The Tarrag Canyon of the Brut Merchant Alliance is a restricted area. Any ordinary man could only dream of entering such a place. Just like in the Dark Forest in the Lancelot Empire, only the most willed of adventurers would ever dare venture into its depths.
Owing to the abnormal behaviors of the magical beasts in Tarrag Canyon some time ago, many an eager traveller has been driven away. With the addition of warnings of lightning from sacred magus Reynold Dila of Brut Merchant Alliance, everyone kept a distance from Tarrag Canyon.
The followers of the Dark Mantle under Cecilia ventured into the Tarrag Canyon with Cecilia and Han Shuo leading them. They discovered not a trace of a single soul having ever set foot there. The Canyon was eerily tranquil.
The hills of the Tarrag Canyon were far more uneven compared to the likes of the Dark Forest of the Lancelot Empire, with a swamp at its every crevice.
“In the recent days, countless forces have dispatched their people to catch a glimpse of activity within the Tarrag Canyon. But the magical beasts that resided there seemed to have gone mad, and with that, increasingly violent, causing countless deaths and driving many more away from the Canyon,” Cecilia groaned in annoyance, her voice almost shaky as she dragged along.
Behind her were twelve Dark Mantle members directly under her control. She usually brought these twelve members of Dark Mantle with her wherever she went. Amongst them were magi, swordsmen, knights, bandits and archers. Together, they formed a complete team.
These twelve worthy subordinates were carefully handpicked by Cecilia herself. Over the course of years working together they have forged a certain harmony that only the most in-sync of teams could emulate, and, through even the most of dire times, emerged the victor. Furthermore, with the addition of the formidable Han Shuo there was no denying the power possessed by this team.
“Dame, why is it that there has been no trace of human intervention our whole way here?” Ticaru the bandit asked solemnly with caution as he examined the area.
Throughout the journey, Ticaru was focused only on scouring the place, not unlike a monkey as he scouted in every direction, providing the party with timely information. Despite having travelled deep into the canyon for half the day, they hadn’t met a single team of adventurers, nor anyone at all entering the Tarrag Canyon for that matter. The situation was baffling.
According to the scouts of the Dark Mantle, several adventurers had, in the past few days, entered the Tarrag Canyon. It would have made sense to have come across at least a few of them.
“I have no idea. Perhaps they have ventured far deeper into the canyon. Perhaps we should pick up our pace,” Cecilia replied without much thought. Her gaze, intentionally or otherwise, landed on Han Shuo, who was walking behind them.
Ever since they entered the Tarrag Canyon, Han Shuo had remained silent. He had merely followed closely behind their backs, and would, from time to time, study an enormous magic book. He didn’t seem the least bit concerned with the dangerous endeavour of descending into the Tarrag Canyon.
And indeed, that was quite simply the case.
Just when Cecilia woke him up in his secret room, Han Shuo began to delve into the enigma that was the Boundary of Weakness, and was perplexed with certain difficulties of the magic. He continuously withdrew magical tomes from his space ring, and studied and pondered on the subject assiduously.
Ssssss… A creature was approaching from afar.
Ticaru the bandit creased his brows, and sprung from a large tree straight towards another. He grabbed onto the branch of a slender willow tree and continued towards the source of the noise to figure out what was happening.
“It seems as though some magical beasts are coming. We must be careful, large hordes of magical creatures are difficult to handle. Hopefully we won’t be so unlucky this time!” Cecilia said to her subordinates as she withdrew a staff specially made for priests.
Han Shuo, who was in deep thought about how the Boundary of Weakness causes enemies to grow mentally and physically weak, had actually heard the ‘Sssss’ noise approaching well before the rest did. Without the need for mystical demons dispersing in every direction, Han Shuo managed to detect several hundred magical beasts drawing closer and closer to them with his consciousness. These hundred or so magical beasts approaching were of assorted ranks, mostly ranks three or four. The most powerful of them were just three first-tier magical beasts. There was an absence of any super-ranked magical creatures present in the wave, therefore Han Shuo felt no obligation for concern on his part.
The bandit, who had earlier swung away past the willows, had just then springboarded himself into the air off a branch, and landed firmly before Cecilia. “The beasts are approaching in the hundreds. They seem to be coming for us!” Ticaru reported in a low voice.
“Prepare for battle. These magical beasts shouldn’t be too hard to handle!” Cecilia ordered decisively. Soon after, they had begun to set up trap boundaries. The archers, magi, and swordsmen assumed their positions, with the magi and archers in the very middle, as they drew their weapons, defending the grounds.
