LTBE: Chapter 64: Night of the Demons

 Chapter 64: Night of the Demons
 In a dimly-lit castle, there existed a secret room behind a hidden entrance. In this room, an austere golden-haired man was seated at one end of a long table, staring at a painting that was floating before him. A crease was slowly forming between his brows.
 A month had passed, and the prophetic oil painting had changed greatly from when Bryan first saw it. If what he had viewed before was an inferior work created by an artist’s whim, then now it had indubitably become a masterpiece created under the hands of a skilled painter, a work to be marveled.
 The boy and girl in the painting, who were previously nearly indistinguishable, were now depicted with realistic vividness, and the surrounding buildings had all sharpened in clarity.
 This was good news. It symbolized that the date of fulfillment of the foretold prophecy was ticking close, and the variables surrounding the event were lessening. Soon, the boy from the Ascarts and the girl from the Xeclydes would fall into danger.
 However, Bryan had another view regarding this matter. He had learned a lesson from his previous failure with prophecy.
 “This painting doesn’t depict their death, which means that the conclusion is uncertain.”
 Bryan muttered coldly as the crease between his brows deepened.
 Truthfully, he wasn’t too optimistic about the prophecy. Sitting at the opposite end of a long table, an enigmatic figure known as the Collector chuckled upon hearing those words.
 “You’re right. Still, if the painting has been completed to this degree, they won’t be able to escape the ill fate that awaits them.”
 “Who’s the one making a move?”
 “The Mythril Priory. Of course, there could be other powers behind them too. They proposed a collaboration with us, but I declined.”
 “Declined?”
 For the first time, Bryan spoke with a hint of doubt. He looked at the silhouette hidden in the darkness before him, hoping to peer into the man’s true intentions. Seeing this, the Collector explained.
 “They don’t stand a good chance. They are going for the Ascarts and Xeclydes together. Houses with long lineages are a variable, and dealing with one is already a huge hassle. The risks from dealing with two simultaneously are too great.
 “Still, to express our stance, I dispatched a precious staff of ours to assist them. It’ll at least correct some of the imperfections in their plans and raise the chances of success.”
 “What about this painting?”
 “I have shown it to them. They don’t think that it’s an omen of failure. There are those amongst them who don’t believe in our prophecies, and some think that it’s an opportunity. I’d imagine that the streets of the Holy Capital depicted in this painting are currently filled with their men.”
 The tone of the Collector grew lighter and more joyous the further he spoke, perhaps carrying a hint of mockery too. Bryan listened to the news about the collusions and conflicts amongst the various evil cults impassively, his eyes focused only on the painting ahead of him. There was something about it that was drawing his attention.
 Naturally, this caught the Collector’s attention. The chuckle halted, and a curious voice sounded.
 “You have been staring at this painting for a long time now. Why so? It’s rare to see you getting so interested in something. Is it that boy?”
 “… Not exactly. He does intrigue me, but the location feels oddly familiar to me.”
 Bryan stared at the streets depicted in the painting as the crease between his brows refused to unfurl.
 It was an old street built in a classic manner. Judging from the surrounding buildings, it didn’t seem to be located in the noble sector. It would have been easier to find it if it had been in any other city in the Theocracy, but there were simply too many streets that looked alike to this in the Capital.
 Having enjoyed centuries of peace, there were simply too many ancient buildings with hundreds of years of history behind them. Old and classic weren’t distinguishing traits but commonplace.
 With such thoughts in mind, Bryan dispelled his doubts. It wouldn’t be odd for anyone who had been to the older sectors within the Holy Capital to find the scenery depicted in the painting familiar. So, he shook his head and turned his attention back to the long table. He stared at the teacup in front of him contemplatively for a few moments before he raised his head.
 “What about the Genesis Goddess Church? There’s no way to circumvent him if anyone tries to pull something in Loren.”
 Bryan didn’t reveal the name of the person, but the Collector still understood who he was referring to.
 The Holy Eminence, the protector of Holy Capital Loren.
 Evil cults wreaked havoc everywhere else on the Sia Continent, but there was one place which they would try to avoid if possible—the Theocracy, especially the Holy Capital. If they had no choice but to go to the Holy Capital, they would do their best to humble themselves and appear invisible.
 Even though everyone was aware that he could see them.
 No one could escape his sight. That was why everyone could only bend their backs lower and lower, till the point where he couldn’t be bothered to deal with them anymore.
