Annan found out the store claimed to have the “baker from the royal capital” for a long time.
During the chatter with Salvatore back then, Annan wrote down all the places and characters that might have related to background stories.
Otherwise, Annan would not be able to introduce these elements to the players.
Annan didn’t realize that the story of this “baker” would be so crucial in the past.
His original plan was to arrange for the idle players to go to Freezing Water Port to search for more clues. After the players find out more about these secret characters in their investigation, Annan would release missions to exchange the information with rare rewards and ample affection rates.
He could entice it by labeling the task as a secret mission.
Annan was confident once the keywords “rare,” “hidden,” and “restricted” were mentioned, players would go for it even if the rewards were mundane and average, let alone if he boasted the reward by a couple of margins…
…But who would have thought that this baker was merely a monk who swept the floor?!
(TN: It’s a metaphorical expression saying that the baker appears ordinary like a random cleaner NPC)
“This is weird…”
Annan bared his teeth, a little depressed.
He wore a somewhat thin coat, sprinting on the deserted streets against the cold December wind. Fortunately, the moonlight of the Freezing Water Port was fairly bright. So even if the path wasn’t illuminated clearly, Annan could still distinguish his path and direction.
It was already 10:30 p.m. Freezing Water Port was unlike Roseburg. There was no night entertainment, and the fishermen had already fallen asleep.
Some shops that would open tomorrow morning were still working hard to prepare the things for the business tomorrow morning.
The fishermen watched Annan run by in surprise.
After being stunned, they saluted Annan with some trepidation.
Annan responded to them one by one politely too.
After half an hour, Annan finally arrived at the bakery not too far from the city lord’s residence.
—Authentic Capital Bakery.
A concise and powerful signboard name.
They were authentic buns with meat in it… simple and unpretentious.
But the bread here was delicious.
Several players bought the bread here for Annan as breakfast and snacks. The taste was indeed magnificent.
The bakery door would be closed at 11 p.m. However, lights were illuminating from within.
“Is there anyone?”
Annan raised his voice and asked, knocking on the door, “Hello!”
After a while, a confused and impatient voice came from inside, “We have sold out our buns. Don’t you see what time it is already!”
“I’m Don Juan Geraint.”
After the other party answered, Annan stated his identity clearly, “May I trouble you to open the door.”
Annan did all that just in case.
If Annan yelled out his name and knocked on the door, Buckel could pretend to be absent or already asleep to avoid him.
Annan felt it was a wiser choice to wait for Buckel to answer before stating his identity.
At least Buckel couldn’t use his petty tricks to avoid Annan.
After about eight seconds, Annan heard the sound of the door lock unlocking.
The wooden door opened.
The “Buckel” that appeared in front of Annan looked quite similar to Brother Sledgehammer in the dungeon instance. The only difference was that forty-five years ago, Brother Sledgehammer looked like he was in his thirties. Forty-five years later, he looked like he was in his fifties and almost sixty.
Although he had some gray hair and many wrinkles appeared in the corners of his eyes, Buckle didn’t lose his steady demeanor. On the contrary, he seemed in great vigor without any hint of drowsiness even at 11 p.m.
The most significant difference was that Buckel no longer bore the ferocious murderous intent and hostility of forty-five years ago. Instead, he seemed a lot more quiet and peaceful.
…It seems that there is probably no danger right now.
Annan breathed a sigh of relief.
But looking at Buckel’s face, Annan had a question in his mind immediately.
How old is this person this year?
Buckel looked forward subconsciously. After a brief pause, he lowered his head to look at Annan.
His gaze shifted to the bronze bracelet on Annan’s wrist at the first moment, then quickly moved away, looking at the ground.
“Is there anything wrong, feudal lord?”
His voice sounded respectful.
“I may have to trouble you for something. But, can I go in first?”
Annan nodded, making a tender and polite voice, “It’s a bit cold outside…”
Hearing this, Buckel hesitated slightly.
Buckel responded quickly, “It’s a bit messy. Please wait for me to clean up. It will be done in just a minute.”
With that, Buckel closed the door again.
Annan raised his brows slightly,
—This is impolite.
Generally speaking, shouldn’t he bring guests to the living room first? At the very least, he shouldn’t just let the guests suffer the cold wind outside…
Buckel is from the royal capital, not a countryman. Would he not understand this etiquette?
Or is there anything he can’t show to me?
Are you destroying evidence?
But such thoughts quickly ceased.
It was because Buckel cleaned up too quickly.
