Chapter 15 - Covering the Tracks
The final part of his plan was disappearing at the right moment, and the right moment was now.
Even before reading the Eminence's mind he had already expected that he couldn't permanently vanish from grasps of the powers that be, their power likely too great for that. Now that he actually knew how powerful they were, he was proven right. But he could delay them enough from getting to him to at least do some much-needed shopping in the first city he needed to get to.
First, he freed the horses, as they could be used to track him. Next, he threw the carriage in the fiery crater, together with all his clothes and every single thing Mark and Sara possessed.
Before removing everyone's clothes, he placed dark shields around them to keep their privacy, but it didn't prevent Sara from yelling in anger. The best reaction was from Mark, a veteran warrior who had seen thousands of naked men in the Army and hundreds of naked women in the brothels in his lifetime: he blushed and covered his sensitive areas.
Aaron pitied them a bit for being forcibly unclothed like that, but their clothes might have been bugged, and he wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. No time for explanations.
He also threw the ring Firestar had given him in the crater, with everything inside. He wouldn't resort to destroying so much wealth if he hadn't looted a pile of cash, but since he could do it, it was best to be extra cautious. He couldn't be sure about which items inside were being used to track him, not with the old man being a Quasi-Overlord and having access to much better spells than him.
As for the rings and items he had just acquired, while they weren't exactly safe, they were never meant to get to his hands and he had seen in the memories of the Eminence that she had already checked on everything, even the items in her subordinates' possession, finding it all clear. While she was a weak fighter, she was still an Eminence with access to better spells than him.
Just to be sure though, he focused his consciousness into to ring and scrutinized everything inside with his best spells. He found nothing wrong.
Of course, Overlords or Saints might still have placed tracking spells on some items that could fool him or the Eminence he had killed, but people that strong could get to him regardless of tracking spells anyway, so there was no reason to become poor because of it.
Finally, he summoned ten new meteors and threw them at the possessions, completely destroying everything he had thrown in the crater and making the latter much larger and deeper.
He took new clothes from a few rings for him, Sara, and Mark, made the three of them float, created a bubble of invisibility around them, and used two last spells in the area.
The first spell was to guarantee there was nothing to see there in the present.
Myriad Arts — Spellcasting — Single Element: Fire — Seventh Absolute Scorching!
Scorching flames covered the entire crater, melting rock and metal and turning everything else, including the body parts and treasures into ashes.
The heat was so powerful that he had to push much more mana into his cooling spell, else he burnt to death!
The second spell was to guarantee there was nothing to see there in the past, either!
Myriad Arts — Spellcasting — Single Element: Time — Seventh Moment Obliteration!
Time shattered like glass in a one-kilometer range for a split second. It didn't permanently cease to exist — he was not powerful enough to do that even if he wanted to —, and no damage was done to anything in the area. But that single moment was obliterated from the Rivers of Time.
Any level 8, Eminence with access to Time mana could easily see what had happened in an area up to a couple hours by looking back in time, with level 9, Ascenders being able to go as far as hundreds of days. Due to the shattering though, seeing anything past that point became impossible.
Of course, someone strong enough might be able to fix things but that would require at least an Overlord talented in Time Laws. Creation and healing were much harder than destruction in all facets of life, and magic wasn't any different. Furthermore, fixing time was much harder than healing or fixing just about anything else.
With that, as far as anyone but Sara and Mark knew, his tracks ended in that place. It was time to make them disappear, too. They were the last two 'things' Firestar had touched, the last liability Aaron was 'carrying' with him.
Not by coincidence, the way of doing that was the same way of treating Sara's soul.
Myriad Arts — Spellcasting, Formation Mastery — Single Element: Soul — Seventh Soul Splitting and Binding!
A pain that couldn't be described coursed through him as two bits of his soul were removed and placed in two of the spatial rings around his neck. Souls couldn't live outside an adequate container and the spatial rings were terrible vessels. Due to that those bits would dissipate in less than a year, but they would do for now.
He put the rings on his followers' fingers and used another spell to permanently glue the rings in place.
Because he wasn't sure of his enemies means, this was the best solution he could come up with. By doing that, his own max grade soul resistance would disrupt any spells that were attached to their names, bodies, or souls. It wouldn't be enough for them to pass up as dead, but it should be able to make them untraceable.
Due to that world natural laws, his soul resistance couldn't be used to prevent someone from using his real name to control him, but it was the perfect counter when dealing with someone else.
He used the Soul Eye spell and confirmed that Sara's soul was turning back to normal. It had been healed of its afflictions and just like a slime, it was slowly reverting to a humanoid's shape.
A moment later, his usage of the Soul Eye spell to check on things proved useless; Sara fainted from the shock she received from having her soul suddenly healed. Her soul would take about a day to recover fully and until then she would remain unconscious.
