"Two," murmured Five.
As soon as he saw that name, he immediately realized that he was in danger. It could have just been a pure coincidence but the fact that his name was a number highly raised Five's suspicions. After all, wasn't he given his own name by Gaia as he was a prisoner before coming here?
It was very likely that Two was also named by Gaia and more importantly, he could also be a dungeon master. Although they could be considered as fellow players, dungeon masters were always competing against each other.
The name first raised a flag but now that all the church's executioners' attention was directed at him, Five could not help but feel that he was being targeted. From the moment he had learned that dungeon cores could consume each other to evolve, Five had known that dungeon masters would eventually fight each other. It was just that he did not expect it to happen so early.
Dying now would not cause a lot of damage to the dungeon but Ariel was also present and compared to Five, she did not have the ability to revive.
Five was not certain that Two was a dungeon master since a lot of players was also present among the church's executioners. However, if he was just a regular player, why would he target him like that?
"Two... Now that I think about it... He is probably a real criminal... And he is coming for me..." said Five to himself.
"Are you certain he is one of them?"
"Certain! The pendant given by the Cardinal cannot lie. This man is a devil's envoy and that woman is not even human. I don't know how but they are able to hide their true identity but thankfully, we have the pendant, or we would have been deceived!"
The priest frowned as he whispered to Two. He has observed the barbarians several times during their conversation but even then, he failed to notice the dungeon master hiding among them.
"Wait a minute! There is one more thing I would like to ask for!" said the priest as he turned his attention to the barbarian representatives.
"What is it?"
The priest slowly raised his finger and pointed it at Five and Ariel. "Hand over this man and woman to us! We highly suspect they are the devil's envoy! If they are innocent, we will not harm them but if it turns out to be true..."
Immediately, all the barbarians stared at Five and Ariel. It was already uncomfortable when all the knights and the church executioners were staring at him but now, even the barbarians were doing so.
"Wow wow wow, calm down for a minute. What is happening here? This young man is a guest of my tribe, please explain the situation clearly!"
Among the barbarian representatives, Baltra was the first to react. He stood between Five and the priest as he spoke. In the end, Five had been brought here by him; he could not remain silent. However, despite his worried look, Baltra was internally smiling. 'I thought I would need to bring the group to hunt a pack of beasts to complete the Shaman's task but it seems that I won't need to anymore!'
"That person is not a barbarian, right? I suspect he is affiliated with the demons! One of our detectors reacted to this man and that woman. However, we understand that our detectors are not perfect and this whole situation might just be a misunderstanding. Please allow us to make a simple test. He is not from your tribe anyway; in exchange for your trouble, I will add 2000 gold worth of resources to what we owe you!"
When he heard the priest speak, Five instinctively took a step back. The situation did not look good. He did not know how much information Baltra had. If he was in his place, he would have already agreed to the deal. After all, the church would technically soon get rid of the dungeon for them. The barbarians could afford to offend him since according to the church, there was a high chance he would completely disappear in a few days. The 2000 gold was the cherry on top.
Five could feel the stares of the barbarians on his back. He had made a huge mistake by walking closer to the meeting point to overhear their conversation. Now, there was no clear escape path. When he looked at the black iron Tribe members, all he saw in their eyes was surprise, anger, and pity. Even Karv who befriended him earlier no longer had his usual welcoming appearance; there was no hostility in his eyes but it seemed that he would prefer to keep his distance.
Baltra frowned and appeared conflicted. He was naturally going to accept the priest's offer but at the same time, he was looking for a way to appear innocent. He wanted Five to believe he was truly on his side and that he was being forced to agree.
However, before he could say anything, another person stepped forward a loudly spoke: "Enough! We already agreed to allow your church's army on our territory. Don't ask for too much. These two are our guests and I personally promised that nothing would happen to them when they joined this expedition."
