Nalear had been on guard the whole time. Life Vision had allowed her to notice how the ring was full of energies since day one.
She used her blade to pin Solus to the wall and the students as human shields against her spells. They were badly hurt, but thanks to their uniforms there wasn't much tier two spells could do.
Solus's yellow core limited her greatly.
"What a marvelous object." Nalear blocked Solus with spirit magic.
"It's not only capable to store the user's mana but also to move on its own? It will be an excellent addition to my collection." Solus could only curse her bad luck. If only Lith's and her energies weren't as one, she could have hurt him enough to activate the array and save him.
When Nalear tried to store Solus inside her dimensional amulet, she was in for another surprise. The amulet didn't respond and Solus kept floating in mid air.
"It's impossible! Is this thing really alive? Good thing I'm always prepared." She took out a mystical wooden box out of her dimensional amulet. It was engraved with silver runes of power. A blue mana crystal the size of a tennis ball was embedded on its lid.
When Nalear opened it, it generated strings of blue energy that trapped Solus, dragging her inside the box before it closed on itself. She attempted to shapeshift multiple times, but the strings relentlessly followed her, adapting to her every change.
The blue gemstone powered up the runes, sealing its content from the outside world.
The bond between Lith and Solus was broken. The backlash gave Solus a seizure while Lith suddenly woke up, roaring like a wounded beast.
The killing intent he released made two of the students faint. The spirit magic blast he generated made everyone but Nalear fly against a wall and lose consciousness. She sneered at his swan's song, hitting him on the head with the leather club again and again.
The club was another enchanted item she had prepared. It was made so that it would inflict a lot of pain but no harm, draining the victim of their vitality.
What she didn't expect was for Lith's mouth to suddenly open like a maw, filled with fangs instead of teeth. The moment her hand was close enough, he bit her deeply. The fangs dug into her flesh until they reached the bones while seven eyes stared at her with hatred.
Nalear ignored the pain, passing the club to the free hand, resuming the beating. The eyes burned bright in defiance, refusing to let go. The maw was almost closed when the head fell limp again. Even fury had its limits.
"What the f*ck are you?" Nalear cursed while using Invigoration to close her wounds and restore her strength. It took her less than a minute to heal the injured students and replenish their life forces with Invigoration.
They had spent no mana, so they were still in their peak condition.
"Here are your orders, my little lambs. These chains are strong enough to hold an angry Byk, but what's even more important it's their color." She pointed at the mystical aura surrounding the shackles and the chains both.
"When it's red it means Lith is unconscious. When it turns green, it means he is awake. As soon as it happens, you have to stab him with these knives."
She handed them the anti-academy knives.
"Don't stop until it turns red again. Wait for my signal. Only then you can kill him. Cut his head and pierce his heart. Just to be safe." The five students nodded in unison.
"After you are done with him, return to your rooms and wait further instructions. Tomorrow is the big day."
The next morning, Phloria hummed all the time while she was walking to pick Lith up for their morning stroll before breakfast. She wore the golden lily pendant over her uniform. It didn't matter to her that wearing an early present was bad luck, Phloria was too happy to care about silly superstitions.
'I don't know what Lith did, but my skin had never been so smooth nor my hair so silky and easy to comb. My sisters are going to be so jealous.' She inwardly giggled. What made her so happy wasn't the beauty treatment itself.
The changes were so slight it was unlikely for anyone to notice them and she knew it. The reason behind her happiness was Phloria felt something had changed between them after the date in Vinea.
Lith was a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but he was finally starting to unravel himself. When she knocked at his door and no response came from inside, it didn't spoil her good mood.
After ten minutes of knocking, she started to worry.
'Maybe he is just too tired. It's no big deal, we'll see each other for breakfast.' Phloria didn't believe her own thoughts. Lith had never stood her up before.
When he missed breakfast too, she was close to panic. The others tried to reassure her everything was fine and called Lith's on his communication amulet. Yet he never answered.
Fear started to spread, like fire through dried grass. The second gong signalling the start of the Code of Practice without him attending was the final straw.
"Where do you think you are going, Lady Ernas?" Professor Farg yelled at Phloria who was walking away.
"Enter the Warp Gate now or I'll make sure you lose more than a lesson's worth in points!"
"Feel free to report me to Linjos." Phloria retorted. "It will save me the time to explain to him what's happening! Maybe if two students disappear at once he'll move his lazy a*s."
Farg attempted to localize Lith with the artifact Lady Tyris had given her, but to no avail.
'It's impossible!' She thought. 'For his hybrid aura to disappear like this, he should be dead. No one can die inside an academy. I have to warn Lady Tyris immediately.'
Phloria had no Guardian to summon by her side, but she had the next best thing.
Jirni Ernas walked through the Warp Gate leading to Linjos's office less than five minutes later, wearing her royal constable badge on her chest, right above the heart.
"What's the meaning of this?" Linjos jumped from his chair. The Gate had opened without his consent.
"Royal override code." Jirni replied with a stone cold voice.
"I'm constable Ernas, investigating on a missing student case. Hope you remember my husband."
Linjos turned pale seeing Orion standing right behind her. The memory of him beating the Headmaster an inch from death was still vivid.
"What are you talking about? What case? Do you realize what you coming here could cause? You may have ruined a month of hard work!"
"Not at all. I have here a missing person report and the authorization to investigate." She slammed on his desk Phloria's statement and Elina's request for intervention. The two women had always kept in contact and after hearing about her son's disappearance, Elina would have even signed a deal with the devil to have him back.
"I have all the necessary paperwork. Find me Lith and I'll walk away before the Gate even closes."
Linjos had no choice but to comply. He attempted to activate the tracker in Lith's uniform and when it didn't work, he checked all the records about who had got in and out since his last sighting.
"This makes no sense. The tracker can't find him and no one has left the academy unsupervised yet."
"Well, the good news is that he is still alive and somewhere inside the academy. The even better news is that I finally have a reason to turn this place upside down. Tell Distar that I'm done waiting. Now we are going to play by my rules."