Chapter 561: Friendship
The curtain had been lifted, and Robert walked in slowly. Due to the nature of their work, he and Ye could see Anfey without going through the notification of the guards. Suzanna was shocked and her face turned red. She quickly stood up from Anfey’s lap and nodded at Robert. She was familiar with what Robert was doing. Her father, Darius, had had men like him before. Their tasks were shady.
“Yes?” Anfey asked softly.
“Sir, Wester and Granden have entered the Moro Province. They are traveling at great speed. Given their speed, they should be able to reach the Naho Province in five to seven days.
Anfey was in deep thought, and after a long while, he asked, “Is the information reliable?”
“Yes,” Robert nodded and said. “Sir, shall we let Young John and his men take them by surprise…”
“No. That will be too obvious.” Anfey rejected Robert’s suggestion and said, “Do not think that we can take things into our hands just because Marshal Baery is unhappy with Wester. Being unhappy and having admiration are the attitudes of an individual. If we take Wester by surprise, it will not be a matter of attitude. It is…” At this point, Anfey smiled wryly.
“Sir, what shall we do then?”
“Is Alice with Master Douminge?”
“I have no idea. I have just returned.”
“Go to Alice. If you see Master Douminge with her, let me know immediately. If he is not there, tell Alice that I would like her to find an excuse to get Master Douminge there.”
“Yes, Sir.” Robert quickly walked out.
“On your way out, ask Ye to come in. I need to talk to him,” Anfey added.
After Robert had left, Suzanna frowned and said softly, “Is Robert crazy? He had wanted to attack Wester!” Suzanna had used the word “crazy” to appropriately describe Robert. Regardless of his conduct, Wester was Yolanthe’s son. Only Yolanthe could decide his destiny. To lay hands on Wester would be going against Yolanthe! When Wester had sent the assassins, he only targeted Anfey and Suzanna. He dared not hurt Christian, although Christian was his biggest threat.
“The Rangers are used to disassociating themselves from the world. Other than their own people, they would not show concern for the others, even if he is the king. If they are being pushed into a corner, they will do anything.” Anfey paused and said, “Actually…this is one of the reasons that I trusted them. Should things turn out badly for us in the future, they will be the only ones whom we can trust.”
“Why is this so?” Suzanna was shocked and asked.
“I don’t know why I say this,” Anfey sighed and said. “Maybe, this is unnecessary. Maybe…”
“Do you mean we cannot trust Christian and Alice?”
“They can be trusted. What I mean is, if the situation gets really bad…” Anfey smiled and said. “Of course, I will not let such things happen.”
“What you have said…makes me feel uneasy.”
“Hahaha…let’s not talk about the future. Let’s talk about the present.” Anfey changed the topic. “Christian is…too meek. If we capture Diamond City only when Wester and Granden have reached this place, they will try to take credit for it. Christian will not refute this. He is happy as long as the Empire gets stronger and he can be of service. I have been trying to urge him to fight for power, but his performance has not been satisfactory.”
“Christian is too kind,” Suzanna said softly.
“This is not a bad thing. If he gets power, he will be a good king whom the people will love. But the problem is, before he gets power, the responsibility is on us.”
“What do you intend to do?”
“We must not give them any opportunity, but at the same time, we cannot attack them. What we can do… is to start the war soon.”
“But Marshal Baery wanted to launch the attack on…”
“In fact, we have the upper-hand. Marshal Baery was just waiting for an opportunity. We can decide on the timing,” Anfey said softly. “It depends on whether Young John can hold the forte at the city gate, and upon the number of magicians Master Douminge can persuade. If Douminge and I share the same view, Marshal Baery doesn’t need to follow according to plans. You can say that, even if Marshal Baery knows what I am thinking, he will not make things difficult for me.”
At this moment, Ye lifted up the curtain and walked in. “Sir, are you looking for me?”
“Yes,” Anfey nodded his head and said. “Wester and Granden will be here soon. Have you found out anything yet?”
Ye looked awkward. He shook his head and said, “No…but Volte should be Wester’s maternal relative.”
“Should be? How sure are you?”
“At least 70-80 percent.”
Anfey pondered this for a while and said, “Have them killed tonight. If not, we will not know what will happen when Wester is here. Hmnn…hang the bodies of Volte and Julie outside the campsite. Write down clearly their names, as well as the crimes they have committed. Get it?”
“Yes,” Ye said with a smile,. “I am looking forward to seeing the expression on Wester’s face when he sees the two corpses.”
“No matter how Wester tries to put on a false front, since he has sent his men to deal with Suzanna and me, that proves that he could not take the threat from Christian any longer,” Anfey slowly said. “This is expected. He is still young and rash, and this is normal. Since he can no longer take it, why don’t we agitate him?”
“Sir, are you not young, too?” Ye said with a smile.
“But I am old here.” Anfey pointed at his chest and burst out into laughter. “By the way, Ye, do the soldiers think well of me?”
“Of course! Who are you? You have the Sacred Inheritance, and you have fought for the Empire, killed…” Ye seemed to be in a good mood. He seldom spoke, but now he just rattled on.
“Stop your nonsense.” Anfey interrupted him and said, “Send some men to patrol the area. Spread the news that Suzanna has been attacked and have a target placed on Wester. It must be logical and persuasive.”
“Sir, do you want to ruin Wester’s reputation?”
“Yes,” Anfey nodded and said. “The fact that Wester is here to take credit is a big mistake. For Granden, it cannot be helped. When he was 14 years old, he was already an inspector in the army. He has qualifications and a reputation. Even if I slander him, it will not have much impact. As for Wester, who does he think he is?”
“He has to come. If he doesn’t get the support of the army, it will be his greatest drawback,” Ye said with a smile.
“It is late,” Anfey sneered.
“Sir.” Robert’s voice was heard outside the tent. “I have informed Sir Alice. She would like you to go over now.”
“That is all for now.” Anfey stood up slowly and said, “Oh yes. Try to think of a way to make the corpses decompose faster, so that Wester can get more emotional.”
“Understood,” Ye replied.
Anfey took a few steps and suddenly stopped. “I nearly forget about this. Don’t kill Douglas. Golman needs him for experiments. It is a rare opportunity to use a top level power for experiments.”
“What about Volte?”
“Volte’s body is meant to be exposed.” Anfey smiled. “By the way, you have misunderstood me. When Golman left Minosie, Douglas was the first to betray him, and he had pulled along with him quite a number of men. Golman misses him a lot.”
“I cannot imagine…Volte’s and Douglas’s destinies. Whose will be better?”
“It is up to you to decide.” Anfey laughed and said, “If you are interested, you can let Volte die a more horrible death.”
Alice’s tent and Anfey’s tent were not far from each other. They were located at the center of the campsite of The League of Mercenaries. After walking for a while, Anfey reached Alice’s tent. He could clearly hear that Alice and Douminge were happily chatting away.
“Alice,” Anfey called out. This was redundant. Having seen Anfey, the female swordsman, who was guarding Alice’s tent, had gone in to report to her.
“Come in,” Alice called out.
Anfey lifted up the curtain and walked in. Alice was sitting opposite Douglas, and Shinbela was standing guard at the side. Anfey said with a smile, “Master Douminge is here. What a coincidence. Am I disturbing you?”
“When have you become so polite?” Alice asked inquisitively. “Are you blaming me for not receiving you?”
“Hahaha…you are the Duke. I don’t think anyone, including Marshal Baery, holds a higher position than you. Who dares to trouble you?”
“Duke? Anything given can be taken back. As compared to this, I put
more trust in things that will not change easily, for example, …friendship!” Alice signaled to the chair beside her and said, “Anfey, you don’t seem to be in a good mood. What has happened?”
When Alice brought up the topic of friendship, she seemed to be overdoing it. However, she had not meant it to be for Anfey’s ears. It was meant for Douminge’s. Anfey had been smiling, but she could tell that Anfey was not in a good mood. This was amazing. She was actually using this to segue to her topic.
Anfey sighed and sat on the chair. He openly said, “The First Prince, Wester, and the Second Prince, Granden, have reached the Moro Province.”
“So fast?” Alice was shocked. Her future was tightly knit together with Anfey’s and Christian’s. She was very sharp, and knew immediately what Anfey was driving at.
Seeing that Alice was looking a bit odd, Douminge put down his cup and started to listen attentively.
Chapter 562: Flags
Thousands of fireballs appeared in the air, emitting a bright light. Other than the fireballs, hundreds of lightning bolts crackled through the air, striking the ground with loud thuds. In the distance, a tornado was forming, moving closer to the city at a slow but steady speed. The ground rumbled under the effects of so many magic spells at the same time.
