Lith had no trouble finding the meeting place.
With the incoming winter, the outskirts of Othre were deserted.
Both humans and animals were completing the last preparations before the first snowfall.
Even though there was still time before the end of the fall season, the temperature would plummet after sunset.
Away from the stone buildings, the dry winds coming down the nearby mountain range whipped at Lith\'s skin.
His breath steamed in the cold of the night while the air currents were so strong that he needed to conjure a wind barrier to protect his eyes and not get pushed off course.
Usually, Lith would employ Fire Vision to scout his surroundings, but given the nature of his hosts, it wouldn\'t be of any use.
Dead bodies released no heat, only Life Vision could spot them.
The hill was the highest point within a few kilometers from Othre.
It was a rugged and barren landscape, yet he could see too many lingering magical energies for it to be just a coincidence.
Despite it was almost the convened time, Lith was alone.
I understand why you like this place.
With a clear sky, there is no place to hide.
You can spot anyone approaching from miles away. Lith said to a shadow near the summit.
How did you know I was here The shadows opened, revealing a young man in his early twenties.
He was a normal human being, of average height and build.
The wind ruffled his brown hair while his deep green eyes showed only surprise.
Magic. Lith replied.
The black cape the youth wore would fuse him with the darkness as long as he remained still, but the cloth\'s magical aura was perfectly visible to Life Vision.
Show me your invitation. The man ignored Lith\'s provocation and spoke with a kind, baritonal voice.
Lith raised his left palm and sent some mana into it.
The runes Kalla had bestowed upon him a few weeks before produced a white light.
The youth took Lith\'s hand to watch them closely.
His body shivered at the contact.
The cape protected him from the cold even better than Lith\'s Ranger uniform did, but it could do nothing against killing intent.
Lith hated being touched and without Solus to soothe his violent nature, he was ready to kill the stranger at the slightest provocation.
He had weaved several spells on his way to the hill, and all of them were now prickling his skin, only kept at bay by Lith\'s will.
It was their threat that he was perceiving.
Lith was placid like the surface of a lake instead.
His eyes were ablaze with mana as he examined the stranger with Life Vision from head to toe.
Aside from the cape, he had only an enchanted item inside his breast pocket.
Its aura was too weak for a weapon.
After a few seconds, the youth nodded and let go of Lith\'s hand.
He took a small mana stone out of his pocket, placing it inside a hole in the ground.
Dozens of runes lit up the hill\'s summit while two concentric magic circles formed in front of Lith\'s astonished eyes.
\'I recognize the magic circles, this is a Warping array.
Yet it even escaped Life Vision\'s detection.
Dammit, I wish Solus was here.
She would have no problem understanding what\'s going on here.\'
Knowing that she would be able to access all of his memories later, Lith tried to memorize everything he could while keeping an eye on his host.
\'Wait a minute.\' He thought once the array was perfectly formed.
The runes had left the ground and were now floating in mid air.
\'I recognize some of those runes.
They are the same that were engraved on the god of healing\'s altar.\'
Lith tried to remember if the altar had any socket, but all that came to his mind was dust and cobwebs.
He was too used relying on Solus\'s assistance to take note of small details.
Don\'t bother memorizing this place. The youth said, misunderstanding the reason Lith was staring at the magical formation.
It\'s likely that the array will be destroyed as soon as we leave.
Humans cannot be trusted. Disgust coated his last phrase.
At any other moment, Lith would have made a snarky remark about both of them being human.
Without Solus, he could only think about how annoying it was all that chatter and suppress the desire to break his neck.
He followed the youth inside the magical formation, appearing inside a richly decorated room.
It had no windows, making it impossible for Lith to understand their new location.
The furniture was made of inlaid secular wood while the ornaments, from the flower pots to the book ends, were made of solid precious metals.
The air was filled with the sweet scent of flowers he had never seen before, yet Lith was certain to be underground.
Ever since he had refined the blue core, his body would naturally breathe in the surrounding world energy.
The imbalance between air and earth mana told him that the room was surrounded by tons of rocks.
He kept using Life Vision, noticing that several unknown arrays covered the room.
He used first magic to check if any element was blocked.
Much to his surprise, everything worked just fine, even gravity and dimensional magic.
There\'s no need to be so nervous, Awakened Verhen. Lith turned abruptly toward the source of the feminine voice.
It sounded as sweet as honey and blissful as only first love can be.
It belonged to a red-headed woman in her late twenties.
She was about 1.7 meters (5\'7) tall, wearing a bright red silk satin evening dress emphasizing her pale skin and soft curves.
Her emerald parure matched her green eyes, making them even more dazzling.
I\'m Sylla Ekna, Duchess of the Dawn Court.
I offer you our hospitality on behalf of our Queen for as long as you wish to stay among us.
Treat us with the same respect we\'ll give you and there will be no enmity between us.
Lith ignored her words and stared at her with Life Vision.
She was weaker than Kaelarn, so he was sure he would be able to kill her if necessary.
Neither her superficial kindness nor the miles of cleavage she was showing impressed him.
In life, she would have been considered far less beautiful than Friya, but undeath gave her smooth, delicate features and kept her body lithe.
Every one of her movements was graceful and sensual, yet Lith knew he was in the presence of a predator.
I\'m Great Mage Lith Verhen of her Majesty service.
I speak and act on behalf of the Royal Court of the Griffon Kingdom.
I thank you for your hospitality and I hope that albeit we meet as strangers, we\'ll part ways as friends. He replied quoting the ceremonial Kalla had taught him.
Sylla\'s left eye twitched in annoyance.
Not only did the human\'s indifferent gaze offended her to no end, but he had also avoided all the missteps that would have allowed the Dawn Court to kick him out or at least demand some of his blood as compensation.
Awakened ones were a rare delicacy.
Please, tell me what can we do for you. She sat on one of the chairs, inviting him to do the same while the brown-haired man served them drinks.
Lith explained to her Othre\'s situation.
He noticed how with each detail he provided, her annoyance was replaced by a gloating expression.
You are lucky, I think we can help you.
For the right price, of course.