Chapter 352: A Vague Calling
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
"Master, there's a strange looking mountain up ahead with smoke coming from the top," Nana said while running, sounding a little out of breath.
Link was still groggy, but under the influence of the warm feeling coursing through his body, he was starting to feel much better. Hearing what Nana said, he forced his eyes open to look at the mountain.
They were currently surrounded by a plain, with grass about half a human's height. Far away, there was a city while directly in front of them was a forest with sparse trees. The forest extended up to half the side of the mountain.
Going further up, there were no more trees, only grass, moss, and stones. Even further up, the grass disappeared. Only the black rocks remained. Beyond that was the peak of the mountain, and as Nana said, there was a column of smoke coming from the peak.
It was a truly unique shape, and Link immediately recognized the place. "This is a live volcano. We have reached the central regions of the Norton Kingdom. This volcano is called the Azzaro Volcano, and it erupts once every ten years. At its peak is a lava hole with hot magma inside. That's why it is constantly emitting smoke."
"Oh." Nana looked very interested. However, they were currently being pursued by flying demons and climbing the hill would cause them to lose a lot of speed. She prepared to circle around the mountain.
"Don't circle around it. Just go right up. There are magma holes on the way up; we'll use it to shake them off!" Link said. He was very familiar with the complex network of tunnels within the volcano.
In the game, there was an entry level duplicate of the Azzaro mountain. In his previous life, Link had explored it over 200 times and was so familiar with the paths that he could close his eyes and walk through it without getting lost. This was definitely the best place to get rid of their pursuers.
Getting rid of the pursuers was one reason. There was actually something else that Link desired from this place.
When he first laid eyes on the mountain, he thought of the high temperatures of the lava inside it. For some reason, he felt that he had to go and take a look at it, as though there was something summoning him there.
It was a very strange feeling, and as a Magician, Link's emotions were usually calm and controlled. With the exception of the excitement that comes with studying new spells, his heart was always as cool and calm as still water.
This feeling that suddenly arose in his heart was very unusual, and despite there being no explanation for it, Link decided to trust the feeling.
Anyway, there was no harm in taking a look at the lava.
Nana originally wanted to head there anyway, so once Link instructed her to go up the mountain, she continued on a straight path heading up the mountain.
The Winged Howlers were already less than 1500 feet away. Although the two parties were traveling at roughly the same speed, Nana was restricted by the geography of the land and also had to consider Link's safety. Gradually, the demons were catching up.
At this point, the demons noticed Nana heading towards the mountain peak. They laughed uproariously. "Come on brothers! We'll go ahead to surround them!"
Climbing up the hill would definitely take more time and cause Nana to slow down. Furthermore, they had to go up a winding path. Compared to her, the demons could fly, so the mountain terrain was definitely no problem for them.
They would easily catch up at this rate.
When Nana brought Link to the side of the mountain, the demons had already caught up to within 600 feet and were quickly gaining on them.
"To the left, about 600 feet away, do you see that grey rock?" Link pointed.
"Dash right there."
In two seconds, Nana circled around numerous mountain rocks to reach the place where Link had pointed out. By this time, the Winged Howlers were already 300 feet closer.
"Go around to the back of this stone. There is a flat piece of wall... See it? Kick it down as hard as you can!" Link instructed.
Nana kicked it with her foot. Crash. The wall crumbled to reveal a gaping wide tunnel mouth. She dashed into the cave.
Link cast a Level-0 Light Spell to light the way, conserving his Mana as much as possible.
Just this beginner level magic spell made Link's head hurt. If not for the game system giving him the weakened soul status notification, he would have thought that his mana was forever ruined.
The moment they entered the cave, the Winged Howlers arrived at the tunnel entrance.
There were 11 demons in total gathered outside the 6-foot-tall cave. They looked at each other.
"Is this Magician a mouse? Why is he always running into caves?" The previous time in the Wailing Gorge as well as this time, Link had escaped through cave tunnels that they, being 12 feet tall, had no way to enter.
"The tunnel is actually not that small. We could destroy the entrance and enter. More importantly, how did they know there was a cave here?" One of the demons gestured, pondering.
"They must have been here before and are very familiar with the place. In that case, if we enter, we're definitely in trouble."
"Then what do we do?"
"Let's wait for the commander."
Therefore, the group of demons waited outside the tunnel for charm demon Misamier.
