-Chapter 61, DGM-
The roads in red life valley were cragged and narrow, enough to give even the most experienced hikers trouble. After one crossed the whitebait river, the undergrowth would get increasingly denser. One would not find a forest trail then.
But it was precisely because of this that Link could track Ander and his goons easier.
They had left behind clear traces in their hasty retreat, such as trampled weeds and broken twigs. Messy shrubs, muddy footprints; it was hard to believe that they were elite assassins.
Hank’s meaty arms gripped his shield and warhammer. The breastplate of his excellent quality steel armour glinted proudly. His armour-clad figure seemed like a human-sized tank acting as the vanguard to clear the road.
Hank fearlessly pushed through the undergrowth.
They had Princess Annie’s support, Link’s terrifying magic and he himself was armed with excellent quality equipment and his improved warrior qi. They were near unbeatable at this point.1
And what of the syndicate? Were they fleeing now?
Link followed tightly behind Hank. To match Hank’s speed, he casted a ‘feline boost’ on himself. Behind Link was Greedin, tasked with covering Link’s back. As an archer, his fighting capability at close combat was minimal. Link had thus casted a ‘feline boost’ on him too as a precaution.
The three of them advanced at lightning speed.
Ten minutes later, with Hank taking the lead, they finally saw a hilltop by the red leaf valley. The hilltop was high, and there was a path leading down to the foot of the mountain. Link trained his eyes on the hill and squinted. At the foot of the mountain below, he could glimpse a group of people madly fleeing in disarray like their tails were on fire. Their uniforms were identical — smart, grey leather armour. It was exactly the same as the previous syndicate robbers they had slaughtered.
“There they are, Senior!” Hank jabbed his finger strongly at them.
Link had also noticed them. The people at the foot of the mountain numbered 15. True to their professions as robbers, these rascals ran extremely fast. However, the mountain roads were treacherous with thistled undergrowth and they needed to continually cut open their path. Link’s group was quickly gaining on them.
Looking at the 15 robbers fleeing wildly, Link frowned. He did not know why, but a strane sense of forboding sent tingles up his spine. Like something was out of place.
Link scrutinised them. The idea of 15 dudes fleeing together was wrong by itself. According to reason, they should have been scared witless by his magic. If all their courage had vanished, then they should have been fleeing in different directions, even with Ander as the boss trying to maintain discipline.
However, these 15 people at the foot of the mountain were moving too quickly…too fearlessly. They were organised and unpanicked, even now. They certainly did not give off je feeling of ‘terrified’ and panicked.
‘Rather than fleeing…it should be called a tactical retreat.’ Link’s brows furrowed deeper. This was the impression Link had been getting from them all this while.
But the situation was not meant to be like this. If Link placed himself in the opponent’s shoes, even if were him, he would have suffered a massive blow after his surefire strategy had been easiy stomped by the enemy. His orders would have been exactly the same: every man for himself.
‘Don’t tell me this bastard still has another card up his sleeve? It is also possible that their number surpasses 15. The rest of the robbers could have set up an ambush.’ Link’s mind blazed through the different possibilities.
Link was hardly afraid of an ambush. His ‘beginner detection’ could easily pinpoint the locations of the concealed enemies.
However, the sense of unease in his heart had been growing stronger all the while. A thought struck Link as he glanced at the robbers ahead of him. The distance between them was around 200 meters, he supposed. Not to mention that they had the higher ground. The gears in Link’s head began to work.
200 meters. Moreover, he held an advantage on a terrain like this. The bandits were also in relatively close proximity. Under a situation like this, they were basically screaming for another ‘whistle’!
‘Since there’s likely an ambush of some sort ahead, I’ll just attack them now!’
“Hank, you continue chasing! Greedin and I will start attacking!”
“Roger!” Hank had unconditional trust in Link. Like a tank, he rumbled towards the syndicate’s group of robbers.
Link spoke to Greedin, “You protect me.”
Greedin nodded curtly in response. Unsheathing his short dagger, he stood beside Link.
Link stared hard at the fleeing group of robbers by the foot of the mountain, unblinking. Digging for a fistful of iron powder in his pocket, Link held up his staff. Mana surged into the fire crystal magic staff rapidly. Exactly 0.2 seconds later, the tip of the glowing metal needle emerged from the end of the magic staff.
The metal needle spun swiftly, hissing as a visible gusts of wind surged over its surroundings. This was the phenomenon of the scattered mana, elements and air interacting together.
Greedin fixed his eyes on the spectacle in front of him, his lips parted in a silent gasp. This was not the first time he had saw it with his own eyes, but it never ceased to amaze him.
Link narrowed his eyes at the robbers, locking his gaze onto them. With his brilliant mind and soul power, he silently calculated the angle of the magic shot at breakneck speed.
In less than a fraction of a second, Link finished the calculation of the spell’s trajectory. In his mind’s eye, overlapping images of the many robbers running in front of him appeared. The many overlapping images were the different possibilities when the robbers moved.
Among all the images of the numerous possibilities, the curve of a graceful parabola emerged in his mind’s eye. This was the trajectory of the magic spell.
(Tler’s note: Jesus christ this guy’s brain is so powerful that he can calculate the different possibilities of the robber’s positions. For those who still don’t understand it’s basically calculating the several different ways the robbers can move. He basically has a computer in his brain aiding him in his accuracy at this point. Edit: turns out it isn’t his brain that did it.)
