10 The MI3 (Mission Intelligence, Section 3)


 The situation in the Flower District was much better than the Magic Academy's. Very few had actually been killed.

Though there were many Dark Elf Assassins in the city, they were very few in number compared to Gladstone City's population of more than 100,000.

The loud noises from the Magic Academy had startled many of the Flower District's residents. There were usually few people on the streets at such a late hour, but tonight, the streets were packed.

Every now and then, shrill screams and wails rang out from the grand mansions. Those were probably the reactions to the assassinated corpses being discovered.

Link continued walking on the streets for about a half an hour. He saw the chaos Gladstone City was in.

The noise and activity coming from the Magic Academy along with the assassination of the prominent figures of the city within the Flower District usually would have caused armed guards to show up and restore peace and order to the city. But now, there was neither a trace nor a shadow of them.

The officers in the city watch must have also been killed. Link sighed and carried on his way.

People continued to flood the streets. In addition to the attack initiated by the Dark Elves, robberies, and even acts of rape began to ring out throughout the city. In the absence of the city watch, the criminals that usually hid within the city's shadows had all come out to wreak havoc.

After about 20 minutes, the Lesser Invincibility and Silence cloaking him wore out. But he wasn't afraid of being seen. He had blended into the crowd.

In front of him, a middle-aged man in tatters rushed towards him with a dagger, eyes glistening from within a vicious-looking face. He looked determined to rob Link.

Link continued to walk as he extended out his hand. The Mana within him surged into it, making it glow softly.

"Don't disturb me!" he barked quietly, ice coating his voice.

A Magician. The scruffy-looking middle-aged man froze with fear. He turned and ran, looking for another weaker victim.

To commoners, Magicians were mysterious and powerful. Angering them surely meant death.

It took more than half an hour for Link to travel through most of the Flower District. More and more people crowded onto the streets, making it even more chaotic than it was before. Some of the buildings had even caught fire, cries ringing out from inside them. Some people tried to help, but others still continued to loot and plunder.

"The law and order have collapsed." Link sighed. He could do nothing to help such a situation.

A little further off, he caught sight of a river. It wasn't wide, just about 60 feet across, but it had a small port. A few small boats were tethered to it.

This was one of the branches of the Gladstone River.

Something occurred to Link. He walked over and untied one of the boats. Jumping into it, he used the oar to push against the riverbank, letting the boat follow the currents down the river.

He did it to avoid being tracked by the Assassins from the Magic Academy.

The Dark Elf Magician who went to the Magic Academy will definitely search for me with tracking magic. But he's just a Level-2 Magician. He can only rely on scent, footprints and the like. Since I'm on a river, let's see how well he'll find me now!

Link hadn't come across the Dark Elf Magician in the game, but the game server in his last life had hosted many forums where players could discuss strategies and talk. He often browsed through whenever he was free, looking for hints just in case he encountered the feared Magician. Because of that, he was familiar with all the powerful Dark Elves that had appeared during The Change of the Bloody Moon.

Link even remembered the Magician's name-Holmes.

Low-level Magicians' tracking wasn't much different from non-magicians'. This was why Link could use common means to evade them.

But if it had been a high-level Magician, able to track the scent of one's Mana, the scent of one's soul or worse, cast a Spirit Anchor, especially if it had been the latter, Link would have really been in danger.

Just over ten minutes had passed, during which Link had traveled about 1500 to 2000 feet. Link then saw another port. He rowed the boat towards the riverbank.

He didn't really know how to row a boat, but the currents weren't strong. He managed to dock the boat after some struggle.

Getting back on shore, he carried on on foot for a while, quickly reaching the Flower District's exit.

The exit led to the market area. It was busy by day, but quiet by night. This was because few people lived here, the rental prices being too high for the average citizen.

Tonight was the same. Other than some security guards outside the shops, there wasn't a soul in sight.

The oil lamps lining both sides of the streets had been extinguished leaving the streets in darkness. Cold gusts of wind blew from time to time, throwing the trash up into the air. It was the picture of desolation.

The city gates were just behind the market area. He could leave from there.

The Dark Elf Army will arrive soon. I'll get involved in the massacre if I stay in the city. I should leave now, while I still have the chance!

With that in mind, Link left the Flower District without looking back and walked through the market area.

Flicking his pocket watch open, it showed the time to be 11:36 pm. It was almost midnight. His Mana had recovered to 32 Points.

In the game, the Dark Elf Army had attacked the city at half past one in the early morning. There had been no one guarding the city. Worse, the Dark Elves had seized and opened the gates, allowing the entire army to just march on in.

