Chapter 273: End of Arc: The Destiny They Missed
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
Three days later, on the southeast border of Black Sand Region.
Kohen Karabeyan leaned against his Load-Bearer and knelt down in pain on one knee. He cast his gaze on the two people across the snow in the distance.
They were Raphael, whose survival was undetermined, and the unconscious Miranda, who was badly injured.
Kohen could feel pain spreading in his ribs. His opponent’s attacks had been merciless.
‘Putray was right.
‘Staying in the North has been extremely dangerous for them.
‘But he missed one thing.
‘Their enemies aren’t just from Black Sand Region.
‘There’s also the Day Before the Bitter Cold Winter.
Kohen struggled to raise his head to look at the enemy in front of him, and he saw the sneer that appeared on the person’s lips.
‘There’s him too.
‘This young man.’
The one who was affiliated to the Disaster Sword and defeated by Kohen in a narrow alley, but later rescued by Raphael.
“How shameful,” Kohen said. “You’re a total scum compared to your teacher.
“You’re not qualified to be a swordsman at all…
“Even if you’re a Disaster Sword, you’re still too awful…”
They were on their way back to Constellation. It was originally a smooth journey, until they were ambushed for some unknown reason…
Kohen looked at the smug young man, then at Raphael and Miranda, who were unconscious. He furled his fist.
In the distance, the horse that stumbled was whining in the snow.
“Ah, well, I was just here for an appointment, but I ran into you lot. Imagine that! And you just happened to be seriously injured too!”
The young Northlander narrowed his eyes, just like he did in the alley. He brandished the weapon in his hand. “Just admit it, all of you have terrible luck.”
“As for my teacher… well, he won’t know about this.”
Kohen struggled to stand up, but the wound from Heroic Spirit Palace was far from healed. It made him unable to even hold his sword steadily.
‘Raphael’s condition is far more serious than expected…
‘Miranda’s injury can’t be overlooked either…’
The police officer clenched his teeth.
‘I’m the only one who can do this.’
“Hey.” The young man of Disaster Sword laughed and glanced at Miranda. “That girl looks good.”
Kohen slammed his fist in the snow and clenched his teeth so hard they almost broke.
The next second, the police officer roared and activated what little that remained of the Glory of the Stars in him. Once again, he launched a continuous stream of attacks.
In the snow, the shadows of the young man and the police officer clashed for a brief moment, then separated from each other.
Kohen spat out a mouthful of blood and fell to the ground limply.
His sword fell out of his hands.
He had reached his limit.
His back was in an especially bad condition. Be it Kaslan’s furious strikes or Tolja’s heavy blows, the damage from their attacks to Kohen was far more terrible than expected.
This rendered him powerless to fight back.
“Where’s all that bravado you had in Dragon Clouds City, big guy? Where’s that sword style of yours, which focuses on thrusts, that you were so proud of?”
The young man cast a glimpse at his torn sleeve and laughed aloud. “I forgot to give you a thank-you gift for giving me so many ‘presents’ in the city.”
The police officer sensed the pain in his pierced arm. He felt his Power of Eradication rampaging in his body, and the unbridled pain in his muscles. His heart was filled with wrath.
“And this Barren Bone person…” The young man looked at Raphael in disgust. “…took advantage of his background as a member of the Secret Intelligence Department…”
The young man spat and immediately turned his attention to Miranda. His gaze was filled with interest.
“Hey! You stay away from them!” Kohen mustered all his remaining strength and slammed his fist on the snowy ground. He shouted angrily, “We aren’t done yet!
“You f*cking son of a b*tch, a**hole-grade c*nt!”
Kohen indignantly threw all the curse words he learned from Walla Hill, Western Desert and Northland into this sentence.
Because he hoped that it would agitate him, and make him…
“Take a guess.” The young man had a cold look in his eyes, but he stretched his neck and licked his lips. He was not offended. “Think of how I’ll deal with this beautiful girl… I assure you, I will absolutely leave a deep impression on you.
“This is for you to keep in mind.” The young man went to Miranda’s side, and his expression was a mix of anger as well as joy. “When you mess with the wrong person…”
Unable to move, Kohen could only watch in bitter regret as he could not fight the young man who was walking towards Miranda in a taunting fashion. Kohen could only feel despair.
