Halfway through the feast, Blavi and Riska arrived in the city as well. Riska asked Anfey about what had happened, and after learning everything that had taken place, Blavi wanted to go find the marquis and end the conflict once and for all. Blavi had matured a lot since they first left Sacred City, but he was still quick to anger. Back in the city, he was the only one that dared to speak against Zeda.
While everyone was enjoying the feast, Urter was very busy. He was walking around and making sure everything was running smoothly. When all the guests had returned to their chambers, Urter was too tired to do anything else. He was very happy, however, because this proved that everything he had done so far was right.
Anfey, like Urter, was tired as well. He began meditating after only a few hours of sleep. For some other people, this might have been overworking, but he enjoyed the process. Meditating had became part of his life. An artist may spend hours in front of a canvas, and a mathematician may spend months over a single equation. People may think they were overworking themselves, but for them it was enjoyment.
Anfey meditated until almost midnight when he heard commotion outside. He frowned and walked to the door. The door next to his opened as well, and Miorich walked out slowly. What was surprising was that when Miorich walked, he was limping slightly.
"What happened?" Anfey asked in shock. A master swordsman like Miorich was almost always healthy. The only thing that could affect him was aging.
"It’s alright," Miorich said, shaking his head. "Don’t worry about me." He had been meditating the entire night, trying to find the way into the Sacred State. It was his life goal to be able to leave behind mundane things like the squabbles between the merchants. However, he could not find the Sacred State, and his body was sore because of the prolonged meditation.
Before Anfey could say anything else, the noise outside got louder. The two men glanced at each other and headed outside.
The courtyard in front of the mansion was filled with people. Most of the people there were members of Miorich’s guards. Some of the guards looked terrified, some looked bewildered, some looked enraged. Most of them were arguing about something.
"What happened?" Miorich asked. His voice wasn’t loud, but it was enough to calm the crowd.
"There’s Anfey!" someone in the crowd suddenly called loudly. An old man in a yellow robe appeared. The muscle on his face was twitching due to rage, and he was pointing at Anfey with shaking fingers. There was a wound on his neck. The bandage was ripped off, and blood was seeping through the cut.
"You are such a vile man," the old man said through clenched teeth. "Vile!" He wanted to lunge at Anfey, but was stopped by two swordsmasters behind him.
"Who is this?" Anfey asked, frowning.
"What are you doing here, Marquis Djoser?" Miorich asked.
"What am I doing here? Ask him!" the marquis spat angrily.
"I am asking you," Miorich said calmly. He was a soldier, but he wasn’t unfamiliar with politics. If he had looked at Anfey at that moment, he would put him into a disadvantageous position. Other people may be fooled by the marquis’s words, but not Miorich.
The marquis grew angrier. Miorich had clearly picked a side in this conflict, and did not care if he was a marquis or not. He hadn’t lost his mind, however, and knew that he was no match for Miorich. He turned his gaze to Anfey and shook his head. "I told Sneferu to go invite the general to a feast yesterday. Did I mean harm? Did I? I invited him because I respected him. What did I do to prompt you to murder my men?"
Anfey stared at the old man, but did not say anything.
"Come on, come kill me. If you are brave enough to kill my soldiers, you should be brave enough to kill me right now," the Marquis said with a hoarse voice. "If you can’t tolerate me, sure, kill me. Be my guest. But answer my question. Why kill so many innocent men?"
Miorich’s guards cleared a path for a group of swordsmen. They carried a dozen litters bearing dead bodies and set them down in front of Miorich and Anfey. The first body was Sneferu. He was half naked, his bare chest filled with scars.
What killed him was a large slash across his chest and abdomen. His entire chest was slashed open, and the wound was blackened. The other bodies all had similar injuries. All the wounds were blackened as if done with fire.
"Look at him," the marquis said, crouching down next to Sneferu. "Look at him. Do you see his scars? He risked his life for the empire, but what did he get in the end? He didn’t die on the battlefield in glory. It was because of me…" the marquis’s voice broke, and he shook his head. The swordsmaster next to him whispered something into the marquis’s ear.
"How can you do this?" the marquis pushed the swordsmaster aside and asked loudly.
Anfey was still standing there quietly. Now was not the time to speak. He had to find a flaw in the marquis’s story before saying anything.
Miorich’s guards looked at Anfey. Their eyes were hostile. They knew why they were in Violet City. It was no longer a secret that Anfey had a feud with the marquis, and Anfey was the only person who could cause wounds like those. Urter was telling the merchants about the strange sword Anfey wielded, and it was no longer a secret.
The guards didn’t care if Anfey had a feud with the marquis. In fact, they would even help him. That was why Miorich led them to Violet City in the first place, but Anfey should not have touched Sneferu. The man had been their friend and companion until only a month ago. Having him killed by his supposed ally was too much for the guards to take.
"This is all my fault," the marquis said, shaking his head. "I should have never asked Sneferu to join my guards. I wanted to help him, but I killed him." The Marquis pounded the ground with his fist, leaving bloody smears on the dirt. The swordsmaster next to him had to restrain him.
"You have to give us an answer!" one of the marquis’s men demanded.
"Yes, an answer!" the other men called. Even a few of Miorich’s guards joined in.
It was easy to rile up people’s emotions. It was very hard to control a crowd. Anfey looked like a lone rock in the middle of the sea as the crowd surged and closed in on him.
With a flash of light, Suzanna appeared next to him. Christian, Riska, Blavi, and Niya all appeared as well. Even Hui Wei was standing behind them, clutching something in his hand. Hagan was distributing his potions.
"Be quiet!" Miorich called, his booming voice echoing in the night. The crowd stopped and stared at the general.
"You say these men were killed by Anfey," Miorich said. "Do you have any proof?"
"Prove? Sneferu is the proof. These men are the proof. I am the proof," the marquis called. He pointed to the wound on his neck and cried, "I saw him with my own eyes!"
"I was with him all night last night," Miorich said calmly. "He couldn’t have done this."
The marquis laughed. "General Miorich," he said, "I know why you are providing an alibi for him. He is Lord Saul’s student, is he not? Lord Saul is your old friend. Compared to the court mage, which is a retired soldier? I am not surprised by your decision!"
Miorich’s guards froze, then turned to look at the general. They had all trusted Miorich, but nothing was absolute, and their trust in Miorich had just been shaken.
Anfey walked up and said calmly, "Don’t worry. Let me take care of this."