"Sante, you still have coins in your ring, right?" Anfey asked.
"Of course." Everyone had a certain amount of coins and food in their rings. Anfey wanted to make sure that if any of them got lost or separated, the person would have the means to survive.
"Come up here. Remember what I just said?"
"Yes?" Sante blinked. He used levitation and lifted himself onto the platform.
"Go outside and tell all the prisoners what I just said. Give the coins to those who want to stay and work. Those who don’t want to stay can go."
"You know what I mean by going, don’t you?"
"You mean…" Sante lowered his voice. "You promised them freedom!"
"Only to the ones in here. The ones outside are our prisoners, after all. If anyone is stubborn enough to leave, you know what to do."
"Fine," Sante said, nodding.
"Alright. Tell Blavi and Riska to come in," Anfey said, smiling. "Zubin, go with Sante, won’t you?"
Zubin nodded and left the cave. The orcs, seeing that the one that guarded the exit had left, felt a sense of relief. They were promised work and money and freedom, all things they didn’t even dare to dream about in the past.
"Suzanna, come with me," Anfey said. He jumped onto the stone ridge across from the platform. He descended the stairs and entered the orcs’ storage cavern.
Suzanna didn’t know what Anfey wanted with her, but she knew it was important, or else Anfey would not have avoided Christian. She followed him nervously.
"Suzanna, I have to talk to you about something." Just as Suzanna had expected, Anfey did not even try to prepare her for the talk and instead cut straight to the chase.
"I feel the need to tell everyone about the map you are carrying. Don’t misunderstand me. The treasure is still yours, and none of us would ask you for any of it. You are part of the team, and we have the responsibility to help you. I think everyone else would feel the same way."
According to map, the treasure should be buried somewhere near these mountain ranges. Anfey hired those orcs for the purpose of finding whatever was buried here as well. A search this scale would not escape everyone’s eyes, and would sooner or later be noticed by somebody. If they waited until someone found out, it would create a sense of mistrust among the group.
"You didn’t need to explain yourself," Suzanna said, smiling. "I trust everyone."
"You agree, then?"
"If you can really find it...I just need that sword. Everything else you can take."
"Stop, stop," Anfey said, shaking his head. "You sound like we are dividing up contraband."
Suzanna chuckled. "I do not have the spell, though," she said. "It was written under the map, but was already missing when I found it."
"Let’s wait until we find it. Perhaps we don’t need a spell for it." Anfey smiled and began walking out of the cavern. Blavi and Riska were already outside and speaking with Christian.
"Christian, come here. Sanchez, why don’t you…" Anfey ordered, but after a moment he changed he mind. "Christian, bring him over anyway." Hui Wei had already given up struggling, but no one knew when he could use the antimagic area again. What if he tried to escape and harm the people outside, while their strongest fighters were all inside the cave?
The group used levitation and gathered around Anfey. Hui Wei looked like he had lost all will to fight, and quietly allowed himself to be carried by Christian.
"Anfey, what happened? Why the secrecy?" Christian asked.
Anfey glanced at Suzanna, and said, "There is something important you need to know."
"Why do you want me here if you are just talking? Let me go!" Hui Wei said suddenly, and began thrusting against his captor. He was much stronger than Christian, and could have easily escaped.
"You better behave," Anfey said coldly.
"I’m not interesting in your secrets," Hui Wei said nervously. "Let me go. I’m just outside, I can’t escape. You have so many mages here, there is no way I can get out."
"No, you have to stay here," Anfey said sternly.
Hui Wei stared at him, and suddenly he dashed towards the wall. He was fast, and caught everyone off guard. He wasn’t going to escape or hurt anyone. By the time everyone realized what he was doing, he had already crashed into the wall and fell to the ground unconscious.
Everyone stared at him wide eyed and confused.
Anfey talked over slowly and silently and checked his wounds and his breathing. "He’s smart," he said, "he didn’t hurt himself much. Just enough to knock himself out."
"Why did he do this?" Christian asked.
Anfey picked Hui Wei up off the ground and placed him on the stone ridge above. He jumped off the ridge and landed in front of Christian. "Say, Christian. If you become a prisoner, and your captors speak about secrets right in front of you, how would you feel?"
