Shrouded Seascape
Chapter 652: Future

"Madam Linda, what's that bustling place over there?" Grace asked. After walking through the streets, she was now carrying multiple bags, and her gaze was fixated on a tall, lively building teeming with people.

People entered and exited the buildings with boxes of varying sizes in their hands.

Linda was no longer as cold and distant during their initial meeting and softened her tone as she explained to the teenage girl.

"That's the relic market. The darkness constantly relicfies ordinary items into new relics, so a variety of relics are constantly produced. What used to be rare in the Subterranean Sea can now be bought and traded freely here. It's up to the explorers themselves whether they want to use their new items or fuse with them right away.

"The testing of relics also takes place in this building. The captain's journal was tested here. So far, the results showed that it is only able to predict random events without any major side effects."

Grace's eyes widened in curiosity as she stared at the explorers walking to and fro.

"Should I get some relics, too? They are known as cursed objects in the Western Seas. I've never used one before," Grace remarked.

"No need. The captain and the others can handle the fighting. Everyone has their own role to play on the ship. The same goes for you; you just need to focus on your duties," Linda replied and grabbed Grace's hand, leading her ahead.

Just then, Grace was surprised to spot the handsome gentleman with a mustache who had traveled with her among the crowd. She let go of Linda's hand, and a smile spread across her face as she intended to run over to greet him. But before she could take a step, Leonardo had strode confidently into the relic market with his entourage.

Before Grace could figure out what was Leonardo's goal, Linda had already walked over to her. Linda then took her hand and led her forward.

"Madam Linda, can you tell me more about Governor Charles? I've heard all kinds of legends about him and his sea adventures. The boys on the island admire him so much.

"Is he really the person who has explored the most islands in the entire seascape? I've heard that his ship is actually alive. Also, is his relationship with the Governor of Elizarles Shores as true as the rumors say?" Grace fired a series of questions.

With each question, Linda's expression shifted through a range of complex emotions before she finally answered, "He's a madman. There's no need for you to know him more."

Grace was taken aback by Linda's answer. She went silent for a few moments before she found her words. "Madam Linda, why don't you seem to like Mr. Charles?"

Linda halted her steps in the middle of the bustling street and turned to face Grace. "As someone who's been around for a while, let me give you a piece of advice you should quickly learn on an exploration ship. You can form deep bonds with your comrades but don't get too involved in their personal lives or invest too much of your personal emotions in them. That includes the captain as well.

"Only then would you be able to pick yourself up and gather yourself together for the next mission if they ever die," Linda concluded.

Staring at the bald woman in front of her, a sudden unexplainable fear hit Grace. Linda seemed like a completely different person now.

"Got it…" Grace answered meekly, her voice barely above a whisper.

Linda turned around and continued walking. Her voice was tinged with a hint of melancholy as she said, "There's still three hours before nightfall. You should treat today as if it were the last day of your life. Regardless of whether you survive this expedition or not, you will inevitably change."

Grace couldn't pinpoint the exact emotions in Linda's tone, but she understood the general message of her remark. "Erm… I want some books, something that I can read on the journey."

Without speaking another word, Linda led Grace directly to the only bookstore in the entire outpost.

Within the bookstore, the shelves were neatly lined with books, stacked high, and crammed together. Upon learning that all the books here were free, Grace dashed in with palpable excitement and happily searched through the stacks.

She was like a mouse that had fallen into a bin of breadcrumbs; she clearly loved books.

"Madam Linda, look!" Grace exclaimed. "They actually have the complete set of the Gunther Family's magical books! And even the Howard Family's collection!

"Oh my, Eye of Truth! If all these hidden treasures are brought down to the Subterranean Sea, one could exchange them for half an island!"

"Grace, don't forget that we're on the surface. Except for when the captain explicitly tells you to use magic, you are not to use it at all." Sᴇaʀᴄh the NʘvᴇlFɪre.ɴet website on Gøøglᴇ to access chapters of nøvels early and in the highest quality.

At Linda's reminder, traces of reluctance crossed Grace's face as she placed the bronze-covered books bound in chains back onto the shelves.

After more searching, she eventually selected a few special books—"The Principles of Gear and Pinion Transmission," "Electricity and Magnetism," and "The Dynamics of Steam Power."

"Why are you buying these? They're difficult to understand, and even if you manage to grasp the concepts within, you won't be able to apply the knowledge," Linda commented. Grace's selection had taken her by surprise.

"No particular reason. I'm just curious. I'm curious how they move such massive chunks of iron without magic. Also, these books can't be found in the Western Seas," Grace explained, a bright smile playing on her lips.

However, Linda's heart clenched at the sight of Grace's radiant smile, and she averted her gaze.

"Madam Linda, I'm done here. Let's head back to the ship," Grace announced.

The two stepped on the path they came from and retraced their steps back to the Narwhale.

Along the way, Grace seemed to have noticed a negative shift in Linda's expression and carefully refrained from speaking too much.

Just when they finally reached the foot of the ship, Linda suddenly threw an unexpected question. "How did your family react to you coming to the surface this time?"

Grace's previous cheerful expression dimmed in an instant. "I don't have any family… My only relative—my grandmother—was killed by the death light."

Linda's distant memories stirred as she looked at the teenage girl in front of her. Her expression slightly twisted as she grabbed Grace's shoulders and shook her violently. "Then why did you listen to them and come here to die? You are all alone now! What is there to be afraid of?! If anyone else wants to sacrifice themselves, then let them come and die themselves!"

Grace was baffled; she couldn't understand Linda's sudden outburst. Just as Grace was about to say something, Linda suddenly spread her arms apart and pulled the former into a tight embrace. Pain and sorrow painted Linda's visage.

A long moment later, Linda let go of Grace, grabbed the rope ladder, and ascended to the deck of the Narwhale.

On the night before the departure, there was no one aboard the ship, and the cabins were empty. The corridors echoed with the sound of their footsteps as Linda led Grace through the ship and introduced her to the various areas of the ship.

As they turned the corner to head toward Dipp's quarters, they unexpectedly ran into Charles.

Both parties were momentarily surprised. However, Charles said nothing. He merely nodded at Linda before passing by them and continued toward the deck.

Just as Charles took his third step, Linda's voice rang out from behind him. "Captain, what do you think is the future of the Subterranean Sea?"

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