Chapter 33: The Red Line Bandits (Part 2)
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Canghong’s soft whip had been badly torn by the heavily-armored swordsman, and the remaining weapons he had were Lucas’ three-edged dagger and a sword blade which he carried on his back. Sika carried Sarah while also carrying the large cudgel she owned on her back. Sarah was uncomfortable with it, but there was no other option as Sika was the only one unhurt in the squad. Besides the fact that Saleen was also injured, it would also have been unrealistic to ask a mage to carry a swordsman.
The Fog of Confusion drifted within the cave, concealing all four of them. They were about to reach the end of the cave, and the scenario that Canghong had worried about did not happen. The squads ahead of them had most likely already left the cave and entered the Chaotic Swamp. The Vulture Regiment’s last squad had also not been inside the cave. Once they walked into the light, the faint fog escaped from the cave and everything became visible again.
Saleen could only spread out the Fog of Confusion and walk carefully behind it. Walking towards the south, there were no traces of any battles. The Red Forest was ahead of them. As it was late autumn, the water in the Red Forest had dwindled and the rivers were mostly dried up, leaving only muddy ground. However, there were puddles scattered around and they could hear fish writhing around trying to breathe despite the low water levels in the river. A large black cat patiently waited to one side while a short-tailed eagle circled in the sky above, adding life into the forest.
A strange feeling came over Saleen. After he had spread out the Fog of Confusion, he felt that he had not reduced his line of sight but had expanded it instead. Everything in a range of a hundred meters seemed to be much clearer. A caterpillar emerged from the bark of a tree, spitting out some transparent slime. Leafcutter ants were busy using their jaws to bite through leaves, leaving leaf fibers behind. Saleen even saw a turtle on the ground. This low-level magic beast was good at hiding, as its slow breathing made it nearly undetectable. However, Saleen could actually hear its heartbeat, down to the rhythmic beating of all four of its hearts.
A Grade 1 mage was able to perceive his surroundings within a range of roughly ten meters, but not with such clarity. Even if Saleen had not been within the Fog of Confusion, he would still only be able to perceive a range of up to twenty meters. Saleen gave it some careful thought and then removed his green ring. Following this, his level of perception dropped sharply as though he had returned to his chaotic past.
After putting on the ring again, his previous level of perception returned. Saleen smiled. This was an unexpected surprise. The ability to estimate distance and the clarity one had of their surroundings would determine the distance in which spells could be cast and the outcomes they would produce. For example, in theory, a Grade 1 spell could be used to attack a target who was more than twenty meters away. To ensure accuracy and to prevent the opponent from dodging, the spell was best kept within the range of perception. For the majority of Grade 1 mages, this would be up to ten meters. If it was any further than that, their perception would become unclear and they would need to rely on binoculars. A distance within ten meters was where swordsmen were the most powerful. However, if a mage was unable to extend his range of perception, he would not be able to hold any significant advantage over the swordsman. Relying on binoculars would not help with tracking, as agile swordsmen could hide from them with ease.
Now that Saleen’s perception had increased to cover a range of over a hundred meters, he would not need to worry about lacking sufficient perception before he attained the level of mage master. Canghong suddenly stopped. Saleen followed suit and stopped advancing.
Sounds of combat were coming from up ahead. They could discern the sounds with just their ears. There were sounds of metal hitting each other, labored breaths, and shouts of pain. Saleen subconsciously moved to stand behind a tree, not caring that his shoes were dirtied by the mud into a blackish brown. Sika let Sarah down and got her to lean against a tree.
What bad luck!
Saleen felt very frustrated. To think that the fugitive squad had the same idea as him and had headed into the dangerous Red Forest. Both the fugitive and trailing squads did not have any holy masters or Caucasus warriors with them, and hence would not have a good chance of survival if they met with any dinodemons or soul killers.
If he had known, he would have rather taken a detour.
“Who is that? Retreat!” A shout came from the front. At the same time, an arrow shot towards Saleen. Saleen hid behind the tree, remaining vigilant as he had no time to deploy his water shields. He bent down, nearly lying on the ground. The arrow went through the tree trunk and flew over the top of Saleen’s head.
The arrow’s track seemed to go up and down, making it difficult to dodge. If Saleen had been any slower, it would have pierced his head. Saleen discovered the archer at once, his joy at his increased perception having disappeared. His grade was still too low, given that he had not detected this fellow who was hiding fifty meters away.
Saleen’s face turned stony. A distance of fifty meters and his magic could not detect the person’s location and counterattack. A mage grandmaster would be able to attack in a range further than two hundred meters. Now, he could only watch as the archer readied his bow and arrow and took aim.
The archer pointed his weapon at Saleen and shouted, “Red Line at work. Get lost.”
“Red Line who?” Saleen was well-read but was not aware of current affairs.
