A husband, a wife and a son.
The three of them were dusty. The two adults were grateful to be alive and able to return to their home. The child was biting his finger, looking at the crumbled shop blankly; he didn't seem to understand his parents' expression.
As goods after goods were moved down from the wagon, the locked door was opened up again.
They had left for only a few days, so there was not much cleaning to be done, except for maybe the sweeping away of some dust. The place quickly became clean after the wife's cleaning.
The goods were arranged neatly by the husband, but they noticed that one of the tapestries was missing the piece of wood that held it down.
What a joke!
As the most valuable item of their house, neither the husband nor the wife would damage the tapestry with nails even though it was less than one-third of the size of a common window curtain.
"Go find a piece of wood. The neighbour Old Jemy has a lot. Since his house is in ruins anyway, it won't be too over the top for us to take one or two pieces of wood. At most, we can invite him to dinner when he comes back," said the wife.
The husband nodded and went out. He touched his kid's head as he walked past him, showing a warm smile.
"Wait here, call your mother if anything happens. I'll go grab two pieces of wood from next door," said the husband before going into the crumbled tailor shop.
The husband couldn't help but sigh when he saw the ruins.
"Hope Old Jemy doesn't have to see this."
The moment the words escaped his mouth, the husband noticed how inappropriate they were and changed them.
"No, no, it would be better for him to see this because at least it would mean that he is still alive and well."
He then walked into the ruins, hoping to find one or two pieces of useful wood.
Obviously, it wasn't an easy task.
The husband spent almost 20 minutes searching before he found two considerably intact pieces.
After shaking off the dust on them, the husband turned around, intending to go home.
But the moment he turned around, he noticed that his kid, who has been squatting down in front of his house, was missing. The husband was startled.
However, at the very next moment, he went back to his house as if nothing happened.
"Little Jimmy, Little Jimmy!" The husband called as he walked, but he didn't get a reply.
Not only did his child go quiet, even his wife wouldn't reply.
"What in the world are they doing?" The husband grunted and continued forward.
But when the husband was a meter away from the door, he suddenly threw the two pieces of wood away.
Two air-breaking sounds came through the door like hurled javelins.
The husband reacted by holding his torso still, then tiptoeing and pus.h.i.+ng himself backwards like an arrow let loose.
But right away, he was blasted back against the door faster than he could retreat.
The husband crashed through his house door. He quivered as he tried to crawl away.
The pain that struck his heart spread throughout his body after suffering a sudden kick to the back.
With only a single kick, the husband knew that the one who attacked him wasn't just fast, the attacker was also familiar with the human structures as well, knowing where to hit a person to inflict the most pain.
Then, when the husband tried to get up with clenched teeth, ready to risk his life in a fight, he finally saw what happened in the house.
A young la.s.s was sitting on the chair, his wife and son unconscious beneath her.
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The husband cried in shock when he saw that signature blonde hair and sapphire blue eyes.
Of course, Mary wasn't the reason that he panicked, it was because he knew that wherever Mary went, there was another person who followed her.
From the corner of his eye, he caught sight of the black figure behind him. The husband's body trembled uncontrollably. Many times he tried to bite the poison in his teeth but failed each time.
He wasn't scared or afraid of death, but the husband remembered how the Devil was able to control dead bodies and manipulate souls.
It was a well-known fact!
The husband had even witnessed it for himself on more than one occasion, thus he was horrified.
Even death couldn't break free from the Devil's grasp, how unfortunate and despairing that was.
When the despondency spread through his mind, how could he not tremble?
"What do you want?" the husband shouted.
Kieran responded to him with a hand chop to his neck.
A clean strike. The husband then fell unconscious on the ground.
There was no need for questions, or really, there was no time for them.
Mary was confused, watching as Kieran tied the three captives up, but she didn't say anything. She knew Kieran must have his reasons.
Following Kieran, Mary returned to the palace with the additional captives.
When they arrived at the palace, Mary saw Maxim and Celty at the entrance along with a group of men.
There weren't many, at least a lot fewer than in the previous war. There were only about ten people in the group.
"My lord. These are the men that I was able to gather," Maxim said in trepidation as he walked over to Kieran.
If given a choice, Maxim would rather not face Kieran directly even though he knew it wasn't a test from Kieran when he asked him to gather his men.
Before he left the palace for the task, he was confident.
Those of different branches were impossible for Maxim to gather, but he was convinced that he would be able to a.s.semble the members that were under his own command.
However, reality slapped him hard.
When he sent out the a.s.semblage signal, other than the ten men that were now with him, the others either made no reply or rejected directly.
Some even told Maxim they would rather follow other leaders.
The outcome was completely unacceptable to him, but the harshness of reality forced him to swallow the bitter results.
He knew what had led to the results in this situation, but because of that, it hurt him even more.
He didn't have the decisiveness of a leader.
Acknowledging his mistakes, Maxim looked down in misery, as he dared not look at Kieran's countenance.
Any contempt or mockery to him at this moment was lethal.
"Nicely done," said Kieran.
Maxim was confounded.
He lifted his head up, disbelief written all over his face. He looked at Kieran in the hopes of noticing something, but Kieran's ever solid expression forbade Maxim from deciphering the situation.
"My lord, you don't have to comfort me." Maxim shook his head with a bitter laugh.
"I am not. At least there are ten here, a lot better than I imagined—I was expecting a single-digit amount or even none. Gathering ten men means you are much kinder than I thought," said Kieran before moving into the palace.
He had more important things to deal with, hence no more chit-chatting with Maxim. Speaking to Maxim in that instant was because Maxim really brought a number that astonished him.
Looking at Kieran's back, Maxim opened his mouth, trying to say something, but the words became grat.i.tude when they reached his mouth.
"Thank you, my lord."
Maxim waved his hand. His friend and loyal men followed Kieran into the palace.
The day slowly turned dark.
Many shady figures were approaching Warren Palace using the darkness and shadows.
The one who led the group laughed in disdain when he saw the tight security in the palace.
"A frog at the bottom of the well! You will never know what kind of people you've crossed!"
Before his cold laugh ended, his head flew up high in the sky.