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Inside a s.p.a.cious lounge, Andre, with a puzzled look, asked Han Shuo who came to him in the dead of the night, “What's the matter?”
Han Shuo casually threw Gu Li on the ground. By then, she was slowly waking, murmuring softly.
“I was on my way to the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy to ask about a few things, but on the way there, I stumbled across people from the pharmacy chasing and trying to kill her. I hear her repeatedly mumbling that the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy was testing poison on living beings, and something about organs. On top of that, I discovered that the poison in her body was the same as that in the deceased House of Kisa divine guard. I find the event very baffling and therefore brought her to you,” Han Shuo explained.
“What?!” Andre cried out in surprise, “You are saying that the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy is brazenly violating the law?”
“That's right. I'm not too sure about the specific details but Gu Li will soon wake. You can ask her.” Han Shuo first distanced himself from the matter lest that Andre felt that he was trying to frame the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy.
Andre suddenly got beside Gu Li and placed his big hand on Gu Li's skull. Two strands of dark smoke slowly came out from her nostrils and right away, she regained consciousness and cried out, “G.o.dswamp Pharmacy, poison, poison!”
Gu Li was startled at first and couldn't understand why she was in this place. When she then saw Han Shuo, she squealed, “You lied! No medical ingredient records contained the names of those ingredients you mentioned. Did you lie to me?”
“I'm Andre of the House of Sainte. What did you see in the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy?” Andre questioned her sternly. He had no time for the dispute between Han Shuo and Gu Li.
Gu Li was shocked and finally understood the situation. She yelled even louder, “Yes! This night I accidentally discovered that the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy was moving things. I saw them…" Gu Li explained what she saw succinctly. She then asked in a rather puzzled manner, “That person who chased me hit me with a poisonous arrow. How did I end up here?”
“Bryan saved you!” Andre replied impatiently and asked in a deep voice, “Are you telling the truth?”
“Why would I lie? I'm telling the truth! I saw them with my own eyes!” Gu Li a.s.serted.
“Very well. I did not expect that the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy would do such things right under our noses!” Andre paced back and forth in the room with a dark face before he said to Han Shuo, “Thank you, Bryan. I will get things clear right away. If it is true that the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy did those things, after tonight, G.o.dswamp will cease to exist in the City of Shadows!”
“Lord Andre, I can head there with you. It's possible that the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy has moved any possible evidence away. I'm good at locating things and could help you with that!” Before leaving, Han Shuo placed a few demon generals on top of several buildings nearby to keep an eye on their activities. Han Shuo knew exactly where they had moved those pieces of evidence.
“Well, they can't be that fast. Nevertheless, it won't hurt to have you tag along. Let's go!” Andre had heard from Carmelita that Han Shuo was good in this aspect and did not decline. He also didn't expect much out of a pharmacy. It appeared that he intended to head there as soon as possible.
“Oi, brat, you saved me? How did you save me? I remember being severely poisoned. How am I still alive?” Gu Li shouted.
Han Shuo replied arrogantly, “A poison as weak as that cannot stump me. Pff, how ironic that you call yourself a pharmacist when you can't even handle something as trivial as this!”
“I, I…" Han Shuo had walked out of the room before Gu Li could say a thing. Andrina followed behind him.
Immediately, Andre mobilized his army. It took him no time to a.s.semble approximately a hundred family clan divine guards, all of whom were midG.o.ds. Andre also contacted Erebus using a magical device, asking him to mobilize his troops at the Third Corps as well.
Han Shuo, Andre and the rest of the party rapidly rushed towards the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy and when they reached their destination, they discovered that Erebus was already there with nearly a hundred midG.o.ds. They had completely surrounded the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy.
“My Lords, what is the matter? Why are you surrounding our pharmacy in the middle of the night? Is there something wrong with the conference partic.i.p.ants?” Most of the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy's gatekeepers were not aware of G.o.dswamp Pharmacy's illegal dealings. They were scared witless.
