Chapter 38: Into the Ruins (Part 1)
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
“Let’s go.” Saleen pulled up Canghong and motioned for Sika to carry Sarah. Without much explanation, they quickly left the mound. His instincts warned him that he was in danger. If they rested here any longer, he was afraid that they wouldn’t be able to leave.
From afar came the growls of magic beasts, some fearful, some excited, and others full of anger. Saleen realized for the first time that a magic beast’s growl could contain such emotions.
However, it was too late for regrets and he could only activate the enormous energy from the mage robe, which granted him tremendous speed with which to run away.
He wasn’t afraid of the magic beasts. Sika had the ability to tame them. He was afraid of the people from the sacred Holy See. If they realized that he carried the magic nucleus of the dragon, even if there were no animosity between him and them, would that guarantee that they would not take action? This was the Chaotic Swamp; any killings would go unnoticed.
Saleen remembered clearly that back then, a single gold coin had almost cost him his life. The magic nucleus of a dragon was definitely something that had a much higher value and was worth stealing. Green dragon, green dragon!
Damn it. The professional union’s news had been purely lies. The green dragon had already been killed. This batch had caught the attention of the Red Line bandits after the dragon had been slaughtered by the Qin swordmasters. It was highly likely that this mission had been posted by the Qin swordmasters to confuse mercenaries who were nearby.
Green dragons were low class dragons; however, the value of their magic nuclei could not be compared to those of normal magic beasts. A great number of mercenaries would forgo their work ethics and kill for this magic nucleus.
A strange noise appeared. What accompanied this almost cough-like noise was the shaking of the ground.
“Boom! Boom! Boom!”
The sounds of steady footsteps led Saleen to turn around. What greeted him was the sight of a hill-like beast charging towards them. This beast was even larger than a giant dragon, and was at least thirty meters across. It had yellowish-brown skin with a single eye in the center of its forehead. It had a face similar to that of a human’s, only its skin was filled with scars, its nose was caved in, saliva drooled from his mouth, and a disgusting aura wafted from it even from afar.
Saleen lacked the common knowledge of a mercenary but had seen a lot of magic maps. This thing was too easy to recognize: a Grade 7 magic beast, hill cyclops.
Legend had it that hill cyclops were the descendants of giants. During the reign of the First Dynasty, humans had still possessed brutal strength. They captured many strange living things, and giants had been one of them.
Hill cyclops did not have the intelligence of giants, nor did they have their magic skills. However, because of their tough physical bodies, even the dragon clan would not go through the trouble of offending them. This creature had no wits. When it encountered any opponent, no matter how strong they were, it would pounce and fight with it. For the dragon clan, the hill cyclops were similar to gummy candies, because once they latched on there was no escaping. For Saleen and the others, this gummy candy would be their killer.
Sika panicked. She had no means of communicating with the hill cyclops, because this creature could not recognize anyone. Even during its mating phase, it could bite its lover to death. This explained why there were so few hill cyclops around.
Canghong was even more flustered, never having faced a Grade 7 magic beast before. Even a grand mage would not offend it, much less a small mercenary like him. Canghong realized sadly that being with this junior magician, he would forever encounter worsening things ahead of him.
The Vulture Regiment, sacred Holy See, Red Line bandits, and now a hill cyclops. What was even more vexing was that he had hired Saleen for a price much higher than what the union offered. This was a typical case of getting what one deserved.
The hill cyclops was not fast but its legs were over ten meters long. No matter how slowly it took a step, it was much faster than Saleen and the others. This location was a flat plain. There was no way Saleen and the others could hide.
“Canghong, how far away are the ruins!” Saleen shouted at the top of his lungs. At this point in time, he was no longer afraid of alerting the magic beasts.
“I have no idea. I can’t link up with the map!” Canghong started to pant. He was only trained so much in the sword aura and he was injured. The healing abilities of restorative water were nowhere near as fast as holy water. Perhaps if he had been given a week to recover, he could outrun the beast behind.
“Right side!” Saleen voice cracked from all the shouting. At this moment, Sika gained a burst of speed and grabbed Saleen by his waist. They ran past Canghong and dove headfirst into the pond that Saleen had pointed at. Canghong couldn’t have cared less about being angry. When fighting for one’s life, what counted was a person’s abilities. You couldn’t blame anyone for running faster than you.
The four of them landed in the water and the hill cyclops gave an angry growl and chased them forward, circling around the pond. It tested the water with its gigantic feet and realized it was very deep. Even along the edge, it couldn’t reach the bottom with its feet.
The hill cyclops couldn’t swim but wasn’t ready to give up its prey like this. It dug out a giant rock from the ground and threw it at the pond. Canghong’s head which was above the surface was nearly crushed by the giant rock. He immediately ducked his head back down in fear.
Saleen could breathe naturally underwater. This was the moment where the advantages of his magic chords shone. Deep waters were the best protective environment for Saleen. It was a good place for Sika, too, for she was good with water and it was nearly impossible to tell that she hardly showered. Only Sarah had not recovered from her injuries. Despite being more advanced with her sword aura than Canghong, she could hardly hold her breath any longer.
The hill cyclops at the side of the pond was still angrily throwing giant rocks into the water. With the hill cyclops’ strength, even if the rock was only the size of a fist, it would be fatal if it landed on anyone.
