The female stalker with dark gray hair did not intentionally disguise her appearance. She had a slightly gloomy face, not really old in terms of age. Her leather armor on her torso was lightly covered in dust, displaying her currently awkward position. Judging from the current scenario, she seemed to be very surprised by the fact that her flawless stalking was exposed and she felt a little uneasy. Thus, facing Joshua's query, she could only answer anxiously.
"Which part of my body reeks?"
"Answer my question!"
"Ah!" Realizing what she had said, other than feeling embarrassed, this female stalker finally understood the dire situation she was facing. She looked at the calm warrior in front of her, which had a frightening aura emitting from his whole body, causing her to quiver for an instant. Immediately she replied, "Well, I was just coming here to take a look at the situation. Are you Joshua from the Radcliffe family?"
Under tremendous pressure from Joshua while speaking, she observed her surroundings in a panic, searching for a path to retreat from this small alley. Her current scenario was different as compared to the situation the silencer was put in. Her positioning now was too close to Joshua, plus her body was also smudged with alchemy powder. Factoring in all those conditions, she knew she could not easily sneak away from Joshua. Feeling helpless, she ditched the idea of running away.
"Yea, that's me," said Joshua, using one hand to hold onto the female stalker's shoulder. After pondering for a while, Joshua decided against the idea of choking her neck. "Now tell me, what is your name and origin? Don't you dare lie to me! Oh yeah, your scabbard should be a new one right? The smell of leather is too strong."
"So that's where I screwed up," whispered the female stalker. Feeling the strength exerted from Joshua's hand onto her shoulder, the gray-haired girl judged and weighed between the pros and cons of her current scenario. After that, she gave up the idea of keeping her identity a secret and explained, "My name is Nolan Wilson, I came here to"
"The Wilson family!"
After hearing the name, Chris who was standing beside them adjusted his spectacles and interrupted her speech. "You are from the Wilson family? Oh right, I should have guessed it by the color of your hair. Gray hair, purple pupils, and this gloomy expression of yours!"
"Wilson family?" After hearing the words Chris said, Joshua's facial expression remained the same, as if he was not surprised by the information given. Just a while ago, he met with the enemy's son. Now he met with another member of the Wilson family. All these encounters no longer surprised him.
He looked at Nolan and increased the strength of his grip. With a deep tone, he said, "Being an enemy of mine, you still dare to appear in front of me. I praise you for your bravery. Come to think about it, I guess you have made the same resolution while confronting me?"
"Hold on! Don't just kill me without knowing more about me! Although I'm from the Wilson family, I'm not riding on the same boat with those guys you've mentioned!" Feeling an increased pressure on her shoulder, a force that could possibly destroy her own shoulder blade, Nolan finally displayed her attribute as a professional stalker for being calm and reflexive. Under this life-threatening situation, she spoke concisely and forcefully, "I am the same as the alchemist, I came not for your family's possessions nor properties. In fact, I was looking for a chance or a method to foil this plan!"
"Ha! Today I have already wasted half an hour listening to you and Chris claiming, 'We do not belong to the same group of Wilson family members'. It's hilarious!"
Despite saying that, Joshua's grip on her shoulder actually loosened. He could easily identify that the girl in front of him was not lying to him, nor did she have any reason to either. Joshua lifted his chin slightly and asked, "Chris does not want to become a noble on the northern lands. He does not want to be a puppet for others. However, you would be on the side who receives all the benefits, why would you oppose your family's plan?
"Benefits!" Nolan had a hunch that Joshua would not kill her right off the bat. For a brief moment, she felt relieved. However, she did not dare to tarry with her explanation. "The current plans being carried out against your family stemmed from my elder brother alone. The higher-ups within the family actually remained neutral towards the decision made by my brother. If his plan were to succeed, I wouldn't have cared about it in the first place. However, there are too many uncertainties within this operation itself which would possibly cause me to suffer a loss. Thus, this operation had to be stopped."
"What kind of loss?"
"The family branch which I belong to has about a half of their property located in Moldavia. If chaos were brought forth towards this land, it would only jeopardize my plans in the future."
"And your objective is?"