 “I don’t know what the Mythril Priory are thinking, but they must have made a deal with that man. It has been some time since their establishment, and while they have been lying low thus far, they do have quite a developed intelligence network. I believe that the things they have to offer are substantial, which is why I chose to offer them a little bit of help.”
 The Collector revealed his intentions behind this matter.
 The crux here lay not in participation but to avoid getting sold out by the Mythril Hermits as chips for negotiation. They were taking on a more conservative, defensive position.
 Bryan nodded and replied.
 “The Mythril Priory has been away from the Theocracy for far too long. The Theocracy isn’t like Rosa; it’s no easy feat to thrive here. Sia’s light does exist in this place. However, our friends don’t seem to understand this.”
 He could finally see why the Collector appeared to be gloating over their imminent failure.
 As the country controlled by the Genesis Goddess Church, the number of evil cults operating within the Saint Mesit Theocracy had always been the lowest amongst all countries. There was hardly any news about them at all. As such, it was inevitable that the cults operating outside would think that their counterparts in the Theocracy were weak and incompetent.
 They couldn’t be more wrong.
 Under the focused suppression by the Theocracy, any smaller cults would swiftly meet their end. This meant that these cults had no choice but to ally together in order to protect themselves. There were some who chose to leave the Theocracy and make their name elsewhere, but similarly, there were also behemoths that chose to lurk under the shadows cast by the most radiant light.
 And the Connoisseur Guild was one of the organizations that chose the latter.
 “Let them do what they want. They’re at least qualified to serve as a stepping stone.”
 The Collector slowly placed his goblet back onto the table.
 It’s going to be a long night.
 …
 Classifying strength in Sia was not an easy feat.
 It was commonly known that the factor that played the largest role in determining one’s strength was one’s Origin Level. To use a metaphor, it was like a generator that determined how much power one was able to exert.
 With sufficient strength, one could do anything. The higher one’s Origin Level was, the more mana one could exert at once. A massive accumulation of mana would bring about a qualitative change in its nature. Similar spells cast using varying amounts of mana could bring about massive differences that were not just limited to scale and power.
 The next factor would be one’s Origin Attribute. It was the core system that determined a transcendent’s abilities.
 That would be pretty much it for ordinary transcendents, but there was a group of blessed individuals who were bestowed with another trump card—bloodlines. Each bloodline possessor commanded a unique power. Some were granted a single ability; some were granted multiple abilities too. Regardless of which, the abilities granted through bloodlines were often terrifyingly strong.
 Tapping into one’s bloodline ability was not without cost; on the contrary, they often came with severe side effects. Nevertheless, most bloodline abilities could generate a force that transcended the laws of the world.
 Take Skin Grafter Peter Kater for example, he was one of the rare humans who possessed a lower Silver Bloodline. The requirements to activate his bloodline ability was extreme, and the price of activation was so great that he literally couldn’t pay it himself. Nevertheless, if used in the right circumstances, it could prove to be an invaluable asset.
 Peter Kater’s bloodline ability was called Personal Studio. It could only be activated indoors, and there was a cooldown time of three years. On top of that, he had to take the lives of a hundred people as a tribute. For all of these conditions, the effect of his bloodline ability was surprisingly simple—he could isolate himself and everyone else with him within a room from the rest of the world for a single day.
 Of course, he wasn’t paying such a heavy price for nothing. Personal Studio had the ability to nullify all magic tools, be it protective artifacts or communication devices. It was a mini world that forbade disturbances from the world beyond it.
 It was easy to think that his bloodline ability, which didn’t augment his fighting prowess but had a long cooldown time, was both inconvenient and lacking, but it was perfect for assassinating high-ranking nobles who lacked fighting prowess by themselves.
 It was precisely due to this that Peter, despite being only at Origin Level 4, was able to rise to a significant position within the Mythril Priory, enjoying an extravagant lifestyle. Today, as the representative of the Mythril Priory, he, together with his co-conspirators, would be attempting one of the highest level assassinations that the Sia Continent had ever seen before…
 Compared to the powerful fief lords and even kings of minor countries that he had assassinated in the past, Peter’s assassination target this time around, Roel Ascart, was someone exceedingly minor. The other party was merely a 10-year-old brat who didn’t even have a noble title!
 To be honest, Peter didn’t understand why he had to use his invaluable ability on someone of this caliber, but he dared not go against the orders of the leader.
