From dusk to the presence of the moon, everyone traveled tens of miles using levitation magic. They finally reached the center of Forest Clarm. It would not be easy to find this small group of a dozen of people in the forest. It was like finding a needle in a haystack.
Everyone landed on a huge ancient tree. The darkness did not permit them to see how high or how thick the tree was. The tree crown looked very strange, with branches flipped around like an umbrella. The branches all stretched out, creating a small flat area. Compared with the trunk, the branches seemed disproportionately small. It must have been struck by lightening in the past, or most of the foliage had fallen for some reason. Later on the crown, grew up strong again.
Although the flat area on the canopy was not big, it was just big enough for everyone if they stood close to each other. Anfey firmly asked them not to get off the tree. This time no one objected. Everyone was eagerly looking for their own place to stand.
"Anfey, why are you not speaking? What are you thinking?" Christian asked again out of curiosity, since he did not get any response from Anfey.
"Safety...maybe..." Anfey smiled. As a leader, Anfey must take all the pressure on himself. If he told them his concerns, these people would not be able to handle it. When they were seized by Sacred Flame Legion, a necromancer, a swordsman, and a mage suddenly came out to help them out. Anfey did not think it was a positive development. If they could appear without his awareness, then where could they be now? Did they hide in the dark again?
"Anfey, you need to rest. I will be on watch tonight," Christian said.
"No, thanks. I'm not tired yet."
"You need to rest. You have not rested at all. Go rest."
"I am physically stronger than you. I will rest when I need it. You guys need take care of yourselves."
"I am not tired either, and…cannot fall asleep anyway." Christian looked around and asked, "Anfey, can we talk?"
"Sure," Anfey smiled. He knew Christian had something to tell him.
Christian took Anfey to a nearby tree, where Anfey leaned against a branch and Christian sat next to Anfey. The darkness of the forest and howling sounds from animals and birds all reminded them this was not their dream land. It was a land with all kinds of hidden dangers and threats.
"What do you want to tell me?" Anfey said flatly.
"Anfey, I feel you have hidden a lot of secrets from us. Have you?" Christian smiled.
"Who does not have a secret? Don’t you have one?"
"Me? What secret do I have? Haha…" Christian smiled, shaking his head.
"I heard from Zubin that you were a civilian before?"
"Yes, why? Do you care about where I was from?"
"Do you remember the time you went home with me? A carriage passed in front of us and you recognized people in it. It was Master Swordsman Baery. I can tell you knew Baery previously. His eyes brightened when he looked at you." Anfey’s face was emotionless, as he was talking about something normal. He did not show even a slight sign of triumph in pointing out another’s lie. "You looked weird when Baery came back. You used to tell me that Baery was the leader of Roaring Dead Legion. He was a busy person and would not have come back if there was nothing important. Later, you asked me to keep that secret for you. I promised you that I would not tell anyone, and I did not. I never talked about it with anyone, not even with Ernest."
Christian just looked at Anfey, not knowing what to say.
"You two were more than acquaintances. You must have known each other, otherwise you would not have been so surprised, right?"
"Anfey…I…I do not know what to say." Christian smiled bitterly. "You frightened me. How could you tell so much from just a little thing."
"So, am I wrong?" Anfey smiled.
"No, you are right. I do have a secret, but I am sorry I cannot tell you now." Christian sighed.
"I am not going to ask you about it. I was trying to tell you that everyone has the right to keep their secrets to themselves. I would not force you to tell me, and hope you would do the same thing for me." Anfey smiled. "Let’s say, if Zubin has a secret, he never would ask me about it. When someday he can treat me as a real friend, maybe I will tell him."
"Anfey, you are too good! He made me swallow my questions." Christian smiled.
"Haha...I also am curious. Do you want to know why?"
"Would you answer me if I asked?"
"How could you know whether I will answer you or not, if you never ask?" Anfey asked back.
