Chapter 98: Arracca Murkh
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
Eternal Star City, Black Street Brotherhood’s headquarters at XC Region.
“Are you saying that Roda and the Reversed Machete…?”
One of the Six Powerhouses of Black Street Brotherhood, Anton the ‘Ripper’ took a bite from his bread and spoke in a string of indistinct mumblings, “Because of what?”
“Seems like it is Roda’s son.” On the other end of the long table, the other one of the Six Powerhouses, Morris crossed his arms across his chest. He laid them on his fat tummy and spoke impatiently, “You know, I had to constantly take care of that piece of trash at my place so that he could manage those child-beggars, and it lasted until he died at Red Street Market… It was because of this that Roda’s relationship with Lance and me apparently reached an impasse.”
“In that case, the Reversed Machete is in an extremely bad mood? Has Sunset Pub already shut down?” Anton let out a chuckle and took a sip of ale. “What a shame, I did kind of like that little girl at the pub… Tsk, tsk, that figure.”
“Her last name is Charleton, you won’t be able to touch her.” Morris’ cold words made Anton choke.
“I have not returned for a long time, so I am not clear about this. The Charleton Brothers have not made their appearance even after the matter of Sera Dukedom?” Anton swallowed the bread.
Morris shook his head. “Prison Lock Sickle has been tracing them for a few years, and for that, he did not even hesitate to work with the Secret Intelligence Department. He did fight hand-to-hand with the younger Charleton twice, but he did not benefit from that.”
“What about the older Charleton?” Anton asked immediately, “That person who killed Aydi the Second…”
“It is best not to mention him,” Morris sighed, “You know, that year, he saved Black Sword’s life in front of the palace gate. Regardless of whether it was intentional or otherwise… Black Sword took that to heart during all these years, and you could say that he was agonized by it.
“They would eventually need to fight each other.”
At this very moment, a figure wearing a scarlet cloak pushed the door open and entered the room. The figure then sat at the table.
Morris and Anton’s facial expression became solemn and serious.
Shortly after, the figure in the scarlet cloak spoke.
His speech made the other two people’s faces change color due to agitation.
“You better explain this clearly to me!
“What do you mean by ‘lost contact’?” Astonished, Anton slammed his fist onto the table and asked.
He stared in bewilderment at one of the Six Powerhouses—the ‘Sleepless Eye’, Kobryant Lance.
“What I mean is,” Lance held his scarlet cloak as he furrowed his brows and said, “we have stopped receiving any news from Ramon for the past seven days. The last time he sent a message was when he was at the Eastern Border between Constellation and Eckstedt.
“There is only one explanation for this— he ran into enemies.”
Morris hugged his arms tightly around himself and muttered, “His mission was only to use news of the ‘reappearance of wizards’ to avert the attention of the Secret Intelligence Department, so that we can safely acquire that equipment. When the Black Prophet discovered that he was not actually a wizard, he should have naturally given up on pursuing him, right?”
The fat one shook his head and his confusion showed on his face. “An ordinary gang doctor… Neither the Secret Room nor the Secret Intelligence Department have any reason to arrest him.”
“No, of course they do not have a reason. Unless this is the opponents’ move against the Brotherhood and our sponsor… A lot of people have doubts about our patron,” Lance said sinisterly, “Also, you and I both know that Ramon is no ordinary gang doctor!”
“There are people targeting us and also our sponsor?” Anton was shocked. “Are you saying that the Blood Bottle Gang is the one targeting us? Even though the Air Mystic does not usually appear… but after the Red Street Market incident, they have been more silent than before. Catherine and Nikolay are both overseas!”
Lance shook his head. “I have learned something through the grapevine. They have found the Blood Mystic… I am afraid, they will soon launch a counterattack. I am also worried that they may have already discovered the importance of Ramon to us.”
He lightly tapped against the table. “If the Blood Mystic becomes the one who attacks… haih.”
“The key is our sponsor!” Morris considered this seriously. “If Ramon falls into their hands, it will certainly jeopardize the safety of the sponsor… Maybe we should warn the sponsor?”