In the City of Shadows, the House of Sainte was authority. It had been a long time since they last mobilized several hundred divine guards at once and it was clear that something major was happening. These doorkeepers dared not to obstruct the House of Sainte.
“No one may leave the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy without my orders. Kill all those who try to escape!” Andre, whose left eye had turned dark purple, instructed the few divine guards behind him in a cold voice. Then, without even giving the gatekeepers a look, Andre and Erebus stepped into the premise with their men. None of the gatekeepers dared obstruct them.
“Secure each and every building, block the pathways. Do not let a single person leave,” after entering the campus, Erebus, the Chief of the Third Corps, immediately instructed his divine guards to disperse and secure the area. They resembled ghostly shadows as they flew all around the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy.
Andre and Erebus, each leading a team of divine guards, headed for the biggest building in the campus. Han Shuo and Andrina followed them silently.
Steiss the dwarf rushed out from the building and stood in a fl.u.s.tered manner. Then, as though confused, he asked, “Lord Andre, Lord Erebus, what is going on? Why have your Lords.h.i.+ps come to our G.o.dswamp Pharmacy with so many men? Has our G.o.dswamp Pharmacy done something wrong?”
Steiss was indeed a convincing actor, so much so that even Han Shuo could not find a single flaw with it. He had displayed a look of panic and confusion on his face but did not reveal one bit of guilt. After sizing Steiss up with his cold eyes, Han Shuo immediately knew that this character was no simpleton.
“Your G.o.dswamp Pharmacy tried to murder Gu Li, a visiting pharmacist. Gu Li also claims that your pharmacy harvests divine organs and tests poisons on living people. This is a serious accusation and we are here to investigate the matter!” Erebus replied in a deep voice.
“We are being wronged!” Steiss screamed, “How could we do such a thing?! We have been faithfully abiding by the law during our many years of operations in the City of Shadows. How would we do such a despicable thing?! That Gu Li must be angry that we G.o.dswamp Pharmacy had declined to make troubles for Mister Bryan from the Celestial Pearl Pharmacy and is, therefore, trying slander us. Please investigate the matter thoroughly, my Lord!”
He is definitely not an easy person to take care of! Andre thought to himself. He observed that Steiss seemed to be prepared. The explanation he gave was very believable. He had even deliberately replied loudly as to wake up those pharmacists from various cities that had come to attend the conference. Having heard the clamor, they exited their rooms and came to watch puzzlingly.
These visiting pharmacists, just like Gu Li, came from various major cities in the Darkness Dominion. There were even a few who came from the Dominion of Death and Destruction.
All these pharmacists enjoyed outstanding status. If Andre was to arrest people without sufficient evidence, then the reputation of the City of Shadows would surely suffer. If the G.o.ds in other cities got the impression that the rulers of the City of Shadows were oppressive and did whatever they wanted, it would have an adverse effect on their trade relations with the City of Shadows and various aspects.
Although Steiss' shriek may have seemed innocent, this action had in fact put Andre, Erebus, and their party in a very bad position. If they could not locate the incriminating evidence inside the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy, not only would they not be able to do a thing to the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy, they might even be heavily criticized by various parties.
Andre and Erebus grew cautious. They inwardly remarked that this Steiss was indeed a cunning one.
“Don't worry. If it is proven that G.o.dswamp Pharmacy is innocent, we will punish Gu Li severely. However, this accusation is very serious and it is our duty to investigate it right away. Please cooperate with our effort!” Andre, as the second highest ranking member of the House of Sainte, was also a sharp-witted person. He pushed the responsibility onto Gu Li as though his actions were nothing inappropriate.
“As citizens of the City of Shadows, of course we would fully cooperate with your Lords.h.i.+ps' effort. Please, go ahead and search the premises. If anything unethical is found to be conducted within the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy, I, as the owner of the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy branch in the City of Shadows, shall cut my own throat on the spot as an apology for the offense!” Steiss declared most righteously. Those who didn't know better would surely think that Steiss was an innocent businessman.
