Book 8, The Ten Thousand Kilometer Journey – Chapter 7, A Battle of Speed
The most powerful panther-type magical beast would probably be the Saint-level magical beast, “Electrobolt Panther”, a lightning-type magical beast. It was so incredibly fast that other Saint-level beasts simply couldn’t compare to it.
But the most secretive, most mysterious panther-type magical beast would be the ninth-ranked magical beast, ‘Blackcloud Panther’.
According to records, the last time a Blackcloud Panther appeared was over a thousand years ago. Despite so many years having passed, the amount of information which people had managed to collect regarding Blackcloud Panthers remained very scarce.
Blackcloud Panthers were magical beasts of the ninth rank, and extremely fast. Their bodies were covered with just a few black stripes, but their four limbs were snow white, as though they were travelling within a cloud. This was why people gave them the name, ‘Blackcloud Panthers’.
But with regards to what special abilities the Blackcloud Panthers had, or what element they were, the records had no information.
“Most likely, all of the experts who encountered Blackcloud Panthers lost their lives. As for those Saint-level combatants who knew the truth about Blackcloud Panthers, perhaps they intentionally did not reveal any information.” Linley knew very well that many of the more powerful organizations held secrets which were closely guarded. Even spells of the seventh rank would not be revealed. From this, one could imagine how secretive these organizations were.
Within this densely forested area in the core region of the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, the Blackcloud Panther was exchanging stares with Linley, who was floating in mid-air with translucent wings on his back.
“Blackcloud Panthers can change their size as well as their appearances. They truly are quite mysterious.” Linley didn’t dare to relax at all.
The Blackcloud Panther stared coldly at Linley, its icy eyes filled with fury.
In the blink of an eye, the Blackcloud Panther crossed the fifty meter gap between itself and Linley. Compared to before, when it was in its first form (normal size and covered with wavy black stripes), it was almost 50% faster.
For its speed to increase by that much prevented Linley from being able to dodge, and the Blackcloud Panther landed a vicious blow against Linley’s chest. Immediately, the scales on his chest shattered. “Crack!” With a cracking sound, fresh blood leaked out from behind the scales.
“Whoosh.” Linley immediately activated his translucent wings, rapidly rising higher into the air.
“What incredible speed.” Linley felt shocked in his heart.
The Blackcloud Panther, in its first form, was slightly faster than Bebe. In its second form, the large form, the speed of the Blackcloud Panther decreased by 30%, roughly on par with Linley. In its third form, the one it was in right now, it was 50% faster than the original form.
At this current speed, it could cross a hundred meters in the blink of an eye.
How utterly terrifying!
“Grooowl.” The Blackcloud Panther raised its head to look up at Linley, its eyes filled with arrogance.
Linley slowly flapped his translucent wings, but didn’t descend yet, merely hovering. Linley knew very well that once he descended, he would find it very difficult to deal with the Blackcloud Panther’s speed.
“Boss, my turn!” Having watched for so long, Bebe could no longer hold himself back.
With a terrifying, high-pitched shriek, Bebe transformed into a ferocious black blur, charging at the Blackcloud Panther. The Blackcloud Panther, which hadn’t paid any attention to Bebe at all, was now shocked by Bebe’s speed.
“Supersonic!” Linley immediately cast this supportive magic spell.
He cast the supportive Supersonic spell directly on Bebe. In the past, Bebe had never encountered any magical beasts of the ninth rank faster than himself. Thus, Linley had never seen the need to cast Supersonic on Bebe. But now, Linley finally did so.
In truth, this Supersonic spell was generally used by magi to increase the power of warriors in their squad.
“Swish!” Aided by a Supersonic spell of the eighth rank, Bebe’s speed instantly increased by 30%.
“Slash!” The Blackcloud Panther clawed at Bebe with its fierce claws.
But with his speed increased 30% by the Supersonic spell, although Bebe was still slightly slower than the Blackcloud Panther, the difference wasn’t too huge. More importantly, Bebe was extremely small and nimble.
Bebe constantly changed the direction he was moving in.
“Shkreeech!” Bebe suddenly sped up, pouncing towards the Blackcloud Panther. In mid-pounce, Bebe’s body suddenly enlarged, and then Bebe swiped viciously at the Blackcloud Panther with his paws.
Staring coldly at Bebe, the Blackcloud Panther clawed viciously at Bebe with its own paw as well.
