The watery moonlight shone on the deserted, desolate cobblestone road. The wind howled, carrying away everything in sight. It was already well past midnight, and, except for a few special shops and the dock, Lagan City was completely dark and silent.
Although this was a city known for its merchants and businesses, there were no clubs in this era. The brightest area in the middle of the city had nothing to do with business. In addition to the domain of the City Lord, there were still places like City Hall, City Guard's Barracks, Magic Guild, Swordmaster Guild, and the Hall of Knights. No one would hesitate using money from the king, and this city was no different. Whether it was necessary or not, there was a large chandelier glowing next to every building.
The door of the City Lord's domain suddenly opened, and a group of knights in black armor rode out onto the streets. The black clad ones were common, but the ones in the back were truly shocking. They were more advanced than the knights in front by several levels, although wearing the same silvery armor and riding the same colored stallions. They each held a large shield in their hands, and their lances shone a terrible light under the moon.
The knights tended to focus on their armor, which rarely matched their horses. The colored horses made the knights even more intimidating.
The knights rounded the corner. Those in front were in a loose formation, but those in back kept in tight step: clearly they were extremely well trained. Their shields were adorned with a red cross and a ball of white flame, indicating their identity as the empire's famous Knights of Holy Flame.
They rode through the streets and arrived at the market. In the morning, the market would be bustling with people, even walking would take a great deal of time, let alone passing through on horseback. But during the night it was empty, the ground strewn with garbage and waste. It wouldn't be until dawn that cleaners would arrive to prepare the place for the next day.
The silver-armored knights halted their horses in the middle of the market, while the black clad ones were still advancing.
A shadow came out from their right side and threw something into the air. The night suddenly came alive with the surge of magic, and the thing became millions of icy blades raining down on the knights.
In all of high level magic, ice magic had mid-level strength at best, but it had a large range and could create freezing cold temperatures within its range, containing lethal ice blades and snowflakes. Natural snowflakes were beautiful, but the ones from mages were dangerously sharp and rotating at a high speed, enough to cut through skin and armor alike. If it came in contact with human eyes, no combat power could protect the victim.
The magic turned the market into a frozen hell. The black clad knights in front let out a wave of agonizing screams. Bursts of blood froze as soon as it left their bodies, falling onto the ground like small beads.
The knights in silver armor were alive, but no better off than their inferiors. They were protected by their combat power, but could not protect their horses. They were on the ground, their eyes shut.
A shadow appeared on the left, and with another wave of a hand, the air surged with magic once more. The sky lit up, and a large lightning bolt flashed across the frozen market.
For a spell that was very intense even among high-level spells, serial lightning was absolutely deadly. The lightning attacks every living thing within its perimeter, right down to ants. The more targets, the weirder the shape of the lightning becomes.
The still squirming knights all fell silent on the ground. Under the attack of a spell this powerful, only senior swordmasters and knights could survive, and even the intermediates would be severely injured.
Pure ice does not conduct electricity, so normal lightning's power would be moderately affected in an environment like this. However, this lightning would attack everything alive, and unless the knights were completely frozen, they could not escape the lightning.
The lightning flash was gone as soon as it had appeared, the icy blades and snowflakes soon dispersed as well. As soon as the magic disappeared, a bloated figure appeared from the darkness, dashing towards the market.
Anfey was a very cautious man, and after deciding what two magic scrolls to use, he had studied carefully the effects of the magic. For people like Christian and Zubin, things like the time and temperature effects of ice magic and how long the lightning bolts would last were immaterial. However, they weren't for Anfey.
The lightning's aftereffects could be ignored, but Anfey would never run without protection into a frozen environment like this. Even after the magic dispersed, the temperature would still require time to return to normal. So Anfey bundled himself up carefully and made a simple mask using crystals, making sure that not an inch of his skin was exposed.
The clothing, however, only slowed down Anfey's speed a bit: his movement was still fast as lightning. He didn't care about the black armored knights; he only cared about the Knights of Holy Flame.
He dashed through the empty market. He had given up the faster spin slash and chose stabbing. In this cold environment, it was hard to make his enemies lose blood fast, so stabbing was more appropriate under these conditions. Even if some did survive this, no one could save them from their fatal injuries.
"Let's go!" Anfey called after finishing off all the survivors.
Christian used a levitation spell and floated towards the right side of the market, holding Zubin. "You alright?"
"Alive," Zubin said, shaking his head.
Christian had used the more exhausting lightning magic, and Zubin was responsible for the ice magic. Christian could still use levitation, but Zubin already felt drained. This was the difference between a junior magister and a senior mage. Even though only one level separated them, there were major differences in their abilities. Many people could become senior mages, but only a few could become magisters.
Sante appeared from a small gully behind the market and handed something to Anfey. The latter placed the item into his ring and hurried to Christian and Zubin's side. "Hurry," he said. "We need to find Blavi and leave the city. We eliminated the Knights' squad, so they can't tell just how powerful we are. They will come again. We have to leave now."
"I know," Christian said. "Come, Sante, help me with Zubin."
Christian and Sante used levitation to carry Zubin, and Anfey followed the trio on the ground. After a few moments, the four reached a crossroads. Anfey stopped, and Christian and Sante landed as well.
"Where's Blavi?" Zubin asked.
"They are farther away," Anfey said. "Give them a few moments."
"Anfey," Christian suddenly said, "you're crazy! My heart's still pounding."
"You'd be dead if it wasn't."
"Anfey, aren't you scared? If Phillip comes over now, we will all be dead."
"Unlikely," Anfey said flatly.
"Because what Zubin said reminded me."
"What did I say?" Zubin asked curiously.
"You said that the mages' guilds wouldn't do anything because of Master Saul. Delivering 'Wanted' notices is required of them, but they would delay our arrest as long as they can."
"Let's think: Had I known Zeda was Phillip's grandson, would I have killed him? No. I would have knocked him unconscious at best. Now, everyone knows we are Master Saul's students. If it were you, would you do anything?"
"Unlikely," Christian said. He had understood some of what Anfey meant, but not everything. "But Phillip?"
"I said, that man had realized who Niya was. He had two choices. Reporting to the prince, or reporting to Phillip. Which one would he choose? Phillip is easy to anger: if he were here we would all be dead. Do you think he has the courage to report to Phillip? He fears Master Saul as well. Reporting to the prince, though, would be his duty. Reporting to Phillip would be personal vengeance at best."
"Got it," Zubin said. "If the prince kills us, he could find an excuse. After all, he was serving the emperor. If he had reported to Phillip, his goal would clearly be the money. Master would never have let him go."
"He had calmed the clash, so clearly he was a man with a brain. A smart man would not do stupid things, unless he really needed that money."
"But what if Phillip does come?"
"I have a plan as well," Anfey said.
"Really?" Christian asked.
Sante glanced at Anfey, but didn't say anything after seeing his smile. Although Christian didn't say anything, he was the most excited one there, because only he knew that Anfey was not boasting.