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125 Red Lotus Feast 1

 "I'm sorry, Mr. Rhode. I can't do this..."

Marlene clenched her hands while looking at the man beside her who was listening to her reply with a pained expression. She could feel a trace of unwillingness in her heart. She was not a self-centered person; although she had been called as a genius for more than ten years, she learned the fact that there was always someone else better than her. Indeed, she was talented and capable. However, they were different compared with strength. Perhaps it was because of her age, so there was no one who could surpass level. But if it was the entire continent, there were a lot of mages who were still stronger than her. There was no way she could request having an opponent the same age as her; it was just not being realistic.

That was why Marlene was never ashamed to admit her deficiencies. However, this time she felt unwilling. Based on her sensitivity toward elemental reaction, she seemed to be able to catch the magic residual that the opponent left. With just one more step, she could already determine just how strong the opponent was. After going through many battles, she clearly understood just how important it was to find out about the enemy's strength beforehand. If she did it after the battle started, there wouldn't be enough time and it would be too late already.

But she just couldn't do it; that mage's controlling magic level was below hers, but he had more experience than her. She tried many times, but she was unable to figure anything out. She knew that the opponent's level was higher than hers, but she couldn't find out to what extent. It was just like looking at the moon in a foggy sky.

If I'm just a little bit stronger...

Thinking until here, Marlene dozed off.

Because of that, she didn't notice the huge magic wave that quietly condensed above her.

Boom!!

An earth-wrecking sound echoed in her ears.

The cold touch behind her back brought Marlene back to reality. The first thing he saw was Rhode who was tightly clinging to her, which made her flushed. However, at the next moment, after looking at the circling dark clouds in the sky, Marlene's expression changed.

She hurriedly extended her hand and the wand in her hand flashed. Soon, a polygonal barrier appeared and completely covered her.

"Everyone scatter! Rangers and thieves stay in place, everyone else is responsible for defense!"

Rhode had no time to ask anything; he quickly rolled and climbed up. At the same time, he gave commands to the others: what happened completely beyond his expectations. He didn't think that the mage would actually be so impatient as to immediately attack himself. Originally, Rhode thought that he would patiently lurk in the dark. But, he actually attacked so quickly and...

Thinking until here, Rhode was puzzled and glanced towards Marlene.

Instead of walking in front of the group, they were walking near the center of the group. They weren't supposed to be attacked. Rhode was aware of a mage's weaknesses: they were good at large scale attacks, but it would be more difficult for them facing a group attack. That was why, in general, before a mage launched an attack, they would usually cast a protection spell for themselves. They would attack the main lead after finishing the small fries. This was also the reason why Rhode didn't expect that the mage to attack him in the first place. He thought that the mage would choose to launch attack from the middle or the rear, then launched an attack on a large scale and leisurely finish the others. He didn't expect that he would actually attack Marlene.

Although taking into account that there was only one mage in his group, and if the enemy was able to finish her first, then the next move would be easier, Rhode still found it strange. A mage that could control a group of Wind Snakes and encircle the Burning Blade mercenary group for a few days actually lost his patience just because of their sudden appearance?

It seemed that the matter wasn't that simple.

At this moment, a thunderbolt heavily hit the ground. Apparently, the mercenaries had already prepared well. After they heard Rhode's command, they quickly scattered and hid themselves in the terrain. Although this might gave them some pressure when facing the Wind Snakes, if they assembled together, there might be a chance to catch the mage. There were only a few newbies here, so most of them knew these theories.

Rhode pulled Marlene and Anne brought Lize to hide behind two boulders. Thunderbolts kept falling beside them, mixed with an earth-wrecking sound and shining light that almost completely blinded everyone's eyes. The soil on the ground had collapsed under the impact of the thunderbolt, the trees fell to the ground, and the remains were covered with flames and smoke.

For some times, it was as if the end of the world was about to come.

This was the true strength of a mage.

Luckily, this thunderstorm didn't last long and ended in about two to three minutes. However, Rhode and others didn't have time to relax when they suddenly heard a bursting sound from the air getting closer!

"Mr. Hiller, follow the original plan!"

Through the forest barrier, Rhode immediately could see the figure who was floating in the sky. A mage could only cast a magic spell in a place that he could see and the distance between them was Rhode's only advantage. But even after the culprit showed himself, it still didn't mean that he was easy to deal with. Looking at the Wind Snake that he sat on, it could clearly be seen that things weren't quite so simple.

