Chapter 353: The First Rule
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
Under the clear sky, Thales stood together with Kurtz outside a little house in the wild. He looked on as two saddled pack horses grazed in a leisurely, and carefree manner.
“Are you sure that you don’t need me to send you off?” Kurtz leaned against a tree branch and asked, scratching her head.
“Even though Dragon Clouds City’s search operation is only limited within the city, all the main outposts must have been informed…”
Thales sucked in a small breath and looked at the little house in a relaxed fashion.
The house was the hiding place outside the city belonging to Gleeward and his brothers.
These thugs from Shield District had arranged for Thales’ escape through their own men who delivered necessities and large piles of sh*t out of the city (When he thought of this, Thales’ expression darkened again). The two pack horses looked meekly at them while they grazed.
Perhaps his adventures in the Black Track were too interesting, but for a moment after he managed to flee, Thales almost forgot the main purpose of their journey.
When he remembered it, all sorts of feelings welled up in his heart.
Thales inhaled the air, which was tinged with the smell of grass in the wilderness, and looked at the tenacious weed beneath his feet. The coniferous forest exclusive to Northland and a small number of evergreen trees a distance away caused him to marvel at their sight.
It had been six years.
He was out of Dragon Clouds City.
From time to time, the prince would turn to look at the summit in the distance and imagine the disorderly streets, which bustled with activity, along with the crude, majestic palace.
He shook his head and smiled. His past life in that place had come to an end.
“And do you know where you’re supposed to go?” Kurtz furrowed her eyebrows.
“Yes, I know which direction to head in, and where the outposts are set. I won’t go there.” Thales recalled the map, and realized that the route Raphael pointed out to him was still quite clear in his mind. “Don’t worry, someone will meet me at the road ahead.
Thales stood on the ground and sensed the peculiar pulse beneath his feet.
He said in a soft voice, “I know the way.”
Kurtz fixed her gaze on him with a hand on her hip, as though she knew some of his secrets.
It made Thales anxious.
“Alright.” After a long time, the seamstress spread her hands. “When you’re there, just let go of the reins…
“It’s an old horse belonging to the Falon Family, and it knows how to go home on its own.”
‘Speaking of which…’
Thales looked at the horse with a worried expression.
On full alert, he tugged the reins, testing the waters. He was prepared to dodge the horse’s hooves at any time.
“What’s wrong?” Kurtz asked, puzzled.
“It’s nothing.” Thales held the reins in surprise and watched as the old horse obediently let him pull it over. He extended his hand to pat its head, still testing the waters. “It’s just that… in the past, I had never gotten along well with animals… including horses. But today…”
The Falon Family’s old horse looked meekly at him. It even stuck out its tongue to lick the hollow of Thales’ palm. It was acting very affectionately.
Thales suddenly felt really accomplished.
‘What’s up with today?
‘Bachelors’ bonus? Even animals are being obedient?’
He blinked, finding the world truly wonderful. He then recalled what Nicholas taught him about horse-riding and nimbly vaulted onto the horse’s saddle.
Kurtz looked at the obedient old horse. She then stared at Thales in contempt. “Pfft. Judging from those experienced acts of yours, you must have ridden plenty of good horses, haven’t you?”
Thales arched an eyebrow in resignation and was about to leave.
Kurtz suddenly spoke and flashed a creepy smile.
“Let me give you a farewell present. Come over here.
“I’ll tell you a little secret about Gleeward.”
Thales responded in surprise.
But for the sake of the friendship they forged after a life and death moment they shared while they fled the cavern together, he obediently steered the pack horse forward. He leaned his body forward and moved his ear close to Kurtz.
‘Gleeward’s little secret?
‘Could it be…’
However, the moment he leaned down, Kurtz put her arm around his neck and flashed a cheeky grin, which showed that she succeeded in her scheme.
The next moment, Kurtz tiptoed forward and affectionately moved closer to Thales’ cheek…
She kissed Thales on the mouth.
Thales was first momentarily startled.
