15 Summoning the Hailstorm

 Gladstone City, the Old City Quarters, the MI3 outpost.

The Dark Elf Assassins' patience had worn out. Their leader hid silently on the landing of the stairs leading up to the second floor, waiting for his subordinates to fall into place.

They should have launched their main attack half an hour ago, but unexpectedly, two allies of their opponents had appeared, setting fire to the buildings around them. It had forced them to spend manpower on putting out the rapidly spreading flames around the fountain square, throwing their plans into disarray.

But now that the fire had been put out, it was finally time to put an end the confrontation.

Ting! Ting! Ting!

The Dark Elf Assassin Leader heard the distinct clash of weapons from somewhere outside the stone building. It was the signal they'd agreed upon, signaling that the Dark Elves there were already in place.

Three more positions left. The Dark Elf Assassin Leader thought to himself. His plan was simple. When all his subordinates were in place, blocking their opponents' escape routes, they would shoot fire arrows throw the windows and into the room where their opponents hid. Then, three Dark Elf Assassins would break down the eastern wall of the room, letting more of the elves into the midst of the chaos. While the powerful human female Assassin was engaged, he would barge in through the door, capturing her alive quickly!

Annie Abel. I wonder what that sly old duke's expression will be when he finds out that his only daughter has been captured. Hahaha. The Dark Elf Assassin Leader sneered coldly to himself.

Capturing Annie Abel was an important objective in this ambush of Gladstone.

Out of the blue, three white, glowing orbs shot out of the room. Gliding in a smooth arc, they shot out towards the Dark Elf Assassin Leader's head.

His pupils constricted as he took in the attack.

Fireballs! It's that Magician!

Fireballs were just Level-0 Spells. The Dark Elf Assassin Leader was just slightly taken aback. Composing himself, Battle Aura enveloped him in a faint gray glow. Then, he moved.

His speed was leaps and bounds beyond the average person's limits. His torso twisted abruptly, the dagger in his left hand shooting out with deadly accuracy. He was as quick as a flash of lightning, storming towards one of the fireballs.

With a light poof, he hit the fireball, which had been flying in an unpredictable path! It exploded into a harmless cloud of sparks.

One down. Two more to go.

This time, the Dark Elf Assassin Leader didn't use his dagger. He lifted a foot, the gray glow at its tip growing brighter, to kick the second ball of flame.

It extinguished with another poof!

One last fireball remained. The Assassin swung his arm up to cover his face, protecting his eyes.

Bang! It smashed into his arm, exploding into a ball of flame, yet it barely managed to shake his arm.

What a joke, using Level-0 Spells against me, the Dark Elf Assassin Leader thought contemptuously.

Within a split second, his contempt turned to horror.

When he removed his arm, he saw that a figure, covered by a hazy glow had charged forward within six feet of him. The Dark Elf Assassin Leader recognized it to be a special kind of Battle Aura.

The figure was much more petite than he was-only about 5'5'' in height, but they were fast. It took only a split second to travel the distance between them, bringing two ice-cold gusts of wind as they swung their daggers at him.

Shit! It's Annie! This is the Battle Skill, Dagger Storm! The Dark Elf Assassin Leader's heart shook.

Dagger Storm was a classical Assassin Battle Skill. Once activated, it would stab the target's vitals several times within a split second. Augmented by Battle Aura, the speed was even faster, such as now. The daggers in Annie's hands blurred with the sheer speed in which they moved.

But the Assassin Leader wasn't a normal person either, after all. With his life in danger, he gave it his all and countered with the same Battle Skill, Dagger Storm.

The rapid clashes of their weapons rang out in the dark, bringing up a flurry of sparks that lit up the narrow stairway landing from time to time.

Dagger Storm against Dagger Storm.

Annie stabbed her dagger eight times almost simultaneously, each time clashing with the Assassin Leader's own dagger. Her Battle Skill was countered perfectly.

The Dark Elf Assassins on the first floor reacted. The two closest to the fight rushed to the aid of their leader.

But their leader wasn't the only one who had help.

Fwoosh! Fwoosh! Two more fireballs flew out of the room on the second floor. Making sharp turns at the stairway landing, they each shot towards a Dark Elf Assassin.

Recognizing the location of the source of a sound was an essential skill for Battle Mages. If a Magician's attacks were only limited to his field of vision, it would really be a waste of magic.

With the fireballs flying right in their faces, the two Dark Elf Assassins had no choice but to stop and defend themselves.

Link's spell had bought Annie more time.

The Dark Elf Assassin Leader had managed to counter her Dagger Storm, though largely due to luck. And he had used most of his strength on the same Battle Skill. Annie could feel that his reactions were slower, though just by a hair. She, on the other hand, felt perfectly fine and in fact, was still at her peak.

