It was at this point that Zhen Shi noticed, out of the corner of his eye, two people that were still here.
They were William and Vincent who were staring at him with conflicted expressions. Their expressions seemed to be a strange mixture of respect, confusion, and embarrassment...
While the two of them had initially been embarrassed by Zhen Shi's shamelessness since they were aware of the truth, they too had naturally noticed the strange phenomena that had occurred around him.
This had led them to be rather confused, 'T-That was a baptism by natural aether, right? To gain such an immense reaction from nature, was he not lying? Maybe... he really is a shopkeeper then? After all, it is possible for him to be a shopkeeper without us knowing, right? In that case, is this fellow truly as amazing as he looked?"
As the duo continued to stare at him with misled thoughts, Zhen Shi ignored them and stared up at the sky. Noticing that the sun had already begun to set, he realized that it was getting late and quickly stood up.
Turning to Vincent, Zhen Shi grinned mischievously and winked extremely obviously with his right eye.
He then turned to William, signaled him to follow after him, and took a step forward.
With a gust of wind, Zhen Shi vanished into the distance as he dashed after the remnants of the Bull manifestations tracks.
William and Vincent's eyes began to twitch intensely once more, 'Fuck! Did he just leave?! What happened to waiting until the market was rebuilt? What happened to your 'heart in the rubble'!?
Didn't you say you had to wait until the market was 'rubble no more'? Fuck! So, that WAS a lie! Wait, does this mean he tried to scam more than a thousand people AND succeeded!?'
In the end, despite their shock, both of them couldn't help but feel a twinge of respect for Zhen Shi's ability to trick so many cultivators into doing his bidding.
William's brow furrowed as he fell into serious thought, 'Even if the method that elder brother used was a bit strange, I have to admit that it was damned effective! Lord Turnbull will have a huge headache due to this entire matter!
Hmm, could this kind of action be the secret behind my elder brother's talent?!
Honestly speaking, I could never do such a thing with a straight face. No wonder my elder bro is so powerful! Only the most eccentric cultivators like him could do such things! I must learn to emulate him!' and formed a fist as if he was truly determined to do this.
Vincent was even more shocked by William's actions and began to stare at him with a strange expression.
Fortunately or unfortunately, William didn't seem to notice this. He waved at Vincent in goodbye and began to dash after Zhen Shi.
Even as Will exerted the full force of his cultivation to catch up to Zhen Shi, his face was still serious, as if he was in deep thought.
Vincent continued to watch William disappearing into the distance. In the end, he forced out a grin, not knowing what to think of this entire matter.
Although Zhen Shi had tricked the entire crowd into going after Turnbull, he had still helped them find a possible solution to build back their destroyed shops.
While he wasn't sure why Zhen Shi wanted to make a move on a Curator, it was still a mutually beneficial situation that would help most of the shopkeepers.
Thinking this far, Vincent shook his head as he began to follow after the crowd of cheering shopkeepers.
First, he would go to the Market Island and see what happened after the shopkeepers made a formal complaint.
If he could get refunded for his wares and his shop, it would naturally be worth it.
After that would he look into what he could do with his knowledge of the truth.
If he could make a profit out of this situation, there was no reason for him to not give up Zhen Shi and all his knowledge on the matter.
The fact that he would be making a profit either way, left Vincent in a rather happy mood.
Whistling in joy, he began to follow the cheering crowd. But he didn't walk far as he suddenly turned around with a start, "Wait, I don't actually know his name! Fuck! Without a name, whatever I know is completely useless!"
Vincent's eyes widened, as he now realized the meaning behind Zhen Shi's wink. He shook his head with a slight grin, "Clever kid, well done."
Under normal circumstances, Zhen Shi would have celebrated his intelligence and wisdom for finally tricking the wily old man.
However, Zhen Shi seemed to have completely forgotten about that.
As he continued to dash after the tracks of the Bull manifestation, his mouth was curled into a perpetual scowl.
This was because the Bull manifestation had traveled way too far!
They had already left the Lyonesse kingdom and were even growing closer and closer to the edge of the Berthelien forest!
Zhen Shi who had read a bit about aether manifestations knew that not even stronger manifestations could last this long!
In the end, for the sake of his arrow, Zhen Shi decided to continue his chase. He was also a bit curious about what was allowing the Bull to do this.
While he had an inkling of an idea, he wasn't completely sure...
A short while later, Zhen Shi finally reached the beginning of the Berthelien forest and came to a halt.
From what he could see, the tracks seemed to lead further into the forest.
Zhen Shi raised his head as he sized up what he could see of the mysterious Berthelien forest.