Sitting in the center, Han Shuo creased his brows, and temporarily laid down his monstrous book. He looked at Cecilia, who was instructing her subordinates to deploy defense boundaries, and asked, grinning faintly, “Need any help?”
“Thanks, but we can handle this for now!” Cecilia replied, confident that she could deal with this group of magical beasts.
Han Shuo nodded his head and without speaking further, continued to study the magical book in his hand, titled ‘Necromancy Magic’, trying to make sense of the marvels and the deployment of the Boundary of Weakness.
Not only could the Boundary of Weakness make all those that entered it feel frail and fatigued, it also had paralyzing and incapacitative effects on one’s soul. This is because the Boundary of Weakness is assembled by two segments of incantations - one aimed at the enemy’s physical body, and the other at his soul.
However, to fully unleash the true wrath of the Boundary of Weakness, one must master perfect a balance of power against the flesh and soul. Failure on either flesh or soul means failure entirely. Han Shuo had practiced for a long time, but still had yet to grasp it. He was unable to perfectly put together the two incantations, and therefore unable to deliver a true Boundary of Weakness.
Han Shuo realized, reading the book, that the crux of every living being is its soul. To maim one’s soul would be to, in turn, maim one’s body. If one were to feel mentally feeble and weak, his body would reflect it and begin to lack strength. By such reasoning, Han Shuo concluded that the point of attack is to cripple the soul. As soon as the soul perceived itself to be weak, the physical body would also weaken. Han Shuo knew then that he was progressing in the right direction, but needed a moment to digest all the information and truly master it. He racked his brain, hoping to see the light.
As Han Shuo slowly wrapped his head around it all, hundreds of magical beasts of the Tarrag Canyon rushed forth. They seemed to be able to detect the scent of humans. Their pupils were scarlet red as they roared violently, charging straight at Cecilia and her people.
“These beasts are mad!” Cecilia shouted softly. The magical staff she was waving shot out silvery lights that sprinkled onto the five swordsmen at the forefront, providing them with strength and enhancing their powers.
Multiple incantations sounded beside Cecilia as the fire magus, lightning magus, and water magus chanted along. Fire Snakes slithered off with vigour, strobes of lighting bombarded through the sky, and tree roots shot out of the ground like pointed stakes, all aimed at the pack of magical beasts rushing towards them.
As the spells came down, havoc wreaked over the flock of beasts. Many lower ranking creatures immediately lost all fighting capability when hit by the wave of magic. Only some first, second and third rank magical beasts could withstand this wave of magical attack, owing to their resilient bodies, and continue to storm ahead.
Two archers released torrents of arrows with admirable composure. After streaking through the vast sky, one after another, the arrows landed clean into the beasts with a swoosh, killing each one of them. Not a single miss.
Under the double-barreled attack of the magi and archers, a third of the magical beasts had collapsed for good before they could even get close. Some of the more powerful magical creatures that were closest to the area could release magic and poisonous fluid. Creatures like the Frost Eagles and Medusa began spewing frost and venom.
Cecilia ceaselessly performed all sorts of auxiliary spells on her fellow comrades, while the three mages deployed boundaries to block incoming attacks. The traps that were set up in advance were also deployed, and the magical beasts fell into a pool of blood one after another.
It must be said that Cecilia and the Dark Mantle members beside her had great rapport and coordination with each other. In the previous ten days, due to the team’s cooperation, a great majority of the magical beasts were killed using spells or arrows before they could come anywhere near them. And if any of those creatures did manage to get close to them, they would have been met by five unwavering swordsmen defending the front, ready to deflect any approaching enemy at any given time. It looked as though this battle really wasn’t much of a problem for Cecilia and her team.
At that moment, Han Shuo gazed at the magical beasts, still charging fiercely, unafraid of death. Han Shuo seemed to have had an epiphany of sorts, and urgently chanted an incantation. The chilling element of death that hovered through the air suddenly converged, and formed a ring around the flock of magical beasts.
All of a sudden, the high-ranking magical creatures which were charging forward became strangely sluggish. It was as though they were collectively hit by some powerful anesthetic, slowing them down to half the speed.
“I did it!” Han Shuo gasped in pride and amazement. He was shocked to see the magical creatures within the Boundary of Weakness become so lethargic.
All of a sudden, Han Shuo felt an enormously mighty presence sneak towards them. He squinted, spying on it.