Chapter 548: Only One Rule in This World
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Ariel was the first to be on top of the cliff. It was her domain. Even if she had not set any traps beforehand around the place, she knew the cliff's geography like the back of her hand.
And now, she threatened the Ethereal Prince's life. Link naturally had his reservations about a duel with her, and defeat was almost inevitable to those who hesitated even for a second in a fight.
Ariel clearly had the upper hand.
Eliard muttered, "Link, she's definitely up to something. You can't agree to this!"
Celine added, "This seems dangerous."
Evelina stepped forward and said to Ariel, "Winnie, does it really have to come to this? We only want the Ethereal Prince himself."
Ariel laughed mirthlessly and shook her head. "Evie, you just don't get it."
She did not say anything about Evelina being a traitor to her own race. She then turned to Link. "The way I see it, most of the Magicians nowadays do not really understand the true essence of magic. These people are just puppets whose strings are still being pulled by the phantoms of history. They continue to walk on the path that their predecessors had set for them, and never do they once dare stray from it. These people are not fit to be called Magicians."
Link stood motionless. He did not speak a word. As Ariel spoke to him, he was quietly observing the state of the cliff. He could not find any traps laid out for him. Ariel must have simply wanted a one-on-one duel with him.
Ariel did not mind him scoping the cliff out. She continued, "Those who truly deserve to be called Magicians are few and far between, and incidentally, you are someone whom I had acknowledged as a true Magician. I've always wanted to test my skills against yours, but there had never been an opportunity to do so. At least, not until this very moment!"
While saying this, Ariel threw the Blue Mongoose into the air. Like a flash of lightning, the World Impaler in her hand pierced through the mongoose's head.
The mongoose screeched in pain. Thick green smoke issued out of its nose and mouth. Haromed, the Ethereal Prince, was dead.
Ariel had just casually threw away her trump card, and Link and his party had come all this way for nothing.
"Have you gone mad?" asked Evelina, shocked.
Eliard was shocked as well. However, he somewhat understood what drove Ariel. Link was similar to her in some respects, especially his disregard for everything else in his single-minded pursuit of magical wisdom.
Celine did not say a word. She continued to look at Link, waiting for him to decide.
Link had been holding the Dragon King's Fury sword in his hand. His eyes fell on the mongoose's carcass, a look of disappointment on his face. He had intended to use the Level-12 Ethereal Crystal made from the Ethereal Prince's essence to construct a high-level defensive spell for Ferde, but now, everything had gone up in smoke.
Link then looked up at Ariel. Her face was calm, but her purple eyes burned with a fiery desire to duel with Link.
Link recalled what Ariel was like in the previous game world.
The High Elf princess had a pure passion for combat. She was always first to confront the biggest and meanest demons in the forefront. She had massacred more than 20 chief-level demons, including a Level-18 Fallen Angel.
In the final battle against Lord of the Deep, Nozama, the one who had injured Nozama so severely that he was forced to pull back the Magicians of the demon fortress was also none other than Ariel herself.
Throughout the allied forces, the only one who could match her combat power was Eliard in the late-game stages.
But right now, Eliard only had Level-9 Sunlight Power, while his opponent had already reached the Legendary realm before him. Obviously, Eliard was nowhere near Ariel's level.
It would have been better to have a combat genius like Ariel as an ally. But she was their enemy right now, and one Link had any qualms about killing right away.
And right now, that same enemy had given him the chance to do so.
He took a step forward and said in a low voice. "Ariel Newmoon, do you really think I would take you on one-on-one? Your naivete would cost you dearly."
As he said this, Link made a few gestures to Celine and Eliard behind him, which meant, "Follow my lead, find an opening to kill this High Elf!"
Evelina was stunned. "Link, you..."
She thought that being a lord, Link would be more mindful of his own reputation and accept Ariel's challenge.
She did not expect Link and the others to gang up on Ariel.
Eliard was first to initiate the attack. He took out the Dragon Power runestone that Link had given him and cast a Level-10 shield on himself. He then hid behind a rock nearby, waiting for a chance to attack Ariel.
Celine too retreated and climbed up a tree 300 feet away. She then took out her rifle and waited patiently for an opening.
