Chapter 34: Jines Bajkovic
"A troop of at least thirty cavaliers have broken through the main entrance. Signs of intense battle are everywhere from the lawn of the manor to the dungeon."
At Vine Manor, a knight under the Tricolor Iris Flower flag, Lord Seychelles, who wore a green striped armor, frowned while stroking the manor's iron-made main door that was warped from the impact.
The knights around him went searching for clues in the manor that has long since been empty of people for what little evidence they could find among the scattered corpses.
At that moment, they heard the thin-haired Lord Seychelles say gravely, "Both parties launched a massive battle. Up until at least half an hour ago, this Place was probably in chaos. Obviously, the Blood Clan lost the battle as all the dead bodies on the floor belong to the blood slaves. The number of dead bodies also matches the one reported by the fleet that transported them.
"Based on the wounds on the dead bodies, the other party used high-purity silver weapons. They came prepared.
"All the members of the Blood Clan's Corleone family have gone missing; either they were killed and their corpses carried away, were captured alive, or have escaped; maybe even all three. Whatever it is, we don't have to worry about the secret they harbor anymore; it has either fallen into the enemy's hands or disappeared without a trace."
However, both situations are far from good. Seychelles' heart sank and stroked his sparse hair with his right, iron-gloved hand.
Another voice came from behind him. "The only good news is that the duke wasn't planning to mobilize them anyway. That's why they don't know anything about our plans and movements."
The neat-looking Lord Cassain was another knight with a lordship. He stood up from beside the corpse of a blood slave and looked at Seychelles. "This is my fault, I will apologize to the duke later." The knight's expression was horrifyingly dark, but this noble knight did not shirk his responsibility. He spoke with solemnity and with misery, "I neglected the fact that I saw a large number of cavaliers during our journey; it seems clear now that they were the ones who attacked Vine Manor. If we had advanced at full speed then, we might have been able to stop them."
However, Seychelles did not think so. His intuition told him that these cavaliers that attacked Vine Manor were extremely suspicious. Even if they were able to stop the troops, it might not necessarily have ended well.
Even though both he and Cassain were supreme class Knights of Eradication.
However, Seychelles knew that it was not the time to make his good friend even more miserable. The neglect due to his carelessness had brought about this mistake, and this had caused him to be full of self-blame.
"There are two questions that are in urgent need to be solved." Seychelles glanced at the mottled manor wall and entered the house. "First, who were those people? Second, why were they here?"
Cassain entered the hall with his best friend. Although he could already smell the overwhelming stench of blood, when he saw the gruesome scene in the hall, he could not help but turn away.
Compared to Seychelles, who was once a mercenary in the Eastern Peninsula and lived every day by the tip of a knife, Cassain's origin was much better than his compatriot's. When the old duke conferred the title of a knight to him years ago, he was a first-rate Swordsman of Eradication who had just completed his training at the Tower of Eradication and was a young, ignorant brat who had a bright future ahead of him.
Ever since he became a Knight of Eradication, Cassain had not experienced a bloodbath greater than the tourneys in a very long time.
"If we immediately dispatch a unit to conduct a thorough investigation, we might be able to find some clues about these cavaliers." Cassain looked at the body on the table in disgust—it had been drained off all its blood—and spoke with a frown, "If they are members of a certain family, then the best camouflage would be to enter the manors of various nobles in the eastern town districts."
However, his compatriot, Seychelles, shook his head. He thought of the rabbits that roamed and scrambled around the prairies in the Eastern Peninsula. No matter how many clever traps the nomads of the Sele Tribe set up, the rabbits always found a way to survive.
The rabbits' only mortal enemies were the falcons who roamed the sky and could see everything happening on the ground at once.
Seychelles followed the trail of blood and walked towards the dungeon. He opened his mouth to argue. "We are already operating in a very flashy manner, and now you want to dispatch troops to search through all manors in the eastern town districts? Yeah, sure, we might be able to get some clues about those people, but that's only after we manage to offend all the people in the upper-class society in the entire Constellation because we searched their manors. Since we can't uncover their identities, we can only identify their motives."
