Chapter 217 Rose Manor
Blue Hillock City.
Numerous witcher-knights had gathered here, turning this place into a rowdy military camp.
Knowing that he could not contest the witcher-knights with his own forces, Blue Hillock City's castellan Count Vanlier decided to just leave the castellan's quarters to the knights and moved to Rose Manor located outside the city, living a life of seclusion.
However, he would occasionally host ballroom dance parties at the manor out, of respect for the witcher-knights, and warmly invite the young knights to participate. Count Vanlier had even specially invited the most famous chef from Herdurand City, as well as the numerous noble ladies, socialites, and beauties in Blue Hillock City to entertain the young knights. Every day, the knights would live a life of debauchery, surrounded by beauties and luxuries.
The noble knights, who had just experienced the traumatizing battle in the woods, seemed to have found the meaning to life once more. They tasted smooth wine and gourmet food, surrounded themselves with beautiful women, and talked with merchants that offered up empty praises, sinking utterly into a life of pleasure and enjoyment.
Duke was one such knight!
As someone born from a small noble family, he had always had the great dream of owning a runic sword of his own and riding a magic colt across the continent. His father, a small baron in a rural area, sold the only manor they had and sent him to the witcher-knight trainee camp.
Moreover, he was diligent and fortunate enough to not only become a witcher-knight, but also accidentally advanced to a spellbreaker knight after fifteen years of rigorous field experience.
He instantly became the pride of his family, as well as a famous witcher-knight leader back in his hometown.
Countless successes in his hunts for heretics had strengthened his faith in the witcher-knights, turning him into a faithful believer of the great Holy Knight Sir Willis. Thus, when the new Heretic War was about to break out, he led his companions and hurried here, joining the ranks of the witcher-knight army that went into the forest.
A single bloody and cruel battle in the woods allowed him to see the terror of the evil adepts for the very first time. Every time he recalled the hordes of evil voodoo beasts swarming like a tide out of the darkness, and his poor companions that turned into the ugly ghouls, his heart would bleed and his soul would tremble!
He would wake up from nightmares every night since he returned from the forest, drenched in sweat and soaked in fear. Almost all of the knights that returned with him faced the same problems that he did.
It was precisely because of this that the knights' higher-ups had not stopped the knights from attending Count Vanlier's extravagant dinner parties. In fact, they gladly encouraged and sent these emotionally damaged knights over to the parties.
Their defeated knight's convictions could be compensated with the rich wine and good food, and their losses in battle could be won back on the bed.
Handsome men and beautiful women were everywhere in the brightly lit hall. Even elderly men with several decades under the belt would dress handsomely as they walked about socializing with everyone.
Most of the beautiful ladies were wearing bright low-cut dresses, revealing their white backs and their deep cleavage, while the men wore delicate and elegant noble's suits or neat and smart hunting attire, waving their wine glasses about as they had joyful conversations and invited the ladies to dance.
Male servants wearing neat uniforms pushed small silver carts into the room and placed delicate food on a longtable decorated with a sky-blue tablecloth. This was food reserved for individuals with certain status. Bronze candlesticks were placed on the table, along with tin cutlery and drinking horns decorated with silver rings.
Meanwhile, one after another, beautiful maids wove through the guests with bright smiles on their faces, putting rich wine into the hands of the generously drinking guests.
A small band was diligently playing at one corner of the hall. Once in a while, some bards or dancers would dance on the spot, further livening the atmosphere in the hall.
On the other hand, outside of the hall were numerous quiet and peaceful corridors, gardens, pergolas, fountains, and lawns. These spots filled with greenery and flowers were the places that men and women flirted.
Moreover, there were specially designed small bedrooms at the back of the hall. They were lavishly decorated, but more importantly, they had exceptionally sound-insulated walls.
However, right in the middle of this pleasant evening of enjoyment, several black shadows secretly gathered in a hidden wine cellar in the corner of the manor, quietly discussing something.
"Has the target been decided? Our mistress is getting impatient!"
"Please tell the mistress that we have decided on the targets. It will be a total of three spellbreaker knights. We will find a way to have them stay over tonight and when that happens… "
"You must be careful. Keeping you here as a hidden piece was not an easy task. The mistress does not want you to be exposed too early. So remember, you must be absolutely careful and have a detailed and proper plan before acting!"
"Yes, Sir Bald Eagle, you can count on me!"
The black shadows exchanged a few word in the darkness, then quickly went in their own directions.
One of the silhouettes suddenly turned into a furry black mass, silently beating its wings as it sped across the many buildings in the manor. Shortly, it arrived at a delicate, small building two levels tall located at the back of the manor.
It passed through a vent specially left open at a corner of the house and went inside before transforming once more in the master bedroom of the building. It turned into an elderly noble with a slightly balding head and wearing a delicate sleeping robe.
He lightly pulled on a special string by the corner of the room, and the two large doors at the side of the master bedroom opened as a group of beautiful maids walked in and swiftly changed the elderly noble into a smart suit. The butler wearing a tuxedo stood obediently by the side, waiting for the Count's orders.
