Episode 74 – Façade
Dusk’s head snapped back to look at his shoulder, where the head of Elaru Wayvin was supposed to be lying.
Simultaneously, his hand attempted to push her away from him.
The redheaded vixen wasn’t using his shoulder as a pillow like she was supposed to be doing.
She stared at him with a coy smirk, without any trace of a blush, sweat or any form of sickness.
Not good! Panic flashed in Dusk’s eyes as he realized that the arm that was supposed to be pushing Elaru away wasn’t responding to his commands.
He attempted to jump away from the girl, but his legs weren’t following his intentions either.
They stood rooted to the spot.
This was the moment in which Dusk realized he was in deep trouble. As an elibu, he couldn’t use magic to make his body move. All he could do was attempt to attack the redhead with magic so she would voluntarily move away from him.
Dusk Rose’s reputation as a Shadow wasn’t for nothing. Instantly, he reacted by using a Morph spell on the rock tiles they were standing on. His intention was to morph the tiles into spikes which would erupt from the ground and impale the redhead next to him.
However, in the next moment, the only change that happened was the paling of Dusk’s face.
His Morph spell melted before it could fully form, like an ice cream under the hot sun.
Their entire surroundings were covered by a cloud of dense mana.
Dusk Rose already knew that aura of Elaru Wayvin was extremely dense. But only now, when he was forced to use magic inside the area covered by her aura, did Dusk Rose realize just how dense it really was.
What covered their surroundings couldn’t be called an “aura”.
What surrounded them was Mage Armor.
Since mana naturally seeped out of one’s body into the surroundings, mages would contain their mana near their own body to form a dense layer – Mage Armor. The mana which wasn’t controlled would drift away aimlessly into the surroundings, becoming an aura. If aura was the water vapor, then the Mage Armor was the whirlpool of water.
Elaru Wayvin possessed such a large density of mana that the scope of her Mage Armor covered not only her own body but her entire surroundings.
Since she was now pressed right against the body of Dusk Rose, she created an area all around them in which Dusk Rose couldn’t use magic.
And worse still, if Dusk Rose wanted to use magic outside of the area covered by her Mage Armor, he would need to direct his mana to exit the area under her Mage Armor. However, no matter how he tried to direct his mana to exit the sphere of mana around them, her mana constantly pushed it back towards the center.
He was stuck inside a whirlpool. And the only way for him to use magic was to use it in the area covered by his own Mage Armor.
Unfortunately, his Mage Armor, like the Mage Armor of the majority of mages, only covered his own body.
Dusk Rose’s pupils shrunk. He walked straight into a trap!! He allowed Elaru Wayvin to come close to him! And he didn’t even realize that he had entered her own Mage Armor!
Even now, if he hadn’t tried casting magic, he wouldn’t have realized that he was under her Mage Armor.
Elaru Wayvin knew how to conceal her own mana. She had wrapped her mind around her surroundings, only revealing slight gaps, creating an illusion that the mana density around her was much lesser than it actually was.
In a single moment, their situations had reversed.
Now, Elaru was the one holding up his own body from slumping down.
Dusk Rose desperately tried to come up with a plan. A magic that he could cast on his own body that would help him overcome the current perilous predicament. If only he was an argel! If only he could cast Accelerate! Even if he couldn’t move his own body normally, he could cast Accelerate to make it move. Not only could he Accelerate to escape her area of control but he could even use it to control his body like it was a puppet.
Alas, he was an elibu.
The demon that was Elaru Wayvin chuckled musically and twirled an acupuncture needle in her hand as if it was just a toy. “Now, now. Don’t make any sudden moves.” She warned in an overly cheerful tone that sent chills down Dusk’s spine. “I only disabled your limbs. Don’t force me to knock you out.”
That’s when it dawned on Dusk why his body wasn’t moving.
In his moment of distraction, she had inserted a needle inside his neck that blocked the nerves responsible for moving his limbs.
The situation was going from bad to worse by the second. A cunning gleam of determination flashed inside Dusk’s eyes, and he opened his mouth to scream for help, determined to act like a victim until the end. Hoping that the guardian of Muni would show up and help him out of his predicament.
Ironic. That the guardian that he had been most wary of this entire time would be the one creature he would hope to see the most.
However, Elaru Wayvin was still one step ahead of him. She put a finger over his lips seductively and hushed him. “Shhh. If you start screaming, I’ll be forced to turn you into a pin cushion.”
Her soft and musical tone lacking any hostility made his heart go cold. His expression transformed from a sincere and goofy expression into a wronged look. Since his other options were sealed, he needed to adopt a new tactic: stall for time.
“What are you doing?!” Dusk Rose cried out with grievance.
He would make her think that she won and distract her while he came up with an escape plan. Perhaps if he stalled for a while, the guardian would show up, and he wouldn’t need to do anything.
Elaru Wayvin smiled a smile so radiant that it seemed as if the sun suddenly came out from behind the clouds. “There is no point in acting innocent. I knew of your intentions from the start.” The redhead patted his cheeks good-naturedly. “Nothing screams ‘suspicious’ more than a person with a false face.”
