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Chapter 12 - Ambush

Sara only laughed anxiously. "Leave? And go where? Back to the family, so I can tell Ancestor Quasi-Overlord Firestar how I disobeyed his orders and tried to kill you on the very first day of our journey? Or maybe I should try to run from the royal family in their own country, ignoring that they have eyes and ears everywhere?"

Aaron shrugged. "I didn't ask about your difficulties. You brought this upon yourself; you'll get no sympathy from me." He lied. "My question was simple: are you coming or not?"

"I'm coming, of course," she said. "But I'll try to kill you at the first opportunity! You won't corrupt me, demon."

He nodded. "You can drive the carriage until Mark awakens, then." He walked to the vehicle but stopped at the door to look at her. "But make no mistake, Sara. If you try to kill me again and fail, I'll kill you. Also, if you slow the carriage on purpose or bring it out of the right course, I'll ditch you and leave you to your own luck."

With that, he entered the carriage, closing the door behind his back. Once inside, he put Sara in the back of his head and resumed his musings about mana and magic.

 


 

Sara was thoughtful as she stepped on the driver seat. She couldn't stop thinking about how he hadn't killed her.

She knew demons were cunning and their ploys ran deep but even the most merciful mage would never forgive someone who had tried to go for his life like that. Even if he killed her, it wouldn't be considered evidence against him!

Moreover, despite being cunning, demons were also a proud race. He had said that killing demons is good any day, something no demon had ever said. The great human sages believed that it was because if demons went back to the Depths having said something against their race, things would get very unpleasant for them.

And yet, maybe he was just such a powerful demon that he didn't have to worry about reprimands. That no matter what he said, he would still receive no harm because no one could do anything to him in the Depths.

Yes, that must be it! That had to be it! No other possibility could quench the hatred in her heart.

Steeling her heart against the demon's illusions, she took the reins and set the carriage on its course.

 


 

Aaron finally finished a spell he had been working on for a couple of days. It was his own version of the thing he missed the most: spiritual sense. By using Spiritual Energy, one could cover the surrounding area with a blanket of spiritual 'particles' and be aware of everything the blanket touched.

Sadly, both the Mana Sense that mages commonly used, and the spell he designed, Omnisense, required level 8 control, and thus the spell was a level 8 one. He couldn't use it before becoming an Eminence.

He sighed and looked through the window. It was nighttime already, but Mark was still sleeping and would do so for the next two days. The horses didn't stop running, nor would they. They had been magically enhanced and could run for a whole month without stopping.

Aaron wondered when the attack from the nearby countries would come. That was the whole reason he was in a shitty carriage without any bodyguards instead of taking a more expensive or secure means of transportation.

He had made himself a target too valuable and vulnerable to be ignored.

To begin with, there was the possibility of using him as a hostage for his captors to get one of their kids to be nominated in his place. Nominations for the scholarship were expensive goods and he was like a walking golden ticket.

Then again, the nearby countries might also consider a hostage situation too difficult to hide and just try to get him for his knowledge instead. The capabilities he had shown in the competition would tempt those who needed better magic.

Moreover, mortal enemies of the Valdian Kingdom who didn't want the Valdians to get a kid to be taught Three Towers might simply send an assassin.

Finally, anyone who wasn't poor enough to want his nomination, wasn't weak enough to want his knowledge, and wasn't desperate enough to weaken the Valdian Kingdom might still send people at him as a principle, just because he was too defenseless.

Whatever the reason that made him get attacked, people would do it regardless of the Asshats' orders or anger. But exactly because the Asshats would investigate, only disposable agents that couldn't be linked back to their senders would come.

Definitely, no Overlords would come, for they were too powerful and too rich to need to do anything to Aaron. No Ascender would come either, for they were too valuable a resource in the nearby countries. As for Eminences, maybe a few might be sent by a slightly more powerful nation than the Valdian Kingdom. But the bulk of his attacks would be from Champions and those below.

Aaron loved this part of his plan.

By killing his attackers, he would weaken whoever had sent them, even if just by a little. If too many countries sent attackers and he managed to kill them all, the power balance in the entire region would tip in favor of the Valdian Kingdom, which was part of the reason he was doing things like this.

And another more important part of the reason was that blood was pumped at the idea of getting a proper fight.

No one could reach the top of the world without struggling, not even him! If he couldn't fight his way out of the incoming battle, he would have no business thinking about saving the universe itself in the future.

