Book 20, The Crown’s Riddle – Chapter 1, Father and Son
Hogg’s eyes were moist. His body trembled from excitement as he carefully looked at this familiar-feeling youth.
He looked at those eyebrows…those two eyes…that nose…
At the same time, he compared them to the memories he had of the young Linley.
“Linley, it really…really is you?” Hogg’s voice was hoarse, and his eyes were red.
“It’s me, Father. It really is me!” Linley impatiently wanted to prove himself. “Father, do you remember how, back when we were in our ancestral hall, you asked me to pay my respects to the ancestors of our clan? Do you still remember how you tested me for the Dragonblood in my veins? And…I told you that I had three good friends at the Institute. Two of them are here!”
Linley immediately pointed towards the nearby Yale. “Look. That’s Yale, of the Dawson Conglomerate. And there; that’s George of the Yulan Empire!”
“And me!” Bebe flew out as well, staring at Hogg. “Uncle Hogg, remember me? I’m that little Shadowmouse.” As he spoke, Bebe’s body flickered as he transformed into a little black mouse, hopping onto Linley’s shoulders while still speaking in the human tongue. “It was Boss who raised me!”
Hogg repeatedly nodded.
“Father, look, the Coiling Dragon ring! You know about it, right?” Linley stretched out his ring.
Hogg, hearing this, began to weep from joy. “Right. Right!” He couldn’t help but stretch his arms out, taking Linley into his embrace. He clapped his hands against Linley’s back repeatedly. “Haha, it really is you. Linley. This is wonderful. Haha. This really is wonderful.” Hogg was so excited that he was stammering.
He had died, then been transformed into an undead. He had spent two thousand-plus years as an undead, then suddenly regained his memories and been brought here.
And then, his son had suddenly appeared in front of him.
How could he not be excited? Not be happy?
“Father, come. Let’s go inside. Let’s go inside and chat.” Linley wiped his tears dry, then immediately took his father by the hand and led him flying towards the rear courtyard of the Abyssal Inn.
To be able to see his father was a sort of joy which surpassed the joy and excitement Linley had felt upon finding out that he had become a Soul Mutate. Linley felt like he had returned to his youth, when he learned from his father regarding culture and more. Whenever he didn’t do well, he would be hit on the palm. Back then, he felt it was quite painful, but thinking back to it now gave him a warm feeling.
The death of his father had caused Linley to sink into an abyss of darkness. He was willing to give up everything for revenge.
Everything was better!
Within the room.
A group of people were seated around two tables, while Hogg was still feeling completely mystified. He hurriedly asked Linley, “Linley, what is going on here? Before, I was a Saint-level Black Knight. How did I suddenly regain my memory and be brought here, then see you?”
Hogg had never heard of an undead regaining its memories.
“The Boss asked the Sovereign to do it.” Bebe chortled.
“Haha.” The nearby Dixie sighed, then said, “Uncle Hogg, in the past two thousand years, Linley has gone beyond just being a genius student at the Ernst Institute. He is an expert who stands at the very peak of the Netherworld, the Infernal Realm, and the other Higher Realms. It was he who asked the Sovereign to restore all of our memories and send for people to find us, then bring us here. Myself, Yale, and George; we were all brought back by Seven Star Specter level experts.
“He asked the Sovereign to find us, and even arrange for people to bring us?”
Hogg couldn’t help but look at his son, who stood before him. In the Yulan continent, Hogg knew that his son had potential, but Hogg only believed that Linley would one day become a powerful magus, or perhaps even bring back their family’s ancestral heirloom. But…ask a Sovereign for favors? Hogg felt his head spin, just thinking about it.
“Linley, how are you…” Hogg didn’t even know what to ask.
Ask about his son’s level of power? What his son had been doing these years?
“Boss is a Highgod Paragon.” Bebe said proudly. The nearby Yale and the others, over the past few years, had learned this as well.
“What’s a Paragon?” Hogg asked.
Bebe was startled.
Previously, Yale and Bebe’s parents were also unaware of what being a ‘Paragon’ meant. Only after hearing an explanation did they understand. Bebe’s mother, that violet-robed woman, said with a laugh, “Hogg, being a Highgod Paragon means…amongst Deities, your son is an unmatched individual! Even Sovereigns would warmly invite him to become an Emissary for them.”
