After making sure there was nothing valuable in the remains of the Bone Knight, Brendel packed away the equipment and decided to stop here. There had been a greenhouse garden here previously; the mage had destroyed the portal, which caused the time and space to turn chaotic. Further ahead would be the labyrinth and while there was equipment scattered here and there, they weren’t worth it.
They returned the way they came, back to the second floor and then to the hall, just in time to meet up with Ciel and Medissa, who were coming back from their third trip to the outsides of the Mage Tower. At this time, there were only a few demonic spirits that remained in the forest. Glancing out from the tower
“Sir.” The two of them saw Brendel and greeted him politely.
Brendel didn’t answer. With his hand, he slashed through the air between himself and Medissa. Two transparent blue screens appeared. Before Ciel and Medissa entered the tower, they had both been at level 27. Now they were close to level 32. This was like jumping from an unstable silver beginner all the way to a silver intermediate rank; that was a pretty fast rate.
Only then did Brendel smile. “Well done.”
“It was fortunate that Leader discovered this tower.” Medissa answered softly, the polite smile stilled affixed to her face.
“Heh,” Ciel let out a breath and asked curiously, “But Leader must have already known that there was a high level exorcism magic array here, right? Otherwise you wouldn’t have acted so confident.”
This guy’s curiosity practically overflowed and more important, he was clever and always noticed details that others didn’t. Brendel put on a stern face as he answered, “Black Tower Mages wouldn’t build a pavilion for their viewing pleasure here.”
“When you put it that way, you’re right. I just thought that there doesn’t seem to be defense mechanisms that are more appropriate than a high-level exorcism magic array. It’s almost as if… this was created for us.”
“That kind of feeling is really too good. How about it Medissa? Do you have the same feeling?” Ciel asked as he turned around. At the same time, he snuck glances at Brendel from the corner of his eye.
“Yeah, a little.” Medissa nodded slightly.
But the sneaky way at which the young mage approached the problem made Brendel want to laugh and cry. Not only Brendel, but even the little prince looked at Ciel in confusion and contemplated whether the chief Mage serving his teacher woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. Ciel’s tricks didn’t fool Brendel, or maybe he never wanted to fool Brendel. Brendel stared at him and tapped Ciel’s forehead with his finger as he said, “That’s because you’re also a part of the Black Tower Mages. This proves that outstanding defenders think the same -- unless you think you’re a stupid idiot?”
“That’s why.” Ciel agreed wholeheartedly with what his Leader said. But then he immediately thought of a new question, “But wait, I thought that I wasn’t --”
Before he could say anything, Medissa stomped hard on his foot. Both Brendel and the Silver Elf Princess understood that this guy was about to blurt out that he was a Silver Robe Mage now. But how could that be something you just blurt out? After all, this wasn’t the game where you could change professions at will. If rumors got out about how close a Silver Robe Mage and someone from Bucce was, who knows what trouble that would cause?
Brendel glared at Ciel, who understood that he was in the wrong. Ciel smiled awkwardly, scratched his head, and then fell silent.
Out of the remaining three, the little prince might not have understood everything and still had questions, but he wouldn’t say anything, even in front of his own sister. Filas paid these details absolutely no attention; he had been admiring the Night Goddess’ mirror this entire time. As for Scarlet, she might have seen something or she might have not. Sometimes even Brendel had a hard time figuring out what this Highlander girl was thinking.
“Sir, there aren’t that many demonic spirits left outside. It might be good to have everyone fight their way outside. After we clean up the battlefield, we can still travel a bit further. Didn’t we spend quite a bit of time in the Anserra Forest?” Medissa spoke up at this opportunity and changed the topic.
Brendel nodded. He thought that out of everyone he had with him, with the exception of Amandina, this Silver Elf Princess was probably the most reliable. But Medissa was right; it was time to move on and they had spent too much time in the Anserra Forest. Now they have to use every minute and second to its fullest.
So he immediately commanded Ciel and Medissa to gather up everyone -- mostly the guard knights and the original crew of the caravan. These people were mostly the elites around Her Royal Highness and, after they’ve gotten some time to rest in the great hall, they had long ago prepared themselves for departure. Therefore, they immediately got themselves moving as soon as they received the command.
Before they left, Brendel asked Ciel to return the mage tower to where it had been. Though they couldn’t bring the tower with them, they could trade it as a favor to the Black Tower Mages in the future. Everyone knew that mages didn't lack money.
The battle in the forest could be considered as done. The team outside, consisting of Freya and Pahimila, was just searching for any missed enemies among the grounds. Everyone else had the job of cleaning up the battlefield. Demonic spirits were an extremely disgusting type of monster in Amber Sword -- for a player, a persistent monster wasn’t always disgusting, but one who was both persistent and stingy would definitely be considered absolutely disgusting. This was an undisputed point and demonic spirits ranked high on the list of disgusting monsters.
