"No, that isn’t what I mean. We do have two magisters, and I'm with you as well, so they won’t have much of an upper hand but… I just want you to make a good decision. I don’t want to see anyone hurt or killed."
"Remember when the orcs attacked us yesterday?" Anfey asked.
"There was one orc that had a battlecry, and signaled us. You know what I’m talking about?"
"No," Riska said. "Be more specific, Anfey, why does that matter?"
"You’re saying…someone’s watching us?" Suzanna asked, suddenly remembering her conversation with Anfey.
"Of course. Or else it wouldn’t make sense." Anfey stopped for a second before continuing. "Did you see that leader? He didn’t look like an orc."
"It’s not just that he didn’t look like an orc," Suzanna said. "He wasn’t an orc. I don’t know how it was possible for him to command so many orcs, though."
"We'll find out soon enough," Anfey said. "What’s taking them so long?"
"Should be quick," Riska said. "My magic coordination should be accurate."
After a few minutes, the three finally spotted the rest of the group, with Christian in the lead. They landed on the hill, and Christian hurried over. "Sorry about the delay," he said.
"We can’t control that unicorn," Christian said. "It ran off by itself, and it took us a while to catch it. Did we miss anything?"
"Nothing much. Rest here a little. We are attacking in a bit."
"Are we just rushing in like that?" Suzanna asked.
"What do you think we should do?"
"I don’t think we should rush into this," Suzanna said.
"Did you find their campsite?" Christian asked.
"Yes," Riska replied. "About eight miles from here."
"Give me the coordinates," Christian said, as he set up the eyes of the sky.
Christian picked just the right time to use the magic. When he found the mountain Riska marked, he saw about fifty orcs walking out of the woods in a line.
"Anfey, I agree with Suzanna," Christian said. "Even if they don’t have an obsidian mage, going there might risk discovery miles away."
"What do you recommend we do now?" Anfey asked.
"Riska and I can use a mist shield together," Christian said. "The shield can effectively block our magical surges, and it’s fairly common for the forest to fog up. I don’t think it’s going to arouse any suspicions. The only thing is: we both need time for meditation afterwards."
"What if we circle around the back of the mountain. With the mist as a disguise, they might not realize we’re there until we attack," Zubin said.
"He's right," Christian said, nodding. "Anfey, what do you say?"
"I like the plan," he said. "Go ahead. Discuss it among yourselves."
The group glanced at each other, feeling slightly uncomfortable. They were already used to Anfey giving them instructions on what to do. Now that Anfey gave them full control over the plan, it felt strange to them.
"What are you doing? Right now mist and fog would attract much attention. Once the sun is up you’ve lost your opportunity," Anfey told them. "Everyone needs to start thinking and come up with a possible plan."
He could teach them how to lose their naivety with cruelty, but there were many things he couldn’t teach them. Things like planning an attack. That required their own efforts.
Right now it was like he was leading a group of children and playing a game of survival. A few weeks were fine, a few months could work as well, but any longer than that would never work. Sooner or later, they would encounter some sort of crisis. If they were still like naive children, the result could be devastating. Sometimes he needed to let go, because that was the only way they could truly grow up.
Soon the conversation became heated. Everyone tossed out their own opinions and ideas. In reality, their abilities were undoubtedly some of the best in the world. Not everyone could be chosen be Saul’s student. Even the common ones like Feller would surely be one of the best if he was in the academy.
After a few more rounds of discussion, the group came up with a final plan. Christian and Risk would release a mist shield. Then, when they meditated to recover their magic, Suzanna, Sante, Zubin, and Sanchez would go to the back of the mountain and attack from behind. If the orcs tried to flee, Christian and the rest of the group could cut them off in the front. If they tried to fight, then the group also would attack from the front.
Anfey thought he could have came up with a better plan, but there were parts he admired as well. At least they knew how to trick their enemies. Distractions and mass attack from the magisters combined to form a solid attack plan. If the orcs had only around two hundred fighters, this team could easily take them out.
