Niya tried to stop Anfey from dipping the little guy’s mini unicorn into the pond, but Anfey ignored the complaining from her and the little guy and did it anyway. He waited for a while, but the water quality did not change at all.
The little guy whined and looked up at Anfey with his blue eyes filled with tears. It wished that Anfey could make up for his rudeness. Unfortunately, Anfey’s mind had flown somewhere else. Anfey did not care whether the water in the pond was poisonous. With a group of mages present, drinking water was not a problem, since there were plenty of water elements in the air, and even more water elements in the forest. Anfey never worried about that.
"Suzanna, can you come with me for a second?" Anfey stood up.
"Huh…" Suzanna was momentarily shocked. She hesitated a little bit before she followed Anfey, about 40 feet behind.
The little guy saw Anfey leaving and jumped to follow Anfey. It already had forgotten about its complaints. Senior magic beasts were rated as senior level for a reason. It only took the little unicorn two hours at the most to learn to run after it just learned how to walk. The problem with the little unicorn was its vision. He had tripped at the place where he should not, and then he would slide for a little bit before he fell heavily on the ground.
Suzanna felt unreasonably nervous when she saw Anfey walking straight ahead to the forest. In fact, from any outsider’s perspective, her nervousness was unnecessary. If Anfey and Suzanna wanted to have a fair fight, there was no way Anfey could beat Suzanna. There was no reason for Suzanna to be nervous.
"Anfey, let’s talk here." Suzanna suddenly stopped. Her frequent eye movements showed she was thinking. She pinched the bark here and there on a tree. That poor tree seemed to suffer an unexpected natural disaster when a large piece of bark fell off in a very short period of time.
"Huh? Sure." Anfey nodded and looked at Suzanna with a weird look.
"What is the matter?" Suzanna asked.
"Suzanna, do you feel someone has been watching us?" Anfey asked.
"No, Why? Do you think someone has been watching us?" Suzanna looked up in surprise.
"I was only guessing. I hope I was just thinking too much, but…" Anfey paused for a second. "Suzanna, can you walk around a little more when you have time. Maybe you can find something."
"I got it. That night…" Suzanna blushed before she even finished her sentence. She remembered what Anfey had told her after he caught her, but she could not say out loud that she had understood what he meant that night. Suzanna felt so ashamed and wished there was a hole in the ground where she could hide from Anfey.
A wave of magic surges appeared in the air. The little unicorn felt it before Anfey and Suzanna. The little guy suddenly turned its head to the side and barked in a low pitch. The mini horn on its head pointed to the sky. Anfey looked quickly at Suzanna and walked slowly out of the forest. Suzanna followed Anfey about 40 feet behind.
Christian and the other two landed. Christian did not look too bad, but Blavi looked awkward, with mud and rotten leaves on him. Luckily there was no blood on him.
"What happened?" Anfey asked worriedly.
"S*^t! That manticore cave was occupied by a group of wyverns. We almost got caught," Blavi blurted out with fury.
"Wyverns?" Anfey asked.
"Now I understand why I saw a pair of wyverns outside the manticore’s cave. I could not figure out the reason back then, but I see it now. They were trying to take that territory," Suzanna said, showing in her eyes the enlightenment which had come to her.
"Didn’t you say there have rarely been any conflicts among senior magic beats?" Anfey asked.
"Anfey, have you ever seen a wyvern?", Blavi asked.
"Riska mentioned them to me," Anfey said.
"Their bodies are shaped like ducks with smaller heads. They eat a lot, and eating takes half of their day, so they like to prey on big magic beasts. They eat so much that an adult three-eyed magic cow could only be enough for two or three days of meals. They are like nomadic people, changing their caves for survival, since they have to change to a different cave when they eat up all the big magic beasts around it," Suzanna said.
"Magic Beast Forest will never lack magic beasts, right?" Anfey asked.
"Anfey, you do not know the way wyverns prey. They are called "the ambusher" in the forest. They know their speed is not fast and flying style does not look sharp, so they rely on waiting for or slowly approaching their prey to catch them. When a group of wyverns go out to hunt, they would take almost the same amount of time to catch a magic rabbit as a three-eyed magic cow. A magic rabbit is far from enough for a group of wyverns to divide, while a three-eyed cow would be good enough for few days’ food. Do you think they would care about little magic beasts?" Suzanna said.
