Chapter 383 Looming Shadow
It was already sundown when the carriages reached the Tower of Fate.
Lonely rocks and shattered bones littered the desolate Dragonblight. The Tower of Fate stood alone in the heart of this desolate place, where one could hear the magical creatures howl in the night.
The apprentices got down from the carriages under the orders of the Dark Witch. They stood in a row before the gates of the Tower and waited for the owner of the Tower to arrive.
Erika was undoubtedly one of many anxious apprentices. Erika shivered when she thought of living in a bleak tower like this. The only ones accompanying her were those crazy magical creatures in the wild and these potentially malicious companions.
"Don't worry. Things will get better!" Freya whispered to Erika. Freya stood beside her and lightly clasped her hand.
Erika returned a forced smile.
Erika could tell that Freya's hands were cold.
It seemed she wasn't as calm as she appeared to be on the outside!
The gates of the Tower finally opened.
A gentle, bright light shone from inside and showered the apprentices with a warm radiance.
A slim figure appeared in front of them. She silently assessed the apprentices.
"Now that you have arrived, come in and take a rest! Sorry to have troubled you in escorting these apprentices!"
Her voice was sweet and gentle, and she seemed young.
The Dark Witch stood in the darkness and replied coldly, "Lady Alice, the seven apprentices promised by us Dark Witches have been sent to you. I won't be staying. Farewell!"
The witch turned and disappeared into the darkness, along with the guards, without even entering the gates.
Dragonblight at night was not peaceful nor calm. The group would certainly sustain heavy losses while trying to break through the hordes of monsters. However, the Dark Witches' attitude was firm and decisive. It appeared that they didn't want to have much to do with Alice.
Alice gazed at the carriages disappearing into the distance. An incomprehensible smile surfaced on her face as she turned and spoke with the seven apprentices, "Come in!"
The apprentices bowed in respect. They knew very well in their hearts who this was. The master of their futures– Alice, the leader of the Witches of Fate.
The apprentices lifted their heavy chests with all their strength and carefully walked past Witch Alice into this warm, bright tower.
Erika was the last of the apprentices to enter the tower.
She couldn't help but sneak a look at the legendary Witch of Fate when she walked by her.
This woman was a young and beautiful witch. Her figure was even more delicate and perfect than any other witch Erika had seen in her life. Her head was full of smooth silver hair that shined in the dark. Her skin was so white it almost appeared crystalline. Her eyes were sharp and filled with power, and her pupils were a translucent blue color. She wore a long purple robe decorated with magical rune and patterns of suns, moons, and stars.
The Witch of Fate also silently looked at Erika with gentle eyes.
Their gazes collided, and Erika immediately shrunk her neck out of fear. She gripped the handles of her old and worn case tightly and soberly followed behind her companions. She no longer dared to look around randomly.
Alice sighed when she saw the apprentice's cowardly and fearful behavior.
She had known Erika back when she was an apprentice.
A dozen years ago, they were apprentices that had entered the Dark Witches' tower at the same time. They had spent two years together. Alice was only sent away to a mid-sized adept organization in the center of the Continent due to Granny Endor's assignment to the Zhentarim area. Alice had been put under the care of a female adept known as Debra in the organization Fanny's Cottage.
Twenty years had passed just like that. Who would have expected Erika to have only reached intermediate level while Alice had become the leader of the Witches of Fate?
The word miraculous didn't even begin to describe the difference in how their lives had played!
Alice frowned when she looked at the seven apprentices walking into the tower.
Most of them had poor potential, while the one or two redeemable apprentices had such incredible talent that she started doubting her own eyes.
Judging from the attitude of the Dark Witch earlier, the Dark Witches no longer treated her as an ally. Alice had initially expected the escort of the apprentices to be Granny Endor.
Instead of Granny Endor, they had sent an unfamiliar and unfriendly witch her way. There was clearly a story behind this that she didn't know!
The apprentices were immediately shocked by the scene before them when they walked past the gates!
Fresh and bright arcane halls, clean floors, illuminating crystals glowing with gentle lights and…
A long table was in the middle of the hall. All sorts of dishes and drinks had occupied on the table. There were fried ox kidneys, quails stuffed with spices and fruits, meat pies made with lark and partridge meat, steak seared with wine and onions, and dormice pickled in honey. The fragrant food wafted steam into the air. The menu had aroused everyone's appetites.
