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IRNDGL - Chapter 56: Go Ahead and Look Around

"Is this it?" 

Ackerman raised his head in the rain, looking at the bookstore ahead.

Raindrops splattered down on the hood over his head and flowed down his raincoat turning into puddles on the ground.

The scene was exactly what was described in the Truth Union's report—an ordinary bookstore that looked slightly rundown and didn't even have a signboard.

If not from being able to see rows and rows of books through the beautiful windows, Ackerman wouldn't have thought this to be a bookstore. 

This isn't very business-minded... Or does this bookstore owner not consider selling books at all?

As if he's specially maintaining the cheerlessness of the store. With these thoughts in mind, Ackerman became even more skeptical. He closed his eyes, capturing the minute bits of aether in the rain and relied on his extraordinary sense of smell to analyze.

Traces of Wilde's aetheric aura did exist within this bookstore and it was even clearer here than other places he had been rumored to have been.

Although it had already been concealed very well, it still couldn't get past Ackerman's nose.

There was a sense of danger. Not too strong, as if it was a certain amalgamation of creature and soul. Using it to guard the door was indeed quite a good choice.

However, using it to ward off an extraordinary being at Ackerman's level was simply impossible.

The Truth Union's report stated that Wilde had been to this bookstore twice and stayed for over an hour each time. However, from what he currently saw, Ackerman felt that this bookstore probably wasn't an important stronghold but rather a hidden relay station, possibly for information, or perhaps for remarkable goods.

Many people had come here bringing some items, and also leaving with some items.

Various messy aetheric vestiges in the air painted a complicated picture.

Amongst them, the traces formed by Wilde's aura was even more obvious and frequent than most others.

Although these traces were sparse, it seemed like he was a frequent customer of this bookstore.

Ackerman opened his eyes.

If this is the case, Wilde would definitely return again.

This consideration was probably the reason as to why the Truth Union had chosen not to act rashly and inadvertently alarm them. 

There would be an opportunity to capture Wilde as long as he returned.

However, due to the disturbance caused by Scarlet Cult and White Wolf, the Truth Union had been busy trying to capture these bunch of rats. "But to think of it, the matter should probably be concluding soon," muttered Ackerman as he gazed at the street and buildings behind him that were still in the process of reconstruction. It had been a week since that battle passed, but reconstruction was even more difficult than it originally was due to the unpleasant weather conditions.

Therefore, it had been easier to move the fortunate surviving residents to other districts while temporarily shelving aside reconstruction plans after tidying up this area.

The scattered aether fragments still remained within the air, just like smoke after a battle. Even though the battle had already ended, there was still the smell of smoke and blood remaining.

Secret Rite Tower and the Truth Union were really proficient at covering up this sort of matters.

Morphey's death basically meant that Scarlet Cult and White Wolf now lost their greatest support in both power and confidence.

"Tsk tsk, that really was trying to court a disaster. I hope that she realized what went wrong before she died," said Ackerman as his lips curled into a snide smile.

Even though the great sage that came to visit the Truth Union was considered to be Morphey's demise, their eventual loss would have been a matter of time even if Doris hadn't appeared.

"Does the Magic Ovum Mirror... really so powerful that it can tempt a person's soul to the point of losing rationality?" Ackerman shook his head and turned back. This was something he didn't wish to try.

Right now, his mission was to wait for an opportunity and afterwards achieve his own Destructive-rank evaluation.

He was a hunter, and the most important characteristics a hunter needed were caution and patience.

Ackerman didn't enter the bookstore yet and instead did a detailed investigation of the surroundings.

There had been many noisy people coming over to check out the scene due to the recent so-called 'gas explosion', so wandering around the area wouldn't seem out of the ordinary.

He went around sensing the aetheric traces around the bookstore but only found just a few. This made him feel that his actions here were superfluous.

After all, even if he really entered the bookstore, all he could do now was pretend to be an ordinary customer and carry out only the most basic investigations.

Eventually, Ackerman shook his raincoat, walked up to the door with the 'open' sign, and pushed it open.

The bell jingled.

Water droplets fell onto the floorboards forming puddles as the bookstore's interior greeted his eyes. 

There was nothing noteworthy besides the stone gargoyle on the counter that had clear aether fluctuations originating from Wilde. Its glimmering blood-red eyes seemed especially deterring.

However, from his experience, Ackerman knew that this type of construct would only attack in response to killing intent or if ordered to do so by its owner.

Ackerman woulddefinitely be safe as long as he didn't show any killing intent or malice.

He had absolute confidence in his own disguise. Even if someone of a similar level were present, they wouldn't realize anything amiss till just before Ackerman made a move.

Ackerman walked in slowly and hung his raincoat on the umbrella rack. He had already raised his vigilance to the highest level and controlled every single inch of muscle in his body so as to not reveal the slightest bit of flaw as he casually surveyed the surroundings.

The young man at the counter looked up and asked out of routine, "Welcome! Would you be borrowing, reading, or buying books?"

Right now, Ackerman was playing the role of an ordinary working-class adult. Thus, he casually replied, "Just looking around."

Indeed, he was just any ordinary person who had come to see the extent of the accident and then casually wandering into the bookstore at the side.

Such a person would have no motives and wouldn't need to make any choices.

Ackerman walked over to the counter while thinking to himself that this bookstore owner seemed like an ordinary person.

Could this place be like a warehouse of sorts and the bookstore owner is just a disposable tool that can be randomly replaced by any other ordinary being?

Ackerman's gaze did a quick sweep of the countertop.

In this dusky and monotonous bookstore, the only thing of color on the countertop was a potted plant.

It was a red rose that was in the midst of blooming. Light was reflected in water droplets on the rose and it was a rather pretty view.

This was the genuine bright spot in the dark, gloomy bookstore.

But it was merely an ordinary rose.

Ackerman decided to walk around and casually go about his first round of investigation.

At that moment, the rosebud wobbled slightly and an eyeball popped out in the middle of its bud. With some fluids still dripping from it, the eyeball rotated slightly and stared straight at Ackerman.

Ackerman froze and every inch of his body became numb. He immediately wanted to back away but realized that he had been totally immobilized.

He couldn't help meeting the gaze of that eyeball and felt as if his soul was being trapped and devoured by something.

A trap?! 

How... is this possible?! 

I didn’t sense anything! There wasn't even any fluctuation in the aether!

The young man behind the counter flashed an amicable smile and said, "Go ahead and look around. You can look for me if you have any questions."

BeetleBarker's Notes:

Special thanks to Tetra & Aco for editing and pr-ing

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Kofi: https://ko-fi.com/beetlebarker
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/beetlebarker
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Special thanks to Tetra & Aco for editing and pr-ing
——————————————————————————————
Kofi: https://ko-fi.com/beetlebarker
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/beetlebarker
BeetleBarker's Discord:  https://discord.gg/bEr3QYN
IRNDGL Manhua translation by Zeroscans
Written by Great Calamity Of Fire (万劫火). Translated by BeetleBarker.