“Celine, what’s the meaning of this?!” James roared when he saw the mithril collar on William’s neck. “How dare you enslave my grandson?”
When James arrived at Celine’s house, the first thing he saw was William sweeping the porch with a resigned expression. For a man of his caliber, it was very easy for him to identify that the collar on William’s neck was a slave collar.
He barged inside the house carrying his grandson in his arms with a livid face as he called out to the master of the house.
“Celine, come out! If you don’t, I’ll tear your house into pieces!” James threatened.
“Hmp, I’d like to see you try to do anything to my house, Old Man,” Celine replied as she made her way down from the stairs.
James glared at the beautiful woman and pointed at William’s neck, “What’s the meaning of this? Young lady, if you don’t give me a proper explanation, I will have no choice but to punish you for bullying my grandson.”
“A proper explanation?” Celine smirked. “Very well, here is your proper explanation.”
Celine walked towards James and shoved a scroll in his face.
James grumpily took the scroll from Celine’s hand and read its contents.
“One dragon heart, three horns of the Great Unicorn, A spirit core of a Fighting Djinn, Six Scales of Kun Peng, One Tooth of Taotite…” James’ eyes widened as he continued to read the rest of the contents that were written on the scroll.
“These are ingredients?” James asked.
“Yes.” Celine answered. “Those are the ingredients that I lost while conducting my experiment. Do you know, Old Man? I was only a step away from succeeding when your grandson hawked, hawed, and begged me to save Lont?”
“Save Lont?” James frowned. “Did something happen while I was away?”
The corner of Celine’s lips curled up to a sneer. “Little Will, tell your grandpa about the incident that happened while he was off to gain some profits.”
William sighed because he was duty bound by the slave collar to speak the truth. He narrated the story to his grandpa and told him everything about the attack of the Black-Scaled Crocodiles during his absence.
James’ face went from red to green when he learned that Lont had almost been wiped off the map because of his negligence.
If not for Celine’s intervention, he and his comrades would have returned to a place of ruins.
“Old Man, if you can reimburse me with my losses, I’ll remove the collar from William’s neck,” Celine said with a sweet smile. “Cough up, and give me, the goods and we can all pretend that this thing never happened.”
James gave an awkward cough as he patted William’s shoulder.
“William, remember, a man must learn how to pay his debts.”
“Grandpa, why don’t you pay my debts in my stead.”
“Silly boy, how can you ask your grandpa to do hard labor? Don’t you know that I’m suffering from arthritis?!”
“B*llsh*t! I didn’t see you suffering from arthritis when you fought against the Wolf Tide! You were as hale and hearty as a teenager!”
“Ungrateful grandson!” James grabbed William’s clothes and lifted him up with a hand. “Have you forgotten that I was the one who fed you milk when you were still a baby?!”
“What load of crap are you spouting old man?!” William roared. “The one who gave me milk when I was a baby was Mama Ella!”
“You fool! The one who raised your Mama Ella was me! Since she’s the one who fed you milk, that is equivalent to me giving you milk! Ungrateful grandson!”
“Stupid old man, if you’ve got guts fight me for two hundred rounds!”
“You’re asking for it, boy!”
The stupid grandfather and grandson wrestled each other like two monkeys. Even Oliver, the Parrot Monkey, had to admit that the two were really related to each other.
Five minutes later, the two fools panted as they glared at each other. James then reluctantly tore away his gaze and looked at Celine.
“How many years will he be your slave?”
“Four years. Of course, if you can pay me ahead of time then I can free him anytime.”
“Just four years?” James questioned.
“Yes. Only four years.” Celine nodded.
James stood up and fixed his clothes. “Okay, we have a deal.”
“Excuse me?” William pounded his grandpa’s stomach. “How about my say in this matter?”
James grabbed William and took him outside the house to talk. When the old man deemed that no one would be able to hear their conversation, he gave William a serious gaze.
“Listen here, William. I understand that this may be hard for you right now, but bear with it,” James said with a serious expression. “Your Master, Celine had saved Lont. You might not realize it, but she had indeed suffered great losses when she went to battle the Golden-Scaled Crocodile and his minions.”
“Is it really that bad?” William asked.
