The hallway was as dilapidated, narrow and dim as he remembered, with holes between the dusty wooden planks left by age and disrepair. Brendel came to a door from memory, stopped and asked, “Is this the one?”
“Mm.” A voice behind him replied softly, it was none other than Amandina’s voice.
Freya followed behind the two, frowning as she surveyed the place. The plansk below their feet creaked as they walked through the walkway, and a choking smell of dust filled the air. Even the stables in Bucce were slightly cleaner than this place. She could hardly imagine anyone living in such a place.
“It seems to be locked.” Brendel said as he fiddled with the door handle.
“I locked it before I left.” Amandina replied softly.
“Do you have the key?”
“I always have it with me.” Amandina fumbled for a moment and took out a brass key. Brendel had a good memory and immediately recognized that the chain on which the key was hanging was her original necklace. He remembered that he had seen this necklace once or twice before and that there should be a beautiful crystal pendant on it, but it was not there. He took the key and weighed it in his hand, a little surprised, “Why do you have this with you?”
“I thought it might come in handy at some point.” Amandina replied with her usual seriousness.
“It does seem to have come in handy too.” Brendel smiled and gave her a look, which she returned with a subtle smile.
He turned the key and opened the door, behind which the wooden door seemed to be the huge black mouth of a monster waiting for its prey to throw itself at him. The three stood in the doorway for a moment before adjusting to the sudden darkening of the light. The room was as small and dusty as they remembered, but it was well-kept, and its owner had obviously decorated it carefully before leaving. “Amandina, you used to live here?” Freya surveyed the room with some surprise. Even the old warehouse of the militia in Buccell was much more spacious and bright than this place, she had always thought that Amandina was of noble birth, but she never thought that she had been living in such a place before she followed Brendel.
“But I heard from Brendel that you were a daughter of a noble family ……”
“The lord lisn’t wrong, i was, once upon a time.” Amandina replied, “But after my father disappeared, the creditors came to me, and I had to sell the family fortune in order to pay off my foreign debts. I remember that shortly after that, my mother died of depression as well, and life became hard. I was left with no choice but to cut down on expenses.”
“I’m sorry, Amandina, I didn’t expect you to have such a past, I shouldn’t have mentioned it.” Freya replied with some embarrassment.
Amandina smiled and did not seem to mind it.
Brendel went to the desk to lit the remaining candles. The candle lights were like beans, barely lighting up the room. The room was full of dust, but Antietina went to the bed to lift a layer of cloth off it, revealing a clean wooden bed that had a slight musty smell. Brendel looked at her with some surprise, his eyes full of praise. Freya, who was also from a lowly background, did not feel very uncomfortable in this small, dilapidated house. She saw both of their actions and silently joined in to clean up the house, which did not take them long. None of them talked. Moments like this had become rare ever since they left Praguesse. The house seemed a little quiet, with only quiet noises of them cleaning.
Amandina opened the window at the desk. She glanced at the window pane, frowned, and closed it gently. She then pulled open the drawer and said, “Someone has been in here.”
Brendel was slightly stunned, “What is it?”
“After I left, someone entered this room.”
Brendel started to frown, “What happened?”
“There should be more than one person, they came in through the window and checked the drawers first,” she stepped aside and opened the cupboard, “They should have checked my cupboard too, the books in it have been gone through, they seem to be looking for something.”
“Are you sure, Amandina?” Brendel asked, somewhat alarmed.
“Well, I put things away myself, I would never misremember them, someone must have moved my stuff.”
“Should we ask around?” Freya asked in a small voice.
“No, they certainly won’t know anything,” Amandina shook her head. “Whether it’s a thief or another uninvited guest, they certainly won’t deliberately let anyone find out.”
“It’s kind of strange, it seems that these people weren’t here recently because we didn’t notice any footprints or anything else when we were cleaning. The accumulation of dust in here looks very natural, which means that these people didn’t patronize the house, at least, within these few months.”
“A year ago?” Brendel thought for a moment, it seemed like they had just left Praguesse not long ago then. Their reputation was not well known, and it seemed unlikely that anyone would have noticed them at that time. He thought about it and replied, “If that was when, then it could only have been a thief.”
Amandina smiled slightly: “Then the thieves could only return empty-handed.”
