The experiments of scientists must be rigorous! Three times Anfey mercilessly conducted his experiment on the wyvern. The force used was not extreme, so long as the tip of the stinger completely pierced the hide. After the seventh time, the strong beating of the wyvern’s chest suddenly weakened and its wings stiffened. The manticore venom’s paralytic effect had finally kicked in, but…such a small probability? Not even fifteen percent! Anfey was left a bit disappointed.
Patiently waiting, Anfey found that it took roughly twenty seconds for the wyvern’s frantic breathing to resume. In addition to the numerous previous injuries, this wyvern had just endured the paralytic effect of manticore venom. With the wyvern’s eyes losing focus, its life was rapidly approaching its end.
Anfey, feeling anxious, continued to repeatedly stab the manticore stinger into the wyvern’s hide. This time the result was even worse; only on the eleventh attempt was the wyvern paralyzed again.
Alas, the results continue to worsen! Anfey could not help but sigh and wait patiently. Who would have guessed that even after thirty seconds, the wyvern would still be paralyzed. Anfey turned to look at the wyvern’s head and noticed that its eyelids had already closed—fallen into the eternal paralysis of death…
"Anfey, what are you doing?" Sante asked, curious.
"I am testing the paralytic effect of the manticore stinger," Anfey replied. Thinking for a moment, Anfey turned around and asked, "Sante, could one use magic to increase the probability of paralysis?"
"I believe…it is not possible," Sante said, shaking his head.
"Never mind then." With his interest waning, Anfey returned the manticore stinger to the dimensional ring. Now, speaking to his two assistants, he said: "Remove its magic crystal and venom fangs. As for the body…we will discuss what to do after Christian and Suzanna come, but we will leave it here for now."
Suddenly, the unicorn foal rushed out from the cave. Despite only having learned to walk recently, his strides had already become second nature. In just a few gallops, it found itself atop the wyvern corpse. The unicorn initially bowed its head to inspect the corpse, then looked up with an air of conceited pride. As if facing a vast forest of magical beasts, the unicorn let out the cry of a mighty king. All the while his hind legs scornfully kicked at the wyvern corpse—such arrogance!
Unfortunately, the little guy had yet to fully express his desire for fighting or his contempt towards adversaries. Anfey sternly scolded, "You twit! Next time you run amok like this, I’ll break your legs!" Anfey could manage people just fine, but not this guy. This little guy had been quite the miracle; in just a few days able to run so quick and with such grace! With the threat of the wyvern, Anfey often worried about the little guy! That is the heartache of being a parent—very difficult!!!
To "bully the weak and fear the strong" is a universal and unassailable truth! Whether human or beast! Not only does this little guy take advantage of Niya and Shally, but even Suzanna. When bored, he often sneaks up behind people to ram them in the back or to pull at their clothes. But if he hears Anfey speak loudly, the little guy immediately becomes well-behaved. It seems that even he knows who can bully whom…
"Anfey, you are bullying my baby again!" Niya screamed from the cave.
It could be said that if Niya's personality did not change, she would never amount to anything. To envy what others have is fine, to take by force what others have is fine as well. But one must consider the method. Where can one openly display one’s own insatiable greed? Would doing so not raise the vigilance of others? Say for instance her goal is also not right; that the little guy being close with her is just for fun, but him being close with Anfey is instinctive. Can she ever win this way? Niya’s painstaking effort to make that little unicorn into her little baby could only end poorly.
"Go, your mother is calling you again," Anfey said as he put the little guy on the ground.
Niya walked out of the cave and tried to talk to Anfey about how to take care of the little animal. But she ended up feeling embarrassed and went back into the cave.
The little guy did not want to leave Anfey and curled up by his feet. A perceptive person could see that the little guy was always trying to please Anfey. But with others, he just waited for them to please him. This was a fundamental difference…
Christian and Suzanna came out to see the wyvern corpse. Instantly shocked, they hurriedly retreated to the cave. Christian immediately asked, "Is everybody okay?" while Suzanna anxiously searched for Shally.
As long as one is perceptive, one can always determine the inner thoughts of another through hints and clues. Take Suzanna for instance: although she had become a part of the team and treated each member as a close partner, her little sister was still the most important to her. In case of any danger, Suzanna would never hesitate to save her sister’s life over that of another team member. This of course was understandable!
"Everyone is all right! That wyvern foolishly got into the cave. When we combined our magic, and we took it down immediately," Sanchez said with a big grin.
"That's good," Christian said, much relieved.
"Anfey, where is Shally?" Suzanne worriedly asked.
"She is inside meditating," Anfey responded, "You guys saw a seven-winged magic fly?"
"Yes, there were a lot of them—at least 30!"
"Do they pose a danger to us?"
"They are generally weak and have poor magic. But when we are dealing with a wyvern, even weak magic can be quite dangerous."
"Despite having so many powerful mages who can easily disperse negative magic," Christian said, "allowing the seven-winged magic fly to outnumber and surround us is still incredibly imprudent."
"Is there any way to lure them out?"
"Yes, but there are difficulties. They are attracted only to rotting magical corpses. Of course…if we use the unicorn corpse…we may be able to draw the magic flies out!" Christian declared.
Anfey suddenly remembered that pair of greedy eyes from when the wyvern was eyeing the little unicorn; "That’s a good idea. Suzanna, you take the second group and find a place to dig a trap. Zubin, Shante, and I will dig the unicorn corpse out. The rest of you, stay here. Niya, I’m handing the little guy over to you—do not let him run about!"
