Chapter 544: Ariel Newmoon
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The man was not Haromed. To complicate things even further, there was a High Elf in their midst.
The former's presence was not too surprising. As Evelina had said before, Haromed was not the only high-level Ethereal. But the Ethereal and the High Elf before them seemed to be working together on something, and the High Elf had deliberately hidden her identity. This demanded further scrutiny.
After thinking for a while, Link mouthed noiselessly at Evelina, "Inspect them. Get ready to act."
As Link and Evelina were the Legendary masters of their four-man squad, they acted as its vanguard. Eliard and Celine served as their backup, providing their assistance whenever they saw fit.
Their targets did not notice the four of them lying in ambush in their yard. They chatted on while walking side by side.
"Envoy, are you sure this method of yours will be more effective?" asked the Ethereal Warrior. He was holding a crystal vial. It contained a light purple fluid.
"Of course it is. There's nothing unusual about your current conditions. It's simply due to the incompatibility between your souls and your new host bodies. Black ant essence can help alleviate your symptoms, but this is only a temporary solution. An antidote concocted with purple lotus extract should be able to completely cure your conditions," explained the High Elf woman. Her voice was hoarse. She sounded like a middle-aged man whose throat had suffered a terrible injury. Obviously, she, or he, was wearing a disguise.
The Ethereal Warrior still seemed unsure. He turned the vial around in his hand. After observing its contents from all possible angles for a few minutes, he finally said, "The decision isn't really mine to make. We'd best wait for my master to return. However, I do approve of some of the demands you've made in exchange for your remedy."
"I see. And when will your master return?" asked the High Elf.
"Not today, that's for sure. The earliest he'll be back is tomorrow afternoon. And if I'm being honest, your demands may sound a bit excessive to him. I would be more than happy to help you out a bit if it was up to me. But my master would probably not take kindly to the requests that you've made. He may even chase you out of here without a moment's hesitation. If it comes to that, you'll probably not be able to get anything from him."
As he spoke, the Ethereal put away the purple fluid and walked to the bubbling cauldron in the middle of the yard. He knelt down to add more firewood beneath the cauldron. He then began stirring the potion inside the cauldron with a stirring rod. As he stirred, the Ethereal sprinkled in the black ant carcasses into the mixture, leaving the High Elf woman standing in a corner.
The High Elf looked on at this, deep in thought. Ten seconds later, she opened her mouth to speak. "Then how many Stabilizing Crystals will you give me?"
"Hehe." The Ethereal chuckled. He brushed the dirt off his hands and said, "You give me the recipe for this purple lotus concoction and its preparation method, and I'll give you 300 pieces every month. That's around 22 pounds of Stabilizing Crystals."
"22 pounds... That's too little." The High Elf was not satisfied by this offer.
The Ethereal shook his head. "This is as much as I can give you. If I give you any more than that, our affair here will be revealed, and I will of course be severely punished by my master. But my punishment would also hurt you as much, since you won't be able to get a single piece of crystal from me then."
The High Elf fell silent for a while. Finally, she nodded. "Alright, I'll take it. 300 Stabilizing Crystals per month. Let's move on to the second item in our agenda. We've found that you Ethereals had a run-in with Ferde a while back. Since then, the number of Legendary masters in Ferde has increased. I would like to know the reason behind this."
As she said this, a drastic change came over the Ethereal's face. His brows shot up in anger. Power flowed off him in waves, sending out faint ripples in the air around him.
The Ethereal's demeanor switched instantly from the vulgar mannerisms of a haggling merchant to the ferocity of a wild beast.
He stood up and walked slowly towards the High Elf. His voice was dripping with hatred when he said, "Step away from this while you can, or else. Just wait and see. We'll get our revenge on Ferde. We'll raze that place to the ground, turn it into rubble!"
The High Elf woman was again silent. She seemed unmoved by the Ethereal Warrior's threat, but she did not ask any further. A while later, she took out a magic book with a purple cover and handed it over to the Ethereal. "If you don't wish to tell me, that's alright. This contains detailed instructions for preparing the purple lotus potion. Take it, and remember, 22 pounds of Stabilizing Crystals per month. No less than that, or we'll cut off our supply of purple lotuses."
"Got it. You seem like a reasonable person," replied the Ethereal moodily. He was still fuming.
At this point, the two of them had come to an agreement. As the High Elf turned to leave, Link, who had been hiding behind a clump of grass in the yard, shouted an order to Evelina, "Now!"
He leaped into action at the same time.
Link willed his Dragon King's Fury sword to point at the cauldron in the yard. A white spatial ball flew out from it. It then struck the cauldron in an explosion.
It was an upgraded version of the Spatial Shackle spell: Spatial Seal.
A resonant hum sounded. A white mist spread out in all directions. In an instant, the Ethereal was enveloped in it and was turned into a spatial statue. Deprived of all movement, the Ethereal was about to fall to the ground when suddenly, something happened.
As the mist surged towards the High Elf, a dark green light radiated from her body.
The light cloaked her body in an instant, blocking off the white mist. Upon a closer look, Link realized that the barrier of light did not completely block it off, but was rather slowing down its advance.
Taking advantage of this, the High Elf's body dissolved into mist itself. In the blink of an eye, she was able to retreat back a few feet away from the white mist. Once she was out of harm's way, the dark green light around her dissipated immediately.
