Book 3, Mountain Range of Magical Beasts - Chapter 15, Cruelty
Within the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, next to a spring, Linley dressed his wounds as he also began absorbing earth elemental essence to heal his wound. The ever-benevolent Mother Earth is always kind and selfless. Standing on the earth, Linley felt his wounds slowly heal, filling his heart with peace.
By now, Linley had already exchanged backpacks. His own backpack, in terms of both quality of leather and quality of workmanship, was far inferior to the assassin's. In addition, the assassin's backpack had an interior which was meticulously laid out. Once the lock was tightened, all of the items inside the backpack would be securely fastened, and the backpack itself would not impede movement in the slightest. And that assassin's black dagger was also extremely sharp, and Linley found that it was quite easy to wield.
With a flicker, Linley's body moved, and he suddenly disappeared into the mountain forests. Linley didn't even bother to pay any attention to magical beasts of the first or second ranks. The most commonly seen beasts were of the third and fourth ranks. But if he ran into a magical beast of the fifth rank, Linley had confidence in at least giving them a good tussle.
As he drew deeper and deeper into the mountain ranges, Linley encountered one bloody, cruel battle after another. He experienced many ambushes and assassination attempts. After all of these battles, the wounds and scars on Linley's body grew more and more plentiful as well, while Linley's spirit grew more and more tenacious.
These life-and-death battles caused Linley's mind to become tougher, and his actions to become more merciless.
In the blink of an eye, a month had passed since Linley had entered the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts.
A month later, on top of a large tree located next to a mountain spring.
There was a long scar on the left side of his face. Linley's back was arched, and he was hidden on top of the tree like a panther lying in ambush.
Right now, Linley was hidden in the middle of many leaves, staring straight down at the ground. Just a few dozen feet away from the tree which Linley was hiding in was a small creek, and drinking water from the creek was a powerfully built Bloodthirsty Warpig. A single, blood-colored horn protruded out from above the Warpig's nose, and muscles bulged throughout its body, like the gnarled roots of a tree.
Bloodthirsty Warpig, a magical beast of the fifth rank, fire-element!
"This Bloodthirsty Warpig has a tough, thick skin. It's defensive abilities are exceedingly strong. Most likely, the earthen spear techniques wouldn't be able to penetrate its skin."
Linley had a sudden insight, and began to formulate a plan. Immediately, his lips began to move silently as he soundlessly began to mouth the words to a spell. Slowly, the wind elemental essences around Linley began to swirl about him, forming into a bluish, translucent javelin in front of him. The translucent javelin's tip had gusts of wind flowing about it.
Wind-style magic of the fifth rank - Windhowl!
A piercing sound could be heard as the Windhowl javelin shot downwards with terrifying speed. At the same time, Linley jumped down from the tree's crown, leaping down with as much speed as the javelin.
Upon hearing the noise, the Bloodthirsty Warpig stopped drinking water and stared up, but the Windhowl javelin was simply too fast. In the blink of an eye, it traversed the distance and was only a few meters away from the Warpig. The javelin's speed really was frighteningly fast, and its tip was covered with gusts of wind.
"Grrrr!" The Bloodthirsty Warpig let out an angry howl, and it used the horn above its snout to strike viciously at the Windhowl javelin.
The javelin formed from the Windhowl spell crashed directly onto the horn of the Bloodthirsty Warpig. The Windhowl javelin immediately dissipated, but at the same time, after taking a hit from a spell of the fifth rank, the Warpig couldn't help but half-kneel from the force of the blow, with a bloody scar appearing on its forehead as well.
Before the Warpig had a chance to react, right behind the Windhowl javelin was Linley, who with all his might, struck down at the center of the head of the Warpig with his newly acquired black dagger. The dagger penetrated directly into the skull of the Warpig, and as it did, Linley immediately dodged.
Having been stabbed in a vital spot, the Bloodthirsty Warpig roared furiously. Flames began to arise on its body, and it also began charging forward with no regard for anything. But after rushing a few dozen meters, it collapsed. Its four legs quivered a few times before coming to a stop, and all of the fire on its body began to die as well.
"Amongst the magical beasts of the fifth rank, much like the Vampiric Iron Bull, the Bloodthirsty Warpig is considered a beast of rather low intelligence." Linley walked to the corpse of the Warpig, pulled out his dagger, and removed the magicite core from within the Warpig's corpse.
Thinking back to his recent life in the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, Linley couldn't help but admit to himself that although he was still a magus of the fifth rank and a fighter of the fourth rank, his actual combat ability had increased tremendously compared to when he had first entered the mountains.
After multiple life-and-death struggles, his body was covered with scars which symbolized painful lessons learned over this month.
On his chest, there was an extremely horrifying wound. That time, he really was at death's door. In the end, it was the little Shadowmouse who once again saved the day.
This wound wasn't given to him by a magical beast. It was given to him by an extremely adorable young lady.
