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441 Underground Maze IV

 The Zombie Witches' formation was instantly disrupted by Anne's threatening shield. Perhaps if it were the Necromancer or Lich, they would have a chance to retaliate. However, these magical creatures equipped with basic intelligence behaved differently. Zombie Witches were hesitant in this chaotic situation and scattered frantically to escape from Anne's whirlwind. At this moment, Rhode appeared behind a Zombie Witch.

Shing! Gracier secretly penetrated the Zombie Witch's skull without any resistance. The other Zombie Witch widened its mouth and converged the surging billows of magic into an intense shock wave. It released a strong blast at Rhode to avenge its companion.

Although this Zombie Witch had quick reactions, the flaw in its low intelligence exposed itself here: it disregarded its companion who was right before Rhode and due to this, its companion became the sacrificial victim of its own magical shock wave. After getting struck by the shock wave, the Zombie Witch hovering in midair was left with only its lower body. Instead of being concerned for its companion's miserable encounter, the Zombie Witch tilted its head as it couldn't figure out where Rhode was.

At this moment, an X-shaped radiance flashed before the Zombie Witch.

Rhode landed on the ground before the corpse of the Zombie Witch fell from the air.

The battle ended.

Standing on the peak of the platform, Rhode glanced below him. Instead of the Maze Zombies, numerous pitch-black vestiges stained the ground. Gillian was strolling through the hall towards the platform and sensing Rhode's gaze, the fox-eared young lady gave an OK gesture with her hand. "Master, no problem."

Boom! A deep collision sounded from the other side. Rhode turned over to find Anne rolling and getting up on her feet. The pitiful Zombie Witch beneath her feet had turned into meaningless debris.

Anne revealed a cheerful smile to Rhode. "Leader, Anne's part is OK too."

"Well done." Rhode observed the surrounding as he complimented.

Although the Zombie Witches were inferior to Necromancers in terms of powers, it seemed that Anne's reactions in battle when facing three of them were still rather great. Even though Rhode knew the tricks of Zombie Witches inside-out, he didn't explain the details to Anne because he wanted to put the young lady to the test and see how well she could bring her qualities out. It seemed that Anne had passed his test and this would be extremely helpful for the next battle. Rhode shifted his attention to the box before him.

That was a silver, squarish equipment in a shape of a box. It was carved with complicated patterns as though it was part of a certain ritual. A dull emerald gem was embedded above, lacking the luster of a magical gem.

Could it be that the powers inside it have been fully exhausted?

Rhode picked up the equipment and scanned the magical gem carefully. After all, the most basic way to judge a gem's magical powers was that the more glaring it seemed, the more magical powers it possessed. This was the same theory for equipment or weapons embedded with magical stones. In terms of price, a sword inlaid with a magical gem brimming with magical powers could be sold for thousands of gold coins. However, if the magical gem had lost its powers, the sword would only be sold for a dozen gold coins as it would be deemed low-grade. At earlier stages, this had become a source of income for Alchemists with the Production subclass. After mastering the techniques of Productions, these players could obtain or purchase low-grade magical items through adventures or NPC and profit after repairing and re-selling. However, there were also probabilities that the item repair would fail. Furthermore, with news of these methods spreading in succession, many picked up this skill. As a result, the price of the low-grade magical equipment increased dramatically. Moreover, with an abundance of magical equipment in the market, the increase in saturation and price reduction led to a steep drop in profits. Therefore, this was no longer a good source of income for Alchemist players with the Production subclass.

Rhode concluded that this magical equipment was utter trash. He wouldn't be able to use it unless it got repaired with its magical gem replaced. But... Rhode's forehead furrowed because the strategy guide didn't explain that he needed to repair this equipment. This portion wouldn't be deliberately abandoned if there indeed was this requirement to repair it. Moreover, even if the author had forgotten to include this detail, players would have added on in the comments. But, I don't remember seeing the players' comments on this issue, so what's wrong...

