Creative Thinking Is Everything I Have 94 Aog, Assemble!
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"Hhha, you are a funny little pup. I'm only just getting started with you."
Hunter Nowa entered the hall and casually swung his two greatswords. Without paying any attention to the knight, he began to walk towards Orisa and Toatre, both of whom were still slumped on the ground.
"We both know you have already reached your limit while I'm continually growing stronger. You should let your old bones rest. I was hoping the last time has taught you some lessons," continued the knight.
"Umu. I think we both know that you are all bark and no bite, homeless mutt."
"-Reality Slas.h.!.+-" the knight shouted angrily and swung his katana.
"-Twin Reality Slas.h.!.+-" Nowa answered him on the move, not even looking at the knight or his attacks. Two spells clashed in the air and exploded in the middle of the hall, throwing dust into the air.
"-Lupus Touch!-" a green healing circle appeared beneath Orisa and Toatre, and the girls immediately felt its effect.
"You've done enough, little ones. Help your partner while I'm scolding this arrogant dog," he added without looking at the pair. Orisa glanced towards Iten and noticed that Kanai was already healing him.
"Are you sure you don't need help, sir?" she asked Nowa.
"Bold of you to a.s.sume you can be of help at the moment," chuckled the hunter and moved towards the knight.
"I'm faster and stronger than you, geezer. I can also burn you to crisps. You have no-."
"We are getting nowhere with your pointless blabbering. As I have said before, you talk too much, mutt," said Nowa and crossed his greatswords in front of him, then started chanting:
"-Enrich Magic!-" -- "-Arcane Trap Field!-"
"-Maximize Magic!" -- "-Drifting Minefield!-"
Orisa had helped Kanai to carry Iten into the next room where he had left Tiana earlier, and now she focused her attention on a fight in front of her. She immediately sensed numerous invisible magical sources appearing everywhere inside the hall, and some of them were instantly sucked into the complex after coming into contact with the floor or the walls. The rest began to float in random directions. Despite seeing them for the first time, she could tell real and fake mines apart by their Mana flow.
"If you think I'll fall into the same moronic trap, you are completely senile," shouted the knight and pointed his katana at Nowa:
A black circle appeared in front of the knight's katana and began shooting black projectiles of cursed flame. This spell had left Nowa out of commission for more than a month, but now he was perfectly ready.
"-Triple Haze s.h.i.+eld!-"
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In front of Nowa, three grey barriers appeared, forming a three-layered defense line, and met the Darkflame Barrage head-on. What Orisa saw next contradicted everything she had known or had thought about barriers and their mechanic. The first Haze s.h.i.+eld didn't block a single projectile, and more than half of them flew past the second s.h.i.+eld. But none pa.s.sed through the last.
What made this formation surreal and unbelievable for Orisa was that each s.h.i.+eld wasn't one solid formation but was made of numerous tiny blocks. When a Darkflame projectile came into contact with such a block and set it ablaze, the block disappeared, weakening the projectile. The flame didn't spread all over the s.h.i.+eld either since each individual block had vanished before spreading the fire to its neighbors. Destroyed blocks had been immediately replaced by new ones since Nowa's Mana had been recharging the s.h.i.+eld's reserves.
Even this wasn't the end of it as Orisa could tell there was more to this Spell. It wasn't possible to find more about the s.h.i.+eld from a distance, but she was still fascinated by such a spellcraft.
While the Barrage went on, Nowa kept repeating the same Minefield spell over and over. Orisa could sense the whole hall overcrowded with Mana sources, and even the air began to s.h.i.+mmer. After ten long seconds of the relentless barrage, the knight stopped and muttered in disbelief:
"How could this-," but the moment he became distracted, Nowa immediately counterattacked:
Tens of invisible mines floating between Nowa and the knight rushed towards him, making an enormous explosion. Orisa reacted on time by making a barrier that protected her and the rest of the squad, but most of the blast had been sucked into the walls and the floor. The complex and its wondrous material didn't differentiate between pure or explosive Mana and ate everything all the same to fill its bottomless reservoir.
Excessive Mana had been eaten by the floor, but it hadn't made the knight's fate any less miserable. He was pressed against the wall with most of his armor gone and the rest smoking like a kebab. He had burn marks all over his already tanned body, and his right arm was missing almost entirely.
"I like you much more this way. Umu." Nowa began to walk slowly towards the knight, putting his greatswords into his back sheath on the move. "How surprising must it have been to see your favorite toy fail you, little pup. Predictable, easily distracted. Pathetic. And you call yourself an apex of life? How very disappointing."
The knight's body and his armor started to regenerate slowly, but there was no way for him to recover completely in such a short time frame. Nowa stopped a few steps away from him and continued:
"It wasn't that difficult to find a suitable way to deal with your attack. Raw power isn't everything. Experience and knowledge, however, is. I am four parallel universes ahead of you, mongrel. Any last words?"
"You should have gone for the head." -- "-Darkflame Nova!-"
Three little black spheres flew to the center of the hall and merged into a bigger one. It began to grow, and its size was rapidly increasing by the second. Nowa hastily pulled out two twice evolved magic cores and chanted:
A barrier appeared around the sphere right when it was about to explode. The s.p.a.ce within the s.h.i.+eld became one black hurricane of raging magic. After a few seconds of madness, the s.h.i.+eld began to crack, while the swirling death inside was still present, so Nowa used two more magic cores to create another Absolute Domain.
When the spell finally subsided, the knight had been long gone. Every piece of still intact furniture was shattered, and the hall turned into a mess. Orisa's squad that had been observing the fight was silent, puzzled, and lost. Everything had happened so fast that they neither hadn't been able nor hadn't known what to do.