In that time, Link's eyes did not leave Ariel, wary that she might launch an attack at any moment.
Like a lion that would hunt for prey as weak and defenseless as a rabbit with all its strength, Link never had the habit of giving up an advantage in battle. He, nor anyone else in Ferde, had never concerned himself with heroics. What the Magicians of Ferde had always strived for was a more stable and efficient way of solving problems.
Right now, Ariel was one of those problems that needed to be resolved, and the most efficient way of solving it was by besieging her together. Link saw no benefit in him accepting a one-on-one duel with her.
The High Elf had come looking for her own demise, and so she shall receive it!
Ariel did not anticipate such a response from Link. She laughed coldly. "I thought you were a hero, Link. I never took you for a coward who enjoyed ganging up on people like this! Seems I was mistaken."
She turned towards Evelina. "Evie, is this who you have chosen to follow? Don't you feel the slightest bit of shame?"
Though she was a rebel at heart, the mainstream values of the continent resonated with Evelina greatly. Hearing what Ariel had said, Evelina's face turned red. She went silent for a moment and then stammered, "My lord, I don't think this is right. Your reputation is at stake here."
Link continued staring at Ariel. He slowly pulled out the Dragon King's Fury sword. As the blade hissed against its scabbard, Link's mind grew calmer. "Evie, there's only one law in this world that matters, and that's the survival of the fittest! Morality, code, reputation, they're all mere tools and fetters that can be discarded at any time as long as the price is right. And right now, you're being shackled by Ariel's code of combat."
Evelina could not think of a rebuttal to Link's words.
Ariel had heard what Link had said. Stunned for a moment, she sighed. "I admit, I don't see things as much as you do. Also, I've not come prepared to face all of you, which means that this is not a fight I have any chance of winning. Just wait and see, there will be a next time!"
Saying this, she took out a green, fruit-like object. There were silver markings on the fruit. With a slight squeeze, the fruit was instantly reduced to mush. A thick swirl of silver moonlight suddenly obscured her entire body, which then began to fade away.
Evelina shouted upon seeing what had happened. "She's casting Moonlight, a Level-19 spell! She's trying to escape!"
Description: The user infuses a large amount of Nature Power into a moonlight fruit from the World Tree in order to cast the spell. After casting the spell, its user will be able to ignore all attacks from the realm of Firuman and teleport back to Andwar in the Isle of Dawn.
(Note: A precious relic of the High Elves.)
"Trying to escape, eh?" Without hesitation, Link stabbed his sword through a Despair Ball, and the sword's tip appeared instantly beside Ariel. He then let his Dragon Power flow into it in a torrent, activating a new spatial spell: Spatial Disintegration.
Rankless Master-level Spell
Cost: 7000 points or more.
Description: The user spends a large amount of Dragon Power and sets the fabric of space ablaze, giving rise to an inferno with unimaginable destructive power.
(Note: It will burn everything to a crisp!)
The spell was Link's newest invention, a combination of the dragons' Void Destructor spell, his own Spatial Rend spell and the Boundless Sharpness property of his Dragon King's Fury sword. Its destructive power was virtually limitless. The more Dragon Power it received, the more destruction it would be able to wreak.
It was safe to say that nothing in the realm of Firuman would be able to withstand the spell's destructive power. An object would be able to resist it if it was powerful enough, though.
Once the spell was cast, the space around Ariel was engulfed in its fire. The heat was unlike anything she had experienced. Anything the fire grazed immediately evaporated. Not even its ashes were spared.
This was what happened when space was set on fire.
In an instant, the spatial inferno had spread to Ariel's body. Her eyes widened, and the silver light around her expanded. Bundles of the silver light came off, trying to keep the fire outside the barrier of light.
In that moment, the gentle moonlight and the relentless spatial fire struggled against each other. Violent energy ripples spread out from the clash of the two energies. The spectacle on the cliff was blinding, as if a silver sun had appeared on it.
Evelina, who was standing nearby, could feel the heat from the cliff. Fearing that she might also be caught in the inferno, she quickly took a step back and cast a defensive spell on herself.
