Gladstone City, the Flower District.
A monstrous black hound sniffed the ground as it ran, followed by the Dark Elf Magician, Holmes, and some Dark Elf Assassins.
Tracking was a meticulous art-it couldn't be rushed. Only after one full hour, did the Dark Elves trace Link's path to the port where Link had set out on boat.
Then, they faced a problem-Link's scent had ended there.
The Earth Hound went in circles outside and around the port, letting out small howls. It seemed to be quite frustrated.
"Master, he must have gotten on a boat. What do we do?" Terry asked.
"Obviously!" Holmes sneered. He stood by the dock and stared into the waters, thinking.
The next step came to him quickly. "Go, follow the river downstream. He can't have stayed on the river. He will have embarked somewhere."
"Master, what if he went upstream?" Terry asked, unsure.
Holmes felt that that the Warrior was downright stupid. Throwing him a sideways glance, he retorted, "There is probably a 100:1 ratio of Magicians who don't know how to row a boat versus a single one that does. So, do you think that we should look for him upstream or downstream?"
Terry was convinced. Rowing against the currents was a skill, and hard work at that. Even he as a Warrior wasn't particularly good at it, let alone a weak-bodied Magician.
The Dark Elves followed along the riverbank, ignoring the people running amok in the Flower District. Truth be told, no one dared to approach the Assassins anyways.
About twenty minutes later, the Earth Hound let out a low howl and picked up its pace. It lowered its head and began to sniff the ground again.
"We found it!" Holmes cried out in glee. Tracking was actually a gamble. No one could tell how it would turn out, but this time he'd won.
Holmes could feel the respect and awe in the gazes of the other Dark Elves. He rather enjoyed it.
Without even realizing, he straightened his back and held his head higher.
Tracking Link has led them to the entrance of the marketplace. Though some figures darted around, the streets were, for the most part, desolate. But, the less people there were around, the less scents there were that could possibly impede their task. The Earth Hound tracked at a much faster speed than before.
After another hour, Holmes and the Dark Elf Assassins stood at the entrance to the Old City Quarters.
"This isn't good. He headed to the Old City Quarters. Could he have come here to save the female leader of the MI3?" Holmes frowned slightly. He knew that the Commander of the MI3 was another one of the Dark Elf Assassins' main targets. Their superiors had asked for her to be kept alive, not dead like the rest.
"Hurry up!" Holmes shouted. He had a bad feeling about this.
There were even fewer people around the Old City Quarters. As a result, the Earth Hound ran faster. Ten minutes later, Holmes reached the fountain square.
What they saw there was appalling.
The buildings around the square had been reduced to rubble by a fire. Smoke still rose from the buildings' remains, a sign that it hadn't been long since the flames had died.
More than ten bloody, mangled corpses laid on the square. Though it was difficult to tell from the bodies themselves, their build and rags of clothing that still remained on them identified them as Dark Elves.
Holmes, seeing the puddles of water, went up for a closer look. Using the back of his hand to touch it, he found that it was icy cold, some ice sludge still remaining.
"The power of magic... of the Lesser Hailstorm Spell. He was here!" Holmes frowned yet again. Not just because the other Magician had been here, but also because he sensed the power of high-level magic.
The Lesser Hailstorm was a Level-2 Spell. The young human Magician was a Level-2 Magician, not a Level-1 Magician as he had thought!
He's the same skill level as myself. This made things a little trickier.
But Holmes was confident in his Magic. The human Magician is young. He has no experience. Perhaps he has mastered the spell, but he definitely doesn't have superior magic abilities. I will definitely be able to beat him if I face him!
Dabbling in magic for as long as he had, Holmes had his own understanding of the art. That, was the source of his confidence.
Footsteps rang out behind him. He turned. It was Terry, with another Dark Elf Assassin. Holmes instantly recognized that the elf before him hadn't been part of his tracking team from earlier. That meant that he must have seen the battle at the fountain square!
"What happened here?" Holmes asked.
Shock and fear were still apparent on the Assassin's face. "It was a Magician! Dreadful Magic! He summoned a Hailstorm and killed the leader! He escaped with Annie Abel. Dark Mother above, it was horrible!"
"Which way did they go?" Holmes pressed on.
