After Arjîn left, Tyris could not but sigh, thinking about the irony of the core refining process.
While those who started with a very weak mana core, be it red or yellow, had it easy, the stronger the core, the higher the risks.
Her beloved Valeron was the perfect example.
Born with a yellow core, once learned true magic, he had the opportunity to strengthen both his core and body at the same time, removing the impurities bit by bit.
Once his core had started to be too strong, pain had been the first sign of alarm, allowing Tyris to stop him from refining the world energy until the body had fully adapted.
But for stronger beings, like magical beasts or talented mages that had already reached their full development, true magic was more often than not a death penalty.
If they purified the impurities too fast, the energy inside their bodies would flood every single cell without control.
The lucky ones would die on the spot, while the less fortunate would explode among excruciating pains.
And then there were the Abominations.
Beings with a core so strong, with a will so indomitable that even death could not defeat them.
They would plague the land, consuming all forms of life trying to prolong their existence.
Unlike mages and magical beasts, Abominations were like snowflakes, no two were alike.
Their souls and minds would shape their new form, until the moment they were put down like rabid animals.
The only way to avoid such destiny was through hard work and patience, but the rewards were beyond imagination.
Becoming a conduit for the world energy meant becoming an Awakened one, a being with an endless mana supply, whose only magical limit was his own willpower and imagination.
By removing the impurities, the body of an Awakened one would progressively become faster, stronger and more resilient.
His healing so fast to almost resemble regeneration, his six senses keen like those of the animals.
Last but not least, all Awakened ones would have their life spans enhanced.
They would no longer consume their own life force, replacing it with the world energy itself.
That was how monsters like Scorpicores, Griffons, Dragons and Phoenixes could have an almost eternal life.
But that didn\'t mean immortality.
Despite each of them was really hard to kill, it was far from impossible.
That was why most of the oldest Awakened ones ended up isolating themselves.
The stronger you were, the more conceited you became, until the point you felt entitled to force your idea of right and wrong on others, making the whole world your enemy.
Thinking about the time she had spent with Arjîn, and how fleeting was still his existence, Tyris could not but ponder if her old friend and rival Leegaain had actually been right all along.
Teaching humans is not impossible, just pointless. He had told her the last time they had met, centuries earlier, back when he had given up on humankind due to their innate foolishness.
Thinking of him, after all those years, still managed to make her laugh.
Leegaain was the only dragon she had ever met that flaunted his origins as a common lizard.
If not for her pride, maybe Tyris could one day confess to him that she too had started as a simple finch.
While running along the stairs, Arjîn Rênas was amazed by how both his stamina and speed had improved.
Being one of the Kingdom\'s elite Mage Assassins, he knew his body like the back of his own hand.
As a beginner Awakened one, Tyris had allowed him only to partly purify his blood from impurities, yet the changes were remarkable.
His happiness was short lived, though.
Arjîn could not stop worrying about the report he had just received.
Not for its content, but for its length.
A single page.
That could only mean that all the Crown\'s resources were stretched so thin that they could barely function properly.
And considering that it included both the Queen\'s corps and Corpse, the idea was beyond unsettling.
I have entered seclusion just a few months ago, how could the situation change so much in so little time
As soon as he reached one of the mirrors, he prickled his left index finger with a small knife, using his blood to draw a magic rune on it while injecting his mana.
The mirror\'s surface quivered, while the secret Warp Gate network was activated, allowing him to instantly reach his destination, the city of Kandria.
While on paper it was just a medium sized city, thriving thanks to its position along one of the main trading routes, reality was a bit different.
Under all the sweat and noise produced by its industrious and honest citizens, Kandria was home of one of the biggest black markets in the Marquisate.
For the right price, there were very few things you couldn\'t acquire, even slave collars, and that said a lot.
Slavery was forbidden in all the free Countries, and it was a crime punished with death, preceded by torture and the expropriation of all the family\'s assets.
It was because of the ever flourishing criminal underworld that a famous Alchemist like Coirn Hatorne had chosen Kandria to build her state of the art laboratory.
It gave her access to all kinds of clients and ingredients, allowing her to take the best from both worlds and became filthy rich very quickly.
When Arjîn emerged in the local branch of the Mage Association, the clerk barely glanced at him.
The secret network also had access to all the official waypoints across the Kingdom, allowing the agents to avoid being questioned or searched.
Customs and controls would take place before departing, so those who arrived were considered to be properly cleared travellers.
Before leaving the building, Arjîn took a quick stop at the restroom, to prepare his cover.
A fancy silk dress was inconspicuous in the royal castle, but it would make him stick out like a sore thumb in any other place.
He wore brown cotton leggings, a white shirt and a vest.
His new shoes had a soft sole, allowing him to move without making noise.
The final touch was applying make up with water magic, simulating a long scar going from under his left eye to his chin.
Even if someone would stop looking at him, the scar would be the only thing they would see.
Their gazes would be drawn by it, ignoring his eyes and his nose.
Whenever they would try to recall his appearance, the only thing they would remember was a man with a three days old scruff and a scar on the cheek.
According to his seniors, it was the best mask one could ever wear.
Once outside the building, Arjîn remembered why he hated Kandria.
When the city had been founded, no one had expected that one day it would be so busy, hence the roads weren\'t very large.
Between the merchants\' stalls, the carriages stopping to load and unload their goods and all the pedestrians going to and fro their homes, walking had become a form of art for the residents and a labour for everyone else.
The bustling activity forced people to bump into each other, making those cramped streets a paradise for thieves.
When Arjîn finally reached his destination, he had been robbed four times of the leather pouch he carried at his neck, holding a few copper and silver coins to hide the fact that he had a dimensional ring.
Each time, he had been forced to replace it with whatever he could find in the pockets of those who were robbing him, whom he robbed back with a sleight of hand.
In the process Arjîn actually earned three silver coins, which he donated to a nameless homeless on the road.
He circled around Hatorne\'s shop, pretending to check the nearby stalls while looking for a way in.
Being in the high-end part of the city, the traffic was limited, and that allowed him to spice things up with magic.
At every step he took, Arjîn would release earth magic waves that would seep into the shop\'s walls before coming back, like a sonar, allowing him to check for secret passages.
A smart\'s rabbit hole had two exits, but a clever one would have many.
Yet despite all his efforts, he found nothing.
- Either I have overestimated that traitorous witch and there is no secret passage, or I have underestimated her, and she has magically shielded her lab. –
On the back of his orders, there was a recently drawn map of the Alchemic lab, but the only entrances noted were the front door, were aside from window shopping he could do very little outside drawing unwanted attention, and the service entrance for the suppliers.
According to the map, both were guarded by skilled mercenaries.
Killing them wasn\'t a problem, but getting in without causing a ruckus was.
The mission required discretion, otherwise instead of the Corpse they would have sent a simple constable with a proper warrant.
Arjîn didn\'t like complex plans.
In his experience, the bigger the setup, the higher was the number of things that could go wrong.
He had only one shot at the mission, so after scouting the surroundings, he bought a few trinkets before disappearing in a back alley.
He chose to wait on the top of the tallest building in the zone, a three stories house, to keep and eye on the Alchemic lab without being noticed.