Chapter 357: Just Die Here
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
Under the sun, the two opponents silently faced each other. One of them was on his knees, short of breath and extremely weak. The other stood firmly on the ground, startled.
Finally, Thales let out a sigh. The consequences born from his forcible use of the Sin of Hell’s River slowly subsided.
‘Compared to how I always faint every single time I use the Sin of Hell’s River…’ Thales smiled, gratified. ‘Look, even though I don’t have ways to increase its power, through deliberate practice and becoming accustomed to it, it can still be done.’
During the catastrophe six years ago in Dragon Clouds City, Black Sword, that scary man who fought against the Mystics, told Thales that the Sin of Hell’s River can exist in any form, and that it was an omnipotent Power of Eradication. For a long time, Thales did not have the chance to walk the talk.
It was not until during an outdoor training class when Nicholas knocked him down again that he involuntarily activated hell’s senses and observed the other person’s sharp, silver, needle-like Power of Eradication clearly.
He also tried to summon the Sin of Hell’s River and imitate this strange Power of Eradication—the Twist of Fate.
And now, as Thales watched the opponent before him, he grimaced. ‘Six years of deliberately hiding my strength has finally shown its results.’
Under the sun, the stunned Nicholas remained motionless. He seemed to be experiencing the greatest confusion of his life.
The Star Killer’s entire body was stiff, and he was breathing with disbelief. “How could it- that is- that is when I’m on the battlefield… It’s only on the battlefield that it can be occasionally awakened. The Twist of Fate, even the name itself was given by that man on the spot… You obviously only received training during class…”
At this moment, Thales suddenly roared!
He suddenly threw away his longsword and charged directly at Nicholas with a ferocious expression!
Nicholas quaked a little. Although he was still in shock, he was still able to react immediately without any delay due to his combat awareness which was honed through countless battles.
Nicholas swung his arm coldly and deflected Thales’ fist. In the next moment, Star Killer extended both of his arms.
The exhausted Thales felt pain in his chest. His momentum as he charged forward came to a stop, and in the next second, Nicholas’ Rising Sun Saber appeared at his throat.
Thales felt a chill from the same weapon as it was placed at the same spot on his body like six years ago. He was exhausted and could only sigh slowly.
Nicholas recovered from his shock and looked at the prince in front of him coldly. “The Twist of Fate… is completely different from any Power of Eradication that is born through systematic practice. You can’t simply learn it from any swordsmanship moves or styles!”
The wind blew through the quiet land, scraping through the rocks and bringing a sad whistle, and there was the sporadic chirping of birds from afar.
“Ha.” Thales forced a smile and said, “Is it that strange? After all…”
He raised his trembling hands leisurely and flicked the tip of the blade in front of his neck as if he was just taking a pleasant walk in the park.
“I’m an outstanding student under the Star Killer, and I’m a good disciple who gets beaten up by his master every single week.”
Nicholas’ expression was cold. He withdrew his blade and lifted Thales’ collar. “I am giving you one final warning—”
At that moment, Thales suddenly raised his finger and interrupted him.
“Shush, listen,” said Thales, showing a happy smile as though he was really listening attentively to his surroundings. “The chirping of the birds. It’s the sound of the azure-winged magpies.”
Nicholas was somewhat stunned. “What?”
All of a sudden, a terrifying tremor wracked Nicholas’ entire body. The Star Killer’s expression changed dramatically.
This was the intuition that was possessed only by warriors who have fought in over hundreds of battles.
He was about to turn around instinctively, but Thales was not about to let him.
The prince had been prepared for this. He raised both his hands swiftly and clasped the Star Killer’s shoulders, not letting him leave the spot!
Nicholas, who had already turned halfway, was suddenly seized, and his expression changed swiftly. “You—”
He did not say anything further. A frightening, muffled sound suddenly rang beside the two people’s ears.
Thales was pleased to see Nicholas—who stood in front of him—tremble and his facial expression stiffened when that sound came.
The Star Killer’s expression changed from shock to a grim look. Then from that grim look, it morphed into rage!
He used his left hand to punch Thales’ chest at full strength! The prince was hit like a sandbag and was sent flying. He fell with a thud.
Then afterwards, Nicholas, whose face was contorted, felt his knees give out and he knelt on the ground. The Star Killer’s right side seemed to have stiffened. The Rising Sun Saber fell limply from his hand and landed on the ground.
He trembled as he opened his pale lips, then let out a crazed, pained roar.
The Star Killer clenched his left fist tightly, then punched the rock beside him violently!
