Chapter 553 Inside the Banquet
The banquet at Rose Manor was well underway by the time Greem stepped out of the black carriage.
His hasty travel here hadn't allowed for any other arrangements. He had no choice but to rent a carriage from a nearby city to arrive at Rose Manor.
He wasn't wearing that conspicuous adept's robe of his. Instead, he had changed into a black frock coat with gold spectacles and a wig on his head. When paired with his black eyes, he possessed a muted trace of nobility and pride to him, even as he carried himself with elegance and grace.
Things had happened too quickly!
He had already warned Mary not to get too close to Leicester, and he had reminded her only to collect necessary information on the vampire from afar. However, Mary didn't do as she was told.
The existence of the bloodline limit had caused Mary to stagnate at elite First Grade level for far too long. Greem's advancement to Second Grade, in particular, had greatly provoked the competitive vampire.
Even though they were already officially intimate lovers, the competitiveness etched in Mary's bones hadn't faded away. That was why she held an intense passion and motivation when it came to hunting and capturing Leicester.
Sadly, just as Greem's abduction plan was slowly unfolding, terrifying news reached their ears.
Leicester had also advanced to Second Grade, becoming a fearsome Vampire Count.
That had far exceeded the limits of what the original abduction plan had accounted for!
A Second Grade vampire would be able to pull together a slave army formed from blood slaves and vampire spawn within less than a month if they committed reckless massacres. If an entire vampire family gave their all, they would be able to transform the whole center of the continent into a paradise for vampires in only six months.
That said, no vampire family was crazed enough to attempt something like that while under the jurisdiction of the Zhentarim Association. No adepts would intervene if they made descendants or blood slaves within their own territory, but they would be met with the full united force of every single adept if they ever extended their reach to someone else's property.
The vampires also sustained themselves on the blood of intelligent creatures. If they turned all the citizens of their lands into blood slaves and vampire spawn, they would end up in an awkward situation with no food.
It was these two reasons that caused all vampire families of the World of Adepts to lead a life of extreme self-control. In fact, they kept a very tight rein on the number of blood slaves and vampire spawn within their territory. The lives of their citizens were no different from those of other regions. That was why no situations of mass immigration of fugitives had occurred due to fear of the vampire lords.
However, the low profile of the vampires did not signify weakness!
If one ranked all adepts by their overall power, the vampire adepts would probably be somewhere in the middle-upper tier among adepts of the same grade.
They might not be the strongest in combat, or the fastest at running, or the ones with the strongest defense, but they were the most cunning!
These were weaknesses and strengths that all vampire adepts shared.
They were fast, could transform into bats, excelled at remaining stealthed, and chief amongst them all- they had shocking regeneration speed when able to consume blood.
Their weakness, on the other hand, was their universally acknowledged lack of offensive abilities.
The attacks of vampires were often weak when compared to opponents of the same grade. They could only rely on their regeneration to slowly wear away at the enemy's defensive spells.
It was precisely because she knew how difficult a Second Grade vampire would be to deal with that Mary had been driven by her boiling vampire instincts to sneak closer to Leicester. And as expected, her movements were sensed by the opponent!
After a grueling five days of pursuit, Mary could no longer use any of her abilities due to the effects of her bloodline instincts. Leicester had caught her. He couldn't help but be stunned upon checking the bloodline in Mary's body.
In all honesty, the origin bloodline of this mysterious descendant of his had developed shockingly well. If one were to be entirely frank, the degree of development of her origin bloodline had already exceeded Leicester's own origin bloodline before he advanced.
Which is to say, this captured offshoot female vampire held a surprisingly high chance of advancing to Second Grade.
The reason she hadn't advanced yet was mostly due to the bloodline limit. Now that Leicester had advanced to Second Grade, the bloodline limit had shifted upwards. This mysterious female vampire would only need to take a little to adjust herself, and she could consider advancement.
Bloodline backlash was a terrifying prospect. However, as a vampire family, they had plenty of means to control such bloodline offshoots of impure descent.
It was because he didn't wish to squander such an excellent potential subordinate like Mary that Leicester didn't kill her on the spot. At any rate, nothing would go wrong with bringing her to Rose Manor. Once he was done with the affairs here, he could bring Mary back to Bloodcastle and deal with her at his leisure.
The urgency of the situation left Greem no time to plan. He had hurried to Rose Manor immediately upon receiving news of the banquet.
Greem's arrival instantly caught the attention of the servants waiting at the gates.
