Chapter 336: The Veteran on the Wheelchair
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
The silver moon hung high in the sky, only somewhat managing to cast its light on the remote and worn out alley.
There were a few dim torches emitting rays of flickering light. The light shone into the alley from the outside through a narrow space.
By the alley, the brute and rude voice snapped Thales out of his stupor.
The walk underground had made him dizzy. Plus, the corners and small alleys he was instructed to head to after reaching ground level were a bit complicated as well. Despite it all, Thales still knew very clearly that he had left the Secret Intelligence’s protection, exposing himself in Dragon Clouds City.
He was in danger. His only hope to leave the city… was the point of contact Lord Putray had mentioned.
Thales focused, and the Sin of Hell’s River was activated, strengthening his sense of hearing.
He detected ten different breathing rates from two directions. There were many on one side, but only one on the other.
“You’ve been in Dragon Clouds City for many years,” it was the cold voice that he heard earlier. He was speaking from the group, and Thales could faintly sense his annoyance. “You should know how serious this matter is. You also know how serious we are; this is not the time for you to be wilful.”
The rude voice, however, replied with a disdainful sneer. “Hmph!”
Thales frowned slightly. ‘Who are they? Where am I?
‘Where’s the person I should meet?
‘Damn that Putray. He told me that he didn’t want to be like the Secret Intelligence Department, yet what he gave me was just a bundle of mysteries.’
The confrontation over the other side of the wall still seemed to be going on. The response from the owner of the rude voice obviously made his opponents very displeased.
The third voice rose, as though the speaker was trying hard to persuade that rude man. “This is for our survival. They’ve locked down the city, checked through everything, and are now arresting people everywhere. They have never been that violent and rough in interfering with the gangs as well as underground businesses… Listen, Heroic Spirit Palace is serious. I think they actually don’t mind being reduced to ashes with us.”
Thales felt fear in his heart.
During the afternoon, someone tried to assassinate Lampard, and Thales escaped Heroic Spirit Palace. Right then, night arrived. A few hours since everything happened, the prince could somewhat imagine Dragon Clouds City’s current situation.
“I don’t think so,” the rude voice answered in a very casual manner. “I am getting by quite well.”
“Hey.” It seemed like someone had angrily slammed a wooden plank. “You old…”
However, there came a dull thud. The man who was about to throw a tantrum seemed to have been stopped by his partners by force.
Once more, Thales turned his body nearer to the crude wall ahead of him. He stuck his ear close to the wall, and tried hard to get all the useful information.
“Is that so?”
It was that cautious third person, who appeared more inclined to solve the problem over a discussion compared to that cold partner of his. “Since this afternoon, the monthly goods we planned to sell in Sword District’s market were all seized; at Dragon Wing Plaza, Camus’ old gang leader had his house searched; I’m afraid that the nobles in Spear District and Axe District are now being sent to prison in batches. Even Karkogel; the authoritative vassal’s subordinates have been affected. As for us? As long as we have a criminal record, the patrol squad will capture us without question, and we will be sent to the Water Prison…”
“As for you, you think that you’re very special? You think that with your old friendship with the Ground-Shaker, the poor folks in Shield District and Hammer District won’t be involved in the situation? That the patrol squad and the Archduchess’ Guards will always let you off?”
He paused for a moment.
The cold voice took over the conversation, “You are wrong.
“And one day, you will pay the price for it.”
A thought appeared in Thales’ head. He had managed to catch a few keywords.
The prince subconsciously turned to look left and right. The remote alley seemed like it had been there for years. The irregular brick wall was heavily damaged, as though with one touch, it would collapse; even the connected houses on the left had obviously not been occupied for a long time. Where he stood, there was only half of the house left, and it was in even worse shape than the abandoned house Thales had lived in before. It was as if someone had taken a big hammer and knocked off a third of it from the top.
But Thales immediately realized that there were also pieces of stone and rotting wood under his feet. There were even deep holes the likes of which he had no idea how they came to be.
‘It’s like a messy battlefield.
‘There’s such a place in Dragon Clouds City?’
Once he thought of this, Thales shuddered!
Under the moonlight, he turned his head around in disbelief. He then looked around through a few holes on the dilapidated walls along the narrow alley. The ruined roofs, collapsed walls, dirty small roads, and the indistinct, foul stench he smelled…
He recognized the place.
