Just before his death, Patterson finally understood.
He had, after all, participated in Linley’s father’s funeral. He knew that Linley’s father was already dead.
The funny thing was, just now, he had been hoping that he could leave with his life. But now, he completely understood why Linley had done what he had done. Deep in Patterson’s heart, he was unwilling to be resigned to dying like this. Based on his prowess as a warrior of the seventh rank, it wouldn’t be too hard to live for another two or three hundred years.
His life should still be long.
“I’m dying, but Clayde, your life won’t be much better.” As Patterson’s soul was drawn to the Netherworld, it contained a thread of hatred, hatred for his brother Clayde.
After watching Patterson die, Linley returned to his normal form.
“Clayde. So the man behind this event was Clayde.” Linley frowned deeply.
Clayde himself was a combatant of the ninth rank. Even if Linley was in full Dragonform, he would be at most an early eighth rank combatant.
Clayde was on a totally different level compared to him. Even if Linley were to ambush him, he simply could not harm a warrior of the ninth rank. The gap between them was too great.
And Clayde had tremendous power at his disposal as well.
As the revered ruler of Fenlai, how could he not have many fighters under his banner? And, having been the ruler for many years of the Kingdom of Fenlai, the leading kingdom amongst the six kingdoms of the Holy Union, he had a very close relationship with the Radiant Church. His roots were extremely deep.
In terms of both strength as well as forces available, Linley could not compare to Clayde.
“Perhaps my only advantage right now is that I am operating hidden in the shadows.” Linley constantly pondered how to deal with Clayde.
Doehring Cowart appeared from within the Coiling Dragon ring. He immediately urged Linley, “Linley, don’t waste any more time here. What you need to do right now is to destroy anything that might reveal you were here. Get back to your own estate immediately, otherwise, if you return too late, when they begin investigating who killed Patterson, they might suspect you.”
Linley was startled awake.
His only advantage was that he was operating from within the shadows. No matter what, he couldn’t allow Clayde to be on guard against him.
“Time to burn the evidence to ashes.” Linley immediately generated several dozen fireballs which surrounded Patterson’s body. Based on his current spiritual energy, the temperature of his fireballs was quite high.
Patterson’s body quickly began to burn, while at the same time, an extremely foul odor began to fill the air. After a while, only a few charred yellow bones and ashes remained.
That foul odor made Linley frown.
“Linley, your clothes.” Doehring Cowart reminded.
Linley looked down at his clothes. Indeed. After having gone through the Dragonform transformation, his clothes had been totally ripped apart. Linley retrieved his things, and then removed his outer jacket and pants without the slightest hesitation. Instantly, he burnt his clothes to ashes as well.
Linley immediately activated the mechanism.
“Rumble rumble.” The stone door once more opened, and Linley hurriedly walked out, then closed the door again.
No matter what, it was best for the stone door to be closed. Otherwise, with the door open, that smell of burnt flesh would quickly draw people’s attention.
“There should be clothes within this room.” Linley glanced down at his underwear. Clearly, he couldn’t walk out just in his ruined underwear like this. That would definitely arouse suspicion. Linley immediately went to another room on the side, opening up a dresser.
The dresser was filled with sets of clothes.
Linley selected a set of black clothes, rather similar to the outfit he had worn to the engagement ceremony. Putting the clothes on, Linley then once more used his wind-style spells to blow away the nearby specks of blood as well as that foul odor of burning flesh.
“Best to go back early. Can’t let anyone notice anything.” Moving at high speed, Linley leapt straight through the courtyard, arriving at the front courtyard in a matter of minutes.
At this point in time, there were still a few nobles remaining, engaging in idle conversation.
“Oh, Lord Linley. You haven’t left yet?” Count Juneau was heading out as well. Seeing Linley not too far away, he warmly greeted Linley.
Linley smiled. “Right. Just then, my stomach felt a bit queasy, so I went to the privy.”
Count Juneau walked out shoulder-to-shoulder with Linley.
“Lord Linley, I must say that I am a big fan of your sculptures. I was the one who bought your very first three sculptures that you exhibited at the main hall of the Proulx Gallery.” Count Juneau said proudly to Linley. The thing which Count Juneau was proudest was most likely the fact that he had been the one to purchase the first three sculptures which Linley had put on display.
Those three sculptures of Linley’s, just judging from the outside, was perhaps only worth six or seven thousand gold coins.
However…Linley’s status was now very different. He was the master sculptor who had carved ‘Awakening From the Dream’. In terms of status, he wasn’t too much off from the levels of Proulx and Hope Jensen. How could the price of the very first three sculptures a person such like this exhibited be low?
Based on his calculations and the implicit value, these three sculptures which Count Juneau had collected were most likely each worth at least a hundred thousand gold coins!
This was perhaps the collection which Count Juneau was the most delighted over, ever. Count Juneau had decided that these three items needed to be kept in his collection. He believed…as Linley’s future accomplishments became greater and greater, the value of these three sculptures would rise as well.
“Lord Linley, have a safe trip.” The housekeeper for the Debs clan said respectfully at the gate for the Deb’s clan’s manor.
Linley nodded. Bidding farewell to Count Juneau, he entered his own carriage.
“Go back.” Linley gave a calm command upon entering the carriage.
The Radiant Church warrior of the seventh rank who served as a driver bowed in acknowledgment, then immediately began driving the carriage towards Linley’s manor.
“I probably spent around fifteen minutes or so with Patterson.” Linley took out his pocket watch and took a glance.
This was one of the gifts that the many well-wishers of his had sent him upon him being conferred the rank of Marquis.