"I’ll handle it," Niya said with a bright exuberance from being given this responsibility. Her heart was truly content.
"Let’s try this. If it does not work, we will try something else," Anfey said slowly.
Anfey prefered to act cleanly and orderly. He initially did not want conflict with the wyvern; but now that conflict was inevitable, he had become vigorous and resolute. His soldiers were setting out on two separate tasks: one group to ready the trap, the other to retrieve the unicorn corpse.
What kind of creature is most merciless? The answer is quite simple: human!
Take for example the way humans deal with seals, whales, and mink; let alone the sheer cruelty of eating raw monkey brain and the dish of three sounds. Anfey would not partake in such indulgences here, as the unicorn had produced in him some kind of indescribable sentiment. But in circumstances such as these, he also would not oppose those on his team that do!
What was once an unparalleled and divine unicorn had become a wretched thing. It really could only be described as a thing now. Its once dazzling fur was taken as a commodity and would someday be made into the highest quality of magic leather. Its sky-blue horn neatly was placed in Christian’s dimensional ring. Its priceless blood was drawn and used as the team’s miracle medicine. With all its glory and power long departed, what remained was entirely covered by maggots.
"Anfey, do we really need to move this thing back?" Shante asked while pinching his nose.
"Let’s bury it first," said Anfey. He did not know why, but ever since arriving here, Anfey had believed that decisions he made in the moment were even more surprising to the others.
"Bury…bury it?" Shante responded with a forced smile.
"Bury it now, and we will deal with it tomorrow," Anfey decided.
Shante and Zubin looked at each other, both thinking the same thing—digging a hole would not be so easy, and burying this body also would not be so easy. For two mages, they must expend a lot of physical strength. But Anfey had already spoken; they had no choice but to act according to his directive.
After everyone returned in time for dinner; and each had noticed that Anfey still had not uttered a word. Nobody had ever seen Anfey be lost in himself like this. Even the time Anfey realized that he had killed the sole grandson of a master swordsman, his face had remained undisturbed. Seeing Anfey like this now, even Niya and Shally dared not make a sound. After dinner, Anfey’s appearance had just begun to ease, and everyone silently gestured for Christian to intervene. In everyone's mind, Christian was the team’s second-in-command. As such, it was his job to help ease whatever worry the leader had.
"Anfey, are you busy? Can we go for a walk?" Christian asked as he approached Anfey’s side with a sympathetic smile.
"Sure, I have some things I want to discuss with you anyways," Anfey nodded.
As everyone else watched silently, the two slowly left the cave.
Both were silent for a moment, then Christian began with, "Anfey, what’s weighing on your mind? It seemed like your mood suddenly shifted earlier."
"Let's go a bit farther first—I do not want our conversation to be overheard," Anfey said.
"Sure," Christian agreed.
Suddenly little Shally ran out of the cave, handed something to Christian and said, "Thank you, Christian."
Anfey noticed that it was the unicorn horn.
"No problem, little Shally. You are too polite," Christian chuckled.
Then Niya and Suzanna also appeared out of the cave, walking towards the garden.
Anfey frowned, "What are you two up to?"
"Going for a bath," Niya timidly responded. Normally, she would certainly have responded with, "Who wants you to know" or "Not going to tell you." But this evening Anfey seemed off, so she naturally responded more politely.
"Nonsense, the lake is toxic!" cried Anfey.
"Anfey, they tossed the unicorn horn into the lake a full day and a half ago. The toxins have all been neutralized," Christian laughed. "If outsiders catch wind of us using a unicorn horn for bath water…we would probably get scolded for being too wasteful."
"This is true," Anfey agreed. "Susanna, you must be careful! Although wyverns have quite poor night vision and will not attack at night, what of other magical beasts?"
"I know," Susanna replied.
"These women…they’re so delicate!" Anfey exclaimed, watching as Niya waited for the others. But just as the words left his mouth, he felt his back itch—he too wanted a bath…
"Women, they’re all that way," Christian said, smiling. Returning to their conversation he asked, "Anfey, can we talk now?"
"Oh…how do I put this. Today, as Zubin, Shante, and I were digging up the unicorn corpse, I noticed that my mark had been moved."
"Mark? What mark?"
"It is difficult to explain. What I can tell you is that someone had been digging around the unicorn corpse!"
"What happens if…other magical creatures had touched the body?"
"It was not magical creatures," Anfey decisively replied.
"Do you mean…you think someone may be secretly monitoring us?"
"Beyond doubt, there is certainly someone!" Anfey smiled, "And through today’s events, I have realized some things."
"Has Zeda ever come to the master’s house?"
Christian thought carefully, "Never."
"This confirms my hypothesis; we are inadvertently…or we are being forced into a huge conspiracy!"
"Anfey, why do you say that?"
"Zeda is too arrogant. Do you dare enter Philip’s home to stir up trouble? Do not say there is some royal decree. But even if there were such a command, for the sake of the future, they should still act politely," Anfey sneered. "And if Maris is really working with Zeda, could you really call that a coincidence?
"I…am confused, Anfey," Christian responded, wryly smiling.
"The first time we met the Knights of the Holy Flame Legion, there were those who helped us—why would they help us?"
"Might have been a friend of the master or…"
"Don’t you think that’s too naïve?"
"Then…what are you saying happened?"
"Someone needed us to escape! Someone needed us to do this—they used our movements to convey to the outside world some kind of…message. Do you understand now?"
"There are still…some things I do not understand," Christian replied, perplexed.
"We have become pawns in somebody else’s game!" Anfey spat. "I hate being manipulated!!!"