It was getting so dark that normal people had locked their doors and gone to sleep; only some stray cats and dogs still wandered the streets.
A group of people quietly moved toward the harbor. This was the newly formed squad's first action. Anfey was up front, leading the first team, and followed by the second and third teams. Riska's fourth team kept the rear, with ten meters in between the groups.
Maybe all young people were like this. Once a well-behaved girl, who stayed at home most of the time, tasted rebellion, she would likely remember that adventure for a long time. After Anfey gave the order to take over a ship, these young people forgot about the dangerous situation they were in. They rolled up their sleeves and itched to have a go, which made Anfey snicker.
"Are you sure the ship is nearby?" Anfey hissed.
"It is here," Feller whispered. "That was a larger ship. The ferry won't arrive until dusk. Zubin said the next ferry is about 100 miles away from Baidah City. They are not able to sail the boat in the dark and should be resting here tonight."
"I see it now." Anfey nodded.
In a few moments, four groups gathered at a place about 100 meters away from the berth. Anfey observed their surroundings and ordered, "Execute the plan. This is the last chance for questions."
"I have one… What do we do if we hurt someone?" someone in the fourth group asked.
"I do not care if you kill or wound anyone, but you have to keep everything under control without drawing attention. This is my only request! As long as you can do that, I am fine with anything, even if you want to make peace with the people on the ship. However," Anfey said coldly, "you have to understand, we are one big team. If anyone hesitates and jeopardizes the safety of the team, I will have him leave right away! We do not need anyone who would put us in danger!"
No one said anything else. Anfey disappeared in the quiet darkness.
To be honest, Anfey did not want to bring a group of novices with him, but he had no other options. Training should be done when kids were young. The path of escape was dangerous. They needed to start learning and growing up. No matter what they would get out of the training in the end, at least it should increase their likelihood of surviving.
Yolanthe had ruled the country very well. Except for the latent dangers and threats between countries, people in the Maho Empire seemed to live a happy life, and the country enjoyed its peace. This commercial ship seemed to have sailed without danger for too long, so they had loosened their precautions. Not to mention having very few guards, there were only one or two men standing outside the cabin, sleeping against tarpaulins. In fact, they were more concerned with thieves than bandits. Right now, the boat was resting on the water, which could usually prevent thieves from getting aboard. Even if they were able to get on board, they would have no way to escape with the goods. As such, no one was willing to be on watch the whole night while knowing that nothing was going to happen.
Anfey walked around the boat twice, sneaking into the cabin and going upstairs and downstairs once. Nothing happened except that a business man who woke up early to pee saw Anfey.
Leading a group of novices to attack a group of ordinary people in surprise… sounded like decent training. A young dog would never be able to fight a tiger no matter how hard it was trained, because it wouldn't survive the first try, instead being killed by the tiger a long time ago.
Anfey returned to the cabin and sent out the signal. Over ten people levitated in the air in the dark. Only Niya did not know levitation magic—everyone else could float. The differences among them laid on the distance, speed, and stability. Christian was a junior mage, so he didn't have a problem flying a short distance with a person.
Soon, the squad landed on the deck. They all wore dark clothes. Anfey had requested everyone wear black, but at least two thirds of them didn't have black clothes, and it wasn't practical to make them immediately, so they substituted dark clothes instead.
Anfey waved, and then Christian quietly took two members from the second team forward. On the other side, Riska led the fourth team to the aft. Blavi was breathing heavily against the bulwark. He shouldn't have participated in this action due to his health, but he had insisted on coming, and Anfey had acquiesced.
"Get up!" Niya yelled in a low pitch.
The two men were sleeping so soundly that they did not wake up even when Christian and his team members walked across them. They also treated Niya's order as mosquito noise, until Niya stepped on them heavily.
"You…" one of them reached his hand out to grab the sword on his waist. Niya was quicker than him and laid her sword at his neck.
"Do not move. I do not want to hurt you!" Niya said in her crushing manner.
Anfey could not help shaking his head. Niya's words revealed her timidity. Even though her face and tone were vicious, it could only fool little kids. If Niya was threatening him with a sword at his neck, Anfey had millions of ways to kill her.
"Miss, what do you want to do? We are just business people! You.. "
Before he could finish his sentence, Anfey had already kicked his face. It didn't matter if he was interrogating or condemning, everything turned into moaning in pain.
