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Chapter 256: Fused

 Chapter 256: Fused

Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio

"Can you find those druids?" Bruzuryano asked. His eyes were filled with grief and regret. He must have known the guardian and liked him, or else he would not be so sad.

"I can try," Slanbrea promised. He turned to Anfey and said, "So we meet again."

"I'm very honored to see both of you again, my lords..."

"Save us from the formality," Slanbrea said and shook his head. "How did you know we're here?"

"I got lucky, I suppose," Anfey said. He tried to appear as natural as possible, but in reality he was very nervous. He couldn't even look at Bruzuryano, since he was scared that he would ask for the Heart of Nature. He didn't want to return the Heart of Nature because it had helped him so much, but it wasn't his, and he had no right to keep it if its real owner asked for it. He was hoping that Bruzuryano would simply forget about it, but the chance was slim.

"Whatever," Bruzuryano snapped and interrupted Slanbrea. "You must find those druids first."

Slanbrea shook his head. "Why are you asking me?"

"Who else would I ask?"

"Did you already forgot about the Heart of Nature?"

Anfey winced. He wished he could step in and stop Slanbrea from talking about the Heart of Nature, but he could not. Anfey sighed and turned to Bruzuryano. "My lord," he said, bowing. "I haven't seen you in days, and..."

"Oh, stop it," Bruzuryano said hurriedly. "Just give me the Heart."

Anfey sighed and fished out the chain around his neck. He wished that Saul and Ernest were with him; that way he could at least try to negotiate with Bruzuryano. Now, however, he had nothing else to offer to the man. He had no choice but to hand over the Heart. He didn't need to make Bruzuryano his enemy.

Anfey handed the necklace with Heart of Nature to Bruzuryano and felt sad, as if he had just seen the girl he liked with another boy.

Bruzuryano took the Heart and held it in his hands. He felt a sudden, storm-like surge of power within him, but that power disappeared within seconds. He opened his hands, and found the Heart of Nature gone.

"Where is it?" Bruzuryano bellowed angrily.

"I-I just handed it to you, sir," Anfey explained hurriedly. He did not know what had just happened and what Bruzuryano would do, and was scared.

Bruzuryano narrowed his eyes. He was very angry, and Anfey, who was standing in front of him, became the perfect target for his anger. His religion was already growing weak, and every follower mattered. Even if the missing druids were already dead, if he could find them sooner, they had a higher chance of surviving. A magic surge exploded from Bruzuryano and swept across the room, causing the furniture in the room to shake and move. The lamp that had survived the battle intact was shaking violently, the windows swung open and hit the wall of the building. Suzanna took a step back and had to summon her combat power. Even though she was only one level below Bruzuryano, she was significantly weaker than he was. He was hardly using his power, and she had to use her combat power to protective herself.

Anfey frowned. The respect and humility on his face disappeared, and his body became straight and rigid. His face was a stiff mask of coldness. When he was at a dead end, when all words lose their meaning and all actions seem useless, Anfey would show his true self. He did not care about what awaited him. Even if it was his doom, he would not waver.

Slanbrea frowned. He knew that Anfey had great potential, but when he straightened himself, Slanbrea felt as if he had grown several inches. He may not be powerful, but Anfey had the bearing of a powerful man.

Perhaps because he did not see Anfey as an enemy, Bruzuryano did not react to this change. "Tell me," he bellowed. "Where is the Heart?"

Anfey thought that Bruzuryano felt the synchronization between him and the Heart of Nature, and regretted giving the artifice to him. He thought that this would be Bruzuryano's way of taking it back and framing him for stealing it. Anfey forgot about the fact that he often would overthink situations. This was one of his problems, since overthinking a situation makes it easier to prepare for the worst. He did not know that although Bruzuryano appeared to be a simple man, he was still a good friend of Saul's. He would never try to frame Saul's students for anything. Anfey, however, did not know the relationship between those men, and made a decision based on his own judgement.

Anfey did not say anything, and only stared at Bruzuryano.

"Don't scare him, goodness, Bruzuryano, what has gotten into you?" Slanbrea asked, walking over. "Can't you feel it? The Heart of Nature is still here."

Bruzuryano and Anfey both frowned. Bruzuryano was surprised because he did feel surges from the Heart, and Anfey was surprised by the warmth he felt on his chest. He had already used all of his power to hold still in the face of Bruzuryano's rage. If their standoff continued, he would pass out even if Bruzuryano didn't do anything. The warmth from his chest was familiar and filled his body with power.

Anfey pulled his shirt back, and was shocked to find a green, glowing leaf on his left chest. Soft light was coursing through its veins. The Heart of Nature was only a leaf when Anfey handed it to Bruzuryano, but now it seemed to be a living thing.

"This is impossible," Bruzuryano said. The Heart of Nature was a treasure left to mankind by the Goddess of Nature, and had been passing between elves and druids for millennia. Except for the first elven queen, no one could make the Heart of Nature come to life. Anfey was neither a druid nor an elf, and this defied the basic law the Goddess of Nature laid down.

Anfey frowned and appeared perplexed. "I don't know, sir," he said timidly. "Can you take it? It feels strange."

Bruzuryano looked at Anfey and the glowing leaf and sighed. "Take it," he said. "Maybe it is all written in the stars."

"Can you take it?" Anfey asked.

"It's part of you now," Bruzuryano said with a sigh. "Just keep it." He turned and shook his head. "I will go down in history as a sinner."

"Or not," Slanbrea said. "Maybe you will be remembered as someone who catalyzed it." He knew why Bruzuryano was certain he was a sinner. The Heart of Nature was a holy artifice among the elves and the druids. Bruzuryano lost the artifice, and thought himself a sinner. Slanbrea knew very well what extent Bruzuryano would go to to retrieve the Heart, but he was good friends with Saul, and would not harm Saul's students. It was also believed that whoever that could fuse with the Heart of Nature was chosen by the Goddess, and it would be inappropriate. If the pope gave the Scepter of Angel to his successor and the successor was an evil man, Slanbrea could not do anything unless the successor began using death magic.

Bruzuryano sighed and shook his head.

Anfey, on the other hand, was relieved. He had to feign powerlessness, but in truth he was very happy.

"Quickly," Slanbrea said. "Use the Heart and try to find the missing druids." For someone belonging to the top level, it was hard to disturb the peacefulness of the mind. Once it was disturbed, however, it was hard to calm down again. Bruzuryano had too much on his mind, and his mind was no longer peaceful. Slanbrea needed him to calm down and gather himself.

"How do I use it?" Anfey asked. He was still trying to get more information.

"Use your heart," Bruzuryano said quietly. Slanbrea's words gave him a new idea. The missing druids were important, but an Arch Druid fused with the Heart of Nature was even more important. He wanted to find the missing druids still, but he was already thinking about a new plan.