Volume 2 – Chapter 15: Going Deeper Step by Step
The gargoyle’s skin and muscle were just like stone, even the inside of its mouth was as tough as leather.
Fortunately, the crime dagger was incomparably sharp and made from high-quality material: iron from a meteorite. It was only because of its quality and the plus twelve remnant souls–which functioned as an enchantment–that he was able to pierce through the mouth in a single blow.
Even though a gargoyle looks very different from a human, its brainstem is similarly unprotected by the skull. Therefore, the crime dagger directly severed the brainstem through the mouth, pinning the creature onto the tree branch behind it.
However, even after such traumatic injury, it still did not die. Instead, it lashed more violently than before. The creature’s slender muscles grew, more than doubling from its original size. It ballooned out, struggling even more aggressively.
Although its head was still pinned to the tree trunk, the creature still managed to dig its claws into the hunchbacked servant. Frank could only feel searing pain wash across his back, but he persisted. He continued to press on, determined to restrict the gargoyle’s movements. Any ordinary man without his formidable strength would surely have no hope of persevering.
“Lean your head to the side.” Frank heard a cold voice behind him. The hunchbacked servant was startled and immediately moved his head to one side.
“Dodge!” a sharp wind passed by the hunchbacked servant’s ear, leaving a line of blood on his cheek.
When Frank looked to the side, he noticed a shovel next to his head.
The shovel struck level with Frank’s ear, cutting the gargoyle-like an axe, right through its still gaping, bloody mouth, nearly severing its head in two. The creature’s fierce eyes slowly dimmed. It stopped struggling; this time, it truly was dead.
Franked slumped over, leaning heavily against the tree. He panted loudly, trying to catch his breath. Qin Lun had bandaged his shoulder and back, but he still looked dazed.
The red glow in Qin Lun’s eyes faded. He was now more interested in studying the monster’s corpse, but he did occasionally look over at the hunchbacked servant’s face. The reason for the expression was quite obvious, just now, Joey’s cold and ruthless gaze had left the hunchbacked servant fairly disconcerted.
Although Wellington and Frank were master and servant, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the two were very close with each other; they had grown up together after all. The hunchbacked servant wouldn’t even mind dying for his master Wellington; however, when Qin Lun literally stabbed him in the back to get at the gargoyle, it left the servant feeling a strange sense of unfamiliarity and distance.
In reality, Qin Lun truly appreciated Frank’s loyalty, which is why he kept his promise to leave Frank enough money to live alone before leaving this universe.
However, Qin Lun, in the end, wasn’t a normal person, typical human beings have morals and ethics. On the other hand, he had only read them in the books, not truly holding any of them in his heart.
From Qin Lun’s perspective, even if Joey had killed Frank, he wouldn’t feel any guilt in his heart. The hunchbacked servant was loyal, but the object of the loyalty was not him, but the Wellington Stein that had already died.
Qin Lun circled the gargoyle a few times before standing back up. He turned to face where he had seen a white silhouette among the trees earlier. The white figure had long disappeared without a trace as if what he had seen earlier was merely a hallucination. Regardless, Qin Lun knew it was not an illusion, the hunchbacked servant had seen it before.
“It is almost day.” Qin Lun looked at the still-in-a-stupor hunchbacked servant, releasing a sigh “Frank, it’s time to get up!”
“Huh? Young…Young Master, we’re going back now?” The hunchbacked servant held his shoulder while standing up, keeping his head low not facing Qin Lun.
“First refill Stephen’s grave. I’ll go back first. You should wait a while before returning to the castle.” Qin Lun glanced at the hunchbacked servant’s shoulder and bloody back, pausing for a moment, “If you can’t endure, just return with me.”
“Understood, Young Master!” Hearing Qin Lun’s words, the hunchbacked servant suddenly became spirited again, his mouth widening, he revealed a small smile again, “What should we do with this monster’s body?”
Really, what a simple human being. Qin Lun sighed in his heart as he watched the revitalized Frank. Just a few plain words showing concern led him to immediately forget Joey’s previous ruthless expression.
“This gargoyle…” Qin Lun eyes flashed and then slightly narrowed. He then lowered his voice and quietly spoke a few instructions.
A while later, Qin Lin patted the soil on his body away, and started to walk out of the forest. The sky was already bright, he had to immediately return to the castle or the others could get suspicious.
However, after walking a few steps, he changed his mind and began to walk in the direction of where he spotted the white figure. After quickly circling the area, he stopped in front of a tombstone.
This hillside forest was the Albert family’s cemetery, thus the tombstone would naturally also belong to an Albert family member.
“Pfenning Calendar 1698-1732”
After seeing this tombstone, the corners of Qin Lun’s mouth moved a little, and he rubbed his fingers together. But once he looked up and saw the color of the sky, he regretfully spat out a sigh and started running out of the forest, not looking back once.
On the gentle curving mountain path, a young man was jogging toward an ancient and imposing castle.
The sky was bright and in the courtyard of the castle were the morning servants ready to start a busy day of work. As they saw the youth run toward the castle along the stone bridge, many of the servants smiled.