"Suzanna, you seem to know a lot about the magic beast forest. I am just curious why you did not prepare for it before you came to the magic beast forest."
Suzanna bit her lips and said quietly, "That was an accident. I do not know much about the magic beast forest either. There are so many secrets that no human beings could understand."
"If so, let’s not worry about it. We need to build the house here first." Anfey felt a little helpless. He never thought his territory would be taken by magic beasts. His legion just had a fight and should not continue fighting so soon. In addition, Suzanna as the main force had not recovered yet. They needed to swallow their pride a little bit.
"No," Suzanna and Christian said at the same time.
"Huh, why not?" Anfey was quite surprised.
"Anfey, wyverns are ambushers. If any of us fell into their trap,they would be in trouble, except for Suzanna. The range of the wyverns’ prey is quite wide. They have already posed big threats to us," Christian looked worried.
"Right, Anfey. Christian is right. If they were unicorns, we would not have to bother with them. Unicorns would not hurt us as long as we do not offend them. However, the issue with senior magic beasts like manticores and wyverns needs to be addressed immediately," Suzanna said after Christian.
Anfey looked down in thought. Wyverns were senior magic beasts, so their power should be about equal to unicorns and manticores. They also lived in groups which made it even harder to kill them. Most importantly, Suzanna had not fully recovered. Suzanna told Anfey before that if she gathered all her combat power, she could battle with a manticore for a while. However, her combat power would decrease over time. Once it was beyond her limit, running away would become a luxury.
Suzanna had allowed herself to be pushed to the corner by manticore because she wanted to protect Riska. She was a strong fighter. Anfey needed to make a good use of her. In any case, it was not Anfey’s style not to make good use of Suzanna. After giving it some thought, Anfey believed that Suznanna had to be part of the team, no matter whether they ambushed or confronted wyverns directly.
"We’d better wait a few more days. Ask everyone to be alert. If they absolutely need to go out, they need to go in pairs to take care of each other." Anfey shook his head at the end. "Ok. We will talk about it later. Blavi, you guys go and get some rest first. Christian, how is the house building over there?"
Christian did not give any other suggestions after he saw Anfey switching topics. "It’s alright, but everyone is exhausted."
Suzanna sighed. There was a big difference between Anfey and her when it came to taking pressure. Once seeing the potential dangers, Suzanna had always wanted to get rid of the dangers immediately. Therefore, Anfey’s decision had made Suzanna feel down.
"It’s getting dark outside." Anfey looked up at the sky. "Christian, let everyone go back to get some rest. They can work on the house tomorrow."
"Ok. I am letting them know now." Christian nodded.
After Anfey and the others went back to the cave, it did not take long for other construction workers to come back one after another. Anfey did not get a chance to check on the progress of house building, but he could tell how hard this project was from the way these construction workers looked. Some of them simply laid on the mattress made from grass and fell asleep immediately.
Maybe everyone had high moral standards in the legion, or some sort of collectivism was developing in the team. No one slacked off. Everyone tried very hard without any complaints.
When Feller announced it was dinnertime, construction workers sprang up with energy and surrounded Feller. They gobbled the food down and fell back to sleep again. Was the day that bad for them? Not really: they felt lucky to be able to eat well and sleep well in life.
No one on the team heard the sigh outside the cave. There was a tree at the edge of a prairie opposite the cave. Ernest heaved a long sigh in the tree. He gripped his right hand into a fist. A cloud of powder blew with the wind into the dark when he opened his palm.
Ernest was very frustrated. It was not hard to understand his frustration, since he had been stressed, looking everywhere to locate an unknown wildflower. Ernest had already developed a severe wild-flower syndrome. Every time after he found the marks Anfey left him, Ernest could not resist holding the flowers in his palm, grinding them into powder. The powder particles were so fine that they could fly into the air.
After searching for Anfey for a couple of months, Ernest might already have felt dizzy and nauseous every time he saw those wild flowers. Luckily, he finally had tracked Anfey down today.
Ernest had planned to meet Anfey secretly, but he changed his mind when he found an adult size unicorn body with his strong sensibility. He could not figure out how Anfey and his legion killed a unicorn, since he could not have done it. Ernest was shocked by it, so he changed his mind about seeing Anfey. He wanted to follow Anfey for a couple of days to see what else he could do. It would be fine as long as he could help when Anfey was in danger. Anfey would grow more mature after handling dangerous situations. This was also the way Ernest taught his students back then.
