Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
‘What… What was that?’
Thales looked at the rock formation above Kurtz fearfully.
He tried blinking, but he still could not see a thing. There was only darkness above Kurtz.
The Sin of Hell’s River did not show him anything else.
The seamstress’ displeasure had practically filled the entire small cave. “Are you f*cking around with me?”
Her voice reverberated throughout the rocky cave, and the echoes bounced off the walls repeatedly.
Thales was startled by her enraged roar.
The teenager took a deep breath, looked above Kurtz while fear still lingered in him. “I-I let my mind wander…
“I’m coming now.”
This time, Thales straightened his arm with all his might as he brought the Everlasting Lamp to the front, looking to the left and right in trepidation. He then moved forward step by step, seized Kurtz’ palm with much effort, and climbed up.
This naturally caused the seamstress to poke fun at him.
But Thales already did not mind her teases.
When Kurtz continued to explore the path before her, Thales lifted his lamp and passed by the spot where he originally saw the face.
Somehow, Thales could not resist lifting the lamp and raising his head repeatedly to make sure that the creepy face had truly not appeared above Kurtz’s head just moments ago.
There was nothing at all, only stones lying quietly in the wall.
‘Did my eyes play tricks on me?
Thales took a deep breath and pressed down on his limbs to stop them from shivering. He tried hard to discard all thoughts he found unbeneficial to the atmosphere, holding the Everlasting Lamp in his arms tightly. Shortly after, he steeled his resolve and moved forward in the completely dark area while he followed the light in front of Kurtz.
They once again went forward for half an hour.
During that period of time, Thales carefully moved forward, and with every step he took, he was filled with uneasiness.
“Very good, we’ve walked past half of the Black Track. Right now, the spot above our heads is…” the seamstress’ voice rang, and she sounded quite pleased. “We’re not too far away from our destination now!”
Thales felt relieved.
Kurtz held on to the wall with her left hand while she was ahead of him, then she turned right.
But at that moment, Kurtz’s left hand pressed against an empty wall… and a human face appeared!
Thales felt goosebumps break out on his skin. He did not manage to catch his breath as he shuddered.
His Everlasting Lamp fell down next to his leg. The light flickered, casting Thales’ shadow on the rocky wall. However, it was still unable to cover the outline of the face.
It was the face of a man with prominent features, and there was blue paint on his forehead as well as his cheeks.
He appeared to be the same man from before. His muscles were shrunken, his eyes were white, and his lips were shrivelled and pulled back to reveal his teeth. The man’s skin was as pale as a dead man’s.
“Hey, hey, hey!”
Kurtz turned back in exasperation. “I told you not to drop the Everlasting Lamp!
“Do you intend to fumble your way out of this place without the lamp?”
The seamstress was just a palm away from the face on the rocky wall, but she did not seem to notice that there was anything off.
The man in the rocky wall used his pupiless eyes to glare at Thales. His neck turned slowly like a rusty clock; his black mouth opened and closed; and his teeth, which resembled withered bark, let out grating sounds. They sounded like they were right beside his ears.
“Elves… Kill them all…
“Centaurs… Kill them too…
“Enemies… Kill them as well…
“We… Why can’t… we kill them all…”
Kurtz was still reprimanding the teenager in displeasure, as though she was in a completely different world. She could not hear him.
‘The common language of the Western Peninsula… with a dash of grammar from the Ancient Empire’s national language mixed into it?’
Thales felt his skin crawl. Near tears, he pointed at the spot right next to Kurtz with a stiff expression. “But…
Yet, when he moved his gaze to the spot, Thales found that the man was gone, much to his horror.
Kurzt turned her head around in puzzlement. There was only a pitch-black wall behind her.
There was no human face on it.
The wall was just as still as it was before while light and shadow repeatedly switched places on its surface.
Thales was dumbfounded.
He began to shiver lightly.
Kurtz watched him, frowning. “Hey!
“What’s that ‘over there’ you mentioned?”
The teenager shook his head violently.
Thales took a deep breath, then jumped up like an agile rabbit!
He picked up his Everlasting Lamp, then used both his legs and hands to flee from that particular wall. He ran ahead of Kurtz, practically tumbling along the way.
