“Boss Lin isn’t opposed to the hostility between Wilde and me, for we wouldn't even have the chance to meet here if that was the case. He just believes that it isn't the time yet.
“From the current outlook, he's getting Wilde to help him recruit more patrons for him. This is Wilde’s value to him… As for us, we help him by performing certain tasks that are too minuscule for him.
“Since he’s setting us up for a direct confrontation, it must mostly mean that Wilde has finished providing all his worth to Boss Lin who no longer needs him. With that, the animosity between the two of us can finally come to a conclusion.
“All of this must’ve been according to the plan Boss Lin has sequentially laid out.”
These words of Joseph reverberated constantly in Claude's mind all the way till the mess was sorted out and Francis' group were brought back to Secret Rite Tower.
Choosing a victor between the two Destructive-ranks Joseph and Wilde, to help ascend to Supreme-rank…
Though it was known from the beginning that this kind and amiable bookstore owner by the name of Lin Jie possessed fearsome power, it was Joseph's words that made it seem especially impactful.
As if receiving a hammer blow to his heart, Claude was completely shaken.
This sort of saying was familiar to him… Any knight receiving training at Secret Rite Tower would find it so.
An elimination system to pick a few suitable candidates out of dozens of Knight Apprentices, to undergo elite training where only the top few candidates would be chosen to become a Great Radiant Knight.
Joseph had gone through this, and so did Claude.
Boss Lin had actually treated both Joseph and Wilde the same way, which meant that to him, training up Supreme-ranks were akin to growing cabbages.
The conflicted sentiments Claude had couldn’t be described with words.
As he recalled, his interactions with Lin Jie could even be considered more than Joseph had. That bookstore boss often engaged with him in small talk like a close friend would, and this sometimes made him seem just like any ordinary person.
However, with just that sentence from Joseph, the image of Lin Jie being an ordinary person had become blurred.
“This is probably because I’m unable to properly recognize Boss Lin’s power level…”
From what Teacher said, the battle with the Church of the Dome's false god had been a precarious one and it was fortunate that Boss Lin had saved the day.
On top of that, the mysterious phenomenon of that battle silently ending in five minutes left many pondering.
However, Secret Rite Tower had classified all information regarding the specifics of that incident, not revealing anything at all.
As Claude’s authority did not grant him sufficient clearance, he was never able to directly sense Boss Lin’s true power.
But since Teacher had surely sensed it before, his guess would surely be more accurate.
Claude shook his head, glancing at Francis and the others sprawled over chairs in a pathetic fashion.
Though they had received treatment, since their actions had been unauthorized, the treatment level they received was only to ensure their ‘survival.’ They still remained in a severely wounded state.
At this moment, all of them were cuffed in awkward positions on their chairs appearing terribly frightened as they shivered and groaned miserably in pain.
It appeared that their mental state had already crumbled before the interrogation had even begun.
This was the confinement room of the Intelligence Division, a place specifically used to interrogate criminals.
Though Francis and the others had never stepped foot inside, they had heard all sorts of horror stories regarding the place.
Once inside, all morals and values upheld by the Knights of Secret Rite Tower were temporarily waived.
It didn’t matter whether one was an internal wrongdoer or had committed a crime. As long as someone was brought in, they were no longer regarded as a person.
“No, don’t… I-I didn’t do anything that would harm Secret Rite Tower. I am fiercely loyal to Secret Rite Tower; the entire thing was an accident… I didn’t know; I really didn’t expect Wilde to be there. If only I knew, I-I-I-... Even if you dared me to, I wouldn't even dream of it!” Francis defended himself through fearful wails.
He was on the brink of wetting himself from terror; never in his wildest dreams would he have seen himself brought here.
He had originally thought this was a simple mission to seize an ordinary bookstore... Just like a walk in the park.
Yet, he never imagined a Tyrannosaurus Rex would step out of the bookstore.
This simple outing had turned into the set of Jurassic Park—an extremely brutal awakening.