Diamond City was a beautiful city, but with so much magic ready to attack it, it was as if the gods had delivered all the possible plagues onto the city.
When Diamond City was first built, there were only three mage towers. As the city expanded, the number of towers expanded to more than two dozen. Then, those towers were taken down and replaced by giant mage towers. Now, the city was protected by more than a dozen giant mage towers. As long as the towers still stood, and the supply of magic crystals remained ample, the city would not fall.
Steger began his chanting. As his voice grew louder, a red swirl began to form in the sky above the city. He raised his voice, and the swirl became larger and started to glow, outshining even the lights in the sky. As the swirl grew blinding, hundreds of meteorites fell from the swirl and onto the city.
The meteorites clashed into the protective shield that had been placed over the city by the giant mage towers. The mage towers were very powerful, enough to block the effects of any spell, including forbidden spells. Soldiers in Diamond City cheered as the meteorites exploded on the shield.
However, Steger’s attack was meant to be blocked by the shields. He was not as experienced as Saul, and did not know this city like Douminge. He was only stalling so that the mages in the city could have a chance to damage the towers.
Anfey stood in front of the swordsmen, observing the city. He was staring at the city calmly. His emotions were no longer something that bothered him.
The rumbling ground did not move him. Behind him were the elites of the Roaring Death Legion, the suicide attackers squad. When Baery first started this squad, he told his soldiers that being in the squad requires determination, and that they must be prepared to be the firsts to die. These soldiers would follow every order, and were always ready to fight. The rumbling of the ground did not affect them, either.
Normally, Baery was the only person the suicide attackers squad followed. However, Baery no longer cared about accomplishments and glory. He knew why Anfey had asked him to lead the charge, and he trusted Anfey.
A strange wave of magic surge radiated out from the city. The shield that protected the city began to shrink quickly. Lights on the giant mage towers that were standing by the south gates were alright dimming. In a building close to the south gates, Little John finished off the last mage who was guarding the towers and breathed a sigh of relief. He was in charge of the southern part of the city, and he had to make sure this part of the city lost its magical protection.
Sensing the surge, Anfey suddenly rose into the air. Elements pulled themselves around him, creating a storm of elements as he shot toward the city. The soldiers guarding the south gate were shocked. Anfey was in the air, but it was impossible to set up magic arrays in this short amount of time. The mages were not present, either. The commanders were intimidated, but they still jumped into the air, trying to block Anfey. However, there were not nearly enough of them to stop him. He landed on the city wall, leaving three bodies behind him.
The soldiers around him scattered. Once their commanders were gone, there was nothing holding the soldiers there. They could tell the difference in strengths, and they were not looking to get killed.
Anfey ignored those fleeing soldiers. He turned and swung his axe, cutting down the flag bearing Shansa Empire’s symbol. Seeing him cutting down the flag, Suzanna swooped down from the sky and grabbed the flag staff from his hands. She tossed the flag to Christian, who gripped it in his hands tightly, then beginning to wave it, then stopping. Suzanna was circling above Christian, protecting him.
Seeing the flag, the soldiers in the Roaring Death Legion were the first to react. They knew that this was the signal, and began charging toward the city. A moment later, more soldiers began charging at the city. The soldiers of the Roaring Death Legion were joined by the elites of Sacred City’s city guard, sent by Yolanthe.
Mages’ magic allowed them to bypass the magic arrays on the ground, but the soldiers would set it off. Soldiers began dying, as they stepped into the magic arrays, but nothing could stop them. With Christian ahead of them, waving the broken flag, the soldiers charged without stopping. The glory of taking the flag was reserved for Christian, and it did not matter who actually cut it down. To the soldiers, it was Christian that took the flag and started the battle.
The southern gate was already open, and members of the suicide attacker squad and the Sacred City city guards charged into the city. The nobles that were still in the city were terrified by this turn of events. Some were pacing in the room, trying to find a way out of the city. Others had already given up, resigned to their fates. Some nobles dressed their daughters and wives up, hoping that would be enough for the conquering armies to spare their lives.
Some nobles began hanging banners on their doors, welcoming Alice’s return to the city. For these nobles, in moments like this, staying alive was much more important than being loyal to their country.
More soldiers streamed into the city. The ones that couldn’t reach the gates began to scale the city wall. Christian kept waving the flag, despite his arms growing tired and sore. After all, he was a mage, and did not have as much stamina.
He wasn’t a competitive person, and he did not want to fight with his brothers. However, he knew that if he didn’t fight for the throne, his friends would be in trouble as well, once his father died.
The flags bearing Shansa Empire’s symbols were all broken, but Christian did not stop waving the flag. He knew that he could not turn back anymore.
Chapter 563: The Providence of God
The massacre that was expected to cause a great fear over the royal families of Shansa did not take place. The talents that Alice had recruited in Moro Province and Yellowstone Province had been put to good use. With the help of the soldiers of Shansa, under Kumaraghosha’s command, they patrolled the area, suppressed the riots, and brought assurance to the people. When it was dawn, Diamond City had resumed its peace.
What Alice had experienced was similar to the experience of Granden from the Maho Empire. Alice had entered into politics when she was young, and Granden had become an inspector when he was a teenager. However, being an inspector was only a role in name. The power was still in the hands of the Chief Commander. Alice frequently made public appearances and got along well with people from all trades. She was more mature than Granden.
Alice had no problem maintaining the normal operations of the city. As for the ministers of her predecessor, she was well aware of the ones whom she could keep, and whom she had to eliminate.
No one could sleep this night. Baery had to supervise and re-organize those new soldiers of the Shansa Empire. They did not have strong combat force, but there were many of them. Saul, Steger, and Douminge were searching for the remnants who might create trouble. Bruzuryano and Mauso were in charge of the reinforcements. They had become fire fighters. They would be deployed to wherever there was danger. Even the high priest, Stan, and the Knights of the Light had been assigned duties. No one would do a better job than them in reassuring the people. Regardless of the conduct of the individuals, in the eyes of the people, they were upright and kind.
Outside the Palace, Kumaraghosha held his sword and looked back. Anfey nodded his head lightly, and Kumaraghosha turned around and wielded his sword. A sword ray blew open the magnificent door, and Kumaraghosha took the lead and dashed in.
In any political governance, there would be lots of ambivalence, including fights. If they were working toward a common goal, it would be easy to work things out. However, to remove the estrangement among them, it would be impossible! As long as people were involved, there would be ambivalence. Kumaraghosha had led the soldiers in surrounding the Palace, as he had his own agenda.
If Diamond City was the icon of the Shansa Empire, the Palace would be the icon of Diamond City. Behind the magnificent door, was the accumulation of years of wealth of the Empire, and many other things. Kumaraghosha did not want the place to be looted! Moreover, he had one more motive. He wanted to take revenge for his family, who had died terrible deaths! However, Edward VIII was Alice’s father, so he felt uneasy. After gaining the approval of Anfey, he finally made up his mind.
However, Kumaraghosha had measured the stature of great men by his small yardstick. A talent remained only a talent. Kumaraghosha was merely a talent. As there were no better choices, he had taken up the responsibility as a vanguard. Baery was a renowned Marshal. The soldiers in the Maho Empire had not stepped into the inner city, so Baery had given Alice and Kumaraghosha free play.
“I was expecting bloodshed.” Stan stopped behind Anfey. He said softly, “This is so unexpected. Yolanthe is indeed a benevolent king!”
“His Majesty is magnanimous,” Anfey casually replied, going along with Stan. Anyway, the one being complimented was not around.
“But…not many people know about his benevolence. What they are feeling right now is only fear. Warner, let the people forget about their hatred for one another!”
“Yes, Sir.” Warner replied, but he was looking at Anfey.
Warner had been under the mentorship of Stan. His look and dressing were becoming more and more like a priest. However, he felt a bit uneasy when Anfey was around. Anfey winked at Ye and said with a smile, “Warner, go ahead and show me what you have learned.”
Ye immediately took the hint and whispered to a mercenary. The mercenary then went to look for Blavi. Edy, who was leisurely sitting with the mercenaries, was looking at what was happening at the front. Suddenly, a magic shield was in the sky and covered him. Edy was taken by surprise and said, “Sir Blavi, what is this…”
Blavi rolled his eyes, he could not be bothered with Edy. He did not have a good impression of Edy, but since they were of The League of Mercenaries, he had to give him a helping hand.
“God protects His people…” As Warner chanted, he flew up to the sky. He looked pious. As he lifted up his hands, a bright light rose from his palms. As the light got brighter, the beams got bigger. It engulfed Warner, who was dozens of meters below it. In the end, a soundless explosion took place. The huge beams rained down and covered Diamond City.
