The following battles were not challenging for Rhode’s group at all . After all, this underground maze was just an ordinary location and any player could clear it by himself . Furthermore, Rhode had two companions alongside him and the Maze Zombies didn’t stand a chance . These pitiful zombies had turned into Rhode and Anne’s training props and it was equally a great chance for Anne to get accustomed to her newfound Wind Elemental prowess .
“Heyah!” The young lady dodged the counterattack of a Maze Zombie before swinging the heavy shield to crush its waist . Her powerful strength split the zombie in half and smashed the wall behind it . Anne stood up and took in a deep breath while Rhode nodded in satisfaction . “Well done . For your next target, aim for its head only . Remember, do not attack other parts of its body . If not, this will be considered a failure . Understood?”
“Yes, Leader, Anne understood!” The young lady nodded with a brightened face and she lifted the shield immediately . “Manaitamod!”
Her large shield began to shrink and modified itself using the young lady’s arm as its base . In a blink of an eye, the shield had wrapped around Anne’s arm entirely like an armguard . However, as this armguard was oversized, it seemed as though Anne’s right arm had become a gigantic steel hammer . After the transformation had completed, Anne took a step back with her right foot and leaped back to land a heavy punch on the Maze Zombie that snuck up on her .
Bang! The transformed heavy shield on Anne’s arm was extremely solid and it supplemented her powerful strength . In an instant, the Maze Zombie’s head and chest shattered pitifully .
“Heyah!” Although Anne finished the zombie up with one single punch, she seemed rather depressed . The young lady leapt back and dodged the venom that splattered from the Maze Zombie . At the same time, she gazed at Rhode and asked hesitantly . “Leader, does hitting the neck counts?”
“No,” Rhode replied sternly .
“Alright, Anne understood!” Anne nodded unwillingly and out of the blue, another Maze Zombie came charging towards her with a rusty longsword . This enormous Maze Zombie snarled as it hacked at Anne’s skull . Even though Anne was maintaining her posture while speaking to Rhode, she sunk her body and rolled over sideways to avoid the attack immediately .
The Maze Zombie lost its balance after missing its target . Anne thrust out her slender right leg as she turned and tripped the zombie to the ground .
“Ah! Failed again!” Instead of continuing her attack, Anne hugged her head in regrets . “Leader said Anne must give a single killing blow… It seems that this habit is really hard to change… Forget it, Anne will try again!”
Anne raised her arm without delay and moved to the next target .
These battles, or rather, training, were for Rhode to explore his compatibility with the two daggers . Whereas Anne’s training was to master the control of her strength . Ever since the trio entered this underground maze, Rhode had set numerous tests for Anne where she could only crush the Maze Zombies into half or only strike their skulls . She needed to kill them in a single hit and moreover, she mustn’t be damaged by any of them within a time limit . Furthermore, while defending against their attacks, she had to ensure their attacks landed on the center of her shield .
Rhode wished that this training with cumbersome requirements and meticulous details would help Anne master her precise control over her elemental strength . On the other hand, instead of resisting such harsh requirements, Anne was having the time of her life as she had never experienced such challenging training requirements before .
Anne was indeed a talent in battle . Although she had a straightforward and innocent nature, Rhode discovered that her battle awareness was much sharper than most players . From the start, Anne couldn’t manage the techniques of controlling her wind elemental powers . However, she was able to control the elemental powers in her body to a certain extent just after two to three hours . Even though she was still lacking in the subtle details of control, she did pretty well for commanding a heavy, steel shield .
Boom! Anne tossed the last Maze Zombie corpse on the ground and the trio arrived at the end of the tunnel . Instead of filthy corridors and rooms, a clean, gorgeous hall laid before their eyes . This hall was so wide that it could hold up to a thousand people . Moreover, this place was much brighter than the dusky, pitch-dark tunnel . Magical gems were inlaid on the walls and emanated with a pale radiance that lit the trio’s path dimly .
This area should be the main sarcophagus chamber because there were over a hundred sarcophagi across the large space . The sarcophagi were arranged in order of social class and were stacked into the shape of a pyramid . The ordinary sarcophagi were set upright below the walls and the flight of steps while six exquisite sarcophagi were set in a circular arrangement above the platform . On the middle and the summit of the platform laid a silver box which fit the description that Rhode had seen on the strategy guide . That square box could be used to shut down the Castel Plateau Ruins’ defense installations .
“Anne, how’s your training? Do you need a rest?” Rhode asked .
“It’s fine, Leader . ” Anne shook her head confidently . “Anne is fine! Anne will do whatever you say!”
“Good . ” Rhode nodded and pointed at the platform before them . “See those sarcophagi there? Those are filled with Maze Zombies, but Gillian will deal with them . Those six sarcophagi up there are yours and they contain six Zombie Witches . Although they aren’t strong, do be careful . ”
“Zombie Witch?” Anne’s eyes widened curiously at the six sarcophagi . “Are they the same as the Necromancer we fought with?”
“Although they are rather similar to Necromancers, there are still differences . The Zombie Witches are failed finished products with incomplete self-consciousness and are only capable of some low-level undead spells . But curses and poison gases are among these spells . I want you to be careful and keep a distance from them . Remember to use your elemental prowess to protect yourself . Understood?”
“Understood, Leader . ” Rhode could see the urge to jump straight into battle in her eyes .
