Chapter 26: Jin, the Cadets, the Beastman, and… (4)
‘They weren’t lying in ambush for long. The ones who captured Mesa aren’t far from here.’
Jin’s entire body was soaking in sweat as he ran across the plains.
Since yesterday morning to now, he had been awake for over 24 hours searching for clues and pursuing the enemies. And since he had also engaged them in combat, his stamina was starting to reach its limits.
In fact, the use of Multicasting and ‘Wind Blade’ were the decisive factors behind his stamina’s depletion.
There were still 15 enemies left.
In the worst case scenario, he would have to face them all simultaneously, but if he is lucky, he would face them in small groups of two or three.
‘Having a child’s body is such a pain. I’m still too young. If I had my past life’s combat abilities, I could’ve easily decimated those morons from earlier without having to strategize everything.’
During his chase, Jin realized that the attackers from Kinzelo were all shabby and unskilled.
They were all ex-mercenaries or knights, but it bugged Jin how they didn’t even bother erasing their tracks while moving.
‘It’s probably because they’re underestimating us.’
Jin was on point. Kinzelo was looking down on the Runcandel cadets. While the cadets were part of the Runcandel Clan, they were all rookies who had yet to experience a real battlefield in their lives.
Kinzelo’s lack of caution was also evident in how they only left behind two members to finish off Group 2 after they captured Mesa. They had also placed just one magician and two warriors in that ditch to deal with potential survivors and pursuers.
‘Keep underestimating us. I’ll make sure you regret it later, though.’
Jin’s greatest weapon right now was the fact that they were underestimating him. That was why he wasn’t afraid of facing them all in battle despite his low stamina.
He ran for another hour. This time, he was keeping an eye out for ambushes, but the footprints remained unchanged.
In fact, he could now see the wheel tracks of a carriage in addition. Jin stopped for a moment in order to inspect those tracks.
‘The ones who captured Mesa reunited with another group here. They probably locked her in the carriage.’
Now that a carriage was involved, it would be much easier for Jin to catch up to them. The ground was uneven due to the sleet from the previous night, so they wouldn’t be able to advance quickly.
As he followed the wheel tracks for a while, Jin came across an unknown path that continued into a forest.
It was a road that led to the beastmen’s territory.
After recollecting himself and his breath, Jin entered the forest. The wheel tracks continued along the unique path into the depth of the trees.
‘Well then, how should I plan it out?’
Jin was in the middle of the Cadet Rescue Operation. An unexpected situation had arisen during their mission, so his current operation had changed from scouting to rescuing. The search mission for the tycoon’s missing son wasn’t the priority anymore.
In that case, what was the most important aspect of a rescue mission?
The answer was obvious: the protection and safety of the target.
‘Killing all my enemies isn’t the priority. I need to make sure Mesa doesn’t get hurt.’
Currently, three hours have passed since Mesa’s kidnapping.
Three hours. Too much time had passed. The dishonorable and immoral kidnappers could’ve started using Mesa as a plaything during this timespan.
However, Jin still believed that Mesa was safe. If they were humiliating Mesa, Jin would’ve caught up to them already.
The only information about Kinzelo Jin had was from the newspapers in his past life.
They were a criminal armed group of radicals, who followed a strict hierarchy on the inside. That was how Jin viewed Kinzelo.
A strict hierarchy.
That was the aspect Jin was focusing on. It was highly likely that Kinzelo’s members enjoyed their ‘spoils of war’ in an order of privilege amongst them, and hence Jin believed Mesa was still safe.
‘I should reach their branch headquarters soon if I continue along this path. And it hasn’t been long since Mesa and her kidnappers arrived there.’
About thirty minutes ago? One hour?
It was probably something between that. The kidnappers were most likely handing Mesa over to their superiors right now.
Therefore, this was the last chance he could rescue Mesa safely. Every minute, every second was crucial now. Thus, he had to attack them head-on in order to save time.
However, if he did such a frontal assault at their branch headquarters, several problems would arise.
If all the surviving members of the group were gathered there, Jin would have to face dozens of enemies on his own. And even if he could kill them all, they would probably use Mesa as a hostage.
After thinking for a few seconds, Jin nodded to himself.
‘First, I need to create confusion and chaos amongst them, so that they wouldn’t even think of using Mesa. Fortunately, we’re inside a forest right now.’
Two balls of crimson mana formed on Jin’s hands. They were the same spell the enemy magician had used earlier: the 4-star fire spell, Flame Whip.
‘Good thing I reached 4-star in magic before this mission. It would’ve been difficult to burn down a damp forest with just the firepower of a 3-star magician.’
Jin swung his two Flame Whips in all four directions. The spell has decent firepower, but its real advantage is that once it hits a target, it doesn’t get detached so easily from it.
In other words, there was no better spell than this to burn down a drenched forest. Jin cast the same spells over and over again.
Magical arson was a serious felony in this world.
However, such restrictions didn’t matter to Jin Runcandel. Once the area was ablaze, Jin then conjured wind mana.
Another 4-star spell. Once he finished casting it, a blueish wind filled with mana began blowing the blaze forward. Just like the name implied, it was a spell that created a huge gust of wind that undulated forward like a wave.
The blaze encroached onto the forest. Initially, it was unable to burn the damp trees, but once the flames grew large enough, it began swallowing everything in its path, wet or not.
And so, Jin advanced through the forest as he burned it down. He concealed his body behind the flames, taking advantage of his resistance provided by the Phoenix Heart.
