Volume II : The First Sin
Chapter 72 – Run Kitty Run![2893 words]
Compared to Amon, Vitru was more skilled in magic and better equipped, while Havon was more advanced in body arts and better at tracking. Additionally, they knew much more about Ejypt. They had finally managed to figure out Amon’s plan and destination. The situation was dire!
After they entered the mountains on the east side of the Nile River, Vitru stopped using Sheuthe Tuspir. Exhausted, he no longer wished to expend his magic power. Havon was forced to track Amon all by himself, which caused them to fall much further behind their target.
On the third day in the mountains, Amon’s mind began to ease. He found that the feeling of being stared at from behind had disappeared. Schrodinger was sleeping soundly. It seemed that he had shaken off the pursuers.
It had indeed been an exhausting journey. He had come so close to being caught! Now, he could finally breathe again. He made a nice meal for Schrodinger and himself. After his daily meditation, he laid down and had a good sleep. But of course, he didn’t forget to set up a magic formation in the surrounding area. It would help conceal him as well as alert him to the presence of intruders.
But late in the night, Amon was abruptly awoken by the cat’s yowling. He was shocked to discover that the feeling of being stared at had returned! How did the pursuers find him again?
Amon hurriedly packed up and fled after stuffing the cat into the bag. He realized that he had underestimated his enemies. There was no more time to waste. He had to cross the Nile River within the day.
Staff in hand, Amon ran at full speed through the thick forest. He took out some of the scrolls from Osiris’ rib and put them in his bag. Not long after, he arrived at an open valley between two hills. The Nile River was not far ahead of this mountain pass. But Amon suddenly stopped and shouted coldly,
“Who’s there? You’ve been following me for days now. It’s time we had a talk!”
Amon detected the ambush just in time. The persistent pursuers had finally caught up to him. Strangely, he felt himself grow calm. He steadily raised his staff.
With a brittle laugh, several people filed out from behind the hills. It was a team of two staff-holding mages and four bow-carrying warriors. The mage standing on the left stared at Amon and said,
“Did you really think you could run away from me, kid? Hand over my uncle’s treasure, and I can grant you the right to crawl away!”
Amon’s pupils shrank. He looked into the speaker’s eyes and replied,
“Abham Ramose! Somehow, I’m not surprised to see you here. But if I hand over everything I received from Lord Nero, would you truly spare my life and give me the chance to spread word of your deeds? Do you expect me to believe that?”
Abham fidgeted. He certainly wasn’t planning to let Amon walk away alive. The young man would be living proof of his evildoing. But it was quite embarrassing to get caught in a lie so quickly. He thought he had the upper hand on his prey, but his words were immediately criticized as a pathetic sham.
Abham flushed, “As the patriarch of the Ramose Family, I have the duty to retrieve my family’s treasure from the shameless thief. I’ll let you enjoy a quick death!”
Before his voice faded away, Abham raised his staff. The four warriors simultaneously drew their bows and pointed the arrows at Amon. From such a short distance, Amon didn’t have any chance of dodging the arrows.
Amon was a little surprised at the sight of Abham’s staff. It was exactly like the one he had given to Lynk, with seven parangons inlaid in a spiral. The staff could greatly amplify the effects of every type of magic. Was this a kind of standardized weapon in Ejypt, or were the two staffs made by the same artificer?
He didn’t know that the staff Abham was holding was previously Nero’s personal staff. Abham had inherited it as the patriarch of the Ramose Clan.
The other mage standing beside Abham warned him, “Please be careful, Lord Ramose. To discover our ambush… the only possibility is that he used a detecting magic. He must be a sorcerer?”
Abham flinched, but then grinned hideously, “A sorcerer? Then I don’t even need to —”
He wasn’t able to finish his phrase. The people beside him let out frightened cries. With a succession of twangs, the warriors shot their arrows at Amon. The other mage wielded his staff, and a sheet of flames arose before them. Amon had suddenly leaned forward and rushed at Abham like a hungry wolf. Amon wasn’t fond of talking before a fight. He simply launched his attack as soon as he was ready.
Arrows from a third-level warrior could penetrate through the flesh and bone of an elephant, directly piercing its heart. Amon knew he couldn’t dodge them, and so he didn’t even try. As the arrows left the bows, a silver shield appeared in front of him, seemingly from thin air. The shield was massive, about seven feet high and three feet wide! It easily protected him from the front.
The four arrows struck the shield, letting out loud and lasting echoes. Rather than a clank, it was more like a huge hammer slamming down on an enormous drum! A faint layer of silver light flashed on the surface of the shield when it was struck. The arrows produced a series of overlapping ripples before bouncing off, like stones skipping on a lake.
