73 The Sinister Bandit Hideout

 Ample preparation was of the utmost importance before a battle. Jacker and the rest did an inspection of the equipment and brought along any other convenient tools they believed could help in their battle.

As Link possessed the dimensional pendant, he had the liberty to store more items-especially those that could be used in the case of emergencies, such as bread and water in case they got trapped.

Time stopped within the dimensional pendant. Link was thus not worried that these items would be corrupted by the Occultic Runes.

He also brought around 20 magic scrolls which he wrote during his free time. They contained Level-0 and Level-1 spells, allowing him to rapidly cast spells without consuming his Mana.

These magic scrolls indirectly increased Link's Maximum Mana, the thing limiting his battle competency. Lastly, Link also brought along a low-level Mana recovery potion.

He bought this potion for 20 gold coins from Herrera. This potion allowed him to recover 100 Mana instantly. Link was well prepared with gear to overcome his weakness of having a low Maximum Mana limit.

It wasn't long before they were ready. General Anderson also looked more refreshed after a satisfying meal. "Let's go," Link said.

Anderson was surprised at the quality of the magic weapons Link and his comrades had with them. He wanted to inquire more when his noble upbringing stopped him from poking into other's affairs.

He explained the situation to Link along the way.

"The bandit's hideout is too well-hidden, there are even conjuring spells cast around it. We're lucky enough to have even captured a Syndicate bandit after circling the mountains for such a long time," Anderson said, "The hideout is hidden in a cave within a canyon and looks extremely suspicious and eerie. As we are afraid it will be reinforced with magic, we do not want to take any chances."

Anderson had a look of fear when talking about the hideout. He was clearly traumatized by something he saw in the canyon.

Jacker raised the question that was lingering in everyone's heart, "What do you mean by eerie?"

Anderson recounted what he had seen with a pale face, "After finding the canyon, I personally led a group of soldiers into the canyon to investigate. However, less than 60 feet in, we felt as though there was a voice in our head, similar to that of a demon's whisper trying to bewitch you to the dark side. Just when we were about to turn back, a soldier went insane, his eyes were bloodshot red and his body twitched uncontrollably, attacking everyone in sight. In the short process of our retreat, at least three soldiers lost their minds and we had no choice but to kill them. When we got out of the canyon and turned back to mourn for the dead soldiers, we saw them standing back on their feet again like zombies! Oh, in the name of the God of Light, I bet there is a Necromancer hiding in the canyon!"

Anderson was stricken with fear. His voice rose by a few decibels when he recounted the story and there was a genuine cloud of dread in his eyes.

Link frowned and cast an Aura Detection spell on himself.

Anderson's aura was immediately clear to him. The strongest aura surrounding him was green in color. Anderson was a Level-4 Royal Knight with a wind element Battle Aura- it was thus no surprise that his wind elemental aura would be strong. However, the outermost layer of his aura was covered by a thin black veil, with skeleton figures emerging ever so often. It was as though the aura itself was alive.

Anderson was cursed by a type of black magic. He was able to resist its full effect due to his strong powers, only causing it to slightly affect his demeanor.

In this period, Link had also been learning other spells in addition to enchanting spells, especially so when he felt like taking a break from his research into enchanting magic

One of them was the Level-2 spell, Guarding Barrier, and the other was a Level-1 dispelling spell.

Of course, as time was tight, these were all basic spells without any enchantment from Supreme Magic Skills, but they were more than sufficient to deal with the current situation.

Dispel spells consumed very few Mana points. The average Mana consumption for a Level-1 spell was six Mana Points, while a Level-1 dispelling spell only consumed 3 Mana points. Link's Maximum Mana now was full at 148 points. He pointed his wand at Anderson and released the dispelling spell.

A warm glow of light enveloped the wand and gently flowed towards Anderson like a trickle of clear spring water; it spiraled down his body and disappeared in a shining sparkle.

Link checked on Anderson once again using his Aura Detection spell. The black aura that was enveloping him had already disappeared. It seemed that it was merely a Level-1 curse, and while it was super effective on normal soldiers, it would not have a huge effect on strong opponents.

Under the effect of the magic, Anderson could clearly feel a weight off his shoulder and the grasp of fear gripping his heart slowly loosening. On his way back from the forest, he was pale and afraid to even stare into the dark corners of the forest.

Now, he could bask in the warm and comforting sunlight of the Girvent Forest and enjoy listening to the melodious chirping of birds. He took a deep breath of the fresh air lined with the refreshing smell of the clear morning dew. The fatigue from his sleepless night seemed to be instantaneously lifted.

"Feeling better?" Link laughed.

"I feel like I was reborn," Anderson chirped with joy.

"If I am not wrong, a black magic formation was placed in that canyon and it'll afflict anyone who enters with a curse. As for the resurrection of the dead, it could have been an illusion or indeed the work of a Necromancer, I cannot be sure until I have seen it with my own eyes."

"Can it be dispelled?" Anderson hastily asked.