She didn't use any Battle Skills after the first Dagger Storm. Quick as lightning, she swung a dagger towards her opponent's neck, while her other dagger stabbed towards his chest.

The Dark Elf Assassin Leader had countered her Battle Skill with difficulty. His arms were numb and he was unable to react in time.

Sensing the impending danger of the daggers before him, he was filled with dread. It's over! he thought to himself.

Ting! Pshhh. He managed to block the stab towards his heart, but despite extending his neck as far back as he could, he was unable to duck the attack to his throat since Annie had adjusted her blade accordingly.

The cold dagger sliced through his throat, dissecting his trachea. Destructive Battle Aura surged around his wound, making a mess of the surrounding tissue.

Blood spurted out, but Annie had already backed off. Not a drop landed on her. By the time she had retreated to the second floor, the Dark Elf Assassin Leader, clutching his throat, had fallen to his knees with a thud. Then, his upper body landed heavily on the ground.

He was dead.

There was no need for Annie to check the results. The sensation of her dagger slicing through his flesh had told her all she needed to know. Back in the room, she said quietly, "It is done!"

Immediately, Link ordered, "Let's go. Now!"

The moment the Dark Elf Assassin Leader died would be the moment of chaos for the Dark Elf Assassins and also the best time for Link and the other MI3 agents to break through.

As he charged, Link shouted in his mind,

Purchase Spell: Lesser Hailstorm!

Lesser Hailstorm

Level-2 Spell

Mana Cost: 30 Points

Effect: Summon an icy draft that spins around the spellcaster like a whirlwind. The radius is more than ten feet. Any opponents that go within ten feet of the spellcaster will be attacked by drafts and ice shards. The spell lasts for 5 minutes or until the spellcaster cancels it.

If Level-0 Spells were just large firecrackers and Level-1 Spells were able to crush normal defenses; Level-3 Spells, which cost as much as 30 Mana Points to cast, were enough to make the average person cower in fear.

Link's Lesser Hailstorm and Master Holmes' monstrous Earth Hound were both formidable forces that never appeared in normal lives.

Link still had 48 Mana Points left after using five Fireballs and 10 Mana Points during Annie's battle. It was enough for him to use the Lesser Hailstorm once.

When he had successfully purchased the spell, Annie had already reached the stairway landing where she came face to face with the two Dark Elf Assassins from earlier.

The two elves were both Level-2 Elites. They were powerful, but to Annie, they were as weak as newborn kittens.

Annie moved in a flash, the daggers in her hand flitted like butterflies, leaving one Assassin clutching his chest and the other grabbing at his throat as he fell to the ground.

The rest of the MI3 Assassins rushed to the first floor where they first entered the hall.

The six Dark Elf Assassins positioned there attacked them from all directions.

Annie had no problems dealing with two of them-but six, she would be putting her life on the line if she tried to fend off six of them. No matter how strong she was, it would be difficult to guard against so many.

But she wasn't alone.

Her five Assassins, including Ardivan, formed a circle around Link, protecting him against the Dark Elf Assassins that came at them.

It was now was six against six. Though two of their own Assassins were still very weak, they had Annie, a Level-3 Assassin with Battle Aura, and Link, who used Fireballs to stall them.

Annie killed three Dark Elf Assassins single-handedly. Link cast two Fireballs to save his teammates when they were in danger.

With no one in the hall left to stop them, they rushed towards the door. Outside, there would be more than 90 Dark Elf Assassins. Their hidden guards would be everywhere. Silent arrows could come at them from any dark corner.

They would be in true danger.

All of them turned to look at Link. He took a deep breath and calmly told them, "Gather around me. Don't go further than six feet from me. I'm going to cast a spell!"

If they stood too far away from him, they would get attacked by the Lesser Hailstorm.

The Assassins nodded. They were all well-trained fighters. The six of them formed a circle around Link, leaving less than two feet of space in between each other. Luckily, the circle was less than six feet in diameter.

Link raised his wand. The Mana within him surged into the wand in the form of a cold, clear glow from his hand. The new moon that embellished the tip of the wand glowed a piercing, icy-white.

The white light lit up the night. As it did, cold winds seemed to appear out of thin air.

Fwoosh! Violent winds, snowflakes, and ice-shards rapidly grew to form a whirlwind more than 15 feet wide.

Within it, sharp shards of ice danced around like daggers, ruthlessly cutting anything that entered their paths. As the whirlwind blew through the room, ice shards broke with crashing sounds as they smashed into the objects in the room.

In that moment, Link, holding his wand up high, looked just like the God of Wind.

Even the Assassins of the MI3, who had seen many things in their lives, were stunned. They stood still, full of awe.

"What are you waiting for!? Charge!!" Link cried out harshly. He could only hold the spell for five minutes. Every second was precious.

The Assassins were brought back to their senses. Gathering tightly around Link, they charged out of the MI3 outpost and out into the open fountain square.