Book 4, Chapter 25

Behind The Forest(2)

Just as the young druid was about to wave his staff, Richard suddenly raised his leg and kicked him square in the stomach. The strike took all the breath out of the youth even as it sent him flying, his spell never coming to fruition.

The druid got to his feet once more, waving his staff madly in a desperate attempt to cast something, but Richard appeared behind his back and gave the staff a light tug. The youth was thrown off balance, falling to the ground once more.

This position wasn’t difficult to get out of, but as he tried to jump up his body barely left the ground. A sickening crack was followed by the sound of bones breaking, and the druid couldn’t help a pained scream. Just as he was about to jump up, Richard had simply stepped on his leg; the attempted leap was no different from almost completely twisting his own ankle off.

The youth continued to struggle with no intention to escape, but Richard only needed a few simple moves to send him back to the ground again and again. Eventually, Richard only needed to shove a little to send the fellow flying several metres away.

By this point, he already understood that systematic mages like the one he used to be were easily exploited by those like Beye. Unless one could make their preparations absurdly early, it would be impossible to cast even the simplest of spells. That was true even if it was an instant cast.

Instantaneous casting had its own prerequisites; it wouldn’t work with a simple thought. One had to control their mana flow, performing the basic gestures needed to release the energy. The druid was being tossed around like a ragdoll without even a sense of direction; any spellcasting was out of the question.

Even if the opponent had a scroll or magical tool, it was useless if they could not withdraw it. Under such circumstances, the only defences still in play would be permanent ones like the magic arrays on a mage’s robes that responded to attacks automatically or runes that worked off similar principles. That was the reason for the existence of runes like Mana Armament. There was nothing better at improving a mage’s mobility.

Mages were normally taught a proverb in their youth: no matter how powerful a spell is, it is only fearsome if it strikes the enemy. Richard now felt like it needed an amendment: no matter how powerful a spell is, it can only be called magic if it’s cast.

Looking at the unyielding young druid who was still struggling, Richard felt a pang of pity. He felt as if he was looking at a younger version of himself, but unlike him this youth would not have the chance to grow up.

The teen continued to curse wildly, but there were no complete sentences coming from his mouth. Richard interpreted the unconnected syllables to be a threat of something like a horrible death. Having spent so much time on this plane, the local language had become easy to understand; he could now understand much of their lexicon even without translation magic.

Perhaps the rage had clouded his mind, but the youth started chanting once more to try and transform into a panther. Richard shook his head, allowing him to complete the transformation before moving forward to step on the beast’s tail. The panther jumped with all its might, but with its tail pinned to the ground it landed with the loud thud. This time, it could not muster the strength to get up.

Richard walked over with sword in hand, grabbing the creature by the nape and slamming it into the trunk of a nearby tree. The druid collapsed and returned to human form with a whimper, taking a long time to get back on his knees. This time he just stared at Richard, chuckling before spitting into the ground, “You cannot escape!”

Richard remained unperturbed, saying without any hints of panic, “Because of the warriors that just passed us?”

Surprised as he was by Richard speaking his language, the druid’s face still contorted with rage, “You can’t escape. Kill me if you want, at least you’ll have done something before you die!”

Richard chuckled, “If they really were coming, they would have been here already.”

All colour drained from the youth’s face, “W–What did you do to them?”

“If I could catch even you, how could they have escaped? It would’ve been one thing if just you didn’t return, but who told you to call them back as well?” Richard stared into the druid’s eyes, every word a nail piercing into the teenager’s heart.

“Nine returned to rescue you, and only two remain.”

……

Several kilometres away, an elven warrior was fleeing at full speed. The wind felt like a stream of thorns scraping against his face as drops of blood flew out, but he had already lost the ability to identify his wounds. But that wasn’t something he cared for. His goal was to run faster and faster, shaking off the demons chasing after him to return to his tribe with news of his companions’ fate.

He had never run so fast before, but his sense of danger hadn’t dulled in the slightest. In fact, it was only growing stronger.

Waterflower held the Shepherd of Eternal Rest in her mouth, her body on all fours as she gave chase to the escapee like a pursuing wolf. Her speed far exceeded the elf’s, but she still blended into the shadows of the jungle without effort.

She suddenly leapt up, blocking off the archer mid-air. The elf showed a remarkable dexterity in abandoning his bow and drawing his blade, charging towards her like a fish in water, but he could never have expected that the assassin was even more suited to the forest night than himself.

He could have sworn that one moment she was charging towards him, and the next she completely disappeared from his vision. All he saw was the shadows of the trees, but the murderous intent had not dispersed at all. A blade appeared out of nowhere, sending him tumbling to the ground with a single clash. The girl also brushed by him and stood atop a tree branch that continued to bob in the wind as though she was weightless.

“One left,” Waterflower sent a mental message. Only then did the elven warrior’s stiff body sprawl across the ground, fresh blood trickling down from his corpse.

……

Elsewhere in the forest, Phaser was doggedly pursuing another elven warrior. She couldn’t catch up to him, but he couldn’t throw her off either. Hearing the scream of the druid from afar, a fire appeared in his eyes. He drew his shortsword and turned around, tossing a longbow aside.

This native was tall and handsome, possessing a primal attraction that was only enhanced by the green tattoos on his face. Norland’s standards would put him as a level 13 archer, and while he had forgone his primary weapon he was still formidable in the nightly forest. Phaser was only level 10.

Phaser had already discarded her cloak, stopping at the edge of attacking range. Half of a breathtakingly beautiful face appeared from the shadows, one that almost sent the elven warrior into a trance. These natives were similar to their kind back in Norland, finding it hard to discard aesthetics. Even candidates for important positions in the tribe were decided based on appearance if they were equally competent.

However, his face froze over once more before he charged fiercely at Phaser, blade aimed at her heart. Disadvantaged in terms of speed, power, and reflexes, a sadness flashed across the girl’s face. As though fighting to the death, she aimed the tip of her blade at the warrior’s lower ribcage.

An injury there would be severe, but not fatal. The warrior twisted a little, but his sword continued to move forward. As its edge touched Phaser’s pale, ethereal skin, he felt a pang of hesitation and regret. However, the tip eventually only paused for a split second before he thrust forth with full force.

His blade split open Phaser’s skin and flesh, meeting the expected resistance that should have been the ribcage. He applied a little more force to break it, allowing the tip to enter the heart. However, as the shortsword continued forward it met a far stronger resistance than the elf had anticipated. It made it less than ten centimetres in before starting to slow down, shaking as though powerful jaws were clamping down on the invading blade.

The warrior was shocked beyond belief; try as he might to force the shortsword into the wound, it was all to no avail. The resistance to the blade was so great it was like trying to penetrate refined steel. In the meanwhile, he had paid a heavy price. The girl’s dagger was buried into his gut.

The elf immediately felt a terrifying threat, weakness radiating from the location of his wound even as he lost all senses in the location. The blade was coated with poison that rivalled the Crystallising Toxin everyone in the tribe feared!

His body shook with a final bellow of rage. He hadn’t expected such an attractive woman to use such an underhanded tactic, but it was only then that he truly saw the female in front of him as well.

A shiver ran down his spine. She was undeniably beautiful, but half of her face was hidden behind a strange mask. The thrust into her heart should have killed her, but she remained firm as though nothing had happened.

Phaser gazed calmly upon the elven warrior, but there was greed in her eyes. The elf suddenly screamed, a panicked look flooding his face as he felt his life force surging towards the wound in his ribs. That dagger was like a bottomless pit, drawing every last drop of his energy. His eyes gradually dimmed.

The special unit shook her blade, and a withered corpse slid onto the ground.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: JH

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA