Chapter 249: When Swords Cross (One)
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
“Do you really know what you’re doing?”
Mirk pressed one hand against the wall, while he held his blade in the other hand. He panted in pain.
His clothes were torn, and blood was seeping out of a wound between his ribs.
“Trust me, father.” In front of him, Kroesch coolly shook the blood on his sword off. “I know what I’m doing more than any moment in the last twenty years.”
Mirk gritted his teeth and pressed on his wound. His brows were tightly furrowed.
‘I’m old after all, and am not a White Blade Guard anymore.
‘I’m out of practice with the blade, my hands are stiff, and the movements of my body are slow.
‘And I have no weapons or equipment that I can grab and use straight away…’
Mirk slowly moved away from the wall and sighed.
He held the hilt of his blade with a backhand grip and shielded his forearm with the back of his blade. He bent his waist and got into the conservative position for counter attacks, then said in a deep voice,
“Your mother wouldn’t want to see us point our weapons at each other.”
The swordswoman’s expression changed.
Kroesch’s expression was very complicated and filled with subtle emotions at the same time. She had a ghost of a smile, and her sword-wielding hand trembled slightly.
“I’m surprised that you still remember her.” Kroesch’s voice harbored fury. “Of course, for her, her man and her husband is everything…
“How could we dream of doing things that bring you harm?”
The moment she said that, Kroesch went forward. She mercilessly thrust her longsword at Mirk through the air like a viper!
Mirk instinctively raised his hand and deflected the tip of her sword away from his head.
“I know that I’m not a good father and that you’re very headstrong. But if this is to take revenge on me…” Mirk held off the blade of Kroesch’s sword and said with gritted teeth. “It’s not worth it.”
Kroesch looked like she just heard the biggest joke. She snorted coldly and said in a soft voice. “Don’t be too arrogant, father. You’re not that important.”
The next moment, Kroesch whipped her sword out of its sheath without hesitation and aimed straight at Mirk’s thigh!
With considerable effort, Mirk took a step away to dodge the sword, but his ribs were attacked again.
The face, thighs, between the ribs, the wrists… It was as though when launching every single attack, Kroesch had already predicted her next point of attack. She kept manipulating Mirk’s movements, setting an effective prelude for her next attack, saving her time, force, and effort adjusting her angle of attack to attack.
Mirk knew that he had fallen into Kroesch’s predicted rhythm once again. He could only defend himself, and would lose at some point, unless he made an unexpected move.
As expected, the next moment, Kroesch’s sword lacerated Mirk’s left shoulder. Blood flowed out.
Mirk rolled to dodge the next attack. Extremely flustered, he took five steps backwards.
Kroesch nodded. ‘Too bad.
‘For the next attack, I could have aimed straight at the throat without putting in much effort.
‘Should I say that he’s indeed a former White Blade Guard?’
“Then, why are you doing this?”
Mirk said furiously while Mirk’s face looked hideously drenched in blood. “Why are you standing on the traitor’s side, betraying the king and the creed of Northlanders?”
Staring coldly at her father, Kroesch shook her head in contempt.
“I was just promoted by His Grace to become the captain of his team of personal guards.” She said in a soft voice. “Of course I must be loyal and fulfill my duty with full dedication.”
Mirk’s gaze froze.
The former Imperial Administrator shook his head.
“Wake up.” He sighed slowly. When he looked towards Kroesch, his gaze was filled with disappointment. “Do you think that it’s because he recognizes your worth, and that’s why you repay him with loyalty?”
Kroesch subconsciously tightened her grip on her sword.
“Lampard won’t make a young maiden the captain of his team of personal guards for no reason.” Mirk said, enunciating each word. “I’ve been in the palace for many years, and know them way to well. They don’t care about your abilities. They only care about your status and connections… Whether it’s me or to the Tower of Eradication.”
Kroesch’s pupils slowly constricted.
“Thank you for reminding me of that fact, father.” Kroesch exhaled and gritted her teeth softly. She said indignantly.
“Just like you used to.”
“Under him, you’re just an equipment that happens to come in handy this time, a tool that’s available for him to use, and a person whose value can be exploited.” Mirk continued. “The so-called position as the captain of his team of personal guards is just a bait.”
The swordswoman widened the distance between her legs and lowered her waist. She solemnly held her sword in front of her chest, as though she was facing the most horrifying enemy ever.