He closed the door for about five seconds, then opened the door back. Annan didn’t hear any sound, nor did he see any flickering of lights inside. It even felt a little quiet inside.
“Please come in, feudal lord.”
Buckel respectfully welcomed Annan in.
He took Annan through the bakery shop and walked to the backyard. They walked through the yard to the back room.
After guiding Annan to sit down in the living room, he gave Annan a new pot of black tea.
Annan looked at the tea box curiously.
If Annan remembered correctly, the Noah Kingdom’s people had a habit of drinking tea. The tea that Buckel drank was better than the tea Salvatore brought.
Is bakery such a profitable business?
After Buckel poured hot tea for Annan, Annan said gently, “I heard some stories. But, before that, let me put this out first. Please don’t mind too much about our conversation later…
Before Annan could ask anything, Buckel said his full name directly, “You can just call me Joseph, lord.”
“Great. So, Joseph.”
Annan readily followed after Joseph’s words.
He asked softly, “I want to know at which year you came to Freezing Water Port?”
“About… forty years ago,” Joseph replied.
“Specifically?” Annan asked, “Is it forty-five years ago?”
Upon hearing this, Mr. Joseph Buckel was silent.
He paused, then sighed suddenly.
Then, he leaned back weakly.
“Do you want to ask me… Do I know Amos?”
Joseph’s mouth twitched slightly, and he smiled bitterly, “If that’s what you’re looking for, then yes. I do know him.”
As he said, he took another glance at Annan’s bracelet.
Seeing that Annan didn’t reply immediately, Joseph asked, “I guess you just came out of a nightmare? Did you enter the nightmare on your own accord?”
“I entered the nightmare under Priest Louis’s protection.” Annan nodded and said softly.
He chose a relatively low-profile narration.
When Joseph heard this, he relaxed slightly. He said with a light smile, “Did I scare you in the nightmare?”
“I had entered that nightmare back then. I was scared of myself at the time. But I took a trick and convinced myself directly.” Joseph replied as he took a sip of tea.
Annan noticed the choice of word keenly.
“Back then?” Annan asked probingly.
He also noticed that Joseph was not wearing a curse vessel.
There was no bronze nor silver accessory… Nothing at all.
Joseph wore a thin coat at home. The silver bracelet Annan had seen in the nightmare disappeared.
Joseph didn’t avoid this topic.
He nodded, “I gave up. Being transcended isn’t my thing.”
Hmph, what a light and easy excuse.
Annan’s eyelids twitched.
Transcended. It isn’t something you can leave behind so casually.
Isn’t a path of no return after you enter the ranks of Transcended?
“If you are planning to recruit me… I can only say that I will help when I can.”
Joseph smiled bitterly, “But I am a useless person now. I don’t retain much of the spellcasting ability. So what I can do is probably limited.”
As Joseph spoke, he extended his hand, pointing at the kitchen and commanding,
In the kitchen not far away, the dough suddenly came alive and began to knead itself. Those fermented doughs lined up one by one into the oven—the bread baked previously jumped out by themselves.
There was an order to it as if the bread was taking the subway.
“Simple ‘temporary reanimation.’ My curse vessel can’t be used anymore. The spellcasting ability I retain is just enough to prevent me from starving to death. I can’t go back to Silver Rank either.”
Joseph spread his hands, “I just didn’t know your intentions, so I turned around and entered the house to stop them from working… to prevent them from frightening you at night.”
“What exactly happened forty-five years ago?”
Although Joseph had many spell slots, Annan ignored this argument and asked important questions first, “What is the final and true ending?”
He opened his shirt and turned his back to Annan.
There were dense scars like a spider web at Joseph’s back.
But they weren’t exactly scar either.
It was more like a spider-web-like trace left by bullets hitting a bulletproof glass. Those cobwebs were all his veins, leaving blemishes and bumps on his back that were still beating slightly along with the heartbeat.
At the center of the spider-web-like scar…
That position should be Joseph’s heart.
“Amos killed me once. He launched a sneak attack from the future, and he has a powerful curse vessel in his hand. I can’t dodge it and can’t defend myself from it. That cult’s curse vessel, ‘turbid blood bullet,’ hit the heart. A powerful curse is instilled within me. I fell into a near-death state—”
Joseph put down his clothes. He replied slowly and earnestly to Annan,
“But after that, he didn’t kill me. The reason is that the curse I bear will leak if I die.
“—Yes, he stole my curse vessel.”
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