Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
That was how Nalear had defeated Lith, but also the way Jirni Ernas planned to smoke out the traitor.
The arrival of constable Ernas was a big enough monkey wrench in Nalear's plot to put both her master and contingency plan at risk. It was impossible to use dimensional magic inside the academy because of the array blocking it.
The only way out was using the Warp Gate, but even with the help of her little lambs, it was impossible for her to drag away Lith unnoticed. Her teacher ring was useless too. It not only would leave a record of her position, but also could move her inside the fifth floor only.
'Each floor of the castle is huge, but with enough time they can search every nook and cranny of it. I can't hide Lith forever nor can I kill him and store his body in a dimensional item. I can't believe months of careful planning are about to be crushed because of a stupid girl!'
Nalear had underestimated the depth of the bond between Lith and Phloria, dismissing it as a simple crush. She was also unaware of Marchioness Distar's plan of putting the academy in lockdown to search for the traitor.
The information blackout had worked like a charm. The problem was the Marchioness had no way to know what the enemy intentions were. It almost resulted in a perfect set up to douse the fire yet to have it ready after the house was completely burned down.
Lady Ernas was a decisive woman. The moment Phloria contacted her, she put her first contingency plan in motion, pulling a lot of strings and calling in as many favors. She knew Lith well enough to know that he wouldn't leave the academy without letting her little Flower or at least his mother know.
His disappearance could only mean something big was about to happen. Taking out someone of his caliber in such a clear manner, inside an academy at that, meant the enemy was as strong as well prepared.
Lady Ernas was certain she had not a second to spare. Alas, she was right.
Professor Amyla Farg contacted Tyris as soon as Phloria left, reporting to her everything she knew.
"What are your orders, my liege?" Farg asked.
"I'll be there in a while." Tyris sighed. From her throne, she could feel the air in the Kingdom turning heavier by the second.
"I mean to spectate, not to intervene. I feel that what's happening at the White Griffon is similar to Balkor's attacks. A reckoning. Humans are bound to make mistakes and it's only by suffering the consequences of their choices that they have the opportunity to grow.
"I don't plan of doing like Salaark and treat them like a bunch of kids that need to be held by hand. As for you, Amyla, do whatever you think it's right. You have my permission to use the full scope of your abilities."
After closing the call with Farg, Tyris called her only two friends. The fall of one of the Great Countries might be something all Guardians would like to bear witness.
Inside the enchanted box, Solus had long recovered her senses. Without her bond with Lith, she couldn't feed nor she could grow stronger. Only weaker.
That didn't mean she was powerless, though. She had still all the abilities of a yellow cored Awakened one. Invigoration didn't allow her to recover her strength but was a crucial instrument for her survival nonetheless.
She had spent months studying the boxes together with Lith, attended the same lessons, and followed all of his steps towards becoming a Forgemaster. Invigoration made it possible for her to study the lock keeping her sealed.
Solus wasted no time crying or despairing. She had spent the last few hours planning her escape.
'"Always prepared" my… whatever my a*s looks like, you witch!' Solus had never been so angry in her whole life. It could be said that even though she had developed the whole spectrum of human emotions, she was uncapable of hate.
At least until that moment.
Hatred was something usually Lith generated enough to supply a small army, something she was used to contain, being careful not being infected with. Now it burned through the very core of her being like molten lava.
She would have loved for life to be like those comics Lith liked so much as a kid. Where trivial things like love, friendship, or rage could produce miracles giving the hero endless strength.
If love could do any good, Nalear wouldn't ever managed to take them apart. If rage was worth something, Solus would have already turned the box into cinders to be reunited with her other half.
'Feelings have no power per se. They are only what drives you towards your goals. I have to do like Lith always does. Not let myself be controlled by them but harness them to keep my mind focused.' She thought.
'Luckily for me, this box has been built to be difficult to open from the outside, not from the inside. I also doubt Nalear ever suspected that the dimensional amulet she stole from us is actually empty.
'I still have access to a dimensional pocket full with everything a compulsive hoarder with full blown paranoia prepared "just in case".
'Wait for me, Lith. I'm coming for you.'
Tendrils of darkness magic emanated from her body, relentlessly eroding the internal safeguards of the box. Solus only had to make sure to survive the conflagration. To her it didn't matter who or what was outside the box.
The whole Mogar could burn for all she cared.
City of Valeron. Capitol of the Griffon Kingdom. Inside the King's quarters.
"Are you sure giving constable Ernas the royal override code was the right thing to do?" Queen Sylpha asked.
"Absolutely." King Meron nodded. He was engrossed in testing his Gatekeeper longsword potential.
"The more I read the reports about this Lith, the more I'm inclined to believe he is a natural Awakened one. Traitors come and go, we fight them on a daily basis. Awakened ones are too precious to be lost.
"If I'm right, he would be the first one we know about inside the whole Kingdom. We could even pitch him against the Magic Empress, if we play our cards right." The Magic Empress was the only known natural Awakened on the Garlen continent.
"How could he be an Awakened one if some kids are strong enough to take him down?" Sylpha found the idea simply absurd.
"Maybe he is not an Awakened. Or maybe the traitors have developed a weapon capable of defeating one." Meron replied.
"Whatever it is, we can't afford to stay idle. We are already left with only four of the six great academies. Losing the White Griffon and the most promising student in one fell swoop may be a blow that we could not be able to bear. Not now.
"We are already stripping the ancient noble households of their privileges bit by bit, redistributing them according to merits and loyalty. The Kingdom is still too unstable. If the traitor threatens one of our assets, we must react swiftly."