Whatever was happening to Viktor got more and more horrific.
Smoky vapors flowed into his nostrils, and his body began to shake violently. Then, a scarlet gas surged out from his skin's pores, circulated around his body, and turned into a sturdy blood-red shield.
Within the shield, Viktor's build and figure visibly became stronger and stronger!
Link was overwhelmed by a looming sense of danger as he witnessed this grotesque event unfold in front of him-he'd seen something like this happen before!
It occurred in the East Cove Magic Academy, probably half a year after the game was launched. It was also the reason behind an infamous accident that happened in the academy.
There was a Level-6 Magician called Bale there who was caught researching dark magic without permission. He was, in fact, working on the most sinister branch of dark magic-demon summoning. Indeed, when he was discovered, it was right at the time when he was performing a ritual to summon the demons!
The dean of the academy, Master Magician Anthony, assembled many Level-6 Master Magicians to stop Bale's summoning. However, due to the clash of the spells, Bale's Mage Tower collapsed and the elements pooled together in high quantities until it reached an overload, resulting in a violent eruption that swept these elements across half of the academy.
But it didn't stop there!
When Bale was killed, a black crystal appeared on his body, which absorbed all of Bale's blood. He was then resurrected as a horrible undead monster!
This monster not only knew all of Bale's spells, it also had a very strong anti-magic body. When it was in a battle with the Master Magicians of the academy, the strange monster had crushed the demon Tarviss's seal barrier, causing the demon to re-emerge and escape.
When Link was participating in this mission in the game, he had seen with his own eyes how the Master Magician Bale had been raised from the dead, and it was a sight he would never forget!
And now, Viktor's body was transforming in exactly the same way!
"Quick! We have to get out of here!" shouted Link.
The black crystal was called Occultic Runes. It contained countless amounts of prohibited dark magic runes, and when it was stimulated by fresh blood, it could enable the blood's owner to possess demonic power!
After this occult transformation, the person would lose their humanity and become ruthless and bloodthirsty. In addition, their strength and power would increase at least twofold, and their skin would be endowed with potent anti-magic capacity, becoming a barrier that blocked external elements. In short, the transformation would turn them into a vicious killing machine!
Even though the process of occult transformation could be halted, it required a massive amount of energy, at least as powerful as the runes' creator. But the creator of these magic runes was an extraordinary demon, while the strength of even the average demon was already insurmountably enormous!
In the game, even the Level-7 Master Magician Anthony was incapable of stopping the occult transformation process. In fact, he couldn't even destroy Bale's corpse because the Occultic Runes' power protected it, just as the blood-colored shield is now protecting Viktor's body.
This was because the creator of the Occultic Runes was the imprisoned Tarviss-a notorious demon who possessed Legendary power!
Link was cautious. He slowly backed away from Viktor's corpse while keeping his eyes fixed on the crystal beside it. Then, a notification popped up on the interface.
Effects: Corrupts a form of life in the Realm of Light to possess demonic characteristics and power.
(Note: If you are not a Legendary Magician, don't even think about stopping the occult transformation process. Brace yourself for a fierce battle!)
A Legendary item-that meant that the creator was a Legendary demon. Link would never believe that this black crystal that appeared now in Girvent Forest had nothing to do with the Legendary demon Tarviss.
He thought the Occult Runes crystal's creator must be the very same Tarviss from the game!
But why would Tarviss' Occultic Runes be here? Link was stumped for an answer, but he knew that the Occult Viktor would possess an immense power when he got resurrected, a power that even the combined forces of the three mercenaries and himself would not match up. Naturally, for now, retreating was the best and only option.
Still, Link couldn't resist putting up a fight, so while he was retreating, he waved his wand and a glass orb appeared and shot out towards the Occult Viktor. The orb hit the target easily, but it landed with a soft poof on the blood-red shield, not even disturbing its surface.
That put an end to his hopes of stopping the occult transformation process.
The mercenaries trusted Link's opinions, so when they saw signs of him beginning to panic, they immediately and quickly fell back. All of them were equipped with Cat's Agility so they bolted at a high-speed, but as they reached the opening of the cave passageway, Link's footsteps stopped abruptly.
"Stop running, it's too late now!" He felt a sudden change and movements coming from the chaos of the dark aura behind him.
Just as he finished his sentence, the occult transformation was complete.
The effects of Occultic Runes were such that the weaker the target, the quicker the occult transformation. In the game, it took 15 seconds to transform the Level-6 Magician Bale, but now with Occult Viktor, it only needed less than five seconds.
Jacker and Lucy stopped immediately, but Gildern followed his instincts and kept on running.
Link bellowed at him, "Come back! Our only chance is to join our forces against the monster and defeat him! Otherwise, even if we escaped the cave, he'd still get us. This monster is out for revenge; it won't stop until we're dead!"
Gildern's body shivered, and he immediately stopped running.
Just at this moment, the four heard a croaky voice coming from behind them, "You think you're going to kill me? Ha, you fools are optimistic."
