Ice Peak Military Fortress
In order to keep his mission a secret, Link stood in front of the fortress door clad in a low-level magic robe. He then shouted at the guards on the outer wall. "I am Mirose, a Magician from the East Cove Higher Magic Academy, here to join the army."
"Prove your identity!" the captain of the outer guards replied. He did not receive any news that a Magician from the academy would be arriving at the fortress today. If it were an ordinary Warrior, he would not even bother entertaining him. He might even order for him to be killed if he got too close. However, the other party now was a Magician; he had to be cautious.
Proving my identity? Link was slightly stunned at this request and thought for a moment before replying, "I am friends with a disciple of Dean Anthony named Marco. If you do not believe me, you can testify with him."
Although his mission was a secret, King Leon had already arranged everything beforehand. The alias Mirose was also one that they decided on together so as to ensure consistency.
The guard captain hesitated. He knew Marco personally and, in the past, such an action would be enough for him to let his guard down. However, the situation now was extremely tense. How would he know if this person was not a Dark Elf spy?
He then said, "Please wait while I get Marco here."
He then immediately turned around and walked towards the Mage Tower in the fortress. Link naturally could only wait outside the castle wall.
Ten minutes later, Magician Marco appeared on the castle wall with a perplexed look on his face.
Mirose? Who is that?
He received news two days ago that the academy would be sending a young Magician named Mirose over to the fortress. This news was exceptionally strange. He could not understand why the academy would send merely one Magician over. It would be fine if that Magician were strong and famous. However, Mirose...Could it be a name of a Magician's Apprentice?
From the castle wall, Marco looked down and saw a young man standing right outside the castle wall, looking at him with an inviting smile on his face.
Marco could recognize this person just from a glance-black hair and black eyes with a youthful demeanor. There was only one person in the entire academy who looked like that-the new Master Magician Link Morani!
He was, after all, a Level-4 Magician and could maintain his composure. Although he was excited and surprised at Link's arrival, he did not show any of those emotional fluctuations on his face and said, "He is someone from the academy. Let him in."
With his testimony, the guard captain was naturally relieved and ordered the guards beside him, "Open the gate."
The rattling sounds of gears could be heard as the drawbridge was lowered slowly to pave the way for Link's entrance. Before Link could enter the fortress, Magician Marco had already come out to welcome him.
After reaching Link's side, he looked around to make sure no one was looking before whispering in excitement, "Sir, I have been informed that a combat Magician would arrive. To think that it would be someone as prominent as you!"
Link had already made his name known throughout the Magician world reaching the status of a master at a tender age of 18 years old. His accomplishment of defeating a Level-8 demon with a Level-9 spell had also proved his overwhelming strength, just shy of reaching the Legendary status.
Under his dazzling brilliance, Wavier of the South, Eliard who managed to become a level-3 Magician in half a year, and other Magicians who call themselves genius all dimmed in comparison.
Link smiled meekly and corrected, "I am not a master. I am Mirose, a Level-2 Magician. Have you forgotten?"
"Oh, yes, yes. It is Mirose." Marco nodded.
Link headed into the fortress while Magician Marco followed hastily behind like a follower.
"Where is the Dawn Swordsman? Bring me to him." Link did not waste a single moment. He knew that the longer he stayed in the fortress, the likelihood of his identity being exposed would increase.
He was the nemesis of the Dark Elves, the criminal who killed the Constellation Assassin of the Norigan Familia. If the Dark Elves had noticed his arrival in the Dark Forest, they would definitely pursue him with all their might.
However, this sentence caused a frown to appear on Marco's face, his melancholy obvious.
Link suddenly got a bad premonition and said, "What happened?"
Marco whispered, "The pioneer group that the army sent out had been breached and annihilated by the Dark Elves. Kanorse had chosen to be the defensive force for that mission and is nowhere to be found. The Duke had sent out a rescue team for this purpose alone. Even Princess Annie went along this time around."
Link as startled at the news and paused, "When did this happen?"
"Just an hour before you arrived. The rescue team was just dispatched. However, the Dark Forest is infested with ghouls; I'm afraid this mission will also..." Marco did not complete his sentence, but his meaning was clear.
Link captured a single word in his entire speech and asked, "Ghouls? You mean the things that recently appeared in the Dark Forest?"
An expression of fear immediately appeared on Marco's face. "Yes, that's them! They are way too strong! The entire army is in a state of despair. The ghouls have nearly taken over the entire Dark Forest!"
Upon hearing those words, Link fell silent and stopped moving forward. He then heard the rattling sound of gears coming from behind him. The guards were retracting the drawbridge.
"It seems like I need to take action now. Marco, tell them to lower the drawbridge. I am setting off now." Link walked towards the fortress gate.
"Link...I mean, Mirose...alone?" Marco followed behind Link hastily as he signaled for the guards to lower the drawbridge.
"No, I will catch up with the rescue team and move together with them. The Duke made the right decision. The Dawn Swordsman's current state cannot be ambiguous! In fact, he must live!"
He needed the strength of the Dawn Swordsman to deal with the enhanced demonized Dark Elves called ghouls.