The Book of Life, which had been enlarged thousands of times, stayed in the air. The shape of the book, and even the tiny words written on the pages, could be clearly seen. As the pages were being flipped, chanting sounds came from the sky.
“Warner has improved tremendously.” Anfey was impressed. Light rained down within the range of his senses. He had not expected Warner to have such magic powers. It was impressive.
“He has great potential. It was a pity that he did not make good use of his time previously,” Stan said with a smile. He then added, “The Book of Life has been a great help to him.”
Anfey was silent. Warner could breakthrough, because he had received the Heart of Nature. Since Warner had the help of The Book of Life, it was not a surprise for him to achieve such great advancement.
To the top level powers, like Anfey, rains of light were simply the energies of the light element. They had strong willpower, and they would not be affected by it. However, to the men on the street, rains of light were filled with peace, making one feel warm and safe.
The two contradictory magics of light and darkness could easily touch the hearts of the people. Some would open up their windows to receive the blessings, and for those who were braver, they would run down the streets. The warriors, who were holding onto their weapons, were affected as well. They looked excited. After the excitement, they just looked blankly at the sky.
Although Kumaraghosha was not as powerful as Anfey, the hatred within him was so deep that he was not affected by it. He looked up at the sky and sneered. After kicking the soldier who was staring blankly in front of him, Kumaraghosha shouted, “Search around! Why are you in a daze?” The soldiers then regained consciousness, rushing forward in different directions.
Warner slowly landed on the ground. Other than the treatment that the people had received, the magic that he had released would not have any other effect on the people. However, the impact that he had created was significant. The soldiers of Shansa and the mercenaries were looking at Warner differently. The mercenaries used to look down on Warner. He had been enduring the shame and trying to please the people around him. However, after the conversation with Anfey, his attitude changed and became tough. The mercenaries had thought that Warner got into Anfey’s good graces by bootlicking. Outwardly, they appeared to respect him, but inwardly, they despised him even more. This day, Warner had gained the acceptance of the people with his own ability.
“Sir Stan, you should have been the one to release the magic,” Anfey suddenly said softly. Stan smiled. He was smart enough to catch the sarcasm in Anfey’s words. “Sir Anfey, I am different from Slanbrea. I like to be frank. The entire continent has changed completely. If I wish to pass down my teachings, I need to change my approach as well.”
“You can say that there are two paths before us. One is the old school one, which is to hold on to power and status. The other is to take a step backward and assist in consolidating the royal power. Do you understand what I mean?”
“You have chosen the latter?”
“Yes. I do not want to take any risk. Even the two country bumpkins, Mauso and Bruzuryano, who have been wandering in the forest, know what to do. We should be smarter than them.”
Stan looked at Warner and said, “From now on, Warner is qualified to set up a hall in Diamond City. As long as Yolanthe is around, Sir Alice’s position will not be threatened. With Warner’s help, …hahaha. Sir Anfey, I sincerely wish to assist you.”
“Thank you,” Anfey said with a smile. Stan and Slanbrea were indeed different. It was not that Stan had higher moral character, but he was very open, preferring to thrash things out. As to what he would do if he could not come to an agreement with the other party, that would be another question.
It seemed that Kumaraghosha must have encountered resistance, as there was a loud battle cry in the Palace. Anfey suddenly remembered something and said, “Sir Stan, I need your help.”
“What is it? Tell me.”
“Alice and I…are partners. I do not want to stain my hands with the blood of her father or family. These mercenaries must not get involved either,” Anfey said softly, “Can you help us settle these before Kumaraghosha strikes?”
Stan was stunned for a while, and then smiled wryly and said, “This is not an easy task. I will offend…” Yolanthe judged his men by their talents. He was very pleased with Alice’s recent performance, as she had met his expectations. Her position could not be shaken. No one would want to offend her.
“Please.” Anfey begged him.
Chapter 564: Challenge
A group of men were fleeing east on the highroad, with Edward the Eighth among them. Even though he had fled Diamond City successfully and was now safe, he appeared to have lost all hope. He did not know where he should go. He did not have anything to live for, and did not know why he had left the city. Now, he would have rather perished with his nation.
The men around him were all heavily armored knights. One of the knights in the group had white hair and beard, and his hands were full of wrinkles. However, his lance did not quiver as he rode. The other knight was young and followed the older knight closely. Since Edward the Eighth did not care where they were going, the two knights became the leaders of the group.
However, even they were lost. They had fled the city, but where should they go? Suddenly, the griffins circling the air above them suddenly dove down, screeching. The knights halted, quickly forming a circle, with Edward the Eighth in the middle. Normally, only half of the knights would stay, while the other half would keep going with Edward the Eighth.
However, there were too few of them, and it was safer to stay together. If Edward the Eighth was alone, anyone could take him to the Maho army. These knights were loyal, but they were not sure about anyone else.
As soon as the knights set up their formation, two figures appeared down the road. Both were old and wearing mage robes. The mage in white did not look at the knights. Instead, he glanced down at the road, as if ashamed. The other mage appeared very calm. His gaze swept through the knights, finally stopping on the old knight.
The old knight sighed. “Douminge,” he said with a nod. “This must be Saul. Your reputation proceeds you.”
The knights around him shuffled and murmured in shock. Douminge alone was able to take out all of them. They did not stand a chance against both Douminge and Saul.
“You must be Shureberger, the Golden Knight,” Saul said. “Pleasure.”
“So you didn’t bring Anfey with you,” Shureberger said quietly.
Saul smiled. “He’s young,” he said. “He has a reason to slack off a bit.” Saul knew why Shureberger had asked about Anfey. The Maho Empire was powerful, but the Shansa Empire and the Ellisen Empire had always worked together. Lately, in every single battle that ended with the Maho Empire as the victor, Anfey was there.
Of course, it was wrong to give Anfey all the credit, but it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say he was instrumental. He and Alice were able to build up the League of Mercenaries and quicken Yolanthe’s plan of uniting all the nations. He was also young, which meant he dared to do things more experienced people, like Baery and Saul, did not want to do. This was why Yolanthe trusted Anfey, even though they had only met a few times.
“Wait!” a shrill voice suddenly broke the silence. Edward the Eighth jumped up and was trying to push through the knights. However, he was not strong enough and could not get through them.
“Wait!” he called, tumbling off of his horse. “I surrender!”
“Your Majesty!” Shureberger called, his eyes wide. He jumped off his horse, trying to help him up.
“Move!” Edward the Eighth said angrily. He raised his hand to swat Shureberger’s hand away and caught him in the face. Shureberger did not back away from Edward the Eighth. Instead, he grabbed his shirt and tried to help him up.
“Let me go,” Edward the Eighth said, struggling. “I surrender, you hear me?”
Seeing the king he had served his entire life like this, tears swelled in Shureberger’s eyes. He turned to Douminge and spat angrily, “You see what you did?”
Shureberger’s voice was loud and clear. Hearing his voice, Edward the Eighth stopped his struggling and sat on the ground, staring ahead emptily. Douminge pursed his lips and glanced at Saul.
Saul sighed. Yolanthe had ordered that he must kill Edward the Eighth. Keeping him would be a hazard for both Yolanthe and Alice. If Edward the Eighth acted well after the surrender, he would only bring more trouble. Alice’s enemies may want to work with him, and the nobles would prefer to have him as a ruler instead of Alice. If Edward the Eighth remained alive, there would be loyalists that opposed Alice’s rule.
“‘Your Majesty’ is no longer fitting, sir,” Saul said. “All of this is his own doing. Had he not sent Alice to the Country of Mercenaries, he would not have ended up here.”
Shureberger took a deep breath, but did not say anything. He was loyal to Edward the Eighth, but he also knew that he was not the best ruler.
“You are a Golden Knight, Shureberger. Who was it that imprisoned you in your own home for twenty years?”
“The past is in the past,” Shureberger said sternly. “That does not mean anything. He will surrender. What do you say?”
Saul was silent for a few seconds, then whispered, “I’m sorry.”
“Of course,” Shureberger said with a long sigh. He turned and glanced at Edward the Eighth, then he jumped onto his horse and raised his lance. “I challenge you, Saul.”
“You’re challenging me?” Saul asked. He knew his own strength, and also knew Shureberger was no threat to him. “You’re a true knight, sir. Are you willing to serve such a weak king? Don’t you want more in life?”
Shureberger shook his head. “I didn’t know mages talked so much,” he said. He turned to the young knight behind him.
“It is my honor fighting with you, father,” the young knight said with a nod.
“Good boy,” Shureberger said with a chuckle.
“Wait!” Douminge said, taking a step forward. “Think about it. Are you willing to let your child die for a king like that? You’re willing to see your family perish?”
