– “I don’t get it, how is this supposed to be related to my soul? Sure, hunting a pup is a shameful act, but I don’t see why I should meddle. It’s none of my business.” –
Lith’s sight blurred, feeling his head spinning again while images kept rapidly appearing and disappearing. He watched the White Griffon academy’s walls crack and crumble, until the whole castle fell into ruins.
– “What the heck? Another vision?” He was flabbergasted.
“It must be guiding you toward something related to the power struggle revolving around the academy. Seems your soul is nicer than you, since it cares for Linjos and the kids.”
Solus’ tone was gentle and warm, hoping for him to open his heart to others, even if just a little.
“I don’t see how the two things are related, but in for a penny, in for a pound. What’s the power level of the hunters?”
“Three cyan, one green and two yellow mana cores. The latter are unlikely to be mages, too many muscles, too little mana.” Solus replied. –
Lith memorized the opponents based on their strength, before coming up with a last-minute plan. Not having much to work with, he had to keep it simple.
Killing in cold blood six people just because of a “mystical prophecy” was out of question. His conscience was still nagging at him for how he treated the dryads, so he needed a softer approach.
Lith instantly switched his hunter suit with the academy’s uniform through the pocked dimension, having decided to play the role of the naïve student upholding justice.
He approached the hunters on foot, while weaving several spells, ready to be unleashed with but a thought, just in case. Once he got close enough, he snapped his fingers, using air magic to amplify the sound into a small boom, drawing their attention.
“Hey, what are you doing so close to the academy? This part of the forest is reserved to the students. Scram, before I call the security.”
The sudden noise caused them to freeze for a moment, giving the Byk the opening it needed to escape the encirclement and run away. The six hunters turned towards Lith, looking at him with irritated eyes and ill-concealed killing intent.
Raghul, the leader of the mercenary team disguised as hunters, was enjoying his last assignment quite a bit. He had never been paid so handsomely to do a menial job. During the last days, they had been killing magical beasts, it didn’t matter if big of small since the pay was the same.
He had no idea why his contractor sent them specifically to that forest, but according to Rodimas, the smartest of the team, it was about upsetting the academy’s balance.
Based on the intel she had gathered, the Headmaster had some kind of deal with the beasts.
Her guess was that slaying those nearest to the academy and making the students appear as the perpetrators, it would ruin the relationship between Linjos and the Lord of the forest.
If that happened, either he could no longer have the exams take place in the forest, or he had to risk his students’ safety.
Raghul didn’t understand what good could came out of it, and more importantly, he didn’t care. The reason he had accepted that job, despite the suspiciously high reward, was because he hated academies.
The memories of what he had gone through, back in the day when he had been admitted to the Water Griffon, still haunted his dreams sometimes.
When a goddamn kid appeared out of nowhere, allowing their prey to escape, he was greatly annoyed.
– “What a rotten luck. How the heck did this pest found us in this frigging huge forest? If we get exposed, we’ll lose the other half of the pay.” –
“Hey, kid! Do you have any idea how much money your little stunt has just costed us? At least ten gold coins! Hope you have enough on you to compensate for our loss, otherwise I’ll have to roughen you up.”
Raghul wasn’t surprised that the first to react had been Terion. He was the kind of man that always thought with his wallet.
Lith saw a lean man, with curly brown hair and a face full of freckles, walking double time towards him, yelling something about money.
“Don’t you have any shame? First you gang up against a young Byk and now try to extort from a student? You are unworthy of calling yourself hunters.”
Lith pretended to be outraged, while waiting for the next piece of the vision. Saving the cub had no effect, and so far, even interacting with the hunters had no effect.
While the two quarrelled, Raghul noticed that despite all that ruckus, no one was coming.
– “Maybe there is a way to cut our losses. If this kid has come here alone and Rodimas is right about our mission, maybe by killing him we can keep our cover and even earn an extra. The orders are to not get caught in the act, after all.
Not to mention is best to avoid having the academy staff on our tail.”-
“Come on, Terion. Cut the kid some slack. He is right, we are too close to the academy. We are not looking for trouble.”
Terion recognized the codeword for murder, yet his poker face was impeccable. He didn’t smirk, didn’t pause what he was doing not even for a second, managing to withhold his killing intent.
He turned his back at Lith, nagging.
“Are you kidding me? I deserve my gold, so either I take it from your share or nothing.”
Exploiting the moment Lith could not see him, Terion unsheathed one of the knives hidden under his hunter jacket, before continuing to spin on himself, lunging it where Lith’s neck was in a single, fluid movement.
Alas, even after his meeting with the dryads and realizing that his third life had indeed been quite blessed, Lith was still more distrustful than a turkey the day before Thanksgiving.
The knife only cut air, since its intended target had promptly backstepped, conjuring four icicles that pierced Terion’s arms and legs, pinning him to the ground like an insect.
Lith had reacted on instinct, but now he seemed to be in a daze, uncertain on what to do next. He then pretended to be casting a fake magic spell, but the mercenaries had already recovered from the shock, quickly adjusting their formation to encircle him.
“Recca, save Terion before it’s too late! Beware, the twerp has magical rings, but don’t let him run away or we are f*cked!” While screaming orders, Raghul thanked the gods for their good luck.
The kid seemed to be hesitant to kill humans, otherwise the situation would have been much worse. For the same reason, Solus was really worried. It was the first time since they had merged that Lith showed mercy on the battlefield.
Even worse, his thoughts seemed to be in disarray, letting himself being cornered that easily.
The biggest of the group, almost two meters (6’7″) tall, with arms as thick as a head, charged forward like a boar, blocking the line of sight with his huge body mass.
According to Solus, he was the other non-mage in the group, but if they kept him around, he was bound to have more than one trick up her sleeve. His clothes emitted a yellow glow, making his speed increase dramatically, followed by a red glow that seemingly had no effect.
Lith easily dodged the charge, but he managed to stop abruptly, pivoting on his front leg to throw a bullet fast hook at Lith’s temple.
Lith was taken by surprise, the only thing he could do was to jump backwards to weaken the strike and use his earth infused right arm to block.
“Got you!” She said with a grin.
From the voice, Lith understood that his enemy was actually a woman.
On impact, her glove released a streak of lightning, that coursed through his body, while the strength of the hit was enough to make him slide several meters backwards, right on the spear of her teammate that had positioned behind him.
Everyone expected his arm to be broken and his body paralyzed, but Lith used Full Guard (see chap77), emitting a spherical blue aura with a radius of 10 meters (33 feet), dodging the spear with a spin, without even looking back.
Now that he was far enough from the burly woman, Lith could see that the man called Recca, probably the healer of the team, had ran to Terion’s side, enveloping them both with a powerful air barrier, to prevent any further attacks while treating his companion’s wound.
“Got you.” He said with a grin, snapping his fingers.
A sudden flash drew the mercenaries’ attention to their fallen comrade.
A fireball had detonated inside the barrier, but the air dome that was supposed to protect them, prevented the flames from expanding, making those inside suffer from both the explosion and the recoil.
The agonizing screams of the two mercenaries filled the air, and while their comrades were still trying to make sense of that sudden turn of events, Lith grabbed the spear armed man from the back.
His left arm formed a V, locking the opponent’s throat between the forearm and the biceps, while the right hand grabbed his jaw with a quick whip-like movement breaking the neck with a snapping sound.