"Chief Winston, I've found Jo—"
Before Prima could even finish, a trembling voice from the other end cut her off, "Really? You f-found him? You found him... H-how is he? Joseph..."
He couldn't bring himself to go on at this point.
Joseph's battle had affected the hearts of way too many. Emotions of despair and hope had fluctuated so intensely that Winston, who had always prided himself on his calmness, couldn't control himself. He was afraid to hear news about Joseph's death.
Prima decided that it was better not to let the patient's 'friends and family' be informed about the previously tragic situation, and thus she said succinctly, "He's alive."
As if a massive weight lifted, Winston's heart that had been in his throat finally calmed down.
He heaved a huge sigh of relief as joy came over him. He asked right away, "Can you let him speak... Ah, no. What am I even saying? Joseph must be seriously hurt, right?"
Duh... There wasn't much left of him besides a slight outline. How could it not be serious? thought Prima to herself.
She then glanced at the old knight slumped over her shoulder. The protective suit she wore was also a sort of exoskeleton as well. Carrying a person was easy, and Prima had also used a strength enhancing elixir on herself.
"He's fine, but although he survived, he requires time to recover and adapt. During this period, he mustn't use aether nor exert himself. It's best to find an absolutely safe space for him to recuperate. Secret Rite Tower ought to bring him back later, and he should be fine after resting for a handful of months."
"Thank you so much for your help…" Winston expressed his gratitude from the bottom of his heart. Although Prima didn't say it, Winston knew how hard she had worked during this time as well as how capable she was to have been able to save Joseph from the abyss.
This young lady... or rather, should I say, as expected of someone favored by the bookstore? His previous doubt had really been superfluous.
In this case, there's nothing to worry about. Winston sucked in a deep breath and went on, "Can you directly bring him to a safe place? There's no need to return to Secret Rite Tower."
Prima was slightly taken aback. "A safe place? Are you certain there's no need to return to Secret Rite Tower? Isn't he..."
Winston firmly interjected, "I'm certain. I hope that you can also... announce publicly that he's dead."
It can be hard to make great work when its stolen from tinyurl.com/37k7u89t.
Prima stared at the communications device blankly, unable to process what was going on.
"I know you must be confused, but… Joseph's life is at stake."
Joseph's life = Boss Lin's mission!
A light bulb lit up in Prima's mind.
"Alright. There's no problem with that." The young lady nodded vigorously. "I will definitely keep this a secret. I swear... I swear on my laboratory."
Winston replied, "Thank you. Also, please don't tell me this location. It's good if only you alone know about it."
"Mm, hmm," Prima acknowledged and hung up.
But... where is a safe place? Prima bit her lower lip and thought hard.
To her Truth Union laboratory? It would be convenient with all the equipment available there and it was a locale Prima was rather familiar with.
But once they reached the Truth Union, Andrew would definitely find out.
"Safe space... safe space..." Prima pondered over it, and naturally, the image of a cold, fair girl with a book in hand seated behind the bar counter of a book cafe came to her mind.
Mu'en was the night, and the bookstore owner had always been Lady Walpurgis' will.
The safest place in the world was most definitely under the protection of Lady Walpurgis.
Therefore, there surely wouldn't be any problem sending Joseph to the bookstore.
Moreover, Lady Mu'en and Boss Lin aren't human. So, wouldn't that mean that I'm the only one who knows?
With that in mind, Prima changed her route and headed toward the bookstore with Joseph in tow.
Winston turned off the communications device and let out a long sigh.
For Prima, there was only one safe place which others wouldn't know much about. This outcome was what he had been deliberately nudging the young lady toward.
The reason he did so… was very simple.
Winston had a guess, a terrible conjecture, and he wanted to test it: Secret Rite Tower just wanted to make use of Joseph.
This incident had given Winston a different perspective.