In ten years, the Dawn Swordsman would still be the strongest Warrior in the World of Firuman. By that time, he would have reached the highest Legendary level and be conferred the title of a Divine Swordsman. Eliard and he would be collectively called the two saints of the human race, serving as the two psychological pillars in the war.
These were sufficient reasons for Link to go out of his way to rescue Kanorse.
At this moment, the drawbridge had already been lowered. Link then cast a Cheetah's Agility onto himself and rushed out of the gate. He then cast a Level-0 levitation spell which increased his speed drastically to 150 feet per step. He then floated with ease down the slope of the Ice Peak, hastily making his way into the Dark Forest.
Before long, he reached the boundaries of the Dark Forest and seemed determined to enter the dangerous foothold of the Dark Elves.
A troop of guards looked at him from the castle walls with a stunned expression on their faces.
"That Magician is entering the Dark Forest alone? Is he insane?"
"Is he trying to commit suicide?"
"Did anyone of you realize that his spellcasting speed is extremely fast?"
"So what if he is fast? He is alone!"
The captain of the guards had already made his way down the castle walls and walked towards Marco. He then asked curiously, "Sir, what is going on with this Mirose guy?"
He had only just arrived but left immediately for the Dark Forest. What is going on?
Marco then stared as Link's figure disappeared into the shadows of the Dark Forest. He then shook his head, "Warrior, this is not something you should know."
If the Dawn Swordsman Kanorse was the pillar of support to all Warriors in the Norton Kingdom, then Link, the Magician who single-handedly defeated the great demon Tarviss would be a Legendary figure revered by all combat Magicians.
If he could not save Kanorse from this predicament, then possibly no one could.
The Dark Forest
Thirty-Five Elite Scouts clad in black leather armor rushed towards the enemy's base under their disguise and concealment. They were heading towards the vanguard camp to rendezvous with the surviving troops before infiltrating the enemy's base together to save the Dawn Swordsman.
The Scouts' eyes shone with a bladed resolve, though not a shred of hope could be found in those eyes. From the moment they entered the Dark Forest, they were prepared to give up their lives.
Caw! Caw! Caw!
A crow flew across them, seemingly mocking this group of human scouts who was overestimating their abilities.
The sound of their feet sinking into the thick layer of snow on the ground accentuated the sinister atmosphere of the Dark Forest. Among the scouts who were traveling in a scattered formation, four of them were gathered together. In the middle of this group was Annie Abel, the only daughter of the Iron Duke. She was closely protected by three guards surrounding her, ready to take any lethal blows for the princess the moment danger struck.
Although Annie did not want this to happen, this was her father's arrangement. She could only accept disdainfully.
All of her subordinates had already lost their lives in this northern war of the Dark Forest. The previous time when they were met with danger, almost all of the comrades delved into a frenzy trying to protect her with their own lives, creating opportunities for her to escape.
At that moment, she saw Aldivin's head getting completely severed by a ghoul. The blood from his neck spurted nearly three feet into the air as his eyes from the severed head still shone with camaraderie and rage. She also saw Molly's petite body being torn in two by the ferocious ghouls. Despite the brutal treatment she was subjected to, she still held on tightly to the ghoul's leg, even so after she had lost consciousness. She had seen way too many sacrifices. Yet, she was still alive.
She then looked at the scouts surrounding her. She saw three pairs of eyes bursting with youth and hope for a better tomorrow. They were just like Aldivin and Molly, people who were supposed to be enjoying the vibrancy of their youth.
Annie could not help but feel a sharp ache in her heart upon seeing those faces. The scene from that fateful night was still etched deeply in her mind. Her heart convulsed with despair, seemingly dripping blood with every beat.
She hated that she was of noble blood. If not, she would have fought to her death with the ghouls as well. That would probably be better than living while shouldering the sacrifices she had witnessed and endless pain she was going through.
Suddenly, the captain of the scouts raised his hand to signal for them to stop. The scouts then immediately froze in their tracks before finding cover to hide.
Annie then hid behind a fallen tree.
The forest had become exceptionally quiet. The chirping of the birds and screeching of the insects had instantly disappeared, leaving only the sound of the howling wind. It was as though all life in the Dark Forest had momentarily vanished into thin air. Annie then stole a glance at the tree she was hiding behind. She saw a small lizard who seemed to be moving in an eccentric manner. It quickly hid inside the fallen tree, as though it was afraid of something. It was not just the lizard. The ants, caterpillars, spiders and all other small insects were fleeing the area in fear.
Annie had once witnessed such a scene. She knew what was happening.
Her heart thumped violently and held her dagger tightly in her hands. Although it was still not sufficient to kill a ghoul, her dagger smeared with holy water would pose a threat to the ghouls.
The atmosphere had instantly become oppressive. Annie saw that all of the scouts clutched their daggers tightly while their bodies trembled. This was not due to the adrenaline before a battle, but due to fear.
The strong gust of wind could be felt followed by the sighting of a shadow moving at high speed.
Annie gave a long sigh and surprisingly felt more calm than ever. They had been discovered. The ghouls were here. This would be the final battle of her life.
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