'Seriously, I can't believe we've come to this point.' Yondra thought. 'Even if I could actually make a difference, I would never trust Ellkas or Eari with Rainer. They both strike me like someone who always looks out for number one.
'Hence I can't stay here and hope that they will help him out of the goodness of their hearts and why I can only trust them until the dimensional Gate will be opened. After that, I'll be on my own.
'I can't be like these idiots, I must think about the bigger picture. What if we get interrupted and we have to run away? What if something happens to me? Everyone else would be doomed.' She took a deep breath, trying to make her mind.
She was too tired to think clearly, yet she had to. After a few seconds, she decided to gamble one last time, to leave no stone unturned.
"I could teach you how to operate dimensional runes, but it would be pointless." Yondra replied. "There are only two ways to fuel them. The first is with what their maker intended as a key.
"In the Odi's case, it's probably a mana crystal carved with a particular shape. The second way is to use a Royal Forgemaster's wand to directly activate the rune with your mana."
"Great. So you're blackmailing me. Either I come with you or I risk getting stuck here forever." Lith didn't like ultimatums, yet he had his back against the wall. Both choices sucked.
To stay behind meant to risk everything for someone who might already be dead, but leaving was even worse. Phloria was the first person who had ever accepted him for who he was and Quylla was almost like a sister to him.
She had come to that horrible place because of him, to find a way to prolong his life. More than everything, he couldn't keep living with the thought to have given up on two of the people who mattered the most for him.
When Lith had been reborn, surrounded by the love of his family, he had sworn that nothing and no one would have ever been taken away from him again. Yet it was exactly what was likely to happen.
"No blackmailing, I'm offering you my help. Help us to reach the dimensional rune, give Ranger Eari whatever he wants from you, and I'll help you save your friends." Yondra said while looking him straight into his eyes.
"If it's just the two of us, your plan would be suicidal, but with Eari's help, it's like having the whole team." She sneered at Ellkas and Rainer. Their battle prowess was bordering on insignificance.
"Fine!" Lith didn't like the deal much, but it was the best compromise he could get. That way, no matter if Phloria was alive or not, he would still have a way out. His infant conscience and his selfishness had stopped quarreling, giving him time to think.
'It's not that bad of a deal.' He thought. 'If Yondra's plan succeeds, their help will make saving Phloria and Quylla much easier. If it fails, well, my deal with Morok will be the least of my worries.'
"You heard the lady. Are you in?" Lith asked.
"For real? Do you give me your word that this is not a trick?" Morok had never thought that Lith would have actually accepted. His earlier offer was barely a joke, to spread salt on Lith's wounds.
"You have my word. A life for a life." Lith extended his hand and Morok promptly shook it.
"Well, as we eye brothers use to say, if before you had my curiosity, now you have my undivided erection."
"Don't you mean attention?" Rainer asked.
"I know exactly what I mean, kid."
"Good. While we wait that I recover some of my strength, let me teach you how to use a Royal Forgemaster's wand." Yondra handed Lith her silver wand, making Rainer's jaw almost fall to the ground.
"Master Yondra, why?" He asked.
"Because if we fail and something happens to me, everyone would be stranded here. We need a contingency plan." She replied.
The moment Lith had it in his hands, he used Invigoration to understand the wand's nature. Much to his surprise, it didn't have a pseudo core, nor it was actually made out of silver.
The external layer of precious metal was just a focus for a small mana crystal. Both of them were covered in silver-colored runes Lith had never seen before. Unfortunately, Yondra demanded his attention before he could study it properly.
"The wand is basically a filter. It purifies your mana from its energy signature, allowing it to be universally accepted by all kinds of devices as if you are a giant mana crystal.
"Also, the lack of energy signature allows your mana to interact with most artifacts without triggering their defensive systems, hence why we could safely examine Kulah's various locks and seals.
"It has many other properties, but that would be beyond the scope of our lesson." Yondra then taught him the spell to activate the dimensional runes and once she was certain that Lith had learned it properly, she gave the wand to Rainer and asked him to perform the spell as well.
That way, no matter who survived, her Apprentice would be useful and hence the others would be more careful about his well-being. The spell itself was simple, but it required both a high amount of mana and a highly developed mana control, the two trademarks talents of a Forgemaster.
Lith had learned the spell so fast that Rainer lived it as a competition, doing his best to not let down his beloved mentor.
While Yondra repeated her instructions to her pupil, Lith asked Professor Ellkas to translate for him all the signs they had found along the way. Ellkas was happy to help.
His talents as both a linguist and an Alchemist weren't very useful in their predicament. Just like Quylla, he was deeply regretting not to have practiced an offensive specialization.
He had spent his whole life holed up in his academy, letting his love for the past civilizations made him forget about the dangers of the present.
Thanks to him, Lith was able to enrich his Odi vocabulary and even find the way leading to the lower floors.
'I wonder if Gaakhu managed to escape. If yes, the warehouse might be worth checking. I'll know more after visiting the detention facility. I need a contingency plan in case the dimensional rune of the Meat Factory gets destroyed.' Lith thought.
Yondra hadn't taught him how to repair runes and he suspected that it was not only because the task required special ingredients, but also to ensure Rainer's survival. If the youth already knew the restoration spell, then Lith would be forced to take care of him.
'Such a shrewd woman.' Lith thought. 'If she was a true mage, I would immediately accept her offer of apprenticeship. With her deep knowledge about almost all magical specializations and her title of Royal Forgemaster, Yondra's help would save me decades of research.'
Lith turned to look at Morok, yet his glare only found a sleeping Ranger. He would have gladly followed the Tyrant's example, but time was a luxury he couldn't afford. While Yondra rested and meditated, he squeezed all the knowledge he could from Ellkas.
"We have to move now." Yondra said less than half an hour later. "Without mana crystals to fuel them, my arrays are going to disappear in a while but we can't place mana crystal without making our trap lose the element of surprise."