Kingdom's Bloodline Chapter 208
Chapter 208: The Black Prophet From The Other Side
Chapter 208: The Black Prophet from the Other Side
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The prison in the gatehouse immediately fell silent.
Kohen stared, wide-eyed, at the prince, whose tone was firm. On the other hand, Miranda quietly fixed her gaze on Raphael's right hand. Her expression was indifferent.
"What?" Wya furrowed his brow. "This… Your Highness, do you mean that…"
Behind Wya, Ralf grabbed the attendant's shoulder and shook his head.
Thales and Raphael's eyes met. The former was resolute and decisive, while the latter was calm and unaffected.
Five seconds later, Raphael inhaled deeply, then his gaze became harsh.
He noticed that Thales had unknowingly moved to the corner of the prison.
'He planned this beforehand. This distance is a little too far. Even if I want suddenly to knock him unconscious…'
Glancing at Wya and Ralf, Raphael sighed softly.
The young man from the Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department said calmly, "Allow me to be straightforward, Your Highness, we are in a dangerous situation right now. We can have a heart-to-heart talk after we escape this predicament."
The light in the prison flickered a little. Thales flashed a smile.
"After?" The prince softly whipped out the dagger in his hand and said slowly, "After we escape this predicament, I will not have the chance to know the truth anymore. If I do not ask, do all of you plan to hide it from me forever?"
'Seeing how deceptive the Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department is, this is the only time I can make them tell the truth,' Thales thought.
The atmosphere grew a little solemn and tense.
Raphael wrinkled his brow slightly. "Prince Thales, you are renowned in Constellation for being mature, but you are acting quite childish right now."
Thales' expression was cold. Staring at Raphael's calm countenance, he chuckled softly.
"Childish? I still remember the letter Count Gilbert Caso sent me."
Hearing his father's name, Wya's expression changed slightly.
"He sent word to me that the Black Prophet had promised him that the Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department would do their best to deal with the Blood Mystic." When he said this, Thales snorted coldly. "He asked me not to worry."
Glancing at the tight-lipped Raphael, Kohen wanted to say something, but Miranda kept his hand down.
"See, if I wholeheartedly believe that all of you are my saviors, entrust everything to the Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department, submissively leave with you, and let others do what they want to me without a care…" Thales' gaze became colder. "THAT would be childish."
Raphael narrowed his eyes and lowered his head. He was quiet for a while.
"I understand your feelings, but this is not the time, Your Highness." Raphael raised his head and looked around. He then said quietly, "Your demands would jeopardize the safety of everyone in this prison."
Kohen furrowed his eyebrows slightly, but Miranda had already spoken up.
"No." The swordswoman from the Arunde Family stared at her ex-lover and said flatly, "We are also part of it. I really want to know the truth, too."
'Not only that… I want to know more about you, Raphael.'
The young man from the Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department froze. Raphael calmly returned her stare. His gaze was complicated.
Kohen sighed. "Raphael, perhaps you should be more frank. For example, if you were willing to explain yesterday night to us, then perhaps…" The police officer shook his head slowly as he stared at the dim prison.
Thales, who stood in the corner, nodded his head delicately, "Trust me, keep it brief; there's no better time than now."
Raphael suddenly felt agitated.
"Are you all crazy? We must leave as soon as possible." Raphael looked around while his brow furrowed. His words grew faster. "They change shifts once every three hours and patrol the place every half-hour—"
Shocked, Wya immediately pressed himself to the door to listen to the noise outside. However, Miranda shook her head and cut Raphael off.
"We're going to take them by surprise and break out of the encirclement anyway. Sooner or later, we'll encounter the enemy." The young woman's expression was cold as she watched Raphael. "Rather than encountering them mid-way, why don't we lie in wait here for the patrols, and then charge out at one fell swoop?"
Raphael's face became increasingly dark.
The second prince shook his head and said, "But since you already said this, you should hurry up and tell us everything from the beginning to the end within this half-hour… Then we do not have to stay in a stalemate like this."
Raphael stared at Thales, dumbfounded. The young man took a deep breath.
"Chapman Lampard…" His head turned around, his expression was solemn, and his words were hurried. "Do all of you know what the consequences of falling back into Lampard's hands would be, that Constellation would…"
Thales raised his head without showing any signs of weakness and stared at Raphael's red eyes. "I also know that I fell into his hands thanks to the 'help' of certain people!"
