Chapter 363: Who Does Your Loyalty Belong to?
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
Monty stared at Nicholas, and his smile slowly disappeared.
“And now when I’m looking at you, I have the same feeling as well.”
The Star Killer shook his head.
His face darkened, “We should have been the most faithful, genuine, and honourable White Blade Guards…
“We once passionately, proudly and cheerfully, fought side by side and shed blood for Eckstedt.
“What exactly made us arrive at this point?”
Monty interrupted him.
“You still don’t understand, do you, Spiky?
“Yes, we were indeed the most loyal, genuine, and honorable White Blade Guards.” He lowered his voice, making him sound like a dying patient struggling hopelessly for life.
“But look at those glorious names in the history of the guards, all of them were of noble descent, the legends were of pure blood. Even for the nobles, to be able to enter the White Blade Guards to serve the king is a glory in itself.”
Monty slowly lifted his gaze.
“But when Kaslan broke the tradition and began selecting White Blade Guards from civilians, when he opened his observant eyes and carefully selected us of common birth from the soldiers on the battlefield and trained us to become the Dragon’s Imperial Guards…”
Monty let out a long sigh, “Things changed, and the ending was decided.
“We could not fit in with the aristocratic rulers who had their titles passed down into their hands for generations.”
Nicholas was speechless.
Monty chuckled, reminiscing the past. “I remember very clearly that on the first day of duty during the Imperial Conference, regardless of whether it was a noble with a prestigious title, or a bureaucrat with only an honorary title, or even old guard who was an aristocrat, all of them looked down on us. ‘The stain of the White Blade Guards’, that was what they called us.”
He looked at Nicholas with a profound glance. “We will never be able to fit in.”
Nicholas lowered his head.
“Yvsia knew this very early on, so he simply went to Sentry Region, the most dangerous and yet also the most simple-minded Thirty-Eighth Sentry Ground. He made the most straightforward choice when he had to make a decision between choosing to serve his enemies or to fight for us.
“Whereas the ones left in the guards…
“Look at me. Look at Mirk, Kaalos, Cyval, Justin, look at what happened to us, and look at yourself…” As Monty went on, he laughed.
His laughter was sad and dreary.
The Star Killer frowned.
“You worked so hard for so many years, and you even killed the Butcher of Constellation, Horace M.E. Jadestar at Broken Dragon Fortress. You had a great reputation during the past few decades… yet your position is but a small lord. You aren’t even eligible to attend the banquet in Heroic Spirit Palace.
“Do you remember the few days before the day of state affair hearing?”
Monty cast him an amused glance, as if he was looking at the world’s dumbest fool, “When you were talking as the protector of the Archduchess of Dragon Clouds City and the defender of the order during the hearing, were there any counts and viscounts of Dragon Clouds City who actually took your words seriously?”
Nicholas exhaled slowly as he stared at Monty’s disdainful smile.
Monty’s face became solemn. “We will never be able to understand what those aristocrats who stand high above us are actually thinking.”
The Raven of Death’s breathing quickened. The dark memories of the past flooded into their minds.
“The current Archduke of Prestige Orchid, Reybien Olsius has been poisoned twice by his mother-in-law’s brother, but no one knows that Kaslan and I were actually the ones who poisoned him under orders of King Nuven. It was to let Reybien blame his younger brother, and eventually became the archduke, but after the incident, Nuven let me save Reybien’s unsuspecting younger brother so that he can become the tool to control Prestige Orchid…
“Remember that time not long after you took over as the acting captain? There was a large-scale eastward raid to get rid of bandits in Dragon Clouds City, right? Actually, I was also one of the members in the group of bandits. Dragon Clouds City sent me to infiltrate the bandit’s nest and send them powerful firearms so that they could rob Dragon Clouds City’s caravans without worry. That gave King Nuven an excuse to shift the blame to the Archduke of the Glacier Sea.”
Raven of Death said dejectedly, “We will never comprehend their power play.”
As he listened to the other person’s narration, the Star Killer could not help but have his breathing quicken.
“After Soria died, I seemed to have given up on being a part of the White Blade Guards and resided in the City of Faraway Prayers. But in truth, I was the spy sent by Dragon Clouds City to the City of Faraway Prayers. I continued to monitor the movement of the Roknee family for King Nuven, and occasionally provoked their vassals to rebel against their suzerain.”
“And then, after that, Nuven died.” Monty lowered his head and looked dejected.
“Then, I, the blade in the dark, suddenly lost most of the meaning to my existence. But more ironically, the person that I should be monitoring, the Archduke of the City of Faraway Prayers, Kulgon Roknee, famed for being honest and straightforward, suddenly found me, and it was only then that I understood that he always knew that I was King Nuven’s raven, his spy!”
