Annan watched Vasily, whose hands had regained freedom as he wrote letters to Maria. He emphasized, “Remember to show it to me once you’re done writing.”
“Yes, Your Highness.” Old Vasily answered obediently without raising his head.
Annan nodded, signaling that he heard it.
He leaned back slightly against his seat to think.
Annan had just learned of Maria Austere-Winter’s order to Vasily, “Get ready to return home, Vasily. A ship with a blue canvas will arrive at Freezing Water Port in 10 days. You shall leave by that ship.”
After that, Vasily immediately asked Annan if he could reveal the information he had learned to Maria.
Annan agreed to it with the condition of knowing what was written.
Vasily Manning readily agreed to this request.
Annan pondered in deep thoughts silently as he waited for Vasily to complete the reply.
…Hmm, Vasily Manning. Annan had indeed heard of this name.
He had also met his older brother, Merlin Manning.
But that was because Annan had met him in [Nightmare: White Tower].
Merlin had participated in the first half of Michelangelo’s ritual. Thus, even if he was not the best Energy Falteration School wizard, getting an invitation from Michelangelo was already an adequate recognition of his abilities.
Before he retired, Merlin was a core member of Winter’s Hand — Maria even trusted him.
Annan remembered him… He was skinny and tall, a taciturn old man.
Merlin’s curse vessel was a silver tongue ring, and the curse mark was located in his mouth. When the wizards got into a conflict during the nightmare, his first reaction was to stand in front of Maria.
…But Annan also knew.
Among the people who survived the White Tower Ritual… Merlin wasn’t one of them.
In other words, the Old Merlin should have been dead five years ago.
Let me make some more inferrences…The time Maria dispatched Vasily into the Noah Kingdom was basically when the White Tower Ritual ended. His primary duty was to observe the resurrection of Michelangelo…
Yes. Indeed, Vasily’s mission at the very beginning was to “observe”.
Although the Rotten Man’s church hired him, he was also the person who released many summoned creatures to ruin the ritual. This level of intervention had gone far beyond “observation”.
It was fair to say that his actions were somewhat contrary to Maria’s orders.
Maria only sent him alone without any aid. Her goal must then be only for observation and not “to ruin the ritual”.
The purpose of sending Vasily was because he had sufficient occult knowledge to understand the ritual.
At first, Annan didn’t quite understand the inconsistency.
But after learning that Merlin was Vasily’s biological brother, Annan understood everything.
Did he put the blame of his brother’s death on Michelangelo’s shoulders?
Although Vasily received Maria’s mission and knew that it was a deity’s ascendancy ritual, he still wanted to give it a shot to see if he could ruin this ritual.
Hence, Vasily had planned to die with “Don Juan Geraint” at the very beginning. If the direct descendants of the Geraint family were to die here, it would cause havoc within the Noah Kingdom.
That would have been his final piece of influence imposed on the entire ordeal.
It seemed that he had immediately realized something after meeting Annan and Kafni. Only then did he give up the idea of ”using Big Explosion“.
No wonder… Annan felt that something was off from the very beginning.
You must know that the Transcended power of the ritualists came entirely from occult knowledge.
What determined the strength of a ritualist was their skills in logical analysis, adaptability, memory, experience, rationality, courage… and most importantly, wealth.
This was the crux of the matter.
The price of occult knowledge wasn’t cheap.
Some ritual knowledge could directly give birth to a ritualist; hence, it was forbidden in most countries. As for the knowledge about deities, those were taboos that could not be shared— mortals were unable to retain any of this information in their brains..
Even if you had heard it or seen it, you could only use it once at most.
Those secret books recording occult knowledge were even less likely to be easily obtained by people who weren’t wealthy.
Initially, Annan thought that the knowledge was from the Rotten Man’s Church because many summoned creatures were involved. Moreover, it was unlikely for an ordinary human to master so much knowledge.
However, that actually was the case.
This could only mean one thing.
Those foolish apprentices of Vasily didn’t even realize that their teacher was not some unemployed and penniless ritualist but a government official of a country.
The “secret book” that had recorded forbidden knowledge about deities wouldn’t disappear upon reading; it only required the user to reread the book after usage of the knowledge. As for any information about rituals, they were confiscated and stored in the library of forbidden books.
Whether it was King Noah or Austere-Winter’s Grand Duke, one would try to produce ritualists as long as he was not stupid.
Why was Vasily able to learn so many kinds of forbidden knowledge?
Why could Maria trust him to sneak into another country alone for as long as five years to carry out a mission related to the deities?
The answer was simple.
He and his brother were of the same profession!
His brother Merlin was a senior executive of Winter’s Hand, mainly responsible for the domestic eradication of dissident spy affairs; Vasily was under Maria’s command to execute a cross-border mission that lasted for several years… So it could only mean that Vasily was also an elite in espionage.
After all, Transcendeds were required to have their custom clearance documents, and their identity strictly verified whenever they go through the underground passage. This made it impossible for them to carry out espionage missions… but the ordinary people were too weak to fight against Transcendeds. On the other hand, priests with stable Transcended power couldn’t be mobilized directly by various royal families.
Therefore, the only ones who could get through the Gray Mists were ritualists.
Hence, Annan finally figured it out.
Why must ritualists be seized whenever they’re discovered?
Because every ritualist, no matter their capability, could be a spy from another country.
“It’s done,” said Vasily softly.
Then, he put the pen on the table and handed the letter over to Annan.
It was written as follow:
“Honor to the Storm and Wolves:
“New intelligence: I have met His Highness Annan, who was thought to be long-lost. He is currently in the Noah Kingdom, living under the pseudonym of Don Juan Geraint. He has realized his conjecture from the past, obtained the Reverse Inscription, and regained his emotions. However, His Highness has become a Transcended and thus cannot return to Austere-Winter by ship through the Gray Mists.
“Additionally: His Royal Highness Annan is now on good terms with Her Highness ‘the Shadow Demon’ Kafni and has advanced to the rank of Silver Knight. His identity may have also been exposed;
“May I ask, do I still follow the original plan to return to the Austere-Winter Dukedom in 10 days?”
Watching Annan read the reply carefully, Vasily took the initiative and asked Annan in a soft voice, “Your Highness, should I remove the second paragraph?”
“…No need.” Annan decisively objected, “Just send it like this.”
He believed that Maria needed more accurate intelligence to prevent deviation from her original plan. The information must be conveyed accurately enough.
Plus, there was nothing worth hiding.
Soon enough, Annan watched Vasily conduct a simple sacrifice ritual and “burned” the information over to Maria.
Not long after, Vasily raised his head.
“I have received a reply, Your Highness.” Vasily said respectfully, “The return plan has been canceled.
“The ‘Daughter of the Storm’ has ordered me to stay in Noah to assist you. She will find a way to bring you back and has told me to send you a message. She urges you not to try crossing the underground border yourself and wait quietly at Noah. Don’t wander around, and don’t make any more contact with strangers.”
…But I have my reasons. Annan sighed deeply.
I have to visit the capital in three months. The Silver Sire had issued this mission to me personally.
Annan reiterated his mission reluctantly for Vasily to pass it on to Maria.
It occurred to him that Maria was treating him like a child, asking him to stay put, stop wandering, and stop talking to strangers… It felt like she was talking to a lost child through the phone.
Wait a minute. Judging from Annan’s biological age, he was indeed a child…
Credits to MindMatrix for editing this chapter and improving the readability.
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