Chapter 34: Advancing (Part 1)
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
There was no need for Canghong to consider it any further. When Saleen had killed the holy master of the Holy See, he should have gone his separate ways from him. Was it was too late to say anything now, since the person from the Red Line bandit gang had already been killed? There was no point in worrying. It was his destiny. In any case, since he would not be able to continue living in Sikeqinya, he might as well gamble and leave it to fate.
He took the spear blade from his back, took a deep breath of the blood-filled odor in the air, and said to Saleen, “Mage Merlin, I will trouble Sika to protect Sarah while I protect you. From now on, we will split the earnings from the mission in half.”
“Very fair!” Saleen replied while searching for bank notes and gold coins on the archer.
Canghong’s squad was now down to the two of them, and their combat power was not as strong as that of Saleen and Sika’s. Now the only thing Canghong could count on was the fact that he held the secrets to the relic. What Saleen wanted most was this relic, after all.
“Should we rest a little?” Canghong had seen Saleen cast that spell. Despite their association being a one-time deal, he wanted to see it through to the end. If Saleen died, it would be unfortunate for him.
“Not necessary. Let’s take a look.” Saleen was holding on to a Grade 3 magic nucleus in his hands again. These magic nuclei were losing their value after the repeated absorption and were nearing the point where they would need to be discarded.
A piece of Grade 3 magic nucleus such as this one cost one hundred and fifty gold coins. Within the short time frame of half a day, Saleen had already used up one of them. It was easy to imagine how being a mage was a profession that burned up loads of money.
The battle in the forest ahead was in full swing. This indicated that the capabilities of both parties were matched, or else it would have ended quietly. It was truly impressive that the squad being hunted down still had such strength at this point.
This group of humans were engaged in a massive battle in the middle of magic beast territory, causing such a stir that the magic beasts nearby had all run away with no intentions of joining in.
Corpses were everywhere!
Saleen had not expected the battle ahead of them to be so intense. He could see one corpse for every few steps he took. Canghong’s expression also looked odd. He bent down, carefully examined a corpse, and said to Saleen, “Those from the Vulture Regiment have been wiped out. This person is the chief of the squad with a hundred members.”
“Find the body of the mage!” Saleen was most concerned about whether the mage hidden in the Vulture Regiment was dead. It would be fortunate if he had died. No matter who had killed him, this mage would be his scapegoat.
“This looks like him.” Canghong picked up a finger. There was holy prose tattooed on the finger, which had a long fingernail.
“Zealot!” Saleen finally said something of profound meaning, and such fundamental knowledge was not incomparable to Canghong’s. Most zealots had holy prose tattooed all over their bodies, even over their concealed areas. The cultivation of these zealots may not have been as assiduous as that of the ascetics, but the power of these lunatics were much more formidable.
“This side too,” Sika shouted.
Obviously, this zealot’s body had been smashed to pieces. His body parts were scattered everywhere, with none amounting to more than half a kilogram in weight.
“This is the regular army’s doing.” Canghong’s low voice did not match his appearance at all.
“Regular army?” Saleen was puzzled. The regular army referred to the army which only served the royalty of the four big empires. The combat power of the regular army could not be compared to that of the mercenaries. The problem was, why had the regular army appeared in the territory of adventurers? There was neither anything of military value in the Chaotic Swamp nor did the territory belong to any royalty.
“Look.” Canghong ripped open the outer coat of a corpse, revealing dark black armor.
“This is stainless steel scale armor. The use of it by any force other than the regular army is equivalent to a rebellion.”
Saleen also bent over, tore off a piece of damaged cloth, and wiped the blood stains off of the face of the corpse. Black hair, black eyes, and a somewhat plain-looking face. The nose ridge was not very high, and while the features had been a little distorted, one could tell that they were different from the people of Sikeqinya.
“This person was from the Qin Empire!”
“Do we need to make a detour?” Canghong now knew that he had entangled himself with more than one single mishap this time. The Vulture Regiment had obviously had another mission, but had chanced upon a clue belonging to the Red Line bandit gang. The target of the Red Line bandit gang had unexpectedly been the regular army of the Qin Empire.
Now that the Vulture Regiment had been wiped out, it seemed that it would no longer be necessary for him to proceed.
Saleen also hesitated. The men under the oracle in the Vulture Regiment were all dead. If he turned back swiftly, he could shake off the Holy See’s pursuit for the time being. However, after thinking that, he also thought that if he was able to help the regular army of the Qin Empire, he might not be without kith and kin when he reached the Qin Empire.
“Canghong, we may not obtain any benefits from the relic, but the real benefits are before us.”
Canghong nodded and also began to search the corpses for money and equipment. Having grown accustomed to it, mercenaries did not face any psychological barriers in doing this.
The members of the Red Line bandit gang were wealthy. It was more realistic to take advantage of the situation than search for the relic. After all, there was a chance that there would be nothing at the relic. The members of the Red Line bandit gang had plenty of bank notes with them. The average bandit gang would not do such a thing, so the Red Line bandit gang was considered unique in terms of this.
Pocketing the spoils from the corpses, Sika placed Sarah in between two corpses and said, “Bear with it. I will be right back.”
Sarah nodded her head. Sika rubbed fresh blood on Sarah’s face to disguise her as a corpse, and then the three of them, including Saleen, walked towards the location where the intense combat sounds were coming from.
This was a clearing in the plot of forest, and the soil beneath their feet was more dried up. More than a dozen people were intertwined together, their sword auras moving freely. Canghong took the lead in charging into the group, his sword blade immediately attacking a member of the bandit gang.