At the same time, in the Sacred City far away from Anfey, the king of Maho Empire, Yolanthe, who had "passed away," was sitting properly in a secret chamber with a serious face. He looked like he was going to kill someone. He squinted and looked like he was in thought. Below Yolanthe, a cloud of light grey shadow stood there quietly. That shadow looked clear sometimes, and blurry at others.
"Are you saying Philip turned down your request? Is that it?" Yolanthe asked.
"Yes, your majesty," the shadow answered.
"Did you tell him anything about me?" Yolanthe asked.
"No, your majesty. Philip has been very stubborn and did not know what were the appropriate things to do. If he knew about it, he might have leaked the secrets in conversation, and then Ellisen Empire would be alerted to it," the shadow answered.
"You are right." Yolanthe was in thought for a while and said, "Let Wester be in charge of some of the Hurricane legion. If spies from Ellisen Empire learn about the Hurricane legion but do not see any action from it, it would raise the red flag for them."
"I understand, your majesty. But what kind of people should be given to the prince?" the shadow asked.
"You don’t have to ask my opinion about these little issues, you can handle them yourself. Can you get in touch with Philip soon and ask him to come back to the Sacred City? Tell him the country needs him," Yolanthe said, smiling.
"Your majesty, please allow me to be honest with you. Philip is very emotional right now. He is not going to listen to me," the shadow said.
"Try to talk to him as an old friend. I hope he will not become an obstacle for the country. He contributed so much for this county. If it had to happen this way, maybe I need take some extreme methods." Yolanthe shook his head. "I have waited for this opportunity too long, too long, I will do anything to destroy Dark Moon Magic Legion in Ellisen Empire to get rid of the biggest threat to Maho Empire. I will do anything. I will not allow anyone to ruin my plan."
‘Your majesty, you know Phillip’s temper. I think we need to find Niya in the Forest Clarm and take her back. The rest of them we can leave to Phillip to handle. Only this way can we calm him," the shadow said.
"Do you know what the most important quality for a king is?" Yolanthe smiled and said, "It’s justice. Niya is still young, naughty and stubborn. Niya would give them a lesson if she saw anyone in other royal families doing anything bad. However, she never bothered with Zeda, never. She did not want to put Saul in any awkward situations, but she was not afraid of Zeda. Zeda was just a bastard. He was not even comparable to a little girl. Where was he killed? It was in Saul’s house. He went to Saul’s house with some bodyguards to arrest people. Didn’t he know the consequences of doing that? If he knew and continued to do it, then he was looking to be killed. If he did not know and had been manipulated by someone, then he deserved it anyway. No matter the reason, I have no sympathy for him."
"But…" the shadow said.
"There is no but. The Philips started it and they need to know to take responsibility for that. If Niya went to Philip’s house, beat up Zeda and killed him in his own house, I would not be on Saul’s side either," Yolanthe said.
"Your majesty, I know you are right. But if Philip could not release his anger, he would not come back to the Sacred City," the shadow said.
"If talking could not do the job, why don’t you try the sword and blood? If they put their family before the country, then I do not think there is any reason for their existence." Yolanthe waved his hand and said, "You can leave now. Ask Miorich to see me now."
"Your majesty…" The grey shadow trembled a little bit. He had followed Yolanthe for over twenty years. He knew better than anyone else how cruel Yolanthe could be if he made up his mind to kill someone.
"I will give Philip a last try and let him to choose his own path." Yolanthe let out a slight sigh. If there were any other options, he did not want Philip to die. Philip had made such a scene recently that he seemed ready to start a fight. This was unbearable to Yolanthe. To plan everything, Yolanthe had manage everything to its maximum. However, Philip had ordered his students to leave their positions to search for Anfey, while many of Philip’s students were in high positions in the military. What Philip did was going to affect his military chain of command.
What was worse was that a student of Saul’s, Entos, who was in training at Mercenary, returned immediately to help Saul after he received a letter from Saul. He was ambushed on the way by a group people. Entos had severe wounds all over his body. Luckily, Entos was a senior magister and able to release Time Ship scroll at the last moment to escape.