“We cannot risk being exposed, and contacting the sponsor.” Lance’s eyes were shining brightly. “I suspect that this could be a trap. Morat likes to throw this sort of bait the most. Maybe the area surrounding Black Street is already filled with spies of the Secret Intelligence Department, and they are just waiting for us to make a wrong move.”
‘What’s more terrifying is…
‘If it is not Morat and his Secret Intelligence Department but the conspirators that year…’
Lance did not show his feelings or speak of his worries.
“No, without Ramon, our study on the Mystics’ weakness will come to a standstill… We finally had a little progress after eleven or twelve years.” Anton tightly clenched his fist. “And we still do not know anything about the origin and ability of that equipment. We have yet to explore anything.”
Morris immediately lifted his head and his expression was serious. “Also, he knows too many secrets about us and our sponsor. Are our people at the border between Constellation and Eckstedt usable? For instance, the Crystal Drop Smuggling Team located at the border under your lead, Anton?”
“It will be very hard.” Anton the Ripper clenched his teeth. “The atmosphere there has been quite high strung recently. The merchants are all afraid that Constellation and Eckstedt are going to declare war, so they no longer go to the areas around Broken Dragon Fortress. My people already evacuated the area a long while ago…”
Anton’s face turned ashen “Also, if the Blood Mystic is about the same as the Air Mystic… then, forget about our subordinates, even we would die if we go there.”
“Maybe there is another method,” Lance said quietly.
The other two people looked at him.
Lance the Sleepless Eye, could be heard saying faintly, “With regard to the border between Constellation and Eckstedt… the Black Sword is not far from there, he can go ahead and search for Ramon.
“And I have already handed the equipment over to him.
“If he really ran into the Blood Mystic.
“Let it be a chance to test the equipment’s performance in advance.
The sun had just risen.
Thales had a sullen expression on his face as he was protected by Sonia on the horse. The group passed through the sentry and the fort, scaled the narrow slope, then slowly moved into the magnificent Broken Dragon Fortress through the south gate.
The place was so much colder than the birch tree forest.
The snow was also much thicker, as its height almost reached an adult’s ankle.
This was a very big fortress, but the double-layered city walls made the space between the fortress gate and the inner city wall seem relatively narrow.
Thales got off the horse with Sonia’s help, and the soldiers took the seriously injured Wya, Ralf, and Chora to be healed.
He observed this particular corner of the fortress. It was neat and orderly from the building layout itself to the sentries and staff stationed there.
The soldiers on duty were either patrolling the main roads and some of the city walls in the fortress, or they were on guard duty at their respective locations.
The quartermasters who were in charge of logistics and replenishments were walking back and forth to urge the laborers to transport the supplies. In some rather spacious stables, the cavaliers were bathing their steeds with well-practiced movements.
On the other end of the training field, there were a few squads made of new recruits that were obviously enlisted not long ago. They were practicing defensive moves and slashing motions in an orderly manner under the guidance of a few veterans.
A distance away, a few squads who just came back from their duties were queueing up to return their weapons to their original places. After that, they received the rations distributed by the quartermaster.
Genard followed Sonia and she enthusiastically embraced more than ten powerful looking veterans, who seemed to be her old acquaintances.
‘This is the Northern Barrier of Constellation?’
“Those are Baron Murkh’s regular soldiers from the Royal Family, and their numbers have just increased.” Right at that moment, Putray dragged his injured body and walked over to Thales, supporting himself with a branch. Putray stared at the squad of recruits who were training and said, “They do not really have any experience of fighting in a battle.”
“I thought you would at least leave her—leave that important queen in Broken Dragon Fortress. You know, our strength is already stronger than hers.”
Putray said quietly, “But, whether she was deceived by others or the other way around, she has already attacked the diplomat group and made countless debts of blood.”
“So what? Did we bring her here to spank her?” Thales shook his head. “She is an important political leader of the Eastern Peninsula. We need a lot of proper reasons to keep her, and there is even more trouble in terms of diplomacy.”
‘Also, a Mystic was involved.
‘And my secret is also involved.
‘It is best to have lesser troubles.’
Putray raised his eyebrow.
Thales let out a sigh. “Believe me, the real culprit is still strutting about in the world outside, freely. Letting Katerina go is also causing him problems.”
