Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
After a short rest, Anfey, Riska, and Suzanna continued traveling to the west. Anfey decided that it was very unlikely Dardanibry would come after him. The Shansa army just battled the necromancers, and had suffered great losses. As the heart of the army, Dardanibry should stay with the soldiers. However, he could not eliminate the possibility of Dardanibry sending an elite team to hunt him down. He only had Suzanna and Riska with him, and would be severely outnumbered. If he could make it to Moramatch, he could stop worrying about having an elite team on his trail. However, Moramatch could be placed under siege.
Shansa Empire’s Griffins Aerial Unit had less than a thousand riders, but every single griffins knight was a treasure to the nation. Destroying an entire squadron was disastrous. Anfey could only imagine how much Edward VIII must hate him. Even though he was the one that warned the Church, Shansa Empire could ignore that and still try to kill him.
The three did not stop until the moon was high in the sky. Anfey stopped and estimated how much they had left to travel, then gestured for Suzanna and Riska to stop. They were lucky, and found a hole in a tree where they could rest.
The trio was ready to rest, but not before they prepared the hole. The tree was very large, and the hole was big enough for Anfey to stretch himself out. However, it was infested with ants, insects, and venomous animals like snakes.
Anfey was responsible for the cleanup. For someone who could control hundreds of fireballs, it was a very easy job. After a few minutes, the entire interior of the hole was charred. Touching the wall would result in a handful of soot. Anfey looked at his hand, reached over and wiped the dark soot on Suzanna’s face. Anfey could control his emotions, but Riska couldn’t. His reaction tipped off Suzanna, who wiped some soot on Anfey’s face as retribution.
Anfey and Suzanna kept wiping soot on each other’s faces and laughing. Riska sat nearby, and was bored and jealous at the same time.
Riska though of the saying about women and crooks being hard to keep under control, meaning that if one became close with a woman or a crook, the person would forget that he was not the one in control. If one try to distance himself, than they would began to hate him.
Many believed that women should obey men’s every order and respect men, and men did not have to do anything.
Anfey had alway thought the belief to be nonsense. When he was still an assassin, he believed that a home was somewhere he could be by himself and completely relax. Since he could not and would not relax, he had always rejected every woman. For the longest time, he had never had a relationship that lasted for more than a night. If Anfey hadn’t believed that home was a place where he should relax, he might have already married.
Since he and Suzanna began their relationship, the two of them had became incredibly close. For some more conservative men, perhaps even disrespectful. However, Anfey loved that about Suzanna. In the past, Suzanna had been so sullen because of her past. Now, Suzanna was acting more like a young woman her age.
In the end, Anfey admitted defeat and called Riska over to use water magic. Anfey wanted to help, but Suzanna insisted on Riska helping. She didn’t know whether Anfey really wanted to help her or he simply wanted to play another prank.
After Suzanna and Riska fell asleep, Anfey sat there and played with some leaves. Then he closed his eyes and began taking slow, deep breaths.
His usually calm state of mind was different. Anfey discovered that this time, the meditation was a whole new experience. Not only his surroundings, but almost the entire forest was cle
ar in his mind. If he wanted to, he could see everything.
If he was a normal person, maybe he would try to see as far as he could, or try to see everything. However, Anfey knew the effects meditation could have. When a person’s mind was calm enough, he could see many realistic mirages. Like the woman he fancied, the beasts he feared, his troubles and joys. Everything was a simple mirage, and it was a difficult step in achieving the next level in his skills. If one really believed the mirages, he risked losing himself.
When he was learning, his mentor stressed that he should be calm at all times. Nothing was real. Anfey was not moved by the mirages. He took a deep breath and began to calm his mind down.
A colorful snake slithered towards the hole. It stopped outside, hissing. It turned away and left as if it could sense what was inside. Two bugs nearby were mating, but before they could finish, a bird swooped down and pecked them off of the ground. The bird chirped happily. Normal birds could not see in the dark. Clearly this bird was not a common species. A group of rats were ripping chunks of flesh off of the body of a small magic beast. There were too many rats, and the body was soon picked clean. A wounded rat limped over, but the small magic beast had no flesh on its bones anymore. Driven by hunger, the wounded rat began licking the bones. The rats swarmed the wounded one, and soon only bones were left.
Anfey frowned. Usually, he only needed to concentrate and calm himself to make a mirage disappear. This time, however, the mirage lingered. What was even stranger was that the mirages happened all at once instead of one after another. In this moment, his mind seemed infinite, large enough to hold everything.
Anfey decided he should stop meditating. He took a deep breath and opened his eyes. The leaf on his chest burst into blinding white light. Anfey’s heart skipped a beat. What was even more shocking than the glowing leaf was the fact that he could see the forest even after he had opened his eyes.
He realized he might have just lost himself meditating. Anfey took another deep breath, and did not panic. He kept his breathing steady, and began to search for ways to escape the mirages.
Even after more than three hundred breaths, Anfey still could not find a way to escape. Mirages could cause people to lose themselves because people chose to believe the mirages were real. Anfey always tried to keep warning himself that what he was seeing was not real.
After a few minutes, Anfey began trying to move his body. He couldn’t just sit and wait for the mirages to disappear. It would take forever. Waiting wasn’t the right thing to do.
He could see the inside wall of the hole and the tree’s bark. He could even see something between the inside and the outside of the tree. He closed his eyes, then opened them slowly, but he discovered that no matter what he did, the image did not change.
There was a caterpillar climbing down the tree. Anfey walked out of the hole and poked the caterpillar. He flicked the insect away, and felt its body on his fingers.
He had to admit that the mirages were unbelievably real. No wonder so many people lose themselves because of these mirages.
A normal man might have already believed that the mirages were real, but Anfey kept reminding himself that they were not. He still had so many things he hadn’t done. He did not want to die this way. He couldn’t let himself believe it was real.
But how would he find a way out? Anfey frowned and walked back into the hole. His gaze fell on Suzanna and he noticed something strange. In the mirage, he could see through the tree and see what was inside it. Logically, he should be able to see what was inside Suzanna, as well. However, she was simply lying there, no different from how he had normally seen her.
Perhaps Suzanna would provide a way out for him. Anfey walked over and sat down next to her quietly. He lifted her head up with his hand and let her rest in his arms. Suzanna’s eyes flickered open, and she stared at Anfey.
Anfey knew that mirages were the reflection of what he was thinking. In the mirage, Suzanna would display the expression Anfey believed she would display. Anfey felt angry. He didn’t like the mirage controlling Suzanna’s expression. His hands reached down and grabbed her breasts. Her body was warm and soft under his fingers.