The Devil's Evolution Catalog Chapter 109: Battling the Three-Star
With a resounding howl, the tamed wolves leaped into the fray turning the already messy battlefield into an even more chaotic one. A portion of these wolves went to aid the bandit minions while the remainder split off to harass me.
The Third Chief was definitely a lot stronger than me. Had it not been for my high-grade blade being able to break through his Aura Layer, this fight would’ve been over before it even started.
What was originally a knife’s edge fight for me was instantly thrown into disarray with the addition of the wolves.
Just as I dodged the Third Chief’s long blade, the first tamed wolf pounced towards me barely giving me time to react before I was forced to roll to the side. Yet before I could even regain my posture, another wolf pounced at me catching me completely off-guard.
Its lupine mouth opened to reveal a menacing row of razor sharp teeth as it prepared to lacerate me. Right at the last second however, a fireball crashed right into it with an explosive roar of flames as it sent the wolf flying to the side.
Without even looking, I knew that it was Ancarin who helped me. With no time to spare, I immediately activated the enchanted blade’s flames as I stabbed at the third oncoming wolf; cauterizing its flesh as the blade pierced through its neck.
“Kill her! Attack her together!”
As the flames burst forth from the wolf’s neck, the Third Chief ordered the wolves to restrain me out of fear of approaching my blade. The wolves leapt instantly at his command without any hint of hesitation in their eyes as they tried to suppress me with their numbers.
If I wasn’t in the Western Human Realms right now with so many humans watching, this dog pile could’ve easily been taken care of with a few bone walls and spears. Unfortunately for me, this wasn’t an option as necromancers were even more of a taboo occupation than occultists.
If my identity as a devil was ever uncovered, we could still pass that off as me being a minion of Ancarin. However, if it was ever discovered that we were necromancers, that meant only one thing...getting burnt on a stake.
While the wolves kept me occupied, the Third Chief took the opportunity to close in on Ancarin having determined that her magic was currently the biggest threat. Seeing this, I instantly rushed forward to stop him but was immediately intercepted by the remaining eight wolves who leapt at me simultaneously.
Having spent the majority of my childhood practicing with the sword and shield on that wooden dummy, I had attained a degree of familiarity with bladed weapons such as my enchanted blade. After all, the swords of the Western Human Realms were almost the same as blades; unlike the ancient Chinese swords that were mainly used to stab, they were also able to slash and chop as well.
However, the lack of a shield often threw off my stance due to my open left flank. Naturally, I couldn’t use the grimoire as a makeshift shield, which forced me to dodge often in order to defend against the combined attacks of the wolves while severely limiting my offensive options.
Not only that, the wolves the bandit chief had brought with him were markedly stronger than those we met in the woods. With their one-star strength, they were probably the elites of their wolf army and this showed in their impeccable cooperation. Whenever I slashed at an exposed wolf, another would leap at my left flank, forcing me to retract my blade to defend.
By now, the Third Chief was close enough for Ancarin to see the whites of his eyes. He raised his long blade high into the air and gripped the hilt tightly, ready to perform an overhead chop as he covered the last five meters between them. It was at this moment, that a sly grin crossed her lips as she raised her hands and fired off an ice shard.
At this distance, he barely had time to react before the shard’s crystalline exterior dominated his field of vision. With a swift tug of his hand, he drew his blade down towards his hips and sliced the shard in twain. However, while the danger had been neutralized, his blade was now encased in ice from the shard’s residual freezing power.
Even so, the bandit trudged on with his now frozen-solid club of a blade still raised high for what was now to be called a smash. And yet what greeted him as he stepped forth was a fireball aimed right at him.
Forced to defend once more, he swatted the fireball down with his club causing an explosion of fire and ice as the frozen layer shattered leaving behind a steaming blade. Concerned that the fireball wouldn’t be enough to stop the man, Ancarin threw up a magical barrier in the meantime as a precaution.
The magic crystal atop the staff glowed blue with mana as she focused her will on it. A second later, a blue, dome-like barrier of pure mana formed in front of her. This was a barrier formed solely out of the crystal’s stored mana which automatically recovered every 12 hours.
As long as she activated it while it was charged up, the barrier wouldn’t require any mana input from her. On the other hand, it also meant that she could activate the barrier as long as she was able to expend the required amount of mana.
Living up to his reputation as a three-star fighter, the Third Chief’s wealth of experience allowed him to remain calm even when faced with a sudden explosion. Without giving it any thought, he instinctively expunged his Fighter’s Aura in a short burst, cancelling out the shockwave of the magical explosion.
Even under that barrage of fire and ice, his blade had never swayed from its course as the Chief continued his relentless attack on Ancarin.
The barrier shattered into transparent flakes of blue as it blocked the Chief’s chop in a flash of blue magical energy. While he had successfully broken through the barrier, he had lost his grip on the blade at the same time.
After being pelted continuously by her magical attacks, the Chief’s hand was numb from the impact, and upon receiving the backlash from the barrier, finally caved in.
A triumphant smile crossed her lips as the blade fell to the ground with a loud clang. This was the moment she had been planning for since the beginning. In the past, she had seen Duran use the staff to block an attack from a three-star warrior. The situation back then was exactly the same as what happened now.
She immediately stepped backwards and prepared to finish off the bandit by turning him into an ice statue with an ice shard.
However, reality was never as simple as it seemed.
