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«Supreme Magus (Web Novel) - Chapter 2976 Hidden Lab (Part 2)

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Chapter 2976 Hidden Lab (Part 2)

This chapter is updated by Novels.pl

By the time Lindell/Pharek's secret lab had been found, the damage to the hidden room had been repaired by the protective arrays of the palace. The complex and delicate instruments were intact, but too many things were out of place.

The Forge had disappeared, leaving only a depression in the carpet. The many books scattered throughout the room and the several empty shelves were the only remaining signs of struggle.

No mage would be foolish enough to set up an array to put books back in their place.

Otherwise they wouldn't be able to read without the array taking the tome off their hands like an annoying librarian. If a shelf had been broken, the books were right below it.

If a spell had blown it to bits, however, the explosion would propel the books away.

By studying the pattern of the books, it was easy to retrace the different phases of the fight and also understand when things had gotten dire. Self-repairing enchantments were no barriers and paper was frail by nature.

A tome with missing pages or the presence of scattered ashes meant that a spell strong enough to overpower the protections had been used.

"I'll tell you what we already know so you won't have to start from scratch." Azhom said. "Based on our timeline reconstruction, about five months ago someone entered Limbell's house. It must-"

"Five months ago?" Lith was flabbergasted. "You've sat on the scene for so long and expect us to find something?"

"No, we didn't 'sit on the scene', as you put it." Strider snarled. "We have used arrays to preserve everything as it was. From the dust on the furniture to the position of the books to the lingering energy signatures.

"Everything is still as we found it. Also, what did you expect? Awakened crimes aren't like human crimes. There are only so many possible suspects and no one steals something like this to keep it hidden.

"We were certain that by letting the culprit think that they had gotten away with it, they would have done something that would betray their involvement. Also, we've never stopped investigating. We believed that something would come out.

"The problem is that we were wrong. Please, continue, Azhom."

"It must have been a friend, because unless Limbell opened the door himself, the security system would have alerted him and he would have fought the intruder in the outer rooms, not in his hidden Forgemastering lab.

"Also, it must be someone Limbell trusted. A Forgemaster treasures his secrets more than his bedchambers." The Lich said and Bytra, Solus, and Lith nodded in agreement.

"We think that Limbell brought the killer here to show them something, maybe a piece that had been commissioned but still needed the input of the client before being completed.

"Then something was said or done that caused the violence. This is most likely a fist." He pointed at a pile of collapsed books in front of an empty shelf at the level of Limbell/Pharek's head.

"When that failed, spells started to fly." She pointed at the scattered and burned books on both sides of the room where the mages had probably crashed during the exchanges.

"Then Limbell died and you know the rest."

"Are there missing books?" Xenagrosh's Dragon Eyes had already counted the stray books and then calculated the empty volume on the shelves.

For them to be all destroyed there were too little ashes.

"Many." Rhuta said. "After accounting for the scattered books, those damaged, and the few that have been blown to cinders, we estimate that about half of the content from the empty shelves was taken.

"Another weird thing is that Limbell's diaries, Grimoires, and secret manuals are safe. He had entrusted them to his disciple and even though the young Nem Limbell refused to let us read them, we could still verify their contents.

"The books in his possession are so many that they would fit this entire room. The missing tomes are 'just' a few dozens."

"Before you ask, yes we checked Nem Limbell's whereabouts and alibi." Unanna the Naga said. "He was our first suspect since he fit the bill of the culprit to nigh-perfection.

03:16

"He was away when this happened. Old Limbell had sent him to fetch rare ingredients in the Council's market. We have witnesses, security footage, timeline, everything.

"Also, I specified nigh-perfection because the young Limbell has no damn motive. His master was old, there was no argument between them nor time to find a replacement.

"All of this was going to belong to Nem in a few years anyway. It was no secret that Sherk Limbell's life force was almost drained so why kill his master and risk death at the hand of the Council?"

"How can you be so sure that there was no argument with his disciple?" Bytra asked, knowing well how a disgruntled apprentice could hide their resentment until it turned into hatred.

Solus swallowed at those words, wondering if it took a murderer to know one.

"Because Limbell was old and had plenty of friends." Strider replied. "We have checked with them their conversations of the last few years and there's no mention of attrition with Nem Limbell nor did Sherk ask his friends to help him find a replacement.

"We even checked with Nem's friends who confirmed to us that the youth has been a mess for quite a while now. He loved the idea of becoming the master of the house but he hated that it came at the price of losing his beloved great-grandfather."

"It's a mystery." Xenagrosh thought long and hard about the issue but found no explanation.

Warping inside a mage's house was suicidal but before that, it was impossible unless you had been there already and knew the dimensional coordinates. A guest or a friend would have never known about the secret lab.

Even if somehow an intruder bypassed the dimensional sealing arrays with Spirit Magic, they would have appeared in the common areas that were also the most heavily protected.

Yet there was no trace of struggle in the rest of the house so there had been no fight. On top of that, killing an Awakened as old as Pharek in his own turn turf was far from easy. And that without taking the Ears of Menadion into the equation.

Zoreth couldn't think of a single way she could have done such a surgical job against someone with Pharek's resources.

It was a feat on Tezka's level but someone like the Suneater would have never run away and left behind so many treasures. He would have taken his time and stolen everything noteworthy.

Anyone strong enough to kill Pharek was supposed to have no reason to fear Nem's return. The culprit had killed like a powerful mage and then acted like a weakling with no plan or experience in cleaning his own mess.

The execution was the mark of a pro, everything else was the wreck of an amateur at his first kill.

The only silver lining was that Xenagrosh had no need to understand someone to track them to the end of Mogar.

"Indeed, and I don't have the time to solve mysteries." Lith took out his communicator amulet and pressed a familiar rune.

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