon blood. Effects: Addition of one spell slot allocated to all spell slots below rank 5 (exclusive to wizards). Description: This is a ring that possesses formidable magic powers, and will likely be coveted by other beings. A brilliant smelter could possibly strengthen the material.]
“This ring might just be Boruj’s best piece of equipment!” Leylin sighed. “It’s definitely a far cry from the legendary Lich Ring, which allows a single addition to all of the wizard’s spell slots, but it’s still a godly tool for a lower-ranked wizard!”
Leylin estimated a high price of five hundred thousand gold coins for just Boruj’s equipment. It showed how affluent wizards were, especially the high-ranked ones. Any of their equipment chosen at random could be sold at a sky-high price!
‘This ring!’ Leylin gently stroked the surface of the black ring. He could feel faint traces of spiritual energy from it.
“Dragon blood was added to this ring when it was forged, but it seems to be mixed with something else as well…” Leylin muttered to himself. “If matched with other precious materials, it does indeed have room for improvement. However, my current wizard rank is inadequate…”
After a few rounds of scanning and verification, Leylin wore the Wizard Ring on his left hand. At that instant, his statistics changed. [Leylin Faulen. Age: 16. Race: Rank 10 human wizard. Strength: 5.2. Agility: 6.5. Vitality: 6.3. Spirit: 10. State: Healthy. Innate skills possessed: Robust, erudite and multi-talented. Spell slots owned: Rank 4 spell slots (3), rank 3 spell slots (5), rank 2 spell slots (7), rank 1 spell slots (???), rank 0 spell slots (???)]
To a wizard, every increase in spell slots meant a significant upgrade in terms of strength. Leylin could imagine the trouble he would face if the existence of this ring was discovered by other wizards.
“Perhaps I should add a form of concealment to it. It can’t emit such a strong halo of magic light at least, it’s practically asking to be a target…”
The setting sun was painted blood red.
Numerous tattered and fragmented remains of a ship were drifting across the surface of the sea in the vicinity of Hygar Island.
Dozens of floating corpses belonging to the mariners of Baltic archipelago were strewn everywhere. Some of the dead bodies had been immersed in the seawater for so long that they had inflated, and appeared extremely terrifying.
A flag that represented Marquis Louis’ influence was slowly bobbing up and down in the water, and a big part of it seemed to have been burnt off at the edges.
After taking a while to rest and reorganise themselves, Leylin and Odge had brought their men, taking their main battleships to fight the military fleet.
Dealing with the Pirates’ Tide had already been a problem, but with the addition of Leylin and Odge the situation on the battlefield changed drastically. Under attack from both sides, the military fleet was instantly defeated. Even the commander-in-chief was hit by an artillery shell, and he died on the spot.
Numerous ships were attacked and they sank one by one. Countless mariners of the Baltic archipelago were either dead or injured.
The two pirate crews raised their flags bit by bit in the afterglow of the setting sun, and left the battlefield one after the other. Next, they would pillage the territories and harbours belonging to Marquis Louis separately. They could make up for their losses this round, and conveniently strike it rich.
“Our honeymoon period with the Barbarians has already passed…” Leylin exhaled deeply as he stood on the deck, watching them leave.
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