The MI3 outpost was just over 300 feet away.
As a department in charge of information, the location of its outpost was quite unremarkable. A two-story building with iron grills, it was vaguely visible underneath several huge trees.
The building had been built of stone and so it was extremely sturdy. Naturally, it would have been expensive to build.
On its left was a shop that sold armor, while a tailor's shop stood on its right. The MI3 outpost sat before a wide square with a fountain in its center, lined with smooth pebbles. A small hotel stood opposite, flanked by residential units.
All the other buildings had been made of wood.
The buildings weren't labeled; neither were there guards by the door. If it hadn't been for Ardivan, Link would have never found his way here, even with his prior knowledge of the game.
A game was just a game after all. Compared to reality, many details were omitted. To avoid ridiculous costs, it was impossible for the game to duplicate Gladstone City exactly. The game had just given an outline of it.
Ardivan and Link hid in an alley towards the left of the fountain square. Link leaned against the wall as Ardivan stuck his head out to take a look at their surroundings every now and then.
After a while, he shrunk back into the shadows. Earnestly, he turned to Link. "The battle in the building is still going on. But the important streets are all guarded by Dark Elf Assassins. I found at least 20 hidden Dark Elves. They've taken over the vantage points around the fountain square and oil lamps. There's no way for us to sneak in.
They had lit all the oil lamps. The fountain square was as bright as day, leaving not a shadow unseen. It had rendered Link's spell of Lesser Invincibility ineffective.
Should they break through by force?
They would probably die as porcupines, pierced by the Assassins' arrows, within ten steps of charging out. That would be nothing other than suicide.
Link frowned and thought deeply. Within a few seconds, he came up with a plan. "Why don't the Dark Elves just attack with fire? Do they want to capture Commander Abel alive?" Link asked.
Although the three-story building was made of stone, it had still used a large amount of wood in its construction. Attacking with fire would have been enough to force the people inside to flee.
Ardivan paused. His expression grew heavy. "It's very likely."
Link said, "Even though they have no good intentions, it's far more difficult for them to capture her alive. They'll take more time to do it too. That's our chance. Can you pinpoint the Dark Elves hidden around the fountain square?"
"I can. I am the best in concealment at this outpost. Even these Dark Elves are no match for me. Only one or two might manage to escape me." There was a hint of pride in Ardivan's voice.
But Link shook his head. "You can't miss a single one. Can you promise that?"
Ardivan looked dismayed. Doing it alone would be too difficult for him.
"Then we'll have to take advantage of some chaos if we are to meet up with Commander Abel safely." Link wasn't really surprised. People had their limits after all.
"What should we do?"
"Attack with fire," Link replied.
"Alright. I'll be relying on you...but wait, we'll be seen once we light anything." Ardivan suddenly realized that he had forgotten an important fact-Link was a Magician! Link had many more ways of conjuring fire than he did.
Link quietly stuck his head out from behind the wall and threw a quick glance at the fountain square. Then, he blended back into the shadows.
With that one glance, he had memorized the positions of all the oil lamps around the square. The image was as clear as day to him.
The Link before couldn't have done that. But his soul had been fortified by the God of Light. Now, accurately recording every detail like a camera seemed as easy and natural to him as drinking water.
Against the corner, Link lifted his wand. Something shifted above its tip. Mana stretched out quietly and discreetly. With the Magician's Hand, his Mana crept out slowly towards an oil lamp 50 feet away.
Very soon, Link felt his Magician's Hand touch the oil lamp. But he didn't make a move; he was waiting.
After about 30 seconds, strong gusts of wind blew, causing the oil lamps to swing and creak with noise.
Link pulled at the oil lamp in time with the wind. It fell from the lamp post, Link controlling its descent the entire way. The lamp, which should have smashed onto the floor, instead fell onto some firewood three feet away.
The oil spread out onto the firewood, and with a roar, it burst into flames.
Beside the firewood was a wooden house. Within moments, that too caught fire. The wind blew towards the outpost of the MI3. Fanned by the wind, the flames burned stronger than ever, quickly spreading to the other wooden buildings around the square.
Taking the chance, Link quickly stuck his head out from his hiding place again. He saw several figures jump down from the window of one of the wooden houses. They landed with a roll, deflecting the momentum of jumping from such a height-a clear display of their agility.
These were, of course, Dark Elf Assassins who had been in hiding. They had been forced out by the fire.
Five minutes later, the flames grew stronger. One by one, the Dark Elves were forced out of their hiding places. The fountain square was in chaos.
That was good enough. Link said to Ardivan, "Come with me. Let's rush in."
