Chapter 118 - The Unexpected Guests

Kingdom’s Bloodline Masterless Sword, 无主之剑 2022/9/13 16:51:45

Chapter 118: The Unexpected Guests

Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation

Before Thales realized it, the attendant and protector behind him took a step forward without hesitation and firmly used their bodies to shield him.

Then, a chafing sound of people removing their swords from their sheaths rose into the air continuously!

Wya pulled out his sharp blade from the sheath without any hesitation. He vaguely aimed the tip of the blade at Nicholas’ throat with a serious gaze in his eyes.

Ralf had also sprung his only hidden blade from his sleeve and aimed the sword’s blade at Nicholas’ heart. The upper half of his face that was not covered by the silver mask revealed his sour expression.

*Cling! Clang! Cling!*

Noises were made by the White Blade Guards behind Nicholas.

These tall and robust, masked Northland Elites each had a light arm-shield attached to their left hands, while they pulled out their uniquely shaped battle swords from their waists. The sword hilts were snow white and slender, and could be grasped with both hands, but the blades glistened brightly in an elegant arc. It did not truly seem like the crude and forceful Northland style.

Their sword-unsheathing movements were orderly and filled with a solemn air. Their unmasked eyes looked murderous. It was unknown as to when they had dispersed into a half circle, and had the Constellation’s diplomat group loosely encircled from three sides.

The dozen soldiers left that were from Constellation, such as Genard, Willow, and others, drew their weapons without hesitation and supported the first line of defense going up against the White Blade Guards.

Aida’s voice came from behind Thales’ ears. “See their movements and gazes… These are real elites. Our Royal Family Guards are nothing compared to them. They are even better than the Black Sand Region army. Even if they confront the vampire’s Sacred Blood Army, they might probably not be inferior in any respect.”

Thales stared at Nicholas—standing across him—and the ice-cold smile on his face in disbelief.

‘What is going on? Are they going to tie me up to get to Dragon Clouds City?’

It was not that he had never expected the possibility of this encounter in Eckstedt… In fact, it was extremely normal for King Nuven, who had suffered the painful loss of his beloved son, to be angry and wish to ridicule, mock or even humiliate him, even if the Jadestar Royal Family and Walton Family actually had the same interest in avoiding war between the two countries, and also had the same wish in putting a stop to Black Sand Regions’ wild ambitions.

But Thales had never thought that this humiliating way of “welcoming” him would start before he even reached Dragon Clouds City.

‘Do I really have to let them tie me up when we go to Dragon Clouds City?’

Under the moonlight, Thales felt his skin crawl when he stared at the White Blade Guards’ battle swords with white hilts that glinted in the cold light while running a rough estimation of the disparity of power between both parties. ‘If we refuse… how will the situation develop?’

“This is ridiculous!” came Putray’s stern and furious voice. He hurriedly pondered the circumstances before his eyes and said exasperatedly, “Bind? There has never been a diplomat who encountered this type of treatment when they are sent on a diplomatic mission to another country! By doing so, you are blatantly besmirching King Nuven the Seventh’s reputation and Eckstedt’s glory! It will not bring about any honor and glory to your king!”

If he was King Nuven’s subject, he must have some misgivings about the prestige and dignity of the Common-Elected King of Eckstedt, unless…

Around them, the Eckstedtians who originated from Black Sand Region were staring at the situation with confused expressions on their faces. The dozens of White Blade Guards and the dozen something Constellatiates aimed their weapons at the enemy while they confronted each other with mutual hostility.

“Hmph,” Nicholas curved up one corner of his mouth to reveal an ominous, cold smirk. “This will indeed not bring any honor or glory to the king… But it will make him happy and temporarily relieve his sorrows… That would be enough.”

Putray gripped the longsword in his hand tightly whereas Thales furrowed his brows involuntarily.

The next moment, without a command or an order, the masked soldiers of the White Blade Guard took a uniform step forward while a cold glare shone in their eyes!

With heavy steps, they stomped on the snowy ground, and it sounded as if they were using a hammer and striking the hearts of Constellatiates.

Willow Ken stared at his enemy tensely. His shoulders trembled and he was about to strike with his twin pikes!

A strong hand reached out from the side and held the young pikeman’s right hand tightly to hold back the spear tip that he almost poked out.

Willow jumped in fright. He turned around and found that it was the veteran, Genard.

