Chapter 361: The Raven and the Snow Blade (Two)
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
The tide had been turned against Nicholas. The man, now wounded again, had an unpleasant expression.
He tried to pull out the arrow, which had pierced through his left arm and left shoulder. But the wound on his right affected his right hand, and he failed to pull out the arrow through his repeated tries and grunts.
Nicholas could only sigh softly. He moaned in pain as he ended his sixth attempt to pull out the arrow.
“How did you hit me?”
The Star Killer stared indignantly at the unremarkable black crossbow. He then looked furiously at the arrow that nailed him to the rock wall.
“What in the world is that weapon’s ability?”
Monty, who was also barely hanging on to life, laid weakly on the ground. The badly burnt man arduously extended his hand to support himself against the rock and tried to sit up. He quietly recovered his strength.
The Raven of Death snorted softly and scornfully.
“There’s no need for me to tell you this.”
Nicholas stared at Monty, and could not help but grit his teeth softly.
“Then go ahead.” The Star Killer was drenched in sweat from the immense pain. But he still uttered a few words through gritted teeth and with trembling lips.
“Wring my neck and end this.”
The Raven of Death fixed his gaze on Nicholas’ miserable state. After some time, he suddenly grinned.
“I won’t take the risk to go near you anymore, Spiky.” Monty endured the pain and tore down an piece of cloth from an article of clothing on his person that was still in complete shape. He cleaned his wound gently, and his technique of slowly bandaging his wound was exactly the same as Nicholas’.
“We are both in a horrible condition now…”
Monty lifted his head laboriously and forced a smile. “If we were to be in close combat again, God knows what other surprises you have prepared for me that can turn the tide.”
Nicholas narrowed his eyes.
“You’re scared of me,” the Star Killer said coldly.
The Raven of Death shook his head. He tore the cloth with his teeth and bandaged his right arm, which did not look be in good shape, while grimacing from the intense pain. “Quite the contrary, I am now in control of the situation.
“I just have to recover my strength before nocking the bow and loading it with a few arrows while keeping this distance.” Monty panted. With his trembling finger, he pointed at the Crossbow of Time, which was placed some distance away from him, and then at his opponent. His gaze was sharp.
“The only thing left to be done would be to aim at my target.”
Nicholas’ face darkened.
The Star Killer held the arrow shaft in front of his shoulder weakly with his right hand and tried to break it. But the arrow was a lot firmer than typical long arrows. Without a sharp weapon like the Rising Sun Saber, and with his injured and weak right hand, the results of his efforts were limited. He could only try repeatedly while gasping in pain.
When he saw that, Monty laughed loudly.
His entire body trembled. Drenched in sweat, he tore down the clothes on his chest that stuck to his flesh and blood. He tried to stand up by supporting himself on the ground, but in the end, he collapsed from tiredness.
“Hahaha.” Monty laughed loudly and nonchalantly after the humiliating fall. “So, this is going to become a game to see who lasts to the end, is it?”
In the Land of Barren Rocks, the two defeated and wounded men stared at each other, and their gazes burned with hostility.
The Raven of Death rolled over. He groaned in pain from the severe burns. “Do you remember the ‘welcoming ritual’, which was held to welcome the new recruits? Iceberg, that bastard, he stripped us naked on the first night and threw us out into the snow. He told us that we’ll get hot water after running to the finish line. So, a big bunch of naked men ran desperately while shivering…”
Nicholas furrowed his eyebrows tightly.
Monty spat on the ground. “We couldn’t reach the finishing line, no matter what, because we were almost frozen to death. In the end, our bodies could not take it anymore and we fainted. We only found out after that that there was no finish line at all. And the so-called welcoming ritual, which was the White Blade Guards’ tradition, was only held to test our limits.”
His gaze was fixed on a spot in the air, and he sounded as if he was talking to himself. “Lies are always the most effective way to make someone do something.”
Nicholas shook his head with a stiff expression.
“You don’t deserve to talk about the White Blade Guards.” The remaining Power of Eradication in his body surged towards his wound, and he did his utmost to relieve the pain in his shoulder. “Traitor of the Oath of Blades.”
