Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
Lightning streaked across the sky, illuminating the pitch-black city walls.
Carrying a leather bag on his back and the Axe of Hurricane in hand, Derrick Berg stood outside the doorway to a cave with nearly ten of his teammates.
Lifting his eyes up, he saw that, between the stone cracks of the city wall, the dry and hardened black soil was crusting, but a bunch of tenacious weeds had grown out; they were densely packed and resembled human hair.
At that moment, he hurriedly withdrew his gaze and looked towards the city gate when he heard light footsteps.
As the lightning and darkness alternated, a tall figure slowly walked over, carrying two straight swords which were crossed on his back.
Then, his pale, disheveled hair; his ancient eyes; his twisted, deep; old scars; and his perennially-unchanged brown coat and flaxen-colored shirt entered Derrick and the others’ sight.
The approaching person was the Chief of the six-member council of the City of Silver, Colin Iliad, a powerful Demon Hunter.
After greeting him, Derrick subconsciously looked at the Chief’s waist. There was a leather belt divided into many compartments, each with a different metal bottle inside.
This was a symbol of an experienced and powerful Demon Hunter.
Derrick had previously heard his parents mention that Demon Hunters were good at discovering the weaknesses for different monsters, identifying the uses of various materials, and were able to use their special Cogitation state against the former. With the latter, they could concoct corresponding magical medicine, holy ointments, essential oils, and special imprints. Then, through consumption, smearing, and using these items, they could achieve the effect of restraining the target.
In a sense, experienced, knowledgeable, well-prepared, and sharp Demon Hunters were the nemesis of the vast majority of monsters. The amount and variety of small metal bottles at their waist represented their “experience.”
Of course, this was only a portion of the Demon Hunters’ Beyonder powers. Just by relying on these, they couldn’t be called demigods or Saints.
Collin looked around and confirmed that all the team members were present. He then said in a low voice, “Light up. Let’s go.”
Two team members immediately lit the candles in their lanterns, letting the faint yellow light shine through the extremely thin leather.
During “daytime,” when the frequency of lightning was relatively high, there was no need to use candles in the City of Silver as there was “illumination” every two to three seconds. Furthermore, the monsters in the nearby area had been cleaned out again and again. However, once they left the City of Silver and entered the darkness, they had to maintain sufficient candlelight. Otherwise, once the lightning failed to illuminate the skies, causing a dark environment that exceeded five seconds, there was a high chance for the team to suffer from an assault by certain monsters.
Intense fighting wasn’t the most frightening development. What Derrick remembered so vividly was a story his parents had told him.
Once, while they were exploring the depths of the darkness, because of a previous battle with a horde of rotting corpses, the candles couldn’t be replaced in time. This led them to endure being engulfed in darkness for as long as eight seconds. When the lightning flashed again and the candlelight appeared, they were stunned to see that only five of their original eight teammates remained. The other three had vanished in silence, never to be seen again.
Taking a deep breath, Derrick gripped the Axe of Hurricane tightly and walked in the middle of the team, following the Chief in a predetermined direction.
A bolt of lightning flashed, causing the plains covered in tall black grass to appear like an eerie oil painting.
The exploratory team of 10 Beyonders walked along the path filled with craggy gravel, venturing deep into the black grass.
The lightning subsided, and the dense darkness instantly swept over them, almost completely engulfing them.
The yellow candlelight pierced through the leather and, weakly, swayed to and fro, guarding the surrounding area.
East Borough, in a greasy and cheap coffee shop.
In accordance with the previously agreed upon appointment, Klein found Old Kohler, who was applying butter to his toast.
He glanced at the crumpled cigarette on the table and smiled.
“No, it’s from the past. I haven’t smoked since, but I would always carry it with me, occasionally taking it out to sniff at it. Heh heh, this will remind me of that vagrant life of mine. Back then, I really felt like I could die at any moment.” Old Kohler’s tone carried a hint of fear.
Klein took 20 soli in change, which he had changed earlier, and pushed it across the table while sitting down.
“I was very satisfied with the information from the last time.”
Without waiting for Old Kohler to give a modest reply, he turned his head and looked towards the counter.
“A loaf of oatmeal bread, two slices of toast, a block of butter, a serving of beef stew with potatoes, and a one-pence cup of tea.”
“Mr. Moriarty, didn’t you have dinner yesterday?” Old Kohler was stunned for a moment as he held the cash.
Klein shook his head and smiled.
“I’ll be very busy later and might not have time for lunch.”
He needed to pretend that he was active and serious; after all, he had received a hundred pounds from Prince Edessak.
Old Kohler didn’t ask any more questions. He looked around cautiously while stuffing the notes into his pocket.
“There are some results from the matter you previously asked me to find out more about. Azik Eggers’s bounty comes from a few gang leaders and some intelligence dealers. Well, I don’t know who entrusted the task to them since it’s difficult to make contact with them.”
