Riska sat on the ground and lounged against a tree stump. In the past, he refused to meditate unless he was perched in a comfortable chair. However, on their escape journey from the Sacred City, he had learned to enter mediation in any posture – he had no other choice. Otherwise he would not have the necessary supply of magic to continue his journey the following day. Sometimes, having "no other choice" could do wonders; Riska was a good example.
After a moment, Riska, who had been deep into his meditation, was awakened by a subconscious fear and quickly opened his eyes. Immediately, he saw a tall shadow appear to his left, and vaguely heard a muffled breath.
A wyvern! Riska was nearly scared to death. He suddenly remembered what Anfey had said before they left for this assignment: "Ensure that you always have enough magic. When you have depleted more than half of your reserves, do not continue to use the eye of the sky. Wait until you get the chance to meditate and restore your supply of magic before you cast that spell again."
Foolishly, during the long wait, both Suzanne and he had neglected Anfey's advice. They were more and more anxious, and released the eye of the sky for longer and longer intervals. The last two times, Riska stopped only because he had exhausted his magic.
Now Riska finally understood that he should never, ever ignore Anfey’s warning. Had he maintained some magic, he would have levitated to escape back to their camp. Instead, he had put himself in such a crisis without being able to do anything but to try to restore his magic!
Although wyverns, like unicorns and manticores, were classified as high-level magic beasts, they were much slower than their magical counterparts. However, they had a well-known nickname: Forest Stalker!
Wyverns’ bodies were heavy. Therefore, whether flying in the sky or fighting on the ground, they could not be compared to other high-level beasts, and as a result, were not very effective hunters. On the other hand, wyverns had flexible necks, and could release a concentrated venom from their menacing fangs. If the poison were injected into a human body, within a few minutes the body would turn into a pool of bloody liquid. Even contacting the venom with the skin would cause permanent trauma. Wyverns thus liked to hunt by hiding themselves and waiting for prey to pass by. Once there was opportunity, they would use their flexible neck and quickly capture the prey.
Wyverns were not as dangerous as some other high-level magical beasts. This was evident by the fact they lived in groups instead of alone: the pack provided protection. However, they were still threatening creatures. Had Riska stored enough magic, he could have escaped easily, but now he was in serious peril with little hope to survive.
Magic beast forests could be filled with danger. While Riska and Suzanna had been safe thus far, that did not mean they would be safe going forward. A mage without reserves of power was equivalent to a paralyzed patient in the human world. Riska realized how foolish he was. Both he and Suzanna knew wyverns were social animals. Seeing one made it likely that they would see a second, but neither of them had thought this through. Riska cursed his own stupidity, but this was no help in his current situation. He had to deal with the aftermath of his poor judgement.
Riska covertly sent out a magic signal. "Suzanna…I need help. Now!" Riska prayed while nervously eyeing the shadow of the wyvern.
Across the forest, Suzanna watched as the big manticore slowly approached and growled deeply at a wyvern who had invaded its territory. This was an attempt to intimidate the intruder. High-level magical beasts were intelligent, but they were still animals after all. They would not start a fight with others simply to improve their combat skills; they did not have any ambition to dominate the entire forest. Their goals were much humbler. They wanted enough food and to be able to produce their next generation in relative peace. It was obvious that the big manticore would prefer to scare the opponent away without engaging in battle.
The wyvern hissed as it stepped back, but it was not ready to give up yet.
The manticore was irritated. Its red, shiny tail stood upright, and the tip of the tail flashed with danger.
"Move back more, move back more!" Suzanna prayed. This distance was still risky for her to put her plan into action. If the manticore would move to the wyvern’s position, it would allow her to not only kill the small manticore, but also have enough time to escape.
The big manticore was still menacing the wyvern, who was staring back at its adversary nervously. The small manticore popped its little head out from the grass and looked curiously at its mother. None of the three beasts was aware of the hidden guest.
At that moment, Suzanna sensed a magic surge in the distance, and her heart skipped a beat. Riska was in danger!
She did not have time to think. Immediately gathering all of her combat power, she dashed out from behind the tree like a flash, held her sword over her head, and forcefully chopped down at the small manticore’s exposed back.