When he said this, Monty laughed exaggeratedly. “But that bastard pretended to play along with me for twelve years. He kept his true colors hidden from me and pretended to not know a single thing! Until King Nuven died! Hahahaha!
“And Roknee told me that in truth, Nuven knew that he saw through my act, but those two pretended to not know that the other knew, as if they were mimes in a play, because they were wary of each other. I was the only one who was in the blind. Hahahaha, an act of twelve years!
“Twelve years! Wouldn’t they feel tired?”
Monty’s flashed an exaggerated, distorted smile
Nicholas looked at Monty in anguish. He did not find it funny at all.
He knew that Monty did not find it funny either.
Raven of Death finally had his share of laughing.
His expression turned gloomy, as if he returned to the abyss of darkness. “For decades, I have been learning their methods, learning their games that I will never understand, wearing a mask all the time, putting on a disguise, and always prepared to change sides.”
Monty gently touched his face, looking a little absent-minded.
As if he was not touching his own skin.
“Sometimes, I go back to Dragon Clouds City, to the White Blade Guards, and tried to remove my disguise, but found out that I have become so used to acting that I even act while drinking with my brothers…”
Monty took a deep breath. “I even had the misconception that only the me with the mask is the real me. Only by wearing a mask can I remove my disguise.”
The Raven of Death coughed a few times. He looked dejected.
“But only when I was in the Blood Court taken care by Adele’s hands and when I stared at her face while infatuated would I feel that perhaps I am not just a mask.”
Monty looked up and touched his face. He forced out a numb smile. “I also had my own feelings and beliefs.”
He trembled a little. Then, as if he wanted to prove something, he repeated mechanically.
“That I’m not just a mask.”
The Star Killer stayed silent.
Then, a few seconds later, Monty took a few deep breaths. He supported himself with the rock and stood up steadily.
This time, Monty wobbled a few times, but did not fall again.
The Star Killer’s face changed!
‘Monty has already stood up and can move freely to retrieve his bow.
Nicholas looked at the arrow on his shoulder and gritted his teeth.
‘Looks like the victor to this game where the winner is determined by the one who lasts the longest has already been decided.
‘Is this the end?’
Nicholas once again held the arrow on his shoulder. He ignoring the intense pain and tried to escape from its clutches.
“But still, she left.”
Monty’s dispirited voice traveled into his ears.
“The f*cking assassin sent by the Secret Intelligence Department was most probably a newbie,” said the Raven of Death with a snicker, but the Star Killer could hear the chilling note behind it.
“He’s just like me when I just entered this line of work. He couldn’t kill children… and in the end, Adele was dragged down.”
His mood turned even gloomier. “Her death threw my life back into the bottomless darkness, right when I found slight meaning in it.”
Monty’s expression slowly became savage. “Deeper, and darker.”
Nicholas screamed in pain, but it was still difficult for him to pull the arrow on his shoulder out. In desperation, he tried to push himself off the rocky wall in an attempt to ‘extract’ himself from it.
Monty swung his head and carefully extended his burned arms to balance himself. He took his first step.
“The White Blade Guards exist to become a sharp blade to defend the Northland.
“But I could not find the meaning of my existence since a long time ago,” Monty said sullenly, “So I didn’t look for it. Living itself was the meaning of my existence. That’s enough.”
Nicholas’ face contorted as he used up all of his strength, but the arrow seemed to be stuck in between his bones, and it was difficult for him to move.
Monty continued speaking, “As long as I can live, who cares to whom my loyalty belongs to?”
More and more beads of sweat broke out on the Star Killer’s forehead.
“As long as I don’t give myself the opportunity to hesitate…” Monty clenched his teeth and looked at Nicholas’ futile efforts, then said solemnly while panting, “Then, I could stop hesitating.”
The Raven of Death smirked and put on a fierce expression. “Don’t blame me, Spiky. This is how life is.”
The Star Killer, who now had no hopes of breaking free, finally gave up. He exhaled, as if already accepting his fate, and looked at his opponent.
Monty flashed a smile and turned to his bow.
However, the next moment, a young, energetic, loud voice resembling a drake travelled into their ears. “Phew, this toy… is really not light.”
Both men engaged in their fight to the death were stunned.
They turned their heads together.
Under the sun, a disheveled looking boy stood at the place where the Crossbow of Time landed. The strange black crossbow was in his hands.
“I remember… that this should be how you nock an arrow?”
The boy stood firmly on the ground. With a scowl, he extended his foot at the cocking stirrup of the crossbow, located at the top of the weapon. He stepped down on it, bent his back, pressed his hands on the serving of the bow, and drew the string.
He took a deep breath. Then, he had his back exert strength as he struggled to pull the string and straighten his body.