This was far too overpowered,2 and there was no way this was all the work of Link himself. This was the assistance of the game system to aid with Link’s casting.3
The game system was way too useful. Not only did it assign him missions for free points, it also assisted him in constructing magic structures and shortening his casting speed. And now it was helping him with the accuracy of his magic spells…
‘What the hell are the other functions it has?’ Link exclaimed silently. Only time would tell.
The robbers were getting further and further away… Casting away his thoughts, Link adjusted the different trajectory of the spell and released it decisively.
“Ssss!” The whistle shrilled as it shot out, headed straight for the robbers in the distance.
200 meters was too far. When the ‘whistle’ reached 100 meters, Link almost lost total control of the magic. When it reached the 200 meters mark, Link only had a vague connection with the magic. He struggled to keep the magic from collapsing.
This was the clearcut difference between magic, bows, and firearms.
Bows, firearms, arrows, bullets; one couldn’t possibly control the projectiles after they fired it.
But magic, its greatest characteristic was that it was unstable!
It required the constant maintenance and control of the caster. The range of a magic spell was affected by only two factors: the magic structure/magic skill and the power of the caster’s soul.
The study of the soul fell under the mysterious branch of magic. Anything pertaining to the soul was extremely hard to quantise. However, it seemed like the current limit of Link’s soul strength was was maintaining a spell for 200 meters.
Being able to control a spell at this distance was no mean feat.
His magic being able to hit a target 200 meters was all due to the calculations made beforehand.
Link believed that with the assistance of the game system, he would not make a mistake with adjusting a simple parabola.
At the foot of the mountain.
Ander was completely unaware of the impending crisis right behind his back. Truth to be told, all his worries had felt him after the magician in the black cloak had promised to help him.
The cloaked magician was powerful. If anything, Ander was certain of his strength. He had fought off magicians stronger than Ander himself before.
His job now was to ensure that everything went along with the cloaked magician’s plan. While ‘fleeing’, he would lure the magician and his gang into the cloaked magician’s trap.
When the magician’s group drew near, a wide, toothy grin split across Ander’s face. The trap the magician cloaked in black had deployed was halfway up the mountain. A little more, and they would taste the power of magic!
To assist with the cloaked magician’s trap, Ander even purposely slowed down the pace as he craftily waited for the magician’s group to trigger the magic trap. When he deemed the time right, he abruptly turned the entire group around. It was time to counterattack the group.
‘Nobody has ever made me flee this pitifully before… Boy, today, you’ve been an exception. Once I get my hands on you, I’ll let you beg for death!’ A thousand different torture methods flashed by in Ander’s mind. A sickly grin on his face, Ander decided to slowly test them out on the magician.
Just as this thought popped up in his mind, an alarmed voice rang out in his mind. “GET BEHIND THE TREE, NOW! QUICK!”
The voice was panicked, but also familiar. It was the same rough and hoarse voice…the cloaked magician?!
Although Ander had no idea how the cloaked magician did it, he trusted the cloaked magician. His reaction was immediate. With astonishing speed, he darted behind a nearby tree half a meter thick.
Just as he darted behind cover safely, he heard the familiar, terrifying sound of a whistle…4
“Ssss!” Like a steam engine…no a whistle! The sound was strident and shrill.
“BOOM!” A deafening explosion followed the hiss. Ander felt the earth rumble slightly as he felt a powerful force pass through his body, leaving his knees knocking and teeth chattering. The vegetation in the area whipped from side to side. The hair-raising screams became audible only after the shrill buzz of tinnitus died down.
He whipped around the tree. All blood drained from his face as he gaped at the spectacle before him. Behind the tree, the remaining 14 syndicate members lay strewn about on the ground. 5 people were dead, 9 people were injured and 4 people were so heavily injured they were incapable of fight. Only 5 people had received light injuries, but they were utterly petrified. They lay on the ground, scared shitless with a stupid expression on their face. What courage they had before were obliterated in that strike.
The syndicate members turned to glance at the top of the mountain. The distance was far, and they had thus slackened their vigilance. Once the distance between each of the robbers had closed up slightly, the 14 robbers, unconsciously, had formed something like a group.
The result…a disaster with one ‘whistle’.
No, it was a complete annihilation.
Ander’s pulse quickened as he looked at the dispersed members, with their varying injuries. The voice in his head rang out again in disbelief, “Take cover! It’s coming again!”
Without thinking, Ander slunk behind a tree like lightning.
Ander counted his lucky stars as he heard the shrill hiss of the second whistle. Another explosion, none less violent or deafening than the first. Within the explosion, deadly stones and metal fragments whirled around in the air. Some scraped the tree, causing a crackling sound against the woody trunk.
What was different from the first was that this time, when the explosion died down, there was no screams. Just silence. Deathly, quiet, still silence.
Ander felt his heart drop. He understood what this meant. The nightblade members which he had spent so much money and painstaking training on was gone.
These people had not even attacked once. They had simply been shredded under the deadly magic of the magician.
“Magicians are fucking scary.” Ander screamed in his mind, his jumbled thoughts tangled together. He began to question his own decision. “Who the hell have I messed with?”
The magician’s magic was far off Ander’s knowledge or expectations of magic. Under the pressure of the dreadful magic, his resolve and courage had been ripped into shreds.
-Chapter 61, end-
Spiced some things up in the end by caps’ing the cloaked magician’s words. In the raws I imagined him screaming. Also changed Ander’s speech and kept it as close to the original at the same time. (“Magicians are fucking scary.” Ander screamed in his mind, his jumbled thoughts tangled together. He began to question his own decision. “Who the hell have I messed with?”)
This chapter took me super long, 2.2k words T.T school arc asap pls