"You have to understand you are our captive! If you dare to challenge my patience, I don't mind cutting off your hands and feet and then tossing you into the water!" Anfey said flatly. In fact, he was saying this to Niya. She should understand that she was a bandit and should not have said "I do not want to hurt you."
Anfey knew his action did little when he saw Niya's sympathetic and stunned look. The sound of fighting and the waves of magic surges came out from the cabin. It became quiet in a short while. With a good plan, it was a piece of cake to have a junior mage, a senior mage, and four intermediate mages beat a few normal guards and some businessmen. Moreover, Anfey had checked the ship inside and out beforehand. If, after all this preparation, the plan had still failed, Anfey would have left the group and wandered alone.
Soon, a few businessmen were taken out by Christian, followed by seven or eight bodyguards, two of which were wobbling, probably hurt by magic. Riska also took more than ten sailors out. The river was not as large as the ocean. Less than twenty sailors were definitely not enough to sail on the ocean, but this commercial boat was supposed to go on the river, so there was no need for a large crew, despite its size.
Just as Anfey anticipated, although Christian and others were rookie bandits, a huge difference in power meant that the battle ended quickly. At the beginning, there were two guards in a physical fight with Christian. In the next moment, they were hit by Christian's magic and fell to the floor. After that, the rest of them gave up immediately.
"Who is in charge?"
"It is me, Sir. How can I help you?" a businessman walked up, simpering. He was a little overweight with a wide face, intelligent eyes, plump lips, and an honest look.
"My name is Jesse, Sir."
"From now on, your ship will be our acquisition. If you do not want to see any bloodshed, just do what you are told!" Anfey said flatly. "Weigh anchor now."
"No problem, Sir." The businessman named Jesse was very cooperative. "Where are we going? North or south?"
"I got it." Jesse turned around, yelling, "Get to work, get to work. Why aren't you moving? Hurry up! Set sail!"
A couple of sailors looked around, walked carefully to the bulwark, and worked together to hoist the anchor.
Zubin and Sante landed on the deck and shook their heads at Anfey. Their duties were watching to ensure no one escaped.
The businessmen and bodyguards realized the bandits were all mages, grew even more uneasy, and crowded together, looking at Anfey with fear.
Anfey laid his eyes on Christian. "Besides the sailors, lock everyone else up in the storage room. You keep a good eye on them!"
"Yes." Christian took the order and nodded.
"Sir, let me stay. I am very familiar with this ship. If you need anything, I can help." Jesse flattered them with smiles.
Anfey glanced at Jesse from top to bottom. "Fine."
"Sir, where are you heading?"
"No more questions. You will know when we get there." No matter how beautiful and bright Jesse's smiles were, Anfey kept a stern look on his face.
"Of course, of course! I understand." Jesse behaved very obediently. Beggars couldn't be choosers. Jessica was worried about his goods, but dealing with a group of mages, he had no other choice besides praying to God.
Ernest stopped abruptly. He saw something familiar; a three-meter long white wax stick was laying in the grass. Ernest walked over and picked it up. No doubt, this was the weapon Anfey had used before!
He felt something wet from his left arm. He looked down and saw the blood from the wound again. He tore a piece of cloth from his shirt and wrapped the wound up. After thinking a bit, he walked toward the direction the white wax stick was pointing.
Before he walked long, Ernest paused again. A few withered, wild flowers were stuck on a trunk, waving with the wind. Wasn't that the herb Anfey had talked about before? Ernest strode to the tree and picked up the flowers. He observed the surroundings, and pulled out a paper ball from the hole where the flowers were. There was only one word on it: "La."
"What does it mean?" Ernest said to himself. He was confused and looked around to find more hints. Suddenly, he noticed a few more wild flowers waving in the wind. He went over, picked the flowers up, and easily found another paper ball in the hole with a stick. It said "Gan" on it.
Lagan? Ganla? Ernest looked around once again, but without any luck this time. He felt that "Lagan" sounded familiar. It seemed like the name of a place. After thinking for a while, he turned toward to the crossroad.
These were indeed left by Anfey to Ernest. The signs were hidden very well and no hint was given beforehand. The possibility of getting Ernest's attention was slim, but Anfey had to give it a shot. If Ernest were able to find them, they could meet earlier. If Ernest missed the signs or could not find them, it would not affect their escape. If they were found by others, they would probably not be able to decode them and cause trouble for Anfey in the foreseeable future. Anfey would not have left these signs if he thought there was any slight possibility that those would pose a threat on them.