Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 232: A Desperate Situation
Normally, the expeditionary force would only use six sets of arrays to travel back and forth. However, taking into account unexpected situations, people built a seventh set of hidden arrays close to the bottom of the Abyss. Although the crusade battlefield was usually far away from the sixth set of arrays, the Demon King wouldn’t hunt down the remnant soldiers from a long distance. They were almost impossible to destroy. All races on the surface had made backup plans just in case.
This pair of hidden arrays was quite far from the sixth set of arrays. Since they were repaired, they hadn’t been officially used.
As the reconnaissance team approached the bottom of the abyss, the temperature dropped rapidly. Adrian’s fingertips were cold, and the material of the metal bow in his hand seemed to turn into ice.
Unlike the lively scene before, the scene in front of him became quieter. Except for a few small groups of small demons that glowed blue in the dark and were the size of fireflies, there weren’t many other signs of life.
At the behest of Commander Rugo, the reconnaissance team turned on a few more magic lights. The milky white halo reflected people’s numb faces, and the knight commander tilted his head slightly—Jesse, who was standing next to him, had blue and white lips, and his color had faded a lot. Mr. Dylan’s breathing didn’t even bring out too much white steam and he was as cold as a corpse.
In the last half of a day, the blond young man who used to be extremely loud didn’t say a word. He moved forward unhappily, not even eating much.
However, Adrian wouldn’t be surprised by this. The dry food distributed by the reconnaissance team was greasy and tasteless, with a faint fishy smell, and the taste wasn’t good. Even Adrian himself, who was never picky, took some time to completely accept this kind of dry food for the march.
Adrian pondered for a moment. He touched the honey candy used to replenish his strength in his pocket, and then pulled out a wooden cup from the goat’s back. The light of a mixing spell flashed, and a cup of sweet honey water was stuffed into Jesse’s hand.
“I also have a piece here. The last two pieces, one for each person, it’s fair.” Jesse held the cup in both hands and finally opened his mouth. His voice was a bit hoarse, and he didn’t mean to lower his head to drink when he saw his movements.
“I know.” Adrian’s tone was steady. “I’m used to eating dry food, and I don’t need sweetness to keep my hopes up.”
Jesse chuckled softly and slowly pursed his lips. “That’s so sweet.”
Adrian didn’t answer, nor did he hide the faint worry on his face.
“It’s okay, it’s almost over,” Jesse continued.
Indeed. Adrian looked ahead—there was a pale mountain-like object full of eerie hollows in front of him. As long as they dived down the right pathway, they would reach the end of this journey.
But he always had a bad feeling. When the team really set foot on the low mountain called the “Pale Hive”, Adrian glanced at the dry corpses lying sideways on the edge of several caves, and the ominous feeling finally reached its peak.
As a former high-level member of the Laddism Church, the former Chief Justice of the Knight of Judgement was very familiar with the knowledge related to the expedition. Adrian knew that they would pass through the narrow and twisted passage, all the way down, to the natural stone platform carved with a teleportation array in the hollow under the mountain.
The destination was close at hand, but some kind of uncomfortable feeling made his hair stand upside down.
It was hard to say what it felt like. After a long time on the battlefield and countless brushes with death, Adrian was particularly sensitive to the taste of malice. That wasn’t just intuition. There was definitely something there.
He didn’t hesitate, and directly issued a warning signal, and the team stopped obediently.
“What’s the matter?” Not finding any enemies who came to attack, Commander Rugo narrowed his huge eyes.
“Before entering the cave, please check the magic remnants nearby.” Adrian proposed seriously. “Something’s wrong here.”
“This is close to the bottom of the Abyss. Of course something is wrong,” the fanatic mage spat out, despite quickly taking out his magic props used for inspection, though his expression was extremely impatient. “There’s indeed magic residue here. As far as I feel, the residue intensity is normal, and nothing worth taking note of.”
