Although he was ready to make his move, Link still had to choose his timing carefully.
He wore a faint smile on his face as he sat calmly at the table, looking nothing like a man preparing for a battle to the death. Once Clyde's wounds were properly dressed by the servants, Link reached out his hand and tapped it gently on the table. He then turned to address the Dark Elves.
"Gentlemen," said Link, speaking slowly and clearly, "may I ask for the name of the person you are avenging? Is it Felidia? Ainos? Or is it the swordswoman Alina?"
The three Dark Elves were visibly agitated at the mention of the last name. The Warrior Norisa immediately stepped forward with his sword glowing in an icy-blue light, and the Blue Thorn Battle Aura was now activated as well.
"Listen closely, you bastard," he said, "we are avenging the death of Lady Alina!"
"Ah, so you're Prince Norigan's errand boys," replied Link. "Well then, prepare to die!"
Right at that moment, Link launched his attacks! Three Whistles suddenly appeared and headed straight for the three Dark Elves. Link had been quietly constructing Whistle's spell structure while he struck up a conversation with the Dark Elves to buy some time. He didn't just cast one Whistle in this brief window of time though, but three, each on for each of the Dark Elves!
As for the wand that remained untouched on the table - well, who said that Magicians must hold the wand in their hand to use it? Link was controlling it easily with just his Mana without the need to physically touch it at all.
The three Whistles hissed through the air with a piercing, high-pitch noise. Their speed was unimaginably fast, so fast that they reached a few feet away from the three Dark Elves within a tenth of a second.
Link had cast the modified version of Whistle that he and Eliard had been discussing and finally came up with. The power of the new version of Whistle was at least three times that of the original one.
The three Dark Elves could not have foreseen such a sudden attack. They were all caught off-guard and had no time think of a way to counterattack. All they managed to do was unleash a defensive shield.
Although Ainos' Blue Thorn Battle Aura was able to deflect attacks to some degree, it was most effective in close combat and not long-distance attacks like Link's spells, so he instinctively raised his sword to block the oncoming Whistle.
The Magician Parson, on the other hand, immediately cast a Level-4 shield spell around his body to protect himself.
Only the Assassin Hedel thought he would be smart enough to avert the attack from Link. He used Flash to step aside, hoping to dodge away from Link's Whistle.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
The three Whistles exploded almost simultaneously and they were followed by a scream of pain. Who was the one screaming? It was no other than the only Dark Elf who was confident in his own skills to evade Link's attacks - Hedel.
Yes, Hedel was a Level-5 Assassin and his speed was indeed unimaginably fast. Still, he wasn't fast enough compared to Link's reaction speed.
Link had initially aimed each Whistle at each of the Dark Elves when he cast the spells, and all three of them had sensed Link's murderous intent so they each made the moves to protect themselves. But just as the Dark Elves were making their moves, Link had changed the trajectories of all three Whistles at the very last moment - he aimed all of them at the one with the weakest defense, Hedel.
Link remembered a well-known war strategy in his previous life that you must always do the exact opposite of what your opponent expected you to do in order to win a war or a battle. He used that principle just now to completely catch the Dark Elves unaware.
Link couldn't possibly be this dexterous with other spells for now, but he'd been using Whistle for long enough that his depth of understanding of the spell was unfathomable.
Link hadn't directed the three Whistles to follow Hedel. Instead, he had directed them towards the direction that he predicted the Assassin to run to and detonated it there!
For a moment the whole place was lit up by the flames of the explosions and metal fragments scattered about all around Hedel's body. The Assassin was wearing a thin anti-magic leather armor that protected him from most of the force of the impact. Yet, they did nothing to protect him from the countless metal fragments that resulted from the blasts.
Thousands of metal fragments pierced through Hedel's armor and skin. His body was now covered with gaping wounds while his face was pockmarked with bloody gashes. Not only was blood spewing out of his body everywhere, both of his eyes were now nothing more than two bleeding holes.
As expected, though, the Level-5 Assassin possessed a strong survival instinct. Although his wounds were grave, Hedel still managed to cling on to life and escaped death. He'd even remained on his feet even though both of his eyes were now blinded. Link would no longer be facing any threats from him now, and he was finally able to breathe a little easier as one dangerous opponent out of three had been practically eliminated.
Just then, the Magician Parson and the Warrior Norisa began their counterattacks.
Although they were stunned for a moment by Link's unexpected attacks, they had no time to help Hedel. Once they realized that Link had played a trick on them, they went straight into attacking mode and charged towards Link.
Norisa used the Battle Skill, Charge to rush up towards Link. He didn't have a shield with him, but he was wearing a light chain mail and had the protection of the Blue Thorn Aura. At that moment, he was like a war chariot that barged through everything in his path - the table, the chairs and the wooden planks on the floor were all left in pieces in his trail.