Cassain picked up an Everlasting Lamp and covered his mouth and nose while inwardly cursing at these insatiable vampires. As he walked along the stone steps leading to the bloody dungeon, his voice became muffled and echoed between the dark walls.
"This Place was lent to Blood Bottle Gang as a temporary encampment to receive and hide the elites of the Corleone family. However, both Nikolay and Corleone are nowhere to be seen."
"We and the Corleone family are behind the Blood Bottle Gang. This is an open secret among us. However, the aiders in the Corleone family have always been our secret contacts. That's why, if they are discovered, it is highly likely that whoever discovers them would trace their connections and discover our plan too."
"All the families who are participating in "New Star" know about the plan to an extent, so it's not something to be worried about." Lord Seychelles did not feel any difference at all as he walked through the blood-saturated air. He calmly analyzed, "I have already sent someone to report this to the duke. Blood Bottle Gang's contact will also arrive soon. However, what secret is the Corleone family harboring, to the extent of provoking these people?"
Cassain held an Everlasting Lamp and tried hard to maintain his composure. He stopped at a pile of ruins in the dungeon and sized up the place, his gaze full of puzzlement.
It was obvious that these ruins used to be a prison cell. But right now, it was completely disfigured.
It was as though it went through terrifying destruction; the iron fences, chains and stone walls had been smashed into tiny pieces, debris scattered everywhere in the cramped prison cell.
It was as though someone had cut them into smithereens.
"The dungeon doubles as the Blood Clan's blood bank," Seychelles said coldly. "Looks like somebody didn't really like this place."
"Whether it was vampires or people from Blood Bottle Gang, or even intruders; why would they destroy the dungeon like this? To vent their frustrations?" Cassain asked, puzzled.
"The dungeon wasn't destroyed by them." Seychelles picked up small, black piece of mysterious material made of a stone that had weird patterns and words engraved on it. His face was somber. "This is a dungeon; I'm afraid that a dangerous person who was locked here had escaped. The cavaliers who barged in had probably 'cleared' this bloody manor by working together with this person. They coordinated by having one work from the inside while the other party worked from the outside."
If Thales were here, he would probably be clapping for and praising this balding knight because his guess was very close to the truth.
"This degree of destruction…" Cassain, who was frowning deeply looked at the degree of demolition in the dungeon and said in awe, "only supreme class elites are able to do it."
"No." Seychelles' gaze suddenly became extremely strange. He held the piece of mysterious, black, stone-like fragment and said, "According to this shape, I'm afraid that this piece of stone was part of a shackle. I suspect that the shackles were used to chain up that mysterious person."
The next moment, he flung the black stone into the air with his left hand. Seychelles' gaze sharpened as he drew his Cross Hand Guard Saber from his left waist.
The sharp and clear edge of the saber cut through the mysterious stone.
During that instant, all was silent.
A second later, invisible waves riding on the compression in the air swept through the narrow dungeon.
Huge, deep cracks were etched into the surrounding walls!
Behind him, Cassain nodded in admiration. This perfect swing was a balanced combination of precision, speed, and skill. The "Fortress Flower" was probably something like this.
The sound of the saber cutting through stone finally came.
The sound was crisp and sparks flew in all directions.
The strong wind brought about by the swing of the saber simultaneously blew around their ears.
The momentum of Seychelles' saber brought down plenty of debris from all four walls. As the strong wind blew, swirling clouds of dust filled the dungeon.
The Everlasting Lamp in Cassain's hand was extinguished by the strong wind in the blink of an eye.
The strong gusts vanished.
Seychelles did not change his expression as he sheathed his saber.
Cassain covered his mouth and nose. Although he disliked the dust, he reignited his Everlasting Lamp and bent down to search among the debris.
As Cassain brought the mysterious black stone in front of Seychelles, both stared at each other. The two supreme class Knights of Eradication saw shock and fear in each other's eyes.