Adrian didn’t intend to put any value on his words. He watched the reaction of the props in the mage’s hand intently.
The mage rolled his eyes, and this time made an illusion isolation spell and then carefully began to test it. “…There’s no problem. As I said, the residual strength is within the normal range.”
“Well, alright. Keep going.” Rugo circled the crystal ball filled with several liquids in the mage’s hand.
“I suggest returning to the surface now, or meeting with another team in advance. In this way, at least the data of the fifth set of arrays can be preserved.” Adrian didn’t move.
“Reason?” Rugo exhaled impatiently. “That human judgment is correct, this is normal.”
The destination of this tedious journey was right in front of them, and everyone held dissatisfaction in their eyes.
“First, the sand here leaves no trace of demons passing by.”
Adrian leaned down, grabbed the snow-white and delicate grains of sand under his feet, and stared at the dwarf Rugo with his dark brown eyes.
“According to records, there are rarely demon activities in the Pale Hive. Even if there are occasional demons passing by here, most of them do so to forage, and their predatory actions will certainly leave traces. You see, all the demon corpses over there have retained the posture of fleeing, and the corpses are intact, with no traces of having been eaten. “
“As I said, this place is very close to the bottom of the Abyss,” the mage interjected unhappily. “In addition to the dangerous monsters that we all know, there are also many strange wanderers. Who knows if there will be any special species. Yes, you have a point. But these corpses—”
The mage waved his hand, and several insect puppets used for identification quickly flew back, showing the reaction of the crystal placed in their abdomens.
“—The time of death is very close, within a few years. No matter what the danger was, it didn’t continue. The cave is clean. Isn’t it precisely for this information that we are here, Lord Cross?”
The “lord” was full of sarcasm.
“Second, the same weak magic fluctuations may be naturally attenuated, or they may be leaked from a huge, suppressed power.” Adrian sighed, “I personally think it’s the latter.”
“But you have no evidence.”
Indeed, at present, people could only detect the strength of the remaining magic residue, and the specific situation could only be distinguished by experience.
“I have experienced it once. It was in a dragon breath stone mine that was artificially concealed and close to exploding. Except for the different magical attributes, it feels almost exactly the same.” Adrian took a deep breath and didn’t hesitate to uncover his scars.
“Dragon Breath Stone? The Battle of Kandal that made you lose your power? Again, no one can prove that Willard ever tried to detonate the dragon breath stone mine.”
Seeing that the other party mentioned the humiliating history of the Laddism Church, the mage’s voice became colder.
“If you’re still the ‘Shining Morning Star’, maybe we can trust you, but a scumbag who made a contract with a demon to lure his best friend to fall, just to gain power… ha.” The mage grinned, “I saw the blood mark of spiritual sacrifice on the back of your neck. The companion used to draw strength isn’t in good condition. Are you afraid?”
Adrian lowered his gaze. “In short, this is my judgment.”
“Well.” Commander Rugo tugged at his beard. “Then to be fair, let’s vote. Tumbleweed, please avoid suspicion—If anyone agrees with this gentleman and believes that we should give up and return at this juncture, please raise your hand.”
No hand was raised, and the blue dragon also made no sign.
“According to Cross, if you continue to move forward, this team may pay the price with your life. Those who are willing to take this risk and move on, or are not ready to believe, please raise your hand.”
Adrian’s gaze swept across the raised hands, then he closed his eyes. “I have nothing else to say.”
“I—I agree with you.” The team began to move forward again, and the gray parrot leaned over, muttering with a leash around its neck. “But I can’t say anything useful. Usually there are bad things nearby, and the roots of my tail will twitch and go numb. I can’t use the root of my tail as evidence. Hey, Cross—”
“Thank you,” the knight commander whispered, carefully continuing the guard work.
Jesse looked at him in silence, putting the empty cup back into the bag on the back of the goat.
