Chapter 308 A Haunted Castle Adventure
Thirteen days later.
Alice arrived at Wylick Castle under a torrential downpour.
A black carriage passed through the broad, arched gates and drove onto the stone-paved road. Numerous servants, including the gardeners, kitchen staff, maids, guards, and the butlers were already waiting for their new master when the carriage finally circled past a mermaid fountain and stopped before the three-story castle.
Their expressions were awkward and fawning. The unconcealed panic in their eyes was easy to see.
The ones that stayed were those that had signed contracts with the previous owner of the castle. That was why the castle's assets included them.
Everyone couldn't help but be relieved when they saw the few people that walked down the carriage.
It was Kerr, Warren, and the other two apprentice adepts. They were familiar faces that had served in the castle for the past five to six years as well. All the servants finally relaxed when they saw them.
However, they were all confused and stunned for a second when Alice walked down in her pale yellow dress. It wasn't until the four apprentices introduced her that the staff immediately bowed and greeted her.
"Alright, you can all get back to your work now!” Alice waved her hand impatiently, "Make sure to do my room first. Whoever is in charge of this place needs to come and report to me. Everyone else can get back to work!"
Everyone obeyed frantically.
One hour later, after enjoying a simple bath, Alice met the head butler of the castle in a bedroom on the second floor.
He was an old man with white hair, neat clothes, with a pair of gold-framed glasses resting on the bridge of his nose. He was an elderly butler that had been in the service of Wylick Castle for over fifty years. Of course, the fact that he had the honor of serving a respected adept meant that he carried a noble title.
Most of the workers employed in an adept's private businesses tended to be low-ranked nobles. In fact, this was a common sight!
After all, there were far too few among the peasants that could read and count.
"Speak. What kind of assets are there in Wylick Castle? I want a detailed report!" Alice wore a soft silk robe. She leaned against her seat and behaved in a manner unbefitting of her age.
She had just come out of the bath. Her long blonde hair was still dripping wet. Drops of water would occasionally fall onto the carpet below. Alice had brought the silk robe over from her wardrobe. It was barely long enough to cover her knees. When she tucked her body against the couch, the cloth would be pulled backward, revealing her little white legs and her slim feet. Her ten delicate little toes were like freshly blooming petals as well.
Apart from the old butler, the four new apprentice adepts were also present. Two of them were advanced apprentices, and the others were intermediate apprentices, but all of them were keeping their heads low. They didn't dare to stare at this maverick of a young girl.
Alice tugged on the fabric that had slipped down her shoulder and hid the bright and colorful magical tattoos on her body. Every time she saw these mysterious, intricate, delicate, and three-dimensional tattoos on her upper body, it reminded her of the surgery. The fearsome pain of Scalding Rays carving their way through her skin as she laid upon the operation platform.
Greem had tattoos as well. Alice had known this for awhile.
She even knew how unbelievably potent Greem's tattoos were.
The previous version of the Flame Fiend Transformation could double his body's attributes. It might not have lasted for long, but it was already an enviable ability. With the addition of the otherworldly runic knowledge, the new Transformation could provide Greem with three times his usual stats. This upgrade was indeed unbelievably powerful!
The new Flame Fiend's Transformation provided Greem with a fierce and powerful form, while the transplanted Heart supplied him with an endless source of fire energy. These two factors forged a new existence when they were combined– a terrifying, mad demon of flames.
As her master's personal maid, Alice had the most accurate understanding of Greem's real power.
She could feel her blood boil when Greem called her over to his hidden room and mysteriously asked her whether she wanted a set of tattoos like his.
Her answer was obvious.
As a person with supernatural powers, Alice would never refuse an opportunity to increase her abilities. Naturally, she agreed without hesitation.
However, she immediately regretted her decision when she was lying naked on the alchemical table for surgery.
It was way too bloody painful!
Was this a magical tattoo? No. It was most definitely not.
What difference did this surgery have when compared to the magical patterns and arrays that alchemists carved into their magical tools? The only actual difference was the subject! Those were cold, unfeeling objects, while she was a living, breathing person!
The Scalding Rays had burned through her flesh, leaving fine grooves of all sizes and depths in the skin. Unique alchemical materials were then poured into the grooves. There was also a rare substance within the concoction that stopped the flesh from regenerating. This treatment was to prevent the subject's exceptional Physique from healing the wounds too rapidly and causing the magical circuits to lose their powers.
This massive tattoo covered the entirety of her upper body. Naturally, this meant that it couldn't avoid winding through some of the more sensitive areas.
Alice had needed to use all of her will to control her body and resist trembling in pain, itching, and other physical sensations when the Scalding Ray had made their way across her sensitive areas. After all, the process of carving the tattoos into the body was a fine and delicate one. Any deviation in the position of the patterns could cause the symbols to lose their effects.
