“Hehe… where has your mind gone to, my little Anya... “ Barbara lifted Anya’s chin, “The church isn’t doing so badly that you’ll have to make sacrifices for it yet…”
Anya heaved a sigh of relief after hearing those words. Although she didn’t mind such things, it also depended on who the other party was.
“What does the Saintess mean?”
“Though I didn’t state my position, doesn’t the fact that he didn’t seem to care enough to ask say something?” Barbara gazed at Anya with a half-smile, “News of the Bane Family siding with the Giant Serpent Church surely must have spread throughout the north, and he must be unwilling to enter such muddy waters… Besides, their thought process is far more complicated than you’d think. I even suspect that…”
Anya immediately turned solemn. Only now did she realise that, even in terms of the refined war of business, Barbara was no less competent than her.
Within the hidden meeting room in the underground bar, the Shadow Hound stood up respectfully to bow to a figure in the shadows.
“Things are as you instructed, my lord, I’ve let them know it isn’t possible and had them leave.”
“Mm,” a young noble walked out of the darkness. He was dressed in tailcoat and tie, with not even a strand of fiber out of place. He had silver hair and dark green pupils, the arrogance, reservation, and slyness that only nobles possessed shining forth from his eyes.
“You did well. Even if it isn’t enough to fool them, we’ve clarified our stance…” Every movement of the youth was filled with grace, as if he was hosting an important wine reception.
“They have dealings with a church… It’s not quite appropriate for us to get involved in this…” Gloff began, but an explosive sound rang out as a cane hit Gloff’s forehead. The man began to bleed profusely.
“What a disgrace!” The youth’s expression had changed. The smile was gone, replaced by a brewing storm.
“I was wrong, Master! Please forgive me!” How was Gloff anything like the Shadow Hound he was said to be? All he could do was shake his tail and look pitiful while kneeling in front of his master.
“Do not forget your position… you’re just a lowly mixed-blood slave. How would you have the right to suggest something to me, the noble Eric?” The youth’s expression was full of malice, but he quickly concealed it. Still, Gloff could only crawl in front of him in fear, his body trembling.
“Just remember. Your power, your status; your everything… it all comes from me. I gave you the world, but I can also destroy everything in an instant…” Eric patted Gloff’s head in reminder, a noble smile surfacing on his face.
“I will remember it well, Master! You are my everything…” The only thing Gloff wasn’t doing to express his loyalty was wagging a tail.
“The Neon Merchant Group is far from enough to fill my appetite. However, what do you think about that saintess? She isn’t too bad…” The young man’s eyes flashed wildly, and he burst into laughter. His shadow in the wall swayed around, like a demon dancing freely.
After following Barbara back to the residence, Anya perked up.
“Here’s the information you wanted, Saintess!” She saw the legendary devil hunter that had left such a deep impression on her arrive. He stood respectfully at the side, hellfire sparking atop the surface of the chains in his hands to give him a unique, blazing aura.
“Mm,” Barbara nodded as she took a gold crystal from him. Her brows suddenly wrinkled, “You had to attack someone just now?”
“A few high-ranked shadow thieves who were fearless enough to spy on us. So foolish…” The devil hunter sneered, and a few translucent faces showed themselves amidst the distorted hellfire.
‘He’s profaning souls! That’s something only devils and demons do!’ Anya’s pupils shrank as she shrieked in her mind, but she managed to hide her expression well.
However, Barbara seemed to have sensed her uneasiness. “He’s imprisoned them for now. These people will be sent to the Lord for punishment,” she consoled, though her words were suspicious.
The devil hunter shot an indifferent glance at Anya, that gaze that deemed her a little bug causing her soul to tremble in fear. She understood well that this was the imposing aura that came from legendary might. If he wished to destroy her, it wouldn’t be much different to stomping an ant to death.
Only now did Anya realise how amazing Barbara’s kindness was.
“Take note of your own actions. You’ve frightened my communications officer!” Barbara frowned.
“My apologies, Saintess. I’ll be on my way then.” Space rippled, and the devil hunter’s figure disappeared. He’d served the purpose of demonstrating his strength, making it fully clear to Anya that her family was just paper in front of legendary might.
“If this place was found out and there’s people watching us, should we…” Anya cautiously asked Barbara.
“There’s no need to move… After all, finding another stronghold will be difficult. With him around, everything will be taken care of.” Barbara’s tone displayed her absolute confidence. All too casually, she passed the information she’d received to Anya.
“This is… information on the Blackmoon Merchant Group!” Anya’s pupils shrunk, feeling like the papers in her hands suddenly weighed a ton.
It implied that the Giant Serpent Church had a huge information network. Uneasiness rose in Anya’s heart, fear that her family would lose its use. If that happened, there wouldn’t be much time left before they were destroyed.
“Take a look…” the saintess commanded, and Anya read through everything. Her shock only grew as she read on.
‘The person in control of the Blackmoon Merchant Group is Earl Eric? He’s the grandson of the consul that Queen Alustriel trusts the most?’ The news left Anya speechless. Although she knew that the nobility was dirty, the content of this report still exceeded her expectations.
“Such is the nobility. They can betray their own ilk for profit…” Barbara smiled in mockery, “That’s not all. He seems rather interested in taking over the Neon Merchant Group… And me.”
Although Barbara maintained a smile as she spoke, Anya still felt a chill down her spine. She recalled the shadow thieves the devil hunter had just eliminated, ‘He’s the one who sent them?’
“Hehe… Foolish mortal, my body, soul, and everything belong to the Supreme God, Kukulkan. Those who dare covet his belongings will definitely be punished, their souls crying…” A sick flush appeared on Barbara’s face, causing Anya to shudder.
All of a sudden, Barbara pointed at Anya, “Come, accompany me in a bath.”
“Al– alright!” Anya stammered as she agreed, the trepidation rising in her heart mixed with a tinge of anticipation.
New Silverymoon, Church of Tyr.
“Captain Rafiniya!” The large, dusty doors of the church opened up, revealing the face of an old priest. He spoke slowly, “Your wisdom allowed you to protect numerous budding paladins. The Lord does not blame you…”
The dim light revealed that Rafiniya’s clothing was lined with spikes, and she was kneeling to atone for her sins. She seemed to be punishing herself.
“I have not forgiven myself… I let evil escape my grasp, and the innocent commoners will suffer for it. I have sinned!” Rafiniya looked extremely pale, her eyes sunken with dark lines. The torture had to have been for quite a while.
“The Lord needs you now. New Silverymoon needs you, and the commoners of the north need you more!” The old priest naturally knew what to do to affect her. “The war is about to begin, and the city is in turmoil. The innocent are still suffering, so what are you waiting for? Look at the city, it needs you!
“Besides, shouldn’t you correct your mistakes?” The old priest opened the doors, producing a barely audible sound that gave rise to a sense of urgency.
“I’ve never denied that!” Rafiniya picked up her longsword, and her aura surged with power. Even in the garb of sinners, the captain of the paladins had returned! “I’ll uproot the Neon Merchant Group, and the Bane Family… The Giant Serpent Church as well! They’ll pay the price, I swear on it!” Rafiniya solemnly guaranteed.
“Very good!” The old priest left in satisfaction, not noticing a dark lustre becoming more distinct at Rafiniya’s back...
Meanwhile, in a certain grand residence in New Silverymoon.
“The captain of the paladins is coming out? Haha… good, good! Leak the location of the Bane Family’s stronghold to them…” Eric began to laugh crazily, “They dare take the shadow thieves I nurture with so much effort? They must pay the price!”
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