The cab stopped in front of the Celestial Garden.
Kieran paid and got off the car before he started to inspect the florist before him.
The Celestial Garden was a florist. It wasn't big, but it was extremely elegant.
There were two windows on the left and right side of the shop, one of them decorated with bright purple and red flowers, and the other decorated with brilliant greens that made the window look alive.
In the middle was a one-way door that allowed only one person to pass at a time.
Anyone who passed through that door felt like they'd entered a jungle.
The aroma of the flowers and the soil lingered on ones nose.
Kieran rubbed his nose in front of the Celestial Garden. He was sure it was not some kind of illusion. It was real.
Suddenly, he noticed the flower pot and greens on both sides of the window.
"A magic circle?"
The arrangement of the flowers and greenery was unusual. He was not sure whether it served some kind of purpose or not.
His Master Level [Mystical Knowledge] allowed him to understand most runes and symbols, but recognizing a specific magic circle was still beyond his capabilities.
He could not figure out the answer, so he eventually turned his attention to the door.
The door had a small window that was divided into half. It was covered in a flowery pattern and had the texture of frosted glass, similar to how people decorated in their bathrooms.
Despite his C- Intuition, the frosted glass was preventing Kieran from seeing the interior clearly. All he could see was a couple of shadows moving around inside.
Unless he had X-ray vision, there was no way he could see clearly what was going on inside.
Kieran noticed that the flower and plant decorations on both windows had also been purposely arranged to block anyone from looking in.
It was perfect for hiding the special individuals inside.
After thinking about all this silently, Kieran pushed the door open.
The bell behind the door frame rang as the door came into contact with it, producing a clear chime.
"Welcome!" a man greeted Kieran. He was holding a sprinkler in his hand and watering the flowers.
He was wearing a blood-red suit with a small white handkerchief in his left pocket, and his dark brown hair was combed all the way back.
He lifted the corner of his mouth in a smile, but his eyes looked blank and calm.
Other than the sprinkler in his hand, the whole place looked too clean, and his clothes definitely did not fit the appearance of a florist.
It seemed like the man was not the owner, Simones.
"You can call me Carlos, I am representing the Dark Star Society in this meeting. I thought you would take more time, but you seem to be more decisive than you look. I like that, I think we can have a great conversation!" Carlos introduced himself before he bent his body a little to take a bow, making a welcoming gesture.
The gesture reminded Kieran of Starbeck, his mimosa-like teammate.
Carlos shared the same vibe with Starbeck, although Starbeck would not have been able to match his strength.
Carlos did not display his power openly, but as he was introducing himself, Kieran felt an invisible pressure that made him feel very unsettled.
He was not afraid though. He already knew what was going to happen.
He glanced at Carlos as he slowly walked inside.
Kieran passed through a glass door, entering a more modern room.
A plump, middle-aged man of average height in a checkered shirt and an apron was walking anxiously around the room.
He was startled when he saw Kieran come in.
"Simones?" Kieran guessed after noticing the man's tainted collar and the clumped soil on his pants.
Meanwhile, he stared at the other door in the room vigilantly.
Although he could not see through the door, he was sure there was someone behind it. The sound of breathing behind the door was obvious enough for Kieran to hear.
"Yes, it's me. You must be 2567! Nice. Where is Nikorei?" Simones said delightedly as he headed to the door behind Kieran.
When he saw Carlos coming in slowly, his delighted expression disappeared in an instant.
"Are you disappointed that Nikorei didnt show up?" Carlos teased Simones with a soft smile.
"Of course! If Nikorei was here, I bet you wouldn't be smiling!" Simones replied coldly.
"Sure I would, we are not enemies! The Dark Star Society is not hostile to anyone, including Nikorei, you, and 2567. I'm only here to ask 2567 some questions," Carlos said in a clear voice while maintaining a mild smile.
As his words faded, he snapped his fingers.
At the clear sound, the door on the other side opened and a group of people came in holding different items in their hands.