The next moment, he was so shocked that his jaw dropped!
“What are you doing?!”
With a terrified expression, Thales pulled the reins and moved backwards in an exaggerated manner. Then he wiped his lips!
She actually licked him!
He could still feel the touch of her lips on his mouth, and he pointed in disbelief at Kurtz, who kept grinning cheekily. “You, you, you…”
“Hahahaha!” Kurtz leaned against the tree trunk and convulsed with laughter. She was almost bent over. “Little brat, your reaction is so interesting…”
Thales stared at Kurtz, feeling stunned, and realized that Kurtz only saw her action as a… prank?
‘She sees this… as a prank?’
“You’ve got to be kidding me!”
Thales forced himself to make a disgusted face. He wiped his lips while he said in exasperation, “Hey! This joke isn’t funny at all!
“Who do you think you are—”
“Oh, it’s not funny?”
Kurtz’s gaze moved towards him. She stuck her tongue out and deftly licked her lips. She winked slyly at Thales, who was sitting on the horse. “So… are you telling me that you want to take it a step further?”
Thales was so frightened that he lifted the reins again and made the horse leap backwards.
Thales’ thoughts were a mess. He only felt that the world was full of evil. He really did not know what sort of facial expression he should have in the face of the boorish and violent Kurtz.
“Tsk,” Kurtz said contemptuously when she saw Thales’ reaction.
“That couldn’t have been your first kiss, right? You suck!”
Thales’ expression turned grim. The pride in his heart made him feel that he could not give the impression of weakness.
“Hmph, you flatter yourself, woman!” Thales put on a scornful expression. “The person I gave my first kiss to is much more beautiful than you!”
But she was a maniac who could kill someone without batting an eyelid.
Kurtz laughed loudly without stopping as a response.
Thales, who just invited ridicule on himself, shook his head and prepared to control the horse to leave.
“Thank you, child.”
Kurtz’s voice traveled into the air. Her words were drawled out, and her voice was a little low.
Thales turned his head around, perplexed.
“Remember to be a good man when you grow up.” At this moment, Kurtz’s expression was a little downcast. “The type who is able to bear responsibilities. Be a dependable man even during the darkest moments of your life.”
She spoke absentmindedly with a desolate expression.
Thales did not know what she was thinking about.
Thales paused for a moment, then felt his heart clench a little in pain for her.
“Thank you, Kurtz,” he said.
But Kurtz snorted and shook her head.
“Kurtz is only a pet name, and not my official name.”
Thales revealed a puzzled gaze.
“The cripple has a lisp. He complained that my name’s too long. So… after all these years, I’m already used to the name ‘Kurtz’.” She ran the fingers of her right hand through her hair, starting from her forehead. She threw her head back, combed her messy hair to the back, and stretched.
Her movements were smooth, natural, dashing and brisk. Due to her beautiful figure, her movements gave her another sort of charm.
At that moment, Thales suddenly had a thought, which made him slightly ashamed.
‘This loud and gruff woman in front of me… is actually kind of charming, isn’t she?’
Thales coughed softly and quickly shook his head, casting the stupid thoughts and the strange sensation he could somehow feel again on his lips out of his mind.
“Christina.” Kurtz smiled.
“Christina Ramon. This is my name.”
Thales shrugged. “All right, Miss Ramon…”
Then, he was startled.
“Ramon…” Thales’ expression changed slightly as he mulled over the family name.
His gaze as he looked at Kurtz changed.
“I heard from Gleeward that your father was a military doctor?”
Kurtz furrowed her eyebrows. “Yes, he was a madman and has been abnormal since before he disappeared.
“And the biggest benefit I reaped from being by his side was learning how to perform sutures—on both dead people and living people.”
She shook her head scornfully. It was obvious that she disapproved of her father’s actions.
“Is that so?” At this moment, Thales felt a strange emotion in his heart, and he could not put that emotion to words. “How did you come to Dragon Clouds City, to Shield District?”
Kurtz froze momentarily.
