Chapter 44: Song of The Wind (3)
Roger Reeds, The Watchman.
Tang Cuo remembered this name. He was mentioned in The Dodo Daily and on the small blackboard at Greenvines Alliance office in the Kingdom Hidden In The Moonlight. Perhaps he was one of The Thirteen Arbitrators.
In this way, the reason why Theodore brought the Grand Duke to the church was ― because Roger Reeds was there.
He was a wizard who could cast spells instantly, and his magic didn’t seem like any low-level magic, so he must be extremely powerful. The Grand Duke also showed a relaxed expression. Tang Cuo raised his sword and guarded him from a side, continuing to watch the battle.
It could be seen that most of Roger Reeds’ magic was of Light type. When the light shined, it seemed as though all shadows would be exposed and destroyed by the buff of a Holy Light.
The enemy who appeared on the spire of the church was wearing a red robe with a hood, making it unable to see his face and predict his movements. His robe was as red as blood, and as red as a rose.
When he struck, his attack could be felt even from afar.
That could perhaps be called a rose bomb.
The rose bomb, as its name suggested, cast a magic circle engraved with a rose pattern on the ground, following which a golden light appeared. The pattern, as though being alive, stripped off from the magic circle like a flower in full bloom and exploded all of a sudden.
“Crash!” The people rushing out from the church were almost blown up.
They were probably from the Greenvines Alliance. There were wizards and swordsmen, each clad in a different style. From the windows of the church, men in black robes, the same style as the assassins from earlier, lept out.
The two sides jumped into a vicious battle.
The rose bombs exploded in sequence, one after another, spreading from the door of the church all the way to Roger Reeds’ feet. With a cold expression, Roger Reeds chanted a long string of spells and pointed his cane forward, then spots of black lights fell down like a meteor rain.
As the black lights landed on the unfolding petals, the rose immediately withered.
His magic was of both Light and Darkness types.
Tang Cuo once again refreshed his judgment on Roger Reeds’ strength. Red Robe’s strength shouldn’t be underestimated either, for he was able to hold himself against Roger Reeds. He was wearing a rather unique red robe, which showed that he should be a core figure of the Rose Sect.
But why were they fighting in a church in the White Leaf District? Shouldn’t the focus of today be the Grand Duke, or had they expected the Grand Duke to be forced to flee to the White Leaf District?
Tang Cuo observed everything and doubted everything.
Soon, the people of the Greenvines Alliance got the upper hand and the guards of the White Leaf District finally turned up. Seeing the situation becoming unfavourable, Red Robe snorted coldly and eventually signalled to his allies to retreat.
Naturally, Roger Reeds wouldn’t let him go so easily and gave chase.
“Theodore!” The others in the Greenvines Alliance stayed. One of them spotted Tang Cuo and quickly waved at him.
Tang Cuo took the Grand Duke over. He wasn’t a good actor, nor did he know any of their names. In order to avoid being exposed, he remained as distant as possible.
Luckily, Theodore seemed to be a cold person himself. Everyone greeted the Grand Duke, and the one who waved just now took the initiative to ask Tang Cuo: “Why did you show up here with the Grand Duke? Are you not in the inner city?”
Tang Cuo briefly recounted the plot to him.
Hearing about the tunnel, the other man seemed to think of something, then he said: “When His Excellency Roger Reeds returns, he will make a decision. As for the bard you mentioned, let’s wait for a bit and we may see him.”
Although Lancelot saved the Grand Duke, why did he know about the tunnel? This still needed confirmation.
During the conversation, Tang Cuo learned that the other man’s name was Celtic, who was an orthodox knight like Theodore. He then opened the system panel and took a look.
[Kingdom Hidden In The Moonlight]
The second round: Song of The Wind
Main mission: Talk to Roger Reeds.
He could only wait because Roger Reeds hadn’t yet returned. At this time, the Grand Duke was standing in complete silence inside the church, facing a figure that was kneeling in a pool of blood.
The man kneeling on the ground was wearing a priest’s robe with the shade of the moon. If Tang Cuo guessed it right, that priest was the one that the Grand Duke said he would absolutely trust.
Tang Cuo stepped forward but didn’t say a word, one hand resting on the sword’s hilt like a knight deep in grim thoughts.
The Grand Duke was dressed in linen clothes, and when looked closer, every wrinkle on his face seemed to be filled with suffering. But this suffering was majestic, unspeaking yet solemn.
What could be said when a friend you had always admired abandoned his faith?