Kohen laid down in the snow in pain. There was never a moment where he did not hate his incompetence as much as he did at that moment.
Right at that moment—
*Whiz!* A piercing sound rapidly sliced through the air.
The young man’s expression changed. He suddenly turned around, and the glint of a sword shone explosively in front of him!
His hand-and-a-half sword hit the weapon in the air, creating a sharp sound due to the metal colliding against each other.
The weapon that flew towards him was easily knocked down by the young man, and it fell powerfully to the ground.
It was a strange, curved dagger.
Kohen, who was laying on the floor, stared at the dagger and forgot to react to the situation for a moment.
“A shoddy sneak attack… Is that your helper?” The young man curled his lips into a smile and looked around, searching for the ambusher.
‘What was he trying to do?
‘This level of an ambush is probably too simple—’
But at the next second, the young man’s expression changed.
A bizarre tremor swiftly came from the dagger, which he parried with his blade.
The tremor seeped deeply into his body, causing half of it to become numb.
The young man wanted to lift his right arm, but found that he no longer had any strength to even move his right hand.
‘Just what is it…’
However, there was no chance for regrets.
The wind howled, and a lithe figure came through the snow storm with astonishing footsteps. The figure instantly appeared in front of him!
In the white snow, the person’s blade shone swiftly!
In that strange state of numbness, the young man mustered all of his strength, and only then was he able to shift his sword to face his attacking enemy.
The dexterous enemy just turned sideways in the air and avoided his sword.
The helpless young man could only watch in disbelief as the blade was stabbed into his neck.
“You may all be holding swords, but compared to them, you seriously suck,” the enemy said in a pleasant voice. She pushed his body, and pulled out the blade.
“You don’t even compare to the cop.
Warm arterial blood spewed from the young man’s neck.
The young man’s pupils focused in the midst of his boundless fear.
At that moment, he saw his opponent’s blade clearly, even while he was in a state of panic.
The blade resembled a dog’s leg, be it the tip of the blade to its hilt, or its inclination.
‘If only I can react…
‘If I can show my strength…’
But there were no more what ifs.
He fell limply, and his dull gaze coincidentally met Kohen’s shocked eyes.
The police stared at the graceful figure who squatted in the snow as she inserted two blades into her boot.
Then she started to walk towards him.
A pair of thick snow boots stopped in front of his eyes.
When he looked up, he found those boots attached to a pair of long legs, which were wrapped in thick clothing.
Dazed, Kohen lifted his head even further.
The person slowly squatted down and took off her thick fur cap to reveal her neat brown hair.
Kohen could not say anything. He just blinked, unable to believe everything that transpired in front of him.
“Ja—” The person shook her fur cap to fan herself. She could not help but exhale a hot puff of air.
The girl before him pushed her goggles up to her forehead, and the red marks from the frame were left around her eyes.
She had a few strands of hair sticking to her forehead, which made her look a little mischievous, and her nose as well as her face were decorated with fine, shining beads of sweat. Her complexion was flushed, and she looked very healthy.
She also looked quite tasty—Kohen had no idea why this thought came to mind.
“The old man was absolutely wrong. The North isn’t that cold. I just ran a few laps and I’m already sweating now…”
Feeling dissatisfied, she complained about someone, while she curiously trained her big, bright eyes on the dying Kohen. It looked like she was sizing up a puppy by the sidewalk.
“Yo, lost young man…”
The female bartender cheekily gave the police officer a very non-standard salute, doing so with a serious air, an imitation of the rules in the police station. She was dressed in thick, windproof clothes, but she still did not lose the style of someone who belonged underground,
“We meet again, huh?”
Jala Charleton crouched in front of him as she curled up the corners of her mouth and smiled.
Kohen looked at the person opposite him in silence. He had a dumbstruck look, as though he was born with that face.
Jala scratched her head and blinked a few times while she looked at him.
‘Has he been beaten silly?’
The next moment, the police hurriedly glanced over at his two companions in the distance.
‘Oh, thank God…
He let out a sigh of relief.
It felt as if he had been instantly freed from all shackles.
Kohen closed his bloodshot eyes tightly, his facial features all contorted together. Then, he dropped his face into the snow, or onto Jala’s boots to be exact.
