“Alright, make sure to stick to the plan. If it works, we may have just hit the jackpot.” Conner said in a serious tone, pulling his cloak closer to combat the chilliness of the night. Alongside him were four other people, Kayden, Ezekiel, Cathy, and San.
Kayden eagerly rubbed his fingers together. “You worry too much. How can I fail with my specialty? Besides, the plan is practically foolproof. We’ll be the richest by the end of this no doubt.”
“Hmm… While I am glad that you think so highly of our party leader’s plan, it’s not wise to think that everything will go our way. You can praise her more once we’re done.” San lectured Kayden. His usual ponytail had been undone, which allowed his brown hair to fall onto his shoulders.
These five individuals have been selected for a mission, and they were just waiting for a signal. All of them stared intensely at Ezekiel, who had his eyes closed, focusing on something.
Suddenly, his eyes shot open, and he glanced at the four people staring at him.
“Don’t stare too much, she sent the signal. Move out!”
Upon hearing Ezekiel’s words, Kayden immediately sprung into action. With a flourish of his cloak and a snap of his fingers, the five individuals vanished into thin air with not a trace of them to be seen.
[User is using a tier 2 spell: Mass invisibility]
Improved Invisibility spell that can affect multiple targets as long as contact is made.
Merely a few meters away from where they vanished, they reappeared with four members of the group looking visibly confused. Kayden stood rooted at the front, his face hidden by his hood, and behind him, the other four had their hands on his cloak.
“Kayden…? What’s wrong?” Cathy asked the question on everyone’s mind.
“I… didn’t think that turning five people invisible at once could consume so much mana… At the rate I’m going… I won’t have enough mana for the other phases of the plan…”
Conner and San groaned while Ezekiel placed a palm on his forehead. Even Cathy seemed speechless.
“Weren’t you super confident you could do it before? Don’t tell me you’ve never tried turning multiple people invisible at once?” San raised an eyebrow.
“L-look! My calculations were very reasonable! When I turned me and my master invisible, it cost twice as much mana. So five times the people should mean five times the cost! How am I supposed to know that the mana cost would be exponentially higher?”
“Guys. Guys!” Conner interrupted Kayden and San. “It’s not too big a deal. We’ll just have to do this a bit riskier. Kayden, try to get us to the barrier while conserving your mana. San can help replenish if necessary. Azzkeel, what’s the situation?”
Ezekiel frowned slightly at the mispronunciation but still closed his eyes. After a few seconds, he opened them again and explained, “It’s still smooth sailing on their side, but I recommend we hurry. I can look out for any stragglers that might come, so Kayden, you only have to turn us invisible when I tell you to.”
Kayden nodded. “Alright. I’ll do that then.”
San plucked a bead from one of the many bracelets on his arm and presented it to Kayden. Once the bead came off, Kayden could see the two ends of the bracelet reconnect with each other, effectively repairing it.
“Hold onto this. I’ll be able to transfer some mana through this as long as you keep one on you. No, it’s not a bomb, take it.” He sounded like the question had been asked many times before.
Without skipping a beat, Kayden swiped the bead from San’s palm. Immediately, the effects were noticeable, and Kayden could feel a small trickle of mana pour into his body. It wasn’t enough to offset the mana cost of his invisibility spell completely, but it was still helpful enough to help him conserve some mana.
“Okay. We should be ready by now. Hold on tight to my cloak!” With that, the group vanished once more.
The rest of the journey went without a hitch, and they safely reached their destination which was the barrier. Throughout the journey, Kayden would disappear and reappear, suddenly change directions, and constantly swap between illusion and invisibility spells. By the end of it, he felt like he had gone through a tough mana workout.
From the close proximity between them and the barrier, Kayden could finally see what it looked like, and it did not look like anything he thought it looked. Massive double doors made out of stone with a translucent blue veil that looked paper-thin coated the exterior of the door. Though not visible from afar, he could see the faintest white runic patterns all over the barrier, giving it a level of intricacy Kayden never thought possible.
‘This barrier sure looks impressive… We don’t know if the barrier is stronger at certain areas, so if Cathy cannot weaken it, the journey here would have been for nothing.’
Other than a few close calls, they never got caught by the other adventurers, and it was all thanks to Ezekiel’s keen eye and clairvoyance ability. Between San’s magic bead and Ezekiel’s timely warnings, Kayden was able to successfully conserve his mana until they climbed up the staircase leading up to the gate. By this point, they were ready to begin the next phase of their operation.
“Okay, it’s your turn, Cathy. If this doesn’t work, we’ll just have to find another way. While you do your thing, I’ll try to recover my mana.” Kayden grabbed a mana potion and brought it to his mouth as he said this. The liquid was a shiny blue color and tasted very minty.
He didn’t have many of these potions, and they won’t recover his mana instantly, but they were better than nothing. There would be more for him to do later on, and so he had to endure, even if he hated the taste of the potion.
“O-okay! I’ll try my best!”
Cathy rolled up her sleeves, revealing her slender arms. She must have been very nervous as those arms were really sweaty. It would be a bummer if the plan failed due to simple anxiousness, so he put on the most soothing voice he could muster and tried his best to calm her down.
“Hey, no need to worry too much. Nobody will blame you if fail.”
Cathy looked at him with her sparkling blue eyes before a nervous laugh escaped from her lips.
“If Alice was here, she would hit you for potentially jinxing this whole thing.”