“Don’t continue to sink into depravity, Kroesch.” Mirk shook his head sadly. “Your mother definitely wouldn’t want to see…”
“Don’t mention her anymore.” Kroesch firmly cut him off. “You don’t have the rights to.”
Mirk’s expression became dark, but he immediately raised his head.
“Then, how about Madam Adele?”
Kroesch’s expression changed.
Even though Mirk’s voice was very steady and calm, it carried a strange kind of grief. “After your mother passed away, she kept you by her side, raising you and caring for you like her own child…”
Kroesch lowered her head and hid her face in the darkness. She slowly grabbed the hilt of her sword with her left hand.
“She didn’t sponsor you to go to the Tower of Eradication so that you can serve some suzerain with your life,” Mirk continued speaking in a dreary tone. “And become their tool without being aware of it…”
Before he could finish, Kroesch suddenly shot forth and swung at him with her sword!
Mirk pushed his left hand against the back of his blade and parried the attack.
The expression of the swordswoman before him was crazed. Holding her sword with both hands, her attacks became more powerful and steadier than before!
“She’s a good person.” Gritting her teeth hard, Kroesch fixed her gaze on her father. “But she couldn’t even save herself.”
Mirk felt a pang in his heart while he had a contest of strength against his daughter.
Mirk gritted his teeth. His hands started trembling.
“That was why she sent you to the Tower of Eradication. So that you have the ability to protect yourself and neither need to rely on others nor be controlled by others. So that you can live freely and happily,” Mirk said in pain. “So that you can be far away… far away from the kind of darkness and misfortune she went through.”
Out of his expectation, Kroesch inhaled slowly upon hearing that.
At that moment, she revealed an expression which Mirk could not tell was taunting or scornful.
“You never changed at all, huh, Byrne Mirk?”
Kroesch said calmly and in disappointment. “Just like everyone else.”
Mirk was a little startled. “What?”
The next moment, Kroesch suddenly activated her Power of Eradication and moved her longsword away.
When Mirk felt the resistance on his blade fade away and found that he had a difficult time regaining his stance, Kroesch had already twisted her sword around Mirk’s blade. As if by miracle, the sword returned to its position just now and head straight to Mirk’s throat.
But at this moment, a longsword that glimmered with cold light extended out from behind Mirk and hit the back of Kroesch’s sword.
A soft sound rang beside Mirk’s ear. Kroesch’s sword barely missed his left ear, and he could feel a tinge of coldness.
Instead of stopping, the longsword continued moving towards Kroesch’s wrist.
Kroesch immediately withdrew her sword and took a few continuous steps backwards to avoid the longsword’s attack.
The three of them distanced themselves from one another.
Still in shock, Mirk looked behind him.
“You?” he asked with difficulty.
With burning eyes, Kroesch fixed her gaze on the newcomer who threw a wrench into things.
The newcomer brandished her sword and said softly,
“Go.” Miranda Arunde stood beside Mirk with a solemn expression. “Go and help the others. There aren’t many enemies, but they’re very widely distributed. They’re trying to stop us.”
Miranda fixed her gaze on Kroesch. “Let me deal with her.”
Mirk glanced at his daughter, and then at Miranda. He had a torn expression. “I…”
“You can neither make up your mind nor make an enemy of your daughter,” she said flatly, still staring at Kroesch. “By staying here, you’ll only make the situation worse.
“That’s why you should let me do it.”
He stared at his daughter, but Kroesch did not look like she had any intention to pay him any heed. Instead, she kept staring at Miranda.
In the end, Mirk let out a bitter sigh and turned to leave.
Mirk’s figure retreated further and further away from sight.
Miranda slowly took a step forward.
Kroesch walked towards her too.
The two swordswoman stood face-to-face in silence.
“You’ve changed a lot, both of you.” Miranda broke the silence. She softly uttered her friend’s nickname, “Esch.”
Kroesch’s expression changed slightly.
“You, and Raphael.”
Kroesch stared quietly at her good friend from her cohort.
“Not everyone remains the same forever like Kohen.” Kroesch flashed a smile after quite some time. “Mira.”
Miranda shook her head.
“Kohen was very cheerful and optimistic in the past.” Miranda said flatly. “And he’s a far cry away from his current self, with his intentional and exaggerated actions.”
Kroesch’s expression froze.
Miranda continued saying in a soft voice. “He changed too, trying to hide and deny some things that he isn’t willing to face with that nitwitted smile of his.”
Miranda raised her gaze.
