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426 Grave Situation

 "Hmph!" the Necromancer let out a distasteful snarl and returned the Spirit Bird's attack with a swing of his right fist!

Shing! The Necromancer's forceful retort split the powerful whirlwind into two! Then, he twitched his fingers slightly to summon a translucent hand coalescing with dark energy to choke the Spirit Bird by its neck. The Spirit Bird wailed in pain, flapping its wings to break free from the torment. However, its efforts were useless as the glaring radiance on its body dimmed in a matter of seconds. It lowered its neck and lost its breathing. The Necromancer tossed the Spirit Bird's carcass to the side as it dissipated into a speckle of dust after crashing to the ground.

This went to show the difference in strength between Darke and Rhode.

Rhode took in the whole scene at once, but he had no other choice as the Spirit Bird was just a shield to temporarily protect himself from Darke's attack. As an experienced player, Rhode knew how terrifying a Necromancer could be. These creatures were experts in various debuffs and instant-kill techniques. They could use a combination of curses to lower their target's attributes and strength before dispatching of them in a split second. Furthermore, their specialized negative energy was so deadly that they could leave humans awfully battered. Rhode realized that the situation wasn't favorable for him when he lost his balance after failing to ambush. In response, he summoned the Spirit Bird as a cover to avoid getting killed by the Necromancer. Although the Necromancer eliminated the Spirit Bird, this awarded Rhode some time to catch his breath.

"Phew..." Crashing into the ground, Rhode rolled and jumped to his feet. He lifted his head to the sky and extended his arm, summoning a red, glaring card on his palm. However, the card shook violently and disappeared into the air.

At the same time, Rhode's vision blurred and a strong wave of dizziness struck him to his knees. The ice-cold negative energy that remained in his chest nauseated him. He sucked in a deep, full breath to force the vomit down. As he raised his head once again, everything before his eyes were overlapping. A shapeless exhaustion engulfed his body swiftly, causing him to loosen his grip on the sword hilt. Rhode had difficulty standing and every time he attempted to rise, the dizziness would force him back on his knees.

"Damn it!" Rhode knew that this situation would happen sooner or later.

He was totally drained.

This was to be expected because Rhode had been on the run ever since he defeated Vulture with the Legion Horn and there wasn't any time for him to recharge. Rhode's physique and recovery rate were stronger and faster than most humans, which was why he could continue to push on while Natasha and Grendy were more dead than alive.

However, physical strength and spiritual energies were two different matters... Spiritual energy was the source of life for humans and it wasn't as simple as that blue mana bar in all RPG games where the players couldn't cast spells after it touched zero. In the Dragon Soul Continent, one would perish thoroughly without spiritual energy. This didn't apply only to humans, but also monsters, undead creatures, demons, and devils.

No matter how odd their attributes were or how powerful their strength was, all of it came from spiritual energy. It was the same in the game where if one fully drained one's mana and didn't replenish it, one's attribute would be crippled. Furthermore, if one chose not to rest, one would eventually die. This configuration caused an uproar amongst several players and some complaints that the gaming company wasn't realistic enough and their game would fail if they went ahead with such an in-game configuration. However, the gaming company didn't take heed to the advice of the players. Since this was the only one-of-a-kind virtual reality game back on Earth, players could only suck it up and adapt to it.

Now, Rhode had met the crisis of exhausting all his spiritual energy. He was clear that the constant rushing about had depleted his spiritual energy to less than one-fiftieth of his usual. Rhode didn't dare to summon spirits that required too much spiritual energy and this was why he hadn't summoned Celia and Celestina at this critical juncture: he didn't have the energy to summon these two helpers anymore.

"Eh?" Gillian stood on the wagon, sensing that Rhode was in bad shape. The fox-eared young lady gazed at the Necromancer's back and twitched her brows slightly before pointing towards the sky with her right hand. The fireballs hovering above her spiraled and aimed at the Necromancer who was floating in midair. The glaring balls of flames exploded.

Bam! Five to six light beams ripped the veil of the pitch-black sky in an instant. The light beams emerging from the exploding flames were like a ginormous whip flinging towards the Necromancer, sealing off his surroundings entirely.

It wasn't just Gillian who had noticed Rhode's state of distress; Darke was also fully aware of his weakened enemy. As an undead creature who was incomparably sensitive towards spiritual energy, Darke was quick to pick up that Rhode's spiritual energy that was as weak as a candle-lit flame which would fade away with a gentle pinch. Darke stirred at this thought and extended his arm to end Rhode's pathetic life.

However, at this moment, Darke felt a hot blaze behind him.

He turned around and witnessed several columns of flames flinging to engulf him.

Darke held his breath as he sensed a massive amount of pure elemental strength within the columns of flames. Undead creatures were most afraid of holy energy and flames. In addition, the Seven Hells which Gillian released belonged to the concretization of the Spell of the Red Lotus, which wasn't limited to her current level. Once Darke got engulfed by it, he would definitely turn into a burning chicken inside-out.

Of course, this definitely wasn't the final destination that the Necromancer yearned for. Darke gave up his attack on Rhode decisively and attempted to dodge Gillian's attack. However, the fox-eared young lady had no intention of letting him escape. She cast three more columns of flames above the Necromancer and blocked his escape route. However, the Necromancer squeezed his way past the gaps between the columns. Even though there were also several fireballs soaring all over the sky, Darke had no problems dealing with them.

But...

The current situation wasn't favoring Rhode. "Anne, I need your help."

After once again forcing the Necromancer back with the columns of flames, Gillian spoke with a stern expression and her pupils glistening with bright flames as she stared at the night sky. Although Gillian was confident that her Seven Hells would be fatal to Darke, the concretization of the Red Lotus spell had its time limit. Rhode's initial intention was to ambush the Necromancer as Gillian cast Seven Hells to give him a lethal blow which would leave him half crippled at the very least. But now, Rhode's exhaustion was more than expected. This sudden change in the situation made Gillian switched to Plan B: drag the time out as long as possible until Barter arrives. In any case, Barter was at his peak in the Master stage and was about to reach the Legendary stage. He wouldn't have any problems facing a Necromancer in the Master stage, right?

"What's the problem, Sister Gillian?" Anne turned around and gazed at Gillian immediately. Anne was equally concerned about the situation as she had seen Rhode half-kneeling on the ground, unable to get back on his feet. As an experienced mercenary and a Shield Warrior whose responsibility was to protect others, Anne knew what this aggressive battle signified.

However, she couldn't act on her own accord as Rhode had given her the order to protect Natasha and Grendy on the wagon. All Anne could do was to worry secretly and observe the situation. She raised her spirits instantly upon hearing Gillian's words.

"Master isn't looking too good and my Seven Hells can't delay the Necromancer much longer. I need your help. As I'm keeping this Necromancer busy, I need you to shield Master and smash that annoying skeleton to bits!" Gillian requested.

Got to say, this request was kind of difficult even for Anne. Unlike Gillian and Rhode, Anne required plenty close-combat aggression to be effective. As her far range attacks were less threatening, a powerful negative energy spell from the Necromancer could cause harmful damage to this young lady.

However, Anne had no hesitation to Gillian's suggestion.

"Sure, no problem!" Anne's eyes brightened as she nodded. The young lady took a couple of steps back and watched the sky attentively. Soon, a circle of green radiance emerged around her body and she leapt forward!