Oh shoot, they must be done moving everything away! Andre and Erebus exchanged a glance. Their hearts sank. Both of them were cunning and sly characters. They knew that for Steiss had made such a bold pledge, their search in the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy would yield no result. They understood that they had miscalculated the power of the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy. They certainly did not antic.i.p.ate that they could have moved everything so quickly in such a short time.
“Search the place!” with things having come to this, Andre and Erebus had no other choice but to press on with the search.
As soon as Andre gave the command, multiple shadows flew out from the darkness. They traveled around each and every building in the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy like spirits.
“My Lord, I did not discover anything unusual!”
“… My Lord, everything is clear on my side!”
“… My Lord, I found no abnormal activity!”
The shadows returned to Erebus and Andre. All of them reported no findings.
Steiss suddenly kowtowed while wearing a wronged expression and said, “My Lords, our G.o.dswamp Pharmacy has always conducted strictly lawful business. We would never dare to do anything illegal, much less something as contemptible as Gu Li has accused! Please investigate the matter thoroughly, my Lords!” Upon finis.h.i.+ng those words, Steiss took off his s.p.a.ce rings and said loudly, “If your Lords.h.i.+ps are still not convinced, you may check our s.p.a.ce rings as well. If you discover a single inappropriate item, we workers of the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy will slit our throats in apology!”
Those divine organs needed to be kept in icy conditions while those poisons had to be kept in certain specific temperatures. It was not possible to maintain regions of different temperatures inside a s.p.a.ce ring and therefore, they surely would not store those things in their s.p.a.ce rings. Steiss only did that to further push the notion that he was innocent and had nothing to hide.
“How would the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy do those things? They have an outstanding reputation in the Darkness Dominion. The City of Shadows must have made a blunder and mobilized their forces recklessly! Ugh, I did not expect that the divine guards of the City of Shadows would be so impudent and treat innocent people so unjustly. Why would anyone sell medicines in the City of Shadows?”
“It was obvious that there would be nothing. What are they making a scene for?“
“The way I see it, that old woman must be trying to slander G.o.dswamp Pharmacy as revenge for not backing her after she was humiliated!”
These pharmacists from various major cities that were watching the story unfold gossiped with each other. These people had rather influential statuses in the cities they came from. Their negative comments could produce negative impacts on the City of Shadows.
Both Andre and Erebus were stumped and embarra.s.sed. They had greatly underestimated the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy and did not expect that they would have that much power to remove all the evidence in the short span of less than an hour. They were rather at a loss on how to proceed.
“Your Lords.h.i.+ps must have misunderstood. Gu Li harbors a grudge against us and therefore has spread such malicious lies to defame us. She has even deliberately misled your Lords.h.i.+ps. She must be severely punished for her crimes! My Lords, please uphold justice for us!” Steiss shouted as though he had been treated unjustly. But at the same time Steiss was sneering in his heart, Hehe, you really think that my G.o.dswamp Pharmacy is just a small shop?
“This…" Andre forced a smile. He no longer dared to look down upon this dwarf. He intended to find a way out of this embarra.s.sing situation and return to secretly and slowly investigate the matter.
Just as Andre and Erebus were prepared to disentangle themselves from the embarra.s.sing situation, Han Shuo, who had been silent all along, suddenly spoke. “Lord Andre, I sniffed out a very strange odor in the air. This odor contained a minuscule amount of poison. I believe that Gu Li has told the truth. If Lord Andre trusts me, let me continue your Lords.h.i.+p's search by following the scent. I believe we can find something!”
“Impossible! What nonsense are you talking about! There is no scent of poison in the air. Otherwise, we would have smelled it as well! If we lot of pharmacists present did not detect it, how could you?” one of the pharmacists jumped out and shouted at Han Shuo.
“That's right. Youngster, don't talk nonsense during critical moments like this just for the sake of seeking fame!” yet another pharmacist shouted angrily.
