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IRNDGL - Chapter 7: Gargoyle

"Is this... a gargoyle?"

Lin Jie picked up the sculpture and observed it.

The stone sculpture was approximately 30 centimeters tall and 10 centimeters wide. A third of the sculpture was a pedestal while the remainder was the body of the gargoyle itself, a monster that was part human and part beast, with two horns on its head, a tail with a pointed end and a pair of bat-like wings which made it appear like the spawn of the devil.

I really have no idea how Old Wil managed to hide it in his clothes, mused Lin Jie to himself.

He could tell that the cost of this sculpture wasn't cheap given its detailed and exquisite craftsmanship, which, together with the eerie red glow from its eyes, made it seem as if it was about to come to life at any moment.

For a moment, Lin Jie's heart pounded and he felt something wasn't right.

How scary!!

Fortunately, the rough texture of stone reminded Lin Jie that this was merely a sculpture.

"Yes," Wilde nodded.

"I know that it’s nothing precious, and it can't compare to the help you have given me thus far, but please accept this as a sign of my gratitude. I'll bring an even more valuable gift next time I return."

Lin Jie’s first thought was to reject the gift out of habit, but after some consideration, he realized that his Asian modesty wasn't appropriate here. He could tell that Old Wil sincerely wanted him to have this gift, and rejecting it would make it seem like he didn't like it or that they weren't close enough.

Besides, a gargoyle was similar to those Chinese stone tablets that warded off evil, relaying Old Wil’s blessings and kind intentions to him.

There was no reason to reject it, so Lin Jie decided to accept this "local specialty".

Lin Jie placed it back on the countertop and smiled.

"A fine piece of art indeed. I like it! I'm really looking forward to what you will bring me next!”

Wilde heaved a relieved sigh.

He had kept this gargoyle with him for many years, and it was also his graduation piece back when he finished his apprenticeship with his own master. Of all his creations, this stone gargoyle was his best piece, crafted using the vestiges of an extinct sect from the ancient times as raw material, and it was infused with the blood, souls, and vitality of 990 people.

Hard skin impervious to swords and spears, teeth and claws that could rip a person to shreds, and powerful wings granting it speed and flexibility; the gargoyle was definitely not a creature to be made light of. It could even sense killing intent. On the whole, its fighting prowess was comparable to a Pandemonium-rank warrior.

Wilde had achieved a high level of mastery in magical object creation. At first, he was still pleased at the opportunity to display his work to Lin Jie, but when he heard the words "piece of art", his delight thoroughly vanished and he snapped back to reality.

Indeed, this is merely a Pandemonium-rank gargoyle. Any random book sitting on his shelf is easily worth thousands of such gargoyles! It really seems that my gift is no big deal in the eyes of a higher being. Haaaaa... Lin Jie is truly kind, paying heed to my feelings and praising it from another angle. But it's fine!

Wilde had already prepared the next gift, and it would be an absolutely heavyweight one. He believed that even a Supreme-rank being would value it!

"You will be pleased," the old man remarked with a twinkle in his eyes before turning and leaving the bookstore.

Lin Jie waved him off and sighed.

This should be all the business for today, Lin Jie thought to himself as he watched the pouring rain outside. Getting two customers in this vile weather was already a rare occurrence and Lin Jie wouldn't pine for even more.

"Maintaining a good attitude does bring about more luck," Lin Jie murmured with a sigh before sipping on his tea. He picked up the gargoyle and toyed with it for a bit before placing it back on the counter top.

Under the dusky light, that genuinely demonic sculpture atop its pedestal seemed like it was ready to spread its wings and hunt at any moment.

Oddly enough, this stone gargoyle fits the bookstore rather well. With such a thought in mind, he rotated the gargoyle in a way so that the malevolent red glow from its eyes faced the entrance. Anyone who attempted to break into the bookstore would surely be scared witless by it, even if it was broad daylight.

An anti-theft mechanism, wonderful!!

Lin Jie nodded in satisfaction before he began to tidy up the counter.

As he was putting away the tea cups, his eyes suddenly narrowed.

He noticed that the wet spots on the tabletop were flowing slowly on their own accord, gathering together to form the words—"It’s been a while.”

Lin Jie shot up in shock, his eyes still firmly fixated on the table as a familiar sensation washed over him. This was the same sensation he felt when he was brought before the bookstore three years ago.

He understood at once; the hidden hand that had sent him to this world had once again appeared after three years!

"It's you!" Lin Jie calmed himself with deep breaths and sat down once again.

"It has been a long time indeed... Have you finally decided on the price I ought to pay?"

Lin Jie couldn't help airing his grievances.

"Speaking of which, don’t you think it’s too much that you brought me here all of a sudden before I could make sense of what’s going on? If not for some richer customers supporting my bookstore, I would have starved to death a long time ago!"

"Are you some sort of devil? The kind whom people sell their souls to?"

The wet spots formed a "No".

"Yeah, I thought so too. Devils aren't this negligent," Lin Jie grumbled.

In mythology, devils always did their utmost to exploit their contractors so as to maximize their gains.

"Forget it, let’s get straight to the point. What do you need me to do?" demanded Lin Jie. He sat upright with crossed arms, watching the water stains on the counter top.

He didn't mind paying the price he ought to, even if it came three years late.

Firstly, Lin Jie himself regarded the fulfillment of contractual agreements with importance. Even though conditions for their deal hadn't been set clearly, his dream had indeed become a reality.

Enjoying a bonus three years before the agreement was established was already a win for him. Furthermore, this entity that had been summoned by a ceremony had a rather mild disposition. Lin Jie reckoned that it might be some sort of "benevolent spirit" like the genie from Aladdin's enchanted lamp.

Following that, Lin Jie watched in surprise as the water stains formed, "You have already accomplished it. I have awakened."

All sorts of thoughts swarmed Lin Jie's mind. "So, after granting me my wish, you've been in slumber for the past three years until I did a certain task, granting you some... energy or something that allowed you to finally awaken?"

"Yes."

"..." Lin Jie drummed his fingers on the table.

"Was it because I asked Old Wil to recommend my book to others?"

"Yes."

"So... this is the price I must pay? To have others recommend and propagate my own books?"

"Yes."

"Does this benefit you?"

"Yes."

Good, it’s straightforward and concise.

"Haa... there’s absolutely no problem then! I will work hard." Lin Jie pledged solemnly.

Following that, the water spots on the table top disappeared instantly, leaving no trace of this exchange ever happening.

——

Shortly after Wilde's silhouette disappeared into the rain, a hooded figure peered out from a dark alley, eagle eyes fixed in the direction that Wilde had disappeared in as he pulled out a cellphone.

Aether revolved in the air, creating a barrier that prevented sound from escaping.

"This is Jack reporting, I've spotted 'Faceless Black-scaled Man' Wilde at Norzin 23rd Avenue. I suspected that he's involved in the hunter's internal conflict."

"Moreover, he stopped at a bookstore for an hour. I suspect that the bookstore might be a secret base for black magicians."

BeetleBarker's Notes:

Thanks to StarveCleric for helping me edit this chapter.
I'm still looking for an editor to help me with this novel!

Join BeetleBarker's Discord to chat with me:  https://discord.gg/bEr3QYN
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Special thanks to Tetra & Aco for editing and pr-ing
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IRNDGL Manhua translation by Zeroscans
Written by Great Calamity Of Fire (万劫火). Translated by BeetleBarker.