"You'll have to agree sooner or later," Fran sneered, before leaning against his chair and closing his eyes to rest.
"Haha..." Lys let out an awkward chuckle, but didn't leave the fireplace immediately. It was partially because of Fran's status as a disciple of Artisan Nolan, which made it so that wherever he went, he had to be respected.
Moreover, Lys was also unsure...
Merlin indeed had shown shocking skill when it came to alchemy, to the point that even Lys himself as a Master Alchemist was awed by him.
But Merlin was truly too young... He wasn't even twenty. Even if he had started studying the intricacies of alchemy at his birth, he could only have accumulated twenty years worth of knowledge. No matter how talented Merlin was, there would inevitably be some shortcomings when it came to his experience.
And cracking an array relied mostly on experience with other arrays.
It was due to this worry that Lys became so indecisive, feeling indignant about Fran's greed while having no other choice but to keep the snake at hand in case he was needed.
After all, who would dare guarantee that Merlin would definitely break the array? If Fran wasn't there and Merlin had issues cracking the array, wouldn't the joint exploration come to a halt?
Thus, Lys could only appease both sides, trying not to offend either.
"Oh right, Fran..." Lys hesitated a bit before saying, "I know of your grudges with the Merlin Family, but I hope that you can take the whole picture into account and not come into conflict with Merlin before the end of the joint exploration..."
"Conflict?" When Fran heard that, he slowly opened his eyes and looked at Lys for some time, before smiling. "No, no, there will naturally be no conflicts...."
"No, Fran, you don't understand, Merlin is different from other Great Mages..." Lys was a bit anxious, as Fran clearly wasn't listening to his words.
At this time, Lys very much wanted to tell him that there would naturally be no conflict since Merlin was someone that Star Sage Jouyi himself acknowledged as having the power of a 9th Rank High Mage... A 9th Rank High Mage facing a 5th Rank High Mage... It was like a stone facing an egg, would there be any conflict?
Unfortunately, Fran didn't pay any mind to his advice and just leaned back in his chair with his eyes closed while waving his hand at Lys. "Well, Lys, I'm a bit tired. I'll rest for now, wake me up when we have to leave..."
By nightfall, the leaders of the expedition had gathered. Now, the nine most powerful forces of Thousand Sails City were here. When gathered, they could be compared to powerful external forces like the Merlin Family.
At this time, these groups were coming out at full power.
Two of the three big shots of the Sage Tower had appeared along with seven Great Mages, and they promised to bring along about fifty Mages. The Silver Moon Mercenary Group was even fiercer. They brought three Expert Swordsmen, one High Mage, six Great Swordsmen, and two Great Mages, along with the whole elite Edge Rift expedition team.
The Alchemist Guild had an even more luxurious arrangement. They had one Master Alchemist and three Great Alchemists, and if the external help, Fran, was added, the line up was even more dazzling than the Sage Tower's.
The other forces such as the Viper Nest, the Black Horn Auction House, the Crystal chamber of commerce, and the Monchi Family, brought even more elites, not leaving any room for error.
It was actually the Gilded Rose who only brought two people.
One was Lin Yun, and the other was William.
But no one would dare to say that the lineup of the Gilded Rose was shabby.
The status of the Gilded Rose was too special in Thousand Sails City.
Before it had time to develop, many forces had hoped for it to go bankrupt because that would open up the alchemy market, and they all wanted a part of the profits.
But who would dare think so now?
If the Gilded Rose went bankrupt, the equipment and supplies of every organization would slowly decline over time. Others might not know, but the Silver Moon Mercenaries definitely knew that if it wasn't for the Gilded Rose supplying them with useful consumables, the casualties in their Edge Rift campaign would have at least doubled!
Even the previously hostile Monchi could only behave and reach out his hand with embarrassment from time to time, seeking some technical support.
Nothing could be done about it, as the best alchemy skills of Thousand Sails City were in the hands of the Gilded Rose. If Monchi didn't want the Twin Moons Splendor to go bankrupt, he could only reach his hand out for help and bear the humiliation. Even if he was cheated pretty badly by the old butler, it was always better than having to go bankrupt.