He waited anxiously for the violence that would soon come.

 


 

Eleanor's mission was simple: capture the boy before the Crusade had a chance to get to him. He was supposedly a Champion Mage in his own right, a genius at that. He was also only twelve years old.

"Fucking waste of my fucking time," Number Two, a bald Champion Mage, said.

"I feel you, my man," Number Three, a middle-aged Champion Mage, replied.

Eleanor, who was Number One, mentally agreed with them. Furthermore, while the two of them were only wasting their time, she was also being humiliated. She, an Eminence, had been sent to capture a kid!

Worse still, she would likely be disposed of after the operation was complete. And since she had been commanded by using her true name, there was nothing she could do about it other than obey.

Even so, she had her pride and was trying to decide if she should feel happy for the company of the Champions in her last moments or feel further humiliated for nine mages being sent with her as if she wasn't enough.

Eleanor finished searching one of the fifteen corpses on the ground. Well, at least Number Four to Number Ten had been useful as cannon fodder to get rid of the competition. It felt like everyone wanted a chunk of the boy. Even the families, clans, groups, and lone mages who should be too weak to face the Valdian Family had come just because the boy was so poorly protected.

And that was the icing on the cake of her humiliation. She was protecting the boy for the Valdian Family before she could capture him. It made her feel absolutely furious!

Suddenly, she felt a carriage enter the area covered by her Mana Sense, about two thousand legs away. She could vaguely tell that there were two mages at about the Champion level and a klutz at the border of the area she could feel. It might or might not be the boy's group, who could have gotten rid of the warrior in favor of the klutz for some reason.

Anyway, she would have to check. She had nothing better to do anyway.

"We're moving," she ordered as she started walking to intercept the vehicle.

Number Two spat on the ground. "Fucking waste of time," he repeated.

 


 

It was the fifth day of travel. Mark was driving the carriage again, and Sara had chosen to stay outside with him instead of inside with Aaron.

Aaron didn't care either way. He was focusing on his own improvement when he felt the ambient mana becoming just a bit denser than it should and way too uniform. Mana density wasn't always the same in all places, differing slightly every few tens of meters.

It could only mean that either a formation or a spell was affecting the area. It could be something as simple as a mage's Mana Sense or a much more complex trap.

"Stop the carriage," he ordered and left it as soon as they obeyed. "Get to the side, duck, and do nothing," he said while climbing over the carriage with a levitation spell.

They were in a huge plain, he could see far and wide, and yet, there was no one to be seen. But he trusted his mana sensitivity though and wouldn't just accept what his eyes were seeing without even double-checking.

Myriad Arts — Spellcasting — Single Element: Space — Seventh Spatial Wave!

All around him, space distorted, looking like a wave as it expanded in all directions. The wave eventually passed through an area that seemed empty, but the outlines of three people appeared for a split second. They were about nine hundred meters away from him.

They might not be enemies but no person with good intentions would approach in stealth and keep it up without providing explanations even after being detected.

Aaron smiled. Fun had finally arrived!

Since they were nice enough to come to him, he would do the honors of opening the festivities.

Myriad Arts — Spellcasting — Quad Elements: Fire, Earth, Air, Gravity — Seventh Meteor!

From the ground around Aaron, Sara, and Mark, the soil flew upwards like multiple streams of earth. The stream increased in speed and size until big chunks of earth came out of the ground too. The streams converged into a big deformed mass way above Aaron.

A huge stream of flames seemed to come out of his body and fly directly at the mass of earth, filling all empty space, melting some rocks and wrapping everything into a ball of fire and lava.

Before the attack even completed, the devastation on the ground was already huge since the 'meteor' had about a hundred meters in diameter. The process took about ten seconds, during with the previously invisible people left stealth and magically raised the ground to create shields to protect themselves.

They still hadn't tried to talk, which made Aaron sure that they were enemies. He silently thanked them for the opportunity to fight.

He calculated that their small earth burrows, which contained some elemental mana beyond Earth mana to them that he couldn't feel with precision on this distance, should be about enough to protect them from his meteor.

It was a big letdown. He wanted a more exciting battle than that! So, he increased the stakes.

Myriad Arts — Spellcasting — Quad Elements: Fire, Earth, Wind, Gravity — Seventh Multiple Meteors!

Earth and fire moved, and two new meteors appeared on the sky. By now, Aaron was standing on a kind of pillar in the middle of a big crater.