His shoulders shook, and he sobbed.
“Hey, hey! Don’t cry!” The female bartender recalled the several times she took care of injured dogs on the side of the road. While clasping Kohen’s shoulders, she hastily shook him and started to ramble.
“Aye, I know, I know. I came by at the last minute to help you get rid of the bad guy and save your friends. You’re touched and you can’t wait to drink with me forever and show your gratitude. But right now, in this situation…”
Kohen’s heart felt even more anguish after he heard those words and recalled the moment of despair earlier on.
“Ah—” Not only did he not restrain himself, but he even burst into tears.
The air was then filled with Jala’s flustered screams.
“Aaaahhh! Don’t you dare use my clothes to wipe your tears, you silly cop!”
After a long while, Jala fell silent. She proceeded to sigh softly?as she watched Kohen, who was covered in wounds and whose mind was in a mess.
She looked at the snow slope in front of her with uncertainty in her eyes.
However, Jala soon peered at the man as well as the lady who travelled with Kohen, and could not help but scratch her head.
In the end, she just shook her head.
Jala’s expression dimmed.
‘I’ve looked through so many mountain slopes already.
‘Seems like this information is most probably fake.
‘I think I’ll leave empty-handed.
‘But if this cop is here…
‘It should be more convenient to find someone, right?’
Right after this thought, Jala hit Kohen’s back hard. “Oh, forget it! If you can still move, follow me. I know that there’s a hunter’s cabin shared by Constellatiates and Northlanders nearby. There are some supplies there, and it’ll allow you to rest up a bit.”
‘With their current condition, I should help them settle down first.
‘It shouldn’t be a big deal if I look through fewer mountain slopes, right?’ Jala thought to herself as she looked at the mountain slopes in front of her.
Kohen forced himself to focus, and while his mind was still a little fuzzy, he asked the strange girl, “What?”
“Hey, I’ll say this in advance,” the female bartender lowered her head to meet the police officer’s gaze and fiercely said, “I will charge you for it!”
What Kohen and Jala did not know was that on the other side of the snowy slope, about a few hundred meters away from the pine forest, was a group of people clothed in thick clothes. They were waiting quietly there. But, they were out of sight from the female bartender.
One of the Thirteen Generals in the Black Street Brotherhood, “Thunder Axe” Aoschok looked at the sky and frowned a little.
“It’s been half an hour past the scheduled time,” Aoschok complained. “Neither the old man nor the arrogant brat has showed up.”
Several members of the Brotherhood who accompanied him also agreed impatiently.
“Hmm, maybe they’re used to working with Blood Bottle Gang.” One of them shook his head disdainfully. “This so-called ‘Disaster Sword’ most probably doesn’t care about lower class people like us.”
At the forefront of the team was a middle-aged man with knife scars all over his face. He turned his head around, his gaze was fierce and scary.
When he turned around, everyone became quiet.
“Let’s wait a while more.
“This is one of the secret roads that Prince Horace deliberately opened up in the Pine Forest to ambush the Eckstedtian army.” The Powerhouse in charge of the Brotherhood’s firearm smuggling operations, “Iron Heart” Shanda Roda said, “The Day Before the Bitter Cold Winter has arrived in the North. Vision is limited, and they may not be able find this path.”
‘It’s all thanks to the tension between Constellation and Eckstedt, or else it would have been really difficult to find this opportunity.’
Aoschok sighed and looked at his back.
There, a dozen children who were tied up by thick ropes shivered in one place.
Aoschok frowned. He saw that one of the cowering children had a broken arm, while another pretty, young girl had a round burn scar on her face.
‘Is it really not because the leader’s taking revenge for his son’s death at the hands of the child beggars?’
Aoschok walked to Roda’s side and glanced at the others, giving them an order to stay farther away
The Thunder Axe turned and looked at his leader in dissatisfaction. “Are you sure they’ll like these maimed goods selected from the group of child beggars?”
“Isn’t it better to let Morris, the fatty directly…”
Roda smiled slightly, causing one of the scars on his face to appear even?more ferocious.
“This is just out first negotiation, and these goods are only here to show our sincerity. They do not lack weapons and channels. What they lack is manpower,” Roda said plainly. “As for Morris, I’m sure he will not agree to it. We have to do it on our own.”
