"We are heading to the guild right now," Arlen declared.

"Now?" Michael asked with surprise, but Arlen seemed determined.

"Yes, now. Too bad if you have anything else to do," Arlen replied coldly, leaving no room for negotiation. Since Michael really didn't have anything else to do, he agreed with Arlen.

"Very well. Let's head over to the guild," Michael acquiesced. Then, Arlen and Michael walked out of the room. As Arlen exited the room, three armored guards approached him.

"My Lord, our men are heading to the guild and will be waiting for us," the leading guard informed. All three guards were armed to the teeth and stood almost seven feet tall. Their helmets concealed their faces completely.

"Good," Arlen nodded.

With the armored escort, Arlen and Michael left the castle, where a lavish carriage awaited them. The carriage exuded opulence with its deep blue paint and was pulled by four shiny brown horses. The gray-haired human driver opened the carriage door for them.

Arlen entered the carriage first and gestured for Michael to follow. The interior of the carriage was just as splendid as the exterior. It featured red cushions, wine for Arlen, and fruits arranged on a golden plate. Michael sat across from Arlen and placed Vedora next to him.

"Head to the blacksmith guild," Arlen ordered the driver. The three guards mounted their horses and followed the carriage.

"How long do you estimate to finish the artifacts?" Arlen inquired.

Now that Michael had studied the blueprints and understood the required materials, he could complete the forging of a hundred artifacts in approximately two weeks. With Rurik's assistance, the process could be expedited. However, Michael had plans to keep Arlen and the guards at the blacksmith guild even after the Divine Tower auction.

"Twenty days, if we have everything we need," Michael replied.

"You will have what you need and more," Arlen reassured Michael. He then stroked his chin as if contemplating something.

"Twenty days, you say? Hmm, the Divine Tower auction is in fifteen days. So, tell me, John, what does your guild hope to acquire at the auction?" Arlen inquired.

"No idea, probably some rare metal ore or rune-engraved hammers," Michael replied.

"Are you certain you want to stay with us and watch us forge the artifacts, Lord Arlen?" Michael inquired.

"The pointy-eared bastard has no idea what's waiting for him, hehehe," Ayag chuckled inside. Inside, even Michael was amused. Now that Michael had learned that it was Kranar's worshippers who killed the blacksmiths, he was certain they would certainly try again. But Arlen was underestimating Kranar's worshippers and had no idea about the slaughter that took place within the Blacksmith guild.

So, in other words, Arlen was voluntarily walking into a warzone. But Michael had already started using Arlen and House of Silverbrook as his pawns in a grand plan.

"It will get pretty boring, and you might not have the luxuries you enjoyed, Lord Arlen," Michael said, only to see Arlen snicker.

"I am not a greenhouse flower, human. My history is tainted with more blood than you can ever imagine," Arlen coldly said.

"Oh," Michael pretended to be surprised. But it was Arlen who had no idea he was traveling with a God and had no idea about the bloody history behind Michael.

Eventually, the carriage reached the Blacksmith Guild. Arlen's guards opened the door for them and stood there like sentinels. With their escort, Michael followed behind Arlen. They climbed the stairs leading to the guild and found no guards at the front door.

"Where are the guards?" Arlen asked, furrowing his brows.

"Let's talk inside, Lord Arlen," Michael said before opening the door.

The guards stood closer to Arlen as they followed Michael into the empty hall. But after taking a few steps into the hall, the guards immediately unsheathed their longswords and shielded Arlen with their bodies. One soldier immediately pointed his sword at Michael.

"What's going on?" Arlen asked, surprised by the actions of his guards.

"We smell blood in the air, my lord. Please stay back," one of the guards said coldly.

"You speak. Is this a trap?!" the one pointing his longsword at Michael asked. Yet, Michael remained calm.

"Lower the weapon, elves," suddenly Rurik's voice echoed through the hall as Arlen saw the dwarf strolling forward.

But when Arlen saw Rurik, he frowned. Rurik's face and hands were drenched with blood, and his robes had stains of blood.

"What are you doing back there? Skinning an elk?" asked Arlen.

"You haven't told him," Rurik asked Michael instead of answering Arlen's sarcastic question.

"What didn't he tell me?" asked Arlen.

"Answer my question first, Arlen. Why the hell are you here for? Didn't we give you that damned artifact?" Rurik growled before turning his gaze back to Michael.

"You have some explaining to do, lad," Rurik growled at Michael.

"I think you two have something to talk about," Michael calmly said as Rurik and Arlen looked at each other.

"Let's talk somewhere private," said Rurik, but Arlen's guards refused to budge.

