Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Black Sword scrutinized Thales’ face for the longest time.
“Not bad.” Finally, Black Sword slowly nodded. A smile unlike his usual one was revealed at the corner of his mouth.
“You are indeed a… Jadestar.”
At that moment, Thales felt alarmed as his eyes widened!
He involuntarily tightened his grasp on the Blade of Purification.
“Ah, at this point, if I can’t even get your identity right, what else is there to discuss about finding the Mystic?” Black Sword shook his head with a vague smile.
The next moment, Black Sword firmly picked Thales up with his right arm!
“Grab hold of your sword!” Black Sword said coldly as he swiftly jumped onto a half-collapsed roof and leapt in Kilika’s direction.
Stunned, Thales felt the whooshing of the wind in his ear.
He now knew his identity.
Thales could not help but recall King Nuven and Asda’s words.
‘”The mercenary leader was peculiarly skilled…
‘”Wielding a strange sword…
‘”Map of Renaissance Palace…
‘”You were the one who assassinated the crown prince, weren’t you…”‘
Thales’ heart thumped continuously.
What was he going to do?
He had reached the point of no return.
An earth-shattering explosion was then heard from afar.
“What should we do?”
After a while, Thales finally came to his senses. He forcibly suppressed the tension and shock in his heart. Trembling, he asked, “What’s to be done?”
With his intact right arm, Black Sword held Thales in his embrace as his footsteps continued to thrust his weak body forward.
“The Blood Mystic.” The second prince frowned. “She… I’ve personally witnessed it. She cannot be sealed by a legendary anti-mystic equipment…
“If there’s no way to seal her… If we were to face her in battle with those incredibly strange abilities of hers…”
An uninhibited sense of worry surged in Thales’ heart.
“Surely, there’s a way,” Black Sword said with certainty. “There has never been an undefeatable enemy—a living creature like that only exists in novels of the knights. It’s our lead.”
“Huh?” Thales was stunned. “Do you have any solutions then?”
Black Sword turned his body nimbly, avoiding a tentacle that appeared out of nowhere. “First of all, you need a change of mindset.”
Thales was a little surprised.
‘Change of… mindset?’
“You think you’re very weak, don’t you?”
Black Sword lowered his head and allowed his voice to drift with the wind into Thales’ ears. “You think that your chances of winning will be very low when you face her, don’t you?”
Thales opened his mouth. After gulping a mouthful of cold air, he trembled as he said, “Isn’t that true though?”
Thales hugged the Blade of Purification against his chest. Feeling dispirited, he said, “I am very weak.
“In the face of such an opponent… Let’s not start with me, besides you, even the supra class fellows don’t stand a chance.”
Upon hearing that, Black Sword sneered.
“I was far from finished with my words in front of Asda just now,” Black Sword’s words suddenly sounded a little grave. “Listen well now.”
Black Sword halted, stopping in front of a low wall. Next to them were a pair of motionless lovers locked in an embrace.
“No, little one,” Black Sword’s tone was incomparably cold.
The sound of a house collapsing came from afar.
It seemed like an intense battle.
With the austerity in Black Sword’s expression, Thales suddenly felt an indescribable sense of nervousness in his heart.
He heard him resolutely say, “You’re not weak at all.”
As he heard Black Sword’s unquestionable tone this time, Thales was completely stunned.
“You think you have no power and can’t take a blow; that you are at the disposal of anyone with the slightest capability?” Black Sword lowered his voice. They hid behind the low wall, listening to the squishing sounds that were reverberating nearby.
“Then, why are you still standing here?”
“I…” Thales felt congested. “I’m just lucky? Sometimes, I’m a bit clever? I am able to slip my way through situations every time…”
Black Sword narrowed his eyes into a thin line. The glaring light from within was unprecedentedly aggressive.
A few seconds later, the leader of Black Street Brotherhood casually yet unquestionably said, “Only true weaklings will treat pure force as evidence of strength.”
Thales’ eyebrows twitched.
