The crystalized blood gave off a dark blue glint as it shone on the snow-covered ground.
The fairy girl in Maynild’s hand drooped her head as if she had died. Her slender shoulders trembled slightly.
The mission to gather crystalized blood could be considered as being completed. But there was one problem; Brendel couldn’t be sure that demonized crystallized blood counted. Plus the strangeness of the forest had caught his attention. He knew that in the past the Amber Sword had some hidden mission settings.
Whether the current one counted was hard to tell. But it couldn’t hurt to give it a shot.
He looked at the demonized Crystal Stag struggling on the ground and was a little confused. What happened to it to turn it like this? As a creature that cohabited with magic, the Crystal Stag would rarely sink into an obsession with dark magic.
But strangely, it seemed to be fighting against the taint of the dark magic, which meant that it hadn’t voluntarily turned. But how could such a sensitive magical creature be invaded by dark magic --
And that strange little fairy.
Brendel took a step closer and said, “Anger and nervousness will only increase the influence of the dark. If you keep going on like this, you’ll just sink lower and lower. I can feel your struggle. Can you hear me?”
The stag blew out a breath of white air from its nostrils and stared at Brendel with blood-red eyes.
Brendel paused. He wasn’t a druid and didn’t know how to soothe animals. In fact, he had no such experience in his past life, which troubled him. This Crystal Stag seemed to have some rationale left, yet it acted frustrated and uneasy.
He didn’t understand why it was so frustrated and uneasy. It didn’t make any sense. Demonized creatures, even in their demonized state, would only act like the black wolves in the Black Forest and be filled with anger and a desire to destroy civilization. This kind of hatred was ice cold instead of red hot; what he felt on Malourcha was a sense of restlessness and anxiousness. It seemed to be in a hurry to chase them away.
He hesitated and tried to put his hand against Malourcha’s neck.
But in that very moment, a trace of killing intent flashed across the demonized Crystal Stag’s eyes. It was as it was waiting for this precise moment. It had seemed too weak to move before, but now it suddenly swung its head.
Three half-transparent waves seemed to appear in front of Brendel in the blink of an eye.
His pupils constricted slightly -- the fatal weak point of Crystal Stags located on their necks right below their horns seemed ineffective against the demonized Crystal Stags! He had calculated the amount of blood the stag should have, so he wasn’t at all suspicious when the Malourcha collapsed. He hadn’t imagined the other was laying a trap for him.
Brendel’s heart thumped. The threat of death made his brain whirl at a crazy speed a thousand times faster than its usual rate. In that second he suddenly realized that this demonized Crystal Stag might very well know the difference between its powers and that of its kindreds.
“Shit!” Brendel cursed in his mind as he swung his sword toward Malourcha. At the same time, he activated the Nine Luminaries Sword Art spell in the opposite direction alongside Flash and the demonized Crystal Stag flew out with a pained yell. It crashed through three crystalized Tree of Fog and broke them -- but Brendel wasn’t much better off. His figure faded as the Horn Scythe’s waves reached him, but when he reappeared there was a bloody wound on his cheek.
That strike had been too close.
“You… Don’t think that my patience is infinite…” Brendel muttered angrily in his heart. Hidden missions aren’t worth dying for and the attack from before already made him feel threatened.
But his sentence broke off halfway through.
He saw Malourcha rising on unsteady legs. The wound on the stag’s neck hasn’t healed and one of its legs was broken. It looked like all of its elemental powers were being used to suppress the invasion of the dark magic; in other words, it couldn’t really use healing powers anymore.
But even so --
The Crystal Stag still walked shakily toward Brendel and Maynild with magic twining around its long horns, gathering energy for the next attack.
It lowered its head and anger shone in its reddened eyes. The long horns were pointed at Brendel.
Brendel was dazed. After being transmigrated into the Amber Sword, he had experienced quite a few battles but this was a first for him. The closest he came to this would be in the wilderness outside of Riedon Fortress.
He was just facing a beast, but he thought he saw that half-kneeling figure of Abram the White Knight still holding onto his sword and his pride -- it was just a beast and yet it gave him such a misconception.
The demonized creatures were not capable of thought and only understood killing. Pain, death, and fear could not stop them from attacking as if they were Madara’s Undead.
But Brendel knew that he wasn’t facing such a beast. It was struggling but it wasn’t to kill. Something Brendel didn’t understand was pushing it onwards in battle.
But what was it --
“You want to protect this forest?”
