Auselia could return to the Skeletal Fort anytime. The Divine Gear that she wielded indeed possessed terrifying power. Link and his group hence ran at full speed within the Soul Realm.
Two minutes later, they had successfully gotten out of the heart of the chilling and brutal Pralync Kingdom.
However, this was still less than a mile away from the Skeletal Fort. This distance wasn't far enough as they could still be easily located by the Dark Serpent. They had to keep moving forward.
"Speed up! Pick up the pace!" Link urged.
However, the others seemed to be struggling. They were not even traveling faster than an ordinary human.
"Link, my Battle Aura seems to be depleted," Annie said with a frown.
"My feet feel like lead. How can I only have such little strength?" Felina said as she trudged forward with Kanorse on her back. This would be an easy feat in the Physical Realm. However, in the Soul Realm, she felt completely exhausted after carrying him for only a short distance.
Link kept his gaze in the direction of the Skeletal Fort as he explained, "The change in the realm means a change in the principles and laws of the world. In the Soul Realm, the dominant physical force that we are used to will be suppressed. Instead, the power of the soul which we often overlook in the Physical Realm will be greatly magnified. In the Soul Realm, as long as one holds on to hope and faith, he will be granted unimaginable power."
Everyone was confused with Link's speech. They exchanged glances and saw the perplexed expression on each other's faces.
They could understand each and every word. However, when they were linked together to form a sentence, it seemed like some indecipherable code. This was embarrassing.
When Link got no reply, he turned around to see the dazed expression on everyone's faces and patted his forehead apologetically. He then decided to demonstrate it directly, "Watch carefully!"
Following which, they could see streaks of white light enveloping Link together with a dome of mild flame surrounding his exterior body. This was not a blinding brightness, but a mellow and gentle hue that extended to a foot around Link.
Before this, everyone was preoccupied with escaping and did not seem to notice this phenomenon. They now realized that Link was not the only one with this special veil over him. Every one of them possessed it as well, although none of them had a hue half as bright as Link's.
After some sort of comparison, among the eight of them, Link had the strongest glow, followed by Felina, who had a veil almost half as bright as Link. The third was Kanorse, although Kanorse's situation was slightly strange.
He was enveloped in a layer of greyish light instead. Closer inspection would reveal a few black snakes slithering in and out of his body. It looked extremely sinister.
Link explained as he ran forward, "This is commonly called the Light of the Soul. The stronger the soul, the brighter the brilliance, and thus the stronger you will be in the Soul Realm. Kanorse's situation...doesn't look too good."
Felina nodded in agreement as she was the one carrying Kanorse this whole time. She said, "His body feels ice cold, and I can vaguely hear a sinister hissing sound coming from his body. I'm afraid he is close to becoming completely demonized."
Hearing what the people beside him was saying, Kanorse unexpectedly spoke. He muttered in an extremely weak voice, "No, I can still hold on...he will not swallow my consciousness...ah..."
If he was still half-conscious, that meant that there was still hope.
Link stretched out his hand and leisurely fished the heavy and well-built Kanorse from Felina's shoulders. The ease at which he did the action made Kanorse seem as light as a balloon.
Everyone was dumbfounded at this action. What terrifying strength! After all, Link was a Magician. After being with him this entire mission, the scouts had a good understanding of his power and his physical strength. He definitely did not possess enough strength to lift Kanorse with such ease.
"Now you see. This is the power of the soul. I did not use much strength. I simply thought that I wanted to bring him over, and I imbued that action with enough trust and willpower. Following which, I was able to bring him over easily."
The scouts still seemed to be confused over this strange phenomenon, while Annie and Felina seemed to be thinking about something.
After a few seconds, Felina similarly stretched her hand and took over Kanorse from Link's shoulders. She seemed to be doing it with relative ease as well. She then laughed heartily and said, "I see what you mean now. Magician, you are indeed really knowledgeable."
Link nodded, "That is correct. Alright, we need to speed up. Trust me, all of you will be able to do it!"
These scouts were all elite scouts from the Norton Kingdom. After two successful demonstrations, they were able to achieve some sort of success with movement within the Soul Realm and were able to pick up the pace. This was especially so for Annie. Her speed in the Soul Realm was even faster than her top speed in the Physical Realm, allowing her to trail behind Link and Felina with ease.
"This is amazing."
"Hey Magician, if I believe that I am able to fly, will I really be able to fly in the Soul Realm?" Felina asked.
Link shook his head and answered, "That would be difficult. The laws of physics that bound the Physical Realm also apply to the Soul Realm. You would be able to fly if you believed hard enough, but it would come at a great cost. There is a limit to the power of the soul as well. Alright, we have to speed up, the master of the Skeletal Fort should be catching up soon."
They then began their escape with solemn expressions on their faces.
After half a minute, everyone suddenly felt that their hearts were especially heavy, as though a large stone was placed upon it. They then looked upwards and saw that the original grey sky had turned a few shades darker. The more terrifying thing was that their speed seemed to have decreased greatly, their legs feeling as though they were trudging through mud.
"What is happening?"
"How is this possible?"
"Is it here?" Felina turned to look at Link.
Link had a serious expression on his face as he turned to look at the sky above the Skeletal Fort. The rest followed his gaze and were horrified at what they saw.
A black-scaled anaconda at least 15 feet in width and more than 600 feet in length had appeared in the sky. It seemed to be levitating in the sky as though it was weightless.
The brilliance on its body was even more terrifying. From afar, it looked as though its body was encircled in pitch black flames from hell. Under the influence of these flames, the skies within a ten-mile radius had all turned many shades darker.
It looked as though the end was coming!
At this time, they were only a little more than a mile away from the Skeletal Fort. They could still clearly see the actions of this giant anaconda. Instead of chasing after them, the giant anaconda made a sucking action the moment it opened its mouth.
