Chapter 52: Besieging the city (3)
The day of the competition would arrive soon. A tense atmosphere pervaded Senriga from top to bottom.
Rui Meng had originally thought that it was a sufficiently grand occasion for two great institutions to be competing on his country’s soil, but who would have thought that so many side issues would keep cropping up?
After going through a continuous cycle of asking for instructions and engaging in discussions, the supervisor finally managed to get both parties to reach an agreement two days before the competition – Saint Padeus was still the defender, but Saint Sauvy would not increase its manpower. Both parties would engage in a confrontation with the same number of people.
After receiving the news, Rui Meng’s face instantly crumbled. He plopped his buttocks on Di Lin’s bed, spending a very long time only heaving deep sighs and staring blankly without uttering a word.
Kevin, who had followed behind him and entered the room, explained to the other two people in the room, “He’s racking his brains for a battle strategy.” Changing from the attacker to the defender meant that the strategy previously decided on was now of no use. They only had one day left now, putting Rui Meng in such anxiety that a blister had even formed on his mouth.
Di Lin consoled him, “Haven’t you already compiled the magic that every person’s best at? Now, you only need to reverse it and treat it as a shield placed on the city walls.”
Rui Meng complained, “I want even more to treat those Saint Sauvy guys as meat shields and plant them into the earth.”
Kevin said, “You can discuss that again when you learn confinement magic.”
“Confinement magic?” Di Lin looked at him curiously.
Kevin asked, “Tutor Hydin hasn’t mentioned it before? A type of magic that can trap people like rope. Ah, he’s a fire-type mage. Only water, earth, and wood types can learn this magic.”
Hydin didn’t mention it not because he was a fire mage, but because he had never thought of teaching him magic.
Di Lin felt upset in his heart. But he could not voice his complaints without the slightest scruple like how Rui Meng did. His long period of enduring had already made him accustomed to keeping his frustration and gloominess in his heart. If there was anyone whom he could be completely unreserved with, it was Suo Suo. It was a pity, however, that he wasn’t of much help.
Rui Meng was still sighing.
In the end, Di Lin couldn’t continue watching on any longer and got him to bring over the map.
Rui Meng had obtained the map from the supervisor. Only the area around the walls of the town was displayed on it.
Rui Meng had drawn a bunch of circles and crosses symbolizing attacks all over the map, to the extent that the original image couldn’t be made out. He saw Di Lin furrow his brows and said awkwardly, “The original plan was to carry out a concentrated offense.”
Di Lin pointed at the densely packed, upward-pointing arrowheads on top of the city walls and asked doubtfully, “What do these mean?”
“Earth magic. Including me, there are a total of sixteen earth magic students. We can lengthen the city walls.”
Di Lin was puzzled. “Lengthen the city walls?”
Rui Meng sighed. “Pity that it can’t be used now.”
“Isn’t lengthening the city walls something that the defender should be doing?” Di Lin glanced at him.
Rui Meng blinked. “My original train of thought was that a sudden lengthening of the city walls would be very unexpected for the defenders.”
Di Lin put a damper on his enthusiasm. “Then, we’ll realize while climbing the walls that the ladders aren’t long enough.”
Rui Meng blinked again. He clearly hadn’t thought of this point.
“Oh right, how much can all of you lengthen the walls?”
“We tested it before – between five to eight centimeters.” Rui Meng continued to elaborate, “It’ll definitely be smooth, no irregular shape will appear. What do you think about using it to defend the city?”
Five to eight centimeters?
Di Lin used his fingers for a comparison before giving rise to his pent-up feelings, “I think the scaring strategy you mentioned just now isn’t bad. They can be used to trip them while they’re charging.” His gaze shifted to the curved lines in front of the city gates. “What are these?”
“Water attacks,” Rui Meng answered. “I discussed this with Kevin before. You guys can centralize your water attacks on the city doors and force the door open like a block of wood ramming against it. Of course, it isn’t of much use now.”
Di Lin replied, “How about changing it to attacking the enemies?”
“No problem, of course,” An outline gradually formed in Rui Meng’s mind and he started to point at the map in explanation, full of zest.
Di Lin listened while thinking, occasionally inserting some of his own opinions.
It was already two o’clock in the morning after they finished their discussion.
Suo Suo and Kevin had already lain down on the bed, their grip on the blanket forming a mound.
“Whee!” With some assurance in his heart, the clouds of worry that had gathered in Rui Meng’s mind finally dispersed. A smile unfolded on his face. “Why don’t we continue discussing tomorrow?”
Di Lin got off the bed and patted Kevin awake. He took the blanket out of his hands and covered Suo Suo with it.