When the light faded away, dark green leaves appeared out of thin air, swirling at high speed around the High Elf like a cyclone. The leaves lashed out in all directions, hitting everything in their paths, including the frozen Ethereal.
The High Elf had whipped up a terrifying leaf cyclone.
Whoosh... The leaves slashed across the Ethereal's body, tearing it into pieces. Nothing was safe from the High Elf woman's fury now. Not even her deal with the Ethereal was enough to guarantee the Ethereal's safety.
Before long, the cyclone ripped through Link's spatial white mist and was now heading towards Link and the others. It was spinning with such destructive momentum that everything in its path was ground to dust.
Link gazed intently at the High Elf woman. It turned out that she was also a Legendary master with a frightful temper. She had seemed composed back then, but once provoked, her wrath now threatened to swallow up the whole world like a raging torrent.
In spite of its ferocity, the leaf cyclone's power was only at Level-10. It was able to pierce through the white mist only because Link was not using his full power against her.
Link did not feel at all threatened by such an attack.
With a force of his will, a band of spatial runes surrounded the leaf cyclone. The runes then formed a thick spatial barrier around it. With a thunderous sound, the cyclone was shut within the barrier.
Bang, bang, bang! The dark green leaves of the cyclone rattled against the rune barrier repeatedly. A moment later, the cyclone faded into a dark green mist.
The dark green leaves were reduced to pieces through repeated collisions against the barrier. Before long, the leaves dissolved back into pure Nature Power. The dark green mist within the barrier was so thick that no one could see what was going on inside.
This went on for half a second. Suddenly, Link sensed a gap in the dark green swirl, as if there was something missing in it.
The sensation was akin to missing one's step while walking as if the ground had disappeared beneath his foot. In much the same way, his spatial barrier felt as if it had lost its support from within.
A thought surfaced in his mind. She escaped. That certainly took some resolve!
The dark green mist behind the barrier began to subside just as soon as the thought popped up in his head. Two seconds later, the mist had completely disappeared, revealing a yard that had been ravaged by some force of nature. The grass and flowers had been completely pulverized. All that was left in the yard were deep pits and cavities in the thoroughly loosened soil.
Link dispelled the spatial barrier. Celine and the others came out of their hiding spots. They looked in utter amazement at the ground beneath them, which still sizzled with thick Nature Power aura.
It all happened so fast, not even Evelina was able to join in the fight. In the blink of an eye, the whole thing was over.
"Evie, do you know her?" Eliard looked at Evelina. None of them had anticipated such ferocious power from the High Elf woman, not even Link. In the end, she managed to escape from them.
Evelina was still dazed by the scene before her. Upon hearing Eliard speak, her body trembled a bit. She frowned. "Of course I do."
She looked at Link and said, "Do you remember when I told you that the High Elves now have five newly promoted Legendary masters?"
"Of course. Including you, that makes five. We've already seen the other three who went by the names of Elovan, Sonya and Milose."
Evelina sighed. "That was the last Legendary master of the High Elves. She's called Ariel Newmoon. She was the first to reach Level-10. She's younger than me by three years, but she was able to reach Legendary half a month earlier before I did. Elovan and the others were all High Elf geniuses, but I'm not too worried about them, since I know where their limitations lie. Ariel, however, is a different story. Honestly, I don't think I would be able to defeat her myself."
Link narrowed his eyes, visibly troubled by this.
The High Elf known as Ariel had appeared in the middle to later stages of the game. She was also a High Elf princess. Her High Elf blood was as pure as Milda's. The only difference was that she was younger than Milda by five years.
In the game, when she first appeared, Ariel was only a captain of a High Elf outpost. After receiving a few promotions in the span of three years, she finally became a general of the whole High Elf army, second only to Milda.
Ariel was the main mission in the later stages of the game. She had many interactions with the players during her mission. She was also portrayed frequently in the game's battle cut scenes.
She would calmly enter a fight and come out victorious without a spot of blood or dirt on her every time. She was also not programmed to deliver lines like "I'm tired, let's rest for a bit," as if she was driven by a perpetual source of power from within.
On the other hand, though Marshal Milda of the High Elf magical army had a glowing list of military achievements, she always came out worse for wear after every battle.
A few players who had too much time in their hands had made a comparison of the battles of every renowned Magician, followed by an evaluation of their respective power levels and combat prowesses.
They finally came to the conclusion that Eliard, the half-elf, and Ariel ranked at number one in terms of combat prowess. However, Eliard was a high-profile Magician, which earned him the attention of opponents with equal repute. As a result, his achievements were much more impressive. As for Milda, her combat power was only half of Ariel's.
Putting it simply, this High Elf princess was a genius among geniuses in the art of combat!
Ariel had even managed to make Evelina lose her nerve through their daily interactions back on the Isle of Dawn.
Link's head was throbbing slightly. He asked, "She's probably gone back to the Isle of Dawn by now. Evelina, do you think she'll give up her end of the bargain with the Ethereals?"
Evelina shook her head. "It doesn't seem likely. She's someone who won't let something go until she's seen it through. She always gets what she wants, as if Lady Luck's watching over her all the time."
Link's headache worsened. They were still nowhere near to finding the Ethereal prince, and now, they had to deal with such a troublesome individual.
Slapping his forehead, he finally calmed himself down. "I guess there's no point in crying over spilled milk. Haromed, the Ethereal prince, will return tomorrow afternoon. We'll just have to wait for him here."
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