The Amber Sword - Two Letters (15)

“Amandina, go ahead and open it,” said Brendel while looking at the chest.

Amandina was startled for a moment. She looked at him and was somehow touched by his words. She then nodded gently.

She placed her hand on the cold iron chest, strongly suppressing the excitement in her heart. She chant the incantation softly in a low but clear voice, and the words spat out from her soft lips chunks by chunks. The lock on the chest slid open by itself as if it was lifted by an invisible hand and it fell to the ground with a clunk. She took a deep breath and opened the chest. There was a waterproof tarpaulin and underneath it was three parcels that were tightly tied up. The parcels were also wrapped in tarpaulins, and on top of the parcels was an envelope that was embossed with the same emblem that they’d seen earlier on.

She then opened the envelope and read the letter thoroughly. The content of the letter was similar to the one in the will - if someone had found this inheritance, it was to be hoped that they would split it into three parts. They would be able to get the most lucrative part of it, whereas the two remaining parts and some miscellaneous items would be distributed to Amandina and Sidey so that they at least had something to live on and it was a souvenir for them. There were also some words that were left for Amandina in the letter, saying that he hoped that she could be happy and forgive him for being such an irresponsible father. After reading the last sentence, she held onto the letter for a long time without saying anything. She hung her head as her thick eyelashes quivered like feathers.

Brendel and Freya looked at each other. Freya’s eyes were full of sympathy as she shared Amandina’s sorrow. Her heart turned soft as she thought about her own life experiences. 

A long time later, Amandina finally put the letter down. She acted as if nothing was the matter, but her face was terribly pale. “My lord, let’s open these parcels."

Brendel couldn’t bear to talk to her when he saw her like this. He just nodded and suddenly wondered if he’d made the right decision to come to this place. He thought that she’d already forgotten about her dark past, but he realized that her grief was buried very deeply in her heart. Amandina opened the largest parcel first and the golden light immediately shone on the faces of the three people. There were gold and silver ingots neatly arranged inside the parcel, as well as some jewellery and mortgage deeds. After a rough calculation, she estimated that the inheritance was worth at least 100,000 Taels, which was a large sum of money for a small noble family. But this fortune was reserved for the one who found the inheritance, so Amandina put it aside and opened the second parcel.

The second parcel contained similar items, but it only had half the amount of the previous one. It was left for her mother as there was an envelope with her mother’s name, Sidey, on it. Amandina didn’t open the envelope, she just looked at it for a long time and put it down gently afterwards. She then picked up the third parcel, which was the smallest parcel. It was only as big as a cosmetic case and it was for her.
She couldn’t breathe properly when she held the parcel that was for her. Though she eventually held her breath and opened it carefully. After unwrapping the tarpaulins, she found a delicate walnut box inside. She opened the box and saw a ring and a necklace. Her tears rolled down her cheeks the moment she saw the necklace.

Brendel and Freya also fell silent when they saw the necklace. The crystal pendant on the necklace was a beautiful Recording Crystal. When the box opened, the crystal emitted light and projected a man and a woman standing side by side. The man had black hair and the shape of his face was similar to Amandina’s. He smiled gently at Amandina and said, "Anna, if you ever open this box, I believe it means that I’ve already long been gone. My beloved daughter, I dare not ask for your forgiveness for being an irresponsible father, but you have to trust that your father had spent his whole life pursuing the most righteous thing in this world because I know that the person who gives and takes responsibility for this world can never be the sinner. Anna, I hope that one day you can see the truth in this world and not be blinded by falsehoods because you are so wise and having you as my daughter was the pride of my life."

"This ring is the token of my engagement to your mother. I kept it and left it here with your mother’s consent in hopes that it could one day become a witness to your happiness and your beloved other half."

"Anna,” A woman who was as gentle as Amandina smiled gently and said, “I hope you’ll be able to find your own happiness one day.”

“Liar...” Amandina burst into tears. It was as if all the feelings that she’d been suppressing finally burst out at this moment, like water gushing out from a broken dyke and like how the whimpers of a wounded beast turned into howls. Amandina was usually calm and quiet, so Brendel had never seen this side of her. Her shoulders shook as she sobbed, like a helpless child.

Brendel didn’t know how to comfort her. There were some feelings in this world that would always touch and hit the softest spot in one’s heart and family love was one of those feelings. No matter how tough and indifferent she looked, and it seemed as if she’d forgotten everything in the past, she still cried like a child in front of her parents. She didn’t just bite her lips and had tears welling up in her eyes, she wailed as loudly as a wild beast and completely lost her voice.

