Garen treaded lightly into the room. The stale and depressing air made him feel slightly uneasy.
[This room is too quiet...]
He could not hear any movement. The windows seemed to have particularly good soundproofing, insulating the room from the outside sounds of birds chirping and the wind blowing. The whole room was oppressively silent, as if there had been someone resting here moments ago who left in an instant.
Garen slowly walked to the large package at the end of the bed. He was suddenly curious about Dale Quicksilver's large crate.
[I thought he said he didn't bring much kerosene? Why is the lamp lit in the daytime?]
He reached out to pick up the kerosene lamp.
The sound came from the door behind him. Startled, Garen turned around to see that the door had closed on its own and had been locked from the outside when he was not looking.
He strode over and tried to turn the doorknob, but it kept clicking without turning. He could hear the footsteps of someone outside running away hastily along the corridor.
Garen's face sank.
[This place is strange indeed…] Suddenly, he recalled the information that Dale Quicksilver had showed him. The detective had annotated his key analyses at the end of the material:
[There was one common factor on the bodies of the victims in the mysterious deaths of the three previous masters of Silversilk Castle: they were all wearing the Bronze Cross Emblem handed down to them by their ancestors.]
[According to legend, this Emblem was a second-tier military medal awarded during wartime for meritorious achievement. But in fact, according to my research, the masters of the castle had obtained this Emblem as early as two hundred years ago, so it couldn't have been something awarded during the war which occurred later.]
At this thought, Garen quickly pulled out the black thread around his neck. A magenta emblem hung on the thread with a letter "P" in the middle. It was the Bronze Cross Emblem that he always had on him.
The color of the Emblem seemed brighter now, like it had just been polished. There was no sign of it being timeworn.
"This is indeed the problem!" Garen's expression was somber as he glanced around the entire bedroom. He yanked the Emblem off his neck, put it into the crate, closed the lid, then rushed to the window in a few strides.
He smashed the window with his fist.
All of a sudden, the whole bedroom seemed as if had escaped from a silent film. As though someone had turned off the mute button, everything livened up in an instant.
Garen had a spooky feeling in his heart, as if danger was rapidly approaching, and he subconsciously did not want to leave through the door.
He stood by the window and looked down. This was the second floor, more than ten meters away from the grass lawn.
[I need to get some bed sheets to make a rope. It's quite high from up here!]
As he was about to turn around, he suddenly felt someone push him hard from behind. The force was stronger than his could muster, even in his current state.
Uncontrollably, Garen fell straight out of the window.
"Who!!" he roared. His mind blanked and his whole body was extremely tense.
A faint laughter came from behind.
Garen stretched his arms out to cushion his body against the grass. Fortunately, he had a very good physique and he was strong enough. His arms merely suffered from slight dislocation due to the trauma of the fall and his poor arm positioning.
He rolled over and got up quickly, then turned to look up at the bedroom on the second floor. The curtains were fluttering in the wind, but no one was there. He took a look at the castle gates, but they were now locked shut. The gates that were ajar earlier were now locked from the outside.
Garen resisted the pain from his shoulder dislocations, took a long look at the castle, then turned around to sprint into the distance.
He passed the castle fence, but did not show any signs of stopping. He headed directly along the mountain trail that he had come from, rushing to Canoe Town.
[From that push earlier, an ordinary person definitely would have been killed by the fall. In that position, falling head first, the neck would have snapped. If I wasn’t someone trained in martial arts, I would have been crippled even if I survived!] Garen still had a lingering unease. Fortunately, he didn't go up to inspect the third-floor bedroom. If he had fallen down from the third floor…
Recalling the report on the previous three masters of the castle, there were multiple incidents in the records about servants falling out of windows to their deaths while cleaning the rooms.
[I thought those were accidents, possibly due to a flaw in the castle design. But now it seems that they must have been pushed like me!] Garen felt sure of it because the servants had all fallen head first to their deaths,, the exact posture they would have been in if they were pushed.
As the pain from his shoulders grew, Garen rolled up his sleeves to take a look: they had swollen into a red mass.
"I need to hurry into town to get treated!" His pace accelerated.
"OUCH!!" Garen’s left shoulder was swollen like a red pastry bun. Baring his upper body, he was sitting at the pub where he previously had tea with Dale Quicksilver.
A doctor in a grey suit was sitting beside him. He grabbed Garen's left arm and forcefully shifted it back into place.
Garen instantly gasped as the pain made his whole body sweat. A crisp 'crack' came from his joints.
"Done, it's relocated!"
"Thank you very much, Dr. Ash." Garen nodded, then took out a stack of cash notes with his freshly relocated right arm and put it on the table. "Money for the treatment."
"Very well." Dr. Ash was the veteran healer in town who often treated the locals. Although he lacked a formal license to practice medicine, his bone manipulation skills were very reliable. After all, in small towns like these, most patients were afflicted with similar minor ailments.
