Chapter 335: The Confusion While Going Back Home
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
Thales thought that Raphael’s warning was unsettling enough.
That was until Putray decided to tell Thales about how he was to leave the city safely, all under thirty seconds. The passage was filled with smoke due to his tobacco.
Thales stared at Putray with a contorted face. However, the latter’s expression was natural and relaxed. ‘In conclusion, it’s just…
‘And then smile.
“Wait, wait, wait!” Incredulous, Thales stared at Putray, who was revelling in the smoke. “What do you mean by ‘keep going forward’ and ‘smile at the point of contact in a friendly manner’?”
Putray inhaled a large mouthful of smoke and slowly blew out a perfect smoke ring.
“And, with neither disguise nor…” the prince responded to Putray’s brief and sketchy explanation with plenty of worry as well as disdain. “Who’s the point of contact? When are we meeting him? How is he going to send me out of—”
The smoke Putray exhaled made Thales’ vision in the already dim passage even more blurry, while the pungent smile of the tobacco choked Thales and made him cough non-stop.
“Apologies, Your Highness.” Putray was calm and composed. “Throughout this one month, the people following me in Dragon Clouds City has made life so difficult for me that I could not even muster the effort to smoke.
“Please don’t worry. The point of contact will find you.” In the face of Thales’ accusing gaze, Putray chuckled. “Additionally, the place you’re going is considerably safer. As for the lack of disguise, it is because I’m afraid that he will not recognize you…”
Thales narrowed his eyes. “Him?”
Putray took two strides forward and went up to Thales. He laughed and took hold of Thales’ shoulders, pulling Thales outwards.
“All right, enough with the nonsense.” Biting the tip of his tobacco pipe, Putray exhaled another mouthful of smoke. “Your Highness, I will send you on your way now!
Thales only became more puzzled.
With his hand covering his nose, the prince furrowed his eyebrows and strained to find the way beneath his feet. “But you only said all these…”
Just as he started to speak, Putray squeezed his palm and covered his mouth!
With a solemn expression, Putray gestured with his hand for Thales to keep quiet.
Shocked, Thales subconsciously held his breath. He only breathed in slowly through his nose.
Putray let out another mouthful of smoke, and he continued to chatter, “Trust me, this is enough… My method is definitely safe…”
Putray coldly led him as they went forward. They never stopped moving.
Halfway through, they reached a crossroads. Then they walked towards the next Everlasting Lamp situated in the distance while they were shrouded in smoke.
As he walked, Thales became increasingly terrified.
‘He’s on guard… but against who?
Thales came to a realization.
‘In this secret underground passage, the only thing Putray needs to be wary of is…’
Putray only stopped when he reached a secret door that was as ugly as the mud walls around them. The passage behind them was engulfed in darkness and could not be seen anymore. Putray stayed where he was for a few seconds and turned his head around to listen for something.
After a while, he inhaled deeply and released Thales.
“Looks like they are indeed gone.”
Putray put down his tobacco pipe, which was already extinguished. His facial expression relaxed slightly.
Thales stared at him in disbelief and softly said, “What’s going on?”
‘Why do you have to…’
But Putray soon answered his question.
“Since the people from the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department are gone…” The thin, middle-aged lord leaned against the wall and sighed. “It’s time…”
The face of the middle-aged man sparkled under the illumination of the Everlasting Lamp. Dust fell on his shoulder, causing dirty spots to appear all over his clothes, but Putray did not intend to pat it off at all.
Thales thought of something.
‘It’s been a long time since I last saw this side of Putray.
‘The last time… was six years ago, right?’
Illuminated by the dim lighting, Putray composed his emotions and slowly, “Listen well, Your Highness. What I am about to tell you next is something Gilbert, the sanctimonious old fox will never tell you.
“He will only look at you with keen, sparkling eyes and encourage you to become a good prince and bring the Kingdom to its pinnacle.
“It is not something the extremely mysterious Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department will tell you as well.
