When Elsinore Lake got rid of the restriction of the Grand Cross in the black and white world, the space inverted and the magic lock was shattered, and its remaining pieces were still floating deeper into the World of Souls.
As the remains of the magic lock floated throughout that world, countless magic circles started to silently collapse, until a magnificent city appeared in the front, devoid of colors.
The shadow city was like the inverted reflection of Aalto, while the arrangement of the city was a total mess. Above this shadow city, there was a Grand Cross consisting of nine mysterious stars that were shining brightly.
Being influenced by the collapse of the magic lock around Elsinore Lake, this Grand Cross started to break down as well. Some kind of silver-colored fog slowly rose from beneath the shadow city, which was cold and quiet, as if it was turning this shadow Aalto into a hell where coldness and death dominated everything.
Suddenly, a pale and huge palm reached out of the ground, and each knuckle of the hand had horrifying, sharp bone spurs. Somehow, the terrifying hand broke the boundary existing between the World of Souls and the main material world and directly showed up deep in the sewers in the real Aalto.
The hand was shining with silver light. Any creature in the sewers affected by the light went crazy, like the red-eyed rats. The silver light was turning all the creatures there into filthy monsters. The ground was shaking fiercely. Lots of residents above the ground escaped from their places, screaming and crying. They thought it was a horrible earthquake.
However, it was way more terrible than an earthquake. In the sewers, when the huge, pale palm pressed itself against the ceiling, countless deep and wide gaps appeared on the ground above. Then, a humanoid monster with pale skin, red eyes, and silver goat horns on its head jumped out of the ground and landed heavily above the surface. The whole city fiercely shook again because of this horrible monster, which was tens of meters tall.
The monster’s whole body was covered with silver light, and the light was spreading like waves. Everything covered by the light turned cold.
"Stupid…" This manlike monster sneered and murmured in Infernal, the language of demons. "What was sealed was never the previous duke. No one should trust a demon."
Leading two level three grand knights, four level two knights, and four level one knights, Tod entered Melzer Black Forest. Following the smell of blood, they went all the way deep into the woods.
At the place where Lucien and Wyon went separate ways, Tod stopped, "They took different ways. The smell of the princess’ blood is in both directions."
"Wyon went this way." Worns, a level three knight, could detect the smell of Wyon’s blood.
"Wyon is a level four grand knight. Anatole and I will go after him." Tod was very resolute, "Worns, you take the other way. If you find the princess, send us a signal."
"Please wait," Rosan Aaron stopped Tod.
Although Tod disliked dark knights a lot, he never underestimated their special abilities. "What do you want to say?"
Pointing at the direction where Lucien went, Aaron answered seriously, "They can confuse us with the smell of blood, but they cannot lie to the shadow. The dark shadow told me Natasha went this way."
"Very well." Tod nodded, "Then, Anatole and Worns, you to go after Wyon, and Aaron and I will follow this path."
Hearing Natasha’s words, Lucien did not know what to say. He sighed in his heart. If Natasha knew that he was a sorcerer, she would no longer have that impression.
After a moment, Lucien comforted her, "Your Grace, besides me, you still have the grand duke, Lady Camil, Felicia… You still have many friends who will always support you and care for you."
As soon as he mentioned Camil, Lucien knew he said something stupid.
"Auntie…" Natasha sounded even more depressed now, "I was so stupid… All of these… all of it… is because of me."
"That was an oversight… Your Grace." Lucien tried to sound more objective, "But it’s not all your fault."
"It is," Natasha answered in a low voice. "I found out Silvia was a sorcerer apprentice a long time ago."
"What?!" Carrying Natasha, Lucien was still running as fast as he could. Hearing what the princess just said, Lucien almost ran into a tree.
"My love… no, my greed blinded me." Natasha released a long sigh, "Since it is said that the origin of Blessing has something to do with the ancient sorcerers, I was hoping that she could figure out a way which would enable two girls together to have babies that are born with the power of Blessing, then no one could disturb our love anymore using this as an excuse."
"Your Grace, you’re… you’re…" Lucien was trying to find a proper word, "ambitious."
"Ambitious…" Natasha was a bit confused at first and then she cheered herself up, "Anyway, since now we’re running for our lives, well… now you’re running for our lives, it is not really a good time to feel regretful and sad. It will take me about two to three hours to recover to a certain extent, and during this period of time, my life will be on your hands."
