Chapter 444 Surging Undercurrents
Feidnan City, Adept's Tower.
Meryl stormed out of Adept Fügen's laboratory with anger painted all over her face.
Lessons started today. Groups of apprentices rushed to the arcane hall with books in their arms. They hastily moved aside and bowed when they saw Adept Meryl walking down the corridor.
If this were any other time, Meryl would have returned their greetings with a warm smile. However, her mood today was horrible. She had no extra goodwill with which to maintain the smile on her face as she stomped and returned to her room.
Meryl's unusual behavior caught the attention of the apprentices. They started chatting and gossiping about her once she had walked away.
Most of the apprentice adepts knew nothing about the situation, but there were some smart and sly individuals among them. They might not have seen anything happen with their own eyes, or even heard of any related news, but they are still able to piece together the whole matter based on clues and hints hidden all over the place.
You couldn't help but be impressed by how confidently and vividly they described an incident that they had only pieced together based on rumors. Sometimes, size and strength didn't matter when it came to schemers; plotting and conspiring against others was a craft of its own!
Adept Keoghan, who was lecturing today, arrived at the end of the corridor as the apprentices chattered and talked.
"It's almost time for the lecture. What are you lot still gathering here for? Go to your classes."
The apprentices scattered when Keoghan reprimanded them with a mean look. They bowed and left.
Once all the apprentices had left, Keoghan let out a sigh before slowly walking to the arcane hall.
As a core adept of the clan, he might not be the strongest adept, but he was undoubtedly one of the most loyal. He knew very well the tensions between Greem and the elders, but there was nothing he could do.
Keoghan was one of the adepts who had the most contact with Greem. He was incredibly impressed by Greem's intelligence, strategies, and combat prowess. The other two adepts that had advanced along with him were talented individuals as well; Bloody Sorceress Mary and Evil Bugs Acteon. If those two hadn't chosen to stay in the other plane, they would probably enjoy as widespread a reputation as Greem.
If the clan could keep a tight rein on all three of these newly advanced adepts, the clan's future expansion and strengthening would be a certainty. Furthermore, if Lady Sanazar could advance to Fourth Grade within the next hundred years during this, the Sarubo Clan would even have a chance to take the next step. They could rise to become one of the rare, large-sized clans on the Continent.
When that happened, the clan would possess a permanent seat in the Zhentarim Association. They would no longer be pawns and subordinates of a more prominent organization.
Unfortunately, powerful adepts often held lofty ambitions!
All signs pointed towards the fact that Adept Greem was unwilling to remain bound to the Sarubo Clan. Even though he had signed a hundred-year contract with Lord Sarubo, his actions were clearly those of a man trying to lay a path for himself.
This insubordination would undoubtedly attract the dissatisfaction and oppression of the clan's higher-ups.
Keoghan received countless reports about everything happening in Gilneas City on a daily basis. He had a clear picture of the situation there. It was a nightmarish swamp that could devour anyone, regardless of how much of a genius they were. Moreover, it was a swamp that had been created by the elders, intentionally or otherwise.
It didn't matter whether Greem took the bait and fell into the web of conspiracy. What awaited him would still be the reprimands and punishments that the elders had already prepared.
If the Aki Clan caught him, the Sarubo Clan would take full advantage of the situation and have him ransomed publicly. In doing so, the image of power and might that Greem had so painstakingly created would fall apart.
This embarrassment would be more than enough to extinguish his thoughts and ambitions about starting a force and faction of his own.
If he didn't fall into the trap and became caught, then Gilneas City would fall into complete chaos and disarray. When that happened, Greem would face the punishment of the clan. A single accusation of cowardice in battle would be enough grounds to pass harsh judgment upon him. So severe, in fact, that Greem would still be reeling from the consequences for decades to come.
No one was willing to throw away a powerful subordinate like Greem. However, they couldn't let him do as he liked. That was why necessary suppression was required at times. Still, the degree of oppression and bullying had to be kept to an appropriate level. Otherwise, it was likely to exaggerate further any resentment that was present in the first place.
Keoghan didn't have to be present to figure out what Meryl had gone to Adept Fügen for. He could also tell what Fügen's reply was judging from Meryl's response. Still, he didn't agree with Adept Fügen's rough and crass way of handling this situation.
Since Meryl couldn't bear seeing her teacher in that situation, and had actively requested to join him in Gilneas City, there was no reason not to allow her to go. It would at least decrease any resentment that Greem might have about the clan not sending any reinforcements!
As a newly advanced adept, Meryl had little to no combat experience. She might even turn into a burden for Greem if she went there, rather than being any help. Why should they deny Meryl when it wouldn't turn the situation around?
