Chapter 360: The Raven and the Snow Blade (One)
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
Nicholas furrowed his eyebrows. “I don’t understand, White Blade Guards gave you everything…”
Monty shook his head and interrupted him, “Of course you don’t understand.”
“You are the person selected by Kaslan, the future commander that he hopes to cultivate, and the one who was to become the existence who could hold the war banner for the White Blade Guards in the future.”
His breathing became faster. He pushed his right hand firmly against the ground and dragged his hand across the surface. He looked at Nicholas, and his eyes were full of grief and injustice. “Soray Nicholas, you are the glorious, shining Snow Blade, how can you understand this saprophagous dirty raven like me?”
“Yes, White Blade Guards gave us everything, but Kaslan… he didn’t give us the freedom of choice.”
As he listened to Monty’s strange words, rage burned in Nicholas’ heart. “If you talk about him again——”
But Monty interrupted him unceremoniously!
“You knew nothing about Kaslan!”
The Raven of Death spat on the ground, and there was fury in his eyes. “Do you think that you have to help him protect his last reputation because you are his successor?
Nicholas was furious and was about to speak, but Monty continued on, stopping the Star Killer from speaking.
“On the second day we officially joined the team…”
Monty suppressed his emotions and said faintly, “Kaslan suddenly said to me that he felt that I was very talented in scouting. After Lyken the Coward died, the guards were short of scouts. There was a secret mission during that night, and he asked me whether I would you like to try it?”
Nicholas’ cheeks moved slightly. He remembered this. He remembered the other people’s envious expressions and the jealousy filled words when Kaslan said this to Monty, as well as the uncontrollable excitement and exhilaration on Big Mouth’s face.
Nicholas looked at Monty’s gaze, filled with complicated emotions, and subconsciously closed his mouth.
“That night, there was no moon…”
The Raven of Death whispered. He spoke in a tone as if he was?telling children a story from a long time ago. “Kaslan took me and some other senior guards with him. We covered our faces, and I went on to perform my first task after I joined the White Blade Guards.”
A light that caused Nicholas to shudder appeared in Monty’s eyes. “A merchant had in his hands something that caught the king’s interest. We were to search for this item in secret…”
Monty paused for a moment, then ended his sentence with an indifferent tone,
“…And kill his entire family.”
The sun was covered by a cloud, shadows were cast at the spot between the two people.
The shadows brought about a barely discernible chilliness.
Nicholas became pale. “You?”
Monty’s shoulders shook, his facial features quivered. He laughed as he leaned against a rock,
“Ha ha ha.” His breathing was extremely inconsistent, and his speech rate was at times fast, but at other times, slow. He sounded like someone who had just been rescued from being drowned.
“In the middle of the night, with my face covered, I killed people and set things on fire, it’s hard to imagine, right? Especially for Nicholas the mighty leader. The White Blade Guards is a beautiful existence. Protecting others is your most sacred duty.”
Nicholas did not speak. He just stared at the ground blankly.
“The moon was very dark that night, and even the people’s blood we spilled was black. Faces could not be seen clearly.”
Monty sucked in a deep breath and shuddered slightly. His eyes quivered, “I was keeping a lookout. I didn’t do anything.
“But Kaslan, Dominic, and others… the well-respected seniors in White Blade Guards stood by the dead bodies and held their torches in their hands. With their numb eyes, uncovered by the mask, they left a special privilege for me to serve as the most unique ceremony for me to join their team. I was to kill the last living person.
“An old woman dying on her bed.”
Nicholas, who listened quietly, could only felt a chill in his heart.
“They settled the ‘difficult’ ones, the unarmed children and women, and left her for me. They probably thought that I am a newcomer and that I should start with something easy. I would slowly get used to it. She was dying soon anyway.”
Monty laughed drily and faintly.
“But Kaslan and the others did not know that the expression before I killed her was totally different from the one before my grandmother died.
“Of course, maybe I remembered it wrongly. After all, I killed so many… My memory towards my first kill is already very blurry.”
But Monty’s smile still faded away, and his eyes were calm. “But they did not know.
“They did not know.”
Nicholas did not speak. He just stared at the man, and as the person who was supposed to protect his fellow White Blade Guards, the Star Killer did not know how to respond to Monty’s words at that moment.
Monty took a deep breath and watched the clouds slowly float away. The light from the hot sun shone on the ground again, casting the duo in light.
