“What’s going on?” Brendel pursed his lips and grabbed at Maynild, who wanted to step forward. He suddenly calmed down and a thought crossed his mind. He said in a quiet voice, “Hold on. Ice fairies are notorious cowards and are known for avoiding battle. At the most, they’d use spells to play tricks on adventurers from afar… something strange is happening.”
The female knight twisted herself slightly and took a step forward just as Brendel was saying so. As her foot crunched the snow, she had to stop. She raised her head and looked suspiciously at the young fairy girl on the ground.
“Li-li-liar!” The fairy girl grimaced in pain but used her tiny hand to cover her swollen cheek. She jumped up as she muttered, “We’re not cowards! We’d fight to the death to protect our home too!”
“Protect your home?” Brendel sensed something in the air and squinted. He lightly tapped Halran Gaia in his hand against the ground. “Little one, you seem to be hiding some secret --”
“I will never tell you!”
“You didn’t say no but said you won’t tell me. This means that there must be --”
“You…” The little fairy was furious. She put her hands forward and shouted, “I am the daughter of the north wind, the Slumbering Dragon Callarellis!” Seven giant circular arrays radiated out from the center of her palm. An ice pillar jabbed out from the middle of the array, accompanied by a low roar like that of a beast’s. It turned directions in the middle of the air and aimed itself at Brendel.
Seven ring ice elemental spell.
The Slumbering Dragon Callarellis was the famous king of the ice dragons. A spell named after it was, clearly, not going to be simple, but Brendel didn’t bat an eyelash. He stood still until the second before the ice dragon stuck him. Then he raised his left hand, grabbed the head of the dragon, and then yanked until the spell fractured.
“Ah--” The fairy girl watched dumbfounded at the ice shards dancing through the air. Her jaw dropped involuntarily; she probably never imagined that someone could, with just their bare hands, break a spell down to its most basic state. This practically went against everything she knew.
“Your spell has no effect on me, little guy.” Brendel rubbed his left hand so that the ice particles turned into snow and fell down.
“Okay, I’ve let you attack once. As a courtesy, now it’s your turn to answer my questions -- let me ask you, what’s happening with the magic falling silent in this forest?”
But the fairy girl’s face immediately paled. She stared at Brendel as if scared dumb, “You… how did you know?”
Her expression made Maynild shake her head from her position beside Brendel. What an idiot.
“Alright, I also know that the Master Malourcha you speak of is the guardian of the forest. He’s the Crystal Stag of the Holy Seal Valley, right?” Brendel asked as he stared at the fair girl. Then he suddenly frowned and glanced around.
Right at that second, he thought he felt something surveying him.
“You… are you the devil who’ll eat someone if you guess what they’re thinking? The one from the Dark Prophecy?” The fair girl asked with a trembling voice.
“Of course not.” The answer was truly hilarious, but Brendel couldn’t laugh. He didn’t know why, but suddenly something seemed to come alive in the air. However, it wasn’t waves of magic. Instead, it was the Blood of God from within him. He felt faintly anxious and asked, “I just want to know what happened to this forest.”
“I will not tell you!” She answered with dead-set certainty.
“No problem. Let me guess, your so-called Master Malourcha -- careful!” Brendel suddenly whirled around and pushed Maynild out. A black shadow flew past both of them and struck the Tree of Fog on the other side of the path. Amidst the crisp sounds of cracking, countless crystalized trees broke off in their middle. That thing actually created a path in the middle of a densely packed forest.
“This speed --!” Brendel inhaled sharply. He realized that his perception was actually not able to capture the other’s movements. If it hadn’t been for his Blood of God suddenly stirring to life so that he reacted at the very last second and pushed Maynild aside, Maynild would have been gravely injured by now.
But what was that thing? The Crystal Stag would definitely not have this kind of speed. Before this, he had only seen this kind of speed on beings at the rank of Nicholas and Veronica or above.
By now, Maynild crawled up from the ground and shook off the ice particles on her body. She looked with the same guarded expression over at the thing’s direction.
From the pitch-black forest came the sound of rustling. Then Brendel saw a pair of snow-white hooves, followed by a set of long horns, and then a pair of blood-red eyes...
That was definitely not the Crystal Stag.
In Brendel’s recollection, the Crystal Stag was elegant and sophisticated. It was the most beautiful creature in the Frost Stained Forest Labyrinth. It was called the Crystal Stag because its entire body was white and the crystalized bone plates on its shoulder, leg, horns, and back made it look like a beautiful creature carefully carved from ice.
But Brendel couldn’t believe his eyes now. The creature in front of his eyes definitely looked like a reindeer, but black liquid dripped from half of its head, its back, and legs. The crystal bone plates were damaged beyond repair and black smoke rose up from its wound-covered body.
Most frightening were those blood-red eyes. He couldn’t detect any signs of a normal beast inside them, just pure anger.
The monster faced Brendel and stared at him. It panted out air from its nostrils. Brendel frowned because at the very same second, he heard a deep voice say in his mind:
“Get out, human!”
“This is demonization… how could it get invaded so badly by demon magic?” Brendel paused. This was no longer the Crystal Stag; this was a monster completely under the control of dark magic. The disgusting black smoke flowing out from its body was actually the physical essence of dark magic.