“Steady! Ignore their footsteps, pay attention to their shoulders!” he said calmly.

After experiencing the severe, bloody war with the Blood Clan in the birch forest, many of the private soldiers died or were injured terribly. The head of the private army, Chora, was seriously injured so he stayed back in the fortress and the duke’s former personal guard and veteran, Genard, indistinctly became the temporary team leader of this group—consisting of some of the Jadestar Private Army, the fortress’ veterans, and the recruits from the Northern Territory—by relying on his vast experience from the battlefield and all his mastered skills, which he gradually regained his proficiency for.

However, in the face of such an incomparably intense atmosphere, the veteran could not help breaking into a cold sweat.

Thales tried his best to say calmly, “Is this the will and order of King Nuven?”

Nicholas ignored the two sword blades aimed at his throat and his heart, he said darkly, “Oh, of course. He just has not said it yet.”

After a second, Nicholas moved and he took a sudden step towards Thales. The boy became startled!

Both Wya and Ralf clenched their teeth and thrust their weapons forward, trying to force Nicholas to retreat.

But then, a cold light flashed across Nicholas’ face and his figure disappeared in a flash!

In an instant, the pale-looking Star Killer turned his body sideways and moved into the gap between the two swords!

Wya’s single-edged sword that slashed at his throat hit against the white sword hilt that Nicholas had extended out from behind his shoulder. Sparkles flew from the impact!

As for Nicholas’ right hand, he flicked his fingers easily on the hidden blade that Ralf had used to point at Nicholas’ heart.

In that instant, under Wya and Ralf’s indignant gazes, Nicholas broke through their defenses without even the slightest change in his expression. He squeezed further into the gap between Wya and Ralf and extended his left hand towards Thales!

‘Damn it!’

Thales clenched his teeth and reacted extremely quickly by taking a step backwards, avoiding Nicholas’ hand. At the same time, he raised his left hand in the air while his right hand reached for the dagger at his waist, and shifted into the stance of the Northland Military Sword Style’s ‘Iron Body’ style.

But to his surprise, he saw Nicholas’s hand changing direction at the same time he retreated, changing his hand’s trajectory to the direction Thales moved, as if he had predicted his movements!

The fluctuation rushed up to Thales’ brain just in time and ‘slowed’ the situation before his eyes to its maximum degree.

In Thales’ vision, Nicholas moved very slowly. He was like a flashing silver light, but each time the light sparkled in his body, it caused Nicholas’ figure to transform.

‘This is his Power of Eradication?’ Thales had a tense expression on his face as he carefully pondered.

The Star Killer’s figure, movements, speed, transformations and movements all entered Thales’ consciousness in that instant.

After a moment of estimation, a pessimistic conclusion came to Thales’ mind.

‘No matter how I evade… I cannot avoid Nicholas’ capture. Fortunately, I still have her…’ Thales felt the changes in the cloaked figure’s presence behind him.

Nicholas’ hands had only extended halfway when a cloaked, petite figure grabbed him by the wrist.

Aida tightly grasped Nicholas’ wrist and coldly spoke up, “Be polite, little brat. At least say ‘how are you’, or ‘please’.”

Thales exhaled deeply.

Wya and Ralf swung their swords swiftly towards him, then positioned them firmly on the Star Killer’ neck.

Nicholas seemed to be slightly surprised, but he still did not care about the two swords pressed against his vitals. Instead, with furrowed brows, he stared at his wrist that was held by Aida, and said to her with a fascinated tone, “Oh. A woman… but you managed to see through my movements?”

The dozens of White Blade Guards surrounding Nicholas did not seem worried about their leader being caught in a dangerous situation. Their gazes were still ice-cold and murderous while they continued to put pressure on the Constellatiates.

Putray’s expression darkened. “What is the meaning of this, Lord Nicholas? This does not conform to the conventions and it is also not an order from King Nuven… These actions of yours are practically no different from assassination!”

“Assassination… Assassination?” Nicholas murmured these words under his breath. He lifted his head, and his expression turned extremely terrifying. “Are you referring to what the Constellatiates did to Prince Moriah on your land?”

Nicholas glared fiercely at Thales with his rage-filled eyes and enunciated each of his next words slowly and clearly, “Assassination? What you did to the king’s only son, to Eckstedt’s prince, to Dragon Clouds City’s heir, and to my student?

