The enemies had come swifter than they’d thought. No sooner had hoofbeats sounded in the distance, did strange noises start coming from the roof.
“Go, leave the rooms, go to the courtyard!” Trunks maintained a calm expression as he hefted a longsword and walked towards the courtyard with the manticore.
There was a wide courtyard in the middle of the storefront, with various large and small rooms around its perimeter. If the enemy attacked and pierced through the walls, and then used fire magic to set the rooms on fire, it would force Trunks and the others to be on the defensive.
In addition, Han Shuo had once told them after he’d painstakingly made his preparations that enormous danger lurked within the six pillars. But if they stood in certain positions next to the pillars, they wouldn’t be affected by the formation. The formation wasn’t active now, but once the six pillars were violently attacked, the formation would have a natural reaction even without Han Shuo’s orders.
“We’re not familiar with the things inside the courtyard, so let’s not make a thoughtless move unless we have to. If we really can’t defend ourselves, we’ll hit the pillars and then quickly hide into the six safe areas and gamble!” Emily said to the other three while she took out her staff and walked into the courtyard.
It’d been two days since Han Shuo had cast the “Canopy of Necromancy”, so there wasn’t much of an effect left from it now. The starry sparkles were like diamonds embedded in the night sky, and the light from the myriad actual stars in the sky added a few traces of scattered light in the night. The light was just enough for those in the courtyard to roughly make out their surroundings.
A sound suddenly howled through the air as a little bone dagger with a coldly flashing handle started traveling over the roof like a lost soul.
The howling from the little bone dagger ripped through the quiet of the night sky. Its gleam was particularly eye catching as it brought a cold, harsh presence of death. It flew over the tops of the roofs in a marvelous trail with no discernible pattern to it.
Several soft sounds echoed from the dark corners that the little bone knife flew past. Suddenly, agonized screams rang out from those hard to view corners. Three dark shadows then fell off from the roof into the courtyard in an exceedingly bedraggled manner.
Trunks and the others immediately knew what had happened when they saw this. When they saw three people lying on the ground not far from them, bleeding profusely, they didn’t even think before rushing up to finish them off.
The three on the ground had been struggling to their feet when they were laid back down in eternal slumber beneath Trunks and Phoebe’s two flashing swords.
The group looked in surprise towards Han Shuo’s room when the three were dead. They saw a corner lifted from the window blinds, and the whirling purple eye in the little skeleton’s left socket, sparkling with a sinister purple light. There seemed to be a purple ball of ghostly flame dancing around behind the window.
His sparkling clean hand bone waved continuously. The weaving bone dagger seemed to be manipulated by his hands as it danced around with no pattern whatsoever.
“Frightening little skeleton!” Trunks looked and couldn’t help but shake his head.
“Look over there!” Gilbert suddenly shouted out. The other three looked over accordingly and saw that three clouds of gray mist were floating out of the three would-be ambushers’ heads. The gray clouds seemed to be attracted by some sort of power as soon as they left their bodies and were soon absorbed by the two closest pillars.
“If I saw correctly, those three grey clouds were the souls of the three who’d just died. Ordinarily speaking, people’s souls return to the earth after they’ve died, and most people won’t be able to see them without the effects of magic!” As a dark archmage, Emily’s knowledge in this area was a bit more broad than others, and she explained to the rest with a furrowed brow.
“Then why can we see it, and why did the three pillars absorb the grey clouds?” Phoebe asked in bafflement.
Shaking her head with a wry smile, Emily turned to look at Han Shuo’s room. “How would I know the reason behind all this? If you want to understand everything, wait for him to wake up first. This courtyard is full of oddities, and it’s all his doing!”
“I don’t think I’d understand if he explained it either!” Phoebe was just as hard pressed to understand Han Shuo’s mysteriousness as Emily was. She shook her head ruefully after Emily’s words.
