"You..." Ross' heart sank. With a heavy expression on his face, he said, "Hanson Charlotte, are you looking for a fight?"
As one of the three great talents of the Merlin Family, Ross had obtained a seat at the Elder Council and would usually participate in the Merlin Family's decision making in all kinds of matters, and although he wasn't overly familiar with Hanson Charlotte, they had met a few times.
But Ross truly didn't expect that this old High Mage who had some friendship with Ofran would block their path in such a forceful manner after losing the auction of the Star Gem.
This was crazy...
"Haha, Ross Merlin, I heard that you are one of the most outstanding geniuses of the Merlin Family. I thought that you were someone smart, but I hadn't expected you to be so naive..." Hanson smiled as he saw Ross' reaction.
"Three hundred years ago, Santon Merlin killed Fussen Charlotte in the Aurij Mountains, destroying the hopes and future of the Charlotte Family. A few dozen years later he suppressed the Charlotte Family for half a century through his status as a Heaven Mage, making my Charlotte Family fall from being one of the Three Families, to being a third rate force. From that point on, the Charlotte Family and the Merlin Family became mortal enemies..."
"One should naturally use any means necessary when dealing with their enemies. I am disgusted by Ofran, yet I had to endure for a few centuries, staying low key and not initiating any conflict with the Merlin Family... Did you really think the Charlotte Family and Merlin Family became friends? Oh, Ross, you are so naive..."
Hearing Hanson Charlotte's words, Ross knew that this situation would have a bad end. Hanson's words had revealed the Charlotte Family's ambition. And they didn't plan to fight the Merlin Family right away, so the three who heard about it knew too much.
But Ross had to consider the big picture, and although he felt anxious, he kept his cool.
"You aren't afraid of the Merlin Family investigating this?"
Ross asked while secretly checking the surroundings. Besides those four, the Charlotte Family hadn't brought anyone else. This discovery made Ross sigh in relief. At the moment, that group of four were only blocking the way back to the Merlin Family Manor, they could still flee.
While the two were discussing, Ross made a comparison between both sides' power.
Two Phantom Archers above 5th Rank, one High Mage above 5th Rank, and Hanson Charlotte himself. His strength could only be described as terrifying.
His side on the other hand...
They had a 5th Rank High Mage with the Endless Spring which would only be a bit stronger than the other side's 5th Rank High Mage. As for William, although he had beaten Ross before, in Ross' eyes, that fight wasn't enough to prove anything. He assessed him to be able to block one Phantom Archer at most, this was completely meaningless, the two Phantom Archers could easily kill William.
As for that distant younger cousin...
Ross couldn't determine his strength, but he was in his early twenties, how could he defeat Hanson Charlotte?
Unless he was that young mage with the power of an Archmage Anna had talked about.
If he wasn't, their best possible outcome was managing to escape unscathed.
"The Merlin Family's investigation? Haha, Ross, I said that you were too naive yet you refused to acknowledge it. Only you and I know of this whole matter, if I get rid of you, how could the Merlin Family know it was me? Moreover, do you think I'm afraid of the Merlin Family? Let me tell you Ross, within a year, the Merlin Family will fall from its seat at the top. When the time comes, the Merlin Family will get to taste how the Charlotte Family felt back then."
"You think it'll fall because you said so? Who do you think you are..."
"Haha, the Charlotte Family has already..." Hanson seemed to realize that he had said too much and his complacent smile suddenly changed as his expression turned serious once again, "Alright, stop stalling for time, Ross Merlin, and hand over the Star Gem. If the three of you cooperate I might consider keeping you alive, only taking you prisoners."
"Would you be so kind?"
"Of course, before imprisoning you, I'll first cripple your Mana Whirlpool. Oh right, I think you know about the Black Rock Plane the Charlotte Family gained a few years ago? All kinds of ores are quarried there and I'm thinking of sending you there. What do you think? After all, apart from mining and enduring occasional whiplashes, you wouldn't have to worry about losing your life. Our Charlotte Family gives good treatment to slaves, they get two loaves of bread and a big bottle of fresh water every day. I really want to see the youngest genius of the Merlin Family who could casually take out twenty million golds beg in order to get one more piece of bread or a mouthful of water..."