As soon as she backed away, there was a sudden bang. A streak of light shot out from the top of the tree beside her. The attack hurtled towards the ball of silver light and merged with it in an instant.
Evelina was stunned. Did Celine open fire? Did it even have any effect?
A moment later, she heard a pained moan. Before long, the silver ball of light before them disappeared. Ariel was gone without a trace. The spatial inferno had also gone out. All that remained on the cliff was a smooth rock surface that looked like it had been polished recently.
In the end, Ariel still managed to elude them.
"What happened to her?" asked Evelina as she rushed to Link's side.
Link sheathed back his sword and spoke plainly, "Both her legs had been burned badly. My Dragon Power had entered her body. I was able to cripple her in the end, so even if she's not dead, she'll probably wish that she was at this point."
"Ah! Did she really lose?" Evelina stammered.
"She has paid dearly for her arrogance. Even though Moonlight was a high-level spell, its area of effect was way too small. I was able to break through it with everything I had," explained Link.
The spell was indeed Level-19, but the amount of Nature Power that Ariel had infused into the World Tree's fruit was too little. In the span of a mere half-second, Link had used up 15,000 Dragon Power points and was able to reduce the Moonlight spell to a paper-thin layer. Celine saw the opportunity and took her shot. Her bullet broke through that last layer. Without losing its momentum, it struck both of Ariel's legs. Once embedded inside her body, Link's Dragon Power immediately spread inside her.
If the Moonlight spell's teleportation ability did not activate in time, Ariel would have been a pile of smoldering ashes by now.
Eliard came out from his hiding place. The fight had already ended before he even had the chance to make a move. Right now, his heart was beating violently in his chest. His yearning for Legendary power had intensified now. After calming his nerves, Eliard asked, "Link, what's our next step, now that the Ethereal Prince is dead?"
"We'll continue our journey down south. I have no intention of making this trip a wasted one. We'll go after some normal Ethereals. Of course, we shouldn't take too much time in this. I'll give us two more days. We'd best pick up our pace now."
"Alright." Eliard and Celine did not seem to object to this.
Adrenaline was still pumping through Evelina. She made a conscious effort to nod back at Link.
Isle of Dawn, Andwar, beneath the World Tree
A flash of silver moonlight suddenly appeared in the air. Two seconds later, a figure fell to the ground. It was Ariel.
She was in bad shape. Both her legs were gone, Her body was a melted mess of flesh and blood. Hot air issued out of her nostrils and mouth. Though she was barely able to withstand the agony, she writhed and screamed uncontrollably in pain.
When she appeared, the World Tree's Nature Power flowed into her body. A few seconds later, the Dragon Power that had been rending through her body was suppressed completely. Ariel sighed in relief, glad that the pain was finally over.
She laid quietly on the ground, letting the World Tree heal her wounds. This time, her wounds were severe. Her legs were beyond restoration, and the World Tree could do nothing about it. Still, it served as a cruel lesson for Ariel.
She looked at the World Tree and swore through gritted teeth, "Thank you for the lesson, Lord of Ferde!"
Minutes passed in silence, and then she heard footsteps. Ariel turned and saw a familiar figure. It was her mother, the queen of the High Elves.
"Mother, I met Link. I lost to him." Ariel sighed. Her losses had been grievous.
"It' alright, what matters is that you came back here alive. Tell me exactly what happened."
Ariel nodded and recounted the events that had transpired to her mother. When she was done, the queen was silent for a few seconds. Then she said, "He even managed to break through your Moonlight spell. I can't believe his power has grown this much."
"He did use up all his power trying to break through it, though," added Ariel.
"In any case, this is bad news. Looks like the thing up north needs to speed up. Once you recover from your injuries, go to the North immediately."
"But mother, that's where the God of Destruction's forces lie."
"I know. All the more reason why you should go there now. The Dark Elves must exist. The humans are our shield, and what good is a shield without a spear? Do you understand what I'm trying to say?"
Ariel was silent. She wanted to voice her objection against the matter in the North. Suddenly, she remembered what Link had said. In this world, there was no clear distinction between light and darkness.
Only one rule reigned supreme, and that was the survival of the fittest.
And so she nodded. "I understand, mother."
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