“How about you, Esch?” The Arunde Family’s daughter stared solemnly into her good friend’s eyes. “What are you hiding and denying?”
They stopped walking at the same time. If they took another step forward, it would be within the range of attack.
Kroesch did not answer.
“Perhaps I should rephrase my question.” Miranda’s expression was calm. “Why exactly are you serving Lampard?
“Don’t tell me things like ‘honor’, ‘loyalty’, ‘reward’ and ‘ambition’.” Before Kroesch could speak, Miranda shook her head resolutely. “Based on my understanding of you, these things aren’t enough to make you betray your friends, your beliefs, and your pride as a Northlander.”
Staring at her former best friend, Kroesch’s expression was complicated.
A few seconds later, the Eckstedtian girl sneered. “This isn’t the correct stance you should take to ask questions.”
Miranda arched an eyebrow.
She shot a glance at Kroesch’s left wrist, which had a wound inflicted previously by Miranda herself. The wound was bandaged.
On the other hand, the wound inflicted by Kroesch on her stomach was also throbbing with pain.
“Very well.” Miranda chuckled. “Then, let’s have a chat.”
Standing in front of Kroesch, Miranda’s expression became solemn. Throwing her longsword aside, her eyes shone with cold light.
“Like how swordsmen do.”
A strange rustling sound rang.
“The devil’s blood and flesh.” Furrowing his brows, Kaslan stared at Raphael, who was trying hard to struggle to stand from the ground. Kaslan’s gaze stopped on Raphael’s arms, which was squirming about non-stop. “It does recover really fast, just like what the legends said.”
Raphael slowly exhaled and exercised his arms. “Are you ready for the next round?”
Kaslan only stared quietly at him.
“It must be unpleasant, child.” After a while, the old man sighed. “There’s bound to be a price to pay for sharing the same body with those limbs that don’t belong to you.”
Raphael’s expression changed.
The next moment, the young man suddenly jumped in anger!
He whipped his longsword out of its sheath, producing a metallic clanking sound!
It was almost impossible to react to his speed.
But Kaslan did not touch his Soul Slayer Pike at all. He simply made it lean against the wall and stared coldly as his opponent’s sword approached his face.
The next moment, the old man suddenly tilted his head and turned his body sideways, dodging the trajectory of the sword.
Raphael snorted in his heart.
At that moment, the Power of Eradication in his body was activated at the same time as that thing to let out a burst of extraordinary strength and speed.
Normal people would not be aware of the fact that the muscles and bones in Raphael’s entire body were subjected to massive pressure, and were groaning in pain.
It was also at that moment that Raphael’s speed and strength rose to a maximum. Doing the impossible, he quickly changed the direction in which his sword was moving!
He had to catch up with the route in which Kaslan dodged his attack and kill the enemy in one fell swoop.
This was an inspiration he got from the Pegasus’ Music. He forced the opponents out of the route in which they dodged, and then used his unique Power of Eradication as well as his physical advantage to suddenly change the direction his sword moved in a split second under normally impossible circumstances. He would then fatally strike the opponent out of their expectations.
It was simple, straightforward and most of the time, very effective.
But the next moment, Kaslan expressionlessly raised his leg and lightly kicked the Soul Slayer Pike on the wall.
The Soul Slayer Pike shook and slid down.
During the process of its fall, it spun slowly with the spot near the pikehead as an axis.
Raphael’s expression changed drastically!
There was no other reason—the blade of the Soul Slayer Pike was falling towards his new trajectory!
Raphael felt an inexplicable fear. ‘If I attack using this trajectory, before I get to fatally strike Kaslan, I would be hit by the pike, because I can’t stop my movements due to the momentum.
‘And that weapon… is the Soul Slayer Pike, to boot.’
At that moment, Raphael retracted his already activated Power of Eradication. It clashed forcibly with the thing inside his body.
Raphael took two steps forward in pain and put an abrupt stop to his change in direction.
The inertia hurt his bones, and Raphael almost wanted to vomit blood.
The blade of the pike grazed past his sleeve and tore it.
But Kaslan’s fist was already in front of his chest.
Raphael knew that it was a crucial moment of life and death. That thing in his body was unprecedentedly cooperative, blasting out energy regardless of all costs.
Strangely, his right hand grew larger under a strange rustling sound. His blood vessels expanded, and he blocked off Kaslan’s fist.
But Raphael’s expression changed again. Kaslan’s fist was light, with no force exerted at all.
