"Is this what you've packed?" Saul asked with a dull look in his eyes.
"Yes." Anfey gave a coy smile. He packed very simply: two pieces of worn out clothes, a few packages of fish jerky, and a stick which looked like a wand but could not perform any magic. There was even a crab freely blowing bubbles on Anfey's shoulder.
"Yagor was an archmage, his possessions should not be… so few, right?" Saul asked, not sure whether he should laugh or cry.
"Those are my master's possessions, not mine," Anfey responded.
"But… Yagor is dead, and you are his only apprentice. I believe you have the right to keep his possessions."
"No, not exactly!" Anfey answered. There was stubbornness in his voice. "Archmage Yagor's grave is here, and he will be lonely on this deserted island. Let his collection stay with him. If I am determined and work hard, I believe my future achievements would not be less than Archmage Yagor's."
Unbelievable! Unbelievable! What a decent young man! Saul was touched from the bottom of his heart. He did not know how talented this young man was, but he was for sure one of the best—no, he was the best in terms of morality. Saul was jealous that Yagor had the luck to have a such wonderful young man as his apprentice before he passed away.
"Since Yagor has died, the magic array has stopped working. If others discover these items, do you think they will do the same as you, leaving all the items with Yagor?" Ernest asked drily.
"Ah…" Anfey hesitated, then showed a look of annoyance. "Then… what should we do? What should we do?"
"Don't worry. I do not have magic crystals with me right now, but I will bring the crystals back next time I return. No one can disturb Yagor's peace once the magic array is setup with crystals," Saul said with a smile.
"Thank you, Archmage Saul." Anfey said with sincerity.
"You're welcome, kiddo." Saul saw the crab on Anfey's shoulder. "Is that your magic… pet?"
Saul thought the crab was Anfey's magic pet. He ran his eyes over the crab and realized the crab did not give off any sense of magic. It was just a regular crab.
"Yeah, his name is Liuliu. He has been my company on this island for a couple of years. I can't leave him on the island." Anfey laughed.
"Yagor has… How long have you been on this island by yourself?" Saul initially wanted to ask how many years since Yagor died, but he changed the way he asked because he didn't want Anfey to feel sad again.
"Ah…" Anfey fell into thoughts. "Almost three years."
"Three years…" Saul felt that three years could be the most precious time for any young man, regardless of whether he wanted to learn magic, the sword, or even a trade. Three years could be enough time to build a good foundation for a bright future. Obviously, Anfey had wasted those precious three years.
"All right, Anfey, go and get some rest. Your room is downstairs on the second floor. A person will show you the way once you go downstairs," Ernest said.
"Yes, Archmage." Anfey smiled. "Archmage Saul, Uncle Ernest, good night!" Anfey said with a smile, then he walked down the deck.
Ernest watched Anfey disappear down the deck and abruptly said, "What a pity!"
"What's a pity?"
"If I met him a few years earlier, I definitely would have taken him as my student." Ernest shook his head. "But right now… his future achievements would still be limited even if he started to practice the sword immediately."
"Don't forget, he was an archmage's apprentice—Yagor's apprentice!" In fact, Saul was also thinking of taking Anfey as his apprentice. However, he was concerned by the fact that Anfey was Yagor's student and was still very loyal to him. He was afraid Anfey would reject his offer and cause him to lose face, even though there were so many young men on the Pan Continent eager to be his apprentices. Saul made himself stop thinking about it. It was quite unpleasant to hear Ernest's comments.
"So, you want to take him as your apprentice too?" Ernest smiled.
"He is a great kid." Saul hesitated. "The problem is the tie between him and Yagor…"
"He was just a human subject in Yagor's experiments. There was no master-apprentice relationship. Anfey is still young and does not understand that life is full of danger. When he grows older, he might realize that he almost became a victim of Yagor's experiments. At that time, he would not view Yagor the same way he does now," Ernest said. "Let's put it in another way. You are looking for an apprentice, not a wife. It's unnecessary to think too much. If you think he's good, then take him as your student. If you think he's not good enough, just let him go. Don't bother too much!"
Saul forced a bitter smile. "You should not say it like that…"
"How should I say it, then?" Ernest's lips twitched. "I can help you ask him if you don't feel comfortable doing so."
"Are you sure?" Saul hesitated and asked, "We have only known Anfey for just a day. Do you think he would trust us?" What Ernest offered was exactly what Saul wanted. Sending Ernest to ask Anfey was a great idea. It would be great if Anfey agreed. If not, Saul would not lose face either.
"All right, I won't ask if you don't like the idea. It would help save my energy too."
"You…" Saul couldn't help but laugh.
"Ok, let's get to the point. Honestly, do you want Anfey to be your apprentice or not?"
"Yes," Saul answered honestly. He knew Ernest very well after being friends for so many years. Ernest looked like a strong man with desires for a simple life. In fact, there was a very naughty side to him, which made his old friends not know whether they should cry or laugh sometimes. In order to admit a good apprentice, it would be ok to give in to Ernest once in a while.