“Their principle has always been, ‘the fewer, the better’, even when it comes to the number of insiders and participants of their plans.”
As he listened to Putray’s words, Thales became increasingly curious.
‘Something both Gilbert and the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department won’t tell me…’
The prince stared at him in disbelief. “Putray, who are the insiders and participants you mentioned?”
Putray pursed his lips. The wrinkles at the corners of his eyes made him look even more weary.
“We paid such a big price to rescue you, but you only asked us if it was ‘worth it’ just now.” Putray’s eyebrows were furrowed tightly. The tobacco pipe in his hand was held upside down, and he did not even care anymore that the ashes were dropping out. “That was not just because of guilt, was it?
“You were also suspicious.”
Thales immediately froze.
He sized Putray up with a suspecting gaze.
“What are you trying to say?”
Putray shut his eyes. He slowly inhaled a mouthful of air and exhaled at the same pace.
“I’m about to reply to that doubt of yours. The doubt you have?harbored since I came to Dragon Clouds City more than ten days ago.”
Thales’ expression turned solemn.
Putray opened his eyes.
“Your Highness…” Putray seemed to have come to some sort of decision. He spoke with a serious expression, “You once asked me where I had been for the past six years, and why I only showed up to bring you back to our kingdom now.
Thales furrowed his eyebrows a little. Filled with puzzlement, he nodded slowly as Putray looked at him with an abnormal gaze. “Yes?”
Thales and Putray leaned against each side of the narrow passage. They faced each other quietly and looked at each other’s faces, which had half illuminated by the light, and the other half shrouded in darkness.
“You’re right,” Putray said softly. “We did not save you because we were seized with a sudden impulse, or because we thought that six years has been too long.
“There is a reason why we, including the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department who have been guarding you in the dark for six years, suddenly showed up in Dragon Clouds City to rescue you.”
Thales focused his gaze a little.
His heartbeat slowly increased.
“Are you saying that…”
Putray inhaled again, as though the movement took up a lot of his courage. “I reckon that there are some things you need to know… at least parts of them.”
Thales realized in panic that Putray’s voice was quivering a little.
Even he had subconsciously became nervous.
“Your Highness, do you still remember what happened in Dragon Clouds City six years ago?”
“Hah.” Thales exhaled and thought of those not very pleasant memories. “I want to forget it. The calamity raided the city, the Great Dragon revisited the place, Lampard killed the king and—”
But Putray cut him off, almost crudely.
“No,” the gaunt lord said coldly. “Not just those events.
“That day six years ago, in the dark recesses outside Heroic Spirit Palace and Shield District, where we could not see, some other things happened.”
Thales slowly widened his eyes.
‘Some… other things?’
“I believe that you were able to tell. I worked under Prince Midier when I was young,” Putray sounded rather unhappy when he talked about the past. “Sometimes, I… worked very closely with the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department.
“That was why I was able to find the necessary assistance during the crisis six years ago.”
Thales felt a chill down his spine. He started sizing up the man in front of him once again.
‘I was able to tell.
‘It’s just that… this is the first time you’ve admit to it.
Putray heaved a long sigh. He still appeared to be reminiscing on the past. “Six years ago, the building above the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department’s headquarters in Dragon Clouds City, which is right on top of our heads right now, had not been renovated into the chess room yet.
“At that time, it was only an inn,” Putray’s weariness was evident in his tone and expression.
“That night, I got help from the owner of this inn. That was how I obtained assistance, gathered resources and ordered action to be taken… You got to escape prison thanks to him.”
Thales instinctively looked upwards. Of course, he only saw the rough and uneven ceiling with several spider webs at the corners of the walls.
Even the air he breathed in was cold and slightly moist, very much like air unique only to basements.
‘The Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department’s Headquarters?’
The prince lowered his head. His questions remained. “But?”
Putray nodded as if he expected it.
“But on the morning we broke into the palace and fought against Lampard, something happened to the owner of this inn. The highest superintendent of the Secret Intelligence Department’s Eckstedt Branch, the special class intelligence officer who stayed here as a spy for almost twenty years, Kloon Brook… died an unnatural death.”