The three meteors rose higher and higher but even so, they remained so hot that Aaron had to cast a cooling spell around Sara, Mark, and himself to not burn to death!

Meanwhile, the defenses from the three people remained the same. That was stupid on their part, making Aaron suspect foul play. They might be moving underground, leaving the burrows behind as a distraction.

Myriad Arts — Spellcasting — Single Element: Earth — Seventh Geoscan!

Small tremors left his feet, covering the entire region, magic converting whatever information the tremors brought back to something he could understand, almost like how bats did. As he suspected, he found that one of the mages had burrowed herself deeper into the ground than the others. She was done moving though, likely satisfied with how well protected she was that deep.

With a devious smile, he made the meteors fly even higher, so they would have a good distance to accelerate, then linked them to the three burrows using Gravity mana. When dealing with such huge masses, making them ignore inertia and move fast enough was the hardest thing, but he overcame it by increasing gravity between that place and the meteor by a hundred times!

That being said, the Meteors weren't the best way to attack, he was only using them to show weakness; they were too slow to cast and way too ineffective mana-cost-wise. Although, from what he was seeing from Mark and Sara's flabbergasted faces, opening the battle with three meteors might have been the wrong way of showing weakness.

But it was already done. The meteors started rotating fast. Pushed by the wind and pulled by gravity, they descended at a fast speed! One after the other, they shot towards the three burrows.

At the same time...

Myriad Arts — Spellcasting — Single Element: Earth — Seventh Pillar Sling!

From below the deeply-burrowed mage, earth rose at a ridiculously fast speed, shooting her upwards. The earth below her went through ground level and kept pushing, turning into a huge pillar that shot her into the air. A moment later, before she could do anything, she was hit by the incoming meteor.

The first meteor hit first the mage, then the ground with a huge explosion that made everything tremble. Despite the distance, fire and debris would hit Aaron and his two subordinates if not for a simple bluish mana shield that he erected around them.

The Meteor spell was not just a big ball of earth, fire, and molten rock, but it also had explosive properties!

The second meteor hit the ground and exploded while it was still under the effects of the first, a ball of fire covering the area and expanding to all sides. Its explosion fueled the first explosion, closely followed by the third meteor.

The scene in front of Aaron was apocalyptic. A fiery smoke mushroom rose to the sky and the shockwaves intensified so much that he had to add space element to the shield around him and his people.

Dust filled the place and for a few seconds, he could see nothing. Worried about the fog of war in the mid of a fight, he used the Clean spell.

This time, he added much more mana to the spell than when cleaning Mark. A strong wind left his body and instantly blew the dust away, revealing a huge crater filled with pockets of embers. Some of it alighted with fire again as the wind blew. The ground in the crater was so deformed that it was impossible to see anything in there, much less his enemies.

Aaron frowned. The Omnisense spell would be so useful to detect his enemies now! Alas, he had to find creative ways of doing so. In such a deformed ground, the Space Wave spell wouldn't do, for it wasn't flexible enough to move up or down after leaving his body. The ground was also too chaotic for the Geoscan spell to work. So, he went with a third spell.

Myriad Arts — Spellcasting — Dual Element: Wind, Water — Seventh Spying Drizzle!

Coming from his general direction, droplets of water appeared and covered the whole area around him, including the crater. It was like a very thin mist had appeared out of nowhere in the region. He could feel everything the water touched and was surprised to find only scattered limbs from all three enemies. Not even one of them had been able to adequately protect themselves from his weak opening!

Only one of them was still moving, surprisingly the woman he had shot at the meteor, but she had lost both legs, one arm, and was breathing with great difficulty.

Aaron's frown intensified. That was it? Was his fight already done?

"Don't move," he ordered Mark and Sara, placed a spatial shield around them, and went to check on his prey.

The moment he made his first step, he felt the woman's eyes widen and her head fall to the side. The mana disruption in the area disappeared at the same time, showing that its source had likely been her Mana Sense.

Aaron shook his head. How could she faint from fear after feeling his approach? He had only used three meteors!

What kind of weaklings were sent in black ops these days?

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A note from edwardcastle

Poor Aaron, unable to find people strong enough to serve as stepstones on his path to the top of the world.

There were some comments asking for more information about the world. Don't worry, we learn more about it next chapter (:

<3


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edwardcastle

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Bio: I'm Ed, a writer of GameLit. So far I have released only two books, but I'm working on increasing this number by tens! No, by hundreds! Maybe thousands! xP

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