Let us go back in time a few weeks, to June 5th.
This afternoon, Linley bid farewell to his three bros. Carrying a leather sack on his back, Linley headed on the road to the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts.
“Squeak squeak!” The little Shadowmouse squeaked happily from his perch on Linley’s shoulders.
“Boss, we’re finally headed to the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts. Wow, I’m so excited!” The little Shadowmouse’s voice rang out in Linley’s head. Linley just smiled. At this time, a white ray of light shone out and transformed into Doehring Cowart.
Doehring Cowart instructed, “Linley, when travelling alone, you must be careful. Perhaps you will meet with bandits.”
“I know, Grandpa Doehring.” Linley laughed.
Grandpa Doehring had already repeated his warnings over and over about the dangers of traveling solo. Right now, Linley was dressed in sturdy cloth slacks and a sleeveless shirt. Just judging from his bulging alone, anyone would definitely be certain that he was a warrior.
Per Grandpa Doehring, in the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, a mage’s robes would be rather unwieldy and get in the way.
Linley moved very quickly. Although the road from the Ernst Institute to the mountain range was rather rough, based on Linley’s stamina as a warrior of the fourth rank, in a single hour he easily traversed forty kilometers. Just at this time, he suddenly saw three people up ahead.
“Hrm?” Linley’s gaze focused on one person in particular.
That person was actually dressed in the robes of a student of the Ernst Institute. Of the other two, one was extremely muscular and bore a giant warblade on his back. The other man was extremely skinny, and had a shortsword sheathed by his side. That skinny man alertly turned his head and stared at Linley.
Linley couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to them, and just sped up, preparing to pass them by.
“Linley, is that you?” A voice suddenly said.
Linley turned his head questioningly. That man dressed in the robes of a magus of the Ernst Institute smiled and called out, “Linley, I’m Delsarte [De’sha’te], remember me?”
“Oh, Delsarte, it’s you!” Linley came to a halt.
Linley actually knew this Delsarte.
Delsarte, like him, was a wind magus of the fifth grade class. Although they couldn’t be considered to have a deep friendship, they were classmates after all.
Delsarte brought the two warriors over, smiling as he warmly said, “Linley, I didn’t expect that you, a magus, would be dressed like this. I barely recognized you. Only when I saw that little Shadowmouse on your shoulder did I realize it was you.”
“Kava [Ka’wa], Matt [Ma’te], let me introduce you. This is Linley, one of the two ultimate geniuses of our Ernst Institute. He’s only fifteen years old, but he is already a magus of the fifth rank.” Delsarte enthusiastically introduced.
Kava was that muscularly built warrior, while Matt was the skinny warrior.
“I’ve long heard Delsarte talk about the two ultimate geniuses of the Ernst Institute. I didn’t expect that today we would have the good fortune to meet you.” Matt said courteously, while Kava’s eyes widened as round as an ox. “You are a magus? Why do you look like a warrior to me?”
Linley didn’t explain. “All of you are heading to the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts?”
Delsarte nodded. “Right. Kava and Matt travelled with me last year for field training. We have good teamwork. This year, we plan to do some exploration around the borders of the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts. Linley, you should come with us. In a group, we’ll all be safer.”
“I’ll travel with them for now. Delsarte is a classmate of mine, so he should be trustworthy. When we reach the mountains, we’ll split up.” After making his decision, Linley and Delsarte’s trio all headed towards the mountains together.
The four of them travelled at very high speed.
Even the physically weak Delsarte was able to move rapidly through usage of the wind-style spell ‘Supersonic’. Thus, their group moved quickly through the barren roads.
Kava’s loud voice rumbled, “Linley, if you join with us, then we would have two magi of the fifth rank. When the four of us work together, we might even be able to kill a magical beast of the sixth rank. The magicite cores of magical beasts of the sixth rank are worth around a thousand gold apiece. If we kill a few of them, we won’t have to worry about our living expenses for a century.”
For most people, in a year, ten gold pieces was more than enough for living expenses.
A thousand gold coins was an enormous sum.
Linley’s heart was swayed. In the back of his mind, he suddenly was reminded of the books regarding magical beasts he had read. These books had discussed the energy core all magical beasts had within them; the magicite cores.
“These magicite cores will solidify in the bodies of beasts of the third rank and higher. But for beasts which have not reached the sixth rank, the value of the cores is not high. They probably aren’t even worth as much as one of my sculptures.” Linley thought to himself.
However, the magicite cores of magical beasts of the sixth rank were still only worth about a thousand gold.
Based on Doehring Cowart’s calculations, Linley’s sculptures were definitely qualified to be displayed in the hall of the experts, with a valuation of around a thousand gold or so each. Killing a magical beast of the sixth rank, in terms of difficulty and danger, was something that was far deadlier than sculpting.
“At the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, my primary goal is to train myself. Acquiring magicite crystals? That’s just a side benefit.” Linley said to himself as he looked at the other three.
Delsarte and the others were engaged in enthusiastic speculation. Clearly, they were very excited about acquiring magicite cores.
“The magicite cores of magical beasts of the third, fourth, and fifth ranks aren’t worth much. Even cores from beasts of the sixth rank are just worth a thousand or so.” Delsarte said, shaking his head unconcernedly. “If we can kill a magical beast of the seventh rank, then we will be rich.” When he said these words, Delsarte’s eyes gleamed.
Just like humans, where between magi of the sixth rank to the seventh rank was a huge gap, magical beasts of the sixth rank had a huge gap in power compared to magical beasts of the seventh rank.
The magicite cores of a magical beast of the seventh rank were worth tens of thousands of gold pieces.
If they could kill just one, in the countryside, they would be considered extremely wealthy and not have to worry about money for the rest of their lives.
“A magical beast of the seventh rank? Based on our ability, that would be a deathwish.” Linley said casually.
Linley had witnessed the power of the Velocidragon, a magical beast of the seventh rank. Linley, at his current rank, probably couldn’t even break through the Velocidragon’s terrifyingly protective scales. If he couldn’t even pierce its defense, how could he possibly try to kill a magical beast of the seventh rank? How was that possible?
That sly-looking fellow, Matt, nodded. “It’s hard to say if the four of us would even be able to defeat a magical beast of the sixth rank. Fighting with a magical beast of the seventh rank is suicide.”
“I’m just making small talk.” Delsarte rubbed his head as he pursed his lips.
Just as the four of them were talking and laughing, in a mountain forest a hundred meters behind them, a man wearing green clothes and with leaves covered all over his face was staring coldly at them.
This man’s mouth was moving nonstop, apparently mumbling the words to a magical spell.
At the same time, the longbow in his hands had been pulled to the limit. Suddenly, the arrow shot out, flashing with a cold blue light. It tore through the air at a terrifyingly rapid speed, traversing the hundred meters in the blink of an eye.
Linley, who was engaging in idle talk with the group, suddenly felt all the hairs on his body stand up. His heart immediately reached a maximum level of tension.
Linley quickly dodged to the side. “Whooosh!” That high speed arrow shot past him like a bolt of lightning, piercing through the body of the robed Delsarte. It pierced through his torso, leaving behind a gaping hole as it flew another few dozen meters before halting.
Clutching his throat, Delsarte’s eyes turned round. Some indistinct words gargled in his mouth as fresh blood spewed forth from the wound in his chest.
“Urg…urg…” Delsarte’s eyes were filled with a longing for life. They were filled with horror and fear, but as the blood continued to pour out from the gaping hole in his chest, quite quickly, all life fled from Delsarte’s eyes, and he collapsed.
Linley, Kava, and Matt all quickly flattened themselves against the grass as they alertly looked behind them.