The pathways in the Cove of Red Leaves were winding and narrow. The area after crossing the Riverbed of Silverfish was particularly difficult to maneuver around, with the dense forest blocking their every step.
But that was precisely what made Andy's trails especially clear.
The trampled undergrowth, splintered chopped wood from their hasty escape, and the unnatural position of bushes-these clues were telling and voluminous.
A fully armored Jacker cleared the path with a shield in one hand and a sword in the other. Currently, there was no shred of fear in his heart.
With the assistance of Princess Annie, Link's destructive magic power, and his increasingly powerful abilities-coupled with his intricate equipment, these bolstered his courage.
Even the Syndicate was on the run from them.
In order to keep up with Jacker, Link cast a spell of Cat's Agility on both Gildern and himself. Gildern took up the role of a rear scout, as his marksman abilities were not made for close quarters combat.
They moved swiftly through the forest.
After ten minutes, Jacker was the first to reach the summit and the bird's eye view allowed him to spot the enemy easily. A team clad in brown leather armor, similar to that of the Syndicate bandits they defeated previously, were hastily on the run.
"My Lord, there's the enemy!" Jacker pointed ahead.
The enemy was at the foot of the mountain and there were roughly 15 of them. They were traveling at a relatively fast pace, albeit slower than Link due to the treacherous terrain of the mountains, which required them to constantly bash their way through the overgrowth.
However, something was amiss with this group of bandits.
In theory, they should have been on the run due to fear of his magical prowess. As much as Andy was an impressive leader who instilled confidence in his men, they should have appeared hysterical and afraid.
And while this group of bandits was indeed traveling at a fast pace, they did not seem to be desperate. "Instead of being on the run, they seem to be on the retreat," Link clearly made a distinction between the two terms.
How could that be possible? Link placed himself in the shoes of the bandits. If his intricately planned ambush was easily overcome by the enemy, it would be a huge impact on his morale, even for him. He would definitely be frantically on the run.
Are you telling me these bandits are still clinging on to some form of hope? What if, they have other manpower are already waiting in ambush for us? several possibilities flashed through Link's mind.
An ambush wouldn't be a problem for Link. His Aura Detection spell could easily pinpoint the hiding spots of his enemies.
However, something was still off. Link estimated the distance between the bandits and himself. He was currently occupying a higher ground of about 600 feet. It was at that moment Link had an epiphany.
Not only did he have the advantage of a higher ground, the group of bandits was also tightly clustered, his whistle would definitely be an unpleasant surprise for them!
"Since it might be a trap, let us commence our assault from here!" Link ordered, "Jacker, you continue on the pursuit, Gildern and I will catch up soon enough!"
"Roger!" Jacker had unflinching trust in Link and he sped towards the bandits without any second thoughts.
"Watch my back," Link said to Gildern.
Gildern nodded and unsheathed his dagger, standing on guard beside Link.
Link set his sights on the bandits and grabbed a handful of steel dust from his pocket. He felt a wave of magical energy surging into his Fire Crystal Staff and 0.2 seconds later, a metallic flaming tip formed at the top of his staff.
The metallic tip spun at a high speed and created a whistling sound that pierced through the silent forest, visible air ripples forming around it as magical energy continuously flowed. This phenomenon was caused when magical energy, elemental energy, and air interacted with one another.
Gildern looked at the magic with great respect, in awe of its terrifying power.
Link, on the other hand, was fully absorbed in his spellcasting, calculating the angle of assault in his mind.
In that instant, Link saw multiple images which converged at the position his enemies were currently at. He also saw many murky images which dictated their possible positions in the future.
Between him and those images was a long parabola which dictated his line of fire.
Link knew in his heart that this was the game interface giving support to players during spell casting, and not his own powers.
The game interface was useful not only in supplying missions that awarded Omni Points, but also in assisting him in spellcasting which greatly increased his attacking speed. And now, it was even helping him to make more precise attacks.