“To those who are truly strong, force is nothing more than a decoration.”
“True strength does not lie in how heavy of a hatchet you can wield, how swiftly you can pierce with a sword, how wide you can pull a sturdy bow open, or how accurate you can slash with your blade.” Looking at Thales’ frown, Black Sword paused slightly. Without any expression on his face, he proceeded, “It has nothing to do with how many thousands of soldiers you can lead or how strong of a city you can conquer either.”
“I’ve seen a strong and acclaimed supreme class warrior found dead in a beggar’s sack without any dignity. I’ve also seen how an important suzerain fell into despair under a servant’s axe.” Black Sword’s pupils contracted. The chill in his words had an aggressive edge to it. “I’ve even seen an insufferably arrogant Mystic lose and be frightened out of his wits of a sickly girl.”
Thales took a deep breath and raised his head. He furrowed his brows tightly as he softly said, “The supreme class warrior, the suzerain, even the Mystic… their losses were all coincidences. Only under extremely rare conditions, paired with some impossibly bad luck, could they have had the chance of dying in the hands of the weak…”
However, as Thales spoke, his voice gradually grew fainter.
While a little bewildered, he looked at Black Sword, who was shaking his head.
“You’re right.” The ordinary looking man exhaled. “Coincidence, conditions, luck, chance and more—all of these added together are crucial points in determining the strong and the weak, relative superiority, and the winner of a battle.”
Thales’ eyes widened. He was still slightly startled.
Black Sword raised the corner of his mouth as if he was looking at a mischievous student. “Those who are truly strong see all the factors that determine the outcome of battle as his own strength.”
The squishing sound in his ear disappeared.
At the next moment, Black Sword got up from the ground again!
Thales squeezed his eyes shut as he felt the frost and snow billowing against his face.
However, Black Sword’s words were drilled into his ear. Not a word was missed. It all rang clear without mistake.
“Those who are truly strong will turn unfavorable conditions into conditions that will benefit them, disadvantages into advantages, a deadly situation into a chance for them to survive, and also reduce absolute outcomes into mere possible outcomes. They transform their opponent’s force into weakness and magnify their own strength.
“In despair they seek hope, and from loss they find ways to turn the tide. They escalate favorable circumstances into sure wins and transform unexpected mishaps into support.”
Black Sword stepped over a fallen, dead man. The pain of suffocation remained on the face of the deceased.
They turned around an alley which was missing half of its entrance.
The sounds of battle ahead of them drew nearer.
With the frosty wind blowing in his face, Thales endured the chill and strong gale. He could not help but say, “But—”
Black Sword however, did not allow him to interrupt and continued talking.
“They unfold their chessboard under the vast heavens and earth, using all living beings as chess pieces. They regard all things in the world as squares on a chessboard, turning seemingly simple confrontational battles into an unparalleled match that allows them to predict the outcome of a battle.” Black Sword took a deep breath and raised his head towards the sky. “They take everything their opponents rely upon as their possession. These are the people who see all factors including their opponents, themselves, their surrounding conditions, and luck as bargaining chips…
“People who seize everything in their grasp, take the world into account in their hearts and are capable of observing the entire situation…”
Black Sword dropped his head. Without realizing it, Thales found himself was dumbfounded by the deep meaning in Black Sword’s eyes as he silently listened to him. “Only these people are qualified to be called…
The squishing sounds from Kilika were now clear and distinct. It was growing nearer.
Silence fell between the two of them, and only the snow sweeping across their faces reminded them of their situation.
Thales opened his mouth gradually. He gritted his teeth and hesitated before he finally spoke up.
“But due to the foul existence of those Mystics, regardless of the crafty plots, or however many factors taken into consideration…” Thales revealed a bitter smile, which made him look rather haggard.
“They would all only have limited effects.”
“You are wrong again,” Black Sword coldly said.
With a sharp turn, Black Sword held Thales by his arms as he slid across a frozen trench.
This move was a little sudden and abrupt, causing Thales to feel a spell of dizziness.
