Brendel and Maynild slowly walked through this crystalline forest. The frozen branches turned to dustings of snow under the weight of their boots. The two of them looked up and examined this bizarre forest. The snow-white world seemed like a palace of ice. Darkness seeped out from the gaps between the trees and swallowed all sound until only the deathly silence remained.
“Something seems off.” Brendel stared at the withered forest and watched his exhalation turn into white fog that quickly disappeared in the air.
“You can’t feel any signs of life. This is a forest that has died, maybe due to being frozen?” Maynild pressed a hand against her sword and watched her surroundings with her usual alertness.
This is the legendary Tree of Fog and the Forest of Imagination that co-exists with the Crystal Stags. How could it be frozen to death?” Brendel raised both his hands and exhaled into the center of his palms before rubbing them together. “This mission isn’t going to be easy, so let’s best be careful.”
Maynild’s face chilled and she drew her blade a tiny bit, the sound of her sword scraping against the sheath ringing in the air. But Brendel turned around and stilled her hand. “Don’t be in such a hurry to display your antagonism. In a place like this, it’s best to be careful before we invite the dark magic forces to attack --”
But the female knight gently moved his hand away and continued to draw her blade slowly. She reassured, “Don’t worry, I can feel the flowing of the dark magic.”
Brendel watched as she drew her long blade.
“You can feel the flow of dark magic?”
Maynild remained expressionless. “Everyone has some sort of special ability. Magic forces, in my eyes, are solid. They are scattered throughout the world and restrained by unseen forces.”
“Those are Laws.” Brendel inhaled quietly. “You’re a Child of the Moon and you have greater talent than Bai Jia did. It’s such a shame that you didn’t choose the path of the Mages. The Dragon’s Magic, which molds magic forces, was practically made for you --”
The female knight swung her blade back with a whoosh and pointed the icy cold blade at Brendel’s neck. “I said, I am myself and she is herself. I don’t wish to talk of this topic with you again. I hope you learn to give others a bit of respect.”
With that, she slowly drew her blade back. With a quiet buzz, the air above her blade vibrated very slightly, as if a shapeless air current was wrapping itself around the blade.
Brendel took the scene in with his eyes and was momentarily stunned. The air twisting around the blade was clearly the airflow caused by dark magic moving -- Dark Swordsmaster -- he couldn’t help but give Maynild a thoughtful look.
“Apologies -- “ He started to say.
But Maynild had already turned around and was walking ahead of it.
Brendel looked at the female knight walking in the snow with her back upright. Her unique sense of stubbornness and pride were her defining characteristics, so much that they must be part of her bones.
He thought it over for a moment and then quickly hurried to catch up. He had never considered that Maynild had the ability to see the flow of dark magic. Child of the Moon, the mage bloodline talent that was second only to the Azure Tribulations. No wonder she said she could help him find the Crystal Stag.
The flow of dark magic probably had shape in her eyes. The River of Magic within the forest would be like an actual river to her.
The two slowly walked through the forest for a while. They crossed deadly silent paths -- this Foggy Ice Bloom Forest wasn’t exactly big, but Brendel felt very weird about it. Because he had Glow Wave, he also had the attribute to probe the darkness. But for some reason, he always thought the magic in this forest seemed to fluctuate in strength and appear on and off randomly.
He finally asked, “You can sense which way the magic is flowing?”
“I don’t know.” Maynild’s answer was very simple.
Brendel thought the female knight was joking. But he turned around to see Maynild looking all serious. “The magic in this forest seems to have completely died away, but this is not the kind of silence that comes with death. They seemed to have once flowed across these withered paths --”
The female knight pointed to the paths in the forest. “But now, all that remains are dried up traces.”
“What… are you saying that the magic in this forest is drying up --- or has already dried up?” Brendel looked stupefied at Maynild.
Warndt was a world of magic. In this world, it wasn’t atoms or something smaller but physical that made up the very grass and trees of this world. The four major elements were the basic building blocks of this rule, which was ruled by Marsha’s Tiamat Law.
Fire, Water, Wind, and Earth. As for light and dark, they weren’t really elements themselves but rather the representation of energy.
The four fairy kings, in accordance with the promise they made with Marsha, continued to construct the world at its borders. The entire world was built upon these foundations.
But underneath the elements, the world of Warndt had another source of energy -- dark magic. Elements and Laws were all just bricks and blueprints of this world.
But the foundation of the world was magic.
Without magic, this world wouldn’t exist. Or rather, it would be deathly silent just like this forest. It would wither and fall into silence until it finally turned to dust.
But in reality, this supposition doesn’t exist because the entire world floated upon the Sea of Magic and magic filled the entire world to the brim. There was no reason for a natural black hole to exist.
Unless it was man-made.
