Link was busy studying Anthony's notebook all along the journey to the academy. Rylai, who was sitting beside him was also reading a magic textbook, so it was very quiet in the carriage.
But after more than an hour, there was a sharp whistle outside the carriage. Link knew from the sound that it was no threat to them, so he paid no attention to it. The sound did unsettle the girl, though, so she slowly pushed the curtains of the carriage window aside and looked out in curiosity.
"Tutor," said Rylai timidly after a moment, "It's a carriage from the East Cove Magic Academy. No...it's not a normal carriage, it looks more like a prison carriage. There's a prisoner inside it too. Could he be a Magician?"
But how did a Magician end up being a prisoner? Rylai wondered.
Link was startled by Rylai's descriptions and he looked out immediately, just in time to see that it was Darris.
After a week of recovery, Darris' injuries were almost healed, but because he was treated with basic healing spells, he still had a lot of scars all over his body and even on his face. He was wearing a crude jailbird robe and his limbs were bound by iron shackles. He looked no different from any other common criminal, except for the fact that he was transported in a carriage with the East Cove Magic Academy insignia on it.
Just as Link caught a glimpse of Darris, Darris himself had turned his head around and saw Link, who was wearing a silver-lined ink-blue Magician's robe, sitting in a nice carriage.
Only Magicians of Level-4 or higher could wear the ink-blue Magician's robe. The silver lining on this type of robe was fine and graceful and the material of the robe itself was soft and comfortable. The robe was also protected by a Level-2 Guarding Barrier.
Then, Darris looked to Link's side and saw that he was accompanied by a beautiful young girl who looked so pure and innocent that any man would want to embrace her in their arms. This disparity in fortune between the both of them suddenly filled Darris' heart with painful bitterness.
"I curse you an agonizing death!" he shouted, his eyes bloodshot with animosity as he stared fixedly at Link.
Link shook his head at the pathetic sight before him. He thought nothing of it, as it was just the last cry of a man who'd lost everything. Link wasted no time and went straight back to reading the notebook.
Rylai, on the other hand, was considerably shocked by the scene, but she was also eager to find out what was going on.
"Tutor," she began tentatively, careful not to offend Link, "Why does he seem to hate you?"
"Pay no attention to him," said Link, smiling, "he'll soon be a dead man."
A Magician who had been stripped of his magic powers and was going to be tried for murder as a normal civilian wouldn't be able to escape execution because lay people were afraid of the powers that Magicians possessed. Once a Magician had been found guilty of murder, the civil courts wouldn't keep him alive for fear that he might try to attempt more crimes with his remaining powers.
Even if Darris was not sentenced to death on the spot, Link was sure that he would be secretly killed off afterwards. There was just no way that the court would take any chances with him.
And thus, a prison carriage and a handsome carriage crossed paths, each carrying their occupants towards two very different fates.
Darris' prison carriage continued to move forward. Although Darris had just shouted a curse at Link, it did nothing to distract him from the fact that his fear was deepening as the prison carriage kept approaching the River Cove Town.
Those damned commoners will never let go of me. I'll be dead, I'll be dead for sure. Ah, but I'm only 30 years old! Oh God of Light, why have you forsaken me so? Oh God... By that point Darris was about to collapse.
They were now approaching the eastern gates of River Cove Town and the spire of the eastern watchtower was now in plain sight. Only another ten minutes and they would be within the town gates.
"Hey, Armon, how about letting me go, huh?" begged Darris, "I'll give you a hundred gold coins if you'll let me go. I've got the money; I swear I do. Please, Armon..."
The coachman narrowed his eyes as he looked at Darris with disdain.
"Give it up, Darris. You just don't get it, do you? Well, let me tell you the truth. The coachman that you killed was named Eddie; he was my brother, my very own brother!"
Darris almost died of a heart attack and his whole body went limp as he realized that all hope was gone. But then, there was an unexpected turn of events!
The carriage was about to take a sharp corner where the trees on both sides of the road were very dense. But just as the prison carriage turned, a faint shadow suddenly flashed out of the woods.
