The MI3's outpost was located within the old city quarters, a considerable distance from the marketplace.
Ardivan led the way, followed closely by Link.
"Are your injuries alright?"
Link noticed the pallor in Ardivan's face. His footsteps were light, as if he were walking on clouds. His breath grew labored at the slightest increase in speed; his condition resembled that of a frail Magician.
"Heh heh. Don't worry, Your Honor. I can bear injuries twice as heavy as this," Ardivan laughed weakly, trying to put Link at ease.
As a professional Assassin, he had undergone harsh endurance training. The injuries he had were nothing. Still, he wasn't in a good condition due to his excessive blood loss.
Link scrutinized Ardivan closely. Ardivan's information appeared within his mind.
Level-2 Elite Assassin
Battle Skills: Speed Burst, Dancing Daggers
Current condition: Weak and bleeding.
Weak and bleeding, his power was currently less than 50% of his maximum, and his stamina was less than 30%. His energy could run out, leaving him to die a sudden death at any second!
Ardivan's face was covered with sweat. Link was deeply moved by the human Assassin's determination to battle despite his condition. Back on earth, the World of Firuman had just been a game to him. He had looked on coldly to the tragedies of the world-the lives there had been no more than mere NPCs to him.
But now, being a part of this world, Link realized that he was dealing with people-real people, actual flesh and blood just like the Ardivan before him. Ardivan could have just run away, but instead, he was risking everything he had to save Gladstone.
Thinking about it, Link decided to spend 10 Omni Points on an Elemental Healing Spell.
Effect: Brings the elements within the target's body to equilibrium in order to relieve symptoms and replenish the body's shortages. The stronger the target's body, the stronger the effect of this healing spell.
Elemental Healing wasn't true healing magic, but it could relieve the symptoms of many diseases by bringing the target body's elements into equilibrium. It was quite suitable for Ardivan's condition-excessive blood loss and severe dehydration.
Ardivan was a powerful Assassin and the key to saving Annie Abel. He could not fall. Spending 10 Omni Points on him was worth it. In addition, Link would meet even more Assassins, and they too could be injured. This supplementary spell would help raise their overall combat abilities.
The familiar haze came over Link. A moment later, Link had learned the spell of Elemental Healing.
"Ardivan, I know a supplementary healing spell. Perhaps it will work for you," Link informed him to avoid any misunderstandings.
Ardivan was elated. "Your Honor. Please use it on me!"
The human Assassin understood his condition quite clearly. He was at the end of his rope, about to pass out and die at any moment. It didn't really matter to him if he died, but it would be terrible if it affected the overall situation.
Link lifted his wand and pointed it at Ardivan's chest. A clear, transparent beam of light appeared. The light, swarming with mysterious runes, enveloped Ardivan's torso.
After about one second, elemental properties gathered around them. The most abundant was water, then fire. The rest of the elements-wood, earth, and metal-were also present. They adjusted themselves according to the condition of Ardivan's body.
The whole process took about three seconds.
Afterwards, the light went out. The elements that had been lured there by Mana, blended into a milky-white fog. The cloud of smoke they formed didn't just consist of elements, but also contained nutrients processed by magic.
Under the guidance of Mana, the fog seeped into Ardivan's body silently. They replenished the elemental losses he had sustained due to the excessive blood loss.
In other words, the supplemental healing spell was just giving Ardivan all of his much-needed components. Ardivan absorbed all of it, saving much of his energy by skipping the physiological processes of digestion.
As an Elite Assassin, Ardivan had quite a strong body. He was weak not because of disease, but because his body had suffered substantial losses.
After the spell, Ardivan felt as if his pores had opened, allowing something to enter his body. Then, he found that he no longer felt thirsty. The rapid heartbeat brought on by his blood loss slowed. His quickened, shallow breaths grew long and deep, then resumed normalcy. He felt tremendous energy within himself.
The renewed strength was thanks to the nutrients, converted from the floating elements earlier. His body had now been replenished of its essential materials.
"Incredible! I feel so much better." Ardivan was thrilled. He moved his arm. Even his wounds weren't as painful as before.
Link smiled faintly. "Give it some time and you'll feel even better. Let's set out now. Move a bit more slowly. Let your body adapt to the changes."