Saleen watched helplessly and could only try to create a bubble. This time, he drew air from the Ring of Gifts and enclosed it within a water shield, attaching the water shield to the back of Sarah’s head. He tried many times only to fail, as a new magic skill wasn’t that easy to create. Sarah was already bleeding from her ears, and her eyes were bulging, looking nothing like a pretty lady. Her bluish skin was thoroughly scary.
Saleen was down to his last resort, taking out all the air from the Ring of Gifts and creating a large bubble. He created the water shield directly around the bodies of Sika and Sarah. Saleen was highly focused and the water shield was finished almost immediately. He didn’t even realize that these efforts had left him with only half of his magic chords.
In the past, Saleen had only been able to create water shields the size of a basin. The magic released this time directly enclosed the bodies of the two, creating an all encompassing layer of protection. This could only be achieved by defense magic of at least Grade 4.
Sarah breathed in, the color returning to their skin. However, Canghong couldn’t hold his breath and floated to the surface again.
Saleen was worried about the speed with which he was using up his magic chords and had no way of helping Canghong. The moment Canghong’s head appeared above the water, a rock flew past his forehead. The air current carried by the rock was practically a sharp knife, cutting open Canghong’s tender skin. Canghong didn’t even blink, taking in a deep breath as he sank back down into the water.
A cloud of red spread in the water. Bone could be seen from the wound on Canghong’s forehead, causing his demonic looks to appear quite eerie. Without even waiting for the blood to disperse, dozens of fish each the size of a fist swam over and surrounded Canghong.
These fish did not have scales, but instead possessed a hard shell much like that of a turtle. Their mouths were abnormally big and contained razor sharp teeth. Canghong did not recognize these fish, but knew that there were no good living creatures to be found in the Chaotic Swamp. What was strange about this pond was that it was in the middle of an empty plain and had no rivers flowing into it. It wasn’t surprising that the creatures inside it were abnormal too. He unsheathed a thin sword and poked at the first fish that pounced at him.
Saleen could breathe effortlessly in the water but could not say a word. He recognized this fish. It was a Grade 5 magic beast: diasikala. This was a word from a tribal language meaning the jackal of the water. Even if Canghong had not been injured, he would not be a match for this magic beast in the water.
Saleen wanted immensely to help Canghong, but he was in danger himself. Five diasikala were swimming towards him. Saleen barely had a third of his magic chords remaining, probably enough to release another seven or eight Grade 1 magic spells. Even if the Grade 5 magic beast stayed put and let him attack, it was possible that he could not injure them enough to kill them.
The only thing Saleen could count on now was his water shields. Diasikala had small bodies and they were just the right size for Saleen’s water shields to completely enclose them.
Five consecutive streaks of water shields later, Saleen’s magic chords had nearly run out. They could no longer see what was happening with Canghong, a cloud of red having spread around and blocking their view.
Sarah struggled within the large bubble, watching as the many mutated fish pounced on Canghong, tearing off pieces of meat little by little. However, even if Sika had released her, she would not even be able to escape the water shield, much less help Canghong.
Sarah pressed both of her hands against the walls of the water shield. She opened her eyes, and tears began to flow from her blue eyes. She opened her mouth and screamed, but the water shield blocked out all sound.
Saleen could no longer cast any more spells. With his remaining magic chords, he still needed to maintain the biggest water shield. This continuous use of magic chords was something that only Grade 4 mages and above could achieve. The diasikala that were surrounded by the bubbles opened their mouths and released blue needles in a bid to break the water shield.
Blue needles were the natural magic of this magic beast. A Grade 1 magic shield could not block a Grade 5 magic attack, but what was surprising was that the Grade 5 magic attacks could only pass through the water shield without breaking the bubble.
Saleen quickly descended, ducking away from the attacks of the blue needles. He had nothing left to cast. The hill cyclops was still throwing rocks at the surface of the water, unwilling to leave, while underwater there were a swarm of Grade 5 magic beasts. This was the Chaotic Swamp, and was not a place where a Grade 1 magician should be.
Saleen was too flustered to care about anything. He twisted his body and floated upwards. In his heart, he was already repeating the words of the mantra on the Ring of Gifts. Using space to start this curse, breaking apart from the third node and rearranging it, that is the protection of the goddess. Who knew what this spell was used for, but Saleen was at his wit’s end. He knew clearly that the Goddess of Nature had already fallen and that what he was doing was fruitless, but he wasn’t ready to give up. Even if there was only a slim chance, he had to try.
Myers Goddess, protect me!
For the first time in his life, Saleen said a prayer. When his head emerged from the water’s surface, he started reciting the curse. Rearranging the twenty-four characters, it was harder to pronounce. Saleen focused, not looking at the hill cyclops at the pond side that was searching for more rocks. He spoke each word clearly, rhythmically reading out the twenty-four characters.
A green light shone on the Ring of Gifts for a moment, but nothing else happened. Saleen’s heart fell. Praying to a fallen goddess was like chasing after a debt from the dead.
In this world, one could only count on their own strength!
Saleen had been complaining in his heart about the gods when pain shot up his legs, his shoes already having been bitten apart. The hill cyclops by the pool side had dug up another giant rock and was about to throw it.
This fool. It could easily have destroyed him by releasing any form of magic, but here it was throwing things at people. Saleen gave the hill cyclops a smile before diving back into the water.