A man covered in a cloak was kneeling in the bushes while observing the village below the hill he was at. This man was one of the Barbarian members and was also the commander for this operation. He was here for the bunch of Barbarians from before. According to his plan, the Barbarians should have reported back to him after taking over Deep Creek Village. However, since there was no news after half a day, he got impatient and brought a large group of men with him to check on the situation.
Everyone knew about the hostile relationship between the different Barbarian clans. Credit and contract were meaningless to them. There was a possibility that those bunch of bastards had decided to break away from them after occupying the village and act independently. Without a doubt, this was an undesirable behavior which wasn't allowed in his eyes. If those bastards did that, he wouldn't mind letting them know why he called the shots.
However, the man was surprised when he saw the situation. There weren't any villages on fire nor Barbarians enjoying themselves. Instead, the villagers seemed fine even though there were signs of battle.
They should have been able to conquer the entire village with that amount of manpower, but I can't seem to find the Barbarians? Could they have failed?
Furthermore, as he approached the village, they discovered numerous traps all around the deep mountains. These traps were different from those that belonged to the mountain hunters and the ingenious placements caught many of his men unaware. The man then realized there was a group of strangers in the village. Unlike the villagers, this group of people was equipped with excellent equipment and weapons. Were they travelers or mercenaries? Either way, both were rather scarce in this area.
Although the small group of strangers didn't seem capable of defeating his men, the commander had decided to investigate the truth. He ordered his 'messenger' to strike and he subsequently discovered the strength of these mercenaries. They had a powerful Mage. The fireballs that the messengers cast failed to deal any damage. Not only that, the mercenaries even created a barrier above the village which totally negated the attacks from his messengers. The man was shocked and at the same time, he was doubtful. Ordinary mercenaries shouldn't be this powerful, but why would a mercenary group with a powerful Mage be in this place when there is nothing worthy for them to snatch? Could it be that their destination was outside the civilized border? If that is the case, I need to report this to my superior...
As the man was deep in his thoughts, a beam of red light flashed by. He lifted his head subconsciously and witnessed numerous straight red lines shooting upwards from the middle of the village. In a blink of an eye, a large pattern spread in the night sky as though a few gears were cranking and slowly rotating.
"What's that thing?"
The man widened his eyes in bewilderment and gazed at the strange, pressurizing patterns outlined by the red lines above him. Before he could figure out what it was, the rotating gears stopped abruptly. At this moment, the ground began to tremble.
Bam. A deep roar sounded and violent vibrations flooded the entire mountain. Countless of birds were startled awake by the quakes and they flew towards the sky, chirping wildly. At the same time, the ground began to collapse and the horrified Barbarians scattered to avoid falling into the endless abyss between the huge fissures formed below their feet.
"Stay, you bastards. Don't run..."
The commander screamed and brandished his arms quickly as his men scuttled off. However, the violent trembles on the surface suddenly stopped and the surroundings returned to its usual silence as though all sound in this world had been devoured into nothingness. The commander and his men stopped moving as they scanned their surroundings in a hurry.
The pleasant silence lasted for only a few seconds because, at the next moment, the muted sounds had returned to this world in a spectacular manner.
The militias stood in the middle of the plaza, gaping at the scene unfolding before their eyes. In a split second, the surrounding mountains turned red as pillars of lava ejected out of the earth. Then, the rain of fire and molten rocks descended and shrouded the whole mountain area.
Within moments, the forest was submerged in the sea of flames jetted from the cracks between the mountains.
The whole place had become hell. Lava spewed out from the earth and flowed down the mountain. Fiery sparks permeated the air, forming a thick blanket of smoke as it burned the nearby trees to cinders. Even the deep night sky was crimson red.
The molten lava that spewed into the sky landed on the ground, forming a river of flames which encroached the village. The lava burned everything it contacted into ashes, but when it was about to devour the village, it suddenly reversed its flow. In a blink of an eye, the sea of flames had disappeared to nowhere. Apart from the charred ground, there was nothing else to prove that they existed just a few moments ago.
The surrounding forest of the village had been burned down entirely. As for those Barbarians that went into hiding, they were equally unable to withstand the extreme temperatures.
"Oops. Master, I went a little overboard because I haven't used it for a long while."
The fox-eared young lady stuck out her tongue cheekily. However, she was fortunate that the people around her didn't reprimand her actions because they were immersed in the magnificent, spectacular, yet terrifying display of strength. If it wasn't for the bright moonlight which illuminated the charred ground and cracks, they would've believed that it was just a dream.
"Where are the people I want?"