Anfey’s rhetorical questions were full of Zenic enlightenment, which stopped Christian from asking. Poor Christian winked. "So…Anfey, I am going to ask, if you do not mind me being too rude."
"Go ahead, but I have the right not to answer."
"It is up to you." Christian smiled bitterly, his head shaking. "Anfey, you are a swordsman. I am just curious why you would be a student of a professor? Your swordsmanship…how to put it, I never saw anyone who could do anything like you can…ferocious! That is right, your swordsmanship is ferocious! If you want to practice combat power with Ernest, you will be a great swordsman! I am curious why you are learning magic. You know, the people with both magic skills and swordsmanship on Pan Continent were never top people with powers."
"I can answer this question." Anfey smiled. "Because I wanted to."
Christian was shocked for a moment by Anfey’s answer. "Is that it?"
"Is it not enough? I learned magic from Professor Saul because I wanted to. Do not think too much about it, Christian. I did not have malicious intentions."
"Anfey, I did not think as much. You misunderstood me. I felt bad for you. Don’t you want to be a superstar with powers?"
"Superstar with powers…" Anfey smiled with his head shaking. "Too tiring." This was the truth. Anfey never thought of becoming Number One since he started to learn swordfighting. He just hoped that he could find his potential and show it with the skills he had learned.
"If someone else said it, I have to say that person must have had no dreams. You…are not like that. At least you are so much better than me." Christian looked at Anfey in curiosity. "Did you ever desire it?"
"No," Anfey answered. "Why? Do you want to be a superstar with powers?"
"Yes, I have wanted to be a superstar with powers on Pan Continent since I was little," Christian nodded. "Someone told me before that people must have dreams. Dreams are the motivation that push people to be better. However, people need to learn to manage their ambition, to know what should be done and what not to do. If they lose control of their ambitions, they might turn into crazy people."
Anfey was quiet for a while and nodded, "Whoever told you this is a respectable wise man."
"Yes, I respect him alot," Christian smiled.
"Do you see him often?" Anfey seemed to ask a leading question.
Christian glanced Anfey out of the corners of his eyes, with a smile showing on his face. "Anfey, you were trying to trick me. It is so dangerous to talk with you! Last time I just said one thing unconsciously when we saw Baery, and you were able to reach so many conclusions. If you continue to ask me, you will know every one of my secrets!"
"You are thinking too much again. I am just asking." Of course, Anfey would never admit it.
"Haha. Do you think I would believe you?"
"It is up to you. We talked about it before: that I would not force you tell me your secrets, and I expect you to do the same thing with me," Anfey argued.
"Ok, ok. Let’s change a topic." Christian smiled.
"Niya does not look too good." Anfey suddenly talked about Niya.
Christian looked back, seeing Niya sitting alone on a branch under the moonlight. She was a good girl. It was obvious that she was not able to sleep with others together. It was cold at night, even with the protection of magic cover. However, magic cover did not stop the coldness and loneliness. Niya pulled a few clothes from her pack and put them on. She still curled up like a ball, even with few more pieces of clothing on her. Such a poor thing.
"In fact, Niya is a good girl, just a little naughty," Christian said.
"I did not say she was a bad girl," Anfey smiled. "Christian, how many years have you lived in the professor’s house?"
"About ten years."
"Did you grow up with Niya? Ohhhhhhhhhh…" Anfey dragged the sound long.
"What are you thinking?" Christian rolled his eyes at Anfey. "Anfey, do not think such bad thoughts. I have treated Niya as my little sister. It never changed."
"Haha. Do you think I should believe you?" Anfey mimicked the way Christian talked. "Let me tell you a story. A long time ago, a man buried 300 silver coins under the ground. He worried that others would find out, so he left a plate on it, saying ‘There are not 300 silver coins here.’ Do you know the name of the story? It is called ‘There Are Not 300 Silver Coins’."
"Haha. How could he be so silly! I…are you being sarcastic?" Christian realized.