Mara’s interest piqued. “Do you have a spell to replace that damn barrier?”
Eugene extended the parchment toward Aldrit, cautioning Mara. “It’s not the sort of spell you’re thinking of. This is a crucial incantation that could lead us to the one we need. It’s meant for the wanderers, so don’t push it too far.”
Eugene suspected that the wanderers might possess the missing elements of this spell. It was the very reason Mara’s followers had abducted Eugene two decades ago — to enable them to perform this spell.
This was the most perilous and potent of spells. Long ago, it had unlocked a gateway to another realm, and even with its imperfections, two decades past, it had allowed for the transportation of souls through a dimensional rift.
Eugene subscribed to the belief that all truths were interconnected. The wanderers already possessed a wealth of spell knowledge, and gaining access to the original knowledge might offer them a significant advantage. If granting Alber and freedom were possible, she would have offered it to Alber without hesitation. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option, so the wanderers seemed like the next best choice.
“High risk,” Mara grumbled.
Eugene brushed off Mara’s complaint and turned to Aldrit. “This spell isn’t complete. I deliberately omitted certain sections when copying it from the original text. It’s a safety precaution. My request is for your people to use it solely for research, not to attempt to complete the spell. Make sure they understand that.”
“Of course, Your Majesty. I’ll keep that in mind,” Aldrit said with caution as he accepted the parchment. Eugene watched him closely, then reconsidered and added, “Considering the long journey during the active season, I had some concerns, but I think we’ve found the perfect solution. You can make use of the teleportation spell.”
“That’s absurd,” Mara promptly objected. “You intend to trigger the teleportation spell for tracking purposes? Absolutely not.”
“I have no intention of doing so,” Eugene assured.
“Sending an undisclosed object to this man is suspicious. It seems like some sort of tracking spell,” Mara retorted.
“I have no intention of tracking you or any such need,” Eugene chuckled with a relaxed smile. “I told you earlier. We possess more information than you realize. I know the location of your primary form.”
The rat’s body momentarily stiffened, and it emitted a nervous squeak.
“Don’t mock me! Are you attempting to deceive me?”
“Why would I tell a lie that could be easily exposed? I may be quite distant from here, but I can locate it. The surroundings are highly distinctive. It’s a gray rocky mountain, concealing a hidden lake beneath it.”
Aldrit’s gaze wavered. The fact that information about the tribe’s hideout came from an outsider quickened his heart, irrespective of his trust in Eugene. It was an instinctive fear that transcended his trust in Eugene.
Eugene remained silent, watching the rat as it nervously twitched its nose, and then addressed the tense Aldrit.
“Aldrit, even if you wish to assist me, there might be limitations to what you can do. I comprehend your situation, where you must safeguard the future and security of the entire tribe. As Anika and the queen of this realm, I pledge my name. I won’t exploit you to jeopardize the safety of the wanderers.”
Aldrit nodded in acknowledgment, recognizing the gravity of such a pledge. At present, he had no other choice, and he was grateful to Eugene for making such a solemn promise.
“Please exercise caution, Aldrit,” Eugene cautioned, emphasizing, “Mara is a lark. Even though your tribe has received assistance, it’s important not to place blind trust in him.”
Mara responded with more of a grumble than anger, questioning Eugene, “Is it really necessary to say that in front of me?”
Eugene quietly mused, This direct approach suits him, as expected. She believed that straightforward communication was the best way to deal with Mara, as opposed to beating around the bush. Moreover, projecting strength rather than seeking help would likely discourage Mara from entertaining other notions.
Eugene continued, addressing Mara, “Mara, if we had any intention of deceiving you, we wouldn’t disclose the possession of this information. If our aim was to exploit this information as a vulnerability to harm you, we would have already acted upon it.” She took a step back, avoiding excessive pressure.
However, she added, “But if you find yourself unable to employ the teleportation spell, you’ll have to traverse the desert the traditional way, and it will be Aldrit who bears the brunt of the hardship.”
Aldrit looked down at the rat perched on his shoulder. Crossing the desert posed a substantial challenge, and he had recently undergone significant adversity during his journey to the kingdom. After experiencing the comforts of palace life for the first time, the allure of an easier path was undeniable. He also felt a sense of curiosity regarding the spell capable of transporting him such a great distance.
Mara expressed his frustration with a disapproving click of his tongue. “To activate the teleportation spell, you need Rodrigo. I explicitly told you to have him ready for it.”
Kasser swiftly replied, “Then bring him here briefly, but under no circumstances will we make a deal that jeopardizes his safety.”
Mara, now visibly irritated, directed his gaze at Eugene instead of Kasser, and he retorted, “What’s in it for me, then? It’s my support that’s at risk!”
Eugene couldn’t help but emit a bitter laugh. It felt like a situation where one’s intentions were misconstrued, yet this was precisely what was unfolding. It might have been a sudden change in tactics on Mara’s part, an instinctual recognition that only Eugene could sway Kasser’s decision. Eugene chose to remain silent, feigning ignorance.
Kasser asserted firmly, “Attempting to deploy such a dubious spell within the capital city will only compound the charges against you. Be cautious; your position is far from favorable.”
Mara muttered incomprehensible words for a moment before falling silent.