A square table covered in a white tablecloth suddenly appeared in the room, followed by cutlery. Plates with silver covers were arranged on the table neatly. Under the soft light, the silver emitted a sharp glint. However, compared to the aroma of the dishes under the silver covers, their lustrous reflection seemed a little dim.
"If you dont mind, lets talk over lunch," Carlos requested, sitting down at the table as he spoke.
Simones replied with a cold smile as he sat down opposite Carlos.
Kieran chose the seat next to Simones.
"Oyster cream soup, honey roasted ham, and orchard club steak are my favorites! I hope you like the layer cake and tiramisu we're having for dessert!"
Carlos served them like a proper host, talking to his guests about the dishes.
His men stood beside them like waiters. As Carlos introduced each of the dishes, they removed the respective silver cover. The aroma of the dishes was already seeping through the thin gap between the cover and the plate, but as his men removed the cover, it became even richer and stronger.
The oyster cream soup was fresh, and the combination of the juicy honey roasted ham and the orchard club steaks rich fruit flavor produced a very appetizing aroma that assaulted Kierans sense of smell.
The layer cakes hot cream cheese mixed together with the cool sourness of the tiramisu produced a unique sweetness. It was smooth and savory, but had just the right amount of sweetness so it did not burden the tongue.
Everything made Kierans appetite grow.
However, his logic told him that he should not be focusing on the food.
After a regretful glance at the dishes, he turned his eyes to Carlos.
Simones had not moved his gaze from him ever since he'd seen him.
Carlos, however, did not seem bothered by their gazes. He didn't even look the least bit unsettled.
He picked up his spoon and poured a spoonful of oyster cream soup over the honey roasted ham. He mixed the soup with the juicy oil of the ham, and then took the butter knife and smeared some gravy over the club steak.
When he was done, he cut a piece of steak and started to eat.
"I really like the combination of the flavors. You guys should try it too," Carlos said as he chewed on the meat.
"What the hell are you here for? Stop acting like some kind of clown!" Simones said, clearly upset.
"Its sad that you cant enjoy the beauty of food. What about you, 2567?" Carlos turned his attention to Kieran.
"If I share a table with a person I dont like, no matter how delicious the food is, it will still feel like chewing wax if I force myself to eat it," Kieran said.
"Very well said! No wonder the tastes Ive always liked feel a little different today!"
Carlos put his knife and fork down on the plate.
The metal came in contact with the plate, producing a clear noise.
Carlos picked up the napkin that was under his plate and wiped his mouth.
His eyes were moving over Simones and Kieran like a hungry beast choosing his next target.
Despite the [Fear] notifications that kept popping up in his vision, Kieran passed the authentication. Nothing happened.
After a moment of silence, Carlos laughed.
"It was just a joke!" he said.
Kieran knew it was anything but a joke. There was no humor in Carlos' intense gaze. If Kieran or Simones fell under his [Fear] effect, nothing good would come out of it.
"Its a neutral group with its own rules in conducting business."
Kieran recalled what Nikorei had said about the group. He had never felt as doubtful in his whole life as he was feeling at that moment.
After all, Carlos looked like a man filled with ill intentions. He liked to play with others and this fake attitude of his did not make him seem like a man who followed any rules.
Maybe he was an exception?
"I think 2567 knows why I'm here. I hope to find out what happened to you and your partners on Alcatraz Island. Everything! I was also hoping that you could keep this between us. Of course Nikorei does not count."
Carlos made a polite gesture as he revealed his intentions.
Simones was staring at him angrily the whole time. After a glance at Kieran, Carlos men escorted him to the other room.
Simones didn't resist, neither did he give Kieran any further hints.
He knew perfectly well that only Nikorei herself could beat Carlos. Kieran knew this as well, so after Simones left, he was prepared to repeat the story he had told Nikorei.
Before he could continue, he suddenly stopped.
An eerie palm had tapped him on the shoulder.
The sheer coldness of the palm sent chills down Kierans spine, as if it wanted to freeze him.
Who the hell was that?