Dusk’s back broke out in cold sweat. He stared at Elaru Wayvin as if he was seeing a monster.
When most people wanted to change their appearance, they would utilize makeup. It was an easy way that anyone could do. It wasn’t easy to see through and if done right one could become entirely unrecognizable. The downside of this method was that it was an art in itself, which consumed too much time and couldn’t be adjusted and changed on the go. It needed premeditated preparation.
The alternative to using makeup was to utilize magic.
Unfortunately, altering one’s appearance with magic wasn’t as easy as it sounded.
There were only two ways one could alter their appearance by magic.
One could change the structure of their own face and body, such as by using Morph, or one could create an illusion through the usage of Light magic.
Directly changing the structure of one’s body was extremely dangerous. Not only was Morph a solid state spell whose effects persisted after the spell was lifted, but using it on the body without understanding body structure to near perfection could easily cause permanent damage, disability, and even death.
The only ones that could utilize Morph to change appearance were Body Sculptors, a branch of Healers that specialized in beautifying rich people.
The alternative to using Morph was by utilizing Light magic to create illusions. However, this option was not any easier than the former. Light mages needed to be artists capable of “drawing” extremely realistic illusions. And no matter how incredible of a mage one was, if he wasn’t a great artist as well, he wouldn’t be able to fool anyone with their illusions.
In conclusion, changing one’s appearance with magic was a near impossible feat, with people capable of doing so being as rare as phoenix feathers and qilin horns.
There were only two exceptions to this rule – two secret magic spells of the Etezza family – Façade & Mirage. Based on the Morph and Light spells, they were created by the god ancestor of the Etezza family who spellcrafted countless rules into the spell, defining mysterious laws.
Etezza family treated these spells as their ancestral priceless treasure, teaching it to very few members of the family. Not only because the spells were priceless, but because they were level 15 spells – the highest known spell level. Which meant that the mages capable of learning it were very few. The bare minimum requirement was for one to be an S-ranked mage. And even if one was an S-ranked mage, one would need to put years of effort into learning it.
The benefit, however, was that the mage didn’t need to know anything about the human body, nor how to paint realistic illusions. And since it was a secret spell, only those who were taught the spell would be able to recognize it when used by others.
Which is exactly why Dusk Rose stared at Elaru Wayvin as if she was a ghost.
Elaru Wayvin recognized that he was wearing a false face.
And since his false face was created by Façade, the only way she would be able to recognize the spell would be if she knew it herself.
#$&%! Dusk Rose swore. If we are on the same side, why in the bloody tarnation was I given this mission?!
Dusk’s face paled further. Don’t tell me I inadvertently stumbled onto a conflict of interest within the family? Or… is this redhead a family traitor?! But why didn’t anyone warn me about this?!?
Or perhaps she was only guessing? Perhaps she wasn’t sure at all!
Focus! Dusk’s training kicked in, and he instantly calmed down. There is no need for you to question your mission. Whatever the underlying reason is, it is none of your business. What you need to do now is stall for time.
Dusk Rose scowled at Elaru. “My face isn’t fake. And even if it was, you couldn’t even see my face from behind. How would you be able to tell if it was fake?”
Elaru gave him a disbelieving look. “Why would I need to see your face? You are using Façade, not makeup!”
So, she isn’t just guessing! She really recognizes Façade!
Dusk Rose persisted. “If you recognize Façade, you should know I am not your enemy.”
Elaru Wayvin shrugged. “Which is why you are still perfectly fine and able to blabber your mouth. However, I am afraid I cannot allow you to complete this mission. It is against my personal interests.”
Dusk Rose pouted. “You are really unreasonable! This is totally not a conflict of interest!”
Elaru gaped at Dusk Rose. “Bloody meep! You used Fever Touch on me! How is knocking me out in my interest?!”
Ah. Fever Touch. The actual name of my One-Touch Knock-Out.
“That was a misunderstanding. Besides, you are fine. Speaking of which, how is it that you are fine? Immune?”
“Yeah. Fever Touch was the first poison papa forced me to develop immunity to.”
“Makes sense, makes sense.” Dusk Rose nodded his head approvingly. “But there is one thing that doesn’t make sense at all. You said that you knew my intentions from the start. What intentions? Don’t tell me you based all that on me going in the wrong direction? I was really going to the infirmary!”
Elaru Wayvin stared at Dusk Rose speechlessly. Dude… must you lie to my face so openly? She raised her eyebrow and smirked. “I would think that someone capable of casting Façade would have enough common sense to look at the guidepost.”
Dusk Rose stared at her innocently. “What guidepost?”
Elaru’s eyebrow twitched. Still playing innocent? Alright, let’s try a different approach. She smirked and sneaked her hand inside the pocket of Dusk Rose’s jacket. She pulled out a round badge with number 1385 on it. Dusk Rose’s entrance exam pass.
“I see, I see. So, you were just an innocent examinee in Kiel’s group…but wait…Kiel’s number is 5642. How is it that number 1385 and 5642 are in the same group?” Elaru Wayvin grinned widely.
Dusk’s innocent smile froze. Since the groups were formed by taking 20 people with adjacent numbers, he couldn’t be in Kiel’s group!