175 The First Confrontation with the Demon


 Link and Eleanor did not rush out of the capital city the moment Eleanor's wound had been treated. Instead, they stayed in the Blue Hermit Inn and rested there for another day.

In the meantime, they both discussed matters of magic with each other. Eleanor's profound insights in secret spells helped Link gain new knowledge and perspective, while Link's own expertise and creativity in his use of elemental spells surprised Eleanor as well.

Then, on the second day, with the help of the holy water, the cut wound on Eleanor's neck had basically closed, while Link's own Mana had recovered to its fullest state. At the same time, he'd also refined and created three more pounds of Sacred Silver, albeit using ordinary silver instead of Mithril this time. This kind of Sacred Silver might not be as good as those made of Mithril, but it was still effective enough against the power of demons.

Once everything was ready, Link found them a carriage and off they went out of Springs City.

Then, on their way in the carriage, Eleanor suddenly thought of something.

"They called that young woman in the village Lisa," she said, "but that's not the woman's real name. I think the demon called her Elena."

"What did you say?!" asked Link, startled by this revelation.

"Well, it sounded something like that, though the demon's voice wasn't clear," said Eleanor. "It could be Lena or Aina...I was too far away anyway, so I couldn't hear them well enough."

Link sunk into silence for a while, apparently brooding over the newly gained information.

"Do you remember the exact dates of the day you noticed the soul, Ellie?" asked Link.

"Of course I do! My memory isn't so bad despite my age!" answered Eleanor. "It was about...28 days ago, so it must be January...14th." Unbeknownst to her, Eleanor had just mentioned the date that sent a cold shiver down Link's spine.

January 14 was the day when he accidentally killed Elena.

"Do you remember the exact time you noticed it?" Link asked more eagerly now.

"Was it in the morning or the afternoon? What time was it?"

"It must've been about three in the afternoon," answered Eleanor.

Link took a deep breath then let out a long sigh after hearing Eleanor's answer. It was just as he expected now. He had destroyed Elena's body that day, but her soul had survived and escaped, then found a new body and was reborn again. And now that she was reborn she even managed to contact a demon. By the looks of it, although Link wasn't sure exactly how she did it, he knew that Elena must've taken the detailed plans of the inner layout of the Mage Towers in the East Cove Magic Academy with her.

The puzzle pieces had formed into a complete picture now. The nagging suspicion Link had felt all along was also confirmed.

"What a sly, devious and malicious woman!" cursed Link before taking in another deep breath. He had gone through the massacre in Gladstone, he'd killed countless robbers and even some Dark Elves with his own hands, yet he still shuddered at the thought of facing such a crafty opponent as Elena.

He felt the most sympathy for his friend Eliard right now. He had been used and manipulated by the woman. Not only was his heart and spirits broken, he'd even thought of giving up magic because of her!

By then, the carriage had already reached the gates of the capital city and was about to leave its safety. Link and Eleanor then got out of the carriage, paid for the fare and continued their journey on foot.

There were still many people passing by on the King's Lane since they were still so near to the capital city gates, so the demon hadn't appeared yet even though Eleanor had begun to feel its presence now.

"I'd faced it directly before, so I know the scent of its soul," said Eleanor. "He's definitely lurking behind the trees of the forest near us, staring, waiting for the right time to pounce on me." Eleanor then looked out into the forest beside the road and could distinctly feel a sharp sense of danger. The memory of the confrontation three days earlier was still fresh in her mind and it filled her whole being with fear.

Link nodded at Eleanor's words, but he felt no real threat from this demon at all, and the reason was simple-if Eleanor could injure him even by using the weakened version of the Flame Blast in the Phoenix bracelet, then this demon was simply no match for him.

They both walked on for another couple of miles along King's Lane. It was then ten in the morning. It's a pity that on that day the sun was blocked by a sky of thick clouds, so it was impossible for Link to use the sunlight to weaken the demon's power.

