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969 Apprentices of the Mage Tower

 When Rhode's group arrived at the scene, the battle had almost ended.

Magic spells were a kind of AOE skill. The lush forest leaned unsteadily from side to side due to the blast. There were two groups of people facing off. One side wore neat, bright-colored robes and uniforms while the other looked like a group of mercenaries clad in a variety of clothes while wielding different weapons. But it was this group of miscellaneous mercenaries who crushed the other side, leaving many lying in ponds of blood. The spell casters at the back struggled to maintain their magic barrier as they faced the magic attacks from the mercenaries. The five people wielding magic weapons standing in front of them were dealing with the mercenaries, perhaps attempting to drag out time or turn the situation into their favor. But their efforts were obviously meaningless because not only were there spell casters among the mercenaries, but there were also monsters encircling them. If this continued, they would be annihilated in less than 10 minutes.

Rhode didn't find anything strange about the mercenaries. He swept a glance at them and immediately recognized their identity. Although in normal circumstances, there shouldn't be spell casters in mercenary groups, it was an exception here, especially for the guys who were specially here to capture elves. If they didn't bring along spell casters, they would be seeking death entering the Enchanted Forest.

But why are they facing off with the people of Mage Tower?

Rhode patted Mini Bubble Gum's head at this thought. The Mage Tower was the most popular organization for spell casters in this continent and it wouldn't do them any disfavor if they offered help. Perhaps the Mage Tower might even be inclined to help the Void Territory in the future.

"Go, Bubble."

"Yes! I've been waiting for this, Leader!"

Mini Bubble Gum jumped up in excitement and raised her hand high.

"Oh-oh-oh, it's finally time! Here I comeeeeee!"

As she announced her arrival, a white radiance burst from her body and she darted forward like a blinding meteor.

The Mage Tower's spell casters were at their limits.

"Aaron! When are our reinforcements arriving? Hurry! We can't hold on anymore!"

The man brandished the burning battle ax and struck back at the mercenaries. He wore a white uniform with the emblem of the Mage Tower. Judging from his outfit, one would think that it was just a plain, defenseless attire. However, the faintly-glowing silver magical radiance proved otherwise. The invisible magic shield enveloping him was much sturdier than ordinary armor.

The man with a dark complexion standing behind him, casting the defensive barrier, shook his head.

"I don't think they'll arrive in time, Richard. We've already fallen behind and maybe the other teams have arrived at the destination. Under such circumstances, they wouldn't possibly turn back and rescue us even if they see our signal. Everyone knows what a terrifying place the Enchanted Forest is!"

"Damn it!"

Richard sputtered. This was a disaster. In fact, they were apprentices of the Mage Tower who only came here for a test that would determine their fate in life. But never did they expect their luck to be this horrible, to meet a foreign group of 'hunters'. Moreover, this group of 'hunters' also appeared to be heavily laden with captured elves.

Richard had no intention of stirring up trouble at all. After all, they were here for their future. In the competitive Mage Tower, there was no room for failure and as soon as they fell behind, they couldn't catch up at all. This was why when they met the group of mercenaries, they acted cautiously and kept a low profile. But apparently, the mercenaries weren't interested in treating 'strangers' nicely. Not only did they criticize the apprentices, but they also teased the young ladies among them and taunted them by torturing the pitiful elves...

The apprentices were a group of lively and righteous youngsters and it went without saying that they couldn't stand idly by and watch the mercenaries abuse the elves. In the end, both sides broke out in a battle. But... Things were out of their expectations. They thought that they, as the elites of the Mage Tower, could take down the poorly-dressed mercenaries by close-combat or spells. To their surprise, the mercenaries were overwhelmingly powerful where even the strongest apprentices in their team were defeated and they could hardly hang on any longer.

But what was the purpose of this?

Richard gnashed his teeth, swinging the blazing battle ax in his hands. Even though their reactions as elites saved their lives from the quick attacks by the mercenaries, most of them were either gravely injured or had lost the strength to fight.

This can't go on. The longer we drag, the more problems we will face.

Richard puckered his brows. They no longer had the strength to defend against the mercenaries. They were apparently stronger at casting spells than the mercenaries-and successfully kept them away-but there was still a limit, after all. Spell casters were also humans and couldn't possibly cast infinite spells to resist their enemies. The only option now was to seize an opportunity for a counter-attack and quickly escape.

Richard was no longer in the mood to consider what would happen to them later on. First and foremost, they had to overcome this obstacle and their corpses would definitely be devoured by the monsters if they failed! He clutched his weapon and made his decision.

"Samuel, Vinnie, Nila-coordinate with Ray and I to release the exploding flame spell! Hope, Fabian-set up a rune trap ahead and stop their retreat. Now! Attack!"

