The face-off between the Light and Shade School students and Glenn's group was not fueled to a conflagration. Instead, it was quenched. As the two groups were at the edge of a full-out war, three huge waves of energy rustled the tree leaves over their heads. It was the Daughter of Sun running in a mad dash, and behind him, Golden Eye, the Immortal, and the Transformer -- the three Desperaters from the Black Isotta -- were pursuing him, trying to hunt him down.
They rushed by the two groups just a few meters away.
The Black Isotta's three theoretically best students had joined hands. They would undoubtedly smite their opponent.
The 14 students from the Light and Shade were well aware of that fact, and they made a sensible decision to end the fight with Glenn's group.
Time moved on, and the second shipment of mirrors arrived. Glenn's group could feel the roaring waves of magical force surging towards them.
Lafite was perched on a high tree.
"It's about 1,700 meters away from us, on our southwest side." Lafite had found where the second batch of mirrors had landed. She had splendid eyesight when she transformed her right eye into an eagle eye. She could clearly see a human-sized object from several kilometers away.
"Yo! Go take it." Chris grunted back to Lafite and galloped like a primitive towards the direction she pointed.
Robin tagged along. She mounted that massive boar and drove it at the heels of Chris. Stretches of grass were trampled underfoot and fell over as the boar bellowed on. And Robinson jumped onto that boar Robin was riding.
"Lafite, catch us up!" Robinson's voice stuttered as the boar was jolted on.
Apart from her eagle eye, Lafite had a pair of wings made up of leaves. She flapped her wings lightly and steadily until she reached the ground.
"The landing spot of the mirror was not as we've expected. So there might be something going on. Glenn, you keep an eye on Nina." Lafite urged Glenn.
Lafite was not asking Glenn to protect her just because she was swifter than Nina. The more important reason was Lafite's pride.
"Oh." Glenn nodded.
Glenn didn't say anything. His countenance could not be deciphered as he still had that mask on his face. But his voice was calm. Nina and Lafite were both reassured.
The three followed up.
At the mirror drop point, an altar rose up from below the ground. As the altar ceased ascending, a fist-sized bead appeared in the middle of it. It was like a source of energy and was glowing brilliantly. If someone had watched it for a minute, heshe might have been blinded.
Six pillars were holding up the altar. Each was at a distance of several dozen meters. There were numinous symbols inscribed on them. Something seemed to be enclosed in between the pillars.
"Haha, I'm the first one." A female student had arrived at the mirror's location. She had outrun the other competitors because she, like Lafite, had wings. Lafite's wings were leaves, and hers were powered by wind element.
She settled herself in front of the altar. She then watched the bead, which was hanging in the middle of the pillars. It actually kept moving, but it had not changed its place at all. The girl's eyes were filled with yearning to get the bead immediately.
She had a second thought. There was a voice in her head saying:
"Treasured things like this must be guarded by something, maybe something hidden in the dark, or there might be a trap--"
The girl decided to dictate somebody to do some investigation for her. She murmured something, and a mouse emerged.
"Go get it, my little mouse baby."
The mouse vanished the moment it entered the altar.
"No!" The girl bemoaned the loss of her prized mouse for a few seconds. She then continued, "Something moved. I saw it. For a second, it sparkled. Is there really a guardian that can't be seen? Whatever that man or thing is, it moved fast. I could barely see it."
The girl wasn't tempted to encroach on the territory again. So she found a clean ground and sat down, awaiting the late arrivals to unravel the mystery.
Four students penetrated through the thick forest and arrived at the mirror site. They had chain marks that contained neither mediocre nor super energy.
"Hello?" A boy out of the four students approached her and inquired.
"I know what's in your head. That bead over there is guarded by something. I've tried, but I couldn't get it." The girl leered at him.
"Humph! You don't know what I am capable of!" The boy retorted, gnashing his teeth.
The boy fished out a bird from his robe. It was emerald and had a sharp beak. The bird took to the air and flew towards the altar.
The same poofing sound broke. The bird, to the four students' amazement, disappeared. The girl had expected it.
Several dozen students came in droves. But nobody dared to got near to the altar after being notified of the horror stories about how the mouse and the bird were eradicated.
Around half an hourglass had passed, and the crowd began to appear restless. The altar and the bead was a ready meal which they could not relish. It was their hope that at least someone could cause some stir to make the game less boring.
To their surprise, someone did come.
It was one of the Desperaters -- The HalfRobot.
There were a total of seven Desperaters in this Bramble Forest. And the second batch of mirrors had arrived at ten separate sites. So the probability that each of the sites would be visited by a Desperater was high.
"A Desperater, did you see it?!" A student went wild with joy. He thought that the one who could break the shield of the pillars or defeat the protector hidden somewhere had eventually arrived.
The HalfRobot got his nickname because he had an artificial arm. It was made with iron and steel or some kind of synthetic metal. Nobody was sure if his actual arm was "artificial" or was concealed in the artificial one. He also had a mechanical tail that wagged like that of a scorpion. The whole picture was too grim to look at.
To the crowd's great surprise, he didn't say or do anything regarding raiding the altar and taking the bead.
"He must know something about the altar, or he wouldn't let this golden opportunity slip away." A student suspected.
"I hope the altar isn't something horrible. The sorcerers might have designed it to weed the weak out," another student responded.
As the students were agitatedly chattering, the forest thundered.
Chris came into their sight, followed by Robin and Robinson riding the boar.
"It's you guys. Do you remember me?" The three members of Glenn's group were greeted by the girl who had arrived first.
"It's me, Belle. We met at our first class in the Black Isotta. Lecture Hall nine?" The girl became excited.
"Yeah. I remember." Robinson replied.
The girl had been there in Glenn's first class. A boy named Thomas was pursuing her and had tried to grab Nina's seat for her because the Hall was crammed and no seat was left. Unfortunately, the boy was slapped in the face by the Mind Master through hypnotization. Alastair had been with the Mind Master at the time. He had developed feelings for that girl-- Belle-- since then.