The shadowy figure's speed was as fast as a gust of wind as he circled the prison carriage. In a few seconds, all four Level-2 Warriors escorting the prisoner fell dead on the ground. Shortly afterwards, the black shadow then approached the coachman and before anyone could see how what happened, the coachman fell clutching his throat. As his hands fell away when he hit the ground, one could see that there was a slash across his throat with blood gushing out of it.
Finally, the dark shadow reached Darris' side. With a few banging and clanging sounds, the carriage door was opened. It was only then that Darris could clearly make out the figure's appearance - he was clad in a brown leather armor and his face was covered in a mask, revealing only a pair of dark red eyes.
"You're a Dark Elf!" exclaimed Darris. He instinctively flinched away from the black figure. Humans and Dark Elves were sworn enemies, after all. In fact, the Norton kingdom was now preparing to go to war with the Dark Elf Kingdom of Pralync in the Black Forest.
"Don't you want to live?" asked the Dark Elf as he stared straight into Darris' eyes.
"Yes, of course I do!" said Darris as he nodded eagerly.
He'd thought that he was no longer afraid of death. But just as he came closer to the moment when he would be sentenced to death, his will to live had become more and more tenacious. All he wanted now was to be able to live on - he was willing to do anything in exchange for his life, even if it meant betraying his own kind and co-operating with the Dark Elves.
So long as I can live!
"Good!" said the shadowy figure. These type of people who wanted nothing more but to save their own lives had always been his favorite type to work with!
He pulled Darris out of the prison carriage, carried him by the collar and jumped out of the prison carriage. Before he left, he took out a magic scroll, activated it and flung it towards the prison carriage. Then, under a murky green flash of light, the entire carriage crumbled instantaneously into fine white sand.
Then, the figure carried Darris into the dense Girvent forest. He bolted through the forest for half an hour without taking any breaks, showing astonishing endurance.
Finally, they reached a clearing where another figure covered in a large black cloak was standing-the cloak covered most of his face. The wand in his hand indicated his identity as a Magician.
Hearing their quiet arrival, the figure turned around and spoke up in a hoarse voice, "Are you Darris?"
"That's me," said Darris as he took a deep breath and tried hard to calm himself down. He believed that these people wouldn't harm him, otherwise they wouldn't go through so much trouble to save him.
"Tell me, then, how familiar are you with the interior layout of the East Cove Magic Academy?" asked the cloaked figure.
Darris remained silent for a while. The question meant that these people were trying to attack the academy. It was also almost certain that they were Dark Elves.
"I've been staying there for 13 years," replied Darris, "I could get to anywhere I wanted within the academy gates with my eyes closed."
"Splendid! Do you want vengeance, then?" asked the Dark Elf again.
"More than anything else!" answered Darris immediately. The image of that proud and arrogant figure in the carriage was now floating in his mind. He remembered how that person was sitting comfortably in a handsome carriage with a pretty young maid by his side, heading towards glory and fame, while looking down on him with eyes that were full of scorn and contempt.
As he recalled the scene, the flame of anger burnt fiercely in Darris' gut and he felt it so violently that his body trembled.
I'll have my vengeance! There's nothing I wouldn't give to be able to kill that scum with my own bare hands!
"Good," the figure said, "Your Mana has been locked completely and I can't reverse that unfortunately, but the Silver Moon Mage Council can. I need you to do me a favor and then, I will give you 1000 gold coins as a reward. You can then bring the coins with you to the Black Forest where you will find someone who will take you to the Silver Moon Mage Council. There, they'll help you regain your powers and you can then come back and dish out your revenge. So, will you help me?"
"Yes," Darris agreed without any hesitation at all.
"Excellent," said the Dark Elf Magician. "So, I need a detailed layout of the defenses inside the East Cove Magic Academy, including the range and scope of the Watching-Eyes, all the rules and passcodes and so on without a single omission. Can you provide that to me?"
"Give me a day's time," replied Darris with a bitter smile. As a Level-4 Magician, an acknowledged genius, and the chief disciple of the master Magician Bale, he had been entrusted with great authority in the academy. He knew every single thing that the Dark Elf wanted to know in minute detail!
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