By then, even Link could feel the anomalous aura in the surrounding. It felt distinct, as if a pair of eyes in the darkness were following him around fixedly.

"It doesn't even bother to hide its own scent!" exclaimed Eleanor. "I wonder if that's out of arrogance or ignorance?" Eleanor turned to Link for his opinion. If he knew how to use the Sacred Silver to cure her wound, then he must know more about demons than she did.

Eleanor wasn't disappointed then, when Link answered her confidently.

"It's neither arrogance nor ignorance," he said. "It just thought that there was no need for it."

"What does that mean?" asked Eleanor, slightly confused.

"The abyss where the demons come from is a jungle world where you either kill or get killed. To survive there, you must bare your fangs and show off your strength as much as possible to intimidate other people and discourage them from attacking you. This demon must've thought that everyone here was weaker than it, so it felt no need to hide its presence. My guess is that it thought it was the king in this jungle."

"Oh, so they're just like wild beasts!" Eleanor finally found a suitable metaphor to describe the demons.

Link nodded in agreement. There was more about the demons that he hadn't told Eleanor, of course. For example, he knew that demons were divided into two categories-the high-level demons and the low-level demons.

The low-level demons have lower intelligence, their nature was closer to a wild beast-their combat tactics were more instinctive rather than rational and strategic, and their strengths overall weren't all that terrifying. As for high-level demons, well... to put it simply, 99% of the horrifying demons in the legends told from generations to generations in Firuman were high-level demons!

Judging from the current situation, the demon in the Girvent Forest seemed to be a low-level demon. Although it would be foolish to underestimate its strength, Link felt that he didn't have much to fear from this beast. An average professional fighter might not be able to defeat it, but if it was a joint attack by three fighters and above then the demon would surely not be able to survive.

For one thing, though, the demon still showed some restraint as it did not attack them when they were still in broad daylight and in the midst of a crowd on the King's Lane earlier. This meant that it was afraid of being discovered for some reason, causing him to stalk them in the darkness all this while without making any moves to attack them.

Finally, Link and Eleanor reached a place isolated enough that no one was around or likely to pass by.

"Let's go into the forest," said Link. There was no point in circling around avoiding the demon forever. Their best chance was to deal with the demon head-on.

"Understood," answered Eleanor with a nod. She moved instinctively closer to Link as they entered the forest as it somehow made her feel safer.

They both plodded through the Girvent Forest for another quarter of a mile before they heard the sound of footsteps and snapped branches. Then a mighty beast sprung towards them out of the blue at an unimaginably high speed.

They were facing a demon after all, so Link didn't dare to take its attacks lightly. He rushed forward to a spot where the vegetation was relatively sparse and shouted to Eleanor, "Activate the Guarding Barrier!"

As soon as he finished the sentence Link's body was shrouded in the Crimson Edelweiss, while Eleanor had also activated her dragon bracelet. Thus, they were now both enveloped in a translucent bubble that glowed faintly in red.

Just then, a tall black figure burst out towards them from the dark forest. This figure was humanoid, although it was about seven feet tall and its skin was as black as ink.

At this moment, a tall black figure burst out in the forest.

This figure was humanoid and taller than seven feet. The surface of its body was dark with no pores. There were countless strange dark green runes on its skin, while on the outside of its arms there was a knife-like protrusion that seemed to be shrouded in a cold aura.

As soon as it rushed towards them, its red eyes shifted between Link and Eleanor, then it seemed to have recognized Eleanor and identified her as its target. Eleanor immediately stretched out her wrist and pointed it at the demon.

"Flame Blast!" she shouted.

This was the only spell she knew that had an effect on the demon. With a loud boom, a fan-shaped high-temperature flame then surged forward towards the demon.

However, this demon seemed to have remembered this trick by Eleanor, so the moment Eleanor raised her arms, it immediately dodged to the side at a phenomenal speed and escaped from the attack.