He was no idiot either. From the scale of the operation and the forces Secret Rite Tower had mobilized, Francis had immediately deduced he had made a big mistake.
He had inadvertently alerted the enemy, and the attempt to encircle and trap Wilde was foiled, rendering the whole operation fruitless.
But-but this was all just an accident!
Even if I did act without authorization and abused my power to seize the bookstore, I had yet to even lift a finger. At most, all we’ve done was linger around the bookstore… surely this can’t be considered a crime.
Why do I have to be brought to the confinement room?!
Francis gritted his teeth. He still couldn’t figure out the reasoning no matter how hard he racked his brain.
All his secrets would soon be exposed once he entered the confinement room. And even if he refused to talk, an answer would be squeezed out of him sooner or later, so he’d rather take the initiative.
Francis couldn't be caring about the higher-ups at this point and his face turned even paler. Him being brought into the confinement room meant that Joseph really didn't give a care to the current Great Radiant Knight Oswald, Todd’s grandfather.
Perhaps even Sir Oswald might be punished together with me…
But regardless of whether Oswald was in trouble or not, Francis definitely was!
Francis was drenched in a cold sweat. In hopes of walking away from the confinement room in one piece, he simply recounted the full truth regarding Todd’s orders to seize the bookstore and the conflict between Todd and Melissa.
But unexpectedly, Claude’s face got darker after he heard all this.
I thought it was accidental, but this was all planned out?!
Not only had they disrupted the operation but actually intended to barge into the bookstore right from the start?!
Ignoring the howls and cries of Francis and his group, Claude turned his back on them and left the room, instructing his subordinates to dish out a harsh punishment for this bunch. They would be locked in the dark for three days without food or water, and once this was done, they were to be demoted to Apprentice Knights or expelled altogether.
Claude then caught sight of Joseph heading over with a guilt-stricken Melissa following behind.
Though the lady did indeed have some battle scars, she hadn't sustained any injuries, which made Claude sigh in relief.
"Teacher!" Claude went to meet them and relayed the results of the interrogation.
Joseph shrugged in annoyance. “All she does is to rely on me to clear up her mess after beating someone unconscious.”
“Hmph, they started it first!” Melissa retorted.
“Come on, who would dare pick a fight with you, knowing who your father is?"
“They said you were a liar who only knows how to leech off others!”
Joseph remained silent for a moment, his eyes narrowing to a squint as he sighed. “What about your abuse of authorization and leaking of classified information to unrelated personnel?"
Melissa was visibly deflated. “That’s my fault…”
“I will help you clean up the mess, but you’ll have to go on a secret mission.”
While patting his daughter's head, Joseph had a sudden recollection of those days of the past where he had given up on himself. His daughter had been the one to suffer the most from those gossips.
"From today onwards, no one will ever say that again," muttered the grizzled old knight.
Boss Lin was right. In order to better protect his family, he needed to first improve himself.
Let’s start with Oswald then…
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After sending off Wilde and the others, Lin Jie had a feeling that there wouldn't be any more customers for the day and thus decided to enter a meditative state to continue practicing his magic and swordsmanship in the dream realm.
He left his basic dream realm frame and stood in an endless void. Boundless darkness shrouded him along with many other dream realms which twinkled like stars in the night sky.
Most of the time, this would be where he would hone his swordsmanship and magic skills.
The foundational dream realm was his old residence and used for research purposes. The dream realm he had set up in the Central Church of the Church of the Dome had been a temporary one which was highly unstable and had since collapsed after it was brought into reality.
The remaining excess aether had been reused to practice his swordsmanship skills.
On top of that, he could occasionally come across and view the dreams of others here.
Today, as per usual, Lin Jie planned to ‘find’ an interesting dream realm after his practice.
But when he accidentally came across a certain greenish dream realm, Lin Jie saw a familiar face.
The image of a beautiful blond elf with ocean blue eyes in an elegant white dress barging into his bookstore on a rainy night suddenly flashed across his mind.