"So unless you are prepared to fight all of us, you should give up on this idea," the man spoke with a clear voice without looking at Five. Unexpectedly, the person who sided with Five was none other than the Wandering Ram Tribe leader. Five never expected such a thing to happen; based on what he had observed, he thought that the Wandering Ram Tribe leader would not move unless the border was threatened but against all the odds, he was the only one to speak for him in this situation.
The barbarians were surprised by the Wandering Ram Tribe leader's action but none of them spoke. Regardless of what that man wanted to do, they could only side with him.
The Knights of the church and the priest frowned. After a few seconds of silence, the latter finally said, "Alright, if you refuse, there is nothing you can do. Then, I will sincerely apologize..."
As he spoke, the priest slowly turned toward the Wandering Ram Tribe leader and to everyone's surprise, he deeply bowed. In everyone's eyes, the priest was sincerely taking a step back, admitting his mistake and apologizing. However, as his face was now out of view, no one noticed the wide grin appearing on his face. 'Since that's the case, you can only blame yourself for being suspicious! The pendant cannot lie. At the very least, you must have had some sort of contact with the devils. You think you are safe because that old man is vouching for you? Let's see what he'll say next. There has never been a need to argue over a dead body!'
Five had been anxiously looking at the scene. He was confused. Why did the Wandering Ram Tribe leader help him? Was it really because he had previously promised that nothing would happen to him on this expedition? Five highly doubted so.
Although Five found the Wandering Ram Tribe leader's behavior suspicious, he chose to remain silent and go with the flow. At least, it seemed that he would be able to return unscathed.
However, something felt wrong! The hostility directed at him did not decrease at all! The priest was still sincerely bowing but his killing intent did not disappear.
"Now that I think about it, he has been bowing for a strangely long time, hasn't he?" said Five to himself.
Ten seconds have passed since the priest bowed down to the Wandering Ram Tribe leader. A full ten seconds was an awfully long time for an apology bow. Even if the Wandering Ram Tribe leader did not say anything, the priest had no reason to continue to keep his head down.
Two seconds later, the priest finally raised his head back. However, to everyone's surprise, a long trail of blood was flowing from the corner of the priest's mouth. His eyes were wide open, staring in shock at the Wandering Ram Tribe leader. Nobody understood what was happening; a few seconds earlier, the priest had been calm and composed and yet, he now looked completely terrified. His hands were shaking as he was frantically looking around him as if he was looking for someone.
Despite their weak physical appearance and their reputation, priests were by no means disadvantaged compared to other classes. In the beginning, most of their skills were centered around supporting teammates but after advancing classes, a plethora of offensive skills was opened to them.
It was especially true for the priest who was actually a level 49 Sacred Priest. [Mind Blast] was one of those offensive skills. It did not have a cast time and more importantly, it could be secretly cast without anyone noticing. It only dealt a modest 200 damage which could be considered quite low for a skill of its level but in the priest's opinion, it was more than enough to get rid of someone at level 18.
The priest's mission was simply to get rid of all evils and since Five had been flagged as someone siding with the devil, there was no way he was going to get away.
As soon as he deeply bowed, the priest immediately activated his skill. [Mind Blast] had the special property of being almost undetectable and impossible to dodge. It did not have any animation and could instantly strike the target's soul. For the same reason, it could not be physically dodged and could only be blocked by special shields.
With the skill activated, the priest kept his head down and waited. He was waiting for a scream or even just the sound of a body falling. If he remained in this position, no one would suspect him as [Mind Blast] was a hard skill to identify. Ideally, Five would simply die on the spot and the barbarians would be left to wonder what on earth has happened.
And so, the priest waited and waited. After 3 seconds had passed, still nothing happened. 'Strange, did I fail? There's no way for someone at level 18 to be able to survive my attack, especially after it is buffed by my Wisdom stat. Does he have a piece of special equipment protecting him against psychic attacks?'
'No, maybe I probably already fried his brain and he died while standing. That's why no one noticed anything yet,' exclaimed the priest to himself. Since he came up with a possible explanation, the priest readjusted his facial expression and prepared to raise his head but before he could move, a piercing painful feeling spread through his body, paralyzing him.