Immediately, they saw many souls flying towards the terrifying mouth. Although these souls looked emotionally numbed, they still gave a desperate scream of despair when they knew what was going to happen to them.
This was the cry of the soul and was especially traumatizing to an ordinary human. The scouts were completely heartbroken by the scene, and even the Dragon Warrior Felina went pale from the heart-wrenching scene.
Annie asked Link in a trembling voice, "Why is it devouring souls?"
Link signaled for everyone to keep running as he explained, "I have injured the wielder of the Divine Gear, Auselia, just now. In order to rescue Auselia, it had consumed some of its internal power. For a Divine Gear to maintain a stable presence in the World of Firuman, it needs to have a constant supply of energy. Alas, souls are the largest and most efficient source of energy one could ever find in this world."
Link decided to stop hiding the facts and came clean with what he knew.
The moment everyone heard this speech, they all staggered and tripped over their steps.
What did they just here? Divine Gear? Isn't it just a giant snake? Since when did it become a Divine Gear? What is their correlation?
Felina was as shocked as any one of the scouts. She suddenly remembered something and spoke with a voice that trembled violently, "The Dark Serpent...The weapon of the Spider Queen, Lolth? Oh, God of the Dragons, bless me, no wonder it could destroy the balance of the world! It is a Dark Divine Gear. To think that I am fighting against a Divine Gear-I must be mad!"
This was an even greater blow to the scouts. They had always thought the person in the Skeletal Fort was merely an extremely powerful Magician. They had never imagined it would be a Divine Gear at work.
Thinking back upon their actions of infiltrating the Skeletal Fort, everyone felt a chill down their spine.
"What do we do now? We will not be able to defeat the Divine Gear. We will not be able to escape," a scout cried in despair with a hint of whimpering in his voice.
Everyone looked at Link. The Magician who had gotten them safely out of many predicaments and seemed to be extremely knowledgeable was their last source of hope.
Link still had a calm expression on his face and not a shred of doubt could be seen. This was massively reassuring.
He spoke calmly and said, "Don't panic. There is nothing to fear. Although it is a Divine Gear, it is still merely a weapon and has its limitations. Look at it now; it seems to be alive in the Soul Realm, devouring souls like no tomorrow. In fact, it is merely a projection of the Divine Gear in the Physical World. Most likely, Auselia is currently using the weapon to absorb souls. Most importantly, she doesn't seem to have noticed us yet."
The Divine Gear was indeed strong. However, Auselia was not. The Divine Gear could bestow Auselia with many powerful skills, but it would not be able to increase her intelligence. This was Link's chance.
After hearing Link's words and making sure that the Divine Gear was merely absorbing souls while staying stationary, they managed to somehow suppress their feelings of fear.
Link then clapped his hands and encouraged, "Alright, we simply have to keep running until we are out of danger."
There was nothing more to say, and they ran for their lives at top speed.
Link followed behind the group and would look behind him from time to time to glance at the Dark Serpent's movements. As he watched, an in-game message appeared in his field of vision.
Triggering Epic Series Mission: Skeletal Fort Step 4
Content: Escape from Auselia's pursuit; Kanorse must stay alive and remain conscious.
Reward 1: 200 Omni Points
Reward 2: Level-7 Glyph of Soul
Two hundred Omni Points was not much. However, the Level-7 Glyph of Soul was extremely enticing. Link had once enjoyed the convenience that came with the Glyph of Soul and simply could not give this up. He accepted the mission without any hesitation and continued to run.
After two more minutes, he realized that the Dark Serpent in the sky had already stopped the devouring of souls. It started looking around and after ten seconds or so locked its gaze in Link's direction.
Link was horrified. Could he be exposed? However, it did not take him long before he realized what was happening. The Dark Serpent was not looking for him, but Kanorse. Kanorse was enveloped in the power of the Divine Gear, allowing the opponent to locate him easily.
In other words, if they did not dispel the snake venom in Kanorse's body, the group was akin to holding a torch in the darkness. They would never escape Auselia's pursuit.
This was horrible!
However, more horrible things started happening-the Dark Serpent in the sky started moving towards them!
Felina also realized the peculiar actions of the Dark Serpent and could not help but cry out, "It is coming towards us-such insane speed! What do we do?"
This was a Divine Gear. They had no intention of going up against it in a direct battle.
Link had naturally realized this as well. In fact, he had found more details, saying, "Don't panic, it's not the end yet. We are in the Soul Realm, and the opponent is unlikely to know where we are. Look at it; it is still looking for us!"
Everyone immediately looked over, and sure enough, the Dark Serpent was slithering around in the air without any direction. Although it was traveling in the correct general direction, it would sometimes make a wrong turn and was not exactly advancing towards them.
"Alright, we are heading north right now. We have to run at full speed. The moment we go past the Dark Forest and reach the Ice Peak Fortress, we will have won the battle!"
Everyone was excited at the thought and followed Link's footsteps. They made a detour before heading north.
In the Soul Realm, they were progressing at a much faster pace. They could cover 150 feet per second. As the distance between the Dark Serpent and the group widened, they regained confidence and their ability to run at an even faster speed. After running for more than half an hour, the Dark Serpent was already completely out of sight.
Link encouraged, "See, the Divine Gear is not as terrifying as we thought."
Upon seeing this scene, everyone heaved a sigh of relief and moved even faster forward.
After another hour, they had already covered over a hundred miles and were well into the Dark Forest. Many trees appeared in the Soul Realm, and in addition to the fact that there was no snow on the ground, the surface of the trees was also emitting a faint light. It looked almost exactly the same as the Physical Realm, only a bit dimmer.
Suddenly, Felina came to a stop and gasped, "That is weird; did you guys see a shadow run past?"
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