"Balbia’s Box? That’s not a usual Millennium Antique, I heard its owners always end up in a failed marriage. Dunno if it’s real. I’ve heard about the Heart of Yggdrasil, but isn’t it in the hands of a Weisman Duke?" Garen’s interest got piqued and joined the conversation.
"It was a long time ago, something happened a while ago…"
The conversation in the car split into two.
King of Nightmare, Andrela, the boy, and the girl in one, Garen and Katyusha in another.
After a while, Garen found out from the girl about a number of hidden Antiques of Tragedy and their owners.
"I have collector friends from all around the world." Katyusha said proudly, "A part of it are my dad’s collector friends, but they know me. The others are my own friends I made. Mr. Garen is from Yalu Confederation but has knowledge far beyond a normal person. I don’t suppose you know Green Pine Auction House?"
"Green Pine?" Garen thought it sounded familiar.
"Yeah, it’s by a friend in the Confederation. You can find some decent stuff in there too, you should check it out. Just say you’re a friend of Katyusha, their director would definitely give you a discount." Katyusha proclaimed. "The director, Fenistine, is a good friend I made when I was in the Confederation."
"Fenistine?" Garen finally recalled from his memory about Green Pine Auction House and its history. "Fenistine, isn’t she the girl with the light blonde hair and blue eyes?"
"You know her?" Katyusha was slightly astounded.
"A little, but we’ve been out of contact for a long time." Garen shrugged.
"She’s not doing very well now." Katyusha looked at Garen weirdly. "Her family is a huge family with very conservative attitudes. They don’t like her having interest in antiques. Now she’s even selling her prized collections because of some new problems. I wonder what it is, any idea what?"
"Not even a little. I haven’t been talking to her." Garen’s brows furrowed. They had a pretty good friendship, but she never talked about her family in front of him.
"Better take note then." Katyusha’s gaze at Garen is a little loaded. She didn’t believe in pure friendships between a man and a woman.
"I will." Garen nodded.
"What about your car?" Katyusha asked.
"We’ll hire someone to pull it over. As long as we keep the important things with us." Garen shrugged.
"Any friend of Fenistine is a friend of mine, I’ll ask someone to tow it over to Hotel Coconut Tree."
Andrela, King of Nightmare, and the other two on the other side also went apart. The two sat together and spoke to each other in a voice so soft, it’s like they’re only lip reading each other.
Garen asked Katyusha about Picardi and the situation with the expo before quietened to rest.
He silently listened to the other people while putting his hand into his jacket pocket, feeling the Golden Sword Throne he brought around the whole time.
A cool Potential breeze still flowed out of it, but it’s already running thin.
"I heard there’ll be a Mirror of Secret Texts, do you think it’s true?" King of Nightmare asked suddenly.
"It’s true. I heard the owner lent it out for exhibition. It’s definitely a rare treasure. I came here to admire and to appraise it actually. Mirrors of Secret Texts are not something you hear often these days."
She started talking nonstop about the history of the Mirrors of Secret Texts, obviously being excited having someone listening.
Garen just sat aside and listened.
Garen decided he doesn’t need a breakthrough at this moment. He’s still young, unlike Palosa, so he doesn’t need to even worry.
Old Man Gregor’s death has become more like an obsession at this point. He only wanted to locate Sylphalan and fight him. Mastering his Divine Statue Technique, he currently feels he’s stronger than ever. He can clearly sense he’s that much tougher than before.
His only motive of finding the Mirror of Secret Text was to fight the people from the Immortal Palace Alliance. Of course, finding Sylphalan would be the best case scenario.
As Garen was quietly combing through his thoughts.
A dull sound came from in front of the carriage.
"I felt the carriage shook for a little."
Katyusha stopped talking as well, her face was struck with a moment of panic, but she recovered her composure almost immediately after.
"Sciara, is everything okay out there?"
"It was nothing, just some animals running across us. Took me by surprise." The old coachman’s voice drawled in from the front.
Garen, Andrela and King of Nightmare exchanged a glance. They definitely heard the short but distinct exchange of blows. Obviously, the opponent was defeated in the blink of an eye.
But Garen had a hunch something was wrong.
His chest was radiating heat.
Confused, he pressed his hand on his chest. It was the pendant in the shape of a book Old Man Gregor gave him. It was burning slightly.
The pendant hadn’t done anything since he’d gotten it. Sylphalan seemed to have come to recover the pendant that time. Garen had not been able to uncover its secrets no matter how long he analyzed it.
But now, the pendant is starting to heat up.
"Is there anything wrong?" Katyusha looked at Garen, confused.
"Oh, it’s nothing, just spaced out a little." Garen smiled. He had a feeling something was wrong, but he didn’t understand where.
Maybe I’m just paranoid, he said to himself.
This Katyusha may not be as simple as she seems. The strength of the battle outside does not sound weak, they’re at least as strong as a member of special forces. If they had tried to rob…
The moment the sound came up, Katyusha’s body tensed, as if she could burst out a fighting stance at any time despite her size.
"Excuse me." Katyusha stood and steadily made her way out of the carriage before closing the door.
She sat beside the coachman who was slowly driving the carriage to their destination. Katyusha frowned.
"Yeah, the Argentists. Don’t think they want us to be there."
"Hmph. We have twelve squadrons and five main forces mixed in with the travelers, the Argentists could not possibly stop us. They are only filtering out possible opponents. They’ve got pretty good intel." Katyusha smirked. "Their going back on their words in the meeting last time has cost us much damage. I will definitely take my revenge."
"What’s your plan?" Sciara inquired.
"The five main forces are already here, so let’s see how they react. They didn’t only offend us Black Snakes."
"As long as their bishop stayed put, the others are easy to deal with. It depends on who’s got the Mirror of Secret Texts." Sciara nodded, breaking out of his coachman persona.
In the car, Andrela and King of Nightmare exchanged looks, while Garen closed his eyes again.
Looks like the capital city of Picardi had attracted lots of people with ulterior motives.
The carriage treaded the path for another half hour before stopping at Hotel Coconut Tree.
The Anselan streets at night were filled with crowds as busy as they were in the day. People swarmed the streets for entertainment and enjoyment.
Garen and the other two booked a room each in the hotel.
Katyusha had a villa near the hotel, so her group went there instead. Katyusha was obviously not her real name, but Garen didn’t mind. This woman was here with the same intention as everyone else.
Similar to him, all these people would be coming in by the pack in the very near future.
Ansela was an exotic city littered with buildings with white round top. Located in the city center, in a dark room of the highest tower-slash-hotel, two figures, one old and another young, sat.
The old one was a lady close to her centenary. She sat by her bed with a walking stick made of blackwood in her hand, staring closely at the girl in front of her.
The girl looked confused, but as the old woman kept her silence, so did she, just sitting at the wooden chair quietly.
None of them spoke to each other, the silence in the room amplified by ticking of the clock.
Soon, a set of faint steps shuffled up in front of the door before waiting outside the room.
The door opened by itself.
A young man with the blue and white uniform of the hotel room attendant walked in with a silver dining cart.
"Madam, your food is served."
The door shut itself with a click.
As soon as the door closed, the room felt as if it was detached from the rest of reality by an unknown force. The buzzing from the streets disappeared, leaving only the clock ticking in an otherwise pindrop-silent room.
The girl was visibly discomforted. She glanced left and right, hoping to find out what had happened.
"Don’t worry." The attendant’s voice switched to one of an old man’s. He pulled at his face, unveiling his wrinkled face under a thin mask facade.
"I rushed here as soon as I got news of you coming here. I didn’t expect you to be this early." The old man left the dining cart, pulled up a chair and sat down slowly.