“Twenty something years ago, my father handed me over to an acquaintance of his and disappeared.” Kurtz shrugged. “I encountered a few bastards and a bunch of sh*t in the military camp… After that, I met the cripple, and he brought me out.”
A few seconds later…
Thales said with much difficulty on his part, “Your father who disappeared, what’s his name? Perhaps I can find him for you.”
“Corbb, or Cobo? I can’t remember.” She waved her hand, seemingly nonchalant. “It’s fine, though. I’ve always seen him as a dead person anyway…”
Kurtz snorted softly. “I’ve never put any hope in him either.”
But then, she noticed that Thales quivered slightly.
The prince looked hesitant, and his expression was unusually grim.
He lowered his gaze as if he did not dare to face her.
“What is it?” Kurtz said, puzzled. She curled up the corners of her lips and deliberately put on a bashful smile, moving her lips to tease him again. “Oh, could it be that you’re reluctant to part with me? You want to marry me and bring me back to your palace?”
However, Thales did not have the intention to poke fun at her.
He did not pay attention to Kurtz’s words at all. Instead, he nodded in an apprehensive manner.
“Kurtz, I will be on the lookout,” the prince sounded a little low in spirits. He turned the horse’s head. “I’ll see if I can find him, your father.”
In a gloomy fashion, she said, “And, thank you.
Kurtz shot him a weird glance, but said nothing in the end. She only snorted softly and waved at him with a slightly solemn expression.
“Take care of yourself.
“Bratty little prince.”
Thales did not dare turn around anymore.
The next moment, he lifted the reins and steered the horse in the direction he remembered.
Leaving behind Dragon Clouds City…
And all the memories there.
The sun had set in the west.
Thales carefully rode across the wilderness outside Dragon Clouds City at a moderate speed.
He still remembered the meeting point Raphael marked on the map. Dragon Clouds City was still on lockdown, and all efforts to keep watch and search for him were still limited to the city at the moment. He was very near the meeting point, and could reach it in less than one day if he managed to exit the city without a hitch.
Still, he played it safe and tried his best to find places such as hills and groves. He would rather take the long way to ensure his safety, staying away from outposts, villages, and any place with people. Every time he reached a new place, he observed his surroundings with “hell’s senses”.
Even though he was very tired, he tried his best not to stop or rest for long stretches of time. He simply ate the rations and drank the water to appease his hunger and quench his thirst on the horse.
Thales went around hills and groves for half a day, trying his best to avoid the farmers as well as woodcutters working in the wild. He prayed that they did not notice this suspicious passerby. Thanks to the horse-riding skills Nicholas taught him, he finally reached the designated meeting point when it was almost evening.
Thales saw the coniferous forest Raphael told him about. After cross referencing the hills around him, which served as landmarks, and making sure that it was the place, he could not help but heave a sigh of relief.
According to the plan, the first wave of people from the Secret Intelligence Department would be waiting for him there. They would escort him across Rubble Hill, Sunset Snow River and the boundary of Spear City to reach the Land of Barren Rocks—the border of the City of Faraway Prayers and Dragon Clouds City.
Thales sensed movements in the grove with his Hell’s sense and made sure that they were only the usual chirping of birds and footsteps of small animals running before he sighed in relief.
He rode into the grove and dismounted in front of a tall fir tree. Then, he patted the old horse’s neck gratefully.
The old horse snorted in response and happily started to eat the weeds under the tree. Even though the horse was not fast, its temperament was a lot better than Miss Jennie in Heroic Spirit Palace’s stable.
Thales turned and inhaled another large mouthful of the air in the wild. He looked contentedly at the small coniferous forest, which had been chosen as the Secret Intelligence Department’s meeting point because of how rarely people walked through the place.
He sat, leaning against the tree, and took out his waterskin before he drank a mouthful of water with his dry, chapped lips. They were enveloped around the mouth of the waterskin. Shortly after, he tried to relief his limbs from the numbness and pain they procured from his climb in the Black Track. He also tried to ease the pain from the abrasions he obtained on his inner thigh.