“My country is gone,” Shureberger said. “There’s no point. I do not want my king to be alone when he goes. Do you understand? Move, Douminge.” Shureberger raised his lance, which exploded in light. He gripped his reins and dashed toward Saul.
Douminge stepped aside, his eyes downcast. Saul sighed as Shureberger approached. Even a king like Edward the Eighth had such loyal followers. Edward the Eighth should be satisfied.
Shureberger turned to the knights behind him and said, “Let us show them that not all of us are cowards!”
“Shansa Empire Forever!” the knights bellowed. Even though there were only two dozen of them, it was as if there were thousands of them charging at the same time.
Chapter 565: Real Family
Anfey sat quietly by the window and watched Alice, who was in the building opposite of his room. They had captured Diamond City the day before. However, since then, Alice still had not rested.
Saul and Douminge had returned earlier than expected. Although Anfey had not asked, he could tell from their expressions what had become of Edward VIII. No one knew what Alice was thinking. Many things could be attended to a few days later, but Alice had been pushing herself to finish them now. This behavior was abnormal.
“Sir.” Ye opened the door and walked in. “Sir Stan is here.”
“Show him in,” Anfey said softly.
“We…” Ye hesitated for a while and said, “Sir, must we do it?”
“What do you think?” Anfey raised his brow and asked flatly.
Ye attempted to say something, but he refrained and walked out instead.
After a while, the high priest, Stan, walked into the room and smiled wryly. He openly complained, “Sir Anfey, I was sincere in collaborating with you! But…look, what have you asked me to do? Yesterday…”
Anfey did not defend himself, but instead extended his hand. His gaze was bright and firm. Although he did not say a word, he was clearly sending the message that, since Stan had helped him, he will repay him back.
Stan stopped complaining and looked seriously into Anfey’s eyes. He then slowly extended his hand and shook Anfey’s.
“Given a choice, I would not have done it,” Anfey said softly. “This is the command from His Majesty. I have two choices, one is to defy his order, and the other is to obey.”
“Yes. That is why, as the holy priest, I have to take on this murderous task.” Stan shook his head and smiled bitterly. He then turned to walk out. After taking two steps, he suddenly stopped and slowly said, “Sir Anfey, please don’t make me regret the decision that I have made this day.”
“You have my guarantee,” Anfey reaffirmed.
The night was getting darker, but Anfey was like a statue, standing in front of the window. After a long while, at the northern part of Diamond City, a fire was being lit in a corner. The fire became brighter, and ultimately, lit up the entire sky.
Alice, who was working in the house, had noticed it as well. She was stunned for a while, and after that, stood up and shouted. Ozzic walked into her room, and after speaking to her for a while, left the room. Alice sat blankly, and suddenly, she crazily took all the documents and threw them on the floor. She then lowered her head onto the table.
Shinbela quickly pushed open the door of Alice’s room. She had found something amiss, and had gone in to check it out. Alice sat up again, she was waving and shouting. Anfey could see the tears on Alice’s face and heard her cries from where he was. Shinbela was shocked. She quickly stepped out and closed the door.
In this magic world, the effects of natural disasters could be reduced to the minimal impact. Leave alone those magicians who had followed the army, even if the mage group of The League of Mercenaries had gone out in full force, they would have easily put out the fire that had spread to the entire city. However, the strange thing was, although the fire in the northern part had been burning for a long while, the magicians in the city were nowhere to be seen. No one had gone out to extinguish the fire.
“Sir, this is…too cruel to Sir Alice,” Ye muttered.
“Do you have a better suggestion?” Anfey asked flatly.
“I…” Ye was dumbfounded. He gritted his teeth and said, “Sir, Sir Alice has not rested for two days and one night. If this continues, I am afraid her body…”
“Go and get Warner.”
“No matter how powerful is the Magic of Light, it will not be able to heal the heartache. Sir, we…”
“Just do what you have been told!” Anfey shouted. “Remember, you are the leader of the inspectorate. You are not a poet!”
“Yes, Sir!” Ye held his head high up and replied. After taking a deep breath, he turned and walked out. Just before he reached out for the door, footsteps were heard outside the room. Shortly, someone banged on the door, and Shinbela barged in and anxiously said, “Sir, Sir Alice…”
“I know.” Anfey coldly interrupted Shinbela.
Shinbela was stunned. She then noticed that Anfey could clearly see what had happened to Alice in the building opposite his room.
“Shinbela, let’s go out.” Ye gently held Shinbela’s arm and said in a low voice, “Sir is not in a good mood.”
After Ye and Shinbela had left the room, Anfey turned to check on Alice. Time passed, but Alice did not calm down. She became more agitated, and finally, her shoulders twitched severely and she lied motionless on the table.
Anfey was shocked and quickly opened the window. Like a meteorite, he shot out. After crossing over dozens of meters, he landed beside Alice and lifted her up.
Alice looked pale, and her eyes were shut. After seeing that she was still breathing, Anfey let out a sigh of relief. He placed Alice flatly on the table and put some documents below her head. He then pressed on her philtrum with his thumb.
After a while, Alice came around. When she saw Anfey, she cried out uncontrollably. She was like a child who had lost her favorite toy. She hammered her fists in agitation on Anfey’s body.
Although she had an unbearable past, the truth remained. Blood would always be thicker than water! When Alice was in the Country of Mercenaries, she had thought of taking her revenge. She wanted to punish the people who had dumped her and cheated her. However, she had not thought of the punishment that she would mete out upon them. As she was approaching Diamond City, she had felt uneasy. She had numbed herself by drowning herself in work, so that she did not have the time or energy to think of other things.
The fire woke her. She had called for Ozzic to find out what had happened. After finding that the place on fire was the prison where they had kept the royal families of the Shansa Empire, Alice came to a realization. She had not decided how she would take her revenge, but someone had made the decision for her!
Anfey looked quietly at Alice. Just as Ye had said, he was in a foul mood. If he could help it, he would not want to hurt Alice’s family. They did not have a direct conflict, but Yolanthe had given very clear instructions. Prince Jerrick was found missing in the Country of Mercenaries, and was yet to be found. This posed a latent danger to the Empire, and Yolanthe did not want to have more of such dangers. For the sake of the war the following year, Yolanthe had not been too heartless. Other than the three princes and one princess that he had specified, the rest of the royal families would be spared.
After a long while, Alice, who had cried her heart out, gradually stopped. She rested weakly against Anfey and said in a hardly audible sound, “You have done it, haven’t you?”
“No.” Anfey shook his head. He did not lie. If one had used the knife as a weapon, the one who had committed the crime was the man and not the weapon.
“Is it…His Majesty?”
“Alice, you and Christian have the same problem. You are too soft-hearted at times.” Anfey let out a sigh and said, “Don’t blame His Majesty. You know your siblings. You should have known what will happen when you lead the army in. Although you have no intention of hurting them, they may not think likewise. No! They will hate you. They will hate you to the core. If they have the chance, they will take revenge on you! Alice, I do not want to see you relive the tragedy!”
“Yes.” Anfey nodded. He knew what Alice was about to ask.
“What about my mother? She is harmless. Is His Majesty wary of her as well?”
“Alice, don’t let your imagination run wild,” Anfey said softly. “When you have been forced to marry, was she sad for you? When Kumaraghosha captured her in the Palace, do you know what she was doing? She was fooling around with a few young guards! More than 10 soldiers have seen it, and news must have spread around. What is the point of keeping her?”
“Does His Majesty intend to…”
“No. His Majesty has no time for a woman like her.” Anfey felt helpless. He knew that Alice wanted simply to seek solace. However, he was unable to provide it to her.
After letting out a long sigh, Alice tried to sit up, but she felt faint and fell onto Anfey.
“You rest,” Anfey said softly.
“No.” Alice shook her head and said, “Now then, I realize what kind of person I am.”
“What are you saying?”
“I am a traitor. I am shameless and cruel. I have led the army of the enemy and barged into my country. I have killed my father and brothers. I…”
“Enough!” Anfey was fuming with anger. He carried Alice and strode toward the window.
Alice’s cries had caught the attention of many people. Although Anfey and the rest were young, they had won the hearts and respect of the mercenaries. Many mercenaries were gathering at the courtyard, sighing and whispering. Shinbela was standing among them, looking up anxiously.
When Alice appeared at the window, all the mercenaries looked at her. Anfey’s voice hammered into Alice’s ears, “Do you have to cry for those who do not care about you? Look at these people. They are your real family! Should you meet any danger, who will protect you at all cost? It is not those princes or the princess. It is them!”