Richard raised his battle ax and in an instant, the flames on his weapon erupted into a flame tornado that blasted the mercenaries before him. The mercenaries took a few steps back swiftly to avoid the scorching ambush. Even though they were experienced in battles, they weren't spell casters, after all. They were afraid at the sight of the flames pouncing on them. At the same time, the swordsman standing beside Richard lifted his scarlet sword and slashed forward, releasing a dozen menacing blade rays. A few seconds later, the three Mages behind them raised their staffs and chanted in unison. All of a sudden, the blazing tornado transformed into a pentagram of magical ritual that burst in a series of explosions, enfolding the mercenaries in thick billows of black smoke.

"A bunch of useless trash!"

The man in a black cloak standing at the back of the group of mercenaries snorted. Then, he raised his arm...

"Hurry! Leave this place now!"

As the thick smoke and flames concealed the vision of the mercenaries, Richard immediately retreated, dragging along his unconscious companion. The rest of his group hurriedly supported their fallen comrades and also fled toward the back. At this moment, they didn't have the strength to deal with another battle anymore. Their only hope left was to leave this place and escape into the forest to avoid the mercenaries.

"---!"

But at this moment, a sudden burst of blustering gales instantly dispersed the flames and smoke on the battlefield. Not only that, but the glowing rune traps used to obstruct the mercenaries' retreat also vanished completely. The violent winds continued to gust through the periphery and sealed off the only way of retreat for the spell casters.

"How is this possible...!"

The spell casters turned ashen at this scene. They knew what this meant. For one to chant a spell in such a duration and also manipulate the element proved that there was an elemental mage in the Legendary Stage among the enemies!

"What should we do?"

All the spell casters were at their wits' end. The strongest among them was only in the Peak Master Stage. They were completely powerless against the attacks of a legendary Mage!

But suddenly, an energetic and cheerful voice rang in their ears.

"Ahhhhh! Hold up! It's not over yet, is it? Don't be destroyed that easily!"

At this moment, the spell casters witnessed a dazzling ball of light darting toward them from the other side of the forest. It was a petite young lady. Suddenly, she sprang up in midair and crashed-landed between the two parties. The instant she appeared, the tense atmosphere changed abruptly. Both sides stared at the young lady in confusion and bewilderment. After all, they didn't know if she was a friend or foe. But the young lady didn't seem interested in introducing herself either. Without shooting a glance at the mercenaries, she turned around and went up to the spell casters before heaving a long sigh.

"Are you people doing alright? Forget it. I got my answer just by looking at you people."

Mini Bubble Gum said and waved her hand airily. A warm, sacred white light enveloped them.

"This is..."

Richard looked at the young lady in astonishment. The instant he felt the white radiance shining on him, the strength and depleted spiritual energy in his body were swiftly restored. In the blink of an eye, he found himself completely refreshed. Not only that, but the painful wounds also healed and recovered fully.

He had never seen such a powerful spell in his life!

Who is this young lady!

Now wasn't the time to ask for her identity. Even though her appearance was rather... It seemed apparent now that she was here to assist them. Richard took two steps back hurriedly with his battle ax.

"Excuse me, Miss..."

"Ah, just stay away and enjoy the show. These swines are those idiot hunters, right? My hands are itching to get busy...! Come. Let's fight, idiots! Oh-oh-oh-oh, witness my one-and-only mighty punches!"

Before Richard completed his sentence, Mini Bubble Gum waved her arm and cast a translucent barrier over them. Then, she balled up her fists and charged at the mercenaries.

"This..."

Richard was speechless. It was apparent from her high-level spells that she was a Cleric. But why did she charge at the enemies like a warrior instead? Not only that, but she also wasn't wielding any weapon. Would she be fine?

Shortly after, Mini Bubble Gum cleared their doubts with actions!

"Heyah!"

Mini Bubble Gum swung her tiny fist, which landed heavily on one of the mercenaries in light armor. Boom! The strong collision sent the pitiful victim flying like a rag doll. Looking at his twisted body, it was obvious that he couldn't be alive. Mini Bubble Gum had no intention of stopping. She moved along with powerful momentum and hurled another punch as a massive white brilliance erupted and devoured the mercenaries altogether.

"Who are you?"

The man in black cloak grimaced, but Mini Bubble Gum didn't take him seriously at all.

"Why do you wanna know, idiot? Come if you dare!"

Mini Bubble Gum threw a punch forward and resisted the attacks from two mercenaries. Then, she hurled her other fist.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

"..."

Richard witnessed the brutality in the young lady's attack and sucked in a deep breath of cold air. Even though they learned close-combat skills as elites of the Mage Tower, they had never thought that such explosive attacks were possible. He stared blankly at Mini Bubble Gum, who was crushing the enemies, and felt a chill running down his spine. A few seconds later, someone asked softly.

"Can Clerics... be so powerful?"