When Rodrigo retrieved a metal box from his bag and carefully lifted the lid, an astonishing transformation overtook the surroundings. Radiant light poured forth from the circular object encased within the box, casting such brilliance that it effortlessly banished the warehouse’s oppressive darkness, even surpassing the torch clutched by Sven.
“Is that magic as well…,” Eugene pondered aloud.
In response to Eugene’s inquiry, Kasser explained, “That’s a Lightstone. It possesses the unique ability to capture and emit light in the darkest of places. A truly precious discovery for us.”
Having partially illuminated the area, Rodrigo proceeded to unpack a stand from his bag, deftly assembling it. He then positioned a lantern he had brought along onto the stand and arranged two petite braziers on either side, creating a scene reminiscent of a miniature altar.
As Rodrigo drew a knife from its leather sheath, Sven instinctively tightened his grip on the sword secured at his waist.
“It’s part of a ritual, so please refrain from interfering,” Mara directed.
Kasser added, “Sven, do not act without my command.” Sven eased his tense posture, his readiness to spring into action momentarily held in check.
Abruptly, Rodrigo rose from his seat and advanced towards Aldrit, a knife clutched eerily in his hand. His presence was unsettling as he approached Aldrit, bringing his face close and speaking in a solemn tone, “You should consider yourself fortunate for this unique opportunity to become a vessel of God.”
Rodrigo extended his empty hand, seizing a tuft of Aldrit’s hair before slicing it away with the knife. Aldrit offered no resistance, though his discomfort was evident, his expression betraying his displeasure.
Kneeling before a diminutive altar with a brazier, Rodrigo ignited the brazier’s inner fire with a flint and placed the freshly severed hair into the flames.
Within the watchful gaze of everyone, an eerie, reddish aura briefly flickered in Aldrit’s eyes. At that moment, Rodrigo’s hand quivered imperceptibly, escaping notice.
“I’ve nearly finished here, so I shall take my leave,” Mara announced.
Eugene and Kasser, who had been observing Rodrigo, redirected their attention to Aldrit.
“I’m in this state due to the magic I just performed, so I mustn’t cast another spell in this condition. Interference could arise between spells,” Mara clarified.
“What comes next?” Eugene inquired.
“Nothing may happen, or something might. I don’t understand the intricacies of magic. But it’s best not to risk it,” Mara responded.
Eugene persisted, “Why did you cut the hair? Is it merely a symbolic ritual?”
“A part of the caster’s body must serve as a conduit,” Mara explained.
Eugene couldn’t help but be astounded by the efficiency of teleportation, realizing that a single strand of hair could serve as the catalyst. In that moment, a fabricated memory flashed through her mind.
Before her, Rodrigo knelt with his hands outstretched in a gesture of receiving something precious. Resting on his palms, offered as if in gratitude, was a strand of black hair roughly the length of a thumb.
Was that my hair? Eugene pondered, though no words reached her ears, and the scene played out like a frozen frame. Nonetheless, she had an inkling of the situation, furrowing her brow in confusion. The fake had handed over a strand of hair.
“Never interfere with the spell during its activation,” Mara cautioned.
With that, the reddish gleam in the mouse’s eyes dissipated. The mouse, which had been perched on Aldrit’s shoulder with its two front paws, suddenly became restless, twisting its head about before quickly descending Aldrit’s body and scurrying off, vanishing into a hidden corner.
Eugene felt a sense of bewilderment at the mouse’s abrupt departure, as if a conversation had been abruptly cut off. However, her attention returned to Rodrigo as he resumed his actions. Swiftly, he extinguished the brazier’s fire and deposited the ashes into a receptacle. It was a simple gesture, yet it held the gravitas of a priest conducting a sacred ritual.
Rodrigo carefully took the vessel of ashes and a water jar, relocating to a different spot within the square-shaped warehouse. Standing in its center, he performed an action akin to when he had retrieved the staff earlier, lifting a stone slab from the floor. However, this time, there was no concealed compartment beneath. Rodrigo simply flipped the stone slab over, revealing a semicircular groove.
So, this warehouse had been prepared in advance, Eugene thought, her anticipation for witnessing the spell being cast waning a bit.
Rodrigo emptied the ashes from the vessel into the groove on the stone slab. He then used the water jar to pour an unidentified liquid or substance onto the ashes. After a brief pause, the stone slab began to emit a luminous beam toward the ceiling.