While Hao Ren was having his meal, Anna sat next to him and suddenly uttered something. The girl's bizarre eyes and pale face looked even weirder coupled with her mental illness. The words she uttered became even more ghostly and terrifying as a result. However, recent experiences had given Hao Ren nerves of steel. He was just puzzled. "What?" he asked.
"Tannagost... High-energy polymerized form... You cannot kill that thing..." Anna's eyes were slightly unsettled, but Igor stopped her quickly. "Anna, mind your table manners. Don't frighten the guests with your screwed up memories."
"Wait a second." Hao Ren hurriedly waved his hand at Igor. "I'm very interested in what Anna just saidwhat is this Tannagost that she's mentioned?"
Igor forced a stiff smile and said, "It's the whisper of the evil spirit. Master, you don't need to care about these crazy things. In her sleep, the evil spirit under the castle has been whispering knowledge from the evil abyss. These things have mixed up with Anna's memories, preventing her from distinguishing the boundary between reality and illusion. It's better that she mentions these things less, or else sooner or later, she'll end up like our family members of the past, completely possessed by the evil spirit."
"Is the vengeful spirit the one who tells her these things?" Hao Ren showed an expression of great interest while trying to appear like an expert. "I think this information is very useful. Maybe we can infer the source of the evil spirit's power from this information."
Igor spread out his hand and said, "Master, you can try, but I guarantee that you won't get any useful information, because my daughter's memory is screwed up. The evil spirit will never allow its secrets to be made known."
Hao Ren turned to Anna and asked, "What is Tannagost? What is a Tannaean? Are these names of the evil spirit?"
Anna lifted her unkept curly hair in front of her face, revealing her cloudy, brown eyes. "They slipped into this world from the other end of the crack. The invisible power exceeds your knowledge. You won't be able to kill that thing... unless we repay the treasure we stole 300 years ago..."
Igor suddenly raised his voice, "Anna, your memory is playing tricks on you again. Eat well, then return to your room."
Anna dropped her knife and fork, the she left the room like a wandering soul. Lily watched as the girl staggered away. She could not help but look at Igor. "You have to tell us the truth. We are experts. What did Anna mean by the stolen treasure?"
Igor sighed and said, "This is what the evil spirit tells her, but I think the evil spirit has amplified these negative messages and made her feel that her family is built upon sinful activities. But in truth, all of our businesses have been legitimate. Since our ancestors received their first pot of gold from an adventure 300 years ago, the Andrea Family has followed a strict house rule and used the family fortune diligently. The money wasn't acquired by deception."
"Does it have anything to do with the witch? You mentioned an adventurer 300 years ago," Hao Ren asked casually.
He knew that the portrait of the witch was hung in the castle, and the record about the witch was also in a manuscript in the library. This mystery may be a topic worthy of reverence for the Andrea Family, but it was by no means a confidential oneat least, it was not to the extent where it could not be mentioned, otherwise the portrait would not have been hung there.
Igor nodded slowly and said, "Yes, it's about the witch. If I hadn't lived in this castle and experienced everything in this family, I wouldn't have believed that it was a witch who gave the Andrea Family everything they have now. My ancestor met and helped the witch, so the witch gave him a gift, which included a magical stone and also an ancient spell. The stone would bring him treasure, and the spell would bring in an evil spirit. It was like a deal."
Vivian could not help but mutter, "This story is lame... But, it sounds rather familiar."
Hao Ren laughed wryly. He looked up at Igor and was about to further pursue matters regarding the witch when a strange voice suddenly came from below. It was like a purr, but it was abnormally deep and loud, knocking on people's hearts. There was apparently a huge cave system beneath the castle, and violent winds were creating a resonance inside the caves.
When Igor heard the voice, his expression took a sudden change. "It's the evil spirit! It's active again!"
Nangong Sanba pushed away the plate in front of him and drew out the silver crossbow from his waist. "Take us to the crypt .While we're on the way down, you can brief my friends about the witch and summoned evil spirit."