This sentence made Brendel feel suspicious. The people who live on Grave Street were mostly the poorest of the poor in the city, and it was unlikely that the people who hang out in the gray areas of the city to not know about this. He hesitated, and suddenly heard Freya say, “There’s only one bed here, Brendel.”
Brendel froze, and then realized the awkward situation. He had almost forgotten that this room was Amandina’s and of course, there would only be one bed in the room.
Amandina was stunned, apparently also realizing the situation. After all, all this house had was a desk, a short cabinet, two chairs and a bed, it was difficult not to let people start thinking about the night. “You two sleep together. With my current strength, no sleep for a day and night does not have much impact on me anyway.” Brendel thought for a moment.
“That wouldn’t work,” Amandina shook her head, “You are our Lord, how can the vassal let the lord suffer? Besides this was also because of my poor consideration.”
Amandina did not agree, and of course, Freya naturally would not as well. She was not so shameless to enjoy comfort on her own.
As if Brendel had expected this, he looked at the two and sighed, “Let’s talk about it later, I’ll go get you guys something to eat first.”
Amandina nodded gently.
In the game, such a big city like Praguesse had many places that sold food. As long as one could afford to pay, food was available even from the street workshops. But here, one might go to the inn or tavern, the city’s bakery or even farther to the mill estate out of the city. The inn and tavern were crowded, who knew if there were spies. Brendel naturally did not want to get involved easily, and there was no bread workshop on the avenue near Grave Street. However he would not trouble himself with such small matters, not to mention that poor areas like this were filled with idle people. He could just find a man to run errands with just a few Taels. He used his sword to carve the mark of a Night Swallow on the wall, so that the guy would not dare to take the money and not do anything.
Of course, he was not short of money in his current position, but he could not ask the merchant lady and the future Valkyrie of Aouine to go hungry, he was at least a noble of the kingdom, how could he show such incompetence in front of the ladies.
The young man saw the deep mark he carved on the stone wall, and showed a look of uncertainty. Brendel knew that the other party was not afraid of his sword skills, but the symbol he had carved. Those who grew up in such gray areas would have came across the Thief brothers, or could have been one of their spies. The young man must have recognized that the mark he left was a more advanced form of communication between the Grinoires Thief Brothers, and he had learned the knowledge of the Night Swallows in the game in a superficial way. Though only in a superficial way, it was enough to scare the young man who had little knowledge.
The young man was intimidated. After taking his money, he stood there, looking at Brendel cautiously and asked, “Lord, is there anything else you want?”
“You live around here?” Brendel asked.
The young man nodded.
“Do you know the tenant of that room?” Brendel asked, pointing to the window of the second room next to Amandina’s.
“Yes, there is an old man living there, people call him the night lord and he used to be a loan shark. Not sure who he offended that he had to hide here.” The young man replied dryly.
Brendel raised an eyebrow, not expecting to get a random person that was well-informed. But then he was relieved, these young people from the lower class had nothing to do in the streets all day long, except for a few who could bear the hardship. Most of them did not want to be apprenticed to someone to be disciplined. In these times, information was closed, and it was normal for these people to be well-informed. But what they knew were rumors, nine out of ten were rumors. The ones who really had reliable information were the locals.
“What about this one?” He pointed again to the room next to Amandina’s.
“It’s been empty for a long time, my lord.”
“And then next to it?” Brendel’s heart thumped and pointed to the Amandina’s room. The young man hesitated, as if thinking for a moment before answering, “The owner of this room seems to be a fallen noble lady, but I haven’t seen her for a long time, I heard she is not well, probably died of illness.”
If someone died of illness it should be you.
He asked a few more uninformative questions, and then suddenly asked, “Are there people who ‘visit’ this place often?”
The ‘visitation’ he was referring to naturally was not an open visit, he was referring to the thieves and the young man understood Brendel’s meaning. He could not help but look at the very dignified gentleman with some awe and decided in his mind that this was a legendary Night Swallow, otherwise how could he have drawn the symbol that he didn’t even recognize? That symbol was certainly the kind among thieves, but it was much more complicated than he knew. Now he was referring to those dark words among the Brotherhood, which made him more and more sure of it.
“Of course not, my lord,” the teenager replied hurriedly, “there is hardly any fortune here, they are unlikely to look at a place like this, who would be happy to live in such a place except for those poor mercenaries and old prostitutes?”