The terrified prince passed by that bizzare rock wall, only to find another patch of darkness before him. He could faintly see a steep path going downwards.
“No, Kurtz.” While running, Thales gulped. His fingers were numb and his voice quivered.
“There was something wrong.”
Kurzt was a little shocked. “What?”
Thales resisted the urge to turn his head around and shook his head violently. “The Black Track… This place is very evil.”
“I saw some… things.”
Kurtz looked like she was immersed in her thoughts as she stared at the disheveled Thales. Then, she suddenly giggled.
“You’re really afraid of the dark?”
The scared Thales bit down on his lower lip hard and tried his best not to think of what he saw. “It’s not the dark—”
“Just be quiet!” The seamstress rushed ahead of him with a ferocious expression and poked him in the chest. “I promised that cripple, so I’ll definitely bring you out…
“You’re not allowed to be afraid of the dark!”
Almost in tears, the terrified Thales found himself unable to retort.
Before him, Kurtz cursed while she jumped down a slope, bringing the air current with her and causing a chill to come crashing into the area around her.
Thales could only put on a long face. He hung the Everlasting Lamp in front of his chest and put one foot before him while he placed his hands on the wall behind him to slide down the slope after Kurtz.
At some point in time, the prince’s palm had gotten wet with cold sweat.
Even his heart was racing so quickly that it felt like the organ was about to leap out of his chest.
This time, he opened his eyes wide. The flow of the Sin of Hell’s River surged faster in him.
“Based on my memory, we just need to walk past this place…”
Thales listened absentmindedly, but when he was about to reach the bottom of the slope.
Three figures suddenly appeared right on top of the wall across him!
An old man, a woman, and a man.
Thales shivered as he moved down!
Low and bizarre murmurs traveled into his ears again.
“You are… I am… Who are we…?” this was from the old man. He spoke in the lingua franca, and he had a Northlander’s accent. His voice was filled with confusion.
“Thou art us… and we art thou…” this was from the other man. He spoke in the national language of the Ancient Empire. His words were elegant and refined, but incredibly strange.
They stuck on the wall, and all of their eyes were appallingly white. They had the appearance of corpses and they were glaring at him. The three faces stood out prominently in the dark!
The woman among them even extended her withered arms towards Thales.
“Why are you there?”
This was the lingua franca, but the grammar was complex, and the accent she used was one Thales had never heard before.
Her words contained a chilling tone, born of grief and hysterical pain.
“Why… didn’t you…come back… from the battlefield…”
A grayish-brown fingernail swiped past Thales’ face, causing a chill to descend on him and seep into his bones.
The terrified Thales fell on his a**. It was a great fall!
‘What the hell is this?’
Thales could not resist cursing. At that moment, he only felt goosebumps all over his skin!
He got up and walked forward, thinking only about how to leave the figures far behind.
‘What the hell was this place!’
Panting, the panic-stricken Thales bumped into Kurtz in the dark while she was retracing the path in her memories.
“Are you mad?!”
The seamstress stumbled due to Thales bumping into her, and with an angry face, she turned to him. “I swear that if you try…”
But she did not carry on.
Both of them felt it. The ground beneath their feet shook slightly.
Kurtz’s sarcastic remarks and Thales’ breathing came to a screeching halt.
At the same time, the rock formation in the dark let out terrifying sounds.
Their faces turned pale.
Thales listened attentively to the terrifying sound.
‘This sounds like…
‘It sounds like… rocks cracking.’
After a few seconds, the cracking sounds grew louder!
Kurtz and Thales stared at each other under the dim light from the two Everlasting Lamps.
Kurtz’s face turned pale and she touched her head. A few pieces of cracked stones as small as fingernails fell on to their heads.
“Sh*t,” she could only manage to utter this word.
Then the ground shook violently again!
The alarmed Thales grabbed the rock by his side, and only then did he manage to not fall.
Kurtz only managed to find her balance after considerable effort as she felt the ground shake under her feet, and her facial expression changed. “Motherf*cker!”
“Some parts of the track must have collapsed!”
Right when she finished speaking…
Those cracking sounds and shaking sounds turned into a piercing loud bang.
It was as if some large boulder had fallen to the ground at the back.