Both magical beasts landed blows on each other. Bebe’s claw managed to leave a clear mark on the body of the Blackcloud Panther, and fresh blood began to seep out. But although Bebe was knocked flying as well, he just flipped up to his feet and stood back up, not harmed at all.
“Hrm?” Linley’s eyes turned round in surprise.
“Bebe’s attack power is about on par with mine. So how could Bebe so easily wound it?” Linley was shocked.
Linley knew very well how powerful Bebe’s defense was. After all, when they had been in the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts last time, Bebe was just an early-stage magical beast of the eighth rank, but he could withstand the dying blow of an Armored Razorback Wyrm without perishing. Now that Bebe had entered the ninth rank, his terrifyingly strong defense was even more powerful than Linley’s. Linley didn’t find it surprising at all that Bebe was uninjured. But the strange thing was, the defense of the Blackcloud Panther had just dropped.
“Ah! I understand.”
Linley suddenly understood the special characteristics of the three forms of the Blackcloud Panther. The first form was a balanced one in terms of defense, speed, and offense. The second, giant form, prioritized offense at the expense of speed. As for this form, the third one, although it raised speed to an astonishing level, its defense dropped in turn.
Right now, the Blackcloud Panther and Bebe were staring at each other. The Blackcloud Panther could feel that it was bleeding, and it was beginning to worry…because this freak of a magical beast in front of it hadn’t been hurt at all.
“Blackcloud Panther.” Linley spoke.
The Blackcloud Panther looked up at Linley.
Linley didn’t speak to the Blackcloud Panther as though it were an inferior life form. Rather, Linley spoke to it as he would a creature of equal intelligence. “Blackcloud Panther, in your current form, you should possess great speed but low defense. In this form, you aren’t even able to overcome Bebe.”
“Growl.” The Blackcloud Panther snarled unhappily.
The Blackcloud Panther then stared at Bebe, and from its jaw came a series of strange growls. Bebe was startled for a moment, and then let out an enraged growl of his own.
“Boss. This Blackcloud Panther can speak the tongue of us rodent-type magical beasts.” Bebe said mentally to Linley.
Linley knew very well that Bebe was born understanding the rodent language. But the languages of other magical beasts were different; each different type of magical beast had their own language.
Some extremely long-lived magical beasts, however, were skilled at communicating using the languages of other types of magical beasts.
This Blackcloud Panther was a peak-stage magical beast of the ninth rank. Not only did it know many languages of other types of magical beasts, it also understood the human tongue. Only, it was unable to reproduce the human sounds due to physical reasons. Only upon reaching the Saint-level, when it could begin to alter its body, could it speak the human tongue.
“What did it say?” Linley asked.
Bebe and the Blackcloud Panther engaged in a discussion through growls and angry snarls. Suddenly, Bebe and the Blackcloud Panther seemed to get into an argument, as the fur on both magical beasts stood up straight.
The two magical beasts suddenly began to engage in a wild battle, as their shadows flashed against each other again and again. Fresh blood began to fly everywhere…
Their angry growls unabated, the two magical beasts exchanged blows at high speed, and the trees and boulders nearby suffered the brunt of their fury.
The trees toppled. The boulders shattered.
Every place these two magical beasts crossed through turned into a debris-strewn area.
Suddenly, the two beasts separated again. Bebe hunched down, growling as he stared at the Blackcloud Panther. The Blackcloud Panther stared at Bebe in the same manner, as though facing a fierce opponent.
But the Blackcloud Panther’s body was covered in blood.
With its defense lowered, it was unable to resist Bebe’s claw attacks. And in terms of speed, boosted by the Supersonic spell, Bebe was only slightly slower than it was.
Bebe growled angrily towards the Blackcloud Panther.
The Blackcloud Panther roared back towards Bebe.
“Boss, this Blackcloud Panther isn’t willing to submit. It says that you simply don’t have the ability to defeat it on your own.” Bebe said mentally to Linley. “Boss, let me kill it.”
Right now, the Blackcloud Panther was extremely frustrated.
If it used its first two forms, its speed was inferior to its opponent and it would be trampled. But after increasing its speed by entering its ‘wind-style form’, its defense was lowered.
The Blackcloud Panther knew that the human opponent was capable of flight.
