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Chapter 25 - Battle

The five warriors from the Temple of Time immediately complied with the order, keeling and placing their hands behind their heads in surrender. They were just soldiers following orders; there was no way they would resist the Immortal Crusade!

Ascender Horned-Dragon, however, was as decisive to attack as he was to flee. He immediately turned back and teleported away, reappearing a hundred meters away!

His mage lackeys did the same, each one of them turning a different direction before teleporting. Or at least, they tried.

When the Ascender left, the Crusader Eminence reacted with lightning reflexes. She cast a spell to lock the space around her, preventing all teleports from happening.

"For resisting rightful imprisonment by the Immortal Crusade, you're all deemed traitors of humankind. Your lives are to be relinquished at once!" She yelled and all nineteen people under her command moved into a formation.

Maybe those four Eminences might have been reasoned with before, but when the Crusader declared then guilty, it made them even keener on fighting back or running away. They immediately raised magical shields around themselves, orbs materialized on their hands, and cast different spells.

Three balls of lightning appeared in front of one of them, with lightning moving between the balls, forming a triangle. Then, the lightning turned into a circle and the three balls released lighting that met in the center of the circle, like a satellite antenna. Following that, the ball in the center shot lightning towards Lamia's troops.

The second Eminence shot a cone of fire directly ahead of it.

The third Eminence focused on attacking the space lock using invisible space blades that Aaron could only feel but not see.

The fourth Eminence created an ice wall around the four of them. The thick wall stood between the first two Eminences and their spells, but it didn't hinder their spellcasting at all.

Fire and lightning attacked the Crusader Eminence, the four Champions, and the ten Notable warriors. The Crusader Eminence created a wide mana barrier to protect all of them, while the Champions revealed their enchanted weapons, all of them swords with gems, and pointed them ahead.

Every single sword shot Pure mana at the mana shield to strengthen it. It was the attack of two Eminences against another Eminence and a few Champions, so the two Eminences from the Temple of Light obviously held the upper hand. The warriors just stood ready to charge ahead or run away the moment they were ordered to do so.

While the Crusader Eminence was being bombarded by fire and lightning, she was also creating big ice spikes above her head, readying them to shoot at her enemies, all the while also maintaining the spatial lock around the Prophetesses' mages.

Aaron and his group were being protected by the mana shield. He shook his head and sighed. "They look like bulls, stupidly using their heads to hit each other."

His three companions looked disbelievingly at him.

This was an incredibly dangerous fight that might be decided in a single instant and spell doom for them! The sheer amount of mana being used was corroding the stone tiles of the road, distorting the air around the battle, even cracking the walls of the nearby structures! People were running screaming on the street and sirens were resounding all around the city, alerting everyone to hide in their houses because a formidable enemy had invaded!

And Aaron considered it... Stupid?

He looked at Mark and Sara. "Look at them," he said with a condescending tone. "They have so much power that they get drunk in it. Their arrogance makes them unable to use more effective tactics to deal with their enemies. I bet if I explained to them how a simple earth-element spell could shake the ground and destabilize their opponents' spellcasting, thus granting them victory, they would vomit some lines about a mage's pride or something as useless as that. I wonder who benefits by keeping the mages so useless in combat." He sighed again. "Learn well, you two. When your life is on the line, there's only victory or defeat, the means don't matter. It's better to be a dishonored living than an honorable corpse."

Done with his speech, he acted. The four Eminences had attacked in a way that would take Aaron's life if the Crusader Eminence hadn't acted to protect him.

It was time for payback.

Myriad Arts — Spellcasting, Formation Mastery — Quad Elements: Earth, Space, Soul, Metal — Legendary Precise Earth-Space Spikes!

Mana flowed from his body into the ground, traveled ahead and appeared underneath the four Eminences, who had simply not safeguarded the very ground they stood upon. Earth, strengthened by space mana, rose from beneath the stone road and shot towards the groins of the mages. Soul mana and metal mana analyzed and searched for openings in the metal armor while tiny spikes appeared from the big earth spikes, going directly for the openings that were found!

The armors weren't just for show and mana shields automatically appeared around them, protecting the weaknesses. But then, the spikes analyzed the mana shields themselves, which were made from formations and attacked the weak parts of them!

Multiple big earth spikes appeared beside the first ones and soon, beneath and around each Eminence, there was at least eight big spikes, each one of them serving as the base from which the smaller, more precise spikes were created.

The lightning Eminence's armor was the worst. Its mana shield was easily burst by the spikes, which then found an opening on the armor itself, shooting directly at the man's groin. Once the spikes tasted flesh, they kept increasing and reproducing inside the man's armor and body! The soul mana of the spell also started attacking his soul, while the metal mana used the very metal of his blood to attack his arteries and destroy him from the inside!

Strictly speaking, Aaron shouldn't be able to attack an Eminence from the inside due to their soul resistance but there was always an exception, else mages would be nigh unbeatable even by others at the same level.

When casting a spell, mages drew the signature inside their soul. As soon as the spell flared to light, it naturally required the soul to resist its power until the spell was released. It usually wasn't an issue because the spell wasn't targeted at the mages' own souls and so they weren't that damaging. Even Aaron's most self-damaging level 7 spell would only use about eighty or so percent of a grade 7 soul resistance.

However, it still used some of the soul's resistance capabilities and, more importantly, it made the soul slower to resist attacks. The stronger the spell the mage was casting, the more vulnerable he became.

Not only that, but Aaron was also using a dual attack, targeting both body and soul, to further overwhelm the man's soul and make it slower to resist.

It started a snowball effect and if by the time the man tried to use a spell to actively resist those attacks, it was too late. He died just like that.

