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"Your Majesty... Roland?"

The voice was soft and distant.

It wasn't until Roland felt a tickling sensation around his ear that he suddenly realized someone was calling his name.

"You spaced-out again." Nightingale leaned dramatically on the long table, looking right into Roland's eyes. She held her chin in her hand, with her head slightly lopsided, and one pale index finger was swaying from side to side. It was obvious that she had used that finger to fiddle with Roland's ear.

"Um... really?" Roland cleared his throat, pretending that he was reading the statistical report that had just come in. "Probably because of the warm weather today. It makes me doze off easily."

"This isn't the first time to you started daydreaming." Nightingale walked back to the recliner on the other side of the tent. "Ever since you came back from Reflection Church, you've constantly been in a daze. Has anything happened?"

Roland was about to deny what she had said, but the words got caught in his throat. He knew Nightingale could tell lies from truth, and he could not continue to deceive himself either. Even though it had been almost a week; he still could not understand what was going on.

"I did find something wrong... But the whole thing is so creepy and weird that I don't know where to start."

"You don't have to tell me if you don't want to." Nightingale stared at the sky above, her hands behind her head. "I'm not as smart as you anyway. Even if you were to tell me, I wouldn't be of much help. Perhaps Anna would be more useful in this area..."

"I haven't told her either." Roland shook his head, forcing a smile.

"Oh... is that so?" Nightingale turned over immediately. "Why not?"

"Because it's so bizarre that I'm afraid it's beyond the scope of my understanding," Roland said flatly. "As much as I hate to admit, it doesn't affect anything. In other words, this is completely personal. Telling her wouldn't help any, it would only make her worry."

"I see." Nightingale blinked as if sudden enlightenment had struck her. Roland, however, knew she did not understand anything but just thought the whole idea cool.

"Don't tell her that I frequently daydream." Roland reminded Nightingale. "This is something nobody else can solve."

"Of course!" Nightingale's face somehow lighted up. She patted her chest, produced a slice of grilled fish from the sack and shoved it into her mouth, looking quite satisfied.

After obtaining Nightingale's promise, Roland sighed internally. The data on the statistical report did not make any sense to him, What Roland had seen in the secret chamber of the church cluttered his mind.

Why would a legendary figure appear at the early stage of the foundation of the Union? From her portrait, it seemed that she had existed even before the Union age.

Roland had later made inquiries to Isabella, Agatha, and Phyllis, but none of them had given him a definite answer. It was such a dim and distant past that nobody could tell who the person in the picture was. They could only conjecture that she had, at one time, been prominent.

Roland used to think that there were only two types of people in the Dream World. One was those defeated by Zero, whose souls were permanently bound to the Building of Souls but who still more or less maintained a feeble connection with the real world. The most typical features of them were the astonishing resemblance of their physical appearances and the memory fragments in their rooms.

The other type were fictitious characters who came out of thin air directly from the Dream World. They were fabrications of his imagination and the Dream World itself.

Roland was now not sure about his theory, however.

Isabella told him that, according to her service records during the time she had served the Pope, Zero should be between 200 to 250 years old. Therefore, it seemed impossible for Zero, the pure witch who never aged, to "imprison" a person living 800 years ago. Although Zero was much older than ordinary people, numerous figures in history had had much greater longevity than her.

Zero had been born after the establishment of the church. Based on seniority, Agatha and some other witches were old enough to be her grandmother.

"Could the person in the picture intrude the Dream World by herself?"

This hypothesis was even bolder and more inconceivable.

"How can a woman from an ancient civilization survive in modern society and disguise herself so well? Where was her soul before the existence of the Dream World?"

Also, Lan's physical appearance contradicted this hypothesis.

She was elegant and graceful indeed, but she was by no means attractive, which meant that she was not a witch. Without any extraordinary power, one would, without exception, return to the earth 100 years after one's death, no matter how great they used to be.

The most reasonable explanation, although the least creative one, other than the above-noted two assumptions, was that the two people happened to look the same. In other words, it was a pure coincidence.

It would save Roland a lot of trouble if he adopted this theory, but he had a hard time convincing himself. "Is it really a coincidence?" 

To find the answer, he probably had to ask her in person.

Roland felt a little reluctant to enter that increasingly bizarre Dream World. At the same time, however, he did not like the feeling of throwing himself into the unknown and being kept in the dark either.

In theory, it was better to pick the lesser of two evils. After hesitating for about a week, Roland finally made up his mind.

It was worth mentioning, though, that the nagging Taquila God's Punishment Witches and the free time after the tour of the Holy City of Hermes had also contributed a great deal to his decision-making process.


Roland was now accustomed to entering the Dream World. When he woke up, he noticed the calendar still showed the date on which he had last left. The surrounding had not changed a bit during his one month's absence. The picture of the martialist trainees on the nightstand still looked new as if they were recently brought back from the headquarter of the Martialist Association.

Roland took out his cell phone and dialed Garcia's number.

He soon got through and heard even breathing on the other end of the line. "Hello?"

Roland glanced through the window. The first hint of dawn was faintly visible in the east. "Are you doing morning exercises?" Roland asked.

"Cut the crap," Garcia snapped as she usually did, but her voice was no longer as crisp as before. "What's up?"

"Well, I want to discuss something with you. Is it a good time for you? I can come over now. We can have breakfast together, my treat."

"Is it that urgent?" Garcia was silent for a moment. "Come down. I'm in the alley right in front of the apartment."

"Wait for me." Roland hung up, got changed as fast as he could and dashed out of the room. When he passed the living room, however, he found Zero, still not entirely awake, half-dressed. It was apparent that the little girl had just woken up. Her wrinkled pajama tumbled down to one side, revealing half of her lovely fair shoulder. She was waddling in a pair of oversized men's slippers, which were apparently his.

Roland clapped his hand over his forehead. He had no choice but to turn around and help the little girl get dressed.

"Just a moment... I'll make some water downstairs..." Zero mumbled.

"That's OK. I'll bring you breakfast. You just wait here for the food after you brush your teeth and wash your face." Roland patted her on the head and pushed her into the bathroom before he scurried out.

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