Chapter 91: Forest of The Elves (9)
As they brought Celtic back to the stone gate, there was no one outside the gate this time. The two smoothly opened the gate to find that there was a wine cellar on the other side.
After a bit of looking around, Jin Cheng concluded: “We’re likely still underground.”
Celtic nodded, for indeed wine cellars were usually in the basement, either securely locked or guarded by people. He cautiously approached the door to take a look, and sure enough, there were two elf guards outside.
The guards in the Royal Palace weren’t equipped with only bows and arrows. They also carried spears in their hands.
Jin Cheng asked McCaw: “When you were still the Prince, did you know that this place was connected to an underground prison?”
McCaw frantically shook his head, and Jin Cheng understood that this was only discovered after he became a mouse. Celtic was stunned: “Is he the Prince???”
“Squeak!” McCaw stood up with both forelimbs on his hips. He was really a prince, so how could he tolerate being asked this question over and over? But then he remembered something and his ears drooped down, sinking into dejection.
Celtic thought he had offended the Prince and scratched his head, looking absolutely confused. At this time, Jin Cheng grabbed McCaw and said: “It’s time for the Prince to take action. Did you see the guards outside? You crawl out through the crack in the door, dance in front of them, then crawl in again. Make them open the door.”
But he was the Prince!
Celtic was scared out of his wits by the idea, but just as he was about to give some dissuasion, Jin Cheng glared at him: “Otherwise, you go?”
Celtic shut up.
Prince McCaw was pushed out and almost squashed by the door. He looked back at the door to see the two humans still staring at him with such enthusiasm, signalling him with a “go, go, go” gesture.
They bullied a tiny mouse!
McCaw chanted “They’re good people” a hundred times in his heart, turned his head and decided to sprinkle his anger on the two elf guards. He raised his chest up and ‘squeaked’ a lecture at them, then ran away before they could react.
“What a gross mouse. How could a mouse get into the palace? Chase it out!”
The guard swung his spear and almost stabbed McCaw in the butt. Luckily, he was small and his movements didn’t take up much space, which allowed Celtic to make a move just in time and pull him in at once.
Jin Cheng kept staying close to the door, carefully watching the movement outside the door.
Unsurprisingly, the guards began to take out the key to open the door. It was no big deal if a mouse ran into the underground prison, but if the wine in the cellar was damaged, it would be a huge mess.
“Click.” The door opened.
The two guards entered almost at the same time, and Jin Cheng and Celtic also jumped out from both sides of the gate almost at the same time. One by one, they covered the guards’ nose and mouth from behind, dragged them into the dark and knocked them out, then directly gagged them and locked them up in the prison cell.
About ten minutes later, two elf guards closed the door and reappeared outside the wine cellar. It was just that if one looked closely, he would find that their pointed ears were very unnatural.
McCaw hid inside Jin Cheng’s pocket, still showing them the way.
The place they were heading to was Elder Evan’s residence. It would be best if they could find evidence that proved that Evans had colluded with outsiders to inflict harm on the Secret Lake.
Celtic was worried that they would run into Evans again: “If he really leaves a mark on me with his blessing, he may be aware of us coming for him.”
“That’s just nice.” Jin Cheng replied without a fear: “We can directly catch him and save a lot of effort.”
When he didn’t do anything earlier, it was because Celtic was still in the hands of the enemy. He also hadn’t fully understood the situation and didn’t want to strike just yet. Now he no longer had that worry.
At the same time, Tang Cuo took Hawk back, and everyone watched a new change taking place with the illusion of the Secret Lake. The first Secret Lake presented them with a lot of animals, sacred beasts and the Goddess of Nature. Now, a huge black ship was standing in the middle of the Secret Lake, exuding overwhelming mystery.
Amidst the mist, there seemed to be shaking figures of people on the ship, making it look totally like the phantom ship often seen in legends of the sea.
There was no doubt that this was a masterpiece from the two sleeping men of the Pinwheel Harbour office.
Upon seeing this, Hawk’s expression turned especially unsightly.
Heimen wasn’t in the mood to care about him. His younger brother Hayes was getting sleepy and he himself was almost unable to hold it anymore. He couldn’t help looking at Tang Cuo, who was the most likely to make him feel secure here, and asked: “What should we do now?”
Tang Cuo looked at Celtic again: “What do you say?”
Heimen wasn’t aware of the conversation between Tang Cuo and Celtic earlier, but he hadn’t fully placed his trust on Celtic. Seeing Celtic stay silent, his doubts grew even bigger.
