"Hahahaha, Mirror Image? Mafa Merlin, you are truly funny..." Fran had been sneering before, but he burst into loud laughter when he heard those words, pointing at Lin Yun and holding his belly with the other hand.
What was the Mirror Image skill?
In many cases, alchemists would need to duplicate arrays for experiment or research purposes. When that happened, they would use the Mirror Image skill because it didn't require the array to have been analyzed and didn't require much of the alchemist. It was like copying the whole array onto a blank slate.
This was a skill that every alchemist needed.
Fran himself was a peak Master Alchemist, and with the boost from the Crystal Scales, he had entered the realm of Artisans, so how could he not have heard of the Mirror Image skill?
The thing was...
'He hasn't even touched the array, so how could he use Mirror Image? It looks like he overworked his brain, or he wouldn't have said something so ridiculous...'
"Okay, Mafa Merlin, you can leave this kind of joke for later, you don't have much time left..." After saying that, Fran took one step forward and fished out a bottle of Melting Snow Ink and a quill.
Indeed, Fran felt that it was time to end this charade.
Just as Fran opened the bottle of Melting Snow Ink, he felt some strange mana coming from the array below him.
"What's going on?" Fran froze. For a moment, he thought that he had inadvertently activated the array, and was about to rouse the Crystal Scales to analyze the array...
But he hadn't expected that before he could even draw out the power, the array would burst out with earth-shattering mana fluctuations...
"How... How could this be?" Fran subconsciously took two steps back, his face pale in incomprehension. 'What's happening? I was standing on the array, how could it have been triggered? ...This is simply impossible.
'The Crystal Scales' incarnation obviously said that this array had to be triggered by mana. I didn't use the slightest wisp of mana, so how could it have been triggered?'
Fran stood there in a daze, looking at the faintly visible dark red lines, an unfathomable expression on his face.
"Didn't I tell you? Mirror Image..." Lin Yun shook his head and used his quill to spread the Melting Snow Ink. In a blink, an isolation array formed from seventeen white lines had been completed, and it suppressed the mana fluctuations.
Lin Yun didn't stop after drawing the isolation array. All kinds of arrays started materializing. In a short time, Lin Yun had already drawn out a dozen arrays.
These arrays were lesser arrays, but Lin Yun drew them quickly one after the other, and they formed an extremely complicated array. The power of each array wasn't very considerable, but they were all very efficient, and when they were combined together, they formed a complex network, firmly suppressing the mana fluctuations that had been on the verge of bursting out.
At this time, Fran finally understood...
Mafa Merlin had been drawing arrays all along. There were only a few dozen meters between them, but as each array was written, a strange change appeared in the array under his feet.
It felt sort of like a puppeteer controlling a puppet with a thread.
'Mirror Image! It really is Mirror Image! Only the Mirror Image skill could be used to crack an array from dozens of meters away... But how could this have happened? Merlin never touched the array, how could he have set up a Mirror Image? What did he mirror?
'Could it be... Mafa Merlin found that array when he first entered and dealt with it then, digging a hole for me to jump in? ...No way.
'He only got in a minute before me, and furthermore, Mafa Merlin is only a Master Alchemist. Even if he had entered the Artisan realm, he wouldn't have been able to find and crack the array in such a short time. If Mafa Merlin had such power, then he would have just exerted it and taken all the materials for himself.'
As he thought of this, Fran calmed down.
'That's right, I haven't lost yet!'
"So what if you used a Mirror Image, in an array-cracking duel, the first one to start isn't necessarily the winner!" Fran was completely confident after saying that.
Because he suddenly recalled...
The Crystal Scales' incarnation had said that this array wasn't an ordinary array.
The last step was crucial!
This helped Fran regain his smug smile. He dipped his quill in the Melting Snow Ink and started also trying to crack the array.
Although his opponent had started first, the confident smile remained on Fran's face. The quill in his hand was moving in a stable and efficient manner, neither slow nor fast. Mirror Image or not, that didn't even matter. This competition was a matter of strength.
He was an Archmage and an Artisan with the help of the Crystal Scales, placing him high above everyone else present.
Even if Mafa Merlin used the Mirror Image skill, could it make the difference when it came to who would crack the array first?
Would he, an Artisan, lose to a Master Alchemist?
Because the last step of the array was a contest of power... As an Archmage, his advantage was too great.
The two of them focused all their efforts into breaking the array and already showed their hands. Everyone could see two identical arrays, one under each of them, both filled with the exact same red-patterned lines.
It now looked as if Lin Yun had made more progress...
But Fran's pace was also shocking. He started minutes after Lin Yun, but in a short twenty minutes, they were almost at the same stage. Since the main body of the array was visible to everyone, they all knew that what happened next would decide the outcome of the competition.
The two were competing to see who would crack the core of the array because whoever completed that step first would have an unquestionable advantage. Unless they made a mistake afterward, the final outcome would be set in stone at that point.
Lin Yun attacked the core of the array first...
Just like before, he used a large number of lesser arrays to cover the entire array like a net. His quill was moving at a shocking speed, leaving traces of Melting Snow Ink behind.
Fran's cracking method was different. It wasn't fast or slow, but very efficient. He would carefully reflect on each patterned line, and after accurately calculating each node, he would use his quill to sway the foundations of the entire array.
Time slowly passed as their progress remained rather similar.
All the onlookers were watching with worry.
Especially William, Lys, Solomon, and Sosu. They were the closest to Lin Yun and they all subconsciously held their breaths, their hands clenched into fists.
Lin Yun and Fran put down their quills almost at the same time.
Two red lights suddenly soared, quickly followed by two red doors opening within the treasury. Nothing came out of the gates, but the mana fluctuations emitted made everyone shake.
"Hell... Hell Gates?" Lys reacted first, turning pale as he looked at the two red gates. "Those arrays... are Hell Arrays?"
"Indeed, Lys, you do have some knowledge. Now watch, only by breaking the Hellish Core of the Hell Array can one truly crack the array. Now you know why I told you that the outcome was already decided, Mafa Merlin. You are a very good alchemist, but unfortunately, you aren't as powerful as you are brilliant in the field of alchemy. Charging into a Hell Gate as a 9th Rank Great Mage is no different from killing yourself. There is still time to admit defeat. Although you'll lose the loot priority, you'll keep your life."
"Merlin..." Even Lys didn't dare to refute Fran's words. He could only look at Lin Yun with worry.
A Hell Gate was no joke. No one knew how many powerful hellish creatures would reside within. Even an Archmage wouldn't dare to say that he could escape unscathed. Although Merlin was very powerful, breaking into a Hell Gate was no different from courting death.
"High Mage Fran, you should worry about yourself. Don't celebrate too early..." Lin Yun walked into the Hell Gate after saying those words.
"Haha, we shall see who is celebrating early!" Fran coldly snorted before disappearing.
The Hell Gate was indeed dangerous even for Archmages, but he wasn't an ordinary Archmage.
What was a trifling Hell Gate when he possessed the Crystal Scales?