The seamstress’ expression became unpleasant. She could not be bothered to reprimand Thales and hung the Everlasting Lamp around her neck, then with her agile limbs, she climbed the path. “Run faster!”
A large boulder hit a small slope not far ahead of them, then rolled down from there.
Thales was shocked, and he realized that now was not the time for him to be scared of ghosts.
The prince could not be bothered with conserving his energy. He called upon his mysterious yet familiar power, trying hard to activate the Sin of Hell’s River in his body!
The Sin of Hell’s River joyfully rushed to his head, and spread to his entire body.
Thales violently stomped the ground and instantly rose up as he felt his veins pulse and the sense of power gathering in his muscles. He saw that his vision was brighter than day and he could even hear the air in the cave moaning.
He grabbed a hold of the rocky wall, then followed after Kurtz.
The ground shook again.
Soon, the sounds around him turned into a deafening roar, synchronizing with the quaking of the ground and the walls. They traveled into Thales’ ears simultaneously!
The extremely terrified prince managed to catch up to Kurtz.
The falling boulders grew louder and more frequent, as though they were nearing them.
“What the heck…”
Thales jumped over a shallow hole in a desperate leap and grabbed a piece of rock on the slope. He shouted while the cave continued to roar, “Was this damn place like this before?!”
The ground shook again. Thales stumbled and fell to the ground.
His Everlasting Lamp smashed against the rocky wall, and it was then followed by the sound of the lamp breaking before its flames died.
But he could not care less.
Escaping was his priority!
Scared, Thales tried to push himself up again before he crossed several meters of distance in just three steps.
Because the ground shook violently, he fell face flat several times, but he could only try his best to move forward!
“Who knows?! The last time I brought someone here was six years ago!” Kurtz’s exasperated voice rose amid the roars in the cave. It was obvious that things were not easy for her as well. “After Shield District was destroyed, the Black Track would sometimes collapse!
“That’s why the cripple sealed this place!”
Thales crashed against the wall left and right while the ground shook, and he could only maintain his balance in a very pathetic manner. He continued to move forward, but under such terrible conditions, even Kurtz who was familiar with the path could not move quickly.
A loud sound echoed behind them. A boulder which fell from somewhere smashed against the slope they just passed through!
Crushed stone flew everywhere.
When he turned around to look, Thales became so terrified that he felt as if his soul was about to leave his body!
Thales took two steps in advance and avoided a falling boulder from the left.
But this was not the worst, not by a long stretch.
As the falling boulder cracked the wall, Thales discovered, much to his shock, that there was another person in it.
A withered figure with white hair.
“Join us in our fight against the tyrant king…
“The Empire will fall, Northland will rise…”
The figure’s eyes were white and its muscles were rotting, but it had the same withered lips as its companions, the same thin and white hair, the same wrinkled scalp. It extended its hand to Thales, and there were only bones left of that appendage.
Thales shuddered, the Sin of Hell’s River gathered automatically at his left leg without Thales even needing to call for it. He kicked desperately, and rolled to the right as he cursed.
‘What the hell!’
While he ran, Thales saw this particular this scene again in the distance: Another withered face with charred flesh and bone appeared in the pit to his bottom right.
It opened both of its white eyes and put on a scary smile in Thales’ direction. Its mouth opened and closed.
“To protect my family, I need to kill all my enemies…
“But with my family around, my enemy will find my weakness and defeat me…
“I will… be unable… to kill all my enemies…
“For my family’s sake, I cannot be defeated…
“My family… cannot be… my weakness…
“So, to defeat my enemy, to protect my family, I need to first…
“Kill my entire family.”
When this “man” finished his words, he suddenly supported his head with his withered hands and let out a scream filled with endless torment!
‘What the f*ck!’
The crying Thales covered his ears and shouted angrily in?his heart. As he fumbled with his feet and tumbled about, he pounced in Kurtz’s direction.
‘What are those things?!’
Ahead of him, Kurtz abruptly stopped, and Thales nearly bumped into her.
“My God, the path I remember is completely messed up…” Kurtz who had panicked and ran without checking where she was cried angrily. Her Everlasting Lamp shook violently before her chest.
