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Soul of Searing Steel - Chapter 419


Published at 21st of March 2019 12:01:23 AM
Chapter 419




"We should retreat as soon as we can . "

The four-man party came to such a conclusion after a hushed conclusion on the slope towards the ruins of the dragon lair .

Ivan held his breath and peeked at the mountain below . The colossal dragon that was covered in steel was breathing resoundingly, as if prepared to attack soon . In front of it, the black-clothed people had assumed their formation—four spellcasters were protected by almost fifteen melee warriors, while archers and some others of different work were already hidden at other locations .

At the center of their formation, a spellcaster who appeared to be a woman floated in the air . The atmosphere around her was twisted by translucent magic, showing that she was a Gold-tier novice mage .

The shockwaves between an intermediate Gold-tier dragon and a party with a Gold-tier individual would reach several kilometers away . Even if the four were halfway up the mountain, they would not be able to completely dodge the random ripples of enchantment . Furthermore, Ivan's gang were Steel-tier mages—violent environmental elements would affect their bodies tremendously .

But that was not the real reason they needed to escape .

"Those bastards are cultists!"

Nick the half-dwarf's petrified warning a while ago was echoing in their ears . After that, the obscure magic that spread from the black-robed casters proved it too, as foul and corrupted runes flew out from their black scepters and formed arrangements that gathered on the Gold-tier spellcaster .

What were cultists? Everyone on the North—or even the entire Mycroft Continent would know without having to answer that question . They were lunatics, dedicated to inciting wars and slaughter as well as spreading strife and pestilence .

These cabals had been most prolific hundreds of years ago, where news of demonic sacrifice and butchering spread from all over the world every few days . As such, the quartet grew up hearing tales of horrific acts, and naturally understood how curious a thing it was for a band to appear here in the North, especially with a Gold-tier spellcaster .

Still, they did not have the time to ponder why the cult would come to a dragon lair . Ivan and Amelia quickly decided to evacuate from the elemental turbulence zone when the cultist start fighting the dragon . Then, they would use the academy's custom communicating spells they carried with them, call for their instructors to capture or kill those cultists .

The importance of this outweighed their original goal for coming here—unsurprisingly, both Karin and Nick did not protest .

Beneath the mountain, the battle had already started .

Impatient and uninterested, the iron-plated mountain dragon that resembled an oversized pangolin did not care even if there was one scent that was remarkably similar to its own .

Its limbs—so huge they resembled temple pillars—moved, clambering heavily on the ground . It had decided to ignore the humans that intend to stop it, and, as if its body was a moving fortress, made a beeline for the dragon lair .


Snow and dust that had accumulated on the ground shot up from the tremors while fissures spread across the earth . Facing off against the mountainous beast that rushed toward them, even the more formidable cultists could not avoid filling a shred of fear .

Still, they already had corresponding combat training . As the iron-plated mountain dragon prepared to charge headlong into them, the cultists quickly shifted their formation, skillfully avoiding its path and arrived at its flanks .

The warriors who were of intermediate Silver-tier then quickly raised their flails and enchanted after also agilely dodging the rush of air from the dragon's dash . Then, raising their aura and breaking the air around them, they viciously swung their weapons on the shell on the dragon's limbs .



But there was no effect—the iron-plated mountain dragon maintained its stampede . As blade touched shell with grating sounds, a powerful recoil force came, shaking off every edge or shattering it . Some of the combatants were even stabbed by the shards of their own weapon and unable to keep on fighting for the moment .

One way or the other, the dragon, covered entirely by [Recoil Barrier], would never be delayed by pawns .

Only powerful individuals of the same tier could stop it .

"Stand aside . As expected, nothing could withstand the charge of a mountain dragon apart from Gold-tier beings . "

At the center of the group, the black-clothed woman pulled down her hood and revealed her true face . Half of it was a beautiful lady, while the other was a skull engulfed in black vapor . Soulfire was burning steadily on her black eye socket, unleashing a blue radiance .

Staring at the dragon that lowered its head as it charged towards her, she raised the mystical staff in her hand . It was pale-white and adorned with a large skull . The entire weapon was made from human bone apart from the two brilliant enchanted gems inserted into its eye sockets . Using the circle prepared before that assembles the power of the other three cultist spellcasters, the woman aimed her staff at the dragon and swiftly chanted a malevolent curse .

Streaks of formless ripples and black shadows appeared and dashed towards the dragon . As mana unfurled, the iron-plated mountain dragon instantly felt the atmosphere solidify, freezing its body . Then, the shadows turned into several huge black arms that wrapped around its limbs, intending to keep it where it was .

The first spell unleashed by the Gold-tier mage, [Air Stagnation] was capable of turning air molecules into solids harder than stone walls . The second spell, [Shadow's Grasp], could conjure appendages that could crush metal .

Still, they were not enough against the dragon's incredible strength . Barely a moment passed as it freed itself from the hexes with an angry bellow, and rushed at its opponent as if a storm .