“Fifteen minutes or so. Count Juneau and the rest were amongst the last pack of guests to leave. If they don’t investigate extremely carefully, it shouldn’t be possible for them to suspect me.” Linley said to himself. “The other problem is, Patterson said that his housekeeper knew that he was going to meet with someone, but not exactly who.”
Linley frowned. “But I can’t totally trust his words. Perhaps his housekeeper did in fact know he was going to meet me, but Patterson wanted me to relax and trust him and thus claimed no one else knew.”
Linley had considered this possibility.
This definitely was a flaw.
What’s more…if there really was an investigation, people might discover that Linley had disappeared for fifteen minutes at the end. But during that period of time, all the nobles were engaged in casual conversation and were leaving haphazardly. It would most likely be extremely difficult to clearly investigate a single person, given those circumstances.
“At least no one personally witnessed my meeting with Patterson. The one attendant who did see was killed by Patterson.” Linley said to himself.
At most, others might suspect him. But there was no actionable evidence against him.
“Boss, what are you thinking about?” Bebe was lying on Linley’s legs. Raising his little head, he looked at Linley.
“Nothing.” Linley rubbed Bebe’s little head, having totally calmed down.
“Milord, we have arrived.”
Linley pushed open the carriage curtains, then raised his head and stared up at the boundless sky. Right now, the night sky was filled with stars. Linley couldn’t help but feel a carefree joy in his heart, while at the same time, his resolve to kill Clayde grew still more firm. “Patterson died today. Next one up is Clayde.”
Patterson had disappeared for a day or two. Aside from Patterson’s housekeeper, no one noticed that something was amiss.
Within the Debs clan’s manor, there was only Bernard and a jade-haired middle-aged person.
“Bernard, on the night of Kalan’s engagement, did the Lord Duke depart from your manor?” The jade-haired middle-aged man asked. This man was Duke Patterson’s housekeeper, named Lodi [Luo’di].
Bernard was forced to hold in his aggrieved feelings and refrain from saying, “Your Duke disappeared, and you are asking ME about it?” That night, Patterson hadn’t even told Bernard whom he was going to meet, nor did he say a word when he left. How would he, Bernard, know anything?
“The Lord Duke left. The Lord Duke is not in my manor.” Bernard replied directly.
The very day after the engagement ceremony, Bernard had sent someone over to dispose of the servant’s corpse. His servants didn’t find any trace of Patterson within that small building.
“Oh.” Lodi frowned, then stared at Bernard. “Bernard, if you find any trace of my Duke, you must let me know immediately. This affair might be minor, or it might be major. If it becomes a major affair, even the smuggling affairs of your Debs clan might come to light.”
Bernard’s face changed.
“Alright, I’ll go back now.” Lodi left with a heavy mind.
Seeing Lodi’s departing back, Bernard felt somewhat unsettled, and made the decision to immediately go visit that building which Patterson had used.
Within that secretive building inside the Debs clan’s estate.
Bernard had entered alone. The corpse of that dead servant had long since been removed and disposed of by the people Bernard had sent. Looking at the building, Bernard frowned. “Duke Patterson said he was going to meet with a guest, but in the end, he didn’t return home. Could it be…”
Bernard suddenly thought of one possibility.
Very few people even in the Debs clan knew about the secret underground room. Naturally, those people he had sent to dispose of the corpse wouldn’t know either, nor would they go investigate.
But Bernard had told Duke Patterson of the secret underground room. He had also told the Duke that there was definitely no one who could eavesdrop on any conversations within.
“Impossible. There’s no way something like that could’ve happened.” Bernard hurriedly ran into the main hall, then directly went to the mechanism and activated it.
That wall-like ‘stone door’ slowly opened, while at the same time, a foul, bloody odor that smelt like burnt flesh wafted out.
The look on Bernard’s face grew ugly.
Hurriedly walking into the secret room, he saw that on the granite floor, there were still traces of blood and scratches. To the side, there was a pile of charred human bones as well as ashes.
“Someone died here.” Bernard was absolutely certain.
And then, the person who died had been burnt to ashes. But there was no way for Bernard to tell who it was for certain.
“Ring!” Bernard suddenly saw within the pile of ashes a dirty, grayish-silver ring. Upon seeing the ring, Bernard felt that it looked extremely similar to the ring which Duke Patterson liked to wear.
Instantly, all the blood fled from Bernard’s face.
“Patterson is most likely dead.” Bernard’s thoughts were a chaotic mess.
The Debs clan had spent over half of their capital and a large amount of manpower in order to carry out this water jade smuggling operation with Duke Patterson’s help. This was an extremely important business operation for the Debs clan. But if the smuggling became exposed…it wouldn’t just be a problem of losing money. Most likely, the entire Debs clan would be exterminated by the furious King Clayde!
The entire Debs clan….was quite possibly finished.
“No, not possible. Duke Patterson was a warrior of the seventh rank. How could he die so easily? Given his careful personality, there is no way that he would meet in private with someone who was more powerful than him.” Bernard couldn’t accept what he was seeing.
It was true. Patterson was an extremely cautious man. Sadly, Patterson didn’t have an accurate understanding of Linley’s power.
The entire city of Fenlai was peaceful. Linley continued to train quietly at his manor every day. But then, after Duke Patterson had disappeared for half a month, the previously calm and sedate King Clayde finally began to issue orders. The first step was to captured the Duke’s housekeeper, Lodi. The next was to investigate the Duke’s whereabouts on a wide scale.
Within the main hall of Linley’s manor.
“Lord Linley, per his Majesty’s decree, he would like Lord Linley to pay a visit to the palace.”
Staring at the royal decree brought by the palace attendant, Linley felt a bit unsettled. Why was King Clayde summoning him?
“Please wait a moment. Allow me to change my clothes, and I’ll head to the palace immediately afterwards.” Linley smiled as he replied.