He was only about seventy feet away from Link - with his speed, even with the furniture in the hall in his way, Norisa could reach him within half a second.
Meanwhile, Parson took a step back to get himself behind the Warrior Norisa. He then began to construct a spell structure. With Norisa's help, he would have just enough time to cast a powerful spell, so he chose the Level-3 spell, Ice Spear!
He was most familiar with this spell, so he could cast it at the lightning speed of 0.4 seconds. He'd also modified it with Supreme Magical Skill so its power was increased to Level-4, making it the best choice for a battle with such an unpredictable opponent.
In the face of the Dark Elves' counterattack, Link did two things.
First of all, he activated the Edelweiss shield with his magic ring. This Level-4 defensive spell was not the most necessary step, but Link activated it nonetheless just in case. Although it might not be able to completely block the Dark Elves' attacks, the force field might slow them down and reduce their power if they managed to break through the shield, which would give him extra time to react.
Secondly, he activated the Level-5 spell engraved in the Glyph of Soul - the Vulcan's Hand!
It was Link's first time using the Glyph of Soul in a real battle. It felt wonderful. The moment his intention to cast the spell emerged in his mind he felt momentarily stunned and the complicated spell structure of the Flaming Hand that had been modified with Supreme Magical Skill appeared immediately at the tip of his wand.
The Level-5 Domingo Crystal was right at the end of Link's wand and it was filled with fire elements inside it. Once the Vulcan's Hand's spell structure appeared near it the fire element inside the crystal flowed rapidly to fill the spell structure, and in no time at all, the formidable Level-5 spell was completed. It took Link no more than 0.1 second - even less time than a blink of an eye!
By then, Norisa had only reached 30 feet away from Link when he saw a giant hand appear right in front of his eyes. It was glowing faintly in white and its size was ridiculously huge. Each finger of the hand was even bigger than his thigh and was encircled by rings of red, hot flame.
As the giant hand appeared, it rushed towards Norisa with an astonishing force and an even more frightening speed despite its size. Even before it could reach him, Norisa could already feel the roiling heat that came from the hand and it made his knees wobble in fear.
What kind of monstrous spell is this? Norisa's face was now as pale as a ghost and there was but one thought in his mind - run!
But no matter how fast he was, he could never outrun the Vulcan's Hand, which was made up almost entirely of fire elementals. The fire element has no weight therefore it had no inertia, and so could accelerate from the stationary state to the speed of a storm in no time at all. It was also able to change directions swiftly as Link willed it without a hitch. The Vulcan's Hand might be colossal in size, but it was still surprisingly agile and quick.
Soon enough, the Warrior Norisa was caught within the grasp of the giant fiery hand!
The Vulcan's hand was so colossal in size that the Warrior now looked just like a tiny mouse. He was now completely engulfed by the flames and one couldn't see a trace of him from the outside.
At the same time, all Norisa could see now was a red sea of flame all around him. He found that he couldn't move at all because the fiery hand was exerting an enormous pressure on him. What was even scarier was the rapid speed at which it was closing in one him.
"The bastard is going to roast me to death!" Norisa then concentrated all of his force and energy to activate the Blue Thorn Battle Aura in a single explosion and the aura around him suddenly burst into a brightness that was three times its normal intensity.
It turned out that Norisa wasn't too shabby at all. With that explosive burst of his Battle Aura, he managed to smash and disperse the fire elements in the Level-5 Vulcan's Hand!
Yet it didn't come without a cost to the Warrior. His clothes were now burnt to tatters, and the anti-magic chain mail armor was now glowing red and almost destroyed. His hair was now completely consumed by fire and his whole body was blackened by smoke.
By then, not only was he no longer able to charge on, it had taken all of his energy just to stay conscious and aware under such scorching temperatures. No matter how strong he was, he would need at least a few seconds to regain his composure and make an attack.
At this point, the Magician Parson finally completed the Ice Spear. Spiraling spears of ice then shot out from the tip of his wand and headed towards Link.
The Ice Spears were about seven-feet-long and as thick as an egg. It spiraled rapidly as it flew towards Link at a terrifying speed. If Link was hit by the spear, even the Level-4 Edelweiss shield would not completely protect him from its impact, and that would give the Dark Elves an opening to follow up with another attack.
Still, Link had his own way to deal with this.
Once again, he triggered the Glyph of Soul and was momentarily stunned, then the intricate structure of the Vulcan's Hand appeared at the tip of his wand. There the fire elements scattered by Norisa recently was then gathered and took the form of a new giant fiery hand.
The Ice Spear was only halfway in its trajectory when the new Vulcan's Hand was fully formed, and they both slammed into each other in an explosive clash of elements.