Putray’s tone was serious and grievous.
Thales was shocked, and his gaze flickered.
He could understand Putray’s sadness and how suspicious the unnatural death was. ‘Still, what does this have to do with what Putray wants to tell me…’
Thales immediately asked, “The intelligence officer died an unnatural death? What happened?”
Putray’s gaze became gloomy. Under the flickering lamp, his face contorted a few times. “Someone broke in and robbed him. The bandit stabbed Brook’s back four times.”
Thales furrowed his eyebrows. “But…”
“Yes, Brook had been my friend for many years.” Putray nodded, confirming what Thales was thinking like he was a mind reader. “I understand his capabilities. Even though it was very chaotic that night when the calamity and the dragon both appeared, no bandit would have been able to take his life.
Thales looked at Putray without saying a thing and waited patiently for him to continue.
Putray went straight to the key point in his next sentence.
Putray widened his eyes. His lips trembled slightly and his expression was solemn. “Despite all that, what was truly frightening was what he recorded… What Brook recorded in the inn’s account book using the Secret Intelligence Department’s secret code…
“Those few days, he met certain people, found certain things and obtained some scattered clues, Your Highness.
“In the past six years, the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department and I have been investigating these clues Brook left behind upon his death.” In the darkness, Putray turned his face sideways to avoid the light, and his entire face was engulfed in darkness. “It was only recently that we managed to obtain some results.”
Thales was a little anxious. “What results?”
Putray first exhaled slowly, as though he was trying to rule out something. He then inhaled deeply, as though he was gathering something. He spoke wearily in a slightly hoarse voice.
“Some old matters. Frightening things that even the Black Prophet could not stay calm about. Matters that are enough to affect the entire kingdom.”
Thales widened his eyes. “What?”
‘The Black Prophet?
‘Affect the entire kingdom?’
Putray nodded grimly.
“From that day onwards, we understood that you are actually not safe, and neither is Constellation.
“So, the matter of your rescue became the most urgent and important task of the Kingdom, and even the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department.” He gazed at Thales with unspeakable pity and sorrow. “So, this is why Renaissance Palace decided to get you out of Eckstedt and back to Eternal Star City at all costs six years later.”
Thales was stupefied.
He did not understand.
Putray let out a breath, seemingly in relief. His whole body relaxed. “This is the answer to what I was doing for the past six years, and why you are suddenly returning to our kingdom.”
But Thales still did not relax.
He moved away from the wall abruptly.
“What-What in the world is it?”
Thales stared worriedly at Putray and searched for the right words. He could not help but raise his voice, “What in the world happened in the city above our heads six years ago that’s so powerful to affect all of Constellation?”
But Putray’s answer caused him to be disappointed.
Putray shook his head. “No, Your Highness. This is all I can say.”
Thales immediately became anxious. “But—”
Putray raised a hand and cut him off.
“Because I don’t know either.” Grief and misery appeared on Putray’s face. “I do not know if it is the truth, and do not dare believe that what I found out is the truth. I also do not know if the truth I understand and the truth the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department sees, is the same as…”
Putray stopped for a while.
But after that slight pause, he chose to continue speaking.
“I do not know if the truth I understand is the same as the truth His Majesty believes in. How different are they?”
A chill, which seemed come out of nowhere ran down Thales’ spine.
Putray suddenly raised his head, as though he had regained his energy. “Remember, Your Highness.”
His voice was tense, and he increased the speed of his speech. There was a hint of anguish in his tone, which was difficult to hide, “When it comes to this matter… do not believe in anyone, do not be convinced by anything, and do not let any impressions limit your train of thought… Sometimes, even the sight before your eyes could be lies and false appearances!”
The more Thales listened to, the more puzzled he became.
‘What is he saying?
‘What in the world is going on?’
In the end, like a dying, out-of-breath patient finally taking his first breath from the air after a long while of deprivation, Putray stopped quivering all over. He started to take long, drawn out breaths once again.