But he needed to explain things clearly beforehand . “Anne, recognize the location of the six Zombie Witches . You’ll deal with the three of them on the left while the other three on the right are mine . These zombies are able to fly, so don’t allow them to . Although these Zombie Witches are intellectually limited, they aren’t that easy to deal with . Remember, the gem in the middle of their forehead is their source of energy . Smash the gems and they will turn into normal corpses . ”
“Yes, Leader . ” Anne nodded again but this time, she turned around with a hesitant look . “But Leader, how are you so familiar with this place? Did you come here before?”
“Pfff!” Gillian let out a chuckle while Rhode’s mouth twitched .
After all, Rhode explained the situation too clearly . Nobody would believe that he hadn’t been to this place before .
Without a doubt, Rhode couldn’t tell Anne that he had read through the strategy guide . Gillian’s interest in watching Rhode get out of this situation was undoubtedly more than 120% . However, this wasn’t any danger for Rhode .
“You see the six sarcophagi there? They are carved with unique inscriptions to seal the Zombie Witches and I know what is inside by looking at them…” Rhode coughed awkwardly while suddenly, Gillian burst out in laughter . Fortunately for Rhode, Anne nodded pensively and turned towards the hall . Rhode lifted his chin and gazed at the middle of the platform while placing his hand on the sword hilt by his waist .
“Let’s go,” Rhode said softly .
Anne was the first to storm towards the platform as she couldn’t hold her anticipation in any longer .
“…!” Deep, low growls sounded and the covers over the sarcophagi suddenly flew open . Large Maze Zombies stepped out of their sarcophagi one by one . Their eye sockets radiated in scarlet, negative radiance and their long arms dropped on the ground while revealing five razor-sharp, splinter-like fingers . These Maze Zombies were a totally different type of species from the ones they had seen before .
Rhode obviously had no intentions of classifying these zombies before him like a human scientist . He darted forward in a line of afterimages and left just one word . “Gillian!”
“Yes yes yes, Master . I have been idling around for so long and now; it’s finally time for some activities . ” Gillian grinned and entered the hall while lifting the ends of her skirt gracefully as though she were a rich young lady invited to prom . Sensing a sign of life, numerous Maze Zombies turned around and pounced at Gillian .
Unlike the previous Maze Zombies, these were much quicker . They dashed forward with four limbs like a dog while their swinging long tongues were dripping with gluey saliva . In the blink of an eye, two Maze Zombies arrived at Gillian’s feet . They leaped up with sharp fingers and snarled at their target .
“Yes, this makes things slightly more interesting . ” Gillian continued to grin as she took a few steps back while swaying her fluffy tail . The fox-eared young lady lifted her right arm and snapped her fingers lightly .
The crisp, faint snap was totally unnoticeable in the spacious hall with the growls of the Maze Zombies . However, ferocious flames rose from the ground beneath her feet as though a countercurrent waterfall had swept the Maze Zombies away from her . In a blink of an eye, the zombies burned into ashes . Gillian clapped her hands gently and the flames that spurted from the ground inclined forward like waves ferociously engulfing the place, shrouding everything in sight with a sea of flames .
“Heyah!” Anne raised her shield in midair after dodging a Maze Zombie and smashed its skull . With the crisp sound of fracturing bones, the lively zombie mourned and crashed to the ground . Anne rolled over and used the momentum to strike another uninvited guest away .
“There’s no more time to play with them . Let’s go . ” Rhode’s voice rang in Anne’s ears as she was about to crush the third Maze Zombie . Two strange flashes interwove into a net of light and fluttered before Anne, shredding the zombies to pieces instantly . Rhode continued to dart pass Anne and dashed towards the platform .
Bam! The covers of the six sarcophagi burst open . Under the undulation of magic, the six skeletons in broken robes fluttered while holding the same staffs in their hands . Their dark, endless eye sockets were flickering with the dull, red radiance of their remaining soul . “Who’s there! Trespassing this forbidden place!”
“Woah, Leader, they can talk?!” Anne questioned in astonishment .
“Yes, they can even greet us with ‘Hello, how are you?’ . Now, cut the crap and go!” Rhode ridiculed Anne’s amazement and sprang forward .
Rhode turned into a shadow while shooting straight for a Zombie Witch . The Zombie Witches reacted swiftly by fluttering higher and at the same time, mouthing the words of a prayer . One of the Zombie Witches pointed its staff frontward and shot a dark beam of radiance at Rhode .
“Hmph . ” Rhode swung Madaras forward and blocked the negative dark beam .
Suddenly, a translucent ritual circle emerged before the tip of Madaras and the negative dark beam gradually faded before vanishing into thin air . Rhode jumped up vertically and pierced the Zombie Witch’s forehead with his right dagger without any resistance .
Kacha . Rhode broke the gem on its forehead into two and vaulted away hurriedly . The Zombie Witch wailed painfully and spurted a mist of bottle green smoke before eroding into magical specks of dust .
“—!” Another Zombie Witch aimed its staff at Rhode . But a sudden wind prevented it from casting its spell .
Bam! A whizzing shield smashed the Zombie Witch’s head perfectly and shattered its skull into fragments . The shield spun in a zigzag direction and swept up a burst of whirlwind instantly . The stream of air whizzed from the whirlpool and overwhelmed the other two Zombie Witches instantly .
“Phew…” Anne heaved a sigh of relief and wiped the beads of sweat off her forehead . “Made it on time, luckily . ”