100 The Cost of Underestimating the Opponent


 Once he saw the wind daggers, Link immediately recognized it as one of the spells of the air element - Storm of Daggers.

Storm of Daggers

Level-3 Spell

Effects: Concentrated wind energy formed into three extremely sharp daggers. When the wind daggers hit their target, they will break up into countless small daggers, enveloping an area of about 30 feet wide.

(Note: Its nickname in battlefields is 'meat grinder'.)

To ordinary people, there was nowhere to hide from this lethal spell. Even if they managed to dodge the direct attacks of the three wind daggers, they would be faced with the deadly shards hat formed after that. The only fate that awaited them was death.

To a Magician, though, as long as they could cast a defensive spell of the same level, the Storm of Daggers was even easier to block than any other spell of the same level.

The reason for that was simple - it was spread out into a big area. The strength of the Storm of Daggers was also too scattered, making it extremely easy to deflect.

With Edelweiss, Link had nothing to fear of the onslaught of the Storm of Daggers. He could even retaliate with his own attacks immediately, although there was a slight problem because the opponent was hiding among the trees. Link could only estimate his location by the trail of fluctuating Mana he left behind.

Right now, what he needed was a powerful spell that would work in a big area. As the thought occurred, Link stumbled on the perfect solution immediately. What would be a more suitable spell to use in this situation than Flame Blast?

Like the Storm of Daggers, Flame Blast's attack was spread out into a huge area, but it was also a level higher than the Storm of Daggers. Link used the Matchstick wand to cast this Flame Blast, so it was not as powerful as the one he unleashed in Gladstone, although it was still a force to be reckoned with.

Because Flame Blast was a Level-4 spell, its spellcasting time could be as long as 2 seconds, which was far too long to leave oneself vulnerable to the opponent's attacks. That's where the Domingo Crystal came in handy.

When Link was in River Cove Town, he imbued enough fire element into the Domingo crystal for one Flame Blast, and now was the perfect time to use it.

Mana surged wildly in Link's body then rushed into the wand before finally forming into the complex Flame Blast spell structure.

At the same time, under the great attraction of the spell structure of Flame Blast, the Domingo crystal began to glow. The fire elements stored in it came raging out, and there was a strong resonance, quickly forming a large fireball.

Link didn't stay in the carriage in the process. Before the Storm of Daggers hit the carriage, he opened the door and jumped out. He chose where he ran to carefully, which was in the space between the three wind daggers.

In doing so, he avoided the most powerful part of the Level-3 spell and had to only deal with the tiny blades afterwards.

Then he could hear a whistling sound. Two wind daggers grazed past the side of his body and a portion of the daggers scraped into the Edelweiss force field, rustling Link's black hair. When his feet touched the ground, the wind daggers hit the carriage behind him.

One of the daggers sliced through the carriage, splitting the entire carriage into two halves. Another dagger hit the horses and the two horses were cut into four chunks. The last one headed towards the coachman, and a second later the coachman was split in half from the waist.

Bang! Bang! Bang! The three wind daggers then exploded and broke up into small blades. The whistling wind suddenly picked up momentum and became violent. The air was now filled with swarms of tiny blades. The carriage, the dead horses and the coachman's corpse was turned quickly into a mass of minced flesh and crumbling dust.

There were now countless microscopic wind daggers hitting Link's Edelweiss shield. The elements and the force field kept clashing with each other, each clash showing up as a spark on the outer layer of the Edelweiss shield.

Both were Level-3 spells, but while one was broken up and scattered, the other was intact and stable. The small blades had no chance of penetrating the shield; Link was safe without a scratch under the protection of his spell.

At the same moment Link's feet was firmly on the ground, he pointed the Matchstick wand towards the direction that the Storm of Daggers came from and immediately a blindingly bright sheet of light extended from the wand's tip.

It was Link's Flame Blast, unleashed at a breakneck speed. If slowed down, one would then see that the blinding light was made up of an incandescent fireball the size of a soccer ball surrounded by a visible heat wave about three feet thick around the fireball - a sign that showed just how blisteringly hot the fireball was.

Link had managed to cast Flame Blast in 1.1 seconds - an almost unimaginable speed!

About half a second later, the Flame Blast fireball burst into the forest and exploded.

Boom!

The explosion was ear-splittingly loud. It kept the ground rumbling for a few seconds and it created a powerful shock wave that was visible to the naked eye. It was strong enough to shake and quiver the trees in the forest. This then sent the birds in the trees flying frantically in droves, almost covering the sky in a dark mass.

In the midst of the thundering explosion, Link could make out a scream.

He knew instantly that his spell had hit the opponent and had even seriously hurt the opponent.

He'd cast a Level-4 spell in 1.1 seconds-it was so incredibly fast that he was sure that there was no chance for the opponent to hide or evade from the Flame Blast's assault. In fact, even Link wasn't sure if he could survive from such an attack himself because in the absence of preparation. Almost no Magician on the Firuman continent could build a Level-4 defensive spell within 1.1 seconds, unless he was equipped with a powerful magic gear or a defensive Domingo Crystal.

The dense forest in front of him was blown into a mess of wood and leaves. In the center of the explosion, a tree was blown into oblivion and around it there was crater about a foot and a half wide. On the edge of the crater, the vegetation was on fire, making a crackling sound as they burned.

Link then walked up to the crater-he wanted to see who the attacker was with his own eyes. He was capable of casting a Level-3 spell, so Link knew at least that this was no ordinary rogue or bandit.

Link protected himself with the Edelweiss spell and gave himself a boost from the Cat's Agility spell.