Aoschok revealed an expression of uncertainty.
He glanced over at the group of children, and the slightly bigger-sized boy was an eyesore; his gaze was incredibly disrespectful.
“But, is there a need for us to hide from the other people in the Brotherhood with regard to our cooperation with these people?”
As the rising star in Roda’s eyes, Aoschok had more power in speaking to Roda. The young man tried to ask, “Including… him?”
Roda gave him a profound gaze.
“Including him,” Roda said earnestly.
“Don’t misunderstand, I still admire Black Sword.
“Without him, we won’t be who we are today.” The infamous chief of firearms slowly opened his mouth, “But their way of thinking is too old-fashioned, whether it’s Lance or Morris. They still operate the Brotherhood as a mercenary group, even though it is getting bigger and bigger, spreading to every corner of the city.”
‘That’s not the only case.’
Roda then whispered in his heart, ‘They are still living in the past.
‘They’re trying to redeem themselves for all the blood they’ve spilled.
‘But we cannot live in the past.
‘We need to look to the future.
‘To cope with the storm that is bound to arrive.’
“However, times are changing,” Roda slowly said. “When the nobles who’ve relied on their estates have to come to the city to find a way to live, and when rich merchants also have the chance to become the kingdom’s nobles, then the Brotherhood will also need to change.
“We must stop being simple gangsters, or the servants of nobles, like the Blood Bottle Gang.”
Aoschok’s expression froze for a second.
“Although we may look powerful, we are just a bunch of…” he said unconfidently.
Roda swiftly raised his head, his gaze was fearsome.
It stunned Aoschok a bit.
“We are broken merchants, lost craftsmen, landless farmers, desperate people driven to a corner by life, lowly people in the city, and the enemies of ‘decent people’ who were born with silver spoons in their mouth.
“We are a dark undercurrent, consisting of countless low-class people who have neither power nor authority.”
Roda revealed a scary smile. “But since decent civilian merchants and vulgar country aristocrats can form their own groups,?occupy a place in the National Conference, and voice their disagreements using the king’s might against the nobles… why do we have to stay in the sewers and compete for leftovers that the great personages discard?
“We have to look further into the future.
“So, we have to prepare in advance, even if we need to hide our deeds from others. Only by doing so will we be able to seize the opportunity when the key to change our fate arrives.”
‘The opportunity to change our fate?’
Aoschok lowered his head and suppressed the questions in his heart. ‘But why them?’
“The group of traitors who were swept out of the Tower of Eradication? I’ve heard that they’re also in league with our adversary.”
Roda’s gaze froze for a moment.
“In their case, it’s not something as simple being in cohorts,” Roda said faintly. “Without the Disaster Sword about a hundred years ago, there would be no Blood Bottle Gang.”
‘Our old adversary… is not just some normal gang.
‘They’re the same as us.’
He slowly raised his right hand and rubbed his iron gloves.
Confusion was written all over Aoschok’s face.
“Before the Bloody Year, I used to be Prince Horace’s military courier, and I learned a lot of disturbing things,” Roda said with a grave expression. “How do you think the Disaster Sword got its name, despite comprising of traitors?
Aoschok was momentarily taken aback. “In the name of the calamity who once destroyed the world? I have seen the dramas of Dark Night Temple. Perhaps with that nickname, they’ll make themselves sound more hateful and horrifying?”
“What if…” Roda exhaled and looked at his students, his gaze was filled with a profoundness. “What if their name isn’t what it seems… but has a deeper meaning?”
Aoschok was instantly astounded.
Another few minutes passed, and the snow slope on the opposite side was still empty.
The blizzard was getting stronger and stronger.
Roda’s expression became more unpleasant as time passed.
“Let’s go.” Finally, the leader of the firearms smuggling operation sighed angrily. “It looks like they will not be coming.”
Aoschok was not happy. “What about our cooperation?”
Roda sneered. “Don’t worry about it.”
‘After all, they’re not our only clients who hold the key… that could overthrow the world.
He turned and walked into the thick pine forest.
Aoschok snorted and had his brothers gather the group of children, who were almost frozen solid, back into the warehouse.