“Amongst Deities…he’s unmatched?” Hogg blinked several times, staring at Linley in astonishment.
Hogg had the sense that everything that had happened today – seeing Linley, hearing all these things – was all a dream.
Hogg’s reaction was what everyone had thought it would be. When Yale and George had asked about Linley’s abilities, after they were given clear answers, they had also been stunned for a long time. Everyone knew exactly how many Deities there were in the Netherworld and Infernal Realm. They were counted in the trillions.
There were countless Deities in the countless planes. How terrifyingly powerful must one be, to stand at the very top of this pyramid?
Hogg had experienced two thousand years of life in the Undead Realm, and his mental fortitude was now much greater than before. He quickly recovered, then his eyes lit up and he asked hurriedly, “Linley, your mother’s death. It was that Duke Patterson of the Kingdom of Fenlai…were you able to get vengeance?”
“He died. I personally killed him.” Linley said solemnly.
“And the person behind him? Did you find out who it was?” Hogg said frantically.
Hogg had found out that behind Duke Patterson, there was yet another figure controlling things from behind the scenes. However, he was attacked and pursued by Patterson’s forces before he was able to figure out who that person was, and then Hogg had died.
“I did. Behind him was the King of Fenlai, ‘Clayde’.” Linley nodded. “Afterwards, in the city of Hess, I killed Clayde!”
“It was King Clayde?” Hogg was stunned.
“Although I killed Clayde, this matter still wasn’t finished. Mother had been offered by Clayde to the Radiant Church. It was the Radiant Church which killed my mother, then offered Mother’s soul to the Chief Sovereign of Light.” Linley’s voice was very low. Linley still harbored tremendous hatred for the Radiant Church. It could be said that Doehring Cowart also died due to the Radiant Church.
Hogg, hearing this, frowned. A baleful aura gathered on his face, and he said in a low voice, “The Radiant Church?”
“Afterwards, I eradicated the Radiant Church, pulling them out by the roots.” Linley continued.
Hogg glanced at his son, startled. In the Yulan continent, the Radiant Church had been an enormous entity. Still Hogg knew that, logically, given that his son was now at the peak of power, it made sense that in the past, he would be capable of eradicating the Radiant Church.
“Everything has been resolved!” Hogg let out a long sigh, then shook his head and laughed self-mockingly. “I was too stubborn. It has been two thousand years, but I still haven’t been able to forget these matters. Still, what’s the point of thinking of them? Lina died long ago.”
“Father. Mother didn’t truly die.” Linley said.
“Eh?” Hogg’s eyes instantly lit up, and he appeared full of energy as he stared towards Linley with hope in his eyes.
Linley nodded solemnly. “Father, when Mother was killed, her soul was offered to the Chief Sovereign of Light. She should currently be one of the Angels of the Divine Light Plane! Only, those who have been transformed into Angels are absolutely loyal to the Sovereigns of Light…to help Mother acquire her freedom and have her be with us again will be very hard.”
“You…even you cannot accomplish it?” Hogg asked hurriedly.
Currently, as Hogg saw it, given that his son was one of the most powerful of Deities, and that even Sovereigns would fight over having Linley be an Emissary for them, his son’s status should be enough for an Angel to be restored to her free will. Hogg felt that this shouldn’t be hard.
“I have no confidence in being able to do so.” Linley shook his head.
The nearby Bebe said, a sour look on his face, “The Chief Sovereign of Death said that even if she personally went to speak to the Chief Sovereign of Light about this, it still would be unlikely. For even the Chief Sovereign of Death to be unable to accomplish this…the chances of Boss going and succeeding are most likely very, very low.” Bebe didn’t have any confidence in Linley either.
Linley himself felt rather guilty over this!
“Haha, forget it.” Hogg let out a long sigh, then laughed, “Linley, we should thank the heavens that the two of us, father and son, are able to meet again. To reunite with your mother as well? That’s just a vain hope. Don’t worry about it. That’s just looking for trouble.”