 “I’ll insert you into the room they are in, but I won’t be able to confirm the timing. Roel Ascart could be alone by himself, or he could be with the princess of the Theocracy too. However, you can be assured that there will be no more than three people. Remember this, you can only kill one person. Once a person is dead, you’ll be teleported right back to your original position.”
 “So, why do we have to make a move within these two days? That princess wouldn’t be around on any other day, and there would be fewer guards, right?”
 The black-haired, pale-faced Peter looked at the nervous well-built man, who was holding onto an axe, and posed his doubt. The well-built man shot him a look without saying a word, but Peter still managed to catch his drift and clicked his tongue in annoyance.
 Bloodline abilities came hand-in-hand with restrictions and side effects; no bloodline possessor was exempted from that rule. There were bound to be even tighter restrictions for this man, who was able to overcome all the barriers surrounding the villa and accurately ‘insert’ him in.
 Is it the new year? Or is it the alignment of the stars? , Peter wondered.
 Before Peter could say a word, the well-built man had already begun his move. He raised the sleeve on one of his arms to reveal his scar-filled flesh, before raising his axe high and hacking down on it.
 Amidst a stifled scream of pain, Peter watched as the man’s arm fell to the ground, but shockingly, what flowed out of his wound wasn’t blood but crimson magic power. The bizarre magic power swiftly shrouded Peter before disappearing together with him.
 …
 “Where did this letter come from?”
 In the headquarters of the Genesis Goddess Church, the Holy Eminence, John Xeclyde, who had just finished meeting the kings from smaller countries, looked at the priest standing before him and asked. The latter was respectfully offering an envelope with three feathers to him with both hands.
 The three white-feathered envelope was a gesture of surrender that was initiated by the countries that had been invaded by the Ancient Austine Empire during the Second Epoch. It eventually spread across all of the human countries, and it continued to be used even to this day.
 Any envoy who carried a three white-feathered envelope was viewed to be inviolable and mustn’t be harmed.
 Typically speaking, the envelope would only appear between warring countries, but the situation was a little peculiar for the Theocracy. It was common knowledge that the Theocracy was not at war with any country, which meant that the envelope could have only come from one source—the evil cults.
 Sometimes, when an evil cult or a hostile power was no longer able to withstand the pressure from the Theocracy anymore, they would deliver such an envelope over as a symbol of surrender. Usually, they would offer some intelligence or compensation to the Theocracy in exchange for a peaceful exile to somewhere remote, or possibly, even migrating to the empire or other countries that were hostile to the Theocracy to stir trouble.
 The Theocracy usually took on a more peaceful approach toward such surrenders too.
 John Xeclyde knew full well that a country needed to have flexible diplomacy in order to thrive. Destroying all evil was nothing more than an ideal. Taking on an unyielding stance against evil cults could very well backfire on the Theocracy.
 “The young rascals found it in the wishing box in the square earlier today. Your Eminence, will you be taking a look at it?”
 “Mm, I’ll take a look at it. You may back down now.”
 “Yes, Your Eminence.”
 John took the envelope before dismissing everyone within the room. He infused his magic power into the envelope, and the three white feathers immediately rose into the air to form a triangular screen. This was the method to view the content of the envelope.
 It was a little similar to the modern day video conferencing tool. It was a safe, efficient, and confidential way for hostile powers to communicate with one another. It was just that it expended a significant amount of magic power, and it could only be activated by the intended recipient.
 “Good day to you, the esteemed Holy Eminence of the Theocracy. I am the vice leader of the Mythril Priory, Caras. I offer you my sincere greetings.”
 On the screen, a gentleman that resembled a noble placed his fist on his chest and bowed deeply to John Xeclyde. In such a manner, the two of them began their conversation.
 …
 Meanwhile, in the Labyrinth Villa, Nora and Roel found themselves in an utterly baffling situation. They were in the library browsing through some books a moment ago when a mystical pulsation of magic power caused their surroundings to change immensely.
 Nora suddenly felt her bloodline ability jolting violently, as if she had encountered a hostile enemy. On the other hand, Roel’s head also began to hurt once more.
 What is going on? This scenery looks like… Damn it, my head hurts too much!
 The abrupt change in the situation left Roel with no choice but to bear with the excruciating pain and scan his surroundings. Standing right in front of them was a black-haired man, who was observing them intently. A light red aura was swiftly diffusing from above him, suffusing the air with a sickly sweet stench of blood.
 Skin Grafter, Peter Kater.
Translated by StarveCleric. Edited by Welmar.