Chapter 566: The Cost of Lying
Anfey was having a small-sized secretive meeting with a few others in the League of Mercenaries’s temporary station. Anfey had built his political sense with experience and time. He thought Yolanthe was very likely to call Christian back to Sacred City after Shansa Empire was conquered, unless Yolanthe had decided to have Christian inherit the throne. If this were not the case, Christian would not be able to join the battle against Ellisen Empire.
Yolanthe’s order had arrived in the morning, asking Christian to go back to Sacred City. Of course, this alone was not enough evidence to guess Yolanthe’s thoughts. Anfey might guess it right, but he did not really know the real reasons why Yolanthe made that decision.
All the commanders in the League of Mercenaries came to the meeting, including Anthony, who did not have a specific position in the league any more. Today was a very important meeting for the League of Mercenaries, since it could decide the future of the League of Mercenaries.
The door was pushed open. Late, Alice walked in with a smile. She was smart and could figure things out fast. Anfey’s scolding woke her up. The League of Mercenaries had been her real family after she joined the league. What happened before was just a nightmare for her. She was loved and trusted in the league. She felt warm and felt protected within it. The league had kept anything dangerous away from Alice. Wasn’t it enough for her?
Alice had acted normal today. She greeted everyone with a smile and took the seat saved for her.
“Alice, why are you coming so late?” Suzanna asked.
“Kumaraghosha had some trouble. I went to help him.” Alice looked apologetic.
“Alice, I think Ye has told you the reasons why we are having this meeting. What suggestions do you have?” Anfey asked in a low pitch.
Alice gave it a little bit of thought and asked Anfey back. “What do you want to do?”
“Christian needs to go back to Sacred City. He has to have people go with him, so I want Orzic and his First Unit to go. Riska, Blavi and Zubin will go back with them, as well.” Anfey laid his eyes on Ye. “Ye, can you handpick some people to go to the Sacred City. You are very thorough. I would not worry too much if Christian has you.”
“Anfey, you seem to have forgotten a person,” Alice said with a smile.
“Are you talking about Bro Entos?” Anfey paused a second before he continued. “I have not talked to him yet. If he wants to go back with Christian, it would be perfect.”
“I think Bro Entos will agree to it,” Blavi interrupted. “Yesterday he told me he has been quite bored.”
“It seems very possible to convince him.” Anfey smiled. “What other suggestions?”
Seeing everyone shaking their heads, Anfey looked more serious. “Christian, after you go back to Scared City, you need to keep a low profile. To be honest, we have done great. Even Wester, Granden, and Master Baery could conquer Ellisen Empire in a short time. They are only drinking the water we used to wash our feet. The truth is they would not have an opportunity to attack Ellisen Empire if Shansa Empire were not conquered first. Christian, we do not have to fight at this point. It will be okay, as long as we do not make mistakes.”
“I understand.” Christian nodded.
“Alice, you need people to protect you. I am thinking of keeping Shinbela and her Second Unit here.” Anfey went quiet for a while and said, “Do you know Little John?”
“The general who opened the city door for us?” Alice asked.
“Yes.” Anfey nodded. “He is a ranger. If you have anything that you could not do openly, you can have him take care of it for you. I have watched him for a long time. I think he could be great. You can talk to him when you get a chance.”
“Ok,” Alice answered.
“I do not think I need to worry about your safety. With the protection from Master Doumingo and his students, no one can hurt you, as long as you are careful,” Anfey said.
“Anfey, are you going to the Country of Mercenaries?” Alice asked. She looked a little nervous.
“I have not decided yet.” Anfey smiled. “Master Anthony, Alice cannot manage the League of Mercenaries right now. I am thinking of having you take the position of CEO.”
“Master, are you kidding?” Anthony was shocked. His son, the commander of Glory mercenary group, was even more shocked.
“Ozzic will go to Sacred City, while Shinbela needs to stay in the Diamond City. Blavi, Riska and a few other mage counselors need to leave as well. If you were not the CEO, no one would have the control of these naughty guys. Because of Ye, they did not dare to make trouble. If they know Ye is leaving, they might have a party to celebrate that. I have to have a capable, respectful person with a high reputation to manage the league.”
Hearing what Anfey said, Anthony felt warm in his heart. He remembered the day when he handed his Glory mercenary group to his brother Santeler. Everybody knew Anfey founded the League of Mercenaries. The League of Mercenaries was an independent military force, and the essential force that Anfey had. The reason Anthony could hand the Glory mercenary group to Santeler was because he trusted Santeler very much. Anthony wondered what it meant when Anfey asked him to be the CEO of the League of Mercenaries.
“Master, if you trust me, I can try,” Anthony said in a low pitch. He did not try to turn it down. It would have been a different issue if he did not want to be the CEO. If he wanted to do it, but tried to turn it down on purpose, it would show no decency in him. Any hypocritical action was an insult to Anfey’s trust.
“Huiwei, can you take over Christian’s job and be the vice CEO? Feller and Sante, you will be the vice commanders for inspectorate. You guys will help me manage the league, ok?” Anfey said.
“Anfey, where are you going?” Not only Alice had noticed something unusual, the rest of them noticed it now as well. Based on the new appointments, the League of Mercenaries was divided into three sections. Each of them had their own responsibilities, but Anfey did not seem to be part of it.
“Anfey and I will travel around the Pan Continent.” Suzanna said in a low pitch.
“Travel around? What’s so fun about that?” Blavi complained with confusion.
“There is news that has spread around, but you guys have not heard about it yet.” Alice suddenly interrupted. “Minos The First has been hiding on the Greenwich Island, commanding many necromancers and death spirits to build a Skull Throne for him. This Skull Throne is almost built. When it is completely built, Minos The First will have the force to be reborn and develop as the King of Skulls, even more powerful than the Saints. His force will be unimaginable. Anfey, are you going to fight with Minos The First? Is that why you are not going to manage the league?”
“Alice, how did you know?” Riska asked in surprise. Riska and others knew nothing about it.
“Master Doumingo was invited. He told me,” Alice answered.
“You do not have to worry about it. If you can do your job in the league, it would be great.” Anfey smiled.
The air became dead. Anfey was right and very objective, but they could not take it, or in other words, refused to agree upon it. Anfey and Suzanna had been running and fighting before everyone else, ever since the League of Mercenaries was founded. They fought for their survival. Anfey met the biggest danger at this moment, but they could not offer any help. They felt bad about it.
No one said anything for a while. Anthony looked shocked a few moments ago. It seemed that he just found out about it as well. If Anthony, a Master Swordsman, was not invited, others would definitely not be invited. It seemed pointless to say anything at this moment.
“Anfey, did you decide when you will leave?” Alice broke the ice in the end.
“Tonight. I will go back to Violet City first for some business, and then travel a little bit to see if I can find my childhood house, before I go to the Country of Mercenaries,” Anfey said slowly.
“That soon?” Alice’s face changed. She looked upset.
“You guys…” Anfey shook his head with a smile. “Don’t make it like it is a farewell. You don’t have to worry about me. I am not the only one fighting with Minos The First. As far as I know, our professor, Steggar, Jacob, Manso, Bruzuryano, some Palace Priests, Knights of Light and three master necromancers will fight together against Minos The First. We should win for many reasons. Besides, if I could find my childhood house, maybe we will not even have to fight, since there will be someone who could fight Minos The First for us,” Anfey said.
In fact, Anfey lied. They had to fight on their own against Minos The First, if they wanted Minos The First to die. There was never a secret person with super power, at least no one that Anfey knew of. After telling a lie, it usually had to be covered with more lies. Anfey did not know any other ways to cover himself.
“Even if you could not find your childhood house, Minos The First would not end up good. As the Skull Throne is about to finish, the elements in the world will become chaotic. That Saint can definitely notice the change in elements. He will come on his own,” Hui Wei said slowly.
Anfey smiled, but did not comment on anything. Among the top powers who were invited to fight, Saul, Steggar and others were quite optimistic about the future. They had the same view as Hui Wei’s. As long as that Saint could notice the abnormality in the elements before the skull throne was built, they could combine their forces to fight Minos The First, then Minos The First would not be their match. However, Anfey was not as optimistic as them, because he told a lie. Anfey carried the hope of the whole Pan Continent on his shoulders. He was stressed.
“Anfey, couldn’t you leave a few days later?” Alice asked in a low pitch.
“I cannot. I have decided to leave tonight.” Anfey lied again. He would not leave tonight. He only wanted to disappear from the league. Wester and Granden were about to reach Diamond City. Before Anfey left the league, he needed to handle a trouble on his own.
Chapter 567: A Duel between Men
An elderly man with white hair and beard was walking slowly from the other side of the horizon beneath the starry night. His white hair was brighter even than the moonlight. As his hair blew in the wind, it gave one a strange feeling. In the softness, was power and loneliness.