Canghong’s lips quivered and he said grudgingly, “It is the Red Line bandit gang.”
“Strange, I seem to have an impression. Sika, do you remember?”
“Chief, the eighth on the bounty list. Each one of them is worth a hundred gold coins in reward. The Red Line chief’s life is worth twenty thousand gold coins. You have spoken about this.” Twenty thousand? Is that not more than mine? Saleen thought about Earl Sufonso’s pursuit of him. The amount offered was far less than that of this bandit chief. He felt that he had better not offend this Red Line bandit gang.
Saleen took his time to deploy four water shields, letting the bubbles containing the magic shields surround his body. Then he turned around, pulling out the arrow behind him. He looked up at the archer in the tree provocatively, then broke the arrow in half with both of his hands.
There was a snap and the arrow broke. Saleen threw the arrow on the ground and smiled at the archer.
“Mage Saleen!” Canghong panicked. Although the other party was aggressive, they were only trying to chase his squad away and had no real intentions of attacking. Even the entire Falcon Regiment may not have been able to afford offending the Red Line bandit gang, let alone him by himself.
Saleen gave a chilling laugh. “His first shot was intent on killing me. If I had died, do you think he would have let you off? I am going to get back at him for that shot. If you are afraid, then just wait for me here.”
As Saleen spoke, he evoked the Potency spell on his mage robe and charged at the archer.
The Potency spell was a Grade 1 spell and was a combined spell. It could increase the user’s strength and also increased their ability to counterattack. It was a type of Ground Magic, which Saleen had needed to deploy with the aid of a magic nuclei he was carrying.
“You’re courting death!” the archer said ferociously. His vision was sharp and he saw the symbols on Saleen’s mage robe indicating that he was merely a Grade 1 mage.
As long as there was some distance between them, an archer’s threat to a Grade 1 mage was greater than that of a swordsman.
Saleen’s footwork was clumsy since he did not possess the Wind Speed skill. His movements were only slightly faster than that of a normal person. The archer’s bow was poised by the time he was halfway across, and a shot flew out. “Puff!”
A bubble had burst, the water shield disappearing. The archer had effortlessly caught up with the second arrow; the two arrows nearly formed a line, and burst the second bubble.
Let me see how many magic chords you have! When the archer shot for the third time, he held three arrows between his fingers. Saleen looked solemn. A few bubbles of varying sizes appeared before him and blocked the archer’s Rapid Arrow skill.
Forty meters, thirty meters, twenty meters…
Each time he moved forward by ten meters, the archer shot at least nine arrows. Each time the arrow had burst a bubble, they were immediately replaced by a new bubble. The archer’s face looked grim. Could this mage’s true identity be that of a mage master?
Impossible. He would not be able to burst a mage master’s magic shields at all! Thinking about it, he realized that the situation was no longer in his favor.
Saleen was only twenty meters away. The archer was still up in the tree, unable to leave even though he wanted to. This was the farthest distance that a spell could reach, meaning that Saleen could be a threat to his life if he were a truly dedicated Grade 1 mage. As he approached the archer, Saleen became calmer. He even recalled his past, thinking about how he had humbly approached a repugnant merchant at the market just to get half of a biscuit. He had withstood the beating silently because he had not known what resistance was.
Until the day that he had landed in the dungeon over a gold coin and Jason had came to his rescue, Saleen suddenly realized that his former life up until then had been hell.
Never wanting to lead that type of life again, Saleen smiled as he cast a spell using both hands. He recited a magic mantra with a distinctive rhythm loudly. The archer touched his quiver, but there was nothing left as he had used up all of his arrows. After he had used his last arrow, the mage’s magic shields had not increased in number. It was as though he had known that the archer was depleted of weapons.
The archer was not willing to wait for his death and put down his bow which was made of an animal’s horn. He took out his dagger and pounced towards the bottom of the tree, doubting that the mage would have any combat ability. As long as he was within the ten meter range…
Puff! An unusually dreary silence followed. An icicle thicker than an arm struck the archer’s head, pulverizing it in an instant.
Canghong was astounded. This attack was beyond his knowledge of magic. Being a mercenary from a Grade 4 regiment, he was not completely ignorant about magic. Canghong could identify that Saleen was using Grade 1 magic, but this Grade 1 spell had been extraordinarily powerful. The speed of this huge icicle was so fast that it had even escaped Canghong’s eyes. This meant that once Saleen had locked down his spell, even a Grade 4 professional would not be able to avoid it.
After this attack, Saleen’s state was at its peak. Second deployment; release of a Grade 2 spell; instant magic, he had perfectly blended these three high level techniques to give the Grade 1 spell the effect of a Grade 3 spell. As he looked at the pulverized head of the fallen archer, Saleen said with a tinge of regret, “What a shame about those one hundred gold coins!”