Chapter 387 - The Earl’s Ancient Castle
Earl Kelfield’s Worries was only a normal quest. Could its contents possibly be related to his current quest?
Nie Yan had attempted to do Earl Kelfield’s Worries in the previous timeline to earn some easy money. But due to running into some trouble with Victorious Return, he had no choice but to abandon it. He never had another chance to return to it in the end.
Nie Yan could only make wild assumptions. He galloped across the plains on his Faulkner Warhorse like a gust of wind.
After passing through several maps, Nie Yan noticed a lot more players around compared to a few weeks ago, a sign that more and more people were joining Conviction.
Based on Nie Yan’s memory of the previous timeline, Conviction would only continue to grow larger. It would still be popular more than 10 years from now.
A half hour trip took only 10 minutes on the Faulkner Warhorse. Nie Yan spotted the ancient castle in the distance. It resembled an impenetrable fortress, built out of stone and situated halfway atop Marcos Mountain. Even though it looked old, one could still see hints of its former glory. Near the top were openings with dark and foreboding metal cylinders sticking out. These were Magic Cannons. Crafted by the elves, they possessed incredible destructive power. However, they had long since fallen into disrepair.
The castle was surrounded by a lush garden, which resembled a swaying sea of violet as the wind blew past, carrying over a flowery fragrance far into the distance. However, some regions were mysteriously wrecked and destroyed.
The flower garden was protected by a metal fence. There was a gate with a narrow winding path that led directly to the castle.
Nie Yan rode up to the gate and dismounted from his Faulkner Warhorse. He surveyed his surroundings but didn’t sense the presence of any monsters. It seemed peaceful. He took a step toward the garden.
|You have discovered Earl Kelfied’s Castle|
Nie Yan received an update to his quest.
|Quest - Talk to Earl Kelfield|
Earl Kelfield’s Castle is brimming with danger. Ever since the undead started appearing in his garden, his servants no longer dared to stay and left, leaving him with no choice but to hire outside help. But if that wasn’t strange enough. Recently, the Earl left his castle in the dead of night. The next morning he was found lying in his garden sound asleep covered in mud and dirt. Since that incident he’s been adrift in delirium, constantly mumbling, “Ina, Ina, Ina…”
Phantom Princess Ina!? Nie Yan’s mind trembled. What a strange coincidence!
It appeared this was a series of related quests!
I have to talk to Earl Kelfield to find some clues! Nie Yan calmly strode forward down the path toward the castle in the distance.
The walls surrounding the castle were crumbling apart, looking as if they had weathered many centuries. The wind blowing across the field of flowers brought along a gloomy cold mixed with the faint scent of decay.
Nie Yan furrowed his brows. This was a telltale sign that undead were nearby.
Skeletons would usually start spawning in the garden after the player accepted the Earl Kelfield’s Worries quest.
Nie Yan arrived in front of the castle entrance, a pair of solid and thick metal gates rusted over due to age. Feeling a cold and dreary breeze nip at the back of his neck, he slowly pushed open the gates and entered a dimly lit lounge. It appeared as if some inexplicable force was preventing the sunlight from coming in.
At this moment, two silhouettes stepped out from the shadows.
Nie Yan was startled and grabbed onto the hilt of Zennarde’s Sword, ready to enter combat at any time. He made out the appearance of the two people in front of him. They wore leather armour and held wooden round shields in their left hands and shabby axes in their right. When they didn’t attack him outright, he realized they were NPCs.
Nie Yan activated Transcendent Insight.
|Militiaman Breckon: Level 45|
|Militiaman Bernard: Level 46|
Breckon was tall and as sturdy as an ox. He appeared honest and simple, not giving off the slightest bit of killing intent. Bernard was somewhat shorter. He looked like your run-of-the-mill youth.
“S-s-sir Devil Slayer, Great Thief, Grand Scholar! N-nice to meet you!” Bernard stuttered nervously after seeing all of Nie Yan’s titles.
“Greetings, Sir…” Breckon finally spoke up after what seemed like half-a-day. It appeared he wasn’t the talkative type.
Nie Yan nodded in response. “Hello, I’m wondering if you two can bring me to Earl Kelfield. I believe I can help with his problem.”
“Yes! Right away, sir. Please follow me!” Bernard said in a respectful tone.
These two militiamen brought Nie Yan deeper into the castle.