Then, she paused a bit and said to him, "Actually… You didn’t have to do this for me. Thank you, Lucien. I’ll always keep this in mind."
"I witnessed the whole thing." Lucien tried to make the princess feel less guilty, "Verdi would try to kill me either way. I’d rather help my friend."
"You just don’t want to show how nice you are, Lucien." Natasha slightly shook her head, "I’ll temporarily free Thunder from my control and let you leave your spiritual power on it. Thunder is a level five perfect rank sword. With the sword, you will have a chance against anyone who’s under the rank of grand knight."
Lucien left his spiritual power mark on Thunder following Natasha’s directions, and during the process, he got more information on that sword.
"Natasha’s Thunder. Level five perfect rank sword. Made from precious aerolite and the blood of a Storm Titan. Can cause damage close to the power of a radiant knight. The owner’s strength can be improved to the level of a common Storm Titan, which equals to the peak of a grand knight’s strength.
"Besides, Thunder comes with the enchantment of small lightnings, which can paralyze its target and make it lose the hearing for a while. There is a five percent chance that Thunder can summon real lightning from the sky, which equals to a fifth circle sorcerer casting the magic spell Thunder. There is about 0.1% chance that the summoned lightning will be super powerful. In stormy weather, the chances will be increased, but also the owner should be more careful as well.
"This is a coming-of-age gift for my little Natasha. This is the Scepter of Thunder.
"By: Yaroran Hathaway Hoffenberg."
Grabbing Thunder, Lucien felt the power of lightning nurturing his body. Although his hand felt a bit numb, he could tell that his strength was being greatly improved. A thick piece of tree root cracked as Lucien stepped on it purposefully.
"Try to get used to it, Lucien," Natasha said to him. "This is a weapon, not a magic item. Using any weapon or armor that is too powerful for the user can bring some side effects. And it takes longer for someone to get used to it. Comparatively speaking, magic items are much better at this point."
"Are you saying that a normal person can actually use some powerful magic items, Your Grace?" asked Lucien. He wondered if he could beat a senior-rank mage if he had a dozen of magic rings enchanted with ninth circle spells.
"Well…" Natasha nodded, but then shook her head, "It really depends. High level magic items are precious. And most of the magic items above level five usually have strict requirement for their owners, such as the level of spiritual power, strength, knowledge, willpower and so on. But before that level, if your enemy who’s more powerful than you is not prepared, yes, you might have some chance to win. In contrast, extraordinary weapons and armors usually don’t work in this way."
Lucien did not have much knowledge of extraordinary weapons and armors. After hearing Natasha’s words, Lucien started to have a rough idea with regard to this topic and sort of understood why Sun’s Corona would have five layers’ of seals.
Gently wielding the sword, Lucien felt that his speed was slightly improved as well.
"Ummm… You know what, " Natasha looked around and said to him easily, "you left a lot of clues for those bad people to trace us."
"Did I?!" Lucien was surprised, "I thought I had been very careful already. Well… after all, I’m just a musician, Your Grace."
"I bet you were, Lucien, but I don’t feel you’re just a musician…" Natasha laughed and quickly switched the topic, "When I received my knight training, I learned a lot about these matters, and I can teach you."
Under Natasha’s instruction, Lucien learned a couple of ways to hide his trails by using different plants, minerals and even small creatures.
"Smart. You learned very fast, Lucien." Natasha nodded, "By the way, I’m pretty sure there are Ghost Aloes around this area… maybe close to the water. If you can find some, the aloes can remove the blood smell on us."
As soon as the gigantic, manlike monster started to move, beams of holy light appeared in the city, one after another, and layers of divine power circles rose and connected to each other.
"Welcome to Aalto, the Great Master of Argent," the person who was speaking to the monster sounded rather old, "or should I call you, Mr. Tiphotidis, the Ice duke."
It was Sard, the Saint Cardinal, who was floating in the air. Wearing a plain, white robe, Sard was holding a magic staff embedded with shining gems and a big cross. His eyes were bright and sharp.
"Why are you here, Sard?!" The Great Master of Argent shouted with anger, "You should be at Elsinore Lake right now! You don’t care about the princess?!"