Chapter 62: A Battle of Wit

 

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-Chapter 62, DGM-

Hilltop.

Having wiped out the remaining syndicate members with two ‘whistles’, the aiming assistance of the game system began to fade.

Link glanced at the new notification.

Mission ‘pursuit’ completed.

Player has been awarded 25 free points.

Initiating second step: Kill the robber chief.

Mission description: Kill Ander.

Mission reward: 40 free points.

Link accepted. His free points had now risen to 59, and his mana had decreased to 38 points. This was still considered enough to kill Ander and still have some mana remaining.

Strangely enough, the reward of the mission was still sky-high.

‘40 free points for a person of Ander’s level? Don’t tell me there’s some hidden catch to it. Or is it possible that he has some helper or trump card?’

This reward was a little too high for its difficulty. One needed to know that the mission for rescuing Glaston city had only given him 100 free points. Why would killing a lone robber chief drop him 40 free points out of the blue?

This was not rational. Link perked up.

Hank had already advanced more than 20 meters from them. Link cried out, “Halt! Hank, keep your guard up!”

Hank’s footsteps stopped. He raised his shield, adopting a defensive stance.

Link and Greedin quickly caught up to him.1

“Keep moving, but go a little slower. Be on your guard against ambushes.” Link commanded as he casted a ‘beginner detection’ spell on himself. He scanned the road ahead cautiously. The light/colours he was getting from the road ahead was all normal. There was not a spot of irregularity or any ambushes in wait.

“Perhaps I’ve been overthinking it.” Link hesitated.

After much deliberation, Link opted to keep it safe. He ordered Hank to slow down his pace. Either way, there was only survivor left was Ander.

Ander was only a peak level 3 robber. Even if he fled from their line of sights it was no issue as Link could cast pursuit spells to track him down. Ander’s odour and footprints were all over the mountains. Just like the dark elf magician Holm in Glaston city, Link could always cast the summoning spell which sent the earth hound after Ander.

Another few minutes of walking and they were at the halfway mark of the mountain. Link’s ‘beginner detection’ still had not discovered any anomalies, but strangely enough, the unnerving sensation in his heart grew heavier.

“Stop. Something’s wrongz Something’s definitely up.” Link furrowed his brows.

A magician’s intuition was never wrong. Magicians had keen senses that surpassed the ordinary person by far, and Link, who possessed a powerful soul had even keener senses.

Before, Link had also gotten the same feeling from the fleeing robbers…like everything was orchestrated. The game system had even dropped a few hints for Link. Link had already been feeling the nagging sense of danger grow ever since they had approached the halfway-mark of the mountain. The sensation was so strong his pores were tingling, like the smell of ozone before an approaching storm.[footnote]added last part about the storm original

Hank and Greedin stood by Link’s sides, in silent vigil. They waited patiently for Link’s commands.

The two of them were just the common mercenary. In a mentally draining fight like this where brains were needed, they were like blind rats, unable to even realise the situation. They had grown used to waiting upon Link.

“Why isn’t that ‘Ander’ guy escaping after hiding behind the tree? Has he been scared stupid or something?” Hank frowned. When Link had casted the ‘whistle’ before, he saw Ander suddenly glide behind a tree like he had received orders from somebody. When the second whistle came, he ducked behind the tree again. He had not been spotted since.

Even Hank had noticed something. Link had been concentrating on casting the spell earlier, and he had not particularly noticed this detail. Now that he thought about it, he felt that Ander’s reaction was indeed strange.

‘Ander had not noticed my magic at all…he should actually have been caught in the magic spell. However, at the last minute, he managed to evade it. Not to mention that he dodged suddenly with almost no reaction. If Ander had even noticed his attack, then he would have at least shouted a warning to the other syndicate members — but no. It seemed like even he didn’t know why he had to dodge. Someone’s…he’s following someone’s orders!’

Link reached a conclusion.

‘But whom’s orders is he following?’ Link’s eyes lit up as he recasted ‘beginner detection’. He swept his eyes left and right as he tried to determine the location of the ‘someone’. But just as before, nothing came up.2

However, whatever that had happened thus far was more than enough for Link to gather enough information about the unknown individual working together with Ander. ‘The person Ander’s working with has a high levelled concealing method. Moreover, he had his ways of notifying Ander secretly. It is very possible that a powerful magician hides in this forest!’

