The door of the room closed. Ying Er walked in with a look of suspicion, her red eyes scanning the situation inside the room.
"What kind of mischief are you up to again?"
"What mischief? My trousers weren't pulled up, and I didn't expect you to be standing at the door, so I just blocked it for a while." Garen combed his hands through his hair to massage his numb scalp.
"That's not true! What's that under your bed?" Ying Er's sharp eyes immediately spotted the suspicious trace. She walked a few steps forward and stood facing Garen. "Move aside, I want to find out what disgusting things you've been up to!"
"What are you trying to do? It's late, stop playing," Garen said with a deliberate frown.
"Move aside!" Ying Er was one of those who ignored everything once her temper got the better of her. When she saw that Garen wouldn't budge, it fueled her suspicion further.
"I said, move aside!" Ying Er's voice deepened as her expression became ice-cold. "Looks like you didn't learn a lesson the last time…"
Garen’s complexion slightly changed. "The last time" was the previous Garen; he tried to hide his collection of dirty magazines, but Ying Er found them and beat him up till he cried. Even though it wasn't actually him who experienced that shameful incident, it was enough to make him choke.
But no matter what, the clothes underneath his bed absolutely could not be discovered!
When she saw that he continued to keep silent, Ying Er's expression turned uglier.
"Looks like this time around, I'll have to give you a lesson you won't forget!" She started cracking her knuckles.
"It's not what you think, trust me!" Garen looked up into Ying Er's eyes. He had just killed someone by using too much force, and the last thing he wanted to do now was to fight his sister. He was worried that he might accidentally do it again…
Ying Er stared into his eyes and realized there wasn't a sliver of embarrassment or anger in them for being exposed, but instead a hint of sincerity.
Both stared at each other for a while.
Ying Er slowly breathed a sigh of relief.
"I'm sure!" Garen replied in haste. "Apart from this one thing, I'll agree to whatever you want."
"Fine. I'll ask you a few questions. If you can answer me truthfully, I won't bother you about this," Ying Er paused.
"Do you like dad?"
"Of course I do. That's easy."
"Do you like mum?"
"Do you like uncle?"
"Do you like Ai Fei?"
"Of c... Who's Ai Fei?"
Garen took a deep breath. "Good thing my reaction was quick…"
The palpitations that he suppressed earlier resurfaced. Seeing his sister's expression finally turn bright again, he felt as if he just escaped the clutches of death. He would have never thought that she knew Ai Fei, the prettiest girl among the female students around him.
"Alright… I'll spare you this time. But if you bring those disgusting things in here again, don't blame me…" A satisfied smile broke across Ying Er's face. "Okay, I'll go out now. Rest early."
"I know, I know. Alright, you get some rest too…" Garen breathed a sigh of relief. "See you tomorrow."
"Yup, see you tomorrow… you wish!" Ying Er cried out. She pounced over and slid under the bed in a flash.
Garen hurriedly crouched down and followed suit, reaching for his bundle of clothes.
The bloodied clothes were shoved deeper under the bed by Ying Er's vigorous movements; he could barely reach them.
"What’s in the clothes? Tell me!" Ying Er squeezed further under the bed, trying to grab the bundle of clothing.
"If I catch you, you're dead meat!" Garen clung onto both of Ying Er's legs while she crawled forward in an attempt to break free.
Garen put his weight on her from behind, but he didn't dare to exert too much forc
e, so all he could do was keep a light hold on her. Incidentally, he exerted too little force; Ying Er managed to free herself, and she lunged forward.
"Ouch! That hurt…"
Ying Er hit her forehead on the underside of the bed, and her body curled back.
Behind her, Garen suddenly felt that his head was stuffy—he was inside his sister's skirt.
Round buttocks covered by black pantyhose were inches from his face; he could even see a hint of white underneath. His nose almost touched the skin of her buttocks.
The smell of girly fragrance mixed with a hint of sweat wafted into his nasal cavity, instinctively causing him to inhale.
At that moment, both were completely frozen.
In front, Ying Er didn't dare to move a muscle. A blush spread over her face, neck, and the entirety of her body.
She could distinctly feel Garen's face on her bottom—he had probably seen everything under her skirt.
Garen's mind was in a state of chaos. The most attractive part of a girl's body was all of a sudden right in front of him, and he didn't know how to respond.
Knock knock knock.
Someone knocked on the door.
"Are you two done playing in there? Time for you to wash up and go to bed! You have class tomorrow!" their father, Eisen, shouted from the doorway.
Both their hearts skipped a beat. It was nerve-racking.
If their father saw them in this state…
"Yup, almost done!" Garen snapped out of it and frantically shouted in reply.
