Riska spit out blood, looked up and spotted the approaching manticore. He was not only able to see its bloody mouth clearly, which could swallow his entire head, but also its quivering uvula inside. The hatred from the bloody red pupil made Riska shiver, and he could not help but cry, "Faster, faster…"
Suzanna clenched her jaw and charged toward an old tree. As soon as she was about to crash into the tree, she smacked the trunk with the palm of her hand. As the wood splintered, Suzanna leveraged the momentum and dashed aside, avoided the splinters by a hair.
"Bam!" The tip of the manticore’s tail had drilled into the trunk. It was so powerful that it pierced through the trunk, which was thick enough for two people to stretch their arms around. The tip of the tail popped out on the other side of the trunk. Had Suzanna not changed her direction, she would have been wounded severely by this attack, or perhaps even worse. The needle tip could have pierced through her body. Manticore’s tails were poisonous and caused immobility. Even if Suzanna had just been slightly stung, she would not be able to fight back at all.
The manticore missed Suzanna, instead, getting its own tail embedded in the trunk. It was not able to leverage its strength, and its wings, which were meant for short distance flying, could not provide enough power to pull its tail out either. The manticore then smacked its huge body against the tree trunk. Falling branches and leaves showered the manticore, but its attempt was effective: from the bottom of the trunk, a crack as wide as a hand started to appear and stretched deeply into the center of the trunk.
As thick as the tree was, it was still wood and could not bear the attack from the manticore’s metal-like body. If not for the toughness of the plant, the tree would have been smashed into pieces.
The manticore rolled over on the ground, and in the splattering of mud, finally retrieved its tail and left a hole about the size of human calf in the trunk. Then the manticore roared toward Suzanna, who by then was some distance away, flapped its webbed wings, jumped into the air, and continued the chase. Heartbroken by the loss of its child, the mother manticore was mad with rage, and she was determined to take revenge on Suzanna, no matter how far away she ran!
"Meditate! Now!" Suzanna shouted.
"Miss, are you crazy! You ask me to meditate, now?" Riska yelled back as he watched the manticore gliding down from the air and getting closer and closer.
"Meditate!!" Suzanna screamed.
Riska took a long breath and figured there was no other choice. They were slower than the manticore—he could clearly see the distance between the two parties shortening—and if he did nothing, sooner or later, both Suzanna and he would be killed by the magic beast.
However, meditate like this, seriously?! Riska still could not imagine how he could do it. He was now being carried across Suzanna’s shoulder, and did not even have time to change his position. During the escape from the Sacred City, Riska learned to meditate while lying down, leaning against a wall, and now he needed to enter meditation being carried? However, at this crucial juncture, he had no time to even consider how absurd this concept was. He closed his eyes slowly, with the most devout mentality, and managed to fall into meditation.
The manticore was approaching, and Suzanna used her greatest skill in order to avoid the attack from the beast. Every time the manticore attempted to sting Suzanna, she managed to instantly dodge by speeding up or by changing direction. However, there was a price she had to pay. Suzanna exuded small bloody sweat from her forehead, shoulders, chest, back and even legs. What was worse, two lines of blood tears fell from her eyes. This was the consequence of Combat Power over-usage that exceeded the tolerance of her body.
Suzanna of course understood the consequences. In the best-case scenario, she could be disabled, and in the worst-case, her body could explode from inside out. Unfortunately, she had no other choice—whatever she would need to deal with in the future sounded better than being instantly torn into pieces by the manticore!
Suzanna was not the only one who unlocked her potential. Riska entered meditation piously, and instantly lost consciousness. Danger, task, time, self: all of it left his mind. Mages normally could achieve magic replenishment by meditating in two ways—normal meditation and in-depth mediation. In-depth meditation could restore magic much faster. However, only a magister or an archmage could master in-depth mediation; or rather, only after a mage had advanced to magister, he or she would gradually learn in-depth mediation. The fact that Riska had mastered this skill only as a high-level mage completely undercut this "common knowledge."
Among all the Pan-continent mages, Riska was probably the only one who was ever given the opportunity to meditate in such a life-threatening moment. During a crisis like this, normally people would either fight or run. But meditate? That was another way of committing suicide!