"Back then, I really trusted her. I really believed that her friends had all been killed, and that the only one left was her, injured and alone." Thinking back to the events of two weeks prior, Linley once again felt a stab of terror. That girl had seemed so kind, so pure.
When Linley discovered her, three other men and another girl had all died. Only she was left, filled with terror.
Linley couldn't help but go comfort her, help her, take care of her. That girl had seemingly suffered a huge mental blow. Every night, she insisted that Linley hold her, as only in Linley's arms did she feel safe enough to go to sleep. Every night, upon seeing the peaceful look on her face as she went to sleep, Linley felt joy in his heart. Three days passed in such a fashion. On the fourth night, she once again was sleeping quietly in Linley's bosom.
But suddenly, this adorable girl pulled out a dagger and stabbed directly at Linley's chest, with Linley caught totally offguard.
And then, the enraged Bebe had suddenly, bizarrely, doubled in size. His enormous jaws bit off the girl's head with a single bite, immediately killing her. And then, Bebe returned to his normal size.
But Linley couldn't staunch the flow of blood from the deep wound in his chest. In the end, the little Shadowmouse, Bebe, was forced to use some special darkness-type magic techniques to close the wound.
"Back then, I should've listened to Grandpa Doehring's advice. I lacked experience." Linley thought to himself and sighed. Originally, Doehring Cowart had warned him several times about the girl. In the end, seeing that Linley was stubbornly set on assisting the 'helpless' little girl, there was nothing that Doehring Cowart could do. But he still tried to insist that even if Linley was going to help her, that he absolutely must not allow her to get near him.
But at the time, the girl was extremely 'terrified', and wasn't able to fall asleep without Linley holding her. In the end, in order to comfort her, Linley held her in her arms, and they both went to sleep.
"I really didn't expect that her acting abilities would be so good. I treated her so well, but she could be so merciless to me." Linley sighed again in his heart. When that girl had stabbed him in the chest, he had seen the vicious look in her eyes, and his heart had grown cold.
What had caused this girl to be so heartless and merciless?
Could it be that despite taking care of her for three full days, she hadn't been moved in the slightest?
"Fortunately, thanks to Grandpa Doehring warning me over and over again, I didn't reveal Bebe's true capabilities to her." Linley couldn't help but admit that his life had been preserved thanks to Doehring Cowart and Bebe.
"Linley, what are you thinking about? Are you thinking about that girl again?" Doehring Cowart appeared by Linley's side.
Seeing the look on Linley's face, Doehring Cowart was able to guess what he was pondering. That stab from the girl had injured Linley deeply, not just in the flesh, but also in his heart. From that day onwards, Linley no longer would easily trust others.
From the very beginning, Doehring Cowart had sensed that there were some problems with the girl. How could someone with the courage to enter the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts be so totally discombobulated by the sight of death?
Unfortunately, Linley was still totally convinced by the girl's performance, and really felt that the girl was very 'pitiable'.
"Linley, that girl's performing abilities was nothing. Back in my time, in the Pouant Empire, I saw so many plots from enemy countries, plots which involved decades of subterfuge and lies which were totally undetectable. Their acting abilities are beyond your comprehension." Doehring Cowart smiled faintly as he spoke. "Remember, don't easily lower your guard when dealing with a stranger."
Linley nodded slightly.
"Squeak, squeak!" The little Shadowmouse, Bebe, began to call out from next to Linley.
Linley looked up.
Right now, the little Shadowmouse was leaping up and down atop the Warpig's corpse.
"Boss, when are we gonna go to the central areas of the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts?" Bebe mentally spoke to Linley in a somewhat unhappy tone. "In this current area, the strongest creatures that we can meet are magical beasts of the sixth rank. They aren't much of a challenge. I want to challenge magical beasts of the seventh rank, boss! I want to challenge magical beasts of the seventh rank!"
Linley glanced at the little Shadowmouse. "That's enough. Don't get too cocky. You are bragging that magical beasts of the sixth rank are too easy? Do you remember that Bluewind Hawk from the other day? Was there anything you could do to him?"
"That's not my fault!" Bebe rubbed his head with his tiny paws as he said unhappily, "Boss, you saw yourself. That Bluewind Hawk stayed in the skies and refused to come down. He just kept on throwing magical wind knives at us, as though they didn't cost him any mageforce at all. I couldn't just let him attack me without end, could I?"
Over the course of the past month, Linley had become very familiar with the little Shadowmouse's abilities. In terms of speed, Bebe had reached a terrifying level indeed. But because he was physically small and only had his claws and teeth as offensive weapons, although Bebe was capable of dealing with magical beasts of the sixth rank, he most likely would find it quite hard to deal with a magical beast of the seventh rank.
Just at this moment, Linley suddenly frowned. He cautiously turned his head and saw a blurred human outline appear in the wilderness.
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