The Raven of Death stiffened momentarily. He took a slightly deep breath.
“The Oath of Blades… traitor…” At that moment, Monty’s looked a little absent-minded.
But after a split second, the man smiled and shrugged. He endured the residual pain from his burns and hissed. “Say whatever you want. After all…”
The Raven of Death’s expression became solemn, and his gaze was cold.
“This would be your last words.
Out of his expectations, Nicholas smiled.
Nicholas leaned against the rock. He stared at Monty with an extremely complicated gaze.
“If half of what you said was true, Big Mouth… Then, at least, at least in the beginning, you weren’t part of the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department.”
Nicholas narrowed his eyes. “What made you change sides? Or rather, what blackmail does the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department have on you?”
Monty was first startled. He then could not help but burst out laughing. “My God, you really speak more and more like Kaslan.”
Nicholas paid no attention to Monty’s words, which was used to change the topic.
“Life as a White Blade Guard might have been torturous for you, but it wouldn’t be any improvement to turn to the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department, to those maggots who live in the dark. Don’t tell me that you really think of them as your savior, and that they can save you from your difficulties?”
Monty’s smile disappeared.
“That’ll just make things worse for you.” The Star Killer stared at the Rising Sun Saber and the Crossbow of Time, which were a distance away. “Out of the frying pan and into the fire. You definitely have other reasons.”
Monty was silent for a few seconds. He flashed a pained but happy smile.
“Some things need no reason.”
The Raven of Death snorted coldly and said, “Perhaps I’m a born traitor, heartless, and lacking in emotions and conscience. That’s why Kaslan chose me to be that dirty knife.”
But Nicholas still paid no attention to him. He continued talking to himself. “That was your first betrayal, wasn’t it? The assassination.”
The Star Killer said flatly, like an old man reminiscing the past. “After Prince Soria’s death, you did everything you could to leave Dragon Clouds City and the late king, because you were also afraid that he would find out the truth.
“And perhaps, the reason that instigated your betrayal lies in the assassination eighteen years ago.”
Nicholas fixed his gaze on Monty.
Monty stared solemnly at him in return.
“F*ck, you’ve not only became more powerful,” Monty muttered, “But also more paranoid.”
Nicholas shot a glance at the prince, who was moaning softly while unconscious.
“If you have to face the Prince of Constellation who is cunning, sinister, manipulative, who thinks about scheming against you everyday, and who you can’t harm at all, day and night, for six years, you will become like me too,” the Star Killer said coldly.
Monty shook his head and laughed in spite of himself.
“These are not important anymore.” The Raven of Death tried to struggle up again. His expression became fierce once more. “Wait until I…”
At this moment, Nicholas softly uttered another name.
At that moment, Monty, who was trying his best to get up, froze on the spot.
After a while, the Raven of Death collapsed back down on the ground, like a chess piece that lost its balance. The ever present relaxed expression on his face was gone.
Nicholas looked at Monty, who had lost his composure—a rarely seen sight on him—and sighed loudly.
“You have not forgotten her, have you?”
The Raven of Death’s head turned laboriously and bit by bit towards Nicholas, like an old and rusty hand of a clock. His expression was stiff. “What?”
The sun set a little more, and their shadows slowly slanted towards the east.
The Star Killer’s expression was gloomy, like an old man who had just been multiple pieces of bad news, and his tone was grievous. “The reason you bit the hand that fed you and turned to Constellation, to the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department, and the reason you vehemently wanted Prince Soria dead… I can only think of this.”
Monty stared at his former captain in shock. “You, you…”
“At that time, you thought that you hid it well, and that no one knew.” Nicholas chuckled with an expression that could not be deciphered, but his voice was filled with weariness. “But the look in your eyes when you gazed at Lady Adele, the unusual amount of times you went on duty, and where you went on duty…”
“No, no.” Monty’s breathing became rapid, and he stared at Nicholas incredulously. “You knew?
“So, you figured it out a long time ago?”
“Son of a b*tch.” Nicholas only stared coldly at him and said with certainty, “So, your betrayal was really related to that woman, wasn’t it?”
The Raven of Death lowered his head and was silent for a long time.