*Thud!… Thud! Thud! Thud!*
He delivered punch after punch. The kneeling Nicholas had a ferocious look on his face. He looked as if he harbored a grudge towards the rock as he hit it with all his strength while he continued screaming indignantly and madly, “AAAHHHH!!!”
It was as if he was enduring some sort of pain.
Thales spat out some blood. He endured the pain in his chest and shook his head.
He was relieved to see that a thin arrow had suddenly appeared on the Star Killer’s back. The thin arrow sank deep into the right side of Nicholas’ back, and a ferocious, sharp arrowhead came out of his chest. It was stained with some fresh blood.
The Star Killer lifted his head swiftly. His bloodshot eyes burned with terrifying anger and he roared hoarsely,
“Ahhhh!! Nate Monty! You son of a b*tch!”
His roars spread through the Land of Barren Rocks, and echoed through the cracks of the rocks. At some unknown point of time, the chirping of the birds disappeared.
Only the whistle of the wind remained.
Thales sucked in a deep breath, closed his eyes, and felt at ease. He won in the battle between him and Nicholas.
‘To seize all factors, to grab every opportunity…’ Thales coughed up a mouthful of blood in pain and chuckled to himself.
Yes, in this final battle, the prince’s only chance of victory was to make sure that Nicholas’ opponent was never just Thales alone.
The Star Killer’s roars turned into agonized moans and grunts. He tried reaching out with his arm to remove the arrow, but the position of the wound was too troublesome, and Nicholas was completely unable to even touch it.
“Tsk tsk tsk.” A voice, resembling a gong and familiar to the both of them came, hoarse and gloomy, from behind a rock, though they knew not which rock it was. “Be careful, Lord Nicholas, don’t move carelessly, especially your right hand. That is a?barbed arrow, after all; the more you move, the more it will hurt.”
The hidden man chuckled softly. The kneeling Nicholas still had a trembling right arm. He used his left hand to support himself and, with bloodshot eyes, he hissed through gritted teeth. “Big Mouth! You won’t be able to run away! We’ll tear you apart!”
Monty’s cold laughter was heard again behind some rocks, “Oh? Your men? You’re talking about the hidden sentries acting as support, Lum and Galla? They’re half a mile away from us to the north…
“Or are you talking about the two new guards whom I don’t know, situated northeast?”
Nicholas’s eyes froze.
The hidden Monty laughed loudly. “Don’t worry, I’ve taken care of four of them, and left a notice for the people who are heading here; they won’t come here.”
The Star Killer shuddered, and his heart instantly grew cold. “Taken care of…?”
Thales gasped in pain. He felt slightly better, so he struggled to sit up and reach for his sword and shield.
A whistle rose into the air around them. Monty’s voice felt near, but also seemed far away. He seemed to be constantly moving as he spoke, “Spiky, you mentioned that you have strengthened the guard’s training for investigations and scouting, and reduced training plans for direct confrontation, right?”
Nicholas tried to reach for his wound again, but failed in the end. He could only let out a pained moan.
“I must thank you, those puny soldiers were not skilled.” Monty spoke with a terrifying rhythm. “It saved me a lot of effort when I intercepted them.”
“Argh!” Nicholas screamed in rage and pounded the ground again.
Monty’s laughter was rough, but anyone could hear the sinister and ghastly intent behind it.
“Fortunately, the guards still use the battle formation passed down by Lyken the Coward… Take a guess. Who is the person within this circular area of one hundred miles who is the most familiar with it and has the greatest knowledge to Lyken’s Twelve-Scout Formation, thereby allowing him to use the shortest time and fastest speed possible to intercept them on the path they are sure to take?”
When he said this, the Raven of Death’s smug laughter came from somewhere. “Hahahahaha!”
Thales frowned slightly.
“Monty!” Nicholas’s gaze was getting scarier. The pain he suffered, mentally and physically, tormented him so much that he felt as if he could no longer endure the pain, he gnashed his teeth. “You f*cking son of a b*tch..”
A long sigh came. It seemed to be the Raven of Death sighing.
“Yeah, Spiky.” He seemed to find this very unfortunate. “Now, there’s only me and you.”
The kneeling Star Killer clenched his fists.
“Ahem… about that…” At that moment, Thales coughed softly. “Have all of you forgotten about me?”
The Raven of Death and the Star Killer both yelled at the same time and in a completely crude tone,
Thales lifted his eyebrows, closed his mouth, and continued to crawl and find his weapon.
Noon had just passed, and the sun began to set towards the west.