At the same time, the priestess's staff started to shine with soft gray luminescence—she had managed to secure the duration needed for spellcasting .

When the huge tremors started from below the mountain, the four who were on it knew that the battle has started . Using the thunderous booms, Ivan was prepared to leave the dangerous zone .

Carefully leaving the ledge where they hid, they quickly sprinted towards the foot of the summit, but the Gold-tier priestess acutely sensed the disturbance despite being in battle . Turning quickly, her black eye socket on her half-skull face flashing with soulfire radiance, she cried out sharply .

"There's someone halfway up the mountain! They have seen us!"

Right then, the black-clothed woman was using all sorts of malicious curses to shave off the dragon's natural resistance, while using ice spells to stop it from breathing dragon fire . A foul scent was unleashed from the magical oscillation around her entire body, and even the common man would know that this was doubtlessly a cultist .

Their operation this time was of the utmost secrecy—they paid a huge price to traverse across the Great Canyon and slip into Moldavia . Anyone who became aware of their plans and notify Joshua or Nostradamus would undoubtedly cause them to fail their mission .

That was why as soon as they heard their leader, most of the cultists quickly dashed upwards to the ledge . After all, it was fact that they could not even scratch the iron-plated mountain dragon . Blade, spell, or arrow simply could not penetrate its shell, and along with its tough but transparent eyelids, even the female priest had a hard time breaking through it .

The magic that concealed their presence was removed, causing sullen expressions amongst Ivan's discovered party . They did not get far when they were detected, and their opponents would catch up to them in no time at all given their Silver-tier speed .

"I… I'll take the rear . " Ivan quickly decided after a brief stall . He turned towards his companions with a resolved voice that did not permit refusal . "Give me the magic scrolls and the acid grenades . Then leave . "

While it may appear heartless, it was something the part agreed upon when they first formed—when their four-man cell met a foe they could not defeat, nobody must waste time talking if one of them volunteers to cover the rear, and waste their sacrifice .



Nick cracked his own knuckles while Karin clenched her teeth, but they were ultimately not typical youths fresh out of conservatories .  Nick's parents had perished in the Dark Tide eight years ago—he had always been relying on himself to hunt while his father's younger brother provided some degree of support . Karin's own parents were knights in the Dark Forest fortress who had to deal with the yearly daemonic assault on the city .

As such, how would they not know the courage and decisiveness to make such a decision?

And exactly because they were aware, they would never waste it capriciously .

The two quickly handed every magical equipment to Ivan . Amelia, on the other hand, watched her own brother . Her lips parted slightly as if to say something, but she simply stepped forward and give him a hug in the end, before leaving silently .

By the foot of the mountain, the battle between the two Gold-tier combatants continued . The priestess was still lowering the dragon's physicality and strength with all sorts of malevolent spells as well as utilizing a variety of techniques to proficiently suppress its dragon breath .

Still, nobody had the advantage and the battle was not ending anytime soon .

Half of the remaining Silver-tier cultists were either guarding their injured, while the other half sped towards the mountainside . The ones in pursuit of Ivan's party was led by an archer who had hidden nearby .

He was not slow and the distance was not too far, and so he reached their objective first .

A figure then appeared before his eyes .

Ivan Makarov, the youth born a hunter stared coldly at his enemy, his gray gaze flashing with a steady radiance . Apart from holding a scroll in his hand, he looked otherwise normal in his academy uniform and white snow robes—his features were not that comely either .

And yet here he was, standing his ground and unshakable like a steel statue . That was when scroll in his hand flashed and emitted a gray beam .

Unable to evade it in time, the archer lifted his arms to block . However, his body started to creak the moment the light touched him, and he soon turned to stone completely . The beam did not stop there either, and shot towards the other cultists after bypassing the archer .

In the blink of an eye, more than five cultists were turned to stone .

The difference in ability between Silver and Steel tiers were not as gaping as that between Silver and Gold, Gold and Supreme as well as Gold and Legendary . Both were still not extraordinary and remained mortal—and with the right methods, Steel mages could use naturally scrolls or other items to take Silver individuals .

Ivan was using what had been a last resort provided by the academy instructors to protect the learners who were going out for training . The petrification scroll that could be employed even by Steel mages also carried a backup mana charge to allows heavily injured students to use it .

Also, the moment it was used, a sharp and urgent alarm would ring in a secret chamber within Winter Fort Academy .

"What happened?! Which team is in danger?" A professor rushed into the chamber, asking loudly and anxiously .

The personnel who was already inside the chamber and monitoring a multitude of information quickly responded .

"It's Team One, Ivan Makarov's group! The scroll's detection field also indicates that there are Gold-tier magical ripples around them!"

"Gold-tier?! Damn it, where are they!"

"The White Dragon Lair, the Icy Plains of the Extreme North!"

In half a minute, a team composed of two Gold-tier and four Silver-pinnacle mages formed a rescue team, stepping through teleportation circles towards the Icy Plains of the Extreme North .