Kevin rubbed his eyes and got off the bed. He walked to Rui Meng and yawned. “Finished discussing?”
Rui Meng leapt off the bed and hammered his legs. “We’re still allocating manpower. You know how we follow our respective teachers for lessons and have zero idea of the extent to which everyone has learnt magic. In addition, we haven’t cooperated before; there will definitely be loopholes when participating in a competition in such a short while.” When he reached this point, some grumbling was inevitable. “I don’t know what Hydin’s thinking – saying attack one moment and compromising on defending the next. The few coordination practices we had were all for attacking. Now, none of them can be used.”
Di Lin commented, “Attacking is actually defending.”
Rui Meng blinked his eyes. He hadn’t learned anything this night other than one move – to blink every time he encountered something he didn’t understand.
Sure enough, Di Lin took the initiative to explain, “Beating the other party till they’re unable to hit back means that we won’t need to defend anymore.”
Rui Meng smiled mischievously. “That makes sense. We’ll use magic to beat them till they don’t have a single piece of armor left!”
“But there’s something we have to keep in mind,” Di Lin said solemnly. “We must take turns. If not, the battle will be dragged on and we’ll be worn down.”
Rui Meng had a deep understanding of the level of toughness that students cultivated by Saint Sauvy possessed. He nodded seriously. “Relax. I have confidence in handling it.”
The other Saint Padeus tutors finally rushed over the day before the competition.
Chai Fuang and Melina were both present. Unexpectedly, so was Tang Mi·Clarklen.
Rui Meng stood in the welcoming group and asked Di Lin in a low voice, “Is he here to use the scenery as inspiration for his paintings?”
Di Lin answered, “Then I hope he only intends on painting the scenery.”
Rui Meng said, “Actually, having a team picture as commemoration isn’t bad either. In the future, it can be used to tell our juniors about our heroic dispositions when we return in triumph.”
Di Lin replied, “Are you sure you can recognize the you in the painting?”
Rui Meng declared, “What I seek is artistic conception.”
Within the span of a few statements, the travel-worn magic tutors had already entered the hotel and went to their rooms under the guidance of an attendant.
The welcoming team disbanded.
As they made their way back, quite a few people debated in low voices whether the tutors had also ridden an ox-pulled cart here.
Rui Meng was just about to drag Di Lin off to continue discussing the combat strategy when he heard Hydin’s distinct voice call out from behind them. “Di Lin.”
“!” The gloomy one was Rui Meng.
Di Lin patted his arm and then turned to walk towards Hydin.
“I want to do a small test before tomorrow’s exam,” Hydin closed the book in his hand.
“Test?” Although he had heard of it many times from other students, it was still his first time hearing it from his own tutor’s mouth.
Hydin said, “If you can’t pass it, you’ll be exempted from tomorrow’s exam. You’ll be given a fail directly.”
“…” This way of threatening was unrivaled. “What test?”
“Of course, a magic test,” Hydin stood up, threw the book into his space bag in passing, and then smiled profoundly. “Or were you prepared for me to test you on military strategies?”
No matter how slow Di Lin was, he could sense that Hydin was unhappy about his interest in military matters. As for the matter of handing the duty of commander to Rui Meng, even though he had always reminded himself not to be too concerned about it, it was truly difficult to completely put it down at this age where he was absorbed in what he envisioned his future to be like.
In the end, he couldn’t help but blurt out a question, “You don’t want me to participate in planning the tactics for this battle?”
“Why do you feel that as a magic tutor, I would wish for my own student to display his strength in military affairs during an exam?” Hydin crossed his arms over his chest as he looked askance at him.
All of a sudden, Di Lin understood what he meant. He tried to defend himself, “It doesn’t require much time.”
“No general would fail to pay attention to his tactics on the battlefield,” Hydin stated. “Whereas you are now my student. The only thing you need to pay attention to is magic.”
“An outstanding mage must work in tandem with tactics on the battlefield!”
Hydin laughed coldly. “Outstanding? You mean mediocre. Truly great mages should rely on their own strength to alter the course of the battle, and not depend on so-called tactics!”
Di Lin uttered, “Cooperating with tactics would better bring out individual strength.”
“Depending unduly on battle companions will only hinder your breakthroughs in magic. The inertia of dependence will only wear down your creativity and courage.” Hydin raised a hand and gripped Di Lin’s chin. His azure eyes stared straight into Di Lin’s eyes as he uttered every word with a pause. “Remember! At any moment, regardless of whether it’s a lack of strength or less than desirable strength, you must never doubt your ability. Forever remember that as long as you are willing, you can accomplish anything.”