The Aurij Mountains, north of Okland, near Shulan, the land of Ice and Fire. Towering mountains spreading for hundreds of kilometers. In the middle of the 3rd Dynasty, the Empire opened a path in Gaugass, and this became a savage, deserted land with numerous minerals and herbs, but it was also occupied by many dangerous magic beasts. For thousands of years, the Aurij Mountains remained a paradise for Mercenary Groups.
Of the over hundred Mercenary Groups of Aukland, at least half of them were making a living in the Aurij Mountains. The more powerful the group, the deeper they could go and the more magic beasts and precious materials they could harvest.
The Red Dragon Mercenary Group was among the most famous of these.
It was the 3rd ranked Mercenary Group in Okland. The Red Dragon Mercenaries already had three hundred years of history and had been through four leaders, each of them being famous powerhouses that helped slowly raise the status of the Red Dragon Mercenary Group to its current position.
In the current Okland, the Red Dragon Mercenary Group fell short only of the Heaven Enlightening Mercenary Group and the Temple Knights Mercenary Group. They had an 80% success rate that they could proudly boast of. If it wasn't for their leader dying in battle two years ago, the Red Dragon Mercenary Group might have already risen to become the number two Mercenary Group of Okland.
The Okland Mercenary Guild's board had a special column with a star symbol. The star symbol indicated that the task was very difficult and very rewarding.
These high-risk high-reward missions were usually monopolized by the three highest ranked mercenary groups.
This included things such as killing a level 30 magic beast, or destroying a force on par with the Viper Nest, or taking control of a small town. There were all kinds of missions...
And only the three strongest mercenary groups could accomplish these.
But this time, the Red Dragon Mercenaries had accepted a mission that wasn't marked with a star.
This mission had come from the Watson Family.
One of the two major Families of Okland, a behemoth that stood against the Merlin Family. Even the Red Dragon Mercenary Group had to lower their heads in front of the Watson Family.
This time, the one who hired the Red Dragon Mercenary Group was Stan Watson, the most outstanding genius of the Watson Family. He hired the Red Dragon Mercenaries this time to protect him as he entered the depths of the Aurij Mountains.
As for why Stan Watson was going in the depths of the Aurij Mountains, it wasn't for these hired hands to know.
The Red Dragon Mercenary Group wasn't unfamiliar with the Aurij Mountains' depths. They would usually go there to hunt of magic beasts or gather resources.
But it was the first time that they had received an escort mission. They were very careful about this and sent the strongest fifty members with a vice-leader at the head to guard Stan Watson on this journey.
They were the strongest that the Red Dragon Mercenaries had to offer and were the main force for over half of the star missions. They were all veterans.
The entourage had made their way through quite domineeringly. The met dozens of magic beast attacks that would have wiped out any normal group, but with the protection of the 50 Red Dragon Mercenaries, Stan didn't even have the opportunity to make a move of his own.
To begin with, the fifty members of the Red Dragon Mercenary Group were like mammoths charging up a mountain.
"Alright, it's here." After annihilating another group of magic beasts, the team of fifty took a break to rest and reorganize under a cliff. A young mage wearing a white robe walked out from behind, a yellow map in his hands. After carefully examining the cliff, joy spread across his face.
"Young Master Stan, please be careful, this is one of the most dangerous areas of the Aurij Mountains. You are now under our team's protection. If something unexpected happened, our Red Dragon Mercenary Group wouldn't be able to account for it."
The one speaking was a female warrior donning a silver armor. She seemed very young, in her early twenties. Her silver armor couldn't completely cover up her graceful figure and her blonde hair glittered like the setting sun. From her fair face and delicate features, she was undoubtedly a stunning woman.
The members of the Red Dragon Mercenary Group knew that she wasn't merely a beauty.