“Even those who seem to have unparalleled power, those who can destroy cities and countries with mere gestures, those who are unrivalled, or even immortals and indestructible creatures…”
After he said these words, Black Sword deliberately left his sentence hanging and scanned the circular perimeter of the ruins. But Thales could only squint and strenuously try to reduce the impact upon his sense of balance brought by Black Sword’s stance.
Black Sword slammed his left palm on the ground and leaped. Shortly after, he raised his head and snorted. “If they can’t do all the things I just mentioned, then they remain as weaklings—just stronger weaklings at best.”
The hydra in the distance was close enough and clearly distinguishable by now.
“It didn’t notice us?” Thales was a little nervous.
“I have my ways.” Unconcerned, Black Sword cast him a look. “How did you think I escaped the hands of the Blood Mystic?”
They stopped again and Black Sword reached out to touch the ground, closing his eyes slightly.
It seemed like he was feeling something.
“Long story short, even if it were the calamities with their seemingly unstoppable power, for those who are truly strong, they are no more than slightly bigger chess pieces.”
Black Sword withdrew his hand from the ground and lightly tapped the Blade of Purification in Thales’ hands. His eyes were filled with wisdom and intelligence. “If for any reason, these big chess pieces are removed from their chessboard, these so-called ‘unrivalled’ beings would become nothing. They would even become ridiculous and despicable existences.”
Thales looked pensive as he bowed his head.
Black Sword inhaled. His eyes were unfocused and there was a profound look in his eyes, as if he had sunken into his memories of the past.
His faintly discernible tone was then heard.
“Have you ever seen a supreme class swordsman lose both his arms and cry his eyes out after waking up?”
Black Sword continued.
“Have you ever seen an elite scout, who travels thousands of miles in a day decline into blind drunkenness after completely shattering the bones in his legs?
“Have you ever seen a high official lose his authority and turn mad, passing his nights and days in insanity in the countryside?
“Have you ever seen a famous general go from berating thousands of soldiers to being convicted for a crime overnight, hoping for his demise in prison because he had already succumbed to grief?
“Have you ever seen a family who has enjoyed being aristocrats for thousands of years stripped of their family name and eventually giving up on their lives like the beggars in their worst state of despair?
“Have you ever seen a terrifying, formidable, and boundlessly powerful calamity shake like a leaf, fleeing in the face of a tiny legendary anti-mystic equipment?
“I’ve seen them all before,” the man plainly said.
Thales’ breathing started to grow heavy.
“Ah.” Thales exhaled lightly, revealing an exhausted smile. “So you have the plot armor dependency syndrome.”
“But I’ve seen more than just them.” Black Sword did not understand what Thales just said, but took a deep breath as though he was focusing his energy.
“I’ve seen a prince who fell into the hands of his opponents over the course of one night. He had both of his legs broken and he was burdened with a bad reputation. After being reduced to a lowly slave, he overthrew his owner in two years. With a new army, he trekked thousands of miles and returned to his capital. He is a legend among his people.
“I have seen weak women who have been deprived completely of their power. Without an ounce of strength in their hands, they tumble like the wind among ill-intentioned enemies. But with their graceful posture, silver tongues and amazing eloquence, they become nightmares who murder without being seen and disassemble armies in an instant.”
Thales did not say a word.
Meanwhile, Black Sword frowned slightly. He propped his palm on the ground in another direction.
Black Sword’s keen perception had returned to him, giving him priceless intel on the situation of the battlefield.
‘Someone is confronting and contending with the Blood Mystic.
‘There’re two of them.
‘This is quite a good chance to strike.
‘But it’s still not the best time yet.
‘We have to be patient.’
“Those who exist free from the restriction of strength, power and status, wherever they go, they will be able to blossom in radiance. Even the tiniest ant can affect a supreme deity.”
Thales slowly frowned. “Are you such a person?”
Black Sword fell silent.
“No,” the man’s tone was low. “I can only be considered as one who’s striving to be like them.