Seeing that Anfey agreed to the plan, the rest of the team was very happy. "Anfey, are you going with Suzanna or us?" Christian asked.
"Come with us," Suzanna said.
"Alright," Anfey agreed.
The orcs fighters would never imagine what kind of a team they were about to encounter. There were fewer than a dozen people in the world who joined the magister rank in their twenties, and two of them were on the team.
Swordsmasters under the age of twenty were even rarer. Even Ernest couldn’t achieve that. The only reason Suzanna wasn’t known throughout the land was because of certain events in her past.
Phillip didn’t think much of the team, because he was so focused on getting revenge for his grandson. However, anyone with a brain could tell how valuable this team would be in the future.
The fog gathered around them and slowly became more and more opaque. It began spreading into the surroundings. Suzanna’s group had already headed out, and was heading towards the back of the mountain after taking the long way around. With the magic coordinates, they wouldn’t miss it, even if the fog was heavy enough to obscure sights.
The tribe was just over the small hill ahead. The team slowly walked towards the hill, their senses heightened to watch for any possible enemy movements. Suddenly, they heard voices up ahead. They hurriedly hid behind a bush and peered out quietly.
Two orcs, a man and a woman, walked onto the hill. After the Sacred War, the entire world was disorganized and chaotic. One sentient species would often take refuge in another’s territory if it was attacked or experienced traumatic loss. After a few centuries, the world languages became very much assimilated. Now, every intelligent being knew at least two languages. One of the two was the species’ own language, and the other was the human language. This was because humans had the largest population, and only humans and savages kept their own territories. After the magic beasts lost most of their strength, the humans had attacked and took over some of their territories. The other species, on the other hand, were forced to take refuge with the humans.
The approaching orcs, however, weren’t speaking human language. Anfey had heard about orcs before. In the rumors, the orcs were painted as ruthless, cruel savages. It was said that they knew no shame, and their tribes were filled with nakedness and incest. Now that he had seen an orc, he realized that at least the naked part was untrue. Both orcs were wearing crudely made clothes. Plus, the two orcs looked awkward and uncomfortable just holding hands.
When they were a few feet away, a slight breeze blew by. The female orc raised her head and sniffed the air. Anfey knew that she was sniffing a strange scent. He didn't smell like anything, but the girls would put scented powder on their faces every morning. She must have smelled Suzanna.
Anfey jumped out of the bush and lunged towards the orcs. He found the manticore sting from his ring, and aimed it towards the female orc.
The male orc crouched down and retrieved the short staff hanging from his belt. He pushed the female orc aside, and tried to shout, either for help or a warning, as he was fending off the attacker. His reaction was according to Anfey’s plan, who was trying to draw him over.
Anfey changed the direction of his attack. He drew back the manticore sting, then stabbed the male orc in the mouth with it.
This time the petrification did not happen. The male orc was very brave. The sting protruded from the back of his head, but he was still able to grab the sting with both of his hands, trying to buy some time for the female orc to escape.
Anfey kicked the female orc in the face. Then he raised his arms and lifted the male orc into the air. He pushed forward and threw the orc’s body. It landed a few feet away and stopped moving.
The female orc was clearly weaker than the male one. She rolled on the ground a few times, then raised her head. She was lying on the ground in shock, and had forgotten to use the staff hanging from her belt.
Seeing that her companion was dead, she let out a bloodcurdling scream.
Anfey jumped up and struck her in the back with the sting. The sting pierced her body and nailed her to the ground. Then he pressed his foot against her head, pressed down, and pulled the sting out.
She grabbed his leg and scratched. Her strength grew weak, her body finally slumped onto the ground, and she laid dead.
"Idiot, why didn't you attack?" Anfey asked angrily.
"I…" Suzanna walked away, her eyes downcast.
That was the first time Anfey had become angry with her. She knew that she made a mistake, though. After Anfey jumped out, she should have followed him, but did not, which resulted in a mistake. They heard sounds coming from the other side of the hill. Clearly the woman’s scream had alerted the other orcs.
