Chapter 42:

Volume 2, Interlude B: Third Party Interference

Heroes of the Past

“A third party, unrelated to our matters, has appeared,” Ace said, standing on a rooftop.Bookmark here

A nearby crow landed, hopping towards the woman. It gave out a loud caw and ascended upward, dropping something from its claws before disappearing from her sight. She knelt downward, picking up a piece of string.Bookmark here

“It’s from a masquerade mask. Why don’t you just be direct for once?” Ace questioned, pocketing the item.Bookmark here

The woman turned around, heading toward the rooftop door. Going through it, she arrived in a living room. Glass frames, nothing within them, hung on the walls. She took a seat on the couch, pouring herself a cup of tea.Bookmark here

“Yes, what is it?” Ace inquired.Bookmark here

A hulking man, feline features evident in his face, took a seat opposite of Ace. He unzipped his large bag, pulling out a scarred mask, handing it to her. She flipped it over, running her finger across the numerous gashes.Bookmark here

“I assume you’re the responsible party for these scratches,” Ace stated, returning the mask back to the man.Bookmark here

“Yes, the fight was quite tough. Unfortunately, they escaped before I could see their face,” he answered, leaning forward in his seat.Bookmark here

Ace pulled out the string from before, placing it on the coffee table. The man lifted it upward and then inspected the mask. He tore off the loose mask string, comparing the two. Ace shrugged when he gave her a critical look.Bookmark here

“What’s this? You’ve already encountered these people before,” he exclaimed.Bookmark here

“Not personally, I have some knowledge that a business partner of mine informed me of. It’s not shocking that they escaped. You did well to even inflict this much damage,” Ace explained.Bookmark here

The man gave a low growl, depositing the mask back into his bag. He then pulled out a laminated card, sliding it onto the table. Ace examined it, checking the contents.Bookmark here

“An invitation left behind specifically for me?” Ace questioned.Bookmark here

“You deny having no connections, but this seems to contradict that. More concerning is how they were aware that I knew you,” the man answered.Bookmark here

“That is a matter I will investigate myself. Regardless, this confirms my suspicions. I’ll handle it, you don’t need to worry about it. Have you gone to the place I requested?” Ace brought up.Bookmark here

“Yes, the preparations have been made. I will escort you there when you wish,” her companion answered.Bookmark here

“Excellent,” Ace said, sipping her tea.Bookmark here

The man departed, leaving her alone in the room. Ace grabbed a gold-plated case from underneath the table, slipping the card inside. She stared at one of the empty frames and a hazy image of a masquerade ball appeared. Once the image became clearer, the glass frame shattered, pieces of it lining the ground.Bookmark here

“So that’s how it is. Another thing to explain, great,” Ace muttered, stomping on the glass shards.Bookmark here

The glass shards and the frame it originated from vanished. The woman noted the number of remaining frames and exited as well.Bookmark here

“Don’t you think this would suit her?” a woman questioned.Bookmark here

She pointed at a specific one from a large wall adorned with masks. Her assistant nodded, checking it off from a list. The woman spun around, a large grin on her face.Bookmark here

“How is your wound, my lady?” he asked.Bookmark here

“It’s nothing but a scratch. A little dip in the bath will fix everything,” she replied.Bookmark here

“That is excellent. I do suggest that you bring along a more suitable weapon. A parasol simply will not do against such an opponent,” he advised.Bookmark here

“You worry too much. I’ve seen talented people use it a bunch of times. Well, maybe except for one,” she dismissed his worries.Bookmark here

“Whatever suits you. I am merely offering sound advice. As you are aware, your father and mother have assigned me to protect you. I shudder to think of what would happen if you sustained any serious injuries,” he explained.Bookmark here

She pulled a mask off from the wall, testing it out. Her caretaker watched in silence, turning to the next page of the list.Bookmark here

“That’s enough for today. I have to get back now. As always, your help is appreciated. Please send an analysis of my fight over as soon as possible. He was tough, but my main goal exceeds his strength. Oh, that reminds me, give me a list of potential candidates too,” she ordered.Bookmark here

“It shall be done. Take care in the real world,” he said.Bookmark here

“Please, I always do,” she scoffed.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Tess called Zhuyu over, requesting he obtain a folder for her from the cabinet. He located it immediately, familiar with her organization of them. She opened it up, revealing five loose photos inside.Bookmark here

“You really think she’s involved?” Zhuyu inquired.Bookmark here

“Possibly, but I lack evidence. Maybe I am incorrect, jumping to conclusions. Still, preparation is key in these situations,” Tess answered.Bookmark here

“Hmm, well, you have any theories on why she might be involved?” Zhuyu questioned.Bookmark here

“At the moment, no. The Traveler, Ace, and now her. There must exist a common thread binding them all together,” Tess conjectured.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I’ll leave that to you, Tess. I’ve never been great at piecing together things like that,” Zhuyu said.Bookmark here

“You contain the capacity to do so. If you dedicated yourself, it’s possible to even match me. Thank you for your assistance, Long. Your availability Is always appreciated,” Tess believed.Bookmark here

“Man, you give me way too much credit, Tess. I’m struggling just like everyone else. Besides, I do like talking with you about different things,” Zhuyu revealed.Bookmark here

“I am glad you think so highly of our talks. Go back before Feng forces you through punishment training,” Tess suggested.Bookmark here

Zhuyu gave a wave, leaving the records room. Tess sat down in a chair, staring up at the ceiling, various thoughts crossing her mind. Ace and the Traveler, now this new development. She gave a small sigh, scooting her chair over to the file cabinet. Time for more research as always.Bookmark here

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