Freya also turned around and wiped the tears in her eyes.

A long time later.

Amandina finally calmed herself down and stopped crying. Her face was red and she tried not to look at Freya and Brendel as she was afraid that they might laugh at her. “My lord, I’ve checked thoroughly and it seems like Darius’ inheritance is not here.” As soon as she opened her mouth, her face flushed redder as her voice was so hoarse that it seemed like it was someone else talking.

Brendel looked at her and asked worriedly, "Is everything all right?”

Amandina nodded and sighed. Her mind was in such turmoil that she couldn’t tell for a moment if she was really all right. But after receiving her father’s gift for her, her hatred for her father who left without saying goodbye seemed to have dissipated slightly. She thought to herself that perhaps her mother had already known a long time ago where her father had gone when she grabbed her hand on her deathbed. They’d always known about it because her father would never lie to her mother, so they'd actually joined forces and lied to her together. She smiled and shook her head gently. Although there were still tears on her cheeks, she still looked cute with her smile.

Brendel heaved a sigh of relief. He then looked at Freya, the kind-hearted girl from Bucce, who also looked relieved.

Darius’ inheritance wasn’t in the box, contrary to what was written in the letter, which was both expected and unexpected by Brendel. After thinking for a moment, he said, “Amandina, your father couldn’t guarantee that you’ll be the one who finds his inheritance and he also couldn’t guarantee that the person who found it would keep their promise and split the inheritance with you and your mother, so he wouldn’t put something so important in there."

Amandina nodded.

Freya asked confusedly, "But he'd written it clearly in his letter… It’s a personal letter, so he didn’t have to lie, right?” She then suddenly realized something. “I get it. He didn’t have to put Darius’ inheritance in his, but he could leave a clue in there."

Brendel looked at her in surprise. “You’ve suddenly become smarter."

Freya grimaced and glared at him.

"If my father has left a message for me in his inheritance, I think it can only be in my parcel," Amandina thought for a moment and replied.

"But isn't there a possibility that it could be in your mother’s parcel?” asked Freya.

Amandina shooked her head. “My father expected that there would be some greedy people, so my mother’s parcel is just full of money and assets. Whereas most of mine are miscellaneous items, so nobody would pay attention to them. Plus, I’ve checked my mother’s parcel as well as the letter, and there was nothing noteworthy in it."

“Amandina, you’ve guessed this a long time ago, haven’t you? You’re smart,” said Freya enviously. She wasn’t the smartest in the Royal Cavalry Academy, but she wouldn’t be jealous and would only envy those who were really gifted and intelligent. The Royal Highness Princess told her that her father was the most talented knight in the previous era of Aouine, and this had made her question herself as to why she was so clumsy.

Amandina smiled.

"Have you checked through the items?” asked Brendel.

Amandina nodded. “I’ve checked the necklace, the ring and the box and I couldn’t find any clues.” She paused and thought for a moment, “I don’t think my father would leave such important information in plain sight. I’m afraid I’ll have to disassemble them to find out where the clues are."

“But that’s the last thing your father has left for you...”

“It’s alright, my lord. It’s my father’s wish as well and I don’t think he’ll blame us for it. Besides, if we miss someone, it should be in our hearts, instead of dwelling on external objects."

As soon as she opened the box, Brendel pressed her hand and said, "I'll do it. Pass me the necklace."

Amandina was startled. She looked at him, nodded, and placed the necklace on his hand. Brendel took the necklace and examined it carefully. He then pinched the pendant and turned it gently. A split second later, the pendant loosened up. He took the pendant out, held it up towards the light in the room and pulled out a strip of paper from it. 

He didn't hesitate at all before dismantling it. It was as if he'd thought of all of this beforehand and had guessed that the note was hidden in the necklace. Freya and Amandina were utterly dumbfounded.

Amandina was startled. She looked at him, nodded, and placed the necklace on his hand. Brendel took the necklace and examined it carefully. He then pinched the pendant and turned it gently. A split second later, the pendant loosened up. He took the pendant out, held it up towards the light in the room and pulled out a strip of paper from it. 

He didn't hesitate at all before dismantling it. It was as if he'd thought of all of this beforehand and had guessed that the note was hidden in the necklace. Freya and Amandina were utterly dumbfounded.

