22 Chapter Twenty-Two
(Correlated with the manhua's chapter 22)
"GUYS! THAT WAY!" Mo Fan noticed a thin stairwell of stone cut into a cliffside and cast a fire strike in its direction to reveal its presence to his classmates. After confirming that most of his peers became aware of the stone stairs, he gave his orders. "MAINTAIN THE SAME RHYTHM OF SPELLS WHILE HEADING TOWARD THE STAIRS!"
A few more seconds passed as the students passed the orders along to those on the outer edge of the group and Zhou Kun San lifted the one student who collapsed, placing him over his shoulder. Then, Mo Fan yelled, "MOVE!"
Now with a plan, the students didn't feel so much dread. If they managed to keep the giant wolf at bay long enough to travel the few hundred meters to the stairs, then they would be safe, protected by the cliff walls for at least enough time to refill on magical energy.
It was only a few minutes, but they were grueling minutes. Most of the students from Mu Bai's group were near depleted of magical energy from having cast so many spells. That itself wasn't surprising, because although the members of their class were the top of their grade, they were still only level one, and thus limited in energy.
Similarly, Mo Fan's group were nearing depletion, but weren't as close to it. Their group was made up of the top of their class, which were already the top of their grade. Such talents were nearing the second level and had larger magical energy reserves than their peers.
"This can't go on much longer! We're nearly out of magical energy! We have to take a risk!" One of Mu Bai's group members got the attention of the other students and gave his idea. "We're within sprinting distance of the stairs, so if we time our attacks just right, we can run, then turn around to attack, and repeat the pattern! This slow walk won't do!"
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After the few minutes of making their way to the stone stairs, the monster attacking them also began to grow tired and hadn't put too much effort into its attacks, seemingly waiting for the students to mess up again. Thus, the students weren't attacking so frequently that the explosions would drown out their conversations.
After hearing the student's proposal, everyone turned toward Mo Fan, even Mu Bai. They waited for him to make the decision, turning every few tens of seconds to send another volley of magical attacks at the beast. The pressure from their stares was almost enough to make Mo Fan nervous. Almost.
"I say we go for it!" Mo Fan quadruple-checked that the distance between them and the stairs wasn't too much. "On the count of three, turn around and sprint for the stairs. When you do, count two seconds, then turn around and fire at the wolf. We'll repeat the process until we make it to the stairs. If the wolf gets too close, use a movement spell to boost your speed. Any objections?"
A few moments of silence passed and not even Mu Bai protested. Though, Mo Fan suspected Mu Bai was trying to come up with any way to oppose his authority.
At the final number, the students turned on their heels and made a break for the stairs, causing the giant wolf to raise its head in alarm, seeing as the humans it was attacking had seemingly found a path to escape it.
The beast bared its fangs and sprang into action, bolting at its full speed, unwilling to allow the victims to flee. Then, when it made it within twenty meters of its prey, they turned around and launched another volley of magic, striking the beast and pushing it back, then returned to their sprint. The wolf became enraged and resumed its chase, but the same thing happened. Again, and again.
*"At this pace, we'll really make it!"* Mo Fan internally celebrated at their progress, daring to flash a devilish smile, even under the circumstances.
Then, karma bit him in the ass.
"We-we're out of magical energy!"
Mo Fan looked to see that a few of his peers were struggling to continue running, being affected by the backlash which came from emptying one's magical energy reserves.
"T-that's fine! Just keep running! The rest of us can still keep it at b-"
Mo Fan was suddenly interrupted by a familiar cry of pain—Zhou Kun San tripped while carrying the incapacitated classmate.
"NO!" Mo Fan shouted. He immediately came to a stop and changed the plan. "IF YA DON'T HAVE ENERGY, RUN! IF YOU DO, FIGHT!"
The short command was all he could get out before the monster was back on their tail, bounding toward them. Thankfully, he didn't have to tell his classmates anything else before they jumped to action, Mu Bai blocking the wolf's path with ice and Xiao Hou making use of a movement spell to make himself just slightly faster than the wolf and preparing to distract it.
Zhou Min assisted Zhou Kun San in rising before sending him on his way again toward the stairs, then joining Mo Fan and the others.
"Don't worry, guys! We can still make it!" Xiao Hou reassured. "I'm fast enough to dodge its attacks, so I'll be the bait while you guys run! As soon as you guys get close enough to the stairs, cover me with long-range spells!"
Before anyone could raise an objection to his nigh-suicidal plan, the wolf made it past the ice obstacles and Xiao Hou shot a wind blade to catch its attention.
"GO!" He roared.
Everyone stood in shock for a few seconds as Xiao Hou kept his word, nearing the wolf and dodging its paw swipes by only a few centimeters, completely keeping its attention on himself.
"He's really doing it…guess the monster isn't a speed type."
"While it's distracted, go!"
Xiao Hou's classmates didn't hesitate too long before they began running again, this time, with magically enhanced speed.
"Mo Fan, what are-" Xiao Hou dodged a paw, "doing?!"
"As if I'd leave you behind!"
*"I'm also a lightning mage! In the worst-case scenario, I'll just reveal myself. After all, I won't be THAT much slower than Xiao Hou if I use lightning."
"Xiao Hou, they made it! Now let's escape, too!"
It hadn't been long, but everyone else except the two of them made it to the stone stairs. All they had to do n-
The wolf landed a hit on Xiao Hou, creating a horrifying crunch sound and sending his body flying.