“Father…” Linley looked at his father, astonished.
From the final letter his father had left before his death, Linley understood how deep his father’s love for his mother was. His father was willing to die for her; why was he now willing to give up so easily?
“Forget about it. How can everything in the world truly be perfect and as we desire?” Hogg said with a soft laugh.
That very day, Hogg, Linley, Yale, George, and the others began to energetically discuss the various matters that had happened to their homeland, the Yulan continent. Afterwards, Hogg began to discuss his life as an undead, while Linley discussed his experiences over the past three thousand years. Hogg now truly understood how long a journey Linley had embarked on. He felt worried each time he listened to Linley narrate one of his dangerous experiences, but at the same time, a feeling of pride swelled within his chest.
In front of the Abyssal Inn. Linley’s group was preparing to depart.
“Wait a moment. I’ll come over in a bit.” Linley said to his father and friends, then walked to the pool which was in the center of the grassy area close to the Abyssal Inn. Next to the pool, there was a beautiful, red-haired maiden who was fishing happily. Others didn’t know who the red-haired maiden truly was, but Linley knew.
She liked to personally witness one expert of the Netherworld after another come here in search the Abyssal Fruit, then die. The Chief Sovereign of Death.
Putting aside her fishing rod, the red-haired maiden turned to glance at Linley. “What, you are leaving?”
Linley could notice the spatial distortions nearby; the Chief Sovereign of Death had created a spatial barrier, preventing others from listening in and preventing their words from leaking out. Linley sighed inwardly at the terrifying strength of the Chief Sovereign of Death, then replied, “Yes, Sovereign. The six people I was waiting to receive have already arrived. Thank you, Sovereign, for the pains you have taken over during this period of time.”
The red-haired maiden smiled slightly, revealing pearly, pristine white teeth. “The first time I saw you, you were just a little fellow who had just barely reached the level of a commander. In the blink of an eye, you’ve become a Paragon.”
“Sovereign, there is one last thing I would like to ask you to help me with.” Linley hesitated slightly, then spoke out.
“You really are troublesome. Speak.” Over the past few years, Linley often met the Chief Sovereign of Death around the Abyssal Inn, and so their relationship had improved significantly.
“Sovereign, I wish to find a Seven Star Specter named ‘Odin’. I don’t know if you have any method by which you can accomplish this?” Linley asked expectantly. During this recent time period, Yale had always wanted to go find Odin, but unfortunately, the Netherworld was endlessly vast. Although Linley was powerful, looking for Odin was like searching for a needle in the sea.
“Find a Seven Star Specter? Odin?” The red-haired maiden frowned slightly. She couldn’t help but give out a faint snort. “Do you really think that I’m bored and have nothing better to do? I have no idea what sort of spiritual aura this ‘Odin’ of yours has. All you give me is a name; how am I supposed to find him? Unless, of course, he was once undead. Only then can I use the Netherworld Heart to look for him. Otherwise, there is no way.”
Linley could only laugh awkwardly.
It was indeed hard to find someone with just a name. It was precisely because it was hard that Linley had come to bother the Chief Sovereign of Death about this. Linley thought that the Netherworld Heart would be able to find him, but from the sound of it, only those who had once become undead could be found through the Netherworld Heart.
“To find a single person shouldn’t be too hard, given your current status.” The red-haired maiden laughed softly. “Just find a Specter Castle and issue a mission. Say that you want to find a Seven Star Specter named Odin. The missions that you, Linley, issue? I imagine there will be some commanders and Lord Prefects who would fight over the chance.”
Perhaps few ordinary Highgods would have heard of Linley, but amongst the commanders and Lord Prefects, within a thousand years, most likely all of them would have learned of his name.
The red-haired maiden then turned her head and went back to her fishing. “Enough. You can leave now!”
“Thank you, Sovereign.” Linley bowed slightly, then turned and left.
“Let’s go. Let’s go to the Sacred Undead Mountain!” Linley smiled towards his father and his friends, then released an enormous metallic lifeform. It hovered there in midair, and then this group of experts boarded it. With a flash, the metallic lifeform transformed into a speck of light, disappearing into the horizon.