Chapter 479: The Gravekeeper and Blood Runes
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
After coming out of the MI3 headquarters, it was already a bit dark. Link took out his pocket watch and saw that it was 6:20.
In his memories, Gladstone City should still be lively at this time. Now, there was barely anybody on the street. When the wind blew past the street, and it sounded like a wail. Gladstone was filled with people, but it looked like a ghost town now.
The plague clearly affected the city greatly.
Link and Celine returned to the warehouse where King Leon and the others were hiding. They reported their findings and then continued southward.
The cemetery south of the city was close to Gladstone's garden. It was quite far from the older parts of the city. Link activated the Traceless spell for them both, and they traveled invisibly.
By the time they got to the garden, the streets were even quieter. The people who lived around here were all elites in the upper class of society. They had ways to get news and enough money. Most of them had fled.
Along the way, Link discovered that many homes were already empty. Occasionally, there would be a building with lights-but only one or two lanterns with some old servants looking over their master's beautiful mansion.
Because the streets were empty and unlit, the entire street was dark like a monster with its mouth open, waiting for someone to walk into the trap.
"I can feel great danger hiding here," Celine whispered. "Like we're being watched by a beast."
She gripped both guns in her hands.
Link had one hand on the hilt of the Dragon King's Fury sword. He was still feeding Dragon Power into it while keeping alert.
He wasn't scared of any beasts. He was just worried this beast would be the Agatha Naga's pet. If there was a pet, there would be a Naga priestess. Link wasn't scared of fighting them, but this was inside the city. If the Nagas were desperate enough, the entire city could be hit by the shockwaves. It would be a disaster.
Link didn't want to have any intense conflicts in the city.
They walked another few hundred feet, and the sky darkened even more. There were many ancient trees here, creating a thick curtain of leaves. There was even thin mist. The temperature started to drop too, making them feel coldness digging into their bones.
"This doesn't feel right at all," Link whispered. "I don't feel the God of Destruction's power in the air, but I feel tiny bits of dark aura."
The aura was very slight. A regular priest wouldn't feel it; it might not even alert a divine spell. Celine didn't feel anything, and even Link could only feel a shred.
But if dark aura was present, it meant a dark force was involved.
There were only two dark forces in the North-the Dark Elves and the scattered demons. The demons had come from another realm and were mostly Warriors. They couldn't plan many sinister things, so the biggest suspicion lay with the Dark Elves.
Celine's mind worked quickly too. "Do you think the Dark Elves would ally with the Agatha Nagas?" she whispered.
Link nodded. "If they have a bit of ambition, they would."
Actually, they'd already teamed up. This was recorded in Travel Magician Aisenis' scroll. However, the scroll's records were mostly general events and updated to half a month ago. Gladstone's event wasn't included, so Link had no way of knowing the details.
At this time, they reached the front gate of the cemetery. The people buried here were of high status, so the architecture was designed well.
There was a stone pillar on either side of the gate, 30 feet tall and two feet wide. The gate was a metal door with intricate carvings. Not too far behind was a small square. A statue of the God of Light's Sleeping Saint, Alagrian, stood in the center of the square. There was a long candelabrum beside it, lit with soul lamps.
Everyone was gone, and the cemetery wasn't well-maintained, so most soul lamps had extinguished. Only a few flames still remained.
The fog was even thicker in the cemetery; the temperature had dropped more too, seeping into their bones. The wind had mostly stopped, and there was no sound at all. The cemetery was deathly quiet.
Celine had lived in the lively Scorched City this year. Coming to this ghostly place so suddenly-she wasn't used to it. She crept behind Link.
"Let's go in," Link whispered. He focused on the slight dark aura in the air and walked into the depths of the cemetery.
After around 150 feet, Celine pointed at a small cabin beside the path. "Look, there's light. I think the gravekeeper lives there."
Link snapped out of his thoughts and turned. He indeed saw a small cabin and the hazy yellow light that penetrated through the fog.
"Let's take a look."
If it was the gravekeeper, they would get more clues there. Faced with the unknown, any clue was critical.
