Huaishan City, southern suburbs
Green mountains and rugged rolling hills were reminiscent of a thick green carpet covering the land.
On one of the hills scattered several yellow and white dots. Upon a closer look, these were actually small residential houses. These houses were in the shape of cubes, built with cream-colored marble stone.
The building walls and door frames were covered in green ivy, of which some of had blossomed small flowers.
Below one of the houses stood two arched gates, inside was a semi-outdoor resting area.
There were two tables inside, and sitting by the left table were four people, resting and drinking tea.
Two middle-aged men and two young women sat across from each other.
The older man had a well-trimmed beard, he was wearing a nice and delicate black suit. He looked around 40 years of age and had a wooden cane in one hand. He lifted the teacup from the table and took a sip.
"Mr. Kelly has come all the way here to discuss the collection of antiques of misfortune, this kind of enthusiasm is rare nowadays."
His eyes landed on the middle-aged man sitting across from him.
The man’s skin was a bit pale. He had blond, curly hair, and a blond goatee, wearing a tidy white suit. He seemed relaxed and elegant. He was much younger, about thirty instead.
His eyes were the most dazzling, they were like the finest rubies, transparent and crystal clear.
"I am also amazed by Mr. Quicksilver’s enthusiasm, to not only collecting these antiques and jewelry by yourself, but also looking for their places of origin and background stories.
The man sighed.
"Collectors like us, aren’t we all intrigued by these things? The dream life of coming home to a house full of antiques with mysterious backgrounds. It’s like… like…"
"Like our own house and lives had become mysterious, filled with powers unknown to men," Dale Quicksilver added with a smile.
"Exactly! That’s the feeling!" The blond man nodded. "Life is always so boring, that’s why we long for us, for our lives to be filled with puzzles and mysteries. That is the most interesting part of finding these antiques of tragedy."
"Indeed." Dale Quicksilver approvingly nodded, his eyes glanced over the man’s wrist, "I unexpectedly came across an antique of tragedy while investigating a case, and I got hooked on collecting them ever since. Time flies by like an arrow, over the past decade, I’ve collected hundreds of them in my house."
"Hundreds!?" The blond man’s eyes gleamed with light, "That’s incredible! Only a man such as Detective Quicksilver is worthy of these treasures, I’m sure they are completely different from the stuff you had earlier. Anyway, the reason you have come here, is it related to antiques?"
"Not exactly." Dale Quicksilver shook his head, he took over the pipe from Ms. Si Lan and smoked from it, he slowly blew a smoke ring. "We are here for a well-known criminal in detective business, it’s a serial killer case. The case was settled, that’s why we have time to come and investigate."
"Is that so? The well-known criminal, would that be the Golden Hoop?" The blond man mused as he pinched his beard. After receiving a positive answer, he continued, "Golden Hoop had committed dozens of crimes all over the federation. I heard that other than you, only one famous detective had met him face to face before. Would you be kind enough to inform me of this Golden Hoop’s story?"
"I do apologize, it’s not that I don’t want to tell you, I have a non-disclosure agreement with the police department," Dale Quicksilver shrugged, "Well, we might get going soon, I have to go to the Silversilk Castle this afternoon, would Mr. Kelly be interested in joining us?"
"The Silversilk Castle? I’ve heard of that shabby place over the years of living in Huaishan City, it’s the inheritance of a military officer, he didn’t have enough money to maintain the castl
e, and he had sold most of the stuff in there," Kelly replied. "I’ve heard that the castle was for sale, but it was too worn out and desolated, visitors had left as soon as they saw it. Are you planning on buying this castle?"
"Just visiting the place, I don’t plan on buying it." Dale Quicksilver laughed. He turned around and said a few words to Si Lan, who nodded in reply and walked out towards a two-floored house nearby, disappearing behind the green and thick bushes.
"The vegetation here is rich, and there are no signs of withering this late in the fall, if it wasn’t too far from my home, I’d love to move here," Dale Quicksilver blew another smoke ring and lamented.
"I agree, that’s why I’ve moved here and never wanted to leave," Kelly replied. He spoke a few words with the blond girl with ponytail next to him, the girl stood up and walked towards the black car parked outside.
"From here to Silversilk castle is a two-hour drive, it’s almost 5:00 pm now. If we go at this time, we would have to come back during the late night. Or perhaps Mr. Dale was prepared to stay there for the night?" Kelly stood up and questioned.
