∇ ∇Volume 2 - Chapter 38: The Eve of the Storm
A total of two and a half days had pa.s.sed since the troop of exorcists entered the Maize Forest and found the clues in the witch's cabin. However, it didn't take as long to leave since they didn't go straight to the heart of the forest, instead, circling around it.
The endless night finally ended once Qin Lun returned to camp. The light of dawn was visible over the horizon. The group didn't plan to rest at the camp. Their carriages, originally piled with food and materials, were emptied and used to transport the dead and wounded.
The exorcists wouldn't bury the corpses of their comrades in the forest. To a witch, an exorcist's corpse was the best research material. In order to avoid letting the bodies be desecrated, as long as it was possible, the exorcists will always bring the corpses back to be buried in the human world, otherwise, they will directly cremate it.
Qin Lun was covered in a blanket and leaned on the side of a carriage. His face was pale, as if it contained no blood. This wasn't some trick by the doctor. He was originally already heavily injured, not only that, he had pushed himself all night using auto-hypnosis. Now that he had the chance to relax, his bones felt like they had fallen apart.
Unlike when they had just entered the forest, on the return route, no exorcists came over to chat. They seemed to have all become estranged.
Thinking about it, it was very easy to understand. It was like when a department in a modern day company gains new colleague. The new colleague is hard working, diligent, courteous, and considerate, so everyone has a favorable impression of him. However, one day, he accidently exposes the department head's mistake to the entire company. Unfortunately for him, this department head is normally quite respected. Even though the department head has done something dishonest, the sellout has now lost the favorable impression he had. Everyone would definitely keep their distance.
Qin Lun actually didn't care how the others treated him. He was originally not a person from this world. Thinking it over, he reached to his chest and took out a silver colored reagent, examining it.
"Holy Medicine: Longevity Panacea (Fake). An imitation of the healing potion, Longevity Panacea, created by the Exorcist Organization. First time usage will permanently increase vital and magic energy. The amount of increase differs depending on the user's const.i.tution. Mainly used to heal wounds, dispel negative states, and counteract against continuous damage. Ineffective if used on undead-type creatures. Can be brought back to Shattered Starry Sky. Exchange Value: 1000 Shattered Crystals."
1000 Shattered Crystals! Qin Lun's brows rose. Completing the 'Mystery' mission only gave 2000 Shattered Crystals. One should know that the exchange rate was only a fifth of the item's actual value. In other words, this thing was actually worth about 5000 Shattered Crystals.
When comparing his investments and rewards, even though Qin Lun had nearly died in his fight against the witch, his rewards were incomparably generous! Even the two bottles of Holy Medicine that he had drank and cheated away were actually because he had won the healer's respect by fighting against the witch. Otherwise, why would he take out such precious medicine?
He counted the things he had obtained from the trip to Maize Forest, not including the mission clues, that he could bring back to Shattered Starry Sky. In total, he had obtained 10 Moonlight Gra.s.ses, a pair of Magic Eyes, a unit of Gold Silkworm Powder, and a bottle of Holy Medicine. This didn't even include the Golden Summoning Scroll and the Holy Medicine he had consumed.
Of course, there were a few unappraised items among them, but according to the price given by Shattered Starry Sky, it was altogether worth 1900 Shattered Crystals. Considering the actual values, they were worth a whole 9500 Shattered Crystals, equivalent to the Shattered Crystals awarded by five satellite-level storyline missions.
He put away the Holy Medicine in his storage s.p.a.ce. At the same time, his dagger, Crime, landed in his hands. During the battle with the witch, Crime had stabbed into Mesa's heart core. Unexpectedly, the witch had not died on the spot, but rather,r Crime had started to slowly absorb her power.
In fact, the witch, Mesa, wasn't killed by the absorption of the dagger. When Qin Lun was cleaning up the witch's cabin and used the Maiya Crystal Ball to absorb Frank's soul, he noticed that the witch, who had been turned into a skeleton angel by Joey, had already turned into a pile of ash. It looked like she died from her heavy injuries.
As for the dagger that had absorbed most of the witch's powers, it also went through a small change.
Crime (Short Dagger)
Alignment Type: Life Taker (Chaotic Evil)
Soul Quality: 34 (Ten beheaded)
Length: 230 mm
Equipment Ability: Soul Devour (special ability of Life Taker). Can absorb the victim's soul power, as well as powers belonging to the same alignment. Automatically devours the soul of a targeted ent.i.ty of lower rank, no higher than level 3. In special circ.u.mstances, such as when the enemy loses the ability to resist, it can consume a portion of a mid-rank ent.i.ty's soul power.
Crime's soul quality was originally 12. Now that it had absorbed the witch's powers, it had risen to 34, an increase of 22. It appears that the witch had slaughtered quite a number of people since her body possessed so much soul power.
