“No!” the spirit screamed as it boldly protected its severely weakened kindred. The two orange fireballs travelled in a spiral pattern before striking it and exploding, this time far more powerful than before.
The walls in the room cracked in an instant, sending bricks flying everywhere. With clouds of dust and debris blocking their view, nobody could see anything in the room except for a faint red glow in the dark.
Locke had obviously underestimated the power of the wand. The lethality of the spell that was cast by a high-rank Lehrling was typically very high. Coupled with the mid-ranked Fireball that Joaquin cast, the sheer level of destruction was hard to understate. The house that had been in disrepair for a long time started to collapse.
Locke, who was rather heavily injured, immediately grabbed Billie and Daenie and ran towards the corner of the room as the bricks fell from above. It was the safest place to hide. Billie and Daenie were frozen from the shock, so Locke had to carry both of them to the corner of the room. As the bricks fell on his back, they hit his wounds, causing even more blood to splatter on their faces.
It was only then that the gravity of the situation dawned on them. Billie shot Locke a complicated look before sprinkling a handful of magic spice and chanting a spell, producing an emerald green light in her hands.
Daenie, who’d always given Locke the impression of a quiet and well-behaved girl, didn’t seem to mind the blood on her face. She waved her wand and caused a light blue shield of mist to slowly manifest from the blue crystal at the wand's tip.
Locke, who was leaning against the corner of the wall, tried to break it with his fists. But after punching it several times, it merely cracked but didn't seem to budge. A few seconds later, an explosion could be heard from the centre of the house.
Joaquin, Angelina, and Mina were the first to react. They teamed up and conjured a shield in front of them. Bob and Chris ignored the blood that was trickling down from their ears, ran towards the shield, and hid behind it.
Soon, the entire house collapsed. Locke crawled out from the pile of broken stones and gravel and stood up. Instead of wiping the dust off his body first, he pulled Billie and Daenie out of the pile of gravel.
“Thank you!” At this moment, Billie’s long and green hair lost its former lustre thanks to the dust and dirt; she looked like Cinderella.
Daenie, who was Angelina’s closest friend, reached out her hand to Locke shyly. His body was lying flat on top of hers back then and he didn’t know how she was able to tolerate his body weight.
He looked for Joaquin and the others in the room. Unlike the three of them who’d been crushed, Joaquin and the other two ladies had resisted most of the blast with their shield. He noted that only a corner of the large room remained somewhat intact.
“Are you all alright?” Locke asked.
Joaquin and Angelina nodded. They were more concerned with how he was doing instead. When he stepped forward and risked his own life to rescue Billie and Daenie, he got Joaquin to re-evaluate him in a new light.
They didn’t talk much after that as they hadn’t forgotten that they were there to complete their mission. Joaquin was the angriest among all of them. She thought that this was just a simple mission, but it turned out to be full of twists and turns. She also couldn’t believe how the low-rank spirits could cast mid-rank spells.
She walked towards the centre of the ruins to see if the spirits were still there. There was no way a mid-rank spirit couldn’t survive in an explosion like this without a shield, let alone a low-rank spirit, so she fully expected the spirits to have vanished.
Locke tolerated the pain from his injuries and followed closely behind her. Apart from them, the other members of the group also walked towards the rubble. When the clouds of smoke in the ruins dissipated, they saw something surprising in front of them. The spirit that was about to disappear gave off a really weak aura as it hovered above a wooden box the size of a vibraphone.
The other spirit, which sounded like a woman, was close to vanishing completely. Its initial grey body had turned translucent. It also hovered above the wooden box with the other spirit.
Locke raised his longsword and was about to exterminate them. They definitely wouldn’t be able to resist in their current state.
“Let me do it!” Joaquin said before she cast another Fireball. She’d already used a lot of spells today, so her mana was definitely running out. Though the size and the power of this spell couldn't match the previous ones, it was already good enough.
After the ball of fire charged up around her fingertips, she launched it at the spirits. The two spirits dissipated upon contact.
Locke wasn’t sure if he’d imagined it, but he seemed to have heard a woman muttering 'Goodbye, my child' after the explosion.
All that was left was a wooden box and countless spirit crystals scattered all over the ground. The spirits had even protected the wooden box during the explosion, so it had to be very precious to them.
“Bob, Chris! Go and collect the spirit crystals at other spots. Mina, check if there are any supernatural phenomena nearby. Billie, Daenie, help clean Locke’s wounds! Also, Angelina, come with me to see what that is.” Joaquin was their leader, so everyone obeyed her orders without question.
Billie’s plant spells and Daenie’s water spells had a miraculous effect on injuries. Soon, the wounds on his back stopped bleeding and scabs formed. Locke couldn’t even count the scabs that had been formed on his back. The two girls were just as shocked by the many scars on his back during the treatment.
He stood up and stretched his body, finding that about six-tenths of his injuries had been recovered. “Thank you," he said.
“We should be the one saying that,” Billie said with an odd expression on her face. He was their saviour.
“Yeah!” Daenie nodded. She was really frightened just now. If Locke hadn’t rushed over and protected them, both of them would’ve been sliced into pieces.
Meanwhile, Joaquin and Angelina bent down and picked up the spirit cores that the spirits produced after they’d dissipated. These spirit cores were more valuable than the spirit crystals. They could keep it as an extra benefit of the mission.
Spirit crystals could greatly improve a caster’s mental power, while spirit cores were even more effective, especially for those who were about to advance to a low-rank Lehrling like Angelina. It could increase the success rate of their advancement by at least one-third.
They also opened the wooden box to find several black magic tomes, around ten bottles of ingredients, and a black translucent crystal ball within. The crystal ball seemed particularly interesting as there was a spirit that looked like a little girl sleeping quietly in it. Joaquin and Angelina exchanged surprised glances. The girl in the crystal ball was still sleeping soundly when the box was opened.
Angelina picked up a black magic tome and flipped through it, but she couldn’t recognise the words in the book. She was sure that it wasn’t a language of any neighbouring kingdoms.
Joaquin also flipped through another tome, having better luck and managing to discern a couple words from the texts. Notably, those words were the ones that her tutor had repeatedly told her to be wary of.
Black magic was taboo among casters. Since Joaquin was a low-rank Lehrling, she’d learned more about such matters compared to Angelina and the others, so she could recognise some common black magic terminology.
These black books were the notes of a black caster. She picked the wooden box up and said, “Let’s get out of here first.”