The next morning.
The alliance advanced toward the Falcon Peak and launched their violent attacks on the Undead Creatures. The Undead Creatures defended strongly with their terrain advantage. This was a critical battle for both sides and neither had the intention of giving up.
It was the same for Rhode too.
"It seems like the battle is rather intense."
Rhode twitched his brows at the loud explosions that echoed throughout the valleys. Even though there were no guns, armored vehicles, and airplane support in this world, the clash between magical and spiritual powers were still as exhilarating.
However, this wasn't what Rhode was concerned about. He swept a glance at his group.
Of course, Rhode wasn't leading them into the chaotic battle happening on the Falcon Peak. Moreover, the Eastern Plains didn't have favorable impressions on outsiders like them unless they could be their saviors from crises. If not, Rhode knew that they would be snubbed despite showing good intentions. Furthermore... He had the intentions of letting this happen in the first place.
Why did Rhode get Marlene to deliver the Holy Maiden Statues to the Eastern Plains much earlier than planned after receiving this mission? It was for the sake of decreasing the battle pressure on the Eastern Plains and lowering the risks that they would face. As long as they could ease the dangers in the battlefront, it didn't matter who were the ones dealing with the Undead Army because his group would ultimately be benefiting.
And now, it was time for him to recoup his investments.
Rhode didn't choose to enter the Falcon Peak from the front because it wasn't necessary. The Battle Mage Group had operated in the Falcon Peak for years, so they naturally held secrets of their own, ones Rhode was aware of. Even though there were tons of secrets in the Eastern Plains, the players accomplished lots of missions for them. Rhode had once gone on a mission for the Battle Mage Group, which explained why he understood how powerful they were. Not only that, but he also knew about their core secret...
The Cloud Walkway was located on the side of the Falcon Peak. It was a plank walkway built with wooden sticks and constructed along the steep mountain wall. The whistling cold gales blew and beneath them was the dark bottomless pit. This plank walkway was only a meter wide without railings. They could only use the wall as support and one could possibly fall if one wasn't careful.
This was one of their secrets. After losing the ancient inheritance, this was their only heritage-Cloud Walkway.
Only the strongest in the Battle Mage Group held the rights to pass through, head into the deep sacred land, and accept the test and baptism of the spiritual path. Even though they had lost the inheritance, they kept this tradition for the sake of regaining it one day. It seemed like this persistence was right. Of course, this plank walkway wasn't too challenging for the others with Lize, Nell, and Anne clearing it easily. To Rhode's surprise, even Christie wasn't frightened at all as she followed Anne nimbly...
Sovann pointed at the cave that was connected to the end of the walkway. He recalled the first time when he stepped onto this Cloud Walkway. Back then, he was still a passionate young man who desired to be like his seniors who brought the Battle Mage Group to glory. But now... He had already passed that age. He looked at the dispirited manner that he was in now and let out a hopeless sigh. But shortly after, he gathered his focus and stepped forward in big strides.
The pitch-black cave was oddly quiet. However, Sovann didn't seem mindful about it. He stepped into the cave...
At this moment, something happened.
A glaring blade ray erupted from the darkness and slashed toward him!
Sovann was shocked, but he leapt back swiftly to dodge the ambush. Then, he extended his arms and magical runes emerged above them. The magical radiance weaved across to form a solid shield before him. At the same time, another dazzling radiance burst out from the darkness.
The dazzling blade ray struck heavily on his magical shield and scattered into dust. Sovann sulked and focused his attention forward. Then, everyone saw the ambusher's true identity.
"What is that?"
Lize exclaimed in horror while Anne widened her eyes curiously at the 'enemies'.
They appeared to be strange, translucent figures clad in armor that resembled Specters. However, the appearance of the Specters in the Country of Darkness was much blurrier like water vapor with an indistinct shape of human. Moreover, the Specters usually served as scouts, so they were rarely seen together.
However, these 'Specters' were entirely different.
They seemed like living humans, at least judging from their faces and the folds in their clothes, which was extremely rare to find in Specters. This was because even though the Specters were basically dead, they were presences that were reluctant to leave this mundane world. However, most of them had already lost most of their spiritual energy after they died and survived mainly on their obsession to stay in this world. Despite the obsession, they couldn't remember their names or looks and this explained why they mostly appeared blurry. Although high-level Specters could appear as silhouettes of humans, they were presences restricted by magic like wild beasts... They didn't have any sense of consciousness at all.
And now, not only were the shape of these 'Specters' distinct, but they obviously also had consciousness! If it weren't for their translucent appearance, perhaps they would be mistaken for Specters.
"They are the Guardian Spirits of this spiritual tunnel."
Sovann heaved a sigh of relief and hurriedly stopped Anne and the others from attacking.
"They are our ancestors. The generations of guardians in the Battle Mage Group are allowed to rest their souls here after they pass away and test if their heirs are capable of inheriting their entirety...."
Sovann took half a step forward, retrieved the staff on his back, and raised it high. It was an ordinary-looking staff made by black wood. On its tip was a sharp pike instead of a shimmering gem that everyone expected. However, several mystical blue gems were embedded in a certain trajectory from the staff body to its tip, shaping into a mysterious rune.