'What?? How is that possible??? This is the same feeling as a ... [Mind Blast]'
The priest was stunned. [Mind Blast] was a relatively rare skill. Not many people chose to become a priest and only a select few would choose the Sacred Priest as their advancement class. The priest crunched his teeth as he endured the pain of the skill. It was not the first time he was experiencing it and although his HP did drop to some extent, the priest was more concerned about how his skill has been used against him.
At that moment, a muffled voice spoke directly into his mind, "I knew the church was not as righteous as they appear to be, but I did not expect you to sneak attack an innocent like that. Don't you know the unspoken rule of not attacking someone 10 levels below you?"
"Who are you? What do you want? I am simply carrying my duty of cleansing the devil's envoy. I am sorry if I have offended you but please allow me to carry on with my task," said the priest in his mind.
Beads of sweat appeared on the priest's forehead. The fact that this mysterious individual could speak directly into his mind was a clear indication that he was an expert in psychic skills. [Telepathy] was another psychic skill but it could only be learned at level 60.
The muffled voice quietly laughed and answered, "You think I am stupid? I know very well that your pendant is currently transmitting our conversation to your superiors. Give up trying to learn my identity. Instead, you should think about yourself. I am curious about how they will react when witnessing your death. Before leaving, please tell that guy who is still hiding in the camp over there to come out and fight me if he is so curious about me."
"You've made a mistake by sneak attacking that guy. Such a pity... Another human life wasted like that. Since these are your last moments, I will let out experience what you could have become if you diligently trained. Let me show you a real [Mind Blast]."
When he heard the voice speak, the priest felt his scalp tingle. He knew his life was on the line. Someone that could easily reflect his [Mind Blast] was by no means a weakling. In desperation, the priest screamed in his mind, "Master! Help me! I have always been faithful to your teaching and obeyed your instructions! I only wanted to get rid of the devil for your own merits! Save me! Please!"
The priest knew he was not alone; someone was definitely listening to his pleas. It was his last chance, if the master hiding in the camp outside the Tolden Encampment made his move, no matter how strong the mysterious individual was, there was no way he would be able to survive the attack of the master.
However, the only answer he obtained was absolute silence. The next second, an intense feeling of pain flooded through his body. The pain was ten times worse than the previous one; the priest gnashed his teeth as he felt thousands of needles piercing through his mind. He could hear his soul screaming in pain.
Had it not been for his staff, the priest would have already fallen on the ground, but he did his best to stay immobile. Although the master did not make a move yet, deep inside, the priest was still hoping to be saved. 'The master must be making his move. I must hold on. Just a little more...'
The needles piercing his soul suddenly disappeared. The priest let out a sigh of relief but to his surprise, the pain did not stop. Instead, the pain only increased as his energy started to leak out of the holes left by the needles.
At that moment, the priest finally realized that he could no longer be safe. The pain only increased as more and more energy was drained. 'So this is the real [Mind Blast]... The real threat of the skill is not the initial damage dealt to the soul but rather the leaks it leaves behind afterwards... He must have leveled up his skill to at least level 5...'
At the rate the energy was leaving his body, the priest knew he only had a few more seconds to live. He hurriedly raised his head and looked around him, searching for either the mysterious individual that mortally injured him or the master of the church that could save him.
He desperately looked around him but all he saw was the confused looks of the church executioners and the barbarians. He wanted to scream to warn his subordinates of the existence of the mysterious individual but no matter how hard he tried to, his body did not respond to him anymore.
"Leader! Leader! Are you alright? What is happening?" the knights hurriedly asked as they noticed the priest's strange expression.
The closest knight dashed toward the priest, knocking away Two who was standing in the way. The knights stretch his arms to help the priest but as he got near, the priest's legs suddenly gave in.
The priest's body fell right into the knight's arms. His face was still displaying the terror and pain he went through during the last few seconds of his life.