"You guessed correctly. He's the werewolf you brought." Qin Lun indifferently said, "After he died, his body slowly returned to human form. I believe he was originally a human."
"Perhaps he was a half-human that my family had caught…" Tony said doubtfully.
"Perhaps." Qin Lun turned his head and looked at Tony profoundly.
"Doctor Stein, are you insinuating that my Albert Family… created a half-human?" Qin Lun's indifferent gaze made Tony red in the face. He glared at the doctor in anger.
"Rest well." Qin Lun smiled, then moved out of sight. "Your injury is heavy. The witch's acid missile contained a dangerous undying poison. I fear you'll need an exorcist to purify you with holy light."
Tony heavily layed down on the wooden cart, remaining silent.
The violent pain from his face made the blond young man somewhat absent minded. He reached up to undo the bandages on his face and lightly caressed the bumpy, uneven wound. The touch of his fingers made his face faintly twitch.
"There will be no more of that handsome and charming Tony Albert, huh," Tony mocked himself.
"Bam!" The carriage suddenly jolted. The piled up corpses beside him fell over. Their faces happened to turn over and face Tony.
Tony felt like the two deep and bloody holes where Otto's eyes should be were trying to tell him something. Little Will's two eyes reflected a strange light; the innocent and serene smile on his face was vivid, as if he would come alive.
An intense, suffocating feeling overcame him. Tony felt cold all over, unable to hold back the deep sorrow. He couldn't bear the grief in his heart. Reaching out a hand to close his comrades' eyes, he took a deep breath and turned Will and Otto's face away.
"Rest in peace, my friends. I will forever remember your sacrifice. I am the exorcist, Tony Albert. No matter what I have to face, I will uphold the Exorcist's Oath: to guard the human world and fight all evil to the end, until my last breath!"
A good while later, Tony's gloomy voice once again broke the silence.
"Doctor Stein, did the witch die? What did you discover in the witch's cabin?"
"You and the witch seriously injured each other. I gave her the final blow. She became a pile of ashes." Qin Lun's calm voice came from the front of the carriage. "The witch's cabin had many magic traps. I didn't touch any of the magic tools, but I managed to obtain some notes detailing why she was in this area."
"Notes? There are records about the plague?" Tony's eyes brightened, and he asked nervously.
"Yes. In fact, I already know the plague's true origins." Qin Lun muttered for a moment, then said, "Later at camp, I'll tell everyone."
Tony once again sank into silence. He no longer continued to ask about the cause of the plague. After half a day, from the back of the carriage came the sound of the blond young man's sigh. It sounded as if he was mumbling to himself.
"Doctor Stein, whatever the case, I am an exorcist first before being the Albert Family's heir. About the werewolf, I will ask my father for an explanation."
Hearing Tony's sigh, Qin Lun's lips faintly rose. His right hand moved, and Crime was once again hidden in his sleeve.
The risk this time came with immense rewards. First of all, it was his first time experimenting with battle mode. Even though the battle mode was very restrictive, in certain circumstances, it could still have a tremendous impact.
Second, Qin Lun obtained a crucial clue for the 'mystery.' It's possible that the rest of the quest would just fall into place. It just depended on how far he wanted to go.
The final harvest was that Qin Lun finally understood what he and his trump card could do against existences that exceeded humanity, such as the Maize witches and the exorcists.
If just comparing their bodies, then whether it was Qin Lun or Joey, neither of them could compare to witches or exorcists. Against a Maize witch who was hard to kill with one hit, even a sneak attack would not be successful.
However, putting aside his body, Qin Lun had another trump card, which was Joey's homicidal aura. All life forms, including the intelligent humans, whose animal instincts have severely degraded, had the innate instinct to sense malice.
In the instant when Qin Lun and Joey switch places, a threatening and savage aura will erupt from Joey, as if he treats all other lifeforms as ants.
This was the greatest gain from the battle against the witch.
Qin Lun immersed his mind in the Death Notice and sensed a few items in the storage space. He once more looked over the notifications he had received.
"Moonlight Herb: medicinal ingredient. Usage unknown, requires appraisal. Can be brought back to Shattered Starry Sky. Exchange Value: 50 Shattered Crystals."
"Magic Eye: equipment material. Usage unknown, requires appraisal. Can be brought back to Shattered Starry Sky. Exchange Value: 100 Shattered Crystals."
"Gold Silkworm Powder: medicinal ingredient. Usage unknown, requires appraisal. Can be brought back to Shattered Starry Sky. Exchange Value: 200 Shattered Crystals."
"Maize Crystal Ball: unknown item. Unable to appraise. Can be put into storage space. Unable to bring back to Shattered Starry Sky. Unable to exchange."
