Chapter 43- Rosewood Councilor
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Asher only shrugged, his response noncommittal.

"Well, you seem perfectly fine," Coincilor said with a raised eyebrow when she didn't get any answer from Asher for a minute. 

"I heard from Alissa that you've forgotten some memories, but now, I can definitely confirm it," she added, her voice carrying a hint of concern.

"Yeah, just a little tidbit here and there," Asher admitted, rubbing his neck in fake embarrassment. 'Not really. But I can't exactly tell about the system…'

"You don't remember the rewards for becoming Vice Councilor, do you?" the Councilor probed further.

"Ah, no... I can't say I do," Asher confessed, his tone reflecting a mix of confusion.

"Then why did you preemptively attack Jolan?" the Councilor asked, her voice tinged with confusion.

"I just stopped being passive... and that bastard had it coming for a long time," Asher declared righteously.

"Can't deny that," the Councilor conceded, but she quickly returned to the main topic, "I was going to offer you a way to your family."

"What?!" Asher exclaimed, his voice full of surprise and a hint of suspicion. 'Is that the reason Asher fought this much?'

"I know one of the secret entrances your family used to contact the outside world," the Councilor revealed, her voice steady.

'She doesn't seem to be lying' Asher thought.

"For that path to open, Jolan's usefulness had to end. He is becoming more of a thorn," she explained looking at him getting excited a little, pausing to let the information sink in.

'Is that the reason the bastard is targeting him that much?'

"Oh, and there's also an artifact that could aid you, potentially granting powers to help you," Councillor Rosewood mentioned, her words as if selling cheap drugs.

Asher's mind raced, searching for the most likely answer. 'I already have a support Artifact that she knew, so it must be in line with Attack or Defense.'

Asher leaned forward, as he asked. "What kind of powers are we talking about with this artifact? And what's the catch?"

Councillor Rosewood smiled thinly, looking at this changed Asher, "The powers are... substantial. Enhanced strength, perception beyond normal bounds, perhaps even manipulation of elements." 

"As for the catch," she paused, her expression turning solemn, "it demands a piece of your soul. A small price for such gains, don't you think?"

"What a part of the soul? Is it a Soul Artifact?" Asher asked as he didn't want anyone to have something connecting his soul.

"Yes, but don't worry. No one control's it actually. It is something similar that you will do if you return to your family, just ahead of time"

"And the Artifact, is it something System-related?" Asher ventured, playing his hunch.

He didn't know much about it but he was sure that the Councillor have a system.

He wasn't certain, but he suspected the Councillor was talking about the system.

Her facade cracked a little, surprise and suspicion flickering across her features. "Where did you hear that? Did Alissa tell you?"

"So, Alissa knows about the system but didn't tell Asher," he mused internally, narrowing down the reasons to two possibilities. 

Either she learned it from the family, or she acquired the knowledge when she became Vice Councillor. The latter seems more plausible.

"And the secret entrance, how exactly do I find it?" Asher pressed his curiosity about the evrything he can get his hands on.

"It's hidden, only accessible to those who have powers and money to hire them," she explained, her eyes locking with his, a secret hidden in her gaze.

'And you have the power and resources to hire Mercenaries? What could the Orphanage possibly need them for?'

Asher's mind raced as he contemplated how to maximize the situation to his advantage. "And you believe I can handle whatever is thrown my way?"

"More than anyone else I know," the Councillor affirmed, her confidence in him evident.

"Let me guess, it's my destiny?" Asher queried, his tone lightly mocking, observing her for any tell-tale reaction.

"What, no. Why would you say that?" the Councillor responded, but Asher noted her slight twitch, a giveaway.

But Asher's thoughts soon drifted to past iterations, as he began to hypothesize the situation further. 

'Asher must have acquired a system that helped him counteract the poison.'

Before he could delve deeper into his thoughts, the system message flashed before his eyes, interrupting his train of thought.

Memory Capsule #4. Open??

 

'Oh, come back, did you?' Asher thought inwardly upon seeing the message, speculating. 'Guess you're about the Councilor or Rosewood Orphanage.'

"Well, give me a minute, I will tell you," he announced, settling into the chair. He opened the capsule, deliberately ignoring the Councilor's reaction, signifying his momentary disregard for her authority.

'Well, she want something from him and he can be a little disrespectful as he is not in much requirement of a system just only the the coordinates and that too can be handled by Alissa right?'

Asher contemplated his position. 'She wants something from me, but I'm not desperate for a system—just the coordinates, which Alissa could provide, right?' This thought emboldened him, affirming his leverage in this negotiation.

As he started seeing, he was once again given a sequence of events in its audio, visual and sensory form. 

The recollection began with his dealings with the Councilor, tracing back to his initiation as Vice Councilor. 

Asher was led to the basement of the main building, where he saw a glowing artifact suspended above a pedestal. 

Although he didn't witness how exactly he gained the system firsthand, he conceptually understood he had acquired it. 'Still hiding, huh?' he thought, recognizing the deliberate omission in his memory.

Last time with Alissa when he gained the third capsule, he always thought it odd. He didn't understand how Asher would have confronted Jolan and the Elder. It seems that it was all due to this supposed power-up.

As the memory fast-forwarded, he came to know the bastard behind Jolan. He was not sure whether he should laugh or cry to see it was the same Elder from the family.

'Of course, they were involved. Who else would back Jolan against me if not someone from my own bloodline?' he contemplated, the realization both answering and raising questions.

The memory did not end with the revelation about the Elder. It skipped ahead, directly aligning with the day he learned he would be departing. 

He was in this very office, receiving details about the hidden entrance: Blufield City, Calamity Auction House, accompanied by the secret codec to decipher the correct passcode for any given day.

As Asher was coming back from the memory trip, he felt his consciousness being pulled elsewher. A momentary wave of panic washed over him, but he soon calmed as new memories started to appear inside him. 

Rosewood Orphanage.
Directly Under the Rosewood Family.
Sub-Ordinate Family of the Mercenary Family.

Main Task: Capturing Discarded Seedlings for the Family
Sub Task: Siphoning Fate from Orphans.

Codecs#2: Assimilating…

Codecs#32: Assimilating…

Looking at the information, Asher couldn't help but laugh as new information started appearing in his mind. 'Rosewood Orphanage. His family sure is criminal.'

'Rosewood Orphanage... Directly under the Rosewood Family,' he thought to himself, the pieces of the puzzle clicking into place. 'A subordinate family of the Mercenary Family, tasked with capturing discarded seedlings for the family and siphoning fate from orphans.'

As the codecs assimilated, revealing the layered complexity of their operations, Asher's laughter grew. It was a sound tinged with bitterness and disbelief. The Orphanage, an institution ideally symbolizing hope and new beginnings for the lost and the forsaken, was exploited as a hunting ground by his family—a Mercenary Family that grew its ranks by preying on outsiders.

'How do you think a Mercenary Family grows? By taking outsiders. And the best material? Get all the exiles. And where are these exiles found? Orphanages,' Asher articulated the cruel logic, his voice laced with sarcasm. 'And those who are righteous or demonic? Suck them dry.'

This dark revelation about the Rosewood Orphanage not only unveiled the depths to which his dysfunctional family would stoop for power but also reminded him about the world he was in. 

Asher was entangled in a world where life was the currency of the powerful, and destinies were traded like commodities.

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