The facts proved them right. Several hundred demonic spirits only yielded two Fragments of Chaos. Though they sounded powerful and terrifying, they were nothing more than the condensed matter of dark magic and a type of alchemical material that, while rare, was pretty useless.
But that was better than nothing. Brendel thought about the fact that Maynild was in charge of clearing up the battlefield and felt at peace with what happened. What did terrify him was the fact that Laurenna seemed to have worse luck than Maynild. Looks like history wasn’t entirely trustworthy. All of the knight couple’s luck definitely was because of Filas.
He looked at Laurenna and then at Maynild. In his heart, he drew a black mark next to all female knights. Finally, he glanced at Freya, who was resting in the distance, and made up his mind that he will never let the War Goddess loot bodies.
After clearing the demonic spirits from the Abyss Lake, the team could finally move on. By then, deep night had befallen the forest. But in reality, Brendel’s bronze watch told him it was just a bit in the afternoon. He decided to camp in the middle of the night and finish crossing the middle courtyard before today.
After crossing the forest, the geography on either side opened up. Based on the description from the walkthrough, Brendel recognized this as the first half of the “middle courtyard.” There were the expected signs of the Dusk Hounds in the forest. This was a type of creature that was a cross between a wolf and a fox. It was physically bigger than a black wolf and had five fingers on their claws. Legend says they are the ancestors to the wolf-shaped monsters. The demon wolf Fenir who came before Hati had been a Dusk Hound.
In the Amber Sword, Dusk Hounds were classical pack monsters. Their special abilities included teleportation and flash and they also had the ability to spew out an attack, Breath of Dusk. Anyone struck by Breath of Dusk would be permanently turned to stone, which made this a terrifying ability.
But the Dusk Hounds weren’t without a weakness. In the Amber Sword, monsters that excelled at attack and agility were weak in defense. Dusk Hounds weren’t an exception. Their flash and teleportation became meaningless against a conjurer’s dimension anchor spell. The only thing you needed was to know where it would first appear - and where the dimension anchor was.
That wasn’t hard for Brendel.
In the first half of the “middle courtyard”, they were already attacked by a small pack of Dusk Hounds. That “pack” had about seven or eight adult hounds, twice that number of mother beasts and young beats. The life cycle of monsters was weird. They had some of the characteristics of beats but reproduced in completely different ways -- regardless, the nest was very important for monsters.
As soon as the Dusk Hounds appeared, Brendel noticed them before anyone else did, including the monsters themselves. Dusk Hounds had very well defined zones. He had encountered them before in the Kalanga Mountains and not for a brief period either; for about half a year, he and Bai Jia crossed paths with these monsters. So he could detect their presence just by the traces left behind from the way the magic flowed in the forest.
Maynild was the second to discover these beasts. By then the Dusk Hounds had already started tracking them. The female knight reacted, as if out of instinct. Brendel noticed that she looked behind them -- that was where the monsters were.
Then Brendel commanded for the team to halt and for Ciel to prepare the dimension anchor. As everyone watched on in confusion, the pack of beasts arrived and barged right into the trap that Ciel set, as if on a schedule.
As for the battle that followed --
The battle that followed could be described as a one-sided victory. Without the ability to cut across dimensions and avoid attack by using flash or the ability to flee battle using teleportation, Dusk Hounds were so thin-skinned they made the perfect target. Though they could still spew, that clumsy form of attack really wasn’t the best way to go up against a warrior-class opponent. After a few rounds, the entire pack was slaughtered and these near golden beginner level beasts turned into experience points for Brendel, Ciel, and the others.
After that experience, everyone else quickly got into the zone. They slowly crossed the valley under Brendel’s command. Throughout their journey, they experienced multiple attacks by Dusk Hounds. But Brendel adopted the same strategy every time and the battles became easier.
This kept up until Ciel exhausted all of his spells. Then Brendel had him quietly summon the Ether Dragon and recover his spells as the entire team stopped and waited.
Because he continuously fought against higher-level monsters, Ciel’s Silver Robe Mage status was already at level 35 at that point. Medissa and Pahimila were both at level 33. Since those three had toned down their powers in front of other people, the others hadn’t discovered that they were slowly but surely growing more powerful. After all, Ciel and Medissa were beings around Brendel who had already stepped foot inside the golden realm. Nobody would think much of them keeping their true powers a secret.
But Brendel had the team stop because in front of them was the mountain pass for the last section of the middle courtyard. This meant that the boss-level Dusk Hound was probably close by.