“But you, little fellow…
“You possess such potential.” Black Sword turned around and his gaze swept across Thales’ face like a blade, “Your performance on the cliff astonished me.”
“You had fewer chess pieces than everybody else, but you did your utmost to grab hold of anything and everything useful. You clung tightly onto every possible bargaining chip, cast the most crucial chip and from then on, changed the entire battle.
“Little fellow, based on those points solely, you are already— compared to the majority of the world—much stronger.” Black Sword observed the scene in the distance—Kilika’s body was already close to his sight.
“You are a strong person. Earlier, you were able to seek the opportunity to live and escape from such adversity. You stood firm—this is something most of the strongest so-called supreme classes cannot achieve,” Black Sword whispered. “Now, you just have to firmly believe this and have an unshaken resolve to be a ‘truly strong person’.”
Thales put on a doubtful look on his face.
“What we did on the cliff was your plan,” the second prince argued. “From the initial tests of strength masked as attacks to you seizing me to seek opportunities… I even had my doubts when you eventually accepted my suggestion. Throwing me off the cliff was also part of your plan. Don’t forget, you had already prepared mountain climbing ropes from the start…
“‘The most crucial chip’ and what not don’t matter.” Thales curled his lips. “Stop comforting me.”
Black Sword’s face stiffened.
“I’m doing this to encourage you…” With an unpleasant expression, Black Sword coughed lightly. “Also, don’t change the subject.”
Thales revealed an embarrassed smile.
And Black Sword sighed.
The sound of a man’s roar drifted into their ears from Kilika’s direction.
Thales was slightly hesitant. He wanted to stretch his neck to look at the scene outside, but he was brusquely tugged back by Black Sword.
“On the contrary… those who revere pure force and authority as the only determining factor of victory and categorize the strong and weak based on these… Well, they’ve been outdated a long time ago.
“Strength is not feudal nobility. It can never be transformed into visible, numbered rankings—I’ve seen supreme classes die in the hands of the ordinary class; I’ve also seen unarmed, so-called ‘weaklings’ destroy dozens of ranked, supra class warriors…
“The era of one-on-one duels between knights are long gone. Sadly, even in this era where bows can pierce through armor, horseshoes can squash flesh, trebuchets can break city walls, and Mystic Guns rumble, the vast majority of people’s thoughts remain in the ridiculous era of the knights. They treat battle as a comical play of arm wrestling between two people on a table.” Black Sword had half of his head extend out of the place they hid and observed the area outside. His eyes sparkled brilliantly.
“That pitiful, limited viewpoint of theirs is just restraining them their views of strength on arms, muscles, on two people fighting, and on a table used for arm wrestling.” Black Sword looked deep into Thales’ eyes and smiled with disdain.
“It is as you are now; how your eyes are locked on the inextricable myth of the Mystics and their unparalleled power.”
“What else is there?” Thales countered with slight denial. “This is not as simple as a ‘big chess piece’—this is a ‘big chess piece’ with the ability to smash the chessboard—”
“Then, work harder!” Black Sword coldly interrupted him. “Let it smash the chessboard, smash it all the way into the ground!”
Thales was a little stunned. ‘Are we having a squabble?’
“Remember, as I see it, you’re not a weakling.” Black Sword dropped his head. His tone was very serious and scary, “Never have doubts like ‘I’m not strong enough’—that’s exclusive to a weakling.
“How did the humans defeat the ancient orcs while they were in an absolutely disadvantageous situation? How did they win the Battle of Eradication?” Black Sword’s eyes released rays of unprecedented resolution. “Is it not clear enough?”
Thales stared blankly into Black Sword’s eyes—those resolute and cold, yet incomparably clear eyes.
“Northland Military Sword Style.”
Thales opened his mouth without realizing.
Black Sword’s facial expression changed. “What?”
“I remember now. At the Cliff of the Sky just now, your movements as you rushed in Asda’s direction… That was the Northland Military Sword Style.” Thales narrowed his eyes. “The Ancient Orc Resistance Sword Style.”
