Returning to Kaduria didn\'t take long.
During his travels, Lith had made sure to memorize landmarks at fixed intervals.
They allowed him to use Warp Steps to cross dozens of miles in the blink of an eye.
It required a huge expenditure of mana, but nothing that a single use of Invigoration couldn\'t fix.
While using his breathing technique, Lith noticed how despite the ruins of the lost city were exactly as he left them, they felt different.
Brigadier General Vorgh had deactivated the barrier, letting the world energy flow through the land again.
There was still no grass, not even insects or small animals had come to reclaim Kaduria.
Yet by looking at the debris, Lith felt a sense of peace spreading through his being.
Like he had healed an ugly scar that had disfigured that place for too long.
He took out his army communicator and called his handler.
Ranger Verhen reporting to base.
I\'m back to Kaduria already.
I\'ll rest a bit and then I\'ll resume my travel toward the south.
I\'m heading to the city of Othre.
Copy that. No hologram appeared and Kamila\'s voice was detached and professional.
Some of her colleagues thought that things had already gone sour between them.
Keep the channel open while I mark your position. She said while the amulet emitted a few pings.
Your next report is due to noon unless something relevant happens.
Over and out.
Lith took off immediately, reaching an altitude that allowed him to scout for miles in every direction.
His first days of travels were quiet and boring.
Every time he noticed living beings thanks to Life Vision, he had to check them for tribes of Fallen monsters.
The province was still barren because of the long term effects of the Black Star, but the further he got from Kaduria, the more natural resources were available.
Enough for a small group of any Fallen race to increase their numbers and become a threat.
Most of his sightings were just animals, wandering humans, or magical beasts.
The wanderers were often just lunatics.
People who had lost everything and had no place to return to.
They would yell at Lith\'s arrival demanding to be left alone before he could even offer them assistance.
Sometimes he met caravans of merchants that had lost their way after being attacked by bandits or monsters.
In such case Lith would point them the way and hunt them down their attackers.
Without mages protecting them, humans and monsters were just lambs led to a slaughterhouse.
Lith would kill the monsters with a snap of his fingers.
As for the humans, he would stalk them for a while to make sure they weren\'t part of a larger group or to find their hideout.
Organized crime was a weed that the Kingdom had no tolerance for.
Between the sightings and his investigations, Lith\'s traveling speed slowed down significantly.
Mana geysers were scarce, forcing him to sleep on trees or not sleep at all.
\'Dammit! Now I understand why a Ranger is forced to change their duty after every tour.
This job is as boring as dangerous.\' Lith thought during his fourth day of travel, while he was eating his lunch in a patch of woods.
He had underestimated his job and was now paying the consequences for it.
Without mana geysers, Solus was just a voice in his head.
He had lots of good food with him, but it brought him no solace.
He had to constantly stay alert.
Both his training and paranoia made him eat everything so fast he could barely taste his meals.
Until that moment, he had always had a roof above his head, a table where to sit down, and people around him.
People he might\'ve despised or not cared about, but joining or avoiding them had always been his own choice.
Now there was only silence and isolation.
He was tempted to ignore his duty and rush to the nearest city.
He started to hope meeting monsters just to break the monotony of his existence.
\'Even without a mana geyser, I can still give you a place where to rest.\' Solus offered at the end of the fifth day as the sun was setting.
\'Thanks, but the thought that every second I sleep you are literally bleeding your core for me would give me the nightmares.\' He replied.
Lith treasured every moment he spent speaking with his family and with Kamila on his civilian amulet.
They were his only link to a semblance of a normal life.
Whenever one of their contact runes lighted up, he would soar up in the sky, making it impossible to take him by surprise.
Any flying creature dumb or unlucky enough to disturb their conversations would be dealt with extreme prejudice.
Be them flying monsters or migratory birds, they would all be turned into mincemeat before they could even get close to him.
Seven days after he left Belius, he was finally able to reach the city of Othre.
\'Damn, I would have never thought that chasing small fries would take this long.
The presence of Kaduria kept everything at large, otherwise I would have never reached it that fast.
Seven days and not a single mana geyser, just my luck.\'
He thought while approaching the city\'s high walls.
\'Come on, it was just one long, hellish week with no bathroom and no sleep.\' Solus chuckled.
\'The good news is we are once again early on schedule.
You may get another leave and visit the city with your new girlfriend.
What could possibly go wrong\'
Free country of Lamarth.
Beyond the eastern borders of the Gorgon Empire.
Four years had passed since the destruction of the Master\'s lab located under the Blood Desert.
Losing so much equipment and specimens had been a major setback, but at the same time a blessing in disguise.
Unbeknownst to the Guardians, even to Leegaain, one of the arrays had spied the events occurred during the attack, allowing the Master to collect a massive amount of information about how the Guardian could call upon the world energy and to witness the fight between Salaark and their most powerful Eldritch Abomination.
The data collected had finally revealed to the Master a glimpse of the Guardian\'s true nature.
It was the reason why he had sent Gremus, the Rock Worm, to study and collect the orc\'s purple crystal.
With it the Master would become able to conjure an manipulate the world energy just like the Guardian did, gaining access to an unlimited source of power for both their experiments and minions.
Unluckily, after that stroke of luck, everything had gone south.
All the information about Arthan\'s Madness had become unavailable, even for those with the highest clearance.
With the death of Gadorf the wyvern, they had lost one of their main source of income.
Thanks to Balkor, the Guardians had researched a way to more easily find Eldritch Abominations and were using them to track the Master\'s activities, forcing them to move with even more caution and use their most powerful servants only when strictly necessary.
These events combined had stuck their research in a dead end.
To add insult to the injury, the crystal was lost and Jarok, one of his most capable allies, had disappeared.
The crystal is the real problem.
Maybe Verhen has it, but maybe not.
I can\'t kick the Royal\'s hornet nest just because of a suspicion.
Not now that he has become a Great Mage.
Let\'s hope Jarok hasn\'t made things even messier.
Stealth and interrogation are its specialties, after all. The Master said with a chuckle.
Master, I bring grave news. Xenagrosh, the Eldritch specialized in tracking Warped in front of them.
Is the crystal broken It\'s not a big deal.
I have already located a lesser specimen that could still work just fine for our purposes. The Master shrugged.
There is no trace of the crystal.
What I found is the evidence that Jarok has been killed.
That idiot! The Master roared.
I told it to watch out for the corps and the damned Evolved Monsters.
It was killed by a single enemy and an Eldritch at that. Xenagrosh\'s four red eyes were reduced to fiery slits while it made its report.
I\'m afraid we have a competitor.