66 Dark Elf?

 Bang! Bang! Bang! Gildern quickly fired three successive arrows. The steel arrows shot through the air, one heading towards Andy's heart, one towards the eyes and the last one towards the belly. And they all hit smack-dab on the target!

Andy's leather armor might have had anti-magic properties, but against Gildern's carved steel arrows shot from his new strong bow, it was downright futile!

The three arrows went straight through Andy's body. He died before he had time to utter a cry.

Then, a notification popped up on the interface, but Link didn't bother to check its details, he only cared for the Omni Points. Once he verified that he now had 40 more Omni Points, he spent 20 points to increase his Maximum Mana limit without delay.

Now his Maximum Mana increased to 148 points, and his Mana was at 21 points - enough to shoot off his Whistles.

With Andy dead, Link focused all his attention on the black-robed Magician who was 200 feet away.

The Fire Crystal staff in his hand lit up, and in 0.2 seconds, a Whistle screeched through the air, heading quickly towards the black-robed Magician.

The Magician had just been dealing with the previous attack of Glass Orbs, he never expected that things would change so drastically in less than a second. He was dazed, but his reactions remained quick. With lightning footsteps, he turned and hid behind a tree trunk.

He wouldn't be able to hide from Link's Whistle behind the tree, but at least it would protect him from the arrows, so he could concentrate on spellcasting without worrying about the archer.

Soon after taking cover behind the tree, he could hear the shrilling sound that Whistle made rushing towards him. The moment it broke through his Guarding Barrier, he waved the wand in front of him and cast a spell.

"Frost Shield!"

Instantly a triangular shield with an area of about 10 square feet appeared in front of him. The shield was unlike the Ice Shield used in Gladstone-it had a bigger surface area, it was more stable, and the spellcasting speed was much faster too, being fully formed within 0.3 seconds.

This was an Ice Shield that had been modified with Supreme Magical Skills.

Clang! The instant the Frost Shield took form, there was an impact that left a white point on it. And from that white point cracks emerged and spread throughout the shield like cobwebs. It looked like the shield was going to collapse.

But there was another Whistle coming for the Magician from behind!

The high-speed rotating spike of death had gone around the forest and reached behind the Magician, heading straight towards his heart!

The black-robed Magician had the fright of his life. He had not expected the young Magician's spellcasting to be as quick and relentless as a hurricane. It was only now that he felt he'd gotten a real taste of Link's true power, and he couldn't deny the pressure it exerted on him.

It's no surprise that he could defeat Holmes with a low-level spell like Vector Throw. Holmes must've underestimated this young Magician, and to his cost!

Holmes' defeat illustrated the fact that a Magician's skills in battle and his knowledge in spells were two different things. A Magicians' source of power might spring from their knowledge in the facts and theories of magic, but at the same time, these fixed laws and theories did not always translate well into battle skills and could in no way substitute battle experience!

In other words, Magicians were primarily scholars and, secondarily, warriors in battles.

When two Magicians battle, what truly mattered were the distance and the speed at which they could cast their spells. The rest - whether it's the level of their spells or the strength of their Mana - were merely figures that looked good on paper, but in fact, meant nothing on battlefields.

Even if you had knowledge of higher-level spells or could cast more powerful spells than the opponent, if you were too late or too slow in using them, then all of it would just be in vain!

And that was why those Magicians who wanted to be stronger in battles would tirelessly strive for additional and more advanced Supreme Magical Skills, especially those that improved their spellcasting speed and spellcasting distance.

But as proven now, the black-robed Magician had not been developing these aspects of his skills as much as he should, or at least, not enough that he could match Link's distant and fast spellcasting.

In fact, this Level-4 Magician had been cornered and pressured into defensive mode by Link's Whistle.

When the Whistle headed towards him, he had no time to cast an offensive spell, all he could do was cast a defensive spell.

Buzz! In an instant, a transparent crystal-like bubble appeared around the Magician's body.

Physical Defensive Spell: Omnidirectional Vector Shield!

Level-1 Spell

Effects: Creates a repulsive force field that deflects any object that tries to break through the shield. The higher the speed of the penetrating object, the bigger the force of its repulsion.

Link's Whistle crashed into the shield as soon as it appeared and it discernibly slowed down the moment it entered the force field. In half a second, when it was a foot away from the Magician, its 600 feet per second speed had slowed down drastically almost to a halt.

