Chapter 284: The Familiar Guest
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
Thales clenched his teeth ferociously as he controlled the movements of his body.
‘Calm down! Calm down, Thales! This is not a battle for life and death!’
In the next second, Nicholas cunningly evaded Thales’ shield and struck with his sword.
Thales could only feel the strong vibrations from the sword in his hand. It dropped from his hand in a flash.
Thales’ sword fell on the ground. He heaved a sigh, turned to face Nicholas’ huge sword placed across his shoulders, then spread his hands in surrender.
‘The fight is over.’
“Your mind actually really likes to wander.” The Star Killer withdrew his Zweih?nder and sneered mockingly at him. “Just like the past, do you really enjoy daydreaming during your fights?”
Thales put on a grudging smile and did not refute him. All he knew was that just now, ‘that’ had happened again.
One year ago, Thales encountered a similar situation during practice. A Northlander warrior who was a training partner cut into his shield and split it with a battleaxe. The fragments had struck the prince’s lower jaw and neck.
At that moment, when his neck artery was threatened, the Sin of Hell’s River surged through his body with a rumble like a startled hedgehog. It caused the dizzy Thales to shudder.
Instinctively, he knew how to strike back. He quickly dropped the sword, whirled around, and stepped forward. As the axe’s blade scraped past his cheek, he forced his way to the enemy’s side. While braving the risk of being slashed by the axe, he punched the enemy’s throat with his fist.
In that moment, Thales was like an enraged wild beast with only one notion left in his heart: To battle.
Under the influence of the Sin of Hell’s River, he could have perhaps inflicted heavy damage to the other party’s throat cartilage… Then he would get cut on the side where his rib was by the other party.
…That is, if Thales did not wake up halfway and stop attacking.
In the end, the warrior apologized, constantly, because he could not control his strength and had scratched the prince’s arm. Everyone thought it was a slip-up during training.
But then, only the panic-stricken Thales knew that it was not a slip-up from his opponent, but his own; a thrilling and dangerous counterattack that he did not fully execute.
At that moment, Thales, who was still fearful from the encounter, truly experienced the essence of the Sin of Hell’s River for the first time. He began to understand Black Sword’s words: Don’t treat it as a tool. Instead, treat it as an honorable partner.
From then on, Nicholas decided to become Thales’ personal trainer. Compared to the others, a supreme class can control the rhythm and force of a battle perfectly and avoid causing any unnecessary harm.
From that moment onwards, Thales began to be consciously aware of the possibility of similar things happening as well so as to avoid leading to disasters such as “The Prince of Constellation has no regard for human life, he kills recklessly during training”.
Back in the present, the anxious Thales patted his own heart, only to feel his blood vessels raging, it was hard to calm down.
Just as the gust stirred up by Nicholas’ sword swept past his forehead, the Sin of Hell’s River was as agitated as a beast whose territory had been violated. While it filled up his leg muscles frantically, it rushed up to his brain with great speed. It paralyzed his sense of fear, as if it was desperately urging him.
‘Get rid of the shield, start moving! Use the agility released in that moment, turn around and meet the tip of the enemy’s sword. Take the risk and strike back! Just strike back… then I can… can…’
Thales pressed a hand to his forehead and heaved a long sigh. He could not do it.
‘The thoughts during that moment and that sort of fighting style… are too extreme. It will just end up with neither side winning. I don’t think Black Sword mentioned whether this sort of unchanging Power of Eradication, this so-called Sin of Hell’s River, had this sort of “wild nature” when roused?’
Thales shook his head and shifted his eyes elsewhere in an attempt to cast out the thoughts in his head.
“Hey!” The Star Killer’s dissatisfied voice was heard again. “You had better concentrate a little,” Nicholas chided coldly, “Stop looking at her.”
The Star Killer’s eyes were especially dark and frigid.
Thales was startled before he came to his senses. Unconsciously, he had shifted his eyes to another pair of people having outdoor practice.
