On King's Lane.
Link saw through the transparent crystal window of the carriage that it was Eliard and Elena inside. Link sighed quietly. He knew that Elena would be using this trick on him.
Eliard was Link's best friend. Elena must've known that Link would never do anything to put Eliard in harm's way. Link was secretly impressed at how cunning Elena had been by using Eliard as a hostage.
By then, Eliard had also noticed Link as well; he was not aware of the real situation yet and was curious about Link's actions.
"Link," he called out as he opened the carriage window, "what are you doing here?"
Link's eyes never left Elena. At that time, she was leaning closely against Eliard's chest and her face looked very pale-she seemed to be in pain, but Link knew that it was just a ruse. He noticed that Elena had rested her hand on Eliard's heart all this time, never moving it away even for just an inch.
She was wearing a magic bracelet on that hand. If Link wasn't mistaken, the bracelet should be the one that contained a Level-1 Whistle. There were some rough and clunky parts on the bracelet that confirmed Link's suspicion that it was Eliard's own handiwork.
Link was sure that if he ever made any moves that would threaten Elena's safety, she would immediately release that Whistle straight at Eliard's heart, killing him in an instant. Link feared he might not be able to stop Elena in time if she did that since the magic bracelet was so close to Eliard.
This time, it seemed Eliard really was in trouble. Link mustn't make any rash movements.
"Get out of the way, Link," said Eliard. "Elena's really unwell, I must take her to the priest immediately!" Eliard could feel Elena's body shivering in his arms. He thought she must really be suffering in pain right now.
Link let out a long sigh and shook his head gently. He then pointed his wand at Elena.
"Eliard," he said, "she must not be allowed to leave the East Cove Magic Academy!"
"What are you talking about?" said Eliard, completely flummoxed. "What is going on here, Link?" He was getting more and more worried about Elena's illness and wanted to get help for her as fast as possible, yet Link was here blocking the way. At that moment, even though Link had always been his best friend, anger was beginning to brew in Eliard's heart.
Link squinted his eyes to focus on Elena's every movement. Then, without moving his gaze away from her, he took out the Memory Crystal from his pocket.
As Link's Mana slowly flowed into it, the amber-like yellow crystal began to glow faintly. Then a play of light and shadow appeared in the air near the crystal, showing Elena's amorous rendezvous with the dead merchant in the willow grove.
The crystal in Link's hand was of high quality, plus Link's own control of his Mana was unparalleled. These factors combined to make the scene displayed so incredibly clear and life-like that they were no different from a hologram.
Link didn't show the entire scene that went on in the willow grove as he wanted to protect Eliard's feelings. All he showed were several seconds of them kissing and that was it. He knew that even that was more than enough.
After just a glance of the scene Eliard seemed as if he was hit by a ton of bricks. He just sat there completely struck dumb!
Elena really didn't expect that Link would use this trick. The originally pale face of hers now got deathly pale where not even a tinge of color was on her face anymore. Eliard, in contrast, had gone red in the face. Even his eyes seemed to be bloodshot now. Elena could clearly feel Eliard's hands shaking now.
This Link really is something, Elena sighed. He's left me no room to defend myself at all. I'm afraid I won't be leaving here alive.
After a while, another scene emerged from the Memory Crystal. It was the scene when the merchant committed suicide on the King's Lane.
"Elena is not the innocent girl you think she is, Eliard," said Link after the scene ended. He then put the crystal back inside his pocket. "It's likely that she might be involved in some evil cult as a holy maiden and was plotting something that would undermine the security of the East Cove Magic Academy. Therefore, she must not be allowed to leave here before everything is investigated!"
Link had noticed Eliard's appearance by now and he felt very sorry for him, but there was no other choice. This must be done. Eliard seemed to have heard Link's words, but he hadn't made any response just yet.
"Elena," he finally whispered to her in a desperate voice, "please tell me this isn't true."
Elena didn't dare to look straight into Eliard's eyes. The scenes from the Memory Crystal was so clear that there was no way she could get away with accusing them as forged and untrue. And so, all Elena could do was look down. Her lips shook slightly as if she wanted to say something, yet they both stayed that way for a while and no one said anything.