“Just like that, Spiky, before the light from the Bright Moon Goddess and with the snow as your witness, all of you held your white blades high above your heads. You drank your wine, you drank your blood and swore an oath to become the White Blade Guards.”
The Raven of Death then said plainly,
“And I… I am in the deepest darkness. Before the torches burning with faint light, before my seniors’ profound gazes, I, too, lifted my blade high, drank blood serving as wine, and had a severed head serving as a witness… I became another kind of White Blade Guard, the kind that lives in the dark.
“I don’t even know if my hilt is the customary snow white hilt of the White Blade Guards.
“Because that night was too dark. I could not even see the color at all. I couldn’t even recognize the blood of the old woman’s neck, and I don’t know if the blade in my hand is a white blade,”
Nicholas sighed, “F*ck.”
“After a long time, I realized that the White Blade Guards of Dragon Clouds City has been doing this kind of work secretly, much earlier than we imagined. ‘Beyond the shiny and tough Snow Blades, there will always be someone who has to throw away their moral limits, dirty their hands, and do the filthy work.’ This was Kaslan’s original words.”
Monty panted a couple of times. The red in his eyes became more obvious.
“But they are old, a new generation was also needed for the ugly side of the White Blade Guards, and Kaslan needed fresh blood as well as a successor.
“I wasn’t going to become an elite scout and a sentinel at the frontlines, but to become a killer who is not afraid of tainting his hands with blood, a cold blade that would not be swayed by anything, a tool with no moral limits and no principles.”
The Raven of Death lifted his head up swiftly!
He stretched out his hands and hit his own chest softly.
“And Kaslan chose me from all those people.”
Monty gritted his teeth with a miserable and bleak expression,
“He chose me.”
The two seriously injured men were silent.
“From that day on, I put down the Snow Blade, put on my crossbow and put on a mask.”?Monty glared at Nicholas with his half burnt face, clenched his teeth, and said, “I became an ominous black raven chasing death and carrion.”
Nicholas slumped into the ground, “Why, Big Mouth? Why didn’t you tell me these things?”
“Tell you?” The Raven of Death sucked in a sharp breath and laughed. His laughter was bleak.
“What can you do? Spiky?
“Do this work with me? Or beg Kaslan to let me go, and pretend that all these things that can’t be made known to the public did not happen before?”
Nicholas shut his eyes tightly.
On the other side, the unconscious Thales groaned in pain.
Monty smiled coldly. “You don’t know… This isn’t as simple as the work of the guards who were posted to the countryside. It’s not as simple as standing guard at the guard post every single day, sweeping the floor at the guardpost, accompanying the nobles out to hunt, and occasionally sending a letter or running errands.”
He struggled to furl up his right fist.
“Nuven was a very ambitious person, he did not just want to be a king in Dragon Clouds City. The Secret Room, which stood on neutral ground and had limited abilities, could not satisfy his expectations. What he needed was not spies, not guards, not even soldiers, but a blade, a vicious person manipulating others behind the scenes, a group of cruel mercenaries with no moral limits and who were absolutely loyal to him, who would fulfill his ambitions for him without any questions.
“Kaslan was one of them, and I am his successor.”
Nicholas was silent, and he kept thinking of Kaslan before his death.
He recalled the complex Iceberg, the stern Iceberg, the laughing Iceberg, the sorrowful Iceberg, and, the moment before his death, the relieved Iceberg.
He once wondered whether it was because he could not mature fast enough that caused him to be unable to share the burden on Kaslan’s shoulders.
Which led to that sort of tragedy happening in the end.
But he suddenly understood it today.
There was another person who shared Kaslan’s burden.
Monty looked at his own fist. “For more than twenty years, I went to places you can never imagine, met people you cannot dream of, did things you wouldn’t think of, and dyed my hands with blood of people you cannot picture.
“The killing is the most insignificant portion of the things I did.
“I remembered that after the battle in the deep valley, we were injured, and we were both drinking in the Alliance of Freedom’s military camp,” the Raven of Death said with a bitter smile. “You complained that you were bored of guarding the palace gates every single day, and you were envious of me because I could go out on missions all the time…”
Nicholas furrowed his eyebrow, “I…”
“But what do you even know…” Monty shook his head.
He looked bitter, and there was the ghost of a smile on his face. “While you were guarding the palace gates, bored out of your mind, training, and even traveling long distances to fight hard battles…
“Every day, every night, every minute, every second, I have to wear masks of different colors, don the same dark cloak, walk in the shadows, run in puddles of blood, kill, kidnap, deceive, loot, threaten, pry, snipe, poison, provoke, r*pe, torture, interrogate… I’ve done almost all the filthy work you can think of.