Both of them exchanged questions and answers within a time span not more than 2 minutes. Looking at this super-efficient interrogation, Chris felt that this young girl faced the same misfortune as he did Facing the pressure of absolute power and violence, a person's words could be easily delivered in a simple yet oppressive fashion to obtain the information they needed.
Nolan answered, "Killing my brother. That's why I will be standing on your side. Well, pretty please... could you release your hand? My shoulder is breaking apart"
"I don't really know why but I'm getting used to all these crap. You may continue with your explanation."
Apparently, it is another family feud situation. Frowning, Joshua seemed to be annoyed. All these noble family internal issues had caused quite some annoyance to him. Can't all these issues be settled with a single sword fight? Joshua could only let out a sigh. He released his grip after being requested politely by Nolan. "Obviously, assisting a Winter Count of the Wilson family to ascend in terms of ranking would be more beneficial to the family as a whole. So why does your family's upper rank only stay neutral and observe?"
"Everyone has their own agenda. There is no single shared mindset within a family, not to mention that the Wilson family is a major family. This issue is definitely more apparent in the family." The gray-haired stalker moved her shoulder. While feeling the sore and pain from her shoulder, she did not ignore the question stated by Joshua. "Even if Danlya were to succeed and get promoted, it doesn't mean that he would directly provide benefits to the family at the end of the day. As a matter of fact, with the actions he had taken against the Radcliffes, he would only be able to seize a certain portion of the properties owned by the Radcliffes during the chaos. It is impossible for Danlya to assume complete control over the region with his current capabilities. It is not easy to leverage the power of a count."
"Even if the lord of the lands is an idiot, the knights within their control are not easy to deal with either," said Nolan with a stern expression. "If we were to initiate conflict between the nobles, the royal court will have an excuse to intervene on this matter. They would only need to state that the incidences are against the law, an act which goes against the empire and the king. My elder brother is ambitious and he wants to become the successor to the family. That is why he is taking such a huge risk in initiating all these plans, ignoring the risks and playing around the loopholes of the law to attain his goal."
"I see." Joshua thought for a second there and asked, "Why do you want to kill your brother? Well, let's forget that. After all, it is a war of succession within the family. You don't really have to tell me the details."
Shaking his head, he firmly spoke, "Since that's the case, we shall not delay this matter any further. Now I'm going to slay your uncle and destroy the Wilson family's plan. If you are willing to follow me, then come over here."
"Wait! Do you wish to enter the Count's mansion now?"
Looking at Joshua heading towards the Count's mansion without uttering a single word, Nolan and Chris were shocked by his actions. Immediately they advised Joshua together.
"Can you devise a better plan instead of heading right into the lion's den?"
"I don't have enough time for that, my original plan was to enter the city directly and overcome the obstacles through brute forcing to claim the head of their leader. Initially, I had sufficient time at hand. However, most of it has now been wasted on the both of you as well as those silencers."
Without stopping, Joshua had arrived at the far end of the alley. Glancing back, he said, "The silencers should have informed the other infantries and knights. Now, I would have to take advantage of the timing. Otherwise, as the time passes, the defense would be much tighter and harder to penetrate. All these factors would only increase the difficulty of accomplishing my task. It would be even more unlikely for the both of you to reach your individual goals."
"Joshua, I know that you are very strong as a person. You have successfully slain more than a hundred during the battle between the orcs. However, shouldn't you be preparing yourself with a better weapon at the very least?"
Nolan continued to dissuade Joshua from committing to this reckless plan. She sincerely said, "The count's mansion has more than ten Silver-tier guards. If your infiltration was discovered, these guards could intercept you within five minutes. Without a good weapon in hand, it would be impossible for you to reach them successfully. To make matters worse, I have a valid source of information stating that my elder brother will reach Moldavia by today. He is a Gold-tier warrior. You cannot defeat him with the strength you currently possess!"
After hearing this term, Joshua stopped advancing. He took a good look at Nolan. The gray-haired girl's countenance did not betray any signs of deception. With a deep voice, he said, "This could be problematic. Are you sure that he will arrive today?"