After hearing Rhode's words, Hiller also ordered the others to quickly make a defensive preparation to face the upcoming Wind Snakes. This time, they didn't immediately use the gas element precipitation potion. This was what Rhode had planned: if they used it from the beginning, then the mage would likely retreat and defeating him afterwards would be more difficult. The plan was to use their own strength first to withstand the Wind Snake's attack; after the mage realized that they could no longer use the power of the potion, he would likely to take further action. If they could take advantage of the sudden outbreak at that time, maybe there was a possibility of defeating him.

This was a war between mages.

Marlene was wrapped in the protection spell. She stood up and solemnly look at the sky. She was muttering an ancient spell; at the same time, the mage who was sitting on top of the Wind Snake also clenched his fists. Now, the magic once again condensed and turned into a roaring Thunder Snake.

Then, the black-cloaked mage pressed down his hands. At the same time, Marlene heavily pressed her wand to the ground.

The condensed Thunder Snake opened its mouth and aimed towards her. At the same time, the ice crystal on Marlene's wand also began to surge and condensed into an Ice Eagle that spread its wings.

Two sides once again collided.

An explosive sound echoed in the air. For some times, even space seemed to be distorted because of the different elements in their magics. The ice crystals scattered around, turned into snow, and fell to the ground. It somehow looked beautiful.

However, both sides didn't stop attacking.

Marlene lightly muttered and a few flame-burning tornadoes came to the surface. They pierced the clouds and roared toward the black-cloaked mage. However, this time, he didn't wait for her to react; the Wind Snake suddenly opened its mouth and screamed. The next moment, the whistling storm turned into a surging wave, forming a barrier that was several meters tall.

Both sides instantly met each other.

But this time, Marlene's expression changed.

When the storm barrier which stood upright like a wall came in contact with the flame tornado, it completely engulfed its power. The terrible force was enough to conquer a city, dissolve it by an intangible energy, and then reintegrated the energy into a barrier. Marlene could feel a surging wave reverse towards her; she couldn't help but back down a few steps to stabilize her stature. However, the originally shining gem had already turned dull; clearly, that mysterious force has caused quite a huge damage.

It was master level lord!

This thought flashed through Marlene's mind. She couldn't help but be surprised. Of course she knew what it meant to face a master level Wind Snake Lord: the opponent could freely control anything that was related to the wind element. Which meant that she could no longer use wind magic to injure the opponent, or else who knew what might happen to her if she casted that spell.

Facing the enemy that was floating in the air, if she didn't use wind element magic, then how was she supposed to deal with it?

The mage didn't wait until Marlene thought of the answer, and a thunderbolt emerged from that wind barrier once again and flew toward Marlene. Although she quickly reacted, she only managed to lift her wand when the thunderbolt arrived in front of her. The protective shield was broken, finally reaching its limit this and getting crushed like porcelain. It completely collapsed and the thunderbolt was rushing forward in a flash. It almost succeeded until a golden barrier appeared and blocked it.

Boom!!

Regardless of whether the enemy was successfully destroyed or not, even though the thunderbolt was blocked, it still created a violent explosion. Among the flames, Marlene's figure flew back and fell heavily on the ground. Soon, one hand held her shoulder, and then warm light wrapped around her body and healed her wound.

Lize squatted down beside Marlene. Her expression was very serious; in front of her, Anne was lifting the shield up high while focusing on looking at the person that was floating in the air.

"This really is unexpected..."

Looking at the four girls before him, the black-cloaked mage snorted. He glanced toward the Wind Snakes that followed his order and began to attack, but those vermin were blocking the snakes' advancement. But this was nothing; they'll be dead sooner or later-it was just a matter of time. However, the most important thing right now was to kill this mage.

Although they only have fought for a few strikes, the black-cloaked mage had already seen through Marlene's strength. Based on her current age, it was really unexpected for her controlling and reacting ability to reach that kind of extent. The black-cloaked mage had never seen such a frightening kid. Right now, he had completely given up the idea of bringing her back to become a servant. He was planning to kill all of them. After all, with such a talented kid like her, even if he controlled her sometimes, it would still difficult to ensure that no problem would arise in the future.

It was clearly an unwise decision to plant the seeds of a future calamity when women were abundant in the world.

Thinking until here, the black-cloaked mage narrowed his eyes. He patted the Wind Snake Lord's head and carefully looking at the people blocking the path in front of him.

Wait. Where did the man dressed in all black go?

Suddenly, a light piercing sound echoed from his back.

In the next moment, Rhode held onto a red sword aimed at the black cloaked mage's heart.