Within the dark, quiet residence, there was only Reynolds, Yale, George, a few dozen female attendants, and a few dozen guards. All of them were here for Linley.
Beneath branches of hanging grapes, George, Yale, and Reynolds were standing around a stone desk.
“Boss Yale. What do you think is going on with Third Bro?” Reynolds face was filled with confusion as he said helplessly.
Yale shook his head. “I don’t know either. It’s been ten days since Third Bro has come here, and in these past ten days, Third Bro hasn’t had any of his usual energy. He isn’t even training, nor does he joke around and laugh with us anymore. He’s always off by himself.”
George nodded as well. “In the past, no matter what happened, Third Bro wouldn’t stop his training. But now he seems to have transformed into a totally different person.”
“So who can tell me what exactly is going on with Third Bro?” Reynolds gnashed his teeth. “It would be great if I knew.” Yale sighed resignedly.
The thing which hurt their heads the most was that they had no idea what had caused Linley to become like this. He no longer trained, nor did he joke around with the three of them. He was always off by himself, looking as though he had lost his soul.
He had become like this for no apparent reason whatsoever.
As the dear bros of Linley, how could they not be worried?
“Third Bro must have suffered some sort of tremendous shock.” Yale sighed quietly. George and Reynolds were all startled for a moment, then they fell silent. They couldn’t help but think back to what they had seen that day.
Thousands of observers surrounding a circular area where everything for hundreds of meters around had been reduced to rubble. Within that disaster area, those six astonishingly deep craters and fallen meteors.
Linley, in full Dragonform, had brutally massacred those six Special Executors, then sat down and began to cry. He had been sobbing like a child. “I’ve never seen Third Bro this heartbroken, this fragile.” Yale said in a low voice.
George nodded as well. “Third Bro is very tough. Even when he suffered heartbreak from breaking up with Alice, after completing the ‘Awakening From the Dream’ sculpture, he headed directly for the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts to engage in more training.”
“Right. Even when his father died, Third Bro had managed to endure and hold on. But this time…” Reynold simply couldn’t understand.
They were all certain that their beloved bro was in a fragile state right now, but none of them could find a reason why.
Next to a murmuring creek in the back courtyard of the residence, Linley was sitting on top of a decorative polished stone. He stared at the creek, not moving.
Bebe was standing on the stone as well, right next to Linley.
Utter silence. The only sound that could be heard was the murmurs of the flowing water.
Although Linley’s eyes were aimed at the creek, his thoughts were still with Grandpa Doehring and the time they had spent together.
How he had played around with Grandpa Doehring as a child.
How Grandpa Doehring had strictly supervised and trained him as a young man.
In the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, how Grandpa Doehring had lectured him time and time again to be careful without growing tired of it.
With each memory swimming to the surface, Linley felt his heart grow still.
“After my father died, I thought that I was now very lonely. But I didn’t realize that in reality, I was very fortunate. No matter what happened, Grandpa Doehring was always behind me, supporting me, consoling me, encouraging me, reminding me…”
“But why didn’t I realize this in the past? Why didn’t I treasure the time I had spent together with Grandpa Doehring?” Linley’s heart was filled with agony.
Grandpa Doehring had never made any excessive requests of him, but he had never considered about how Grandpa Doehring had felt. He hadn’t truly valued the time he had spent with Grandpa Doehring. Perhaps subconsciously, he had believed that Grandpa Doehring would forever be with him within the Coiling Dragon ring.
“Coiling Dragon ring? Grandpa Doehring was always inside the Coiling Dragon ring by himself. It must have been very painful and miserable for him to always be alone in there. Grandpa Doehring probably also hoped that I would chat with him often, right?” Only now did Linley think of these things.
In the past, Linley usually would only ask for Grandpa Doehring’s advice when he met with some insurmountable difficulties. He would very rarely actively seek out Grandpa Doehring just to chat.
He only took, without giving back.
“Why is it that only after I have lost, that I now understand how to cherish?” Linley’s body began to tremble. How he hoped that Grandpa Doehring would return and would be by his side again.
This was impossible.
Grandpa Doehring was dead. Dead and gone forever.
Linley could feel his heart clenching, as though it were contorting. His entire body was convulsing with pain. But there wasn’t a hint of pain on Linley’s face.
Deep in Linley’s heart, he even began to think…
If he could just die now from the pain, then he would have escaped from it all.
“Boss.” Bebe’s voice rang out in Linley’s head. Linley turned to look at Bebe. Bebe’s beady little black eyes were staring at Linley, a look of concern in them.
“You…you are thinking about that Grandpa Doehring again?” Even Bebe only learned after Doehring Cowart’s death that Linley previously had a ghost Saint-level Grand Magus by his side.
Bebe mentally spoke to Linley. “Boss, can you…can you tell me all about that Grandpa Doehring?”
Looking at Bebe, Linley nodded slightly, then reached out and held Bebe in his arms, hugging him. He began to tell Bebe all about Doehring Cowart. “That year, I was eight years old. There were two Saint-level combatants who had appeared at Wushan township….”
Standing outside the gate to the back courtyard, Reynolds and the others quietly watched as Linley hugged Bebe while seated on that smooth, polished decorative stone.
“I feel extremely miserable myself, seeing Third Bro like this.” Reynolds sighed softly.
Yale and George were both silent.
“We have to think of something.” George’s eyes suddenly sharpened, became fierce. “No matter what, we can’t let Third Bro just collapse like this.”
Yale and Reynolds both nodded.
“Second Bro, do you have any ideas?” Reynolds and Yale looked at George.
