Chapter 195 - Mercurius (2)
Understandably, the priority of the attack was on Mercurius. The arms which stretched out from its massive body were dozens of meters long. Before the giant, the two magicians were nothing more than flies.
The silver body of mercury shook, and Mercurius soon began attacking with its big arms.
It was literally a whirlwind. Unlike the tail which had caused a sharp shock wave, the wind pressure caused by the blast was overpowering.
Floating in midair, Theodore and Veronica bounced backward. Due to the nature of flying magic which controlled airflow, it was impossible to stay in place against this wind pressure. No matter how well a captain steered a ship, it would be overturned by the power of the sea.
Theodore was pushed almost a hundred meters away and barely corrected his posture.
'...Ugh, I never expected to experience motion sickness in a place like this.'
Was this the feeling of being caught in a storm at sea? This concept of being pushed around to the right and left was unknown to Theodore.
"Wake up, Kid!" It was Veronica's voice which woke him up from his dizziness.
Her voice was more urgent than usual, stirring Theodore into movement.
At that moment, the mercury arm, which was more like a pillar, brushed past Theodore's feet. If the arm hit Theodore directly, his body would burst like a rotten tomato. Even with defense magic, it was a death blow.
Theodore grabbed his neck at the belated warning and hurriedly flew over to Veronica. Instead of reprimanding him, she nodded. "Kid, I guess you don't have a lot of experience in air combat?"
"Yes, I've only experienced it once."
"I knew it. How much aerial combat is there in this age?"
Theodore's immaturity couldn't be blamed. Even top magicians like Veronica didn't have much experience in air combat. It was a bit harsh to ask for that of a young man who wasn't even 30 years old.
Veronica had never fought against something the size of Mercurius while in the air. She couldn't use fire magic, and the opponent was an immortal monster.
"So, what should we do?" Theodore asked.
However, Veronica just laughed wildly and formed a fist.
Her eight circles revolved and pulled all the mana in the area into her fist. Even though they were both masters, her dominance was far beyond that of Theodore. Mana which couldn't initially be felt by human senses was forcibly materialized.
This was the technique of converting magic power into physical force, followed by a few auxiliary spells.
The duration of the technique was significantly reduced in the Meuse Desert, but Veronica was a great magician who could hold onto it for a while. Theodore paled every time Veronica cried out a spell, and he felt a thrill as over 10 auxiliary spells were placed on her fist.
Her physical abilities already far surpassed a normal person without the assistance of aura. Then what would happen if 8th Circle magic enhanced her physical power? Now, Veronica could crush a mountain with a fist!
Mercurius momentarily stiffened at the violent atmosphere which emerged around the red dragon.
"Die, you monster!"
Power burst from Veronica's fist. It was a blow which contained pure force. Anyone who knew a bit of martial arts wouldn't be able to breathe after seeing this.
The wind let out a loud sound as it was torn apart by the fist. There was an empty voice, and the enormous power turned into light. Veronica's right arm was blocked by the mercury giant's arm and went through without any resistance.
Then shortly after that, it exploded.
Once again, the two people were pushed back dozens of meters, reaching a place where the set of ruins looked small. Theodore's robes flapped in the wind as he gazed at the mercury giant's location.
There was no upper body.
Mercurius' 30 meter long lower body was still present, but its upper body had disappeared without a trace due to Veronica's strike. Theodore saw it and recalled something a veteran had said. It was so unrealistic that he hadn't believed it.
In the last war, Veronica had broken an enemy fortress with a fist.
'...That was a true story.'
This power was enough to make a fortress fly away. Theodore inwardly decided to buy a drink for the senior whom he thought had been a liar. However, Veronica's expression was dissatisfied despite the successful attack. Apart from fire magic, the previous attack contained the maximum power that she could use.
Something was emerging from Mercurius' lower body. The regeneration speed was like the speed of a lizard's tail growing back. Theodore frowned at the sight for a moment, before denying his own judgment.
'No, the volume has definitely reduced. It did have an effect.'
The original height of 50 meters was reduced to 40 meters. It meant that the amount of mercury forming Mercurius' body had decreased. It might be possible to completely destroy it with three or four more blows.
"That attack you just did, how many more times can you do it?"
Veronica gave a long sigh and replied, "If I use it once or twice more, I will be out of combat."
"Hoo, this won't work."
"I never thought I would be in a situation where I run out of firepower."
It was just as she said. Veronica had awakened the red dragon's blood, so her firepower was a step or two above that of the other 8th Circle magicians. Even Blundell couldn't surpass her when it came to combat power.
Now, only a 9th Circle magician would be able to match Veronica's firepower. As Theodore and Veronica were thinking, Mercurius started to show some movements.
"Dammit, this is another transformation."
The reduced volume was gradually restored. 42 meters, 45 meters, 48 meters... Once Mercurius' body reached 50 meters again, hundreds of eyes appeared on its body and emitted a sinister light. A silver body and red eyes... When Theodore saw it, his senses cried out loudly.
As Veronica turned with surprise at his urgent voice, Theodore approached and hugged her.
"Eh? W-Wait a minute, Kid?"
"Hold your breath!"
Theodore's right arm gleamed the moment that the hundreds of eyes on Mercurius' body released a flash of light. The two bodies stepped away from this material world while a white flash emerged from Mercurius' eyes and penetrated through the air and into the ground.