Not far away from them, the Archduchess of Dragon Clouds City, Saroma Walton, was dressed in a lightweight hunting attire. Under Lord Justin’s guidance, she was learning how to defend herself with a dagger. Sweat seeped from her cheeks because of the exercise, and there was a light flush on her face.
Thales sighed. He knew that Nicholas would misunderstand the reason behind his wandering mind.
Thales recalled the second last paragraph of Gilbert’s letter.
[…Apart from that, even though I am gratified with your hard work in the fields of politics in strengthening the diplomatic relations of the two countries, I do want to remind you of something here: While you are associating yourself with that Lady Walton, please separate politics and personal relationships clearly. If, because of this, you can deepen your friendship with the Archduchess of Dragon Clouds City, then it is still worth it, no matter how expensive the hand polished glasses from Master Frank’s workshop are. But if such a friendship escalates a step further, then it will be worth a discussion. Bear in mind that friendship is beautiful, but love is terrifying…]
‘Damn Gilbert… Isn’t he far away in Constellation? What sort of inexplicable rumors has he heard?’
Thales then recalled the things Putray said yesterday, and felt somewhat heavy-hearted.
‘”That pitiful young girl… is about to get married.”‘
Thales stooped down slowly to pick up the sword from the ground. “Why?”
Nicholas narrowed his eyes. “What?”
“Six years ago, when King Nuven passed away, why were you still so willingly loyal?” Thales swung the sword back and forth in his hand. As he thought about that life-changing night, he said heavily, “She obviously wasn’t… you know what I’m talking about.”
‘Saroma’s identity. Saroma’s marriage. The vassals of Dragon Clouds City. My own identity…’
After thoroughly reflecting on yesterday’s incident, Thales felt that something was a little odd.
Nicholas’ face changed. “Be careful with your words, young prince.” A faint hostility began to seep into the Star Killer’s ice cold tone. “…Especially in a city that’s hostile against you.”
“Thank you for the reminder.” Thales shrugged indifferently and raised his sword again. “So, it can be considered that King Nuven has succeeded. The Walton Family still rules over Dragon Clouds City with you and Lisban revolving around the archduchess. But Saroma is an archduchess lacking in prestige, she was even forced by the local vassals to marry and bear a local Walton child.” The prince clenched his jaw. “Was this really what you, Lisban, and King Nuven wanted?”
In the next moment, Nicholas suddenly drew his sword!
Well prepared, Thales calmly took a step back and prepared to block with his shield. ‘Eh?’
This time, Nicholas’ Zweih?nder changed directions in a bizarre fashion before it struck the shield. It seemed like he had not even used the slightest bit of strength during his previous attack.
The back of the powerful sword clashed firmly into Thales’ left knee!
With a stagger, Thales lost his balance felt as if he was about to fall onto the ground. There was great alarm in his heart at once. The Sin of Hell’s River surged forward with a loud rumble!
But unexpectedly, long before the Sin of Hell’s River came into play, the merciless Nicholas had decisively cast his irrevocable Zweih?nder aside. He then threw a punch that struck his ribs!
There was an assault of acute pain, followed immediately by numbness.
Thales’ shield and sword both fell on the ground.
His body also fell on the ground noisily. Wya and the rest who were spectating from the side cried out in surprise.
Thales grasped his abdomen and cold sweat dripped from him as he laid on the ground. His face was contorted and he curled his body up.
Before the Sin of Hell’s River could react, he had lost completely. He lost all ability to defend in an instant.
At that moment, Thales’ gratification and self-esteem vanished altogether.
That small self-reassurance of “this only happened because I suppressed the Sin of Hell’s River” was crushed by Nicholas’ ruthless attack.
“We’ll call it a day here.” With a terrifying expression, the Star Killer snorted and said unreservedly, “Your movements are still in an awful mess. I simply do not have a student stupider than you are. Also, how the archduchess is doing is none of your concern.”
Nicholas threw out his final words, turned around coolly and left.
Wya and Ralf rushed in at once to help Thales up. The boy’s head was drenched in cold sweat and his lips had turned blue.
“He used his Power of Eradication in that final blow, right?”
‘That man… He did it on purpose!’