Suzanna had killed a lot of people to date, but it was because they had threatened her and her sister. She couldn’t turn herself from a victim acting in self-defense to a murderer. Compared to the people who had attacked her before, she couldn’t bring herself to harm the two orcs because of their helplessness.
"What are you doing standing there? Do you still want me to fight for you?" Anfey asked her again.
Suzanna walked past him. "Think about it," he said coldly. "If the orcs kill us, who would protect Shally?"
Even though she was angry with Anfey, after she remembered what had happened to Shally before, she found herself even more angry with these ugly, armed orcs. She used her combat power, and dashed towards the orcs.
The obsidian and spirit mages did not appear. There were a few orc fighters that tried to stop Suzanna, but could not even touch her. She swept through their ranks, showing no mercy as her sword danced from orc to orc. Wherever her sword went, blood followed.
Anfey stood and watched, stunned. Everything that stood in Suzanna’s way was severed by the blinding sword. Necks, arms, legs, even the staffs were no match for the sword, and were cut in half by the blade. Nothing was able to stop her.
Two orc-raised Armored Rhinos were led to the fight, but after seeing Suzanna’s ability, both of them turned and ran away. Magic beasts were not stupid. They didn’t relate to orcs, and weren’t willing to sacrifice themselves for them.
There were only two states one can be in when doing something. In one of them, a person’s whole mind was focused on the task, and in the other, it was not. When one was completely committed, sometimes even defeating more powerful enemies was possible.
Clearly now Suzanna was wholeheartedly committed to what she was doing. Suzanna was thinking, about her attack was instinctive. Her eyes were glazed over, but she was certain of every orc’s movement and attack. With every swing of the sword, she could take out an orc, but she couldn’t tell why she was swinging her sword. She could even predict the orcs’ movements, and shield Anfey from an attack.
The rest of the group lingered behind Anfey and Suzanna. Sante and Sanchez were responsible for finishing off the remaining orcs, and Zubin was responsible for killing any orc mages should they appear.
The hill was already covered with bodies of orcs. The few dozen orcs that came to the scene were all finished off, but Suzanna did not stop. She began heading for the village.
The village seemed to be impoverished. There were only around half a dozen huts, all built from grass and mud.
The women and the children were running around the village. Suzanna turned her gaze towards a heavily guarded cave in the distance. Some orcs were there, guarding the cave. Suzanna was fast with her killing, but it still took some time. These orcs hadn’t gone to help their friends, and it was obvious they were guarding something valuable.
Suzanna jumped into the air and headed for the cave. On the other side of the village, around seventy orcs with weapons came to the rescue of the ones in the village. Some of them even climbed onto a watchtower and began attacking Suzanna with arrows.
Magic surges ripped through the way. A fiery comet descended from the sky and hit the watchtower, which then burst into flame. A few orcs fell to the ground in flames.
Christian, who released the comet, was leading the attack. Immediately, fireballs, wind blades, and earth spikes bloomed throughout the village.
Compared to Suzanna, the mages had appeared relatively at ease. The fog shield was still in place, and they couldn’t tell if they had killed soldiers or defenseless women and children.
The grass huts were either set aflame or leveled by the magic. Sante summoned a fire wall that stood in the middle of the village. The orcs that had just arrived weren’t sure how to get around it, and the mages took advantage of that time. A wind blade swept through their ranks, and a few fireballs incinerated the orcs.
The orcs in front of the cave gathered in to close rank. Every one of them appeared enraged. None of them tried to run, and none of them showed signs of fear. They were natural warriors, and it didn’t matter how powerful their enemy was, they would not back down.
Suzanna didn’t want to test her determination against theirs. She was there to kill. The bright white combat power around her froze for a second, then she waved her sword and swept it across the orcs.
The sword cut through the orcs and their armor, leaving half a dozen of them on the ground. It left a deep wound on their chest, almost severing them.
Suzanna dashed into the cave without stopping.
Sanchez used a spell and summoned a small light that hovered in front of the remaining orcs. The small light quickly grew in size and became orange in color. It became a fire wave and enveloped all the remaining orcs.