"I don't know. We lost them at a hotel. We went in, but we didn't find them. We couldn't find a secret passage though we searched all over for it." The Assassin looked miserable, fear hinting at his expression. He knew that he would be heavily punished for failing their mission.
"The hotel must have a secret passage!" Holmes looked towards the building in the distance, then back at the six-foot tall Earth Hound, and cursed, "Damn hotel!"
The Earth Hound was too big to fit through hotel's door.
But Holmes had a plan. Digging a secret passage is difficult. It won't be too long, and there isn't any significance to building it longer anyway. Six hundred to one thousand feet should be the maximum, he thought.
At this, he asked the Assassin, "How many of you are left?"
"Seventy-six of us," the Assassin replied.
"And where are they now?"
"We split up to look for the humans."
"Very good." Holmes paced for a while. Suddenly, something occurred to him. Why should I follow behind their asses? What is the first thing they'll do since they've escaped? Why can't I just lay in wait for them?
There was another important question; where would they most likely go?
The answer screamed in the face. It was painfully obvious.
"They're most likely going to go to the barracks of the city guard! Once they gain control of it, then it won't be something as simple as escaping. They'll even be able to turn the tables on us! No, that cannot happen, damn it!"
Holmes felt his heartbeat quicken. He found that it was no longer important whether the Magician or Annie Abel escaped. What was important, was that the city guard remained in chaos and useless.
Otherwise, when the human Magician and the head of the MI3 outpost entered the city guard, they would be unstoppable. They, as enemies who had infiltrated the city, would certainly die!
"Gather arms! We're going to Horus Castle!"
Horus Castle was the family castle of the Lord of the city, Hessman Horus. It sat in a valley, the furthest valley west of the city, in the northernmost region of the Old City Quarters.
The Lord of the city, Duke Hessman, had already been done in. His womanizing ways had been the end of him.
Three hours earlier, he had died in bed, killed by a beautiful human Assassin who had been painstakingly bred and trained by the Dark Elves for more than ten years. Truth be told, every human in the Horus Castle had been wiped out.
The city guards' barracks were quite close to Horus Castle. The Commander of the city guards had been poisoned a day ago. With most of its officers dead, the city guard was leaderless. Perhaps some had tried to restore the law and order, but they
didn't hold enough weight to pose a threat to the Dark Elves.
But now, Annie Abel and the Magician were both prominent figures, enough so that they could easily take hold of the situation. They had to be stopped.
In every race, Magicians held very high social statuses. Though not the official commander of the operation, Holmes had become the de-facto leader when the Commander and First Officer had died. The Dark Elf Assassins, needing someone to rally behind, naturally gathered around him. There was a total of 150 of them, including the Assassins Holmes had brought from the Magic Academy.
This formed most of the Assassins who had infiltrated Gladstone City. Helmed by a Level-2 Magician, they were a force to be reckoned with.
"Hurry up! We might still have time!" Holmes roared. With a snap of his fingers, the Earth Hound crouched, allowing him to climb onto it. Then the hound sprinted off.
The Dark Elf Assassins ran behind it.
The Earth Hound was fast, very fast. Soon, Holmes left the Assassins in the dust. It was risky, but he didn't care. Holmes believed that he had the power to deal with that human Magician, even if he had MI3 allies!
The Dark Elves, in their haste to stop Link and Annie, didn't notice a petite figure watching them quietly from a secluded corner of the fountain square.
It was the human Assassin Mary, whom Link had saved earlier. After the Elemental Healing and more than half an hour of rest, she had regained most of her strength.
"This isn't good. The Commander and that Magician are in danger; I need to warn them!"
Mary slipped into the hotel and down into the cellar. Deftly opening the door to the secret passage, she sped forward. She appeared at the exit, in the house within no time.
The young couple looked at her with surprise.
"Has the Commander been here?" Mary asked, rushing.
The husband nodded. "She was here. But she left not even three minutes ago."
"In which direction did she go?"
"I'm not too sure, but it was probably towards the North." As an external member of the MI3, he knew not to ask more than he was told.
"I understand. Seal the passage permanently, immediately. Anyone else who comes out from there is definitely an enemy!" Mary raised her voice as she said this.
The couple nodded hastily.
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