Chapter 326 Conspiracy
North Zhentarim, Ibis City.
Ibis City was the only public city within the Zhentarim area that was within the Northern Lands' proximity. All merchant groups that wanted to make their way into the witch's territory had to set off from here. As such, this city had the highest population of witches among the towns in the center of the Continent.
The Northern Lands were located in the very north of the continent. A vast forest over fifteen thousand kilometers in size stood between them and the center of the Continent. Communication and trade between the Zhentarim and the Northern Lands were particularly tricky due to this.
The Zhentarim and the Silver Union maintained contact with each other through their floating battleships. On the other hand, the Zhentarim and the witches did so through the use of the numerous merchant groups that trudged through the forest.
A tremendous number of adepts and apprentice adepts gathered in Ibis City to protect the merchants from the dangers of the woods. On the one hand, they were able to accumulate wealth by providing their services to the merchants; on the other, they could take the opportunity to refine their combat skills.
Both merchants and adepts benefitted from this arrangement, causing the trade route through the Black Forest to be one of the most lively places in the area!
Within Ibis City.
A hidden room at a Witches of Deceit's outpost.
A giant cloud of black smoke emerged from a magic array on the ground. The smoke quickly coalesced and outlined a beautiful figure wrapped in a royal dress.
The gaze of the person within the smoke was so sharp and piercing that it was hard to stare them in the eyes.
"Nina, the new batch of goods are already on their way. They should arrive in forty-three days. You must send people to receive the items promptly. There are many precious resources amongst the goods this time. There are Dreaming Glories, Whispervines, Terrocones, as well as fifty kilograms of Khorium ingots. There's also a large shipment of frost potions. The total estimated value is over 2.8 million magic crystals! Make sure nothing happens to them!"
"Understood, clan leader."
"Also, what has become of the task I handed to you?"
The decisive Nina couldn't help but hesitate when the task was mentioned.
"What is it? Did something happen? Did they kill Fran?" The voice of the lady in the smoke suddenly sharpened.
"No, clan leader, Witch Fran is not dead! They destroyed her body, but her head and soul have been perfectly preserved. She is currently recovering in the outpost."
"Then what problem could there have been?"
"I have offered five hundred thousand magical crystals for Alice of the Moya Clan…" Witch Nina stuttered as she spoke.
“Five hundred thousand? Have you gone mad? The total annual income of the clan is no more than 3.7 million! Did you use five hundred thousand to buy a mere apprentice witch? You…"The lady in the smoke couldn't help but step forward. Her furious voice had risen three octaves higher.
"He rejected the offer!"
"……” The lady in the smoke fell silent. She finally spat coldly after a long period of thought, "What happened exactly? Who is the 'he' you spoke of earlier?"
Witch Nina raised an eyebrow in an expression of helpless frustration. She recounted the details of the occurrence seven days ago.
The lady in the black smoke listened solemnly and couldn't help but ask a question by the end of Nina's story, "He mentioned that the Moya brat has advanced. Is that true?"
"It has been verified. I have even personally infiltrated Feidnan City and obtained first-person confirmation from the apprentice adepts in the city. The Moya brat had to sacrifice all her abilities and talents and barely advanced to a witch. It is said that she obtained the ability to divine in exchange!" Witch Nina couldn't suppress her curiosity when she spoke of this. She asked, "Clan leader, how are things going on Snowlotus' side?"
The lady remained silent for a moment before she finally said, "Snowlotus' frost talent is shocking. She had already advanced to the peak of pseudo-adept awhile ago. Advancement will not be a problem if she prepares and accumulates her powers for another six months…"
The two witches became silent once again.
Sheltered flowers were never as resilient as wildflowers. Everyone knew this to be true!
The Moya brat had advanced six months earlier than Snowlotus, despite Snowlotus' talent and the massive amount of resources and knowledge available to her. She was bound to be a big problem in the future. The two witches knew this to be the case, but neither wanted to be the one to point it out.
"What reason did the Sarubo Clan use to refuse our offer? Do they, the outsiders, intend to interfere in the internal affairs of the Northern Witches?" The lady in the black smoke once again spoke after the pause.
"The one managing this issue doesn't seem to be the Sarubo Clan, but a male fire adept that has just advanced. According to my sources, the Moya brat has indeed signed a master-slave contract with this adept. And the reason that the male adept gave was…was…" Witch Nina couldn't help but hesitate once more.
"What was it?" The lady in the smoke glared at Nina with a dissatisfied look.
Nina still felt that silent pressure weighing upon her shoulders, even though they were thousands of kilometers apart and only communicated through this magic array.
"He claims to have fallen in love with Alice!" Witch Nina grit her teeth and spoke.
Another long pause of silence filled the room.
A boundless, unrestrained, and charming laughter rang out from within the smoke.