At the same time, its mother roared fiercely, turned and sped toward Suzanna. Its bloody red body became a bright red stream in the air, resembling a large fireball.
The sword’s power sharpened in the air and swept straight towards the small manticore. The small manticore turned its head and stretched out a tiny claw, as if to resist the sword’s power. Unfortunately, it was too young, and hadn’t been able to form its internal magic crystal. The physical strength of its body was not much more than a puppy. It simply could not bear the power of a senior swordsman.
The sword swept through the manticore, and the small manticore was cleaved in two in a white flash. Suzanna suddenly accelerated, and barely avoided the furious smack from the big manticore. A claw blazed behind her, and even with the protection from her combat power, her clothes were torn and her white. Jade-like skin was exposed. She could just imagine how frightening the attack was, and she dared not to look back but charged straight towards Riska.
The vast manticore talons had missed Suzanna and struck the ground instead. With an ear-piercing crash, pieces of grass and mud splattered, and the mists shadowed the mother manticore. When the enormous creature leaped from the ground again, there was a half-foot pit left on the ground.
The enraged manticore glanced at her lifeless child, threw back its head and let out a furious shaking roar. Its upper and lower lips were thrown open, revealing two rows of razor-sharp teeth. The hair on its lips violently trembled. The blood red pupil of the manticore firmly locked on Suzanna's back. Then the beast jumped up with a speed that did not match its bulk and began chasing Suzanna.
Meanwhile, the provocative wyvern had been tapping its wings while hiding alongside. This was the embodiment of the intelligence of magical beasts: no matter what its originally purpose, it would never want to fight an infuriated manticore!
"Come on! Come over! See how I am going to slay you!" Riska roared, clutching a magic scroll in each of his hands, waving hard toward the wyvern. The scroll in his left hand was the mirror, and in his right was the Hellfire. The former was to assist Suzanna with her battle, and the latter was equipped for his team as their last defense. The problem was, with his current supply of magic, he was unable to release either scroll. All he could do was threaten the wyvern with the magic surge from the scrolls, hoping he would intimidate the wyvern and buy himself more time.
Who said common sense was useless? It was the common sense that Riska had read in a book that saved him temporarily. Wyverns were relatively weak as high-level magic beasts. They were timid and would not easily provoke a powerful opponent. Clearly, the wyvern was intimidated by the magic surge from the scrolls, and hesitant to attack. Riska knew that all the wyvern had to do was stretch out its long neck and gently bite down to win this battle.
"Come on, you ugly bastard!" Riska's voice was turning more and more hoarse, but his vigor seemed to be growing. Luckily, he was able to deceive the beast. If he continued for even a few more minutes, he would exhaust himself and crash without the wyvern even having to lift a paw.
At that moment, a threatening roar exploded from afar. Riska was only concerned about the immediate crisis in front of him, and did not pay the distant sound a second thought. However, the roar frightened the wyvern. It took two steps back, stretched out its wings and burst into the sky.
The wyvern’s unexpected retreat, however, revealed Riska’s real status: he didn’t even have the strength to hold himself steady. The gust from the wyvern’s wings knocked him to the ground. Regardless, his hands were still tightly holding the magic scrolls; he could not pry them loose.
That wyvern immediately realized that it had been tricked. Viciously, it lowered its wings and slowly started approaching Riska.
"Get out!" Suzanna’s crisp scream arose from far away and was followed by a white flash, which turned the branches, leaves, and even the trunks along its way into ash.
The wyvern spotted the fierce Suzanna, hurriedly flapped its wings and rose back into the sky once more. It could clearly identify the glowing red manticore behind Suzanna. It wisely withdrew away from these vicious enemies.
Suzanna reached Riska, and without time for more than a meeting of the eyes, picked him up and continued fleeing forward.
Suzanna wasn’t rough, but for Riska, who was forced into high-speed from a standstill in an instant, the contrast was unbearable. He felt as if he was being crushed by a boulder, his head was pounding, his chest was too tight to breathe. Opening his mouth, he quickly spat and noticed the red tinge of blood.