Chapter 201: The Prince’s End
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Under a shadowed roof, Nicholas lay on his side by a wooden barrel. His face was covered in grime and blood. He clenched his teeth and, with great difficulty, he extended a hand and snapped the arrow that had pierced through his thigh at the fletching. He gripped the bloody arrowhead and applied pressure on it.
Cold sweat streamed down his forehead. The Star Killer still gritted his teeth without a word, shivering as he removed the arrowhead.
Nicholas exhaled a breath, tossed the arrowhead aside, and ripped a piece of cloth to bandage the wound.
It was the last arrow.
As for the two arrowheads remaining in him… Nicholas stared at his left arm and left leg—there were two unexpected, broken arrow shafts that only had a few inches left to them left in there.
The Star Killer tightened his fists with a vicious look in his eyes.
Shortly afterwards, his unique Power of Eradication began to brew in his bones. It tightened his muscles and sealed the area around the arrow shafts. This should buy him some time.
Nicholas took a deep breath and frowned when he felt the serious injuries in his body.
The Star Killer looked up slowly at another man who also covered with wounds and lay on the ground in front of him. “You are the person Gleeward told me about.”
The man did not reply.
“Not bad. The way you fended off the arrows is ingenious.” Nicholas nodded slowly.
Nicholas panted, thinking to himself, ‘But honestly… this is a ruthless person.’
The man with the oddly-shaped black sword scoffed coldly and finished bandaging the last discernable wound on his body.
“You’re not so bad yourself,” he said flatly, peering at the very badly worn arm-shield on Nicholas’ left arm.
Nicholas narrowed his eyes.
“It was you who sealed the calamity?” The Star Killer hauled himself up against the wall. “You have… the weapon?”
“In a sense, maybe.” Black Sword nodded with an emotionless expression. “That cripple left behind a spear, didn’t he?”
Nicholas endured the throbbing pain in his arm and calf while he scanned this man with the strange sword from head to toe. He glanced at the other sword at the latter’s waist. A hint of suspicion flashed across his eyes.
“You know us… Who are you?”
The Head of the White Blade Guards instinctively placed his hand right beside the Severing Souls Blade and said softly, “You know about Mystics, and know about the legendary anti- mystic—”
But he was interrupted.
“Hey. Are you sure you want to waste your time here?” The plain-looking man shook his head slightly.
“You heard what those civilians were talking about.” Black Sword lowered his head and wiped his long sword clean. “Your king…”
He shrugged. The Star Killer stayed quiet for a moment.
“Yeah.” Nicholas took an arrowhead between his fingers with gloomy eyes. “I have a bad feeling about this. The worst scenario has already happened.”
‘The White Blade’s disgrace. I’m afraid that…’ Nicholas’ eyes turned cold. His slowly clenched his fists.
As he wiped his weapon, Black Sword peeked at Nicholas, observing his facial expression. “Don’t you plan on doing anything? At least deliver a message?”
Nicholas’ attention was focused on the arrow in his hand. His left palm snapped shut and tightened, trembling.
“Whoever started the coup—Black Sand Region or some other party—they had been planning for a long time. It was a detailed plan.” The Star Killer clenched his teeth and spat the words out through his grinding teeth. The look on his face was ghastly due to the contrast between his pale face and the bloodstains. “Now, other than my sworn brothers in the White Blade Guards, I trust no one.”
Black Sword huffed, hung his weapon back at his waist, and struggled to stand up by holding on to the wall. “Then I wish you luck.”
Nicholas looked up and stared at the man who was about to depart.
“Hey,” the Star Killer called after the strange man and nodded at him, “You are not a Northlander… Why did you save me?”
Black Sword turned his head around, casting a meaningful glance at Nicholas. The next second, Nicholas spotted a peculiar emotion flicker in the man’s eyes.
“I couldn’t stand despicable low-lives firing arrows in swarms at small groups,” Black Sword said impassively and continued turning his body away from Nicholas.
