"Shawn, what did you see?" An old man stood quietly under the starry sky. It was hard to tell his age; his long white hair was blowing in the air, and his face was battered with deep wrinkles, looking like they were carved with knives. The folds of his eyelids were saggy, as if they couldn't hold the weight and were trying to squeeze his eyes into slits. He looked weak, but his voice was deep and as loud as a bell, putting pressure on others.
"It's weird. A fire mage, a swordsman, and… a necromancer. When did Saul start to work with a necromancer?" A guy named Shawn asked, standing up. "The ground is still warm from the lava. They must have left recently. Professor, we can still catch them."
"Ok, then…" The old man's face grew stern, and he turned to the side. Shawn also turned around at the same time.
A sword-light flashed in the dark to their side, about a hundred meters away from them, shooting directly at the old man.
The old man didn't even move slightly when he saw the sword-light shooting at him. He waved at it like he was waving away flies. The sword-light shattered into numerous specks of light and then disappeared.
Ernest slowly walked out of the darkness. Even though he was confident in his swordsmanship, sword-light would not be able to hurt a master swordsman from a hundred meters away. He was just warning the old man.
"Master, that's Ernest," Shawn said slowly.
Philip snorted and pulled his sword out from his waist. Normally, an old man would not have strong bones and flexible muscles. His sword looked a lot wider and a little longer than a regular sword, and its edge was three fingers thick. The sword seemed very heavy; it was good for an old man to exercise with, but strange to battle with. Undoubtedly, Philip was very confident in his strength and stamina.
A thick white cloud of combat power arose from Philip. His body shot out like a bullet toward Ernest. Shawn also pulled out a sword, standing right next to Philip, ready to protect him.
If they had met yesterday, Philip would've invited Ernest to his house without any hesitation to enjoy a conversation about sword skills. However, with only a single day's difference, their positions and attitudes had experienced dramatic changes. Philip immediately started the battle without a word.
Ernest gracelessly turned around and ran backwards. His cheeks were hot. If this had happened a few years ago, he would never have run away from a battle, no matter who he fought against or whether or not the situation allowed him to join the battle. After being with Anfey for the past few days, Ernest's personality had changed. Anfey had been telling Ernest the stories he heard from small villages. From the stories, Ernest found that plunging straight ahead was not the only way to arrive at the destination, Circuitous tactics could do the same job. Sometimes, circuitous tactics could even be the better choice.
Ernest had never lacked the ability to learn, otherwise he would not have been able to become a master swordsman. He just put most of his effort toward practicing the sword, so he seemed simple in other areas.
Philip stopped walking, sneering at Ernest's back. "Is this Ernest?"
"Yes, he is," Shawn said slowly.
"It was humiliating to even pull my sword out in front of such a coward." Philip put his sword back into its sheath. "Let's go. We do not have to worry about him!"
Shawn was deep in thought while he was watching Ernest's back. He felt that something was strange. He had heard about Ernest. Ernest wasn't supposed to be a coward!
Ernest suddenly threw himself toward them when they started turning around. Another sword-light shot out.
Philip, though irritable, had survived for seven or eight decades and immediately reacted to Ernest, who wanted to entangle them, shouting, "Shawn, you don't have to worry about me. Go now!"
"Go!" Philip jumped up, chasing after Ernest.
Shawn groaned inside. Ernest did not have a good reputation, but no one ever denied his swordsmanship. There were at least seven or eight master swordsmen who had received his challenges and were defeated by him one after another. He could not let his master fight Ernest alone!
At the same time, Brufit, in Sacred City, put down his quill. He thought he had come to Sacred City under a secret mission. He had done a good job so far. However, he had received an order from headquarters a few days ago. He was told to be careful of a guy named Anfey. In the order, it was said that they had failed in testing Anfey, and everyone they sent out for that mission had died. Headquarters had asked Brufit to find a way to get in contact with Anfey.
Brufit did not complain to headquarters. He understood that capable people had to bear more responsibilities. In fact, he was happy that headquarters had confidence and trust in him. He was deep in thought for a while, trying to kill two birds with one stone. It would have a very good ending. It would not only stir things up in the Maho Empire, but also test what Anfey could really do.