The magic on Malourcha’s horn sparkled.
“But we are not your enemy --”
The demonized Crystal Stag lowered its head as if it didn’t hear. The magic gathered on its long horn and a point already lit up. In the next second, it could unleash Horn Scythe.
But that meant nothing to Brendel.
In its current state, Brendel only needed one single strike to end the battle. Then he and Maynild could complete the mission and leave here. The only regret would just be not completing the hidden mission.
But as Brendel put one hand on his sword, he realized he couldn’t bear to make that strike.
Did he finish missions just for the reward?
Maybe, but also maybe no.
“Say something, you bastard!”
“No…” He heard the young fairy girl plead. That usually optimistic creature was crying and shouting at him, “Please spare Master Malourcha…”
Brendel hesitated. The magic gathering on Malourcha’s horn was becoming more and more obvious. If it attacked, Brendel had to volley back. The arrow was notched and there was no way back. If he didn’t strike back how would he walk away with the crystalized blood?
“But dammit, it’s not me who wants to kill this cursed thing.”
The Crystal Stag had completely lost its mind.
But could it withstand another attack?
“Dammit, what’s going on!” Brendel shouted involuntarily. “Fine, if this is your choice --”
He took a breath and raised his sword.
It happened in just a second. Malourcha’s eyes were blood-red, as if it could no longer feel anything around it. But it raised its head and moved its neck to the side.
That was the warning sign for the attack.
“Brendel!” The fairy girl and Maynild both shouted at the same time. But in contrast to the latter, the female knight’s gaze was calm and collected and had been so this entire time. She looked at the Crystal Stag and warned Brendel loudly, “The magic of the forest is gathered on a single point --”
“Listen to me. The magic that disappeared from the forest is all gathered upon that Crystal Stag!”
“What?!” Brendel’s jaw dropped in that second. He saw the demonized Crystal Stag unleash his attack. The triple wave rippled out, as if on a calm lake surface, and the circles passed through half the forest ground.
Before he could react, three bloody wounds appeared on his body. On his character panel, the pale green status bar indicating health immediately dropped by half and turned into a warning shade of bright yellow.
But Brendel didn’t pay attention to the crisscrossing wounds on his chest. He gritted his teeth and pushed the immense pain aside. Finally the fog of confusion in his brain showed signs of dissipating.
The answer to the puzzle was here --
So this was the key to the mission!
His figure instantaneously disappeared and when it appeared next to Malourcha, the demonized Crystal Stag had completely lost its ability to attack or to defend. Brendel raised the Staff of Earth --
“Ah---” The young fairy girl struggled violently. Right then, she didn’t act at all like her race.
But no matter how much she struggled, she was no match for Maynild. The female knight just coldly and easily squashed her against the ground with two fingers.
Brendel turned the blade around.
He swung the blade downward and the spine of the sword came down hard against the back of the Crystal Stag’s head. He didn’t show any mercy with this strike. This damned beast had caused him so much trouble already.
Malourcha crashed against the ground with a muffled sound.
But the demonized creature was indeed as hard to kill as Brendel expected. Though it lay against the ground, it still stared heatedly at Brendel with its blood-red eyes full of anger. Those eyes, however, started to show signs of a chilling killing intent. This killing intent was quickly replaced by confusion -- this meant that the invasion of the dark magic was at the last critical step.
“I’m asking you if you are the one who sucked out all of the magic in the forest --” Brendel placed his sword against Malourcha’s neck and asked.
Honestly, this entire scene was hilarious. You’d rarely see a knight force a stag to answer a question by sword point.
But Brendel’s expression was dead serious.
“Get out, human!”
The furious answer that resounded in his mind was just as Brendel expected.
At this time, Malourcha’s entire body was covered by black smoke. Clearly the battle before had used up too much of its energy and it no longer had any resources left to suppress the invasion of the darkness. The Dark Magic was increasing the rate at which it tainted the stag and Brendel could see the constant change in its eyes.
He didn’t actually need the answer anymore.
“Since you won’t respond then it’s up to me to find the answer.” Brendel suddenly leaned down and pressed against Malourcha’s neck. Then his sword pointed at a spot just beneath its horns at the center of the back of its head.
Below that spot was the magical core of the Crystal Stag.
He pressed down with a bit of force and Halran Gaia’s blade tore the skin. Blue blood spilled out. At the same time, Malourcha let out the anticipated shouts of anger and then started to struggle furiously.
But Brendel was absolutely sure that it was not because of pain.