TL: I’m not sure what I did wrong with the Pathfinder game, but I couldn’t find the Level 0 cantrip spells for my wizard lol. Also, mad bomber friendly NPC Bokken killed my entire party, had to reload. Maybe the next chapter will be released in a few hours, no promises.
Edit: BTW if you are reading/machine reading the raws, know that there’s some major shifting around to make the pacing of the plot better.
Chapter 174 – Escape
Andesha’s expression distorted greatly at the incoming flames. The terrifying heat could be felt even before it reached her. The painful lesson of touching the crystal was still fresh in her mind, and she instinctively dodged to the side without a second thought.
However, though she escaped from the flames, they burned up the vines that held onto Scarlett. At that moment, she realized who was behind her.
The Mistress of Withering Decay screamed. She tolerated the painful feedback transmitted by the vines and tried to grab Scarlett who had fallen to the ground, but a longsword with a wide blade covered in flames swung downwards to her hands, and she was forced to withdraw them.
A few seconds later, the flames died down and a human figure appeared in its midst.
It was indeed Brendel.
The youth’s clothes were in tatters, but the injuries on him were completely healed. He slowly turned his head to Andesha’s direction, before he reached out to the crystal embedded in his chest with his hand and pulled it out. Flames erupted from his chest and abruptly dissipated, with his skin perfectly intact.
“This thing, belongs to you?” Brendel’s voice was almost mechanical. He crushed the crystal into dust with his bare hand and it was gone with the wind. “Andesha, or perhaps you wish to be addressed as the Mistress of Withering Decay?”
[It’s not strange for Veronica to recognize me, but how does this boy know what my identity is within the Tree Shepherds?]
“You know who I am?” Andesha’s eyes narrowed and focused on the young man, her guard heightened. As one of the twelve leaders of the Tree Shepherds, she rarely took action. People might recognize her because of her Element Power, but her full title was only known to the upper echelons of the Tree Shepherds.
Brendel glanced at Scarlett and determined that she was fine and merely passed out. Then his emotionless gaze went back to Andesha, causing her to flinch for a moment. They exchanged stares for a few seconds before she seemed like she finally ascertained something and asked with a stunned expression:
“Y-you’re not an Acolyte?”
“What? You used the Blood of Gods on him!” Veronica furrowed her brows and growled.
“What does that have anything to do with you!” Andesha snapped.
[How did this happen? Curse this brat…… The Blood of Gods that I possessed is unique. I expected to have an excellent God Acolyte to obey me, not this…… thing that’s standing in front of me.]
It seemed like the Blood of Gods had somehow twisted him into something that she did not recognize.
Veronica who was just yelled out left her mouth open. Indeed, it had nothing to do with her. It was truly a waste that the youth had to be turned into a mindless puppet that had nothing but sheer killing intent in his eyes—
[Wait…… Is that how a God Acolyte is supposed to act? That’s not— But the Blood of Gods that Andesha had must be something that’s even more potent than the usual people within the Tree Shepherds.]
“Why? Disappointed, my lady?” Brendel raised his chin and looked at Andesha out of the corner of his eyes.
Andesha’s expression had never appeared to more interesting to Veronica. The fury and betrayed look that she had nearly caused the latter to laugh out.
“If you join me and obey my orders, I’ll let you and your guard live,” Andesha’s voice was low and hoarse.
This authoritative tone did not make Brendel amused; he frowned and raised his sword instead. Even though he had gained strength from the Blood of Gods and the Dragon of Darkness, it was not enough to have a direct confrontation with Andesha. His murderous aura slowly disappeared.
“I have no intention to fight you, Andesha, and I do not wish to get involved with the quarrel between you and the Empire. But if you continue to push me, then you’re forcing me to stand with Veronica.” He lifted Scarlett up as he spoke calmly.
“Brendel!” Veronica furrowed her brows.
But the youth ignored the commander. Perhaps if she did not corner him to search for Faena, he might have been willing to help her, but he had enough of the arrogant people from Kirrlutz. Though his wounds were healed, he still remembered the searing pain from Amman’s projectiles.
“You want to escape from me? Not in your wildest dreams!” Andesha’s voice was filled with ire: “I will never allow my belongings to escape from me! Do you think I’m afraid of the two of you joining hands?”
Her purple pupils shrunk to resemble the shape of reptilian eyes. They were overflowing with a piercing bloodthirst and she lifted up her chin haughtily:
“Whether it’s the Lionheart, you, or your companion, everything belongs to me. Both you and Veronica can try struggling as much as you want to!”
Veronica immediately scoffed. She had never been slighted ever since she became the commander of the Azure Skies, and though she knew each of the twelve Tree Shepherd’s leaders was stronger than her, she would not accept it. At the end of Andesha’s declaration, the female Sword Saint had made her move. She placed her left hand over her chest and muttered a chant, while she gripped her sword tightly and filled it with her Element Power.
This was the first time she was unleashing her full capabilities in the Dark Forest. Her emerald eyes locked on Andesha’s movements, and her eyebrows were lifted up like a pair of sharp swords. There was even a tinge of red blush on her fair skin.
Her blade was swung.
A huge green-colored wyvern emerged from the sword, extended both wings outwards and released a prolonged roar, then rotated once in the air before it charged towards Andesha.
Brendel placed Scarlett against the rock, and he entered into a stance, ready for battle as well. If the Mistress of Withering Decay wanted to keep Veronica and him there, she definitely had the power to do so, even if it sounded arrogant.
In the early years of the game, the leaders of the Tree Shepherds were nearly invincible existences, with the exceptions of the Dragons and the fearsome Archmagi amongst the wizards.
