Walking into the hall, Rhode astonishingly gazed at the decorations that hung on the wall . They were oil paintings of familiar sceneries within Deep Stone City . With mountains reaching through the clouds, endless deep mine shafts, central parks under the clear blue skies, and even picturesque sceneries near the stronghold . He had to say that hanging such mesmerizing paintings in the middle of the empty big hall did bring along a heartwarming feeling .
But where did these paintings come from?
Rhode frowned as he thought of this question because he clearly recalled that he didn’t purchase any of them . Could they be bought by Marlene and the rest? This wasn’t likely too because, as a vice-leader, Marlene was serious in her work and wouldn’t possibly do that .
“Do you know what happened?”
Rhode turned around and asked . Shauna and Kavos looked at each other and shook their heads . Both of them were mercenaries and had zero interests in admiring such things, not to mention even caring about them . As for Lapis, she holed herself up in the room all day and wouldn’t possibly know much about the changes .
That’s odd . Where did they come from?
However, Rhode’s questions didn’t last for long as a figure emerged before everyone .
“Mr . Rhode, have all of you returned?”
Marlene hugged a pile of scrolls into the hall . Surprised with the return of Rhode and the gang, she immediately walked up to Rhode and greeted .
“Did the mission go well?”
“Yes, everything’s good . How’s your condition? How was the training?”
“Very well, Mr . Rhode . Everyone has almost grabbed the knack of things . I think we can soon show you the fruits of our labour . ”
Marlene revealed a confident smile because they had achieved visible results after putting in a lot of hard work . Especially to Marlene—she used to only lack battle experience, but now that so many days of training had passed, her battle experience had increased tremendously .
“Good, I’m looking forward to the results… But…”
Rhode nodded in satisfaction but quickly changed his tone as he pointed at the paintings on the wall .
“What’s with those? I don’t remember buying those paintings . ”
Marlene’s chuckles surprised him . Then, she answered with a sense of pride and some arrogance .
“Christie painted them . ”
Rhode was amazed and even Gillian hurriedly scanned the paintings .
“All of them were painted by little Christie? Wow… so beautiful… ah, I didn’t know that little cutie had such talents . ”
Obviously, not only was Gillian shocked, but even Rhode was flabbergasted . He didn’t know what talents Christie had, but he wasn’t too mindful because she was too weak . At this stage, the only thing she needed to do was recuperate, so Rhode didn’t expect her to do anything else . Rhode couldn’t help but twitch his eyebrows because, even though these paintings were indeed beautiful, painting them was a waste of time . Could it be that Christie…
Marlene understood what Rhode was thinking due to his expression and quickly explained .
The truth was, after Rhode left, Marlene and the rest continued with their training . Whereas Christie could only recover and do nothing else . Although Christie was an obedient girl, coping up in the room all day would bring problems too . Furthermore, Rhode wasn’t by her side, which made Christie feel ill at ease . Although Lize, Anne, and Marlene took time to accompany her, the only one who could make her feel at ease was Rhode .
And, under such circumstances, Christie had suddenly decided to paint . This request surprised Marlene and the others, but they didn’t stop her . After all, it wasn’t great to keep her coped up all day in her room . Now that she had finally found something of her interest, it made no sense for them to stop her . Therefore, Marlene and the others helped Christie purchase sketch pads, paint brushes, and paints which allowed her to paint to her heart’s content .
Surprisingly, Christie showed her talented side .
This little girl, who had never painted, actually did so well . When she was painting, she didn’t seem to be inexperienced at all and she didn’t seem to be aware of it either . Facing Marlene’s questions, the little girl was at a loss as though this wasn’t anything strange to her .
“Honestly speaking, we were all surprised from the start . However… there’s no problem now . Not only was Christie’s painting technique superb, but she also painted quickly too . . She only needed two to three hours to complete each painting . And during these days, our relationships with Christie became much closer… Of course, don’t worry, Mr . Rhode, because Lize has been looking after her to make sure that she doesn’t tire herself . ”
“That’s good to know . ”
Rhode heaved a sigh of relief . Sensing the change in Rhode’s expression, Marlene let out an inward sigh .
He really cares for Christie a lot…
A strange emotion tugged at Marlene’s heartstrings, but she quickly kept it down .
“Other than this, is there anything else?” said Rhode .
“Huh?” Marlene’s expression changed slightly and she frowned as she recalled .
“… To be honest, there indeed was something, but…”
The maiden hesitated before letting out a long sigh .
“I think Mr . Rhode should see it for himself . ”
Compared to the past, Christie’s room was filled with much more cheeriness . A huge wooden paint rack had been placed before the bed with a wide variety of colours placed in it . White canvas filled the room . Some were sketches while others were completed .
But the purpose of Marlene bringing Rhode to Christie’s room wasn’t to introduce him to the little girl’s current living conditions .
“I guess you have already seen the paintings by Christie, Mr . Rhode . ”
“That’s right . ”
Rhode nodded to Marlene and asked strangely .
“Are there any issues?”
“There is… and there isn’t too…”
Marlene seemed to find it hard to speak about this, which confused Rhode even more . In the end, she approached the canvas and passed one of them to Rhode .
“Actually, other than these paintings, Christie has painted something else…”
Rhode took over the scroll and unrolled it . He knitted his brows .
Much different from the enchanting scenery, the scroll in Rhode’s hand was totally different . Withered, pitch-black creviced land spread under the bloody red skies, and the surrounding mountain range was scattered with dead trees and ghastly white bones . Red streams flowed down like blood or lava . In the distance, an indistinct, tall building appeared behind the misty sand . At first glance, this painting gave off a strong sense of loneliness and darkness .
“Not only that, but these also…”
Rhode took over the other scrolls one by one . The paintings were virtually the same except for some minor details: a broken palace built on a pile of countless white bones, an unidentified being hanging on the branch of a dead withered tree, a pitch-black deep river converging into a lake . Everywhere was filled with struggling, hopeless arms .
“These were also painted by her?”
Rhode finally understood why Marlene was uneasy . If these paintings belonged to the imagination of a child, it would be too horrifying . To be honest, Christie’s painting technique was excellent that at the first glance, one would even think they were looking at a scenic photograph . And because of that, no matter how one saw these paintings, they weren’t similar to pure art, but were more like a projection of some other world .
“Yes, but Christie didn’t seem to know about them either . I got Lize to ask her, but Christie was confused too . From her explanations, these sceneries seemed to just appear in her mind . Mr . Rhode, I’m worried… Besides, Christie seems to be afraid after finishing the paintings . There were a few times when she couldn’t sleep because she was scared by her own paintings . This…”
Rhode focused his attention on the painting before him . Not only did these paintings looked realistic, but he also felt that he had been to these places before .
Where exactly were these places?
Rhode rotated the scrolls in his hands, trying to figure out the locations .
But before Rhode was able to figure out anything, Gillian jumped to his side . She scanned the scroll on his hand and her ears twitched slightly .
“Gosh . Isn’t this the Infernal Abyss?”