Ardivan's body would convert the nutrients into the building blocks his body needed. It was an innate ability of the body to save itself. Ardivan's wounds would probably be fine after a while as a result.
Coming from a character class which emphasized physical combat, Ardivan knew his body very well. He could feel the changes within it and knew that Link's words rang true. He slowed his pace and adjusted his breathing. They then continued on to the old city quarters at a less hurried pace.
Less than half an hour later, the two of them stood at the entrance to the old city quarters.
This part of the city had been the cradle of Gladstone. It held many ancient buildings, most of which were more than a century old. Many of Gladstone City's important governmental departments were also located here, including the MI3's outpost.
Because of that, there were just as many, if not more, Dark Elf Assassins within the area.
The large number of important governmental divisions in the area meant that few ordinary citizens lived here. Link and Ardivan would be easy to spot and thus, targeted by the Dark Elves.
Link now had 30 Omni Points. His Mana had recovered by more than 10 points, replenishing the Mana he had spent earlier. He now had a total of 30 Mana Points.
They would face frequent battles around the area. Fearing that he might not have enough Mana, Link spent another 5 Omni Points on Maximum Mana Points.
His Maximum Mana became 141 Points, with 80 Mana Points and counting.
Link did know the benefits of using Mana Speed Recovery, but the circumstances were too complicated. If he had used his Omni Points on Mana Speed Recovery from the beginning, he probably would have just died at the Magic Academy.
When this is settled, I will have to spend some Omni Points on Mana Speed Recovery. But my Maximum Mana needs to keep up too. Link thought to himself. A Level-1 Spell uses 6 Mana Points. A Level-2 Spell uses 30 Mana Points. A Level-3 Spell uses 120 Mana Points while a Level-4 Spell uses 300 Mana Points. If my Maximum Mana is too low, I won't be able to use high-level spells. That would be unfortunate.
He had to use his Omni Points on the best possible combination of Maximum Mana Points and Mana Speed Recovery.
"Ardivan, how do you feel now?" Link asked. He had to ensure that the Assassin beside him was alright.
Ardivan swung his injured arm and smiled. "Better and better. My wounds don't hurt and all. They've even started to itch. I feel as if I hadn't even been hurt! Your magic is amazing."
Link took a close look at him. Ardivan's face was no longer pale, and his breathing was steady. Knowing that Ardivan wasn't pushing it, Link relaxed.
"Show the way. Go as fast as you can. I'll follow you. No need to worry about me, I can keep up," Link responded.
At this, Link spent another 10 Omni Points on the spell Cat's Agility.
Effect: Energy will fill the target's body, allowing the target to be as agile as a cat. The spell lasts for 20 minutes.
There were many Dark Elf Assassins ahead, all swift, agile and on the alert. If Link still casted his spells without moving like he had in the Magic Academy, death would certainly welcome him soon.
But thanks to magic, Magicians could also be agile!
After purchasing the spell, Link spent 6 Mana Points to cast it on himself. Silver ropes of light surged out from his wand and wrapped around Link. The silver strands then sank into his body, leaving countless glistening magic runes on his skin.
Link examined the runes. He was embarrassed to admit that he didn't recognize a single one of them.
When I get out of here, I really will have to study magic properly. Otherwise, if I ever encounter a Master Magician, I'll be toyed with to my death. Link thought with unease.
Under the effects of the spell, Link felt much lighter. With just one stride, he shot out by 13 feet. He was as quick as a phantom, dispelling any worries Ardivan might have had.
"Follow me. Keep to the walls and the shadows." Ardivan crouched. Silently, he entered the old city quarters.
Link followed closely behind him. He also used 8 Mana Points on casting the spells of Lesser Invisibility and Silence over both himself and Ardivan. Instantly, they became as discreet as the shadows, disappearing into the night.
Ardivan was shocked. Only then did he notice the changes on himself. Cocking his head to the side, he realized that he couldn't pinpoint Link's exact location. And that was despite knowing Link was there. There was no way the Dark Elves would be able to sense them.
Magic really is incredible! he sang praises in his heart. He was far more confident now that they'd be able to save the Commander.
