As soon as Ji Bonong finished speaking, the entire hall started to stir.
Everyone stared at the five books in unison, their gazes sticking like glue. Regardless of whatever ideas they had previously, there was only one thought left in their minds at this moment—obtain them!
Not all that attended the banquet were transcendent beings; quite a number of ordinary people were in attendance as well. However, even if these ordinary people didn't understand why they were being attracted, they were still gripped by a strong instinct like the scent of a hare to a hunting hound.
Those books had an air of mystery that could bewitch those who saw them as well as invoke great curiosity and desire.
The book covers seemed ordinary, but the styles were unprecedented, as if they had come from another world, and seemed so out-of-place. These books were eye-catching, yet no one seemed to have any impression of them despite racking their brains to see if they recognized them. It was as if only by possessing these books could one see the truth within them.
Perhaps these were pearls left behind from somewhere, waiting for someone to uncover their secrets?
Otherwise, why would the famous Rolle Resource Development Company collaborate with some unknown bookstore owner and announce this news at the birthday banquet of the young heiress?
Therefore, these books must be extremely valuable!
Those transcendent beings present were inspired the moment those books appeared in their field of vision. It was as if they were thrown into a storm, with raindrops pelting down on them with the terrifying aura emitted by these books.
The things they saw within these books varied, but it all pointed to the peak of power and to certain desires deep within their hearts...
Even if I can't have it, I can't let others have it.
Those who raised their heads and stared straight at the books had unadorned avaricious looks in their eyes. It was as if they had turned into a pack of wild beasts stalking their prey in the darkness and creating a chilling atmosphere.
Oded Renov was a Pandemonium-rank black magician from a central agency of the Central District and held the position of overseer.
Very few people—including transcendent beings—had heard of this agency.
However, in truth, this agency worked closely with a well-known department, the Central Police Unit, and the latter was under the jurisdiction of the former.
Under normal circumstances, if people mentioned that something was a "Central District Directive" and so on, this 'Central District' actually referred to the Central District's central administration.
It was just that most people thought that this 'Central District' referred to the lofty nobles and transcendent beings who lived in the Central District.
There were even some ignorant mortals that viewed Rolle Resources as the one giving orders.
Oded would only scoff whenever he heard these theories.
Nobles were nothing but ants while transcendent beings were like grains of loose sand. However... the most ridiculous Rolle Resource theory was slightly closer to the truth.
Because Rolle Resource was also under the control of the central administration.
A thousand years ago, when Norzin was still a human country and Rolle Resource was still an expeditionary army sent by the country to explore the underground ruins, the latter had been a tool of the former.
A thousand years later, Norzin had become a completely man-made steel city. Those in power back then had become the central administration that controlled everything, while the army forged with iron and blood had progressed under the guise of a company.
However, a tool would always remain a tool. No matter how powerful a tool appeared, it could only serve its owner.
And in order to prevent this tool from having inappropriate ideas, the position of overseer was established.
Of course, during the yearly banquet held by Ji Bonong every year to invite rich merchants and transcendent beings which was considered by the central administration to be a 'dangerous' period, Oded, as overseer, naturally couldn't be absent.
Theft is never good, try looking at tinyurl.com/37k7u89t.
He had already reported to the higher-ups when Lin Jie showed up.
Although information on Lin Jie was restricted by Secret Rite Tower, the central administration had the authority to access the database. This bookstore owner was a focal point that the central administration paid much attention to.
Later on, whenever there were other anomalies, especially when Greg had asked Lin Jie for help, Oded had reported accordingly.
However, the central administration's response was to continue observing as per the norm.
Oded couldn't figure out what the intent of the higher-ups were, so he could only remain vigilant and continue observing the movements of Ji Bonong and Lin Jie.
And as the banquet was coming to a close, he had thought that this work assignment would end rather smoothly.
Yet he never imagined for there to be such a twist—
Rolle Resource and that bookstore... working together?!
Oded's eyes opened wide. His subconscious reaction was that he needed to report this to the central administration, but the thought running through his mind was, 'I'm really going to make a huge contribution this time!'
The higher-ups always suspected that Ji Bonong had ulterior motives, but this fellow hid it very well and usually didn't give anything away. As for his daughter, she should have died a long time ago…
Just that she had unexpectedly gotten involved with that mysterious bookstore.
However, even if the higher-ups could allow Ji Zhixiu to continue her involvement with the bookstore, they could never allow Rolle Resource to officially work together with the bookstore owner.