No one had claimed responsibility for it, but everyone knew who did it. In other words, who gave them the order to do it. This made Yolanthe even madder. Entos came back to the country to help. His power was far less than Saul’s, but he was still a senior magister and a good helper. What Philip did was nothing different than dog-eat-dog.
To a king, an obedient dog was better than a furious flying dragon. Saul was a representative of the magic power for the Maho Empire, and Philip was a leader of the swordsmen of the Maho Empire. They had different personalities and ways to do things. Maybe because there were not many children in Philip’s family, they had a very strong concept of family. Philip had total control of his students. His students had to go back to the Sacred City to get together with the Philips on holidays and birthdays. Saul was not like Philip. Besides providing instructions in magic skills, he was barely up on students’ personal lives. Saul respected his students’ own interests and choices. This was the main reason that Yolanthe got closer to Saul and kept a distance from Philip. Yolanthe did not want to see anyone act against his authority, but what Philip did was making the relationship between Yolanthe and him even more tense.
* * * *
Cling, Cling, the clear cling sound made by two pieces of metal arose above the prairie. Two people were fighting. Anfey was sweating profusely already. He tried to block Suzanna’s sword as he stepped back. Anfey had asked Ernest to use combat power when they were practicing sword skills. He realized how wise that decision was after he had had sword fights with Suzanna over the past few days. The skills Suzanna used were quite simple, either slay or thrust. Anfey’s used more "complex" skills like point, dodge, thrust, hold, move with sword trembling, slay, and press on. However, Anfey was at an obvious disadvantage in the fight. Within half an hour, Anfey was forced back from one end of the prairie to the other.
Suzanna thrust at his chest without any skill. Anfey thought he only needed to point his sword at Suzanna’s sword three to five inches away from the tip to change the direction of Suzanna’s sword and then make more offensive moves. He tried many times, but the results told him that he could not change the direction of her sword. Suzanna was fast and forceful when she used combat power. To Anfey, it felt like Suzanna’s sword was frozen in the air, very hard to move. Anfey might be able to block her thrust, but he had given up blocking her slay. His arm, wrist and fingers were cramped. It was so painful that Anfey did not want to even try it.
In fact, Anfey had been prepared to lose the fight. That night when they fought for the first time in the water, Suzanna’s punch did not get him, but the water waves created by her punch pulled some of his hairs off. He knew how good Suzanna was. The last few days’ practice with Suzanna only told Anfey that actually he was not ready for it.
It was fortunate that Suzanna’s speed was not super fast even though her attacks were fierce, otherwise Anfey would make himself look so bad.
Finally, Anfey raised up his hands to signal the end of morning training. Suzanna put her sword back into its sheath casually. She turned around and walked back to the cave. Anfey threw his sword on the ground and breathed heavily.
"Suzanna, did I make any progress today?" Anfey asked.
Suzanna turned around, looking at Anfey for a second, and then shrugged. She answered Anfey without saying anything.
Anfey smiled bitterly. He knew who he was and what he could do. When he was trying to kill the old guy in the Rose Home hotel, the old man was already hurt but he was still able to hit the heavy candlestick out of his hand. Anfey knew he might be able to handle swordsmen, but he had to be extremely careful with master swordsmen.
"What are you so proud of? Don’t you remember you have lost to me?" Anfey murmured. He cared more how to improve his ability fast than to make himself look good. However, Suzanna’s attitude of not wanting to talk to him still made him a little mad.
"You have lost to me hundreds of times over the past few days." Suzanna did talk to Anfey this time, but Anfey wished she had not said anything.
"…" Anfey was speechless. Anfey had no other way to improve his sword skills than finding himself an opponent, since it would take too long to make any improvement if he practiced swordfighting by himself. Besides Suzanna, who else could he practice with? No one would recommend Shally, would they?
Suzanna suddenly stopped walking when she heard an unpleasant screaming. It only took her a few strides to get back to Anfey. She looked up to the sky, where a swan-like animal flew by. That animal seemed to have a longer neck and bigger body than a real swan.
There was a saying that nice people tend to be bullied more and a tame horse tends to be ridden more often. The saying seems like it might have been an exaggeration in this situation, but giving it a little bit of thought, it was not entirely wrong. Anfey had never tried to bother wyverns.