Raphael stilled momentarily. Kohen and Miranda's eyes met, their expressions varied.
"Yes, I might die. I might even be stigmatized and tortured before I die," the second prince said flatly, "But I choose to die knowing what's going on, instead of being stabbed from the back and lose my life knowing nothing."
Raphael clenched his fists tightly.
The Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department member heaved a loud sigh. His emotions were growing unstable. "Is this important? Even when you're in such a predicament and up against such a dangerous enemy… You still want to waste time on this insignificant detail?"
"Yes, this is very important." Thales narrowed his eyes a little. "And I am sure that this is definitely not an 'insignificant detail'."
'If the Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department was working together with Lampard…'
"I don't know whether my predicament right now is part of your plan… Or if I will fall into another trap if I leave with you right now."
Thales stared at the faces that held varying expressions, he then nodded solemnly.
"A female friend of mine once warned me when she was dealing with family disputes that I must be vigilant of those so-called 'allies' who might stab me from behind." Thales sighed as he recalled the past. He felt an ache in his neck.
"Another friend of mine, a king, demonstrated that"—Thales saw with no surprise that Little Rascal was trembling a little—"if you ignore these unremarkable but important details, you might lose your life for no clear reason."
There was a momentary silence in the prison.
Raphael stared silently at Thales. A few seconds later, he heaved a long sigh. "You sure have a lot of friends, huh?"
"Ah, I have quite the vast pool of experiences." Thales recalled all his experiences and sighed with great emotion. "I benefited a great deal from each and every one of them."
The prison fell silent again. Raphael stared into Thales' eyes and did not avert his gaze for a long time. His brow kept twitching.
Finally, as if coming to a decision, Raphael nodded slowly. Thales heaved a sigh of relief. But Raphael's next sentence made him furrow his brow tightly.
"However, this is classified information from the Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department. Even though you are the prince, and a future king," said Raphael softly, glancing at the people around him, "I can't reveal them to you and other irrelevant people without permission."
Kohen's expression changed while Miranda sighed. Thales' eyebrows drew together. "You—"
Raphael started talking again. The corners of his lips curled up and he said with the ghost of a smile, "So, regarding the relationship between the Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department and Lampard, I suggest that you ask him. Coincidentally, I have some problems I need to consult him on as well."
Everyone there froze.
"Him?" Thales' face was filled with doubt. "Who are we asking?"
As though she recalled something, Miranda's face went pale.
Raphael looked at the people around him and flashed a mysterious expression. "Oh… That one influential person, of course." He opened his mouth slowly and uttered,
"Lord Morat Hansen."
The prison fell silent. A moment later, everyone understood the implication of the name and reacted, their expressions changing immediately.
Thales stopped breathing for a brief moment, Kohen's face froze, and Wya nudged Ralf with the kind of expression people make when they know that things are going wrong. Even Little Rascal covered her mouth.
A few seconds later.
"The Black Prophet?"
Trying to breath properly, Thales asked in bewilderment. "Isn't he at... "
"It can't be." Realizing what was happening, Kohen's expression changed drastically. His hand on his saber, he turned and looked around. "He is here in Dragon Clouds City?!"
Raphael flashed a slight smile, his expression was indecipherable. "Yes, he's here."
Everyone frowned at the same time.
"But he's there too," said the young man from the Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department, relaxed. "The Black Prophet is omnipresent."
When he said that, Raphael ignored the bewildered people around him. He took a deep breath.
Raphael extended his right arm and held out his palm, revealing his pale wrist. He placed his left palm on his right arm and grabbed his sleeve, which had been cut in two just now. He furrowed his eyebrows slightly, raised his hand, and stared profoundly at Miranda.
He seemed a little hesitant.
Miranda stared quietly back at him. Her gaze went from sorrowful to firm. She nodded slightly at Raphael.
Kohen, having known both of them well, noticed how abnormal the atmosphere was. He was taken aback by this for a while.
Raphael sighed and, with determination, pulled up his right sleeve… revealing his forearm. But the moment Raphael pulled up his sleeve, everyone froze.
Raphael's hand was perfect and delicate, totally unlike a swordsman's hand. But there was something extremely ugly and out of place under his wrist. It ruined his hand's entire aesthetic.
There was a horrifying, bright red scar under Raphael's right wrist. The skin was open and the flesh was outturned. It seemed to be a burn or a cauterized scar.
