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970 Traveler on the Same Path

 As Mini Bubble Gum 'slaughtered' the mercenaries, Rhode's group sauntered to the battlefield. It went without saying that their arrival captured the attention of the apprentices who were now in a safe protection within the barrier. After all, the difficulty of the Enchanted Forest wasn't for anyone. A powerful organization like the Mage Tower had already dispatched teams of more than 10 members here. And yet, there was this small group of four to five people strolling in this place?

Who are they?

The black-cloaked mage who led the mercenaries was stunned, especially at the young lady who devastated them. The level of violence was ruthless. He had to admit that after leading mercenaries for so many years and witnessing countless violence, the so-called violence was as though the little rascal's self-entertainment!

Boom!

The black-cloaked mage sucked in a deep breath of cold air as Mini Bubble Gum grabbed one of the mercenaries by the hair and smashed his face into a boulder mercilessly, blood splashing from his nose and mouth. He wasn't bewildered by how she kept her grin of insanity while acting out with such ferocity. Two mercenaries had tried to ambush her from the back and their razor-sharp blades failed to slash into her petite body because a flashing white light instantly shattered their blades. Then, as though a signal to the young lady, she turned around and a dazzling beam of white burst into the sky, thoroughly killing the two pitiful men.

Sh*t... I can't possibly deal with her.

The black-cloaked mage witnessed how powerful the spiritual energy in her Inner Circle was and knew that he would surely be crushed if he fought against someone as strong as her. If it were possible, he wished that he could flee immediately. But unfortunately for him, he couldn't do that because he had sharply detected that the young lady had already locked her focus on him. He was certain that if he made any move, he would immediately be annihilated by her. Even though she was standing far away from him, there was no doubt that she was capable of that.

Chance. Is there any chance to divert her attention? I just need one second...

The black-cloaked mage wasn't blaming his luck for meeting such a terrifying enemy anymore. He also wasn't interested in keeping the spoils of war from earlier too because no amount of money was worth it if he couldn't survive to spend it. This was why he didn't rescue his subjects but instead, hoped that the young lady could lessen her focus on him so he could use the escape item that he had prepared a long time ago!

But it was a pity that the opportunity never came as the forces on his side became fewer and fewer. At this moment, the scared mercenaries didn't dare charge at her anymore.

Damn it. If this continues...

The black-cloaked mage was out of ideas. Large beads of sweat filled his forehead as he watched a mercenary screamed mournfully in the light beam that shrouded him entirely. On the other hand, the young lady stretched her arms and turned around, staring at the remaining mercenaries like a hungry wild animal. At this moment, there were only five mercenaries left and they were also widening their eyes in disbelief like their master, waiting for death to fall upon them.

Mini Bubble Gum noticed Rhode's group and turned around to wave her tiny hand.

"Leader, you're late to the party. I'm almost done wiping them out!"

Now's the chance!

The instant Mini Bubble Gum shifted her gaze away, the black-cloaked mage raised his right arm and crushed a white crystal in his hand. Then, his body was instantly recharged with elemental powers. His body slowly lost shape as he flew into the sky...

Or, that should have been what happened. But it was a pity that things didn't usually turn out as one wished.

Canary lifted her head and stared at the black-cloaked mage, extending her right arm before her and clenching the air.

"---!"

The black-cloaked mage who was supposed to transform into the wind element suddenly restored his physical body. That wouldn't be considered a threat if this was only what happened. The problem was that the summoned wind element had also poured into his body. The black-cloaked mage had thought of using the wind elemental power to bring him as far away as possible. But he didn't expect someone to forcefully reverse the effects of his spell! When he returned to his senses, the surging wind elemental power had entered his body and materialized. It was impossible for him to resist such an immense force.

Boom!

In an instant, the black-cloaked mage exploded like a balloon. His bloody flesh scattered while the wind elemental power turned into countless wind blades that shredded the mercenaries around him into chunks of flesh.

"..."

The apprentices held their breath. They were aware that the black-cloaked mage might escape with this trick and tried to caution their allies. But what happened completely exceeded their expectations. Of course, they knew what the black-cloaked mage did because it was common for mages to make their bodies illusory and use the wind elemental power to transport them away. But what happened next wasn't common for any mage!

The young lady actually restored the physical body and even grasped his elemental power?! Besides, that was elemental power that only mages in the Legendary Stage could summon! It was possible to use space isolation or enchanted fields to stop the mage from fleeing, but not only were they incapable of forcefully grabbing others' elemental power, but their mentors also couldn't accomplish it. Perhaps only the top mages in the Mage Tower could do it!

"Is it over?"

Rhode apparently wasn't mindful of the apprentices. He swept a look at the battlefield and asked. Mini Bubble Gum nodded and waved her hand to release the barrier shrouding the apprentices. Then, she stretched in satisfaction as though she had a great gaming session.

"Yes, it's over, Leader. Phew... This is what I call fun. I was so bored that I almost went crazy. I'm feeling so much better now!"

Mini Bubble Gum stretched her arms in satisfaction and Richard was startled by her comments. He gazed at her in hesitation, unable to figure out if he should interact with this group of people. But eventually, he braced himself and went over. It was apparent that they were extremely formidable. Although there were a total of six of them and only two of them had attacked, Richard wouldn't be that naive to think that only two of them were powerful. In other words, the two of them were strong enough to wipe them all out. After careful consideration, he gnashed his teeth and straightened the wrinkles in his attire, before going up to them and giving a respectful bow.