“That cowardly conduct?”

Putray was initially stunned, then immediately came back to his senses and said without hesitation, “King Nuven should still be the one who decides this!”

‘Damn it.’

Thales panted lightly and bit down on his lower lip. He clenched his teeth discreetly when he looked at Nicholas, who was being restrained by Aida and who had Wya and Ralf’s swords pressed against his throat.

‘How… should I handle this situation? Force Nicholas to retreat?’

Thales sucked in a deep breath, then raised both his hands with his palms turned towards the pale man to indicate that he was just a harmless little boy. However, Nicholas only gave him a malicious, cold sneer as a response.

The Second Prince of Constellation turned his head around and shouted towards the army of Black Sand Region, “Viscount Kentvida and Lord Tolja, your mission to escort me to Dragon Clouds City is already almost complete! I believe the people will praise the Archduke of Black Sand’s loyalty to King Nuven, and King Nuven will also be satisfied with your indomitable fealty. Meanwhile, I am very grateful for your efforts in escorting me!

“You may leave now!” Thales finished his speech.

Putray raised his eyebrows whereas Nicholas was slightly stunned.

Viscount Kentvida furrowed his brows as he watched the situation from afar, then he let out a deep sigh.

However, in the end, Kentvida only nodded at the frowning Tolja and walked forwards with huge strides.

‘The things this child says…

‘”Your mission to escort me to Dragon Clouds City is already almost completed.” By that, he’s saying, “Black Sand Region is responsible for my safety before I reach Dragon Clouds City, but we have yet to reach Dragon Clouds City, you know?”

‘”I believe the people will praise the Archduke of Black Sand’s loyalty to King Nuven.” Which would mean he’s saying, “Everyone will know that King Nuven abducted the Prince of Constellation while acting as if the army of Black Sand Region was not by their side when it happened.”

‘”And King Nuven will also be satisfied with your indomitable fealty.” That is equivalent to him saying, “No matter how submissive you are, King Nuven’s relationship with the Archduke of Black Sand will still not improve. Dragon Clouds City will still regard Black Sand Region as a thorn in their side.”

‘”Meanwhile, I am very grateful for your efforts in escorting me.” That is the same as him saying, “Before you is a chance to win over the friendship of the Prince of Constellation.”

‘”You may leave now.” That is him saying, “Hurry up and get me out of this mess!”‘

“Lord Nicholas!” Viscount Kentvida spoke up while he pondered again whether Putray taught the second prince how to speak, “This is, after all, the campsite of the army of Black Sand Region. The archduke entrusted us with a mission to ensure Prince Thales’ safety, and your current behavior… is unquestionably very insensible.”

Nicholas shook off Aida’s hand. He still ignored the swords at his neck, and coldly said to Kentvida, “I thought all of you are also Eckstedtians.”

“Of course we are Eckstedtians. Furthermore, we are Northlanders… and Northlanders value our reputation like how a snow eagle cherishes its wings.” Kentvida walked towards Nicholas and stared at both parties who were still about ready to jump at each other’s throats. His gaze paused on Thales and Putray for a brief moment. “Your Grace… I believe it is highly likely that King Nuven did not give you a command to tie up the prince until you reach Dragon Clouds City.”

Behind him, the soldiers of Black Sand Region slowly closed in towards their direction under Tolja’s signal.

Nicholas stared intently at Kentvida…

Then, his lips curled up into a faint, cold sneer.

The man’s complexion became even paler. “If I say no, then what are you going to do, Viscount of Black Sand Region? Are you going to let your army annihilate the king’s team of personal guards?

“Right? Warriors of Black Sand Region,” Nicholas chuckled as he swept his gaze over his surroundings and at the elite?regular soldiers who were specially chosen by the Archduke of Black Sand.

Thales’ heart sank. ‘This is bad. It seems like even the army of Black Sand Region… is still unable to deter Nicholas and his White Blade Guards.’

“You are currently in our campsite, and you have less than one hundred men with you.” Tolja walked over from behind Kentvida and stared solemnly at the white weapon on Nicholas’ back. “Even with the Severing Souls Blade, you can only last for a few more minutes longer than your other men… You are not Arracca Murkh and you do not have his Motionless Bow.”

Thales could clearly see that Nicholas’ brows moved slightly in the exact instant he heard of that name.