The cabin wasn't far-only around 90 feet away. The door was closed. Though there was light, no sound came from the cabin.
Getting closer, Link's ears twitched. He heard an odd breathing sound. It was very slow, much slower than a regular person. There was also a slight rattle between the inhale and exhale as if there was phlegm in the lungs.
It was already clear to Link. "There's someone inside, but he already has the plague."
"Oh?" Celine had been hearing about the plague but didn't see anyone with it. She gulped nervously and asked, "Should we still go look?"
"Of course. There's no harm."
Link used the Magician's Hand to open the door. The door creaked open, and the smell of decay attacked their senses.
Then there was an inhuman sound and a figure pounced at Link.
The gravekeeper was completely infected, but he was still weak; he was only at the status of Level-1 Warrior. Link picked him up with a mere Magician's Hand and easily dropped him back into the cabin, despite the gravekeeper's struggles.
Once inside, Link cast another spell: Dark Cage!
This was a minor Level-3 spell he'd learned in his free time. It only needed ten Dragon Power points and was very useful against weaklings.
Buzz. A glowing silver chain cracked softly in the air and wrapped around the victim, immobilizing him.
Then Link and Celine started studying him.
Firstly, this gravekeeper wore a clergyman's robe. He should be at the lowest level of the Light Church. His flesh was highly decayed, but there were no maggots in his wounds. He looked just like a skeleton with a layer of rotting flesh.
Celine didn't want to look anymore. She was holding her nose too; the smell was too much.
Link used a small wind spell, circulating the air inside the room. The smell faded a lot. Then he started investigating the cabin.
The light source was a magic lantern. A small table stood in a corner with some writing tools and notebook. Link's eyes brightened at this, and he walked over to read the notes.
After a while, he realized this was a diary, most likely the gravekeeper's. He'd carefully recorded what happened recently in the cemetery, as well as the changes in his body. The writing stopped seven days ago.
The gravekeeper must have had recording training, and his records were very object. Even his own bodily changes were mostly devoid of personal feelings. He tried his best to objectively record every detail.
Link read carefully. Celine also walked over.
The most valuable entry was from nine days ago.
Some naughty kids came to play hide-and-seek today. They have such a bad upbringing, coming to hide behind the tombstones of the dead. I looked away, and they got lost... A while later, I saw them run out again. They ran so fast. One of them was crying too. I think they were frightened by something. I was curious, so I went to look. There were many runes written in blood on the innermost tombstone. I walked over and felt my body shake. It was like my bones were stung by wasps. It hurt horribly, and I was so frightened. I couldn't look anymore. After running back home, I fell sick... Something evil must have entered my body.
At the end of the entry, the gravekeeper also drew three runes according to his memory.
Link narrowed his eyes immediately. "It's the Blood Runes that the Dark Elves often use. It really is them!"
He looked through the last two entries. They were messier; the man's mind was clearly in a bad state. Though messy, he detailed every change and was very specific.
Reading everything, Link furrowed his brows. "According to this description, it's similar to the Level-3 undead spell 'Undead Rays,' but these people don't have any power auras. The spell must have been modified. Let's go look at these Blood Runes."
Collecting the notebook, Link was about to turn when he felt a premonition. At the same time, he heard wind come from the window, like an arrow or something. Without thinking, he unsheathed the Dragon King's Fury sword and sliced towards the window.
Poof. A dark red tongue covered in decaying liquid was sliced and dropped to the table.
It was still alive and kept wriggling, splattering the liquid. Everything that the liquid touched would sizzle, resulting in a large corroded hole.
At the same time, a sharp scream came from outside. It sounded like a woman's strangled shriek and didn't sound too far away. Link saw a black shadow fly away through the white mist.
Link immediately said to Celine, "Let's go after her. It's the Summoned Hell Beast, Zampo. There must be a summoner nearby!"
Zampo was a realm beast and great at sneaking around. Its scariest attack was its venom and piercing tongue. It was terrifying to the average Warrior, but to Link, it was like a rat against a dragon.
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