"I seek your approval and hope that you can return to your eternal resting place and make way for us!"
The Guardian Spirits didn't seem to have any intentions of moving away. Instead, they closed in while several other Guardian Spirits walked out from the walls simultaneously with weapons in hand.
"... They... are... angry..."
Christie clutched Anne's sleeve and peered from behind. Not only Christie, but even Rhode and the others also felt the atmosphere turning intense. Lize held her hands together and stepped back. Although Rhode's expression remained unchanged, he placed his right hand on his waist. Shortly after, a dazzling white card emerged and spun before him and he held it between his fingers.
"My sacred ancestors!"
Sovann knitted his brows. He also sensed that something was amiss. He raised his staff and exclaimed.
"This is the 'Soul Road' Staff in my hand. Please accept my humble prayer to open the path of inheritance. Please make way!"
The Guardian Spirits had no intentions of making way. They lifted their heads and to everyone's bewilderment, their faces had already twisted! They widened their eyes abruptly and emanated a scarlet radiance. The corners of their mouths split to their ears like demons. Then, they pounced forward and brandished their weapons!
Perhaps Sovann wouldn't attack recklessly as they were his ancestors, but Rhode didn't have such concerns. He didn't instantly attack earlier as a form of respect to Sovann. Since Sovann couldn't control the spirits, he had no choice but to do it. Rhode darted forward!
Unlike Sovann, when Rhode saw their malevolent facial features, he instantly knew that the spirits were under the control of undead spells! He couldn't be more familiar with the unique dark aura exuding from the undead spell. Although he didn't know what exactly happened, he was certain that the situation wasn't as easy as Sovann thought!
Rhode extended his right arm and the dazzling white card in his hand transformed into a shimmering sword bursting with a holy aura. The powerful force rose into a violent whirlwind as he thrust his blade forward and struck the leading Guardian Spirit heavily. Then, the tall, burly Guardian Spirit howled in grief and turned into scattered dust that vanished into thin air.
But,at the same time, two Guardian Spirit had brandished their swords in a pincer attack! Rhode reacted swiftly. He swung his sword to the left while a shadow clone emerged to deflect the threat from the right like a mirror image.
The Guardian Spirits' swords were deflected. Rhode and his shadow clone shook and an omnipresent starlight erupted, enveloping the two Guardian Spirits. Then, countless spiritual blades punctured them and they vanished completely.
They have strong attacks but weak defenses.
In their clash, he sensed a rule power from their weapons. Even though the strength was weak, they still shouldn't be belittled. Perhaps it was due to them being in spiritual form, so their defenses weren't too strong. They were only at around level 50.
Despite that, everyone other than Rhode would have a hard time dealing with them!
"Follow me closely, these guys are hard to deal with!"
Rhode struck forward to penetrate another Guardian Spirit in its chest. Then, silver-whitish flames erupted and surged-Celia emerged from within. She held the sword with burning flames on its blade and thrust forth. Rhode raised his right hand. The summoning ritual circle on the back of his palm flickered and a pitch-black card emerged and spun at the center of his palm.
A dark viper spiraled and drew an arc across the air to disperse the Guardian Spirits that were closing in. Rhode brandished Succubus in his hand and a dimmed aura ripped through one of them, devouring it entirely in dark flames. Before the Guardian Spirits responded, Rhode let go of his right hand and in the blink of an eye, Celestina emerged from a puff of black smoke. She extended her arms and endless thorny vines shot from her sleeves.
The Guardian Spirits were stunned and instantly retreated into the depths of the dark cave.
"What exactly is going on?"
Sovann hadn't returned to his senses yet. He didn't expect that the Guardian Spirits would neglect the presence of the 'Soul Road' Staff and even attack them.
Oh my goodness. What's going on?
Sovann clutched the staff in his hand and gritted his teeth. He couldn't understand why this happened.
"They seem to be manipulated by an undead spell."
"Undead spell? How is it possible?"
Sovann was bewildered.
"The Guardian Spirits are the strongest in the Battle Mage Group... How is it possible that they are being controlled by the Undead Creatures? Besides, this is a secret location and one can't possibly step into this place without being spiritually baptized, not to mention the Undead Creatures! We have fought the Undead Creatures for years. They can't possibly enter our sacred land and humiliate our ancestors!"
"But the situation now isn't as simple as you think it is, Sovann."
Rhode swept a glance to the pitch-black tunnel ahead with knitted brows. He had once accomplished missions for the Battle Mage Group, so he knew the relationship between the Guardian Spirits and this place. If he recalled correctly, the Guardian Spirits should have been resting in this place and defending the altar while waiting for the right heir to appear. But it seemed like the situation wasn't as simple as he thought... Rhode gazed at Christie who hid behind Anne. Up until this moment, he hadn't figured out why the mission required Christie to be here because she didn't seem critical to any scenario. She also didn't give him any meaningful tips or guide him like the other 'Christie' did.
Could it be that I have mistaken the mission hint? After all, this mission didn't clearly state her name.
But could he even turn and send Christie back now?