Translator: SaltyTank Editor: SaltyTank
Under the siege of the grey dwarves, the wizard’s barrier finally crumbled; there was a limit to how much damage it could mitigate after all. A dwarven warrior rushed in and hacked at the seemingly vulnerable wizard, but surprisingly, his attack was repelled as if he had struck stone.
Soran could already tell the outcome of the battle at this point. The spell Stoneskin could receive up to 150 damage before it would be dispelled, meaning the dwarves would need to attack the wizard plenty of times before their attacks would start injuring the target. However, there did not seem to be any high-grade warriors among the grey dwarves; with just a bunch of Grade 2 warriors, killing a high-grade wizard was almost impossible.
A dwarven warrior startled for a second, then chopped his companion’s head off out of the blue.
The charmed dwarven warrior went on a killing spree, slaying three of his allies before getting killed.
_Not even a single spellcaster?_ Soran thought. _They’re pretty much throwing their lives away if they don’t even have a priest._
Soran continued to observe the battle and murmured, “It’s about time for an AoE attack.”
Immediately after, a breeze co ursed through the battlefield. The wizard’s movements sped up drastically, and he pulled away from the dwarves, creating a fifty-meter gap between the two sides. Casting a spell quickly, the wizard shot out a massive spider web, entangling most of the grey dwarves. Web—the effectiveness of the spell was dependent on the targets’ Strength and Dexterity. They could either dodge the spell or break through the web with brute force. For low-grade warriors, however, it was difficult to do either.
The wizard did not let the chance go, immediately following up with another spell. A basketball-sized fireball hovered in front of him. Pointing his fingers at the entangled dwarves, the fireball flew toward them and exploded upon impact.
It was commonly thought that Fireball was a simple and basic spell which could be tossed around casually. Contrary to such beliefs, Fireball was by no means a low-level spell. It was a Level 3 evocation-type spell, and it required the caster to be Level 6 in his profession.
Its power was reflected in the fight; along with an ear-deafening boom, the fireball exploded like a grenade in the middle of the group of dwarves, enshrouding them in fiery flames. Some exploded into chunks of meat, while others were sent flying. Those who survived were just barely alive, with blood gushing out from their mouths and wounds. Their body hair and clothes were all on fire as well.
_Probably around Level 12._
Analyzing the strength of the fireball, Soran estimated the wizard’s level. If cast by higher level wizards, the spell would at least kill over half of the dwarves. The spell Fireball was one of the spells Soran was most familiar with. Back in the game, there was an extremely popular strategy which involved five Grade 2 wizards casting Fireball together and bombing the targets with explosions. It was enough to wipe out enemies within an area of sixty square feet, leaving a three-meter crater as a result.
“He shouldn’t have many spell slots left…”
Soran glanced at the wizard, showing a grin. It looked as though he was eager to give it a go—killing the wizard, that is. Even though spellcasters were cheat-like beings, they were vulnerable after using up all their spell slots. Judging from the twenty or so dead dwarves nearby, the battle should have been going on for quite some time now. The wizard must have used a considerable amount of spells.
The wizard threw something into the air, which landed on one of the dead grey dwarves. The two bulbs turned out to be spider eggs, and each rapidly swelled up before bursting, spraying dark green gooey fluids. Two poisonous spiders the size of millstones hissed as they emerged from the fluids, then briskly leapt at the other grey dwarves under the command of their creator. Several dwarven warriors were bitten to death.
Soran got goosebumps all over his body after witnessing the spell. With a flabbergasted look, he murmured, “A drow?”
Spider Spawn was a rather unorthodox Level 4 spell. The number of spiders conjured was based on the caster’s profession level and the spellcasting material used, usually ranging between one to three spiders. The monster level of the conjured poisonous spiders could reach over Level 8; other special species were even stronger, not only having great physical attacks, but also being able to use spell-like abilities. It was a rare spell that could only be learned by wizards from the Underdark; the most proficient users of the spell were drow wizards and priests. The reason for such was because drows worshipped the Queen of Spiders, Lolth, an evil and powerful goddess.