"Love? Haha. Love! Haha…………" The laughter was crisp and pleasing to the ears, but it soon turned into a chilling threat, "Nina, you have been getting increasingly foolish! You would believe such a ridiculous excuse!"
"But the reality leaves me with no choice but to accept it as it is. Clan leader, I have already investigated with great effort. The male adept has no relatives or connections. There is absolutely no one supporting him in the shadows. Even his advancement seems to have been an accident. His joining of the Sarubo Clan only happened after his advancement."
The lady in the smoke listened without speaking.
"His relationship with the Sarubo Clan isn't all that close. The Moya brat doesn't seem to have anything much to do with the Sarubo Clan either. It is because of this that I am sure. The one that wants to protect Alice isn't Sarubo's Sanazar, but that male adept."
"With what qualification does he have the confidence to protect Alice? You said he was an adept that just advanced?"
"Understood! His name is Greem. He is a fire adept, and reports show that it hasn't been more than two years since his advancement!"
"A young male adept that only advanced two years ago rejected your offer of five hundred thousand magical crystals?"
"Is he mad or foolish? Does he truly believe he can train Alice to a level where she can beat Snowlotus? Snowlotus might be six months behind her at the moment, but…"
The lady in the smoke couldn't help but frown in frustration at this moment.
The Moya brat's act of sacrificing all her abilities in exchange for the talent to divine might not have seemed wise, but it caused an uncomfortable thought to sprout in the lady's mind. Wasn't the core power of the Witch of Fate their ability to divine?!
Giving up on all her offensive and defensive abilities would make her the weakest and most vulnerable candidate in the Battle of Fate. Was she so confident in surviving the brutal contest of life and death with only her art of divination?
If she died during the first round of selections, what was the point to strengthening her talent for fate to the fullest extent?
If…if she could survive this Battle of Fate, she might become one of the most influential Witches of Fate in the past thousands of years. But what was she going to rely on in order to survive?
The candidates would all be sent into the Tower of Fate during the Battle. No outsider or external force could help them. They needed to kill each other under such circumstances, all while avoiding the remaining traps, golems, and beasts hidden in the Tower.
How was a brat without any combat power to survive in such an environment? Any random golem beast would be able to tear her to pieces! Moreover, she had no offensive spells whatsoever. How was she supposed to obtain victory and beat her opponents this way?
Was she supposed to endure the enemy's ferocious attacks, close the distance, and then stab the opponent to death with a dagger?
Of course, if the Sarubo Clan were willing to equip her with magic scrolls, potions, and wands, she would undoubtedly still possess some ability to fight! That said, such measures might be effective against apprentice adepts, but what use could they be when she faced against adept-level competitors?
Would the Sarubo Clan actually be willing to invest in her when her chances of surviving were so low?
The more the lady in the smoke thought about it, the less she understood the rationale behind their decision to protect Alice. She couldn't see through the actual reason for Greem's actions.
Could it really be because of love?
"Clan leader, what do you intend to have Snowlotus do?" Nina asked, "Should she emulate Alice, or… "
"It is completely impossible to have her give up all her abilities with her personality and her achievements so far. Moreover, the Battle of Fate has always been a bloody and cruel affair. Snowlotus would be hard-pressed to survive until the end if she gave up her powers."
"Is it not possible, even if we got rid of all opponents that could threaten her?"
"We cannot accomplish such a feat!" The lady smiled bitterly, "Fate was always so hard to understand and manipulate. The best we can do is extinguish the most powerful and threatening of the competitors. It is far too difficult to kill every single one of them! Moreover, the other branches of witches have already started to express their dissatisfaction at my actions. They are already putting pressure on me. If we weren't able to do it in the past few months, there is no way we will be able to accomplish it moving forward!"
"……" Witch Nina fell silent.
They had already publicly interfered in the revival of the Witches of Fate. In all seriousness, this was already going against the commandments left behind by the Witch Queen. If they had been more discreet in their methods, and left no evidence for the other branches to latch onto, then the other witch leaders wouldn't have been able to do anything.
However, once those conservative old hags understood what was happening, things became a lot harder. They actively sheltered the remaining candidates that were under their protection. There wasn't much else that the Witches of Deceit could do.
"Then what should I do?" Witch Nina asked.
"Give up on Alice first. I need you to go to the Moya's area in the west of Zhentarim. There seems to be another candidate advancing at that place. Exterminate her first. I have already sent you the relevant information. Hurry and get it done!"
"Understood!" Nina was shocked to hear this news. She bowed respectfully and acknowledged the orders.
It seemed even fate itself had started to sense the urgency of the situation. So many troublesome individuals had begun to sprout out of nowhere.
Stand in our way? Then we will crush and kill until you submit!
A murderous aura hung on Nina's face.