This sudden change shocked everyone.
From Suyass to Lys, from William to Xiuban, everyone in the joint exploration team stared blankly when they saw Fran get sent flying like a broken kite before crashing heavily with a bang that echoed in everyone's heart.
"This..." No one thought that the one sent hurtling away would be the Archmage, Fran! He had the power of an Archmage, and even Lys, a 9th Rank High Mage, was unable to retaliate!
But now, his Elemental Shield was pierced by a Flame Burst...
And the one to let off that Flame Burst was a 9th Rank Great Mage!
What was happening?
This incongruous sight was too shocking. It was already beyond what could be attributed to carelessness or underestimating the enemy.
The gap between the two was too shockingly huge. It wouldn't be exaggerating to say that even if an Archmage just stood there without retaliating, it would be very difficult for a Great Mage to injure him. Just the mana alone was hundreds to a thousand times better, let alone since Fran had used the Elemental Shield spell. Just how did this happen?
This wasn't logical at all...
Yet no one expected something even more illogical to follow up!
Lin Yun moved just as Fran was knocked off his feet.
He moved like lightning. With the Haste boosted by the Magic Arrays, Lin Yun's speed was pushed to its limits and everyone only heard a soft sound echoing before Fran fell to the ground, with Lin Yun standing in front of him.
"You..." Fran was on his back, but he didn't have time to get up. When he noticed Lin Yun standing before him, he was so shocked that he didn't dare to meet his eyes. That Flame Burst had just pierced through the Elemental Shield like punching through a piece of paper. He didn't get up and just cast a Counterspell.
This was no joke.
An Archmage still had a fleshy body... without the protection of his Elemental Shield, he could still be killed by a 9th Rank Great Mage.
And his opponent just broke through his defenses.
Fran's reaction could be considered extremely quick, casting Counterspell right after his crash landing.
Unfortunately, he was still too slow.
Fran didn't even have time to launch his Counterspell before he felt a pain in his chest. A dazzling white light exploded on his chest, followed by uninterrupted sounds of impacts as one white light after the other kept striking his chest.
Fran knew that these were Arcane Missiles.
It didn't actually do him much harm. It was a 1st Tier spell, after all, and with his current level of strength, he could use the power of the fused runes to cast a spell with only a gesture or transfer a huge amount of mana anytime. Although the Arcane Missiles were endless, most of them were blocked by the mana Fran released and few of them actually hurt him.
But to Fran, the repetitive sound of the Arcane Missiles truly sounded like slaps, making him feel very embarrassed. Not only was an Archmage's Elemental Shield pierced by a Flame Burst, but he was also still being stepped on as a flurry of Arcane Missiles kept falling onto him.
It wouldn't be fun if news of his predicament spread!
But there was nothing he could do...
Fran truly felt that he couldn't make it out. He obviously held the power of an Archmage, but he was being beaten by a 9th Rank Great Mage. This was incredibly awkward, and it was driving him crazy.
To be honest, his opponent wasn't even casting very quickly. As the owner of the Time Hand Magic Conducting Rune, he still wouldn't put Lin Yun's current casting speed in his eyes.
But now, Fran was backed into a corner by this kind of unhurried yet brisk casting speed.
Indeed, Lin Yun wasn't casting spells very quickly right now, but he was being very precise and effective, as if he had already calculated exactly how everything would turn out. Each of his spells would break Fran's rhythm, and he even forced Fran to interrupt his casting four times in a row.
What kind of concept was that?
Even for an Archmage powerhouse, rashly cancelling a spell while still casting it was very dangerous. In fact, this wasn't just a matter of wasting mana; each spell cancelling could lead to magical backlash. It could be said that unless necessary, no mage was willing to cancel the casting of a spell.
But each time he was forced to do it, it was very necessary.
The first time was just as the Elemental Shield disappeared. Fran was fighting to get the initiative and wanted to use a quick Burst spell to get the upper hand back. He planned to fire it right when his opponent's mana sharply gathered for the next spell so that the gathered mana would detonate and hit Merlin with the backlash. Yet, right when he had his Burst spell ready, the other side just happened to make a critical mistake. The Elemental Burst that originally would have gathered a sudden surge of mana before firing was delayed by a few seconds, making the mana swell slowly instead, and throwing a wrench in Fran's plan...