"It's definitely possible if the origin of the magic can be traced," Link answered.

Actually, he knew the exact reason for the resurrection. It was neither illusion magic nor Necromancy, but a type of divine spell from the sacrificial altar of Shadow Stalker Morpheus.

Morpheus was an extremely powerful Legendary character at the pinnacle that had come into contact with the Origin. He was currently preparing a seal that could contain even the power of gods, explaining the abundance of sacrificial altars in the Syndicate's hideout. Many of the Syndicate's bandits worshipped Morpheus as a god, providing him with some sort of divine powers. However, he was unable to fully control such powers as he was technically still a mortal, hence causing some of these powers to remain in the sacrificial altars. It eventually turned into black magic that resurrected the dead as protectors of the altars.

These divine spells only targeted the dead, and as long as the sacrificial altar was destroyed, the curse would be broken; there was nothing to fear. With this knowledge, Link relaxed.

Link was an expert on magic, and Anderson knew. He had once witnessed the battle between him and the Syndicate's elite bandits, and experienced the power of Link's dispelling magic. Seeing how confident Link was had put him at ease.

After four hours of trekking, they finally reached the canyon where the Syndicate's hideout lay. Yaksha and the River Cove Army could be seen in a camp at the entrance of the canyon.

"Did anything happen while I was gone?" Anderson was concerned- he immediately inquired about the situation the moment he reached the campsite.

Yaksha was in a bad shape. He was pale and had bloodshot eyes, definitely the work of the curse. He shook his head and said, "It was extremely quiet since last night, much like a cemetery."

Yaksha was a Level-3 Warrior and had a decently strong Battle Aura. Link immediately cast a dispel spell on Yaksha.

He then set his sights on the canyon in front of him.

Compared to the game, this canyon looked way more majestic and intimidating. The two sides of the canyon were at least 300 feet high and the gap was narrow at only 18 feet wide. There was also a blanket of uncomfortable eeriness aggravated by the lack of sunlight.

The howling wind sounded like cries of vengeful spirits as it passed through the narrow gap of the canyon. Coupled with the pitch black darkness, it indeed looked like the proverbial gate to hell.

The camp was at a slight distance from the canyon. "We need to get closer. General, Captain, I need the both of you to accompany me as you are the only ones that can resist the curse," Link requested.

The rest of the soldiers were mostly Level-1 and Level-2 Warriors- they would have difficulty fighting against the curse. On the other hand, it would be fine for Anderson, Yaksha, and his three followers.

Naturally, Level-3 Battle Aura could defend against a Level-1 curse.

The six of them then proceeded towards the canyon.

Link activated his Aura Detection spell and detected a thick dark miasma in the canyon. It was indeed only a Level-1 spell.

Link stepped into the canyon without any hesitation and his three followers confidently trailed behind him. Anderson, on the other hand, was still cautious, "Umm ... Link?"

"It's fine. Follow me."

Anderson and Yaksha followed begrudgingly.

Link immediately felt the bewitching voices that Anderson spoke of the moment he entered the canyon. There seemed to be a muffled voice in his head speaking things that he couldn't make sense of. Attempting to ignore it would send shivers down your spine. It felt like someone was breathing down your neck the entire time.

Other than Link, everyone showed signs of discomfort. Even the usually brave Jacker was hesitant in his steps.

"This is a curse of fear; ignore it, this is all it can do," Link said as he stepped forward with big, confident strides.

If Link, the frailest of them all did not display any signs of fear, then the rest had no choice but to follow suit.

Suddenly, after around 120 feet, an unfamiliar sound could be heard. "Beware!" Jacker hollered and jumped in front of Link, raising his shield.

Bang! The arrow was deflected by the shield, leaving a white spot on its surface.

Despite the low visibility in the canyon, Gildern spotted the attacker and immediately fired a shot in that direction. A red flash sped past and a cry of pain could be heard from the other end of the canyon followed by a loud thud. The ambusher was killed.

"Look, he was still alive," Link mentioned.

The rest of the squad heaved a sigh of relief. They were not afraid to fight people who were alive; the undead, on the other hand...

It wasn't long before Link witnessed the resurrection of the dead with his own eyes.

The Syndicate bandit who was just shot dead started thrashing on the ground in occasional spasms. After ten seconds, he slowly stood up, his limbs in unnatural positions due to the fractures he suffered from his fall. It was indeed a terrifying scene.

"Look, he's alive again!" Anderson screamed in fear.

The corpse stood at its position for a moment before turning in the opposite direction and walking deeper into the canyon. It wasn't long before he disappeared from their field of vision.

"What do we do now, my lord?" Jacker whispered. This was all too strange. Why didn't the corpse attack them?

There were no signs of fear on Link's face. Instead, he pointed straight in the direction where the corpse was heading. "Follow its trail and find the magic formation causing the curse!"

Everyone was at a loss for words. Did this young Magician not know fear?

Link had already started walking, unfazed by what had just happened. The rest of them unwillingly followed in his footsteps, amazed yet puzzled at his courage.