"Did you think I'd fall for that twice?" said the demon in a strange, unclear voice. Even as it spoke, its speed had not slowed down one bit. It then jerked its legs and shot towards Eleanor, at the same time stretching the blade-like protrusion on its arm towards her.

This time, the demon wouldn't fall for the same trick again. With one stroke, the demon would cut off her head!

Eleanor was too late in triggering the second Flame Blast, but she still didn't hide or dodge away from the demon. Firstly, because she still had a defensive shield around her, and secondly, because she knew that Link was right beside her.

The demon didn't take any notice of the young man beside Eleanor at all. What could such a small fry do to a demon anyway? The demon quickly closed in on Eleanor and was now only about thirty feet away from her. At that point, he let out a roar and leaped up into the air.

In its expectation, its violent strike would surely crush through the woman's magic shield, which would then leave her completely vulnerable to his arm blade attack. The woman's head would be off her shoulder soon enough, then no one would ever know the secret between it and the holy maiden.

As for the young Magician who was with her, he would just have to take the hit of maybe one or two of the boy's spells. But that wouldn't matter at all, because his skin was highly resistant to magic, so at most, the spells would just leave him some scratches.

Oh, how wrong the demon had been!

Just at the moment when he leaped up, a giant hand with rings of red-hot fire grabbed him and held him mid-air, rendering him completely unable to move.

It was a spell Link had cast with his Glyph of Soul-the Vulcan's Hand.

"Ahhhhh!!!" The demon was completely caught off guard. It then unleashed an explosive amount of energy in its attempt to escape the fiery hand's clutch. The explosive energy came out as a powerful burst of black aura which was so mighty that it managed to scatter the fire elements of the Vulcan's Hand!

Demons naturally had very strong battle force and their reaction was incredibly speedy. That was why Link didn't use the high-temperature version of the Vulcan's Hand.

Not bad, thought Link. This demon could withstand the power of a Level-5 spell, and the dark energy inside it is quite strong as well! A demon's dark energy was almost bottomless and could never be depleted like a Magician's Mana. This was the reason why demons were the most formidable foe a Magician could ever face!

Although the Vulcan's Hand had now scattered, the demon didn't rush forward even though he'd escaped from the giant hand's grasp. Once its feet reached the ground the demon swiftly dodged sideways to avoid Eleanor's second Flame Blast.

The scorching flames licked the demon's skin, but it seemed to have made no harm to it at all. This was thanks to the demon's excellent instinct, as it quickly unleashed a burst of dark energy right before the Flame Blast hit it, otherwise its skin would surely have been crisp.

The fact that it was able to escape unscathed from Link and Eleanor's joint attacks meant that this demon would be one of the most powerful and formidable fighters in Firuman.

"Ha! This trick again? Pathetic!" Then, demon once again lunged towards Eleanor.

Then it was like a replay of the previous scene, as just when he moved forward another giant fiery hand caught it and held it in the air just as before. The demon's limbs grappled the air as it struggled to get away, it now looked just like a kitten that was held in a hand.

"I'll make you scatter again, stupid hand!" After getting attacked twice by the same method the demon erupted in anger. It bellowed as it unleashed another explosion of dark energy, this time its scream seemed to ring through the whole forest. Once again it managed to disperse the Vulcan's Hand, but this time he could sense the moment his feet reached the ground that something was shooting towards it from behind. It was a Whistle. Not the normal Whistle though, but a Sacred Silver Whistle!

"So, you're finally trying a new trick, huh?" jeered the demon.

The demon immediately felt the threat coming from behind and blocked the Whistle just in time with its arm blades.

Clang! Clang! Clang!

Because of its strong combat instincts, the demon blocked all of Link's Whistles with frightening precision and speed. But that wasn't all the Whistles could do.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

The Whistles exploded and sent fragments of Sacred Silver flying through the air. The flames from the explosions seemed to have swallowed up the demon's whole body.