On the other hand, Kentvida was staring intently at Nicholas’ face. “Of course, we absolutely do not want to become enemies with the famous White Blade Guards, especially since we had once fought together twelve years ago.

“Also, regardless of whether it is you or I, both of us are unable to shoulder the responsibility of causing conflict between Dragon Clouds City and Black Sand Region.”

Thales had a realization.

White Blade Guards. He recalled what Putray had told him about Kaslan’s identity.

‘Kaslan retired from the military twelve years ago… so…’

Thales spoke slowly and caught the attention of everyone at the scene, “Lord Nicholas… You know, we had just passed by Kaslan’s Hero Tavern a few days ago.”

Thales noticed that Nicholas’ expression changed suddenly after he had finished speaking.

The gazes of the surrounding White Blade Guards warriors who confronted them started to twinkle.

‘Kaslan… it seems that old man means something to them.’ Thales nodded secretly to himself.

Thales continued to speak calmly, “Kaslan offered me a pint of rye wine, the type where only a limited supply is available. He is a wise and open-minded old man… but I think you might not know him. Am I right, Lord Nicholas?”

Nicholas’ eyes revealed his complicated emotions.

‘As if you would not know him.’

Thales sighed. “He left a deep impression on me. I believe the White Blade Guards led by someone like him would be completely different from yours.”

Nicholas stared at him in silence.

Then, Thales clenched his teeth tightly like he had just made up his mind.

Under everyone’s shocked gazes, the second prince immediately yelled, “Constellatiates, put down your weapons!”

Wya and Ralf stared at Thales in surprise. Even Aida gasped in surprise from under her cloak.

The Constellatiates looked at the surrounding White Blade Guards glaring at them with hostility, then they exchanged doubtful glances with each other. They could not believe the order given by the prince.

Only Putray was in deep thought. Kentvida and Tolja furrowed their brows at the same time, whereas Nicholas stared at Thales with an indiscernible expression.

“This is an order from your second prince, from the heir to Constellation’s throne!” Thales had a firm expression on his face as he repeated his order.

Putray was the first one to sheath his sword and took a step back.

Immediately afterwards, Genard also put his sword away without any hesitation.

Wya glanced at the prince in disbelief. Under the latter’s unquestionable gaze, he kept his teeth clenched and retracted his sword from Nicholas’ neck.

Ralf followed suit. Then the fifth soldier, the sixth… it continued until all the Constellatiates put their weapons away.

Under everyone’s watchful gazes, Thales took a step forward and walked past Wya and Ralf’s protection until he was in front of Nicholas.

Nicholas lowered his head and stared at Thales with his face devoid of any emotions. “You should have done this sooner. If you had submitted to me earlier, you would have?experienced less suffering…”

“Enough, Your Grace,” Thales interrupted him coldly. Then continued speaking while forcing down the tremor in his voice, “I do not know why you insist on tying me up to go back to Dragon Clouds City. I do not care whether it is for the new enmity or the old hatred, whether it is for Prince Moriah or for Prince Horace, but before I finish my first mission, I will only answer to King Nuven. Even if King Nuven decides to kill me to avenge his own kin, he still needs to let me die in an honorable manner that befits my status.”

Nicholas stared at the Second Prince of Constellation in surprise.

Thales took in a deep breath. “This is the conversation between the future King of Constellation and the current King of Eckstedt, but YOU want to humiliate me in advance when I am about to meet and converse with King Nuven?”

“Without a doubt, you are not only humiliating me, you are also humiliating King Nuven and bringing shame upon his honor…

“But I do not care!” Thales had a solemn expression on his face when he turned to face the surrounding White Blade Guards. “Continue, White Blade Guards, the Dragon’s Imperial Guards! Kidnap a seven-year-old child to Dragon Clouds City…

“I do not care at all if you want to tie me up, humiliate me, mock me, ridicule me, or how you are going to bring shame upon someone’s honor! I do not care about those things at all!

“The thing I care about is only my mission, the truth of Prince Moriah’s death, the justice he should obtain, and the war and peace between the two countries!

“I was already prepared for this since I came to this place… Even if Nuven is a butcher with his hands covered in blood, an incompetent king who listens to slander, a despicable and shameless, vile character, or a coward who cares a lot about his reputation, I am already prepared for it all!”