Finally, it stopped at about four inches away from the Magician's body. He could clearly see that on the surface of the rotating metal spike, there were numerous runes continuously flashing red light, looking very unstable.

From a glance, the black-robed Magician knew that it was a complicated and high-level spell that would attack in two stages - first would be a physical impact, and the second would be an explosion!

"Damn it!" cursed the Magician. He knew that an explosive power would be released, and not only would he have to deal with the flames, but he would have to face the metal pieces that would be sent flying in all directions by the explosion. He knew that his shield was undoubtedly insufficient in blocking the shrapnel.

Then, the black-robed Magician finally showed the true capabilities of a Level-4 Magician - in no time at all, he had instantaneously cast the Level-0 Basic Guarding Barrier around his body. It was only a Level-0 spell, so he could cast it quickly. In fact, he didn't just cast the spell once, but in that short period of time, he managed to cast five basic Guarding Barrier around his body, right at the moment before the Whistle exploded.

Bang! Shattered metal pieces were scattered in all directions, most of them were deflected by the shield, but some managed to penetrate the shield and hit the Magician's body. Tongues of flame from the explosion spewed in all directions too, but the Magician was protected partly by the Guarding Barrier and partly by his robe. Nonetheless, a small part of the fire did reach the Magician's body.

A groan of pain escaped the Magician's mouth before he could stop it. He had to make a hasty decision then. Instantly, a ring on his finger flashed up and the Magician's body was engulfed by a burst of blinding white light. 0.1 second later, the Magician had disappeared into thin air, and reappeared again hundreds of yards away!

He had used a short-distance teleportation spell - Burst!

Bang! Another Whistle had exploded exactly where he had been moments ago. If he had escaped just seconds later, he would've been a fresh corpse by now.

Once he was about 300 feet away from them, the black-robed Magician's wand lit up again and 1.8 seconds later, an enormous magical creature began to materialize - Ashen Hawk.

Ashen Hawk

Level-3 Spell

Effects: The colossal hawk will transport the spellcaster at the speed of a wild swan.

Grey billowing smoke streamed out from the blue gemstone at the tip of the black-robed Magician's Mithril wand. Then the smoke coalesced into dust, grass, sticks, and other light objects to form a giant hawk. The black-robed Magician then mounted onto its back. The giant hawk flapped its wings and flew up into the sky.

To evade from Link's Whistles, the hawk flew in sporadic paths, fluctuating up and down, then zig-zagging from left to right. Only when it had flown more than a thousand feet away, which meant they were safely out of Link's attacking range, did it pick up speed and soared away into the distance.

The black-robed Magician had gotten away!

There was no way of chasing the Magician now, so all Link could do was to stare at the Magician flying away on his giant bird.

The moment the black-robed Magician escaped, the Crystal Golem gave out and stopped its attacks abruptly. Its structure didn't collapse but it just stood there motionless instead.

Jacker immediately backed away from the giant and heaved a huge sigh. Beads of sweat streamed down his forehead as if he had been standing in the rain. Heaven knew how harrowing the battle had been to Jacker and how much of a close shave it had been with death for him.

Still, it wasn't a total loss. He felt as though the fierce battle had unshackled his potential and freed him from his own doubts which had been holding him back. He was confident now that with just a little bit more training he would surely be able to reach Level-4.

Link sighed with relief too. He stared at the diminishing figure in the sky that was the Magician.

"We've been tricked by a Dark Elf!" said Link with a bitter laugh.

When the metal shell of Link's Whistle pierced the Magician's body after it exploded, Link noticed that the blood that spilled out was dark blue with a purplish tinge - that was an irrefutable characteristic of the Dark Elves' blood.

It's little wonder that the strange incident in the East Cove Magic Academy happened half a year after the tragedy of the Change of the Bloody Moon when there were Dark Elves lurking around causing mischiefs.

Finally, Link went back to the interface and checked the latest notification. He was immediately taken aback by the contents of the newly activated mission.

Mission Activated: Search for Clues.

Mission Details: Locate the members of the Syndicate division and from there retrieve more information about the Dark Elf Magician.

Mission Rewards: 20 Omni Points.

What is the Dark Elf Magician up to now? Link was apprehensive because from what he learned of the nature of the game and in lights of recent events, he knew that this Dark Elf Magician must not be taken lightly.

Never mind, I'm too exhausted to think of anything now. I'll just wait for General Anderson to arrive and we'll decide what to do next then.