Eliard had been the perfect gentleman with her. Even though she couldn't feel the same way that he felt for her, she still couldn't find any flaws in him to attack him with. And so, she stayed silent.
"You're not ill at all, are you?" asked Eliard. He wasn't an idiot. As a matter of fact, he had a mind so brilliant that he was almost unparalleled, so everything was quickly clear to him now after what Link had shown him. "Elena, you faked your illness to trick me into bringing you away from East Cove Academy, didn't you?"
His eyes swept over Elena's delicate face. It was the face that had once given him bliss and joy, yet all he felt now was fear and even a hint of hatred.
In the end, his eyes fell on the hand that clutched on his chest. Those fingers were so slender and delicate, the skin so fair and smooth, and her arms were so round and soft. Her hands were so beautiful that he had held them lightly in his own hands and admired them endlessly many a night.
Yet now, Eliard's gaze was only fixed on the magic bracelet on her wrist. It was a gift from him that he made for her himself.
"Now that Link has found out about you, are you going to threaten him with my life?" Eliard's eyes were now becoming cold and emotionless. All the warmth he felt for her was gone now. How could there be such a cruel and heartless woman in this world?
Finally, Elena discarded all her pretenses and smirked at Eliard. She raised her head haughtily and the tenderness in her eyes had now completely disappeared and was replaced with cold ruthlessness.
"Eliard, you simple fool," mocked Elena, still clinging to Eliard's heart. "I've been pulling the wool over your eyes all this time and you've always been happily following me around. Let me tell you, that bastard in the scene wasn't the only one, I actually have four other lovers as well!"
Eliard's face was now turning purple. He gritted his teeth in anger, but because he was naturally mild-tempered he still couldn't find any vicious words to attack Elena with.
"Why?" That was the only word Eliard finally managed to utter after being stunned for a long time.
"There is no reason. I just like to play with you. I think you look stupid!" Elena's words became even more vicious.
After saying that, instead of looking straight into Eliard's eyes, she turned to Link and laughed in his face.
"You are better than I expected," she said. "I don't mind getting caught by such a mighty talent like you. But let me be clear, I have no intention of going back to the academy. If you want to bring me back, then you'll have to bring back two dead bodies - one is mine, and the other is Eliard's!"
"A single magic bracelet is no threat to me," said Link, narrowing his piercing eyes at Elena with a gradually boiling temper.
"Haha! Did you think that I would kill him with this pathetic bracelet?" jeered Elena. "I've slept with this idiot so many times that I've fixed so many things into his body now. I'll be honest with you, I'm not much of a Magician, and my skills in magic spells aren't all that impressive. But divine spells, especially dark divine spells, are just my forte! I could easily put someone as unguarded as this idiot easily under my control. Remember this, if I die, then the divine spells in Eliard's body will explode as well!"
Link was shocked and suddenly caught up in a dilemma. The merchant had called her a holy maiden after all, so it should be natural that she would have knowledge of some powerful divine spells. Link took her threats seriously and knew that he mustn't make any moves that might cause harm to Eliard.
But can he let this woman go? Obviously not!
And so, for a time, the two sunk into silence with either side not willing or able to make any move.
Then suddenly the usually silent Eliard exploded in anger.
"Did you think that I would be afraid of death, Elena?" he roared. "Then you're sorely mistaken!" He then swiftly began to cast the spell, Whistle right as he spoke, completely undeterred by the possibility that Elena might counterattack. He was ready to fight till the death, and he must kill this wicked woman with his own hands!
Elena immediately began to fight back by directing her Mana into the magic bracelet. Because she relied on magic gear to cast the spell, she would complete much faster than Eliard. In this case, she would be able to unleash a Whistle within 0.1 seconds- at this speed, there was no way that Eliard would have enough time to defend himself. The only one who could respond in such a brief moment would be Link.
Link focused his gaze and entered instantly into the calm state of spellcasting. The world in his eyes now seemed to move very slowly. With the wand in his hand pointing at Elena, he directed his Mana into it and instantaneously set forth a translucent ball of light that immediately hit the bracelet on Elena's hand.