"You’re saying he was afraid we would kill him?"
"Of course. He was afraid that after we learn the secret to the antimagic area, we would kill him. Otherwise, he would have told us about it long ago. Had he known our secrets, his chance of survival would be even lower." Anfey grinned. "He is braver than I thought."
"He is," Blavi said. "Who would bet with their own heads?"
"Now, let’s talk about our own secrets," Anfey said. "Suzanna holds a treasure map."
"Treasure map?" The group’s gaze fell onto Suzanna, then turned to Anfey. "What kind of treasure map?" Christian asked.
Suzanna retrieved it from her sheath and handed it to them. "See for yourself."
Christian accepted it gingerly. Blavi and Riska gathered around to look at the map.
"This is old," Riska said, touching the surface of the map.
"It was new when I got it, but during the fight we destroyed the magic on it. I think it will be a pile of dust in no more than six months."
"Why don’t you make a copy?"
"No need. I already memorized the entire map."
"Suzanna," Anfey said, "why didn’t you destroy it once you memorized it?"
"I couldn’t bring myself to do it," Suzanna shrugged. "Every time I see it...it is like seeing my mentor again."
"Your mentor? Who is it?" Anfey wasn’t the only one that cared about the question. Anyone who could train a twenty-year-old girl to be a master swordsman must be one of the best.
"Sorry, I promised him I would never give out his name to anyone."
"You don’t have to say anything," Anfey said, smiling.
"Thanks," Suzanna whispered.
"Suzanna, how long have you had this map?" Christian asked.
"About three months."
"Time is constant. It doesn’t matter if you are alive or not, time will affect you one way or another. If Suzanna is right, and this map has deteriorated this much in three months without that magic barrier, it should at least be six centuries old, if not seven."
"What does that mean?" Blavi asked.
"That means we are in for a surprise," Christian said.
Christian continued: "After the Hundred Year War, all the sentient beings in the world retreated into their own territories and rested. The magicked beings had brought severe damage to all the races. Only two hundred years later, however, another war erupted. Although it was only between the humans and the savages, it had been just as intense as the Hundred Year War, and in the end every race was affected.
"After the Hundred Year War, humans divided into three kingdoms, and after the war with the savages, they divided into a dozen nations. When faced with increasing threats from their enemy, the nations banded together into one nation in order to fend off their common threat.
"After the war with the savages and the orcs, the unified nation fell apart within two decades, and evolved into the world we know today. Of course, no one could stop the constantly changing politics of nations.
"In a chaotic era such as the wars, many noble families and powerful men found themselves staring their doom in the face. Some were able to rebound after the war, but many were instead buried by history. Treasures from that era must have something to do with those fallen nobilities." Christian knew this map would bring them a great surprise.
"I only know there is a sword in there. You might know it. It is called Song of Red Moon," Suzanna told them.
"Song of Red Moon? That is a sword of the devil! It is a holy relic of the orcs. Why would it be here?" Christian asked.
"That I do not know."
"What? Is it a powerful sword?" Anfey asked.
"I do not know exactly how powerful it is. Legend has it that it was forged by a great alchemist after a necromancer placed a spell on him. After the sword was forged, the alchemist was killed and his soul imprisoned in the sword. After that the sword became cursed, with the alchemist placing a curse on everyone that wields it," Christian said uneasily. "Suzanna, that sword is not for common people. The first user was captured by the magic beasts, and they tortured him to death. None of the other users fared well, either. You are powerful enough, you don’t need to rely on weapons to increase your ability."
"I promised my mentor that I would find it," Suzanna said, patting her longsword. "I won’t actually use it. I just need it in my hands."
"That’s good, as long as you don’t use it. " Christian sighed in relief. "I mean, your mentor shouldn’t, either," Christian added hurriedly.
"He won’t use it, either," Suzanna said, shaking her head.
"Alright, let’s talk about that later. First we need to find it. Starting tomorrow, we will have the orcs start searching the surrounding areas until we find clues," Anfey said. "You’ve seen the map. What do you think about that dot? I have a feeling that it is this very cave."
"You’re right!" Blavi said, staring at the black dot. "Look at it. The black dot is under the mountain, and if this is where the treasures are located, then it is this cave!"