The little bone dagger was still twirling without rest as the four were chatting. The three who’d wanted to ambush them hadn’t even clearly taken in their surroundings before they were counter-ambushed, and died ignobly. This had been so unjust!
However, those three were just a scouting party. Although they had died, it didn’t affect the enemies in the rear.
When the dull hoofbeats suddenly quieted, Trunks and the others knew that the true battle was about to begin.
The little bone dagger’s howl suddenly grew more fierce. When the four looked over, the little bone dagger had already left the vicinity of the roof and was flying towards the sky in the distance. Two faint figures slowly became clear in the direction that the bone dagger was flying in. They seemed to be two masses of floating clouds in the starry night sky, being sent on their way by the wind.
“It’s two archmages, we need to be careful!” Emily started and issued a grave reminder.
A fiercely burning flame suddenly sprang up in front of the little bone dagger as soon as Emily had spoken. The dagger shone with even more of a cold light beneath the light of the fire, and it sent an eye piercing ray in all directions.
Several crossbow bolts suddenly came shooting from the front. Five had been shot out, but only one accurately connected with the little bone dagger. The whirling dagger was knocked off its path and dropped down, landing with a clank on the streets not too far away.
At that moment, the sound of the doors being broken down echoed as a fast patter of footsteps quickly approached. Roughly a dozen armored people immediately filled the courtyard, wielding all sorts of swords, spears, axes, and bows.
Two archmages floated down to the roofs. Now that the dagger was no longer a threat, they cast a cold eye down on the proceedings.
“Trunks, you’re here alright!” The cold voice of the fire archmage who’d saved Florida at the gates to the Valley of Sunshine last time sounded, one of the two standing on one of the rooftops.
“Andy you traitor, how dare you come see me. The old chief treated you well, and that staff in your hands was something that the old chief spent a great deal of money to get someone to refine for you. To think that you’d still be with that swine Florida after the old chief died!” Trunks pointed the longsword in his hand at Andy and hectored coldly.
“The old chief’s death was an accident. He died at the hands of robbers in the surrounding mountain ranges, and had nothing to do with Florida. You envied Florida sitting in the seat of the chief of the Rainbow Sickles, that’s why you’re framing him.” Andy looked disdainfully at Trunks and mocked him.
“I think that with your intelligence, you’ll be able to see what’s really going on here. I’ve come back this time to make sure all you traitors pay the price!”
Andy first laughed jeeringly and then looked at Trunks with a gaze full of pity. “Today is when you’ll die, you won’t have the chance to in the future!”
“Stop wasting time with him, Laureton’s men may show up at any time. We need to kill them immediately!” The other archmage who’d come with him said expressionlessly.
There was the emblem of lightning on this person’s magic robes. It looked like he was a thunder archmage. He seemed about 30 years old and had grey-brown locks. He was as thin as a bamboo pole as he paced back and forth on the roof.
“I know!” Andy said impatiently. He didn’t seem to have cordial relations with this thunder mage. He then cast a slightly odd look downwards and said with an equally odd tone, “Do it?!”
The enemies in the courtyard were comprised of swordsmen, knights, and archers. The weakest amongst them were sergeant knights or journeymen swordsmen. There was also one completely covered in a green robe, wearing a pointy hat. His features couldn’t be made out in the darkness, but there was an enormous presence from him.
Andy had been looking and not really looking at this person when he spoke earlier. His tone didn’t sound like he was giving an order, but more like he was asking his elder’s opinion.
When Andy’s question concluded, this person suddenly moved as an enormous, harsh silver sword aura suddenly emanated from his body.
As he moved and the harsh sword aura cut through the air, the pointy hat on his head flew backwards, revealing a face that Emily and Phoebe were very familiar with.
“Gabriel, it’s you!” Emily couldn’t help but cry out in surprise.
Gabriel was Clark’s master and possessed the extraordinary strength of a great swordmaster. He was Bob Ascher’s right hand man, but had popped up here instead!