But Whistle was ultimately just a Level-1 spell, so even though the metal fragments were quite deadly to humans and Dark Elves who had very low defenses, they were really no threat to the demons who had very strong and hardy skin.

All the demon felt when the metal fragments hit it was a slight prickly pain. It bent his head to examine its skin for a while and noticed that there were some shallow wounds, but that was nothing to get worried about. What was scary was how these cut wounds couldn't close up and how the dark energy around its body was slightly hampered and impeded now.

Those were the effects of the Sacred Silver.

The demon was momentarily stunned. It had never been attacked by anything like this before.

Just at that moment, Link triggered the Glyph of Soul and the Vulcan's Hand that had just dispersed re-emerged and once again clutched the demon's body in its palm.

"Ellie," shouted Link, "the Sacred Silver Whistle!"

Eleanor had mastered Whistle ever since Link had given her the scroll that contained its spell structure at the Magicians' Fair a while ago.

Eleanor was no longer afraid of the demon when she saw it clambering helplessly in Link's giant fiery hand. Her attitude and performance at the time were finally at the standard of a Level-6 Master Magician.

Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh!

One-by-one, the Whistles shot out of Eleanor's wand at a speed on par with Link's Whistles. She'd cast three Whistles in one second, and under her control they all headed towards the demon's head.

Bang, bang, bang!

The Whistles exploded, bringing about more Sacred Silver fragments all around the demon.

The strange attack had just wounded the demon not too long ago, so when it was hit with the same attack again the demon got even more confused. It had never faced this kind of spell before and had no idea how to defend itself from it. All this time his instincts had helped him win every battle, but once he's forced to face a novel attack the demon was stumped. With this dampened response it was then unable to disperse Link's Vulcan's Hand.

Which meant it was the perfect timing for Link to kill the demon!

A steady whistle rang out of the Vulcan's hand. It tightened its grasp on the demon abruptly, while its palm suddenly burst out in an intense bluish-white light-it was the fire elements of the Vulcan's Hand finally breaking out into its wild nature!

"Aaaaahhhhh!!!" the demon howled in pain. There was an explosion of the dark demonic energy around it again, protecting it from the screaming heat of the fiery hand. But by then, the Vulcan's Hand had already fully exploded and released an immense implosive force that pushed inwards at the demon, canceling out the outward pushing forces the dark energy had exerted on the Vulcan's Hand.

And so, the demon could no longer disperse the Vulcan's Hand this time, it could only resist its force.

However, although the dark energy in its body was immense, it still had its limits. The demon had already used a significant amount of energy in scattering the Vulcan's Hand twice and was now continuously exerting energy to protect himself from the Vulcan's Hand's force. It had already expended a great chunk of its energy reserve.

Finally, after ten seconds in the grasp of the Vulcan's Hand, the demon had emptied its dark energy. The flame then began to burn his body directly, and clouds of blue smoke billowed out. The scream in its throat then began to change its pitch and became so inhuman that it would curdle the blood of anyone who heard it.

The burning continued for another three seconds while the demon continued to scream. Just then, Link halted the Vulcan's Hand.

Thump!

A charred body covered with blue smoke slumped to the ground. The demon's skin was completely burned, and its raw flesh and blood were exposed. Surprisingly, the demon could still move. It squirmed on the ground, still attempting to escape, and its speed was increasing gradually.

Even its injuries were recovering in front of Link and Eleanor's eyes! What a tenacious will to live!

Unfortunately, though, its time had come.

Swish swish swish swish.

Link cast four Sacred Silver Whistles towards the demon and they quickly pierced through its hand and both its legs. Then the Whistles exploded simultaneously, nailing the demon to the ground.

The Sacred Silver in these four Whistles were refined from Mithril, so the effects on the demon were much stronger than the previous ones, enough to overpower the demon's defenses and pierce deep into the demon's body. Once the Sacred Silver made contact with the demon's blood, it would then suppress the dark energy inside its body.

This time, the demon would have no choice but be honest and spill out everything he knew.