How do you feel Xenagrosh asked, her hands casually placed on her Dragontooth blade hung on her hip.
I\'m not hungry. It was the only thing Bytra could think about.
First, you need some clothes.
Second, I\'ll fetch you your hammer.
We have a lot of work to do.
Expedition site of Kulah, the following morning.
Everyone was back in top shape, but the morale was dangerously low.
The Assistants now looked at the military compound as if it was their personal gallows, while the Professors were doubting their own skills for the first time in years.
\'A simple graduate who is not even a Warden unlocked the arrays sealing the doors and if not for the army, we\'d be already dead.
Have I underestimated this mission, were the Odi too cunning, or have I just got too old for this job\'
Was what every one of them was thinking.
Lith was the more nervous of them all, but he was good at hiding it.
His instincts were telling him that something was off.
\'After the Teks attacked, I was expecting that whoever is pulling their strings would raise the ante, yet nothing happened.
Then we opened the door and that fungus came out.
Two more days have passed and once again, nothing.
\'Are we really facing just automated defenses or is our enemy adjusting their strategy the more we reveal our cards\' He thought.
Despite all the evidence pointing at him being wrong, Lith was unable to relax.
There was something akin to a tingling in a corner of his head that bugged him to no end.
On the bright side, the Professors were now wearing their best equipment.
\'By my maker, that\'s a blinding appearance.\' Solus said once she attempted to look at the group with her mana sense.
Every one of their items was imbued with multiple powerful enchantments.
The only problem for her was that there were so many that she had no idea which one to study first.
It\'s good to see that you have geared up.
We need all the help we can get. Phloria said.
We\'ll split into three groups.
Professor Yondra, Professor Ellkas, Ranger Verhen, and I will explore the first building on the left, right after the city door.
Professor Gaakhu, Professor Neshal, Ranger Eari, and two of my soldiers will explore the second building on the left.
This way, if anything happens, we can provide backup to each other with minimal notice thanks to dimensional magic.
Plus, if the necessity arises, we can retreat behind the protection of our arrays with the same ease.
The rest of my soldiers will protect the Assistants during our absence.
Your task will be to make sure the camp\'s barriers are at full strength and prevent anyone from attacking us from the back.
Yes! All the Assistants said but one.
This is unfair! I\'m not a fighter, but I can help.
Just like I did with the door. Quylla objected.
And you will, if we find something we can\'t decipher, we\'ll return to the camp and work on it together.
Until then, stay in the camp. Phloria\'s tone didn\'t leave space for arguing, so Quylla slouched her back and dragged her feet until she was among her peers.
She can Blink away and has my armor.
I don\'t see why Quylla can\'t come with us. Lith whispered in her ear.
If push comes to the shove, I can order the Professors to scram and they will obey.
Then you can go all out without worries.
Quylla, instead, would never leave your side, she loves you like a brother.
Why do you think I organized the groups the way I did To have as little prying eyes as possible.
Lith had to admit that her reasoning was excellent.
He gave Phloria thumbs up and after finalizing the details, the two groups entered Kulah again.
Lith took point, using Life Vision and mana sense to make sure that nothing had changed.
After a thorough analysis of the area, he moved to the nearest building.
All structures inside the military compound looked the same, resembling huge rectangular warehouses with a flat roof like those Lith had seen more than once on Earth\'s docks.
Each of them had a single entrance, comprised of a double door so big that a truck could easily fit with space to spare and a sealing array visible to the naked eye.
It was shaped like three concentric circles, each one inscribed with unknown runes and fueled by both purple crystals and the mana geyser underlying Kulah.
A thin cable made of mana crystals connected the arrays with the ground, fueling them.
Oh gods, I\'ve never seen something so complex on a single door! Professor Neshal, the only Master Warden of the group said.
It will take us days only to understand how to deactivate one of them.
Can everyone see that thin, blue line, camouflaged along the door frame Lith asked.
Yes, why Professor Yondra couldn\'t see the relevance such a visual detail could have.
At least until Lith used a small knife to cut it and two out of three arrays were suddenly powered off, leaving only the one fueled by the purple crystal active.
Or not. Professor Neshal was flabbergasted.
Is this how you freed the fungus creature I swear, if we make it back to the surface, the title of my report will be: Odi, the dumbest geniuses ever.
Well, there is still the last array to defuse. Lith said.
Neshal just shook her head, pulling the purple crystals out of the wall with her bare hands and giving them to Lith.
You would be right if the arrays you just deactivated weren\'t also the ones protecting the energy cores.
I\'m starting to believe that the real reason the Odi empire was wiped out in less than a generation is that once the weak points of their workings were revealed by the Odi rebels, their defenses amounted to nothing.
Seeing such a poor design, Lith\'s lip curled in disgust.
He wasn\'t a Master Warden, but even his creations required more than pulling a plug to be deactivated.
\'Those morons abused the Keep it simple rule.
They basically left on/off switches on all the arrays we met so far.\' He thought.
\'Maybe back then reading and magic were an exclusive of the elites.\' Solus suggested.
\'For ignorant folks and laymen, magic is a godlike power.
It seems dumb to us because we are all cultured people.\'
After giving her a mind nod, yet not stopping from considering the Odi a bunch of idiots, Lith asked:
Why did you hand me these crystals
Consider them a present.
They\'re nothing special, so the Kingdom will surely give them to us as a reward.
They will deduct them from my share instead of yours.
You just saved me days of work and weeks of frustration.
Just the thought of wasting a single brain cell to solve such a moronic device might have given me a stroke. Neshal replied.
Professor Gaakhu opened the second door under Lith\'s supervision, cutting the power cable before asking:
How did you understand how they work
I have an excellent mana perception.
These arrays have not enough crystals to support them and the cable emits a powerful aura.
I noticed that too, but only because I could take my time and focus on the door.
Doing it under that creature\'s siege must have required more than cold blood.
It takes talent and guts to bet everything on an intuition.
Would you be interested in becoming a Professor for the Crystal Griffon
I called dibs already. Yondra snorted.
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