Zayen’s face appeared in his mind.
‘Regardless of the reason you wanted to kill me… I will never sit still and let you do so.
‘Also, maybe I have already found the key,’ Thales thought,
‘The key has to be in the conversation we had the day I left on this journey. There must have been something that set Zayen off.
‘He would have never done something so irrational otherwise. Not only does it involve lying to his ally, it involves endangering himself.’
“In addition, she is still carrying that black coffin with her.” Thales continued. What he said made Putray furrow his brows lightly. “With that thing by her side, it equates to allowing the Blood Mystic to find us again.”
‘Although she will certainly come and find me.’
“I will never let you suffer.”
Thales sighed and thought worriedly.
“Do not worry,” Putray seemed to see through Thales’ worry as he slowly said, “Eckstedt also has their own legendary anti-mystic equipment.
“The amount of equipment they have is even greater than Constellation’s. It is the country with the most legendary anti-mystic equipment in the world. After all, the Northland did their utmost in battling the calamities during the Battle of Eradication.”
Thales nodded reluctantly.
“As for the calamities, as long as you are not interested in them, they will not be interested in you,” Putray spoke with an underlying meaning in his words and his gaze was profound.
A violent shudder erupted in Thales’ heart.
‘Putray… What does he mean?’
Right at this very moment, Sonia’s dignified voice could be heard coming from the front.
“What is going on?!”
Thales and Putray both lifted their heads in curiosity and looked towards the front.
There seemed to be a scaffold there, which was jam-packed with soldiers off-duty.
There was a person on the scaffold who was sent to that place by the soldiers behind him.
It seemed like he was about to be executed.
A military officer who appeared to be the person in charge recognized Sonia as he was somewhat awkward when he answered, “Lady Sasere… he… this person is a deserter of the army.”
Sonia furrowed her brows and looked at the person on the scaffold.
It was a tanned, young man with black hair and brown eyes. He struggled to lift his head up before the scaffold and yelled loudly, “I am not an army deserter! I am not!”
He was wearing a torn cotton shirt and his hands were tied together behind his back. He yelled at the surrounding crowd in an indignant manner, “They fell behind, I went back to save them! I did not escape!
“Just look at the blood on my weapon and you will know!”
Thales stared at the situation and whispered to Putray, “Have we already engaged in a war with our enemy?”
“I am afraid that it is a conflict among a small number of squads,” Putray muttered, “It seems like Lampard is still unwilling to give up.”
Thales secretly sighed at the bottom of his heart.
The military officer in charge of the execution looked at the struggling young man and said in disdain, “This fellow is lying!
“There is indeed blood on his pike, but it had already been broken into two earlier on!
“You ran back with a broken weapon in your hand, and then tell me that you were going back to rescue them?”
“I did not!” the young man with his hands tied said anxiously, “It was not broken into two! That is exactly how my pike is! It… There are two of them, one for my left hand and another for my right hand! I can use them both at the same time…”
“Enough! Fisherman! You just spin lie after lie!” The officer in charge dismissed him with a swing of his hand and a sour expression on his face. “Quibbling does not help you at all! Act like a Northlander, just be forthright about this…”
Sonia turned and looked at the person in charge with a grim expression on her face.
“He is a soldier I recruited from the area. Before you execute him, don’t you need to come and seek instructions from me?”
The military officer was momentarily stunned. “Er… but there is already conclusive evidence on this matter. We have gotten instructions from Baron Murkh—”
Sonia cut him off impatiently.
“Put him down, I will personally investigate this matter, and only then will you carry out the sentence.”
The military officer in charge furrowed his brows. “But, this is on Baron Murkh’s order… He said—”
“I am the commander of Broken Dragon Fortress,” Sonia said sternly, “and how many days has it been since Murkh arrived in this place? All of you, including him, are only reinforcements, staying here as guests.”
The Fortress Flower’s facial expression became cold.
“Or do you have any opinion on my authority?”
The military officer stopped speaking and stared at his surroundings with a troubled expression.
However, he had no choice but to obey her due to the dignity and prestige of the Fortress Flower.
The man with black on the scaffold sighed in relief. He was immediately brought down from the scaffold and pushed down to the ground before Sonia.
