Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
When all of them walked out of the secret passage, filled with doubt, anxiety and worry, Thales felt as if he was seeing the light of day once more, though it was just a misconception.
However, every time he recalled all that had happened in Dragon Clouds City, it was as though his emotions were shrouded in a layer of trauma made up of murders, conspiracies, and betrayals. That feeling grew deeper and was impossible to get rid of.
He was sent here to prevent a possible war between the two kingdoms. But…
Nuven’s head—which toppled and rolled on the ground—and Lampard’s brutal and cold face came to Thales’ mind. He could not help but hold his breath.
The second prince raised his head and stared at the gray Northland sky. It made Thales feel even more lost.
Miranda was still vigilantly looking around her. They were in a secluded and narrow corner of a city district. The mottled stone wall was obviously aged, worn away by frost and rain. Miranda turned and said to the Star Killer, “What are your plans? Find vassals who are still loyal to the Walton Family?”
However, Nicholas only stared solemnly at his weapon and paid Miranda no heed. He appeared to still be immersed in the negotiation he just had with the Red Witch.
Raphael answered her question.
“Dragon Clouds City is still a very dangerous place. Even the Walton Family’s vassals…” The young man frowned. “We cannot strut around like this.”
Wya chipped in with a sigh. “His Highness’ safety is the top priority, since it is directly connected to Constellation’s stability. All of Dragon Clouds City is looking for His Highness right now. A few days later, all of Eckstedt might join in. We are such a large group…”
Ralf tapped Wya’s shoulder and shook his head at Wya with a solemn look. Wya did not continue speaking, but he glanced at the White Blade guards with a very worried expression.
Thales felt that many of them were looking at him, either intentionally or not. He knew what Wya meant.
‘These White Blade Guards are, after all, Northlanders. It’s true that we have a common enemy, and that our objectives and interests are the same at the moment. But… Ultimately, they are not our people.
‘Freeing ourselves from danger and finding an opportunity to separate from them… That is the safest thing to do.’
‘And the reason the White Blade Guards are here…’ Thales turned his head and met Little Rascal’s eyes.
Her gaze was bewildered and nervous. She appeared as if she was at a loss for what to do about the future. Thales was still for a moment.
The quiet Nicholas finally seemed to come out of his daze. He raised his head, narrowed his eyes and looked in front of him.
“Let’s think about all of this after we settle down.” The Star Killer heaved a long sigh. “The person coming to help us will be here soon. We’ll head to the shelter first.”
Thales’ brows drew together. “Shelter?”
“The people in this city have had plenty of objections about the prince from when we first arrived.” Kohen also revealed a puzzled expression. “Who would be able to shelter us in Dragon Clouds City now that such a big incident has happened?”
Raphael shook his head. His expression was a mysterious one. “For some entities, no matter how big any incidents can be… they are just conflicts between mortals.”
Thales immediately froze. In the next moment, a muscular figure appeared at the corner ahead.
Everyone immediately put their guard up, but Nicholas waved his hand as a gesture for them to leave their guards down.
The Star Killer uttered one short sentence, “He’s one of us.” He then glanced at the newcomer with a complicated gaze.
It was a bulky man with a butch cut. Thales could not help but squint his eyes to look at the newcomer clearly.
‘That person looks quite familiar… Is that…’
Thales’ realization came with shock and astonishment.
Thales stared at the newcomer, extremely surprised. He could not help but yell the newcomer’s name out. “Lord Mirk?!”
The newcomer’s expression froze momentarily.
The former Imperial Administrator of Dragon Clouds City, Lord Byrne Mirk, a criminal sent into exile by King Nuven, took warrior-like steps and stood before them.
He stared at the Prince of Constellation—who had witnessed the tragedy in the Hall of Heroes—with a complicated expression.
“I’m already stripped of my title and position by His Majesty. You might want to alter your form of address slightly.” Mirk exhaled. His tone was grim. “Good day, Prince Thales.”
A lot of memories surged into Thales’ mind: Alex’s convulsing body and weak, drooping hands; Mirk kneeling down, crying and pleading regretfully; King Nuven’s pained roars filled with hate; Mirk, dazed as he staggered out of the hall with his dead daughter in his arms.
“You…” Thales felt a boulder squash his heart. He opened his mouth, but when his words reached the tip of his tongue, he swallowed them.[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
He met Mirk’s gaze, the previous administrator’s expression was steady, but his gaze was gray and lifeless… As though nothing in the world was interesting to him anymore.