Then, just as expected, the next moment, Kaslan unfurled his fist and grabbed Raphael’s sleeve, pushing Raphael hard towards the direction from whence he came.
Raphael lost balance and fell towards the side.
What appalled Raphael was that Kaslan pushed him towards the direction in which the Soul Slayer Pike was falling.
The tip of the pike was pointed at him.
And with nothing to support him, it was already impossible for Raphael to dodge the pike.
The ferocious head of the Soul Slayer Pike approached his face.
At that moment, Raphael resolutely let go of him longsword in his left hand. The blood vessels in his left arm continued expanding, becoming darker in colour!
He withdrew his left hand in the blink of an eye and threw a punch at the Soul Slayer Pike.
He managed to send the legendary weapon flying before the blade could lacerate the tip of his nose.
Lying on the ground, Raphael coughed out another mouthful of blood in pain. But he did not dare to stay there. In a disheveled manner, he rolled backwards out of Kaslan’s range of attack.
The Soul Slayer Pike fell onto the ground and made a sound.
The metallic clank echoed throughout the corridor.
Kaslan sighed and shook his head. “I saw your expression. You’re probably suffering in pain every single moment, feeling their rejection and denial towards you.”
Drenched in cold sweat, Raphael gritted his teeth hard as he felt that thing in his body rebel. His hands trembled non-stop, and he was in great pain.
He stared at Kaslan in disbelief with his red eyes.
‘Do I really not have even have a sliver of a chance to win?
‘Could it be that what my teacher said was true…
‘That Kaslan Lampard is not an opponent who can be defeated in a direct fight?’
“You thought that you can control them, and that for you, they’re just insignificant ornaments and unimportant additions.
“They are like a rebellion that never comes to an end.” Kaslan continued saying with a dejected expression. “When you are weakened and start compromising to them, they’ll launch a massive attack against you, lashing at you and swallowing you whole.”
Kaslan raised his head and kicked up the Soul Slayer Pike on the ground.
He slapped his chest twice. Coughing, his voice was hoarse and grievous. “I tried it too… cough, cough… I know that.
“When you abandon your true self and compromise with reality, accepting things that don’t actually belong to you.” Kaslan raised his head with a pained expression. “This is the consequence.
“Sooner or later, you’ll become an inhumane being that not even you can recognize yourself.”
The old man stared at Raphael struggling and moaning on the ground, then said sadly. “Child, I apologize to you on behalf of Shao and the Tower of Eradication.”
“Apologize to me?” He gritted his teeth.
“You arrogant old man.” Raphael tried his best to raise his head while trembling and drenched in cold sweat. He sneered. “What would an ignorant person like you know?”
“He’s a good person, and is always thinking about bearing other people’s mistakes for reparation.” Kaslan stared dejectedly at his opponent and coughed. “But a lot of times, the cruelest decisions are made by good people.”
Raphael stared at the old man with a startled expression.
“Don’t worry.” Kaslan managed to catch his breath. Raising his pike, he stepped closer to Raphael. His tone was very apologetic. “You’ll be out of your misery soon.”
The old man raised the Soul Slayer Pike and aimed it at Raphael.
Hurried footsteps rang from behind Kaslan.
The footsteps became increasingly near.
It was followed by the sound of a sharp blade cutting through air!
With a calm expression, Kaslan turned abruptly and immediately waved his pike!
*Boom!* The pike hit the wall, causing debris to fly in all directions.
Kaslan furrowed his eyebrows. He did not manage to hit the opponent. The assailant had already dodged the Soul Slayer Pike’s semi-circular trajectory and slid towards Kaslan with his head raised.
The battle-seasoned old man’s expression became solemn. He rapidly stepped backwards and dodged two continuous slashes.
After forcing Kaslan back, the opponent did not continue attacking. He was originally kneeling on one knee on the ground, and then, he slowly stood up.
Once he saw the newcomer’s face clearly, Raphael widened his eyes.
“Why are you here? Where are the pursuers?”
Kaslan saw the newcomer too. His expression was complicated, and his Adam’s apple bopped up and down.
“I’m lucky.” The newcomer exercised his blade-wielding hand.
“As for you, it’s obvious that you don’t have much battle experience,” the newcomer said coldly to Raphael. His rude words were infuriating. “You don’t even know how to kill.
“Also, you don’t have to thank me.”
