19 Meeting the Demon Princess, Again.


 Attacking Magician's magic was useless. The most effective way was actually to attack the Magician himself. Every Magician knew that; Holmes knew it, and so did Link.

Link reacted immediately at the sight of the monstrous six-foot tall hound bounding towards him.

"Grease!"

A faint beam of light shot out of the hailstorm, landing on the ground in front of the Earth Hound and spreading out like a puddle of oil. The ground of the alleyway instantly became as slippery as ice, stopping 15 feet before and after where Link stood.

"You and your little tricks!" Holmes sneered. Grease was a Level-0 Spell. Overcoming it was a simple task for other Magicians.

"Sand!"

Bright light shot out of Holmes' staff. A small whirlwind containing vast amounts of sand suddenly appeared in the small alley. The spell suddenly disintegrated when the whirlwind blew onto the surface affected by Grease, covering the surface with rough grains of sand.

The Earth Hound ran over the ground safely, rapidly approaching Link and reaching the hailstorm in no time. It charged into the Lesser Hailstorm fearlessly despite the sharp shards of ice.

Link was now 130 feet away from Holmes. It was still further than his spells could reach, but his target was Holmes, not the Earth Hound.

In response to the Earth Hound bounding at him, Link did two things.

First, he canceled the trailing effect of the Lesser Hailstorm on himself. Second, he leapt backwards and then to one side using Cat's Agility. Under the protection of Guarding Barrier, he left the safe zone of the Lesser Hailstorm and evaded the Earth Hound's attacks.

Leaving the hound to deal with the Lesser Hailstorm behind him, Link strode towards Holmes and pointed his wand at the ground behind him. "Vector Resistance Field!" he cried.

The air warped around the tip of Link's wand. At first glance, they looked like the heat waves left behind by a rocket.

The force field smashed onto the ground. Link, with one foot in the air after having taken a step forward, was pushed by the force field which had just bounced off of the ground. The rebound energy launched him high into the air.

Behind him, the Earth Hound turned. It had its eyes set on Link and Link alone. It rushed out of the Lesser Hailstorm and pounced at Link with its jaws wide open. But just then, Link shot forward, leaving it to close its jaws on thin air.

In that moment, Link flew towards Holmes at breakneck speed. The monstrous hound, however, caught up from behind, poised to bite Link's head off with just a snap of its jaw.

He would die when he landed. Link had only a fraction of a second to react!

Within that split second, Link focused his attention so intensely that the world around him seemed to slow down. Raising the New Moon Wand, he pointed at a fist-sized pebble on the ground.

Vector Throw! Vector Throw! Vector Throw!

Link had cast the Level-1 Spell three times within the blink of an eye!

A pebble flew off the ground towards Holmes each time he cast the spell. Despite taking only 0.3 seconds to cast, the pebbles flew swiftly and accurately towards their mark.

He hadn't been called an Archmage for nothing.

Throwing a pebble with Vector Throw, Link had never missed his mark-so long as it was within 100 feet.

Holmes' Swift Spellcasting ability was limited to casting Fireballs; those were his specialty. But each spell's mechanism was different. It was impossible for him, a mere Level-2 Magician, to perform a Swift Spellcasting skill with each of the countless spells in the universe. Thus, Holmes' spellcasting was far slower than Link's for all other spells.

Anticipating Link's next move, Holmes casted a defensive spell.

The reason was simple. His opponent was protected by a Level-2 Guarding Barrier. His Fireballs wouldn't be effective even if they managed to hit the human Magician. On the other hand, he himself would be vulnerable to the Vector Throws.

Holmes was a Magician, not a Warrior. Further, he was neither agile nor fortified with supporting spells such as the Cat's Agility. It would be difficult for him to duck or evade the oncoming, bullet-like pebbles.

The rocks were aimed right at his head. If even one of them hit their target, he would definitely be heavily wounded. He couldn't afford to let any of them get close!

He had neither enough time nor Mana to cast a Level-2 Spell. Holmes came to a quick decision.

"Ice Shield!"

Ice Shield

Level-1 Spell

Effect: Forms a shield of ice with water elements. An exceptional defense against both elemental magic and physical attacks.

The Vector Throw had been used on a pebble. It was a classic physical attack. Using the Ice Shield was the right choice.

Throughout this exchange, the only mistake Holmes had made, was to underestimate Link's spellcasting speed.

Link had cast the Level-1 Vector Throw Spell in less than 0.3 seconds. For Ice Shield, a spell of the same skill level, Holmes had taken slightly more than 0.4 seconds.

When the first pebble reached Holmes, he had only just cast the Ice Shield. Holmes had chosen the spell carefully based on his estimation of the time the pebble would take to reach him.

With a resounding clunk, the Ice Shield just managed to stop the pebble in its path. However, smashed to smithereens, the Ice Shield spell also disintegrated.

The next pebble followed right after the first.

Holmes wasn't fast enough to cast an Ice Shield in time. Facing the possibly fatal blow, he had no choice but to pull out his ace.

A ring flashed on his left middle finger. Light flowed from it, covering Holmes' entire body. It was similar to the Guarding Barrier Link wore, but it was neither as thick nor as bright.

It was a Level-1 Guarding Barrier. Link wore its upgraded version, Level-2 Guarding Barrier.

