333 The Tracker
In the suburbs of North Borough, in a soon-to-be-abandoned three-story medical school building.
Even at three o'clock in the afternoon, the fog and the clouds had already darkened the whole of Backlund, as if a storm was approaching.
Along the dilapidated corridor, the gloomy light shone in diagonally, penetrating the windows and causing everything to appear silent and scarred. It was eerie and terrifying.
This was Audrey's second time here, and she was no longer as nervous and tense as before. She turned her head left and right in her surgical cap and big mask, habitually observing the environment, observing every detail of this place.
Viscount Glaint was walking beside her and gradually turned apprehensive. He couldn't help but whisper, "Why do I find that this place is a little strange…
"Could there be evil ghosts?"
As a mysticism enthusiast who had only half a foot in the Beyonder circle, the only Beyonder phenomenon he had witnessed was Fors's passing through walls and the opening of a door. He was still unsure of the existence of wraiths and shadows.
However, this didn't stop him from being afraid of similar monsters!
Fors turned her head and shot him a glance as she held back her laughter.
"Most of the participants of this gathering are Beyonders. If there really are evil ghosts or spirits, they would definitely be very happy. It usually implies ingredients or servants."
Noticing that Viscount Glaint was obviously relieved, she purposely added, "Of course, I'm only talking about the weaker kind of ghosts. A truly formed shadow might be able to kill everyone here without making a sound. And even if you run, all you can do is run back and forth between the three stories without being able to leave. It's like entering a maze."
Xio nodded in approval.
"I've once encountered a similar wraith. I ran in circles while in the cemetery without any means of escaping. During this process, there were baffled people who would turn their heads for no reason, only to suffer a sudden death. If not for one of the Beyonders carrying a sun charm, perhaps you wouldn't be seeing me here today."
Viscount Glaint shivered as he looked out the window. At this moment, a withered tree branch hit the glass and made a light sound as it was blown by the cold wind.
Glaint almost shouted out loud, as he frantically inched towards the two Beyonders, Fors and Xio.
Audrey resisted smiling and quietly watched this scene from the sidelines. In her heart, she thought, I have met Mr. Fool who is close to a deity. I know the City of Silver in the Forsaken Land of the Gods, I have heard of all kinds of terrifying monsters in the depths of the darkness. Why would I fear wraiths and shadows?
However… I really haven't met a ghost yet. Pui! Audrey, what are you thinking? It's better not to come across this kind of thing!
Unless I become a Psychiatrist with Beyonder powers capable of influencing other creatures, or if I obtain mystical items that can restrain ghosts and monsters…
The four of them couldn't help but increase their pace and quickly arrived at the gathering venue for the day.
Before she entered, Fors found an opportunity to bend her back and whisper into Xio's ear, "You did well cooperating with me just now. You actually made up a story so quickly that's enough to frighten others.
"Look at the spots which aren't covered by Viscount Glaint's mask. It's so white that you can't see any colors."
Xio turned her head as she answered blankly, "I didn't make up the story.
"That was something that happened to me before I came to Backlund."
"…" Fors was stunned for a moment before she blurted out a question, "For real?"
"Why would I lie?" Xio's puzzled face was obscured by the mask.
Fors turned her head and took two steps forward and suddenly shivered.
At that moment, Glaint didn't wish to stay in the creepy corridor any longer. He reached out his hand and pushed open the door to the gathering venue.
As the creaking sound echoed, he saw the concrete floor and the smell of antiseptic coming into his nose. It made him frown.
Soon after, he saw a large pool in the middle. It was filled with a clear, yellow liquid, and there were floating figures inside it.
Some of the figures were entirely naked. Some were rather complete while others had half their skin ripped off. They had the brownish auburn colors of beef jerky.
They were corpses!
A man's shrill cry resounded in the room.
Gazes were instantly cast onto Glaint.
These gazes were all from the figures in white coats surrounding the pool. They were also wearing surgical caps and huge masks, and only their eyes and a bit of their skin were exposed.
Glaint's body swayed a bit. He wanted to turn around and run away, but when he saw Audrey, Fors, and Xio pass him, as if nothing had happened, in order to enter his room, he realized that they were pretending that they weren't his companions.
As he took a deep breath, Glaint nearly vomited.
He looked outside and saw that the corridor was dark and gloomy, filled with shadows, and that there wasn't a single living soul in sight.
With another shudder, Glaint hastened his steps and caught up with Audrey and the others, finding a place to sit down as far as possible from the pool.
After a few minutes, a figure wearing a white coat stepped out of the line and used a wooden pole with a hook on the side to pull a corpse to the side. Then, he directly dragged the corpse to the concrete floor.
He paused for about three seconds, took out a scalpel, and slit open the body's abdomen.
As the gash deepened, a cold and hoarse voice suddenly sounded from inside.
"Let the gathering begin."
… Glaint reached out with his hand to press down his mask. His throat moved a few times and he almost vomited.