It could be said that although the Gilded Rose was only an alchemy store, it was counted as one of the top forces of Thousand Sails City.
And it was getting stronger and stronger...
In the past, these people could exclude the Gilded Rose from their ranks on the basis that it was weak.
But the weakness of the Gilded Rose seemed to have been fixed recently.
Many people discovered that Great Mages had started to appear within the Gilded Rose, and it wasn't just one or two, but a few dozens!
When this news spread, many leaders felt numb...
With this, along with the rumor of Lin Yun's shocking strength, most of them didn't dare to provoke the Gilded Rose.
It could now be said that the Gilded Rose had already become one of the major forces.
"Cousin, take a few Great Mages with you when leaving..." In the end, Lin Yun felt a bit embarrassed and whispered to William.
After the nine major forces learnt of the overall lineups, they continued with their meeting for a whole night.
An exploration of this scale was quite serious, the nine major forces of Thousand Sails City bringing out such power, along with the helper from the Mercury Tower, Fran. With the complicated relationships between everyone and the benefits to be divided up, too many things needed to be determined before setting off.
Such as the allotment of duties, the distribution of profits, and organization of the forces... Even smaller matters such as who would serve as scouts, who would be on watch duty on which nights, and who would serve as the main force depending on which circumstances. These were all decisions that needed to be taken care of before leaving, or else these would end up being timebombs that could explode during the exploration of the Vaughn "Treasury", sending them all to the afterlife.
When it came to benefits, everyone would talk without caring about others' feelings.
Even two forces who had a friendly relationship would still argue for a long time to send one more or one less person on watch duty.
Soon, the meeting sank into a slog of endless quarrels.
But fortunately, this had nothing to do with the Gilded Rose. After breaking the arrays, they would have loot priority over magic materials. The duty and the benefits of the Gilded Rose had already been negotiated beforehand. Thus, Lin Yun and William took a nap during the meeting, ignoring the squabbling between the other eight groups.
Lin Yun woke up at dawn of the next day.
"Eh, the ruckus is over?" Lin Yun got up from the bench in the corner and saw the exhausted expressions of all the leaders, their faces pale and their lips dry. Many of them looked quite haggard.
They had pulled an all-nighter and spent all that time arguing, so how could they not be in such state?
"Yes, it's all over." The one who answered was Solomon. Although the old man looked rather pale, some happiness could be heard within his voice. He should have gained a good harvest during the night.
"Looks like you were able to secure some decent terms?"
"How about I tell you on the way?"
Lin Yun found out that every leader was leaving the reception room, one after the other.
As he left with Solomon, Lin Yun got more information. Everyone had to leave before noon to reach Edge Rift before nightfall. They could temporarily use the Silver Moon Mercenary Group's camp there.
Three hours later, over a dozen carriages took everyone out of Thousand Sails City, leaving a huge cloud of dust behind them as they rushed in the direction of Edge Rift.
Lin Yun sat with William. After getting on, he asked William a few questions, and after ascertaining the extent of his magical abilities, Lin Yun gave him a Meditation Law Set before closing his eyes to continue his unfinished work.
Lin Yun had already lost count of how many attempts he had made...
Failure, failure, never-ending failure... But Lin Yun didn't give up, continuously transferring all his runes to try simulating the mysterious characters of the Book of Death again and again, never losing focus despite meeting failure repeatedly.
Although the trip was boring, how could it compare to this never-ending chain of failures?
Lin Yun's mind was fully immersed in this simulation to the point that he didn't even notice that the sky had already darkened outside the carriage...
Pushing through these countless failures, Lin Yun finally saw the first opportunity for success. Several thousand runes rushed forward, forming a strange distortion as a figure that was 70% to 80% similar to the unlimited character was condensing.
Lin Yun was overjoyed and hurriedly focused on controlling the rune.
But he suddenly heard a loud sound above his head.
And with a rumble, the world seemed to shake.