Book 2 Chapter 21.3

Book 2 Chapter 21.3 - Can You Hear My Heart Beating?

During the ice cold winter, once four in the afternoon arrived, twilight would crawl through the great earth. On a quiet and secluded slope grew large amounts of bushes and shrubs. Under the gradually thickening darkness of night, the verdant and lush shrubbery began to emit a weak green glow. The light wasn’t particularly strong, but due to the large amount, the entire hillside was illuminated, and even the valley was surrounded within this faint and mysterious radiance. 

At the foot of the mountain rested an ancient castle. The vines crawling through the tattered walls were also emitting a green light. However, this green radiance didn’t bring about a feeling of comfort, and when it contrasted with the lights that seeped out from various places within the castle, it insteads brought about a strange chilly feeling. These traits made them look more like the rumored cold, moist cemetery creatures that were also full of strangeness and unknown things. 

Fortunately, the castle tonight wasn’t like how it usually was in the past with just a few lights turned on. It was instead brightly lit, and melodious musical compositions would sound through the castle walls from time to time. A scarlet carpet was laid on the ancient castle’s stairs. Even though the black flower design gates and large gates made of oak were tightly shut, from the public square in front of the castle that was packed with various types of vehicles, it was quite clear that this was a night full of guests. 

Due to an old-fashioned style of etiquette, tonight’s party had yet to begin. As the master of this ancient castle, the white-haired elder still sat alone in his beloved parlor decorated with the legend of the seven apostles. Black tea rested on the coffee table at his side. He was currently reading the report in his hands carefully from the golden framed monocle. The report was written in refined calligraphy, making it like a work of art even without carefully reading its contents.

Even though there were already advanced computer systems in this era, the old man was still only willing to read old-fashioned, hand-written reports. This was a habit he had developed over many years, and for the outside world, this was even more so a symbol of status. This seemingly tattered ancient castle already had over five hundred years of experience. In the most recent two hundred years, its connection with the family name ‘Zalenwell’ was inseparably close and could be used synonymously. Zalenwell is an ancient, low-profile, graceful, and well-respected family. The creed of the family was to respect history and respect time. Even though the castle had already undergone many renovations, it still maintained its original form from several hundred years ago. 

There weren’t many people that remembered the original name of the ancient castle, inside of a hidden and small social circle, since twenty years ago, this castle was given a new name by the elder that grew increasingly terrifying and respected by the day: Sunset City.

There were only four pages of reports in the elder’s hands, and if one got rid of the strict formatting, the true contents didn’t exceed two pages. The old man had already flipped through these mere two pages worth of information for an entire hour. 

A soft knock sounded, and then through some unknown tacit understanding, the butler that was already into his later years pushed open the door and walked inside. He stood in front of the couch the old man sat on with his hands at his sides, and with a distinctively melodious pitch, he said, “Master, Sir Jargola and his attendants have arrived and are currently resting in the drawing room.”

“It isn’t time for the banquet yet, so he can just wait.” The elder indifferent ordered, his line of sight not shifting from the report in his hands. 

The butler wanted to say something, but he stopped himself. He knew that interrupting the old man’s thinking right now was definitely not a good idea. 

Just as the butler’s eyes began to reveal a hint of anxiety, the old man finally lowered the report. He gave the butler a look and said, “That Jargola or whatever isn’t that big of a deal. As long as the plan this time succeeds, we don’t need him at all.”

The butler bowed in response. However, when he thought about it a bit longer, he still spoke about his own hesitation. “However, Peperus is not a woman that can be relied on.”

The old man smiled slightly and said, “That’s not important. What’s important is that she leaves the Town of Trials, and that’s enough.”

When he heard the old man’s words, the butler recalled the crucial parts of the plan and then felt at ease. Only through his high levels of the Mysterious Fields and many years of proved loyalty did he become this old man’s trusted aide and learn of some core classified information. Even though his status was rising by the day, the butler still understood his identity clearly and always stood humbly and respectful by this old man just like his first day here. He wouldn’t do anything that would cross the line, for example, criticizing plans that the old man already decided to implement. 

Even though he had high levels of ability and outstanding intellect, the butler didn’t have any ambitions of his own. The greatest desire was to follow the master and grow old with him, and his single wish was for his own son to be able to inherit his position after growing up to continue supporting the Zalenwell family. 

When one entered the ancient castle, time would feel like it flowed in reverse, as if one was back in the olden era’s eighteenth century. 

