IRNDGL - Chapter 20: S-Rank Zone
Selected past wielders of the demon sword were the strongest, most outstanding and practically flawless amongst the ten Great Radiant knights.
As the current wielder of the demon sword, Joseph had once been a dazzling entity just like the sun. But like a diamond, he was brittle beneath his excessive toughness.
During the battle with Wilde, he lost his right arm, as well as the glowing aura around him.
Even if he had continued to have supporters as always, the Indomitable Sacred Flame had already shown flaws that wouldn't be forgotten.
Countless doubts and criticism flocked in from unseen places. Even if nobody dared say it outright and many others reckoned Wilde was already dead, Joseph's self-doubt was starting to overwhelm him.
In the end, Joseph chose to retire. Taking up a semi-retirement role as a section chief in the intelligence branch, Joseph became depressed, irascible and sloppy.
Perhaps, his burning desire to apprehend Wilde was a result of wanting to prove himself once again.
He knew how certain people would view him. The first to let himself go before the demon sword's corruption took root and hence become the demon sword wielder that lived the longest.
"Perhaps he is thinking of letting himself degenerate when the demon sword isn't paying attention. This way, the demon sword wouldn't be able to corrupt him!" someone had said this back then.
Joseph felt that he had really fallen from grace and at that time, he was really itching to blow up that person's head with a punch.
Oh Sacred Light above, please forgive me.
He had nearly acted on it and this was some blasphemous way of thinking!
But now, perhaps he was more fortunate than other wielders of the demon sword because as the halo around him disappeared and as he drifted aimlessly, it actually lessened the cracks in his spirit which resulted in the demon sword's corruption slowing down.
Therefore, in a certain sense, what this bookstore owner said was actually right. Moreover, Joseph was even more fortunate, because he might have just found... the demon sword's successor.
When the bookstore owner had said, "entrust it to me", Joseph had to admit that he was certainly tempted.
The demon sword, Candela wasn't necessarily a possession of Secret Rite Tower but they utilized it despite its curse because it possessed great power. Secret Rite Tower handled this demonic weapon by letting the strongest knight keep it in check and use its power to go up against other evil forces.
However, in truth, Secret Rite Tower had a deep fear towards this sword as well. As generation after generation of Great Radiant Knights descended into madness and died, those old knights of the Senior Assembly already had notions of sealing this sword away for all of eternity.
Being unable to find a new successor was what Joseph worried about all this time. The knight that was elected to succeed his position had fine ideals and principles but lacked sufficient strength.
"Are you certain? Would it trouble you? Handling it isn't an easy task..." said Joseph softly. He felt a deep veneration for the bookstore owner's willpower.
The demon sword didn't just give a person power, the curse of insanity that followed closely was frightening. Even vicious villains definitely wouldn't pick up the demon sword unless they were at their wits end.
However, this bookstore owner had voluntarily offered to undertake this burden!
This was such a great self-sacrificing spirit! Not only had he helped Joseph temporarily alleviate the delusions and pains brought about by the demon sword, he even made a decision that he wouldn't be able to turn back from.
It's the abyss that lays ahead... mused Joseph to himself.
"How would that trouble me? You seem like you are already struggling to keep it in check so why not entrust it to me."
Lin Jie had already become accustomed to the little worries of customers. Indeed, handling emotional problems wasn't an easy task. Even a pure listener could find himself affected by a torrent of negativity.
But it was alright! Being a life mentor was his specialty!
Smiling, Lin Jie said, "I've already said a lot, the choice is in your hands. It's fine too if you think there is no need. Let me give you this book, as a gift."
Lin Jie then, eyed Joseph's right arm and sighed, "You, and other heroes like you ought to rest sometimes."
Joseph couldn't help looking around him. The bookstore's gloominess had become simple and plain. The smile of this young bookstore owner before him was dazzling, as if it was glowing.
Joseph couldn't believe that any human could be this noble and selfless. Even the knights of Secret Rite Tower were only able to gradually build up their impeccable character through following the creed and faith from a young age.
Only with longevity could one pursue this manner of kindness that transcended common sense.
Joseph's was even more certain of his conjecture now.
The past Joseph might have dismissed this person as a fraud but he no longer thought this way.
One would never be able to understand others. The only thing he could do was persist with himself.
Wilde had survived and was helped by the bookstore owner. But it was alright, for he would ultimately be slain by Joseph!
This was Joseph's duty and what he needed to do...
"No, I will not have regrets since I've chosen to become this sort of person. As for resting? That can wait till after the world is peaceful," Joseph shook his head as he displayed a relieved smile. "I need to consider it. Anyway, you don't have to give me this book but could you lend it to me for a few days? Mm... make it seven days. I'll return and see you after seven days."
Lin Jie could fully understand the complicated emotions in Joseph's heart. Haa... Looks like an excessive sense of justice has really caused this retired veteran great suffering.
Surely he wants to contribute more towards righteous undertakings, yet he also hates his body and psychological issues. Sorting out these emotional problems would do him good.
Plan succeeded! thought Lin Jie to himself with a slight grin.
He was now 80% certain that Joseph would return after seven days. Expertly bringing out the register, Lin Jie said, "Absolutely no problem, just fill in your particulars right here and put down a deposit. In future, you just have to write down your name and the date. If you no longer wish to borrow anymore, half the deposit will be refunded."
Joseph was stunned. Is he really running a bookstore...
But when he thought about it, this made for a normal guise. Thus, nodding his head, Joseph picked up the pen and signed his name. He glanced at the row with "Frank Wilde" and saw that there was still a loan period of a month.
"Done," said Joseph as he put down the pen and looked up.
Lin Jie took the register and made sure everything was in order. "Alright, see you in a week."
Joseph then picked up Seed Of The Abyss and then gave the bookstore owner a formal knight's bow.
Disbelief coursed through Claude as held the struggling black cat. "Are you saying he's knocked out? How is that possible?"
"Gather up manpower to provide support... No, damn it, we mustn’t make any rash decisions. Even Teacher couldn't handle it! Acting recklessly might result in disastrous consequences," muttered Claude as he paced around on the spot, handheld receiver clenched tightly.
"What about the men sent to investigate the bookstore? What's the situation now?"
"Wait, what? Teacher is back?"
Claude was stunned as the deep raspy voice of Joseph sounded out of the receiver. "Claude, get the investigation staff to clear 23rd Avenue and classify that bookstore as an S-Rank zone. Status: top secret."
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