If so, then Link’s irrational unease all made sense now.

Because Ander had gained the assistance of a magician, they had rapidly regained morale even after their massive defeat at the whitebait river. Because the unknown magician had worked behind the scenes and notified Ander of his spell, Ander had managed to narrowly escape the ‘whistle’.

It was also because the person cooperating with Ander was a magician that he was able to evade Link’s ‘beginner detection’.

‘But where’s this magician hiding?’ The presence of some powerful, unknown magician which he had no knowledge of was far from reassuring. But not an ounce of fear rose within Link as he continued piecing together the situation rationally. ‘First, this magician’s level/rank should be higher mine. At the very least, he beats me in the field of concealing. However, when it comes to fighting, he hasn’t reached the level of confronting me head on, or perhaps he’s afraid of me. Else, he would’ve attacked me long time ago…’

Just as Link was thinking hard, the situation changed yet again.

Ander, who was hiding behind the tree, suddenly moved. He burst out from behind the tree, fleeing as fast as his legs could move. He bellowed, “Flamingo mercenaries, I’ll remember you guys! Just you wait! I’ll definitely let you guys beg for death!”

His words were laced with venom as he spat them out hatefully. His features were warped malevolently, like a devil from the underworld.

Hank was taken back. He whispered to Link, “Senior, do we-?”

As a mercenary, what he despised and feared the most were bastards who didn’t play by the rules of common sense or logic like anybody else. Anomalies like them tended to have a ‘fuck-everybody-up’ mindset. Compromises were out of the picture when dealing with freaks like these. Freaks like Ander did not attach any importance to lives, be it whether theirs or others.

Whenever Hank met people like these, he would avoid them like the plague. If they stood on one side of a room, Hank would stand at the other. The best way to deal with wackos like these were to avoid them, allow them to their own devices. But if he did meet them, the best solution would be to hunt them down and kill them. Pull the weeds from the roots. Wackos like these were vindictive and would attempt to exact revenge.

Greedin shared the exact same views as Hank on this matter. He hastily urged Link, “Senior, he’s getting away.”

The two mercenaries had been baited by Ander. If Link had been a little less attentive, then he would have taken their advice and pursued Ander. If that had happened, it would have been a disaster.

If all three of them fell into a trap of some sort, it was way too possible they could be wiped out in one sweep.

The most important quality a commander needed in him was the ability to maintain his rationality before a battle. Although Link wasn’t a commander fighting a war, the meaning still held true.

Fortunately, Link was a person with strong opinions of his own. Ander’s bait had fallen short. Link shook his head. “No worries, he can’t escape.”

‘For Ander to make his escape only now, it was definitely the unknown magician’s idea…right, the entire time, we had only been blindly chasing the opponent’s backs. If the unknown magician made his move and set up a trap or ambush of some kind, we would have stepped into it stupidly.’

Link had more or less guessed the unknown magician’s plan. His mind immediately formed a counterplan at the same time. He ordered, “Pursue him, but take note that there will probably be a trap head. We’ll take a detour!”

“Understood, Senior!”

Hank nodded. Giving up on the path that the syndicate members had opened through the undergrowth, he headed for another direction. Using the heavy bulk of his steel armour, Hank crashed through the undergrowth as he plowed down the lush trees and shrubs. And just like that, a new path was created. Link and Greedin followed behind Hank, keeping their pace the same as before.

Nothing unnatural happened. They quickly gained on Ander as they crashed through the undergrowth crazily like a buffalo.

Behind a shrub in the forest, the cloaked magician tightly clutched the magic wand in his hand, frowning. The opponent had not been fooled, and his trap had gone to waste. His cheap trick had failed.

“Sure enough, he’s a tough one. No wonder Holm fell to him in Glaston city. Looks like this will be a hardfought battle!”

The cloaked magician deeply inhaled, his pupils bright with feverish excitement. He had entered his own battle state of casting.

-Chapter 62, end-

 

If you see this, YOU ARE READING ON AN AGGREGATOR SITE. Please read this series on isohungrytls.com and support our translators. Releases are a day faster on ISO and edits are left out on aggregator links, so instead of using an aggregator site for convenience, use novelupdates.com

 


Tler’s notes:

Lmao rly Ander starts escaping only when Link and the others caught up to him and he expects them to fall for a cheap trick like that…


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