Link slowly approached the crater, but he couldn't find a dead body. He searched all around, but the shrubs were all burning, so there was no way that anyone could be hiding behind them. Link continued to look around before he finally found a corpse under a tree...no, it wasn't a corpse, the man was still alive.

He was desperately leaning against the tree, and his clothes were burned to crisp, leaving only a few wisps of rags hanging on it. The exposed skin was burned and blackened too and his hands were tightly clutching a wand, but the wand was already shattered, only half of it remained.

He heard Link's movement, so he opened his eyes which were slightly shut before.

"How did you know Flame Blast? How did you cast it so quickly?" he deliriously asked in a hoarse voice.

Link couldn't be any older than 17, how was it possible that he could master a Level-4 spell? And how did he manage to cast it in such a frightening speed?

None of it made sense to Darris. He never thought that he would be defeated by attacks that he didn't even understand!

If it had been any other magician, a Flame Blast would require 3 seconds to cast. That would be more than enough time for Darris to counter the opponent's spell, or even kill them before the completion of the spellcasting. At the very least, he would've had the time to escape from the center of explosion and he would not have ended up as badly injured as he was now.

But everything happened too fast.

He had just unleashed the Storm of Daggers and didn't even have time to see the results of his attack before he was attacked by the Flame Blast. He initially thought that it was just a very big Level-3 Fireball. If he didn't cast a Level-2 Guarding Barrier on himself before he unleashed the Storm of Daggers, by now he would've been blown to pieces.

It was as if he'd been assuming that his opponent was a defenseless pig waiting to be slaughtered, only to find out that the pig was in fact a powerful dragon that could finish him off in one move!

Link's gaze, however, was fixed on the broken wand in his hand.

"Are you Darris?" he asked.

This greenish wand was made of a special wooden material and Link clearly recalled seeing Darris wielding it in Bale's Mage Tower, so he naturally recognized it at a glance.

Darris ignored the question, his blood-red eyes were staring fixedly at Link.

"You answer my questions first!" Darris then said.

Although it wasn't a direct answer, the response had nonetheless confirmed Link's suspicion. He'd also seen through Darris' plans by the actions he took.

"Since you've made a move against me, that means you must've found out about what I did in River Cove Town," said Link, "I'd only ever used Level-2 spells there, so you must've thought that I was a Level-2 Magician. You used the Level-3 spell Storm of Daggers to attack me and even ambushed me in the carriage - but I don't think you intended to kill me at all, you only meant to incapacitate me then squeeze out as much information from me as you could, especially about the identity of the person who sent me to investigate Bale in the first place. The fact that you didn't hesitate to kill the coachman showed that you were out for blood...You were going to get rid of me and those behind me once and for all, am I right?"

Darris stared at Link in horror as he spelled out his plans step by step, as if he could see through his soul and read his mind.

Link knew that the look on Darris' face proved that he was right. So he smiled and said, "The only mistake you made was to underestimate my strength."

Then, Link lifted his wand and pointed it at Darris' forehead. His face was cold and emotionless when he said, "Darris, am I right in saying that your tutor is messing with black magic and that you are assisting him?"

"So what if that's true?" answered Darris, "Master Bale is only searching for a way to live forever, he never did any harm to anyone, so why should he be punished?"

Darris didn't want to die, but logic and experience told him that it was all over for him. Driven by fear, he began to scream hysterically.

"Are you sure what you're doing is truly harmless?" said Link, shaking his head. "Look at what you did! What did that coachman do to deserve that fate? When he was alive, he was a woman's husband, a child's father, a father's son, he might even be the sole pillar of support for his family, and yet you killed him without even batting an eye! Do you see how cold-blooded you've become?"

"He's just a peasant! So what if I killed a peasant?" Darris pressed on, though there was now much less conviction in his words.

"Oh, yes, you're right. He was indeed just a peasant. Need I remind you who else was just a peasant, Darris? Have you completely forgotten your roots now that you've learned to cast a few spells?" said Link, sneering.

Darris was speechless. Link's words had hit his soft spot.

"Just kill me, then," Darris finally said, "You're the winner, so you can say whatever you want!"

"Oh, you're wrong again, Darris, I'm not going to kill you!" said Link, shaking his head, "Your actions today are the iron-clad proof that Bale was involved in black magic. I will take you back to the academy!"

The moment Link finished his sentence, Darris finally lost all control and shouted in fear.

"No, please, I can't go back," he begged, "I can't betray my tutor! Please just kill me now!"

If he was brought back to the East Cove Magic Academy, he would then receive the punishments for disobeying the rules of the academy and his name would forever be condemned there. He would also be stripped of his magical powers and become an ordinary man who, because of the murder, would then be tried by the civil courts and his neck would eventually end up on a guillotine.

Then, his name would be disgraced for centuries after his own death, and to him, this fate was much worse than death itself!

As it happened, the Mana in his body started to boil up. He was attempting to use magic to commit suicide.

Link sneered at the sight, then kicked him in the neck, which knocked him out straight away.

"What a selfish and hypocritical scum. You can't betray your tutor? Ha! It's your own hide that you can't betray!"

As Link was kicking Darris, a notification popped up suddenly on the interface. It was announcing that the mission of investigating Bale was completed.

Investigation Mission Completed.

Player Rewarded with 25 Omni Points.

New Mission Activated: Expose.

Mission Details: Expose the Magician Bale's involvement with black magic without tarnishing the East Cove Magic Academy's good reputation.

Mission Rewards: 40 Omni Points.

This was another mission that Link was more than happy to accept.