“Soldier, report your name and your unit!” Sonia came before him and said coldly.
The young man quivered.
“Willow, my name is Willow, Your Excellency!”
The young man stared gratefully at Sonia as he panted, “Willow Ken! I am a pikeman recruited from Sharladan County! Also… I am really not an army deserter!”
Right at this moment, a commotion rose from the crowd.
A sonorous, bright but impatient voice belonging to a man came from afar.
Sonia’s brows were tightly furrowed together. She lifted her head and turned her gaze towards the direction of the voice.
“I hear that you are publicly causing me troubles again?”
Thales stared curiously at the spot where the commotion came from. He saw the soldiers move to both sides to clear a path.
There was a man with maroon hair. He was of a medium height but a strong and muscular built. He was wearing a simple breastplate and a green-colored wrist protector.
He had a high nose bridge and his facial features were sharp. His light green eyes were fierce, and he was carrying an eye-catching metal bow, which had alternating colors of silver and black as he strode out of the crowd.
More than ten sword-and-shield troops followed behind him. They were all expressionless.
Behind Thales, Aida, who once again covered her face seemed to anticipate something fun as she whispered, “Wow! It’s him! They’re going to fight! They’re going to fight!”
The soldiers on both sides were whispering among themselves. Many people were staring at the man who was walking over with excited and nervous expressions on their faces.
Thales was momentarily stunned. ‘Who is he?’
This man seemed to have his own aura that was brimming with aggressiveness. Wherever his gaze landed, it made people shiver.
It gave Thales a dangerous feeling, just like the silver-black bow across the man’s back. It seemed like it was at that critical state where it was going to strike at any moment.
Sonia stared at the man with a grave expression on her face as she slowly said, “Arracca Murkh. Once again, you interfered with my soldiers’ affairs when I left!”
‘That sounds quite familiar.’
Thales scratched his head.
Putray who was standing behind Thales, sighed deeply as he said with a low voice, “Your Highness, how good is your ability in smoothing out a conflict?”
Thales glanced at Putray with a baffled look.
‘What does he mean?’
“Your unit?” The aggressive Arracca did not show any signs of backing down. He pointed at Willow Ken on the ground and replied to Sonia in a hostile sounding voice, “Do you mean this cowardly deserter that you recruited from the local village?”
“I am not an army deserter! I am only—” the young Willow once again spoke nervously.
But Arracca mercilessly cut him off mid-sentence.
“Shut up, army deserter!” The man who carried the silver-black metal bow on his back erupted in anger.
Arracca glared at Willow with a fierce gaze, which forced the latter to swallow his words.
“Cowards do not deserve to talk to me,” he said coldly.
Willow Ken, who was standing below the scaffold had a bewildered expression on his face. He opened and closed his mouth before he slouched down like he was wronged.
The atmosphere in the area became increasingly worse.
Sonia’s facial expression was dark and gloomy.
“You are in my territory, and you identified my soldier as an army deserter and a coward without any confirmation.” The Fortress Flower, Sonia seemed like she was also boiling with anger. She stared at Arracca with a sharp gaze and enunciated every single word clearly as she said, “Are you provoking me?”
Thales felt the atmosphere before his eyes becoming tenser by the moment. The soldiers around them did not dare make a sound.
Arracca suddenly grinned and burst into laughter.
“If you say so, then yes.”
Under Sonia’s increasingly scary stare, Arracca stopped smiling. He then swept his eyes past Thales with a gaze that would have made others feel uneasy.
“So you brought the prince back?” Arracca laughed as he shook his head.
Thales gave him a smile and nodded.
But Arracca Murkh only sneered at him. It seemed like he did not care about the prince’s goodwill at all. Thales was momentarily stunned by his behavior.
The prince remembered now.
This was the person King Kessel referred to when he said he had already dispatched Baron Arracca Murkh, along with two thousand regular soldiers of the Royal Family to Broken Dragon Fortress upon replying to the Eckstedt diplomat. That was the baron who commanded the troops, Arracca Murkh.
He did not expect Arracca Murkh to confront Sonia Sasere, the Fortress Flower, without showing any signs of backing down.
