Ferde Wilderness, Dusk.
There were over 15 of these infiltrators. They moved at an extremely fast speed and scattered the moment they entered the territory. When Link was running up the small hill on the Wind Fenrir, the fastest one was already more than 150 feet away.
Furthermore, these infiltrators were making use of the Ferde Wilderness' terrain to hide themselves from Link's vision.
Link glanced around before decisively charging towards a figure in the front.
From the sneak attack previously, the leader of this mission said only a total of two words. He even snuck into the crowd before giving the signal to begin and wore the same black leather armor as his other underlings. However, Link had already detected the faint fluctuations in his Battle Aura and locked onto his target.
This black leather armored infiltrator was running for his life across the Ferde Wilderness. He would look behind him every so often while wearing an expression of panic.
The distance between Link and himself gradually closed up from 150 feet to 135 feet, and then, 120 feet. The area in front of them was an open field and no longer provided any form of shelter for the infiltrators. Link was prepared to land the first strike.
However, Celine, who was currently in his arms suddenly shouted, "Link, stop! It's dangerous!"
Link had a shred of doubt in his heart when he saw the flustered expression and movements of this infiltrator. He seemed completely different from the time when he calmly commanded the infiltration scheme. He should have been a lot more composed.
Link hence suspected that he was merely putting up an act.
Celine's warning then further proved his suspicions, and he immediately pulled the Wind Fenrir to a stop.
The moment he halted his movements, Link could feel a faint magic fluctuation emanating from the ground. He then cast an Eagle's Eye spell on himself and observed the peculiarities on the ground. What he saw came as a great shock to him.
Through the thin layer of gravel on the ground cleverly used as a disguise, Link saw a sinister, dark-colored glow which exuded an extremely faint dark energy. From the fluctuations, it was a dark magic circle Level-6 in strength!
If Celine had not warned him about the dangers, he would have not noticed this faint fluctuation and would have rushed right into this magic circle. Following which, both of them would be gravely injured if he had failed to react in time to this trap.
Link felt a shiver down his spine.
He then looked around for the leader of the infiltrators, but he was already nowhere to be found. The leader had kept his full power hidden previously. However, the moment he realized that his trump card had not worked to his favor, he immediately made the decision to escape.
The traveling speed of these infiltrators was outrageous as well; they were no slower than the ghouls in the Dark Forest.
Who the hell are these guys? How strong are they? Link still had many questions he still had not figured out. Although Wavier's name was on the letter, Link felt that it was only a framing technique employed by the infiltrators.
"How sinister!" Link frowned. He then moved a total distance of 30 feet backwards before firing a Glass Orb towards the dark magic circle.
Boom! The magic circle was activated, and a 15-foot-tall pillar of ghastly blue flames erupted from the ground. It then rose to a height of 90 feet before disintegrating slowly. Despite being more than 30 feet away from the heart of the spell, Link could still feel the heatwaves on his skin.
"Level-6 spell, the Heart of the Abyss." Link heaved a sigh of relief and felt Celine trembling from behind. He then held her hand and comforted, "It's okay. Even if we stepped on it, I would transport you away using teleportation."
Celine merely nodded before saying, "Link, will my nightmare really come true?"
She was starting to understand her newfound strength better. She realized that in the face of imminent danger, an extremely clear premonition would appear in the mind, even to the point of generating a clear image in her head. Previously, she stopped Link simply because she saw the ghastly blue pillar of flames in her mind.
Link then assured, "It will not. From the moment you told me the nightmare, the future had already begun to change."
As Link spoke, he gazed in the direction of the port. From that direction, he could not feel the presence of the High Elf Princess Milda. He thus had no more clues on where to carry on the search.
Link then rode the Wind Fenrir back down the hill and ordered it to circle the area while he carefully observed its perimeter.
"There are 35 crossbow arrows on the ground. The opponent had only fired 22 crossbow arrows previously. The remaining 13 should be the ones that were fired when Milda passed through. However, there are no remnants of any magic fluctuations in this area. The two High Elves seemed to have disappeared into thin air...Wait, this is a blood stain!"
Link concentrated and willed a few gravel on the ground towards him. He then observed the blood stains on the rocks. They were dark red in color, similar to the blood stains of humans. He then placed them close to his nose and picked up a faint forest fragrance from the rocks.
"This is blood from the High Elves. They must be injured."
"But where did they go?" Celine asked while frowning.
"They must have used a transportation spell. However, the furthest distance of a transportation spell is no more than a mile. They must have continued escaping on foot after that. We have no idea where they went."
Although a mile was not a far distance, the other party was injured and in a state of panic. They would only be concentrating on their own survival and would do anything possible to conceal their presence. They would also run as far away from the battle site as possible, making it difficult for anyone to locate them.
Link was wondering if Milda would even accuse him of being the mastermind behind this assassination, causing her to avoid him all the more.
However, the problem lay with the Assassins. They must also be looking for the High Elves. Judging from their injuries, they would be doomed if they were ever discovered by the enemy.
They had gone missing on his territory, and Princess Milda was coincidentally the eldest daughter of the High Elf queen. She was also the top candidate for the next elf queen. If he could not bring her back safely to the Isle of Dawn, he would have no end of it from the High Elves.
After thinking for a moment, Link turned and bolted straight towards the coastline.
He possessed the fresh blood of a High Elf. While this might be useless in his hands, Vance might be able to track a person using this blood. As long as he could determine Milda's exact location, he could travel there and rescue her immediately.