“As long as it was a task that would bring benefits, killing people was a common occurrence for me. I never faltered, be it young children or old people. In order to survive, lies were my habits. I could no longer tell who was my sword oath brothers or my family members.”
Monty’s face became tense. He clenched his right fist tightly.
“From Camus to Constellation, from Golden Passage to Thornland. I mixed into crowds to act as a spy. I worked as a scout for those at the frontlines. I became a bandit who killed others to snatch their goods. I became a criminal who performed heinous crimes. I became a killer who assassinated my targets from the distance. I became a scout who snuck into enemy camps. I became a spy who incited war. For King Nuven, I became whatever he wanted me to become. I did all the things I did to serve the one in power. After Kaslan retired, the things I had to do became worse.
“In fact, I have proven that I am the best tool because I was able to abandon my conscience and morality. In the years of calling myself a White Blade Guard and in my years of service, I have killed countless political opponents, created countless opportunities, and incited three wars. Nuven was very satisfied with me. He even handed me to Prince Soria, hoping that I would become the latter’s right arm when he is crowned in the future, and that I would become his royal assassin.”
Monty lowered his head, but lifted his gaze. He stared at Nicholas as he gasped for air like a man who was about to die from being hanged, and said,
“Do you understand now?
“You do not know Kaslan, Spiky. Because I am the one closest to him.”
Nicholas felt gloomy. He did not utter a word.
The Raven of Death slowly lifted his left palm and covered the left half of his face.
“Kaslan Lampard, the person you admired the most, King Nuven’s most trusted man, had two faces while he served the man in power.”
He showed a relaxed smile on the right half of his face. When he spoke, he had the usual tone of the brown-haired knight who spoke without filter and was rude as a ruffian, just like how he spoke many years ago.
“One of his faces allowed him to hold a white blade and protect the kingdom and Dragon Clouds City.”
Monty gently moved his left palm to cover the right half of his face, thereby exposing the left side of his face. His smile gradually disappeared. His gaze was cold and fierce. Along with his charred chin to his left, he looked incredibly ferocious.
“His other face was covered in blood. It spread darkness and shadows across the country.”
Nicholas looked at him in a daze and could not help but loosen his grip around the stone in his pocket.
He remembered the words that were engraved on the stone.
[Kaslen protacts Talia.]
Monty gently lowered his palm. There was no longer any expression on his face.
He looked cold and stiff, as if there was nothing about him that made him human.
“Under the big flag called ‘for Eckstedt’, Kaslan was caught between the two faces. He suffered for life and could not get himself out of this situation.”
Nicholas shuddered slightly.
Monty snorted coldly. “Maybe he did not want to repeat the tragedy, maybe he was fed up with everything, so he… hng… when he was passing down the legacy of the White Blade Guards, when he was training the latest batch of newcomers…”
He stared at his old friend before him.
“The Ground-Shaker Kaslan, the invincible Kaslan, he tore the contradiction himself. With his own hands, he ripped his duality apart… shedding blood everywhere.”
Nicholas stopped breathing for a moment.
The Raven of Death slowly stretched out his index finger and pointed at the Star Killer.
His eyes were focused on him, as if he was aiming at him before drawing his crossbow.
“He gave you the bright half.”
He looked serious and said, “Soray Nicholas, Star Killer, who built his career before the Broken Dragon Fortress.
“The leader of the White Blade Guards, the flag that never falls, the indestructible iron wall. You are the successor of his high hopes, like the alpha wolf leading the future of the White Blade Guards, and like a snow eagle’s wings protecting the Northland in the snow.”
The Star Killer did not speak.
A breeze blew against them again, and a thin cloud covered the sunlight. The land became dark, and the two people were cast under a shadow.
Monty retracted his finger, while it was furled halfway, he slowly turned his hand’s direction before he used his index finger to point at his own chest.
Although the corners of his mouth were curled upward, the emotions in his eyes were extremely complex and unfathomable,
“And he gave me the dark and filthy side.”
He smiled mischievously and whispered, “Nate Monty, the Raven of Death, cast in a boundless hell, struggling to survive in it.
“The unnamed killer, the beast in human skin, the cold-blooded blade, the scum with his hands drenched in blood, the ladder of power covering the throne like the shadow under a cloud, and the worms chasing after the rotten meat and the foul smell in the sewer.”
The smile on the Raven of Death’s face became broader.