Sadly, Adept Fügen was far too conservative and stubborn. He only knew how to execute Lady Sanazar's orders to the letter. He didn't know how to be more flexible in handling matters. In doing so, wouldn't they be reaffirming the rumors that the clan was intentionally suppressing Greem and his faction?
If that was the case, was it possible for Greem to stifle his ambitions, even if they did manage to teach him a lesson?
No. Resentment would likely be his most dominant reaction!
Adept Keoghan shook his head and walked away as he silently contemplated.
If Feidnan City were said to have surging undercurrents, then Gilneas City would be submerged deep in boiling waters!
The apprentices stationed at the Second Class resource site and the Iron Ring Mine had all retreated to the stone tower. However, this didn't include Greem's four disciples. Even the apprentice captains had suffered losses. Only Yuri had managed to return. Morse, who had been guarding the resource site, had gone missing along with the fall of the resource site.
A small box returned to the tower with the apprentices. Within the box was a person's bloody severed hand. The apprentices confirmed that this likely belonged to one of Greem's apprentice disciples.
These apprentice disciples didn't have close emotional ties with Greem. He wouldn't shed a tear if all them were killed. Still, this blatant act of disrespect and disdain angered him deeply.
Greem still didn't mention anything regarding 'vengeance' or 'payback,' despite all that had happened. He met the apprentices and assuaged their worries before returning to the second level of the stone tower.
The apprentices stared at Greem's departing form and started complaining as they laid in the hall, injured and wounded. Some with more fiery tempers even began mumbling beneath their breath, "Flame Demon, Flame Demon... heh...."
Sabrina remained calm while she treated their wounds as if she hadn't realized what they were saying. However, the young Billis could not tolerate this any longer. He started refuting them furiously, "Sir Greem has his own difficulties. This is all a conspiracy and scheme of the enemy's. What good is there for all of you to complain like this?"
"Conspiracy? What conspiracy? From start to finish, only a single water adept crushed every single one of us. We never saw any other adepts," Pseudo-Adept Yuri was the one to reply. He was also to only one who had the rights and qualifications to talk down to Billis, "The enemy only sent one adept. If Sir Greem were willing to take a stand, we would never have lost the resource site and the mine."
"You, you, you," Several of the apprentices that had lost limbs in the previous battles were going to have to spend a lot of crystals to regenerate them. Consequently, there were in no amicable mood either, "What have you done while we were fighting with the enemy on the frontline?"
"Yea! We should just send him to the resource site, see what he can say about it."
"You don't dare to fight with the enemy, and you stand here scolding us. Hmph!”
Billis' face flushed red as he faced all the insults by the apprentices. He could only try and argue for his idol, "Sir Greem is not the kind of person you think he is. He will find a way. Just wait."
"Wait, wait, and wait. We've already lost the mine and the resource site! What are we waiting for?"
Sabrina lightly set down the healing potions in her hands. She stood up and looked at everyone with her cold mechanical eye. Once everyone had shut up, she dragged Billis along with her and exited the hall.
"Sabrina, don't tell me you believe their words? Do you think Sir Greem is that kind of person? Someone who would fear a fight?" Billis was still upset and couldn't help but raise the question.
Sabrina didn't turn back to look at him. She let go of Billis and walked towards the spiral staircase.
She stopped in front of the stone staircase and spoke, almost as if she was replying and telling herself at the same time, "They are adepts!" Having said that, Sabrina walked away without looking back.
"Adepts? What about adepts?" Billis didn't comprehend: "What is it? Do adepts think differently from us?"
Unfortunately, no one could give his question a reply.
The commotion downstairs couldn't escape Greem's spiritual senses.
He could ignore the resentment and anger of the apprentices, but it wasn't like he felt none of it!
The Aki adepts were too radical in their actions. They were even willing to forcefully take over resource sites to force him out of hiding. It was important to note that war hadn't been declared yet, even though tensions were high! Taking over property without declaring war was a major taboo!
If the Sarubo Clan were willing to lose face over the theft of their resource sites and report the incident to the Zhentarim Association, the Aki Clan would have to pay a hefty price. Of course, if the Sarubo did so, they would practically be announcing their weakness and frailty to the entire Zhentarim area; that they were so incapable of fighting off the enemy's advances that they had to ask for external intervention.
It would undoubtedly be a massive blow to the Sarubo's reputation!
That was why the enemy's reckless and fearless actions had forced Greem into a corner. Fury and hatred bubbled within him.
"Chip, how much longer for the data model?" There was a harshness and severity to his tone this time.
"Beep. 7 hours, 23 minutes, 15 seconds."
Greem slammed his fist against the walls with all his strength and let out a wicked smile as he gritted his teeth, "I'll let you guys run wild for one more day."