Why didn't Secret Rite Tower care whether Joseph died? Because in their eyes, Joseph wasn't a hero. He was just a tool to test Lin Jie. They never thought of Joseph as the Great Radiant Knight that had protected Secret Rite Tower and Norzin for so many years...
At the thought of Secret Rite Tower being this way, Winston felt his blood run ice cold. He had forgotten that Joseph had already been abandoned once.
And this time, if Joseph failed to advance to Supreme-rank and was seriously hurt, what would the Tower do?
Winston didn't dare to think about it, but he knew that he could no longer trust the Tower.
Even if Joseph was saved, he would fall back into the Tower's hands and might be made use of again. Until every last bit of value was squeezed out of him.
What was Joseph's last bit of value?
Winston reckoned that it could only be the girl that had been transported to the safety point and was still unconscious... Melissa.
From now on, Winston realized that judging the bookstore owner's alignment, and whether his goals were good or evil, was being ridiculous and superfluous.
He had reckoned Norzin's chaos had been caused by Boss Lin; it turned out that he was actually very wrong. This was all a result of human greed…
Winston peered at Caroline, the latter still unconscious with her face smeared with blood.
I can't tell anyone that Joseph is still alive. At least till he recovers his strength.... Winston silently came to his decision.
In the world beyond the battlefield of 67th Avenue, raging blizzards and howling alarms filled the air.
People were in their homes discussing what exactly had happened to cause the internal structure frame of Norzin to decay and collapse, resulting in such a massive impact.
The surroundings of the bookstore, which was no longer monitored by personnel from Secret Rite Tower nor had any customers, were once again enveloped by a cold silence.
Rapid knocks on the bookstore's wooden door sounded while Mu'en was still preparing milk tea for the day.
It isn't yet time to open for business. Who could be knocking so anxiously? It can't be Boss Lin, he has the key.
But Boss Lin has already been away for two days. It's almost time for him to return...
Mu'en opened the door as a pile of snow fell from the eaves. Then, she saw a familiar face—
The young girl before her, patting snow off her head, was Mu'en's biggest believer at present.
"Here!" Prima subconsciously called out.
"This is...?" Mu'en eyed the burly man in protective clothing lying beside Prima and asked without any hint of expression.
"It's Mr. Joseph," Prima said quickly. "He needs to be treated somewhere safe, so… this is the only place I could think of."
"I'm glad you call this a safe place, but I'm not asking about his identity—come in first."
She opened the door wider so that Prima could bring Joseph into the bookstore. The white cat, crouching on the bar, rolled around, meowing and shaking its fur.
It wrinkled its nose and sniffed before leaping to Joseph's side, revealing an avaricious gaze as if it had just spotted a supreme delicacy.
Mu'en scooped it up and smacked its little head. "No eating this."
“Meow~" Whitey hung its head regrettably.
Prima opened the protective suit and revealed Joseph within whose body was intertwined with the annihilative substance produced by the domain of Eventuality. The old knight's entire body had been corroded beyond recognition.
"I'm really sorry! I didn't expect his soul to also be affected by the domain of Eventuality. I can only have his physical body recover, but my proficiency when it comes to the spiritual aspect isn't enough."
Having said that, Prima went to quickly prepare medicine once more.
Mu'en quietly watched Prima as she went to work.
A while passed, and seeing that Prima was still at a loss, Mu'en tilted her head and raised a hand. Moonlight-like aether gathered in her palm.
With her head lowered and hurriedly flipping through the book, Prima noticed the warm glow of moonlight. She looked up and saw an expressionless Mu'en exuding the power of the night from her hand.
Joseph's skin gradually regrew.
Prima was stunned for a moment but immediately returned to her senses. She watched as the dark night weaved into a cage of moonlight that enveloped Joseph.
Mu'en withdrew her hand and scrutinized Joseph while gathering her strength once more.
The area enveloped by the moonlight was the territory of the night. In an instant, Joseph's Supreme-rank aura was completely masked.