There was nothing worse than a heart yearning for death. For someone suicidal, nothing in the world could hold them back. Ale was something bland and amusing, but Shinon had to drink. He did not have the courage to face death.
The bottle fell to the ground. Shinon did not care to pick it up. He stumbled forward towards the rope. He climbed onto the table and tied a loop. He placed the loop around his neck, and kicked the table. His body began swinging in the air. The rope was pulled taut, the beam began creaking.
Something flashed through the air and cut through the rope. Shinon fell to the ground with a dull thud. The lack of air did not last long, and Shinon was still conscious. His hands searched the ground and found the ale bottle. He drained the bottle and tossed it against the wall. It shattered like a flower.
The moon peeked out from behind the grey clouds and lit the room. Shinon saw the broken rope next to the fallen table and sighed, cursing the gods. Couldn’t they just let him die? When he saw where the rope broke and its smooth surface, he realized that the rope did not break on its own. Someone had cut him down.
"Do you have money?" a hoarse voice asked.
Shinon jumped. He turned around and his eyes grew wide, staring at the man who had suddenly appeared behind him. The moon was bright, and from his angle the moonlight was all blocked out by the shadow. All he could see was darkness.
"Do you have money?" the person asked again.
Shinon smiled. He was about to die, and did not have a care in the world. Whatever the person wanted, he would give. Even if the person wanted to kill him, he would accept it gladly.
"Money?" Shinon repeated as he searched his pockets. He found a half empty wallet.
Law suits required money. He was already poor, and he had already sold everything he could. The wallet was everything he had.
"Here, have it." Shinon tossed the wallet at the figure, then pointed at the room. "It’s all yours."
The figure opened the wallet, and found three copper coins inside. The figure’s hand glowed, and picked up one of the coins. Then he threw the wallet and the two remaining coins onto the ground. "Deal," he said.
"Deal?" Shinon looked at the figure, confused. This person clearly wasn’t a robber or a murderer. He was an idiot. Who would want to make a deal with someone like him?
"Don't die so soon. Wait a few days. You’ll get a good news." The figure turned and walked outside.
"Wait!" Shinon called. "Who are you?"
"You could say I am a judge," the person said. Then he began to levitate and disappeared.
Shinon dashed outside and glanced around, but he was already alone. Could it be the Bringer of Justice? Shinon's hands flew up to his mouth. He had a feeling. It had something to do with the injustice he had suffered.
Anfey pushed open door and walked into the room. He stopped in his tracks in shock. The girls responsible for cleaning his room weren’t there. Instead, it was the princess of Shansa that was sitting on his bed, staring at the candle.
"What are you doing here? Where are the girls?"
"I sent them away," the princess said. She stood up and walked over. "I just wanted to know my name."
Anfey thought about it for a moment then said, "When I was younger, I once heard a song from a minstrel. It was called Für Alice. It was a beautiful and happy song, and I still remember it to this day. I want to give you that name. Do you like it?"
"It’s beautiful," the princess said. "Do you want me to be happy?"
Anfey did not reply. Agreeing could lead her on, disagreeing would be inappropriate.
"Did something happen?" the princess asked.
"No, why did you ask?"
"You seemed more approachable when you left, now you feel strange," the princess said. She looked at him. "You seem…austere."
"You’re sensitive to changes," Anfey said, smiling. "We ran into a bit of a trouble. Someone was following us."
"We’ll find out tomorrow." Anfey looked at the princess. "Alice, I can call you this, right?"
"I like this name."
"Do you know anything about the Griffins Aerial Unit?"
Alice blinked in shock, her expression unreadable. After a few moments she said quietly, "What do you want to know? I’ll tell you everything."
"I heard that Shansa Empire had sent out the Griffins Aerial Unit. I have a mission and my employer wants to know about them. If you know, you would save us a trip to the Transverse Mountains."
"They must be working for Maho Empire! Anfey, don’t work for them!" Alice said hurriedly.
"Alice, I must take the group's reputation into consideration," Anfey said slowly. "I know you’re Shansa Empire’s princess, but you need to know that everyone here, except for Suzanna and Shally, are people of Maho Empire. This is the reason I took the job. If you want to forget about your past, you need to leave it behind completely. Or else I cannot trust you."
"Anfey, you are putting me in a very difficult situation," Alice said. There were tears in her eyes.
"You can tell us, or you cannot tell us. This choice lies in your hands," Anfey said calmly. "Also, I believe you’re not a woman who likes tears. You should have a better way of convincing me."
However, his words did not wipe away her tears. Alice lowered her gaze and tears started rolling down her cheeks.
Anfey sighed. He looked at Alice coldly, then walked over and sat down on his bed. He wanted to changed his original plan, but he had a condition, and that was he needed to trust Alice. Alice said she wanted to forget her past, but it seemed like some things were too hard to ignore. He could tell that Alice did not want to do anything that might harm Shansa Empire. He could understand her sentiments, but he could not accept it. If she could not change, he must go through with his original plan.
Alice walked over carefully. She lifted her skirt and sat down next to Anfey. Her hand caressed Anfey’s arm and his chest. Her breathing was short and nervous. Her gentle scent and timid teases were more than enough to arouse any normal men.
Anfey, however, was as relaxed as ice. He lay there quietly, as if Alice did not exist.
"If you really need to know, I’ll tell you," Alice said with a sigh. "My father…Shansa Empire would not send out the entire unit. It’s too much of a gamble, its consequences too much to handle. Edward VIII may seem ambitious by expanding his army, but in fact he is a very cowardly men. His dream was to hand off the empire to his successor, not leaving a name for himself. Even if the chances are good, he will not risk everything."
"Maho Empire’s most powerful legion, the Roaring Dead Legion, is on the eastern front. Its leader, Baery, is famous for his hunger for battle. He had long been a thorn in his enemies’ side. In order to protect his army from major loss, Edward VIII would surely make a more conservative move, hoping Maho Empire would pit all of its might against Ellisen Empire. Then Shansa Empire could fight what was left of Maho’s army."
"Do you know anything more specific?" Anfey asked. He memorized everything Alice told him in order to tell Black Eleven about it. News like this would make the higher-ups very happy.
"I know Edward VIII would send a squadron of Griffin Aerial Unit. The plan was already made before I left the imperial city. I don’t know if they made any changes to it," Alice said softly. "The squadron has two missions. One is to find chances to kill any powerful man and woman in the service of Maho Empire. The other is to find the exact location of the Roaring Dead Legion in order to prevent it from ambushing Shansa’s army. Baery is very skilled at ambushes and battles. Plus, he is a very powerful man himself. He is the kind of men you need to look out for during a war."
"How many people are in a squadron?"
"Fifty Griffin Knights."
"What are griffins’ weaknesses? Fire? Cold? Lightening?"
"Griffins are practically immune to magic. The only kind of magic that can harm them is high level magic. The worst thing that can happen is that they do not have enough food supplies. In a past war, the supply line was disrupted, and the riders lost control of the griffins. The griffins ate all the horses in the cavalry unit and caused major commotion. Since then, the army has been very careful to make sure the griffins are fed properly."