They waited until the footsteps of their father leaving gradually faded.
Garen leaped out from under the bed in an instant.
He was then followed by Ying Er, with her hands covering her buttocks. Her face was red as she hung her head low; she didn’t dare look at Garen.
"I'm off to bed," she mumbled softly, then quickly opened the door and left.
Garen took a deep breath and sat on his bed. At this moment, he felt a strange calm wash over him.
That bout of ambiguous tension had oddly suppressed his anxiety and panic from the previous event of having killed someone.
There was still a faint aroma of Ying Er in the room. Garen sat on his bed until the lights in Ying Er's room went out. He then went out to find a clothes-drying pole and used it to hook the bloodied clothes out from under the bed, then crept into the bathroom to wash them.
A week later.
"Hey, old man, what's the latest? Any new stock that's particularly good? How about letting me have a look?"
Garen sat bored beside the table, fiddling with a golden button. Apparently, it was from the clothes of the famous Agate Queen who lived three hundred years ago.
"New stock? What new stock? That burglary cleared me out!" The old man was fumbling at the bookshelf. "That's right! I have a book here that you might appreciate. Think of it as the reward for comforting this old geezer in my moment of crisis."
The old man continued rummaging through the bookshelf. Then, he took a stool and stepped on it, pulling out a large black hardcover book from the topmost shelf.
"Here, take it." The old man struggled down from the stool and handed the book to Garen.
Garen took the bulky black brick from the old man and wiped a thick layer of dust off the cover, revealing some unknown black text.
He turned to the first page.
In that instant, Garen's pupils shrunk slightly.
A huge gust of cool current poured into his palm and flowed to his head through his arm.
"Potential! It's Potential! So… so much energy!"
He didn't know how to react. There wasn't any indication when he first held the book, but when he opened it, he started absorbing Potential.
His heart beat unnaturally fast. Garen glanced over the rapidly increasing Potential figures at the bottom of his vision and looked directly at the content on the page of the book.
The yellowing pages were crammed with an unknown text. Garen flipped through the book page by page. Some black-and-white sketches were occasionally interspersed in between the text.
The pictures were mostly weird, irregular geometric lines, which looked as much like a design for a mechanical contraption as it did a map for a complex terrain. They were densely marked with text and tiny symbols.
Garen didn't have a clue what the content meant, but that didn't stop him from absorbing Potential from the book. Turning it page by page, time slowly crept away.
Half an hour later…
Garen slowly closed the book and let out a long sigh.
"Finished going through it?" The old man squinted to look at the cover carefully; a trace of disappointment flashed over his eyes.
"Yeah, done. This is definitely a precious ancient antique!" Garen definitively said.
"You don't say." The old man seemed to relax a bit more, as if relieved of a burden. "Alright, I'm closing early today. You go ahead, I still have something to take care of."
Garen took a look at the sky outside. The sun had completely disappeared below the horizon, and only a residual trace of red stained the clouds.
"Fine, I'll be leaving first then. See you tomorrow."
"Well, beat it kid!" the old man jokingly added.
"Oh yeah, how's the progress with Detective Quicksilver?" Garen turned to ask.
"There was an explosion in Kyora Town just outside the city, and Detective Quicksilver was injured. He's in the hospital now." Old Man Gregor shook his head and sighed. "Even the famous Detective Quicksilver has faced a setback; looks like there's no hope of getting my belongings back now."
"That's not necessarily the case. I looked up Detective Quicksilver, he's no ordinary guy. The mystery of the stolen million-dollar oil painting in New Zealand, the nine serial killings in West Riyadh, and cracking the case of the torch legend, etc. The guy keeps facing new opponents, and keeps heading to new places to solve riddles; you can tell he enjoys solving cases. From how I see it, this golden bracelet won't be an exception," Garen comfortingly said.
"Thanks for your kind words. Get going now, I need to close up." The old man waved his hand to rush Garen out.
"Alright." Garen walked out of the store carrying his bag.
He looked at the Potential points at the bottom of his vision.
Potential: 179%. It was around 58% initially, and that was due to the increase after meeting that car on the night he killed someone.
"That book…" Amidst his delight, his eyes showed a trace of doubt. "Something feels off."
After Garen left, Old Man Gregor closed the front door and went back to sitting in front of the bookshelf. He opened the black hardcover and gently caressed the pages as a complicated expression emerged on his face.
It wasn't after a long while before he finished looking through the entire book.
"I should have known this would happen, but surprisingly I can't help but want to cling on to something…"
The old man shook his head and slowly closed the pages.
He kept turning the pages until he finally closed the cover. The black text on the cover had turned dark red, as if fresh blood had flowed through each stroke and coagulated.