MI9… Klein nodded.
“That’s enough. There’s no need to delve deeper. It’s too dangerous.”
Old Kohler heaved a sigh of relief and said, “Two days ago, someone at a budget hotel on Golden Cloak Street saw someone who appeared to be Azik Eggers. It’s said that the person was basically a carbon copy of the picture on the bounty notice.”
Klein’s heart palpitated as he smiled instead of showing surprise.
“And then? Could it be that the moment I prepared to try for this bounty, the matter is over?”
“And then? With that clue, quite a number of bounty hunters rushed over, but they didn’t find anything. Well, they said that there were traces of a fight in the room.” Old Kohler tried his best to recall the information he had gathered.
The intelligence would definitely be sent to MI9 first… Did Mr. Azik have a secret standoff with them? I wonder what the outcome was… Klein took a glance at the boss who was coming over with a plate. He pretended to mutter to himself and said to Old Kohler, “Take me to Golden Cloak Street later. Maybe I can find some clues.”
It was past breakfast time in East Borough, and there were very few customers in the cheap coffee shop.
“Alright.” Old Kohler agreed without hesitation.
“A total of sixteen and a half pence.” The boss placed Klein’s breakfast on the table. There wasn’t much beef with the potatoes, but the stew was very overcooked. It was obvious that it had been prepared beforehand. The thick aroma tantalized Old Kohler’s taste buds to the point that he involuntarily gulped a mouthful of saliva.
After paying the bill, Klein picked up a fork and spoon and said to Old Kohler, “Continue.”
“There aren’t many people looking for the believers of The Fool anymore, except for a few stubborn bounty hunters… Many unemployed textile women, including some male workers, left East Borough…” Old Kohler went down a list of matters.
“What?” Klein swallowed the beef and looked up. “Left East Borough?”
“They must’ve found some other job. As for where they went, I couldn’t find out,” Old Kohler answered truthfully.
“Their families aren’t aware?” Klein pressed.
“Some left with their unemployed family members, while others had come alone from outside the city to search for work.” Old Kohler had already done some investigations.
Judging from the target’s choice, there’s something wrong… Klein made a mental note of it and continued to eat while he listened to Old Kohler talk about matters that had happened in East Borough recently.
After making an appointment for the next meeting, he put down the cutlery, wiped his mouth, picked up his hat, and said, “Let’s head for Golden Cloak Street.”
In the only budget hotel on Golden Cloak Street.
After the boss accepted a two pence tip, he led Klein and Old Kohler to the room which was suspected to be where Azik Eggers used to live.
“There have been many bounty hunters visiting over this period of time. Hehe, It made me earn quite a bit, so I have maintained its original state.” The hotel owner opened the door with his key and pointed inside.
At first glance, Klein saw overturned chairs and rags scattered everywhere. There were no other signs of a fight.
With his considerable spiritual perception, Klein cast his gaze under the bed.
After staring for two seconds, he walked over and bent down to pat the bed.
Dust flew into the air with a poof as a gray rat jumped out from under the bed.
It looked normal, without any problems, but in Klein’s Spirit Vision, its aura only had the colors: black and green.
The rat turned a corner and climbed up a wall, exposing its belly to Klein’s eyes.
In that soft spot, its flesh was green with flowing pus. One could see that his internal organs had similarly rotted away.
Klein thoughtfully looked back at Old Kohler, who wasn’t paying attention to the rat.
“Has the bounty for Azik Eggers been withdrawn?”
“No.” Old Kohler shook his head in confirmation.
Klein examined it again, he then stepped out and said, “Let’s go, there’s no valuable clues.”
15 Minsk Street.
Klein, who had been “busy” all day, lay down on his bed and entered the dream world.
Scenes that were continuous at times, and at other times fragmented, swept past and all of a sudden, Klein woke up. He knew that he was dreaming.
A power has invaded my dreams… Klein maintained his previous dazed state, casually sizing up his surroundings.
He found himself in a suburb of fertile fields.
A river flowed over from the distance and made a turn around the cliff in front of him.
One side of the cliff was bare, revealing a pure white rock. Looking from afar, it seemed to have a kind of holy beauty.
Nearly ten men and women wearing black coats or dark jackets surrounded a hidden underground entrance to the bay, among them was Klein’s acquaintance, Ikanser Bernard.
White Cliff Town… Stratford River Creek. Machinery Hivemind… Are they exploring the Amon family tomb? But why would there be scenes of it in my dreams? Klein was puzzled.
At that moment, he saw the water on the surface of the river undulate, rapidly forming a line of white words: “Your loyal and humble servant, Arrodes, is here to report to you on the exploration’s situation.”
Klein’s mouth turned agape, momentarily losing the ability to speak. Then, a voice echoed in his head: Tell me, why would a perfectly good mirror be a snitch?