67 The Final Opponent


 Red Leaves Cove

...

"Gildern, pack our spoils of war and we'll set off," Link commanded.

Link usually left the physical labor to his followers. Jacker was injured from the previous fight while Gildern remained unscathed. The work naturally fell into the hands of Gildern, who hastily loaded the weapons and armor they looted from the bandits of the Syndicate.

After casting an Elemental Healing Magic on Jacker, Link leaned against a tree to get some rest and recounted on the past few battle experiences, reflecting on his mistakes.

This was a habit he developed from playing the game in the real world. Wasn't there a saying that went, "the Holy Knight would not be defeated by the same tactics twice?"

Link was no Holy Knight, nor did he suffer any defeat. However, he was not perfect either, and he often reflected on those insufficiencies to ensure he did not commit the same mistake twice.

Even if I continue to invest Omni Points into my Maximum Mana, it would only be at 148 points, that's way too low! It would be fine if I cast Level-0 and Level-1 spells. However, one Level-2 spell consumes 20 Mana points, and a Level-3 spell consumes anywhere from 60 to 120 Mana points. I can only sustain casting one or two of these spells before I run out of Mana. The assault from the high-level Magician this time was especially dangerous, I would need to find a more efficient and faster way to replenish my Mana.

Link was still afflicted by the Ailing Magic status. When he fully recovers in two months, his Maximum Mana would be at 1480 points, equivalent to that of a Level-4 Magician. There was thus no reason for him to continue investing Omni Points into his Maximum Mana. The best alternative now was to find a faster way to replenish it.

Mana Recovery Potions can be an option; I should prepare those when I get back. However, the side effects of these potions are also strong. I should couple this with mana recovery spells.

Link vaguely remembered a Level-4 Secret Spell, Mana Surge. The cost was 50 Mana points and it could recover at least 80% of your Maximum Mana points in a short period of time after casting.

It was probably time to invest some Omni Points into learning this spell.

There was yet another problem with the battle today.

Though he emerged victorious, luck playing a major factor in his triumph. At the last few moments, if Andy were to be more patient and stall the battle for another five minutes, Jacker would not have been able to withstand the Crystal Golem's attack. With Jacker defeated, Link would have had to deal with both the Crystal Golem and Andy's assault, and the probability of his success would have been much lower. It was such a high-risk maneuver; if that continued something bad was bound to happen.

Link found this battling style to be uncomfortable. As a Magician, he preferred to be in control of the tempo of the battle. Also, in the event that he was unable to do so, he always had to have a trump card he could play in case of an emergency.

A battle like today's, where they unveiled every single tactic they had was disastrous.

Link couldn't help but think of the black-robed Magician.

That Dark Elf has been searching for the Occultic Runes, he should be the one working in the shadows to rescue Tarviss. He must be upset, letting an Occultic Rune slip by him like that, I will definitely see more of him in the future.

Link did not know the Dark Elf but was able to gauge his personality based on the battle they just had.

As with most Magicians, he does not like close quarters combat but prefers to plan in advance and control the flow of battle. I would probably have been unable to retaliate if I had walked right into his trap.

Speaking of traps, Link gestured to Jacker and Gildern to stay and went off alone to search for the untriggered traps set by the Magician. He cast an Aura of Detection over himself and followed the trails of the Syndicate bandits. This time, he was calm and meticulous, inspecting every detail. Midway through the mountains, he stopped in his tracks.

There was something peculiar about the aura in this area. There was a small distortion, but peculiar nonetheless. In the midst of a raging battle, a single misstep would have landed the trap.

Link advanced cautiously, circling around the peculiar aura when he finally found the trap. He swiped the weeds off and revealed a flat rock, slightly illuminated by the silver-green light emanating from the rune formation carvings on it.

This was Rune Magic!

Rune Magic was merely a layman's term. In theory, it should have been termed as a high-level spellcasting technique. It worked by enchanting the magic structure into the rune formation before carving it onto a relatively flat surface.

Link observed the position of the runes and the elemental energy emanating from the stone. This spell ...

"It's Chain Lightning!" Link felt a shiver run down his spine.

