Due to its low geographical position and the lush overgrowth, the Mist Basin was covered permanently in a cloud of white fog. Despite the fog being completely harmless, it greatly affected visibility in the area, making the Mist Basin a perfect hiding spot.
The hunters in the Girvent Forest never once went into the Mist Basin. If an enemy were to enter the area, any form of pursuit would be halted.
It was an extremely dangerous and mysterious place.
A carriage slowly prodded along the winding and narrow path, braving the uneven ground and thick overgrowth. As the carriage traveled further into the forest, the path became even narrower.
When the carriage was crossing a crater, an axle loosened which resulted in a detached wheel. With an imbalanced support, the carriage stopped in its tracks.
"My lord, we are unable to proceed any further."
The coachman stared at the cascading fog in front with apprehension. There was no way he could tell if there was a slope or a pothole in front as the visibility was way too low. The fact that only a wheel was detached on this entire journey was already a blessing.
However, the coachman had no idea that he was about to meet his end.
A dark green beam of light flashed right through the carriage, ignoring any form of physical segmentation. Under the effect of the sinister light, the area within a radius of 15 feet around the carriage became absolutely clear of fog.
The next moment, the coachman, the carriage and the horses froze in time, before disintegrating into fine white particles.
The only living being left on that winding, misty, forest trail was an old Magician clad in a dark green robe with a white crystal silver staff in his hand.
Magician Bale looked painfully at the pile of white sand and whispered, "I am truly sorry, my friend."
After which, a thick white miasma formed at the tip of the white crystal. Bale pointed his staff forward as the mist slowly began to take form, eventually taking the shape of a white face.
"Bring me to your master!" Bale's voice was weak. He was getting old and could feel the shadows of death creeping closer every single day. He was forced to extend his lifespan with black magic.
His knowledge of black magic was fundamental at best. However, through the course of his research, he found a kindred soul.
To be exact, Bale was approached by this individual. Compared to Bale, this person was a lot more knowledgeable in black magic, especially undead magic. He was hence like a mentor to Bale and as a Magician with a flair for magic, Bale's proficiency in black magic improved by leaps and bounds under his guidance.
The bolt of green light previously was a forbidden magic termed Shattering spell. It was only a Level-3 spell but had way more offensive power than ordinary elemental magic due to the use of dark energy.
The white-faced individual led the way while Bale trailed closely behind. He was traveling at a really fast pace, so much so that Bale had to cast a Levitation spell to keep up.
After traveling for around 19 miles, the thick forest slowly opened up into a huge open space. There was a small lake filled with eerily black water, looking very much like the proverbial gate to hell. On its side was a giant rock more than 90 feet in width and length. A black Mage Tower was strategically built on top of this rock, towering above the entire forest.
The architecture of this Mage Tower was vastly different from those in the East Cove Higher Magic Academy. It was heavily decorated with statues of ferocious and sinister beasts such as howling wolves, scorpions and venomous snakes. There were at least six of these statues on every level.
Magician Bale shuddered at the sight of this Mage Tower. Despite him having a strong soul of a Level-6 Magician, he could only be considered a beginner when it came to black magic.
The white-faced individual continued guiding Bale along a narrow footpath until they reached the entrance of the Mage Tower. The gate of the tower sprung open at their arrival, revealing a hooded black robed Magician surrounded by two dancing green flames standing behind it. He seemed to be expecting them.
"Bale, you seem to have arrived earlier than I thought." The person spoke in a raspy low voice, just like a broken bellow.
Bale was trying to catch his breath. He was indeed losing grasp of his vitality. Despite the use of magic, the long journey had taken a toll on his body.
"Shade, I have been exposed. My time is almost up as well. Please take me into the realm of eternal life," Bale spoke, gasping for air.
"Exposed? You mean you are currently on the run? Are you sure you have no pursuers?" Shade was clearly displeased. After all, he was still within the Land of Light and could easily be exposed to danger.
Bale then spoke slowly, "I purposely lured two of them here. One of them is a Level-5 Magician, and the other, probably a Level-4 Magician. They are the only ones who know about us. It should be easy for you to defeat them using the Mage Tower. Kill them and our secret will be safe."
Bale had been vigilant. From the moment Darris left the academy on his own accord, he had been monitoring the people entering and leaving the academy. Hence, when Link brought back an injured Darris and left for Anthony's Mage Tower with Herrera, he knew it was time for him to leave.
He also knew that Anthony had left for Hot Springs City. However, there were still many strong Level-6 Magicians in the academy. The only thing he could do was to go on the run.
He originally intended to escape to the South, but changed his mind after realizing that he only had two pursuers. "Probably Level-4? You have to tell me the exact strength of my opponent?" Shade hated to deal with uncertainty.
"He managed to cast a Flame Blast spell despite being only 17 years old. I highly suspect that he used a magic scroll to aid him in that battle. That means he might be even weaker than a Level-4 Magician. In any case, you have no reason to be afraid of a 17-year-old Magician, am I right?" Bale had never thought of Link as a problem.
Bale had dabbled in magic for the past 50 years and had many Supreme Magic Skills in his arsenal. Furthermore, he had battle experience that only came with age. It would be strange if he was afraid of someone who was young enough to be his grandson.
Shade heaved a sigh of relief.
Age was often an indicator of a Magician's battle prowess. Even if a Magician were to reach a high level at a young age, he would not receive as much respect.
An older Magician would definitely have more spells and Supreme Magic Skills in his arsenal. If the two Magicians do engage in a battle, the older Magician would usually win by a landslide.
"Since that is the case, please enter. I have already prepared the ingredients. You can achieve immortality immediately," Shade invited Bale into his Mage Tower.
Bale bade a silent goodbye to his human self before stepping into the sinister Mage Tower.
The hall was barely furnished. The only captivating thing was the pond at the center of the hall filled with a bubbling green liquid. As the bubbles burst, a dark green miasma was released into the air.
"This is the pool of immortality. You will be able to gain eternal life from absorbing the essence in this pool. In this time, you will descend into a deep slumber and become defenseless. There is no cause for worry, I will fend off the pursuers for you," Shade explained the workings of the pool clearly to Bale.
Bale started doubting his choice. The pool was definitely enchanted with some sort of cursed magic. Did he really wish to abandon all that he worked for in the past 50 years?
However, he once again felt the energy drained from his body. This had happened a lot more frequently in the past few weeks. His life was like a flickering flame that could be extinguished any moment.
"I have no choice. Oh God of Light, please forgive my sins." The moment Bale laid down into the pool of green liquid, the bubbling ceased.
The pool of liquid was exceptionally still. Shade stood guard beside the pool, also completely motionless, even the two green flames that danced around him disappeared.
As time slowly passed, the pool began to bubble yet again, this time even more furiously than before. There were also peculiar movements in the surroundings of the Mage Tower.
All of a sudden, Shade's eyes shone with a green glow and the two dancing green flames bolted out of his iris.
"This is the scent of the living! These two puny little things! Don't think that you can leave as easily as you have arrived."
With the help of his Mage Tower, Shade could extend his spellcasting range to a maximum of 6000 feet. The area within 300 feet radius of his Mage Tower was even termed as his absolute territory.
If anyone was foolish enough to cross that boundary, he would show them the true meaning of despair!
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