The speed one could reach flying was definitely greater than the speed one could reach through running on all fours. In terms of short term bursts, it could exceed Linley in speed. But if it were to flee, Bebe and Linley would definitely be able to easily catch up to it.
“Blackcloud Panther, you think I can’t beat you?” Linley said loudly.
The Blackcloud Panther immediately raised its head arrogantly as it looked at Linley. In close quarters combat, the speed boost provided by the translucent wings couldn’t be put on full display. It didn’t fear Linley at all.
“Fine.” Linley nodded.
And then, Linley began to mutter the words to another spell as well, causing the Blackcloud Panther to be suspicious. But as a wind-type magical beast as well, the Blackcloud Panther wasn’t afraid of Linley having access to any particularly powerful wind-type spells. In addition, it knew that if it were to now flee, Linley would be able to catch up to it.
Centered around the body of the Blackcloud Panther, a circular area a hundred meters in circumference suddenly began to glow with a layer of earth elemental essence. These earth elemental essences were throbbing with a certain frequency.
The Blackcloud Panther suddenly felt a terrifyingly powerful gravitational force tug at it, causing it to hunch over. Even the blood inside its body as well as its heart were affected, causing it to feel rather dizzy.
Earth-style magic – Supergravity Field!
The Supergravity Field created by a magus of the eighth rank was able to increase the local gravity by a factor of eight. This increased gravitational field’s effect wasn’t as simple as say adding 1000 pounds of weight to a man who already weighed 200 pounds. The eight-fold gravity also impacted the heart, the spleen, and the other internal organs.
An ordinary person might be able to carry 100-200 pounds of weight.
But under a double-strength gravitational field, his heart might not be able to stand the pressure and might break down.
After all, although the external muscles were easily trained, it was very hard to train internal organs such as the heart. At the very least, the rate of training the internal organs was much slower than the external muscles.
Suddenly ambushed by a field of eight-fold gravity, the Blackcloud Panther couldn’t help but feel dizzy.
Not giving it a chance to recover, Linley, his entire body covered with earth elemental essence, charged in, and began to wildly unleash upon the Blackcloud Panther…vicious punches and kicks!
Yes, he didn’t use the adamantine heavy sword!
Only his fists and his feet!
“Growl!” The body of a magical beast of the ninth rank was extremely sturdy, and very soon, it became used to the greater gravity. But under the influence of an eight-fold gravity, it didn’t even have half the speed it previously had.
A kick landed hard against the Blackcloud Panther’s waist, and then Linley rushed to the opposite side, landing a vicious punch on the Blackcloud Panther’s body and sending it flying back in the other direction.
In ten short seconds, the Blackcloud Panther had been thoroughly ravaged by Linley’s punches and kicks. Its current speed was totally insufficient for escaping the confines of the Supergravity Field. And what’s more, Bebe was watching intently from the side as well.
“Do you submit?”
“Do you submit?”
While shouting loudly, Linley wildly continued to whale away at it with his fists and feet. Linley was beating this peak-stage magical beast of the ninth rank, the Blackcloud Panther, into a state where it couldn’t resist at all. One mouthful after another of blood was leaking from its mouth.
“Grooooowl!” The Blackcloud Panther suddenly let out a howl of grief and anger.
“Boss. He submits.”
“Bam!” Linley’s fists were moving too fast, and he landed one final punch on the Blackcloud Panther’s skull, smashing it to the ground.
Laughing, Linley looked at the Blackcloud Panther, which was on all fours, pressed against the ground. Under the influence of the eight-fold gravity, the blood flowing through the veins of the Blackcloud Panther had grown sluggish as well. And now, after having been beaten wildly by Linley in such a manner, the Blackcloud Panther had become quite dizzy.
“Do you submit?” Linley laughed as he looked at the Blackcloud Panther.
Although Linley was laughing, under the total Dragonform transformation, Linley’s eyes were still that calm, emotionless dark gold color. And how could one tell that Linley was smiling beneath all of those scales on his face?
The Blackcloud Panther raised his head to look at Linley, paying particular attention to the translucent wings on Linley’s back. His heart trembled. He was afraid of being brutalized by Linley yet again. Immediately, it nodded. And in fact, he really had mentally submitted to Linley’s display of prowess. For a combatant to be so powerful as a warrior and as a magus was more than enough to force it to submit.
Smiling, Linley immediately began to set up a soul-binding magical array!