If this equipment required repair, it was a grave mistake to not bring Lapis along. After all, not every smith could repair magical items. Furthermore, with the probabilities in success rates, it would be best for Lapis who possessed the Behermes' alchemy skills to repair this equipment. At the same time, it didn't seem realistic to fetch her.

"Master?" Gillian's voice pulled Rhode back to reality. However, Rhode's eyebrows rose as soon as he realized that the dull magical equipment in his hands suddenly emanated faint magical radiance.

"This is..." Before Rhode could finish his sentence, a glaring beam of white light emerged from a gap in the middle of the platform ground. The hall was shrouded in radiance entirely and at the same time, Rhode found himself suspended in the air and the space around him had distorted...

"Damn it, Anne, Gillian, be careful! This is spatial teleportation!" exclaimed Rhode.

"Eh?" Anne curiously widened her eyes and scanned the surroundings. "No problem, Master."

Gillian remained as calm as usual. This fox-eared young lady was unconcerned, or perhaps, she was ready for it all along.

At this moment, a dazzling white brightness occupied Rhode's vision and he was vestured in the entirety of it...

When Rhode opened his eyes, the first sensation he felt was a cool breeze filled with the scent of soil.

"I don't remember that damned strategy guide mentioning that I'd be teleported by that thing..." Rhode held his hand against his forehead and grumbled as he struggled to get back on his feet. He found the half-conscious Anne half-kneeling on the ground while Gillian stood quietly beside her. The Fire Elemental Lord was used to such standards of spatial teleportation. She shut her eyes and positioned both hands before her like a wise and virtuous woman.

As soon as Rhode stood to his feet, Gillian opened her eyes and gazed at her master with a cheeky smile. "How was it, Master? Feels great?"

"That was terrible. I regret not taking a motion sickness pill in advance." Rhode stomped the ground a couple of times to force the dizziness away. He lifted his chin and gazed forward. Unlike the underground hall, Rhode could clearly see the glittering stars in the sky and the distinctive rays which only the Light Dragon Soul emitted. The moon hung in the air brightly and the waist-deep prairie in a distance swayed in the gentle night breeze. Rhode was familiar with this place and even though he had only been here a few times, he remembered this place deeply. Gazing at his feet, a perfectly round slate ritual laid quietly in the prairie.

"I was thinking why would a ritual would be in that kind of ghostly place... It seems to serve this purpose..." Rhode mumbled at the sight of the slate ritual.

Meanwhile, Anne stood up and unlike Gillian, this young lady had never experienced spatial teleportation. Her body shook as she got on her feet. She squinted her eyes and swayed left and right like a drunkard. She mumbled unintelligibly and stumbled her way to Rhode's shoulder. After a few moments, Anne opened her eyes and gazed at the man beside her curiously. "Urgh... Leader? Where are we... Feels so uncomfortable... What happened..."

"Spatial teleportation. We left the underground maze and this place is..." Rhode lifted his head. He saw a prairie occupied with broken stelae and subdued ruins. However, it was amazing that this exceptionally ruined landscape had a strangely mesmerizing atmosphere under the brilliance of the illustrious moon. "Castel Plateau Ruins."

Castel Plateau Ruins.

No one knew its true origins. From a player's perspective, Rhode knew that this place was once a huge city with a superlative civilization. However, this city sunk into the deep underground due to various reasons and turned into an underground city through and through. This happened a long time ago and Rhode and his team had accidentally entered this underground city and discovered the slate ritual set on this prairie.

According to the players, there must be something hidden in this prairie for it to have such an odd thing. Therefore, the players began their search and entered the entrance to the underground ruins. Although Starlight met unexpected obstacles, they advanced through and cleared this ruins dungeon smoothly. Due to this, Rhode wasn't sure of its history and the only information he gathered from the players was that this city used to be advanced in magic technology. However, the entire city sank after a massive magic experiment failed. As the experiment failed too abruptly, most of the citizens didn't escape successfully. The underground sarcophagi chamber which Rhode's group had entered was built by the citizens that had escaped safely. They hid in Eagle City and strived to make their city alive again. However, they weren't able to reach their goals. In the end, the city fell into an everlasting hibernation.