Celtic kept quiet a moment, and finally he said: “I don’t know.”
Tang Cuo didn’t expect him to come up with a solution right away. If things were that simple, the strange situation at the Secret Lake wouldn’t remained unresolved for three whole months.
“In fact, when we entered the Secret Lake, we were already inside an illusion. This is your illusion. The druids just said that you aren’t Celtic.” Tang Cuo stared directly into Celtic’s eyes.
Who was this fake Celtic?
Tang Cuo was inclined towards the idea that he was the guardian of the Secret Lake, or rather, the spirit of the Secret Lake that was born after thousands of years. There were often such settings in fantasy stories.
Hearing his explanation, the others quickly understood, and Hawk’s eyes immediately widened. He looked at Celtic in shock.
Tang Cuo quietly swept a glance at Hawk’s clenched fist, seemingly thinking of something.
On the other side, Heimen frowned and was deep in thoughts: “That is to say, there are now double illusions, with a big illusion that contains many smaller ones. Then can we just try to wake him up?”
By this, he was referring to the fake Celtic.
This was of course feasible in theory. Tang Cuo said: “Our previous method of breaking the illusion was to get rid of the special items directly related to the person who was sleeping. But in this big illusion, what is this item?”
Everyone couldn’t answer, and even the fake Celtic had no idea. He just felt that his mind was a mess, as if he couldn’t remember anything. When he heard the names of Augustine, Lady Cynthia the Goddess of Nature as well as Louis, he seemed to get back a vague fragment of his memory.
Even as an outsider, Tang Cuo probably understood that the existence of gods was something very distant from the continent of Sicilit, and that a miracle had never been revealed in the last thousands of years.
“Do you still remember the Tucha Dynasty?” Tang Cuo asked. This was the dynasty of Louis XIV. Thousands of years ago, Louis XIV attempted to break the secret of eternal life and spied on the forbidden zone of the gods, which led to the destruction of the entire dynasty.
Who had such immense powers to make the Kingdom Hidden In The Moonlight perpetually buried in the golden sands and wipe out all the roses from the continent of Sicilit? Of course it must be a god.
Louis XIV, an arrogant man who disrespected the gods, could naturally portrait a goddess’ true face in his own painting collection. This also proved the fact that Louis had laid eyes on this goddess.
The continent of Sicilit during the Tucha Dynasty was two eras away from the current continent of Sicily.
“Tucha …” The fake Celtic muttered: ” I seem to remember a little more now. Louis was still a prince at that time. Aimee and he were good friends, so they often came to stay at the Secret Lake.”
The almighty Elf King Aimee had finally made his appearance.
Tang Cuo asked: “Aimee hasn’t ascended the throne at that time, right? “
It was more probable for a prince and another prince, who were similar in status and age, to become good friends.
Celtic tilted his head, thought for a moment and nodded slowly: “Probably so.”
Tang Cuo asked again: “Where was Augustine? When did he appear?”
There was a trace of confusion in the fake Celtic’s eyes. He thought and thought, then a dull pain hit his head. It seemed that something was pressing on him. He wanted to break through that suppression, but it wasn’t easy at all.
After a long time, he finally found a crack that he could crawl through. The memory had his tone glazed with so much despair: “Louis hasn’t come for a long time.”
How long it had been, the fake Celtic couldn’t tell.
“One day Aimee brought Augustine, who was still a little boy, and said that he was about to return to the embrace of the Goddess. Augustine stayed with me and together we had a happy time.”
‘Return to the embrace of the Goddess’ could only mean death.
When Tang Cuo heard this, he roughly understood the context of this story. Thousands of years ago, Louis XIV and the Elf King Aimee were friends. Louis was condemned for offending the gods and the dynasty was destroyed, but Aimee stayed alive.
After this, the survivors of the Tucha dynasty established the Rose Sect in an attempt to resurrect Louis XIV.
Augustine, who was brought up by Aimee, grew up and founded the Greenvines Alliance.
So friends of those bygone years had now turned into enemies?
In this way, the Rose Sect had a reason to make a move on the Secret Lake. Whether or not there was something they wanted here, it was a place related to Louis XIV.
But where was this powerful Augustine from? Aimee brought him here and he later established the Greenvines Alliance. It was impossible for him to be just a random character out of nowhere.
Regarding his point, the fake Celtic couldn’t clearly explain. Perhaps Aimee didn’t tell him that much, or perhaps he simply forgot.
