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IRNDGL - Chapter 13: Steel Resolve

The entire affair was something the treacherous and cunning “Rat” would have never imagined.

On the surface, “Rat” Ruen was seemingly an ordinary information peddler but in reality, he was someone who kept tabs on various factions from the shadows and had remained safe and sound over a few decades despite jumping from group to group.

In the end, he had died in this ordinary bookstore without uttering a single cry nor leaving a single trace.

Moreover, he had died as a result of the keen senses and perception he was so proud of.

Ji Zhixiu once again returned to her seat but she felt as though she was sitting on a bed of thorns. Her hands trembled along with the teacup she held as she kept glancing nervously at the stone gargoyle.

The demonic entity that had mercilessly devoured a human whole had turned back into the silent and unmoving sculpture, was now back at its original spot facing the door as if nothing had happened.

Ji Zhixiu didn’t know whether she was seeing things but the blood red glow of the gargoyle’s eyes seemed brighter than before...

This must be a warning from the owner! thought Ji Zhixiu as she watched Lin Jie come down and acted totally oblivious.

He must have seen Ruen’s suspicions and disrespects but felt it beneath himself to point them out and therefore got the gargoyle to eliminate that ignorant fellow!

He didn’t even want to see Ruen’s ugly death throes and found an excuse to leave!

Wait, he didn’t actually use an excuse. He said that there was something he needed to attend to and would be back in five minutes. Wasn’t he talking about the time he went upstairs to kill Ruen?!

This… this is totally what a black magician would do! Elegance and arrogance mixed with dark brutality… It’s way more violent than what hunters are used to!

It’s no wonder Wilde would appear here! Wilde, the most notorious Destructive-rank black magician in recent years, must be good friends with the bookstore’s owner at least...

“Don’t stand on ceremony, you can share whatever ideas you were talking about just now. I will definitely try my best to help,” Lin Jie said with a kindly smile as he returned back to his own seat.

A shudder went down Ji Zhixiu’s spine as she retracted her gaze from the stone gargoyle. “It’s… it’s nothing much. I was just thinking if you could lend me another book… I’m terribly sorry for how impolite my subordinate was. But please believe me, that isn’t my intention.”

At this moment, Ji Zhixiu was at an utter loss, just like a little girl that knew nothing instead of being the cold-blooded hunter that had just destroyed the headquarters of the “White Wolf” headquarters.

However, witnessing a person speaking to her moments before get killed without leaving behind a trace shook her to the core.

The fear that had taken hold of a body was something that couldn’t be described. Moreover, for Ji Zhixiu, what was most terrifying had been her inability to even react as she watched Ruen die without putting up any resistance.

In other words, if she had been the stone gargoyle’s target instead, it was more than likely that she would have silently vanished from the face of the earth.

Previously, she viewed Lin Jie with great respect but now, she was in total awe out of fear and reverence.

Lin Jie chuckled, “What has it got to do with anything, this is a bookstore after all. Just take your pick if you want to borrow some! Do you want to take a look at the books on these shelves?”

“However, everyone can only borrow three books in their name. Prices are slightly higher if you want to purchase books and only from those shelves behind you. Lin Jie said as he pointed at three shelves behind Ji Zhixiu. The books on those shelves were ones that he had already finished reading and had made copies of.

Ji Zhixiu shook her head. How could she dare poke her nose casually into this boundless and mystical book depository. Till now, she had only stopped at the prologue of the previous book, Blood and Beast.

She feared that delving any deeper into that taboo knowledge might cause her to go insane. For now, she could only wait for her own ability to increase before moving on.

“Could you please recommend a suitable book? My willpower is really too weak,” Ji Zhixiu placed her hands on her knees and asked with caution.

Ji Zhixiu was clearly a matured, cold and aloof lady in her twenties but at this moment, she was acting like a pitiful kitty trying to gain her owner’s favor.

Lin Jie found the way she acted baffling.

Why does it seem as though she has just run into a tiger in the five minutes I was away. She’s even speaking softer than before.

She must have suffered a blow to her psyche.

Lin Jie pondered for a bit. The only change that happened during this short period was her subordinate leaving abruptly to deal with an urgent matter.

During the time when Lin Jie headed upstairs, he had vaguely heard what sounded like an argument.

If this was the case, Lin Jie’s guess was that this subordinate must have felt it inappropriate for the young mistress to visit this rundown bookstore. Therefore, he must have advised the young mistress to stay away from this ‘swindler’ but Ji Zhixiu must have objected due to the trust Lin Jie had built up.

In the end, the two parted on a bad note, and this subordinate had probably returned to report the young mistress’ misdeeds to the family.

Haa… it makes sense. It’s probably this sort of temperament that allowed the young miss to encounter scumbags.

“Since this is the case, I do have a book which I can recommend to you.”

Lin Jie got up and scoured the shelf before pulling out a book. He patted away the dust on it, then turned around and said with a kindly smile. “Oh, by the way, that subordinate of yours seems a little mistaken.”

“Words like absolute loyalty are better shown through actions rather than words.”

Ji Zhixiu felt her heart shudder as she recalled what had just happened.

Sigils passed down from ancient times amongst white magicians, especially this “Loyalty” brand, was very popular amongst the upper class and rich families.

Of course, the way each magician drew a sigil was different and only the person who created a sigil would know how to dispel it.

If Ruen’s brand had lost effectiveness, that could only mean one thing—

Haywood, the white magician her father supported, had possibly sold the sigil’s dispelling method to others without permission.

Lin Jie pushed the book across the counter and said, “Others might go through hell and you would never be able to know what others are thinking, am I not right?”

“There aren’t any methods that can completely lay a person’s heart bare in front of your eyes. The only thing that you can believe and rely on is yourself.”

“Therefore, strive! Nobody can defeat you when you become as strong as steel.”

Ji Zhixiu received the book with both hands, staring at the cover and muttering, “Steel…”

Lin Jie smiled and nodded approvingly.

Yes, the book was How Steel Was Tempered.

“Read it well. If you are able to gain something from this, it would surely be helpful.”

“This way, one day, when you recall your past experiences, you wouldn’t feel remorse over your own mediocrity nor how others treat you.”

“You have your own mission.”

When Ji Zhixiu left the bookstore and stood absent-mindedly in the rain, the bookstore owner’s words still echoed continuously in her mind.

She glanced at the book in her hand, Steel Resolveand slowly turned the cover page.

At that instant, an unknown power made her feel as if everything around her had become clear.

BeetleBarker's Notes:

How Steel Was Tempered - Nikolai Ostrovsky


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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.