“We are the two faces of the Ground Shaker Kaslan.
“We are the legacy and rebirth of that legendary existence.
“We inherited his glory…” Monty sucked in a deep breath of the burnt scent from the charred ground, as if he was tasting the freshest air.
“…and his endless sin.”
Nicholas had an anguished and complex expression. He could not speak for a long time.
Monty just looked at the sky with a smile, as if it that was his hometown.
Not far away, Thales groaned in pain while he was laying on the ground. It was as if he was going through unbearable torment.
Nicholas frowned at the prince.
At this moment, Monty suddenly moved his right hand!
As that sound appeared, a black crossbow flew into the air. It was dragged by a very thin wire behind Monty. He dragged it over a low rock, and the crossbow flew into the hands of Raven of Death.
The Star Killer’s expression changed!
The battle started again, the two men who recovered their strengths practically sprang into action at the same time!
Nicholas struggled up from the ground. With the saber in hand, he rushed towards Monty, even though he did so with a limp.
The Raven of Death gritted his teeth while sitting on the ground. He put his foot on the trigger of the crossbow, ignored the injury on his hand and drew the string with all his strength.
The Star Killer rushed to the area one meter away from Monty. But right at that moment, the Raven of Death tumbled on the ground with a leg serving as his axis, and he avoided Nicholas’ first attack laboriously and in a disheveled fashion!
He also kicked up a lot of dust. He narrowed his eyes due to the shock from Nicholas.
Monty’s expression was unpleasant, the roll had worsened his injury.
With a loud snap, he finished nocking the crossbow.
The Raven of Death calmly pulled his foot out of the trigger of the crossbow.
The Star Killer did not hesitate. He activated whatever remained of his Power of Eradication, and roared while he pounced at the Raven of Death in the smoke!
Monty, on the other hand, laboriously lifted his crossbow and directed the long arrow at the Star Killer.
One was on the ground, and the other in the air. The two people at the end had ferocious expressions. They were only one meter apart. Their blades and arrows faced each other!
This was the sound of the blade striking the crossbow.
Nichlas stared at the enemy in front of him and breathed a sigh of relief. He finally hit Monty’s weapon before his opponent shot the arrow.
This was the sound of the arrow leaving the bowstring.
An arrow flew past Nicholas’s face with a loud whistle, shooting towards a spot no one could see.
Nicholas knocked into the feeble Monty with a knee, causing him to cough up blood. Monty dropped back to the ground. His only weapon, his crossbow, flew out of his hand and landed far away.
The Star Killer roared in exasperation, then limped backwards and leaned against a rock before falling down.
“You just don’t give up, do you?!”
Monty, with his face covered with blood, tried to lifted his head and smile while he was on the ground.
Nicholas felt that something was not right after he saw his expression!
Without warning, Nicholas seemed to be shoved by an invisible arm, and the man crashed against the rock before he was pinned against it.
A few clear sounds rose up. The Rising Sun Saber flew a few meters away, fell to the ground, and the reddish blade gradually cooled down.
The Star Killer let out a pained cry filled with grief.
He lowered his head in disbelief, and saw a slightly longer arrow than what Monty used before. It first shot through his left forearm, then through his left upper arm, and finally stopped at his left shoulder, firmly nailing the Star Killer to the rock wall!
‘What… What happened?’
The pain from his arm to his shoulder made him almost unable to move. Nicholas, drenched in cold sweat, stared at the arrow in shock, then looked at the smiling Monty, ‘Didn’t he miss the shot?
‘And didn’t I… Didn’t I avoid it?’
“Ah…” the Raven of Death spat out a mouthful of blood, trembled while he tried to get up, but in the end, fell again, “I forgot to introduce to you something.”
But Monty still let out a cold snort when he stared at Nicholas, who had shock and anger on his face while he was pinned to the rock by the arrow. He pointed at the unremarkable black crossbow in the distance.
The Star Killer’s expression changed when he shifted his gaze to the direction he pointed and saw the crossbow.
“This tattered thing never hits its target.” Monty’s face darkened. He spat on the ground while he stared at the crossbow laying on the ground. He seemed to regard it with extreme disdain. “But it has also never missed its prey. It exists to torture every single one of its master.”
Nicholas endured the severe pain in his body and was filled with extreme indignation. He cast a puzzled and confused look at the weapon.
“A legendary anti-mystic equipment.”
The Raven of Death said in slight dissatisfaction,
“The Crossbow of Time.”