In the letter, Brufit guessed with certainty that Anfey did not have any combat power, but was able to use some weird and dangerous swordsmanship. Brufit suggested that headquarters send him several skilled men. He wanted to catch Anfey at any cost. He would use spirit magic to turn Anfey into a puppet and learn all about his swords skills.
Brufit emphasized in the letter that the power of the organization would increase dramatically if Anfey's swords skills could be taught in the organization, especially to the vampire mages, although vampire mages were already agile and strong without those sword skills.
Anfey was not Brufit's priority because he knew Saul had a Chasm Dragon Crystal, which was precious to a necromancer. He had searched for it at Saul's house after helping Niya and her fellows to escape. He had not found it, although he had found a secret chamber. He was not able to decode the magic array in the chamber, however. Brufit believed Niya and her fellows had taken Saul's possessions with them, judging from the messy bedrooms and how empty the chamber was.
Brufit asked headquarters to send people to join his force and stop Niya and her companions. Judging from the current situation on the Pan Continent, Niya had to be alive, but Saul's other students didn't matter. To make a compromise, he would catch Niya alive, obtain all of Saul's possessions, and find an opportunity to allow Niya to escape. The result would be the same.
"What are you thinking?" Anfey asked in a low voice, suddenly opening his eyes from his rest.
"Nothing." Christian turned sideways and quietly wiped his tears away.
Anfey pretended not to see it. "The sun is coming out soon, right?"
"Yes, the sun is coming out soon."
"Hmmm…" Niya turned around in her sleep, putting her left foot on Anfey's leg. She muttered a bit and fell asleep again.
Niya had refused to go to sleep when Anfey had asked her to do so, but later, she had been so tired that she fell asleep against the carriage wall. She changed her sleeping positions very often, curling up and sleeping on floor with legs and arms spread out. There was some room left for another person to sleep flat on the floor, but sleeping together with Niya would be too much. Christian and Riska had to fight off their sleepiness. Anfey wouldn't have a problem not sleeping for a couple of nights. He had been resting to save his energy and help him focus better in case of an emergency.
"Christian, can I ask you something?"
"What do you want to ask?"
"You are a junior mage. Riska and Zubin are pretty skilled too. How did you get cuffed by the anti-magic bracelets so easily?"
"That… We were too stupid." Christian blushed. "Zeda told us there were people who had reported us. One of them was a spy of the Alisen Empire. Zeda wanted to take us to the palace and investigate."
"Then you allowed him to cuff you with the bracelets?"
"They are the Palace Guards. We did not want to bring any trouble to the professor." Christian smiled bitterly.
"Alas… I just fell asleep, and you woke me up!" Riska opened his eyes.
"Did you sleep?"
"How can I sleep? Do you think everyone is like you?" Riska commented, "Anfey, I am admiring you more and more. How can you act like nothing happened in this kind of situation?"
"Eating is to have energy for the battle, sleeping is to make correct judgements. You can do so as well in the future."
"Then make a judgement. When are we going to see the professor?" Riska asked. They were saved by Anfey, but Riska did not feel safe with Anfey. It was Anfey who had trouble with the old-nut Philip. The difference in ability between the two parties was huge. Only if they could find the professor would they be protected and feel safe.
"Don't worry. We would be looking to get killed if we tried to find the professor with a group of people. You guys had better find a hidden place to settle first and let me look for the professor. This is a safer way." Anfey smiled.
"Ok. We will listen to you." Riska took out the water bladder and opened the cap as he was nodding. The carriage suddenly jolted. Riska had a strong headache from the lack of sleep and dropped the water bladder on the floor, causing water to spill out immediately.
The water did nothing to the others on the carriage. Niya was the unlucky one. Her eyes flew open and saw a few people "overlooking" her. Niya jumped up with a scream.
"Miss, are you awake?" Riska flattered her with a smile. He had hidden the water bladder behind him, afraid of Niya finding anything wrong with it.
"Yes." Niya rubbed her sleepy eyes. "Where are we now?"
"Zubin, Miss Niya asked you where we are now?" Riska became a mouthpiece.
"We will be at the crossroad soon."
"Come in and get some rest. I will be the driver." Riska crawled out of the carriage without waiting for Zubin's response.