Despite the many legends and mysteries that were told about this forest, as a whole, Zhen Shi mostly had positive emotions about it.
This forest was where he had first appeared in this world and ultimately gained the System. It was also where he had met Myne and Vivienne, later on.
Considering that nothing too bad had happened in his previous visits, Zhen Shi signaled William to follow him and dashed right in.
An hour passed, as Zhen Shi continued to track the Bull manifestation deeper and deeper into the forest.
However, a rather worrying development had arisen.
The Bull's tracks had begun to disappear for a few moments, before appearing again after some distance.
It almost seemed as if the Bull was flying for a short distance before dropping down again...
Normally, an aether manifestation on the verge of dissipating wouldn't have sufficient energy to fly, and being on foot was the only reason Zhen Shi had been able to track the Bull.
But for some strange reason, this Bull seemed to be capable of affording the energy to fly...
If it wasn't for Zhen Shi constantly making use of <Odin's Missing Eye> and <Aether Vision> to detect the smallest fluctuations and evidence, he would've already lost the Bull's tracks.
Unfortunately, just as Zhen Shi had begun to worry, he finally reached a point where he could no longer find any more tracks.
Despite spreading his spiritual sense as far as he could, and traveling blindly in every direction to find something, it appeared that the trail had gone completely cold.
He was confident that the Bull manifestation had not dissipated. It was more like it had completely disappeared off the face of the Earth.
After all, if the manifestation had simply dissipated, the arrow should remain...
Realizing that he would forever only possess 99 arrows and never a perfect 100, Zhen Shi was extremely annoyed and disappointed.
Intending to distract himself from this tragedy, Zhen Shi decided to contemplate the mystery of the Bull manifestation's disappearance.
Recollecting the various evidence he had seen on this chase, along with his knowledge on the subject, Zhen Shi finally concluded that the Bull manifestation had mutated or evolved by some freak accident of nature.
It must've ended it's existence as a manifestation and evolved into some form of spirit creature. This was the only way to explain the Bull being able to fly.
As for the reason for the Bull to mutate, Zhen Shi could think of a number of reasons.
It could be the fact that he used the effect of the color 'red' on the Bull to force it to break out of Turnbull's command. It could even be the fact that the arrow he used had some essence of the Chaos.
However, Zhen Shi was quite confident that while those reasons may have played a small part, the main reason was something else entirely.
The main reason had to be the fire he had used to light up that arrow; a combination of Hel Fire and the Vermillion Bird's Undying Flame! A literal fire of life and death!
He had only lit the arrow with both those fires to see how they would react together and find if it could be a powerful attack. Had he known it would give life to a crazy bull manifestation, he never would've dared to test it out so irresponsibly.
As such, Zhen Shi made a mental note to be more careful when he combined those two fires in the future.
Having solved the mystery, Zhen Shi heaved a heavy sigh and muttered out, "Truly interesting. It seems that I'll never find my arrow. By some twist of fate, the Bull manifestation has evolved into a true law tier creature.
The Bull that changed Lance's fate, changed its own fate.
Unfortunately, the chances of finding the Bull and my arrow again are quite low..."
William had been listening in from nearby. He felt a chill run up his spine at the prospect of having that crazy Bull frolicking happily and innocently out in the wilderness.
With such thoughts haunting him, he was sure he wouldn't be able to sleep peacefully for quite some time.
Fortunately, the last sentence from Zhen Shi reassured him a bit. To him, not seeing the Bull ever again would be good fortune.
Not paying any interest to how or why the Bull manifestation had evolved, he spoke hurriedly, "Elder Bro, let's leave quickly. This place gives me the creeps. We'll be going to see your friend now right? Where does he live?"
Zhen Shi turned around, his sorrow instantly being replaced with a smile, "Yeah, it's about time. Will, do you know the way to the Brishman Mansion?"
William was surprised as he asked back, "Wait, do you mean the mansion on Count Brishman's estate? At the East Corner of the Upper Region?"
Zhen Shi nodded, "That should be it. Last I heard, he was a Count."
Will was still a bit surprised but nodded as he began to lead the way.
By the time, Zhen Shi and William reached the Upper Region of Lyon City, the sun had already disappeared over the horizon, giving way to the darkness of the night.
Even though the journey back had only lasted another hour, Zhen Shi had spent it questioning William about the arrangement of Lyon City.
Based on what he had learned, the common people lived in the Lower regions closer to the edge, the nobles lived in the Upper regions that were in between, while the King's Castle and the branch of the Divine Church were placed right in the center of the Kingdom.
Zhen Shi had felt a twinge of murderous rage when he realized that a branch of the Divine Church was close by, but he controlled himself knowing he still wasn't strong enough to fight against them...