Even with his right hand out of commission, he still had his left. In an admittedly impressive display of focus, he activated his Fighter’s Aura and channelled it towards his left fist as he punched out at the unprepared Ancarin.
The bandit once again showed his wealth of combat experience with this decisive move. Given the speed of his fist, the punch would land before she ever got the chance to fire off the spell even though she was the one who made the move first. If this punch were to land, her left hand would end up crippled due to the massive disparity in their bodily strength.
However, unbeknownst to the man, she still had one last trick up her sleeve.
As the Grimoire of the Dead was vehemently opposed to me using low-grade gear, the majority of the loot was given to Ancarin. Even so, she knew that more wasn’t necessarily better and wisely chose the tools that Duran had usually brought into battle such as potions, scrolls and enchanted gear. Thus, she actually had two defensive tools instead of just one.
The aura clad fist tore through the air, the gap between itself and its target shrinking in an instant. Knowing that she couldn’t match him in speed, she immediately withdrew her left hand while simultaneously activating her defensive necklace.
Similar to the staff, the necklace was a high-grade enchanted gear, but unlike the fixed defensive strength of the staff’s crystal, the necklace required the user’s mana to activate and its strength varied depending on the amount of mana put in. In short, the more mana you put the stronger the barrier gets.
(Author’s Note: There is a maximum value on the necklace’s barrier, channelling more mana past that value doesn’t add to its defensive strength and if the mana channelled is more than the amount the necklace can take, it might break.)
His fist punctured the barrier without any difficulty, tearing down the last hindrance standing between him and Ancarin. However, as his fist was merely flesh and blood, the barrier absorbed the majority of its impact.
By the time it hit the staff she swung forward to block him at the last minute, there was barely 10% left of its initial power. Yet, this was enough to send her flying while knocking the staff away.
It was at this moment that the forgotten masked girl, Regine, finally made her move. The girls had already agreed on a plan prior to this: Ancarin would distract the Third Chief while she waited in the shadows for the right moment.
Putting aside the issue of morals, thieves and assassins were basically the same occupation with the majority of their skills overlapping. The biggest difference would be that one relied on killing for a living while the other relied on stealing. Thus during situations such as this, thieves could perform the same job as an assassin...a slightly inferior assassin.
With Ancarin demanding all of the Third Chief’s attention, she had the perfect chance to sneak up on the man. At the moment, his fist made contact with Ancarin, she revealed her murderous intent, her enchanted dagger baring its cold metallic fangs. Unfortunately, the wound wasn’t a fatal one...
The Third Chief’s vast combat experienced saved him once more as his honed battle instincts alerted him right at the very last second. As a bandit living with death on a daily basis, he not only had to keep his guard up during their raids, he also had to remain vigilant against his own men.
The rule of being a bandit was that there was no rules, strength was the only thing they respected; if you were strong enough, then you would be the leader. If you fell because of an accident or a plot, then your life would be forfeit. No one could be trusted in such an environment and those who survived were all cunning cutthroats.
It was in such an environment that his instincts were honed giving him an extraordinary sensitivity to danger. Prior to her attack, the man had no clue that Regine was behind him yet the moment Regine let out her murderous intent, the bandit instantly picked up on it and realised that there was a killer lurking nearby.
He immediately abandoned going in for the kill and instead focused on dodging the stab. However, due to the suddenness of her attack, he only managed to avoid a fatal wound.
Regine was a two-star thief and not a professional assassin. If she had been one, that stab would’ve definitely penetrated his heart. Not being able to kill him in one strike was the decisive difference between one who trained in the arts of murder and one who merely dabbled in it.
The assassination had failed and that meant only one thing: run. While it was a shame that she couldn’t finish him off, her opponent’s instincts were too sensitive and had exceeded her own estimations. Withdrawing her dagger, she instantly retreated without any hesitation.
A split second later, a kick came flying towards where she had just been. Naturally, the kick missed its target and all he could do was rub his back in pain and anger as he tried to figure out the extent of the wound.
“Are you alright?” asked the stealthy thief as she landed gracefully at Ancarin’s side, handing over the staff she had picked up along the way to the girl who had just gotten to her feet.
“I’m fine,” she replied shakily while accepting the staff. Judging from the paleness of her face, that strike must’ve given her quite a fright. Thankfully, she was a resilient girl. After a few shakes of her body, she recovered her presence of mind and turned towards me and the wolves: “Master Mo Ke seems to be in trouble, you should help him instead. Leave this side to me.”
“I can’t do that.” While her face was as placid as ever, the expression on Regine’s face clearly showed her reluctance to leave Ancarin alone to face a three-star warrior.
“Don’t worry, I have this.” As she said that, Ancarin took out a magical scroll from her robes. Seeing the scroll, Regine finally relented with a nod and came over to aid me.
“A magical scroll!”
With a just glance, he instantly recognized the rolled up parchment in her hands. Furthermore, he knew better than any of the bandits here how terrifying this piece of paper was. Ten years ago when he was merely a young mercenary, he was on a escort mission to protect a mage. Back then, their convoy had encountered a fearsome bandit troupe that they couldn’t defeat.
Just as it looked like they were about to lose, the mage ripped open a magical scroll and then...there was no more enemies to worry about. At that moment, the young Third Chief made a decision which would forever change his life.
At the dead of night, he murdered his client and stole all his possessions after which he fled. The mercenary group chased him endlessly until the day he faked his death and finally managed to shake off their pursuit, cementing his future as a promising bandit.
Special thanks to Steve Granger!!