When he heard that, Nicholas, who leaned against the wall to rest, snorted with laughter.
“Give me a break.” Nicholas shook his head and sneered. “As a member of the White Blade Guards, the king’s sharpest blade, I have fought in many wars, served in his reserve army, as his messenger, court-martial judge, executioner, a member of his suicide squad, his elite vanguard and rearguard… any position you can think of.”
Black Sword did not turn his head. His voice echoed, “So?”
Nicholas squirmed a few inches up to sit on his posterior. He took a deep breath.
“Therefore, I have interrogated many war prisoners, spies, traitors, and enemies. I can tell truth and lies apart. I have seen how different people fought,” the Star Killer replied. His eyes were beaming. “I saw how you trounced Tolja—by kicking the snow and dust up from beneath your feet. You don’t exactly look like a vigilante who abhors injustice.”
Black Sword turned his head to the side to shoot a glance at Nicholas, who was panting on the ground.
Nicholas hummed lightly, shook his head and said, “If you don’t plan to speak—”
Right at that moment, Black Sword asked softly, “Is this the blade?”
In the next second, the Star Killer instantly noticed that the man’s gaze landed on the Severing Souls Blade by his hand. Nicholas’ breathing quickened, which somewhat affected his injuries. He placed his hand on the sword handle out of instinct.
Luckily, Black Sword merely asked in a deep voice, “So, this is the blade… that killed Horace Jadestar?”
Nicholas’ eyes widened slightly. ‘What?’
Under the eaves, the two men stared at each other for two seconds.
“Yes. it is the Severing Souls Blade.”
Nicholas’ gaze was fixed on Black Sword’s eyes the whole time. He nodded slowly while becoming more alert. He adjusted his position so that he could strike, or defend himself anytime, and said flatly, “‘The Sword of Reversing Light’ died under this blade twelve years ago.”
Black Sword was breathing calmly. An emotion that could not be deciphered flashed in his eyes.
“Horace,” he began, slowly, “did he die a painful death?”
Nicholas inhaled a lungful of cold air. He held on to the wooden barrel and stood up with some difficulty, clutching the Severing Souls Blade in his right hand.
“I now know why you saved me.”
The Star Killer gritted his teeth. His glare sharpened. Black Sword simply stared at him without a word.
“If you intend to avenge ‘The Sword of Reversing Light’, this is your best chance.” Nicholas was panting in agony. Parting his feet, he quickly calculated when to strike. The Power of Eradication accumulated in his bones. His voice was laced with severe animosity. “Of course, do not expect me to stay still.”
Nevertheless, the man in front of him merely glimpsed at the Severing Souls Blade, then he turned around and walked away.
He stared after Black Sword as the latter slowly ambled away. The suspicion in his chest heightened instead of waned.
“Wait,” the Star Killer blurted out at last. He said slowly. “What’s your intention, stranger? There’s a Camian saying: ‘Beware of gifts that ask for nothing in return.'”
Black Sword turned around and stared deep into the the eyes of the Star Killer.
Black Sword shook his head lightly. “I believe you have more important things to do rather than interrogate me.”
Nicholas frowned slightly. “That’s right. Trust me, I am doing it right now.”
The corner of Black Sword’s lips tugged and he shook his head. He turned and walked away, taking feeble strides due to his injury.
Startled, Nicholas stared at him—the silhouette of the man—as he left.
One second… Two seconds… Three seconds…
The spot between Nicholas’ eyebrows folded and unfurled. He seemed hesitant, until Black Sword’s silhouette disappeared behind the wall corner.
After a while, the Star Killer sighed.
“Alright.” As though he had made up his mind, he let out a light snort.
The footsteps behind the wall halted.
“The death of Horace Jadestar,” he said impassively, “In return for your help, if you really want to know about it.”
It was quiet behind the wall.
Nicholas leaned against the wall, but slowly slipped down against it. He lowered his gaze, and his eyes spoke of reminiscence.