Long ago, there were two top level powers in the Maho Empire and Shansa Empire. They traveled around the world, holding it in disdain. They had been described as the “lions”. The lion of the Shansa Empire was the Gold Knight, Shureberger. The lion of the Maho Empire was the Master Swordsman, Phillip.
It’s been said that time and tide wait for no man. The Gold Knight, Shureberger, had aged over the years. Although he was still a lion, he was a toothless and clawless lion. In order to protect Edward VIII, he had died in the hands of Saul. Shureberger and Phillip were about the same age, and they had achieved their fames about the same time. However, what was Phillip now left with?
Phillip could see Anfey in the distance. As they moved closer to each other, Phillip started to feel distressed. He knew that the odds were against him in this battle with Anfey. However, he had no other choice. He had waited too long for this day.
“Your Excellency, you are indeed a man of your word.” Anfey smiled. However, his eyes were not as friendly. There was no bad blood between Anfey and Phillip, but there was also no mercy in politics. Anfey had now advanced to another stage.
Anfey was not surprised that Phillip had not brought anyone with him. He had no one to turn to in this place. Wester was preoccupied with his own problems, and given Phillip’s arrogant character, he would not put down his dignity to ask Baery or Saul for help. Whether he was a good man, that was beside the point. At the very least, Phillip had upheld his dignity to the extent of giving up his own life.
“Where is Suzanna?” Phillip asked coldly.
“This is a duel between men. I do not want others to be involved, including her.” Anfey was sizing Phillip up, and finally, he rested his gaze on Phillip’s hand. Veins and age spots were all over it. This showed that Phillip had been going downhill for a long time.
“You are very bold. Are you not afraid that I will tell Baery that you have asked me here?” Phillip pointed out and said, “How are you going to answer to him?”
“Your Excellency, you should know that I mean well,” Anfey flatly replied. “I am still young. My power and understanding of the rules and regulations of the world have been improving constantly. But, what about you? You are different. The longer you wait, the weaker you become. This is unfair to you. Am I right?” Anfey sounded hypocritical. He was not trying to be fair to Phillip, but he had to deal with him in view of the future.
When the top level powers joined forces against Minos the following year, Phillip would be excluded from them, as his power had weakened. On the other hand, when the top level powers gathered at Greenwich Island, he would be at rock bottom. Should he lose control of himself then, he would pose a great threat to Christian! Anfey had thus decided to get rid of this latent danger this instant.
Phillip did not reply to Anfey, but instead just held his sword.
“In fact, I do not need to be here. Time will do the job for me. I can wait, and I can afford to wait.” Anfey laughed and said, “But, …you are a warrior. A warrior should die in the battlefield and not lie on the bed and battle with sickness. I am trying to help you. Are you not happy?”
“So, should I thank you?” Phillip sneered and said, “Should I also thank you for killing my grandson?”
“Of course.” Anfey nodded and said, “Are you not aware what kind of person Zeda was? The princes are now having severe conflicts. Even if he is still alive, he would be stupid enough to be used by them!”
“Bullshit!” Phillip had a fiery temper and was immediately enraged. He drew out his long sword, and as the white-hot Combat Power exploded, a sword ray shot out and slashed toward Anfey’s chest.
Anfey had his arms folded in front of his chest. He slanted his body and took one step to the side, to avoid the sword ray. He smiled flatly and said, “Have we officially started?”
“I shall kill you!” Phillip shouted. He jumped up and pounced toward Anfey. He realized that this was a wrong move. He was no longer young. By releasing the sword ray, he would deplete his energy and Combat Power more quickly.
Anfey lifted up his right hand, and a huge battle-ax appeared in it. He swung the battle-ax to counter the attack from Phillip. As the battle-ax and sword hit against each other, there was a loud clash. The Combat Power dispersed all over the place. Anfey remained in his spot, but Phillip had moved seven to eight steps backward.
“If this were to happen three months ago, I would have only made you move three to four steps backward.” Anfey said flatly, “This is our difference. I am the rising sun, whereas you will soon be going down the horizon.” In terms of strength, Anfey had the upper-hand. He did not have to trample on Phillip’s confidence, but this was his habit. One could attack the opponent not only with weapons.
“Back off!” Phillip looked ferocious. Once again, he pounced toward Anfey. The fact that he had met Anfey alone was enough to prove that he was truly a lion. In the natural world of the lions, they would often come across wandering lions. However, even if they were no match for their opponents, they would not back off. They would fight to the end for their rights. Phillip was such a lion. However, he was not doing it for power, but for his dignity.
The shining blade let out a sharp whistling sound, as Phillip attacked with full force. His body was encompassed by the Combat Power, and his face could no longer be seen clearly. The only thing that stood out was his white hair. The recognizable trait of Ernest’s swordsmanship was its destructive power. Although the trait of the swordsmanship between the two were similar, Ernest’s was more profound. Phillip’s was massive, and he displayed a fearless might.
Phillip rained down sword strikes, but Anfey remained unscathed. He moved around, as though he was taking a stroll. The element was in turbulence and did not take its form, which meant that Anfey had not exerted full force.
The battlefield created by Anfey and Phillip was surging within the radius of a thousand meters. The sand and stones that were hurtling about had been crushed by Phillip’s sword ray. To an onlooker, Anfey seemed to be at the losing end, but only the two of them knew the actual situation.
After a long while, Anfey suddenly shouted in a low voice. He lifted up the battle-ax and swung it against Phillip’s long sword. It was a weird feeling. It was as if a wild dog that had been barking crazily had been choked in the throat. The torrential attacks suddenly stopped. Phillip stepped backward more than 10 steps before he could stabilize himself.
“In fact…I have my reservation.” Anfey said with a smile, “But until now, no one has come to stop this duel. This tells us that they have accepted the fact. Do you understand what this means? His Majesty has given up on you.”
Phillip’s beard flew up, and he shot toward Anfey like an arrow. He did not hear what Anfey was saying. He only wanted Anfey dead.
Anfey looked emotionless as usual. He turned around to avoid the attack, swinging the battle-ax hard on Phillip’s neck.
Phillip’s wrist quivered. He pointed his long sword at Anfey and gave it his all. When Anfey’s battle-ax landed on his neck, his sword would have stabbed into Anfey’s chest at the same time.
Phillip was giving it his all, but not for Anfey. He withdrew his battle-ax and disappeared before Phillip’s eyes. In another instant, he appeared behind Phillip. They were only one foot apart. Anfey did not look back. As Anfey withdrew the battle-ax, the blade hit Phillip’s lower back.
Phillip had used up most of his energy and Combat Power during the earlier combat, so his reaction was a bit slow. Moreover, Anfey had struck at the perfect time. Just as Phillip was about to react, the blade of the battle-ax had destroyed his Protection Combat Power and stabbed into his lower back.
Phillip let out a cry. He suddenly turned around and thrust the long sword at Anfey’s upper back. Although the blade of the battle-ax was sharp, it was not as sharp as the sword. Since Phillip had the Protection Combat Power, the blade had stabbed in only slightly more than an inch. However, when Phillip turned forcefully around, the blade cut across his lower back, causing a blood groove. Fresh blood spewed out like a fountain. Phillip had gone insane. He could not be bothered with his own injury. Even if he were to die, he was determined to take Anfey along with him.
Anfey did not turn around. He wielded his battle-ax and hacked into the air. As Phillip’s long sword was about to pierce into his back, Anfey disappeared once again, then re-appeared behind Phillip. He hacked down hard on the back of Phillip’s head with the battle-ax.
Anfey had not only moved at the perfect time, but his movements were also swift and compact. He had also grasped hold of the timing of Phillip’s movements. From the time since he had decided to kill Phillip to when he ended the unfair battle, it was within such a brief period!
Although Anfey’s stroke did not seem to be as powerful as Phillip’s, or as swift as Suzanna’s, what he did possess was a skill that could definitely kill a person!
Phillip leaned on the battle-ax to balance himself. Fresh blood spewed out from his back and colored his white hair red. His armor turned red as well. As he tried to turn to take one last look at Anfey, his body fell down to the ground uncontrollably.
Chapter 568: Giving
Usually, when Anfey was out with Suzanna, Suzanna would be the center of attention, because of her beauty. When the two of them entered Violet City, however, it was Anfey who was the center of attention. Everyone who saw him felt a strange pressure and was intimidated.
However, Anfey didn’t do anything. He looked at the crowd on the street, silencing the people with a single glance. It wasn’t until he was far gone that the crowd regained its vitality.
Soon, the mansion sprang into view. Anfey jumped off his horse and walked up to the stairs. The guards did not move to step forward to stop him. One of the guards walked up and said, “Welcome back, my lord.”