On the other hand, the Star Killer stared at him like an inquisitor, with a gaze as sharp as a sword.
Monty suddenly moved.
He curled up the corners of his lips, lifted his head and could not help but laughed as his cheeks twitched. “Hahaha…”
Nicholas shut his eyes. His expression was filled with pain.
“Adele.” The Raven of Death exhaled softly and repeated the name with a desolate expression. “Adele, yes, she’s the turning point of everything.”
No one knew whether it was because his movements had made him accidentally agitate his wound or because he was emotional, but Nicholas elbowed the rock wall behind him hard. “Damn it, damn it…
The Star Killer gripped the arrow shaft hard again and tried to break it. He spoke falteringly while groaning in pain and while cold sweat broke out all over his body. “When I allocated sentry posts in the past, I purposely transferred you away… I used all sorts of tactics and did my utmost best to make you stay away from Blood Court, from Lady Adele, and not let you see her for a few years…
“I even acted out of character and asked you to drink with me, advising you to quickly find a girl and start a family…”
Monty froze momentarily.
When he failed to pull out the arrow again, Nicholas cried out in pain and pounded the rock resentfully. “After I did so much, didn’t you f*cking understand what I meant? To stay far away from her, stay far away from that ominous and outrageously beautiful Camian woman, and cast that taboo and silly feelings of yours away, because you were reaching for something you can’t have.”
Monty froze on the spot in a daze and did not move at all.
The next moment, resentment and fury appeared on the Raven of Death’s face.
He slammed the ground hard and rose shakily without caring about his injuries. He glared at the Star Killer with the kind of gaze one had when he was about to kill someone.
Monty trembled as he supported himself with his hand on the rock. He growled hoarsely through gritted teeth. “So it was you, it was you, Spiky?
“Those years when Adele first got married and moved to Dragon Clouds City, it was you who intentionally transferred me away? Just to make sure that I stayed far away from her? That I could not see her and could not go near her?”
The thoroughly wounded Raven of Death angrily and grievously flung his arm. “It was you!”
A tiny and hiltless throwing knife flew in the air with a flash.
Nicholas held his breath and subconsciously extended his right hand!
The throwing knife grazed past Nicholas’ bracer, missing Nicholas and hitting the rock wall. It then fell uselessly to the ground.
Once he threw the throwing knife, Monty lost his balance and fell to the ground with a plop, causing a cloud of dust to rise.
But he did not care at all. Instead, he helped himself up again with his badly mutilated arms.
“Even during those days when she was the most troubled, suffered the most, and was the most persecuted, I wasn’t there. I could neither see her nor help her…”
For the first time, Monty’s voice trembled. “It was all because of you?”
The Star Killer looked at the throwing knife. He became even more furious.
“That was for your own good!”
He spat fiercely on the ground. “I thought that this way, you would be able to cast those unrealistic delusions away…
“Can’t you see it, you idiot?!”
But Monty paid no attention to what Nicholas said at all. The expression on his face went from resentful to mournful for a moment. It then suddenly turned into an expression of dejectedness, and then sorrow.
Dozens of seconds passed, and there was only the sound of the two men breathing in the air left.
Eventually, all expressions disappeared from the Raven of Death’s face.
He stared at a ground in a daze and plopped his face down on the dust again.
“I thought my method was effective.” Nicholas’ head was lowered and his gaze was sullen. He balled up his right hand. “I thought that you only needed to get really drunk and find a few women to return to normal and forget her…”
Monty rolled over arduously. He first shot an absent-minded glance at Nicholas, and then started laughing loudly in a strange manner.
His smile was so wide and his range of movement was so large that tears rolled out of his eyes as he laughed.
“How is that possible?”
The man covered in burns exhaled slowly. His voice was extremely wistful and bitter.
“I can never forget the day I entered Vine City. The young Miss Adele Gestad was clad in fine silk, bidding farewell to her parents and elder siblings with watery eyes. Amid the reluctance of the people of the city, she slowly stepped into the wedding carriage of Dragon Clouds City’s diplomat group to head to the cold north.”
Monty stared at the sky. His right hand trembled slightly.
