Chapter 2304 Arthan’s Genius (Part 2)
The arrays of the Throne Room conjured a hologram of the Kingdom, highlighting the six great academies.
At a weave of Sylpha's hand, the hologram revealed the position of one mana geyser under each building and many others among them. A ray of light joined the academies to the geysers and each other, forming a magic circle of colossal proportions.
"No mage tower is that big nor does it require so many enchantments. Hence to make them work it takes an insane amount of power that can only be achieved by the array transmitting the power of multiple geysers to all academies at the same time.
"We lost territories during the past wars, Feela, because even though our academies can move as well, in order to function they must keep the formation and the circle intact.
"They can't get far away from where they were built and can do it only if they all move together. Useless to say, such a move would leave the Kingdom exposed and leave a trail of destruction in its wake.
"Not to mention that it would also mean stopping all classes and having no new mages until the end of a conflict. Always remember that the Forgemaster Magus intended the academies as a place of knowledge, not weapons of mass destruction.
"Menadion gave them the ability to fight only in order to protect the youths they host and only after Valeron begged her for it. If you also consider the number of resources that it takes to update them with the passing of time and the development of magic, it shouldn't surprise you we didn't make more."
"Wait a second." Feela asked. "If they are so powerful, why didn't you use them against Balkor during his final attack?"
"Because at that point his creatures were immune to the academies' arrays." Sylpha said with a sigh. "Once Balkor's undead got inside, the students would have been trapped with them.
"On top of that, we couldn't afford to reveal such a secret with a cold civil war ongoing. One or more traitorous Headmasters might have activated their academy and turned it against the Crown."
"You still haven't answered Feela's question." Raagu said. "How could you fail to predict Thrud's plan?"
"First, we still have no idea what her plan is." Meron chimed in to defend his wife. "Second, as Sylpha just told you, academies are supposed to be built in sets of six and unable to move like that.
"We just thought that the Golden Griffon was capable of Warping from one geyser to another under the right circumstances as all cursed objects do. What we are seeing from Verhen's amulet, instead, proves that it can move freely even in absence of an energy source.
"On top of that, the Royal Array should have remained dormant unless activated by the six great academies at the same time. The Golden Griffon conjuring and interacting with it is supposed to be an impossible feat."
The Council representatives had to admit that Meron's words made sense. The Black Star, Kogaluga, and all the known cursed objects were capable of expanding or moving their influence from one geyser to another.
"Also, please consider this." Meron continued. "Thrud started the war from the north, attacking our food reserves. She kept the Golden Griffon out of the battlefield and well-hidden so we assumed she was protecting it, just like you did."
"How can the lost academy move like that, then?" Raagu asked.
"The most likely answer is Forbidden Magic and Arthan's genius." Meron said. "The power core of the Golden Griffon is fueled by stabilized Decay and it's different from those of the rest of the academies.
"You have a copy of its blueprints as well yet you couldn't figure out its properties either."
"This leaves me only one question." Lotho pondered, trying to make sense of that madness. "If the academies were Thrud's goal from the beginning, why is she attacking them only now?"
"Because if she had entered the Royal Array, we would have easily beaten her by combining our forces." Sylpha replied. "If we deployed the army, the Association, and the academies, we would have taken down the Golden Griffon in a snap.>
"Even if she succeeded, Thrud would have found herself surrounded from all sides and with no allies. This way, instead, she has conquered her own territory. She has used this time to evolve her Generals into Divine Beasts.
"She has given her soldiers the time to grow and learn from their battles with us thanks to the immortality that the Golden Griffon grants them. Last, but not least, she has forced us to spread our forces thin and exploited the fog of war to strike before we could even suspect what her goal was."
Deirus region, at the same time.
Zoreth was torn between the desire to bring Bytra to safety and not abandoning Lith. One Eldritch was already down and with the Shadow Dragon gone as well, there wouldn't be much they could do.
'It's not like there's much we can do now either.' She thought while looking at the Golden Griffon and the giant array that was appearing amid its hands.
"Any idea what is it doing?" Lith asked.
"It's sucking the energy away." Nandi replied. "The Golden Griffon is forcing its way in as the seventh point of the array in order to hijack the power it carries."
"It's more than that." Solus could feel the Hands and Eyes of Menadion resonate with her tower half, shivering in disgust. "The Golden Griffon is like a parasite who's sucking the life out of the other academies."
She conjured a hologram depicting their current position, the shape of the visible array, and how by extending the lines they formed a circle that encompassed all the six great academies.
"How do we stop it?" Lith asked.
"We can't get close and our best shots didn't work already." Nandi replied.
"I'm spent." Lith had consumed the Life Maelstrom to survive his battle with Zoreth and his equipment had yet to recover from the Blade Spell.
"I'd say we are screwed." Theseus shrugged.
Inside the White Griffon, Headmaster Marth couldn't agree more.
The lights inside the academy kept flickering even though the mana geyser below was supposed to provide the building with endless energy. The power core had already received the shutdown command, but it kept short-circuiting.
Every single floor of the White Griffon was shaking, the bearing walls screeching as they twisted and deformed in what were supposed to be impossible shapes.
'I feel like I'm trapped in the belly of an agonizing beast, but that's impossible. An academy is just a bunch of stones of magic, not a living being.' Yet only once his best diagnostic spell confirmed Marth that the White Griffon had no life force was he certain of not being inside a cursed artifact.
Headmaster Distar and the rest of Marth's colleagues were in the same situation. The arrays of the classrooms failed and the academies trembled so much that students and Professors needed to hug their desks to not fall on the ground.
Yet the forests surrounding the academies were unaffected by the strange phenomenon.