Anfey opened his eyes slowly. Under a zen state, a person's senses were unusually strong. Anfey had known someone was there as soon as the stranger approached his door.
The door slid open silently, and Anfey quietly moved over and laid down on his bed, pretending to sleep. The shadow stopped a few steps from his bed. It felt around the bed before turning and leaving through the door.
As the shadow pulled the door behind him, Anfey pushed himself off of the bed. He stalked across the room and leaned against the door, listening for any movement outside.
Whoever just came into his room was obviously not used to doing this. He was careful enough, but his breathing was too heavy, the floorboards had creaked, and when he was walking up the stairs he had almost knocked over a vase.
Seeing the stranger's clumsy moves, Anfey snorted. He had the ability to hold whoever it was down, but the whole situation seemed too strange, and Anfey didn't want to startle the stranger before figuring out exactly why someone was in his room.
Anfey followed the person to the fourth floor, and saw him disappearing into a room. Anfey inched over, sticking close to the wall, listening to the sound inside.
There were someone talking inside, but with the door closed Anfey couldn't hear much. "Time to eavesdrop," he thought.
A few minutes later, he was back in his own room. When he lifted his blanket, he found a small orange orb laying on his mattress, shining eerily.
"What is this?" Anfey frowned, poking it with his finger. When nothing happened, he grabbed it with his hand.
After a few moments playing with the orb, he put it in his pocket and left the room. He found Ernest's room and knocked softly on the door.
"Anfey?" asked Ernest.
"Yes, Uncle Ernest," Anfey said. "I'm sorry to bother you so late."
"Nonsense," Ernest said, smiling, and opened the door.
"Uncle Ernest, how did you know it was me?"
"How can I not? No one here knocks on my door. Saul never knocks, either. You're the only possible one," Ernest laughed. "Of course, I wanted to talk to you too, so thanks."
"Uncle Ernest, why are you thanking me?" Anfey said, surprised.
"Your sword skills gave me inspiration," Ernest said slowly. "You showed me a path. I believe my skills can grow significantly after some practice. Perhaps then I'll get my revenge."
"I don't know any sword arts," Anfey said shyly. "It's something that old man taught me for fun."
"No, no. I can feel it, that old man you speak of was a powerful man," Ernest said slowly. "A sword master at least, maybe even more. Anfey, you have to find him again if you get the chance."
"Uncle Ernest, are you going to spar with him?"
"Me? No, I am no match for him," Ernest said bitterly. If the man's Qi matched his, then he could never win. Even Anfey, a child, could shock him, so how powerful would the man be?
"But…" Anfey lowered his gaze. "I cannot remember where I came from."
"You will remember," Ernest consoled. "By the way, Anfey, what did you want to talk to me about?"
"Ah, yes," Anfey said. "What is this?"
"This…" Ernest stared and frowned, taking the orb. "Anfey, where did you get this?"
"Someone gave it to me," Anfey said. "What is it?"
"Someone gave it to you?" Ernest repeated. "Impossible. This is a Chasm Dragon Crystal."
"Chasm dragon? Is it rare?"
"Not just rare," Ernest said. "This is the only one, ever. Tell me everything."
Anfey told Ernest everything that had happened, including him following whoever it was that went into his room, hiding nothing. Ernest contemplated a bit, then looked up and said, "Anfey, what do you think?" Ernest had already had an idea of what the person who placed this on Anfey's bed wanted to do, but he wanted to train Anfey to think for himself, to recognize the vileness in people.
"Uncle Ernest, you mean… this belongs to Master Saul?"
"Yes," Ernest said. "Chasm dragons are horrible creatures. Dark, skilled with dimensional magic. In my knowledge, they're perhaps the most powerful dark creatures out there, with the ability to rip through time and space without any help. This crystal is very important to Saul. He treasures it."
"Ah," Anfey said. "I know what's going on."
"Someone stole this crystal and planted it in my room. When Master Saul discovers it is missing, they'll find it in my room. Then I will become the thief."
"Is that so?" Ernest said, surprised. "Do you know why they would do this?"
"Because Master Saul is too good to me," Anfey said. "Uncle Ernest, you saw how Miss Niya treated me yesterday. There are things you do not know. She was a victim too, talked into questioning me."
"What do you want to do?"
"Master Saul is so careless. Treasures like this should be kept in secret. How could people steal it?"
"On that point, you're wrong." Ernest laughed. "Saul would never be careless. You cannot feel it, but Saul had already placed a spell on the crystal, and placed the same spell in the storage room. If the two spells are separated by more than a hundred meters, the spell would activate, and no one can leave with it. It's a live coordination. Do you think anyone can leave alive with a live coordination, with one of the greatest archmage on their heels?"
"Ah," Anfey said.
"Anfey, say, what do you want to do?" Ernest asked.
"My idea… it's… well, it's slightly embarrassing." Anfey said, scratching his head.
"Nonsense. Tell me."
"If we return the crystal right now, whoever was setting me up would realize something was wrong and change their mind, then it would be more difficult to track them," Anfey said slowly. "Uncle Ernest, if this person can steal this, surely he is close to Master Saul?"
"So we have to keep quiet, like nothing had happened," Anfey said, smiling. "Let them say what they want. They may think they're cornering me, but in truth they're just back themselves into a corner."
"And then I can step in as a witness?" Ernest asked. "Smart."
"No, Uncle Ernest," Anfey said. "Evidence is stronger proof than spoken words. I think whoever did this will try to make Master Saul angry, make him lose control, leaving me no chance to explain myself. Uncle Ernest, if you step up then, Master Saul will think you're covering for me, and we won't have a chance to defend ourselves." Anfey kept referring to him and Ernest as "us," hoping to hint that they are on the same side.
"You're confusing me," Ernest said. "Anfey, you think that when I present the crystal, Saul would trust them and not me?"
"I cannot predict anything," Anfey said. "But it is possible. We can't risk it."
"What do you want to do then?" Ernest asked.
"Easy. When they come for me with Master Saul, place the crystal in a room on the fourth floor." Anfey smiled, "Uncle Ernest, you have to hide it well, not letting master realize where it is. Can you manage it?"
"Short term, maybe. Long term is practically impossible," Ernest said, closing his hand around the orb. "But trust me. You know, kid, you aren't that dumb after all."
"You know, Uncle Ernest, there are things I've never told you," Anfey said slowly.
"Can you tell me now?" Ernest asked, interested. "Of course, I won't press you if you don't want to say."
"You shouldn't blame me, you never asked. You should have noticed some of it," Anfey said slowly. "Yagor kept using us for experiments. We weren't lined up according to age or height, Yagor tended to pick randomly, and whoever was picked never came back. After a while, we all got scared, so things happened."
"No one wanted to go with Yagor, but none of us could fight him, so we started playing games with each other. We aggravated each other, making Yagor mad at other people. We hated each other, and... these are things I would rather not think about. Uncle Ernest, do you know why I'm grateful to Yagor?"
"Because ever since I was young, I've been framed time after time. I don't know why, but Yagor always spared my life, even giving me a room at the end, letting me tend to his everyday life. If it wasn't for him, I would've been long dead."