George said, “We have no idea what has caused Third Bro to become like this. But there are a few things that we can extrapolate.” George said gravely, “Third Bro’s clan was the Dragonblood Warrior clan. As a clan which once dominated the entire world, the members of the clan naturally wish to revive their clan to their former glory.”
Yale’s eyes lit up. “Right. Third Bro values his clan highly. For the sake of acquiring his ancestral heirloom, the warblade ‘Slaughterer’, he was even willing to auction off ‘Awakening From the Dream’.”
George nodded. “My theory is, the reason why Third Bro was always so hard on himself in training was because he had something important to him that was driving him. Most likely, restoring his clan to its former glory was that motivating impulse. Third Bro has worked hard for so many years now. He definitely wouldn’t give up that easily. We have to use this to agitate and encourage him.”
“Agitate him? Would that work?” Yale was a bit suspicious.
George said helplessly, “Do we have a better method of helping him?”
“We’ll use this method.” Reynolds harrumphed. “I can’t stand watching Third Bro continue to act like this any longer. Let’s go. The three of us will go talk with him. Let’s see what exactly is going on.”
“Fourth Bro, let Second Bro do the talking. The more you talk, the more you screw things up.” Yale reproved.
Knowing his own temperament, Reynolds nodded. George, Yale, and Reynolds looked at each other, then walked towards Linley.
After listening to Linley’s story, Bebe was quiet as well. He was also very heart-sick, heart-sick for Doehring Cowart’s death. Suddenly, Bebe felt people approaching them from behind. He leaped out of Linley’s arms and looked towards that direction.
It was Yale, George, and Reynolds.
But right now, having just finished the tale of Grandpa Doehring, Linley was lost in his memories once more, and didn’t even realize that people were approaching him.
Yale, George, and Reynolds glanced at each other, all sighing internally. Linley was an expert. Normally, Linley probably would’ve noticed the three of them before they had even entered the courtyard. But now, all three of them were right behind Linley, and yet Linley didn’t react at all.
“Third Bro.” Yale spoke.
Linley trembled, then slightly turned his head to look at the three of them. His eyes were very calm. “You guys came.” After speaking, Linley turned his head back towards the creek, continuing to stare at the water.
Yale, George, and Reynolds immediately walked to stand next to the boulder Linley was sitting on.
“Third Bro.” Yale suddenly grabbed Linley by his shoulders, forcing Linley to look at him. “Third Bro, do you remember those things which had happened at the Ernst Institute, and what you often said to me?”
“Forgot.” Linley said calmly.
Yale stared. “Forgot? Third Bro, you often put me down, saying that I don’t work hard or train hard, and that in our dorm, I would be the weakest out of us four, despite physically being the largest.”
Back when the four of them were dorm-mates, naturally they would often joke with each other.
But Linley remained silent.
George looked at Yale, nodding slightly. Yale released Linley’s shoulders, and then George walked in front of Linley, saying solemnly, “Third Bro, I want to ask you. You have trained so bitterly for all these years. What was it all for?”
He couldn’t help but think about how he had been focused on training, ever since he was young.
“For the clan.” Linley finally responded.
Next to him, a hint of delight appeared on the faces of Yale and Reynolds. George immediately said, “Then let me ask you this. As you are now, are you behaving responsibly towards your clan?”
Looking at George, Linley smiled bitterly. In a dreary, desolate voice, he said, “My father’s dead. My mother’s dead. Tell me. What’s the point of working hard on behalf of the clan?”
Linley rose to his feet, walking towards the back courtyard.
Yale, George, and Reynolds all stared at Linley’s back, then exchange stunned looks.
“Pointless. Everyone is dead. What’s the point of doing my best?” Linley said in a desolate, mournful voice before he disappeared past the door.
Linley had stayed within the residence for fifteen days. During these fifteen days, Yale and the others had tried everything they could think of, but no matter what they did, Linley remained as he had.
George, Reynolds, and Yale were seated together, drinking unhappily.
“What should we do? What exactly should we do? We can’t just watch as Third Bro drowns in this abyss of despair.” Reynolds angrily smashed the wine cup against the floor.
Yale and George both shook their heads as well.
These past few days, they had tried everything they could. They also asked Linley what had caused him to become like this, but Linley didn’t say a word, remaining silent.
What could they do?
“When I see how silent Third Bro is, I really worry about him. My heart hurts. Third Bro, alas…” Yale grabbed the bottle of wine and poured it directly into his mouth, drinking half of it at a swig.
They had grown up alongside Linley, and their love for each other was even greater than that between real brothers. How could they just watch as Linley collapsed like this?
Seated on a chair within his room, Linley stared at the Coiling Dragon ring on his hand. Linley could clearly recollect how Grandpa Doehring looked each time he came out of the ring.
But that scene would never, ever play out again.
On Linley’s other hand, he was wearing a second ring, an interspatial ring. After Clayde had died, the ring and its contents had become items without an owner. When he had been engaging in battle against the six Special Executors, the blood from Linley’s body had covered the ring long ago, and it naturally had become personalized and bound to him.
These past fifteen days, Linley hadn’t so much as glanced at this interspatial ring or its contents. His mind was elsewhere. Even when he didn’t actively dwell on it, his thoughts would always turn to scenes of him together with Grandpa Doehring. How Grandpa Doehring had looked when stroking his beard, or how he had looked when he was sternly instructing Linley. All sorts of memories, all of them so clear and vivid.
“Why. Why. Even Grandpa Doehring, the last person I had, was taken away?”
After having lost Grandpa Doehring, Linley had also lost his strongest source of support. He felt more fragile and more lonely than he ever had before. Linley tightly held Bebe in his arms. In that quiet little room, he continued to sit there, alone…