Anfey nodded at the guard. “Is Aroben inside?”
“Yes, my lord. Should I go and tell Lord Aroben you’re here?”
“No need,” Anfey said. “Take me to him.”
Aroben’s office was not far from the lobby. He was the former citymaster of Violet City and had just retired. However, Niya was forced to ask him to resume his job after Urter went missing. Niya thought it was cruel to ask Aroben to come out of his retirement, but Aroben was glad he could find something to occupy his days.
Because he was getting older and his body grew fragile, he needed a lot of helpers. When Anfey and Suzanna went into his study, they saw half a dozen people sitting inside, listening to Aroben and scribbling on papers.
One of Aroben’s secretaries stood up when he saw someone coming into the room. When he saw Anfey, he grew quiet and sat back down. Aroben looked up from his desk. His eyes grew wide when he saw Anfey.
“You’re back, my lord!” He wanted to stand up and greet Anfey, but because he was too frail, he could not manage to get up and fell back into his chair.
“Don’t,” Anfey said, hurrying to his side. “How are you liking the chair?”
“It’s wonderful,” Aroben said with a smile. He was very grateful to Anfey for making him this chair. The chair not only made his life much easier, it also showed how much Anfey cared. It also was part of the reason why he was working so hard to govern Violet City in Anfey’s absence.
One of the secretaries stood up and gave his seat to Anfey, who nodded at him and sat down in the chair. “Leave us,” he said. “I have to speak with Lord Aroben alone.”
Before Aroben could say anything, the secretaries all stood up quietly. They bowed to Aroben and hurried out of the room. They didn’t know who Anfey was, but they could tell he was important from how Aroben treated him.
“My lord, what are you…”
“I have to take care of something,” Anfey said after a moment of hesitation. He trusted Aroben, and he knew it would be better if he just told Aroben what would happen. “Get some more guards over here tomorrow. Something may happen in the coming days, but no matter what happens, no one can step foot in here without my permission.”
Aroben nodded. He was very smart, and knew better than to ask the reason for Anfey’s order.
“How are you doing?” Anfey asked.
“Much better,” Aroben said with a smile. “Since you’re back, my lord, I should move back to city hall. It will be easier.”
Anfey thought about it, then nodded.
“Another thing, my lord,” Aroben said. “I heard you defeated the archmage in the Country of Mercenaries. Are you now…” Aroben was just a commoner, and was not very sensitive to elements, but even he felt there was something different about Anfey.
“Are you uncomfortable?” Anfey asked, but he did not answer Aroben’s question. After the seal was removed, he found it easier and faster for him to summon elements. Everything he did could cause the elements around him to change and shift.
The way Anfey practiced magic was different from a common mage. Before common mages learn how to summon elements, they are just a group of normal people with an affinity for magic. Anfey, on the other hand, wanted to be even closer to the elements. What he wanted was to become one and the same with the world. Someone who does not need spells to control elements will be very powerful, but will lose the ability to conceal the surges of elements around him. This was why Aroben was able to sense the change around Anfey. Aroben was right, in that Anfey was not able to hide element movements around him anymore.
Behind Anfey, Suzanna frowned. However, she did not say anything and remained still behind him. Suzanna did not know how to use words to make promises. She preferred using her actions. She was willing to stand before Anfey, when he needed her strength, and stand behind him, when he needed her support. She had never regretted this decision, and would never regret it.
“A little,” Aroben confessed. He trusted Anfey, and knew that even if he was honest, Anfey would not think too much of it. Aroben raised his hand and summoned two servants. “I will leave you and my lady alone, my lord,” Aroben said. “They will pack up my belongings so I can move to city hall tomorrow.”
“How many servants do you have?” Anfey asked, glancing at the servants.
“Take all of them,” Anfey said.
“Are you certain?” Aroben asked, surprised.
Anfey nodded. “I’m sure.”
“Alright, my lord,” Aroben said with a nod. He was very curious, but he knew very well when he should ask questions, and when he shouldn’t.
Aroben disappeared around the corner with his servants, leaving Suzanna and Anfey alone in the room. Suzanna turned to Anfey and asked, “This is where the entrance is?”
Anfey nodded. “We only have a few days. Golman’s arriving in three days. I’ll go down there and check it out, once everyone’s gone.”
“What about me?”
“Stay here,” Anfey said. “I need a lookout.”
“But I want to go with you,” Suzanna said. She rarely contradicted him, but she was very worried about him.
“Don’t worry,” Anfey said. “Nothing will happen. Urter has told me everything. Plus, what if someone comes in here?”
“No one will,” Suzanna said. “You gave the order yourself.”
“Better safe than sorry,” Anfey said. “This is our secret. I can’t let anyone know. Urter said Minos left a lot of things behind. I have to go through them. I don’t want Golman to have everything.”
“Then you’ll need help.”
Anfey sighed. “If I don’t finish going through everything, I need you up here, so you can stall for a bit.”
What he wasn’t telling her was that he was afraid of what the Wheel of Fortune would do to him, especially after seeing what it did to Urter. He could risk his life, but he couldn’t allow Suzanna’s life to be in danger.
Chapter 569: The Secret
Anfey smiled at Suzanna and jumped down into the entrance. This place no longer posed a threat to him. Urter had made the necessary arrangements. Moreover, Anfey had strong radiesthesia, which had nothing to do with the brightness of the light. As long as he had the Heart of Nature, he could see clearly, although he might be in total darkness in the maze. Even the dust particles could not escape his eyes.
Anfey walked along the corridor. The air stank. In every dozen of meters away, there would be a dim light emitting from the magic lamp. Urter was very thrifty. To save on the magic crystals, he had dimmed the magic lamps. A huge white arrow was drawn on the floor of every junction in order to give direction. Upon reaching the first junction, Anfey looked at the direction that the arrow was pointing. After looking at the other corridors, he lost control of himself and burst out into laughter.
Probably, there was loophole, even in spiritual wisdom. No matter how careful Urter was, he would still do silly things. Given his thriftiness, he would not place magic lamps in a dead end. The arrows on the floor would not serve its purpose. As long as Anfey followed the lit corridor, he would be going in the right direction.
After passing through many corridors, Anfey saw a vast space at the end. There was a magic array in the midst, but the air smelled different. There was an overwhelming stench.
Seven to eight dead bodies were lying in front. Urter must have been too busy to take care of the bodies. Anfey looked at one of the bodies and saw that one of its arms was missing. Someone had placed the magic lamp, which was supposed to be on the wall, onto the floor. A few bones of different sizes were laying beside the magic lamp.
Anfey had no problem with dead bodies. He walked slowly toward them and smiled wryly. Urter…was really vicious! He had disappeared for a few days, and then suddenly reappeared. No one knew what had happened, except for Anfey. He could put the pieces together after seeing the scene before him.
After Urter regained consciousness, he had become very weak and haggard. He had left the palace and was in urgent need of replenishing his energy. To get out of the maze, he needed food. Urter had chopped off the arm of one of the bodies and barbecued it with the magic lamp. The rest was history. The scattered bones explained themselves.
Anfey was shocked, as he was unfamiliar with the magic world. There was no humanism. For most people, they needed a master who they could pledge loyalty to. On a positive note, this was loyalty. On a negative note, this was also slavery. Anfey was a master to Urter. If Urter had lived for himself, he would not have gone to such an extent. Even the most evil necromancer would not have taken a dead body as food, let alone a normal being. However, Urter would do anything to prove his loyalty to his master, and to let his master take this as a warning as well. When Anfey trusted in him, and they shared the same secret, he lived longer for himself.
Anfey sighed and walked slowly to the magic array. A bright light flashed across, and Anfey disappeared. In the next instant, he reappeared in a big palace. He slowly scanned his surroundings.
Urter was not as powerful, which was why, when he had gone to the treasure island, he came back empty-handed. Anfey was different. When he had been transported over, he had sensed the movements of the elements.
Anfey released his radiesthesia, taking note of the important places speedily. The Wheel of Fortune that Urter was terrified of was hanging in the center. Anfey did not have time for it. He was here in search of the treasures of Minosie, although it included the Wheel of Fortune. He would also like to know how Minosie broke through the final obstacle. Comparatively, the latter was of more importance.
By using his radiesthesia, Anfey’s search became easier and faster. Very quickly, Anfey had focused on a few places. What had captured his attention was an inconspicuous side gate, which was shut. Anfey was unable to see through it with his mind power, but he felt a strong attraction to it.
He opened the side gate and saw a corridor. There was a room on both sides. At the far end, there was another room. All the doors of the three rooms were opened, so Anfey could clearly see their furnishings. There were all sorts of books in the rooms. Anfey, following his instincts, moved straight ahead.