Celtic said that the priest had joined the Rose Sect and was involved in today’s assassination. Originally, the Greenvines Alliance’s attention was indeed on the inner city, but His Excellency Roger Reeds had keenly noticed the strangeness in this place and urgently deployed manpower to entrap the Rose Sect.
The wizard in the red robe was a priest of the Rose Sect. In their sect, white was for bishops, red was for priests and black was for congregants.
After a long time, the Grand Duke put one hand on his chest and extended his final greetings to the dead priest. He neither questioned nor cried, staying as calm as when he saw the suffering of his citizens.
Meanwhile, Tang Cuo thought of Jin Cheng. They had agreed to see each other at the church in an hour, but one hour had passed and Jin Cheng was nowhere to be seen.
Has he triggered another plot?
Tang Cuo’s guess was right. Jin Cheng did trigger something: another side plot. After going through 99 side missions in the Kingdom Hidden In The Moonlight, Jin Cheng felt his head tingling just at the sound of another side mission. But this one was different.
Its reward was clearly marked in the mission description, which was called ― ‘Fragments of a movement’.
Was it one of the twelve movements or Lancelot’s movement? Or could they be the same thing?
How could Jin Cheng let go of this opportunity? Even if he had to do 99 side missions again, he wouldn’t give up. Moreover, this side plot had a time limit, which should be reserved just enough so that it wouldn’t delay the main plot.
The side mission was called ― ‘The Incomplete Painting’.
Trigger location ― an empty backstreet five minutes away from the tavern.
At that time, Jin Cheng was being chased by people in the tavern. With his bows and arrows sealed, he didn’t want to fight the natives with a small harp, so he casually put up a mighty front, then turned around and ran away, just equally casually. The consequence of being too casual was that he accidentally bumped into someone.
Two fierce-looking men carrying a corpse wrapped in a straw mat were struck by Jin Cheng, and the corpse rolled down from the straw mat, triggering a side mission.
What an awkward scene.
Jin Cheng immediately sent the two men into a dream with ‘Requiem’ before kneeling down to examine the corpse. The corpse was a young woman, clad in revealing clothes and wearing low-quality makeup. She wasn’t pretty and had many bruises on her body, but the specific cause of death wasn’t easy to identify.
The mission required Jin Cheng to finish her incomplete painting. There was a time limit of one hour, but Jin Cheng didn’t even know who she was, while the other two men who might know her had fallen asleep.
At this point, Jin Cheng had to first withdraw because the enemies had arrived from behind, then he came back after a short stroll. The two men woke up, cursing angrily and wanting to beat up the culprit but couldn’t locate him, so they had to pick up the body and continue walking.
Jin Cheng wanted to tie them up to ask about the situation, but after a swift change of his mind, he silently followed them.
People in the White Leaf District seem to have become accustomed to someone carrying a corpse and swagger through the city in broad daylight. Most of them dropped dead in their tracks upon the sight, and occasionally someone would show sympathy with sorrowful eyes, then quickly move away.
Jin Cheng followed all the way and finally saw them enter a yard with a wooden cart parked at the gate.
Coincidentally, there was also a corpse covered with a straw mat on the wooden cart. The middle-aged man dragging the cart was bargaining with a man who had a mustache and slicked hair.
“Sir, please give five more copper coins. Although my father is old, his body has always been healthy, and he hasn’t suffered any serious illnesses until he died. This is rare in the White Leaf District.”
“But he’s old.”
“Five copper coins may not be a big deal to you, but they can feed my children. Sir, please have pity.”
“Now do you want to sell it or not? The noble necromancers don’t like old men’s corpses. It costs a lot to transport it to the Locke Kingdom. Collecting your corpse is just pitying you. Do you know that this is literally charity?”
As the two argued, the two men arrived carrying the corpse. Mustache Man waved his hand and looked at the young woman’s corpse first. He seemed quite satisfied with this and soon bought it at the price of one silver coin.
The men happily brought the corpse in, then another man walked out of the house holding a seal and slammed it on the back of the woman’s neck ― Roman numeral ‘LVI’, representing 56.
Jin Cheng squatted on the roof of the house next door and looked over, then he suddenly remembered that the stamp on the pork in this world was also blue.
By this point, the middle-aged man pulling the cart finally gritted his teeth and gave up the negotiation of five copper coins in fear that Mustache Man would change his mind, quickly finishing the transaction. He got sixty copper coins, and the old man’s body now carried a number 57.
Looking at this, the number indicated the amount of dead bodies here.