Rhode sighed hopelessly as he didn't expect Gillian to cast such a powerful spell. Without a doubt, Rhode had almost figured out the formation of this spell. This spell wasn't energy consuming for Gillian and all she did was to make use of her authority she held as a Fire Elemental Lord to guide the flames from the Fire Plane of Existence into this world. After Gillian shut the passageway, the flames from the Plane of Existence lost their strength to continue existing. It could be said that only Gillian could use this weapon of mass destruction. However, this wasn't a good news for Rhode. If Gillian really did burn everything away, what he needed wouldn't remain too.
"Ah. Don't worry about that, Master."
Gillian displayed a prideful smile instantly and hooked her finger. In a few seconds, a few wisps of flame appeared on her fingers. They landed on the ground, forming a round cage. When the round cage formed, a few figures with filthy faces appeared inside it.
The first impression Rhode had on this person seemed to suit as a Mage. However, he quickly denied this thought because he was wearing an ordinary robe which wasn't the one that Marlene had. Furthermore, he seemed too crude to be a Mage. He had a shaved head with strange symbols carved on the top of his head.
The 'Mage' in a black cloak laid unconsciously in the fire cage. From the unsightly burns on his face and body, he should have been wiped out by the torrent of flames. However, no one knew how Gillian managed to capture him.
The militias and mercenaries gathered curiously and gazed at the oddly-dressed man.
"Who is this guy? Is he a Mage?"
"I don't think so. Have you ever seen a Mage who looked like this? Look at Miss Marlene. That's a Mage."
"Hey, Miss Marlene is very powerful. Perhaps this guy is only a low-leveled apprentice."
"How can an apprentice look like this? I think he must be a Barbarian who pretended to be a Mage."
"But we have never seen this Barbarian before..."
Vinny narrowed his eyes and gazed at the mysterious man. He puckered his brows after scanning his face and the symbols on his head.
"Sir, this is really strange. We have never seen this Barbarian before... His dressing is too odd and these symbols... these aren't Barbarian symbols."
"It's fine. I know who they are."
Everyone was stunned. However, Rhode left the explanations for later and he gestured to Gillian.
"Wake him up."
Gillian snapped her fingers and the fire cage swiftly disappeared. The man in black cloak squeezed his brows and groaned in pain before opening his eyes.
As he opened his eyes, an ice-cold blade arrived at his neck.
"I would advise you to not move, Mister."
Everyone took a few steps back subconsciously as Rhode pointed his sword mercilessly at the poor man. The man in the black cloak didn't react instantly. Instead, after witnessing the sharp blade clearly, he still struggled to escape. However, he stopped moving after sensing the chilly sensation on his neck. He lifted his head and gazed at Rhode viciously; his eyes flushed with redness and his throat made growling sounds continuously.
Then, the next scene shocked everyone - the man widened his mouth suddenly and spat a large fireball towards Rhode.
However, the fireball didn't hit its target. Because, when the man was about to attack, Gillian had extended her right arm and negated the fireball when it collided with her.
Marlene shrieked and fixated her gaze on the man in black cloak as she couldn't believe what she had seen - no wonder she felt that it was too strange for those 'Mages' to cast only fireballs. Now it seemed that they were nothing like a caster. So, what exactly are they?
Rhode wasn't startled by the man's surprise attack. Instead, he gazed back and said.
"If I not mistaken, you are a 'messenger', right?"
Everyone was surprised by this term. When the man in the black cloak heard Rhode reveal him, he began to struggle. He growled at Rhode but wasn't able to say anything. However, Rhode wasn't interested to communicate with him any further. Rhode turned over his wrist and pierced the man's chest with the Crimson Blade. After pulling out his sword, Rhode waved the blade and shook off the blood. The man moaned in pain and slumped to the ground. At this moment, blood was flowing from his large eyes and mouth while the ghastly wound on his chest spurted blood. The man gasped for air and grasped his chest as painfully. However, his struggles were in vain because he finally collapsed and died.
This repulsive scene left many of them pale. Some of the mercenaries looked at Rhode in uncertainty as they couldn't understand why he would deal with this enemy in such a cruel manner.
There was an odd hissing sound. Everyone scanned the surrounding and discovered that the source of the sound came from the man's chest - that was neither the sound of breathing nor the sound produced by the air flowing through the wound. It was something much stranger which left everyone shuddering. The man's chest slowly opened itself and a fleshy, lizard-looking monster peeked his head out. It had four pairs of black compound eyes and its skin was full of tentacles which entered the man's body and blending them as one. The monster lifted his head and gradually gazed at the bewildered crowd. Rhode seemed to be very familiar with this monster as he retained his usual expression while facing it. Instead of being afraid, the edge of Rhode's mouth rolled up proudly.
"I guessed it, Messenger. Only lowly trash like you would do such a stupid thing."
"Sssss...! You dumb humans are here to stop us again?"
A deep voice sounded from the dead man's mouth.