This time round, once he immediately reported this up, the central administration would be able to catch Ji Bonong's vile intentions. And that would be the greatest credit Oded could get as overseer!
However, these thoughts he had only lasted till he saw those five books.
Oded paused his activation of a communication spell midway and stared fixedly at the books.
His gaze went from blank, then confused to shock, and finally one of utter avarice.
After a while, he lowered his hands and gave up on the communication spell, instead, continuing to stare at the books as he slowly retreated into the shadows behind him, blending into the darkness and disappearing.
He had been in the corner to begin with, so his silent movements didn't attract anyone's attention.
But at the same time, he could sense many of the other transcendent beings in the banquet doing the same as him.
Franca, who attended the banquet as a representative of her family clan of white magicians, was seated in a corner of the hall. Fidgeting nervously with her hands on her lap, she looked around the hall in puzzlement.
Though she could sense that something was strange with the current atmosphere, she didn't know what had happened.
Rolle Resource working with a bookstore to develop a collaborative partnership was indeed a big worth of a big hoo-ha, but the reactions of other people seemed very off...
The young lady saw the terrifying smiles on the people around her that were frozen like statues. That strange avaricious glints in their eyes made her unconsciously shrink back.
Could it be... that there's something very different about those books?
At the thought of this, the young lady mustered up her courage. She turned gaze past her male companion and guard in front of her, trying her best to make out what the books looked like.
Unfortunately, with her ordinary vision, even if she tried her hardest, she could only see the title of the book closest to her.
"One Thousand... Classic... Homedishes?"
Franca stumbled over the words, which left her with huge question marks.
She squinted and blinked several times to make sure she wasn't seeing it wrong.
Rolle Resource and that bookstore are working together to sell... recipes?
Franca wanted to comment that this didn't quite make sense, but she realized that even if they did really sell recipes, there wasn't much to criticize.
Perhaps, that mysterious looking bookstore owner wants to test the sincerity of Rolle Resource? Hmm… It does make sense if I think about it this way.
But isn't he afraid that Rolle Resource would get upset if he uses such a ridiculous method to test their sincerity? Or should I say he is fearless?
Franca pinched the corner of her blouse and whispered to her male companion, "Mike… Who is that bookstore owner?"
The young man in front of her turned around. He had a chiseled and handsome face, but Franca knew that he was actually a powerful hunter who still had a stable mental state.
Injected within him was sordid blood belonging to the Supreme-rank dream beast, Mobius Snake, a creature that could distort space and connect all distances in the world.
Although Franca had almost nonexistent transcendent ability, she was the only progeny of the family head. Even if one half of her parentage was an ordinary human, she was still given the tightest protection.
At this moment, Mike's eyes had turned into beady serpentine pupils. The sides of his face and neck were covered in scales with dark purple veins bulging. It seemed as if he was about to go out of control.
However, a string of runes appeared on the surface of his skin. These runes were like chains that firmly restrained his movements, preventing him from ever harming his master. On top of that, it helped him retain a hint of his rationality.
Mike was forced to kneel down and looked toward his young mistress. Pain was written all over his face as he shook his head and tried his best to control himself. However, he couldn't resist the beckoning that came from his instincts.
With difficulty, he hissed hoarsely, "It's... He's... Supreme... I saw it... book... want..."
He raised his head, with the same greed-laden expression that so many others had, and said in a trembling voice, "My Lady, do you want a book?"
Franca was still trying to work out what "Supreme" meant. With a sigh, she subconsciously looked toward that recipe book and her face flushed red.
Being a child of an esteemed white magician family, it was rather embarrassing to not have any talent in spells.
But… she was really more interested in cooking.
"Alright." Franca pretended to be troubled and extended a finger. "Just one book. And say that it was your idea when we get back!"
Mike lowered his head, hiding the corners of his lips. "Yes, my lady."
Greg stared at the five books, so utterly dumbfounded that his disconsolate sentiments were tossed aside.
After witnessing the reversal of time, the suspected outcome was that Joseph and Wilde had perished together. There was only news that Melissa had been teleported to a safety point. Regardless of how mentally strong Greg was, this was really torturous for him.
He didn't have the guts to ask for anything more from Boss Lin and spent the last two days in a blurry daze.
All he could do was believe that Joseph didn't die.
However, at this moment, the appearance of those five books abruptly pulled him out of his daze and left him shaking in fright.