Chain Lightning

Level-3 Lightning Spell

Effect: Attacks the target with lightning bolts. This attack will automatically jump and target other enemies that fall within a 9 feet radius for a maximum of 5 times.

Level-3 lightning spells were known for their destructive forces. If they had fallen into this trap, Gildern and himself probably would not have survived the attack. Jacker would still be alive due to his Battle Aura, but with the Syndicate bandits and the Level-4 Magician on his heels, the odds would not have been in his favor.

Link shuddered at the sight of this magic. "The opponents are getting stronger and craftier; I might have been lucky this time but I won't be forever. I need to craft some protective Magic Tools!"

Until now, he had been relying on his instincts and chose to be on the offensive. This was an extremely dangerous style of fighting; a single mistake could cost him his life.

During an emergency such as an ambush or a trap, spellcasting was out of the question. He simply did not have enough time to go through the complicated process to cast a spell. He would need to acquire magic equipment that could store spells and release them almost instantaneously.

"I guess it's time to learn Alchemy and Enchanting spells to create my own Magic Tools!"

Link was a fast learner. Moreover, he preferred to use his own Magic Tools rather than ones crafted by others. He did not mind spending time acquiring this skill.

Gildern was done packing, dragging a full gunny sack of their spoils. The armor was made from a high-grade material, despite being damaged and the anti-magic daggers were all in good condition; they should sell for a good price.

"Let's head back and see if we can meet General Anderson on the way."

Five minutes into their return journey, they were greeted by the sound of footsteps and chatter. A fully armored knight emerged from the thick undergrowth. It was General Anderson!

Behind him was the River Cove Town Army, and their captain, Yaksha. There were about 200 soldiers, probably the fighting force of the entire River Cove Town.

Anderson clearly rushed here with full speed, his shiny armor now tainted by spots of dirt. After making sure that Link was unharmed, he heaved a sigh of relief.

Princess Annie had requested that he set off immediately to assist Link and ensure that he returned to the kingdom alive. Should the mission fail, she had personally ensured the same for his future in the kingdom.

He was delighted to see Link in one piece. "My Lord, how are you feeling?"

Link needed the River Cove Town Army to aid him in the search for the Syndicate's hideout. And so, he needed to be cooperative in order to ensure their assistance.

"The leader of the Syndicate and his men have already been eliminated by us. However, a Magician got away despite being injured," Link explained, "He was a Dark Elf and might have escaped to the Syndicate's hideout."

The mention of a Dark Elf sent shivers down Anderson's spine. After the incident at Gladstone City, any occurrences related to the Dark Elves were bound to attract attention.

King Leon even gave a royal order to eliminate all Dark Elves in the Norton Kingdom. To think that the Syndicate got themselves tangled up in this mess.

How foolish! Anderson thought. Despite having strong connections in Hot Spring City, the Syndicate would definitely be completely uprooted this time around!

"Link, can you still fight?" Anderson asked.

You needed one Magician to deal with another. Anderson hoped that Link would accompany him in the search of the Syndicate's hideout.

Link shook his head. "My Mana is completely depleted. For the time being, I'll rest in River Cove Town, when you find the hideout, do not be hasty to attack, instead, please approach me to discuss a plan."

Even though he was on an investigative mission, the Girvent Forest was an extremely large area. The Syndicate's hideout was also well concealed-it was not possible to find it in a short amount of time and so there was no reason for him to tag along.

Upon seeing Link's tired and drained expression, Anderson nodded. "If there are any discoveries, I'll let you know. Please rest well."

"Yaksha, lets search for the bandit's hideout!" He hollered at the captain.

The elimination of the Syndicate was a personal order from Princess Annie and now, even the Dark Elves were involved. If he was successful in this mission, he would have made a great contribution to the kingdom. Anderson was enthusiastic.

His attitude put Link at ease. From the looks of it, the Syndicate should be of no threat to his Flamingo Band of Mercenaries. The only one left would be the Dark Elf Magician.

"Once we find clues of the hideout, we'll leave him with no means of escape!"

Link stepped aside and waited for Anderson to lead his forces into the forest. "Let's return for our much-needed rest," Link said to Jacker and Gildern.

"Yes, My Lord."