"My… stone ring. Where is it?" Speaking was a mammoth task for Lith. He had to focus and spit the words one by one while suppressing the urge to tear those present apart, limb from limb.
The fury running through his veins only steeled his willpower to find Solus first and butcher Nalear later. First things first.
The students were shivering in fear, but because of the set of orders they had received, they were unable to speak. At least until Nalear's final order came out of their communication amulets.
"Do whatever your heart wants."
"Set me free, you f*cking monster! Or my mother will have you and your family beg for death!" Some said.
"I beg of you, have mercy. Nalear made me do it." The others sobbed.
Two girls out of five students were cold blooded enough to release the spells stored inside their magic rings, uncaring for what would happen to their comrades. The shroud of darkness enveloping Lith engulfed their magic attacks, eating away most of their destructive power before they struck.
Yet because of the short range, they were more than enough to make him bleed, to rip his flesh apart, and expose his muscles. Lith reacted sending the darkness towards his attackers.
The tendrils pierced the two students, robbing them of their vitality while transferring it to Lith and healing his wounds. The girls withered liked dried up mummies in a matter of seconds, before turning to ashes together with their uniforms.
Feeding off someone's life force not only allowed Lith to recover without becoming more fatigued, but also restored his body's stamina as if he had a short rest.
'I have already used Invigoration too much. I need more energy. I still hunger.' Lith thought.
The remaining three became hysterical, screaming and crying for help. Lith had the darkness engulf them without inflicting any harm. The coldness it emitted amplified their fear, but at the same time made them snap out of panic.
"I'll ask it only once more. Where is my ring?"
"I don't know. I swear." Sobbed a red haired boy.
"Then you are useless."
The boy only managed to emit a short yelp before disappearing in the shadows. Lith's complexion was getting better with every meal.
Soon, it was clear they had no knowledge about Nalear's plan or Solus's whereabouts.
'Leave no loose ends.' Lith thought before killing them. He took a blanket to cover himself, before looking for food.
'Invigoration can give me back my strength and mana, Vampiric Touch can restore my fatigue, but none of them can replenish my nutrients. I need all the advantages I can get before confronting Nalear again.
'Judging by her order, Linjos is dead and the academy is about to fall. I won't let that witch get away with this, nor the vision to come true. Solus, Phloria, wait for me. I'm coming for you.'
After eating everything edible he managed to find inside Nalear's apartment, Lith stepped into the chaos the White Griffon academy had become.
Solus's patience had run out from hours, yet she endured. She could feel her strength dripping away, but so was the spell keeping her prisoner. Unlike Lith, she couldn't heal or recover her mana indefinitely, so she had to take a surgical approach.
First, she had to probe the mana crystal and the pseudo core's pathways, looking for weak spots. Only then Solus could open countless small holes, making the energies that empowered the box dwindle.
Each hole was too small to make the structure unstable enough to explode, but together they drained the magical prison at a faster rate than Solus's energy consumption.
The moment Solus broke the lock, the mystical box exploded outwards in a shower of flaming splinters. She found herself in the room of one of Nalear's little lambs. She had decided it was best to keep Lith and the artifact as far as possible from each other.
Giving the box to a lamb was her insurance that even if something went wrong, it would be impossible for Lith to find it.
Her jailer was a chestnut haired fifteen year old boy that was currently busy taking off the pants from an unconscious girl that was lying on his bed. She was also bleeding profusely from a head injury.
The moment the boy saw Solus, Nalear's highest priority order took effect. He took out his communication amulet to alert his master when Solus drove one of Lith's elemental blades through his throat with spirit magic.
The fire enchanted dagger made short work of the uniform's defenses, killing the boy in one blow. Solus was shocked. She knew Nalear's lambs were mind controlled and likely not to be entirely responsible for their actions.
She had expected the arrays to activate, saving Lith, the girl on the bed, and the lamb in one fell swoop.
'The only possible explanation is that Linjos is dead.' Solus inwardly cried. She really liked the Headmaster.
Having no time or mana to spare, she quickly poured a healing potion down the girl's throat before leaving the room. Solus discovered that closing the door was useless. The locks were offline, like everything else in the academy.
'Sorry, kid. I have no time to babysit you.'
She turned into her spider form and activated her mana sense. She could fly, but had no idea where to go. Walking on the ceiling would allow her to avoid being spotted while looking around for Lith. She wanted to find him as soon as possible.
"Fascinating, isn't he?" Tyris said pointing at Lith, who was walking double time through the corridor, slaughtering all those who attempted to attack him.
"Indeed." Leegaain used Life Vision, watching Lith's second form bulge from his aura, clawing to escape.
"He really is like a magical beast. I'd say his natural elements are fire and darkness." Unlike humans who were equally attuned with all elements, after evolving from their animal form, magical beasts would be limited to two.
At least until their further evolution into Evolved Monsters. Even the Guardians were no different. Salaark elements had always been light and darkness. They made her a literal embodiment of the cycle of death and rebirth, even before she became a phoenix.
Leegaain was a creature of fire and air, while Tyris's foundations were air and light magic.
"Isn't that the living artifact you told me about?" The dragon pointed his finger at Solus who had just escaped the room.
"You know what it is?" Tyris raised an eyebrow in disbelief.
"Sure I do. It's Menadion's Desperation. Her story is long but interesting…"
"Then, save it for another moment." Salaark cut him short.
"I'll call your father and Friya. You alert Quylla of the danger. If Nalear's pawns get to her first she is as good as dead." After hearing from Leflia what the traitorous Professor had made her do, Jirni had a grasp on her intentions.
After her sister, Phloria warned Yurial too. She hadn't forgotten about Lith's vision. As far as she knew, any of them could die at any moment.
"How did you know she was controlled?" Phloria asked after arranging a meeting point with the rest of her family.
"The twitch in her eye. Not even a strong willed person can resist a slave item, but they can signal their distress through small movements of the hands or the eyes. I know it from experience."