When morning came the next day, Kurdak found it odd that Leguna looked like a beaten dog. His left eye had an obvious bruise and a hint of rage could be seen on Annelotte's face.
"Were you rejected last night?" Kurdak asked sneakily with his shoulder over Leguna.
"What do you mean?"
"Stop keeping me in suspense," Kurdak teased, "Sigh, a lone man and a woman in a single room, or tent... I doubt you didn't have the slightest lewd thought. Given how amazing Annie looks, it'd be a slight on the world if you didn't make any move on her!"
"So you just admitted that you're a monster?" countered Leguna.
"I might be, but I can't compare to you!" Kurdak said proudly. "Did you make a move or not?"
Leguna shot Annelotte a careful glance and mumbled, "Do you think I have a chance whether I go soft or hard?"
After some thought, Kurdak patted on his shoulder sympathetically. "Brother, I've thought wrongly about you."
"It's fine as long as you understand."
"So then why is your face so gloomy today? Annie doesn't look natural either. Did you guys get into a fight last night?" Kurdak pressed.
"How would I know?" Leguna said with a pained look, "Right after I slept deeply last night, Annie shook me awake and gave me a beating without any explanation. i don't know what it was about at all."
Kurdak was speechless. What in the world did he do to deserve such treatment? Did Annelotte want to beat Leguna up to pass time because she was bored and couldn't sleep? How in the world had those two gotten along during the past half year?
It was then when Annelotte noticed the two and came over. She shot Leguna a furious glare and coldly said, "I'll kill you if that happens again!"
"Yes! I promise not to do it ever again!" Leguna stood ramrod straight, emphasizing how round the bruise on his face was.
Annelotte nodded, as if she was satisfied by the response, and joined Vera for breakfast.
"Do you know what you won't repeat?" Kurdak couldn't help but ask.
"It doesn't matter--" Leguna shrugged carefreely, "--There are many things Annie forbids and every time she threatens to kill me. But aren't I doing fine so far?"
"You aren't afraid that she'd beat you up again?"
"Scolding is love, beating is caressing. Kicking means she is head over heels for me," Leguna snickered, "I can feel that Annie and my relationship is developing more and more along with the pain! That's why this pain isn't anything!"
"Hell... Bureau! Return my brother to me! You can have your pervert back!" Kurdak thought that Leguna must've gone mad from spending too much time with the dark and odd folk of the bureau.
It was a really uneventful day as far as the Stokians were concerned. The Hockians launched a few probing strikes during the day but covered before the absolute might of the magic cannons. The northerners had no chance. They left a dozen corpses behind before ultimately retreating with their tail between their legs.
The situation appeared normal. The Stokians believed that as long as they could hold their ground for a few more days, the empire would definitely send reinforcements to Seatide and turn the tide on the battle there!
But during midnight that day, two hard-to-detect figures snuck towards the city.
"This is the place. Are you going to use a shroud spell?" Leguna asked when he saw the walls.
"No." She shook her head and took out a stone from her dimensional pocket. "Take this along. I will be able to transfer to your location with it."
"What's that?" Leguna looked at the dark-blue rock about the size of a fingernail. He could feel a familiar energy pulse despite how weak it was that was quite similar to Lighteater's.
"It's a transport talisman," Annelotte explained, "It's made from spatial gems. They're a rare kind of rock that have properties to tear through or connect disjointed space. The talisman is made to take advantage of those properties. A magical formation is carved into the stone that can be used to form a mental link that can allow you to feel the stone's position and instantly transport to where it is."
"How's this different from a transference spell?" Even though Leguna didn't understand most of Annelott's explanation, he understood that she intended to rely on it to enter the city. However, transference spells could not be used within that city, so he worried that the talisman would be the same.
"Of course it is different," she said confidently, "A transference spell allows the user to skip through space, whereas transport talismans link the user to another point in space and connect two disjointed spatial points. The disruption formation only interferes with spatial skipping spells and isn't that effective against spells that connect spatial points. That's why portal gates can be used within cities, understood?"
"Nope." He heard only different incomprehensible jargon like space, skip, and disjointed.
She wore an expression that seemed to say 'it's so tiring to talk to magically illiterate people like you'. "Basically, it works."
"That's all I need to hear." He nodded and looked at the talisman in his hand. "How did you get something so useful?"
She rolled her eyes. "Do you remember the magical researcher you assassinated in a Stokian base the last time?"
"The high-order magus you mean?" Leguna recalled the magus he dealt with back then who appeared to be rather weak.
"That person is a magical researcher, not a battlemagus," Annelotte said exasperatedly, "Do you think high-order magi are that easy to kill?"
"I see..." He had finally broken through the 14th stratum and made his way formally into the high order. But given that he had a record of killing three high-order magi before reaching that point, he felt rather proud of himself. However, his second encounter with a high-order magus, Hladik, during which Annelotte almost lost her life, was a mark of humiliation he would never forget.
Every time someone brought up a high-order magus, Leguna would recall that moment, the stormy twilight when the fight broke out. He would then recall the sight of Annelotte spitting blood. That was the most terrifying thing he saw in all eighteen years of his life. The mere thought of that sent shivers down his spine.
Annelotte seemed to be able to guess his thoughts. She was rather apologetic, but her haughty personality stopped her from saying any words of consolation. Stiffly, she said, "Okay, it's time for you to go!"
"Okay..." He knew that it wouldn't do for him to be emotional before a mission. After regulating his feelings, he turned to Annelotte and said, "I'll leave first. Just transport to my location 20 minutes later."
Leguna didn't say much else and entered stealth right there. The city at midnight resembled a slumbering beast. Leguna was going to enter the mouth of that beast's mouth and pull out all its teeth.
While he was only eighteen, he had completed quite a number of assassination missions and was rich with experience. His mental growth also accompanied his physical over the past few years.
With the raise in strata, his Enhanced Stealth ability became more and more powerful. Though only at the 15th stratum, enemies beneath the saint or myth rank would find it hard pressed to discover him.
With that kind of stealth ability, he could do more than sneaking into Seatide. Sneaking into the Stokian palace was... probably still very dangerous. But he might fare well on a trip to the Millennium Capital without being discovered.
He quietly watched as the patrolling soldiers walk past him and poked his tongue out at them mischievously.
[Don't mess around during the mission!] Gahrona beckoned.
[Yeah, yeah...] Leguna righted his frame of mind and patiently waited for them to pass before continuing his approach to the wall.
[Come to think of it, your gift truly is convenient, Teacher!] Leguna exclaimed.
With both his hands pushed against the wall, he formed shadow needles on his palms. Using them, he could scale the walls like a lizard. Other people would have a much harder time trying to achieve the same.
[That, it is,] she said gleefully.
Seatide's walls were 25 meters in height. To save time, Leguna used Host of Darkness at the first stage midway up there and then Shadow Blink.
The youth vanished from the walls and a dark mist manifested in a dark outpost on the walls.
One Stokian soldier watched as the mist slowly formed before him.
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