He still remembered the rough and uneven texture of the road, the low and scattered old houses, the alleys, which were so complexly woven together that they looked like a maze.
However, the hustle and bustle of large crowds was missing.
Thales touched the ruined wall, and looked at the roofless house with a dumbfounded expression.
It was Shield District.
It was Dragon Clouds City’s Shield District.
Six years ago, all of Shield District was destroyed when the two Mystics fought in their crazed battle, not holding back even the least bit of their strength.
It was the Shield District where he led Little Rascal as they ran for their lives; it was the Shield District where he leaped through the gates of death with tears running down his face; it was the place where he followed Black Sword and launched a desperate counterattack.
‘So I’m here, huh?’
A wave of indescribable sadness rose in Thales’ heart.
‘It’s been so many years.’
In the end, they still returned to this place.
But doubt stirred in his heart. ‘Why did Putray ask me to come here?’
The one with the rude voice suddenly laughed loudly, drawing all of Thales’ attention.
“‘You will pay the price’, hahahaha…”
This laughter was very bold and wild, but Thales could hear the anger and displeasure in it.
With his senses strengthened from the Sin of Hell’s River, Thales could vaguely sense that the group of people across the rude man was breathing heavier.
It seemed as though the situation was getting more unpleasant.
The laughter slowly stopped.
“You know…” The rude one stopped for a few seconds before he eventually opened his mouth and spoke in a voice that was even deeper than before.
“Six years ago, Vlad could no longer survive in Dragon Clouds City, so he played foul. He turned the market and the black market into a mess. On top of that, the Far Easterner disappeared. Business in Bow District was reduced to zero, so for a period of time, every upstart who overestimated themselves wanted to snatch whatever was left in this place…”
The rude man paused for a moment. There was a slightly dangerous tone in his voice, “We’ve fought against each other for the past few years, but you’re still here, thinking that you’re really someone important. Even the manner you speak resembles that of a gang leader…”
‘The man six years ago… Lampard’s subordinate, that man who had eight braids?’
Thales frowned. He subconsciously shrank a little, trying to hide himself completely in the darkness behind the wall.
The cold voice rose again. It seemed like he was the leader of the group.
“We are not clear about the grudges you bear with Vlad, cripple,” his words were still without even the slightest bit of warmth. “We do not want to take part in that, but everyone is making a living in Dragon Clouds City—”
“Ha!” the rude voice rose, cutting him off.
“Making a living?”
This man may have been alone, but he seemed very brave. Not only did he show no fear, his words turned even more arrogant.
“It’s been a few years now. With Vlad as an example, be it from your paths via water, land, or illegal channels, the increasingly strict patrols have seized your goods more than ten times. The losses you’ve suffered are enough for you to buy a Dragon Clouds City, but you are all still persistent as if you can never finish spending your money… Hey, are you truly just trying to look for a way to survive by occupying the marketplace?”
The group did not say a word in the face of the rude man’s interrogation, but Thales felt their breathing becoming faster.
“I’m afraid that even so, none of you gave up on providing the nobles in the city with benefits. It’s like you have endless streams of money… That includes that guest relations ambassador who was hanged. He was bribed by Black Sand Region. I know that you were the ones who delivered all the benefits given to him from others.”
The rude voice coughed, spat out phlegm, and continued to speak disdainfully, “Hah, not for fame and money… You’re even putting on a look, as though you’re worried about the country and its citizens? Tell me, which gang would do that just to ‘survive’?”
Those who confronted him remained silent. Nonetheless, Thales could already hear some people clenching their fists.
“Look, I know your background very clearly.” The rude man laughed again, but for some strange reason, his laughter only caused a chill to crawl down people’s spines. “I know who all of you work for. I don’t know if it’s for self-preservation, or if there’s another motive behind it, or if there’s another person behind all of you controlling your actions…
“Vlad is gone now, but his stench remains in this city. It’s not gone yet,” the man’s rough voice left a deep impression on Thales. The feeling that he had met this person before at some point in time grew stronger.
“If I report to the White Blade Guards, can you lot guess what will happen to you?”
A silence that was longer than any of the other silences, which occurred during their confrontation, lingered between the two parties.
‘White Blade Guards.
‘That would be terrible.’