“Listen up, Spiky. This is the Land of Barren Rocks belonging to the City of Faraway Prayers, the border of Eckstedt, and towards the south is the Great Desert.” Monty’s voice rose into the air coldly. “It is very dangerous to faint in the wild.”
Nicholas let out a low growl.
“Give this boy to me and let me take him to the City of Faraway Prayers,” said the Raven of Death with a click of his tongue. “Then the grudge between us will be settled. Lum and the other three can also live. What do you think of my suggestion?”
Thales’ expression changed. The air went still for quite a while.
For a short while, only the sounds of Nicholas and Thales’ panting could be heard.
“Suggestion?” the Star Killer lifted his head. His gaze was alert as he examined almost every rock around him.
“Why? Why do you want him? Why must you have this prince no matter what price you must pay?”
A strange laughter came from Monty. “You know very well that he will play a key role in the war between the City of Faraway Prayers and the Alliance of Freedom.”
The Raven of Death’s voice became fierce. “We need him more than how much Dragon Clouds City needs him. Don’t get in our way.”
Thales scratched his head, feeling frustrated. ‘Monty, you damn actor, that’s enough!’
Another silence ensued.
“Big Mouth,” Nicholas said softly, “Do you remember that time eighteen years ago?”
The voice behind the rock was quiet for a while.
“…I don’t want to reminisce the past with you.” Monty’s voice appeared coldly. “You know that I hate it the most.”
But at this moment, Nicholas, who had lost his composure and roared just now, threw his head back and laughed. Strangely, the Raven of Death did not interrupt him this time.
“That year…” The Star Killer seemed to have laughed enough. He said airily, “Prince Soria and his wife were assassinated. Under the wrath of the late king, all the White Blade Guards were punished.”
Thales frowned. He had heard something like this before.
Nicholas said weakly, “Old Coleman bore the responsibility for me, who was acting as commander, and resigned. Yvsia was disheartened and left the guards. Many of our brothers were affected. And you, Monty, during that time, you were out carrying some other mission. You rushed back to Dragon Clouds City for days and nights immediately, because you were outraged by the injustice dealt unto them.
“Your negotiations with the king bore no fruit. And because of that, you decided to not even show any respect to the king. The next day, you threw away your white blade and left Dragon Clouds City without any hesitation.”
Monty did not speak. There was still only the sound of the wind in the air, blowing across the surface of the rocks. It was forlorn and sad.
Nicholas let out a sad bark of laughter. “No, Big Mouth. Since we were young and you had secretly taken me to find prostitutes while we were on duty, I knew how you were.
“You are not the kind of person that would follow the orders of a leader, even if the person giving the orders is the king.
“So, it would be even less likely for you to follow the orders of the Archduke of the City of Faraway Prayers and come all the way here from Rubble Hill.” There was a faint hint of sadness in Nicholas’ voice. “You’re not someone like that.”
The Star Killer straightened his back and looked around fiercely. “…Nate Monty.”
The Raven of Death stayed silent. Thales frowned.
“But now, I understand.” Nicholas’ anger turned into a cold sneer. “Hahahahahaha, you… You! You!!”
His voice contained an indescribable resentment. It echoed between the rocks, then spread throughout the Land of Barren Rocks.
After a few seconds, the hidden Monty finally spoke, quietly.
“Spiky,” said the Raven of Death faintly. “What have you understood?”
Nicholas snorted. He inhaled deeply and let out a long exhale. The pain in the back of his chest made him wince from time to time. But Nicholas still gritted his teeth and whispered,
“Lord Nate Monty… A few days ago, as the harbinger, you arrived at Dragon Clouds City earlier than the diplomat group of the City of Faraway Prayers and everyone else.
“During the day of the state affairs hearing, when the outcome of the hearing had been set, you brought news of Constellation’s unusual activities at our borders, and you threw the prince into the center of attention.”
Thales gently closed his eyes. The Raven of Death did not say a word. Nicholas’ continued to speak. Every word he said carried a darker, graver, and colder intention.
“The Archduchess was protecting the little prince, but you fanned the flames of trouble at a critical moment, forcing Dragon Clouds City to send him to the City of Faraway Prayers.
“After the prince’s disappearance, when Dragon Clouds City opened its gates, you rushed out even earlier than us, the local powerhouses, and took him away.
“Heh heh…” The Star Killer sneered. “Everything you have done in the past few days has made me, who understands you, to be puzzled even after I wracked my brains mulling it over.?Aren’t you devoting yourself way too much to the City of Faraway Prayers? In this situation, aren’t your actions far too coincidental, and playing too great of a critical role—”
Monty interrupted him. “You don’t understand.” The Raven of Death seemed to be lamenting. “Spiky, you don’t understand.”
