Who are you What are you doing here Said a raspy voice coming from behind Lith\'s back.
I\'m Lith from Lutia, coming from the White Griffon academy on Her Majesty\'s service. Lith appeared to be calm, but he was actually seething with anger.
He had expected for someone to come and identify him, not to be treated like a criminal.
Really The voice sneered.
Then why are you dressed like a farmer Since when the White Griffon has stooped so low that they can\'t even afford uniforms anymore
For a moment, Lith was tempted to break the ropes with brute strength, and then pull their guts through their mouths.
- Stay calm, you idiot.
This isn\'t your village or the academy.
In the outside world you are a nobody, and you will be treated as such. –
My uniform got heavily damaged. He replied calmly.
What\'s left of it is on my shoulder.
Headmaster Linjos should have already contacted your supervisor.
Someone searched him, while another hand picked the rag that was his uniform.
Being on his finger, Solus could see one of the three robed magicians cast a spell.
It made Lith and the uniform emit a light glow at the same time.
The mages looked at each other, nodding, before letting Lith stand up.
It seems there is a way to make apparent the link between a magic object and the one it is imprinted with. –
Lith didn\'t share her enthusiasm, he was more interested in looking at his captors.
There were five soldiers and three mages.
They were all of different heights and builds, but were dressed almost in the same way.
They were all clearly part of a military unit.
They all wore leather boots, grey linen pants and shirt, leather gloves and what resembled a plague doctor mask, making their faces unrecognizable.
The only differences between them was that the mages wore a robe, while the soldiers had weapons and a thin metal breastplate.
Sorry, sir. Said one of the soldiers, his voice distorted by the mask.
But this is not enough proof of identity.
No one gets in or out of the quarantine zone without the proper clearance.
One of the mages took out a communication amulet, from which emerged the small hologram of a handsome man in his late thirties.
He had thick blonde hair and beard, with the stern look typical of someone being used to complete obedience.
Why did you leave your post, sergeant
We had a perimeter breach, sir.
We are currently dealing with it.
The way they had pronounced that word, not referring at him like a person but as a thing, sounded ominous to Lith\'s ears.
Is it perhaps a tall kid, dressed like a farmer, with a bald head and a tattered White Griffon uniform
If the sergeant was surprised by the accurate description, he didn\'t let it show.
Bring him to me.
Lith used that short exchange to use Invigoration on the ropes binding his hands.
They had no enchantment whatsoever, and that let him sigh with relief.
If necessity arose, he could easily free himself.
One of the mages took out gloves and a plague mask from under his robe, making Lith wear them.
The beak like mask had two small holes, from which the air would enter at every breath, making a hissing sound.
Lith had the impression of having lost his sense of smell.
The air didn\'t carry any scent anymore, except for that of some kind of disinfectant.
- This thing must be some sort of gas mask. He thought.
The situation must be much worse than I expected, if even this far from Kandria no one dares to move without it. -
The soldiers positioned themselves so that two walked in front of Lith, two behind, together with the mages, and one alongside him, keeping the ropes in check.
Once they got past the checkpoint, Lith could see a military encampment the size of a small city stationed behind the wall.
It was comprised by several tents divided in two blocks.
One block had only circular shaped tents of various height and size, but none bigger than a house.
The other block was situated farther inside.
It was heavily guarded as the wall itself, and it was comprised only by large rectangular shaped tents.
The smallest one was at least one hundred square meters big.
Each tent of the encampment had small flags near its entrance, probably to indicate its purpose.
Lith was led to one of the small circular tents, about 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) high with a diameter of 5 metres (16.5 feet), marked with triangular golden flags.
The space inside was perfectly lit, thanks to glowing gems masterfully placed on the ceiling.
The floor was entirely covered by a thick carpet, that muffled their footstep.
Seated behind a hardwood desk, there was the man Lith had previously seen in the hologram.
To his right, there was a man, around 1.9 meters (6\'3) high, with shoulder length pitch black hair, and ice blue eyes.
He wore a corps uniform identical to the one Velagros used.
Lith deduced he had to be a captain too.
The soldiers left him in the middle of the tent, without freeing his hands, and then left.
The moment the curtain closed between them, the rattling sound their weapons produced at every step, disappeared.
The tent was clearly sound proof.
What the heck is happening I\'m supposed to be an esteemed guest, not a prisoner. – Lith was getting more nervous with every second, but he could only grin and bear it.
May I know what I did to deserve such treatment He asked walking towards the two men.
Silence! I ask the questions here. The blonde man stood up, slamming his fist on the desk.
Lith felt a powerful air current, pressing on him from above, trying to make him kneel.
Lith bent a little under the force of the spell, but refused to submit.
His rebelliousness angered his captor even more.
The man waved his hand, and Lith felt like an invisible punch had just struck his jaw, making him fall on the ground.
The corps\' captain stiffened up, but said nothing.
Now tell me what happened to Velagros and his men. The blonde man\'s eyes were reduced to fiery slits.
Lith stood up, before repeating to him the same story he had told Linjos.
How they had departed from the White Griffon, get ambushed by unknown assailants, until he was struck by the purple flames and had lost consciousness.
Lith was forced to repeat his story, again and again, but he never contradicted himself.
When the man\'s anger peaked, and was about to hit Lith again, the captain stopped his hand.
That\'s enough, Colonel Varegrave.
The boy has already answered to your questions.
I will not allow any further harassment to our Queen esteemed guest!
Despite the captain\'s lean build, Varegrave was incapable of escaping his grasp.
Let me go immediately, Captain Kilian.
This is a military operation, and this is my camp! I only answer to the King!
Kilian refused to back down, twisting Varegrave\'s arm and forcing to look at him in the eyes.
Make no mistake, you will answer to him.
This is a violation of the protocol, and you are acting on groundless accusations!
Do you really want me to believe that a man like Velagros died, that his whole team was wiped out, and that traitorous runt managed to came out unscathed Isn\'t it suspicious Anger twisted his visage, baring his teeth at every word.
I know that you and Velagros were blood brothers, but nothing you do can bring him back.
Now listen to reason, and let the healer go.
Not until I have my answers! Varegrave snarled.
Seeing that reasoning was impossible, Kilian took out his communication amulet.
Not even a second later, an unknown visage appeared from it, that made Varegrave turn pale.
Tell me you have good news, Kilian. Said the man from the amulet.
Sadly, no, my King.
Yet there is a matter that requires your attention.
Lith inwardly smiled, seeing Varegrave\'s face twitch as Kilian reported everything that had happened.
The King turned towards Lith, that only then realized he could actually see him, and promptly kneeled.
No need for formalities, mage Lith.
Stand up. By acknowledging his name and title of mage, despite Lith was just a student, the King was doing him a huge honour.
Lith knew it, and kept kneeling for a couple of seconds before standing up.
Thanks, your Majesty.
Kilian, take mage Lith to the hospital.
There is much to do, and you have already wasted too much of his time.
Varegrave and I need to have a talk.
Please, leave us alone.
Kilian bowed, and untied Lith\'s hands.
Then the two of them wore their mask and exited from the tent.
My King, please, forgive my rudeness.
Why are you letting him go He is nothing but a traitorous commoner that has caused the death of many loyal servants of the crown.
And even if he didn\'t, what could he possibly do
He\'s just a kid, how can he succeed where the best healers of the Kingdom have failed It\'s impossible.
I would bet my life on it.
The King silently stared at him for a second before replying.
I\'ll take that bet.