"... Thank you very much for your assistance. If it weren't for you guys, we may not even survive to see another day. I represent my companions and schoolmates in expressing our gratitude. The Mage Tower won't forget your kindness. If you have anything..."

"Don't need to thank us. We didn't do much actually," Rhode said.

Since the difference in strength between them was huge, it felt as though one was walking on the street when one witnessed an ant caught in a spiderweb. Then, one chose to squash the spider to death and rescued the ant. The entire process only took a few seconds, so he wasn't mindful at all. But he was feeling rather curious.

"But it seems like you guys are apprentices of the Mage Tower, right? What are you doing here?"

In the Mage Tower, there was no such thing as 'graduation'. No matter how powerful the officially-recognized mages were, they would still be called 'apprentices'. On the other hand, only the truly capable mages had the rights to 'graduate'. This was why in the Mage Tower, it was common to address one another as 'companions' or 'schoolmates' and in fact, the members liked it this way because this made them feel 'special'. Moreover, the 'apprentices' in the Mage Tower were mainly youths.

Youths... They were naturally more energetic.

Judging from the help signal earlier and the same uniform attire they wore, Rhode confirmed that they were members of the Mage Tower. Besides, based on this situation, it seemed like they hadn't 'graduated' yet. But this piqued his curiosity. Even though they weren't in the core area of the forest yet, they were not far from there. What was this group of rascals doing here?

"This... was what happened..."

Richard revealed an awkward expression. After careful consideration, he decided to tell the truth. After all, they seemed really familiar with the Mage Tower and perhaps the powerful young lady was related to the organization. Even though he was rather hesitant, he quickly answered.

"... We are passing through the Enchanted Forest for our apprentice test..."

"Apprentice Test?"

Rhode knitted his brows. He instinctively sensed the problem behind it because he knew that the Mage Tower's motto was 'Safety First' and not 'Death First'. How was it possible that they sent a group of rascals into the core area of the Enchanted Forest for a test?

"Only you guys?"

"According to the plan, there would be a total of six groups heading into the core of the forest. Our mission is to reach the destination before entering the Deepest Labyrinth for exploration..."

Richard's voice became softer because he clearly noticed the slight change in expression on Rhode's and Canary's faces. However, they didn't seem too concerned and were showing more of an amused smile.

'Are you guys heading to the Deepest Labyrinth too?"

"... Yes..."

Richard's heart skipped a beat upon hearing Rhode's question. Even though they had been learning in the Mage Tower all day, they weren't a bunch of foolish people. Of course, he knew what kind of dangerous place the Enchanted Forest and Deepest Labyrinth were. In fact, they were also dubious as to why the Mage Tower would send their apprentices to such a dangerous place for a test this year. But they were apprentices, after all, and had no rights to question this decision made by the organization. And now, it seemed like this group of saviors was also heading there?

This is so...

Richard was speechless. In fact, he was still rather concerned because he didn't know what exactly they would be doing after entering the Deepest Labyrinth. Even though he was the leader of his group, the information that he received beforehand was that they had to pass through the Enchanted Forest, enter the Deepest Labyrinth, and take the test. But now, he didn't expect that the 'kind saviors' were also heading to that place... This was getting rather troublesome.

What would happen to them if they had a similar goal and things didn't work out? Anyone from the opposing party could crush everyone in his group. When that happened, what should he do? Even though the apprentice test was supervised by the mentors, Richard refused to believe that the mentors were strong enough to resist those people. Moreover, there were only a few people in the Mage Tower who would be capable of controlling the wind element like that young lady.

"Erm... Sir, it seems like you're also heading to the Deepest Labyrinth?" Richard asked.

He had read in books and knew that apart from 'Elf Hunters', there were also adventurers who came to the Enchanted Forest, mainly to enter the Deepest Labyrinth. He was aware that this was a place for many adventurers to prove themselves.

But judging from their appearances, they seemed like nobles instead. Would ordinary nobles do something so risky?

"That's right."

Rhode nodded and narrowed his eyes as though he understood what Richard meant. Richard felt his heart shrink for a split second upon sensing his gaze. This man who was more beautiful than a woman brought unimaginable pressure to him. Just a glance from him was enough to make his heart pound. It was as though he was facing a massive structure that he couldn't defend against at all. But he gnashed his teeth and continued speaking.

"In this case... may I ask if we can head there together? Since everyone is going to the Deepest Labyrinth... To tell the truth, even though we were rescued by the young lady, many of us have suffered gravely from previous battles and are still unable to move. If you're willing... Of course, the Mage Tower will not forget your kindness. I can guarantee this..."

Richard spoke carefully to not offend the powerful saviors. Even though he invited them with hopes to get rid of some trouble, he was also hoping he could have a good relationship with this unknown group of formidable people. In this case, if there were any differences in goals, at least they could count on the friendship and be spared death.

Rhode didn't mind at all. He exchanged a glance with Canary before agreeing instantly.

"No problem. It's along the way, anyway."

Not only was Richard curious to figure out their motive, but Rhode was also interested in why the Mage Tower sent their apprentices all the way into the Deepest Labyrinth.