“Human, get out!”
“Master Malourcha! “ Just then, the young fairy girl shrieked from beside them. She anxiously flew towards the monster but, just as she got off the ground, she got knocked down by Brendel who hurried to her side.
Brendel put down the broad blade to block her and coldly said, “If you don’t want to die, stay here.”
“I don’t believe you human!” The young fairy girl shouted. Then she crawled up and flapped her wings. This time, Brendel didn’t have the energy to waste time on her. He turned around and knocked her into the snow with the spine of his sword. Then he turned around and told Maynild, “You hold her, and I’ll deal with the monster.”
“No!” The young fairy girl shrieked, but her protests were destined to be futile because Manild had already grabbed her from the ground.
“Ahhhh, you evil woman. Let go of me!”
“I will not let you hurt Master Malourcha!” The little fairy immediately shrieked.
Maynild looked in Brendel’s direction and then turned around, “Brendel wouldn’t hurt your Master Malourcha. Relax.”
The fairy girl demanded loudly in dissatisfaction, “I don’t trust you humans.”
The female knight glanced down toward the little thing, thought about it, and then took out a piece of candy the size of a pea from her pocket. She stuffed the candy into the fairy girl’s mouth.
“You and us… mmmrhmmmmm, what is this…. Mmmrhmmmmm.” The little fairies chattering shrieks immediately fell silent.
At the same time, Brendel turned around and saw that the monster was gearing up for another attack. It circled half a loop around him and then lowered its head. Its hooves lightly scraped against the ground and it blew out white fog from its nostrils.
Brendel became a bit more serious and also raised Halran Gaia.
“Human, get out!”
“Do you only know this one setence -- omph!” Before Brendel could finish saying the sentence, he felt a huge force come from the sword. He heard a clang and didn’t even have time to see the stag Malourcha’s movements before the stag’s horns pushed against the Halran Gaia’s blade.
As if it had been there this entire time.
“Is that… time and space elemental?” Brendel shook slightly. He hurriedly used both hands to support the Staff of Hearth. Halran Gaia’s blade bent toward the center under the immense pressure and creaked in protest at the weight. “No…”
He rejected that thought.
Because the stag Malourcha suddenly raised its head high and slammed its horn down, hard, upon the sword. The sword sunk slightly and Brendel almost lost his grip on it.
This was Stabilizing Earth --
Brendel squinted his eyes shut slightly and already thought of the source of his opponent’s power. The powers of chaos. This crystal stag actually possessed a huge amount of powers of chaos. He couldn’t help but remark to himself that this was complete demonization. What had this guy done to anger the heavens in order to get such complete demonization?
But just then, Malourcha suddenly tilted its head. Halran Gaia made another series of creaking sounds in Brendel’s hand. Thank goodness for his immortality elemental powers; else he’d have to worry whether his sword can even take another hit.
In front of him, the blood red eyes on the monster flashed and a deep voice rang out in Brendel’s mind, “Let go of her, human!”
Let go of her?
Brendel paused and then realized that the monster was talking about the little fairy in Maynild’s grasp. “You still have some rationale left --”
He struggled to get the words out. This damned Crystal Stag was physically strong beyond belief. “Right, guardian of the Holy Seal Valley…”
There came a high-pitched clang sound.
The stag Malourcha twisted its head and actually blocked Brendel’s sword. Then it took a step back and dashed forward. His giant figure simultaneously appeared around Brendel.
Clang, clang, clang, clang. Four strikes.
Brendel continued to block all four of the stag Malourcha’s attacks. Four Brendels appeared and then disappeared among the dancing snowflakes.
“Human, let go of her and then get out of here!” The voice in his head turned even sterner, sounding more and more like a warning.
“Dammit!” Brendel shook his hand out vigorously. Though he managed, barely, to block those four strikes with the Nine Luminaries Sword Art, but Malourcha the stag’s strength was terrifying.
Malourcha immediately backed down when its attack failed. Then it raised its head and looked cautiously at Brendel.
“Looks like your rationale comes intermittently --” Brendel gritted his teeth but couldn’t help ask, “Guardian of the Holy Seal Valley, hurry and tell me what happened here. The magic dying in the Frost Stained Forest Labyrinth has something to do with you, right?”
But before he could finish asking, Malourcha the stag’s figure vanished.
“Shit!” Brendel jumped and hurriedly whisked his sword back in an attempt to block that horn attack.
But he never dreamt that this monster could speed up.
A teeth-rattling high pitched shrieking sound, enough to make glass shatter, pierced the deathly quiet in the forest like a whistle. Brendel looked up dazedly and watched as his Staff of Earth slipped out of his grasp and whirled in the air.
A Sword Saint.
Who couldn’t even hold his sword.
Brendel couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Fires of fury shot up in his heart. He turned around and looked once again at the monster backing away from him.
“Fine, if that’s how you want to play --”
Count Trenthetim clenched his hand. “I am here for all of it -- “ With a poof, black flames spread out from the middle of his palm.
“Alphonse, the Dragon of Fury. Wild heat!”
With that angry shout, countless ice shards were blown away by the gust of air that radiated out from Brendel.