Misamier's wings were broken by Link. She had to travel here on foot, and her speed was much slower. The demons waited for over an hour before Misamier finally arrived.
"What are you doing? Where's the Magician?"
One demon pointed at the tunnel entrance. "They're inside. They clearly know this place very well. We had no other choice but to wait for your orders."
At this moment, Misamier had recovered her battle strength. She walked towards the cave entrance to check it out. Looking at the dark tunnel mouth, she bit her lip. "The Magician is struggling to even cast a spell. He's extremely weak now, and the only thing we need to beware of is his puppet. No matter how strong the puppet is, there's only one of it. We'll just follow him in!"
This chance to kill Link was definitely hard to come by. If they missed it, once Link recovered, they might have to face a Legendary-level Magician!
Upon hearing her orders, the Winged Howlers glanced at each other. Then, one of them walked up and slashed through the stone wall. Crash. In an instant, the tunnel entrance expanded to 24 feet tall and 15 feet wide.
"Since it's so broad, I'm relieved!" One Winged Howler said. He was worried that the space would be too narrow and that his opponents would make use of their small size to hide and launch sneak attacks. He wouldn't even know how he died. Seeing that the space was broad, he would be able to make use of his body size and strength and was less afraid.
"Go, go in," Misamier ordered.
The Winged Howlers lined up in a row and entered the tunnel. After 150 feet, the demon at the front said, "Commander, there is a fork up ahead."
"Can you smell which way they've gone?" Misamier asked from the middle of the party.
The sound of people sniffing came from the front. After a while, the demon replied, "There's the smell of humans on both sides. Furthermore, this tunnel is open, and there's wind coming through. There's no way to know which way they've gone."
"Well, we've got 12 people here including myself. That's six a side. We'll split up and search," Misamier said after some consideration.
Then, she immediately started splitting the demons up.
Among the demons, six were Level-7, and five were Level-8. After splitting them up, there were four Level-8 and two Level-7 demons on one side, and one Level-8 and four Level-7 demons on the other as well as herself. The battle strength of both teams was equal.
"Alright, let's go. If you find anything, call out immediately. We'll rush over."
The two teams of demons walked into the left and right lava tunnels respectively.
After about another 300 feet, the demon in the lead position called out again, irritated, "Commander, there's another fork in the road. This time, there are three paths."
Misamier walked forward to take a look. Up ahead was a wide chamber with 4 paths leading into it. One of those paths was the one they were currently on, while the other three paths led deeper into the mountain. There was a smell of sulfur coming out of every tunnel, as well as the scent of humans.
Right now, they had only 6 people. If they were to split themselves up into three teams like before, they would not be able to deal with a sneak attack from the magic puppet.
"This damn hole!"
Misamier cursed silently. After thinking for a moment, she said to the other Level-8 demon, "We'll take two demons each and search two routes. You take that one, I'll take this. Remember to leave down markings along the way and don't get lost. Call if you find anything."
Misamier had fought against Nana before. She knew that Nana possessed the strength of a Level-8 Warrior, therefore, with a Level-8 demon in the team, even if they could not defeat Nana, they could drag for time for her to arrive.
"Okay." The demon had some reservations, but he had no choice.
The two teams proceeded into their respective tunnels.
Outside the tunnel, a small figure appeared. It was the female Yabba Melinda. She carried a cannon about the size of a human. There was also a bag attached to her waist with a black cat inside. At the moment, she was struggling to climb up a large rock.
"Where did they go?" Melinda wiped the sweat off her forehead. After rushing the entire way here, she was truly exhausted. The wound on her leg was also hurting and seemed to be opening up, and blood could be seen flowing out of it.
However, she did not care. She was only concerned with one thing, saving Link! If she could, she wouldn't mind sacrificing her soul to do it.
"It's jusshhtt up ahead. Look, there'sh a tunnel entranshe up ahead. Jushhtt go in there. But you musshhtt be careful, the demonsh also entered the tunnel," said the black cat. Due to its teeth being broken, the black cat's speech was airy and unclear. Its mouth was covered in blood, and the fur on its head was also crumpled and messy. It looked somewhat pitiful.
Right now, it had only one thought, and that was to find Link. Once it found Link, it would quickly get far away from this crazy Yabba woman and return to his side.
Although Link's methods were harsh, he was willing to negotiate with the cat, unlike the Yabba woman. For no apparent reason, she had started abusing it. How pitiful!
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