The heavily wounded Nicholas punched the ground.
“Yes, I did not understand!” he yelled in anger. “But I understand now!”
The Star Killer’s gaze had never been so frightening. They were even more frightening than when he saw Lampard in the past. “Thanks to this little prince, he just reminded me of one fact: I have underestimated the Secret Intelligence Department.”
Thales stiffened. At that very moment, the air had turned still.
Nicholas started talking faster, and he was practically gnashing his teeth when he next said, “Eighteen years ago, Prince Soria and his wife were assassinated in a bizarre fashion. The assassin from Constellation seemed to have approached them by going through some uninhabited place. No one saw him sneak in, and the strict defences of the White Blade Guards were practically non-existent to him.”
No one responded to him, only the sound of the wind did.
“No!” The Star Killer screamed angrily, “Six years ago, even someone as ambitious and fierce as Lampard had to rely on the calamities to distract and weaken us, because he knew that as the numbers of the White Blade Guards increases, the assassin’s chances would decrease, and the coup will have a lower rate of success.
“However, the assassin eighteen years ago could circumnavigate the heavy defences set by hundreds of elite White Blade Guards. Could he have planned so carefully that he could successfully assassinate the prince of the strongest kingdom in the Western Peninsula?”
At this moment, Nicholas’ expression changed drastically. “There was only one possibility.” He clenched his left fist even tighter. “There was a traitor among the White Blade Guards.”
There was still no response from Monty. Thales lowered his eyes and looked at the ground.
Nicholas was practically hissing out each of his words now. “For so many years, I suspected many people: the person who was to protect the prince, Byrne Mirk; the first to arrive at the scene, old Coleman; the person who patrolled the peripheral outskirts, Justin; I even?suspected the person responsible of protecting Black Sand Region’s diplomat group, Yvsia…”
When the Star Killer said this, he inhaled deeply.
The person among the rocks remained quiet, almost as though a stream of water had been cut, and water no longer flowed in it, causing no sound to appear.
“But you have just reminded me, old friend…” When Nicholas said this, his eyes seemed to burn with heartbrokenness and resentment. “There was actually one person in the White Blade Guards of the past. He knew the inner workings of the guards the most, understood the scouting formation we used the most, was the best at hiding and investigation work, was the most familiar with the weaknesses in our defences, and was the one who could give the most tips to the assassins, especially when it came to the day Prince Soria was assassinated.
“That fellow was not even at the scene. He was an expert in concealment and assassinations. He was a person who had been lurking in Eckstedt, lurking in Dragon Clouds City, lurking beside the king, lurking in the White Blade Guards for decades.
“…A Constellatiate spy.”
The air was so quiet that a pin could be heard if it fell. No one answered him. It was as though everything around them had sunk into a silence that would last for eternity.
The Star Killer was still kneeling on the ground. He did not care about the arrow in his back anymore, but he was trembling.
His gaze was conflicted, and the muscles on his face twitched slightly. He looked as if he wanted to let out a sad cry, but also looked as if he wanted to roar in anger.
His eyes showed extremely complex emotions: disgust, pain, regret, resentment, sadness, despair. It was an endless mix of emotions.
In the end, Nicholas trembled and sucked in a deep breath. It was the coldest breath of air in midsummer.
When he thought of this, Thales could not help but shiver.
The Star Killer gently asked the person behind the rock, “What do you say…? Big Mouth Nate Monty… who entered the White Blade Guards with me… my sworn brother.”
The former commander of the White Blade Guards, Lord Soray Nicholas’ voice grew more and more indifferent.
Finally, his expression returned to its coldest, most apathetic, most ruthless, and most professional mask.
“Or should I call you… the one who came from Constellation… The Raven of Death belonging to Constellation’s Secret Intelligence Department?”
Thales grabbed his longsword with a gentle grip. He sighed at an angle where no one was able to see him.
Silence. It was still silent.
“Talk, Monty,” Nicholas said calmly with an expressionless face, as if the words that he was about to say no longer mattered.
“Tell me, I’m wrong. Tell me.”
Another light breeze blew. The whistling between the rocks sounded sadder. Silence still remained. An endless silence.
Then, a less than harmonious sound broke the silence.
It was the sound of an arrow being nocked on a bow.
“You know, I changed my mind about my suggestion just now. ” The Raven of Death’s voice travelled into their ears. It sounded calm, light-hearted, and relaxed. “Spiky…”
Though this time, his words were filled with a ghastly killing intent that would chill others to the bone.
“…You should just die here.”