“Last question.” Tang Cuo sternly looked into the fake Celtic’s eyes and asked: “Why did you become Celtic? In the past three months, every time outsiders entered, would you always shapeshift into someone and sneak into the team?
Fake Celtic shook his head: “No, I felt the aura of Aimee from you. You awakened me, so I came to you.”
Tang Cuo didn’t expect this answer. It seemed that Aimee’s blessing bestowed on the [Sword of Judgment] had somehow budged the seal that had been put on the fake Celtic. If Tang Cuo never saw this coming, Elder Evans likely didn’t see it either.
After a pause, Tang Cuo asked another question: “What’s your name?”
This question had the fake Celtic stunned. To the fake Celtic, Tang Cuo’s remarkably bright eyes became the focus of his entire vision. Looking at those eyes, he knew — this man was real.
What’s my name?
Who am I?
The fake Celtic’s head hurt as he thought about it, but he knew that he should have a name. Only with a name could he know who he was. He should’ve seen his reflection in the lake countless times.
But now he couldn’t even remember what he was supposed to look like.
He could transform into anyone, but he couldn’t remember himself.
Tang Cuo saw his excruciating expression and stopped asking. He guessed that someone had cast a curse on the fake Celtic or set a magic formation on the shore of the real Secret Lake. In short, there was a sort of seal imposed on this person.
To break this seal, the first thing was to find out its location. But where was it?
Tang Cuo, Heimen, Don and the dwarf Hammo, who had already slept once, were still awake at this time.
Surprisingly, Hawk was also very energetic. Except that his expression was particularly unsightly, there was no other problem. Tang Cuo actually thought that a young master like him wouldn’t turn down an offer of wine from the elves, rather, he would regret why he didn’t drink more in the first place.
“It’s your turn.” Tang Cuo firmly drew his sword: “You have two choices, tell the truth or die.”
Hawk remained silent as his body went stiff, for looping in his mind right now was the image of Tang Cuo directly pulling out his sword and stabbing the opponent to death should the person said something that wasn’t to his liking. But as his eyes caught a glimpse of Celtic on the side, Hawk knew that he could still fight for his chance: “Aren’t you worried about those missing adventurers? I saw them in the woods just now.”
Tang Cuo: “Oh.”
Hawke: “What do you mean? “
Tang Cuo kindly explained: “’Oh’ means you don’t have to worry. If they turn up, I’ll have them dead at once.”
The dwarf Hammo felt that Tang Cuo’s words were incredibly reasonable. He fiddled with his big hammer and joined in the fun: “Not a bad idea. Those that sneak around certainly aren’t any good men! The great Hammo will knock their heads away with his hammer! “
Hawk: “……….. “
For now, I’ll just assume that you’re not referring to me.
Hawk held back his urge: “The fake druid earlier is one of them. They’re clearly the Rose Sect, and they definitely are peeping at us from the dark. Out of kindness, let me tell you, if something goes wrong later, don’t blame me for not warning you.”
Tang Cuo: “So what were you spying on just now?”
Hawk kept his mouth shut, but the twin brothers and Don had both looked over here, leaving him with no room to hide at all. He could only say: “It’s a matter relating to the Greenvines Alliance, I can’t just say it.”
This was easy to handle. Tang Cuo looked at Hammo and Don: “It’s rude of me, but please stay away for a moment.”
The two understood their position and took their leave. Even Hammo, who had always been irritable, showed no objection. The fake Celtic was still immersed in his own world and wasn’t paying any attention to the situation here. Tang Cuo immediately signaled to Hawk — You can talk now.
Hawk quietly bit on his lips and finally decided to compromise: “We were trying to find the Heart of The Lake.”
Heart of The lake?
Tang Cuo, Hayes and Heimen both frowned. Hawk had revealed his intention anyway, so of course he went on with a bit more explanation: “Heart of The Lake is the spirit born from the Secret Lake after thousands of years. It may be a person, or it may be an item. Once you obtain it, there are endless benefits awaiting you.”
Heimen: “So you’re taking this opportunity to quietly snatch it from the lake? And bring it back to the Pinwheel Harbour office? Have you reported to the headquarters? Or were you planning to pocket it for your own?”
Facing a series of questions from Heimen, Hawk could predict that after he returned, the Black Mountain office would definitely attack the Pinwheel Harbour office on this matter. But even if he had a slip of the tongue here, it was likely that nothing would change in the end.
People from the Black Mountain office had such horrible, rigid tempers. They were notorious all over the alliance.