Having controlled himself, he continued their journey and soon reached the entrance to the Brishman Estate.
Based on what Zhen Shi had learned, the Brishman Mansion was placed at a remote corner of the Upper Region of Lyon City and was facing one edge of the Berthelien forest.
That was how Zhen Shi had quickly entered the forest back then when he left Isolde in order to level up.
Just this time he had decided it was better to use the front gate like a proper gentleman, instead of jumping in from the side like a caveman.
Having thought this far, Zhen Shi was already looking forward to seeing the looks on their faces when he popped up unannounced.
Although Zhen Shi was in an extremely good mood, Will frowned. A worried look crossed his face as he muttered, "Something is wrong. There should be guards here..."
Coming out of his happy thoughts, Zhen Shi looked forward.
Just like Will said, there were no guards to be seen and the gate was actually half-open. If it wasn't for the fact that the Mansion was in a remote corner of the city, many people would've trespassed already.
Even so, Zhen Shi wasn't that worried. With Count Brishman's status as a noble and Butler Alec's mysterious power, he found it very hard to believe that any of them could be in trouble. As such, he simply grinned and spoke out, "Not to worry. The guards are probably out for dinner or something."
Will nodded, but the frown persisted on his face...
Ignoring his pessimism, Zhen Shi walked through the open gate and entered the Brishman Estate.
Having lived here for nearly a week, Zhen Shi was fairly familiar with the estate. So he quickly led Will through the large estate, passed the bubbling Cherub fountain in the garden, and finally arrived at the entrance to the mansion.
Will was extremely surprised by Zhen Shi's familiarity with the Brishman estate, 'My big bro is truly amazing! He must be an extremely close friend of the Count!'
Unaware of Will's thoughts, Zhen Shi was just about to open the door to the mansion and go inside, when a flash of wind blew by.
Instantly, the wind formed into a figure, blocking the way.
William, surprised by this sudden appearance hurriedly unsheathed his two swords, preparing to fight if necessary.
But Zhen Shi wasn't surprised at all. With his current level of ability, he could easily see through such a slow speed.
The person who was blocking their path was a maid, her brown hair tied into a neat bun. A pitch-black spear was in her right hand as the aura of the Soul Transformation stage rippled out from her. She stared with sharp eyes and assumed a threatening posture.
Zhen Shi's eyes widened in recognition. He knew who this girl was! This was the same maid who had run into him while he was flexing in the mirror!
Instantly, his eyes grew a bit serious.
Back then, that maid had seemed to be an innocent mortal girl. The fact that she had a Soul Transformation cultivation, meant that she had somehow hidden it from him.
Naturally, Zhen Shi was worlds apart from what he had been back then. Thus, he wasn't worried at all.
After all, no matter what, she couldn't be on par with a Sovereign tier formation!
Just as Zhen Shi recognized her, the maid seemed to have recognized him as well. As such, she lessened her threatening aura a bit.
However, a scowl appeared on her face as if she hated the sight of him.
Flicking her spear in disregard, she called out rudely, "It's you? You actually dared to come back after what you did? Lady Isolde is busy, leave!"
Zhen Shi frowned. This girl was acting completely different from the shy and cute maid she had acted like back then. He instantly realized that whatever reactions she had shown before, must've been fake.
While he was rather curious about this maid's shift in character, he had other things to worry about.
Controlling his anger at the maid's attitude, he spoke out, "What about Butler Alec? When he knows I'm here, he'll definitely come out."
The maid simply snorted, "He's busy too. None of them have the time to entertain you. Leave!"
Zhen Shi frowned, his rage rising. While he was feeling angry, he still didn't think it was right to beat up a maid working for Isolde's family.
Even so, he was still worried about Isolde and Alec. In addition to the strange absence of the guards at the gate and the strange shift of character in this maid, he had also noticed the mysterious lack of servants and maids that would usually be bustling about the estate...
As such, he ignored the maid's threatening glares and stealthily spread his spiritual sense in the direction of the mansion.
While his cultivation wasn't high enough to cover the entire mansion, he could still cover more than half of it. And perhaps due to the presence of the vermillion bird feather strengthening his soul, his spiritual sense wasn't sensed by the maid.
Zhen Shi's spiritual sense passed through the various rooms of the first floor, but he wasn't able to sense anybody. As his worry began to intensify, he suddenly sensed a terrifying level of destructive aether from the second floor.
With rising fear, he looked into Isolde's room only to see a sight of absolute destruction.
The Bull manifestation was more merciful than whoever that was that had destroyed her room!