“Why are we so unlucky? I feel that wherever we go, the place will collapse!”
A large boulder smashed into the road ahead of them with a scary bang. Shocked and fearful, Thales as well as the seamstress immediately turned in another direction.
“Whenever we go there, the…” Thales suppressed the fear in his heart, and as he ran, he shouted with much displeasure, “You’re sure your family name isn’t Drake?”
Kurtz shouted angrily, “My family name is…”
But at that moment as Thales was fleeing the shaking, collapsing cave and dodging the falling rocks, Thales felt his breathing freeze.
He was dumbfounded by the sight ahead.
With the vision provided by the Sin of Hell’s River, Thales saw the faces, figures, and shapes of the people he saw earlier while they were fleeing. They appeared one after another.
These “people” had the same characteristic.
They were as withered as corpses, their eyes were without pupils, and their movements were stiff.
They… These monsters either popped their heads out of the cracks or stretched out their limbs from the holes created by the rocks. Some even rose up suddenly from the ground. They were everywhere, and their shadows filled the cave.
Thales felt endless chill coming from under his feet.
This time, they even released an ominous black mist, and regardless of their distance from him, they all turned to Thales to glare at him. Then, they opened their hideous mouths and spoke in a synchronized manner.
“The King is calling… The knights have gathered… Triumph… Triumph… Triumph!
“The tip of the sword has pointed, the war will end… Fight this war, and the Empire will no longer have enemies, and we can go home…
“We were surrounded, no need to leave us any food. Those who are injured, leave your horses to the healthy. Those who carry no weapons, search for one from the dead bodies… Riders, equip yourselves. We need to make the final charge. Then, King Anzac will have fewer orcs and?mixed breeds to deal with…
“Why did we fight… Why? The Western Billowers did not fight us, then why should we fight them?
“Sel, Kerol, Rocktashda… Kalalurk… Sel, sel, sel licca!”
All sorts of languages, be it the refined national language of the Ancient Empire used by nobles, the common tongue spoken by the commoners of the Ancient Empire, the classical and modern lingua franca, or other kinds of languages were heard. Thales had heard some of them before, but there were also ones that he could not understand.
There were even a few figures that were very clearly not humans screaming in agony at him while shouting words in a tongue he could not comprehend.
The cave suddenly became noisy.
But Kurtz still behaved the same way as she did just now. It did not seem like she had discovered anything. She just tried her best running forward.
There were more words, either spoken in whispers, murmurs, or shouts. Their words were laced with abnormal emotions, and they seeped into Thales’ ears.
The terrified Thales wailed, and with fumbling limbs, he increased his speed, thinking only about getting out of the creepy place as fast as possible.
The voices continued.
“Whether they have weapons or not, the reason is simple. This is the land that the Emperor wants. It’s on our map. If they do not admit that they are the Citizens of the Empire… then they are our enemy…
“The revolt failed, the whole army was destroyed… The inspectors of the Empire will be here soon. Run…
“Sound the army horn. It’s the mixed breed from the ice… The orcs…We must hold them off here… Trust me, humanity shall prevail!
“Deserters, deserters, damn those deserters. Deserters are not fit to be human… If they do not have the courage to chop off heads, then they deserve to have their heads chopped off!
“The city is breached, the city is breached! Follow me, we’ll charge through. No man shall be kept alive! All hail the Empire!”
Thales covered his ears and cried out, enduring the stabs of pain in his head.
He resisted the urge to look at a scary, withered “woman” who was just an arm away from him. Without caring for anything else, he passed through obstacle after obstacle, relying on the vision provided by the Sin of Hell’s River so that he would not fall in the dark.
“We have to get out of here quickly!
“The Black Track… There is something very wrong about this place!”
While the cave still roared, Kurtz’s enraged voice rang out from the area before Thales. She appeared to have just avoided a falling boulder from above her head. “Yes, I can tell too…
“And, thank you for your warning, Captain Obvious!”
*Crack…* The moment Kurtz turned her head around, another big boulder above her head cracked!
And it fell straight down.
Kurtz lifted her head instinctively, and her face immediately turned pale.
That boulder… completely covered the area above them.
Thales felt his skin crawl. He no longer had time to care about the numbness and pain in his legs. He just focused on pumping his legs to catch up to Kurtz!
