It truly was the power of an Archmage.
Lys stood there in a daze, panicking.
Lys was a Master Alchemist, so how could he not know the importance of having high levels of magic power when cracking arrays? It could be said that when two alchemists of similar rank faced the same array, the intensity of one's mana would decide the final outcome of the contest.
Especially in this situation where one was a 9th Rank Great Mage and the other was an Archmage.
They simply didn't have the same starting line.
The advantages of an Archmage were too great. Insight, knowledge, experience... They far surpassed a 9th Rank Great Mage... Not to mention, an Archmage's understanding of laws wasn't something a Great Mage could imagine. Any of these advantages would be enough to change the outcome.
Moreover, this was assuming that they were competing with an ordinary array.
If it was a maze-type or illusion-type array, the gap between them would be unimaginably wide. A gap of two ranks was like a death sentence to a Great Mage. The Archmage could effortlessly deal with them.
At first, Lys hadn't quite understood why Fran had offered to compete with Merlin. After all, even Suyass, whose alchemy skill far surpassed Fran's, had no choice but to humbly concede. Why did Fran became so bold?
But Lys now understood.
It turned out that Fran had already reached the Archmage realm...
"Fran, you hid yourself quite well..." Lys squeezed those words out.
There was no suspense in this alchemy competition. Fran would have to be an idiot if he couldn't win.
The fact that he had proposed such an unfair competition made Lys feel utterly disgusted with Fran.
No, it wasn't just Lys.
At this time, everyone in the exploration team was looking at Fran.
There normally would have been nothing wrong with hiding his true power. After all, no one wanted to show all their cards.
But Fran was too excessive this time.
The joint exploration team had gone through a lot. From the flock of Thunderbirds till now, they had pushed through so many challenging fights, yet Fran had kept hiding among them without revealing his true strength despite Merlin and Suyass charging ahead to do their best.
And now, Fran finally revealed his strength, but for no other reason than to fight over the spoils with Merlin.
"Regardless of who cracks the array first, we, the Silver Moon Mercenaries, will only recognize the previous agreement." Sasu was the first to speak out.
It was also a bit strange.
At first, when the Gilded Rose was only a third-rate alchemy shop, the leader of that top mercenary group decided to ally with the Gilded Rose over a Ghost Potion. At the time, many people had said that a pie fell out of the sky for the Gilded Rose.
But the events that followed showed that the truly lucky ones were the Silver Moon Mercenary Group.
It was the same now. Facing Fran, who had just revealed his strength as an Archmage, Sasu didn't even have to think about it as he stood with Lin Yun. Others tended to be unable to comprehend why every time Lin Yun was in trouble, he would stand with him.
"Our Flash Arrow Mercenary Group is the same."
"Same for our Viper Nest."
"You can add our Black Horn Auction House too."
"You can count on the Sage Tower."
In an instant, of the eight major forces of Thousand Sails City gathered, seven of them already declared their intention to stand with Lin Yun. The only remaining one was the Elder High Mage of the Monchi Family. After a bit of hesitation, he finally clenched his teeth and weakly raised his hand to indicate that he stood together with the other seven forces.
To be honest, that Elder of the Monchi Family was very willing to see Merlin suffer, but the problem was that he couldn't afford to do so right now. Solan had named a few magic materials, and if Merlin had loot priority, the Merlin Family could still thicken their faces and negotiate with him. However, if they fell into the hands of the Mercury Tower, then the reputation of the Monchi Family would be useless. Even if Solan used the Black Tower's reputation, the Mercury Tower was unlikely to show them any respect.
Not to mention that the seven forces of Thousand Sails City were already backing the Gilded Rose. If the Monchi Family didn't stand with them, then what place would they have in the future?
"Haha..." At this time, Fran had already finished fusing with the Crystal Scales. The feeling of boundless power immersed him in a kind of intoxicating pleasure. He swept his gaze over everyone standing in front of him before exposing a sinister smile. "You want to provoke an Archmage?"
"Fran, what are you trying to do!?" Lys frowned.
"I'm not trying anything..." Fran smirked as he shook his head. "But Lys, you should be clear about this... Can you guys handle the fury of an Archmage?"
"Are you threatening us?"
"Indeed, I'm threatening you. But Lys, you should understand that Mafa Merlin has already agreed to this competition. You didn't oppose it before, but now that the outcome has been decided, you want to change it. Do you think the Mercury Tower is that easy to bully? Lys, don't take the Mercury Tower's leniency as weakness. You guys are gathering to cheat me out of my victory? Hmpf, Let's see if you are able. There are two Archmages from the Mercury Tower here, can the rest of you provoke the Mercury Tower?"
"Sir Suyass..." As Lys was feeling stumped, his eyes fell onto Suyass. At such a critical juncture, Suyass was definitely the key. The nine forces of Thousand Sails City didn't fear Fran as long as they worked together. But it would be very different if Suyass joined.
When Lys looked over, Suyass averted his gaze.
"..." Lys' heart sank. Suyass didn't need to say anything, as his attitude was clear.
"Sir Suyass..." Lys anxiously called his name again, hoping that this Archmage who had been cooperating with them on the way would say a few words to defuse the situation.
But Lys was once again disappointed.
After staying silent for a long time, Suyass lowered his head and muttered, "The war in the Golden Forest Plane is raging."
The war of the Golden Forest Plane being in a critical state meant that the consumption of the puppet legion was very large. It also meant that the Mercury Tower greatly needed these magic materials.
After saying this, Suyass raised his head and looked at Lys apologetically...
These words that went against his true feelings were the hardest he'd had to say in his life.
Suyass loathed Fran's abhorrent practices.
But even if he hated it, he had priorities. These magic materials were too important to the Mercury Tower. They would greatly expand and empower the puppet legion. Suyass was confident that the Golden Forest Plane could be settled half a year sooner if they could have their pick here.
And settling the plane half a year earlier meant that the Mercury Tower would have fewer casualties and suffer less damage.
In Suyass' position, everything was for the good of the Mercury Tower, even if the benefits of the Mercury Tower came from the despicable actions of Fran.
But Suyass wouldn't explain all that.
After obtaining Suyass' support, Fran's arrogance reached a whole new level.
"Good, the outcome has already been decided. If you don't want to draw the ire of two Archmages, you should hurry and get out of the way. Don't disturb me when I'm choosing materials."
"Well, High Mage Fran, aren't you announcing the outcome too soon?" Lin Yun, who had been busying himself, took the time to turn and say something.
"Haha, Mafa Merlin, there is no use in pretending..." Fran didn't seem to care, as this competition held no suspense to him. "You blindly searched there for such a long time, but have you found the position of the array? You can't even locate the array, the most basic step, yet you still dare to boast shamelessly about cracking arrays? I would have been angered to death if I were your teacher..."
"..." Lin Yun scratched his cheeks before looking at Fran in surprise. "No way, High Mage Fran, you thought I was still looking for the array?"
"Stop trying to deceive people," Fran sneered. "There is no harm in telling you, the array is under my feet. I already completed a rough analysis and it will be broken in ten minutes. If you are interested, you can come over and watch..."
"Ten minutes is too long. In fact, if you are interested, you can come here to check the results of the cracking..."
"Nice try, but I'm standing on the array..." Fran's expression was full of ridicule. The Crystal Scales had told him that the array was just below him, so no matter how brilliant Mafa Merlin was, he couldn't have cracked it without even seeing it.
"I obviously know that the array is under your feet, but High Mage Fran, have you never heard of the Mirror Image skill?"