The inner area of the temple was 30 meters long and 20 meters wide.
Every step the group made echoed inside the empty hall.
Dust and dirt covered the statue and the altar.
Even the stone benches where once believers would sit on to pray looked like nobody had touched them for months.
Everything of artistic value had been stripped from the walls over time.
Where once were bas-reliefs and mosaics, now there were holes with jagged edges.
This is odd. Jirni said after checking the side rooms.
Despite the lack of maintenance, the temple is still in good shape.
I would expect it to be a playground for the kids during the day and a shelter for the homeless during the night.
The mages checked for secret passages with earth magic, but to no avail.
Even using Life Vision and the array detecting spell revealed nothing.
When did you find the time to learn Warden magic Jirni was surprised seeing Lith scanning the place with spells belonging to different specializations.
I\'m not a Warden.
I just learned how to detect arrays and how to cast the most useful ones for combat situations. Lith had been too busy with his research to have the time to become even an amateur Warden.
He knew how to cast the array detecting spell because otherwise he wouldn\'t be able to share what he discovered with Life Vision, which allowed him to see all kinds of hidden magic.
The only arrays he knew were the so called impossible arrays, formations that only an Awakened could cast and which belonged to the legacies left by previous Magi.
After a full sweep of the temple which resulted in a bust, they split into groups of two.
Jirni would go with Manohar, Kamila with Tista, and Lith with Dorian.
They needed to cover as much ground as possible in the little time they had left.
The trick is to blend in. Jirni explained while her uniform and Manohar\'s shapeshifted into a simple cotton dress and a white shirt over brown pants respectively.
Mix up with the crowd and ask normal questions.
People love to gossip when given the chance. She messed up her hair to make them disheveled and applied a fine powder that made them look shaggy.
Then she put make up to her face, neck, and hands until she lost any resemblance of nobility.
She even dirtied her nails on purpose before doing the same to Manohar.
When she finished, they looked like two daily laborers.
As long as he shuts up, I\'ll make my way while pretending we are a married couple just arrived in town who is looking for a cheap home.
It\'ll give us a reason to ask about the neighborhood.
Don\'t flatter yourself, woman. Manohar scoffed.
Even while looking like this, no one will ever believe that a handsome man like me would marry an old bat like you.
I\'m not Lith, I don\'t like old-timers. He said while pointing at Kamila.
I\'m younger than you, jerk! She replied in anger.
Tista, Lith, no one in their right mind would ever believe you come from a poor upbringing, no matter how much make up I apply to you.
You have to improvise. Jirni explained as she executed a knee strike on Manohar\'s gonads, making him double over in pain.
Dorian, Kamila, usually people hate uniforms, but maybe they are desperate enough to ask for help.
Pretend to patrol the streets and wait for people to talk to you.
Any questions Aside from Manohar\'s groans, the temple was silent.
Let\'s meet here an hour after sundown.
Tista and Kamila walked for about half an hour before giving upon Jirni\'s plan.
Instead of seeking their help, people approached them to make sure they weren\'t lost and warned them it was a dangerous place for two young women.
To Kamila, Tista asked: Do you know first aid
Even non operatives have to regularly attend classes, in case of emergency.
Then we are set. Tista replied with a smile.
They walked to the nearest clinic and introduced themselves as a Healer and her assistant.
The local practitioner was dubious because of Kamila\'s uniform, but he changed his mind as soon as he heard the work for free magic words.
He provided Kamila a nurse scrubs and put them to work immediately.
They followed Jirni\'s advice, not asking any question that wasn\'t medically relevant.
Kamila monitored the waiting room, eavesdropping the patients\' conversations, while Tista listened patiently to their worries whenever someone was willing to open up.
Between Lith\'s build and Dorian\'s silver uniform, they had no problems following Jirni\'s script.
At first, only a few were brave enough to approach them, but once word got out that they would deal with the requests immediately, a long line formed quickly.
At first, was just small stuff.
Pest infestations, minor injuries, quarrels between neighbors.
Then, people started reporting them all their fear and problems.
Please, my son disappeared two days ago.
We reported it to the guards, but they barely listened! Said a couple whose teenage son was gone.
It\'s the third time my store gets robbed this month.
Where are the guards when you need them Asked an angry shopkeeper.
This neighborhood is a nightmare.
Between muggers, drug dealers, and all those creeps walking at night, we need to barricade ourselves in after sundown.
Lith was amazed by Dorian\'s patience while dealing with all those people.
He would let them vent as long as they needed before making a question.
Lith used that time for scanning his surroundings and looking for vortexes.
\'Even if a made mage gets blue eyed only when they are mind controlled, I should be able to perceive the carriers of a meat puppet.
They can\'t turn off that pseudo Invigoration ability.\'
As the minutes turned into hours, Lith discovered how unsavory the bread of knowledge was.
During their rounds, he noticed several individuals emanating a vortex from their mana core.
They were all very small compared to those of a rampaging made mage, but their sheer numbers were impressive.
\'Damn! I hate being always right.
How do I explain to the others what I know without mentioning Life Vision or ditching Dorian long enough to create a believable cover story\'
\'You can\'t.\' Solus shrugged.
\'We need Manohar to extract the meat puppet and if he asks you how did you diagnose it from a distance, he\'s not going to believe a farfetched explanation.
He knows light magic far better than you.\'
Lith and Solus racked their brains for a solution, but when they found it, it was already too late.
As soon as the sun started to disappear behind the city walls, the streets emptied, leaving him no choice but to go back empty handed at the old temple.
\'This is actually a blessing in disguise.\' Solus sounded relieved, she had found a flaw in his plan.
\'Even if your idea may work, you were bound to fail.
Knowing Jirni, she has turned off their communication amulets to not blow their cover.
\'Without Manohar\'s help, you might have alerted the enemy and destroyed any chance we have of taking them by surprise.
We have once shot at this, we have to make it count.\'