Volume I : The Flood
Chapter 22 – A Contribution to the Kingdom – Part 2
“My boy, you must be a good second-level sorcerer when you can see this. I don’t know what you have met in the mountains, but you should have realized by now that you’re much stronger than you thought. I can tell you all my experiences as a sorcerer, but as for the secret of the gods, I have no more assertions. What I have now are mere conjectures.”
“Practicing body arts and magic at the same pace after awakening the power of two sides is much more difficult than practicing either alone. But I still hope you can continue this way. If you cannot embrace “faith’s confirmation” for a long time after becoming second-level mage, I suggest you focus on body arts after mastering all the primary magics.”
“If the test comes after you become a peak second-level body arts practitioner, then one of my conjectures will be confirmed.”
“Being a sorcerer is dangerous in every city on this continent. But being a warrior is fine. If you accidently let others know that you can use magic, you can pretend to be a foreign mage. However, there is still danger in being a pagan.”
“In the forests, you don’t need to be that cautious. Don’t be too afraid of the cavemen. Just beware that their arrows may be poisonous. Magic can be a good way to gain their reverence, especially fire magic. Most cavemen worship fire. You may come across some cavemen tribes on your travels. If you are smart and lucky, you can enjoy being treated like a god.”
“Although you cannot reveal your secret, you can teach your way to those you trust or those who deserve it, and confirm your hypotheses from them. Maybe you think that’s unethical. I’m sorry. I did this to you too. For them, it’s better than muddling along as an ignorant commoner. Even if they cannot become a deity, they might be able to glimpse the light behind the clouds.”
“Reach for the sky. When you cross the third layer of clouds, find a place to hide. I don’t know when you can pass the next test, but from now on, you should start to observe the weather and the western sky. When the disaster comes, you will see the next message.”
The first message from Crazy’Ole stopped here. He didn’t teach anything concrete on magic, but rather just chatted about the things Amon should pay attention to. What made Amon uncomfortable was that he mentioned the disaster again, and the next message would only appear when it came. So what kind of disaster would it be?
Amon decided to stop thinking about this question that he couldn’t answer. He went back to his daily affairs. The next day, he continued to climb higher with Schrodinger. The mighty mountain seemed to be just before his eyes, but the path never seemed to end. As another day of travel passed, Amon realized that he had now passed two layers of clouds.
Why had Crazy’Ole told him to go so high? Schrodinger showed him the path, but the cat did nothing but sleep in the following days. It seemed like the cat did not care where and how fast Amon went. It also wasn’t the behavior of a guide. If it really wanted to guide Amon somewhere, then Amon could be miles away by now. In such a complexed landscape, a tiny detour could end up giving you an entirely new destination.
Right after these thoughts appeared in Amon’s head, Schrodinger rushed out from his bag and raced into the woods, sprinting faster than any animal he had seen yet on this journey and disappearing in a flash. There was no time for Amon to hack his way through the undergrowth with his dagger. In his urgency, he jumped a dozen feet over the bushes and summoned a wind to cushion his landing. He caught sight of a vanishing figure then darted after it.
Jumping over a three-feet-high bush that was a dozen of feet long, along with a smooth landing, Amon might not have realized that his body arts skills had greatly improved.
He lost sight of the cat, but found the leather booted footprints again. It was the same pair of worn boots. After several seconds, he could hear noises from afar. He ran towards the sounds and came across a ridge. After climbing it, he saw Schrodinger hiding behind a big tree and sneakily peeping forward. Beast roars and a man’s battle cry echoed from the valley ahead.
The cat only walked to peep!
Amon went beside Schrodinger and stared into the valley. The scene that greeted him made his heart skip a beat. Right in front of him was a deep valley, with three steep cliffs half-circling a pool. A man was standing halfway up the cliffside and wielding a sword. He was being attacked by several huge Ironbacks.
Amon had seen some Ironbacks on his journey. Their bodies were covered by a scaly armor-like horny scute, tough as iron. They ate everything from termites to shrimps in the riverbed’s mud. They often swallowed the riverbed’s mud along with the shrimps to help their digestion, which happened to be rich in iron. Sometimes they also captured small animals. Their feces contained the best iron ore sand.
Ordinary Ironbacks were about three to four feet long, strong but not too dangerous. But the Ironbacks attacking the man were about ten feet long, definitely not the ordinary ones. Amon was shocked at first sight because for the first time in his life, he had found a magic beast that could use magic skills.
The Ironback were tough but not agile, so normally they could not climb the cliffs. The encircled young man knew that too. He might have provoked some of them in the pool then retreated to the cliffs, but the Ironbacks had followed him up.
Amon could feel an elemental magic power vibration . Those huge Ironback knew a skill that resembled some kind of earth magic. They could combine their body with the earth beneath them to make them stronger. Moreover, they were far more agile than ordinary Ironbacks. Their sharp claws and teeth were enough to cause fatal injuries. The long tails swept with a strange power that made its enemies feel oppressed, leaving them heavy and slow, thus making it harder to dodge and easier to be smashed to pieces by the huge tough tail. Amon had not started practicing earth magic, but with the knowledge and descriptions learned from Crazy’Ole, he could easily analyse the Ironbacks’ skills.
The young man wasn’t ordinary either. His skills with a sword allowed him to create an impenetrable defense where he stood. A light mist around his sword meant that he could already extend his bloodline power out of his body through his weapon, a sign of an advanced warrior. The huge Ironbacks might not fear ordinary blades, but they could smell a hint of danger from the mist on the sword. They had to dodge when it came close to their eyes and bellies. But they could not protect these parts if they wanted to attack him with their claws and teeth, so the young man could still keep them away. However, when Amon arrived at Schrodinger’s side, he saw the man desperately defending.
These huge Ironbacks were smart enough to use tactics. Three of them attracted the sword to the front while the other tried to attack the young man from a side. Climbing to a higher point behind the man, it swept its tail behind a huge rock. The man didn’t notice its body, only catching sight of a whip like tail speeding towards him. At that point, it was far too late.
It was too late for Amon to warn the man. But the Ironback behind the man suddenly slipped. A layer of ice formed on the ground and the biting coldness made the Ironback feel very uncomfortable. Using its magic instinctively, the layer of ice broke immediately, but then the pieces soon turned into crystal needles and stabbed at his belly. Although they did not penetrate the scute, it still hurt. The Ironback twisted its body, trying to stand upright. But a whirlwind arose right next to it, rolling up its tail and sending it completely off balance.
The tail of a Ironback was important for its balance. Attacked by a series of magic, the Ironback failed to keep the balance and tumbled down the cliff. Unfortunately, it happened to fall over one of his companions. The two rolled down all the way to the pool, crushing the rocks and causing a huge splash.
The young man was startled by the accident and nearly got impaled by a claw. But then a wind blade hit the claw and deflected it. A brown light materialized on the paw and the wind blade didn’t even leave a mark on it.
The next instant, the man dodged to the left, shouting, and swung his sword down on the Ironback in front of him. The mist on his sword became much thicker, like a glowing sheath. It was much more powerful than Amon’s wind blade; the Ironback in front of the man could not dodge and waved its paw to fend off the cutting edge. A claw on the paw was immediately cut, and the Ironback let out a pained growl.
These two Ironbacks felt danger. They curled up the body and rolled down straight into the pool.
The man knew that he was saved by a mage. Turning back to see Amon walking out the trees, he got down on one knee and greeted him, “I wasn’t expecting meeting an esteemed mage in this remote place. My name is Metatro, and I’m a fourth-level warrior. Thank you for saving my life.”
[List of characters]
Metatro: a fourth-level warrior from Bablon.