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Amelia was using wind magic to enhance her speed while I shrouded myself in a crackling lightning aura.
She moved like a fleeting gust, while bolts of electricity carried me forward akin to a flash of light.
In a mere fifteen minutes, I reached the location that Nero and the others had shared with us.
Amelia quickly caught up, coming to an abrupt stop beside me after seeing me standing there.
In front of us was a dilapidated Clock Tower. Its ruined walls looked weathered and cracked, with patches of moss visible here and there.
Its clock itself was broken, the minute hand dangling down while the hour hand pointed upwards - forever frozen in time.
The peculiar sight of a Clock Tower hidden amidst the thick forest was just weird.
Why was it built?
What was the reason for its existence?
"Lucas, why are you just standing there?" Amelia's voice snapped me out of my daze. "Let's go inside. Unless… you want to lose so I won't have to do the assignments. Aw, how thoughtful."
I turned to face Amelia, holding back a scoff. "No chance."
"No chance!" I repeated. "You're the one who's going to lose. I don't want to do those assignments."
"Huh?!" Amelia furrowed her brows. "So you want to fight?! Fine. Because I'm not doing those assignments either!"
Stepping back, Amelia summoned her bow and notched an arrow, swiftly aiming it at me.
"Too bad," I shrugged, a smile playing on my lips. "Because you've already lost."
The frown on Amelia's face deepened, but before she could grasp what had happened, my body wavered and vanished into thin air before her eyes like a distant mirage that was never truly there.
"…What the hell?!"
"Oh, Lucas. You're here."
Nero was the first to know my presence as soon as I arrived on the topmost floor of the Clock Tower.
I nodded back at him and quickly moved forward. There was a metal pole plunged into the ground in the middle of the floor.
Flaring on that pole was a white cloth with Kent, Anastasia, and Nero's names written on it with a black marker.
All I had to do was write my name on it. Then Amelia would do the same and we would win.
We were going to win without a single member of our Unit eliminated. This was a perfect victory.
But there was a problem. I could still feel someone's gaze on me. Tch, Quinn. He was still spying on me.
I wonder when he'll show up.
"Bro, why do you look so panicked?"
I turned my gaze at Kent then shifted my attention back to Nero. "Quick! Give me the marker. I think Quinn's shadows are watching me."
Nero frowned and held out his hand, extending me the marker. I grabbed it from him and moved toward the flag.
"Where is Amelia?" Anastasia asked. "I saw you both coming here.""She's coming," I said while scribbling on the white cloth with the marker. "And she lost since I came here before."
Right as we were talking about her, Amelia entered the floor, cursing. "What the hell, Lucas?! That was cheating!"
I grinned, finishing writing my name on the flag. "Your fault for not realizing it was a mirage."
Amelia angrily strode up to me and snatched the marker off my hands, giving me a narrow glare.
"You're heartless," she pouted and started writing her name on the flag.
"Well, this was an easy victory," Anastasia shrugged. "Once again, you crafted a nice strategy, Lucas."
"No," I shook my head with a smile. "It was an easy game."
Nero chuckled. "It wasn't. Anastasia is right. Without your insight, we could never have guessed the Clock Tower's location. And without your plan, we would've had to fight several Units on our way here-"
Suddenly, Nero stopped. His eyebrows scrunched up in a deep scowl as his face contorted with a confused expression.
Suddenly seeing him stop talking, I tilted my head. "What's wrong, Nero?"
"Did you say Quinn's shadows were following you?" Nero turned to me and asked.
"Yes," I nodded. But suddenly, an unsettling feeling welled up in my heart. "I… can still feel someone's gaze on me."
"What?" Kent frowned in confusion. "Why is he still looking? I don't know very much about him or shadow magic, but I at least know that Quinn can use his shadows to attack."
"Yeah," Anastasia nodded. "So why isn't he attacking? Why is he letting us win?"
Nero's eyes widened. "Because it's not Quinn!"
Everyone present here uncomfortably shifted their gazes to the black-haired swordsman.
The atmosphere in the Clock Tower turned palpable with anticipation and dread as Nero spoke his next words.
"On my way here, I saw Quinn and Kai locked in a fight! Both of them eliminated each other! Since eliminated Cadets can't participate, it must be someone else who's been keeping an eye on you!"
My pupils constricted as a chill raced down my spine. If it wasn't Quinn, then who had been following me all this time?
As if waiting for that signal, the ground beneath us cracked and crumbled before we could react.
In an instant, enormous jaws burst through the disintegrating ground from both sides, closing in on us.
But before the colossal jaws could eat us, we acted swiftly. I activated my Lightning Aura, enveloping myself in a crackling shroud of electricity.
Nero deployed his Light Aura, his body emitting a blinding burst of light.
Meanwhile, Amelia cast her wind magic, letting tumultuous gale surround her lithe figure.
Together, we dashed towards the nearest window, with Nero and I each grabbing Kent and Anastasia.
Before the massive jaws could close shut, we had shattered the weathered glass of the window and leaped out of the Clock Tower.
The Clock Tower was as high as a standard six-story building, so the fall was not going to kill or even cause severe injury since all of us were either using Martial Aura or high-ranked magic.
And just as I thought, we all landed gracefully on the ground. Letting go of Anastasia, I turned to look at the tower, just like everyone else.
The tower walls trembled and collapsed, revealing a colossal creature within.
It was a titanic snake, adorned with shimmering cyan scales, each larger and thicker than modern military tanks, and a massive serpentine head adorned with a pair of cyan eyes.
Large tusk-like fangs jutted out from beneath both its jaws, and a wild, primal fury was visible in its vertical reptilian pupils.
But the most terrifying thing about this creature was that more than half of its body was still underground.
The serpent shifted, perhaps realizing it didn't kill its prey, and then turned its sharp, primordial gaze on us.
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