I wonder what else the system is capable of, Link thought expectantly.
The enemy was starting to fade away from his sight. Link slightly adjusted his spellcasting angle and without a second thought, fired his powerful magic attack!
Fwoosh~ The Whistle let out a high pitched sound and sped through the atmosphere, landing a hit on the bandits.
Six hundred feet was a really long distance for spellcasting. At the 300-foot mark, Link could barely control the attack, and by the 600 feet mark, Link could barely even feel the existence of the magic anymore. It was tough to ensure the magic didn't disintegrate.
This was the difference between magic and weapons like guns, bows, and arrows. Magic was way more volatile and difficult to control!
In order to preserve the integrity of the magic, a Magician had to constantly focus and control his powers. The maximum distance of an attack was dependent on both the techniques of the Magician and the tenacity of the Magician's soul.
Naturally, the discussion of the soul falls into the realm of mystic studies, and its strength was difficult to quantify. Judging from Link's current power, maintaining a magical attack beyond 600 feet was already his limit.
It was impossible for him to control the trajectory of his attack at this distance.
The success of this long distance attack fully depended on his estimations before he lost control of his magic.
Link had full faith in the game system that the line of fire shown would allow him to successfully hit his targets.
The foot of the mountains.
Andy had no clue about his impending demise. After the black-robed Magician promised to offer help, the Magician on his tail was the least of his worries. Link was strong, but he too had a strong Magician on his side.
Currently, he simply had to follow the plan he made together with the black-robed Magician to lead Link into the trap they created.
When Link appeared at the mountain's summit, Andy was elated, the trap was set up midway down the mountains. As long as his enemies continued to be on their trail, they would fall victim to their elaborately planned trap.
Andy even slowed down his pace so that he could turn back to aid the black-robed Magician when the trap was triggered.
"No one has ever managed to make me look so bad in front of my men. When I get hold of you, you will be sorry you were ever born!" Andy browsed through the thousands of torture methods he knew by heart and swore to use them all on Link.
All of a sudden, a voice disrupted him from his thoughts.
"Hide behind the trees now! Immediately!"
The voice was anxious and rough, yet familiar-it was the black-robed Magician!
Andy had no idea what was happening but he trusted that the black-robed Magician would do him no harm. He threw himself behind a tree nearly a foot and a half wide in diameter.
At that moment, he heard a familiar yet terrifying whistling sound hissing into his ears.
A sharp sound echoed through the surroundings and boom! Andy felt a heat wave surge through the forest, violently disrupting the tranquility. This was followed by cries of pain and despair.
He emerged from his hiding spot and saw a revolting scene. At the place he was at, the remaining 14 members of the Syndicate lay lifelessly on the ground. Five of them died immediately on the spot while nine of them were injured. Among them, the five who were lucky enough to suffer mild injuries had a look consumed by fear and had already lost all morale.
The Syndicate bandits had lowered their guard and stuck together in a small group simply because they thought the enemy was far away.
Little did they know that a Whistle spell from Link almost wiped out their entire squad.
No, it did, in fact, wipe out the whole squad!
Andy's heart was beating at an insane rate, just when he wanted to remind the remaining members to split up and take cover, the familiar voice rang out again.
"Hide! The attack is here again!"
With lightning speed, Andy retreated behind the same tree.
The whistling sound struck again, followed by a deafening explosion and propelling rubble and dirt everywhere.
The only difference was the lack of screams. This time, there was complete silence.
Andy was devastated. The Night Blade Squad that he spent so much effort cultivating was now history.
In the end, they were all useless in the face of magic.
Is magic really such a fearsome power? Or is it the Magician that is terrifying? Have I incurred the wrath of someone I should never have? Andy began to question his decisions. His mind was in a whirl.
Link's magic had exceeded the expectations of Andy in every way. Under the fearsome assault, Andy's efforts were once again, all for naught.
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