This young man was the only doctor in the Odia region that could treat plague patients. He was also an important guest of the castle owners. No matter where, they didn’t dare show the slightest bit of disrespect.
Qin Lun had a kind and welcoming smile as he walked into the castle hall. Coincidentally, he bumped into the old butler Jason
“Doctor Stein, running again? Eh? You look…..” The old butler saw Qin Lun covered in dirt and was a little surprised.
Qin Lun looked at himself before explaining with a smile, “Oh, I decided to go for a run, but it was really early in the morning. The sky was too dark and I slipped while on the mountain path.” He took another look at himself before saying “I’ll need to go bathe. I won’t be there for breakfast, send my apologies to the baron.
“Okay, I’ll bring you there now.” The old butler gave a polite nod. There had been heavy rain the past few days and thus the mountain roads were muddy; the morning dew did little to help the situation. It wasn’t strange for someone to slip on the mountain roads. The old butler was quickly relieved.
Upon Qin Lun’s returned to his room, the maidservants quickly prepared the water and brought his breakfast over. After washing his body once and eating his breakfast, Qin Lun felt like the tiredness in his body had been swept away. Then, leaning on his bed, he picked up a medical book and began to read. Although his eyes were looking at the book, his mind wasn’t focused on it at all, he was after all quietly waiting for Frank to return.
Stephen Albert’s body was not in the cemetery, therefore Qin Lun concluded that perhaps the target of his mission had not died. However, the plan had already reached this step and so Qin Lun was once again caught in a dilemma.
It was unlikely that the members of the Albert family would ever reveal the truth to him. If he hadn’t discovered some more clues last night, he was afraid that his only choice from then on would be to use force.
Qin Lun felt that he was slowly unraveling a huge secret; Stephen Albert’s death was likely only the tip of the iceberg. The event from a year ago the Albert family was desperately trying to keep hidden, was perhaps only the key to the secret.
To get to the bottom of the mystery, he would need to look back hundreds of years, back to when the first generation Barron Albert had formed a connection with the Odia Region.
The danger from last night had ignited Qin Lun’s fighting spirit, in contrast to the mission he had been assigned to for this universe, he was more interested in the secrets hidden behind it.
The missing corpse, the white figure, the gargoyles that were thought to have only existed in myths… Qin Lun put down the book. He stood up and began to pace around the room, his face slightly flushed with excitement. He was unable to fully suppress the emotions swelling in his heart. In constantly feeling uncertainty and curiosity, Qin Lun felt an ecstatic level of excitement and expectation.
After resting in his room for a while, Qin Lun opened the window and suddenly frowned.
He did a little calculation. From the time he had returned to the castle till now had been approximately two hours, and yet Frank had yet to appear. Although Joey’s earlier stab had avoided the tendons and bones in Frank’s shoulder, a simple bandaging wasn’t enough to stop the bleeding. Not to mention, his back had already been scratched into a bloody mess by the gargoyle: the bleeding would likely be even faster.
Originally, Qin Lun had though Frank would at most wait half an hour before returning, but he still had yet to see the ugly hunchbacked man.
Could it be, that that idiot had let himself bleed to death? Qin Lun had already told the servant not to act tough. If he had really bled to death, wouldn’t he have done all this preparatory work for nothing? It didn’t matter if that idiot had died, but then Qin Lun would have wasted so much time and effort…
Qin Lun scrunched up his face, his nails digging into his palms. His heart feet a strange sense of unease.
“Dr. Stein, Dr. Stein!” Just as Qin Lun had been worrying himself to death, from outside the door, Jason’s voice could be heard.
“What’s wrong” Qin Lun’s heart palpitated, hastily opening the door.
“Dr. Stein, your servant is back, although his situation doesn’t look too good, you should hurry and take a look!” The old butler said in a rush.
“Where is he?” Qin Lun secretly let out a sigh, relaxing his fists. There was a thin line of blood left behind.
Frank laid in a spacious room on a wooden bed. His face was pale, and his eyes were clenched with pain. His bandaged chest moved shallowly with every breath. Beside him, a maid was in the midst of changing the bloodied water in washbasin with warm water.
Qin Lun wiped away the sweat covering his forehead and got up from his bead; there was work to be done. Last night, it had been too dark in the small forest to see, but now, after carefully examining the injuries, he realized that the hunchbacked servant was injured worse than Qin Lun had initially expected.
Besides Frank’s shoulder injury, he had bone-deep scratches on his back. For him to have been able to survive out there for two hours before returning, even with his physique, it was practically playing with his own life.
Qin Lun’s future plans were wholly dependent on the hunchbacked servant’s assistance. In desperation, and without any other option, Qin Lun used another half-drop of the “World Tree’s Flower Nectar” to replenish his servant’s physical strength.
“How was he injured? Can someone tell me?” Qin Lun indignantly turned to the others in the room.
“Wellington, please come with me! Originally, none outside of the Albert Family was permitted to know the situation. However, since it now involves your retinue and it happened within the vicinity of the castle, we believe that you completely deserve to know some of our secrets.” The old baron heaved a sigh, clasped his hand behind his back, and headed out of the room. He nodded at Qin Lun, hinting at him to follow.