“Earl Kelfield is a good man. He’s already lived in this castle for more than 60 years. After those evil creatures appeared, many people urged him to leave. But he refused to go. All of his servants left his side. Only the two of us stuck around until now,” Bernard narrated. He then turned to Nie Yan with a sad look in his eyes. “Sir Devil Slayer, please help the Earl!”
“Of course. God will protect all those who are good and righteous,” Nie Yan assured. He started sifting through the information Bernard provided in his head. It appeared there was a reason for Earl Kelfield refusing to leave the castle, probably related to Phantom Princess Ina. He could ask the Earl in person to find out.
Following the two militiamen, Nie Yan passed through many hallways and winding corridors before arriving in a large room, where he saw a long table with a candelabra in the center and a luxurious red carpet running along the floor.
Nie Yan looked up ahead at the old square windows hidden behind crimson red curtains. A ray of sunlight barely shone through between the gaps. An elderly man sat next to the window sill reclined on a chair behind an old wooden desk, rocking back and forth as he gazed outside with a bleak and forlorn expression on his face.
This was Earl Kelfield!
Nie Yan shifted his attention from the elderly Earl Kelfield to a large, worn-out painting hanging on the wall. It was a striking portrait of Phantom Princess Ina, the same one he had stolen Abak’s Gloves of Sealing from in the Colin Gobi!
Earl Kelfield turned toward Nie Yan. Draped in an ash-gray fur coat, he looked old and withered. His hand resembled tree bark, lacking the slightest hint of vitality.
Nie Yan could see the deep sadness contained within the Earl’s eyes.
“You came.” Earl Kerfield’s dry lips cracked into a warm, child-like smile, as though he was about to be unburdened from his worries.
Seeing Earl Kelfield’s appearance, Nie Yan was taken by surprise. The Earl hadn’t greeted him with any of his titles. Given the strict way in which Conviction handled title addresses, this was definitely odd.
“It’s nice to meet you, Earl Kelfield,” Nie Yan greeted respectfully, then walked up to the Earl’s desk.
Bernard and Breckon respectfully withdrew from the room.
Earl Kelfield turned back to window. His gaze was distant, as if he were looking somewhere far away.
Nie Yan looked at the painting. Judging from the dust gathered on its surface, he speculated it must be at least half-a-century old. “Is that your wife? She looks beautiful.” He had to find some way to gather information on this quest, and this painting hanging on the wall was a readily available clue!
“Yes…” Earl Kelfield gazed at the painting on the wall before letting out a deep sigh. “Youngster, are you willing to listen to my story?”
“Of course.” Nie Yan nodded. Everything played out as expected. He had guided Earl Kelfield into progressing with the quest.
“I was quite wealthy back in the day. The castle and nearby fields all belonged to me, and every villager worked for me. This castle was built during the Era of Shared Governance. It was bought by my grandfather and passed down to me. I was always told this castle was cursed, but I never believed their ill words. That was, until the year when bandits raided the castle, killing my parents and snatching away much of our wealth. I started becoming suspicious.” The Earl shook his head. “Ina, my wife, she was an orphan who grew up in the Grendol Orphanage. She was good friends with another girl called Patience. I happened to hire the two of them as my maids. Her sweet and pure smile was like that of an angel and could make all your worries disappear in a flash. It was love at first sight. I fell for her, deeply infatuated with that enchanting smile. It was God’s blessing to the world. If only I was allowed to see it again, I could die peacefully,” Earl Kelfield narrated as he lost himself in his memories.
Nie Yan quietly listened without interrupting. He could feel Earl Kelfield’s deep love.
“Ina and I eventually got married. I wanted to make her the happiest woman in the world. Her love allowed me to get past the grief of losing my father and mother. Our first child was born three years later. It was a girl, and I named her Nia. She was just as beautiful as her mother. I believed those happy days would last forever, until the Marcos Mountain eroded into flat plains, until this very castle collapsed into ruin, becoming as ancient as the history of the continent. Alas, it was not meant to be, and everything changed. The passion slowly dimmed into embers, and I could feel a demon growing in my heart. Patience, that seductress, was just like a siren from the folktales, bewitching my mind. I squandered our money lavishly until our savings ran dry. Finally, one day, Ina discovered our scandalous affair. Her weeping and grief-stricken appearance deeply stabbed at my heart. It were as if my very soul was being ripped apart! I snapped out of my spell. Only then did I realize just how much of a wretch and scoundrel I was. But by then, it was already too late. What had I done…?” Earl Kelfield closed his eyes as tears started flowing out.Previous Chapter Next Chapter