However, once he saw the situation ahead clearly, he felt his heart run cold just as he proceeded to rush forward. ‘I won’t make it.’
That falling boulder above him… was too big. It covered an area far too large.
Even if he pounced on Kurtz and even if they ran as fast as they could…
They could not avoid it.
‘What should I do?’
The large boulder was just a few meters away from Kurtz’s head.
At that moment, Thales tried hard to remember all the skills he could use.
‘Jala, Ralf, Wya, Black Sword, the Corleone Sisters, Aida…’
But even their skills and their emergency plans could not be of any help in the face of such a crisis…
At this moment, a figure that Thales did not recall earlier suddenly appeared in his head.
In his memory, that man had an icy expression and a pale face.
Whenever he swung his sword with his hand, it would miraculously change directions.
His rarely seen Power of Eradication surged into his bones and joints to release an inexpressible power.
In a flash, Thales increased his movement speed, pounced on Kurtz and wrapped her waist tightly with his arms.
While Kurtz screamed, they fell forward, but the boulder above their heads was getting closer.
Thales gritted his teeth.
The Sin of Hell’s River began to roar in him, causing his pores to shudder.
He heard his blood rage in his veins, and these sounds gradually drowned out the endless words of those “people” around him.
The bones in his body began to moan.
“Ah—” Thales could not resist screaming madly due to the severe pain.
The boulder above their heads was getting closer. It had even started to reflect the light from Kurtz’s Everlasting Lamp.
In the next moment, his momentum as he rushed forward magically stopped, and both of Thales’ legs were placed firmly on the ground.
Not only that, loud, unpleasant sounds similar to those of explosions erupted from Thales’ joints.
Thales’ face was contorted while the Power of Eradication gathered in his legs.
The young prince who had been rushing forward moments ago seemed as though he had overcome the forward inertia, because he suddenly turned around and went back!
The large boulder fell.
A loud bang resounded by their ears.
Kurtz fell onto the ground, looking at the sight before her with a dumbfounded expression. The large boulder was only a few inches away from her.
Thales lay on the ground next to her, panting in agony.
The large boulder, which had fallen before them shattered into pieces inch by inch, and many of its broken pieces rolled to their feet.
During that moment of impending doom, Thales had pounced on Kurtz and instantly changed direction in an unimaginable manner. He leaped two meters backwards, allowing him to drag them out of the area where the boulder fell.
“Whoa.” Kurtz’ mind slowly registered what just happened. She widened her eyes. “How did you do that…”
“Don’t… ask,” this was Thales’ answer as he struggled to catch his breath. His legs were numb.
‘God damn it…’
Looking disheveled, Thales panted heavily. However, he could still feel the ground shaking. Plus, the roars by his ear had not subsided.
‘You… want me to die, cave?’
While Thales was still on the ground, his eyes suddenly froze!
A scary face appeared on the rocky wall…
…right above his head.
Thales recognized the face. That skinny face, that cold smile, those sharp, rusty teeth.
And that colorful armor.
His white eyes gazed at Thales, and he moved his stiff neck inch by inch as he spoke slowly.
“You should not be there.
“You belong with us.”
His words were still clearly enunciated, and he still used the standard national language of the Ancient Empire, which was considered a classic in the current age.
It sounded nice, if Thales ignored the very chilling meaning in his words.
Once the man spoke, dark fog spread out from his entire body.
At the next second, before Thales could even react, the rock strata beneath them cracked by the inch!
A panicked Kurtz only managed to shout one word before she sank with the ground when the rock strata beneath them collapsed.
Thales pounced forward with a cry of surprise to try and grab the alarmed seamstress. “Grab my hand!”
But his hand just fruitlessly swept past Kurtz’s figure, and it was the last time he ever touched her fingers.
Kurtz fell, growing farther and farther apart from him.?The shock on her face never disappeared.
Thales stared at the woman who fell into the darkness with a flabbergasted expression.
But he could not do anything.
Then, the seamstress was entirely swallowed by darkness.
Never to be seen again.
The hoarse and terrifying noise appeared above his head, speaking the language of the Ancient Empire in a chilling tone.