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A year passed very quickly.
North of Silverymoon, in the enormous Moonwood. Gigantic trees which towered into the clouds hid the moonlight filtering through them. The still pitch-black surroundings filled one with a sense of foreboding.
A small squadron with both humans and elves wearing the uniform of Silverymoon city guards were now pushing their way through Moonwood without rest.
“It’s here!” The squadron leader, Aulen, parted a thick shrub and saw dark brown blood stains on the ground, with a grave look in her eyes.
“Leylin,” she turned and looked at the patrol wizard behind her.
Detect Evil! Leylin was currently clad in his wizard uniform, and looked very dignified and solemn with a mature air about him.
*Sss! Sss!* Black streams of air began to soar, centering on that particular area, before it pointed to somewhere in the distance.
“Stay vigilant!” Aulen said in a low voice, and at her call the others gripped their weapons tightly. Even Leylin had a very grave expression on his face.
It was because this place was the Moonwood! It was a dangerous place filled with werecreatures who believed in the god of the hunt, Malar. They had formed a powerful tribe called the Blackblood, and hated the civilised life of Silverymoon City.
The guard’s skirmishes with the werecreatures had turned to battles, and they had become the biggest complication apart from an invasion by Sunrise Mountain’s orc empire.
“I see you!” Aulen and the other members followed the spell guide to the entrance of a pitch-black mountain cave. Aulen quickly gestured to Leylin.
With the mutual understanding they’d developed over a period of time, Leylin nodded his head. The surrounding members involuntarily let out a breath of relief, and shortly after Leylin pointed towards the middle of the cave.
Light! A blindingly white light momentarily illuminated the area, and several crossbows with Spellslayer Arrow loaded were aimed there.
Under the brilliant light, they swept through the cave with a single glance. However, there was not a soul in sight apart from some ragged clothes and a human skeleton on the floor.
The clothes were severely damaged, and the style could be vaguely related to a city guard uniform. Several scraps were even found covered in mottled bloodstains which had turned dark brown.
“Kell Rosa. This is the missing bowman,” Aulen took out an emblem from the rags of clothes bearing the name, and although Leylin thought it looked like a dog tag, he pensively muttered, “This arrangement, is that the ritual of the god of the hunt? Those wretched werecreatures!”
The god of the hunt, Malar, was one whose name many were too scared to mention. Although he was a weaker god, he very much enjoyed slaughter. His believers were a bunch of savage werecreatures.
They were different from orcs in that werecreatures only retained part of their beastly characteristics, and they had some unknown hereditary disease. From Leylin’s view, they looked like the symptoms of genetic instability. It was rumoured that these werecreatures came from the laboratories of a wizard, and Leylin was in favour of this opinion.
The suffering that the werecreatures went through made their minds more prejudiced, and they were filled with hatred towards other living beings. As a result, they enjoyed slaughter, and they just so happened to hold the same view as the god of the hunt.
There was a chance that captured orcs could become slaves, but as for werecreatures, this was just a dream. Moonwood was the gathering place for the werecreatures, and they occupied the entire north of it. Blackblood was large enough to threaten Silverymoon.
The ruler of Silverymoon City, Lady Hope, due to her kind heart and other considerations, had once actively sent out bowmen in the hope of improving the lives of those residents of Moonwood, but they had frequently been attacked.
This Kell had been one of the unfortunate ones.
“Kell Rosa was a loyal, brave ranger. The suffering of the world can no longer tarnish your soul, may you go in peace to the kingdom of god…” Aulen prayed. Other than being a powerful ranger, she was also a cleric.
As Aulen prayed, Leylin and the other squadron members lowered their heads one after the other in tribute.
It was at this moment that Leylin’s eyes suddenly widened.
“Someone’s there!” The thief in their squadron was the second one to notice, and a dagger immediately flew into the shadows.
A dull whining sound came from the shadows like a wild animal’s growl, and the nearby tree leaves began to tremble.
“It’s a werecreature!” An armoured fighter went over to brush away what was obscuring the werecreature, and only saw a bloodstain. Still, the beast fur nearby was very conspicuous.
Those werecreatures had innately inherited some unknown disease, but at the same time they possessed tremendous life force and other strange abilities. It was rumoured they’d been created by a Legend.
“Our task was to search for them, not to kill! The werecreature must have gone to find its comrades, we must all leave for the time being,” Aulen held her elven rapier at her waist, but finally they left without a choice.