Loyalty would be rewarded; this was an olden era principle, as well as the Zalenwell family’s way of conduct. Piccolo Zalenwell, Sunset Castle’s master, as well as the leader of the Zalenwell family once had an even more resounding name in the Blood Parliament, ‘Unwavering Sunset’. As one of the three giants of the Trials Division, under his twenty years of occupying the dark throne, the Zalenwell family possessed an influential power that did not lose to the three great influential families. Even though Madeline stormed into the Town of Trials in an unstoppable manner during that bloody afternoon, causing Zalenwell’s radiance to temporarily fade, it was still a powerful and unsurpassed existence, one that was secluding itself to come back even stronger. 

In addition, due to nearly all of the main forces backing off, the strength of the Town of Trials directly declined. Even though the cruelty and ruthlessness of the current ruler didn’t seem to be any bit inferior to the previous ruler in terms of ruthlessness and cold-bloodedness, in the eyes of many inside the parliament, that place would never be the horrifying center of darkness. During these two years, under Madeline’s reorganization and the spider empress’ hidden support, the Town of Trials’ truly did recover somewhat. However, for it to return to its former glory was still a far and distant dream. 

If the plan this time succeeded...

Excitement began to well up from within the depths of the butler’s body. If their plan was successfully completed, then not only would the old man regain power over the Town of Trials, the Town of Trials would officially break away from the era of three giants and from then on only have a single master. The brand new Town of Trials would cast the splendor of darkness over every inch of land ruled by the Blood Parliament, and Piccolo Zalenwell’s name would stand side by side with the Spider Empress, three great influential families, and Bevulas!

As long as the plan succeeded!

The crucial part of the plan involved the demon empress leaving the Town of Trials, away from her home field. This was the most important moment, and there would perhaps only be a single opportunity. Right now, Madeline really did appear in the north and even fought intensely against Persephone. Regardless of the result, even if she wasn’t wounded and if Peperus’ loyalty rested elsewhere, none of that mattered anymore. The most important thing was that she left the Town of Trials!

No one was more clear on the fact that the old man had partly been forced, but partly wished to do so as well than the butler, but he also party decided to do so as well. Piccolo wasn’t scared of Madeline and instead just didn’t feel a hundred percent certain in an all out battle. In addition, there was another giant from the Trials Division watching like a tiger from the side, so in order to avoid disastrous losses, he made the firm decision to hand the Town of Trials over to Madeline. The alliance was full of talented individuals, military force, intelligence, as well special abilities. In addition, the alliance had many non-human talents!

Two years was enough to change many things. 

Right now, around the Town of Trials’ perimeter, there were many strong individuals patrolling the borders, awaiting Madeline’s return. The reason for their powerful lineup was not for the sake of killing, but instead capture. 

The ancient castle’s corridor was extremely long. The butler didn’t walk too quickly either, because there was enough time to think about many things. He couldn’t help but recall a rumor, a rumor that the face resting behind the expressionless mask was an incomparably beautiful one. This powerful contrast made an unsuppressable heat surge from within his body. He had no choice but to stop his steps and walk over to the window. After pushing open the window, he allowed the negative tens of degrees cold wind to land on his face and body, and only then did his mind calm slightly, as well as gradually suppress his physiological reaction. If he walked into the ballroom like that, the abnormality with the butler’s body would immediately be discovered by others, and that would be a special type of rudeness in itself. 

The scenery beyond the window was no different from a normal night. What filled his field of view was still the glowing green shrubbery covering the mountains and slopes. However, for some reason, in the eyes of the butler, the glow the shrubbery released tonight suddenly became a thick red color!

The butler was startled. He immediately began to carefully use his Mysterious Fields ability to see exactly what was happening. With high levels of ability in Mysterious Fields, one would often hear or see unusual sceneries. This was similarly a type of advice for ability users. However, the butler didn’t dare to operate his ability at full force, because there were many high level ability users in the ancient castle that could sense the use of a high level ability. Those great figures that always lived within a world of conspiracies, assassinations, and death might immediately send someone to demand an explanation. It was still best not to provoke unnecessary trouble. 

He didn’t sense anything, and the fluorescent bushes also returned to normal. The butler released a light sigh and laughed inwardly at his own nervousness. Who would dare do anything to Sunset Castle at a time like this? Any day was better than today for something like that. 

There wasn’t much time left already. The butler sped up his footsteps and walked towards the stairs. There was a strict timing to how long one should make guests wait. When he passed the final corridor window, he looked outside the window again. He suddenly broke out in cold sweat!

Every single leaf of the glowing shrubbery seemed to be covered in drops of blood! This time,  the abnormal scenery before his eyes did not fade no matter how he tried to calm himself down.

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