“My lord?” Amandina’s jaw dropped. She felt that he was indeed an all-knowing deity.

The crystalline structure of the Recording Crystal was hollow, and it was the first thing that came to Brendel’s mind when he examined the necklace. He didn’t expect that he could remove the pendant so easily in one fell swoop, and it was a coincidence that he found the clue in it. He returned the necklace to Amandina and smiled bitterly as he told her the reason for it. She was enlightened, but she still looked at him with great respect. She had done a lot of research in Magicite and was very familiar with all kinds of crystals, but the Recording Crystal was an exception because it was an artificial magic crystal therefore it was difficult to gauge what its physical properties were. Only Brendel, who was so knowledgeable, could tackle it so easily.

The three of them opened the note and found that there were some strange symbols drawn on it, it seemed as if a child had scribbled on it. While Brendel and Amandina were figuring out what they were, Freya blurted, “Ah, this is the military secret code."

“Military secret code?” Brendel froze. He knew that the military often had to transmit confidential information and each kingdom had its own set of codes and symbols that were adapted from the ancient runes. He was very familiar with Aouine’s military codes and he could decipher the “Anson Code” from thirty years ago and the “New Code”, but the ones on the note were neither one of them. He looked at Freya dubiously and she nodded affirmatively.

“These are the Kirrlutzian’s military codes and they are the old codes that were used half a century ago. I happened to have learned this at the Royal Cadet Academy."

When she said that, Amandina seemed to have recalled something. “Oh yeah, my father has taught me some of these codes when I was a child, but he didn’t tell me what they were at that time."

Brendel didn’t know that Freya had learned Kirrlutz's military codes before. He asked immediately, “Can you decipher them?"

After reading through it thoroughly, Freya nodded and replied, “Of course, Brendel. This seems to be a map…"

"What are these?"

There were three items in front of Freya - a light grey crystal, some reddish-brown rocks, and a papyrus map that had only a few lines outlined on it. All of those items were taken out from the same iron box that she’d found under the floor of an old mansion in Hood District after deciphering the secret codes. And of course, she didn’t recognize any of the items.

Brendel told Dean to spend some money to smuggle Amandina’s father’s inheritance out of the cemetery. He cast Elemental Guardian spells on the chest so that nobody else could open it. Plus, there was a lot of ‘work’ going on in and out of the cemetery, and those mages who practised black magic secretly wouldn’t transport the corpses out one by one with much fanfare, so it wouldn’t be weird to use a chest. Brendel was initially worried about attracting suspicions, but he forgot that these things were very common among the grave robbers.

After receiving a sum of money from Dean, the grave keeper patted on his chest and told him that it wouldn’t be a problem at all to transport a few coffins out from the cemetery, let alone a chest. He then found some handypeople, and Brendel felt that the way they did things was similar to the group of bandits. Anyway, with the help of those people, the chest was smuggled out smoothly like they were just carrying a box of rocks and they didn’t even bother taking another look at the chest. Little did they know that it was filled with gold and silver ingots.

Though Brendel was glad that he was smart enough to cast a Wind Spell on it. Otherwise, these experienced people would’ve suspected something.

By the time they transported everything back to the manor and went to Hood District to retrieve Amandina’s father’s last inheritance, or rather Darius’ inheritance, it was almost evening. Brendel opened the box in his study room and took out the items one by one.

Freya looked puzzled, but Brendel and Amandina had different expressions on their faces.

“My lord, these rocks…” Amandina seemed to have recalled something, “I think I’ve seen them when I was a child. My father first bought them from a merchant and he treated them like treasures. And later on, he went everywhere to collect and look for these rocks. I also remember he was fiddling with them for quite a long time."

“Did he tell you anything about them?” asked Brendel as he stared at the grey crystal.

After thinking for a while, she shook her head. “I was too young at that time, but I can vaguely remember that my father had said a few times that these rocks lead to something like a key. Later on, I rarely saw these rocks and I thought that my father had lost interest in them. I never knew that he’d kept them."

“Amandina, do you think that these items are related to my grandfather?” asked Brendel.

“I’m afraid so. According to the letter, this box contains Darius’ inheritance and fragments of that ‘picture’ that my father had mentioned. Is he referring to these rocks?” she asked in return.

Brendel didn’t reply.

Instead, he just stared at the grey gemstone.