Once he arrived back in town, Garen had immediately paid the townsfolk to call for Dr. Ash. Now his dislocated shoulder is fixed.
"I'll prescribe you some medicine. Apply a little to the injuries every day according to the dosage on the label and you'll recover in no time." Dr. Ash took the money, smiled, and said, "It's rare to encounter a major patient like you. I'll gladly take this $1,000."
"You deserve it. After all, I woke you from your afternoon nap for treatment. Think of the extra money as compensation for your troubles." Garen nodded indifferently. "Sorry to have inconvenienced you."
"Not at all, not at all." Ash rummaged through his portable small white medicine box and took out a milky white glass vial, then put it on the table after checking the label.
"This is the ointment that you have to apply every day. Remember not to be too vigorous and you should be fine. I'll take my leave first."
He watched as Ash carried his medicine box and left, walking along a narrow path before disappearing past the bushes.
Garen sat at the table, gently lifted the wooden cup, and downed the coffee inside.
"Boss, another cup!" he turned and shouted into the small building.
"Of course!" A plump middle-aged man with a black beard came out, carrying a glass coffee pot. He carefully poured Garen a fresh cup of coffee.
At that moment, two fit-looking farmers carrying hoes walked in and plopped down at one of the tables.
"Two beers please!"
The boss hurried inside and carried some beer out.
Garen sat in place, sensing the constant cool flow of energy from the Black Jade Disk that he had just acquired. For a moment, the pain in his shoulders seemed to have diminished.
When he was training at the dojo with the seniors, shoulder dislocations were a common occurrence. He could still handle the pain and did not find it too unbearable, so it did not really affect his normal activities.
While sitting in this small pub , he had recovered enough to reevaluate Dale Quicksilver's actions.
[Putting aside the oddities of the castle itself, I didn't expect Dale Quicksilver to leave the case and deliberately live in a small castle in the countryside for so long. It's unusual no matter how you think about it.] Garen took a sip of the coffee.
[But from another perspective, some people from the Golden Hoop had appeared around the castle. Assuming Silversilk Castle was their intended target, Dale Quicksilver might have been after them instead of the castle. Then it all makes sense.]
[Golden Hoop's target is Silversilk Castle. Dale Quicksilver tracked them because of the case, and out of random luck I got mixed up in all of it. As someone whose identity is unclear, letting me face the Golden Hoop was a way to test if I was a spy sent by them. There's probably more to it, but that should be the gist of it.]
[If that's the case, where is Dale Quicksilver now?] Garen subconsciously wanted to rub his eyebrows, but couldn't raise his shoulder. A piercing pain followed and he let out a wry smile.
Nearing noon, the sun turned red. Business in the pub improved as more and more people came in and the boss brought a few more chairs and tables out to accommodate. Noise filled the entire pub as farmers and townspeople ate, drank, and conversed loudly.
Garen moved to sit alone in a corner. Unlike the rowdy crowd, he sat quietly on a chair drinking his coffee.
"Boss, mind if I ask you something?" Garen called out when the boss passed him.
"What is it, sir?" The plump boss stopped in his tracks. He remembered that this Mr. Kelly was the one who had tea here previously with the gentleman with extraordinary flair. Customers with such elegance were not something the average townsfolk could match up to, so he treated them with a careful attitude.
"I'd like to ask whether the man who had tea with me yesterday has come back to the town yet?" Garen inquired casually with a whisper. With the detective experience that Dale Quicksilver had, if he intended to hide, he wouldn't allow himself to be so easily discovered by someone like the boss.
"He has, he has! He even came here for tea earlier today," the plump boss answered quickly.
He didn't expect the boss to react immediately and answer him so definitively.
"He's back?" Garen was stunned. "Did he have anything to say?"
"Oh, no he didn't. He merely ordered the same black tea as you had yesterday and sat in the exact same place," the boss replied quickly.
"I see…" Garen nodded thoughtfully. Obviously, this spot was a clue that Dale Quicksilver had intentionally left for him, but Garen did not intend to find Dale at the moment.
[Seems like getting myself mixed up with this detective has been somewhat detrimental… It's better if we go our separate ways. If what Dale said is true, then he's tracking the Antiques of Tragedy and the secret contained within. If that's the case, I can follow in his footsteps anyway since it would be difficult to find the Antiques of Tragedy using the normal routes.]
[If my speculation proves accurate, coupled with the fact that the Golden Hoop seems to be searching for the same thing, both of them could help me track down the Antiques of Tragedy. I'll just have to find the right opportunity to approach them and exchange something for it.]
Garen made preliminary plans for what was to come. Although it had been dangerous, he had managed to benefit. Even though he lost the Bronze Cross Emblem, he acquired the Black Jade Disk. The latter was much more valuable since it still had potential left to be absorbed.