"Silent Disarray!" uttered Link under his breath.
Mana Consumption: 60 points.
Effects: Disrupts the spell structure of spells at Level-2 and below to impede the target's spellcasting.
(Note: This special magical structure requires precise control of Mana. Spellcaster must be of Level-5 or higher in order to master this spell.)
This was a spell that Link had just mastered recently, so he could cast it almost instantaneously. When Link's Silent Disarray was completed, Elena's Whistle was only half-formed, and so Link's spell managed to make the spell structure of Elena's Whistle collapse and thus, the spell disintegrated.
That didn't deter Elena though. When her Whistle failed, she suddenly slipped out a dagger with her other hand at the speed of a lightning bolt and was about to fling it towards Eliard's heart.
It was obvious that this woman had gone through the training of an Assassin's combative skills. She had slipped out the dagger with such acuity and speed, plus the dagger's material had anti-magic properties so low-level spells would be useless against it. High-level spells, on the other hand, would take too much time to cast.
Link weighed his options for a moment and soon discovered that the only way to stop the blade in time was to stun Elena.
Link had always been decisive and he was even more so now. So, within the blink of an eye, Link waved his wand and unleashed a Glass Orb that headed straight to Elena's hand that was holding the dagger. The blow's aim was to attack Elena's arm so that the threat of the dagger could be diminished.
Link used his high-speed spellcasting skills here and he used the Glass Orb spell which he was very familiar with. Moreover, he'd also borrowed the strength of the Domingo crystal by using the elements stored inside it, so Link only spent 0.01 seconds to cast the second Glass Orb.
The Glass Orb shot through the air and exploded near Elena's ear. It was Link's plan to knock Elena out with the shockwave of the explosion. While it was true that he mustn't kill her because of the threat of the dark divine spells inside Eliard's body, but there was no reason why he couldn't make her unconscious!
Those were the explosions of two Glass Orbs that were unleashed almost simultaneously. The hand that held the dagger was directly hit by the impact of the Glass Orb, rendering it useless in holding on to the weapon. Meanwhile, the other Glass Orb that was aimed at Elena's ear had...slightly missed the target that Link was aiming for.
It was unclear whether it was a coincidence or if it was intentional, but Elena had leaned her head at the very last moment towards the Glass Orb near her ear. It was supposed to explode 60 inches away from her, yet now it exploded in half that distance, which was close enough to kill her!
Elena's head was blasted with the full impact of the explosion. Although she had a thick head of hair that might dampen the explosive impact slightly, blood still came streaming out of her ears, immediately staining half of her body in red.
Even with such a serious injury, though, Elena still stayed conscious.
Those big pair of eyes had now gone dull, but they stared fixedly at Eliard's face with the same warmth and tenderness that had been there before. There was even a weak but sincere smile on her face now.
"Forgive me...my love."
Those were the last words that parted Elena's lips. Then, with the gentle smile still on her face, she died.
Nothing happened to Eliard, though. He did not blow up into pieces the way Elena had threatened would happen. There was no change in his body at all.
Eliard slumped down to the ground. Then, he seemed to suddenly think of something and rushed up to Elena's body and held it tight against his chest. He then raised his head up to heaven and bawled at the top of his lungs, his voice drenched in sorrow.
He felt he could understand Elena now. She was a priestess of a dark cult and was on a certain mission, so she had to use her charms to lure the men to use them to her advantage.
But Eliard was sure that she loved him. She had ridiculed him and used cold and vicious words with him when her secret plot was about to be revealed to the world because she wanted to taunt Eliard into killing her.
What other choice would she have?
If someone had pierced a knife through Eliard's heart right now, the pain would still have been less than what he currently felt.
My love is dead. My life is over, thought Eliard as he clung to Elena's lifeless body.
Meanwhile, Link was also shaken by what had just happened. He looked at Elena's corpse and then at his friend Eliard who was suffering in immense pain. His eyebrows knitted so closely together that they were joined into one.
Did she intend to die? Were her feelings for Eliard sincere? Or was it all just a ruse?
What was true? Or was it all a lie? Even Link wasn't so sure now.
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