“There are always some unenlightened fellows.”
The young man thought for a moment, probably comprehending Brendel’s meaning, and he tried to think for a while before remembering something, “My lord, however a year ago, someone from the patrol cavalry came here. It seems that they came to look for that noble lady.”
Brendel remembered when they had dealt with those guys here. Was it about this? He frowned and asked some more relevant questions, but the young man could no longer give him answers he was looking for. As Amandina had said, whether they were thieves or uninvited guests, it was unlikely that they would be happy to have their whereabouts noticed. Finally he shook his head and tossed another silver coin to the young man, “Well, go on, go early and come back early, I’m still hungry.”
“Don’t worry, my lord, I promise not to spend a single penny.” The young man hurriedly replied with fear and trepidation.
“No worries about that, just buy three servings of food and any more left is yours, I’m not short of money, but you’d better not give me any trouble.” Brendel deliberately replied coldly.
He asked for the young man’s name then the other party answered and rushed off in a huff, as if afraid to stay by his side for even a second longer. Brendel let out a sigh of relief, fortunately some of the old tricks inside the game was not completely forgotten. One year in this world, he had become too comfortable as a noble lord, in addition to the foundation of swordplay, his other skills were about to get rusty. In the past, these things were done properly by Amandina, Ferlarn or Carglise for him; today, rarely on his own, he actually found some feeling of the past.
He stopped and looked at the view of Praguesse before the evening, the western sky seemed to be red, under the clouds were different shades of gold. There was not much difference between this scene and a year ago, but it was at this time that he heard a cold laugh, “It seems that the Lord is really knowledgeable and not at all unfamiliar with these underground things.”
Brendel looked up suddenly, the house where Amandina lived was located by the Praguesse River which crossed Praguesse horizontally. There was a small courtyard at the back of the house, next to the courtyard was the Praguesse River, and that place originally had a staircase that led to the river, which was like a small dock. People with a little bit of assets would bolt a small boat to a post by the steps as another way to get around. The steps outside the compound had been abandoned for years, and the crevices in the stone steps were filled with weeds nearly a person’s height. There was a figure in the grass.
He squinted his eyes and immediately recognized the other person: “Teste?” That person was Viscount Teste, whom he had met once in the auction house in Praguesse. Although the other party’s appearance had changed greatly and his blond hair had somehow become gray, with wrinkles on his face as if he had suddenly aged for decades, he recognized his features and that unique look in his eyes, and so he called out the other party’s name.
“I didn’t expect that the Count would still recognize me.” Teste stood on the stone steps with some emotion in his eyes. When he fought with the other party in the city’s underground auction house and almost killed this man, he did not expect that in just one year, the other party’s power had reached this point. He used to think he was a genius, but now he understood what a real genius was like. However, these no longer have any meaning to him, he came here just to seek relief.
Brendel heard the other party’s hoarse voice and asked with some confusion, “How did you become like this?”
“It’s a long story, that experience was a nightmare for me,” replied Teste, “but to say the least, it has something to do with you, Lord Count.”
“What does it have to do with me?” Brendel frowned, he remembered that the only time he had dealt with this guy was in the underground auction house, and after that there was no more encounter. He saw the other party appear earlier, and thought he was looking for him to avenge the arrow back then.
“If the Count has time to listen to me talk such nonsense, just so I can slowly tell you this story, in return, I will tell the Count some secrets about that time.” Teste replied in a hoarse voice.
Brendel’s heart started pumping in curiosity. Did he come her ejust to tell me a story? He can’t be crazy, right? <.i> But looking at him like this, there was an eight percent possibility that he had gone crazy, but he was quite interested in the other party’s secret, he vaguely felt that it might be related to All For One, and there was no greater threat to him now than that damn organization. He nodded and asked, “Here?”
“Right here, there’s no one around, it’s torturous for me to delay a moment longer, and I really don’t have the leisure to find another location.” Teste replied.
Brendel looked at this guy, curious about what experience had turned him into this. Teste went silent for a moment and suddenly said, “It’s because of the Lionheart Sword.”
“The Lionheart Sword?”
Teste nodded, and then told that story slowly, starting with his search for the Lionheart Sword for All For One.