He nodded satisfied. All he could do had been done. It had been very costly, with less than ten percent of his mana remaining. The soul splitting, especially, had increased the time he would require to become an Eminence by a month or so, but it was better than having people by his side that could be traced or possibly even controlled at any time.
"We're leaving," he said.
Covered by an invisibility bubble, they flew away at Aaron's will.
In a room made of stone, a man was bowing in front of a lit fireplace.
"Your Greatness," the man said. "We lost track of the boy."
There was no answer, but a moment later, the man lost control of his body and it entered the fireplace by itself. His true name had been used far away from there, he simply couldn't resist the order that had been given.
Nor did he want to, for he had been ordered before to feel utmost pleasure in obeying every order given to him by his master, and the very chemicals in his body obeyed.
As he was burned to death, his eyes rolled in ecstasy from sheer delight.
After leaving the area, Aaron flew invisibly for a few hours, only stopping when he reached a forest. It was high night by then, the three moons shining brightly on the sky.
"We'll camp here," he announced as he and Mark landed, while the unconscious Sara was kept floating to his side. His mana pool had been nearly exhausted after covering his tracks and flying invisibly had taken care of the little left.
"Master, that's a bad idea," Mark immediately said.
"Why?" Aaron asked.
"This is the Unleaving Forest," Mark said as if explained everything.
Aaron knew what the place was named. In his studies, he had seen maps of the continent with only a few inconsistencies so he wouldn't learn about the Fire Empire, and even those had been properly corrected during his search in the Eminence's memories. "So...?"
Mark looked around anxiously. "There is something evil in this forest, Master. It started when klutzes told tales of their animals disappearing in the area. Then, whenever their women or kids spent the night in here, they would also disappear and-"
"Why in the Depths would women and kids spend the night in a forest?" Aaron interjected, pointing at the obvious irregularity in the story.
The warrior shrugged. "These are the tales, Master. But Duke Eminence Ninefingers sent a group of warriors to investigate and they never came back. That's when the place was named Unleaving Forest."
The Unleaving Forest was located in the West Dukedom, under the rule of Duke Eminence Ninefingers.
"So...?" Aaron repeated.
"So, no one spends the night in here. I heard that mages came to investigate too, only to never be seen again."
Aaron considered his words for a moment. He had lived long enough to know better than to ignore such tales as baseless superstition, but he also knew that he shouldn't take them at face value.
"We'll stay here, at the edge of the forest," he said. "That way, if I detect anything suspicious, we can still run," Aaron said.
"Do you mean outside the edge, Master?" Mark's voice was almost shaking by now.
"No, inside," Aaron insisted. "Someone might use a wide life-scan spell to try and find us, but in the forest, we're protected by the abundant life around us. Of course, they might still have a spell good enough to track us despite that, but we'd be in a better position to fight or flee in the forest, instead of in the open. Either way, staying here is the best course of action."
Mark wasn't happy about it, but he stopped arguing.
Aaron took two sleeping bags from one of his rings and threw it on the ground. Seeing the questioning look on Mark, he explained: "They are for you and Sara. I'm a Champion Mage, I don't require sleep. Instead, I'll focus on regenerating my mana while keeping watch over us." He made Sara float into the sleeping bag. "Get to bed as well," he ordered Mark.
Still uncomfortable about the place, the warrior got into the other sleeping bag and was soon snoring loudly. Despite his fear, he was a war veteran; he knew better than to pass up an opportunity to rest and could sleep anywhere, anytime.
Aaron put both people out of his mind and used the two most cost-effective spells for a night watch.
Myriad Arts — Spellcasting — Triple Element: Darkness, Light, Ice — Seventh Heat Darkvision!
The spell made his eyes completely ignore darkness and see everything within it, while also easily seeing heat signatures.
Myriad Arts — Spellcasting — Double Element: Life, Soul — Seventh Enhanced Senses!
Vision, hearing, taste, smell, touch, and soul sensitivity; his senses were highly enhanced. Such a state would tire him if kept for long periods of time, but he could keep it for a few days without worry, to say nothing of a night.
He sat on a nearby rock. Even with most of his focus on the forest around him, he still allowed some part of his mind to focus on creating new spells, on improving what he knew, and on trying to better understand how mana interacted with spells and everything else in the world.
It was happy, its domain safe. No intruder had dared to come for a very long time. It could go back to-
It stopped itself from sleeping again.
It could feel them.
Intruders had come.
A piercing scream reverberated through the entire forest as it moved towards its prey.
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I'm Ed, a writer of GameLit. So far I have released only two books, but I'm working on increasing this number by tens! No, by hundreds! Maybe thousands! xP
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