Truthfully, Greem wasn't dressed too extravagantly. The carriage he came in was also unremarkable. One could even say it appeared crude and shabby compared to all those luxurious carriages out there.
However, when Greem stood in front of the gates of the manor with his hand brushing the buttons on his coat, an overwhelming aura of intimidation and might alerted the servants to the truth; an important figure had arrived.
Greem had already tried to retract his spiritual pressure, but there was still an unconcealable intimidation to the way he walked and to his appearance.
"Sir, may I know who you might be?" The ones that could greet the guests at the gate as the head servant was also a peripheral blood slave of the Vik family. This identity was equal to a middle-class noble among the local territories. He would be an apprentice adept, even within an ordinary adept clan.
"Greem!" Greem didn't speak much. He merely gave his name.
It was a lone word, without even the name of a clan attached to it. Yet, not only did the head servant no look down upon this unknown man, he became even more respectful and cautious around him.
This was the World of Adepts. It had always revolved around the adepts.
The adepts who had established themselves through their own efforts went by their first names only, without the clan surname attached to it. That was in stark contrast to the adepts that had been trained by the adept clans themselves. However, no one dared to look down upon these adepts.
Anyone could tell that this guest was no ordinary figure. Moreover, he had no clan surname. The learned head servant immediately realized that this was an adept who was hiding his identity.
Any manor and castle in the World of Adepts were unconditionally welcoming to visiting adepts!
Greem passed through the broad, towering gates and entered the banquet, followed by the loud proclamation of his arrival.
As the band currently played a lively tune, and the young noblemen and noble ladies were dancing their hearts out, no one noticed Greem's arrival.
Only the head servant waved for an attendant and leaned into his ear to whisper a few words. The attendant then hurried towards the main building of the manor.
Greem had attended all sorts of banquets since he had arrived in the strange and mysterious World of Adepts. However, most of these were half-business, half-socializing events hosted by apprentices or private dinners held by adepts.
The guests invited to those banquets were of the same nature. The intent of the feasts was often straightforward and simple as well. So much so that the dinners were a little dull and uninteresting.
Greem had never attended a banquet like the one before his eyes, where countless handsome men and beautiful women dressed in eye-catching colors while flirting and laughing among themselves. It was perhaps the kind of lifestyle favored by those adepts that had given up on the path of magic in pursuit of worldly power and desires.
Even though it was the same banquet, there were distinct inner and outer circles.
The inner banquet revolved around the banquet hall on the first floor of the three-level building in the center of the manor. The ones that were allowed in there were mostly great nobles and the wealthiest merchants of the nearby cities. Of course, there were also plenty of beautiful, noble women and young girls that had been specially selected to be allowed in there.
The middle and lower class nobles could only gather in the fields, greenhouses, gardens, and corridors around the main building. Here they could still meet plenty of important figures, who would sneak out of the main hall in search of a romantic encounter. As such, the outer banquet was no less lively than the one inside.
Greem was not a body-refining adept and had no unnatural, tough as steel muscles. However, his two-meter body height still gave him a muscular and nearly perfectly proportioned body. His tailored attire further added a hint of elegance and grace to him.
He didn't even need to go out of his way to seduce women as he walked towards the main banquet. Plenty of pretty noble ladies were already winking at him. Some of the wilder women even personally stopped him and tried to draw him into a passionate conversation.
These vulgar women might not have the ability to see through Greem's identity, but they naturally knew how to pursue the strong and powerful. Even though Greem had already limited his overflowing Spirit, that massive and pulsating life force was like a massive magnetic field drawing these women toward him.
Greem's vision swept through the scene and quickly understood something.
Half of all the women gathered around him were peripheral blood slaves of the Vik family. They spent their days at the sides of high-grade vampires, diligently serving them and selling their youth and bodies to obtain the favor of the vampires.
Individuals with powerful life forces like Greem were their best prey. The moment a victim was seduced into bed, the women would be able to absorb their life force during intercourse secretly. That was also the only way for them to accumulate power and grow stronger.
Once their power exceeded a certain threshold and they became baronesses in their own right, they would be pseudo-adepts and would break free of their identities as blood slaves. It was then that they would be officially recognized by the family and accepted as an internal member of the Viks.
That was why nearly half of all the female blood slaves were attracted when they saw such delicious prey appear at the banquet. They gathered around Greem, trying their best to show off their appeal.
Of course, this was in part due to Greem concealing his identity as a Second Grade adept.
Otherwise, these women would never have dared to so directly tease a terrifying Second Grade adept, even if they had a hundred times the courage than they currently possessed!