Nicholas’ expression became incomparably complicated.

The White Blade Guards still did not move their unmasked eyes.

“In his tavern, Kaslan was like a true elder. He treated me to his best wine, laughed when he patted my shoulder, and asked me to grow up faster. At the same time, he told me that King Nuven is a good king. He is forthright and generous, lenient and fair. He can shield a nameless soldier by personally putting himself in front of an orc’s axe!

“Every Northland warrior believed that dying for the king was the highest glory!”

Eventually, a few White Blade Guards moved slightly.

Thales turned around and spread his hands. He raised his head and stared at Nicholas calmly. “I believe in Kaslan’s reputation, so I also believe in King Nuven’s reputation. In the past few days, we have eaten the Northlanders’ food and drank their wine. According to the customs of Northland, we are now King Nuven’s guest and sojourning on the national land under his reign.”

Thales said slowly as he stared unwaveringly at Nicholas’ pale face, “As for how King Nuven decides to treat his guest, we do not have a say in the matter. Go on, treat me as your prey and tie me up to Dragon Clouds City as a gift to King Nuven.

“Show the world what kind of king he is.”

The White Blade Guards exchanged glances with each other rapidly, then turned to look at their commander together.

Kentvida’s gaze flickered continuously between Thales and Putray while he seemed like he was in deep thought.

On the other hand, Wya stared worriedly at the Star Killer across from him. As for Nicholas, who would make the most crucial decision, he slowly narrowed his eyes.

He looked at Thales and smiled faintly. “Thales Jadestar, you truly are as cunning as the rumors claimed. Truly, you do not seem like a seven-year-old child.”

Thales was momentarily stunned.

Nicholas stared at Thales with a complicated look in his face. “Put away your weapons, my brothers. Let the king decide what should be done with our ‘guest’…

“Even if the enmity between him and us is as deep as the ocean.”

After receiving the order, the White Blade Guards shifted their gazes and uniformly sheathed their swords. Thales finally let out a sigh in relief.

The Constellatiates also breathed relieved sighs. The two Black Sand Region commanders did the same thing.

Right at this moment…

“Alert!” At the perimeter of the campsite, the soldiers of Black Sand Region were heard yelling to bring about vigilance in others.

Everyone’s attention was instantly brought towards the exterior of the campsite.

Under the moonlight, new cavaliers appeared in front of them and made their ways towards the campsite.

Kentvida narrowed his eyes and he asked Nicholas, “Are they your comrades?”

Nicholas did not reply him.

The sound of horse hooves galloping from beyond the campsite were heard.

There were a dozen something of cavaliers. They raised a strange flag as they moved slowly towards the campsite.

It was a flag with a white base. A curved golden wheat was drawn on the flag. The golden wheat extended from the upper-right corner of the flag to its bottom-left corner, and intersected with a golden dagger.

A stranger’s voice came from a distance away. “Good evening, everyone. Praise the Lady of Harvests and the Maiden Ocean Guardian! Let us hope that they may bless and protect everyone to have a comfortable and plentiful life!”

Kentvida took a few steps forward. He furrowed his brows as he stared at the wheat-and-dagger flag.

“I am Lhasa Kentvida, Viscount of the City of Halting Light, and this is the military camp of the Archduke of Black Sand,” Viscount Kentvida yelled, “Who are you?”

Under the protection of dozens of cavaliers, a middle-aged man wearing in a gorgeous cloak slowly rode out from the crowd. He wore a winter bowler hat encrusted with jewels. Under that hat was a blond ponytail.

“I am Shiles Bamra, the honorary Marquis of Good Flow City.” The middle-aged man stopped his horse. He took off his hat and placed it on his left chest with a friendly and humble smile on his face. He bowed slightly in Kentvida’s direction. “I came from the friendly and generous Sixteen City States of Camus Union, and I am one of the thirty-six members of the Camus Union’s Joint Parliament.

“I represent Good Flow City of the Union, and am on a diplomatic trip to Eckstedt. When I heard that the Second Prince of Constellation is here, I came here specifically to greet you.”

Early morning, Dragon Clouds City, the road west.

There was a Far Easterner with black hair and black eyes. He was about thirty to forty years old. It was hard to tell a Far Easterner’s age from their appearances because their rate of aging was different from Rudollians and Northlanders.