Greg's thoughts returned to the day where he had barged into the side hall. Boss Lin and Ji Bonong... Was that what they were discussing back then?!
However, he and everyone else had been distracted by Joseph's fate at that point of time. Who would have imagined that... this demon would actually bring out five books at one go, and now it seemed that they would be printed in batches in the future?!!!
"What exactly is he trying to do?" Greg was terrified. He could almost imagine the whole of Norzin embroiled in chaos...
I've got to report this to Secret Rite Tower as soon as possible!
Secret Rite Tower...
Greg suddenly hesitated.
Even Teacher Joseph was a pawn used by them to probe and please Boss Lin... Under such circumstances, would they really care?
"No no no! What am I even thinking!"
Greg shook his head violently. Gritting his teeth, he activated his communications device.
Beside him, Charlotte hugged her book tightly in her arms and smiled at Greg. "Don't waste your efforts. Nobody will come to be the savior. When doomsday arrives, everyone just wants to save themself. No one would come and sacrifice themselves willingly."
Greg replied coldly, "Wilde is dead, and Corpse Devouring Sect's remaining followers will soon be rounded up. How are you still in the mood to make sarcastic remarks?"
Charlotte's smile didn't change. "Death isn't eternal. If Master Wilde returns to the embrace of God, I will be the next successor and continue to preside over the Corpse Devouring Sect. Me leaving here means that the Corpse Devouring Sect will continue existing. And now is a good opportunity for an apprentice knight like you to formally become a proper knight..."
The corners of her lips curled into a mocking grin. "Do you dare try and stop me?"
Through gritted teeth, Greg clenched his fists tightly.
However, he had to admit that he really wasn't confident of holding down Charlotte.
"Heh..." Charlot's grin widened. "One day, you'll understand which is truly the right path."
A spy from the Ash Chamber of Commerce hidden amongst the crowd stealthily tapped some unknown signals on his communications device while using a special spell array to communicate.
Many leagues away, the dark elf elders of the Ash Chamber of Commerce began to piece together the information bit by bit.
"That bookstore owner is actually collaborating with Rolle Resource?! And Wilde is dead..."
In the dark underground, a man asked in surprise, "What's going on? Wasn't it said that Cherry's ability came from the bookstore? Is he going to give up on Cherry?!"
"I never imagined those two ordinary mortal tools of the Ji Family would actually obtain such a fate..."
Another wizened voice chimed in, "After the death of the broodmother, the fate of us dark elves has become even bleaker."
"It's not exactly too bad for us this way. Wouldn't it be easy for us once Cherry loses her backer?" A woman's voice cackled. "She's just a mixed-blood. What qualifications does she have to direct the Ash Chamber of Commerce?"
"Since this is so, let's take action once Cherry returns," said the first male voice.
"Boss Lin, what do you think?" Ji Bonong personally held the five books in his hands. After showing them off, the books were placed into an exquisite brass case that had been specially prepared. The entire thing had been rather ritualistic.
Just as he had expected... These people hadn't come to Miss Ji's banquet to sincerely give their well wishes. All of them were like sharks having caught the scent of blood in water and wanted to pry into Rolle Resources and learn of the company's trends.
Only benefits and self-interest benefited them.
Lin Jie observed those guests that were blinded by benefits and revealed a smile. "Well, as long as you think it's appropriate. I feel like those books should be rather easy to sell. After all, they're books with a lower threshold.
"If there are many more people who like these, you can come to get more from me. In any case, I still hope that more people can share and enjoy these interesting books..."
Ji Bonong glanced at the group of people beneath the stage radiating with ambition as they gazed at the books like ravenous wolves. "Don't worry. I will definitely make sure you are satisfied."
With that, he announced that the banquet had come to a successful end. The crowd in the great hall remained bubbling for a while before starting to disperse.
Afterwards, Lin Jie and Ji Bonong chatted for a little while more in the side hall.
Noticing the color of the sky, Boss Lin stood up. "Alright, it's about time. Thank you very much, Mr. Ji and Miss Ji, for letting me spend three very pleasant days here."
"It's our honor!" replied the Ji father and daughter pair at once.
When they walked Lin Jie to the side gate, the young dark-haired man suddenly looked up and said in surprise, "Haa, it has stopped snowing..."
He turned around, flashing a wide smile and waving. "Just walking me here will do. The snow hasn't melted yet, so be careful on your way back."