Two days later, after much scouting, Leguna and the others confirmed the presence of strong mana waves coming from the woods inside the magic academy. It was an energy with a really dark hint to it. When the two magi detected that wave of terrible mana, they believed it could be necromantic mana. At the very least, they could be certain that the target they were going after was within the woods.
During the night the next day, they decided to act.
"The mana waves are coming from that small house there, roughly a kilometer from here," Leguna said, pointing in the direction he had scouted in.
"I also feel it. It should be the right place," Annelotte said with a nod.
"Alright. Then, have all the assassins get in stealth. I, Lisana and Annelotte will draw Nidhogg's attention," Myr declared.
The assassin brothers looked each other in the eye before disappearing into the shadows of the woods.
"Don't worry. I'll always be by your side," Leybecca said before she erased her presence and vanished.
"Annie," Leguna said as he approached Annelotte, "Be careful."
"I will. You too."
"When all this is over, let us leave this place for good with Eirinn and Innie. Let's go to the Dusk Zone to see if we can find your father," he said, holding her hand.
She didn't struggle and turned to look at him, before she joked, "You aren't going to take Leybecca along?"
"Well… if she's willing."
"Alright, let's leave that for when all this ends," Lisana said, no longer able to take it. She pushed Leguna into the shadows. "Disappear, quick! Let's get to business! Don't worry, I'll protect Annie."
"I'll be counting on you. You be careful too," Leguna said with an awkward smile before vanishing.
Only Myr, Annelotte and Lisana still remained visible. They crossed glances before Myr said, "Let's go!"
The two young women nodded and followed Myr towards the house. They didn't know what kind of fate awaited them, but they knew there were five other of their comrades following them from the side.
What surprised Myr was how different the house in the woods looked despite the eerie and dark atmosphere. The house was lit and the windows were clear. They could even see a figure busy cooking in the kitchen. At the entrance of the house, there was a small, cute, black-white dog playing by itself. The cute thing pushed a ball of yarn around and rolled about, barking from time to time joyfully.
When Myr saw the busy figure in the kitchen, he burst into tears. Decades ago, he saw that youth rummage about in the kitchen to sate his culinary cravings. He didn't think that decades later, he would be able to witness the same scene at the same place once more. His mind once more wavered. Was that the devil that plotted to destroy the entire continent?
"Nidhogg… Teacher…" he muttered.
"Grandmaster," Lisana said as she tugged on his robes when she noticed something amiss.
"I'm sorry. I felt a little nostalgic at the sight," he said, wiping his tears.
"What should we do?" Annelotte asked.
Myr gave it some thought. "We'll see!"
In the next ten minutes, the three of them watched the illuminated house. As the figure in the kitchen busied away without noticing them, he began to sing a southern folk song from decades ago. He seemed really peaceful and sincere.
"Chocolate, come eat!" the youth said, poking his head out of the house.
"Woof!" The dog barked in a clear voice as it entered the house while shaking its tail.
Myr looked at the house for a whole minute in silence. "Annie, let us use fireballs to destroy that house."
The girl hesitated for a moment before nodding. "Alright."
The two magi began their dictation. As the strongest high-order magi in the field of magic, even their fireballs possessed overwhelming power. Even Annelotte's alone would be able to turn the whole house upside down, to say nothing of the combined might of the two's.
But the moment the fireballs shot near the house, they disappeared in an instant, not letting out the slightest bit of heat. It was as if they had never existed.
"Oh, it must be good ol' Myr," Nidhogg's voice rang throughout the woods. His tone sounded warm and even a little joyful, as if he was happy about the reunion. "Since you're here, come in and take a seat!"
The three of them glanced at one another. Given that Myr understood Nidhogg best, they chose to listen to his instructions.
Myr gave it some thought and smiled in resignation. "Given his power, there's no need for him to rely on tricks. Let's go inside."
They carefully entered the house. Within, they saw a youth elegantly cutting away at a piece of steak on his plate. The dog named Chocolate was enjoying its meal sitting by his leg.
Nidhogg looked up. "Long time no see, old friend."
"There are no friends of yours here!" Lisana was the first one to charge in. Gale and Swiftshadow in her hands let out two streams of unparalleled sword force. As the daughter of a common fisherman, she resonated particularly well with the sufferings of the common folk. While the Tide of Death Nidhogg summoned hadn't harmed her family yet, the folk across the continent were suffering from it. Not to mention, her good friend Annelotte was now Nidhogg's target. That only served to intensify the hate she had for him. There was no doubt she felt the most rage for Nidhogg.
However, her sword force disappeared like the fireballs from before. Two formless hands pressed down on her shoulders, completely immobilizing a high-order swordsman like her.
"Magus's Hands?!" Myr and Annelotte were flabbergasted.
Magus's Hands was a simple magic even a normal bard that performed in a run-down tavern could learn. It was usually only used to lift heavy objects. Annelotte was confident she could use the level-zero spell to suppress low-order warriors, yet Nidhogg was able to use it to completely subdue a high-order warrior like Lisana. They didn't even know it was possible!
"For Myr, can you let me finish my meal? I spent half an hour to make it," Nidhogg said, scratching his head as if he really was asking for her opinion.
"Dream on!" The two magi were relieved to see that the spell hadn't completely suppressed Lisana. She could still shake herself free.
Nidhogg seemed rather exasperated and threw a magic missile at her to snap her out of it. "Don't you want to know how Fort Kesta is doing?"
"I know you're here to kill me. What difference does it make if you let me die full? You might as well see how the battle at Fort Kesta ends in the meantime. I think the battle came to a close this noon. A cursory glance shows that quite a number of people died!"
"His Hig-- How's Alissanda?!" Lisana's eyes turned bloodshot.
"Calm down!" Annelotte held onto her just as she was about to charge in again.
"Sit!" Nidhogg pointed at the chairs in the lounge and snapped his fingers. A screen of light appeared in the room that showed a scene where the battle at Fort Kesta was still being fought.
"This is already in the past, so I hope you don't get too agitated from seeing what happens. There's nothing you can do to change it," he added before he returned to eating his steak.Previous Chapter Next Chapter