"Have all the guests arrived?" he asked with a voice thick with the accent of nobles. The elderly noble raised his arms and let the maids arrange his costume.
"They are all here! Especially the ones master had mentioned to me. I have already sent people to entertain them!" The butler hurriedly took one step forward and replied softly.
"Where is Duke now?"
"Half an hour ago he was still conversing with the president of the Wade Chamber of Commerce in the front hall. Now, he's flirting with the Sera sisters by the grapevines in the gardens!"
"He was dancing with Madam Shearfre in the hall fifteen minutes ago. Now… he's already inside guest room number seven."
"He's been drinking with Knight Tomard and Knight Raul in the side hall. Apparently, he's already drank six bottles of grape spirits. I've had people send another five bottles over."
"Mm! You've done a good job." The elderly noble nodded in approval.
Just as the elder was about to step forward into the front hall, the obedient butler suddenly stopped him.
"Master, this one has some news to report to you."
"Oh? What is it?" The elderly noble asked in astonishment.
"Sir Collier has arrived."
"Collier? Do you mean that Radiant Knight Collier?" The elderly noble was surprised and immediately asked again. He lowered his head and let out a wicked laugh before striding out confidently.
Since even a radiant knight had graced him with his presence, there was no reason he shouldn't show his face as the host of this party!
Thus, after a short moment's wait, the loud announcement of a servant rang out from outside the door.
"Count Vanlier has arrived!"
Countless black shadows shifted and countless voodoo beasts roared…
Everyone ran as fast as they could amidst the flickering light of torches. Their hurried and dramatic breathing could be heard clearly.
A scarlet flame cloud was roiling in the skies as meteors wrapped in burning flames whistled through the air as they crashed into the earth. Loud explosions and bright fires accompanied them as each of the meteors landed. The woods would tremble from the impact of the meteors.
Every time this happened, even Duke couldn't help but tremble along with the forest.
Because what came next was the terrifying flame shockwaves and the branches, stones, and debris that covered the skies.
The meteors that were destroyed midair would turn into rains of fire that fell from the sky, engulfing the entire forest in their burning embrace. The only thing Duke could do was keep his energy shield up, protecting himself from the rain of fire, running forward with all his strength amidst the shaking and trembling of the earth…
Suddenly… a pale white monster so ugly and revolting one would gag at the sight of it emerged from a bush at the side, tackling the witcher-knight in front of Duke, biting and devouring the knight with its sharp teeth.
When Duke raised his runic longsword with his trembling hands, the ghoul suddenly raised its head and looked at him. Then, it squatted before leaping high up into the air, launching itself at Duke.
Duke looked at the terrifying fangs and claws becoming larger and larger before his eyes before screaming and waking up from his nightmare, sitting upright in the bed. The two beautiful ladies lying naked on the bed mumbled something before turning over and returning to their peaceful sleep.
Duke wiped off the cold sweat on his forehead. He looked around the room before realizing that he was no longer on that terrifying battlefield, but in a comfortable and warm nest instead. Duke couldn't help but smile when he recalled the euphoria and intimacy of the night earlier. He leaned back as he tried to fall back into a sweet sleep.
For some reason though, he had a vague feeling that there was something dangerous hiding near him. However, after an entire night of debauchery and enjoyment, even his wits and sensitivity to danger had fallen to their absolute lowest.
Just as he was in a daze and wondering about the source of this unknown sense of danger, two bright red dots appeared within a dark spot in the room. This pair of red glowing lights appeared suddenly, and before he had even noticed it they were right before him, instantly drawing his attention.
For some unknown reason, whenever Duke looked at the red lights his mind could no longer function properly. Even though he subconsciously felt something was off, his will, weakened by the pleasures of the past few days, was no longer sufficient to continue resisting the effects of those red lights.
Pain and struggle appeared on Duke's face, but he was never able to shift his gaze away from those lights. Moreover, as strange patterns and flux started to appear from within the red glow, his will started to sink further and further in while the expression on his face started to become more and more peaceful and calm.
Finally, he no longer struggled!
"It's done, Bloody Mary. I've put this guy under my control for now! It's up to you next." A sweet and crisp female voice rang out from the darkness.
"Mm, thank you Lady Phantom. I'll deliver the things you requested as soon as possible once we return to the base. I'll have to trouble you for the other two as well!" Mary's voice also sounded out in the darkness.
The soft sound of moving cloth could be heard in the room as the female adept known as Phantom exited the room, leaving the poor prey bewitched by her illusions to Mary.
For a long time, Mary had only been able to Embrace a group of pseudo-adept level vampire subordinates in Blue Hillock City. She never had the opportunity to try and do such a thing to the more powerful witcher-knights, nor the spellbreaker knights that had even more powerful mental wills and magic resistances.
Thus, Mary took advantage of this brilliant opportunity and bought Phantom’s help at a tremendous price to have her crack the wills of the spellbreaker knights and shake their faith and determination. Even if Mary failed to Embrace these knights under the cover of the illusion, the spellbreaker knights would only think of the experience as a new nightmare, and the secret hidden in the Rose Manor wouldn't be exposed.
Mary grinned wickedly as she closed in on Duke in the darkness!