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Paragon of Destruction - Chapter 111

Published at 12th of August 2019 08:28:09 PM

Chapter 111

"I still don't see why—" Snowcloud said .

"Quiet!" Arran hissed .

They were hiding in the brush just over a mile from the fortress, along one of the few footpaths that ran from the fortress's gate . Arran had guessed that this would be one of the routes the patrols would take, and now, it appeared his guess had been correct .

Approaching their location were half a dozen men, fighters all of them, with the rough look of bandits or mercenaries . They were wearing ragged armor and carrying weapons, and as far as Arran could tell, none were mages .

"Remember," he whispered, "only intervene if any of them turn out to be novices . "

Snowcloud nodded, although her expression made it clear she wasn't happy with the situation .

Arran took a final deep breath, then left the brush and stepped out onto the road, a short distance ahead of the men .

"Hey there!" he called out as he walked toward them .

They eyed him somewhat warily, but none replied . Instead, their hands moved toward their weapons .

"Thank the gods I found you," he began . "I lost my way some days ago, and if I hadn't found this footpath—"

"Get him," one of the men said, drawing his weapon . The others quickly followed his example .

Arran sighed . "So that's how it's going to be?" He drew his own weapon as well, and prepared himself for the attack that was coming .

The first of the men reached him and attacked immediately . Arran only barely parried the blow, and that his counterattack struck the man's neck seemed more like luck than skill . Still, the man fell to the ground, and Arran remained standing .

The next two posed a bigger problem . Although Arran thrust his sword through the chest of one, the other scored a shallow blow to Arran's shoulder, leaving a thin trail of blood dripping down his arm . Yet the attack left the man exposed, and a moment later he fell to the ground, screaming as he grabbed his half-severed leg .

Only three remained, and Arran rushed forward, ramming the pommel of his sword into the face of the nearest one . But even as the man collapsed, his companions finally seemed to have understood that their opponent was beyond them, and they made a run for it .

Arran did not pursue them . Instead, he picked up the unconscious man, then threw him down next to the injured one . The unconscious man came to a moment later, only to see Arran's sword pointing at the two of them .

"How many mages are there in the fortress?" he asked the man with the maimed leg .

The man did not respond, seemingly overwhelmed with pain — and from the look of him, Arran thought he was already close to bleeding out . With a thrust of Arran's sword, he died instantly .

Next, Arran turned to the other man, pointing his bloodied sword at the man's chest .

"How many mages are there? Or do you want to accompany your comrade?"

"Five!" the man exclaimed in a panicked voice . "There are five of them!"

"Are you sure?" Arran asked, moving his sword closer to the man's chest .


Arran nodded, then stabbed the man through the heart . Briefly, he had considered asking about the mages' power, but then, a common thug wouldn't be able to give a meaningful answer to the question .

"You can come out now!" he called to Snowcloud .

She emerged from the brush a moment later, her face even paler than usual as she stared at the corpses littering the ground around Arran .

"You killed them," she said, a shocked expression on her face .

"That was the idea," Arran replied .

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"But those two…" She gestured toward the final two men Arran had killed . "They were defenseless, and you butchered them . "

"Would you have preferred if I gave them time to recover?"

"But you let the other two get away . "

"That was necessary," Arran said . "I needed two of them to carry word back to the fortress . But these two… they knew I was looking for mages . "

Finally, Snowcloud relented, though she still looked upset . But then, she glanced at Arran's arm .

"You're injured," she said, some concern showing in her eyes .

"I had to sell the story," Arran replied with a shrug .

The entire thing had been a ruse, of course — had he wanted to, Arran could have killed all six men in the blink of an eye . But then, his real goal was to draw out the novices, not to kill their henchmen .

By hiding Snowcloud and pretending to be weaker than he was, Arran hoped he could fool the novices into underestimating the threat . If they thought their thugs were only barely outclassed, they would hopefully send only a single novice to deal with the problem, rather than attacking with their full strength .

And now, it seemed that the decision to be cautious had been the right one .

"There are five mages," he said .

"I heard," Snowcloud replied, though she was still looking at the corpses on the path with wide eyes . This caused Arran some concern — there were other battles to be fought, and Snowcloud needed to be focused if they were to win .

"We need to get in position," he said . "There will be others soon . Do you remember what to do?"

"Hide until they pass me, and don't attack if there are more than three novices," Snowcloud said . In a quiet voice, she added, "And don't let any of them escape . "

Arran nodded . "Remember, you can't show them any mercy . It's a favor they won't return . " And if she wavered, he thought, she wouldn't be the only one who paid the price .

