"Y-Yes," Ozzic said. His voice was shaking and he was trying to calm himself down. There was nothing wrong with Anfey’s warm, bright smile, but it set Ozzic on edge.
"Alright. Everyone please be quiet. Let’s…" Anfey’s eyes turned to the young man called Ye, and stopped. Even though he was still keeping up the act with Ozzic, there was an uneasiness in his expression, as if he was uncomfortable. As he killed, he was fast and determined. As Anfey and Ozzic talked, he had already killed half of the mercenaries who were injured by the zombies. Even though the mercenaries did not resist, his ability of killing his former companions without hesitation shocked Anfey.
"It seems you do not have any experience dealing with necromancers," Anfey said, walking over to him.
"Thank god I do not," Ye said, "or else I would not be here, talking to you." He was talking to Anfey, but he did not stop slashing at the mercenaries. Another wounded man slumped to the ground.
"This won’t stop them from turning into zombies," Anfey said. He glanced around and found that all the mercenaries had sword wounds. One could kill a man this way, but could not stop them from turning into zombies.
"How do you propose we do this?"
"Find some mages. Only fire can stop them from changing," Anfey said. He raised his voice and said, "Everyone, listen to me. The necromancers have escaped, and trust me when I say they will return with even more zombies. We have to leave immediately."
"Leave? No. We cannot let our brothers die in vain!" one of the mercenary leaders called out.
"You do what you want," Anfey said. "I am leaving." He glanced at Suzanna, who walked over slowly.
"Coward," the mercenary leader spat.
"Be quiet!" Ozzic bellowed. "If it wasn’t for Anfey and Suzanna, we would all be dead." It was unclear what Ozzic thought of Anfey, but no matter what, he had his own moral standards he needed to follow. For a leader of a group of mercenaries and the person who forged a major mercenary coalition, he had to have some good qualities, or else no one would work for him, and he would not survive in the world.
"Are we just going to run, then? What of our fallen brothers?" the mercenary leader asked.
"There are thousands of zombies back there," Anfey said, pointing in the distance, "and at least a dozen necromancers, one among who is a senior necromancer. This isn’t the time for revenge. What we should do is prevent the number of zombies from increasing."
The mages Ye had fetched released fire magic, and turned the middle of the grassy clearing into a fiery inferno. The sun shone bright overhead. It didn’t matter whether those mercenaries would turn into zombies or not. They would never be able to leave the place.
The mercenary leaders glanced at each other. There was no possible way the mercenaries could defeat thousands of zombies and a dozen necromancers.
"We just have to wait three more days for the arrival of the Priests of Light. They are more experienced dealing with dark creatures like zombies," Anfey said slowly.
"Priests of Light? Why would they come to Country of Mercenaries?" Ozzic asked.
"I sent my man back to White Mountain City to contact the Church when we found the zombies. All we need to do is wait for backup." Anfey paused. He glanced at the mercenaries and added, "I think we all know what the right choice is."
"Alright. We depart immediately," Ozzic said. "Are you leaving with us?"
"No, I need to return to my men," Anfey said, shaking his head.
"You saved our lives today. We are in your debt," Ozzic said. "We will be on our way. Farewell."
"Goodbye," Anfey said.
Mercenaries were not like real soldiers, but their movement was still very fast. Seeing the mercenaries disappearing into the forest, Anfey smiled. "Debt?" he murmured and shook his head. It was all for show. The mercenaries had just called him a coward, and it was clear what the mercenaries thought of him.
"Anfey, let's go," Suzanna said quietly.
"Wait." Anfey walked over to the side slowly. The large butterfly that led the mercenaries to the middle of the magic array was lying on the ground, half hidden under the dirt. It was not glowing like it had been moments ago, and was no different from usual butterflies except for its enormous size. The situation was too chaotic and intense, and the butterfly stopped moving after it fell to the ground. The mercenaries must have forgotten about it.
Anfey reached out with his foot and flipped the butterfly over. Somethings could only be observed from the distance, like this butterfly. Its large black eyes were unblinking and ferocious, its body was covered by short, sharp hairs. The two antennae were blood red and dangling, like the guts of a butchered animal. The legs were the size of a child’s forearm, and the hairs on it reflected cold light. It did not look like the divine being it did a few minutes ago. Instead, it looked like a demon that just escaped hell.
No matter how far a man travels from his homeland, its effects would be hard to wear off. For someone from the far east, butterflies were beautiful and delicate. Anfey was interested in the butterfly because he thought he had encountered a butterfly spirit that could morph into humans. He was sorely disappointed.
"What is this?" Suzanna walked over and asked.
"I don’t know."
"I’ve never seen anything like this," Suzanna frowned and said. "Never heard of one, either. It’s dead now. It’s been dead for a long time."
Anfey held out his right hand and summoned his fire sword. He stabbed the butterfly with the sword at the point where there was a piece of gold chained to the butterfly’s body with silver chains.
Anfey did not try to pick it up with his hands. He summoned a ball of water, and enveloped the golden fragment in the water. He turned the water ball into a ball of ice, and placed it into a box made with antimagic crystal.
"We should bring the butterfly back to show Hui Wei and Hagan," Anfey said, shaking his head. "Riska, destroy it." His dimensional ring was made by Saul himself and was very powerful, but it still had a limit. There were already too many things in the ring. Anfey didn’t trust anyone with his crystals, scrolls, books, and weapons. Those were the life collection of Saul, and he knew he had to keep it safe. There was no place for the large butterfly.
Riska whispered a spell and waved his hand. A wave of flame swept towards the butterfly, and the creature was swallowed by flame.
"What’s that smell?" Suzanna frowned, sniffing. "Do you smell that? It smells good."
Anfey smelled the pleasant aroma as well. He glanced around, and realized the aroma was coming from the burning butterfly. He lowered himself to observe the creature. He could control the elements, and it did not bother him. He was so close his face was almost in the fire, but he could not feel any burning sensation. Of course, Anfey was only strong enough to control flame that was not controlled by other mages. If he was standing in the way when Riska released the flame, he would surely burn.
Something was oozing out of the butterfly, then the liquid solidified and turned into stones. The pleasant aroma was coming from the stones.
"Something’s wrong," Riska suddenly said. "I think the necromancers are coming back."
Anfey glanced towards the distance and shook his head. "Don’t worry. They aren't fast enough." He released a dozen small fireballs that grouped together and formed a large hand. The hand reached into the flame and grabbed the stones, then it returned and dropped the stones in front of Anfey.
"It’s not magic crystal, is it?"
"I don’t think so," Riska said, looking over his shoulder.
"What is it then?"
Suzanna and Riska glanced at each other and shook their heads. Suzanna reached over to grab a stone and observe it up close. Anfey stopped her and said hurriedly, "Wait. We don’t know what it is. I don’t want you getting hurt."
Suzanna smiled and let her hand fall back to her side. Riska thought it was a normal response, but Suzanna knew that was how Anfey cared for her.
Anfey found another box and placed the rocks inside. "Let’s go," he said.
"Nowhere," Anfey said, grinning. "Let's play hide and seek with the necromancers."