There was one problem, however. Guarding Barrier was a spell designed to defend against elemental magic. It was exceptionally effective against elemental attacks such as fireballs and wind blades, but it performed poorly when it came to physical attacks.

The pebble reached Holmes the moment the Guarding Barrier was completed. Thwock! It smashed onto Holmes' forehead with deadly accuracy.

The inferior Guarding Barrier presented some resistance towards the pebble, reducing some of the force, but most of it was still transferred onto Holmes' head.

Holmes' jerked back, his head dizzy, as he cut off the second Ice Shield which he had been in the middle of casting.

Horror filled his dark red eyes. "How can this kid cast spells so quickly?!"

It was terrifying. He didn't cast just the one spell quickly, but all of them!

Thwock! The incoming third pebble landed a second blow on Holmes' forehead.

His guarding barrier's first attempt at slowing the Vector Throw presented almost no resistance against the last remaining pebble.

Just picture a fist-sized pebble going at the speed of 160 feet per second towards someone's head. It was more than enough to knock someone out. With some luck on Link's side, it could even kill.

Link saw a faint depression on Holmes' forehead. Holmes' eyes rolled up as he fell backwards.

He'd been knocked out, that was certain. But was he dead yet?

Link finally landed on the ground, running a few steps to carry forward his remaining momentum.

The Earth Hound had been just two feet behind him, now at a crossroad between life and death.

Without its spellcaster sustaining it, the Earth Hound froze and cracked. One second later, the huge hound crumbled into a pile of sand with soft fwoosh.

"Vector Throw!" Link cast the Level-1 Spell once more, dealing out the finishing blow.

Thwock! This time, his attack landed on Holmes' temple, leaving another depression there. Without a flinch, groan nor sigh, Holmes' breathing, which had already been faint, stopped.

He was dead.

Throughout the battle, which had started with Holmes' ambush and ended with his demise, Link had used a Level-0 Spell, eight Level-1 Spells, and a Level-2 Spell, all of which had cost him 80 Mana Points, leaving him with just 38 Mana Points and 10 Omni Points left.

Looking at Holmes' dead body, Link stroked the now dull Band of Protection he wore. In his heart, he heaved a sigh of relief. Thank goodness I took the bracelet. Otherwise, I might have died.

Link's victory was partly due to his super-fast spellcasting, but the advantage the Level-2 Guarding Barrier Spell had was also an undeniable part of it.

Walking over, he picked up Holmes' magic staff.

Fire Crystal Staff

Quality: Sterling

Effect 1: Spells +30% power.

Effect 2: Spellcasting speed of fire elemental magic +10%

"This is good! So much better than the New Moon Wand. It can even increase my spellcasting speed. No wonder Holmes' Fireballs are like bullets from a gun, a lot of it was probably thanks to this staff."

Just then, a notification appeared in the corner of his eye.

Annie Abel has reached the city guard barracks.

Escort Mission completed.

Game Player Link receives 30 Omni Points.

Link now had 30 Omni Points more, which represented significant power. He smiled, but it turned bitter soon enough.

The reason was quite clear-dark figures surrounded him. It was the Dark Elf Assassins; they had caught up.

Link wasn't surprised, though. He had been prepared to face this when he had stayed behind to fight Holmes.

The Assassins don't seem to be in a rush to attack. Are they afraid? Or do they want to capture me alive and send me to the Black Forest?

The former seemed more likely. Holmes had died, leaving the Dark Elf Assassins without a leader. Avenging Holmes was probably the first thing on their minds, but they refrained due to the fear of Link's powers.

The Dark Elves were a threat larger than any he had ever faced tonight, but he still stood a chance.

Leaning onto the Fire Crystal Staff, Link stood. He had 40 Omni Points. He wondered how he would escape as the Dark Elf Assassins hesitated.

Suddenly, a mocking but sweet-sounding voice rang out from beside him. "Link, you're giving up just like that? Why aren't you playing the hero anymore?"

The voice, infinitely familiar, made Link's heart skip a beat. He traced the voice to its source, a petite figure beside him.

It belonged to a woman with long black hair, eyes like the darkest night, a pair of little horns on her head, incredibly delicate features and red, soft lips that betrayed just a hint of the pair of small, sharp teeth that lay beneath them. The simple short robes she wore did nothing to hide the perfect curves of her small waist. Her trousers clung tightly to a pair of perfect, long legs. All the details brought erotic, sensual thoughts to mind.

It was the Demon Princess, the NPC who had stolen Link's heart!

With one hand raised to hold a hemisphere that looked like it had been made of obsidian, she left her other hand on her waist. Seen in profile, her pose accentuated her perfect curves as she turned to look at Link with interest. It was a tempting sight indeed.

Link was stunned. His heart racing, he hastily averted his eyes to the magic shield protecting them.

The shield was very strong. A group of Dark Elf Assassins attacked it with all their might. Yet, all was calm within.

Link recognized it. It was the Level-5 Dark Magic Spell, Obsidian Barrier. He put two and two together.

No wonder he had felt that she was familiar. Celine was Celine Flandre. What he had seen earlier was just her human guise. This was her true form.

"You... you're Celine?"

Link asked even as he thought, Celine Flandre. So we meet again.