A surge of magic reached the group. A dozen shadows appeared in the air and approached them. When the shadows reached the crossroad, Blavi landed with his team.
"You're a bit slow," Anfey said slowly.
"We finished off some irrelevant guys," Blavi said. His eyes were glittering with excitement, but his expression betrayed nothing.
These students of Saul's were all good kids, and only looked for magic beasts for their trials. Most of them never experienced intrigues and fights between people. After their escape from the Sacred City, they had experienced numerous bloody encounters. Now, some were uneasy and still in denial, while others had calmed their emotions and sorted out their priorities. Clearly, Blavi was one of the latter.
"Let's go," Anfey said, grinning. "Sanchez, lead the way."
"Alright!" Sanchez said enthusiastically, and led the group down one of the paths ahead.
Soon the group arrived at a small village. The buildings were simple and clearly belonged to ordinary people. Sanchez walked over to one of the buildings and looked around. He looked back and nodded. "This is it," he said. "I left a mark here."
Anfey sniffed the air and caught a whiff of blood in the wind. He sighed and said, "Sanchez, go in and take a look."
"Me?" Sanchez looked surprised.
"Yes," Anfey said.
Sanchez walked over hesitantly and knocked on the door. "Hello? Anyone inside?"
"No need, just go in."
Sanchez nodded and kicked the door. With a creak the door opened. He walked inside carefully, and tripped over something. He looked down and found an abandoned torch. He picked up the torch, and with a fireball he lit it. He held it high and walked inside carefully.
After a few moments, Sanchez let out a scream and the group heard the sound of things dropping on the ground. Christian gasped and, along with a few others, dashed up to the group.
Zubin was the fastest. He was the first one in and the first one out. He stared at Anfey under the cold moonlight, and after a while he said slowly, "You did it on purpose."
"This is the price for growth," Anfey said lightly. "Everyone needs to pay a price in order to grow. Better it be other's blood than your own."
Zubin stared at him but was silent.
"What is the purpose?" Anfey asked coldly. "I simply predicted it. I didn't know exactly what they would find."
"How did you know?"
"The man Niya beat. He seemed the kind to seek revenge for every small injustice. You remember the way he tried to fight back? People like that can't accept any embarrassment. He had to let it out somehow. He couldn't get his revenge on Niya, but it wouldn't be hard to find where those two sisters lived."
Just then they heard the sound of sobbing. They recognized Niya's voice and Christian's voice comforting her. There was another sound, of someone vomiting and coughing.
"Come, I want to see it for myself," Anfey said, then headed inside.
The room inside was not big. Outside was a simple kitchen, the inside was separated into two rooms. There were some plates on the table, and Anfey, with his sharp eyes, spotted some chips on the edges of the plates. Clearly the family was struggling financially.
The group was standing in the eastern room. Anfey made his way there slowly. Everyone in the room looked as if they had just seen a ghost, and one of the students could only stand holding onto the wall.
The two sisters were inside, dead. There was an old woman on the bed, dead as well, though Anfey was unsure who she was in relation to the sisters.
The older girl was completely naked, and was spread out on the table. Her hair was down and covered her once lively face. The table was covered with scratch marks, and her fingers were bloody. Clearly the marks were made by her fingers, and the pain she had been in was clear to see. There were two long swords that nailed her to the table, but there wasn't much blood. Anfey could tell she was pierced by the swords after she had died. Her backside and legs were a dark red and covered with small wounds. It was as if the wounds were made by small, sharp needles.
The younger girl wore only a shirt, and was naked from the waist down. Her legs were pushed open, exposing the place between her legs. Her hands were nailed to the bed with daggers, and bones were visible from the wounds. Clearly she had struggled and caused those deep wounds. Her eyes stared blankly, her mouth was wide open and her tongue was missing. It was apparent that someone had performed sexual acts on her even after she had died.
Niya's lips were pressed into a thin line. She suddenly pushed Christian aside, and dashed outside. Anfey dashed over and grabbed her. "Where are you going?" he asked.
"I'm going to find that bastard!" Niya screamed. Even the dumbest of them knew who killed the girls. Niya might be naive, but she was not stupid.
Anfey, without warning, struck Niya in the face. Niya was caught off guard and, combined with Anfey's sheer strength, was thrown back and stumbled to the ground.
His movement was too sudden for anyone else to do anything. They were on the run, and in the process Anfey had established a high level of respect among them. Even when he was smiling, the students still feared and respected him. Seeing him angry was even more terrifying for them.
Niya looked up, holding her face. A thin line of blood trickled down her chin. "How dare you?" she asked, shaking.
"Consider this a light punishment," Anfey said coldly. "Think about it. What have you done? Frankly, none of them would have died if it wasn't for your recklessness. You want to bring death to us as well now, don't you?
"Everyone saw what happened today. That little lord did nothing more than flirt. He would have never done this had it not been for you. You thought you were helping them? No, you killed them! There are ways to help, but you obviously do not know how. Someone like you will bring danger to others.
"And you want revenge? You? This is not the Sacred City anymore, and you are not the old Niya. In the past people tried to do what you say, but out here no one cares who your father is. If you don't want to end up like them, I recommend you stay here."
Anfey knew he had overreacted by saying these words, and worried that Niya wouldn't take it well. Niya stared at him for a few seconds before breaking into tears.
"Be quiet," Anfey said coldly. "We don't have time for tears. I took a risk coming here. If I'm not wrong, all of this will be blamed on us come morning."
"What do you mean?" Riska asked.
"They'll say we raped and killed these girls. Easier to blame it on the strangers than the local nobility."
"There is no way they are that despicable," Christian said in disbelief.
"People by nature are evil," Anfey said. "You haven't seen the worst of it."
"Anfey," Christian said, "why did you ask Sanchez to take us here? Is it because…"
Christian's words woke everyone up. Niya stopped her cries and stared at Anfey through her teary eyes.
"I had guessed someone would do something, so I had Sanchez stand guard here. We can take two more people," Anfey said lightly. There was reason to be the bad guy. It would drive everyone away. Anfey knew when to be the good man and when to be the bad.
"But we are late," Christian sighed.
"If we had left the tavern a bit earlier," Sanchez said, shaking his head. He finally understood Anfey's intentions. He had wanted to help them. Compared to Niya, it was clear who was more thoughtful. One was reckless, not considering the consequences. The other had predicted what was going to happen. It was not his fault they were late.
Niya stared at the ground. She felt guilty, but she could not turn back time. What was done was done, but no guilt could bring back the dead.
Now Anfey's expression was much softer, but no one tried to help Niya, and they left her sobbing on the ground. Some emotions were contagious, and with the dead bodies in front of them, it was hard for them to evoke any sympathy for the one who caused it.
"We don't have much time now," Anfey ordered. "We have to go."
"What about them?" Riska asked.
"Someone will take care of them. We have to worry about ourselves more," Anfey told him, sighing.