The room that Anfey had selected had a long table. There were bookshelves on both sides. The maze was filled with dust, but the palace was in spick and span condition. Even the carpet looked new, which made it look abnormal. It should be under the protection of a certain magic array. The long table was stacked with diaries. A red diary was placed in the center, and when the magic lamp shone upon it, a bright ray of light was reflected. It seemed that the owner of the diary had just left the room.
After Anfey had touched and confirmed that the diary was not corroded, he took it up and turned over its pages.
Anfey’s initial intention was to take a look and search for clues, but after taking the diary, he had no wish to put it back.
When Minos was still alive, he had used different means to get ahold of the treasures and the knowledge left behind by the ancients. His understanding of the rules, discernment of the world, foresight and insight were way beyond Saul’s, and the others’. Although Minos had lost a large part of his memory, he was still able to train three master necromancers—that was the gap between the two.
Minos was only a man. He was not a god, and he had his restrictions, problems, and even fears. Anything could be written in the diary. Minos had used it to record his experiences and his perception of things, he had even used it as an outlet for his emotions. What Anfey could not agree with, was the loneliness. With Suzanna around, Anfey was not alone, but he was lonely!
Minos’ loneliness was far beyond Anfey’s. Minos did not have friends or enemies. His imaginary opponents were too powerful. Even if Minos could live a few hundred or thousand years more, he would not be able to beat them. This made him even lonelier.
Anfey was not simply cultivating the path, and neither was he practicing magic. The path that he was on had not been trodden by the ancients. Thus, he needed the experiences of the ancients. What Minos had written would be Anfey’s spiritual food. He slowly sat on the chair and absorbed whatever he needed, trying to put them into memory.
No one could beat Anfey in terms of perseverance. Even if he were to compete with Saul on the hours that Saul spent in meditation, Anfey would have won. Anfey tirelessly read though the diaries, and as he read on, Minos’ past life became vivid to him.
According to his deductions, Minos had a mental disorder. One side of Minos did not want to demean himself, whereas the other side would give up all that he had in order to obtain power. Caught between the struggles of the two different personalities, Minos’ ideal became the deciding factor.
Minos’ idea was to go against the gods. With his power and insight, he could feel the kekkai of God. He was not convinced, and he felt that the gods had treated men like animals. He wanted to fight back! What Hui Wei had said before originated from Minos.
It was a pity that Minos was getting weaker back then, and he was near his deathbed. Although he had laid off his servants and passed down a grave command, the Minos who wanted to gain power took over, suppressing the Minos who did not want to demean himself. Anfey did not know how the story ended. Probably, he had not reached the page yet, or it would never be recorded.
Moreover, Minos was capricious in his writings. Sometimes, he would sound vicious and cruel, and his writings were gruesome. At other times, he would sound graceful and full of compassion. He even pointed out that he was not in a good mental state, and that the best and only solution was to destroy himself.
Toward the back of the diary, Minos’ writing style changed rapidly. This showed that his mental disorder was getting more serious.
After Minos wrote about his preparation of the magic array for his cremation, nothing more was recorded in the diary. Anfey closed the diary. Minos must have failed in his plan to cremate himself.
Spending a day in the mountains was the equivalent to a thousand years on earth. Anfey did not think that he had spent much time there. As he read through Minos’ diary, he was searching for his own direction and inspiration. Suzanna, on the other hand, was waiting restlessly for him. She paced around, ate, and slept in the living room. She had thought of dashing down to search for Anfey, but she remembered his instructions and gave up on the idea.
When one went into a special state, the perception of time seemed to change. This could be an illusion. Anfey found that time had passed by too quickly, whereas Suzanna felt that time had passed too slowly.
The sun had set once again, and the moon had risen. A dark shadow floated into the living room. Golman gently removed his cloak and politely asked, “Madam, where is Sir Anfey?”
Chapter 570: Will
As winter approached, the world became more stable. Baery led his Roaring Death Legion into the Country of Mercenaries and settled near the Ellisen Empire. The Maho army to the north turned to the Ellisen Empire as well. It was apparent that the Maho Empire was gearing up for one last conflict, and that unity was not far away in their future.
In a situation like this, not much could be done. Other than sending out diplomats and expanding its army, the Ellisen Empire couldn’t do anything else to change their situation. The core members of the League were scattered. Even though no one knew what Anfey was doing, the members were even more tight-knit than before. This was possible because they now had a greater, common goal.
Christian went back to Sacred City with Saul’s students. He remembered what Anfey had told him and maintained a low profile after his return to the city. Even if he didn’t do anything, he would still receive the credit for the decisive victory at Diamond City. If he didn’t keep a low profile, his brothers would feel too threatened.
After occupying Diamond City and the palace, the Maho army found a huge amount of magic crystals in the mage towers and the palace vault. Even though Baery took more than half of the crystals, there were still more than enough remaining. Entos used the crystals to set up three transmission arrays, one in Diamond City, one in White Mountain City, and the third in Saul’s mansion. This allowed Christian, Alice, and Anthony to communicate very easily. In case of an emergency, they could even teleport straight to those places.
Despite the sensitivity of having non-government issued transmission arrays, Yolanthe did not say anything about it. A few members of the court tried to take the issue up with him and failed.
After Anthony started working with Anfey and the League, he maintained a low profile, even handing his position off to his son. This was because he knew there was no point in creating more conflicts.
Now that Anfey trusted him with more important things, like being in charge of the Country of Mercenaries, there was no point in keeping his head down anymore. After he returned to the Country of Mercenaries, his mercenary group, Glory mercenary group officially became part of the League. After speaking with Christian and Alice, he found Marino and asked for help in governing the Country of Mercenaries.
Anthony was very generous to mercenaries who joined the League willingly, while he applied pressure to those who wanted to stay neutral. When it came to those who wanted to fight against him, he was ruthless in eliminating them.
Because of Anthony and the League’s reputation, more than two hundred thousand mercenaries soon joined the League. As the mercenaries gathered under one banner, the merchants became more alert. Now that the mercenaries were united, it made it harder for the merchants to trade.
However, Anthony did not do anything to harm the merchants’ benefits. Yolanthe needed stability, and the merchants would not like it if Anthony did anything to harm their interests. Having high prices for magic crystals would also interfere with the daily lives of the mercenaries, and it would harm the Country of Mercenaries.
When Anthony first proposed his plan, Alice told him to stand down and not cause any conflicts. She also told him that he needed to start stocking up on food, because that was one of the biggest disadvantages of the Country of Mercenaries. Because of Wester’s close ties with the merchants, if a trade war did occur, he could blame Wester for the damage.
Compared to Anthony’s, Alice’s approach was much gentler. After Christian left Diamond City, she got along very well with both Wester and Grandon. Wester had once spoken with Alice about appointing one of his men to be in charge of Diamond City.
However, this was contradictory to Yolanthe’s plan. Yolanthe wanted someone who knew Shansa Empire’s people and culture to be in charge. He knew that having someone from another country governing the capital may cause discontent among the people.
Wester only asked in order to see how Alice responded, he did not expect Alice to agree. However, the man was only in charge of the city for three days before Alice executed him.
Wester was very angry about it, and went to demand an answer from Alice. Alice, however, was ready. She gave him many evidences of the man’s corrupt and indecent behavior. She told him that she wanted to help him, but that he had chosen the wrong man for the job. Wester was still angry, and asked her why she had come after his man, when everyone else in the world was doing the same thing.
Alice grew angry as well, and accused Wester of being ridiculous. This was a well-timed ploy by Alice. A lot of important people, including Saul and Grandon, were present, and heard the exchange.
The people of the Maho and Shansa Empire had a relatively peaceful winter. The only thing that caused some unrest was the presence of necromancers in the small castle located two hundred miles east of Sacred City. Every resident of the castle was killed by the necromancers and turned into zombies. When daylight came, all the zombies perished under the sun.
This event sent a shock wave through the nation. Miorich was sent to investigate it, but not much came out of the investigation. After Wester received the news of what had happened to his mother’s family, he fell ill. After learning the news, Alice was glad. Christian, on the other hand, kept the low profile he had been maintaining.
Even though Wester’s mother’s family was far from being the center of politics, they were not powerless. Volte and Julie were both proof of that. It was better to eliminate the threat early.
Even though his actions may have caused Yolanthe to distrust him, Anfey did not care much. If he couldn’t defeat Minos, it didn’t matter who became the king. If he did, no one would remember the family he murdered.
Anfey respected Yolanthe, but he had his own plans. His and Suzanna’s future was not the only thing he needed to protect. He also had to protect Christian and Alice, and all of his other friends.