The more Hanson Charlotte talked, the more excited he became. It felt like he was venting for the humiliation he suffered at the auction, his expression seeping with craziness as he looked at Ross as if he was a prey to hunt.
"Let's see if you have the ability..." A smile suddenly appeared on Ross' face.
Ross had been silently casting while Hanson was blabbering and managed to complete a Fire Dragon spell.
Moreover, it was a Fire Dragon nurtured by the Endless Spring.
This Fire Dragon spell had beaten countless opponents in Ross' hands and suppressed William in the Merlin Family manor before.
This was the spell Ross Merlin had the most confidence in.
Ross opened his hand, revealing a flame hovering in his palm. As long as he shouted the last character, this flame would blossom with shocking power.
But he didn't even have time to shout that character before a sharp sound echoed in his ear.
Ross only felt coldness, like falling into an icy cave. One of the arrows carrying a fishy smell flew out and swept past Ross' head before lodging itself in the carriage with a reverberating sound.
He only needed one character to release that Fire Dragon, but Ross was unable to finish his incantation nevertheless.
Because he knew that since that arrow could graze him, it naturally could lodge itself into his skull.
That was an open warning.
"Now, hand over the Star Gem!" Hanson glanced at Ross, "I can spare your lives as long as you hand over the Star Gem, I'll only imprison you in the Black Rock Plane. But if you aren't sensible enough... You'll die here today."
"..." Ross didn't answer...
That arrow already demonstrated that the strength of these two archers was higher than he had imagined, they might have already reached 9th Rank.
This wasn't something the three Merlins could withstand.
"Don't listen to him..." At this time, William slowly walked down the carriage, "You really think he would dare to kill the three of us? He is only putting on a front, he is afraid we put the Star Gem in a Spatial Magic Tool. How would he be able to open it if we died? Would they try brute force?"
"You..." Hanson's expression froze. William's words were exactly what Hanson was worrying about. He had delayed so much because he wanted the three of them to hand over the Star Gem on their own.
"William Merlin, you are quite good. You reasoning is correct, but so what if I can't kill you on the spot? I can still capture you and send you to Black Rock Plane and make those beast like Black Rock Beastmen abuse and torment you. I would like to see how long you could handle this. Three days might be enough for you to rush over while weeping and kneel in front of me while begging me to take that Star Gem from your hands..."
"Haha, three days isn't a problem, but I'm worried someone isn't that patient..." William didn't pay attention to Hanson any longer as he smiled while walking back towards the carriage.
"Capture them!" Being ignored like that infuriated Hanson Charlotte, it made him recall the humiliation he suffered in the auction and his face distorted.
After he said so the two Phantom Archers immediately made a move.
The two poisonous arrows tore through the air, moving like lightning and leaving two blue lines in their path, showing the power they burst with.
"Shit..." Ross instantly cursed. He knew that he hadn't guessed wrong, they really were 9th Rank Phantom Archers, otherwise these two arrows wouldn't have burst with such power.
Ross didn't have much time to think, he instantly cast his Runic Shield after cursing.
When Ross had beaten William, he had taken advantage of the fact that William used his Runic Shield prematurely to gain the upper hand before defeating him.
It was because Ross knew that Runic Shield was the one spell a High Mage couldn't use negligently, once a High Mage used their Runic Shield, they would lose their trump card.
But Ross couldn't care about this right now, if he hadn't used Runic Shield, those two powerful arrows would have pierced his body.
The Runic Shield was cast the instant the arrows were shot.
Two heavy sounds echoed as the dazzling Runic Shield became indented by the two arrows.
The originally perfectly curved Runic Shield had completely deformed under the impact of the two arrows, finally managing to stop them a few centimeters from Ross' body.
Ross managed to block the two arrows.
But Ross' expression wasn't relaxed at all.
He could see that the radiance of his Runic Shield had dimmed considerably under the attacks of the two arrows. Ross estimated that he would only be able to defend against three such volleys at most.
That's right, three...
After three volleys, Ross would no longer be protected by the Runic Shield and would be exposed to the other side's arrows.