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It was a bustling afternoon. In Ouistreham, an iron ship stopped at the busy port.
Hot afternoon sunlight shone down. The man beside the window found it annoying and pulled the curtains, blocking the noise and eyes from outside. Inside the dim cabin suite, the young man looked back at the old man on the other side of the table.
The old man placed an opened letter on the table and pushed it over slowly. The young man yawned lazily and looked up. "Grandmaster Bono, what is this?"
"This is from the dean." Grandmaster Bono stared coldly at the young man. He said hoa.r.s.ely, "Take it, Colt, and the Inst.i.tute will not forget the past."
Colt lowered his head. Looking at the letter, he rubbed at it and laughed. Pushing it back, he replied indifferently, "Grandmaster, I already wrote very clearly in the letter that I am not the suitable talent for this school. I have no ability to bear the school's expectations so I choose to back out. Why must the Inst.i.tute be like this?"
"Do you know what you are saying, Colt?" Grandmaster Bono's eyes darkened. "For centuries, there has never been a precedent. The day you inherited the School of Secret Keeper's music theory, you swore that you will be a member of the School for life. The only way out is death.
"You are still young and do not understand the cost of this. We are willing to forgive you as long as you take this letter back." His voice was eerie. Even the air became stinging but Colt was still unmoved. He looked at the old man with a mocking smile.
"Forgive? That word sounds so nice." He shook his head, chuckling. "I never heard of this word when I was still a nameless musician. Now that I'm famous, the entire world became merciful and filled with gentle love. But sadly, it's too late!" He flicked the letter back into Bono's arms. He stated, "Please go back, Grandmaster Bono. I will never return to the School of Secret Keeper. Or…" He paused, his smile growing meaningful. "Will you choose to take me back by force?"
Bono frowned. Something chilling flashed past his eyes. In the stillness, he tapped his finger lightly but it froze in the air. In the silence, the air of the empty cabin seemed to stagnate. Faint buzzes of swords came from either side of the cabin. After a long while, he lowered his finger slowly and glared at Colt. Forcing down his anger, his eyes darkened. "Colt, do you think you can arrive at the Sacred City safely?"
Colt laughed. "Do you dare touch me?"
After the Auschwitz battle, Colt had become famous for his hero image. He had saved many musicians without caring for himself. Grasping the opportunity to wound the fallen saint Paganini and many other events had added another halo to his image.
He was the hero who protected humanity against the natural catastrophe, a shockingly talented musician as shown from the trial, and he had received the music score 'Emperor' from the Sacred City. He was moving smoothly toward the scepter level and would become a saint in the future. Now, he had joined the Ministry of Information and was well-trusted. He was given the position of confidential secretary even before the official ceremony and had a bright future.
Under this situation, even the School of Secret Keepers or the Rock Inst.i.tute would need to consider the Sacred City before acting. Otherwise, Colt would be facing the Secret Keepers' a.s.sa.s.sin rather than grandmaster Bono.
Colt knew better than anyone that the School could do nothing!
"Us?" Grandmaster Bono looked at his arrogant smile and shook his head. "Colt, you should know who truly wants to hurt you. Otherwise, you have no reason to hide your tracks, disguise yourself as a n.o.ble, and hide in a ship full of immigrants. Even the School needed to use the Lighthouse to find you. Who are you hiding from?"
Rather than replying, Colt just waved his hands in disinterest, practically dismissing the grandmaster.
"Since you insist on the wrong direction, I will not waste more time here. Hope you will receive what you wish for, Colt." Grandmaster Bono did not lose his temper. He rose indifferently and left. The moment he pushed the door open, he glanced behind Colt. It was empty of any belongings. Sneering, he closed the door.
The grandmaster clad in gray was like an elderly traveler. He walked up the deck with his cane. He brushed past the sailors transporting objects and food, and went past the sunbathing immigrants and merchants with their products. He walked off the ship and entered the port market.
