In order to protect themselves, Shansa Empire had ordered all of its troops to retreat from Maho Empire immediately.
General Miorich and the commanders at Blackania City began to execute their plans to end the siege. The army there would began to shift from a defensive strategy to an offensive one. They wanted to eliminate as many enemy soldiers as possible, and take the enemy supply lines. Yolanthe had agreed to the plan, but after the news of that reached Blackania City, the Shansa soldiers had already all retreated. The supplies had been left where they were. Normally, unused supplies should be destroyed during a retreat. Perhaps because they wanted to surprise the Maho soldiers, the Shansa army did not destroy or take any of the supplies with them.
Miorich was full of regret. Half of the mages under his command were dead at that point, and he had ordered an end to scouting missions to ensure the safety of the remaining mages. His job was to secure the city, and he was not planning on attacking the Shansa army. Blackania City was very large, and it would take at least eighty mages to watch the entire city with Eyes of the Sky. These mages would be practically useless in combat because of their magic depletion.
Shansa Empire did not care for Anfey and his crew. There were armies marching through the Transverse Mountain, but no one tried to look for trouble at Moramatch. Shansa Empire would seek retribution, but now was not the time.
Interestingly, after Maho Empire’s war was over, the situation in Country of Mercenaries became very tense. The four major mercenary groups had been trying to ally themselves with weaker mercenary groups and trying to find more partners. They seemed to think a country with four leaders was too chaotic, and all four were determined to be the sole leader of the nation. None of the mercenaries had discernible advantages over another, and only time could tell who would become the sole leader of the Country of Mercenaries.
After he had gotten recognition and trust from Yolanthe, Anfey did not try to bother the Shansa army. It was not like his small mercenary band could really make a difference. It was the wiser choice to just observe from a distance.
The others were relaxed, but not Anfey. Ever since he came of age, he had not had a normal day. He was always fighting for something. When he was on the island, he had to train for hours on end to stay alive. Things had not changed much now. He could not relax as long as there was a threat.
The unicorn became more clingy, perhaps even more than Suzanna. When Anfey was meditating, it would sit and watch him. When he went on a walk, it would stay very close to him. When Anfey was sleeping, it had to sleep next to him. Even though Niya, Shally, and Suzanna tried to convince the unicorn to play with them, it would ignore them and stay stubbornly by Anfey’s side.
There was one time the unicorn was lying on his chest, trying to eat the leaf hanging from his neck. After a few minutes of futile work, the unicorn lied down again, disappointed. Anfey realized it must have felt the leaf’s power, and that was the reason the unicorn was following him.
As Anfey sat under a tree, Christian walked over with Black Eleven. Anfey was reading a book on magic. In order to succeed, he must combine theory and practice, especially when his path was so unusual.
"Anfey," Christian called.
"What is it?"
"The prince and Master Saul are heading back to the city," Christian said softly.
"You’re saying we are free to return, as well?"
"I'm worried," Anfey said with a sigh. "Who knows if Master Saul will blame me for getting everyone into trouble." What he had done lately proved that he was hiding a lot of secrets, and he did not know how Saul would react if he found out.
"You are worried?" Christian asked with a chuckle. In his mind, Anfey was a considerate and controlled person who was not worried about anything. Everything he did, from killing those men at Saul’s place, to inducing chaos in White Mountain City, to attacking the aerial squadron, proved that he was very brave.
Anfey smiled but did not say anything. He was not afraid of threats, but he was afraid of retribution. He had always lived by a very simple set of rules. He would repay kindness with kindness. He treated people coldly because he could not afford any emotional entanglements.
"We should start getting ready," Christian said, sitting down next to Anfey. "There are a lot of things to take care of."
"What about Moramatch?" Black Eleven asked, sitting down on the other side of Anfey.
The unicorn lifted its head, unhappy that Black Eleven had blocked Anfey from its vision. It moved over and squeezed between the two, and lied down again.
"Are there people who want to stay?" Anfey asked. They could not give up Moramatch. He needed a foothold for Maho Empire’s future expansion into Country of Mercenaries.
Christian and Black Eleven fell silent at the question. It did not matter if people in the team wanted to return to the Sacred City. Who should they leave behind? Black Eleven had received an order from Yolanthe that requested him to accompany Anfey back to the Sacred City, so he could not volunteer to stay. The person who stayed must be able to handle troubles, should trouble arise.
"Why don’t you go back? I will stay," Christian said slowly.
"No," Anfey said immediately. He trusted Christian enough to leave him there, but he would also anger some very important people back in the Sacred City.
"I have a idea," Black Eleven said suddenly.
"Do you remember the woman we saved from the slave holders?"
"We saved a lot of women from the slave holders. Which one are you talking about?" Christian asked.
"The prettiest one," Anfey said. He knew immediately which one Black Eleven was talking about.
"I've talked to her a few times before. She doesn’t talk much, but she is a very sensible person."
"When did you talk to her? You didn’t have ulterior motives, did you?" Anfey asked, smiling.
"I'm serious," Black Eleven said, waving his hand. As a spy, he was almost as good as Anfey at controlling his desires, perhaps even better. He approached Alice because he was curious about her, and wanted to know more about Shansa Empire.
"Don’t you know? She is dangerous," Anfey said slowly.
"Have you noticed? She never tries to initiate conversations, but she always smiles when other people try to talk to her. Have you ever seen her eat?"
"No," Anfey said. "Why should I care?" Anfey was good at observing details, but not with Alice. Perhaps it was because Alice once tried to seduce him, he would try to stay away from her as much as possible. Even if she was sitting in front of him, he would intentionally ignore her. Therefore, he had never really observed her.
"She eats regularly, and every time she eats she is very careful. Sometimes the food was not ideal, and the others would not finish their meals. She, on the other hand, would finish every last bit," Black Eleven said slowly. "She is very healthy. Normally, people in her position would sink into the pit of depression, but she hasn’t yet. She wants to live. She won’t seek death."
Anfey frowned and tried to recall his interactions with Alice. "You’re right," he said, nodding.
"She won’t able to return to her homeland again. Being a slave was a shameful thing, and she would be a joke if she ever returns," Black Eleven said. "Anfey, she is homeless. It shouldn’t be hard to get her to do as we wish."
"What if…" Anfey said, still hesitant.
"I can leave some of my men here," Black Eleven said. "To protect and keep an eye on her. If she attempts to do something, my men will take care of it. Trust me when I say she wants to live. She won’t try to do anything. In the end, she is one person, and even if she does try to do something, she can’t cause that much harm."
"Let me think about," Anfey said.
"I think you should go talk to her," Black Eleven said with a smile.
"Me?" Anfey blinked and asked.