She was Anna Achilles, the top ranking vice-leader of one of the three largest mercenary groups in Okland, a 24-year-old Expert Swordsman with the bloodline of the War God. Three years ago, she defeated a famous Expert Swordsman when she was a 9th Rank Great Swordsman becoming famous herself.
Now, Anna was already the 1st vice leader of the Red Dragon Mercenary Group, only having to report to the current leader, Leo.
If it wasn't for the fact that the one they were escorting had a rather special identity, Anna wouldn't have accepted such a mission.
"Okay, Commander Anna, your mission has been completed after escorting me here..." The young mage with his white robe waved his hand casually. "I don't need your help to protect me. Shall I remind you that your Red Dragon Mercenary was only hired so that I wouldn't use up mana beforehand? As for the rest, I don't need you worrying about it."
"Young Master Stan..." Anna wanted to say insist, but she ended up shaking her head and remaining silent.
"Don't say anything else. Commander Anna, you'd best remember my identity. I'm Okland's only 8th Rank High Mage at only 35 years old. Only a Sword Saint would be qualified to worry about my safety.
"You..." These words were truly hurtful, and even Anna couldn't help being angry despite being a hired mercenary.
Before Anna could say anything, a voice came out of a bush.
"Who are you!" Before Stan even reacted, the fifty mercenaries already drew their weapons. As the commander, Anna instantly burst with Aura, covering her blond hair and heavy armor with a layer of cyan mist.
Anna had studied under the Storm Sword Saint, Talos.
Talos went through hundreds of battles throughout his life and was never defeated due to his famous Sky Aura. Although he had many disciples, only three or four of them truly mastered the Sky Aura, Anna Achilles being one of them.
Anna instantly released her Sky Aura just as the voice came out of the bush because she felt a premonition of danger from that voice.
She didn't know exactly why...
But she felt that the owner of that voice had some frightening magic power, and even if he hadn't come out of the bush, it was enough for a veteran like Anna to feel a chill run down her spine.
"Come out!" Anna's Sky Aura was raging as she remained vigilant and coldly snorted towards the bush.
"Haha..." Under Anna's cold snort, a young mage slowly walked out of the bush. He looked thin, and his face seemed a bit pale, yet charming. He walked very softly, as if afraid of killing an ant.
The young mage held a magic staff with a huge gem embedded at the tip. Anna looked at it carefully and discovered that it was actually an Elemental Amber!
This discovery made Anna's heart tighten.
Fist-sized pieces of Elemental Amber were very rare in Okland. They would usually appear only in the hands of geniuses nurtured by their entire Family, like Stan Watson, for example.
Yet, the young mage standing before them held one.
"Okay, stand there and don't move! Tell us what you are planning, or else the Red Dragon Mercenary Group will view you as an intruder!" The Elemental Amber raised Annas level of vigilance.
"If I don't get closer, how could I tell you my goal..." The young mage kept slowly walking towards Stan Watson as if he hadn't heard her. "In fact, I hold no evil intentions..."
"Oh?" Anna tightened the grip on her sword and didn't relaxed after the person's answer.
"Whether you hold evil intent or not, don't hope of escaping now that you came," Stan Watson coldly snorted before Anna even gave the order to attack.
At the same time, he quickly chanted a spell.
The might of an 8th Rank High Mage was quite extraordinary. Just as the incantation echoed, raging flames were already filling the atmosphere. It was a Flame Prison spell. The flames turned into chains, sealing the escape route of the young mage.
"I truly hold no evil intentions..." The young mage didn't seem to notice that he was in the center of a Flame Prison and only scratched his cheek before raising his staff. "I only came to kill Stan Watson, it has nothing to do with you..."
"Haha, such a funny joke!" Stan laughed when he heard that.
As the most outstanding genius of the Watson Family, Stan had become so strong that he had never met anyone or anything that could contend against him. Let alone the youths at the same age, even the Archmages with a grudge in the Watson Family didn't dare to openly talk about killing him.
And now, a young mage that probably wasn't even twenty had said something like that...