Thales suddenly recalled another pair of eyes—Black Sword’s eyes. It was strange, but that was the exact same feeling he had when he stared into Black Sword’s eyes.
The former imperial administrator looked behind Thales, at Little Rascal. His gaze was complicated. Little Rascal probably did not expect to see the former administrator here. She subconsciously lowered her head as she recalled something.
Mirk did not say anything else. His expression was downcast and his mouth stayed shut.
“Nothing went wrong?” Nicholas walked forward and shook Mirk’s hand tightly before letting it go. Mirk shook his head, not saying anything.
“Please come with me.” Mirk gazed at everyone with a flat look. He turned and began to walk. “Try to stay quiet and harbor respect in your hearts.”
Kohen stared at his surroundings and became puzzled. The walls and floor tiles were damaged and old, and completely deserted, with only unswept snow and wilted branches, just like the backyard of a noble’s house that had not been tidied for years.
“Respect?” The police officer sucked in a breath and raised his head. He saw a grand house made of stone that only had one small door. “By the way, what in the world is this place?”
Miranda seemed to have become aware of something. She raised her index finger to her lips and gestured for Kohen to be silent. “Just do as you’re told.”
Kohen raised his eyebrows and walked onwards together with the rest of the group.
Thales turned his head and looked at Nicholas worriedly. “Why—”
The Star Killer stopped Thales before he could say anything else. “I know what you are thinking.”
Nicholas lowered his head and stared at the back of Mirk’s figure. His expression was indecipherable. “Yes, King Nuven sent him into exile and…” The Star Killer then raised his head and his gaze became firm. “But Byrne Mirk, he was… At least he was once part of the White Blade Guards.”
Thales drew his brows together. “He’s still loyal to the Walton Family?”
Nicholas shook his head. “He’s loyal to his own creed.” The Star Killer sighed, as if recalling something. “Despite everything that has happened, this will never change.
“This is also why we, the White Blade Guards, are here.”
Thales paused momentarily.
He recalled how the four White Blade Guards encircled him and Little Rascal closely, protecting them from the arrows fired by the Black Sand Region soldiers.
He let out a soft sigh.
“Thank you, Lord Nicholas.” There was a kind of emotion in Thales’ voice, it was barely perceptible. “My thanks to the White Blade Guards, too.”
Nicholas raised his eyebrows slightly.
“If you really want to thank me, strange boy… You can repay me…” The Star Killer met Thales’ eyes. “… On the day you sit on the throne.”
Thales said nothing. He just smiled a little and walked into the stone-made house, through the small door with everyone else.
“Be on your guard.” Behind Thales, Wya whispered to Ralf, “God knows where this place is, and what is waiting for us in front.”
Ralf gave an indecipherable hum from his throat. It sounded quite disdainful.
The interior of the stone house was very spacious. It seemed to be a large back chamber. However, the lighting in the hall was dim. The source of light was not any chandelier, but rows of hand-held Everlasting Lamps hanging off walls.
Thales was not used to the sudden darkness. He widened his eyes and tried to see his surroundings clearly.
There was a thick smell of lamp oil in the air. Thales thought, ‘Using Eternal Oil of such viscosity, it seems that the master of this stone house is either wealthy or of a respectful standing.’
Raphael walked forward into the darkness, seeming quite familiar with the place, He held some bandages and medicine when he reappeared.
He simply threw one of the bandages to Kohen, whose face was filled with puzzlement. He then carefully passed a bottle of medicine to the startled Miranda.
Raphael pointed at the wound on Kohen’s body, tightened up with his Power of Eradication. His face was stern. “Treat your wounds and recover as quickly as possible. Our battle has not ended yet.”
“Is this the ‘shelter’? What on earth is this place?”
Wya narrowed his eyes and looked at the stone wall and floor tiles around him. His hand was still on his sword hilt. “Wait, I think I have seen buildings made in this style…”
At this moment, two figures appeared before Thales under the dim light.
“Your Highness!” A younger figure took quick steps forward. There was a smile on his face and an irrepressible excitement in his voice. “Praise the Gods, you have safely returned!”
Thales froze. “You are… Willow?”
He was the new recruit they brought along from Broken Dragon Fortress. The one who was almost hanged because he was regarded as an army deserter. On the other hand, the other, slightly older figure breathed a sigh of relief.
“Your Highness, you… I knew it…” Genard the veteran stared at Thales with a complicated gaze. “I knew…”
Thales felt extremely relieved when he saw these two familiar faces from the Constellation Diplomat Group.