The Vulcan's Hand was initially glowing dimly, but once it came in contact with the Ice Spear it burst out in a brilliant light. The Ice Spear then instantaneously became a mist of vapor.
What else would you expect when a mere Level-3 ice spell hit a Level-5 fire spell?
With the Ice Spear vaporized, the fingers of the Vulcan's Hand curled up like a cow's tongue and promptly swallowed the Warrior Norisa who disappeared into its palm.
Then, without any hesitation at all, Link immediately raised the temperature of the Vulcan's Hand, especially in its palm area. The giant fiery hand than brightened so much that everyone in the hall was almost blinded.
This meant that the temperature of the Vulcan's Hand had been raised to a blistering degree!
This time, there was no way that Norisa could ever escape the Vulcan's Hand's grasp. In fact, the spell had re-emerged so quickly - within 0.2 seconds - that he hadn't even had time to recover from the previous attack yet.
Then, an inhuman scream could be heard coming from the inside of the Vulcan's Hand. It was a ghastly scream, but it was brief and abruptly ended.
Needless to say, it was the sound of Norisa getting burned to death.
Right now, out of the three Dark Elves, one was dead, and one had been incapacitated. The Magician was the only one left standing now. All this had happened within three seconds - the time for the average person to breathe in and out!
Another second passed, and the Vulcan's Hand in the great hall opened up its palm again, from which a charred body that looked like a big lump of coal came tumbling out. As the corpse hit the floor, it crumbled into countless smaller pieces - the powerful Level-5 Warrior was now nothing more than clumps of coal and ashes.
Wharton gulped at the horrifying scene before him. He now realized that his brother had been merciful to him when he attacked Link earlier in the day.
Meanwhile, Clyde's eyes were as wide as saucers as he stared at his little brother who hadn't moved an inch from his position at the dining table as if the dinner hadn't even been interrupted at all. He couldn't imagine how powerful his brother had become now.
Just minutes before, Clyde had been thoroughly defeated by that Assassin within a few seconds, and the Assassin didn't even seem to have exerted much effort either. He was after all a henchman of the Norigan Familia who possessed the Blue Thorn Aura, yet Link managed to defeat him without touching him at all - not to mention the fact that he hadn't even stood up from his chair!
What kind of power was this? How did Link get so mighty in such a short period? These questions kept running through Clyde's mind and he really couldn't come up with any explanations for them.
Not only was he shocked and awed by the human Magician's power, he was also quaking in his boots. The Vulcan's Hand had now completely broken Parson's fighting spirit. It was a spell of at least Level-5, and yet the human Magician had cast it instantaneously! It was simply beyond Parson's imagination, and he'd never faced such a menacing assault before!
How could he possibly defeat an opponent of this level?
"Retreat!" shouted Parson to the Assassin Hedel. He then waited for no one and bolted straight out of the great hall of the castle. He wasn't afraid of death, but he must remain alive, so he could bring the news of what just happened back to the Black Forest.
Although Hedel was completely blinded and his body was bruised all over, he knew that Norisa had been killed by the sound he heard. He was aware that Parson was making a run for it, so he instinctively wanted to flee himself. He staggered and stumbled and tried to run out of the hall. But he only managed a few steps before he fell down and face-planted on the floor.
He tried to get back on his feet but before he could even try, another Whistle exploded right next to his thigh, breaking the bones immediately. An excruciating pain spread through his body. All Hedel could do now was hug his thigh and screech in pain. He was no longer the master of darkness that he used to be.
Meanwhile, Parson had reached outside the hall. He was now out of Link's line of sight, although his confidence was now completely shattered and all he could think of was to escape as far away from the human Magician as he possibly could.
He went to the furthest corner and began casting a flying spell - the Level-3 Ashen Hawk. He would not stay here and suffer the same fate as Norisa or Hedel, instead he would escape the terrifying human Magician by flying into the sky!
Two seconds later, the spell was finally completed. A gray billowing cloud of smoke then formed into a giant bird. Parson quickly climbed up and the bird swiftly took off into the sky. Parson finally breathed a sigh of relief as he thought that he was out of the human Magician's range now, but this relief hadn't lasted for more than a second when he saw that the Magician had walked out of the great hall.
The Ashen Hawk had flown no more than thirty feet then.
"Where do you think you're going?" shouted Link.
He pointed his wand at the sky, after which the Vulcan's Hand immediately followed in its direction. In no time at all the giant fiery hand grabbed the Ashen Hawk into its palm and pulled the bird along with the Magician down to the ground.
Did you think that I'd just let you fly away from my grasp, Parson? Not a chance!
- Against the Gods
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- Ancient One
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- A step into the past
- Ancient Cultivator in Modern World
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