Riska was forced to face such danger, but luckily, he made the most of it. Mastering in-depth meditation was a long journey for mages under normal circumstances.
Just as Suzanna staggered, Riska slowly opened his eyes and shouted, surprisingly and with delight, "Suzanna, I can release the magic now! Yes, I can!"
"Mirror!" Susanna responded with a hoarse voice.
"Mirror? But after releasing Mirror, you need to control..."
Riska was still trying to remind her of something but suddenly he was shocked by the soaking bloody back of Suzanna. Without further thought, Riska crushed the magic scroll and ordered, "Mirror!"
At the same time, Suzanna tossed Riska into the air. The white aura on Suzanna dimmed a little, and then two Suzannas appeared.
When magisters or archmages released the Mirror scroll, they could choose to teleport both themselves and their images to any spot within a certain area. The distance they could teleport to was determined by the power of their minds. However, Suzanna was not a magister nor an archmage, and had to let go of this opportunity to change her unfavourable situation.
Two Suzannas fled into two directions, one was slightly slower than the other. Meanwhile, in the air, Riska tried to catch a branch and release a levitation spell. When he successfully released levitation, Riska was pleasantly astonished. He did not expect to have enough magic to cast the levitation spell, as his meditation had been very short. The only explanation would be that his mind power had been improved significantly.
The manticore hesitated for a second, opened its mouth and blew its poisonous breath toward Riska. It then flapped its webbed wings and started chasing the slower Suzanna. Although it also understood that just one was its real implacable foe and the other was just an image, it concluded that getting the slower one was the quickest way to determine whether it was after the correct target.
The intelligence of the beast, after all, was limited. If it had been Anfey, he would definitely have gone after the faster Suzanna.
Riska controlled the air element to lift himself higher in the air to escape from the poisonous fog. He turned his head and stared in Susanna’s direction. Only then did he realize his heart was pounding violently, as if it was trying to jump out from his chest.
The slower Suzanna dashed straight ahead. As the manticore dove at her, she seemed to be too scared to continue her escape route and hit a rock. Then she vanished like a bubble.
If Suzanna herself was less than 30 meters away, she could have controlled the direction of the Mirror image. Now that Suzanna was over 100 meters away, she had lost that control.
The manticore was enraged that it had been tricked. It let out a roar that shook the forest, turned around and continued its chase in the other direction.
At this moment, Suzanna was on the edge of collapse. If she only needed to flee by herself, she would not have been this worried. However, at full gallop, even a 10-pound weight change would greatly increase the burden on the body, let alone Riska weighing far more than 10 pounds! Suzanna did not dare to fight back either, since Riska, who had exhausted his magic, would certainly be killed by the manticore—the poisonous breath alone would take his life away. Her only choice was to force the use of Combat Power and try to maintain a safe distance from the manticore.
Fortunately, Suzanna reached the edge of the unicorn’s territory. She exerted all of her remaining strength, jumped up five or six meters, and landed on a round rock, on which a thumb-sized white magic crystal was shining gently.
The manticore saw its enemy stop running and decided to take revenge without a second thought. It flapped its webbed wings and leaped straight towards Suzanna.
Suzanna pointed the tip of her foot firmly on the rock. Her body was lifted up temporarily by unknown force. As she fell, she was so physically exhausted that she could not even keep her eyes open. Her legs gave out as she landed, and she fell on her knees.
The magic array set by Sante was triggered. The manticore spotted a blaze of white light much brighter than the sunshine blooming in front of it. No creature could escape that magical lightning attack. The manticore felt the excruciating pain in its eyes and completely lost its sight. It screeched and fell to the ground. In desperation, it shook its hideous, bloody mouth left and right to release the poisonous fog to protect itself. Its sharp tail was randomly swinging around, attempting to attack anything that might come close to it.
Susanna had no time to even look back and check out what had happened. She crawled up and stumbled forward. By the time the manticore was able to finally open its eyes again, Suzanna had turned into the first valley and disappeared.
The manticore still would not give up. It howled and continued charging forward.