Like all century-old castles, the building had a huge underground structure, and in order to suppress some dark creature, the underground structure of the castle was extremely large, just like an underground palace. Igor led Hao Ren and the others to a small chapel behind the castle. The entrance to the underground area was in the chapel.
Several servants under Igor's command pushed away the podium, revealing a staircase passage under the thick, red wood plank. The entrance was wider than expected and dim lights were visible below. A wave of strange breathing sounds could be heard from below.
Nangong Sanba looked at the stairs and smiled. "I just went down here the other day."
Igor was more courageous than he looked, probably the result of having spent most of his life in various haunted castles. He had become familiar with the weird things deep underground. Or, it may be because of the trust he had in these "experts". He did not let his shivering servants lead the way, instead he walked in front of them with a flourescent lamp in hand. "I'll take you guys down there."
They went all the way down. Hao Ren initially thought that he would see outdated fireboxes and candlesticks on both sides of the tunnel like in the movies. However, after he went down in the tunnel, he discovered that the walls were inlaid with electric wall lamps. Apparently, ancient forts and evil spirits had also advanced with the times.
It was clear that the owner of the castle only made very limited modifications to the underground chambers. In addition to the wall lamps on both sides as well as some electric ventilation fans and air ducts, traces of its old age could still be seen everywhere under the stairs. Rough rock walls, steep stone staircases, and stucco ceilings that were heavily mottled and had peeled off made people feel as though they were venturing into hell.
Lily found the atmosphere rather boring and decided to say something, "Were your ancestors the one who summoned this evil spirit?"
Igor's deep, weak voice reverberated between the walls. "...Greed is a sin. The earliest records are blurry, but it was about the time when my ancestor discovered the 'Stone of the Witch', which could bring him great wealth. He became even more greedy. He thought that since they were all gifts left behind by the witch, the stone and the spell together would be equally important as well as effective. Although the witch had warned him not to touch the incantation, he still proceeded with the summoning ritual..."
Walking down the stone steps, the road ahead gradually became more level and eventually they embarked on a long underground corridor.
"...The summoning ritual opened a crack leading to the abyss. A strong spirit escaped from it and it is the evil spirit that has bothered the Andrea Family for 300 years."
Both sides of the underground corridor were also inlaid with slightly less bright wall lamps. Under the dim lights, they could see the portraits of the Andrea Family ancestors, hanging on both sides of the wall. This family seemed to love hanging their portraits on the wall. It was not known if it was an ancestral legacy or something else.
"We have been cursed for violating the witch's warning. The Andrea Family cannot leave this cursed fortress for more than seven days. Those who tried to escape eventually died on the eighth day. We have great wealth, but it doesn't allow us to leave this land of ice and snow. The evil spirit murmurs under the fortress all night. I still remember the countless sleepless nights before my eighteenth birthday. Nightmares still bothered me until not long ago. The evil spirit allowed me to see the horrors from another world and told me that the demise of all human beings is the real end..."
As expected, at the end of the rows of portraits was the image of the witch, whose face was covered with a black veil, so that people could not see her true face.
"Why does the witch want to block her face?" Hao Ren asked.
Igor paused for a moment before slowly answering, "This was a modification made by my second great grandfather. Before that, the witch did not wear a veil. That was until one day, a legitimate heir saw the witch's face. He went crazy and leaped down from the top of the castle the next day. From that day onwards, all portraits of the witch in the castle were covered with veils."
"Because you have violated the witch's warning, you're afraid that she and the evil spirit will come for you," said Nangong Wuyue as she looked at the creepy portraits in the crypt. "What you say is truly the historical truth?"
"At least, that's all I know." Igor pointed at an iron door next to the portrait of the witch. "That thing is behind the door. I'm sorry, I must leave now."
Then, Igor's slightly bloated figure disappeared at the end of the ramp. Hao Ren turned to look at the iron gate in the crypt.
A cold, white mist was slowly gathering on the iron door.