Metal chains entangled all four of the great druid Caspian’s limbs in a cube-shaped cage, around which lightning was crackling and sparking off of. An icy mist was hovering about the chains, freezing the man stiff to the bone and making even his breathing obviously labored.
When Han Shuo and Emily found Caspian in this room, they rushed towards the druid, shocked. Emily only took one glance before diagnosing quietly. “There are both electric and water element magical boundaries at work here. In addition to this, the cage is restricting his power. I need some time to disassemble the spells.”
Glancing quickly at the ice beginning to form on tips of the druid’s hair, Han Shuo said, “I’m confident that my weapon is sharp enough to penetrate the cage directly.”
Emily reached out a hand to stop Han Shuo, shaking her head sternly and explaining, “This is a magic boundary made of both electric and water elements that has been set up quite intricately. If you don’t know the proper technique and attempt to break through the cage with brute force alone, you might kill him through electrocution or hypothermia.”
Han Shuo was far from being Emily’s equal in the knowledge of magic in general since necromancy magic differed from the other paths of magic. After hearing her explanation, he didn’t continue pressing his own thoughts, “All right. You work on releasing him from the boundary, and I’ll look for evidence against Bob Ascher.”
With that said, he left Emily and began to investigate their surroundings. Crowded with numerous shelves of various sizes holding many strange, fascinating items, the room did not seem very spacious.
There were many glistening badges marked with certain symbols describing its meaning on one of the shelves. These were the awards which Bob Ascher had received through his many years of service, which helped him rise to the position of chief of the Gryphon Legion, becoming the items that he could flaunt for the rest of his life.
There was another shelf that housed a few cavalry helmets and weapons. Some were shiny, while others were patently damaged. There was a small slip of paper under every piece that detailed which battle the helmet or weapon had been used in.
The rest of the shelves of assorted sizes held either old books or obviously exorbitant swords and spears, not the pearls, jewels, and jade that Han Shuo expected.
Emily had been working on dismantling the druid’s confinement in the distance when she happened to see Han Shuo bored by the items on the shelves, his mind even wandering a little. She couldn’t help but chide, “A man such as Bob Ascher wouldn’t place run-of-the-mill jewels in his secret chamber, so rid yourself thieving thoughts. Wealth hasn’t been his goal for a long time. The things here represent his glory and memories, nothing that gold can compare to.”
With that reminder, Han Shuo sighed dejectedly. “Here I thought I would find a ton of gold and wealth in his secret chamber. I was even planning to reward Gilbert after this mission, but I suppose I was ignorant and ill informed.”
“Go look through the other things.” Emily rolled her eyes and urged Han Shuo. “We need enough evidence to pin him for good!”
Taking a deep breath to help himself focus, Han Shuo quickly walked around the shelves searching for any hidden items, but after going around once and looking through every single shelf, he still didn’t find anything of value.
“Seems like we’re out of luck!” Han Shuo walked back to Emily with his palms open and said with some resignation.
“Just a second.” Emily was at a crucial part of her work. A shadowy cloud of magic pulsed between her hands, and she pressed it firmly against the cage.
Snap! Crackle! The cage began to sizzle and fizz once Emily’s magic cloud came into contact with it and vanished in an instant. Caspian’s trembling eased, as well.
“All right. Now that the magic boundary has been broken, you can rescue him with your weapon.” Emily breathed out a light sigh and turned around with a graceful smile before sashaying towards the shelves. “Leave finding evidence against Bob Ascher to me. My experience in the Dark Mantle has made me an expert at this kind of work.”
“Thank you!” The druid shakingly expressed his gratitude towards Han Shuo as he slowly regained his body heat after the magic boundary was dissolved.
“Heh heh, you’re just lucky that we came across you!” Chuckling, Han Shuo took Demonslayer Edge into his hand into which he directed his magical yuan and swung it in the air.
With a loud crack, a few obsidian metal bars snapped under the Demonslayer Edge’s swing. Han Shuo reached out and forcefully bent the bars to the side, allowing the druid to step out.
Upon leaving his confinement, Caspian stretched his body and took in a few deep breaths before asking Han Shuo, “Where’s Angelica? Is she in danger?”
“Rest assured. We left her in the care of the Battlefire mercenery band before we left. I don’t think she will run into any trouble, but she’s very worried about you.” After answering, Han Shuo looked at Emily, not asking why Caspian was imprisoned there in the first place.
Meanwhile, Emily took out a particular magic item and played with it in her hands until she forced open a hidden compartment in the corner. After rummaging through it, she fished out a small book.
“Ah hah, I found it.”
“Hidden compartments are common in secret chambers, but are concealed with space magic that an average person can almost never discover. Only a space grand magus is able to sense these magical ripples and disable the disguise, but the Dark Mantle does this kind of stuff so often that we’ve come up with a specialized magical tool. With it I could detect even the slightest magical activity in this room and obtain everything we need.” Emily proudly explained with the book now in hand.
“So, does that mean our mission is complete?” Han Shuo asked with a grin after a pause.
Nodding rather happily, Emily replied, “That’s right. As long as we can leave Valen City, Bob Ascher is a dead man!”
It was then that they heard a series of hurried knocks coming from above.
Expressions tensing, Han Shuo and Emily shared a quick look before the former finally spoke, “That was Gilbert’s signal. It means that somebody has noticed our existence and is heading here. Let’s go back up and depart from this place.”
With that said, Emily ascended the way they had come. The great druid had yet to recover from his recent escape from the cage. He was still pale in the face and his steps were stiff and awkward.
Nimbly maneuvering himself to flank Caspian, Han Shuo threw the druid onto his back and dashed out behind Emily, returning to Bob Ascher’s bedroom.
Just as they arrived, they heard the sounds of battle from outside the door. Emily shared a quick, worried look with Han Shuo before she reached out for the bed. Reverting the bed to its original form, the two of them raced out the door.
On the other side, Gilbert was holding off an attack from several soldiers of the Gryphon Legion with a spear in hand. Another squad of Gryphon Legion troops was drawing near. Some were equipped with bows and arrows and had positioned themselves appropriately to shoot down Gilbert.
“You’re finally out, honored master. I’m afraid I can’t hold them off for much longer.” Spotting Han Shuo, Gilbert jumped back after fending off a strike with his spear and shouted to his master.”
All three of them, Han Shuo, Emily, and Gilbert, had their faces and identities concealed, unmistakably the appearance of no-good-doers. Even the great druid had been disguised with black mask before Han Shuo carried him out. The party appeared more like a group of sneaky bandits.
“Let’s get out of here!” Han Shuo exclaimed as the flow of Gryphon Legion soldiers converged on them. He sprinted out through an opening before the enemies could seal them in.
The bowmen and crossbowmen had finished loading their weapons by then. If Han Shuo and Emily were to take flight, they would become clear targets without any cover, and thus they were forced to take shelter behind the artificial mountain and plants in the villa.
Without wasting words or even a nod, Gilbert charged behind Han Shuo. Flames had completelye swamped the manor and screams now filled the air. Belinda and Johnny had stormed through a wall using the three-eyed golem and were running as if their lives depended on it. Johnny even appeared to be wounded, as an arrow stuck out from his butt and his chest was dripping with blood.
“This way!” Spotting Han Shuo’s party, Belinda rather loyally waved and signalled for them to join up with her. However, Han Shuo ignored her and dashed for the opposite wall. He yelled back, “Are you kidding? I don’t want to die fighting all those soldiers on your tail, thank you very much!”