Counting the tragedy of his best friend Cahill, this wasn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened. Adrian Cross seemed to never learn to play dumb and muddle through, even if he could predict the ending waiting for him.
Jesse held back the increasingly severe growing cramps in his guts and moved quietly through the winding passage. It didn’t take long for him to stop unexpectedly and begin to admire the faces full of fear in front of him.
It turned out that Adrian Cross was correct.
At the moment their feet stepped onto the stone platform, a terrifying tsunami of black magic power rushed down, enveloping the entire stone platform. That power was extremely domineering and corrosive—Adrian propped up the light shield almost immediately, but the few scouts who were too far away didn’t move fast enough, and they were eroded by the black magic in an instant, leaving nothing behind.
Living flesh and blood was torn apart before his very eyes and then completely swallowed by the squirming black shadow that not even any blood or ashes were left behind.
They didn’t even have time to let out a final scream.
“Dylan, can you hold on?” Almost biting his lower lip, Adrian desperately strengthened the light shield and then turned to look at his magic provider, Jesse Dylan, standing there quietly, with a weak smile still hanging at the corner of his mouth.
“Call me Jesse. I can hold on.” As if all the tragedies in front of him had nothing to do with him, the blond young man responded with a chuckle.
“All mages are on alert. Push that force away!” Commander Rugo barely maintained his composure. “I need to analyze this—”
“Compound formation.” Resisting the black magic squeezing in from all sides, Adrian immediately interjected. “I’m sure.”
People looked at him in silence.
“Since the surface shows that the status of this teleportation array is normal, the teleportation array should not be completely destroyed.” The knight took a long breath, his tone calm. “This attack magic was written by the caster himself; It’s more like a… trial.”
Or rather, a condescending trial. Adrian swallowed this evaluation back as he focused his magic like a mage. The thing behind this magic was desperate.
The feeling given to him by the other party was close to that of a child who just wanted to determine whether there were ants in the ant nest by pouring water into it. If this power was changed into another form, it would be enough to destroy them immediately, but it was actively dispersed by the caster and slowed down a little, leaving them with a few tiny loopholes and a trace of cruel hope.
There was no whiff of malice and no hint of a normal warning.
The other party seemed to be just curious about whether the visitors who came here specifically “could handle it”. It was like… No, he hoped that it was just thinking too much.
Maybe he could try to unlock it.
Holding the light shield with one hand, Adrian’s other hand continuously threw out the advanced techniques taught by the Laddism Church, adding a few self-compiled spells to adjust. He desperately felt the aura of abyssal magic from the darkness and kept constantly doing calculations to break it.
Sweat crawled across his forehead, passed through his eyelashes, and penetrated into his eyes, but he didn’t dare to blink.
In theory, it could be possible, but the strength required was a bit strong…
At the moment of great tribulation, the mages of the Laddism Church and the Mooney Sect didn’t dare to show the slightest bit of neglect. Countless white rays illuminated the Pale Hive, which trembled frantically as if it were daylight. Hamlin’s arms were exposed with several blood marks, representing spiritual sacrifice that were painted on. The gray film on his eyeballs appeared extremely clear in the overly bright light of the spells.
Bagelmaurus, whose attributes were exactly the same as the enemy, didn’t dare to act rashly for fear of helping, so it had to symbolically cover itself and the fuller goat tightly with abyssal magic.
The air was cold and muddy, and even a little sticky, as the countless gasps and footsteps intertwined.
The blue dragon let out an earth-shattering roar, and the unique spells of the dragon clan swayed in circles, hitting the darkness heavily. The two sides collided too violently, and the stone platform floating in the air made an unpleasant cracking sound and was scrapped by the abyssal magic spinning wildly outside. The knights attached all their magic to their shields, gritted their teeth to slow down the speed of the shadow’s advance, and bought more time for the casters behind them.
Unfortunately, the darkness didn’t intend to devour them simply by squeezing.
