With the drop in his aptitude, he turned from an acolyte with a bit of hope into a good-for-nothing.
After seeing Aaron's state, his mentor did not beat around the bush, telling him directly that he no longer had the qualifications to train in a high-grade meditation technique.
Some high-grade meditation techniques had stringent requirements for those cultivating them, and currently, Aaron did not qualify to cultivate his.
"It's much more difficult to advance to an official Magus using the simplified version of the high-grade meditation technique. Doesn't this amount to completely giving up on me? And then there's her..." Aaron lowered his head, fingernails digging into flesh.
After finding out that his aptitude had lowered and that he could not train in the high-grade meditation technique anymore, his relatives and former friends had shunned him. Even his fiancee had abandoned him!
The memory of her firmly leaning into another's embrace as she looked at Aaron in disdain left him feeling like his chest would burst into flames.
What infuriated him further, even driving him into the pits of despair, was that his enemies in the guild had taken the opportunity to beat him up. There were even traces of evidence showing that woman pulling strings in the background, for him to be dispatched to a place like this.
Dolon City was at the frontlines of the war. Official Magi might be able to retreat calmly if the city fell, but level 3 acolytes like him had no chance!
In wartime, the army would be much more willing to give up on cannon fodder like him than on those of higher rank. Historically, an intense war like this would spell doom for over half the acolytes!
Aaron found himself feeling numb. He had to drag his body to the city gate. "Level 3 acolyte Aaron, reporting for duty!" he said, trying his best to look more alert.
"En!" The Magus at his post nodded, neither finding anything strange nor getting mad.
He'd seen numerous acolytes who were dumped here. With no backing, this fellow wouldn't live past a month, so why would he grow angry at a walking corpse?
"Your mission is to maintain this detection spell formation. I've already adjusted it. White dots are regular people, while red dots are acolytes and knights. The purple dots are official Magi. Is that understood?"
"Yes!" Aaron nodded.
Suddenly, the spell formation rumbled and produced a loud bang, cracking apart at the edges. A black ray of light exploded forth.
"And what does black mean?" Aaron asked, dumbfounded.
"Rank 2! A powerful existence that is at rank 2 or above that!" The Magus answered in a daze, and then snapped out of it. "Quick! Sound the alarm!"
Not far away, a black dot expanded in the sky, gradually forming a human figure.
Watching the city gates where there was an uproar, Leylin shook his head slightly. "Looks like there's been a misunderstanding!"
He ceased advancing and silently waited.
Minutes later, two streaks of similarly powerful energy undulations burst out from Dolon City, and two figures transformed into rays of light, darting in front of Leylin.
These were two rank 2 Magi, one male, and one female. The man, in red robes with silver patterns embroidered on, laughed heartily as he greeted, "Sir Leylin! It's great that you were able to get here in time!"
The female Magus merely stood aside and smiled, seemingly leaving the situation to her counterpart.
"It's my honour to meet you, Sir Fendix!" Leylin bowed while smiling gently.
In these three years, it was not as if Leylin had done nothing. At least, he had gotten familiar with a few rank 2 Magi in the east.
This rank 2 Magus was a leader of a large-scale guild. Duke Fendix was one of his descendants.
"Come! If there's anything else, let's talk about it after we get back!" Fendix looked at the uproar around them and laughed towards Leylin, then slowly descended.
Leylin and the female Magus followed behind him.
"It's a rank 2 lord! Quick, bow!"
Leave alone ordinary soldiers, even high-ranking military officers and nobles knelt in front of him, while the official Magus from before respectfully bowed to his waist.
Aaron quickly bowed as well, and then raised his head, confused. He secretly glanced at the young person in the middle, "I seem to have seen that lord before somewhere, but I don't remember where..."
Just as Aaron's gaze swept over him, the Magus seemed to sense it and a pair of black pupils flitted over.
All of a sudden, a surge of darkness and shadows surrounded Aaron, causing him to retreat a few steps, feeling suffocated.
Aaron was so afraid he broke out into a cold sweat and quickly lowered his head, not daring to raise it.
"It's actually him! I didn't expect us to meet here!" In contrast, a grin appeared on Leylin's face.
Strictly speaking, all that he knew about Twilight Zone had originated from this acolyte's memories. To be able to meet again, he was considered quite lucky.
"I'll choose you first then!" The notion of a twisted delight seemed to rise in Leylin.
This thought flashed past, but Leylin's expression remained unchanged as he descended to the mansion at the centre with the other two rank 2 Magi.