Thus, Alice had forced herself to turn into an unfeeling, human-shaped object while remaining perfectly conscious. It was the only way to avoid interrupting the surgery.
The four hours of inscribing the lines into her body was an endless and torturous nightmare!
Alice couldn't get up from the surgery table when Greem finally told her that the operation was finished. In the end, it was her master Greem that had the good sense to carry her back to her room. She had to rest for half a day before she regained all of her physical senses.
Greem specialized in fire, which is why he carved the Flame Fiend's Transformation into his body. Alice, on the other hand, had awakened the bloodline of the Witch of Fate. Her affinity was for the space attribute as well. That was why the tattoo that Greem carved on her was different.
Naturally, he had tailored it to Alice!
"Apart from the castle itself, Wylick Castle also has a small manor that is responsible for providing the castle with the daily meals. There are a total of XXXX slaves, XXX buildings and XXX square feet of land under the Castle's management…
"There is also an arcane shop in Fandear City, along with two blacksmith's shops and two bakeries.
"There are XXX buildings within the Castle, XXXX rooms, XXXX servants and XXX barrels of wine in the cellar. The current amount of gold coins stocked in the castle totals to…"
Alice finally got impatient listening to the butler listing every single asset in the castle. She waved her hand and interrupted him.
"You can write all of these worldly treasures down on paper and had it over to me. What I want to know is the private treasury and collections of the dead Adept Sak." A smile surfaced on Alice's delicate porcelain face, "You guys couldn't have done away with these things already, could you?"
The four apprentice adepts betrayed panic in their eyes. The noble butler lowered his head even further.
"We wouldn't dare, Lady Alice. Adept Sak kept his collection on the third floor of the castle. His laboratory and study room are on the third floor as well. He forbade everyone from entering. Even Lady Celia couldn't enter without permission," An awkward smile appeared on the butler's face, "That is why we have no idea what's inside!"
"Oh? There was such a thing?" Alice's eyes sparkled.
Honestly, which apprentice adept wasn't interested in the magical lab of a veteran adept? It was sure to be an exciting experience to go treasure-hunting there!
Alice immediately rushed behind a changing screen. When she finally appeared before the others again, she was wearing a short grey gown fitted to her size. Alice held a small and delicate wand in one hand, with a golden bird's cage in the other. She had a Tiara of Wisdom on her head and a row of glass vials placed around her waist. She had set all sorts of mysterious magical rings on her ten pale and delicate fingers as well.
Even the buckskin boots she wore on her feet seemed to faintly glow with the light of magic.
"Very well, very well, I am prepared now!" Alice shouted excitedly, "Let us now go explore Sak's lab."
"Us?" The four apprentices raised their heads. A sick feeling washed over them.
"Of course it's us!" Alice balled her hand into a fist and waved it in the air. She couldn't wait to start, "You are all coming to protect me. Of course, you will have to come with me!"
The four apprentices instantly went pale.
Sak's lab was located on the third floor of the castle's main building.
Alice and the four apprentices successfully stepped foot on this unfamiliar ground after they went up the wooden spiral stairs.
A silent, dim corridor loomed before them.
Small candlesticks had been placed on both sides of the walls of the corridor with a little distance between each of them. Perhaps because it sensed the presence of life energies, one of the candlesticks closest to them silently sprang to life. Then, one by one, the candlesticks started to light up, leading into the depths of the corridor.
That said, the light was extremely dim, and was barely enough to illuminate a fifty-centimeter radius around the candlestick.
The tiny yellow lights flickered in the darkness, adding a tinge of supernatural mystery to the dark hall.
Everyone couldn't help but gulp in nervousness.
Arcane rooms, magical traps, voodoo beast guards, mysterious monsters, fearsome magical radiation…
Everyone felt their legs cramping up at the thought of these precarious existences. If Alice hadn't been staring at them from the back, all four of them would have run away a long time ago.
Exploring the laboratory of a veteran adept wasn't much safer than exploring an ancient ruin!
Sak had been an elite adept. No one would believe your lies used to trick children if you told them that he hadn't set up any security systems around his lab.
That accursed Alice. She was still arrogantly shouting before they moved out. Now that they had stepped foot on the third floor, she immediately retreated behind the four apprentices, as if that was the way it was supposed to be. She wasn't even ashamed of her actions.
"Will, you go first!" Alice waved her tiny fist about as she ordered them.
The guy named Will was only an intermediate apprentice. He was, without any doubt, the weakest of the four apprentices. He looked back at his companions to see them avoiding his gaze. He knew there was no avoiding this. No one would help rid him of this job either.
Will had no choice but to grit his teeth and take out a white finger bone. He used it to apply a white bone shield around him before cautiously making his way into the corridor.
Editor Ryu: Alternate chapter title: Magical Girl Alice and the Adventure of Sak's Vault.