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224 Druid

 A scream broke the silent night. Lapis's body couldn't help but tremble. When she stood up, Gillian had already made her move.

Burning flame suddenly broke out from her body. It spread around them and the surging flame formed into a shield, blocking in front of them.

Followed by a cracking sound, a dozen arrows flew across the night sky, but completely disappeared before the flame shield.

This time, the other mercenaries also reacted. They quickly took out their crossbows and arrows while hiding in the shadows of the surrounding buildings. They stayed vigilant while looking at Gillian, who didn't seem to panic even the slightest. She was still leisurely standing in the center of the camp and the surging flame around her destroyed any threats that stood before her.

Although she had lost her original power, as a Fire Elemental Lord, she was still able to manipulate the flame element. She was unable to display large-scale destruction spells, but she had no problem using a simple elemental spell.

"Holy spirit above..."

Seeing the girl who was covered in flame, the mercenaries couldn't help but be shocked. Fortunately, all of them had gone through the battle in Blackrock Depth, so they were already immune toward any strange and mysterious things like this. In addition, Gillian's appearance was different from ordinary people, so when people saw her do something like this, they were not too frightened and surprised.

However, right now wasn't the best time for them to discuss her.

Gillian frowned while looking at the surrounding forest and waved her right hand. Followed by her motion, a flame appeared out of thin air and burned the trees. Soon, the fire spread wider. Under the firelight, the mercenaries could see a few shadows jump out from the trees, trying to escape.

"Attack!!"

After seeing the enemy, the mercenaries no longer hesitated. They quickly attacked the shadows that tried to escape the fire with their bow and arrows. Soon, a few arrows hit those shadows, but they were surprised to see that those shadows didn't fall. Instead, although they looked pitiful, they were still able to escape into the forest.

"Stop, don't chase after them!"

Seeing those fellows were trying to escape, some of the mercenaries couldn't hold the urge to chase them. However, they were quickly stopped by Shauna and Kavos. As their leaders, they understood that they shouldn't chase after them because they were not familiar with the area around here. Rushing to attack would only lead to disaster. When they intended to make further orders, howls from the beasts suddenly echoed from the depths of the forest.

"!!!"

This sudden howl made the mercenaries surprised. When Lapis heard it, her body couldn't help but tremble.

Had they caught up with them? Holy spirit above!! How are they this fast!?

"Gaah----!"

As Lapis dozed off, a chirp echoed from the sky. Followed by the sound, dozens of birds appeared from the sky and attacked the mercenaries. They didn't expect that they would be attacked by so many wild beasts, so they lost their focus for a moment. They swung their swords around, trying to expel those birds. The mercenaries kept moving closer and closer to each other, using their comrades help to gain an advantage. Of course, they didn't forget about those scholars. Some of the mercenaries already protected them. They swung around the burning tree branches, trying to drive away birds and force them to leave. However, it was strange; those birds didn't seem to plan on leaving. They continued to move forward even though they were already injured by the flame.

"What's wrong with these damned things?"

Kavos waved around his burning long sword and cut a small falcon. It seemed that it hadn't yet matured. But it kept struggling to flap its wings to attack as if Kavos had killed its father or something.

"Be careful, it seems like they are being controlled."

Beside them, Shauna wiped the sweat on her forehead while commanding the mercenaries to defend. She looked at the surroundings uneasily, and after that, her expression darkened.

Where did Rhode go?

After observing carefully, it seemed that Rhode hadn't been here since the enemy attacked. Where did he go? Why wasn't he in the camp base? Did something happen to him? But where's he now? Shauna had been pondering these questions for a while, but she quickly threw aside those thoughts because they finally got rid of those birds. However, they didn't yet get the chance to breathe when a deep vibration sounded.

Buzz.

"No way!"

Hearing this sound, Shauna and Kavos's expressions immediately changed.

It was just as they guessed. Soon, they saw a layer of gray-black "fog" coming from the forest. But none of them actually thought of it as mist because they quickly saw through their true appearance. It was a large group of wasps!!

Holy spirit, please protect us...

Seeing the group of wasps, the mercenaries subconsciously held their breath. They were holding the burning tree branches while clenching their teeth, desperately trying to drive away the wasps that were getting near them. However, they knew deep down that their actions were meaningless.

If their enemy was a beast, then their method might somehow work, but now they were facing a group of small insects. What to do?

Soon, the mercenaries no longer had to think about that question anymore.

"A bunch of fools."

Seeing the mercenaries who were trying to block the wasps' attack, Gillian frowned. She and Lapis were also surrounded by the wasps. However, the wasps weren't able to break through Gillian's fire shield. Seeing those wasps clearly under the firelight was definitely not a fascinating scene.

"Then, let's end it here. I'm sorry, I'm not going to play with you guys anymore."

Having said that, Gillian clapped her hands.

The fire burned even more violently.

A fire dragon suddenly appeared from the fire shield and roared toward the mercenaries who were surrounded. The mighty fire dragon moved like a surging wave and quickly filled the entire camp. Soon, those wasps disappeared under the boiling air and high temperatures.

"Haa..."

The mercenaries finally felt relieved. But when they looked around, they finally noticed something.

Where was Rhode?

The attack failed.

Hidden in the depths of the forest, a man wearing a camo cloak looked at the bright camp. He frowned as he saw the mercenaries who seemed harmless. He thought that the mercenaries would be easy to deal with. But now it seemed that he was wrong. Especially the girl with fox ears and tail-her power to manipulate fire even made him tremble. He was sure that she was not using any spell. Judging from her appearance, it seemed that the fire was a part of her, blending with her in harmony.

Why did such an existence exist in that corrupted and contaminated world?

He frowned and didn't know what to do. He originally thought that he had the upper hands, but now the situation didn't go as planned. Thinking until here he couldn't help but bite his lips. It seemed this time, he was too anxious. After seeing the Oriole, he became a little bit nervous. After this attack, the mercenaries would definitely be more prepared. It would be difficult to attack them again.

He had no other choice; now, the only thing he could do was retreat.

Thinking until here, he turned around, planning to leave. But he immediately stopped after taking a step.

At this moment, Rhode was already leisurely standing before him, watching him.

"Is your business finally done, sir? So now, can you answer my questions? Seeing your passionate hospitality toward us, I think I must also do something in return."

Rhode said expressionlessly, while gently swinging the sword in his hand.

The bright red sword's light immediately pierced the darkness.