The interior decoration was not bad, and it looked to be the residence of some nobility or even mayor of the city. Of course, it had now been taken over.
The three Magi entered the hall and took a seat, a few acolytes bringing drinks and some fruits, and then carefully making their way out.
"The main forces of the dark elves have reached the border. They seem to be very determined this time and have even dispatched the matriarchs of several ancient families. Looks like we'll be under immense pressure this time..."
Fendix looked grim but smiled at Leylin, "Of course, with Sir Leylin here, we'll have even more hope!"
"As a human, I naturally can't shirk my responsibilities!" While Leylin said this solemnly on the surface, he was meanwhile thinking about retreating the moment the situation wasn't in his favour.
Though he didn't mind helping human beings occupy more land for the sake of survival, this was only if this would not harm his own interests. If not, there was nothing to consider.
Of course, this was also how many other high ranked Magi thought.
Even if the war council was aware of this fact, there was little they could do.
Meanwhile, Fendix was still speaking, "Battles between humans, as well as the regular dark elves and beast waves are usually handed to the duke to settle. Underground Winter Spider Knights and dark elf Magi, as well as powerful darkness creatures will require Magi to act, and there is but one reason for our existence, which is to prevent the matriarchs of the dark elves and the emperor of the darkness creatures from meddling!"
Leylin nodded. The powers of rank 2 Magi were good at suppression and deterrence. After all, if a rank 2 existence let go of all their inhibitions, even the Dark Elven Empire would not be unharmed.
"By the way, why is the Dark Elven Empire so confident this time?" Leylin's eyes flashed and he asked.
Hearing this, Fendix and the female Magus exchanged glances and smiled wryly, "This is supposed to be top secret, but Leylin, you're a rank 2 Magus as well. You've also joined up with us, so there's nothing left to hesitate about."
Fendix set up a sound-proof boundary, "The protector of the entirety of our Twilight Zone, the person who has become a rank 3 Magus, does not have much time left...
"The limit of the lifespan of a rank 3 Magus is a thousand years! Only Morning Star Magi can break through this limit. Ever since he started protecting this region, it has been over nine hundred years..."
Leylin went silent for a while. Then, he asked, "In other words, this war is but a probe?"
"The dark elves must have received some information from their end and started probing, but now..." Fendix forced a smile, "All I can say is that Twilight Zone is not allowed to fall back."
Leylin's heart fell. It looked like this rank 3 Magus was not in a good condition.
Under these circumstances, the dark elves' probing would likely become an invasion on a large scale, perhaps even threatening the existence of humans!
Something flashed in his mind, and he suddenly thought of Baelin.
"Chaos and suffering will give birth to the child of destiny. Looks like this is the overture to troubled times."
With Leylin's silence, the hall was filled with a tense atmosphere.
"Alright, let's not talk about these. Shall we prepare a grand welcoming banquet? We could use this opportunity and let those Magi meet you!" Seeing that the atmosphere seemed to have frozen, the rank 2 female Magus smiled slightly and suggested.
"No, there's no need! Let me rest for a while and then prepare a few rank 2 spells!"
Leylin did not have the slightest interest in these customs.
"That's fine!" Magi were generally antisocial, and this was even more so for higher ranked Magi. Fendix and the others did not take it to heart.
Central Twilight Zone!
This was the core of Twilight Zone, and where there was the largest population. Caravans passed by the routes frequently and were bustling with life.
In an unknown area deep in the earth's crust, a green ray of light illuminated a room.
Bathed in the green light was a withered old man. His body was covered with wrinkles and his eyes had sunk so deep into his skull that he seemed like a dead man walking.
A large bizarre flower had tendrils wrapped around his back. Its densely packed sizeable leaves and branches were a dark green that made them seem fat and juicy, and many of its feelers hung low, extending deep underground to an unknown destination. The stolon penetrated the man's flesh as if taking root there, the man's eyes shining as the roots swelled, channeling a great amount of plant matter into him.
A black ray shot out from the back of the old man's hand, projecting a totem in the form of a large spider.
"My old friend, I can sense your feebleness. The aura of life is constantly waning from your body, and you can't even reject my 'Life Absorption' much longer..."
This was the voice of a young lady. It was pleasant to listen to, and even a little bewitching.
"Anya! The ruler of the Dark Elven Empire, the most respected matriarch of the ancient clan!" The old man slowly called out this woman's identity, and immediately after, an absolute formidable energy undulation exploded from behind the old man.
"You can't stop me..." The woman in the totem imprint sighed.