"No, you don't know the way-!" Link rushed out before Ardivan could finish. Under the effect of the Cat's Agility, he was lightning fast.
Speechless, Ardivan had no choice but to follow.
But before long he found that Link seemed to know the square's layout like the back of his hand. Ardivan was astounded. From one hiding place to another, even while using the flames to shade themselves from sight, Link seemed as familiar with the place as if it were his backyard.
Already halfway through, the Dark Elf Assassins still hadn't noticed them!
He was unable to explain it, but the worry he'd held disappeared. More at ease, he focused on following Link.
They reached the iron gate in front of the outpost very quickly. The fire hadn't spread there yet, nor was there a place to hide. The Dark Elves had finally noticed them.
They were out of the range of the hidden Dark Elf Archers, so the elves just charged at them.
Link didn't even stop. He continued running towards the iron gate, yelling at Ardivan, "They're still more than 100 feet away from us! Ignore them, just keep going!"
With his agile movements from the Cat's Agility spell, he darted forward. Right before the iron gate Link leaped up more than ten feet into the air. Reaching out, he grabbed a drooping branch from one of the ancient trees within the courtyard and swung himself into the compound.
Ardivan, seeing that, stopped trying to be stealthy and quickly flipped over the gate.
There were also Dark Elf Assassins within the courtyard. Three of them came at Link before he even landed. Link, still in mid-air, prepared to cast Fireballs at them.
But just then, a figure flashed behind the window on the second floor of the stone building. With a single, loud twang, three arrows flew out of the window, each one shooting out towards the Dark Elf Assassins, forcing them to retreat.
It was an ally!
Thanks to that, Link and Ardivan managed to land safely.
Ardivan covered Link as they charged forward. Link leapt up to the window where he had seen the mysterious figure. With the effects of Cat's Agility still in play, he managed to jump to a height of more than ten feet. Link grabbed onto the window-sill and flipped through the opening.
An Assassin of the MI3 had appeared in this window earlier. That meant that it was safe. That was why Link had chosen to enter the building from here.
Ardivan didn't have the explosive power that Link had. Though unable to jump to the same height, climbing up to the second floor was easy for a Level-2 Elite Assassin like him. Building on the momentum from his charge, Ardivan leaped up and pushed off the crevices in the walls, ultimately managing to enter the window.
As Ardivan stood, he was shocked by what he saw.
Hastily, he shouted, "Commander, this is Magician Link Morani. He's here to help!"
Annie Abel had her dagger held to Link's chest, mistaking him for an enemy. Link had anticipated this, and so he froze with his hands held high above his head.
Of course, he didn't really think that Annie would harm him. During this moment he took a good look at the future Legendary Assassin before him.
She was very young, only about twenty-three or twenty-four-years-old. She was about 5'5'' in height. The dark green, figure-hugging armor she wore outlined her slender figure. Though she was masked, the contours of her face were perfect. The exposed skin was a flawless, milky-white. Her dark-blue eyes were framed by thin eyebrows that fanned up towards the end, making her look somewhat handsome instead of just pretty. She sported a head of bright golden hair, cut short in a blunt and bold style.
Compared to the tortured, scar-faced Legendary Assassin he had seen in the game, Annie Abel was now a flower in full bloom.
Link looked around the room. There were only four MI3 Assassins left. Each of them had been wounded to varying degrees. The most seriously injured Assassin couldn't even get up. The room was filled with the thick scent of blood.
Hearing Ardivan's words, Annie knew that she had been mistaken. Though she lowered her dagger, she still remained cautious. She looked towards her subordinate. Her motive was clear. "Has the news been sent out?"
"Twenty-three homing pigeons, all labeled with scent. They won't be attacked by the Blood-eyed Owls and will probably reach the Black Iron Garrison in an hour's time!" Ardivan reported, straightening his back.
"Very good!" The lines of Annie's face softened. Turning towards Link, she said, "Introduce this Magician."
Ardivan kept his reply short and sweet. "Commander, he's from the Magic Academy. It was he who destroyed the Portal Tower."
At that, all the Assassins in the room turned to look at him, their gazes full of respect.
The Portal Tower had been crucial to this battle. Only because the Portal Tower had been destroyed, did the Norton Kingdom stand a chance at saving Gladstone.
If Gladstone managed to overcome this disaster, Link would have contributed the most. What he did was what allowed everything else to be possible!
Annie relaxed completely. "I am very sorry for my rudeness earlier, Mr. Link."
Link wouldn't take such a small thing to heart. The situation around was very dire. He cut straight to the point. "Commander Abel, what is your plan?"
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