An endless blanket of darkness.
Spine-chilling silence which was sometimes broken by the cries of the cicadas and other midnight insects.
And sounds of a car engine moderately speeding along a ragged, uneven dirt road.
Were it not for the stretch of black in front, it would have been apparent to the passengers of this luxurious grey car that they were already near the foot of a mountain. There were no houses nearby. Through the limited illumination ahead, foliage, rocks, and trees were the normal scenery around, never the best, and was even quite spooky because it was currently the witching hours.
The driver was singing along an old tune from the stereo. He was seemingly relaxed on the outside. However, his eyes were actually darting everywhere the car's headlight could reach. Inwardly, questions were endlessly pouring in his brain, most were about why a man usually staying in his presidential suite-like office or gigantic Baroque-style mansion requested him to drive him to this god-forsaken place.
The man suppressed the unease in his heart. However, his mouth still asked, "Master, are you sure we will be okay like this?"
The one called 'Master' nodded on the backseat. The driver saw this through the rearview mirror.
"But we did not bring a single bodyguard," he additionally stated.
Right, the man was actually not worried due to the horror-like setting before his eyes. Aware that his boss was someone of very high status, he felt bothered by the lack of security personnel in this impromptu trip. He couldn't feel secure that his master would be leaving his safety to a half-baked martial artist slash driver like him. What if several hired killers or random thugs appear on their way?
"Old Joe, we're going to be fine. It's not like people can track me and guess that I will go out past midnight to visit an abandoned hospital." Hearty laughter followed after this reply.
Old Joe lamented within his mind that his boss was too carefree. Didn't he understand that he was Country F's most distinguished businessman? If people got wind of his current unguarded state, they would surely make use of this opportunity to either kidnap him for a very huge ransom. If it was the enemy's men, easy death would already be something he would thank the heavens for. So again, where was his master getting the confidence to joke about his safety?
"Master, I don't understand why it has to be at this hour. Who are we visiting there?"
"Just know that it's somebody weird," the man from the backseat said mysteriously.
After this reply, the master and the driver stopped speaking to each other. However, within the car, ever since they reached this grassy part of the road, the former's relaxed look beautifully contrasted the unease of the latter. Both of them were staring outside, watching as the wild grasses and trees which their eyes barely made out from the slowly moving car gradually turned into a vast expanse.
A couple of minutes after they passed through that barren area, they finally caught sight of several tall cement walls which were seemingly announcing to them that after a long journey, they have now reached their destination.
Unfortunately, the driver only felt even more unsettled because the high steel entrance he could see from his position was sealed. The place was awfully eerie due to the soft light which hardly seeped out of the side edges of the sealed entrance. He greatly doubted whether this place was really abandoned or was only conveniently declared as such. Who knows? If only he did not want to be seen rude by his generous employer, he would have already asked if this place was actually a lair of an organ syndicate.
"Circle around this wall. The real entrance is opposite this huge sealed double doors."
The driver hesitated. It was only because of his master's brief glare that he reluctantly drove through the bushes on the left side.
A minute later, the master ordered Old Joe to stop. It was when another tall sealed entrance became visible to them. However, unlike the first one they encountered, this second entrance had a small side door on the right. It was wide open. And a suspicious masked man in a long black coat was next to it, standing there with his back straight, seemingly waiting for someone to arrive.
This masked man bowed deeply when Old Joe's master climbed out of the car and strode towards the side entrance.
"Welcome to Alina City's Convalescence Center, Sir," greeted the masked man.
"Young man, I don't know who you are and how long you've been to this place, but you forgot to add the word 'Abandoned' before its former name."
The masked man did not reply and only maintained his bowed posture. The master shook his head and laughed. Afterward, he turned to his driver and said, "Old Joe, man the car. I'll be going alone inside."
The old driver who just went out of the driver's seat stilled on his place. Eyeing the masked man, doubt and distrust flashed in his eyes, his brain telling him that he should not let his employer entered this shady looking place alone. "Master, I'll be going with you. Please."
"Nothing bad will happen to me. Stop looking so nervous, Joe."
"But, Sir, what about your safe-?"