“Haha! But she’s not here now, is she? Just do your best.” He clapped her on the shoulder and lightly pushed her forward. Taking a deep breath, Cathy walked up to the center of the hulking stone doors and put her arms in front of her.
They had done some quick tests on other parts of the barrier, specifically the hole that Aisha’s and another’s party worked together to create. While the experiment seemed to be a success, they could not use that specific entrance as trying to break in there would immediately alert that other party. Cathy had been warned multiple times that there is a possibility that the barrier by the gate is far stronger than the barrier where they tried the tests, hence her nervousness right now.
By speaking the spell’s name aloud, it increases the power of the spell, though at the cost of your enemies knowing in advance of what’s to come. In this case, however, there was no enemy in sight.
At first, it seemed like the barrier remained completely unaffected by the spell, but just as Kayden was about to comfort Cathy, the barrier visibly turned more transparent, and tiny cracks began appearing. However, those cracks were quickly being repaired, though noticeably slower than the time they tried attacking the barrier directly.
“I-it worked!” She sounded incredibly relieved, letting out a deep breath while her shoulders relaxed. “It’s gonna take a few more t-tries, so… it will take some time.!”
Like a squad that has trained well in their coordination, the group set off to do what they had to do. Ezekiel stood guard in front of them, keeping a close watch. Kayden immediately used an illusion spell that made the area look darker than it already was, making them nearly invisible to any outside eyes.
Meanwhile, Conner disappeared into a flash of white smoke, which after clearing away revealed a… rubber band. With a face that looked like he had done this many times before, San bent down to pick up the rubber band, before tying it around a bead.
Kayden stared at the rubber band with amusement as it continuously spun and wrapped around the tiny bead.
“When I first heard of this part of the plan, I thought it was a joke. Seeing it right now in front of me, it seems even more like a joke than before.”
He looked on with intrigue as San did the finishing touches to the tightly wrapped bead.
“…Doesn’t that hurt? It’s like your body’s being twisted and contorted into weird shapes. I can’t even begin to imagine what that feels like.”
“He can’t answer you in this form, but I assure you, he cannot feel pain when he transforms. Also, don’t underestimate this ability. In the past, he saved us multiple times by becoming a temporary shield. He can even turn into a cart or a boat if he wanted to, making him versatile in many situations.”
Kayden suddenly had shivers run down his spine.
‘This is… the price of transformation magic! No! I don’t want to become some sort of pack mule or a convenient shield! That is horrifying!’
“Y-yeah! That ability’s so… so cool…” Kayden had a hard time trying to not let his horrified expression show.
San seemed to believe him and nodded, before turning to Cathy, who was about to begin her work on the barrier.
“Hold on, Miss. There’s another signal we have to wait for.”
“A-ah! Right. I f-forgot.” She blushed until she was completely red, though, with Kayden’s spell, no one could really tell.
“Alright. Get ready. The signal’s here. Cathy?” Ezekiel informed the group.
“I’m sending the message!” She shut her eyes for a moment, and Ezekiel did the same. A few seconds later, they opened their eyes simultaneously.
“Begin! We have ten seconds!”
Cathy placed her hands directly onto the barrier and chanted her spell consecutively.
“Dispel! Dispel! Dispel! Dispel!”
Crack! Crack! Crack!
It was working. With every spell she pumped into the barrier, the small cracks grew larger and larger. What they needed was the barrier to weaken enough for them to break through with force.
Ezekiel didn’t idle while this was happening. He went around the group and placed explosive runes on the weapons they were going to use to try and break through. An explosive rune on each of Kayden’s two daggers, an explosive rune on several beads from San, and finally, an explosive rune on his arrows.
“Three seconds! Cathy get away from the barrier! Now!”
“Eeek!!!” In her attempt to leap away, she stumbled and fell, but thankfully, she managed to roll out of the way.
“Two! One! Fire!”
They launched their attacks simultaneously. Kayden threw his two knives. Ezekiel shot three arrows at once. And San shot out three beads at high speeds from his palm. All of their projectiles landed accurately on the same spot where the barrier was much weaker compared to the rest of it.
Their combined attacks caused a loud explosion that despite the distance they stood from the barrier, showered them in shrapnel. Several cuts and bruises immediately formed on the trio, and Cathy who had been on the ground suffered the least amount of damage.
Nearly the same time they attacked the barrier, a loud explosion lit up the sky behind them, lighting the entire area in a red and orange hue. Countless sparkles of fiery light rained down on the area, though they disappeared in mid-air before coming close.
With her face bathed in an orange glow, Cathy sighed in amazement. “Alice did it! Wow… it’s so pretty…”
Kayden could appreciate the fantastic view. From where they stood, they probably got the best view in the entire valley, and it sure was a sight to behold.
“[They’re called fireworks. They’re always beautiful, no matter the world.]”
Kayden mulled over the System’s words, but not for long. Their mission wasn’t yet complete.
“If you guys have finished watching that massive fireball in the sky, let’s go back to work.” San brought them back from their fascination, and they looked over at the result of their work.
There was a hole in the door, not big by any means, but a hole nonetheless. By now, the barrier had already regenerated, and not a scratch could be seen on it, but the damage to the gates itself was already done. They had also successfully snuck Conner into the dungeon, whose task now was to find a way to deactivate the barrier from the inside. This had been their goal all along.
“Okay! I now have to bring the rest of the party here, right? They did a great job distracting the adventurers.” Kayden brushed off some of the dust that got onto him. “See you guys later!”
In a flash, Kayden disappeared.