He carried an Everlasting Lamp and walked steadily in the gloomy, cold underground cellar, planning to start a day’s work.

But then he furrowed his brows, because he seemed to have felt something.

He stopped in his tracks and carefully swept his eyes over every corner in front of him in the quiet darkness. His ears were listening to every sound of activity in the underground cellar.

There was nothing at all, but he did not let down his guard…

Because he trusted his intuition more.

Most of the time, danger cannot be found with the eyes and ears. Instinct was the last thing life can rely on.

He clenched his teeth tightly, frowned, and put on a ferocious expression in the direction of the darkness beyond the lamp light. Just like a wolf that sharpened its teeth and claws because it sensed danger, he was vigilant about the danger in the darkness.

Immediately after, this Far Easterner moved. With one hand lifting the Everlasting Lamp, he used his other hand to press against his waist as he crouched down.

He turned sideways and faced the wall on his left as well as the darkness behind the corner.

“Who’s there?” the Far Easterner asked calmly.

The Far Easterner used the lingua franca heavy with the Northlanders’ accent while he moved slowly but rhythmically. “If you want to steal some money, brother, then you have come to the wrong place.”

There was still no answer.

The Far Easterner narrowed his eyes.

In the next moment, his figure moved in a flash! He only used three steps to close the distance worth a dozen something steps!

The Far Easterner moved past the corner and his Everlasting Lamp illuminated everything there.

But the Far Easterner gasped in surprise. There was no one in the corner in front of him.

After a few seconds, the Far Easterner sighed in relief.

‘Am I too paranoid?’

The Far Easterner carefully investigated the corner to ensure that there were no traces left by anyone.

He shook his head and shrugged, then he patted his head.

‘It seems like I am. Why can I not seem to drop this old, bad habit of mine? Even now, I am still overly paranoid even while I sleep.’

“A wolf does not sleep soundly because of its vigilance.” That was the first lesson his master had taught him a very long time ago, when his master abandoned him on the Northern Prairies and left him to live independently for three days.

‘I really hope that I can get a good night’s sleep one day… To forget everything from my past.’

The Far Easterner laughed in a self-deprecating manner, then he turned around immediately and walked towards the original route from whence he came.

The light also turned around with him…

…and illuminated another person behind him who had suddenly appeared.

The Far Easterner’s pupils narrowed!

He lifted the hand from his waist instinctively!

The Far Easterner was shocked to discover that his dagger-wielding right hand was firmly seized by the unexpected guest!

He was unable to move.

“Long time no see, Gu,” the other party said slowly.

The Far Easterner forced down the shock within him and tried to control his body from trembling. He also tried his best to resist his instinct to activate the Power of Eradication so he could free himself.

He stared intently at the man who suddenly appeared.

It was an ordinary-looking man.

“Yes, long time no see,” the Far Easterner Gu replied bitterly, “Black Sword.”

Black Sword released Gu’s wrist.

“Lance asked me to come to you,” the man called Black Sword said in a cold and brief manner.

‘He’s still the same as before.’ Gu put his dagger back on his waist and frowned. ‘Concise and direct. Chills a person’s heart just by speaking.’

Gu sucked in a deep breath and erased every single unnecessary emotion and memory before he said seriously, “Yes. I found that person.”

The Black Sword did not utter a single word.

“Are you sure?” the Black Sword only asked slowly after a few seconds.

Gu deeply exhaled. “Even though I have not met him in person, it should be him. It is unlikely that I would be wrong.”

The Black Sword stayed silent.

‘This is strange,’ Gu secretly thought to himself, ‘Why is he so calm? Should he not be…’

The Black Sword turned around and said faintly, “I will come find you again at night to ask about the details. I still have something to do. I need to find a doctor.”

‘Come find me again?’

Gu recalled how this person came and went like a phantom. He could not help but to furrow his brows.

When Gu finished recalling his past memories. He could only feel agitated and rattled. He said helplessly, “Alright. I have a business deal to do as well, anyway.”

“Business?” The Black Sword furrowed his brows and recalled Gu’s notorious past.

His figure once again disappeared in the darkness away from the light. “What kind of business can you do?”

“What business?” Gu exhaled irritably. He walked to the table at the side and lifted the oilcloth on it to reveal a bone knife and a chopping board. He then said exasperatedly.

“This is my butcher shop! I am selling meat, of course!”

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