The scar was so big that it practically covered half of Raphael's arm, starting from his wrist up to his elbow. What was stranger was that the scar seemed quite neat, like a meaningful pattern.
Miranda shut her eyes tightly and turned her head away, not daring to look at it anymore. Thales was puzzled, while Little Rascal inched forward slightly in curiosity.
"This-this is…" Kohen could not help but extend his hand to grab Raphael's hand. He stared at the extremely hideous scar on Raphael's hand in shock and cried out. "It's a brand mark!"
The police officer raised his head abruptly. His face was filled with disbelief.
"Wait, a brand... at this position and with this depth..." Kohen's mouth dropped open and he seemed shocked. His voice trembled a little. "I saw this on the hands of the captives in the Prison of Bones before during my time in the Western Deserts… It's one of the most brutal punishments…"
When he heard this, Thales thought of something.
Raphael sighed and shrugged off Kohen's hand. "This isn't the main point. Right now, I want to contact—"
But Kohen ignored him. With clenched teeth, the police officer grabbed Raphael's other hand and pulled up his sleeve. Everyone went still again.
There was an almost similar brand below Raphael's left wrist. Scars interweaved with his flesh, almost covering his blood vessels.
Ralf was shaken. He subconsciously reached out a hand and touched his throat under his mask.
'A scar of such severity…'
"Your hand, no, no…" As he stared at the horrifying brand on his good friend's wrist, Kohen shook his head in disbelief and said in a trembling voice, "Who-who did this?"
Raphael shut his eyes and exhaled through his nose. His brow creased slightly, as though he had recalled something.
Thales raised his head and saw Miranda's pale face and quivering lips. The swordswoman pursed her lips tightly and stared absentmindedly at the horrifying scars on Raphael's hands. She was trembling a little.
"They, they actually destroyed your hands?!" Staring at his good friend, Kohen's gaze was filled with shock and fury. Pale-faced, he muttered, "They destroyed a swordsman's hands?"
Raphael opened his eyes abruptly and shrugged Kohen's hand off. "Enough!"
Raphael pulled down his left sleeve. It was rare, but his expression changed. Face filled with anger, he reprimanded Kohen. "This isn't important… I'm already healed!"
Thales sighed internally. He knew what that was—a special kind of punishment.
While leaning against the Brotherhood's Great House's windowsill, Thales once peeped in as thugs carried out punishments against a chief debt collector who was arrogant just because he was somewhat capable.
What could leave behind such a brand was a specially made branding iron. Around the brand were thin marks left by cautery knives. The parts touched by those knives would then become risen. They looked like a seal, but bulged up more than a seal. The item used to create this particular 'seal' was also much sharper.
After the punishment, the person's muscles, blood vessels, tendons, and even the nerves would be permanently damaged. And of course, the hands would be destroyed from then on, they would even tremble when performing daily tasks.
Thales still remembered the poor man who received that punishment. Ever since then, he was not even able to pick up a bowl. He sat absentmindedly by the streets every day, scrabbling for food with stray dogs using his mouth and waiting for alms from kind-hearted people.
One month later, he dropped dead on Black Street.
Thales raised his hand and stared at Raphael, a little shocked.
'This man also received this punishment? His hands…'
Raphael seemed annoyed. He clutched his right forearm, which trembled slightly, and fixated on the ugly brand, as if a flower was going to bloom there.
But Thales thought of something.
'It can't be. The punishment should have made him permanently handicapped. How was it possible for him to recover?
'And someone who went through such punishment shouldn't even be able to pick up cutlery. But just now, Raphael—'
He was jolted out of his thoughts by Kohen.
"Miranda, you knew, didn't you?"
Thales turned his head and stared as Kohen tried hard to suppress his own emotions. Kohen had a hand pressed on Miranda's shoulder as he nervously questioned her. On the other hand, Wya anxiously grabbed the police officer's other arm and tried to pull him back.
"This severity… Recovery is impossible! You noticed it yesterday when you were dueling with him!" A little flustered, the police officer stared at the tight-lipped Miranda and angrily said, "You knew what was going on from the very beginning!
"Miranda, tell me. Both of Raphael's hands are… Who on earth did this?! The Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department? Or that damned Black Prophet?"
But Miss Arunde only shut her eyes tightly with a sorrowful expression. She shook her head and said nothing. She did not look at all like the cold and sharp swordswoman from before.
Thales stared at the cauterized scar. Everything became clear to him. He seemed to have come to know the answer.