As Link thought, he increased the speed of the Wind Fenrir and ran at full speed towards Vance.
However, Link stopped merely after a few steps. He then hesitated for a while before charging in the opposite direction straight towards Scorched Ridge.
"Weren't you prepared to find Vance? Why have you turned back?" Celine said. She truly was an intelligent woman. She had already guessed Link's intention despite his silence all this while.
Link then shook his head as he said, "My return trip to Scorched Ridge is an impromptu decision. The enemy's sneak attack will naturally be an impromptu one as well. However, you predicted in your nightmare that the territory would be in great danger. It is not worth it to save a High Elf Princess in exchange for over 8000 lives on the territory."
The refugees from the Delonga Kingdom had been traveling north in big batches towards the Ferde Wilderness. Merchant Warter had also been extremely efficient in bringing in slaves which caused the population of the territory to rocket upwards. Scorched Ridge was now a little town of nearly 10000 residents.
"But if the High Elf Princess were to die, you would be in trouble."
"That is indeed troubling, but the High Elves has more than one princess." Link had clearly thought this through.
This was an impromptu attack. The enemy had already managed to set-up an ambush party and even drew up a Level-6 magic circle. Both of them required delicate planning, craftsmanship, and more importantly, time. They should not be able to launch an attack on both sides in a short amount of time.
Since Milda had already suffered the brunt of the attack, Romilson should be safe. He should already be brought back safely to the territory by the two Master Magicians.
Romilson would then become Link's perfect alibi. This was because Link had stayed with them the entire time since East Cove Higher Magic Academy and had no time to arrange such a complicated set-up.
It was this exact thought that helped Link make the decision to give up on rescuing the princess and protect his own territory instead. Politics was all about interests after all. As the lord of the territory, Link was responsible for the safety of his residents.
The return trip to the territory was smooth. Traveling at the top speed of the Wind Fenrir, they reached the east gate of the camp around five minutes later.
At this moment, the sky had already darkened, and the east gate was closed. There was a large number of soldiers patrolling the castle walls. Link then cast an illumination spell on himself to reveal his identity.
Link did not wait for the soldiers to open the door. He commanded the Wind Fenrir to leap forward. The moment the Wind Fenrir was airborne, he then cast a Weight Reducing spell on it, allowing it to leap to a height sixty feet tall. The Wind Fenrir then leaped comfortably over the castle wall without any obstructions.
The security within the camp was also heightened. The moment Link entered the camp, he immediately canceled the casting of Wind Fenrir and whispered to Celine, "Follow me closely, don't get lost."
He felt that the entire Scorched Ridge was unsafe.
"I know." Celine followed closely behind Link.
After a few steps, Gildern came forward to welcome them. Link then asked, "Has Master Grenci returned?"
Gildern then reported the good news, "Master Grenci, Master Ferdinand, and the High Elf named Romilson are all back safely."
Link immediately felt rejuvenated and said, "That's great. Where are they now?"
"Inside Master Grenci's abode."
Link then felt a weight lifted off his shoulders and asked, "What about Dorias, is he back?"
Gildern then had a worried expression on his face as he said, "We can't seem to find him anywhere. He would usually be back by this time. We have no idea where he went."
"Understood." Link could not do anything about this issue either. A tiger with such a monstrous size and outrageous speed would be impossible to find in the night. He could only pray for his safety.
Link then took Celine towards the Magician's residential area in the Scorched Ridge. The Scorched Ridge was only a few hundred feet in radius. They reached Master Grenci's quarters within three minutes.
After a few knocks, the door opened as Grenci's weathered face appeared behind the door. He then glanced around, seemingly searching for the High Elves. A frown then appeared on his face as he said, "Something happened?"
Link nodded as he took out the rocks stained with blood and said, "Celine and I gave chase and were ambushed by a team of Assassins. After defeating them, I found this on the ground. It should be clear that Princess Milda and Latour suffered injuries from the ambush and left using a transportation spell. As for their exact location, we were not able to locate them."
"Please come in." Grenci then invited them in.
Link saw Romilson the moment he entered the room. Romilson was completely pale and even had a blood stain on his elbow. He looked disheveled and seemed to have gone through some tough times. Upon seeing Link, he instinctively searched the room and asked with a hoarse voice, "Where is the princess? Why didn't she come back?"
"This was all I found when I arrived." Link then placed all the rocks stained with blood on the table.
Romilson face grew even paler as he grabbed these rocks and sniffed them as if in a trance. Half a minute later, with god knows what method, he muttered, "Latour is already dead, his blood is not showing any signs of life. The princess is still alive, though she has suffered heavy injuries. This will not do; I have to find her now."
"How will you do that? I believe you have met those Assassins as well; how will you deal with 15 Assassins at once?" Link asked.
"There are 15 of them?" Romilson was close to losing his consciousness from the shock. He had met four Assassins on his way to the academy and was already lucky to escape alive. If not for the timely arrival of Master Grenci and Master Ferdinand, he would definitely be dead. Going through with this mission with the knowledge that 15 Assassins were lying in wait would simply be suicide.
However, the princess must not die. If the princess died while he stayed alive, he would become the disgrace of his family!
"I have to rescue her! The princess' blood can guide me towards her; I will be able to find her!" Romilson stood up and was prepared to leave.
Link was just about to stop him when roaring sounds could be heard from outside the door, "Enemy...!"
After only half a sentence, the voice seemed to be cut off by some sinister force.
A large number of screams could be heard. The frequency and despair from those screams were enough to make anyone's hair stand on end.
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