Raphael sighed and rose by supporting himself on the ground with his trembling hands.
“Can’t you talk properly?” the young man from the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department said in annoyance.
The newcomer snorted coldly and turned to face Kaslan.
“Get lost, Barren Bone boy.”
Raphael arched an eyebrow. ‘This man obviously doesn’t have the slightest bit of intention to “talk properly”.’
The Star Killer and the commander of the White Blade Guards, Lord Soray Nicholas, who was supposed to hold off the troops in pursuit at the palace door stood proud and aloof in front of Kaslan. His gaze was filled with fury and hatred.
“From now onwards, this is something the White Blades Guard will settle among ourselves.”
Kaslan met eyes with Nicholas.
The former had a complicated and strange gaze, while the latter’s gaze was cold and resentful.
Both looked like they wanted to see something out of the other’s gaze.
Raphael picked up his longsword and furrowed his eyebrows slightly. “You can handle him by yourself? This man is hard to…”
“Enough.” Nicholas let out an impatient, cold snort and cut Raphael off.
“He’s just an old man who’s around sixty or seventy years old and might die anytime.” Under Raphael’s curious gaze, the Star Killer said scornfully, “Whoever loses to him is probably an idiot.” (In some corner of Dragon Clouds City, a short person in a cloak who was eating a drumstick sneezed loudly.)
Hearing Nicholas’ deliberate dig at him, Raphael’s eyebrows became even more tightly furrowed.
Staring at their interaction, Kaslan flashed a bitter smile.
‘This brat is still as annoying as he used to be.’
He then gave Nicholas a reminder without batting an eyelid while retorting in an ingenious manner. “I reckon that before the young and valiant Archduke Poffret engaged in a duel with the old and weak King Nuven…
“He thought the same.”
Nicholas turned, and it was followed by a murderous gaze directed at Raphael.
“Alright then.” Raphael raised his hands, took two steps back and arched his eyebrows. “Go ahead and talk. I won’t disturb the both of you.”
The young man from the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department disappeared at the turning point of the corridor.
There were only Kaslan and Nicholas left on the corridor.
Indistinct fighting sounds could be heard.
Nicholas quietly turned to look at Kaslan.
He opened his mouth to say something, but shut it helplessly in the end.
Kaslan swallowed his words at the same time.
The current and former commanders of the White Blade Guards stood looking at each other in this strange and tensed atmosphere.
Finally, Nicholas gritted his teeth.
“It’s been a while.” The Star Killer broke the silence. He tried his best to suppress his anger so that it did not show in his tone.
With great difficulty, he uttered a form of address that he had not used for years.
Nicholas ground his teeth. His expression was complicated.
For twenty years, others had been calling him that.
He had almost forgotten the time when he called someone else that.
Kaslan sighed and lowered his head.
“I was wondering when I would see you again,” Kaslan said gently. He too, uttered a form of address that he had not used for years. “You’re late, Spiky.”
Nicholas’ expression changed slightly.
“I was held up in front of the palace door for a bit.” Nicholas shook his head. Staring at Kaslan, his gaze became increasingly unpleasant.
“Unfortunately, you can’t punish me by making me run around the field anymore.”
At that moment, Kaslan became a little absent-minded as he stared at Nicholas before him.
It was as if he was back in the the past.
“In front of the palace door?” The old man moved slightly.
“You blocked the soldiers’ path, didn’t you?
“You used that ability of the Severing Souls Blade…” Kaslan sighed softly. He said profoundly and his words contained a double meaning. “You know, ‘You Can’t Escape Now’.”
Nicholas nodded slowly.
“Yes.” The Star Killer’s face was pale, and his expression was cold. He replied with the name of the ability possessed by the Severing Souls Blade as well. “‘You Can’t Escape Now’, Ground-Shaker, the former leader of King Nuven’s team of personal guards, the former commander of the White Blade Guards.
Nicholas took a step forward. His expression was ice cold.
There was another second of silence between them.
Kaslan felt an indescribable surge of sadness rise in his heart.
“Spiky.” Kaslan heaved a long sigh. His expression was lonely and full of grief. “Are you here to interrogate me?”
Nicholas stared coldly at him, at his former commander.
The Star Killer answered curtly and firmly.
“That’s what His Majesty would do.”
Kaslan furrowed his eyebrows slightly.
“Don’t worry, boss,” Nicholas said coldly. There was a mixture of grief and hatred in his gaze.
“I’ll send you to him now.”