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They took up the positions they had agreed on earlier, Snowcloud in the brush along the footpath, and Arran between some shrubs on a small hill two hundred paces away from her .

In his hand, he held the dragonbone bow Lord Jiang had given him long ago . e hadn't been strong enough to draw it fully at the time, but now that he could, its arrows struck with enough force to shatter even the thickest oak .

A single arrow should be enough to kill even a powerful novice, provided they were distracted . And unlike magic attacks, the arrows could only barely be Sensed .

Now, all he could do was wait . If his plan had worked, their enemies' numbers would soon be halved . And if it hadn't… well, best not to think about that .

He didn't have to wait long .

Just a few minutes after they had taken cover, a group of some two dozen men and women appeared in the distance . Arran could feel his heart pound in his chest as they approached — everything would depend on the next few seconds .

Yet a moment later, he let out a deep sigh of relief . Within the group, there were two robed figures, a man and a woman, and he knew that these would be the mages . The plan had worked .

Arran waited impatiently as they came closer . When they reached the brush that held Snowcloud he felt a moment of fear, but they passed it without noticing anything . The trap had been set, and now, all he had to do was wait for Snowcloud to emerge .

But she didn't .

Ten paces, twenty paces, thirty… Arran cursed under his breath when Snowcloud didn't appear, even as the group moved further along the path . Fifty paces… just a little longer and they would be halfway to Arran .

Finally, when Arran was already beginning to think of ways to escape, Snowcloud stepped onto the road . She raised her hand, and at the same moment Arran could feel Essence gathering within it, the two mages in the group turned around as one .

At once, he loosed an arrow . At this distance it struck almost immediately, hitting the robed woman in the back with such force that it tore her body in two .

A second arrow followed a fraction of a second later, but already the robed man had ducked aside, and the arrow instead ripped through two of the mages' henchmen before hitting the ground .

Before Arran could fire another arrow, a massive fireball came soaring his way, and he had no choice but to drop the bow and throw up a Force Shield . The fireball hit the Shield with such force that it threw Arran off his feet, but the Shield held up, and he was unharmed .

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He got to his feet in an instant, and already, he could Sense that the robed man was preparing another attack, while several of the fighters were running toward Arran .

And still, Snowcloud had done nothing .

Arran cursed loudly as he rolled to the side, only just avoiding the impact of a second fireball . Fortunately, his opponent wasn't too strong, but he could not let this continue .

He drew his sword and dashed forward, his blade cutting through four of the mages' thugs in rapid succession as he prepared to attack the robed man .

Yet then, suddenly, he Sensed a massive surge of Fire Essence from Snowcloud's direction . A moment later, what looked like a streak of yellow-white lightning burst forth from Snowcloud's hand toward the remaining mage .

The man was still turned toward Arran, and the attack struck him in the back of the head, the yellow-white lightening bursting from his face as he died instantly .

But it didn't stop there . The lightning lashed out again, and again, ripping through the bandits like a scythe through wheat . Before the robed man's body even hit the ground, all the remaining bandits were dead .

Arran let out a deep sigh . The fight had been far closer than it should have been — Snowcloud's hesitation had nearly cost him his life, and it was only his opponent's weakness that had saved him . Had the mage been stronger, he knew the battle would have ended differently .

He approached Snowcloud, anger building inside of him as he realized how close they had come to disaster . Yet just as he was about to shout in rage, she turned toward him, and her appearance almost caused him to stop in his tracks .

She was pale and trembling, eyes filled with tears . As Arran approached her she gave him a despairing look, and she seemed on the verge of breaking down .

At this, Arran hesitated . If he exploded now, he feared it might break her spirit . With another battle still ahead, that was something he could not allow .

"Does it get easier?" she asked after some moments, her voice soft and unsteady .

Arran could not answer her question . In truth, killing had never been hard for him . Even if hundreds of people had fallen to his hands, he hadn't lost a single night's sleep over any of them . He would have preferred for them to stay out of his way, but he felt no guilt for their deaths . Yet he could not tell Snowcloud that — if he did, he knew she would think him a monster .

Instead, he reached out and silently hugged her . For several minutes, she cried against his chest, until finally, she looked up at him with red eyes .

"I suppose we should prepare for the last ones," she said quietly, clearly trying to put on a brave front .

"We should," Arran answered .Please download our sponsor's game to support us!