The Eye's Moves
The night was dark and full of steam. Annelotte had just taken a warm bath and was stepping out of the bathroom wearing a bathrobe. A dark figure appeared in the corridor. He was small and clad in black armor. He looked at the girl with a perverted expression.
"My beautiful Annelotte, I didn't think you'd become so titillating," said he with a naughty smile.
Annelotte didn't reveal any panic or annoyance. With a wave of her hand, she dictated Light of Darkness to obscure his vision before taking a light-yellow robe out of her dimensional pocket and putting it on.
"If you have something to say, say it quickly."
She knew the man's station. He wouldn't come to her for something unimportant.
"Oh, how depressing. How is it that you can talk to that brat Leguna about anything, but regard me so coldly?" said the man with a pained expression.
"You're too old." countered she calmly.
Though he'd been shot down yet again, Arikos didn't mind. 'Twas but a usual affair. He shrugged.
"Fine. The chairman left this afternoon."
"Left? To where?"
"Chino. I'm acting chairman until he returns."
"Then why have you come to me at this time of the night, Acting Chairman?"
"You should more or less understand Hladik's temperament from the guild's reports. There's no way he'd give up so easily. However, because of the chairman, the Eye won't dare to move against you lightly. The chairman is absent now, though, and a small fry like me can't hold them back."
Arikos looked no different from a normal salaryman filled with resentment.
"So?" asked Annelotte asquint.
"So..." Arikos sighed, "So, they are on their way to capture you. It took a lot of effort to get here and warn you in time."
Annelotte was shocked.
"Won't the guild step in?"
"The guild already has... but the chairman is absent right now and I can't hold that old man back. He's turned into a complete madman after losing both his disciples. And I have to keep this whole debacle as low-key as possible. I don't have to authority to declare war."
Annelotte left hastily.
"Hey, girl! You're still wearing slippers!"
Arikos was quite surprised at seeing her small and fair exposed feet. By the time he snapped back to reality, she had already left the hall for Shining Star.
Looking at the girl's fading silhouette, he mused.
"The test has begun, kid! Do your best!"
Vera looked at Innilis, satisfied. She was squeaky clean. The girl's long eyelashes glistened with water droplets. She looked exceedingly cute.
"Yes! This is how my beautiful Innie should look!"
Vera patted Innilis's cheeks. Seeing how obedient the girl was being, she couldn't help but think that having a daughter would be a great thing. Innilis appeared a little uncomfortable. She was used to bathing alone; being rubbed all over by a woman clad only in underwear was not something she had experienced before.
"Umm... Sis... Why are you so big there?" asked the little girl in a soft voice when she saw Vera's voluptuous breasts.
She had heard certain men loved well-endowed women. A tinge of inferiority creaked in her heart when she stared at Vera's obscene peaks. Vera stroked the girl's nose lightly, red-cheeked.
"Yours will grow in a few years, too. Be patient."
Innilis tomatoed. She had only asked because the question had popped into her head out of nowhere. She only now realized what an embarrassing question she'd asked.
Someone suddenly knocked on the door.
"What? Do you know how late it is?" muttered Vera.
She handed the girl a towel put on some decent clothing and moved to open the door. She was confronted by a group of people, none of whom were familiar.
"Vera Trikel?" asked one who appeared to be the group's leader.
"Are you from the Eye?"
"Good, you know. Saves me an explanation. Come with us!"
"I'll dress first."
The magus seemed really confident. The whole of Starfall had been surrounded and locked down. There was nowhere the group could run. After closing the door, Vera paled. She hurriedly went to the wardrobe and took out some traveling clothes for Innilis before going to the bathroom. The girl had just wiped herself dry.
"Innie, wear your clothes and listen to me obediently. Kurdak and I will probably be captured soon, but don't panic. Don't be afraid. Annie or Leguna will come to rescue you. Just wait for them quietly. They won't search this place as long as both I and Kurdak go obediently. Just hide in a corner of the bathroom. Remember, unless Leguna or Annie comes, don't come out no matter what!"