Both parties were dressed in bright colors, but the difference was apparent at a glance. Those from the bandit gang were wearing leather armor while those being hunted down were clad in fabric, with stainless steel scale armor within.
There were still a dozen people left from the Red Line bandit gang, while the squad being hunted down was down to four swordsmen.
Saleen’s perception swiftly swept across the battleground and obtained clarity of the situation. The Red Line bandit gang had an advantage in terms of numbers. The four swordsmen being hunted down, who had been split up by the Red Line bandit gang, were struggling to fight their own battles. The most powerful swordsman, who was holding a strange looking long sword, was fending off the attacks of six bandits by himself.
This Qin Empire swordsman’s long sword was four feet long like a heavy sword, but the entire blade was comparatively average. The sword body had three sword ridges, increasing the power of the long sword. Was this the Qin Empire’s most powerful eight-faceted Qin sword?
This long sword was extremely sharp, and its sword aura was moving through the Qin swordsman’s hand. The six bandits who were surrounding him were actually unable to get close. By this time, the swordsman who was holding the eight-faceted Qin sword was furious in his heart. He was being restrained by these six bandits, and had thus been unable to rescue his comrades. He felt helpless as he watched his subordinates being killed one after another.
Canghong was even more furious than he was. After Canghong had charged into the group with his sword blade, he realized that Saleen and Sika had not made any moves. Although the sword blade was one of the weapons that every mercenary needed to learn, Canghong was not skilled at it. His opponent was a heavily-armored swordsman, and this bandit was the only person in the bandit gang who wore heavy armor.
This heavily-armored swordsman turned and striked with his sword, cracking open Canghong’s sword blade. The heavy sword circled back and chopped its top off.
Canghong held his sword blade sideways, blocking the hacks made by the heavy sword. The handle of the sword which had been coiled with metal wire was nearly cut off by this hacking, and it could no longer be used. This heavily-armored swordsman was not watching his back as he lifted his heavy sword and attacked again. The speed of his strike was amazing. Canghong’s weapon was unwieldy and did not allow him to make any counterattacks, forcing him to only continue taking hits.
Was this young mage trying to harm him?
A thought popped up in Canghong’s mind and sent a chill down his back. He was a little regretful that he had had revealed his murderous intentions to the mage earlier. He recalled what his chief had once told him – if you do not have the confidence to kill the mage, then never let him know your thoughts. This was because mages were people who held grudges. If you offended a mage, it would be far scarier than offending the emperor.
Saleen was well aware of the situation. The most powerful person in the Red Line bandit gang was not participating in the attack, but stayed to the side. This bandit gang chief held a dagger in his hand. The dagger was slightly long, almost like a short sword. His face was masked with a black cloth, and there was red trimming on the edge of this black cloth.
Saleen’s perception swept across the field. Only this bandit felt it and looked over to this side, casting a deadly stare towards the large tree that Saleen was hiding near. Such sharp senses were equivalent to those of an intermediate swordsman.
An intermediate swordsman was a Grade 5 professional who possessed a formidable sword aura. Their combat power was equivalent to that of a Grade 4 mage.
Swordsmen were not archers. If they were able to get close to him, he would be dead meat. Saleen had a hint of fear in him, but what he felt more than fear was excitement. To him, it was not impossible to kill this intermediate swordsman. He was a mage with lineage, and understood that such professional grading was just a point of reference.
In the time that it took for the sword aura to leave the body to attack, a junior mage could kill a senior swordsman and swordmaster. Only a grand swordmaster would be undefeatable. Furthermore, Sika was next to him. Although Sika’s grade was unknown, it would not be an issue for her to at least stop this swordsman. Half of Saleen’s confidence came from Sika. As a mage who had a Caucasus warrior with him, his combat strength had definitely shot up significantly.
Saleen slowly walked out from behind the tree. Six bubbles were floating around his body. This was his utmost limit, supporting six water shields at the same time and using half of his mental power. If he increased it any further, he would not be able to control his attacking magic.
The bandit holding the dagger saw this scene. The sides of his mouth quivered. A mage who could maintain six shield spells? Could he be a mage master?
Although the combat power of an intermediate swordsman was considered parallel to that of a Grade 4 mage, an intermediate swordsman would not be a match for a mage master if he were to come face-to-face with one.
Saleen smiled, lifted his finger, and pointed gently. A white line shot out and struck the heavy sword of the heavily-armored swordsman.
Ding. The icicle had made a hole in the heavy sword, and at the same time enveloped it in a layer of frost. Canghong quickly threw his sword blade down, drew the three-edged dagger, and threw it at the waist of the heavily-armored swordsman.
The three-edged dagger by itself was meant to supplement the other weapons of the mercenaries, and was specially designed to cut through armor. With this strike, the armor of the heavily-armored swordsman seemed as weak as crumpled paper. With a puff sound, blood became visible at his waist.
Saleen had not even chanted any mantras. The spells he had prepared earlier were deployed one after another without pause.
A white round rim with a diameter of about four meters instantly appeared on the ground – Frost Array, a Grade 1 Water Series spell.
This was a semi-supplementary spell and could slow down the movement speed of its targets by eighty percent while producing a freezing effect. If a person without sword aura remained in the Frost Array for more than one minute, they would be frozen to death.
Magic could not differentiate friend from foe. Saleen had exerted his utmost strength to deploy Frost Array. In an instant, the clearing in the forest had become silvery white. The swordsmen and bandits in the hunting squads were engulfed in it, their speed completely slowed down.