Aaron considered the armor of the lightning Eminence the worst because it still had defensive capabilities. However, unbelievably, the armor wore by the one responsible for attacking the spatial barrier was literally just for show.

Except for the mana shield it created, which was a level 3 formation and easily overcome, it had no magical formations at all! It was there for intimidation purposes only. Aaron's earth spikes directly pierced the armor like paper, going all the way through the man, coming out from his head.

The Eminence responsible for the fire attack had the best armor and its mana shield resisted without a scratch.

As for the Eminence responsible for the ice wall, his armor had one of the stupidest designs Aaron had ever seen.

Magical armors were usually linked to the mage's mana pool and it was obvious that safeguards had to be put in place to avoid it taking too much mana from the mage. The man's armor, however, had no such safeguard and the magical formations in it consumed so much mana that he soon found his mana pool emptying at a ridiculously fast pace.

Mere seconds after the spikes assaulted his mana shield, he found himself with less than half his mana! He wisely stopped concentrating on the ice wall, focusing instead on the spikes, using ice to freeze them in place.

The Crusader Eminence felt the ice wall weakening at the same time the lightning stopped coming, even though she couldn't see why. She immediately shot her two already formed ice spikes at the wall, which broke in smithereens; since the wall wasn't being actively kept by a mage, it had become just common ice, which was easily destroyed by the mana infused ice spikes shot by the Crusader.

Seeing the ice wall breaking, she started shooting more ice spikes while keeping some mana going into the mana shield around her, but just barely enough that it could hold against the fire cone when merged with the Champions' mana.

The fire Eminence stopped using his cone and created a fire wall to protect himself and his companions instead. That's when he suddenly realized that two of them were already dead and the remaining one... Where had all his mana gone to?!

Indeed, the ice wall Eminence had already lost most of his mana. The earth spikes attacking him were easily frozen, but more spikes simply came from the ground around the frozen ones. In the end, he decided to freeze the entire area, but due to his lack of experience, he simply forgot to step up as he did it.

Due to that, he failed to create an ice barrier between his armored feet and the ground. He didn't even think about floating! As such, the earth directly below his feet kept attacking his mana shield and consuming his mana.

Not sure of what was happening or what he should do, he started taking out mana crystals to refill his lost mana, but the rate of absorption from the crystal wasn't near enough to make up for the rate of consumption of his mana pool. Without any choice, he took out his last resort, a formation plate. It was a small metal disk with an inscribed formation that could be easily activated by inserting mana.

He used what mana he had to activate the formation. It formed a strong mana shield around him, then his body shot away from there at a fast speed, almost as fast as lightning.

Magical formations were the best way to bypass the level requirements for spells. As long as mana was provided, the formation would activate, regardless of the mage's level. The formation he had just activated contained a grade 9 spell, something only an Ascender should be able to use!

Indeed, he managed to shoot through the spatial barrier as if it wasn't there but after mere fifty meters or so, his body dropped unconscious on the ground, completely devoid of mana. He had been too green behind the ears and too slow to use the plate.

Finally, the fire Eminence found himself alone, fighting against another Eminence and four Champions. He didn't even consider surrendering, for once the Immortal Crusade called upon someone's execution, that person would be killed on sight!

He, too, took out a formation plate and activated it. He was much more successful though, as his body shot away at fast speed, disappearing from everyone's sight in a few moments.

Although intense, the entire fight had taken less than a minute.

And then, came the silence.

Seeing there was easy loot to be had, Aaron acted quickly. His earth spikes moved inside the armors and took away the three Eminence's spatial rings. He discretely moved them underground and took them without anyone noticing.

He would love to also take their orbs and armors but when the Immortal Crusade marked someone, all their belongings were supposed to be turned to the Immortal Crusade. He wouldn't push his luck even though they were technically his kills.

Suddenly, Helina seemed to awake from her daze. She had never imagined the Temple of Time would attack the Immortal Crusade like that! And then, when she saw the first Eminence die, she had lost herself.

Now though, seeing the three dead Eminences, she screamed. "No!" She put her hands to her head. "No, no, no!" She crossed her arms, hugging herself. "Nooo!" She crouched in a fetal position.

Aaron looked at her with pity. Her whole life had been controlled by the Temple. Now, people from that organization had branded her traitor, had come to kill her, then died like that.

Worse still, they were in the wrong for attacking Lamia's troops without warning, then resisting the order to surrender when it was revealed that the woman was a Crusader, and even going as far as attacking the Immortal Crusade after that!

There was no doubt about the Temple of Time being the bad guys in this instance, which was a heavy blow for her.

"Well," he said to Mark and Sara. "That was a nice lesson for you. During your battles, be completely aware of your surroundings, since you never know where an attack is coming from. Let's go. Helina, come, too."

He called her out of pity. She should be given at least a night to recover before having to fight the Temple of Time again.

Aaron turned to leave. Sara and Mark, as bewildered as they seemed to always be around Aaron, followed him in deep thought.

The Immortal Crusade's Eminence seemed torn between following Aaron, stopping Aaron, hunting the fugitive mages, or dealing with the warriors who had surrendered. In the end, she ordered her subordinates to imprison the warriors and await reinforcements while she accompanied Aaron.

"Don't you have to wait for reinforcements or something?" Aaron asked with a light tone.

Her helmet opened by itself to reveal her face. It was disrespectful to hide one's face during a talk if there was no enmity between the parties. "I respectfully remind you that you have no business in telling the Immortal Crusade how to deal with its own matters."

"Sweet words," he replied sarcastically. "You know my name, what's yours?"

"You may call me Shadow One," she said.

"Sweet name, too," he said with a laugh. "So, tell me, Miss Shadow One. Are you going to attack me, or not?"

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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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