"I’ve spent a few nights there the past few days, no big deal. I talked with the castle’s owner Mr. Nusves and paid him some money, I have rented the castle for two months. Since everything in there was already sold or moved out, he didn’t worry about it too much." Dale Quicksilver also stood up, "On another note, you don’t have to bring your car, there’s nowhere to fill gas, we’d be better off riding in a carriage."
"That’s true, I guess I have to bother you for a few days."
"No problem, we are all fellow collectors, and it’s hard to find a friend with the same interest. I won’t lie to you, my other friends are not too fond about this hobby of mine. Okay, enough talking, I’ll get the carriage so we can get going soon, I’ll see you in a bit."
"All right, I’ll be right out."
Kelly stood next to the table, he took a cup of tea and drank it bottom up. He watched as Dale Quicksilver walked over the grass towards a black carriage coming from afar. Ms. Si Lan was wearing a white trench coat, she jumped off the carriage to wait for him.
The winding road stretched on, like a gray snake coiling towards the horizon. Far away on the road, two bullock carts filled with golden wheat moved slowly.
A warm wind breezed over, sending the hems of Kelly’s white suit flying, a relaxed and leisured atmosphere permeated the air.
Kelly touched his chin.
"This beard feels so real."
"Of course it does." The blond girl who left earlier had come back to him. "The road to Silversilk Castle is going to take at least two hours in the carriage, we’ll have to walk quite a distance in the mountain as well. I’m afraid we’ll have to stay there for the night."
"Mr. Dale said we could stay at the castle for the night," Kelly smiled and said. "Let’s go, don’t let our detective wait too long."
The girl watched Kelly’s back as he left, her eyes glimmered with suspicion. Even though she knew he was undercover, it was still strange that from all aspects, Kelly was too mature and too real compared to Garen. He didn’t seem like a teenage boy. As if Garen was Kelly’s disguise, and the Garen-turned-Kelly was his true self.
She shook her head and stopped the thought, quickly followed up. The two walked towards the waiting carriage on the road.
Before getting into the carriage, Garen snapped a violet flower from the side of the road, he smelled it, and upon closer look, he discovered there were many tiny black bugs near the center of the flower bud. They looked like ants, and the flower was odorless.
The group of four boarded the carriage, Dale and Si Lan sat in the front row, Garen and Grace sat in the back.
The riding whip made a crisp snap sound, as two tall and strong horses pulled the carriage forward, the bells on their necks started ringing.
Noticing the flower on Garen’s hands, Dale Quicksilver commented.
"The flowers here are all odorless, but they seem to attract a lot of bugs, I wonder how that happens."
Garen stretched out his index finger and let a bug climb onto it from the flower petal, it tickled his finger. The bug looked like a miniature ladybug, its semicircle-shaped wings flapped occasionally to maintain balance.
"The origins of antiques of tragedy tend to involve different kinds of unusual phenomenon, this is quite common, isn’t it?" Garen smiled, "If it were the same as any other place, I wouldn’t have bothered to come here. It is a pity that you didn’t bring any of your collections with you, I could have had the luck to take a look at them."
Dale Quicksilver started laughing.
"I initially thought you were just a boasting fraud, I never thought you could tell apart the knockoff replicas of antiques of tragedy from the real ones so easily. I didn’t expect to find such a bosom friend at a place like this. I thought I was the only one interested in these things."
"Same as I." Garen laughed along as he stripped a flower pedal and flicked it out of the carriage. "What is it about the Silversilk Castle that drew your interest? I’ve lived here for so long without knowing anything remarkable about it."
Dale Quicksilver handed the horsewhip to Si Lan. He took out a stack of papers from his leather bag and handed them over. "These are some documents I’ve collected, take a look."
Garen took them over, he saw the title of the first page: Castle Owner Found Dead. Underneath the title was a large paragraph of writing, describing how the body was found.
He flipped to the next page, it was a similar title.
The third page was the same, except this one had a picture, it was a picture of the Silversilk Castle.
Three owners of the castle died for no reason, killer unknown. They all died peacefully in their sleep without any trace of a struggle, like old-aged seniors who had lost their last breath. Strangely enough, these three owners were all strong, middle-aged military officers.