He quickly raised his head to look at Black Sword.
“Why are you telling me these things?”
Black Sword stared at him, slowly biting the corner of his mouth. He revealed an unpleasant smile.
“First of all, I will not carry someone who’s a burden to me,” Black Sword plainly said. “Especially one with the potential to be strong, but is consumed by a weakling’s mindset; a burden who only knows how to strive and test his luck during critical times. People like that are the worst.”
Thales’s eyebrows twitched begrudgingly. He was feeling anxious in his heart.
‘What exactly are we waiting for?
‘Obviously, Kilika, and even Giza are already right before our eyes.’
But Black Sword still stubbornly finished what he was saying.
“Second of all…
“Once you have a change of mindset to understand this reasoning, you can utilize all your chess pieces to their maximum efficiency.”
Thales’ heart moved. He looked at Black Sword in confusion. “Chess pieces?
“You mean this sword?” Thales scratched his head and raised the Blade of Purification in his hands.
“But that’s not all.”
Black Sword slowly readjusted his breathing, and his eyes grew colder. “You have a bizarre sort of power, don’t you?”
At that moment, Thales felt like he had been struck by lightning.
‘That can’t be?
‘Don’t tell me he’s talking about my mystic energy…’
However, Black Sword’s following words set off tidal waves in his already very much shocked heart.
“It’s exactly the sort of power that allowed you to spot Asda’s Air Wall, see through its essence, and speak up to warn me…”
Black Sword’s words were like a heavy hammer that struck Thales’ heart.
“It even allows you to see farther, run faster, have greater strength and sharper reflexes.”
Thales stared blankly at Black Sword.
‘It’s not mystic energy?
‘Wait a minute…
‘Is it those fluctuations?
‘He… How did he know?’
“It’s precisely with those powers that you could escape from the tentacles earlier, ” Black Sword coldly said.
Thales’ mouth hung wide open.
Silence continued for a few seconds.
Thales heard his heartbeat accelerate, and his blood rush. He could not help but frown. “You mean to say, that power…”
“That’s a Power of Eradication.” Black Sword resolved his suspicions. “An extremely rare Power of Eradication.
“Sin of Hell’s River.”
Thales’ eyes were wide open, his pupils continuously shifting focus.
‘Power of Eradication?
Black Sword took a deep breath, and knitted his brows, appearing a little dispirited. “Although I don’t know how you could possess it at such an age, without a doubt, this could be one of your most capable chess pieces. It can even determine the outcome of a battle.”
“Sin of… Hell’s River?” Thales finally came to his senses a good while later. He absent-mindedly said, “What kind of damned name is that?”
“I never said it would have a pleasant-sounding name.” Black Sword stared intently at his face, as if awaiting his face to bloom into a flower. “As long as it’s effective, it’s enough.”
Thales raised his head. He laboriously tried to rearrange his scattered thoughts.
He recalled the scene when his fluctuations first surged in the birch tree forest.
Then, he recalled the first time he noticed the weird fluctuations on Ramon’s body.
“I don’t even know what it is.” Thales frowned. “Do you?”
Scattered rumbling came from behind the low wall.
A few seconds later, Black Sword’s ordinary looking face appeared somewhat terrifying under the moonlight.
At that moment, Thales vaguely noticed that Black Sword’s expression was sort of lonesome… and sorrowful.
“I don’t just know about it.”
Amid the hydra’s increasingly louder squishing, Black Sword gently said, “We are the same kind.
“Slaves of that accursed power.
Thales inhaled with surprise.
‘Wait a minute, that power…’
Nonetheless, Black Sword did not give him any chances to ask questions.
The legendary leader of Black Street Brotherhood raised his head and looked at Kilika’s terrifying body, which was growing stronger by the moment. With an indifferent and dull tone, he whispered, “Listen well. Before we undertake this final task…
“I will only teach you how to use the Sin of Hell’s River once.”