"Umu. Is anyone hurt?" asked Nowa as he approached them. His question was met with the same silent and puzzled expression, and for people unfamiliar with hunter Nowa it might have seemed that he shuffled uncomfortably. "There was a risk of placing you all in greater danger. For this reason alone, I let him run. Do not be shaken as it is a part of my plan."
"Um, if you say so..." muttered Orisa.
The group was eyeing Nowa cautiously, Tiana was especially collected and unconcerned, and she had already returned to her usual self. She stood up and asked in a serious tone while gripping her battle staff:
"You are Nowanzi, the one w-w-who destroyed my house, a district around it, and killed several dozens of people. W-w-what are you doing here, and w-w-why are you helping us?"
"Umu. I like your stoic att.i.tude, little Kavenfenn. First of all, it isn't your house anymore, so why concern yourself with its fate?" began Nowa, casually showing off his knowledge about a very private topic. He didn't wait for the answer and continued: "I didn't attack your house if we are to use this term. It merely happened that a thing I was looking for was there, as well as this white-armored gentleman you just saw a moment ago. This unfortunate and ill-mannered person attacked me while I was examining the object. All tragic victims of the event were made by his hand, not mine. More importantly, I'm impressed that you are able to keep fighting with such a verbal problem. Umu."
"You are a terrorist and an enemy to us all. I w-w-won't believe a single w-w-word of yours."
"What made you think I need such a thing?" answered Nowa, his voice filled with metal.
"Okay-okay, let's leave this matter for now," Orisa said, waving her hands, and stood between Tiana and Nowa. "Regardless of the past motives, we would still like to know how you've ended up here, and why are you helping us?"
"For now, there are things we must first do that are of more importance. Follow me."
Nowa turned and moved to the hall's exit without looking back. The squad exchanged confused and worried gazes, but in the end, Orisa shrugged and followed Nowa, waving the rest to do the same. They used the staircase to get up to the complex' entrance and walked outside. Nowa stopped right there and used a spell:
A pillar of yellow light appeared in front of him. Nowa took out a pocket watch, checked the time, then pressed his hand against the pillar and became silent for a moment. Just then, the Beacon in front of him glowed and released a magic pulse similar to Siri, which caused the usual reaction from Mansensitive Orisa.
"What are you doing? It will attract more Beasts here! What if this freakish knight returns with them?" shouted Kanai angrily.
Nowa silently turned and walked back into the complex. Kanai turned to Orisa, but she shook her head and followed the hunter. When everyone inside the complex gathered near the entrance, Nowa finally directed his attention to them:
"Close the door."
"We'd like to hear some explanations, sir," said Orisa slowly. "Our concerns shouldn't come as a surprise to you."
"Look," Nowa said tiredly, "when I say that you need to do something, you just do it. If I think the explanation is due, I'll give it. Since you are new to my group, I'll forgive it once."
With that, he turned and went deeper into the complex, leaving the dumbfounded group behind. Everyone was speechless for a moment, and then their questioning gazes all shot towards Orisa.
"Why are you looking at me like that?!" she even panicked for a moment. "I know nothing about this nonsense! Anyhow, Toatre, close the door, please."
"Is it smart? We wouldn't be able to retreat quickly with doors closed if-," began Iten, but Orisa immediately interrupted him:
"I don't think there is anything we would be able to do if he wants us dead. Going outside right now is impossible, too. That freak knight might still be somewhere."
"Still don't like it," muttered Iten.
"Do I look like I do?" retorted Orisa and turned her discontent gaze at Toatre.
"It is rather unpleasant to be left without a proper explanation, mhm, but can't say I'm not interested in working with this person. His techniques look quite promising," said Toatre while sealing the door.
"We aren't working with him," grumbled Kanai. He glanced at Orisa, rolled his eyes for some reason, and added under his breath: "Yet..."
They found Nowa in the complex's kitchen boiling water inside a gla.s.s pot. A number of cooking ingredients were laid out by his side. A picture of a fully-armored black knight with two giant greatswords on his back cooking soup in front of a stove was too surreal for the group's already shaken minds. Orisa didn't even want to know where these groceries had been stored since Nowa had nothing on him except his weapons.
"Whoever it is that was in charge of extracting data from the previous vault should start working on it. We don't have much time to waste."
"Um, mister Nowa, I know we aren't in a position to demand something, but I still must insist on some explanations. Can you, I don't know, explain what the h.e.l.l is going on?"
By the end of the sentence, Orisa's irritation had overcome her caution quite a bit, so she ended up almost shouting. Nowa turned his head, looking at her through the slits of his helmet as if it was the first time he noticed Orisa's presence.
"I like how lively you are. Umu." He paused to chop down half an onion and a carrot and continued after throwing them into the pot: "For reasons I see no need of explaining now, I put a tracking spell on you after your successful venture into Todo's vault. For me, it was apparent that you'll target this shelter next. It happened so that I also had such a visit in mind. That's why I'm here.
Commanding Beacon is a spell that allows me to communicate my current location as well as a message to all of my subordinates. They will be here by this time tomorrow, which returns us to the topic of extracting the vault's data. Since your dearest Captain Dippo is one of my subordinates, this technically and effectively makes you my underlings as well.
The last thing you may need to know for now is that the useless knight that you've seen not so long ago is a thrice-evolved Beast. Or, using the words of an old man's ghost you've probably met, the Spire's Avatar. Now, get to work, little ones."
Creative Thinking Is Everything I Have 94 Aog, Assemble!
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Creative Thinking Is Everything I Have 94 Aog, Assemble! summary
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