As an ex-legendary warrior, Joshua knew clearly about the huge gap between a Gold and Silver tier.
To keep the explanation simple, given a scenario where he was fully geared with weapon and armor, Joshua was confident in actually withstanding the onslaught of a dozen Silver-tier attackers. Even if the situation did not favor him, he could always decide to retreat. However, if pitted against a Gold-tier individual, he would have very few ways to deal with said individual; even retreating would be nearly impossible based on his current capabilities.
The Mycroft Continent was a mystical land filled with war and chaos. A full-grown man in this land would possess Steel-tier capabilities. Their strength was much stronger than an ordinary cow. Their constitution was even comparable to the knights on Earth. Silver-tier knights were basically walking cannons. Fully equipped with armor, these Silver-tier knights could be considered as humanoid tanks. When it came to Gold-tier warriors, however, their destructive power would be comparable to that of unlimited payloads detonating after being released from a bomber plane traveling at the speed of sound.
"That's correct. Gold tier. I could not confirm the exact time of his arrival. All I know is that he would arrive today."
Nolan was very sure about the information she had just provided. After she finished her speech, Chris, who was next to her, also joined in the conversation. "Nonetheless, I think you should gather all your knights under your family's banner in Fort Dark Forest and launch an attack with all of them together. Even if there is a Gold-tier warrior on their side, he would not dare to confront the onslaught of hundreds of Silver-tier knights directly."
"" Joshua frowned, while his gaze emitted an aura to be feared.
By all means, the suggestion that Chris had voiced out was not wrong. According to regular situations, Joshua shouldn't be taking the risk by charging at the enemy alone to slay the enemy's commander. Although killing his own uncle would automatically enable him to inherit the lands of Moldavia as the sole successor, by doing so, his butler, Fang would also reveal the truth about the secrets of his family. However, he only had the capability of a Silver-tier. There was too much risk for him to bear at this juncture.
But who the heck did you think Joshua was? He wasn't an ordinary person to begin with. Our beloved warrior here did not need to play by the rules for the masses.
Summoning his status menu, Joshua inspected his own levels.
[Level 28 Silver Tier (Challenge Level 29 Silver Tier)]
"Just a little bit left to level up," murmured Joshua.
At this very moment, Joshua was devising and formulating a plan for how he should proceed. He still lacked a little bit of experience to level from Level 28 to Level 29. With his level being so close to 30, he was not too far off from being a Gold tier.
If he could kill every single enemy within the city's vicinity, he should be able to increase his level by 1 or 2. After entering the realm of Gold-tier, it would be the moment when he would be able to unleash a series of formidable skills and abilities which were only unlocked after reaching Gold-tier. With those skills in hand, even if there were four to five Gold-tier warriors going against him, it would be a piece of cake for him to handle them.
"You don't have to speak any further. I have already made up What the?!"
Just when Joshua finally decided to proceed with his plan of storming the count's mansion, he suddenly felt a searing pain burning on his right wrist.
The pain felt as if an incandescent iron was suddenly plunged into a hot iron bath. Joshua wasn't able to withstand this sudden surge of pain. His left hand held firmly onto his right wrist while he vigorously dripped with cold sweat. The pain was so intense that even Joshua whimpered for an instance. Feeling shocked and furious, Joshua exclaimed, "What is happening?!"
A faint yet strange sound rang in Joshua's ears, brought forth by a form of unknown energy as if it was the wind itself or maybe it was a form of light. The magical energy of the atmosphere gathered together, turning into a half visible form of silver radiance. Initially, it rose with the air, before unexpectedly rushing into Joshua's right wrist like a stream of water flowing into the sea.
Joshua felt surprised as a cooling sensation suddenly permeated throughout his wrist which was previously searing up. As the area of the cooling sensation expanded, he began to notice intriguing runes that formed a sort of tattoo on his wrist as well as the back of his hand. The design of the runes was extremely intricate, with every stroke and pattern remaining unique. Finally, the burning sensation along with the chilling effect on both runes dissipated. The runes transformed into a tattoo in the shape of a two-handed greatsword coiled by a long black snake.
"What's the meaning of this?!"