Wyverns came to this prairie, but found the people living on it were hard to catch, so they had been just watching over them for a while and flown to other areas. As time passed, they seemed to be more comfortable approaching Anfey’s legion. At the very beginning, several of the wyverns in a group were just flying by to check on them. Now even a wyvern was able to stop by and check on them. It was annoying.
"Anfey, We have to think about how to deal with these wyverns. Do we have to wait until something happens to us?" Suzanna said with a grave face.
"We do need take action," Anfey nodded. There was another saying that restraint in moments of confrontation calms down the torment; Conceding a single step may take you to a higher plain. It made sense at some point, but it did not consider the point view of the bullies. If the bullies saw that you would easily compromise and concede, they would take advantage of it, and bully even more. These wyverns were good examples of the bullies. They started watching the prairie from outside and realized Anfey and his legion did not care about them, then they started to constantly fly over it. Niya and Shally did not have any combat power. If they did not protect those two well, they might have become victims of the wyverns.
The wyvern did not bother Suzanna. It just flapped its wings and flew towards the cave. Christian was on watch so he immediately released the levitation magic to chase after the wyvern. Zubin and Sanchez ran from the cave and hastened to the side of Christian to protect him.
That wyvern suddenly changed direction and flew out of the prairie, leaving a series of coarse howling. It sounded like the wyvern was making fun of them.
"Let’s go," Anfey said quietly.
"Ok." Suzanna nodded.
Anfey and Suzanna ran to the cave. Suzanna followed Anfey closely. Anfey knew Suzanna would remember the lesson from their last experience.When Suzanna heard the howling of the wyvern, she ran back to Anfey first. She put Anfey's safety first instead of her mission to locate wyvern.
Some people do not learn from their mistakes, but others learn from any mistake. Suzanna undoubtedly belonged to the latter group.
"Anfey, let’s take these wyverns down. I cannot stand them anymore," Sanchez said angrily as he walked toward Anfey.
"Right. There were a pair of wyverns hovering above us when we were collecting wood. They were just watching us from a distance. They just followed us as we carried the wood back. We were worried the whole way back." Zubin smiled bitterly.
"Suzanna, how is your recovery coming along?" Anfey asked.
"Wyverns are far less powerful than manticores. I think I can handle them," Suzanna said.
"Ok, we need to make a plan this morning." Anfey was in thought for a while and then asked, "Christian, do we have any good material for fighting wyverns? We’d better not waste them."
"Besides magic crystals and fangs, other parts of their bodies are worthless. When the upper-class royals are being sarcastic, they usually say ‘You are rotten like a wyvern.’ Wyverns are the worst among the senior magic beasts, not only because wyverns’ powers are the lowest, but also because their body parts are least useful to humans."
"So…" Anfey became thoughtful. Anfey had seen what benefits unicorns and manticores could bring him. It was well known how valuable unicorn blood and the legendary Tears of Stars could be. Besides unicorn blood and Tears of Stars, its horn could detoxify, and taking ground unicorn horn powder could save your life. Unicorns and manticores’ fur could be made into top magic leather mail by alchemists. Manticores’ teeth could be made into arrowheads that could pierce through knights’ heavy armor. If fire element were added to the arrowhead, it would explode into a big fire ball when it hit the target. Its power could be a lot stronger than regular fireballs released by mages. Manticores’ claws and both manticores and unicorns’ bones were good as well.
All of them were just raw materials and needed be made into all kinds of magic tools by good alchemists. Generally speaking, all types of senior magic beasts, except for wyverns, were valuable.
Anfey’s favorite was the manticore’s stinger. The stinger was a little too thick to hold in his hands. Anfey hoped to turn it into a short-shafted spear if he could find a good alchemist. Christian said the magic effects of the stinger would partially remain, just like the unicorn horn. The unicorn horn partially kept the ability of purification, and the manticore’s sting could partially keep the paralyzing effects.
"Wyverns did not come by again, did they?" Niya walked out of the cave as she rubbed her eyes. For her safety, she had not been able to go anywhere for the past few days which she was not so happy about.
"I’ve recovered, Anfey." Suzanna realized that Anfey could not make a decision yet because he was worried that her combat power had not recovered to its normal level. She had to firmly restate that she had recovered.
"Ok. Ask everyone to come here," Anfey nodded.