Translator: Dess Editor: Efydatia
The figure that jumped down from the ceiling was very nimble. A quick flip in mid-air allowed her to land on the ground without even the slightest wobble.
It was a slightly bewildered woman wearing a half-torn dress. She looked no older than 25 years old.
Her hair was brown, and so were her eyes. She was holding a worn-out dagger with cut marks and blood stains on it.
Kieran could imagine what kind of harsh battle she had been through by just taking a look at her weapon.
As he was inspecting her, the woman noticed his gaze.
She took two steps back out of vigilance and took a defensive stance as she held the dagger.
"Who are you?" she said loudly.
Kieran didn’t answer. Instead, he lifted his head up.
On the ceiling was a breach wide enough for one person to go through.
"Is this the entrance the assassin used?" Kieran guessed. He wanted to take a closer look.
"It’s a dead end!" the woman said when she noticed what Kieran was looking at. When he jumped up and into the breach, the woman let out a cold grunt and started searching the ground.
When Kieran came back 15 minutes later, he was frowning. Not only had he discovered that the passage was a dead end, but he had also noticed something else worth his attention.
"The passage was sealed off because I accidentally triggered the contraption. If you want to leave, we’ll have to find another way," the woman said without lifting her head.
Kieran glanced over at her before he started to search for the entrance that the ritual hosts used.
They had encountered each other in an unfamiliar place, so neither of them opened their mouths to share their thoughts, let alone introduce themselves.
When Kieran pressed down the base of the devil statue, the wailing heads’ eyes turned. The base let out a noise and the ground in front of the statue slowly moved backwards, revealing a flight of stairs that led down.
"Well done!" the woman said, going down the stairs without hesitation.
Kieran squinted at her back as he followed her slowly.
There were almost 40 steps heading down, each one over 25 centimeters in height. The stairs were build straight, without the slightest spiral. At the end of the stairs was a wide hall.
The torches on the walls lit up as the woman stepped into the hall. The whole hall was instantly bathed in light. Kieran could easily see the end of the corridor. There was a stone gate and two corpses not far from it.
The two corpses had already rotted down to their bones. One of the skeletal hands was holding a crossbow, allowing Kieran to theorize about the skeletons’ identities.
"Are these the ritual host and the assassin?" Kieran thought as he looked at them.
The assassin had fired an arrow at the host’s heart, but his neck had also been crushed.
Considering the distance between the two skeletons, an ordinary man would not think that this was possible. If one took into account the devil statue though, they would realize that the host that had been killed might have had some spell-casting abilities. This was totally within the realm of possibility.
Of course, there could also have been a third person besides those two.
Coveting something makes people look ahead, unaware of the danger behind them.
A third person could have emerged victorious. This had happened a long time ago though, so even though Kieran activated [Tracking] in order to search for clues, he couldn’t find any more information.
"Come help me! What is so special about those piles of bones? We have to leave this place! I don’t want to stay here a second longer!" the woman, who was pushing at the stone gate, yelled at Kieran when she saw him stop and stare at the bones.
"Okay..." Kieran nodded before walking over to her.
When he was only two steps away though, he stopped and launched a surprise kick.
There had been no warning before his sudden attack. Hs kick was as fast as lightning and as swift as the wind, landing right on the woman’s neck.
The woman’s body collapsed against the side of the wall with a bone-cracking noise. Her eyes were wide, as if she hadn’t died in peace, as if she wanted to ask Kieran why he had killed her.
Kieran remained quiet as he walked up to the woman’s body like a shadow. His barrage of kicks formed layers of mirages and shadows, enveloping her body completely. He only stopped when her body had no shape anymore.
A sudden gray mist started to escape her crushed body and spread around the hall.
Then the woman’s body shriveled like a burned painting and started to disintegrate and turn into sparkling sand.
"Oh my!" Kieran was not that surprised by the scene.
He had kept his guard up from the moment the woman had appeared. As he had explored the secret passageway through the breach though, his vigilance had turned into doubt.
The passage had not been ventilated, and its rotten stench had made Kieran cover his nose and mouth as he’d entered.
And yet the woman, who had come through the passageway, had not been reeking.
She might have isolated the stench by using some kind of Magical item, but what about the sealed-off passageway?
That foul stench couldn't have formed in the passageway within such a short period of time. It could only have been achieved through years of accumulation.
What had the woman said earlier?
"The passage was sealed off because I accidentally triggered the contraption."
She had triggered the contraption that had sealed off the passageway. She must have stayed inside the passage for at least a couple of months. She had jumped down from the ceiling in a very timely manner when Kieran had appeared though.
This could not be a coincidence. She had been harboring malicious intent when she’d appeared before Kieran.
"She had the looks of an average human and a certain level of intellect… She was not too smart and lacked any basic vigilance…"
Kieran stared at the stone gate as he thought about it. He was still unsure how the woman had appeared.
He had reason to believe that the woman’s goal had been the stone gate before him.
She had wanted Kieran to help her open it after all.
The stone gate was not tall or big. It actually looked like a common garden gate.
It was undoubtedly much more dangerous though.
The moment Kieran had laid his eyes on it, he had felt like he was being softly caressed by a thousand blades and knives.
As he carefully approached the gate, he noticed that there were runes carved on it.
The runes were small and overlapping.
One couldn’t even see them unless they moved closer.
Just as Kieran was about to inspect them, that faint grey mist that was supposed to have dissipated appeared in a dense form and spread throughout the hall.
Kieran was immediately surrounded by it.