All four of them turned their heads around and saw Viktor on his feet again. His body had become significantly bigger and taller and the exposed skin on his face looked a greyish green, a complex web of magic runes scattered across its now metallic-like surface. His eyes were emitting a blinding red light. Anyone unfortunate enough to look into those eyes would be consumed by a sense of chaos, murder, crazed bloodthirst and all kinds of negative emotions. The emotions inspired were so violent that it might drive a weak-willed person to mentally breakdown, or in other words, be scared witless.
This was the kind of dreadful mental influence that creatures with demonic powers could exert!
Jacker, Lucy, and Gildern all had courage, but facing such a bloodcurdling sight, they'd be scared out of their senses too.
That thing will surely kill us!
There's no way we can ever defeat that monster! It's too strong!
In the name of the Lord of Light, is that a demon?
A mixture of negative emotions emerged in the three mercenaries' minds. They had no willpower left to do anything else except retreat and run for their lives.
Jacker was in a slightly better state than the other two, his face was stony, betraying no emotion. But Lucy was now deathly pale, and Gildern had started to shiver.
The only one who managed to keep his wits and composure was Link.
His soul was fortified by the God of Light, so he was much stronger than normal people, but his own personal character was naturally calm and composed in the first place. Even when Viktor flooded them with a fierce torrent of murderous aura, Link remained as calm as a millpond, unmoved in the face of a wild raging surge.
He saw that the three were stunned motionless, so Link calmly assured them, "The Occultic Runes can only double the strength of the body's owner! Jacker, Viktor was only a Level-3 Assassin, even with his strength doubled, he won't be able to defeat you!"
Assassins prioritized on the agility of their limbs; their physical strength was mediocre at best. Jacker, on the other hand, was a Warrior-brutish strength was his greatest forte!
Realizing this, Jacker eased up a little. He believed that what Link said was true, as Link had proven to be knowledgeable many times before.
Then Link turned to Lucy, "His skin was enforced by magic, but I will cast a spell on your sword that will increase its sharpness, you can definitely pierce through him!"
Link had 19 Omni Points and 80 Mana points left. But without hesitation, he spent 10 of his Omni Points to purchase a Level-1 spell.
Mid-Level Sharpness Spell
Effects: Enhance a weapon's sharpness to a high degree. A normal iron sword will be able to cut through steel like butter. Effect lasts for ten minutes.
The Sharpness spell was a normal spell-there was not much potential to modify and improve it. It was a higher-level equivalent of the Level-0 Sharpness Spell, so it was already sufficiently powerful.
After the purchase, Link pointed his wand at Lucy's sword. At once, a sheath of bright white light enveloped the sword. When the light dimmed down, Lucy's sword emitted a clear blue aura-a sign that the effects of the mid-level Sharpness spell had started to work.
Then, Link pointed his wand at Gildern's quiver and cast the same spell. When the light dimmed and scattered, the 15 arrows in the quiver all shone in an icy blue light.
Link worked at a quick speed. When he was done, barely a second had passed. Occult Viktor was still 60 feet away; he had not begun his attacks yet.
Right now, Link's Mana was down to 68, and the Cat's Agility effects on all of them had waned down. Still, without any hesitation, he waved the wand and re-cast Cat's Agility on everyone. That used up 24 Mana points, so he now had only 44 left.
Forty-four Mana points were not much, but it was still enough to release 44 Glass Orbs!
Occult Viktor saw his opponents make their moves, and his blood-red eyes stared fixedly at Link. "You pansy Magician, you destroyed everything I built! I will catch you and cut out your flesh bit by bit! I'll savor your slow painful death!" Viktor's voice was filled with vengeance.
He slowly strode towards the four, and as he strode pass Collins, he raised his foot and stomped on Collins' neck.
Crack! It was the sound of Collins's spine snapping. He died while he was still unconscious.
Viktor burst out in a bone-chilling laugh, "Everyone in this cave must die today!"
Link ignored Occult Viktor's show of cruelty, and instead, focused his eyesight to make it as sharp and piercing as ice. He was now, once again, in his focused spellcasting state!
"Are you all ready?" he asked.
Jacker inhaled deeply and held on to his shield tightly. "I'm ready."
"I'm good too." Lucy said as she pursed her deep red lips.
"Might as well get it over with." Gildern gripped at the longbow in his hands; he was soaking in a cold sweat.
"Very good." Link kept his eyes peeled on the approaching Occult Viktor, "Everyone, remember, if we kill him, everything in the Cove of Echoes will belong to us!"
That sentence perked the three mercenaries up. Their eyes lit up brightly thinking about it. All this while, they had seen so many valuable treasures, but because of pressing circumstances, they had to leave it all undisturbed. But now, all they had to do was push through this last hurdle and everything will be theirs. It would be foolish to run away now.
They were mercenaries after all! Who knew better than mercenaries that in life, you either kill or be killed?
Once they thought of it that way, bold courage returned to the three mercenaries. They were now ready for battle!
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