The three shadows slowed and looked at the two obvious figures on the mountainside. Each of the three nodded and they rushed towards the oblivious duo.
However, Rhode’s isn’t slow either.
He jumped and slid downed the side of the hill. A loud whistle pierced the air. The Soaring Spirit Bird, who was fluttering in the sky, seemed to have received a command and dashed towards the three men.
Faced with a sudden attack, the three didn’t panic. Their formation dispersed as two of them continued forward and one remained to face the bird, his sword now drawn. Their coordination and division of duty were exquisite. Their movements were not halted in the slightest. If they couldn’t even stop a single bird they wouldn’t have survived till now.
However, it's a pity that this was not a true bird
In the face of a murderous blade, the turquoise bird had no intention of dodging. The cloaked man’s eyes showed a glimmer of happiness. But at the next moment, his expression turned into alarm. He clearly saw the turquoise bird run straight through the blade as if it was a ghost!
This realization shocked him as he forcibly reversed his body. But it was not enough to avoid the incoming attack. As the bird crossed through his shoulder, it felt like half his body was frozen. He swayed momentarily before he lost consciousness, and crashed to the ground.
The other two were also somewhat dazed. They paid no attention when the Soaring Spirit Bird first passed over them. But immediately after, they felt a blast of cold air numb their bodies.
Although this strange feeling quickly dispersed, it still allowed for several seconds of delay. By then, Rhode, Leiya, and Metz had already reached the piece of white stone. One of the cloaked men frowned as he gestured to the other, who quickly removed a short crossbow from his waist.
“Wha, what is it!”
The dazed and tired merchant placed a hand on the white stone as he staggered for a breath. But before he could mutter some words of complaint, two dark shadows suddenly appeared behind him. A crossbow bolt made a clink as it struck the stone beside him.
Metz hurriedly crouched down before Leiya reflexively pulled him into the nearby cover.
“Go! We’ve got to hurry it up.”
Just as Rhode yelled to the other two, he glanced back at the three shadows not far down the mountain.
“Who, who are they! What happened! Why are they attacking us!?”
“They’re probably spies.”
The distance wasn’t too far and the clear weather allowed for ample clarity. Rhode could get some hints from their attire. The spies of each country generally wear similar articles and it would require killing them to find their nationality. Based off the special attack’s effectiveness, their resistance to elemental attacks are rather low. However, it was only capable of freezing the enemy for a few seconds. This was mainly because of Rhode’s level being too low at the moment.
They won’t have much time.
“If you want to know why they’re attacking, I’m sure they’ll be happy to tell you before your death.”
Rhode gave a rare joke as he quickly passed through the overgrown entrance. The Metz, being in business, knew that spies were not something to take lightheartedly. If anyone were to fall into their hands… The fat merchant began to pale and sweat endlessly. So much was his fear that he soon forgot his aching calf and sore muscles.
The Zenar Mountain Road was once a very brilliant chimerical route. This was evidenced by its width, enough to accommodate two carriages side by side. But now, it has been completely abandoned. A variety of rocks had rolled down the sharply cut cliffs that situated on both sides of the road. The once pristine road was now weathered and beaten. The three stumbled forward over the numerous obstacles, but none dared to stop. Rhode would glance back from time to time. But it became evident that the situation was deteriorating. The chasing footsteps were becoming ever so clear. If not for the terrain restrictions here, perhaps they would have already been surrounded.
“Mr. Rhode! Not good!”
Leiya shouted to Rhode and sure enough, a bit further ahead, the road was completely blocked by a pile of boulders.
Rhode shook his head slightly. He had more or less predicted for this discovery. At least in the game, obstacles like this would be used to force the player down a particular path. Although this wasn’t a game, apparently such a thing still exists.
“Take the right.”
Having heard Rhode’s order, both were surprised for a moment. They invariably turned their attention to the hardly noticeable right path.
Although the sky was clear, dense fog shrouded the path. Such an ominous feeling, but yet, Rhode wants them to go in?
“Go, before it’s too late.”
Under Rhode's urging, the two capitulated and quickly entered the fog. Soon, their figure was completely obscured and disappeared.
When the two finally entered, Rhode felt somewhat relieved. He looked towards the rear as he extended his right hand.
The card that appeared turned from green to white as it hovered over his palm. He clenched down on the card as a long white blade formed.
Rhode charged towards the stone cliffs as he swung his sword upward. A sharp sword beam sprouted from the blade as it rushed towards the precipice above. The broken chunks of rock fell down with a thundering roar. The three men, who had almost caught up, could only see Rhode's figure disappear in the falling smoke and gravel.
Looking at the mess of the road before him, one of the men cursed angrily. The road was completely blocked off and there was no way to simply pass it. Furthermore, that sword strike disrupted the cliffs on both sides. To stay here much longer, between these trembling mountains, would be too dangerous.
“What should be done?”
“Nothing can be done.”
Another cloaked man said as he looked at the already blocked road.
“We can only report this back to the captain. We'll have all of the surrounding villages and towns be put under surveillance. They probably want to leave as soon as possible. I never would have thought that such a route existed here."
“An elemental, do they have a Mage?”
“It wouldn’t be strange if there was a mage. But from our observation, there’s no mages among them."
As two of the men shared their views, the remaining one silently watched the tall pile of stones.
He muttered, “There’s quite a strong swordsman among them.”
"Yes, quite so."
“Let’s go. These three targets are not very simple. But we've not lost anything. We'll dispatch people to monitor the surrounding villages. I don't think they can stay in the mountains forever.
For Rhode and the others, the danger has not dissipated.
“This is… what is this place?”
The fat merchant looked blankly at the surroundings. Though he had traveled for many years and thought that he's seen everything there was, but these experiences these past few days opened a whole new view to him.
After passing through the heavy fog, an abandoned town was presented in front of everyone. The whole town was covered in a dense mist that made viewing somewhat difficult. The sky was grey, bleak, and void of any clarity. It was if as they were transported to another plane.
“This is the misty ruins.”
Rhode, who walked behind the two, casually replied.
“If we go through here we can reach the Arraga Pass. Then, we can leave.”
“But… is this place dangerous?”
Unless they were blind, anyone could tell this place was not peaceful.
“There's some danger.”
Rhode did not purposely say too much. Although it is technically a late-beginner level, and their outlook is not the best at the moment. Actually, it’s a very troublesome situation. After all, Rhode’s only level 8 and Leiya is about a level 6. The level 5 merchant doesn’t even count. So, in the end, there’s only one level 8 Summoner Swordsman and a support class. All to face a mission that generally requires a team composition of five level 10 players.
Thankfully, Rhode’s not an idiot. In fact, it was because of Leiya that he dared to try this route. Otherwise, there would be zero chance of making it through.
“As long as you listen to my orders, there won’t be much risk. And also…”
Rhode paused as he looked at the blonde girl behind him.
“Leiya, this will be up to you.”