The bowstring slowly changed its shape and was pulled back.
“Guh… is it because it’s my first time?” The boy held his breath and he said through gritted his teeth, “Why is it… so… tight…”
Finally, a clicking sound was heard.
The bowstring was in place.
The boy breathed a sigh of relief and panted. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and picked up the Crossbow of Time while he smiled.
Nicholas and Monty looked at the boy with dumbfounded expressions, and they were in disbelief as their eyes focused on his freely moving limbs.
“How could it be…?” The Star Killer’s eyes were filled with shock and puzzlement. He stared at the boy as if he could not wait to dissect him to figure out what happened.
But Nicholas was tongue-tied at that moment. He could not even utter a complete sentence. “Just now, I clearly… had your arms and legs…”
The boy lifted his eyebrows.
“Ah, were you talking about this?”
The boy looked at the two heavily injured men, then slowly lifted his left hand before he swung it in an embarrassed fashion.
“Well, I feel that my left wrist is really stiff.” Prince Thales Jadestar who stood up again shrugged and smiled somewhat bashfully while he said, “I think it might now be a little crooked, but I don’t know for sure, though.”
Monty widened his eyes.
“Impossible.” The weak Raven of Death swayed, and he quickly put a hand against the rock for support, but his shocked expression remained unchanged.
He turned to Nicholas as if he had to wanted to obtain verification from his opponent. “But didn’t you crush his bones…?”
Nicholas gave Monty an unpleasant face. “Of course.”
Thales did not intend to care about how the two men were feeling. With joy in his heart, he tapped his foot on the ground twice. His movements were swift, and were not stiff at all.
It made Nicholas and Monty more and more astonished.
Thales looked at the two flabbergasted men and sighed. “It’s nothing new or strange. You know the reason to this.”
The second prince chuckled.
“This is the secret behind why the Jadestar Royal Family could rule the Constellation for nearly seven hundred years…”
Nicholas lifted his eyebrows. Monty’s pupils shrank!
They both of them held their breaths at the same time.
The next second, Thales put on an enigmatic look.
“It is said that the blood of the Empire’s royal family comes from the gods.” The Prince of Constellation wiggled his eyebrows and pointed at the skies, revealing a coy smile. “Their blood is bright gold in colour. When they are under the sun, their blood would even sparkle!”
The two men instantly froze and put on extremely unamused faces.
Thales smiled and flashed his big white teeth. They sparkled under the sun.
“Whatever fractured bones… will be healed in two minutes.”
Thales retorted secretly and felt the exhaustion and weakness left behind by the Sin of Hell’s River after he used it, as well as…
At this moment, a strange noise came from Thales’ belly.
The prince flushed red.
But Nicholas and Monty still looked at him as if they were staring at a monster. They stared at him in a daze, and even after a long time had passed, they still did not recover from their shock.
Perhaps their eyes were focused too intensely on him, or perhaps it was because the scene was too awkward, but Thales could not help but cough and interrupt the silence.
“Okay, now the two of you listen to me…”
Thales happily held the black crossbow, then inserted an arrow that had fallen to the ground into the cockpit.
He lifted the Crossbow of Time, which could now be fired at any time, held the trigger, and he had his right arm support the body of the crossbow.
Thales closed his left eye, and the arrow was trained at the Star Killer, who was nailed to the rock wall and could not move.
Nicholas’ face went pale.
He struggled one more time, unwilling to give up, but he could only see more blood ooze out of the wound from where the arrow pierced through his shoulder and arm.
“So, now, we have a question to answer.
The completely uninjured looked up and asked while smiling, as if he had been reborn. “Excuse me, distinguished Lord Soray Nicholas, when you eat… you use your right hand to do so, right?”
Only a light breeze blew past them.
Nicholas stared at the crossbow in Thales’ hands.
But after a second, he snorted coldly without showing any signs of weakness. “F*ck you.”
The Raven of Death, who was supporting himself against the rock, snickered.
“Forget it. It doesn’t matter how you did it.” Monty smiled happily. “No matter what, you did wonderful, Your Highness. Now we only need to…”
Thales’ expression became solemn!
His arms moved while they were still holding the crossbow.
At that moment, Nicholas’ indignant expression as well as Monty’s smile froze at the same time on their faces.
The stern looking Thales did not pull the trigger at the Star Killer.
But he changed the Crossbow of Time’s target and pointed it straight at…
“I heard it just now, you know?” Thales was aiming at Monty while he said those words coldly, “‘As long as I can live, who cares to whom my loyalty belongs to’, huh?”
The Raven of Death stared at him in disbelief.
The prince narrowed his eyes. “So, tell me, Lord Monty…
“Who does your loyalty belong to?”