Thales, who was caught in the middle of the confrontation found something off about the atmosphere. He looked around anxiously, but to his disappointment, there were only two ways out of the alley—he could either strut out of the alley and appear before the two parties, or he could step on the ground full of cracked stones as well as broken wood, then climb over the walls to escape in a noisy and flashy manner.
None of them were good ideas.
After a long while, the man with the cold voice sighed amid the group on the other side.
“It’s been a long time since any White Blade Guards have been in this place, Gleeward,” his voice was soft, but filled with ill-intent. “They haven’t been here since the day the calamities descended on us and the Great Dragon reappeared…”
“The late king has passed away, and times have changed. Times are now different, be it in Eckstedt or Dragon Clouds City.”
Those words spoken in the dark made Thales momentarily stunned.
He should have figured out their identities.
Their positions in the city were probably not very high, but they were not to be overlooked in Dragon Clouds City. They affected many people’s lives, and they maintained a close relationship with middle-ranking officials like the patrols. They could not be separated from each other.
Thales had a sense of familiarity, which he had not felt for a very long time towards such people.
As expected, the next second, that rude man called Gleeward opened his mouth and spoke coldly.
“So all of you found a new master?”
He spat, and when he spoke again, his voice was filled with great contempt, “Is working under Chapman Lampard really so good that when those pieces of sh*t pass by, you line up just to smell their sh*t?”
“F*ck you…” One of them apparently could not suppress his anger any longer. He took a step forward, but he was pushed back immediately.
“Quiet!” this was the third voice. He seemed to be the one with authority second only to the one with the cold voice.
His words were chosen with much more care. He spoke as if he was in a negotiation. “Chief Gleeward, I know that we don’t normally mess with one another. This is how we work, but this time—”
But Gleeward had no desire to show him any respect. He cut off the other party with his rough voice.
“Then get the f*ck out of here.”
Gleeward’s rough voice was unpleasant and piercing to the ears. “I don’t care how important that prince is , I don’t care who assassinated the kinslayer, I don’t care what kind of bullsh*t games Heroic Spirit Palace is playing, I don’t care whose b*lls you group of black-skinned dogs are licking, I don’t care whose bones you collected to be involved in this, and I don’t even care whether you lot are trying to form a rebellion or hoping to enter the ranks of nobility; I only care about one thing all the time, and that is for you bunch of b*tch-breds to…”
Thales bit his lower lips tightly. As he had expected, his disappearance brought disorder to Dragon Clouds City, and it even affected these…
Then, Thales heard Gleeward violently punching something with his fists. He growled.
“Stay. Away. From. My. Territory!”
These words instantly caused the people across him to burn in anger.
“This old cripple…” The sound of a knife stabbing wood could be heard.
“We should teach him a lesson…” A few sinister sneers rose into the air.
“If I had my way—” A person said with great displeasure.
However, these people suddenly stopped speaking, as though they their actions were halted by their leader.
At that moment, Thales let out a breath, thinking that the confrontation would end right then…
“Gleeward, Gleeward, oh Gleeward, the famous Gleeward.”
It was the leader with the cold voice.
“The legendary Gleeward who could fight on equal grounds against the ‘Five War Generals’,” His voice resounded faintly in the brightly lit area beyond the alley. “In the disaster six years ago, you lost your legs. As a result, you can never stand again.”
‘Six years ago, he lost a pair of legs?
‘Six years ago.’
Thales seized those words.
Gleeward remained silent for a few seconds.
“Ha, my legs? They became useless decades ago,” the man with the rough voice said without showing any signs of weakness. He laughed nonchalantly and seemed to be completely at ease. “Six years ago, I found them inconvenient, so I just sawed them off.
“You have something to say about it?”
A light breeze blew through the narrow space in the alley, forming a low whistle.
But the cold man continued to speak, “Not just that, you even lost an eye.
“You lost half of your vision.”
“An eye?” Gleeward’s voice rose abruptly.
“Hah! I found it pushing against my eye socket too much, and it was straining against my brain, so I decided to pluck it out.”
A few dull thuds sounded, and it seemed like he had tapped his forehead lightly with his fingers.
The one with the cold voice laughed.
“And you only have three fingers left on your left hand.
“You cannot tighten your fist or hold your weapon any longer.”