"We aren't going anywhere until you tell us what's going on here. Why does the air here smell like blood, and why do you have blood on your hands?" the elven guard asked.

Rurik, already dealing with grief over losing his fellow master blacksmiths and many of the guards in the guild, couldn't hold back his anger.

"Because, you pointy-eared fart, someone sought after that fucking artifact and killed most of us in the guild," Rurik burst out in anger, shocking everyone. Arlen was taken aback.

"What?" Arlen asked in shock.

"After we finished your damn artifact, we were ambushed in our own guild. Assassins, good ones at that. They killed Nazrag and Aranion. They would have finished the job if it wasn't for him," Rurik pointed his finger at Michael.

Arlen was visibly shocked, his usually composed demeanor shattered. He turned to Rurik with urgency in his voice. "Tell me everything, Rurik. What happened?"

Rurik took a deep breath and recounted the horrifying events. "Long story short, they surprised us in the forging hall, my lord. They had Nazrag hostage. Before we could react, they slit his throat. Blood was everywhere. They wanted the artifact, and they fought fiercely for it." Rurik paused for a moment, his voice trembling slightly. "But it was John who fought them off, my lord. He killed them, and it's their blood you smell."

Rurik continued, his tone grave. "Before ambushing us in the forging hall, they went on a rampage. They killed all the guards and blacksmiths in the guild."

Arlen listened in grim silence, his jaw clenched. He knew all too well whose work this was. It was the handiwork of Kranar's worshippers, fanatical and ruthless. Yet, he didn't utter a word, his thoughts racing as he tried to process the gravity of the situation.

"He killed them?" Arlen frowned, looking at Michael with a mix of surprise and uncertainty.

"Yes," Rurik confirmed, his voice gruff and filled with resentment as he glanced at Michael.

Arlen's frown deepened. "Show us the bodies."

"Follow me then," Rurik turned and walked toward the door leading to the forging hall. Arlen's guards, still on edge, lowered their weapons but remained vigilant.

As they followed Rurik, Michael sensed the unease in Arlen's expression. The elven lord seemed genuinely surprised by the extent of the violence that had taken place in the Blacksmith Guild. Rainar had warned Galathor and Arlen about Kranar's worshippers infiltrating Goldspire, but even Arlen hadn't anticipated such a brazen and brutal attack.

"Have you informed the city guard of this?" Arlen inquired as they walked.

Rurik let out a bitter laugh. "Are you kidding me? No one must know what happened here. If word got out that we're vulnerable, every damn thief in the city would descend upon us. I don't believe in this 'safe city' nonsense. Just look at what happened here—'safe city,' my ass."

Arlen nodded in understanding, recognizing the potential chaos such a revelation could unleash. He then asked, "Do you have any idea who attacked you?"

Rurik sighed heavily. "No, and you'll soon see why."

Finally, they arrived at the door leading to the forging hall. The scent of blood grew stronger, hitting Arlen and his guards like an oppressive wave. They instinctively moved closer to Arlen, their senses on high alert.

Rurik, with a sense of resignation, opened the door, revealing the gruesome scene inside. Arlen wrinkled his nose at the overwhelming stench of blood as he followed Rurik into the hall. Bloodstains marred the floor, and Arlen frowned upon seeing several reddish-brown blotches.

"Where are the bodies?" Arlen inquired.

Rurik pointed grimly at the pulpy, bloody mess on the ground. "You're looking at them."

The guards, like Arlen, were visibly stunned by the gruesome sight of the bodies. There was little left that could be recognized as actual bodies; all that remained were grotesque pools of bloody paste on the stone floor.

"What happened?" Arlen asked, his voice filled with a mix of disbelief and concern.

"The lad used the artifact to kill their leader. That damn thing shredded him to pieces. After that, everyone he brought with him exploded like watermelons. All this death and destruction for one cursed artifact. You've brought us nothing but trouble, Arlen," Rurik snarled, his anger seething.

"Now that you've seen what your artifact can do, I expect full support from your family, Arlen. We need to find out who these bastards were and who sent them before the guild master returns." Rurik flicked his wrist, causing the blueprints of the artifact Arlen had provided to appear in his hand. He forcefully handed the documents to Arlen.

"I want nothing more to do with that damned artifact," Rurik growled, not knowing that Arlen had come with a surprising request.

"You'll have the full support of House Silverbrook, Rurik. But," Arlen paused, carefully choosing his words.

"What? Spit it out," Rurik demanded, his patience wearing thin.

"Rurik, I'm deeply sorry for your loss. But, in truth, I'm here to commission the forging of not just one, but a hundred more of these artifacts," Arlen confessed, shocking Rurik to his core.