“That night… That battle…” Nicholas murmured, “Horace, the cold-hearted butcher, was in his black armor, leading his personal guards. Their bodies covered with injuries and cracked armors… It was a literal bloodbath. Everyone had lost their minds.”
Nicholas’s eyes went blank, his gaze was already on a place that was not in front of him: It was back at the rocky mountain pass.
He said flatly, “Terende, Jules, Tolja, and the Constellatiates… each of us had lost ourselves in the clashing blades and bloodshed. We could feel nothing other than the carnage and death. I felt as though my blood was boiling in my veins.
“Tolja left due to his injuries, we cried out in anger; Jules was at a disadvantage, but he was laughing loudly; Terende died in battle, and we descended into an even greater state of madness… That was our final battle. That is why it’s the same for the Constellatiates…”
“One by one, the living bled and collapsed, and the dead were carried away…”
Nicholas looked down. “Everyone was mad. The battlefield… You understand that.”
With a complex and indecipherable emotion, he snorted with laughter that spoke volumes.
The other side of the wall stayed silence. It was as if Nicholas was talking to himself.
Nevertheless, the Star Killer knew that someone was listening attentively.
“But Horace was different.” Nicholas looked up again, changing the focus of his story. A peculiar expression emerged on his face. “When we were acting like crazed beasts, he seemed stolid, as though he did not even care about the battle.”
Nicholas lowered his head and said softly, “He died peacefully.”
A second after he said that, a deep, uneven breathing sounded from behind the wall.
“Peacefully?” Black Sword’s voice shook.
Nicholas nodded and snickered, which sounded like it was either a mockery or a helpless laugh. “When he collapsed in my arms… the look on his face… it seemed as if he was finally released.”
Black Sword did not speak on the other side of the wall. The sound of his breaths gradually faded.
Nicholas looked down, sighed, and said, “The last few attacks that ended Horace were not satisfying at all… Because it didn’t feel like a battle at all.”
There was no sound or movement on the other side of the wall. Nicholas was still talking, face expressionless, but he smiled a grievous smile.
“It felt… as if he wanted to be released,” Nicholas said quietly with a bleak voice. “Have you seen men with unhealable wounds on the battlefield, who await death but were still breathing…? It felt like that… the look that sought to be released…”
A sound of friction from a finger on a sword hilt came from behind the wall. Though it was soft, Nicholas heard it. The sound of breathing grew more labored.
“Release?” Black Sword’s voice echoed, trembling slightly. He struggled to speak. “Why?”
The Star Killer sighed. “I don’t know, I don’t want to know.” Nicholas shook his head blankly. “I guess, when someone dies, he must have certain odd, unusual thoughts, even for a prince?”
‘Perhaps… Especially a prince.’
Thinking of King Nuven and Prince Soria, Nicholas’ eyes dimmed. He sucked in a deep breath and tried to perk up.
The breathing sound from the other side of the wall faded. Meanwhile, Nicholas’s gaze drifted afar. He chuckled in his daze. His words were full of mockery. “Star Killer… Star Killer… haha, hahaha…”
Beneath the eaves, the two men stayed idle and wordless on both sides of the wall corner.
“Thank you.” Black Sword’s voice came from the other side of the wall.
Nicholas snapped out of his reverie. He shook his head, and harrumphed coldly. “It’s just to repay you for your help, there’s no need to thank me—”
“No, it isn’t for me,” said the man behind the wall. “It’s for Horace.”
Nicholas was somewhat startled.
‘Why?’ He wanted to ask. But few seconds later, Nicholas closed his mouth, as though he understood something, and nodded knowingly.
No sound came from behind the wall.
The Star Killer leaned back against the wall with a gloomy expression.
“Alright then… Good luck to you, man with the black sword.” Nicholas said softly
On the other side of the wall, Black Sword did not reply.
The man with the dejected look raised his head and cast a profound gaze at Northland’s sky.
In the next second, Black Sword turned around and disappeared under the eaves.