Gleeward shot back, completely unbothered, “Hey, don’t you guys pick your nose? Don’t you think my left hand does the job much better?”
When he heard these words, Thales frowned deeply.
‘That lonely figure over the wall…
‘What kind of man was he?’
The cold man ignored Gleeward’s words and proceeded to say, “Not just that, in that disaster, you suffered a devastating loss to your numbers. Try counting. Six years ago, how many brothers did you personally bury in Shield District?”
This time, Gleeward stayed quiet for a very long time like his voice had been taken from him.
Another gust of wind blew by, and the light beyond the alley flickered.
The man named Gleeward inhaled noisily, then exhaled slowly.
“My brothers are made of metal,” his somewhat deep voice traveled into the air, and it remained unwavering, not showing any weakness.
However, Gleeward’s voice was actually a bit shaky, “Tsk, if we really fight ten to one, it’ll be nothing. It’ll just be a normal occurrence.”
His response was silence.
Thales listened quietly. In his mind, he tried to picture the man’s image. He lost his legs, lost an eye, and his hand was crippled.
Rude, crass, uncouth, and resembling a robber.
But he was also bold and stubborn.
After a while, the one with the cold voice started cackling. “Hehehehe…”
“Stop making me laugh, Gleeward. Look at yourself, you cripple. Forget holding the Soul Slayer Pike, you can’t even stand up and walk. You need to rely on the wheelchair to move—”
As a response, Gleeward spat in contempt.
“Look around you again. Look at this place, ravaged by the calamities and that huge beast. Poverty, dilapidation, decay, pity, disdain—this is the Shield District you depended on for a living, and glorified.”
With a click of his tongue, the cold man said, “Look at this devastation. Your Shield District has not recovered, and it has even become worse. I heard that you don’t even have enough people to watch over Moaning Bird Brothel, much less get enough people to take care of the family members of your brothers. Maybe you should ask your wife and daughters to help you, you know. Perhaps watching over the brothel will allow them to earn some ‘extra income’.”
Mocking laughter came from that group.
This time, Thales did not hear any retorts from Gleeward.
“It’s no longer your era now, old cripple,” there was a hidden threat contained in the cold man’s words.
“Resolutely refusing to look at reality and continuing to live a degenerate’s life will only bring you to your end. You could even harm those around you.”
The sound of footsteps rang, and it seemed like the cold man was slowly moving forward.
Thales heard Gleeward’s breathing becoming heavier.
“It’s not out of fear that we didn’t fight against you, but you seem to be looking down on us. Hmm… do you still think that you are the famous heavy infantry in supreme class? Do you still think that you are the respected Chief Gleeward, or the light among the commoners who’ll get hundreds of people responding to your call in Dragon Clouds City, or that hero who defends Dragon Clouds City wielding the Soul Slayer Pike?
The man’s voice was very calm, as though he had no emotion, and it was exceptionally chilling to the bone. “You have been nothing since that moment six years ago. In that incomplete shell of yours, you gasped for air. You are nothing other than a cripple waiting for death in a wheelchair.”
This time, Gleeward’s breathing became heavier and heavier. He even let out a deep, low hum.
But his rude voice never appeared again.
It was as if Gleeward had given up on retorting.
The cold man had seemingly gotten hold of his enemy’s weakness. He laughed slowly. “Like right now, if we were ten steps away, and I were to pick up a bow to kill you, a person who is not capable of standing up… what can you even do?”
“If we decide to be serious, if we truly intend to attack you, Shield District, Hammer District, your poor underlings, their wives and daughters, the hire and workers, if we decide to make their lives a hundred times worse than the present…”
The other party’s words came slower and slower, and it made the people there feel increasingly fearful.
“What can you do? You’re a cripple who can’t even walk and has to rely on a wheelchair to live through the rest of his life. You can’t hold a knife, and can’t even see the road clearly.”
Gleeward remained quiet.
It appeared that he had really been silenced.
“Open your eyes wide and look at the situation clearly, make a wise choice.” The man laughed coldly and stopped moving. “Since you clearly know who is supporting us, then you should know that we are unstoppable. We can do whatever we want to, and a cripple like you can do nothing to stop us. You are powerless to stop us.
“So, now, I will give you another chance, Gleeward. Reconsider your reply—”
However, before the man could finish his words, Thales suddenly felt his heart tremble in fear!