The wizard’s protective measures remained in place, the caster not suffering even the slightest of injuries from the start of the battle. The grey dwarves started to feel desperate. Some turned to run away, only to be killed by the agile poisonous spiders. Others mustered their courage and charged in, but their efforts ended in vain as their heads got blasted into pieces by magical energy darts one after another.
The spell this time was Arcane Missile. Magical energy darts would form on the fingertips of the caster and shoot out at the designated targets. When cast by a high-grade wizard, the magical darts could even puncture a three-millimeter-thick steel plate. The power was comparable to armor-penetrating pistol rounds at a one-hundred-meter distance; even if they did not hit any vital spots, the energy was still enough to puncture through armor and flesh.
Soran finally gave up the thought of going in for the kill. Drows were extremely crafty creatures; the wizard must still be hiding some sort of deadly magic up his sleeves.
From the beginning to the end, it was a one-sided massacre. Without breaking a sweat, the high-grade wizard annihilated thirty grey dwarven combatants. Apart from the moment when his barrier broke, he was completely safe throughout the battle. Among all combat professions, only sword saints could destroy the magical barrier of a wizard of the same level in one hit. Other professions would need at least two to three blows, and it would take even more if there was a difference in profession levels.
If Soran had a powerful Rare-grade weapon, it might be possible to break through the barrier within a second. Even so, he would not be able to assassinate the wizard because of the target’s equipment. The drow was wearing a robe which seemed to be a Rare-grade equipment; there must be some sort of protection barrier on the robe which he had yet to deploy.
Buttons, breastpins, rings, jewelry, head ornaments, necklaces, and talismans—many items which looked as though they were just there as decorations might be special equipment. Spellcasters were simply so rich to the point that they would raise others’ hackles. A Grade 2 wizard usually had 6000 Gold Derahls worth of equipment, while the amount would be over ten thousand for more advanced wizards.
_What were my chances of winning if I had fought him?_
Soran gazed at the wizard who was calmly leaving the scene. The drow remained vigilant, making the two poisonous spiders walk beside him as bodyguards; the spiders would survive for a certain period of time before deteriorating. Just like that, the drow walked toward the plains. Soran had no idea where his destination was, though it was probably some hidden location; drows were unaccustomed to sunlight and preferred dark places.
_If I could destroy the barriers, wyvern poison should be able to paralyze him. Wizards don’t have high Constitution after all. Unless he cast some protective spells beforehand, the Fortitude roll should fail. The poison would lower his spellcasting success rate by fifty percent or even render him completely unable to cast. The problem would be how many layers of barriers he has. What are the chances of me poisoning him before he could throw spells at me?_
Soran slowly sheathed his curved sword. After analyzing his own strength and the target, he came to the conclusion that his chances of winning were less than ten percent, even though the wizard had used quite a lot of his spell slots.
The key to defeating wizards was burst damage. If one could not break a wizard’s barriers quickly, it would be only a matter of time before he would get overwhelmed by the barrage of spells flying at him. Soran had killed over a hundred wizards on his journey to becoming a Legendary Rogue back then; he knew all too well the consequences of giving wizards time to think in battle.
_If only I had Shadow Jump… then I could have killed him with a single strike._
Rogues who were Level 12 or above and specialized in shadow-related abilities could get the ability Shadow Jump. It allowed the user to enter the Plane of Shadows temporarily, then emerge at the desired location. Even though the ability could only be activated for a second, it would be enough for Soran to slip through the barrier and attack the wizard. Shadow Jump was also the key to learning the Legendary Ability Shadow Realm in the future. Top-tier rogue players loved to jump across planes and assassinate their targets.
In fact, the operating principle of Shadowstep was similar to Shadow Jump; it was just that it could transfer the user through shadows instead of crossing planes.
Back to the present, the wizard faded into the distance as he continued to walk away. Drows would not appear on the surface casually; Soran was sure something was going on, but he had no idea what it was. Level 12 wizards had decent social status. The number of reasons for such a person to appear in the wilderness alone was limited.
* * *
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*[Long Taos]: side characters in Chinese operas who perform acrobatics and fight scenes
*[12.47 to 13.07]: don’t ask me about the tree sap