“Both of you…” Thales thought of something and looked at everyone. “Where are the others?”
When he said that, another familiar voice echoed from the darkness ahead.
“It seems that everything went well…?”
Shocked, Thales immediately blurted out. “Putray!”
Under everyone’s gaze, the experienced and knowledgeable vice diplomat from the Constellation Diplomat Group, Putray Nemain, appeared before them. The gaunt man was still holding his tobacco pipe and he seemed composed. Although his pipe was filled with tobacco, it was not lit.
“Your Highness.” Putray flashed an indifferent smile, but there was a hint of relief in his tone. “I am glad for your safe return.”
Thales stared quietly at his vice diplomat. A few seconds later, he flashed a smile and released a breath.
The prince let all his guard down and smiled. “I’m also glad to see that you are safe and sound, Your Excellency.”
Putray nodded and turned to look at the young man from the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department.
“Nothing went wrong in the gatehouse?” the vice diplomat asked flatly.
“There were some accidents.” Raphael’s expression changed slightly. “But… they were resolved.”
Thales thought, ‘Putray and the man from the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department… They know each other well?’
“That’s good.” Putray then looked at Nicholas and Mirk. He nodded slowly. “Thank you for your help.”
Putray snorted coldly and turned to leave while the expressionless Mirk nodded in response.
Thales creased his brow. ‘He knows the White Blade Guards well, too?’
Putray hardly cared about the White Blade Guards’ indifference. He managed to flash the prince a meaningful smile. “Try your best to get some rest, we still have a long journey to make.”
Thales glanced profoundly at him and raised his brows. At that moment, he had many things he wanted to say, and many questions he wanted to ask.
The calamities, the dragon, Black Sword, Nuven’s death, Lampard’s conspiracy, the Shadow Shield, the Secret Room’s plan, how suspicious the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department was, the White Blade Guards’ secret…
But the words stopped right at his mouth and became an empty sigh in the end. Thales’ complexion dulled. Fatigue and drowsiness, along with anxiety and fear came crashing at him again.
The prince turned his head with a complicated look and stared at Little Rascal who was surrounded by White Blade Guards. He said dejectedly, “It has not ended yet, has it… this nightmare?”
Putray stared at him quietly, not saying a word. He could only sigh to himself.
“It will end,” the vice diplomat said flatly, “Nightmares are dreams too.”
At this moment, a young woman in a silver and white robe walked forward slowly. With a solemn and respectful look, she bowed slightly at the Constellatiates.
Thales momentarily froze. He saw the pattern on the young woman’s robe—a crescent.
“The High Priestess wants to see him,” the young woman said softly. Her voice was hollow, as though there were no emotions in her at all.
Raphael raised his brows. “Who?”
The young woman said nothing. Instead, she quietly cast her gaze towards the middle of the crowd. It took three seconds for Thales to realize that she was looking at him.
Putray frowned. “His Majesty—”
The young woman turned her body to the side and raised her hand towards the back as a sign of invitation. “The High Priestess’ request is the Goddess’ decree.”
Thales immediately went still.
“Ah?” Perplexed, he asked the people around him, “What decree?”
Putray pursed his lips and was about to speak, but said nothing. He seemed quite worried.
Alas, there was no need for his explanation as Thales recognized the place. His eyes got used to the dim lighting and he managed, with some effort, to see the walls on both sides. They were covered in murals and reliefs.
On the other hand, the direction the girl pointed to was a large stone statue surrounded by Everlasting Lamps. The statue was that of a woman with a cold visage. She had her right hand on her left shoulder, and her left hand on her right hip bone, her head was bent, her chin touching her chest.
There was a large full moon behind the stone statue, with arc after arc engraved on the surface. They appeared to depict the phases of the moon.
Thales paused. He recognized the stone statue.
He knew now what kind of place the ‘shelter’ was, in which he now stood within. The next moment, Thales’ gaze was suddenly drawn to a gentle and graceful figure under the statue.
A veiled woman stood quietly before the stone statue. She wore a silver robe that had an embroidery of both a new moon and a full moon.
Like he did with the statue of the Bright Moon Goddess, Thales also recognized the woman. He had had seen her once in the Hall of Heroes. She was the woman who attested to King Nuven and Poffret’s duel…
The High Priestess of the Bright Moon Temple, Juwle Holme.
She stared quietly at Thales with her elegant, beautiful yet emotionless eyes that could be seen above her veil. She seemed to have waited a long time.