"Did someone enslave you in the past?" Phloria felt her heart tighten at the idea.
"No, but every constable has to train against such devices to let their colleagues know about their predicament at their first meeting. Enough talking, listen to my words and do it carefully." Jirni grabbed Phloria's shoulders looking her in the eyes.
"Once we are out there, attack to kill. At this point, it's too late to save any of them."
"Aren't they victims? Just like her?" Phloria was having a hard time adapting at the circumstances.
"No, dear. They were ready to enslave people. They are as bad as Nalear is." Jirni shook her head.
"Also, if you show any mercy, they will not return you the favor. You heard her command, they'll kill us even if it costs them their lives. You have no idea what wearing one of those things feels like.
"You became a stranger in your own body, forced to do whatever the owner of the master ring wants. Most victims of a slave item commit suicide within a year from their rescue. It's like being r*ped in the mind and the body, every single moment."
Phloria unsheathed her estoc, taking a deep breath while thinking about her family and Lith. She hoped they would give her the strength to do what had to be done.
The mayhem taking place in the corridors soon turned the academy into a warzone. No one could be trusted, fear and paranoia made even the non mind controlled students attack anyone on sight.
There were more spells flying in the air than rice at a wedding ceremony. Solus didn't stop to watch at all the acts of violence, yet every one of the crimes she witnessed reinforced her hatred.
Stopping Nalear wasn't enough, Solus wanted to kill her.
Solus was getting more desperate by the second. She hadn't much mana left and still couldn't find any trace of Lith. Soon, she would be forced to trade her own memories to obtain the power she needed to keep moving.
'How can I sacrifice even one of them?' She inwardly cried.
'What if I choose the wrong one and become another person? What if I forget the reason why I'm even moving? By my maker, where the heck is he?'
She could still bond to another person, but it would mean losing him forever and giving someone access to all their secrets and most private moments. Solus would rather die than betray their bond.
When it happened, she couldn't believe her own fourteen senses. Solus could finally pick up an aura that she would recognize among thousands. Lith was just a few hundred meters in front of her.
She let go of the ceiling while casting their personal flight spell, soaring through the air like a small meteor. Solus felt so happy, so relieved to forget about everything else. Her other half was so close she could almost feel his touch again.
Alas, that cost her everything.
"Where do you think you are going, little one?" Nalear's cruel voice shattered Solus's hopes. Her spirit magic stopped Solus in mid air, pulling her toward the Professor's open palm.
"Who would have thought I would find you while looking for that damn constable? Heavens sure are on my side today." Even if she had been at her peak condition, Solus wouldn't have the strength to escape her pull.
She offered no resistance, letting herself be reeled in like an exhausted fish.
'F*ck the heavens and f*ck you a hundred times over!' Solus thought.
The moment before Nalear's pure mana could solidify enough to block her movements, Solus revealed her trump card.
She opened her pocket dimension, using spirit magic to unleash on the bewildered Professor every single weapon that Lith had Forgemastered and alchemical tool she had realized.
They were all medium low quality items, each one would have negligible effects on someone of Nalear's caliber. Their sheer numbers, however, were a force to be reckoned with.
"Where the f*ck all this stuff comes from?" Nalear's hate for the magical crafting arts knew no bounds that day.
Exploiting her enemy's distraction, Solus assumed the form of a snake, biting Nalear with all her strength. She still had the sample of Balkor's venom in its purest form. Solus pumped it all in the Professor's bloodstream, just to be safe.
The numbing sensation quickly spread through her hand, triggering Nalear into a panic. She had almost died once from the venom to keep her cover during Balkor's attack. Nalear knew she had no time to lose. If the poison reached her core she would die.
Also, she was no Healer. Nalear didn't have any mean to extract the venom aside from Invigoration, but it was hard to focus on a respiration technique while deadly blades and energy blasts were raining on her.
Solus turned tail, searching for Lith's energy signature again. Luckily, he hadn't gotten far, she still had enough energy to reach him. Solus flew as fast as she could, even resorting to employ her distress signal.
The one that had brought them to meet so many years prior. Anyone in the academy could hear it, but Solus didn't care. She wanted to get his attention before it was too late.
Yet it was a quarter past late. Nalear Warped in front of her, clutching her tight with an iron glove surrounded by a mystical aura.
"Damn Forgemasters. Can't live with them, can't live without them." Nalear spat in disgust. She had managed to move so fast only by employing the barrier built in Wanemyre's masterpiece while using Invigoration to expel the venom.
It was one of her strongest artifacts, along with the glove she was currently wearing.
"Thanks for making it easier to find you, stupid piece of rock." Nalear sneered.
"Indeed." Said a voice from another Warp Steps, shutting her mouth with a fist that sent Nalear tumbling on the ground for several meters despite the barrier shielding her.
Solus escaped her grip just for a split second before finding her into another one.
The contact triggered the bonding, making them whole again. For Solus, it was like being able to breathe again after almost drowning. For Lith, it was like seeing the sun at the end of an endless winter.
They became one, their minds fused in joy and hatred, allowing their cores to beat as one. Solus covered his hand, but this time it wasn't a glove.
The gauntlet covered Lith's arm up until the elbow. Its fingers ended in razor sharp claws and small blades came out from its ulna.
The gemstone resting on its center wasn't yellow anymore, but of a deep shade of green.
A split second later, the Gatekeeper sword was back in Lith's hand and the Skinwalker armor replaced the shroud.
Lith didn't waste time asking himself how it was possible nor losing himself in Solus's warm embrace. Not like she would allow him anyway.
They were one, which meant they shared their every thought, including the burning desire to kill Nalear.