"Witch's Notes: mission related item. Appraisal not required. Can be put into storage space. Unable to bring back to Shattered Starry Sky."
"Notice: Apostle 70053, you've obtained unconfirmed intelligence from the witch's cabin. Due to the intelligence, the likelihood that the world storyline will be promoted to planet-level is increased to 78% and star-level to 42%."
"Notice: Intelligence obtained has uncovered the satellite-level storyline's 'mystery' - the truth about Steven Albert's death. Confirm the information or obtain Steven's true whereabouts to complete the mission."
"Notice: The current degree of world exploration is 0.007%. Awaiting for the apostle to provide follow up information."
Truth be told, there weren't as many magic traps in the witch's cabin as Qin Lun claimed. Due to time constraints, the Maize witch had only arranged a few simple traps at the doorway. After obtaining the witch's oral confession, he easily bypassed these few traps.
However, in the witch's cabin, besides the surveillance notes, there weren't many other valuable items. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that there weren't many items that could be taken back to Shattered Starry Sky. Qin Lun didn't have a use for the witch's magic tools, and only a few items had been acknowledged by his soul imprint.
Moonlight Herb was what the grass was called in Shattered Starry Sky. In this world, it was called magic herb. It had slender leaves, which seemed to emit a mysterious hazy light in the storage space. In total, there were 10 of them.
Magic Eye was a type of spell component for witches. It was refined with the eyes of wetland monitor lizards and was as big as a fist. The monitor lizard's reptilian pupil glimmered with light, as if it still retained the savagery and cunning that it had when alive.
The Golden Silkworm Powder was a powder made from the chrysalis of a certain type of silkworm. It was also a spellcasting component, but according to the soul imprint, it was a medicinal ingredient.
As for the Maize Crystal Ball, it was a witch's spellcasting tool used to divine and prophesize. It was also an important magic tool that could preserve souls. The Maize witches used it to store and transform human souls, mainly to manufacture half-humans.
After Qin Lun obtained the Maize Crystal Ball, he followed the witch's instructions and used it to absorb Frank's soul. The Maize Crystal Ball's originally sparkling and translucent sphere now had an extra cloud of mysterious substance inside. It would often flash with rays of gentle light and looked very much like a soul-like lifeform.
Before the witch obtained her freedom, Qin Lun was told that he must quickly find a substitute body for Frank, otherwise, the hunchbacked servant's soul would grow weaker as time passed, until it fades away.
This was the reason why half-humans did not have complete souls. One reason was because the witches deliberately removed the soul's memories and emotions, while another was because a half-human body did not suit a human soul, which led to the soul being torn apart during the transformation.
According to the witch's teachings, if Qin Lun wanted to perfectly resurrect Frank, he had to quickly find him a body similar to his original one. Otherwise, even if he resurrected, he would only be a walking corpse.
The witch obviously didn't tell this information to the doctor out of kindness. She wished he would make a mistake out of despair and fall to the dark side. However, Qin Lun had his own ideas on how to resurrect Frank. There was another method he wanted to try.
Besides the materials and the Maize Crystal Ball, the biggest reward related to the mission was the witch's notes. Thinking back on the information written in it, Qin Lun couldn't help but take it out of the storage space, flip open the leather cover, and sink into thought.
The witch's notes used this world's ancient form of writing. It recorded everything the Maize witches saw and heard in the region. With his soul imprint translating for him, Qin Lun could understand the ancient words from the witch era.
Witch Mesa was only dispatched here a few decades ago and was in charge of monitoring the Odia region, as well as patrolling this stretch of forest. At intervals, she would formally note down the area's situation and report back to the other witches.
Due to the 1000 year agreement between the Maize witches and the exorcists, the two sides almost never came in contact with each other. The information recorded in her notes were mostly trivial matters. Things like when the exorcists sent out small squads to investigate the area surrounding the Maize forest was considered valuable information compared to the rest.
However, among the things that the witch believed to be trivial information, there were two entries which left Qin Lun very shocked. One of them was related to Witch Mesa's predecessor, the witch who used to be in charge of patrolling the area before her.
That witch's name was Mary. Mary Claire. Claire, in the ancient Maize language, meant 'to sob'. If translated into the world's current language, it would become Nina.
Witch Mary had the same name as Steven's wife!
If Qin Lun had not seen the gravestone that night, he would never have noticed this information. Even if he noticed it, he would have just treated it as a coincidence. But now…
There was no coincidences under the wheels of fate, only the inevitable! Even an apostle like himself, upon entering the world, had seemingly become part of fate.
Qin Lun lifted his head, his gaze so deep it seemed to transcend the Maize Forest and land upon a summit in the Odia region, where Albert Castle resided.