Playing hide and seek with the werecreatures in the Moonwood was something only an insane person would do. They were very good hunters, and with the advantage of being in their homeground, unless the entire main force came with high-ranked wizards as well as Legends to clear the path, they could push through the Moonwood.
Although Aulen and the others retreated very quickly, the werecreatures were soon about to overtake them.
The roars of wild animals came from all around them, and all the damned werecreatures hid in the shadows of the trees. All the squadron members had unsightly expressions on their faces.
“Damn! Leylin!” Aulen took off the longbow on her back and notched an arrow with a grey eagle feather to it.
“Mm. Enchant Weapon!” Leylin and Aulen had worked together many times, and they had established a deep rapport. A burst of magic spread across the arrowhead.
*Ss!* Elves were excellent at archery, and Aulen was a ranger. The minute she let go of the bowstring, a muffled grunt could be heard in the darkness and an enormous shadow fell from the branch. While a common arrow naturally would not penetrate the defenses of a werecreature, a magic arrow would have no problems doing so.
Enchant Weapon! Forcefield! Bull’s Strength! With Leylin’s tireless actions, many of the squadron members glowed with the light of amplification spells.
“Well done!” Aulen praised him. In reality, she had always been afraid that this new colleague would be haughty and arrogant because of his status as a genius wizard, and would not listen to her command. However, Leylin’s performance clearly exceeded her expectations.
Not only did he obediently obey orders, he even fit in very well with the other squadron members— he really did not seem like a wizard at all!
‘Perhaps after we return, Leylin’s titles should be changed… With Leylin’s qualifications and contributions, he might be promoted this month,’ Aulen thought to herself, but afterwards pushed the matter to the back of her mind. No matter how much she thought about it, they had to make it out alive before they had the privilege of enjoying promotions.
“Kill them!” A jarring sound of metal scraping against metal came from the darkness, and the surrounding werecreatures seemed to go mad as they charged towards Leylin.
“Follow me, we need to break out of this!” Aulen gritted her teeth, and the bow and arrow in her grasp shot out arrow after arrow. Once done, she tossed the bow away and replaced it with a slender rapier that had been hanging at her waist.
As a patrol wizard, Leylin was protected at the centre of their formation, and did not suffer any injuries.
‘In battle, a wizard’s spell slots should be used to serve their comrades. However, a wizard’s spell slots are limited, and so they must leave their own safety in the hands of their teammates. In this situation, unless they were good friends who would give their lives in return, it would be almost impossible for them to remain on good terms with one another.’
“I’m almost out of spell slots!” He shouted gravely, but in reality he was lying. Whether it was spiritual force which would allow him to directly use the first few ranks of spells or the Ring of Wizardry, Leylin still retained a great deal of power. However, he had to keep it a secret.
“How many spell slots do you have remaining?” Aulen looked at Leylin anxiously. At the moment, she did not have the time to even wipe the traces of blood off her face. She no longer had the grace and elegance of an elf.
Without the support of spells, they basically could not break through the siege of these werecreatures.
“I still have Cloudkill, and I only have rank 1 and rank 0 cantrips left,” Leylin replied with a solemn expression on his face, “In this forest, I don’t have the ability to meditate and recover.”
“Damn! Everyone, immediately break through the siege and run for your lives. Whoever can make it out will make it. Leylin, follow me and immediately cast your spells once most of the others have left!”
Aulen had another cleric in her squadron. Jinx’s palm lit up radiantly with a divine spell. Although Aulen’s rank as a cleric was very low, the divine spells of a cleric did not require spiritual force and mana. One only needed to pray every day to obtain divine spell slots, and it could be considered very convenient.
After several healing spells, the other fighters all seemed to have recovered their vitality one after the other. Even the small wounds they had accrued on their bodies seemed to have been restored.
With this power, Aulen and the others finally broke through the tight encirclement.
“Now!” Aulen roared.
Cloudkill! Leylin pointed behind his back, and the terrifying Cloudkill dispersed, engulfing all the werecreatures within it.
“Let’s go!” The other fortunate people began to summon up their courage one after the other in the hope of making it out alive, and followed behind Aulen.
“We’ve finally made it out!” Aulen looked at the scattered squadron members behind her back with an expression of hatred.
“Those damned werecreatures, they’ve been acting up more and more frequently these days… Leylin, our escape is all thanks to you. Your spells were fully put to use and very precise, and I will include this in the report.”
Aulen looked at the distant silhouette of Moonwood with a heavy expression in her eyes. Once she turned away from it however, her expression had changed completely. “Now, let’s go home!”
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