Baron Murkh could be heard exhaling softly. He stared at Sonia and faintly said, “What? Do you think you have the authority to pamper the army deserter since you are standing on the good side of the king’s little bastard?”
‘King’s little bastard?’
There was once again an uproar from the surrounding soldiers.
Many gazes swept across Thales.
Thales’ expression became increasingly sour.
“He already said he is not an army deserter.” Sonia’s expression was grim. “He should have a chance to defend himself.
“Starlight Brigade never neglects and overlooks any lives.”
Willow had a delighted expression on his face while he was pinned on the ground. He nodded desperately, but when he saw Murkh’s expression, he decided not to start talking.
“Never neglect and overlook any lives? As expected of Starlight Brigade’s captain of the personal guards.” Arracca laughed. “You carry out the beliefs of that duke of yours truly well.”
Thales recalled that Sonia was once a member under John Jadestar’s Starlight Brigade. He was Aydi the Second’s younger brother.
‘Captain of the personal guards… It seemed like her status and rank were quite high.’
“Oh, that’s right, how did the duke die again?” Arracca turned around and stared intently at Sonia.
The color on the Fortress Flower’s face changed in anger!
“The kind duke who cherished lives, was betrayed by those he claimed to ‘never neglect and overlook’,” Arracca mocked her as Sonia trembled. “He died in the hands of those personal guards, whom he trusted the most!
“What was the name of that traitor… Novork?”
Sonia clenched her fists tightly and her expression was unreadable.
“Yes, it was this batch of Starlight Brigade’s personal guards of the duke, who were trained personally by Sonia Sasere!”
Thales’ jaw dropped in shock.
Arracca’s words obviously agitated many people.
Because Thales could feel the temperature around Sonia immediately drop after Arracca finished talking.
The expressions of the dozens of dauntless soldier behind her, including Genard abruptly changed.
The dozen something burly men walked forward and stood behind Sonia fiercely.
The expressionless sword-and-shield troops also looked unhappy behind Arracca. All of them surrounded Baron Murkh. They pressed against their sword hilts and stared coldly at the opposite side.
The two groups of people on both sides were ready to jump at each other’s throats.
Sonia’s pupils narrowed slightly as she slowly walked forward with an icy expression on her face. She directly stared into Arracca’s eyes. He was of the same height as her.
Arracca also stared back at her coldly.
“Pah!” Right before Arracca’s eyes, Sonia spat onto the ground next to his feet in a crude manner. There was no trace of politeness in her actions.
“You are just a feral dog that barks wildly, Arracca.”
Arracca only chuckled without saying another word.
The Fortress Flower lifted her gaze to look at the maroon-haired man as she coldly said, “Of course, I remember the Bloody Year now. Prince Horace lost his life on the battlefield, but you came back alive.”
Thales’ heart lurched.
‘Prince Horace? The Sword of Reversing Light?’
This time, it was Arracca’s expression that changed drastically.
His eyes were filled with hatred and rage.
Sonia could be heard chuckling as she taunted him and said, “Who knows… It might be you who backstabbed him?”
Thales no longer doubted what Putray meant when he talked about the conflict just now.
Because the next moment, Arracca’s fist and Sonia’s palm slammed into each other in the air while both of them seethed in anger!
The Eastern Border between Constellation and Eckstedt, the periphery of Lonely Old Tower.
“No, I cannot smell the scent of the Brotherhood’s doctor anymore.
“I cannot go any deeper… The road ahead is the road that leads to Broken Dragon Fortress. I heard that the two countries are in conflict against each other now… I do not want to include myself in the battlefield.”
The head of Blood Bottle Gang’s Eight Psionic Warriors, Nikolay the Red Viper was clenching his fist in frustration as he motioned for his surrounding subordinates to move back. He then looked at the woman beside him. She had blonde hair and blue eyes.
“Besides, can’t you ask Lady Giza for help?”
‘Darn it. This woman. Why is she the one who found the Blood Mystic first?’
One of the Psionic Warriors of Blood Bottle Gang, the other cadre who was just a rank below Nikolay, Catherine the Fantasy Blade Edge turned her head over. She gave him a beautiful but ineffably chilling smile. “Yo, it seems like we’ve lost him once again.”