Surprised covered Innilis's face. She'd grown her fortitude through her previous experiences, so, though she was frightened, she didn't panic, she nodded obediently. Vera hugged her tightly and mouthed a few words of comfort, more to herself than the little girl. She shut the bathroom door on her way out, changed clothes quickly and exited the room.
Kurdak had already been captured outside. He wasn't resisting too much. He just shot Vera an inquiring glance. She returned it with an assuring gaze before moving forward.
"Where's Leguna?" the man asked, furrowing his brow.
"He left two or three days ago. We're not sure where he went."
Vera answered their question obediently, she had to keep them from searching the room.
"Tell me where he is, or I'll kill this woman."
The man drew one of his attendants' swords and held it against Vera's throat.
"We really don't know! " clamored Kurdak anxiously.
"Then tell me his location!" barked the magus coldly.
When everyone was at their tensest, a commotion broke out in the room. Annelotte had landed lightly in the bathroom, hugged Innilis, and dictated a flight spell in preparation to leave. Though Arikos had warned her, given that using magic was forbidden in the city, she couldn't use the transference spell to rush to the inn. By the time she arrived, the Eye had already surrounded it completely.
Eye of Arcana had come prepared. There were one high-order magus and three high-order warriors, as well as seven or eight mid-order magi and a dozen mid-order warriors. They had mobilized almost a fifth of their elite forces. Even the whole party of four couldn't take on all of them. The girl had no choice but to dictate a shroud spell and a flight spell to make her way to the roof before using a sharp-ear spell and an eagle-eye spell to observe the situation within.
Fortunately, she heard the conversation between Vera and Innilis. Though she couldn't save the two adults, it was still possible to take the undiscovered girl away.. She disintegrated the ceiling and went straight to the bathroom. The spell startled the group. Annelotte didn't dally she grabbed the girl and immediately flew out.
The high-order magus quickly discovered Annelotte's airborne form. The shout had barely left his mouth when it was followed by a chant. A few moments later he ascended into the sky and chased after. Soon he was hot on Annelotte's tail. The girl injected more of her mana into the spell and pushed her speed to the limit. Unfortunately, she was weaker than her pursuer and was also carrying another person, so she had no chance of escaping. A few seconds passed and she and her package were caught in a formation.
Fireball spells, magic missiles, icicle spells... All sorts of spells lit up the sky. As she evaded them, she dictated a lesser spell nullification barrier. The pursuit continued for some time, but she eventually managed to slip away.
The city had a magic nullification field covering the city center, which was why she couldn't use magic to quickly get to the inn. The in was not in the city center, and so only had a magic suppression field, so, while spells could be used, they were much weaker, and more expensive mana-wise. The pursuit had taken her outside of this field, so she could finally use a transference spell to escape. Her pursuers, however, would naturally not let her have her way. If the dozen or so magi in the team let a girl like her, a magus far weaker than them, escape, they would be both the laughingstock of the guild, and its shame.
Just as she gathered her mana to initiate the spell, it was nullified by two counterspells. Furrowing her brow, she steeled herself for a gruesome battle. She knew she couldn't possibly win, but her pride as a genius magus would not let her shirk from it. The Eye's unreasonable actions incensed her.
Since you've forced me into a corner, I won't hold back. I'll be damned if I don't give you a good fight!
She put Innilis down softly and stroked her forehead. She turned around, faced her enemy, and bowed slightly. She had requested a duel.
The group discussed it briefly amongst themselves before agreeing. They couldn't really say no to such a sweet little thing. They would tarnish the guild's reputation if they did. In the end, a middle-aged magus clad in a dark red robe stepped forward. He returned the dueling gesture before speaking.
"14th-stratum magus, Anbiras. I look forward to learning from you."
"Annelotte, 13th-stratum magus."
The water vapor in the air around her condensed into a thick mist as she spoke and the area's ambient temperature dropped.
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