There was even a strong presence of death aura in her room!
For Zhen Shi, that was the straw that broke the camel's back. Blinded by rage and fear, he immediately dashed forwards with a [Draconic Wind Step].
Instantly, the brown-haired maid reacted with a derisive snort. With a flicker of killing intent in her eyes, her spear exploded with awakened spear intent as it slashed down towards him.
Zhen Shi was in no state of mind to notice that her reaction speed was actually fast enough to catch up with his movement speed.
Instead, having sensed the aura of her attack, he instinctively activated <Vermillion Dragonification> up to 70%.
The bestial rage from the skill increased his own rage further, as he roared, "GET OUT OF MY FUCKING WAY!"
His roar was akin to a dragon's roar. The sheer rage in his voice caused the maid's mind to reel in fear.
Even so, she grit her teeth in determination and struck down with the full force of her power.
With azure blue scales glistening underneath his skin, Zhen Shi simply punched out towards the oncoming spear.
His scaled fist struck the spearhead causing sparks to fly off.
The spear didn't last even a second against Zhen Shi's overbearing fist strike, as both the spear and the maid were thrown crashing to the side.
The maid stared with widened eyes, as Zhen Shi dashed forwards without so much as a glance towards her, 'What overbearing fleshy body power! This Zhen Shi might be a worthless coward, but his power is the real deal!'
She was just about to dash after Zhen Shi when suddenly, she sensed killing intent from the side.
With a flicker of surprise in her eyes, she instantly raised her spear up.
Sparks flew as her spear struck against something completely invisible. She could just barely feel that her spear had struck against two weapons, but neither the weapons nor the attacker was visible.
Obviously, the attacker was William O'Dale!
Will had been completely enraged by this maid's dismissive treatment of his elder brother and had only held his anger back since Zhen Shi had remained calm. But after seeing him attack her, he no longer had any such reservations.
Seeing the annoying maid trying to chase after his elder brother, he had used his stealth magic and attacked with full force.
Sparks flew again as the maid desperately defended against the invisible attacks. Some sword slashes made it through her defenses causing shallow cuts to appear on her arms.
No matter what she tried, she couldn't sense anything with her spiritual sense. The fact that she could even defend this much was surprising!
Considering that even Zhen Shi had had a hard time against Will's stealth skill, her difficulty in handling him was expected.
As she continued to defend against the invisible attacks, a hint of worry rose in her mind, 'Who the hell is this!? Zhen Shi is one thing. The Lady is interested in him, after all. But even his follower is this strong?
Dammit! I can't let him meet her right now! I have to stop him!'
Unfortunately, Will wasn't going to let her leave with her life.
Helpless to do anything, the maid defended against another sword slash and screamed out, "Zhen Shi! Don't go upstairs! You can't meet her! You can't!"
Will wasn't completely clear on what was going on, but seeing the annoying maid telling his elder brother what to do, his own anger grew.
As such, he intensified his attacks even further!
Back inside the mansion, Zhen Shi had already reached the second floor. With rage and fear rippling through his mind, he didn't even recognize the meaning of the maid's scream.
Almost instantly, he reached Isolde's room.
The sight of the destroyed walls, the splatter of dried blood, the lingering aura of death caused his heart to tremble.
Even as he tried to find any evidence of Isolde, he sensed a weak aura from the room next door. It was weak, but also familiar...
A hopeful light appeared amidst the rage in his eyes, as he dashed forwards.
The door cracked open as Zhen Shi bashed the door in with his scaled shoulder. He hurriedly raised his head trying to find the source of the familiar aura, and he did...
But the moment he did, his jaw dropped in shock.
He was so surprised that the fear and bestial rage in his mind instantly ran away.
Isolde was there.
To his great relief, she looked fine. Her energy seemed weak, but she looked healthy enough.
However, her appearance was a bit of a problem...
This was because Isolde was almost completely naked! She seemed to have been drying herself after taking a bath...
Even as Zhen Shi continued to stare with widened eyes, Isolde screamed while covering herself as best as she could, "KYAA! ZHEN SHI? WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN HERE?"
However, she didn't wait for a reply as she threw a nearby pillow at him with deadly precision, "GET OUT!"
Zhen Shi immediately began to retreat for his life. His hands raised in defense, he ran outside the room while shouting, "I'm sorry! It was a mistake! A mistake!"
However, while his mouth showed that he was 'genuinely sorry and feeling guilty', his eyes didn't seem guilty at all.
Although Zhen Shi had been worried initially, now that he knew Isolde was fine he was completely relaxed.
With a relieved smile playing on his lips, his eyes continued to ogle Isolde's body with laser focus...