Catherine laughed mischievously, which caused anger to boil even further within Nikolay. “As for Lady Giza, I’ve mentioned it before, she suddenly had an emergency, so for the time being, she is headed to the west.”
Catherine stared coldly at Nikolay.
‘The Blood Mystic trusts me even more… and she will only trust me.
‘Even if the Air Mystic has disappeared, and even if Song the Divine Chaos Soldier has died, an idiot like you will never take over Blood Bottle Gang.’
However, she was also exceptionally anxious in her heart.
They persuaded the Blood Mystic with great difficulty to follow them all the way here to track the Brotherhood’s Strange Doctor a day ago.
But Giza seemingly felt something. She suddenly disappeared before their eyes after she hurriedly said, “I am going to take a look in the west.”
By the gods, the west was the road to Broken Dragon Fortress. Numerous troops of both countries were gathered there, and the atmosphere was extremely hostile. Even more so, an existence like the Fortress Flower was there!
No matter how powerful the Mystic was, she could not possibly fight with an entire army, right?
“We better settle matters here as soon as we can,” Nikolay said in a tone that indicated he was in a bad mood, “Blood Bottle Gang has lost a lot of business, many of our partners have already… Sera Dukedom’s women are very dissatisfied with the interrupted human supply, the Barren Bone people of the desert have started to get in touch with the Brotherhood, the Forerunner Guild have even directly halted their business deals with us. As for those rude swordsmen, they even questioned us about Groudon’s death…
“We are running out of time.”
“I know.” Catherine shook her head. “They even became aggravated and requested for more orphans from us… We ought to restore our prestige.”
“So, that Doctor Ramon better be as important as you claim he is!” Nikolay stared at his colleague and competitor in displeasure.
“Of course, this is what the Secret Intelligence Department told us through the Cullen Family.” Catherine chopped off a branch in front of her as she continued to move forward. “The source said that if we catch Ramon, we will have control over many secrets of the Brotherhood.”
‘The Cullen Family?’
Nikolay furrowed his eyebrows.
“As for you, stop having delusions about the Covendier Family.” Catherine mocked. “They do not treat us as humans at all.”
“Is the Cullen Family any better?” Nikolay instinctively refuted, “Maybe the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department only wants us to cause some problems to the Brotherhood by giving us this news!”
“Exactly,” Catherine said nonchalantly.
Nikolay was momentarily stunned.
He did not expect that this woman would actually agree with what he said.
“The Brotherhood expanded way too rapidly, especially after that night at Red Street Market. Almost the entire of Constellation’s underground forces had acknowledged their allegiances to Black Street.”
Catherine stopped walking and furrowed her brows in deep thought. “Since someone found them very displeasing and wanted to cause them trouble as well as catch the mastermind behind them… the Secret Intelligence Department and the Cullen Family may both have this motive in mind, hence the most direct method is to support us.”
Nikolay smiled scornfully. “Are you saying that it was actually a good thing for us to lose that fight at Red Street Market?”
“That was a lesson with a heavy price, reminding us that the Mystics are not all-powerful.” Catherine hid the disgust in her eyes and tried her best to speak sincerely.
“Previously, we did things in our own way, and even fought against one another. But during that night, we lost our best and most capable subordinates and people… For the continuation of Blood Bottle Gang, maybe, it is time for us to abandon our previous enmity…”
She cursed in her heart.
‘Do you still think I am unaware of the fact that you are the one who killed Ralf? Someday…’
Nikolay stayed quiet for a moment. He seemed like he was carefully considering what Catherine said.
Finally, the Red Viper opened his mouth in hesitation.
“Even though I still do not like you… I have to admit that what you said is reasonable.
“We are facing our biggest crisis ever since our inception. We must sincerely cooperate to get through this.”
However, Nikolay was ruthlessly pondering at the bottom of his heart.
‘This damn wh*re. Do you think that I cannot see through your acting?’
Catherine put on a smile. “I am very happy that you are able to think this way.”
Nikolay waved his hand and summoned back members of the Blood Bottle Gang as he shrugged nonchalantly. “After all, we are in the same gang.
“For now… let us find that Brotherhood’s doctor first. That damned Ramon!”