Facing weaker enemies, swordsmen were never as efficient as mages. Suzanna had only killed half a dozen orcs with a stroke of her sword, but Sanchez had killed more than twenty. The pain of being burned alive wasn’t something determination could fight. The orcs wailed in pain and squirmed on the ground. Some slammed their bodies against the wall in the blinding pain.
The fire only lasted a few seconds, but it was enough to kill or seriously injure the remaining orcs.
Anfey stopped. Zubin knew what he was worried about, and used a frozen spell to lower the temperature of the cave.
Anfey worried for Suzanna’s safety and jumped into the cave. After he landed, he looked around and found no armed orcs. Suzanna was standing there with her sword held out in front of her, staring at a raised platform. On the platform was a large chair made out of bones, and a black-haired young man was sitting on it. In front of him were three old orcs. They were on the floor, and crying. They looked very emotional, as if they were begging the young man.
The cave wall was covered with carving by the orcs, and it looked very mysterious. The cave was very clean, and there were a few young female orcs standing by, too scared to move.
The young man looked as if he didn’t know what had happened outside. He was looking at his own feet. His expression was strangely calm, as if he couldn’t see Suzanna.
Anfey looked at the young man and saw that his hands were gripping the arms of the chair. Usually when someone gripped something, it meant they were nervous. Anfey smiled. If they were able to make him nervous now, it meant that he had no other cards to play. Suzanna was confused by the strange appearance of the cave and the way the man presented himself, and didn’t attack. He could fool Suzanna, but could not fool Anfey.
"How long are you going to sit there? Until we leave?" Anfey said as he joined Suzanna.
"Sorry to disappointed you. We’re not leaving."
"My dear visitors, are you trying to anger me?"
"I’m not trying to anger you," Anfey said. "You angered me. I have a problem, you see. I don’t like it when people look down on me. So you better get down here."
"My lord, please, use your godly powers, and let this be the murderers' eternal grave," one of the old orcs called. Perhaps because the young man was using human language, he did too.
"My lord, they were slaughtering our people outside. You cannot let them go," another old orc called.
"Slaughter? You were the ones that attacked us first," Sante snorted. "The great mage Harn once said that time changes everything. Now even the orcs know trickery."
"Get up," the young man said. "Let me think about it." Then he closed his eyes, and it was as if he didn’t even see Suzanna and the rest of the group.
Suzanna frowned and leaped into the air. She was the most powerful one there, and she would be the one to see exactly how powerful the man was.
When she was still a few feet away from him, a bright light flashed. Suzanna gasped, and her combat power disappeared.
"Is that Antimagic Terra?" Christian and Zubin called in surprise together.
Suzanna was caught off guard. She lost her balance and almost fell to the ground. A sword appeared in the young man’s hand. He waved the sword and Suzanna’s sword flew out of her hand. By the time Suzanna caught up to what was going on, the young man had already placed a sword on her neck.
"You can disrespect me once, but not twice," he said. He returned the sword to its scabbard and closed his eyes. "Go."
Anfey was worried for a second, but then wasn’t. He didn’t care how powerful that terra was. He remembered very clearly how the man had declared that he would kill everyone that talked too much.
He couldn't fool Anfey after saying something like that.
Suzanna clenched her fist and her body shook, as if she was regathering her power. The Antimagic Terra was too powerful, and all magic and combat power stopped functioning within its range. After a while, Suzanna picked up her sword and walked off the platform. She admitted defeat.
Zubin and Sante stared, frowning. Terra was something that surpassed the power of men. Very few people could use it, and they were all blessed by the gods themselves. There were very few even in history. Even the Great Magister couldn’t fight people with Terra, let along young mages like them.
"Sorry," Suzanna whispered.
"It’s alright," Anfey said. He began ascending the platform. Terra? If he really had the power of Terra, why did he let Suzanna go? Letting her go meant that he didn’t want to, or couldn’t, kill her. There must be something wrong with that terra.