And then, the massacre had begun. By the time dawn arrived, more than a 100,000 people had been killed in rituals performed by the Dark Elves. The tattered corpses were disposed of like trash in the Gladstone River. It had been a real catastrophe!

It was now half past eleven. He still had more than two hours to escape from Gladstone City. He had more than enough time-unless, God forbid, something happened.

The market area was too quiet. He would be too obvious walking down the street alone. Just in case, Link cloaked himself in the Spells of Silence and Lesser Invincibility.

Twenty minutes later, Link had reached the market square. Just as Link was about to cast the Spell of Silence again, he heard the sound of clashing weapons coming from an alley near him.

Someone's there! And they're fighting! Link went on the alert. It sounds like they're really at it. That's not the sound of gangsters fighting. Could it be a surviving Elite of the city?

Link followed the noises to their source.

The alley was quite deep and rather dark, the only source of light being the moon. Thankfully, it was a cloudless night. Still, even with the moonlight, Link was barely able to make out what was going on in the alley.

In front of him stood four figures, while one laid on the ground. Four living, breathing people and a corpse.

Of the four still left standing, three of them were clad in grayish-black leather armor, a defining feature of the Dark Elf Assassins. Their identities were obvious. They all surrounded the last remaining person.

He wore dark-green, leather armor. Though he was masked like the Dark Elf Assassins, his rounded ears betrayed his human identity.

The corpse on the ground was that of a Dark Elf Assassin. The human Warrior had evidently paid his price for killing the Dark Elf. Blood oozed and dripped from a long gash on his left arm.

None of them spoke. They stood, watching each other in silence.

The three Assassins were obviously quite wary of their human counterpart. They watched his every move all while edging closer to him.

The human Assassin retreated slowly. But the alley ended in a brick wall behind him, that which he soon reached. With nowhere else to escape, he braced his back against the cold stone.

He held a dagger in each hand. From its luster, it didn't seem to have any anti-magic properties.

That was reasonable. Anti-magic weapons were extremely expensive, and not everyone managed to own one.

Just as they were about to break out into a fight, the human rasped, "Hehehe. The Portal Tower has been destroyed. Your plans are ruined!"

One of the Dark Elves replied, "Even without the Portal Tower, we still have homing crows. We can still send the news to our army waiting outside. It may just be delayed by a half an hour or so."

"Homing crows? Blood-eyed Owls patrol the skies of Gladstone City once night falls. They were bred to take care of homing crows and pigeons. How likely is it that your crows managed to make it out?" spat the human Assassin.

The elf couldn't deny it. It was true. "Our mission isn't sending the news out. Right now, our mission is to kill you. As an equal, I'll leave your corpse whole."

As he said that, the Dark Elf Assassin charged forward. His companions, too, attacked at the same time.

Three against one!

Link, eavesdropping from the mouth of the alley, had guessed the human Assassin's identity. The characteristic dark-green armor and the contents of their conversation all led him to one conclusion.

He's from the Military Intelligence, Section 3!

Military Intelligence, Section 3, otherwise known as MI3, was the intelligence agency of the Norton Kingdom. Its chief duty was to defend against the infiltrations of the Dark Elves in the East. Before The Change of the Bloody Moon, the Norton Kingdom and the Dark Elves of the Black Forest had maintained a peaceful façade. But behind it, their intelligence agencies warred with one another. However, the situation had never been as tense as it has been lately.

The MI3's counterpart in the Black Forest was known as The Death Hand. It was an organization of Dark Elf Assassins.

The Change of the Bloody Moon meant that MI3 had failed miserably in the information war.

From their short exchange, Link had gained a more comprehensive understanding of the situation in Gladstone.

Gladstone City may not be doomed to fall after all! Perhaps the Norton Kingdom did know of the Dark Elves' ambush. Maybe it hadn't been able to respond in time because the Dark Elves had attacked earlier than expected. If the Dark Elf Army is delayed, maybe we can save Gladstone City?

Once the thought came to him, he felt a jerk inside. New notifications appeared in his mind.

Completed Part Three of Mission: Escape.

Game player receives 20 Omni Points.

Unlock Part Four of Mission: A Helping Hand.

Mission Details: Help the Human Assassin in the market area to defeat the Dark Elf Assassins.

Mission Reward: 10 Omni Points.

Saving just one person could get him 10 Omni Points. There was no way Link would let such a good deal get past him. He accepted the mission without hesitating.