As people’s attack speed accelerated, the abyssal magic surrounding everyone began to disperse, forming attack spells one by one and blasting back. Gradually, seeing the abyssal spells that were constantly attacking, the faces of the mages became livid one after another…
The abyssal magic that came back from the bombardment had a highly similar magic structure to the surface magic that they had just thrown out with their own hands. It was better to say that it had independently perfected the shortcomings of those spells, making them more lethal.
The darkness that was constantly pressing close to the top of their heads seemed to devour everything. The shadows kept twisting, and the interval between strikes was getting shorter and shorter.
“Switch to defense!” the dwarf Rugo hissed, after trying his best to maintain the most basic defensive formation.
“Don’t use standard spells!” Adrian raised his voice. “This magic array has the ability to analyze. Attacking with self-programmed magic can interfere with it. The greater the difference in attacks, the better!”
The one-eyed dwarf in command glared at him but didn’t say much—the encirclement squeezed by the darkness was getting smaller, and many knights had exhausted their strength. The shields that had lost their spell protection were instantly corroded. There was not much time left for them.
Still a little short, the former Knight of Judgment gritted his teeth. He just needed to catch the last flaw in the magic array that was swimming around in the dark…
“Jesse.” In the chaos, Adrian’s voice was very clear.
People retreated and crowded together. The darkness was getting closer, but it was also getting thinner under the crazy attack of Adrian Cross.
“Next, I may not be able pay attention to your situation. I must concentrate and use my best strength to crack it.”
One after another, self-made magic blasted into the darkness, hitting the weak points precisely. Commander Rugo no longer tried to interfere with the crazy warrior. This was completely beyond the scope of prior calculations, and the former knight commander of the Laddism Church’s reaction was more akin to pure instinct.
“If you can’t hold on, you can disconnect the mana supply. This is your freedom.”
“I am certainly aware of that.”
A dazzling white light burst open in an instant.
The white light was so intense that most of the members of the reconnaissance team were briefly blinded for a few seconds at the same time. They only heard a tooth-aching, cracking sound.
The tremor stopped, and the magic lamp lit up again, but no one dared breathe loudly.
The oppressive darkness disappeared, and the dim teleportation array lay at their feet. Everyone was exhausted, but at least most of them were still alive. The young member of the choir had fainted because of excessive magic consumption.
There was only a mess left on the originally flat and clean stone platform, and the survivors didn’t pay much attention to the heroes of this battle…
Adrian Cross stood still, covered in scars. The darkness obviously recognized the culprit who caused the most damage to it and launched a very targeted attack before the collapse. The former knight commander of the Laddism Church stood steadily, without meaning to fall. His blond companion sat quietly aside, holding his forehead with one hand, his face buried in the shadow.
No one cheered.
No one spoke.
It stood to reason that they could still obtain information, and even more in this battle. It was supposed to be like this…
Commander Rugo let out a long sigh. The people here were all specially selected as excellent soldiers who could choose to paralyze and deceive themselves on the battlefield.
Adrian wiped the blood from his lips and gave a wry smile. Yes, in a sense, the current situation was even reasonable—after observing their limits, they were “no longer useful”.
He noticed this the moment he completely unlocked the huge and complicated attack spell…
Everything made sense. There was more than one caster doing the work here.
The rich darkness, full of superior aura, was the handwriting of one of them. If he guessed correctly, the other made two small changes on the basis of this terrible spell.
First, one caster was concealed in the dark aura and let the reconnaissance team walk on the floating stone platform full of ominous aura.
Second, another caster attached a little chain spell. Once the dangerous magic array was over, another seal would automatically open.
Adrian Cross threw down the metal bow that had already been broken in two, raised his head, and looked at the weird low mountain full of holes called the “Pale Hive”…
Every hole, including their way of entering, was now filled with huge demons. They poked their weird heads out of the hole and looked down at the tired team condescendingly.
Their eyes were hungry and full of murderous intent.
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Continue to drum and pass the FLAG——