Needless to say, the premise was that they could all go back alive.
Tang Cuo was more concerned about the ‘Heart of The Lake’. This was no surprise — the fake Celtic must be this Heart. No wonder Hawk cast him such a strange look just now.
It turned out that what he had been searching for a long time had been right beside him all this while.
However, with the presence of men from the Black Mountain office here, this little scheme of the Pinwheel Harbour office wouldn’t have a chance to work out.
What would happen to the Secret Lake if its Heart was stolen? One didn’t even have to use his brain to figure out the result. Unless the Greenvines Alliance wanted to expose the Elf race, if this secret was brought to light, the consequences would be disastrous.
At this time, Hayes finally couldn’t resist the drowsiness and fell asleep. As more people succumbed to their sleepiness, more changes took place inside the illusion. Stunning flowers started blooming on the lakeshore and a bridge emerged, extending all the way into the dense mist. The pitch black, eternally calm lake seemed to hide an immense danger in it.
No one had the guts to come close.
Time flowed by slowly. Everyone scattered around to look for the seal, or they boldly approached the lakeshore to investigate further, but nothing was found.
Two hours later, Don fell asleep too.
At present, only Tang Cuo, Heimen, Hawk and the dwarf Hammo remained awake.
Tang Cuo was the one who dared to approach the lake and stop next to a reindeer. The reindeer was drinking water from the lake, occasionally looking up at him. The animal’s big eyes were full of curiosity.
The Goddess of Nature clad in the golden silk dress had arrived at the bridge. She walked along the bridge until she completely entered the thick mist, leaving only a vague shadow behind. The white unicorn trotted by her side, occasionally rubbing its horn affectionately against her hand.
Tang Cuo kept thinking and thinking. If his brain could manifest into a real existence, it would probably be a spinner that never stopped turning. He looked down at the lake and his face deep in thoughts was reflected on the surface, as though the lake was spreading out a sheet of paper for him to paint on however he liked.
Of course this was only his imagination and others couldn’t see it, but if Jin Cheng was here, he would probably imagine what Tang Cuo’s complex web of thoughts looked like.
Here it comes again.
Even though so many thoughts were flooding his mind, Tang Cuo could still think of Jin Cheng. He finally could verify the theory that — being in love really made people dizzy.
What was Jin Cheng doing?
Really, did anything bad happen to his dear instructor? Otherwise, why hadn’t he appeared yet? As Tang Cuo was having these thoughts and looking at his own reflection in the water, a bright light suddenly flashed in his mind.
He looked back at the fake Celtic and asked: “No matter how the Secret Lake appears in my dream while I sleep, the illusion will show everything, right?”
The fake Celtic was stunned for a moment, then he nodded.
Tang Cuo asked Heimen again: “In the continent of Sicilit, what can take off all our blindfolds and restore the real appearance of everything?” He originally wanted to talk about the Monster-Revealing Mirror1, but there should be no such thing in Sicilit.
Heimen thought hard for a while but couldn’t think of any, and the fake Celtic didn’t have any clues either. Hammo blinked and cast a snobbish look that screamed ‘you all are so dumb you don’t even know’ at them: “It’s the Mirror of Truth, created by the ninth generation of the famous blacksmithing master Gerardmi von Askar White of the Dwarf race…”
The name of this dwarf was even longer than an old lady’s foot binding cloth2.
Tang Cuo interrupted him: “Give me your wine.”
Hammo immediately covered the bottle in vigilance: “Why?”
Tang Cuo: “To get drunk. Then I can start dreaming.”
Hammo wasn’t stupid and could roughly guess what Tang Cuo was planning. He wanted to summon the Mirror of Truth in this illusion to let the fake Celtic see his real self in the mirror, so as to truly wake him up and break the illusion.
After hesitating again and again, Hammo reluctantly threw the bottle to Tang Cuo, then he put both hands on his hips and turned the other way, not wanting to give another look. If he looked a bit more, he might regret this decision.
Tang Cuo drank and the alcohol slightly got to his head, but he couldn’t fall asleep immediately. He returned the bottle to Hammo, pulled out his sword and flicked it, coming to the decision that he should take advantage of this time to do something else.
When Hawk saw him drawing his sword, his fear came back crashing his mind. He immediately asked: “What do you want to do?”
Tang Cuo smiled: “Didn’t you say that the other four are hiding in the dark? To prevent them from attacking me while I’m sleeping, I’ll chop them off first.”
I’m drunk. Super fierce.
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”.