The black wooden fragments of the destroyed trees in the area suddenly floated up, and they quickly turned into dust and flew along with the wind. This phenomenon was the first sign of Andesha using her Element Power, and it was clear that she was also serious.
In truth, Veronica’s actions had incurred Brendel’s wrath. Andesha’s levels were at least two tiers higher than her, and she outclassed him even more.
Even if he worked with Veronica worked together, they were unlikely to defeat her. Attempting a direct confrontation against Andesha was the worst choice available, and this Sword Saint in front of him did so. He cursed Veronica in his mind, accusing her of not learning anything despite being in battles for decades.
But the Kirrlutz Empire was one with incredible military might, and there was really no need for Veronica to employ trickery in battles—
Andesha stretched out her palm, and a barrier was formed in front of her, stopping the Wyvern’s charge. A shockwave spread in all directions and a crystalline sound echoed in the vicinity. It was not the end of Veronica’s projectile, however, as it flew up and shot towards Andesha in a different direction, trying to find a weak spot.
Brendel narrowed his eyes as he found Andesha trying to move Faena away subconsciously while she dealt with the creature. He concentrated all his strength into his feet and dashed towards the Duke of Flower’s successor. Trails of black smoke spiraled around his legs, making him appear like a blur. His sword pointed at Andesha’s back and a black beam of Sword Energy shot out from it.
Andesha instinctively felt the threat and raised her other hand.
A tremendous rumbling shook the ground and the Greater Stone Golem stood in between Brendel and Andesha; the black beam of light struck its right leg and an explosion immediately happened. A large hole with a radius of two meters was drilled into the Greater Stone Golem’s leg, surprising Brendel.
[The White Raven Sword Arte is affected by the Darkness Element Power?]
The youth stopped moving for a moment, but he quickly came back to his senses when he felt a shadow hovering over him. He looked up and saw the Greater Stone Golem was unbalanced from the impact; it was about to fall over him because the entire leg had broken off.
Brendel did not dare to waste any time. He activated his Charge ability and turned into a black blurry line to escape from the Greater Stone Golem’s body, moving straight for Faena. The loud crash and dust that were created had covered his intention perfectly.
Andesha could never have known that Brendel was capable of moving even faster than Veronica who had the Wind Element Power. She did not even realize that the youth was already next to her until he was about to grab Faena.
“You!” Andesha immediately understood what he was after and clawed at him with a savage expression.
Brendel dodged her fingers and they slid past his clothes. His sleeves and inner armor was instantly turned to dust, but he had avoided the attack and gained the advantage. He took one more step and swung Halran Gaia, sliced off Andesha’s vines, and received the falling Faena with his left hand.
The girl uttered a soft moan and she made a knot between her brows. Brendel discovered a deep red around her throat and realized she must have suffered considerably.
Andesha screamed and chanted at a high speed. She pointed her five digits at Brendel; a huge wooden spike appeared out of thin air and shot towards Brendel, while the cut vines swung around madly in an attempt to strike him. Brendel sliced the approaching vines and constructed a visible barrier with his Elementalist ability, with its defensive capabilities backed up by his Will stat.
The wooden spike crashed into the sturdy barrier, and it was shattered into countless fragments. However, that was only the start of the spell. The fragments were turned into vines that grew at a rapid rate, seeking for its target. Brendel could only increase pour his Mana into it and made the barrier into a shockwave that destroyed all the fragments, turned them into black dust.
The youth felt a little dazed from exerting his mind. He sensed that his Will had grown tremendously and was capable of resisting powerful magic spells, but it took a lot of concentration from him. Seeing that the black powder was about to fall over him, he coated Halran Gaia with golden flames once again and swung it around him once, burning away the powder.
The magic that Andesha used was a three-prong attack. It first did piercing damage, then cast a Binding spell, and the final stage of the attack was a powder that had lethal poison. Anyone who did not know the magic spell would easily fall for it, but Brendel had seen enough in the game to identify it.
His final act was to jump away from Andesha’s attack range.
“Lady Veronica, Lady Faena has been rescued. We should leave in two directions!” He shouted.
In order to force Veronica to stop her foolhardy actions, he had to rescue Faena. If he simply tried to leave with Scarlett, then Andesha would put all her attention on him, and Veronica might attempt to rescue Faena with the opening. The only ideal situation was to get Veronica to cover for him instead, then the possibility of him escaping would be greatly increased.
His words apparently angered Andesha. She made an ear-piercing shriek and spread out her palms. Countless vines swarmed out from the ground, completed with poisonous thorns, and they towered over Brendel like a tidal wave, blocking all paths of retreat.
Brendel gritted his teeth upon seeing this outcome, realizing he underestimated this Poison-Ivy woman. At that critical juncture, a green flash of light passed through the mist and sliced the vines into halves, then split up into a flock of birds that exploded onto the remaining brambles, causing large holes to appear on them.
Brendel’s eyes lit up and leaped into one of the holes while carrying Faena to escape from the vines. He glanced back to see Veronica blocking Andesha’s path. Violent gales swirled around the female Sword Saint, causing her hair to dance in the wind, giving an impression of a green aurora forming before his eyes.
“Escape with Faena and the red-haired girl. Leave this woman to me.” Veronica said without turning her head back.
Brendel sighed with relief. Things were moving in the way he predicted. Even though Veronica was not Andesha’s match, she still made a choice to stall her in order to increase the possibility of rescuing Faena.
It was just a transaction after all.
The youth did not waste any more time and went straight for Scarlett, while Andesha screamed with rage:
“Damn you, boy, you had better not let me catch you!”
But her tone sounded more like frustration in his ears.