Thales massaged his ribs, which were throbbing in pain and refused to show any signs of relief, then said with difficulty, “That’s considered cheating, right? Is he bullying me for not having a Power of Eradication?”
Wya and Ralf looked at each other’s face.
“Wait until I get my Power of Eradication…”
Wya sighed softly. “Forgive me for speaking frankly, Your Highness. The Northland Military Sword Style is still a little… old. Under normal circumstances, if you still haven’t awakened a corresponding Power of Eradication by the age of eighteen… Besides that, even if you’ve awakened your Power of Eradication, in the face of an existence like the Star Killer, it is most likely…”
The unfortunate Thales could only heave a long sigh.
After the outdoor training had ended, Thales caught up to Saroma’s side in two to three steps. As he watched the rosy-faced girl who had just finished training, the prince ignored the dissatisfied looks from Ginghes the female official and two maidservants as he moved close to her ear.
“Saroma, listen up,” Thales said, serious and grim, “We need to talk later this afternoon, in the library.”
Saroma frowned as she straightened her clothes. She lowered her head out of habit and said in a low voice, “To talk about what?”
“About our-ahem, actually, about your marriage. I kept feeling that there’s something…”
Saroma’s complexion instantly turned unpleasant. The pince-nez on her face quivered slightly. The girl pouted her lips and stared at Thales in what seemed like displeasure.
“What’s there to say, it doesn’t…”
At this moment, a low, gentle, yet rather bold voice was heard from behind.
“My lady! Your Grace!”
Even if it was ten paces away, Thales could feel the composure in Regent Lisban’s tone without fail. “I apologize for the intrusion.”
Accompanied by his attendants, Regent Lisban, with his head of graying hair, still possessed steady footsteps as he walked slowly over to them. His face was solemn.
The old regent stopped with a firm footing before them.
The count first swept a scrutinizing gaze over Thales who was beside the archduchess. The deep implication in those eyes caused Thales to feel a chill run down his back.
With that, Lisban withdrew his gaze. He bowed at Saroma respectfully and nodded his head lightly at Ginghes. “Please change at once, you need to be in formal attire.”
Saroma frowned a little. “Now?”
Lisban nodded. “We have a very important guest we must meet immediately.”
Thales felt a weight in his heart. He instinctively felt that something was amiss.
Saroma sucked in a deep breath, and in accordance with her habits of the past six years, she answered formally, “Of course.”
Thales stayed silent, he was a little upset. ‘Looks like I’ll have to wait until the afternoon—’
However, his thoughts were interrupted.
“Please change immediately as well, Prince Thales.” Regent Lisban’s gaze fell on him again.
Thales’ heart skipped a few beats.
“What?” The prince widened his eyes in surprise. “I have to go, too?”
Regent Lisban’s eyes seemed to turn gentler this time. It was not that courteous yet cold scrutinization from before, but held layer upon layer of anxious reminders and warnings.
“This time, the guest specifically mentioned, by name, that he wanted to see you,” Lisban said in a casual manner.
Thales’ eyes narrowed. “Guest? Who?”
Lisban’s expression was unchanged, but he clenched both fists tightly. “I believe that he is no stranger to you.”
The count was then heard saying word by word,
“The incumbent secondary auxiliary advisor of the Imperial Conference, and gosling officer under King Chapman, Viscount Lhasa Kentvida of the City of Halting Light arrived in Dragon Clouds City this morning.”
In that moment, both Saroma and Thales had their expressions change.
Even Nicholas, who was wiping his hands at a distance, as well as Ralf and Wya who were leaning against the wall conversing were listening to the count, and all were simultaneously stunned.
“He brought with him greetings and concerns from King Chapman.” Lisban’s words were filled with chilliness and warning. “And some?important intelligence. He wants to convey it to you face to face.”
Thales, who found it hard to conceal his unusual fa?ade, unknowingly turned his head around in that moment. He looked towards Putray at one side, like he wanted to seek his opinion.
However, the thin lord was smoking his pipe as leisurely as before, his complexion unchanged. It seemed as though he was hardly surprised.