The tobacco pipe in his hand had almost been broken into two.
Nonetheless, Putray’s next words made Thales lose his composure all of a sudden!
“You must do this, and should do this…
“You have to unearth, investigate and prove the truth regarding the Bloody Year and your origin,” Putray said grimly and sadly.
“Only you can do it.”
At that moment, as though someone rang a war drum beside his ears, Thales shuddered violently.
Thales’ mind operated swiftly, and his unusually fast thought process caught countless matching information in an instant.
‘The Bloody Year?’
Thales clutched his chest without realizing. The map of Renaissance Palace given to him by King Nuven years ago was in his lapel.
‘But, isn’t the Bloody Year when Horace the Second Prince…
‘When Black Sword and the rest assassinated…
‘But, didn’t the Queen of the sky say that the name was in the Drakonic…’
Thales’ face was pale. He remembered what Saroma warned him about before he departed.
“‘Thales, eighteen years ago, during Constellation’s Bloody Year…'”
“‘All are related to the calamities.'”
His mind became increasingly chaotic. The surplus of information was almost making him feel lost.
‘Putray, the Black Prophet, the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department and even King Kessel.
‘What in the world…
‘Is the secret that they’ve found out?
‘What is the secret they know?
‘How much of it overlaps with the secret I know?’
Thales swayed a little and leaned against the wall.
The passage became quiet again.
A few seconds later, the prince raised his head slowly and stared at the person in front of him in a stupefied manner, gawking at the middle-aged man’s deathly still gaze.
Putray looked at the secret door and sighed softly. “It’s time.
“You should leave, Your Highness.”
These were Putray’s parting words.
The then secret door opened.
A teenage boy walked slowly out of the secret passage, crawled out of a cavern, and skirted around an abandoned low wall, which served as a cover up before he entered a remote and empty alley.
He stopped and raised his head slowly.
The teenage boy stood absentmindedly beneath Dragon Clouds City’s sky, at the corner piled with random things. His thoughts were a mess.
The bright moon was already hanging high in the sky, illuminating his way home.
At this moment…
A distance away outside the alley, a surly and unpleasant voice rang loudly, seemingly out of nowhere!
“Hahaha, this is impossible!”
Shocked, Thales subconsciously pressed himself against the wall and held his breath.
“We respect you, and this is why we aren’t joking,” another voice, which sounded rather cold and callous rose into the air. “Dragon Clouds City isn’t how it used to be. This matter has to be solved. The new chiefs of Bow District have already declared where they stand. As long as you agree, they’re willing to—”
The surly and fierce voice rang once again, seemingly cutting off the other voice without intending to show him any respect.
“Do all of you know that a few hours ago, that dead face from Heroic Spirit Palace also came to find me? His aim was almost the same as yours, and the words he spoke were similar to yours.”
The surly voice imitated the “dead face” he talked about. “But he was more domineering than the lot of you, stepping into Shield District in a threatening manner with two rows of Archduchess’ Guards. He looked like he was going to kill anyone who stared at him. ‘In the name of the Archduchess of Dragon Clouds City, I need to know the prince’s whereabouts’.”
Thales shuddered slightly.
A third voice rang from another direction. He seemed to be from the same group as the one with the cold voice earlier. He cautiously asked, “Are you saying that the insane Star Killer personally led men here to find you?”
When he heard that familiar name, Thales shifted his thoughts back to the present and abandoned all unnecessary thoughts.
‘It sounds like… both parties are in a stalemate. The one with the surly voice has fewer people on his side, and the other side has more people.’
“Hah, do you know how I answered him?” the surly and fierce voice rang again. This time, it was filled with disdain, “Listen clearly, all of you, because I’m about to give you the same reply…”
The next moment, the person who seemed to be the owner of the surly voice spat on the ground. “Bah!”
“I don’t f*cking care if you’re the Star Killer or the f*cker of the stars, the Archduchess or the Archb*tch…
“Just f*ck off!”