After the great improvement in soul quality, the black, sharp edges of the dagger seemed to flow as if it was a living object. Qin Lun held Crime, feeling as if the dagger, from the blade to the handle, was a part of his body.
The group of exorcists finally left the Great Maize Forest half a day later, arriving by the banks of the Crest River. All the exorcists could finally relax. In the latter half of their journey back, some of the more instinctually keen exorcists could sense the enormous danger closing in on their group, giving them a great deal of pressure.
They all understood that it may have been reinforcements sent out by the witches. If they dragged it out until morning, they might have been forced through a great trial.
After they left the forest, the exorcist team scattered again. Some of the seriously injured ones needed to obtain better medical help. They would not be able to handle anymore stress from the shaking carriage on the way back to Albert Castle. They must go to a nearby town for treatment.
The only healer, Toddy, wanted to leave, and he was very firm about it. Although he had not been injured, he used the excuse of looking after other injured people so the rest had nothing else to say.
Lady Nova and Meyer did not want Toddy to leave. Although he was not geared for battle, every healer had a very high position within the organization. With him as a mediator, as long as the Albert Family did not stray from the exorcist's doctrine, they could still smoothly settle everything.
Qin Lun watched Toddy leave, unknown thoughts flickering in his eyes. The healer agreed to his plan. Lady Nova, Meyer, and the rest of the exorcists were still not aware of the damage the plague would do.
"Dr. Stein, you are also severely injured, would you like to leave with Toddy?" Lady Nova approached him and softly asked.
The Flower Overlord's former favorable impression of Qin Lun was nearly gone. She had a premonition, if they let the doctor follow them back to Albert Castle, the situation might become unfixable. It was better to have him leave first.
"Lady Nova, the weather is a bit stuffy, a rainstorm might be coming tonight." Qin Lun raised his head and gave an irrelevant reply.
"Isn't it normal for there to be rainstorms during this season?" Nova frowned and glanced toward him. She indifferently spoke, "If you must follow us back to Albert Castle, I hope you can keep your mouth shut. Let Meyer and me talk to Baron Albert."
"Lady Nova, the storm will not change for human will." Qin Lun tightly closed his eyes and no longer spoke.
Qin Lun clearly understood what the Flower Overlord and Meyer had in mind. These exorcists had fought alongside Albert Castle all these years. They were comrades in battle, with ties stronger than family. Even if there was only a small chance, they still wanted to help the Albert Family absolve their problem.
Plus, the current era was different than a millennium ago. Witches were no longer the most threatening things in the human world. From Nova and the other's point of view, as long as the Albert Family did not violate the basic doctrine of the exorcists, their mistakes could be excused.
However, Qin Lun understood even more than them. If his conjectures were correct, the exorcists and Albert family will not come to an understanding.
The otherworld mission Qin Lun was responsible for dealt directly with the Albert Family's secret, something that could not be exposed to outsiders. Their positions were opposing. In the past, he had used every circ.u.mstance and hints to discover the Albert Family's secrets.
The witch's diary was the best weapon Qin Lun found; it would help them see one small thing in the big scheme of things. From Tony, he could imagine just how great the martial might of the Albert Family was. In addition to their contacts, they were not a force Qin Lun could go against. As such, he could only use the exorcists to get the results he wanted.
In fact, most of the information the witch had could not be considered major. Even if Steven really took a witch as a wife, so what? Steven was not really a part of the exorcists in the first place. The Albert Family is developing magic organisms, but what about it? There was no evidence that they were harming ordinary people.
That was why Nova and the others wanted to talk to Baron Albert first and not immediately attack the Albert Family. If there wasn't Qin Lun and the plague that was about to erupt, Nova and the others probably wouldn't have even bothered addressing it like this and would have just subtly warned the Baron Albert.
The current situation, where they were forced into opposing sides, was completely Qin Lun's fault. However, although the serial killer used everyone and any information he could to get to this point, he did not do anything wrong, so his position, itself, wasn't wrong either.
The mission given by Shattered Starry Sky wasn't something they could reference as they please. Even though it was an introductory mission for a newcomer apostle, the world would still have its own history and setting. It was not limited to just the affected area or time span of the mission.
The actions taken by Qin Lun were outside the mission boundaries and included preventing the spread of the epidemic.
Was the Odia epidemic really an undying epidemic? Does the plague have a connection to the Albert Family? And what kind of influence does the plague have on Odia, the Maize Dukedom, and finally, worldwide?
These questions could not be answered at the moment. Qin Lun led the exorcists and Albert Family to stand on opposing sides mainly because he needed to complete the mission regarding the mystery of Steven Albert. But he could also uncover the answers to these questions at the same time.
As for the fate of the Albert Family, it had nothing to do with Qin Lun. It would be all be up to them. All Qin Lun did was spin the wheel of fate, waiting for the final moments to arrive.