SYS (Novel) Chapter 316

C316 - Secondary Images of the Past or Future (2)

Valeria's gaze leaned further to the left.

Her confusion and tension were on the rise. In her wildest dreams, she had never imagined that Jin would be reading her subconscious, barely perceptible features.

It was no surprise. Even in her past life, the only ones who knew her features, apart from Jin, were the mercenaries of the Gray Owl who had raised her.

Jin felt just as tense. It was unlikely to happen.

But if Valeria were to give up the other half of the magic tome, there wasn't much he could do to improve their relationship.

The sound of flames over Jin's hand and the blood dripping from Yorke's corpse echoed in the silence.

"Why don't we extinguish the flames and talk about this?"

It worked.

"I won't remove the flames until I get a definitive answer."

Jin felt relieved deep down but shook his head to make the point clear. Valeria nodded.

"Fine. I'll help you. If the recording device is something I can work with, I'll have it restored."

"A wise decision."

"But this is only an exchange. I'm not saying I'll join you. I hope we both understand that clearly."

Fwoom.

Jin closed his hand and extinguished the flame. Valeria's eyes directed another straight gaze.

"After all, continuing the alliance is the result of mutual need. You won't regret this decision."

"Show me the object."

Jin produced the two Shadow Energy pearls.

The pearls surprised Valeria once again. They closely resembled the various recording devices she had seen in her clan's heritage places. They only differed in color.

"It seems the device is made of Shadow Energy. Were they made by the god you contracted with, Solderet?"

"Yes."

"Then why can't you just ask Solderet to restore them?"

"For some unknown reason, I am unable to communicate with Solderet."

"So how are you so sure these are recording devices? What if they are just pieces of Shadow Energy?"

"It's because I've seen video recordings stored inside them."

"But how?"

"Is that something you need to know to work with them? I thought we were just making an exchange, and you wouldn't be joining me. You seem to demand a lot of information for someone in such conditions."

Valeria shrugged. "You're right. Will you leave them with me for a moment?"

Valeria took the Shadow Energy pearls and raised mana over her hands.

A mysterious resonance began forming between her hand and the pearls.

It had been a long time since she had seen something like this.

Valeria was casting the Histor clan's registration magic. She wondered if her magic would work with a Shadow Energy device as well.

Jin observed her for a while, pretending not to know what she was doing.

And shortly after...

Tsst, zzzt...

Tsst!

Jin widened his eyes.

The pearls began emitting the same sound as when they were first activated.

Meanwhile, Valeria nodded, as if she had expected this to happen. "They are undoubtedly recording devices, but they are damaged. They don't activate correctly."

"You could have checked it. Did you have to ask so many questions?"

"Thanks to that, I now know you can't communicate with Solderet."

"I should praise your persistence. Do you think you can restore it?" Jin asked.

"Maybe," Valeria replied as she placed the Shadow Energy pearls on the table.

"It's a lukewarm answer for someone who was paid upfront."

"Look, Jin Runcandel. Those things called recording devices are much more complex and intricate than you can imagine. Plus, they're not identical to the ones my ancestors used to make, so I need time to understand them, okay?"

Jin also knew other traits of Valeria. Her eyes drifting to the left out of anxiety wasn't the only trait she had.

She crossed her arms and twiddled the tip of her hair with her thumb and index finger. It was something she always did when Valeria was very intrigued by an object or a particular situation.

The fact that she was intrigued by the recording device meant that it could be restored. Or that she needed the item as well.

'If she ever needed them, it was probably because they helped her recover the Histor's registration magic.'

Jin thought about Solderet's plans, the records he had left, and his meeting with Valeria today.

For some reason, everything seemed like fate's work. Even if it seemed like a coincidence, Jin had the feeling that Valeria and he were destined to reunite in the end, like two puzzle pieces that fit together.

"Alright then. I'll give you time. How much do you need?"

"I don't know that either."

"Is it because your magic registration is incomplete?"

The restoration of historical record magic was incomplete even when Valeria was twenty-six, in Jin's past life.

If memory serves me right, at that time, she would have only found about three heritage places. She's not lying when she says she needs more time.

The level of registration magic Valeria handled at seventeen was extremely limited.

"It seems the Runcandels have more information about me than I thought."

"Enough to require my protection, at the very least," Jin replied.

"I've told you already. I don't need your protection."

"My mother and older brother are looking for you. They told me they've discovered the name you're using now. Aria Owlheart."

"It's not the only name I use, and I've made it a point to cover my tracks."

"Anka Roffman, Rylienne Hazard, Lucille Scope, Hartia Vehn."

Jin mentioned Valeria's other false names. Her eyes twitched. It was a sign of how surprised she was. She rarely showed any emotion when dealing with other people, except for the few traits she had.

