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IRNDGL - Chapter 57: Malicious Intentions

What am I to look at! How can I look around? I can't even move!

Ackerman's pupils were trembling, a sign of his internal struggle.

He saw the bookstore owner's warm, amicable smile and seemed to sense deep-rooted ridicule and malice.

The bookstore owner was viewing him as if he was a helpless marionette caught in a trap. The more the owner watched, the more enthusiastic he got.

This fellow has definitely seen through my disguise a long time ago!

Ackerman had reckoned that the bookstore owner was oblivious when he had smartly pretended to be an ordinary customer and said he was "just looking around".

This bookstore owner had snidely replied with "Go ahead and look around."

This meant that he wanted to see the fear and helplessness in this trespasser's eyes. The meaning couldn't be anymore implicit—This had been an unadorned threat!

Didn't you wish to just look around? Go ahead and look. I shan't stop you. You can't move?

Sorry, this is merely my pet unintentionally acting up.

Ackerman had never experienced such humiliation before.

He could easily be killed, yet this bookstore owner had an ulterior motive!

But unfortunately for Ackerman, it was helpless no matter how much he struggled to even move a muscle.

The veins on his temple were bulging and his eyes were entirely bloodshot. It could be said that he was using every ounce of strength in his entire body.

He swore that if it were under normal circumstances, the current strength he was using was enough to pound the bookstore's entire neighborhood to dust in a single punch.

However, on the outside, the current scene appeared like him frozen in place, staring at that rose without moving the slightest.

He was being constricted by a formless power and simply had no way of budging.

Even more terrifying was that Ackerman felt himself 'wasting away'.

Whatever he had within his soul was currently being ravenously 'devoured' by the rose's eyeball.

To put it in an analogy, Ackerman felt as if he was a jelly dessert, firm in its plastic case at first. But now, the cover had been torn off and he was being sucked out.

This was an abstract sensation, but it was absolutely bone-chilling. Worse still, Ackerman couldn't stop it nor could he hold on to what was being absorbed away.

Thus, he finally understood that it wasn't the aether or any formless power that was preventing him from moving. Therefore, his strength hadn't decreased, nor had he experienced any resistance.

What was stopping him in his tracks was a power that was in a sense, spiritual.

The rose's 'eye' was telling him this—"Don't move!" And thus, he really stopped moving.

What the hell is that thing?

Ackerman was terrified. When gazing at that rose, his emotions had gone from rage to fear, before turning into utter helplessness. In this short span of a minute, Ackerman understood the meaning of absolute despair.

He couldn't imagine that he would stay in this state till he died...

The physique of a Destructive-rank hunter would only allow him to survive for three months without food and water. By the time he actually died, Ackerman felt that he would only be relieved at being freed.

This bookstore owner is definitely a demon that loves to toy with people's hearts!

Ackerman wailed soundlessly in his heart.

Lin Jie was in good spirits today.

The seed which he planted had sprouted into an especially beautiful red rose after seven days.

Flowering after just several days didn't seem right. Moreover, roses grew into bushes yet the seed had grown into a singular stalk which was indeed strange. However, the elf lady had said it was a precious specimen, so it was natural for it to have its own special characteristics.

Nowadays, many people took to growing plants and shrubs as a hobby but it could be difficult to ensure these plants grow well. This type of flower grew quickly and was easy to cultivate which could be a selling point.

Moreover, no one had said this was a rose. Perhaps it could be another species that just looked a little similar.

The second reason for Lin Jie's mood boost was a new customer.

There hadn't been any visits from the regulars in the past few days nor had there been any new customers.

It was as if the bookstore had returned back to its old desolate self from before.

Although leisurely days like this weren't bad either, who wouldn't want to have a bunch of people to dole out chicken soup to and occasionally earn money?

However, even though a whole bunch of people had been attracted to the area because of the gas explosion incident, Lin Jie's bookstore still remained as its cold, lifeless self.

Even the next-door audio store was seeing much more business, yet there hadn't been a single customer on sight here.

This made Lin Jie start to wonder whether he should move forward with his bookstore's renovations.

In actuality, he had always been battling for these renovations.

However...

A lack of renovations would make the store incapable of attracting customers. This lack of business would mean he couldn't make money to pay for renovations.

This was a vicious cycle!

Alas, but isn't it fine because yet any customer has come now?

As long as he could develop this relationship, the money would be there for the taking.

Lin Jie happily welcomed this new customer and maintained his usual enthusiastic attitude that was like a warm spring day.

Even if the customer said he was just looking around or if he didn't have any desire to purchase anything, Lin Jie needed to think of a way to instigate him.

As Lin Jie was racking his brains, he suddenly discovered that this customer who was just looking around had actually stopped beside the counter for quite some time.

Slightly curious, he looked over and asked, "Hi, is something on your mind? Weren't you just looking around?" 

The customer didn't reply and his gaze was still fixed firmly on the countertop.

Lin Jie followed the customer's gaze and found him looking at his potted rose.

Lin Jie was enlightened and reached out to pull the flower over to himself, which was the best lit spot in the bookstore. Chuckling, he asked, "Do you also think that I have a very beautiful plant?"

He had specially tilted the plant to face outwards so that customers could see this beautiful sight better.

His bookstore was a little shabby to look at, but thinking about it differently, if a place like this had such a beautiful flower, the effect would definitely be even more startling than a luxuriant place.

Looks like my efforts haven't gone to waste!

Rumble...

As the pot was shifted, Ackerman's staredown with the eyeball was suddenly broken.

The moment he was released, Ackerman exhaled sharply and shuddered. Then, his eyes widened and his face turned pale when he saw that the flower was now just in front of the bookstore owner. The eyeball on the flower rotated several times before retreating back into the flower petals.

Due to the adequate lighting, Ackerman was able to see inside the flower bud at the moment the eyeball retracted in. In that split moment, he had seen a bunch of squirming and densely packed eyeballs...

Ackerman even wondered whether he was hallucinating from injecting himself with too much sordid blood. However, when he looked up and saw the bookstore owner's warm smile, he knew that it wasn't a delusion but actual hell.

Ackerman took a deep breath and replied, "Beautiful, it's really beautiful..."

All of a sudden, he no longer wanted to achieve his Destructive-rank evaluation, nor did he have the urge to find Wilde anymore. His desires and ambition had disappeared. All he wanted right now was to sink into a couch and contemplate the meaning of life.

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
BeetleBarker's Discord:  https://discord.gg/bEr3QYN

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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
BeetleBarker's Discord:  https://discord.gg/bEr3QYN
IRNDGL Manhua translation by Zeroscans
Written by Great Calamity Of Fire (万劫火). Translated by BeetleBarker.