Soon, the ship behind him whistled and left the port. Bono watched as the ship faded into the distance. His lips moved slightly under his white whiskers.
"Did you hear that, Heisenberg? That's your student."
Thousands of miles away, Heisenberg opened his eyes in the silent room. He had been observing Bono through the Lighthouse and had naturally witnessed everything Colt had said.
Smoking in silence, he sighed. "It was my mistake. I never thought that this dog would have a wolf's blood. I underestimated him."
"We must clear him out," Bono said coldly. "The Lighthouse's secret music theory is the heart of the School. We mustn't let it out."
"No need." Heisenberg closed his eyes again. "A dog that becomes a wolf will seem impressive and enjoy the fame but once his ambition is satisfied, he'll start to feel scared… Believe me, Bono, he'll regret this. Soon."
After Bono left, the cabin returned to silence. Colt stood up and bowed respectfully to the air behind him. "Thank you for your help, grandmaster Philip.
Two burly priests clad in blood-red walked out from the two sides of the suite. Their right arms under the red robes were metal prosthetics. The technology from the Chainsaw Fraternity had given them unimaginable strength and an almost undefeatable body. They guarded the door with their heads down, silent as a statue.
A frail old man walked out of the illusion before Colt. He was hunched and leaned on a cane. He was all skin and bones and his loose skin was covered in wrinkles and spots. However, his eyes were pure white. Those eerie eyes seemed to see every person's secrets and were chilling.
"No need to thank me. It is my duty." He coughed. "It is the Ministry's first time to accept an outsider in all these years and you are a future saint. It is rare to find such talent so we must be careful. I will send a warning letter to the Rock Inst.i.tute under the Church's name. You need not worry." He paused and his voice grew dangerous. "However, I hope this type of thing will not occur in the Ministry, understand?"
Colt's smile did not change and he lowered his head further. "Please do not worry. Is there any place for me if I leave the Ministry?"
Philip's expression grew satisfied. He patted Colt's shoulder. "No, no. Colt, you are young and talented. You will shine wherever you go. It is our honor that you chose the Ministry."
The two met eyes and smiled but both knew deep inside.
Soon, someone knocked on the door and pa.s.sed in a letter. The footsteps faded away. The two guards looked at the mark and gave the letter to Philip. Without saying anything after reading, Philip handed it to Colt.
Colt's expression grew ugly. "He…woke up so quickly?" His eyes changed but quickly returned to normal.
"Are you worrying over the new sword bearer of Anglo?" Philip asked. "If he used the Sword in the Stone without caring for the consequences, it would truly be a problem."
"No need to worry about that." Colt shook his head. "From what I know, he inherited the theory from the School of Stone Heart. Everything is built on the sub-originator and he's useless after it shattered. He might not even be able to be an official musician, let alone use the Sword."
"Oh?" Philip nodded. "Anglo must hate you."
"Even so, they are powerless." Colt snickered. "I am the best of the new generation of musicians now and the future saint that the Pope had rewarded. Will they hurt me for a useless man and risk the accusations of the nations and punishment of the Sacred City?" Despite his words, he still felt fear. He sat in the chair and tried to find the source of the fear. All that he could think of were those empty eyes.
Under those shackles, the youth's face had been ghastly pale. Reflecting the girl's blood, those empty eyes seemed to have been dyed red, like a womb after a miscarriage. Something scary was born at that moment.
A knock on the door made his shoulders shudder as if startling awake from a nightmare. He glanced at the door instinctively with menace. The two guards exchanged glances and one went over to check.
"Who is it?"
It was a server who managed to dress properly. However his shirt was threadbare and his pants had faded from washing. In the steel platter that he held were two heated steaks and some food that could only keep one from going hungry and nothing more.
"Sir, the dinner you requested is here."
The guards exchanged glances. One held his sword and stood beside the door. The other opened it. The server handed the food to the priest who looked like a true server. But when the door was about to close, the server suddenly reached out to stop the door. His other hand went into his pocket.
"Wait…" he said.