"Aren't those your aliases? You say you've covered your tracks, but somehow, this conversation was possible."

Not even the Runcandels and the Zipples knew Valeria's aliases other than Aria Owlheart.

Except for Valeria herself, Jin was the only one who knew those names.

The problem was that Valeria had no choice but to assume the worst.

Where had she left traces? She believed she had cleared them without a doubt.

Valeria quickly turned to her memory but couldn't figure out when she had slipped up.

The fact that she couldn't figure it out implied that she might have slipped up elsewhere too. Uncertainty gripped Valeria's heart. As strong as she was inside, she was still only seventeen for now.

"No matter how many of my names they know, they'll never catch me. And like I said, you could only know me because I decided to talk to you."

"I appreciate your confidence, but don't you think you should be more cautious? If the Runcandels can find out so much, the Zipples surely have more information about you."

"Well, I'm so moved by your concern that I might start crying, you know?"

"The Shadow Energy pearls you have in your hands are more valuable to me than Schugiel Histor's magic tome or your life, for that matter. I'm only concerned that you might get caught and lose them in the process."

"Jin Runcandel with a four hundred million bounty isn't the only one capable of staying out of sight from the Runcandels and Zipples. Anyway, I'll follow your advice to be more cautious."

Valeria stored the Shadow Energy pearls in the inner pockets of her robe.

"I suppose that's enough for discussion for now. Give me an address where I can send letters, some safe place."

"You can send them to the head of the central defense guard of Tikan Free City, Alisa Badger."

"I'll send letters if there's any progress in the restoration after my return."

"And where can I contact you?"

Jin said it without any expectation. Since she was constantly on the run, he didn't believe she would give him an address.

But surprisingly, Valeria pulled out a piece of paper and wrote down her address.

Jin's eyes widened when he saw the address.

"This is the center of Sameel."

Sameel. The city of assassins, the Anonymous.

Only the families of the Anonymous assassins and those whom the Anonymous owed favors could reside in the center of Sameel. It was the only non-lethal area within the city, which Jin had used in the past to win the bet against O'ul.

Valeria had no family, but she had earned the right to own a house in the center of Sameel as a benefactor to the Anonymous.

"Well, now that I think about it, the Zipples could have always contacted the Anonymous to locate or assassinate my teacher in my past life. Maybe that's why she was never harmed by the world's top assassins."

He had never thought much about it in her past life, nor had he thought that Valeria might have a hideout in Sameel.

"I don't actually stay there. But I can check any letters that arrive at that address. So, if there's something you want to ask of me, get in touch with me there."

Valeria had a reason for giving Jin an address where she could be located.

She wanted to know more about Jin. It was true that she was disappointed by how different he was from the man in her dreams. But for some reason, talking to him made her feel something.

She felt like she had found someone she had been missing.

He was the first person to make her feel this way, apart from the deceased mercenaries of the Gray Owls.

"I had no idea the Anonymous treated you as a benefactor."

"Your reaction tells me the Runcandels still didn't know this location. I hope you're not foolish enough to come here yourself."

Valeria got up. "I must leave now. I hope you'll keep my ancestor's magic tome safe until I return with your restored device."

"You can ask me for anything you need to restore the recording device, as long as it's something I can get. And one more thing, I'll send you an item to Sameel once I return."

"An item?"

"You've dyed your hair brown, but anyone could tell you're actually a redhead. Your disguise doesn't seem very good, so I'll have them send you good dyes and disguise tools. Don't worry. I won't poison them. Think of it as an extra layer of protection."

"Hair dyes and disguise tools?"

"You'll see what I mean after using them. They'll allow you to have a thousand faces."

Valeria burst into laughter. "I didn't think you were capable of joking."

She got up and extended her hand to Jin.

"For now, it seems the meeting has been mutually beneficial."

Jin silently looked at her slender wrist and tiny hand.

Is she acting like this just because she's younger than when I met her in my past life?

From what he remembered of Valeria, she would never have offered a handshake in such situations.

Jin didn't hesitate to take Valeria's hand. Her hand felt warm in his.

"Aria Owlheart."

"What?"

"When you first saw me, why did you call me by my first name as if you knew me?"

Out of habit from my dreams.

Valeria didn't say those words. Instead, she just gave a mysterious smile.

"Who knows? Until next time."

---------------


Right after Jin returned to the Garden of Swords, a meeting was held.

It wasn't just for the flagbearers. The meeting was attended by the heads of the elders' council and other key figures of the council. This meant the meeting wasn't about mere mission assignments. It was about critical matters within the clan.

Everyone rose from their seats when Rosa entered. She indicated they should sit back down with a look and spoke.

"Today's meeting will focus on a person named Aria Owlheart."

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