Rhode's group had been puzzled because this slate ritual should have been used for teleportation purposes. They thought that this slate ritual was for them to enter the dungeon tunnel and they spent a lot of time researching, which concluded with no results. After entering the dungeon, they were once again misled that this ritual was one that transported them to the surface after clearing the dungeon. However, it seemed like this ritual served the purpose of teleporting from the chamber to the tunnel of the ruins.

Although to be teleported to the entrance of the ruins was a big surprise for Rhode, he continued to remain calm. Initially, Rhode had decided to head to Castel Plateau Ruins the second day after he obtained the equipment. Now that his traveling time had been saved, it was all the better for him.

"Let's go." Rhode lowered his head and scanned the area before moving forward while Anne and Gillian followed behind him closely. Anne hadn't shaken off the dizziness yet as she covered her forehead and mumbled, swaying her way at the back.

As the trio ambled along, the soft grass patches transitioned into a solid, slab path. After years of wear, the smooth slab had cracked. Green grass grew stubbornly from between the chinks and gave some life to the scenery.

However, as they moved ahead, the scenery before their eyes transformed.

"Eh?" Anne looked around curiously.

The moon continued to hang in the sky and the night breeze was still as chilly while the prairie was rustling feebly as usual. However, Anne found her world blinded by depressing gray and all the colors had lost their vibrancy. Even Gillian and Rhode seemed to be lifeless, as though they were dead.

"Leader!?" Fear crossed Anne's face as she grabbed onto Rhode's arm frantically.

"Eh?" Rhode turned over and found Anne with an awkward expression.

Anne quickly withdrew her hands and didn't know what to say. Were her eyes having problems?

"Don't worry, Anne" As though Rhode was reading her mind, he patted her shoulder lightly. "We are in the Necromancer's territory and this place has been totally shrouded by lifeless aura. That is why you are seeing such depressing sceneries. Relax and use the power of your element to dispel them away."

"Okay!" Anne shut her eyes and began to put to use her elemental powers. In the blink of an eye, wind elemental powers wrapped around herself . When she opened her eyes, the gray, spiritless color had faded and vibrant colors once again returned.

"Phew..." The young lady heaved a sigh of relief.

It was certainly depressing for a cheerful young girl like her to accept such a dull-looking world. Even though Anne had fought in the underground, the duskiness of the underground world would still light up with the radiance from the flames and at least the world was still bright and dazzling. However, the world that filled her eyes before was lifeless, as though it were abandoned.

"Eh?" Rhode slowed down his pace.

A huge cave as though a monster's wide, enormous mouth presented itself patiently for its prey to enter. Although this was the entrance to the Castel Plateau Ruins, this was nowhere similar to the one in Rhode's memories. There were no Undead Soldiers guarding this entrance; instead, it was cold and empty. Apart from the broken walls and stelae that collapsed, there was a pile of bones scattered on the ground.

Scattered on the ground?

Rhode half-kneeled and picked up a bone by his feet. His brows knitted as soon as he recognized the clear scars on these bones. These were vestiges left by swords. Also, the marks revealed that it happened recently!

Could someone have gotten into the Castel Plateau Ruins before us?

Rhode's heart sank and he stood up to gaze at the entrance while his head was spinning. This Castel Plateau Ruins was a 5 Star Mission and no mercenary group had the qualifications apart from the guilds. In other words, only the members of a guild would be here. However, Barter denied that they would be heading here to complete their 5 Star Mission and he didn't seem like one who would lie. So, what exactly was going on? Who else would come to the Castel Plateau Ruins?

Rhode hesitated no more as he tossed the bone. "Let's go!"