It was no wonder he was amazed at such little things like that. Magicians were proud beings, as most of them were scholars rather than Battle Mages. Few Magicians actually appeared on the battlefield, and even if they did, they were usually kept as secret aces. At his level, Ardivan was still unfit to receive any Magician's support.
The pair of them flitted through the shadows silently. In about five minutes, Ardivan suddenly stopped and rushed into the darkness of a particular street.
From the shadows, Link saw another Assassin from the MI3.
It was a female Assassin. She was petite and wore the standard dark-green armor of the MI3. Her chestnut hair was tied up in a ponytail.
She had been heavily wounded. There were gashes across her arms and legs, but at least she was still alive and conscious. Her wounds had received emergency treatment. Hearing some noise, she instinctively lifted a dagger.
But unfortunately, she was too weak. Her defenses would fend off a commoner, but in the eyes of a professional Assassin, one could see that it was full of flaws and exposed her weaknesses.
"Mary, it's me, Ardivan! I came back!" Ardivan cried out hastily.
The female Assassin called Mary cried out in surprise and joy. Immediately, she asked, "Has the news been sent?"
She had broken through the siege of Dark Elves with Ardivan, and held the same objective-find a way to let the Black Iron Garrison know of the situation in Gladstone. But she wasn't as strong as Ardivan, and she had been heavily wounded, stopping her from going any further.
"I sent it out. I sent out all the homing pigeons in the marketplace. All 23 of them! I labeled them all with the scent. They will definitely send the news out!" Ardivan cried.
Mary heaved a sigh of relief, but then she rushed to say, "Go to the headquarters to help out quickly. There are at least a hundred of the damned Dark Elves there. Commander Abel is in danger!"
Link arrived just then. Seeing him, Mary asked suspiciously, "Who is he?"
"This is Link Morani, a Magician. He's with us," Ardivan hurriedly explained.
Link looked at the petite female Assassin. Seeing her wounds, he said, "Don't move. I'll heal you."
He lifted his wand and pointed it at Mary.
Magic was mysterious to the average person. It was the first time Mary had heard of Magicians being able to heal. She shifted, visibly uncomfortable, but Ardivan comforted her.
"Don't worry, Mary. You'll recover very quickly."
Lights flashed, and five seconds later, the healing spell was complete. Mary moved around. She didn't understand. "There seems to have been some effect, but it's still not as effective compared to a Priest's Divine Spells. But at least I can stand now."
In the World of Firuman, all true healing magic was Divine. Divine Spells were powerful, able to heal wounds on the spot. They could even resurrect the dead. But that belonged to the realm of Gods. Mortal Magicians could never hope to achieve something like that.
Mary struggled to get to her feet, but Ardivan pushed her back down. "Mr. Link's healing spells are amazing, but you shouldn't move. Just rest here for about half an hour or so. You should be able to regain some strength by then. I'll go to the headquarters now. Come over quickly as soon as you've recovered."
Mary nodded, not entirely believing him.
Ardivan then stood up. With a face full of worry, he said to Link, "Your Honor, I need to go and give aid to the headquarters, but it's very dangerous."
He had thought of asking Link to help, but with an area having more than 100 Dark Elf Assassins, that was just too much. There were less than 30 of the MI3 still fighting at the outpost. The situation was quite desperate. Ardivan was prepared to fight to his death, but knowing that, he wouldn't just willingly send Link to his death too.
"Show the way!" Link said.
Ardivan opened his mouth to advise him against it.
"Every second that passes may cost us the life of one of your warriors!" Link looked straight at him. He had a rescue mission with a high reward, and he knew that Annie Abel couldn't be taken prisoner. The corruption of the future Legendary Assassin would be a catastrophe!
As long as he lived in this world, he wouldn't be able to just stay out of it.
Between facing a hundred or more Dark Elves now, and facing a formidable Legendary Assassin of the Dark in the future, Link wisely chose the former.
Ardivan's heart raced. He gave a strong nod, then turned and raced towards the headquarters, Link hot on his heels.
More than a hundred Assassins, that would be tricky. Link still had 15 Omni Points and 60 Mana Points. After thinking hard about it, he still decided to buy a ranged spell that took effect over a large field.
The exact spell he chose would depend on the situation there.
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