1st Black Street.
Schmidt, Simones and Charles were sitting opposite Kieran, Elli, Raul and Cidney.
Everyone was focused on Kierans calm expression. The atmosphere felt heavy.
Schmidt couldn't remain silent anymore.
"Didnt you notice the danger before you, 2567? Or do you have any secret plans about it? The outsider is gone. Can you tell us now?" Schmidt said, firing questions nonstop.
"Yes, I noticed, but I have no plans about it."
Kieran didnt object to the use of the word "outsider". Compared to everyone present, Rosland was indeed nothing more than an outsider.
"What do you mean you have no plans about it?" Schmidt asked in confusion.
"Would you turn down such an invitation, Simones?" Kieran asked the man without answering.
"Of course not! I might not be of much use there, but I am no coward! Besides, if I dont go, I will be shaming our traditions!" Simones said in an affirmative tone.
"Oh my God! Simones, please tell me you are joking! How is this a tradition? This is just stubbornness! Stubbornness that will lead to death!" Schmidt said loudly, covering his own forehead.
"This is the last tradition remaining on the West Coast. One should not fear an invitation from the East Coast, regardless of whether it is safe or not to go. This is the only tradition left on the West Coast ever since Rei became the God of Earth..." Simones emphasized in a calm tone.
No one seemed surprised by his words. Charles even nodded with a smile. Kieran was no exception either.
He had been unfamiliar with that tradition at first, but when Simones had seen the invitation, his serious expression had made him guess as much.
As far as he knew, the Shepherds never did anything without a reason. Simones words only confirmed his theory.
"Damnit!" Schmidt cursed, rubbing his temples with a frown. He knew Simones wouldnt change his mind, considering how calm he seemed to be about it. Everyone else shared the same opinion with the potionologist, Schmidt stopped wasting his energy trying to persuade them.
Kierans eager look was a sign that he had been anticipating that invitation. Although he tried to hide it, Schmidt could tell.
"What should we do then?"
They couldnt turn down the invitation under the circumstances, so all they could do was prepare for the worst. Schmidt was not about to back off. He had received an invitation himself, but even if he hadnt, his temper would have made him tag along with everyone else.
"Get some rest, get ready and lets wait for December 1st..."
"I hope I can get some nice food! Ive been eating fast food and canned food for almost two weeks now! I dont hate the taste of it, but if I could have something else, Id be grateful!" Kieran said before standing up and going to the kitchen.
Elli followed after a moment.
"Young people these days!" Simones and Charles exclaimed together.
Raul and Cidney exchanged a look and smiled, implying that they agreed.
Schmidt was the only one standing there blankly.
"We are discussing life and death here! How can you guys act like this?" the Chief Officer protested helplessly in a loud voice.
A few days passed, but nothing changed.
Kieran, Elli, Simones, Charles, Raul and Cidney were not anxious. Everyone carried on as usual.
Schmidt, on the other hand, was getting more anxious every day. In the end, Simones couldnt stand it anymore and pushed him out of the house.
"Arent you supposed to be looking for that black market dealer? Now is the time!"
Simones words lingered in Schmidts ears as he stood outside the door.
Shaking his head, he mocked himself with a smile. "Fine, fine! I have failed as a mystic anyway!" he muttered, leaving the house in dissatisfaction. He could tell that everyone seemed to be relying on something, which was why they remained calm. The more they behaved like that though, the more anxious he got.
He had no aces up his sleeves anymore.
"Damn it! Do I really need to order a rocket launcher from that bastard? Even if I had one, it wouldnt improve my chances against those monsters!"
Schmidt headed towards the black market with that thought in mind.
His confidence was slipping away, when he suddenly saw a figure appear in front of him.
"Whos there?" Schmidt asked vigilantly, his hand reaching for his gun.
"I mean you no harm, I am just a messenger. Please forgive me... I was unable to deliver this message directly to the Bird of Death. It is too dangerous for me there..."
The figure waved his hand and a white envelope flew into the pocket of Schmidts coat.
Before Schmidt could express his amazement, the figure had already disappeared.
"A letter for 2567?"
Schmidt took out the blank envelope. He had no idea what the figure wanted, but he knew that he needed to pass that letter on to Kieran.
However, after taking a couple of steps, he was stopped again. The person who appeared before him this time made Schmidts jaw drop.
"Long time no see, Schmidt!" he greeted him.
The days flew past like a bird.
A heavy snowfall surprised everyone on the day of December 1st.
The snow kept falling from dawn till dusk, not sparing the sunlight.
The gray clouds were dense and the atmosphere felt chilly. As darkness covered the sky, nature made everyone hold their breath.
The accumulated snow on the ground was an obstacle for the few pedestrians on the streets.
By 6 oclock in the evening, the streets were almost deserted.
A few more people lingered around, but they were all in a hurry. None of them had any intention of staying out in that mercilessly cold and snowy street.
Suddenly, a bell rang on the street.
The pleasant chime caught everyones attention. The pedestrians watched in shock as two four-wheeled wagons being pulled by four horses each dashed through the gray streets.
Even the thick snow on the streets could not slow them down.
Their speed and steady driving impressed the pedestrians, who admired the wagoners skilled control. The ones with the sharpest eyes could tell that those were no common horses or wagons.
They couldnt tell in what aspect they were different, but they knew they were.
The wagons rode under the pedestrians gazes, disappearing at the end of the street. They were heading towards 1st Black Street.
The two wagoners parked their wagons neatly in front of the house.
Then they jumped down, rang the doorbell and stood to the side with bowed heads.
After about two minutes, the big door of the house opened.