They were midway in the gathering with all kinds of trades—either a success or failure—happening, Audrey, who had been calmly observing all this time, finally opened her mouth and said, "I want the Spectator potion formula."
Before she could finish her sentence, she felt several gazes sweep over her. However, they quickly moved away and didn't linger for long.
After several seconds of silence, the transaction was aborted.
Around four in the afternoon, it was getting closer to night.
"Why was there nothing at all…" Glaint didn't maintain his aristocratic demeanor as he slumped against the wooden wall of the carriage and sighed.
This Beyonder gathering had left a deep impression on him, making him feel as if he had taken a huge risk.
But even so, he was still unable to buy the horn of an adult Flying Unicorn and the venom crystal of a Royal Jellyfish.
Fors secretly pursed his lips and said, "That's normal. Although Backlund is the easiest place to get ingredients, if you can't join every Beyonder gathering, there will still be situations in which you won't be able to find what you want for a long time. It requires either luck or patience."
"Mister Viscount, think about Miss Audrey's Spectator potion. She hasn't received any clues to date."
Sometimes, you can encounter the ingredients, but you would lack the money to buy them… Xio, who was sitting to the side, thought in exasperation.
Audrey consoled Glaint, "When I get back, I'll go to my family's vault and do a search. Maybe there's something you want."
She had brought the Rainbow Salamander's pituitary gland with her today, but she hadn't encountered the spinal fluid of a Farsman Rabbit. Therefore, she had only exchanged it for 320 pounds in cash. It was to prepare for Susie's advancement.
Glaint nodded, and just as he was about to open his mouth, he saw Xio sitting up straight. She frowned and said, "It seems like someone is following us!"
"I trust your intuition. What do we do now?" Fors asked, looking around.
Following us? Why follow us? All we did was sell one Beyonder item and obtain a few hundred pounds in cash. Even if someone wanted to rob us, we shouldn't be the top targets… Although Glaint acted like a rookie, we didn't… In addition, the gathering's organizer had done a lot of things to ensure the safety of the members and to prevent anyone from being followed. Unless… the person who sent the tracker is the organizer! Last time, everything seemed normal. Hmm, what's the difference between the two occasions… Audrey's mind raced when she suddenly came up with an idea.
Perhaps it was my request to purchase the Spectator formula that attracted the attention of the Psychology Alchemists.
It's impossible for them to randomly sell the Spectator formula, so what would inevitably follow is recruitment into the organization.
And recruitment isn't a simple matter. One has to be wary of any quasi-Nighthawks or quasi-Mandated Punishers, or spies sent by other hidden factions.
If they don't observe the target and conduct an investigation, the organization would quickly be destroyed!
After pondering for a few seconds, Audrey said to Fors and the others, "Prepare to be attacked.
"Pretend as though you didn't notice the tracker.
"If we can successfully return to Empress Borough, don't worry about exposing the identities of Glaint and me. Both of you have to leave in secret."
Her green eyes swept over Glaint and she added with a smile, "A lot of people know that we are mysticism enthusiasts, so it's normal for us to find an opportunity to participate in a Beyonder gathering. Even if the tracker is an official Beyonder, they won't suspect anything. We are just regular people, so all they will do is warn us through other channels."
But I'm already at Sequence 8… Phew, in order to come into contact with the Psychology Alchemists, I have to take a little risk… It's likely the official Beyonders won't target me for seeking to purchase a formula. They shouldn't be able to bypass the gathering organizer and track us down. I want to believe in my own judgment! Audrey cheered herself on.
"Okay," Viscount Glaint mumbled as he agreed.
The horse carriage continued on as usual, going in circles a few times. In the end, Audrey and the others changed to another carriage as they had planned.
Throughout this process, the tracker never attacked.
When they reached the back door of Viscount Glaint's mansion in Empress Borough, the two nobles used their usual means of returning. As for Fors and Xio, they each relied on their own skills to leave.
About ten minutes later, Audrey, accompanied by her huge golden retriever, Susie, and her maids, openly left through the front door, in her own carriage.
As she listened to the sound of rolling wheels, she was unable to confirm if there were still people following her. She could only let her thoughts wander.
It's obvious that the daughter of Count Hall isn't a spy of any Beyonder faction…
There's nothing wrong with her past…
Her love for mysticism is well-known…
Her status and identity can provide assistance that's different from other people…
Perhaps, in two days, there will be members of the Psychology Alchemists who will try to come into contact with me… Audrey thought with some anticipation and some nervousness.
Although he said he was making preparations, Klein spent two days at the Quelaag Club as if nothing had happened. He even played a game of cards with the equestrian teacher, Talim, and the others, winning a few soli.
Before he went to bed, he didn't forget to visit the outside of Lawyer Jurgen's house to make sure if there were no lights and to feed the cat.
At eight o'clock on Friday night, he put on his iron mask and wore his black-hooded robe and entered the activity room of Old Mister Eye of Wisdom.