The black stone, which had been cut by a supreme slass elite's saber was resting on Cassain's hand, was completely intact without a single scratch.
They were silent for a long time until Cassain spoke with difficulty.
"Looks like I was wrong again. This degree of destruction—"
Cassain turned his head, his face greenish and pale. Looking at the shattered dungeon, his face was full of disbelief.
"Even supreme class elites can't achieve this!"
Eleven o'clock at night.
In a bedroom on the third floor of Mindis Hall, the mysterious person who was the topic of discussion of the two supreme class Knights in Vine Manor—Thales (who had recently escaped great calamity and wore clean, tidy clothes) sat awkwardly on the bed.
He stared absent-mindedly at the female official, who was forty-something years old but still attractive and had a beauty mole beside her mouth. She was reprimanding two other people.
'Too bad.' Thales thought, 'If only she was a little gentler.'
"Is this the kingdom's heir that you people are looking after?"
"Are you people savages?"
"What His Majesty entrusted to you is his heir! Constellation's future! Not some gray monitor lizard you can just throw on an island and expect to survive!"
"With your manners, you people probably can't even take good care of a monitor lizard!"
The stately female official was growling in a dominating manner and reprimanding His Majesty's two most trusted followers—Count Gilbert Caso, and Protector Yodel Cato. The two of them lowered their heads obediently and accepted the rebuke.
"His everyday diet consists of only bread and beef? Do you people know that he's growing up right now? Have you people actually given him a bath? Don't tell me that scrubbing with clear water counts as bathing! Can't you see that all his wounds need delicate care? Bandages? What is this? Have you people taught him the correct way of putting on clothes? Don't use the lack of time as an excuse!
"What sort of beddings are you letting him use? These blankets and pillows are practically child killers! You people have the audacity to prohibit him from going outdoors? Do you know how important sunlight is for growth?!
"Safety? Don't look for an excuse! Didn't he get kidnapped right under your eyes when he was indoors? Place the vampire girl in a room at least a hundred meters away! What? There's no such room? Then go and dig one out now!
"From tomorrow onwards, apart from when offering protection and giving lessons, you both stay at least ten meters away from him! You useless men!"
After a while, when Jines finished her angry reprimanding, she chased the two "useless men" out of Thales' room ("Go and prepare everything on the list immediately!" -Jines). Then, she suddenly turned her head around.
It terrified Thales, who was on the bed drinking a glass of water and watching the whole thing. He scooted a half-meter back.
As he looked at Jines' stern eyes, the boy was reminded of the high school class teacher in his memories.
However, Jines only looked at Thales hesitantly and with a complicated gaze. In the end, she sighed delicately, then forced a smile and tried her best to speak gently.
"Don't be scared, Thales. You are safe now and will always be safe.
"In the one month you're staying in Mindis Hall, I will be wholly responsible for your everyday life."
Thales swallowed a mouthful of water and nodded. "Thank you, err—"
Jines continued her sentence softly. "I am Jines Bajkovic, a first-grade female official. I am your father's loyal friend, follower and… Erm, how do I put this…" Having said that, Jines paused, as if contemplating something.
But in the end, she raised her brow as if she had thought of what term to use. She spoke decisively, "… and his lover."
Thales could not hold it in and spat his mouthful of water onto the bed.
On a road not far away from Mindis Hall, Yodel manifested in the air and kneeled on one leg in front of a muscular figure.
"You should go inside and take a look." Yodel growled.
However, the muscular figure only remained silent.
It took a while before he spoke, "You're still the same as twelve years ago," the figure spoke slowly, "always doing ridiculous things."
Yodel knew that he was not referring to the incident in Vine Manor.
"But you sent Gilbert here." Yodel lowered his head slightly. "You are also hesitating."
The figure did not speak for a long time.
In the end, he raised his head and looked at the lights shining out of the room on the third floor. He then turned and left, flanked by a troop of elite bodyguards clad in silver armor.
Only the Mask Protector's lone form was left kneeling under the moonlight.