A pattern could be seen vaguely on the intertwining scar—the imprint left by the special cautery knife.
To be able to recognize the emblems and symbols of noble families, Thales once painstakingly memorized the entirety of the 'Collection of Family Emblems in Constellation' that Gilbert gave him. From their emblems, patterns, crests, and designations, to the seals they used when they submit written statements to the king.
There was a rarely seen imprint on the brand below Raphael's wrist—it was an alphabet from the Ancient Empire. It was written much differently compared to the alphabet of the present day. It was so ancient that it was not even used for the sealing wax used on letters anymore.
It was the alphabet 'A'... which signified a venerable noble family; a prestigious family that had been around since the era of the ancient empire. The eagle that soared in Northland.
Having thought of this, Thales sighed softly.
"Kohen Karabeyan, let go of her!" Raphael's voice was shaky.
They turned back and were shocked to see that Raphael was strenuously bracing his hand on the wall. His exposed forearm trembled constantly. It was as though he was undergoing a cruel punishment.
"We are still in the prison!" Face twisted, Raphael's voice was deep and terrifying. "Stop creating more trouble!"
When she heard this, Miranda's eyes opened abruptly.
She elbowed Kohen's stomach hard.
Under the wide-eyed gazes of everyone else, Kohen took a step back with an anguished expression. On the other hand, her face filled with panic, Miranda rushed to Raphael's side.
Miranda tremblingly supported Raphael, who was in a bad condition. "What's going on? What is this?"
Thales narrowed his eyes. He sensed that something was not quite right.
"Enough, this is not the main point," Raphael said with a pained look, "Also, no matter what you see next, do not make a fuss over nothing."
Something strange happened again.
In the next moment, Raphael convulsed violently. The cauterized scar on his right forearm suddenly arched upwards, as if it had a life of its own.
A dark, wavy line appeared on his forearm. The cauterized scar then suddenly cracked open!
It cracked open neatly in a sawtooth formation that resembled interlaced fangs.
A sound like cloth being ripped echoed.
Apart from Raphael, who seemed to be under constant pain, everyone had their eyes wide and mouth agape.
'What on earth… is this?'
If you were to describe it as something, it would be akin to a mouth that lurked below Raphael's skin with only lips and no teeth, arching upwards from Raphael's forearm and tearing the skin apart with its fangs.
Thales felt his skin crawl.
The 'mouth' wrapped in Raphael's skin opened halfway, revealing its insides. It was an endless darkness, a black hole; nothing could be seen.
Thales felt a wave of revulsion.
That 'mouth' did not seem capable of opening smoothly. It slowed down a little in its act of opening its mouth wide.
"Quick, block the light." Raphael was almost putting all of his weight on Miranda. He clenched his teeth hard, and with his face contorting, he enunciated painfully,
"It doesn't like… the light…"
Kohen clamored up from the ground and froze. He immediately stood and blocked an Everlasting Lamp with his tall figure.
Finally, the horrifying 'mouth' on Raphael's hand opened completely. Its dark 'fangs' pointed outwards and trembled slightly, as though they were breathing.
There was still an immeasurable black hole in the middle of that 'mouth'.
Drenched in cold sweat, Raphael exhaled harshly, as if he was just freed from a cruel punishment. He forced a smile.
"Alright, Mira… It's okay now."
On the other hand, Miranda watched Raphael with a pained expression. Other than shock, she also felt her heart wrench.
'Raphael… What on earth have you gone through…?'
Kohen's eyes widened in shock and he said the question on everyone's mind, "This… What the hell is this?"
Thales stared in shock at Raphael's forearm. He fixed his gaze on the contracting and expanding black hole that seemed like it was breathing. He then gazed at the black fangs that latched themselves onto Raphael's flesh. His blood froze.
At this moment, a voice that Thales was extremely familiar with arose from the eerie black hole and gave everyone a shock.
It was a cold, raspy, aged, and gloomy male voice that sent a chill down everyone's spine.
Upon hearing that voice, Thales recalled the things that happened in the past and felt his hair stand on end.
The voice of the Chief of Constellation's Secret Intelligence Department, Morat Hansen, echoed in the silent prison from the depths of Raphael's arm. His voice was unique but annoying.
"Tsk, tsk. This is the third time you engaged in a Throughout Transmission with me within five hours… How much did you let that worm eat this time? An arm?"