Red began to trickle along the blade as he pointed the sword at the black mass, an eerie mixture of blood from the wolves and the stranger. The moon was bright tonight, allowing the length of fortified silver to catch lunar rays, which were subsequently reflected onto the frightened black mass. The stranger now had a face.
The stranger was in a suit of pitch-black leather armour, whose surface was adorned with intricate glyphs and runes that shone with peculiar colours. His large cape seemed to have helped him blend into the darkness better.
“A member of the Phantom Tower, huh? Your leather armour is pretty interesting,” Locke smirked as he inched forward. The stranger backed away in fear. There was something incredibly sinister about his longsword that the stranger had perceived as imminent doom.
“How about I give you my leather armour and I keep the brooch instead?!” The stranger blurted out in a panicked flurry.
Locke clicked his tongue. “You’re in no place to negotiate. This is farewell.” He swung his sword at the black mass.
The stranger lurched, instantly drawing his equally dark dagger from its sheath. He blocked Locke’s attack but unfortunately, the resistance had only lasted a second. His movements began to turn stiff and after a muted groan, he slumped over.
Locke returned his sword to its scabbard and began ransacking the stranger. He wasn’t the least interested in the leather amour and cape; those were obviously branded by the Phantom Tower’s special mark. The faction would track him down if he looted those. The stranger had a spatial ring on his right hand, which protective seal was effectively broken by a dash of impetus. Locke hummed in delight at the collection of items within.
“Killing is the fastest way to wealth, huh.” Locke sighed. He looked around for the stranger’s brooch. Unlike his skull-shaped brooch, the man had one with the emblem of the Phantom Tower. It was radiating with a significant amount of energy, indicating that the stranger had accumulated a good score.
Locke peered within; 82 points! The stranger, who was a high-rank Knecht, had to be plenty skilful to be able to collect a sizeable body count in just two days and one night. The man was performing beyond his limit but his effort had ended up in the hands of Locke.
Locke transferred the stranger’s points into his own brooch and began erasing his traces in the area. The night was still young and the massacre had only just begun. He unsheathed his longsword once again and left.
On the west side of the Enchanted Forest Realm was a shallow river where three powerful female casters were currently dealing with an aggravated crab-clawed alligator. The monster was massive, having eight claws that were dark and sharp. It flailed its appendages around with a sound that ripped the air. Its crab claws possessed immense bite force and its alligator jaw must never be underestimated; it was capable of firing powerful blasts of water when least expected. The water surface was littered with the carcasses of the docile sonic dolphins and terrestrial monsters that’d come for a sip of water, a third of which were collateral damages from the alligator’s violent thrashing.
“My goodness, I wasn’t expecting a river this shallow to house a base-rank monster!” One of the three casters exclaimed mid-fight.
“Yeah! I can’t believe the sonic dolphins we killed earlier would lure out such a massive monster!” The eldest of the bunch shouted back.
“Hang in there, sisters! Once we get rid of this monster, the surrounding carcasses will bring us a huge boost in scores!” The second sister appeared unruffled, looking not at all fazed by the base-rank alligator.
Mermerri’s comprehension of life and its energies were at a height that was incomprehensible to regular casters. They’d figured out how to collect these mysterious life essences from recently dead lifeforms through the brooches, which also acted as a scorekeeping tool for the event. The use of these energies, however, remained a well-kept secret.
“Keep a close eye on our youngest.” The eldest female caster turned to look at the shorter caster behind. “Are you alright?”
“I’m alright, I still have half of my mana left,” answered the youngest sister.
“Don’t worry, big sister! I’ll definitely protect her!” The second sister declared confidently.
They began closing in on the alligator. Despite being high-rank Lehrlings, they were able to overwhelm the monster effortlessly. Together, they formed a stable energy chain that closed off all possible openings for the alligator’s escape. It was only a matter of time until the crab-clawed alligator fell prey to their torment.
The massive commotion had piqued the attention of many passers-by. Fellow cultivators with ulterior motives, opportunistic major monsters looking for an easy meal and guards stationed in the realm alike were pulled in by the huge waves of energy. Yet, any lifeform with decent intelligence would know to stay away as soon as they realised that the Roland Sisters were about to challenge a base-rank monster.
The Roland Sisters, dubbed the shining stars of the Roland clan, rose to fame last month after annihilating a nest of hellfire foals. Most participants of the event hovered around the middle ranks. There were less than fifty high-rank elites and it went without question that the number of quasi-rank elites was few in between, which was why Old Korr had been so enthusiastic about inviting Locke.
The three sisters of the Roland clan were opponents that even base-rank monsters tend to avoid. Their joint attack was specifically designed to challenge stronger enemies.
Unbeknownst to the busy cohort below, a knight was watching them from a nearby mountain peak. His attention too had been caught by the intensity of their energies. He watched the three sisters battle the crab-clawed alligator.
I never knew that casters fought in groups too, the knight thought to himself. His shock grew as the battle escalated. Their binding net and assault spell combinations are impressive! I’d be doomed without Fermoss.
The gullible watched only for the thrill while the experts analysed their technique. Locke was a knight that’d been seasoned by strenuous battles and relentless cultivation. Even so, he was shocked to see that two out of the three sisters were deliberately suppressing their powers. The Roland sisters were high-rank Knechts and it would be easy for the eldest and second sisters to break through as quasi-Magisters at will. Perhaps the suppression was done to maintain the stability of their collective effort since the youngest Lehrling still hadn’t caught up to her sisters’ level.
A monster’s intelligence was limited. The base-rank crab-clawed alligator had lost its perception amid relentless attacks; it thrashed around with no direction, which was a slow suicide. To make matters worse, the elder sisters were even consciously protecting the youngest Lehrling.
“Ah, well. I should look for another target.” Locke peered over to the edge of the battlefield, where many curious onlookers had gathered to watch the fight. He hadn’t managed to find much during the night but at least there’s enough here for a nice stew. Locke unleashed an explosion of impetus as he lunged for the nearest short-tailed crocodile monster.