He had completed the first step.
Thales thought quietly and drew a small circle on the soil with his finger. The hardest part was already over. Dragon Clouds City was already behind him.
He drew a big circle towards the west.
He was in some forest in the west within Rubble Hill. It was one of Dragon Clouds City’s largest territories, and was ruled by the old Count Nazaire. He would encounter a tributary of Sunset Snow River if headed southwest.
Thales then drew a line downwards.
After crossing the river, he would arrive at Spear City, which was under the rule of Dragon Clouds City, and head to the Land of Barren Rocks. That place was the border of the City of Faraway Prayers. He only had to head south from the Land of Barren Rocks to reach the Great Desert.
Once he entered the Great Desert, Constellation’s army would be there waiting for him.
Thales thought to himself absentmindedly.
At this moment, he suddenly heard a strange chirp.
‘Are the designated people here?’
Thales stood in curiosity, wanting to search for the source in the grove, which was now basked in the evening sun…
The sound practically emerged the next second he stood up. And almost at the moment he heard it, Thales felt a pain in his back.
The massive force on his back made him lose balance.
He fell to the ground with a thud!
Just as he felt the pain in his chin and before his nerves could send the appropriate information to the other parts of his body, he felt a tightness on his back!
A huge pressure pushed down on him.
This was when Thales realized in shock that his hands were gripped tightly by someone.
Thales was about to struggle instinctively when he became aware of the fact that his entire body was pressed hard onto the ground with his hands pinned together behind his back. He could not move at all, and even his Sin of Hell’s River was not able to react!
It was only at this moment that his waterskin fell to the ground and helplessly shed water on the soil.
“Wow,” a rather familiar male voice, which sounded like a gong, rang out. The man laughed loudly and said, “Look what I caught?
“A big fish, alive and kicking!”
When he heard the voice, Thales remembered something and immediately turned pale!
The prince gritted his teeth and tried his best to raise his head. With his face covered in mud, he looked behind him. “It’s you!”
Thales exclaimed in indignation.
“Raven of Death!”
When the prince roared furiously, a flock of birds flew away from the grove in shock.
Under the setting sun in the golden grove, the harbinger of the diplomat group from the City of Faraway Prayer’s, Nate Monty the Raven of Death, who was one of the Five War Generals was kneeling on Thales’ back. He kept Thales’ hands firmly down as Thales struggled non-stop.
With a malicious smile, the Raven of Death inched closer to the back of Thales’ ear.
“Shh… little prince.
“For both our sakes, let’s talk softly… all right?”
Thales could only see Monty’s brown hair in his peripheral vision.
But he could feel that Monty’s technique of restraint was very skilled. He was in a very unfavorable position where he could neither turn over nor kick, and he was unable to exert any force.
Thales had also used up a large amount of his strength in the Black Track.
The prince’s mood sank.
‘Why is it him?
‘Why is he here?
‘Where are the people from the Secret Intelligence Department?
‘Does this mean that…’
Monty’s smile was a little frightening, with the type of excitement one showed when one succeeded in catching their prey. He softly said, “Are you looking for people from the Secret Intelligence Department?”
At that moment, Thales’ pupils shrank!
His heart skipped a beat.
“I’m sorry, all of them are very busy now…”
Monty’s words made Thales’ blood run cold.
‘All of them are very “busy”…’
Thales looked around incredulously at the quiet grove and the still air. It looked like there were no signs of life in that place.
‘That’s right, the people from the Secret Intelligence Department should be waiting here for me already.
‘There’s no sign of activity at all…
‘What’s going on?’
“The unwilling sort of ‘busy’. Do you understand?” The Raven of Death cackled, and it was inexplicably chilling to the bone. “So I generously and ‘proactively’ volunteered to take over the task from their hands.”
He licked his lips while he looked at Thales, whose head was turned to peer at him. There was a pained expression on the prince’s face. With the kind of interest one had when one toyed with their prey, Monty sneered, “I came here to welcome you.
“What now? Aren’t you happy?”
