Locke refused to let his guard down around the grey-robed Magister. Upon noticing the initiation, he dashed away from his spot with all his might. An explosion rang out as soon as his feet left the ground. Its vehemence was on par with the unhinged lashings of a high-rank Lehrling. The grey-robed caster was no simpleton either.
Anyhow, Locke wasn’t one to take a beating wordlessly. He borrowed the momentum of the explosion, throwing himself towards the grey-robed caster. While they were supposedly on the same side, it seemed as though that was of no concern anymore.
Clink! A skeleton barrier appeared in front of Locke in the nick of time, diverting the swing of his sword away. Wind impetus was known for its speed but despite Locke’s power burst, the caster was still able to fend off the impact.
Locke quickly backed away following the failed attack. The golden armoured knight’s death was a prelude and to be at the caster’s mercy was the least favourable scenario. He needed some room for retaliation.
A few bone spears chased after him. Though the projections were conjured by a mid-rank spell, they were quite threatening in the hands of a quasi-Magister. A good craftsman could use any tool effectively. The caster launched a barrage of deadly spells with his own spin on them. Sharp bone spears, unavoidable skeletal arrows, sturdy calcareous bone shields, and a bone prison that may restrain him at any moment had proven to be a deadly combination. The man was a master of necromancy and was probably one of the stronger quasi-Magisters Locke had encountered so far. The malnourished man’s competence was rare even among the pool of elites of the Three Western Isles’ Sanctum.
It appears that I’ve encountered an elite from the Scar, Locke cursed internally. Old Korr had mentioned that the faction had sent a few prodigies of their own to sabotage Mermerri’s Cottage.
While he grew wary of the quasi-Magister, the caster, in turn, felt fear take shape at the sight of Locke’s earlier attack. If the caster’s skeletal barrier hadn’t been manifested in time, Locke’s sword would’ve touched him. He was an established quasi-Magister and he was now at the mercy of a lowly knight; his anger surged at the thought. Amid fury, he began casting various threatening spells at Locke without pause, which was a feat that could only be achieved with experience and skill.
Locke swung his longsword at a few skeleton soldiers. A fast end to the battle was preferable to a fight of attrition. The intense shockwaves of the battle were bound to attract attention, and that was never good.
He pulled out scrolls of fire and ice elements in a haste, throwing them onto the grey-robed caster as soon as his mana shield was breached. The Fire Tornado and Blizzard scrolls were the best of their kind and they were part of Locke’s precious collection. He only had a handful of these to spare due to their rarity.
The explosion created by the clash of ice and fire tilted the balance of their battle. In shock, the grey-robed caster began making distance, once again summoning three skeletal walls. At that, Locke took the cue to close their distance. He awakened the array carved into the froststeel blade, ignited his sword, and lunged for the caster.
His longsword was a harmony of ice, metal and fire; this longsword that’d been skilfully worked on by the great alchemist of the Sanctum was capable of delivering milder ice-fire destruction. While an explosive reaction between the elements was unlikely, the contrast between ice and fire could generate enough force for Locke to breach past regular mana barriers.
A pitch-black barrier of light formed before Locke, preventing his longsword from progressing further. Upon inspection, it appeared that the shield was projected from the murky crystal on the tip of the caster’s staff. The quasi-Magister must’ve prepared a powerful energy barrier prior to the fight and had been waiting for the right time to use it. Wearing an expression of rage, the caster was forced to use his last resort!
The caster backed off behind the protection of the shield as he gulped down potions to replenish his energy and mana. He was hell-bent on destroying the knight today and having his body as a specimen in his laboratory.
Locke continued to press forward as the grey-robed caster backed off. He had a strong feeling that the shield wasn’t as invincible as it looked, and that it was only a matter of time before its ultimate fall. In other words, Locke was confident that the quasi-Magister couldn’t keep the barrier up for long.
If anything, time had taught Locke a valuable lesson: There was nothing in the world that could disrupt the laws of nature. Balance was the unchanging law of nature, and any loss would be repaid with gains, be it in the form of time or money. Locke was confident that the same applied to the caster’s shield; it was conjured in a flash, which hinted that its efficacy was limited.
Unfortunately, Locke’s attack was largely futile against the caster. Just as the other man pulled a distance away, a wave of skeleton soldiers flooded and overwhelmed him. The grey-robed caster had grown merciless, summoning seven skeleton knights and three skeleton archers in one go. The number of undead creatures summoned showed that the caster was not just an ordinary necromancer, he’d most certainly dabbled into the art of summoning. These ghastly creatures circled Locke in a precise formation. This was perhaps the advantage of geniuses. While regular casters racked their heads over a single discipline, prodigies could already afford to explore other specialisations.
Things were not looking good. Locke drank in the sight of the approaching skeleton minions and the caster gulping down vials after vials of potion, finally admitting he was in a precarious situation. He grit his teeth; he needed to summon Fermoss.
He’d hoped to keep the scorpiondrake a secret for as long as possible, but he was burning through his scrolls fast. Not to mention, the other items in his spatial ring were far too precious for such mindless use. The help of the scorpiondrake seemed to be the most reasonable remedy.
He blew on the emerald flute lightly, and soon the space in front of him began to waver. The grey-robed caster pinned his focus on the wobbling dimension. The turbulence wasn’t strong but for it to be a product of a knight was peculiar. Could this knight use mana? That felt unlikely since Locke clearly wasn’t a Mystic Knight.
The caster received his answer before long. Fermoss’ massive size and grotesque appearance had the quasi-Magister gaping under his hood. The scorpiondrake was certainly a prodigy among major monsters since species. It could reach level one through time and an accumulation of energy, being incredibly rare in Zauberia. If Fermoss were to grow just like its parents, it would easily become a transcendent-rank monster at a thousand years old. Fermoss was currently a few centuries old and while a thousand years still seemed far away, it had yet to encounter a stronger base-rank monster thus far.