Nobody could tell where the shield had come from. But they recognized that it was a magic-imbued artifact. The young man proved that he was a sorcerer. His magic power greatly enhanced the defensive power of the shield. The warriors didn’t have time to launch a second volley. The sheet of flames was the sole barrier between them and Amon.
The flames had been conjured by the other mage. It was a powerful advanced magic, simple yet effective in battles. The high temperature could reduce a man to cinders in only a brief moment.
But Amon wasn’t burnt at all! The arrows had slightly slowed him down, but he immediately accelerated and rushed into the flames. He flicked his wrist, and the silver light of the shield extended past his head and feet. The flames licked at the silver light, sizzling. The silver sphere of light seemed to turn into a fireball as it was engulfed by the flames.
Amon wielded the staff in his other hand. A sound of surging waves arose. A white carpet unfolded on the ground in front of his feet, and then rose up as vapor. It was an advanced ice magic. Amon didn’t use it to attack anyone, but rather to create a path through the sea of flames. In the next instant, he arrived right before Abham.
When he heard the twangs and saw the sheet of flames, Abham had thought that Amon was definitely going to die. But with some quick flashes, Amon was already in front of his eyes. Amon used his staff to strike past the massive shield, right at Abham’s face!
As the patriarch of the Ramose Family, Abham had inherited the position of priest in the Shrine of Cape. However, he was only a third-level mage. He could just barely use a few advanced magics. He managed to do the best he could with the powerful staff in his hand.
A wall of earth suddenly sprung up from the ground, thick and hard, lurching towards Amon. It was the [Pouncing Wall], an advanced earth magic and a standard method of defending against physical attacks. Abham had responded appropriately.
The wall of earth slammed into the shield with a low thump. Amon was violently halted.
But Abham suddenly saw a speck of white light in front of him. It was the “stick” in Amon’s hand. With a faint flash of light, it broke through the wall of earth. There was no time left to react. The “stick” struck Abham’s neck lightly. Abham’s head shook and then drooped down at a strange angle.
It was truly an exhibition of surprises. Nobody had thought that a magic-imbued shield would suddenly appear. Nobody had thought that Amon was a skilled advanced sorcerer. Nobody had thought that the “stick” in his hand was actually a melee weapon capable of casting magic. Everything happened within a span of seconds. Abham lost his life.
As Abham’s body fell to the ground, the wall of earth dissipated. The others were utterly stupefied. But then, the warriors dropped their bows and dashed towards Amon, wielding their khopeshes like rabid dogs. Having been raised by the clan, Abham was like a father to them.
The other mage was called Koth. He was a fourth-level mage and a close friend of Abham. Abham had invited him to come and help catch a thief. He had also been promised a tempting reward. Koth thought it would be easy to deal with a mere hunter from the countryside. Even now, he still couldn’t believe that his friend, a third-level mage, was killed in the first clash. Horrified, he stumbled backward, staff flailing in all directions.
Amon was immediately surrounded by a flurry of blade-like wind. The wind sliced apart everything in its path. The air around Amon also seemed to congeal, making it difficult to move. This was a standard course of action for a mage fighting alongside warrior allies. Unlike Abham, Koth was experienced in fighting.
Unfortunately, none of the four warriors was an advanced warrior. Even so, they might still have been able to counter Amon together with Koth’s assistance… but they weren’t prepared. They were dismayed by the death of their patriarch and attacked without any real coordination. This gave Amon the chance to break through their attacks.
Two of them were third-level warriors, while the other two were second-level warriors. Abham hadn’t known Amon’s actual strength. He had thought that four primary warriors and two mages would be more than enough.
Surrounded by the viscous air and cutting wind blades, Amon didn’t move from his position. The first warrior’s khopesh arrived, and Amon blocked it with the massive shield. With a flash of silver light, the khopesh shattered.
Amon lifted the shield. His staff stabbed out from beneath the shield, piercing the belly of the first warrior. With a seemingly gentle touch, the warrior collapsed. His body incessantly twitched as blood spouted from his mouth.
Amon didn’t give him a second look. He raised the staff and parried the khopesh from the second warrior. As if wielding a huge axe, he swung the shield at his waist with tremendous strength.
Uttering a pathetic cry, the warrior was swept away and landed in a strange posture. He lost his life when he fell to the ground. The other two warriors were terrified by the quick and brutal deaths of their companions. They lost their courage to fight Amon, but it was already too late. They had just dashed in front of Amon, and their khopeshes were chopping towards him.
Amon swung the shield again, fending off the two khopeshes. He then flicked his staff. Two wind blades flashed past the necks of the warriors, tearing open their throats. Blood spurted out, and they slowly collapsed, toppling backwards onto the ground.