“I remember that when I helped Adele into the carriage, there was a genuine smile on her slightly red face, and she bashfully thanked me.”
The Raven of Death said absentmindedly. His face was filled with befuddlement.
“I remember the beautiful bow on her wrist, the pattern of her dress, and how she softly played the zither and sang in the carriage. Her singing voice seemed to hold some sort of power, as the Northlanders who were used to wielding weapons and killing held their breaths and listened.”
Nicholas shut his eyes tightly and let out a few low and hardly audible growls. The blood vessels on his arms bulged due to him exerting too much strength to free himself.
“I still remember that I, who was usually good with words, suddenly became tongue-tied. I could only console that maiden while drenched in sweat, and she was so sad that her eyes were red. I reassured her that Northland was a good place, and that everyone there were bold, generous, steadfast and enthusiastic. I said that Prince Soria was heroic and valiant, and that she would definitely be happy. These words were proved to be shameless lies after that.”
Monty arduously sat up and stared absentmindedly and sadly at the Star Killer.
“Yes, I met her even earlier than all of you.” The man’s expression was downcast. “I lost her even earlier, too.”
Nicholas exhaled loudly and stared at Monty incredulously. “Lost her?
“Damn it, she was never yours!”
The Star Killer pounded the rock hard with his fist again.
He seemed to have lost his composure, because he roared under the torment on both his physical body and his mind.?“She was the prince’s wife! She even had a child!
“For a woman, you forgot your identity, betrayed the White Blade Guards, and betrayed the king and the prince…? Don’t you find that ridiculous!”
He ignored Nicholas’ criticism and smiled nonchalantly.
“Of course, a maggot like me, who was born in the dark and could only eat carrion to survive, doesn’t even have the rights to miss her.”
The Raven of Death laid on the ground and panted slowly. “I understood a long time ago. As the noble and beautiful wife of a prince, there was no reason for her to pay any attention to a lowly guard who was born into a hunter’s family in the countryside, was boorish, and whose hands were covered in blood.”
His gaze was unfocused, and he smiled wryly while panting. “The only thing I could do and hope for was to treasure the limited amount of time I had at Heroic Spirit Palace and patrol the place meticulously and frequently. And when I pass by her court, I would pretend to be on the alert, but would occasionally sweep my glance over the desolate looking maiden sitting in her court.
“The only thing I wished for, and also the only thing that satisfied me was to wait until no one was around in the middle of the night to cower alone in a dark corner of the Blood Court, gazing at the plants she tended to and gazing at the sky full of stars while recalling the smile she once had again and again.
“That was enough for me.” Monty said absentmindedly while he was lost in his past.
“It was enough.”
“Bastard, coward.” Nicholas stared scornfully at him. “I really regret spending so much telling you all that crap. I should have castrated you with my blade early on when I found out that you harbored inappropriate thoughts towards her.”
Monty shook his head, as if he did not hear Nicholas’ words.
“When that night arrived.” The Raven of Death seemed to have recovered his composure. He sneered, and his gaze was horrifying and cold once again. “Do you know how I felt?”
Nicholas was startled.
Monty shot him a glance. Even though he was expressionless, the ineffable emotions in his eyes made the Star Killer anxious.
“That night, again, as the king’s Black Raven, I returned from Constellation, which had descended into chaos from war, to Dragon Clouds City and reported to King Nuven and his son.”
Monty narrated his past without any emotions, as if what happened next had nothing to do with him. “That same night, Prince Soria summoned me for a private meeting.
“Our dignified and valiant Prince Soria Walton calmly and coldly gave me an order. He told me that there was a scandal in the royal family, one that must not be disclosed to the public, and it had to be dealt with.”
Nicholas’ whole body became stiff.
At some point, the Raven of Death’s voice started trembling.
“He ordered me to get rid of his wife, and to make sure that I did not leave behind any future troubles while doing so.
“He wanted me to kill Lady Adele, the prince’s wife.”
Monty slowly lifted his gaze. The desolate look in his eyes seemed to know no bounds. “He also wanted me to kill her lover, the man she loved with all her heart.
“The disloyal White Blade Guard—Byrne Mirk.”