ATAPOW Chapter 192
Chapter 192: Prologue
“…I don’t have all the details, but everything I am going to tell you now is all the intel I’ve gathered so far. The Ancestral God Cult flaunt themselves as the earthly envoys of the [Lord of Sins], whom they deem The Lord of All Things in [Brandt]. However, their behavior and style of handling things are anything but humane, to the extent that they put humanity at risk. It’s truly absurd to think that they would do all that just for the sake of an imaginary entity.”
“Assuming this so-called Lord of Sins does truly exist, I highly doubt it would be a benevolent being if it’s instigating its subordinates to act like thieves and harlots.”
“Since they’re an evil cult, we should just eliminate them all. I have a nagging feeling that there’s some large conspiracy at play behind this cult.”
On the road back, Ji Bai found himself lost in deep thought as he mulled over Gordon’s words.
A clear candlelight scattered the darkness that had enshrouded a living room, bringing a subtle trace of warmth to the white-gowned individual sitting at a carved wood table.
Resting their chin on their hand, the individual focused their gaze on a waxy-yellowish sheepskin-parchment unfurled on the table, intently reading the cryptic and incomprehensible inscriptions written upon it.
Silence enveloped the spacious living room, to the point that it was possible to hear a nail falling down the floor.
“We’re all marionettes; Involuntarily and clumsily dancing on the stage to the tune of the strings called Fate, just to entertain the audience that were watching below.”
The white-gowned individual extended their white, jade-like fingers and rolled up the parchment in a slow, gentle manner.
“It seems like everything is decided by fate …but it also feels like the product of subterfuge.” Muttered the white-gowned individual to themselves.
“Truly a monster who delivers rational yet unexpected results… I wonder what path you will take next?”
“If what you held as an unwavering belief was betrayed and called into question, will you choose to remain foolish?”
“It’s truly fascinating… one can’t help but anticipate to no end…” The white-gowned individual tossed aside their cap, causing their golden hair to tumble down in all directions and revealing their sharp, nimble ears.
The management office.
“That is how the situation happened in a nutshell.” Lin said, as she organized the preliminary report she had written overnight. Using simple language, she had proficiently summarized the situation they had encountered without leaving out any crucial details.
Ji Bai silently stood at the side without uttering a single word.
He, in theory, was nothing more than mere decoration in the background. As long as he went through the motions and put on a good show, someone else would take the initiative and handle responsibilities such as writing reports, which would save him a lot of trouble in the process.
The steady and composed manner he portrayed standing up was merely all a facade.
At the moment, the other purpose of Ji Bai’s metal helmet was put on full display, with none of the three present realizing he had already dozed off to sleep.
“Is that so? …And it was supposed to be a simple exploration quest… I never thought it would turn into such a huge problem.” Lan Yi flipped and skimmed through the report Lin had submitted to her with furrowed brows while twirling her hair with her fingers.
“Indeed, the intelligence department is to be blamed for this mess. I’ll make sure to provide some additional compensation later. Aside from that, are the three new students okay?”
Lan Yi shot a glance at Ji Bai, who had remained silent throughout the conversation.
“They’re just a little shaken, that’s all.”
“That’s fine then. By the way, what happened to the sword you mentioned in the report?”
“It’s in his possession.” Lin shot a glance at Ji Bai beside her.
“…Ji Bai?” Lan Yi hesitated for a moment.
“…” That silhouette continued to stand upright, without any reaction whatsoever.
Seeing this, Lin knocked on Ji Bai’s visor.
“…Mhm, what’s the matter?” The force passing through Ji Bai’s helmet into his head snapped his brain out from its stupor.
Even though he was not sure what the conversation was about, he knew that starting with such a question could not lead him astray.
“You… forget it. Lin mentioned that you obtained a sword on this expedition, right?”
“Oh, yes I did.” Ji Bai nodded after a brief moment of contemplation. “It’s a chipped sword that can’t even cut through butter. If you want it I can give it to you.”
“You’ve misunderstood me. Besides, any items that are not specifically requested by the Order belong to the finder without exception.”
“Oh, but if you really want it, I don’t mind giving it to you.” Ji Bai carelessly shook his head.
“You can keep it for yourself. I’m just asking in passing, that’s all.”
“Ok, let’s leave it as that then. That reminds me, shouldn’t you compensate me with a sword?” Ji Bai brought his head closer as if he was emphasizing something important.
“Thanks to those elementary-school graduates from the intelligence team, my precious weapon has been damaged. Surely I’ll be reimbursed for this, right?”
“That won’t be an issue. You can choose whichever piece you want from Lin Tuo’s shop afterwards.”
“Don’t you think your response is a bit too superficial?” Ji Bai narrowed his eyes.
“Stop underestimating that old lecherous guy. He seems to have been a knight in his younger days and his forging techniques can be counted among the best in the order.” After saying that, Lan Yi handed a receipt to Ji Bai.
Ji Bai didn’t nitpick or raise any objection towards Lan Yi’s suggestion, as circumstances had left him without an usable weapon. Moreover, he was inherently inapt at asking people for help.
“Aish! I’m so angry. I lost, AGAIN! I swear, this is going to be the death of me!” At that moment, a silvery figure, who had remained silent throughout the conversation, suddenly beat her chest and stomped her feet in anger. She then laid belly-down on the sofa, her round cheeks puffed up.
“I’ll take my leave first.” Lin turned around, without bothering to look at the figure who had intentionally instigated an uproar. Rather, it would be more accurate to say that she’s been avoiding laying her eyes on her since entering the room.
To her eyes, it seemed that the existence which shared a blood relation with her might as well have been air.
“Ehhh? Is Lin-chan leaving now? Don’t leave, okay? It’s been a long time since you accompanied your mother, so stay with me today, alright?” Seeing that, Anna quickly threw aside the Ipad she usually clung to before hopping and catching up to Lin, grabbing her hand while wearing a pitiful expression.
The scene clearly displayed a widowed mother asking for the company of her child in reality, yet the roles seemed to be reversed on the surface.
Despite feeling Anna tugging at her hand, Lin refused to spare a single gaze at her.
She shook off the small hand holding onto her without hesitation and walked off after opening the door, not bothering to spare a second glance at the people behind her.
What remained was a small, unmoving figure silently looking at her back.
Ji Bai couldn’t be sure if he was imagining things, but he had a nagging feeling that Anna’s shoulders had trembled ever so slightly at that moment.
However, he could not ascertain if that was her acting. Perhaps, she had calculated this response as well.
If one were to classify this creature, whose actions and appearance were in sync with her cuteness, as harmless and treat her accordingly, they would likely be conned out of every last cent.
It was possible that this vampire, whose age was shrouded in mystery, was even older than that hag, Lilias. Ji Bai would definitely not believe that she was innocent and unfamiliar with the ways of the world.
If every move of hers was merely just a facade, he would be able to match her demeanor with Lilias’.
It didn’t help that Ji Bai’s impression of Anna had always been that of a crafty old granny wearing the skin of a loli.
As he reached this conclusion, Ji Bai couldn’t shake off the feeling that his presence there was somewhat inappropriate, now that his shield Lin had taken her leave.
“I have some matters to attend to, so I’ll be taking my leave too.”
As he passed through the doorway, something grabbed onto his finger.
“She can leave but you can’t! You’ve to play with me.” Anna harrumphed, her voice taking on a bratty, child-like voice.