Meanwhile, Ivan was in dire straits . A portion of the cultists that were running at him had been petrified, but if they were left aside for some time they would soon be freed of their curse and revived automatically .

The others who had seen what befell their comrades also stopped running in straight line, using the stony topography to leap around in S-shaped curves . Although it greatly decreases the speed of their advance, Ivan's scroll would not have a clear shot at them . As such, the youth attempted to lob a few of the acidic grenades commonly used by dwarves, but it never struck any of his targets .

Looks like the jig's up . The youth thought helplessly . But that's not bad, at least their pursuit was delayed .

He had already thought about the matter of death before—it was a dangerous world after all . When the dragons attacked his village and killed his parents, the youth who became determined to become a dragon slayer already thought about dying in some accident in the process . He just never believed that it would come so fast .

Looks like he was not to hunt giant dragons by his own hands and avenge his parents… But at least his sister would…

At the same time, his sister Amelia had stopped in the middle of her escape .

"Amelia, don't stop!" Nick said gruffly, in spite of his admiration of Ivan . "Don't be reckless and waste your brother's sacrifice!"

The red-haired Karin, too, was prepared to knock her unconscious if she was not compliant and carry her away . People of the North never dallied—they do not have the time to enjoy sibling affection .

All there was is to survive and retain the opportunity for revenge .

Nonetheless, the girl with long platinum hair did not quickly respond to her companion's questions . She merely eyed the dragon lair ruins, and the snow that shook under the shockwaves of the Gold-tier battle, her eyes twinkling with a curious glint .

"Nick, Karin, let's not kid ourselves," she said softly . "They have a Gold mage—we'd never escape . But I do have a plan which might give us even more time . "

She quickly told her the details that were rich with Northern style and convinced the other two at once .

Soon, Ivan, who was still holding up the cultists with the scroll and the mountain's topography, heard a distinct and sonorous shout .

"Aaaaaaaaaah-!!!"

Nick's voice echoed around the dragon lair ruins . With the buff of a treble spell, the half-dwarf's already incredible vocal chords thundered above the sound of actual thunder . As the sound waves unfurled, everyone, including the cultists, were stunned .

Then, a red colored arrow brimming with mystical light streaked across the air with a stretching trail . It then fell just below the summit upon the icy ruins where the dragon lair crumbled .

"That, that's Karin's explosive arrow!"

Ivan stared at the projectile in shock . As the top student of the academy, Ivan quickly and intelligently grasped his companions' ideas . Immense emotion and amazement flowed from his mind, rendering him briefly speechless .

Not that he needed to say anything .

Because the colossal boom had glazed over every sound .

The peak, once the stable ruins of a dragon lair had been vibrated by the Gold-tier fighters beneath the mountain, while the echoing soundwaves and the intense explosion became the last straw, and the snow therefore caved .

BROOOOM–

A dull but enormous boom reverberated through the air . Beneath the mountain and still tangling with the iron-plated mountain dragon, the priestess who had grabbed a slight advantage by exploiting her opponent's low intelligence jerked her head up to look at the mountain behind her . Left in astonishment, she suddenly stopped her suppression of the dragon, and was sent flying with a sweep of its tail .

"The lair has fallen… The mission is a failure!"

Even then, the priestess was not thinking about herself, but the mission given by the High Priest .

Huge waves of ice layers and stagnated snow could be clearly seen crashing down from the mountain's slopes, just like a sandcastle beneath tidal waves . The gargantuan noise and tremors shook the land as if an earthquake, scaring most of the cultists in the vicinity witless .

They quickly abandoned their pursuit of Ivan and the others and fled beneath the mountain . While likely to survive as Silver-tier beings, they would still be maimed . Of course, none of them would be so crazy as to face the avalanche head on either since that would be suicide .

It might appear move slowly, but the avalanche was dropping in incredible speeds . In seconds, the snow that was once on the peak came crashing down, catching up and engulfing the fleeing cultist .

At the same time, Ivan hid behind a boulder while praying that he would live through this, just as Amelia and the others did in anticipation, waiting for all the sleet to roll down .

Near the foot of the mountain, the huge dragon watched the avalanche, unmoving . It did not even turn back and kept climbing the mountain until it was flooded over by the slowly-stopping stream of snow .

Nostalgic silence followed the resounding collapse .

The foot of the mountain was now covered by white snow, as if a snowy plain in itself .

There was no telling how long when a mound suddenly protruded from the flat surface and crumbled to become a hole . A black silhouette floated out from within, and a voice, enraged and embarrassed, rang .

"Damn it! If I learn who is it who caused the avalanche, I'll definitely… definitely…"

The voice that was laced with hate and grudge slowly stifled and weakened until it became nothing . Her jaw's shudder could suddenly be heard, her teeth clattering with the sounds of a horse's hooves .

It was because there was a man who stood in front of her, staring at her with interest .

"Please, do tell," he said, "What do you have in mind for my students?"

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