The portal was the only way the general and the emperor could communicate when the general was away at war. The portal was right next to Miorich’s residence in order to prevent any information from getting out. It was also the innermost part of the mansion, and it would be difficult for intruders to fight through every level of security check. This was done in most cities to prevent security breaches. Everyone knew the importance of securing information.
Anfey did not know when Miorich began putting the plan in motion and how he had sent his orders. Miorich’s men were very efficient, however, and the portal was already activated by the time they reached it. Even a common person could sense the magic surges coming off of the portal. The crystal in the middle turned from a solid mass into pure energy, and was floating in the air above the portal like mist.
"What are we doing here?" Suzanna asked quietly.
"We’re going to Sacred City."
"Sacred City? We’re teleporting everyone?" Suzanna asked, shocked. This was such a lavish way of transporting people. Transporting across such a long distance would cost thousands of magic crystals. It would be more riches than a normal family could ever dream of.
"No, just a few of us."
"What about Shally?"
"Shally’s coming with us, of course. She's my sister too, and I won’t abandon her," Anfey said with a smile.
Suzanna frowned but smiled nonetheless. She did not know if that was the truth or it was Anfey trying to please her, but it didn’t matter. As long as Shally was safe, Suzanna was happy.
"Are we using the portal?" Niya walked over and asked. "Will I see father again soon?"
"Of course," Miorich said, glancing at the mages around the portal. "Are you happy?"
"Yes!" Niya said excitedly. "Of course! You’re the best!" She squealed and hugged Miorich.
The runes around the portal slowly lit up as the mages began chanting. One of the mages took away the protective dome over the portal, and the magic surges became several times stronger. The energy above the portal rose upwards. The energy did not disperse in the air, like it should have, but instead lurched towards the people standing around the portal.
Anfey frowned, but did not try to avoid it. He knew that energy like this would not harm him. As the energy came closer and closer, it began to condense. It finally became a thin column and crashed into Anfey’s chest and disappeared. It was as if something was absorbing the energy. Everyone frowned and stared at Anfey, confused by the strange occurrence.
"What just happened?" Miorich asked.
"Nothing," Anfey said. He moved his arms and smiled.
"Alright," Miorich said. He looked at Anfey, who did not display any signs of discomfort. He turned to Niya and said, "Come stand here. Laura had been asking about you. Don’t forget to visit her when you’re back."
"Of course not," Niya said, smiling. "I miss her a lot, as well." Laura was Miorich’s daughter and Niya’s good friend.
Anfey closed his eyes. He had already realized that the Arch Druid’s gift could absorb the forest’s energy and become one with nature. That was why he could see things that were far away from him. It was the Heart of Nature that absorbed the energy just then, but compared to the energy in the forest, this energy was much more powerful.
In the past he could only see the ants, but now he could see the details on the ants' bodies. In the past he could only see shapes of people, but now he could see the details of their features. Everything became so much more clear and bright, and all the colors became more vibrant. Anfey had never experienced anything like this. It was as if he had always looked at the world through fog, and could only see it clearly with the Heart of Nature.
As Niya was walking over to the portal, her ears suddenly moved. In the past, Anfey would have never been able to spot something like that. Miorich was watching Niya, and as he blinked, Anfey saw his eyelids wiping away dirt from his eyes. Suzanna sighed, and Anfey could see the shape of her breath and how it blew a few tiny bugs away.
It was hard to describe what it was like to see the world in such a detailed and clear way. Not only could he see more clearly, Anfey could feel things more acutely, as well. Before he could further enjoy this sensation, however, it began to fade. Before the power completely disappeared, however, Anfey saw one of the mage’s eyes gleam suspiciously.
"Niya!" Anfey bellowed suddenly.
Niya was already stepping onto the portal, but jumped back and turned to stare at Anfey. The others around him were frightened by his sudden shout as well, but Miorich and his men only looked at him.
"What’s wrong?" Christian asked.
"Niya, get away from that portal," Anfey said. He turned and walked to the suspicious mage.
Whenever Anfey become serious, no one would try to object. Niya stepped away from the portal and rejoined the group. Suzanna’s hand was resting on the hilt of her sword and observing the changes in the surroundings. Unlike everyone else, Suzanna did not grow up in Sacred City and did not treat Miorich as the absolute authority. She was alert, and suspecting everyone except for her friends.
Anfey walked over the mage and stared into the man’s eyes. Compared to other parts of the body, it was the hardest to lie when someone looked into one’s eyes.
"Excuse me, my lord, what can I do for you?" the mage asked.
"Christian, check the portal," Anfey said without moving his eyes away from the man.
"Me?" Christian asked. He was only a junior magister, and it would be difficult for him to check on a portal. Christian did not even have the experience, and it was almost an impossible task.
"What do you mean, my lord?" another mage interrupted and asked. Clearly, Anfey was suspecting that something was wrong. This directly affected their reputation, and it was unacceptable for the mages.
"Nothing," Miorich said. "His words are mine, and you will obey him." Miorich did not know what was happening, but he trusted Anfey. He was familiar with Saul, and knew Saul’s students very well. After reuniting with Saul's students, he realized how mature they had become. They had been on their own for the entire time, and did not have any contact with Saul. The only person that could lead them and guide them was Anfey. Miorich would never ignore Anfey’s opinions. Anfey’s nervousness made Miorich uneasy.
Realizing that Miorich was taking Anfey’s side, the mage lowered his head and stepped back. Mages were widely respected wherever they went, but nothing was absolute. Miorich was far superior to the mages. He had no right to defy Miorich’s orders.
"Did you hear him just now?" Miorich bellowed. "Check the portal."
The mages all jumped up and began busying themselves with checking the portal. Some retrieved books from their rings and compared the ones in the book with the one in front of them. However, no one found anything wrong.