Thus, Fran fell into a very awkward situation.
He either had to interrupt his spell, or he would have to just cast his relatively weak spell directly and try to overcome the Elemental Burst in a contest of strength.
The problem was that Fran actually knew of the formidable might of Elemental Burst.
Although it wasn't like that previous illogically powerful Flame Burst that could pierce through barriers, that power was definitely not something a 9th Rank Great Mage could produce. It was hardly an exaggeration to say that without an Elemental Shield to defend him, even an Archmage would seriously suffer from that Elemental Burst.
Thus, Fran had no choice but to cancel his Burst and recover as much mana from the spell as he could before condensing it into a Runic Shield to resist the Elemental Burst.
There was nothing else he could do because a Runic Shield was far inferior to an Elemental Shield. If he wanted to use it to resist an Elemental Burst, Fran would have to draw as much mana as he could out of the spell he had been ready to cast.
This was too embarrassing.
After managing to find an opportunity to counterattack, Fran was forced to spit blood because of the other side's mistake. At this time, Fran really wanted to ask, 'Who do you think is paying for your mistake?'
After similar situations kept appearing, once, twice, thrice... Fran felt like something was wrong.
'Is Mafa Merlin doing it on purpose? No, No way...'
How could a 9th rank Great Mage possess such an incredible ability? Let alone a 9th Rank Great Mage, even Suyass and Karon, who had become Archmages before him, couldn't cast spells in such a sinister manner. Perhaps only his unfathomable teacher, Nolan, could pull off something like that on purpose.
But wasn't this too coincidental?
One time, two times, three, four, five, six... Could there be such a series of coincidences in this world?
Unfortunately, there was no time for Fran to think about it properly. After having to cancel several spells in a row, Fran was at a huge disadvantage. While constantly being forced into using defensive spells, Fran couldn't find any way to counterattack.
An esteemed Archmage was being thoroughly suppressed by a 9th Rank Great Mage, and he wasn't able to retaliate at all.
That scene made everyone in the exploration team watch in shock.
"Solomon, can you guess who will win in the end...?" Lys had already been freed from Fran's binding, and his injury had been healed. He was standing next to Solomon, watching while inquiring.
"I can't..." Solomon shook his head.
"Also..." When these words came out, Lys felt that his question was rather dumb. Although Solomon was Thousand Sails City's most powerful High Mage, that battle had clearly surpassed what he could analyze. Even if Merlin was a 9th Rank Great Mage, the power he displayed had already reached that of peak High Mage.
And that was only the raw power.
The most frightening part about Merlin was that his fine control over his mana and his spells could only be described as unfathomable. This surpassed the limit of casting altogether. Let alone a 9th Rank Great Mage, it would be terrifying even coming from a 9th Rank High Mage. Not to mention, Fran might not have been able to see it carefully, but Lys clearly saw what happened.
Merlin had a firm grasp on the rhythm of the battle through his shocking insight and control!
The only thing Lys couldn't see for sure was the final outcome of the battle.
Obviously, it currently looked as if Merlin had an overwhelming advantage. But the fact that Fran was an Archmage shouldn't be ignored. He was one of the existences at the peak of the magic world. There were over 10 ranks of difference between them. Under ordinary circumstances, there would be no need to fight to declare the outcome.
But Merlin going all-out greatly pleased Lys.
'Enough, it truly was enough...'
This battle proved that Merlin had the strength to contend against an Archmage. Even if he now suffered a defeat at the hands of Fran or Suyass, they would still have to consider Merlin's reaction when picking magic materials.
Naturally, there was a voice echoing within Lys.
'What if he can win...'
But this could only be said in his heart. Lys knew that there was some luck involved for a fight to reach this stage. Merlin had completely relied on that weird Flame Burst to break the Elemental Shield and take the upper hand.
But even if Merlin didn't say anything about it, Lys knew that this definitely wasn't something he could use again right now. Otherwise, Merlin wouldn't still be fighting with Fran, he would have just cast a few of those Flame Bursts to finish the fight.