“Look at this list.” James sighed as he gave the scroll to William. “Everything written here is a treasure. When we joined the Kingdom to fight against the Beast Horde, we managed to defeat the Flood Dragon. One of the materials on that list is Dragon’s Heart.
“Although we have the heart in our possession, it doesn’t belong to me alone. It was the reward that the group decided to give Trent for his help in slaying the Flood Dragon at a crucial time. Everything listed there is an SS-Class ingredient. It means that you have to hunt Centennial, Millennial, and Myriad Beasts to acquire them.”
William pouted as he looked at the scroll in his hand. There were over twenty five ingredients listed on the scroll. If what his grandpa told him was true then it meant that getting them all in a short period of time was impossible.
“Tell me, William, does Celine mistreat you?” James inquired. “Ever since you became her slave. Does she do things to you?”
“Grandpa, listen, Master tortures me everyday,” William whined.
He told him all the bad experiences he suffered under Celine’s hands. James listened to his complaints with a calm expression. His expression didn’t change even though William made the events more gruesome than they originally were.
“Is that so?” James said in an unperturbed manner. “Then, William, tell me, did you really not gain anything from those experiences?”
“T-That.” William wanted to say he didn’t gain anything, but if he really did it, he would be lying.
“That what?” James stared straight at the young boy’s eyes. “Did you really not gain anything?”
William lowered his gaze and sighed. “I did gain something. But, grandpa, it really hurts.”
“Have you heard of the saying, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” James smirked. “This is exactly what is happening to you right now. Although you are suffering, you are also getting stronger. In the end, isn’t it a good thing?”
Seeing that his grandson had finally calmed down, James chuckled and lifted him off the ground. He then placed him on his shoulders as he took him to a hill overlooking Lont.
“W-What is that?!” William gasped as he pointed at the Ourobro at the distance. “What a big monkey!”
“Ape, not monkey,” James corrected. “That is an Ourobro, one of the gains we acquired when we went to Windkeep Citadel to fight against the Beast Tide.”
“I want one too!” William said with sparkling eyes. “It looks so cool!”
“It does look cool.” James agreed.
It was at that moment when Ella arrived beside the two of them. She didn’t find William in Celine’s house, so she decided to follow their trail, which led her to a hill overlooking Lont. i𝓷𝚗𝓻𝒆𝓪𝒅. co𝘮
After admiring the coolness of the Golden Ape in the distance, James took William back to the Ainsworth Residence to have lunch. A feast was waiting for them when they arrived and William ate with gusto.
Mordred, Anna, Leah, Cedric, and Helen, were shocked when they saw the collar on William’s neck. All of them became angry, but James explained the situation properly. Although Mordred, Anna, and Helen were still unresigned, they decided to trust James and let the matter go.
However, that didn’t stop Anna and Hellen from spoiling William by piling heaps of meat on his plate.
After lunch ended, James decided to take William back to Celine’s house.
“Will, I know that this may sound cruel coming from me, but four years as Celine’s slave is a small price to pay for the lives of the people in Lont,” James said as he walked beside his grandson. “If she hadn’t stepped up to offer her assistance, many people would have died.”
“I know,” William replied. “Grandpa, there’s no need to say anything more. I understand. Although Master can get a bit crazy at times, she’s a good person.”
“That she is.” James nodded. “She’s someone who knows what suffering means. Her entire life has been filled with suffering. Even now, she’s still suffering. William, take good care of her. At least, here in Lont, I wish for her to suffer less.”
William really didn’t understand what James was trying to say, but he still nodded his head. “I will do my best, Grandpa.”
“Ah, I almost forgot about you, Ella. Be sure to look after William like you always do.”
William would be lying if he said that he didn’t resented Celine. How could he not? However, aside from the “training” his Master didn’t order him to do anything unreasonable. He could only sigh in his heart and tell himself that his enslavement will end after he turned fourteen.
Since that was the case, he would just focus on his training and increase his resistance against Dark Magic. Oliver would often give him snarky remarks that a Dark Mage who was affected by curses from the same field had no right to call themselves Dark Mages.
After giving it some thought, William felt that he had a point. If he could be immune to curses, it could be used as a trump card in the future when he fought against Dark Mages of the same rank.
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