Chapter 244: A New Mission and Nolan’s Warning
It was early evening when the Shadowfiend Corps valley outpost finally welcomed the arrival of long-awaited reinforcements and the medical team responsible for transporting the injured.
Considering the number of healthy arcane masters remaining within the outpost, this new squad of twenty arcane masters seemed incredibly majestic as they entered the valley.
“Nolan? Sarina?” Ayrin shouted in surprise upon seeing two familiar faces within the crowd as he excitedly ran forwards to greet them.
“Nathan?” [1. Originally Nason (first appears chapter 195)]
As Ayrin approached, he realized that he also knew the person beside Nolan and Sarina. It was Nathan, the member of Silver Trout Academy’s team who used the Tyrant Eye and had beaten Rinloran offstage during the competition.
“Ayrin, Rinloran, how come you are here?”
Nolan, Sarina, and Nathan were astonished when they saw Ayrin and Rinloran.
“The Office of Special Affairs gave us a mission. We came here as reinforcements.”
Ayrin scratched his chin as he smiled and continued, “What about you? I thought only the teams which entered the quarterfinals of the national tournament were allowed to participate in these missions. How come you all are here performing missions too?”
“Aren’t you looking down on us a little too much?” Nolan helplessly looked at Ayrin, “I am here because I have graduated and joined the Southam Demon Corp’s trainee team. Nathan is the same.”
“What about Sarina then?” Ayrin tirelessly continued to ask.
“You brat, can one not participate if they haven’t entered the quarterfinals?” Sarina also felt slightly aggrieved due to Ayrin’s questions as she annoyed replied, “I was suddenly transferred over.”
“Wait, all of the quarterfinal teams been sent over? The national tournament has called an intermission?”
“You guys didn’t know? Because of this great conflict, the tournament has changed some rules. The champion and runner-up will be decided based on the completion of missions here.”
“Black Necromancer Gaia, the Green Snake arcane team, Steel Ghost Angus… such a strong line up of opponents, yet they were able to defeat them. No wonder Sarina, Nolan, and Nathan lost to them during the competition.”
While Ayrin, Nolan, and the others busily chatted, the Shadowfiend Corps’ Demon Chaser arcane team briskly conversed with Zorn and the rest.
All of the team members, including their captain Zieg, had expressions of great disbelief as they watched Ayrin and Rinloran.
Many of the members of this arcane team were coincidentally from Silver Trout Academy. As they had fought Steel Ghost Angus in the past, they knew very well just how strong of an opponent he was.
“Just what is going on right now? Why was there such an offensive around this outpost?” Rui asked as he looked towards the white haired Zieg, who seemed to be the same height and age as him.
“According to the latest information, the Evil Dragon Followers are still not willing to give up their Fallen Shadow Valley. In the scheme of things, they are desperately trying to prevent us from launching an offensive against it.”
Zieg continued, “However, we have too many peak level arcane masters after joining hands with the Kingdom of Doa. In all the previous large-scale battles, they have suffered great losses. We believe that they, as they cannot compete with us, are enacting what they call “plan zero” and have split up into smaller groups of arcane teams and performing guerrilla tactics.”
“Although they are weaker, these tactics can allow them to achieve a certain effect and present them with the chances to kill quite a few arcane teams. However, it shouldn’t be enough to swing the tide, so why?” Rui responded after silently thinking to himself.
“Naturally.” Zieg nodded, “We believe there are two likely possibilities. First off, it’s possible that they have set up something special within Fallen Shadow Valley which must be kept, preventing them from giving it up. The other possibility is that they are trying to delay our assault on Fallen Shadow Valley to stall time for some of the thirteen bishops to return.”
After pausing for a slight moment, Zieg looked at Rui and Zorn and added, “If the first assumption is correct, then it is likely that this Fallen Shadow Valley has some relation to the Evil Dragon’s bloodline. Perhaps there is a shrine which allows the Evil Dragon Followers to obtain the Evil Dragon’s blood.”
“Or perhaps there is some special formation which can resurrect the Evil Dragon as rumored.” Although Rui’s expression didn’t change, his tone became colder as he replied to Zieg.
“Thus…” Zieg started speaking as he looked Rui in the eye, but then stopped as he turned his head and looked at Ayrin and Rinloran.
Rui calmly stared at Zieg, “What is it?”
“We were given another mission outside of helping transfer the injured and acting as reinforcements. The Office of Special Affairs has given a new mission to your Holy Dawn Academy team.”
Zieg awkwardly looked at Rui as he followed up, “Based on the Office of Special Affairs’ initial plans, this was to be your first real mission. When they told you to come here as support, they didn’t expect for such a large number of powerful enemies to attack.”
“There’s a new mission?” Ayrin abruptly exclaimed.
Although he had been busy chatting with Nolan and the others, his attention was fully diverted the moment he heard the words “new mission.”