When the driver tried to continue the protest, the master's aura changed which promptly shut Old Joe up, reminding him of old tales revolving around this usually lackadaisical and pacifist magnate. He looked unwilling, but due to the reproaching look his master gave him just now, he did not dare to voice out another complaint and only warned the masked man through his glare.
"Young one, come, lead the way."
"Yes, sir." Once again, the masked man bowed, the clothes on his back sticking a bit to his skin as a consequence of the master's brief outburst of aura. He then respectfully invited the high personage into the gate before closing the metal door and leading the other towards the brightly lit white painted building in front.
Close to ten minutes passed and it was already around 3:45 am when the two arrived before a white room. Along the way, they did not encounter a single soul. However, this wing of the hospital didn't look decrepit or anything because every nook and cranny appeared regularly cleaned. With traces of humans here and there, this building was clearly not abandoned unlike what the majority of Alina citizens knew.
"Sir, I am not allowed to go in. This is as far as I can escort you."
The master waved at the masked man who opened the door to the room and then went in by himself. Behind him, the door closed audibly. But oddly, the middle-aged man did not appear concern as though him being sealed inside the unfamiliar and suspicious room was not in any way worrying. Nonchalance remained on his face, even after he saw the kind of place the person he drove here for was keeping.
"You look as crazy as always."
The bearded man sitting comfortably on the sole chair in the place boringly replied, "Not always. Only after my wife died."
The master looked around for anywhere to sit on, but found nothing. The place only had rows of shelves on the side housing large transparent jars filled with all sorts of organs, in which one of the specimens was interestingly a black colored large intestine. There was also a bookshelf full of thick books about anatomy and biology near the other man's table. However, aside from these, there was nothing else.
Annoyed at this red-eyed, bearded man's hospitality, he said, "You know I will be visiting but you did not even provide a chair for me?"
Only a tired and bored reply came, "The floor is wide and free. You won't be charged even if you sit down there for a month."
"I am a business magnate, the King of Country F's Business world. You want me to do what again? Hey, Fred, when did you become this inconsiderate," laughed the dark-faced visitor.
"Conrad, I did not ask you to visit. You're the one who just suddenly phoned the director. Don't forget, because of you, I have to stay up late instead of sleeping."
Conrad Albarez, Gio's uncle, the current head of Albarez family, sneered then walked towards the wall nearest to the owner of this room and leaned on it, his arms unexposed due to the long sleeves of his regal suit folded.
Seeing what he was currently wearing, the man wearing all white scoffed.
"It's almost 4 am so why are you dressed like you'll be going to a business meeting instead of a mental hospital? Or is your corporation already so big that you need to work round the clock just to run it properly? Does it mean you're sneaking into our mental institution for breaths of fresh air?"
"Let's stop this senseless greeting. I can't stay long here or else my driver will call my nephew's battalion to raid this place. I don't want them to die to your director's men."
Fred, the unkempt man dressed in a white lab coat, threw him a disinterested glance. "Pray tell."
The magnate's eyes glowered at the man. "A girl currently enamored my nephew."
The other man went silent for a while before asking, "... So it's your nephew's business?" His eyes blatantly questioning the Albarez' head why he had to go all the way here just to report somebody's stupid affairs to him.
"My good-for-nothing brother raised him to be cold towards women. He mostly killed them after a one-night stand. But this girl managed to rein him in, and they've been together for three months." added Gio's uncle, his voice still sounding calm despite his surroundings' temperature rapidly dropping. Gone were the lackadaisical him since he was currently facing a madman. Also, his reason for appearing here was not anything pleasant so he was immediately put in a bad mood.
"So?" asked the other who appeared unaffected by the masked irritation from Conrad's eyes. Anyway, the uninformed was not guilty of the crime. He didn't know why he was getting dirty looks so he remained calm and indifferent.
"You don't know who the witch is?"
Fred sarcastically replied, "How would I know? You know what? You're funny. Is this how you grow your business into a giant conglomerate? By clowning around? I admit I'm impressed, Conrad Albarez."
The one called the King of Country F's business world ignored the long-winded answer of the other. After a sigh, he resentfully said,
"...Lunatic bastard, it's your daughter."
No to piracy!
=>Link to the original: https://www.webnovel.com/book/12734433505930905/The-Sinners'-Queen