Han Shuo's claim that he could sniff out the scent of poison in the air when none of the pharmacists present detected a thing was simply an insult to all those pharmacists as he was basically suggesting that he was better than all of them. Therefore, it was only natural that those pharmacists would feel disgruntled and immediately step forward to accuse Han Shuo of talking drivel.
And Han Shuo was, in fact, talking drivel!
Han Shuo knew where the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy had hidden the evidence using his demon generals. He claimed that there was scent in the air merely as an excuse for him to lead the search in the right direction.
“Alright, if you can find anything incriminating, I will honor my pledge I made just now and slit my throat on the spot!” Steiss obviously was unwilling to believe Han Shuo's claim. He rejoiced that Han Shuo would suddenly give him an opportunity to get rid of him but he kept his joy concealed. In a furious expression, he shouted, “But how do we know that you aren't trying to slander us? What are you going to do if you couldn't find a thing?”
“I will also slit my throat as an apology!” Han Shuo sneered and said decisively.
“Bryan?” Andre was a little shocked to hear those words from Han Shuo. He held a very favorable opinion towards Han Shuo and did not want anything bad to happen to him.
“Bryan, don't be so reckless!” Erebus too was concerned. He hinted at Han Shuo with his anxious eyes.
Promising to slit one's own throat as an apology isn't a pledge that can be made as a joke. With so many pharmacists present, with Andre and Erebus there to bear witness, if Han Shuo couldn't find the incriminating evidence, no one could change his fate.
Suddenly, Han Shuo felt his left hand being squeezed. When he lowered his head, he saw that Andrina was looking at him. She shook her head, indicating to Han Shuo that he should not act recklessly.
“Good. We G.o.dswamp Pharmacy have always done things by the law. We are not afraid of being slandered by you! Search as much as you like. We will all follow you along. If you can prove that the G.o.dswamp Pharmacy did those things, I will definitely not avoid responsibility!” Steiss said heroically and openly as though he had nothing to hide.
“This…" Andre started to hesitate after seeing the absolute confidence Steiss showed. He did not expect that the matter would have escalated to this stage and started to worry for Han Shuo.
But when he turned to look at Han Shuo with concerned gazes, he saw a smile filled with self-confidence on his face. Han Shuo even nodded his head very discreetly to indicate his certainty.
Andre, who was originally stuck in indecision, suddenly remembered that back in the medical room inside the Sainte Residence, Han Shuo had this almost-egotistical confidence on his face when he asked everyone to leave the room and let him rescue Carmelita.
Perhaps having recalled the fact that Carmelita was now safe and sound, Andre seemingly inexplicably chose to trust Han Shuo. Under the observation of the crowd, he nodded his head and said in a deep voice, “Alright then, show us the way, Bryan. If we find that you are actually babbling nonsense, I won't let you off easily!”
It was obvious that Andre was protective of Han Shuo from the fact that he did not mention anything about slitting throats.
Steiss laughed grimly in his mind. He could see that Andre was protecting Han Shuo. However, with Han Shuo having made this pledge before such a large crowd, if it was later proved that Han Shuo was wrong, Steiss believed that even if Andre didn't take his life, he would be too ashamed to continue living.
Steiss' mind was filled with excitement when he thought that this great rival called the Celestial Pearl Pharmacy would be eliminated after that night. Fantastic! After the event, I just need to provide a little encouragement and these pharmacists will spread rumors that the House of Sainte is unreasonable and oppressive. This is in line with master's ambition to weaken and destroy the House of Sainte. Master will surely be overjoyed!
“Everybody come with me!” shouted Han Shuo. Your G.o.dswamp Pharmacy is so dead! After tonight, not only will your G.o.dswamp Pharmacy be expelled from the City of Shadows, everyone will know that I'm a better pharmacist than everyone present!
And so, the large and majestic party began falling Han Shuo, taking them on a path that would lead to the doom of certain people.