None of it fell on Amon’s body, not even on the shield itself. The faint silver light blocked the spray of blood. The last two warriors’ bodies convulsed in pain for a short while, but gradually stilled.
However, they actually outlived the mage behind them. Amon hurled the shield after the two warriors fell. The shield flew towards the mage, spinning and roaring. Even the mage felt it was strange. He had never seen anybody throw a precious and extremely heavy magic-imbued shield in a fight.
Amon flicked his staff, dispelling the viscous air and wind blades around him.
Koth found it impossible to retreat, since he was too close to Amon and the shield was moving too fast. He was merely a fourth-level mage. Amon was not only more advanced than him in magic practice, he was also a fifth-level warrior at the same time! In the last desperate instant, he could only wave his staff and create an invisible aegis in front of him
The spinning shield hit the air aegis with a loud crack. Koth was not directly touched, but he violently crashed backwards as if he had been hit by a bull. He slumped to the ground and tried to sit up, but suddenly felt something scorch the middle of his forehead. He lost his consciousness forever.
It was a thread of flame issued from the top of Amon’s staff. It had penetrated Koth’s forehead, leaving only a tiny burn mark in the middle. The heat had entered his skull and cooked his brain.
In less than a minute, the pursuers had all been killed. And Amon didn’t even have a scratch! He didn’t use any of his scrolls. It was unnecessary. Besides, they were originally Nero’s scrolls. Amon didn’t want to use them to kill Nero’s own relatives.
A breeze lightly blew over the terrain, whistling through the grass and fluttering the robes of the dead. The voices of the pursuers had faded away, and their bodies were already slowly growing cold.
Amon’s eyes were brimming with sorrow. He sighed and adjusted his clothing, walking forward to pick up the shield. But he suddenly froze. He slowly stood straight, hair standing on end. The expression on his face turned grave. He sensed terrible hostility converging on him.
The sound of clapping came from within the woods. A jeering voice arose, “Amazing, that was really amazing! What a mind-blowing fight! Amon, you just killed Lord Nero’s successor right after receiving his final reward! Do you still want to run away? Lord Urhiya was right, you are indeed a sorcerer! But I still have a question… How can you, as an advanced warrior, cast advanced magics? I admit I am intrigued. This secret can save your life today!”
Five people came out from the thick woods in a line. Their manner was apparently different from the Ramoses. Amon was surprised to find that he recognized one of them, and the others also looked somewhat familiar. The one he recognized was Vitru, the mage that served at Urhiya’s side. As for the rest, they had to be the high priest’s bodyguards.
Vitru walked in the middle of the five, holding a staff in his hand. Havon was out in front, with a dagger in one hand and a buckler in the other. Two warriors stepped forward, raising their kite shields as they guarded the flanks. Shuite, Urhiya’s nephew, was standing behind Vitru with a pair of axes in his hands. The group stopped at about thirty yards from their target. Within such a distance, the effects of magic from an advanced mage wouldn’t decay significantly, nor would projectile weapons from an advanced warrior. At the same time, thirty yards would also give the group enough time to react to the opponent’s attacks. It was the ideal distance for a group of mages and warriors to fight in formation.
Amon didn’t have the chance to launch a second assault. Besides, he could sense the powerful auras radiating from the enemies. They made no attempt to conceal it. Amon wasn’t able to counter any of them. He could see the contempt in Vitru’s eyes. It was like a cat looking down at a cornered mouse.
What would be the first reaction of this cornered mouse? To the surprise of everyone, Amon suddenly patted the bag on his back and shouted in a low voice, “Run, Schrodinger!”
Amon was clearly aware that he was perhaps in the greatest danger of his life. It was unlikely that he could protect the cat any longer. And so, he had to let the cat go first. A furball suddenly sprang out of the bag and swiftly fled towards the mountain pass, faster than a frightened leopard.
There was an idiom: as gentle as a cat’s paws. It was true! Schrodinger didn’t make even a sound as it ran, quickly disappearing behind the hills. That was some real loyalty — not the slightest hesitation while fleeing!
The pursuers were no longer surprised. They already knew that Amon had a cat. None of them moved, because the cat was not what they were after. Vitru laughed, “Amon, you are somehow even more Ejyptian than an actual Ejyptian. Does that cat really mean that much to you? But you need to think about your own predicament now. I thought I made a fair suggestion earlier.”
Havon shouted, “Don’t move! Don’t try to pick up the shield! We can kill you any time we want, with or without that shield…! Amon, you don’t have any chance now. It’s futile to think about escaping. You’ve been trying to escape all this time, but we know exactly what you’re planning and where you want to go! You cannot escape from us. Cooperate with us if you wish to be spared some pain.”