"Isn't it great to tell the truth?" Ernest smiled with satisfaction. "Saul, I noticed that you've been thinking way too much as you grow older. You've also grown a lot more timid. I was forced to come all the way here with you just to fight Yagor. Are you scared of Yagor that much?"
"I was not scared of Yagor and Yagor was not scared of me either. We both did not want to see anything go terribly wrong in the fight." Saul sighed. "There are many unexpected occurrences in a battle between archmages. A slight change can cause the balance to shift irreversibly. You are single, but I am not, I…" Saul stopped when he realized he might have touched one of Ernest's sore points.
"Then why do you need me to be your assistant?" Ernest gave a slight smile. "Do you think what you have already done was just?"
"I am not a knight, and never wanted to be one." He looked on with a cold smile. "Ernest, you said Anfey doesn't know about life's dangers and deceits. How about you? You still believe in justice? Did you forget your experiences? Yagor was a lone wolf. He preferred to work alone. No one liked to help him, otherwise he would definitely have assistants to fight me."
Ernest became silent. The miserable memories started coming back to him. After he had just became a master swordsman, Ernest constantly challenged other swordsmen to look for breakthroughs in his skills. One time, he fell into a trap and was surrounded by a number of people. Two of them were swordsmen he had defeated before. Although he was not killed in that battle, it took him two years to recover, and five of his students died at the battle on Mount Torrez Hill. What upset him more were the rumors of being blamed for putting poison on his sword. Opponents claimed that Ernest should not be named as a master swordsman anymore since he wounded Jerrofick with a poisoned sword, even though they had planned everything before the battle. They also lied and said that the swordsmen who came to watch the battle ending up saving Jerrofick's life through a group effort. And Jerrofick was the one of the swordsmen Ernest tried to challenge.
Of course, Jerrofick was wounded by a sword, and poisoned as well. Both sides tried to argue that they were the ones telling the truth. The voices of the swordsmen combined were definitely louder than Ernest's. Ernest lost the argument badly and became a loser everyone could mock.
Since then, Ernest was not a master swordsman anymore, but a thinking man who developed many philosophies of life.
To the people at the peak of their lives, fame sometimes was more important than life itself. Therefore, Jerrofick would rather wound himself with a poisoned sword than have a fair fight. Undoubtedly, he also paid for his demeanor, because it was very difficult for him to have any breakthrough in his sword skills with this unspeakable mindset.
Seeing the sadness on Ernest's face, Saul knew he touched Ernest's sore point. He changed the topic "Ernest, I found… You are quite keen on helping Anfey too, why?"
"I see the old me in him. I want him to find someone who is strong and reliable to back him up." Ernest said flatly.
"You also can have him as your apprentice. We can have a fair competition to see who can win his heart first." Saul joked.
"I can't. I have too many enemies. But you are not only the court archmage, but also a director at the Mage Academy. You are his best choice because you have both power and social status. "
"You… Is that sarcasm?" Saul forced out a bitter smile again.
"No, I am just stating a fact. That's all."
At the same time, "the good kid" Anfey was sitting on his bed. He was bored, playing with a fireball in his hands.
It was both great and sad if someone could wear various facial masks to hide who they really were, in order to survive in this forever changing world. But changing the facial masks too frequently could cause the person to forget who he really was, and which mask he wore. Anfey was one of those people. He already forgot who he was. He was able to switch to any role he needed to play since he became an assassin. He could play a dumb young man one day, and mature successor another day, then a cliché new rich. He could not remember how to be himself anymore!
Luckily, Anfey never crossed the bottom line. No matter how tempting it was, how much money he could earn, he would never kill anyone who did not deserve to die. This rule was the lighthouse in his purposeless life. Because of it, Anfey could still have a sliver of kindness left even though he had killed so many people that his hands were full of blood.
Anfey was lying to Saul and Ernest, but it was a white lie. He only wanted to protect himself. It did not take him long to figure out that Saul and Ernest were nice people. They were not greedy at all when they were talking about Yagor's possessions. There was sincere concern for him in their eyes as well, unless they were playing their roles better than him. From another point of view, he was simply a poor young man; there was no purpose in taking advantage of him. There was no point for them to play with him, so Anfey trusted his judgement that Saul and Ernest were nice people.
Should he continue to play his part to gain more of their affection and have them back him up, or should he explore the world by himself? Anfey wasn't sure what to do. He already felt like he owed Saul and Ernest based on the current situation. He wasn't used to owing people. He always returned favors back to the people he owed. The problem was… with this innocent kid's facial mask, what could he do to help them? With the rhythm of breathing, the burning fireball was contracting and swirling, like a blooming lotus flower. There would be no other magic apprentices spending years on practicing fireballs.There were many powerful, fancy skills to learn in fire magic, earth magic, water magic, electricity magic, space magic, dark magic, and spirit magic. There was no one but Anfey who spent so much time and effort on this lowest-level magic.
In fact, Anfey didn't take learning magic seriously. He never wanted to put too much effort into magic. Rather, he believed that breathing exercises could empower the body. Playing with the fire element was just a game to him; Anfey believed the skills that could save his life were not magic skills.