The shadow stopped abruptly in mid air.
It was like a dark mist surrounding Mordred. There was a sense of obscure power to it.
Kieran was sure it was not negative energy though.
The coldness and corrosion of negative energy were easy to recognize.
Kieran was curious about Ferlins dark power, but he was more curious about Mordreds choice.
From Kierans point of view, he should have put up a fight and tried to survive rather than surrender and risk being decapitated.
Even though Ferlin had displayed an obscure, powerful strength, survival instinct alone was enough to turn anyone into a brave fighter.
Plus, Mordred was not some kind of coward. He was a courageous fighter.
Kieran could not believe that such a man would rather surrender than fight for his life, and neither could Ferlin, who had to forget about killing Mordred. Mordred was the Grand Dukes eldest son.
He might have done some something resentful and angered every citizen of the principality, but as long as he was still the eldest son of the Grand Duke, Ferlin would treat him with reverence.
That did not mean he would do nothing though.
The dark mist engulfed Mordred as a series of iron blades could be heard cutting his flesh from the inside.
When the dark mist dissipated, Mordred was on the ground, bloody and badly mutilated.
The dried tree behind him bore chop marks as well, as if an axe had cut into it.
This made Kieran, who was behind the tree, shiver. He was afraid that the tree might fall and reveal his presence.
Fortunately, the tree was much tougher than it looked, or Ferlin had no intention of chopping it down after all.
"I accept you surrender, but I think some kind of insurance is needed. Otherwise, I would not dare bring you along and wait for Stagner to come back!"
Ferlin went over to Mordred and grabbed his shoulder with one hand.
Then the two of them headed north.
Kieran stayed in the shadows for a solid ten minutes. After he made sure Ferlin was really gone, he let out a long breath.
He squinted over Gradons body. The dried tree, which was filled with cracks and cut marks, was supposed to fall, but it didnt.
From Ferlins words, Kieran knew that the scene had been left behind as a clue for Stagner.
Ferlin wanted to use Mordred as bait to lure Stagner to the north side of the principality.
The place where Morko and Titan were connected. In other words, the frontline of the ongoing war.
That was another way for Kieran to leave Morko Principality.
Morko Principality had lots of land. Both on its east and west side there were mountains and cliffs. Only the north and south were flat lands.
Thanks to the efforts of the Grand Dukes of previous generations though, the land had grown through territorial expansion, thus forming the geographical area now using the Morko Castle as a capital. The Forest of Pilgrimage was in the south, and the Afterglow Valley in the north.
Morko Principalitys northern region was connected to Titan territory, thus war always broke out there, even as often as twice or thrice a year.
According to Hanses, after decades of unresolved war, Morko and Titan had become arch nemeses.
A small spark from either side could start a war.
That never-ending war produced generations of Grand Dukes good at fighting battles.
"Hes luring Stagner to the north? It seems like Ferlin wants the Grand Dukes forces. Hes using their numbers to shorten the power gap between them."
Kieran thought about it silently.
Although Ferlin had showed nothing but disdain for Morkos sword master, his actions proved otherwise. It seemed like he had met his nemesis. Otherwise, he would not have injured Mordred so badly.
Judging by Ferlins actions, Kieran believed that Mordred and Stagner had a very unusual relationship, far more complicated than a normal teacher-student relationship.
"Are they close collaborators? Or something else?"
While Kieran was thinking, his legs did not stop.
He was also heading north, even though the best way for him to leave the principality was by going back to the Forest of Pilgrimage and escaping from there.
However, once the thought of the potential benefits and rewards hidden in the north had entered his mind, Kieran had made his decision.
He would not let any opportunity to earn a reward slip away, as this happened only once in a blue moon.
Considering Ferlin and Stagners power level, if he ambushed them, he would get at least a couple of Rare pieces of equipment, and maybe even some Legendary ones!
Under normal circumstances, he would have been no match for Ferlin or Stagner, but things had changed now.
The two of them would inevitably fight, so all Kieran needed to focus on was finding a gap, seizing the chance, and reaping the benefits of their fight.
Of course, Kieran would also need to have a certain amount of strength and vigilance.
Therefore, before he left the scene, he wiped clean all the tracks he had left.
All that was left behind was Gradons body.
The night had gotten darker, and the torches on the castle were flickering in the pitch black atmosphere.
A dark cloud blocked the dim light of the moon, and a bright lightning flashed across the dark sky, just like white paint being scattered on a black canvas.
Moments later, it started raining cats and dogs.
The heavy downpour lasted the whole night.
By the time it slowed down, the castle moat had overflowed, the water level surpassing the safety line.
The guards on duty were busy getting the water out from the inside.
It was not an easy task. The piranhas in the moat were no joke. The iron gloves the guards were wearing proved as much.
Plus, the sky was still drizzling, which made things even harder.
"What kind of weather is this? Lets hope the iron fences around the water valve are strong enough, otherwise we might be going fishing in the river!"
"That will be a bloody nightmare! Lets hope things dont get that far!"
"Wonder when Sir Gradon will be back? We still need to follow his orders, right?"
"No sh*t! He is the Commanding Officer of the whole Western Area. He even fought those savages in the mountains! His orders have to be right!"
A couple of guards were ranting about the situation while they were carrying out their duties.
"What orders?" a sudden stern voice interrupted the guards.
"Who the he-"
As one of the guards turned around, ready to dish out to the new person, he saw a tall strong man behind him. The guard immediately changed his tone into something more reverent, that vulgar mouth of his opening in a polite greeting.
"Good day, Sir Stagner! Before Sir Gradon went out last night, he gave us an order. He said that no one could leave or enter Morko Castle without permission! Of course, this does not include you, sir!" the guard said with a stutter, trying to flatter Stagner as much as possible.
"Is that it? If thats Sir Gradons orders, you better follow them! He is the appointed defender of the castle after all, isnt he?" Stagner said in a loud, powerful voice, giving the guards a generous smile.
"Of Of course, Sir!" The guards immediately nodded in agreement.
Stagner left shortly after they replied in unison.
However, the moment he turned away, his faced turned sour. He knew something had happened to Mordred.
"Damn it!" he cursed under his breath.
Cursing that cunning thief and the one who had threatened Mordreds safety, Stagner went off searching for the truth.
He soon reached the woods and carefully inspected the tracks and marks around them.
After a whole night of heavy rain, the downpour had washed away almost everything. Not even Stagner could do anything about that.
There was still one clue though. Gradons dead body and the cut marks on the dried tree left behind by some special power.
After a quick inspection on Gradons body, Stagner touched the marks on the tree and immediately understood what had happened.
"Ferlin! You better not harm Mordred, or Ill make you wish you were dead!"
A heavy, angry roar escaped Stagner as he stormed off towards the north in a frenzy.
The battle of the century was about to break out.