“What? Did you think that we would be too exhausted and unable to carry out any more missions after that one battle?” As Ayrin stared down Zieg, another thought ran through his mind as he turned and looked at Rinloran before saying, “Don’t worry about Rinloran. When he came here, he already couldn’t move one arm. Although he now cannot move either arm, he can still fight just fine!”
“What a strong fighting intent… Ayrin really doesn’t know fear and danger.”
After hearing Ayrin’s words, everyone present was completely speechless.
“But…” Having never witnessed Ayrin’s fighting intent before, Zieg couldn’t help but open his mouth to reply.
“We will never give up until victory is achieved!”
The moment he heard the ‘but’ come forth from Zieg’s mouth, Ayrin had already interjected. “Although I do not know what Chris’ half of the team and Morgan’s squad are doing right now, I know that if they were in our shoes, they too wouldn’t give up.”
“What is the mission?” Rui straightforwardly asked as he looked at Zieg once more.
Because the situation was always changing during war, all missions were presented by the leading members of the Office of Special Affairs who were directly on the front lines of battle such as Zieg. Thus, there was no care for secrecy as a map was laid onto the ground.
“This is the approximate position of Fallen Shadow Valley,” Zieg said as he pointed towards one of the most prominent dark purple valleys on the map.
From his position beside the map, Ayrin could immediately see the countless interweaving red lines located densely around the valley.
“We call these the Paths of Evil,” Zieg explained as his finger landed directly atop one of the red lines. “These are the passageways which the Evil Dragon Followers normally take as they leave and enter Fallen Shadow Valley. Based on the information which we have gained so far, the two sides of these Paths of Evil are always either two cliff faces or lines of traps. Because these passages are also extremely narrow, only one arcane team can pass through them at a time, making them very unsuited for a sudden large-scale assault. Moreover, there are usually Evil Dragon Followers scattered throughout these passages acting as sentries. In a sense, this Fallen Shadow Valley is a giant labyrinth cave. The only way for us to assault it is to enter all the Paths of Evil at the same time. As of right now, the plan is to first try and seal all these Paths of Evil to prevent Evil Dragon Followers from entering and exiting the valley. This will isolate the valley and prevent them from obtaining supplies.”
“Your mission is to enter one of these Paths of Evil and block it.”
“This can basically be considered an outpost assault then?” Ayrin asked as he raised his head and looked at Zieg following his explanation. “Since they are competing with us, Dragon Breath Academy should have the same task?”
“I believe so. Each team will have raid a nearby Path of Evil,” Zieg replied with a nod.
“When?” Rui only said a single word as he raised his head.
“It is planned for five days from now. The current goal is to finish the encirclement of Fallen Shadow Valley within the next four days. This means that you all must reach this Path of Evil within these next four days.
“Four days?” Whereas Ayrin didn’t think much about it, Rui did as he slightly furrowed his brows.
“Yes. Considering the distance from here to Fallen Shadow Valley, even with four days, you will have to be moving at near full speed.” Zieg turned his head and looked at Ayrin as he continued in a serious manner, “Let me remind you that there is no one within the entire Doraster continent who has a complete and detailed map of the Southam Demon Forest. Although these simpler maps that we have make clear the number of mountains, valleys, rivers, and lakes and their positions, they do not note what beasts and monsters appear where. As you near the Path of Evil, there will be archers and warriors of the Evil Dragon Followers as well. There will be countless unforeseen dangers. This is by no means a simple task, even for the strongest arcane teams.”
“If it was some easily completed mission, then how would the winners and losers be decided?” Ayrin looked back at Zieg as he added, “Furthermore, if one doesn’t dare to execute a mission because of the danger, then can one still call themselves an arcane master?”
Zieg speechlessly stared at Ayrin for a long time.
“This fellow, he is truly an innate battlemaster!”
Nolan felt complex emotions surge through his mind as he watched Ayrin accept the mission. Taking a deep breath, he said, “Ayrin, I just have a single reminder for you, and that is to be cautious of Abel Academy should you come into conflict with them.”
“Be cautious of Abel Academy? What do you mean?” Ayrin asked blankly.
“There are bad rumors about them flying around. It’s said that they are not shy about resorting to underhanded methods, and have done so before in previous national tournaments,” Nolan whispered to Ayrin.
“Big Beard also seems to have also said something like that to me before,” Ayrin responded as his eyes widened and he scratched his chin.
“Big Beard?” Nolan and Sarina asked out of confusion.
“Winterfell Academy’s Rekai of course. How come you guys don’t know?” Ayrin surprisedly asked.
“… Although Rekai’s beard is quite a lot, his face is still young… how are we supposed to know you are talking about Rekai when all you say is Big Beard?” Nolan and Sarina felt very helpless.
“You all must be careful.”
Zieg turned towards Rui as he added, “Based on our sources, there is at least one of the thirteen bishops active within this part of the Southam Demon Forest, the Plague Bishop Ancenoli.”
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