The sand turned to silver. No, it was mercury. The sandy field touched by the light turned into a puddle of mercury. Some people would say that the scene was wonderful, but Theodore could only get an eerie feeling when he saw it.
"Conversion of material ray...? That is 9th Circle magic."
"It wasn't uncommon in the Age of Mythology."
"How annoying. Magic resistance would be useless if hit by that, and poison will spread from that area."
This wasn't a curse of petrification. Instead, the blood flowing through one's body would be turned to mercury, and one's bones and flesh would be separated from the body. Theodore didn't know that Mercurius had been concealing such a terrible weapon.
It was good that they had avoided the first attack, but how long could that last? Theodore felt sweat flow down his palms.
'...I have no choice.'
The Azoth Sword was sleeping in the space in his left hand. Theodore might be able to break through this situation if he used it and the Philosopher's Stone. It was regrettable to consume the treasure in this place, but nothing was more precious than his life.
The Azoth Sword left the inventory and entered his left hand.
* * *
Was it because the two magicians had successfully attracted attention...? The rest of the investigation team arrived at the ruins without any interruptions and entered the hole that Lloyd had hidden in.
Lloyd had entered approximately 10 minutes ahead of them. Given the speed of a sword master, it wasn't an exaggeration to say that the difference had already exceeded several kilometers. However, that speculation was proven wrong shortly afterward.
"Hoh? You followed me quickly. I thought I would have more time to spare." Lloyd Pollan, the empire's Seventh Sword, appeared at the beginning of the passage like he had been waiting for them.
He cast an appraising gaze over Mujak, Sylvia, William, and Para and soon realized how they had gotten here.
"Indeed, you must've used two masters to bind that monster's feet. You must've thought it was a priority to block me. How great."
"....Why are you so relaxed?" Mujak stepped forward.
In this narrow space, sword masters had an advantage over magicians. It was true even if the other person was a 7th Circle magician. This was because it was difficult to use wide-area magic in this terrain, and there were a number of other disadvantages.
In the end, Mujak was the only one who could stop Lloyd.
"Andras' dog, all of your men are dead. Aren't you ashamed to crawl into this hole alone?"
"I should be asking you if you feel ashamed," Lloyd sneered in reply. "What is a loyal dog of the Sultan doing attaching yourself to Meltor? You are like an old fox."
"Well, the king of Meltor does have more prospects than an old man in the desert. It is a good decision." Lloyd started clapping, causing Mujak's anger to soar silently.
The fact that Mujak didn't curse or act was proof of how angry he was. Before they could stop him, a turquoise aura surrounded his blade. It was an urgent situation. The Quattro members read the atmosphere between the two sword masters and stepped back, while Mujak opened his mouth.
He growled, "Bark as much as you want. You will die here."
"Hrmm, you still don't understand."
The two voices echoed in the air, and their owners disappeared.
Ocher and turquoise, the two different aura colors collided with each other, causing a shock wave in the area. Thousands of years of dust was stirred up as the two swordsmen moved back and forth, leaving faint afterimages.
They slashed at the top, bottom, left, and right, while bending over to avoid their waist, neck, or heart being cut. They moved 10 to 20 times in the blink of an eye. Clearly, there was a storm of two swords in the narrow passage.
King! Kakang! Kak! Kiiing- Kaaang!
"Damn, there are no gaps!" William tried to give support, but he ended up shaking his head and lowering his outstretched hands.
The two masters were so fast that there was no room for magic. Was his experience that different from a sword master? He had been treated as a prodigy since childhood, so this was the first time William had felt so helpless.
However, Sylvia casually stretched out her staff. "Wind, freeze."
Frost Fog, a chill emerged from the end of her staff and wrapped around the two sword masters. This was an action which affected both people! William was astonished and tried to stop the magic.
However, he quickly understood her actions. "I see! You placed cold resistance on him in advance!"
Unlike Lloyd who didn't have any magic defense, Mujak had the cold resistance which Sylvia had placed on him. Even if both of them were hit by the cold air, there was bound to be differences in the damage.
Unsurprisingly, Lloyd's sword was delayed by half a beat, and he was pushed back by Mujak.
The three magicians reacted at the same time.
Ice spears and a net of lightning bolts stretched out to Lloyd's location. The gravitational pull was just a bonus. These were attacks from the next tower master candidates, so it was impossible for their target to avoid serious injuries.
However, Lloyd's response was just like a god's. Lloyd took two and a half steps forward, with his body moving like a dancer's through the ice spears and lightning bolts. Then he penetrated through the net of lightning bolts, as well as through the center of the gravitational field, and moved his sword.
Spellbreak was a stunning feat only possible for some people of the empire. It was the nemesis of magicians, used to break down the spells by inserting aura into the gap of magic. This was the power which had allowed them to fight against magicians for decades.
Lloyd sneaked through the linked attacks of the three magicians, but there was another person who blocked him.
The sword master, Mujak, appeared before Lloyd.
"-This isn't cowardice."
Mujak's eyes blazed as he held his swords in a strange shape. This was his 'Illusion' Aura Ability. It was useless for trying to break through something like Mercurius, but it was very effective when fighting against a human. Then Mujak used his special move which was capable of killing another master.
Dozens of swords appeared in the empty space. They were illusions, but they became real blades the moment Mujak's aura filled them. Materialization of an illusion... This was the secret technique of Austen's guardian which had never failed him so far!
With that word, a shower of swords rained down on Lloyd.
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