His mana had greatly diminished due to blindly casting 4-star spells, but his plan was extremely successful.
Now, he could see a building in the distance. It was Kinzelo’s branch headquarters. People were exiting the building in panic one by one.
“Fire! The forest is burning!”
“Report to the captain! And gather the magicians!”
“Water! We need water!”
“Why is there a fire…?!”
Kinzelo’s members were running around chaotically. As the fire hadn’t reached the headquarters yet, they planned on extinguishing it beforehand.
‘I don’t know who their leader is, but he’s probably not crazy enough to enjoy the spoils of war during a forest fire.’
Now, he just had to kill them one by one and rescue Mesa. Jin removed the two daggers in his boots and covered them in spiritual energy.
In the meantime, Kinzelo had no idea someone was aiming for their lives. People usually can’t think rationally while in a state of panic during a sudden disaster.
If there were a single cool-headed individual amongst them, they would’ve realized this forest fire was created artificially.
However, the warriors were hastily pouring water on the fire, whereas the magicians were busy casting water or ice spells.
Jin easily managed to get near them as he was hidden amongst the flames.
A shadowy dagger flew and stabbed a magician in the neck. The victim let out a yelp, but it was camouflaged by the sound of crackling branches and the panicked shouts of the others.
‘That’s one down.’
Jin threw the corpse into the blaze and set his eyes on his next prey: an out-of-breath warrior holding buckets of water. He perished the same way as the magician.
Detecting the dark blade flying through the flames was difficult for mere 4-star warriors.
Jin retrieved one of the daggers he threw. Including the one in his robe, he still had two remaining.
‘It would be so satisfying if I killed them all like this, but even these morons would notice something if people keep disappearing like this.’
Jin lowered himself and observed the situation amongst the enemies. A man who appeared higher-ranked than the others seemed to have noticed something. He began leading the others and giving out orders.
‘I should kill him first.’
As the man yelled something that was inaudible to Jin, the men around him all took out their weapons. They then scattered around the building.
‘He had two magicians and warriors stay to put out the fire and had the others stay on alert around the building. Not a bad decision.’
Well, it would’ve been a great decision if Jin weren’t within the fire.
Jin flew towards the commander—who was left alone—like a whistling arrow. He hadn’t removed Bradamante from its scabbard yet on purpose. The metallic sound and Bradamante’s white blade would’ve ruined his surprise attack.
As Jin suddenly appeared from within the fire, the commander swung his sword around in shock and panic. The boy bent down to avoid the blade, but he couldn’t dodge the kick that followed.
As Jin rolled on the ground, the man continued his flurry of attacks.
“You rat! So you’re the one who set the forest on fire!”
The man kept aiming for the boy on the ground, and Jin rolled his body to avoid the attacks without a moment to rest. The man then threw his sword away and jumped onto Jin, seizing him.
“You fucking brat! I’ll definitely kill y—”
But Jin had allowed himself to get captured on purpose. He had also initiated this hand-to-hand fight on purpose by leaving Bradamante sheathed.
Despite the man’s entire body weight pushing down on Jin’s body, he wriggled around like a flexible snake. Before the man could realize what was happening, Jin had already snapped his neck after deforming his body into an unnatural position.
With the sound of the neck bones snapping, the man flopped onto the ground as saliva dripped out of his mouth.
‘It was my first time using the Meyer-style martial arts. Fuck, it hurts.’
Jin could only deform his body beyond its limits to kill the man thanks to the Meyer Clan’s martial arts.
He dislocated his own shoulder in mere instants and passed his legs in between their bodies to twist the enemy’s neck. It was one of the techniques written in the Meyer Clan’s secret tomes: the ‘Revenant’s Assassination’.
He had killed the man who appeared to be the leader.
All he had to do now was deal with the underlings who were mindlessly running around the blaze and the morons who were nervously guarding the building’s surroundings.
After fixing his shoulder, Jin set his gaze on Kinzelo’s branch headquarters. The old stone building was slightly smaller than the residence of middle-class nobles. Jin speculated that there weren’t many enemies left inside.
‘He also had all the keys.’
After going through the leader-like man’s corpse, Jin found a keyring and some gold coins. He threw the body and the coins into the fire and approached the building’s front gate.
As he opened the rusty iron door, the first thing he saw were candles. And on the walls were bizarre drawings he couldn’t understand the meaning behind. They were Kinzelo’s symbols.
‘What an unpleasant bunch of people.’
He stuck to the wall and walked down the corridor. Not long after, Jin realized that he couldn’t sense anyone in the area. At the very least, there wasn’t anyone on his floor.
And after using the keys to open every room he came across, there was a single key left untouched.
‘Is it a key that leads to the basement?’
As the building’s structure was fairly simple, Jin quickly found the entrance to the basement.
The remaining key fit perfectly inside the keyhole. Once he descended the stairs, he saw Mesa chained to the wall.
As soon as he saw her, Jin felt relieved.
She hadn’t experienced anything concerning yet. She was still wearing the cadets’ uniform. However, her face was bruised all over from being seemingly beaten.
Jin imbued aura into Bradamante and cut the chains tying her against the wall.
“It’s… dangerous, Young Master… Why are you…”
When he heard the very first words she spoke to him, Jin couldn’t help but clench his fist and grind his teeth.
“This isn’t the moment to worry about me, Mesa Milkano. Can you walk?”
“I don’t think I can run.”
“I see. For now I’ll support you, so let’s—”
The two of them flinched and raised their heads. With that sudden explosive sound, the entire building began trembling.