When Brendel had this thought, he suddenly figured things out. “Wait, are you saying there’s something in the center of the forest?”
He squinted his eyes and picked up the sheath of Harlan Gaia with a clang.Then he drew out the heavy black blade.
But just now, a bunch of ice debris tumbled down from the tree trunk above them.
Brendel blanked for a second and then looked up in alarm. That was when he saw an ice fairy about two or three inches tall with two pairs of ice crystal wings standing there, looking at them with the same sense of alertness as they looked at it.
“Who are you, halt immediately!” The fairy girl stood on top of the tree trunk and called out at them sternly.
“Who are you?” Brendel paused. He didn’t think there would still be fairies in the forest; this was different from what the walkthroughs had said. “Don’t you want to go fight for the honey?”
“I…” The fairy girl looked clearly tempted but she hurriedly wiped at her mouth. “I’m different from those silly fools. I’m the guard for the forbidden land and that’s a duty I promised Master Malourcha I’d do…. I - I will definitely not be tempted by such a tiny thing!”
“Interesting.” Brendel couldn’t help but be interested. He had never seen such a special fairy. “Are you saying that you won’t let us in?”
The fairy girl jumped down from the tree and hovered in the air not very far from them. She patted her tiny chest and answered in all seriousness, “Listen up. Unless you step over my dead body, I’ll definitely not let you go through.”
“Everyone has to be responsible for what they say.” Before Brendel could say anything, Maynild drew her long sword with a clang. She took one step back and shifted her center of gravity downward, moving into a military sword attack position. “If that’s the case, then talk with your sword --”
Brendel did not want to start a fight immediately. Since something different from the walkthroughs happened, it could only mean that this mission might have a hidden scenario. But just as he was about to grab Maynild’s shoulder, the female knight moved more determinedly than he thought. She shot towards the little fairy like an arrow and Brendel grasped empty air.
“Ah!” The fairy girl was also scared by Maynild’s unyielding attack. But she immediately raised both hands and chanted in a high pitched voice, “Azure Dragon, bless me with the blade to vanquish enemies!”
She pointed in front of her and three circle formations, each with a 2-meter diameter, appeared behind her. The runes of “Vir”, “Oar”, and “Meem” appeared in order upon the formations. These were advanced curses. Brendel jumped -- this was no ordinary ice fairy, this was a fairy ambassador.
A field of densely packed indigo ice shards, glinting like knife blades, appeared suspended in mid-air behind the little fairy.
“Maynild, come back!”
A storm whipped out from behind the fairy girl and formed a terrifying crystal hurricane in the direction she pointed in. Millions of blade-like ice shards whirled there and wrecked countless trees with a “whoosh.”
In a second, Maynild was drawn into the storm. Anyone else would have chosen to withdraw and protect themselves in such a scenario. But the female knight had her own stubbornness. She gritted her teeth and crossed both arms in front of her. With a clack, the dancing snowflakes immediately formed a thick layer of ice there. At the same time, the ice crystals slashed across her arm in a second and continued on their way, trailing blood behind them.
The Aouine military outfit on Maynild’s arms turned into a million strips with a tearing sound. But she continued moving forward, pressing each step against the snow that was building up. Then she jumped up with a leap. The fairy girl’s eyes widened unconsciously as she saw Maynild appear in front of her in the same second-- the female knight’s teeth were clenched and the desire for battle in her eyes almost turned into flames.
Her black hair dancing wildly, Maynild separated her almost frozen arms and landed a single blow on the fairy girl with all her might. The punch made the fairy girl fly out like a comet.
Brendel stared in amazement as the little fairy slammed against the piled up snow on the ground, bounced around a few times like a ball of yarn, then stopped.
“Ooooohhh, it hurts, mommy…”
The fairy young girl moaned and cried from the pain. She sat up on the ground and burst into tears.
Her cries were so pitiful that Brendel, watching the fight from the sidelines, felt embarrassed. But when he turned around to look at Maynild, he saw the woman who looked similar to Bai Jia placidly wipe her hand against her arm. The ice crystals and blood-stained snowflakes that were frozen to her skin fell off with clinking sounds.
Brendel hissed in his heart. He didn’t know whether the woman could feel any pain, but he felt pain just looking at it.
“Good, let’s continue.” Maynild looked up and said to Brendel.
“You didn’t take out your anger at me on her, did you?” Brendel asked with some pity in his voice.
The female knight stopped and glanced at him. She answered calmly, “I’m not as bored as you.”
With that said, she put away her sword and continued walking forward. Just then, the fairy girl who had been crying as if her heart had been broken stumbled off from the ground. She wept but raised her head despite her swollen and bruised face.
“I… I said you are not allowed there!”
She whined out an answer.
Brendel and Maynild both halted their footsteps and stared at this strange little fairy.