The hungry apprentices couldn't help but swallow their saliva.
They looked at each other in confusion. Hadn't this place just been activated for two days? How had it recovered so quickly? They were the first apprentices to reach the Tower! Could Witch Alice have personally tidied up the hall in the past two days?
"Have a meal first!" Alice's voice was still as gentle and calm as before, "Your lodgings have also been prepared. You only need to eat and rest today. Your tasks and duties will be assigned to you tomorrow. Just follow this guard once you are done eating. It will bring you to your rooms."
Alice referred to the armored guard standing in the corner of the hall.
It stood there without moving, like those sets of armor that nobles liked to use to decorate their rooms. However, the apprentices knew very well what this armor was. It was a living armor forged with magic-resistant alloys and was as powerful as they were. Crushing a group of intermediate and advanced apprentices like themselves was an easy feat for a golem like this one.
Alice walked away to tend to her own business.
Only the apprentices, the food on the table, and the unmoving armored guard remained in this massive arcane hall.
Everybody hesitated for a moment as they looked at each other. Freya and another advanced apprentice stood forward and spoke, "Everyone's exhausted from such a long trip. Let's do as Lady Alice has told us to, and take a rest after we eat. We can leave anything else that needs to be said to tomorrow!"
Everyone had been waiting for this!
They immediately rushed forward and started feasting after hearing Freya's words.
In truth, everyone had already prepared themselves for a difficult time here in the Tower.
After all, the Tower of Fate had been sealed for a thousand years. Most of the magical facilities would not be functional, and the entire place was likely lacking in resources and materials. Don't even mention snacks and food. All the apprentices had also stuffed sleeping tents into their chests that they had brought along.
Yet, the initial impression that the Tower of Fate and its owner gave them was completely different from their expectations. In fact, it was the exact opposite!
Consequently, the apprentices wanted to know more about this mysterious Tower of Fate!
The Tower of Fate's twelfth floor.
Alice and Snowlotus stood in front of a massive water mirror and silently observed the feasting apprentices.
"This one… and this one." Snowlotus pointed with her thin, white finger. She pointed out two distinctive apprentices in the mirror, "They are different from the others! Their talent is a little too good. Are you sure this isn't the goodwill of the Dark Witches?"
"I am sure!" Alice lifted her eyelids and the fine eyelashes on them. She revealed her beautiful blue eyes. Only this time, there was none of the warmth and cheekiness she usually displayed. There were only cold apathy and thinly-veiled anger, "If the Dark Witches wanted to express their goodwill, they only needed to send Granny Endor to our place. No need for such complicated tricks!"
"They launched a spy over to us and went about it in such an obvious manner. So what will it be, do we bite?" Snowlotus nodded her head in agreement.
She was also a second generation witch that came from a large clan. Naturally, she was acquainted with the complicated politics of large clans. The larger the clan, the better they were at putting up facades and hiding their true intentions.
Alice might once have had much to do with the Dark Witches, but their past ties were poisoned by schemes and concerns now that she had become the leader of the Witch of Fate.
Alice's grandmother Endor was, at best, a First Grade witch. She had absolutely no authority or influence within the Moya Clan, the most prominent clan within the Dark Witches. Thus, Endor could not affect any of the crucial decisions the Moya Clan made. The only reason why this uncomfortable situation had developed was due to some significant but unknown shift in the Moya Clan's attitudes towards Alice!
If one were to assume the worst, Alice's grandmother would have been put under house arrest if she didn't respect the decision of the Dark Witches.
It was precisely because Alice thought of this that her mood soured!
"Snowlotus, are the resources left in the tower enough to host one divination ceremony? I want the answer tonight!" Alice turned to look at Snowlotus.
The accounting of the treasuries and storerooms had all been done by Snowlotus over the past few days.
"Of course the resources are enough," Snowlotus took out an inventory list, "A thousand years might have caused most of the materials to lose their effects, but the remaining materials are more than enough to host two large-scale divinations."
"Good!" Alice nodded and said, "Helen, please help me clear out the astrology platform at the top level. I'll be using it in a moment! Take any materials you need from Snowlotus!"
The magic fairy Helen, who had been crouching on Alice's shoulders, immediately took to the air. She beat her wings as she shouted her reply, "Got it. I'm going now."
The magic fairy then disappeared in a trail of stardust.