The Sin of Hell’s River surged into his brain, and he forced himself to calm down.
‘How did he know about this place?
‘Isn’t this… the meeting point that only the Secret Intelligence Department knows?
‘Is there a traitor in the Secret Intelligence Department?
‘Was the information leaked?
‘Or… is this simply what the Secret Intelligence Department intended, and it’s their plan?
‘Similar to six years ago?’
When he thought of this, Thales was immediately drenched in cold sweat.
“How did you come out? I remember that the Star Killer locked down the entire Dragon Clouds City, and most of the dignitaries are also prohibited from getting out of the city, especially the City of Faraway Prayers’ Diplomat Group, whose interests are closely related to mine!”
Monty only snorted softly in reply to Thales’ remark. “Aha, my relationship with Spiky is much more complicated than what you can imagine!”
Thales inhaled deeply. The smell of soil filled his nostrils.
“You want… You want to kidnap me to the City of Faraway Prayers?” the prince turned and said arduously.
Monty’s anxiety-provoking laughter traveled into his ears in an eerie fashion again.
“Hehehehehe… Don’t you think that isn’t a bad choice either?
“Don’t you and Ian get along well?” He flashed a strange, crazed and satisfied smile. It looked just like a madman’s.
“He kept requesting that I ‘entertain’ you well should I run into you…”
Monty increased the force exerted by his hands. Thales screamed in pain.
But he did not have the time to care about that.
The ferocious face and cruel words that the Viscount of Dual Wind City, Ian Roknee threw at Thales at the end of the council hearing in the Hall of Heroes simultaneously appeared in Thales’ mind.
A gust of cold evening wind blew past them, and Thales felt his body shiver.
The soil beneath his body also sent waves of cold, chilling air into his bones.
He quickly recalled all the information about Monty.
‘The Raven of Death.
‘A reconnaissance soldier, he participated in the war against the Alliance of Freedom and White Mountain.
‘One of the Five War Generals, a former White Blade Guard, and Nicholas’ former colleague as well as subordinate.
‘Now, he’s a lord in the City of Faraway Prayers and the harbinger of the diplomat group.
‘His behavior is absurd and unreasonable. He also speaks rashly and has a creepy smile.’
Thales stopped thinking and spoke through gritted teeth.
Monty’s frightening laughter came to a momentary halt.
“Why don’t you think about this?” Even though Thales was in a very pathetic state and his life was being threatened, he tried his best to control his tone and coldly said, “The Prince of Constellation disappeared from Dragon Clouds City.
“But a month later, he mysteriously appears in the City of Faraway Prayers…
“Do you know what this means?”
Monty stopped smiling, but he stared rigidly at Thales with his light-colored eyes.
His gaze was frighteningly cold.
“You should perhaps know that I am the key to the war between the City of Faraway Prayers and the Alliance of Freedom.” Thales sneered and said, “And if I tell Archduke Roknee that Constellation can help them with the condition that—”
At this moment, the Raven of Death suddenly laughed loudly!
Thales was slightly surprised to find himself cut off.
“Aaaaaahhh!” Monty looked very happy. His face was filled with excitement and his smile was even wider than before. He stared wide-eyed at Thales and he appeared rather eerie. “I remember a professional once told me that…
“Even though Thales Jadestar is small in size, he’s a lot of trouble…
“Hence, there is a set of essential rules when it comes to dealing with the little prince.”
Thales froze momentarily. “What?”
‘A set of essential rules…
‘When dealing with me?’
Monty’s expression darkened, and he let out a few low chuckles.
For some unknown reason, Thales felt a surge of panic. He subconsciously sensed that things were progressing in a very bad direction!
“The first rule…”
The Raven of Death’s smile faded away like how ice melted into water, but even that water could still chill a person’s heart.
“Make him shut up.”
The next moment, Monty’s expression became solemn. He hit the back of the teenager’s head hard with his right elbow as swiftly as thunder!
There was a loud and dull sound.
This was the last thing Thales heard before he lost consciousness.