Jin Cheng watched quietly while resting his chin on one hand. The two men happily took the money and headed back without making any other suspicious movement. They just glanced one last time at the yard before leaving. The person who printed the seal was throwing some powder on the corpses, which seemed to prevent them from rotting.
Jin Cheng couldn’t intervene.
When the stomach couldn’t be filled, who cared about morality?
But unlike the man who sold the corpse of his own old man, the two men obviously weren’t the woman’s brothers. So after finding out where the corpses went to, Jin Cheng changed his mind again and tied them both up.
From them, Jin Cheng got the woman’s address and occupation.
She was a tired woman who rented a room by herself in the White Leaf District, while the two big men were thugs in charge of watching the neighbourhood and handling the corpses. The woman just passed on all of a sudden, but after all, she had been sick and didn’t have long to live.
By now, there were more than twenty minutes left before the one-hour time limit was over. Jin Cheng rushed to her rented room, and as soon as he opened the door, a huge mural came into view.
The woman was painting right before her death. She vacated the wall facing the door and piled all the furniture and items on the other side. The scene was neat and bright on one side, then messy and dark on the other.
The painting was red roses in full bloom, where only the last two flowers hadn’t been painted. The brushes and paint tray were all on the table, with an unsent letter lying beside them.
[Dear Priest Peter,
I think I’m dying.
I don’t know if there’s a flower called ‘rose’ in this world. I’ve never seen it, but if it’s as beautiful as you said, I hope it can fulfill your wish.
But for me, I don’t need it.
Jin Cheng was solemn for two minutes, then he put down the letter and picked up the brush to start painting. But when the tip of the brush touched the wall, the bright red shade suddenly magnified in Jin Cheng’s eyes and engulfed all his sight.
Drops of red ink splashed from the wall and entirely enveloped Jin Cheng in a blink.
On the other side of the city, Tang Cuo couldn’t wait for Jin Cheng to come, but he met Roger Reeds.
More than half of the Rose Sect’ people lurking in the White Leaf District perished this time. The priest in the red robe was also severely injured by Roger Reeds, but he escaped in the end. After Roger Reeds came back, he discussed a few things with Celtic and took the initiative to approach Tang Cuo.
“Tell me about the tunnel again.” Roger Reeds had a very disppasionate face. He was about forty years old, with his hair neatly shaved on both temples, leaving a very sharp hairstyle. His hair was black, a colour rarely seen in this world, coupled with a black eye patch and a blue eye, making his expression seem even colder.
The two walked to the church’s courtyard. Tang Cuo was about to repeat what he had said to Celtic to keep his story consistent when all of a sudden, Roger Reeds spoke to him in a warm tone, even though it never lost its hint of sternness.
“Theodore, you took the Grand Duke into the tunnel. This is too reckless. Your brother asked you to come here to train, but he doesn’t want anything to happen to you.”
Brother? Theodore has a brother?
Tang Cuo was suspicious but didn’t show it: “I understand, Your Excellency Roger Reeds.”
Roger Reeds frowned slightly: “We need to put aside your apprenticeship for the moment. I will write to the Duke that if you want to stay in the Greenvines Alliance in the future, you’ll have to undergo more training. You didn’t mention who you are to others, which is a good thing, Theodore. As a knight, you must be proud of your noble origin, but you can’t be arrogant, and you can’t stop moving forward.”
Tang Cuo understood that this was originally a story of a noble child who concealed his identity and went to the countryside for training. No wonder Theodore changed his hair colour.
But there was one thing that made Tang Cuo feel strange.
If Theodore had another brother, in such a noble family of orthodox knights, the eldest son would be the one to inherit the title. According to Roger Reeds, Theodore came to the Greenvines Alliance to train and intended to be taken under Roger Reeds’ wings. He might even stay in the Greenvines Alliance in the future, which was an entirely different path from inheriting the title.
But why would it be Theodore who eventually became the Duke, and where did his brother go?
Was he dead? Or did something else happen?
For now, Tang Cuo suppressed the doubts in his heart and didn’t ask why a knight would want to be a wizard’s apprentice. He simply nodded, keeping his character settings of a distant man unwavered.
So when Celtic came over, he saw two cold faces, one young and one old, as if they were carved out of the same mold. He scratched his head, not knowing whether he should step up and disturb them.
Translator and reviewer at Strictly Bromance blog. In essence, she lives to indulge in plot-driven stories sprinkled with camaraderie and slow-burn drama-free romance, especially more so if they belong to adventure, mystery or supernatural genre. A trope that she always thirsts after: “Comrades who go through life and death together”.