"Yay! Sis Annie is amazing! Another baddie defeated!" cheered Innilis loudly.
Annelotte had already won two duels, this was her third. The first contender, Anbiras, could only endure five seconds before losing. Had it not been for the leading high-order magus's aid at the last second, he might've been killed.
The Anbiras's loss had rendered the Eye's men present speechless. He was a mid-order magus who had reached his level stage ten years ago. While he was probably unable to improve much in terms of stratum, his great experience being at his stage should've allowed him to overlook most other members of the Eye.
Yet, the girl didn't even look 20 but had managed to finish him off in five seconds. The Eye's members broke into cold sweat when they saw him lose. Even their leader wasn't confident he could do what the girl had done. Was she really only a 13th-stratum magus?
The group had no choice but to send multiple people after her at once. This time, she was fighting two mid-order magi.
"As you have might worthy of our admiration, we have chosen to send two comrades to fight you," was how one of the mid-order magi had explained it.
Annelotte looked at the two absentmindedly before saluting and starting the duel.
While the two mid-order magi were individually inferior to Anbiras, their numerical advantage made up for this particular shortcoming. They managed to withstand a minute against Annelotte before losing.
If Anbiras's loss was shocking, the two magi's sent the others into panic. Both were 13th-stratum magi, but they still lost in under a minute! Only Farsi, the guild's number-one genius, could possibly match her. But he was already dead.
How could such a terrifying, domineering might manifest in an unheard of girl? Were the guild's talent scouts all blind? Surely they had some information on an awesome genius-girl like her! The guild knew virtually nothing about her!
After witnessing her shocking talent, the high-order magus steeled himself to capture her. But to protect the honor of the guild, he didn't order his subordinates to attack all at once. They prepared for the next duel and sent four people to fight her this time.
They were two 13th-stratum magi and two 12th-stratum warriors. Such a formation would give even the high-order magus a headache if he were to face it. But the girl was expressionless and saluted before beginning.
Though it seemed she hadn't used the full extent of her abilities in the last two duels, the shameless group attack managed to suppress her to some degree. The four attackers regarded her cautiously, they only struck when they were confident, they didn't dare take the slightest risk. Annelotte couldn't gain the upper hand despite clashing with them for more than ten minutes. As time passed, her mana and stamina were being expended much faster than her opponents.
Having no other choice, Annelotte could only rely on her gift. She managed to catch her four opponents off guard by utilizing both Glacial Domain and Glacial conversion. As there were too many people in the fight, the high-order magus couldn't pay attention to one unfortunate warrior, who was killed by Annelotte's glacial fireball. The three others were injured to varying degrees.
Annelotte had emerged victorious in the third duel as well.
Though it was an incredible feat, there was no joy on her face. There was still a large group of Eye members and her mana was close to dry. Putting aside facing the group, she wasn't even confident she could take on another two mid-order magi.
The spectating Innilis was ignorant of this. She just knew Annelotte had defeated all the enemies sent her way. She couldn't be happier.
"A water swayer!" called one of the magi.
Only then did the rest become aware of her unique qualities.
No wonder her talent is so shocking! No wonder she's so terrifying. We couldn't recognize the last few spells she used either! It all makes sense if she's a water swayer! The last few spells weren't just that; they had a hint of the gift in them!
At that moment, they all shot Annelotte gazes of envy and jealousy. The strength of the aspect-ability users, more commonly known as the gifted, were without question. Not only did they have unpredictable gifts, almost all of them showed staggering natural ability! As long as they had enough time, they could become high-order experts! It probably wasn't hard for them to become saints or myths either!
The leader was also shocked by the water swayer and couldn't help but feel appreciative of his luck. If he could capture a gifted, regardless of whether the guild could use her, it would be a great achievement. In that case, what use was there for honor?
"Everyone, attack!" ordered he.
"Trust me, you don't want to give that order," a voice suddenly said.
He could feel a chill run down his spine.
"Big Bro Leguna!"
Innilis started cheering. Though the girl considered Annelotte an amazing person, Leguna was the one she trusted wholeheartedly. She was convinced that as long as Leguna was there all problems would fade away.
Daver's last words had cast a foreboding veil on Leguna's mind. Just like the one he felt the night Jaehart's family was attacked. He'd rushed back through the night without rest and finally made it just before it was too late.
The strong magical glow Annelotte's battle emanated had drawn his attention. He had been observing the situation quietly. Though it didn't look well, Leguna was unnoticed. Should he apprehend the leader, there was a chance he could turn this around. It had to be said that, while his gift, Enhanced Stealth, felt a little underwhelming, it was actually a really terrifying aspect ability. An 11th-stratum assassin like him would never be able to approach someone on the level of a high-order magus otherwise. But thanks to Enhanced Stealth, he could.
Currently, Lighteater was held tightly against the magus's throat. The moment he made any reckless move, Leguna would slit his throat.
"Have your subordinates discard their weapons and back off. Otherwise, your life is forfeit," said he coldly.
Both Leguna and Innilis believed victory was already within grasp, but Annelotte didn't. After all, she understood the world of magi far better. While holding a blade to the throat of a magus could work on those on the mid-order and below, it wouldn't end a high-order magi's resistance! But before Annelotte could warn him, the magus smiled mockingly and vanished.
It was a spellmutation technique: instant dictation. While the technique would increase one's mana consumption fourfold, it was the strongest spellmutation known to magi. All attack, defense, speed, and control was laughable before this technique. Speed was everything, and instant dictation was the ultimate expression of speed!
The high-order magus had relied on this horrifying spellmutation to dictate a blink spell and escape from Leguna's grasp. The young assassin was flabbergasted when he felt his left-hand grip loosening all of a sudden.
The magus reacted incredibly quickly. The moment he escaped Leguna's control, he sprinkled glitterdust immediately. The stealth of assassins was far too dangerous.
Leguna also promptly snapped out of his stupor when he was hit by the dust. Seeing that his decapitation attempt had failed, he passed through the group of magi with his ethereal footwork and quickly escaped to Annelotte's side.
All the Eye members had frozen when Leguna showed up. The girl before had already messed with them so badly, who knew how much damage the kid? So, they faced Leguna from a distance without rushing forward at the first moment.
"Where's Boss and Sis?" asked the kid.
The two's absence was a bad omen.
"They were captured. I couldn't save them but they're not currently in any mortal danger."
Leguna drew his weapon and prepared to fight.
Annelotte hurriedly stopped him.
"There's no point in rushing out now. They'll be fine. We'll figure out what to do after we escape!"
"Are you saying I should abandon them?!" Leguna glared at the girl furiously.
"No. We're not abandoning them. We're only making the most rational decision. Otherwise, we can't save her at all!" said she, keeping her eyes glued to Leguna's.
After a visible mental struggle, he grit his teeth.
"Fine. How should we leave? These bastards won't let us go easily."
"Attract their attention. I'll look for an opportunity and dictate a transference spell. Remember, come to my side instantly when I call out to you. You only have one second," said she in a hushed tone.
"I'll have to fight them first anyway, right? Just what I wanted!"
Leguna shot an insidious smile at the group not far away as both his eyes turned black. Shadow-aspect impetus surged out of his body before it returned.
Host of Darkness, activate!
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