Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
That afternoon, equipped with his longsword and shield, Thales left the Blood Court and headed for the training field, accompanied by his guards and attendants.
Ashe stepped on the floor tiles beneath his feet and strode past stairs, then past every tree and every blade of glass of Heroic Spirit Palace, he stared at the numerous palace guards and the Archduchess’ Guardswhom either seemed like statues or had fierce expressionsand at how they conscientiously cleared the road and guarded him on his way.
‘These things, these people, this place and me.’
Thales gritted his teeth gently.
“You Highness, what’s going on?”
Thales refocused and stared, puzzled, at Wya. “What about it?”
“Since yesterday, you have been” The prince’s attendant seemed worried. He looked around before saying in a soft voice, “Especially after talking to the people of Black Sand Region.”
Thales came to a screeching halt.
As the prince stopped, the Archduchess’ Guards around him seemed to feel that something was not right. They took the initiative and formed a battle formation, placing their hands on their weapons and guarding all the entrances and exits where it was possible to suddenly infiltrate and ambush the prince.
Of course, it would also be easy for them to ambush whoever it was who wanted to attack the prince.
“Your Highness?” Lord Justin’s question came from among the Archduchess’ Guards.
Thales frowned. The omnipresent guards used to make him feel at ease, but now After the drastic changes six years ago, he had never found the scene before him as jarring and out of place as he did now.
Thales raised his hand and called loudly, “Your Grace, please just say a few words for a few moments.”
A distance away, Lord Justin waved his hand in a dismissive gesture and the atmosphere around him became a little less tense.
The prince turned and forced a smile at Wya. “Is it that obvious?”
‘It seems that I still need a lot of practice.’
Beside Wya, Ralf let out an indecipherable snort and gestured, “It’s not too bad.”
Thales arched an eyebrow and nodded. “I feel reassured then.”
Watching their interaction, Wya sighed and said, “Others might not see it, but” With his eyebrows tightly furrowed, he stared worriedly at his prince and did not continue talking.
Thales smiled helplessly.
“Wya, Midira.” The prince called both of them by name and propped his longsword on the ground with a sigh. “Have both of you ever experienced this: waking up one day and suddenly realizing that all the allies by your side may be your enemies.”
Wya was momentarily taken aback. He then looked around sharply, but Ralf was the one who snorted coldly and gestured,
“Look at my legs.”
Looking at the hatred in the Phantom Wind Follower’s eyes, Thales could not help but frown.
“Relax, Midira.” He shook his head. “You already made your choice. There’s no need to live for the past.”
Ralf said nothing. Instead, his eyes widened and stared at Thales.
“Your Highness, I’m very worried about your condition right now.” Wya’s expression grew more unpleasant. “If we can share your burden”
Thales cut him off, “Wya.”
The prince flashed a bitter but still carefree smile. “I remember you saying that we should treat every goodbye like the final goodbye. That way, we will never waste our lives.”
Wya nodded slightly. “Those were my teacher’s words. She is a person worthy of respect.”
“Yes.” As he thought about those words, Thales burst out into laughter and displayed a rather approving look. “Life is wonderful. We shouldn’t waste our lives indeed.”
The attendant and the Phantom Wind Follower were taken aback at the same time.
“Where is Putray?” the prince asked calmly.
Wya frowned. “He has his own matters to settle, he left early this morning.”
“Is that so?” Thales contemplated for a few seconds and then raised his head. “Get ready.”
Wya revealed a puzzled expression. “Ready for what?”
Thales shook his head. “Don’t ask. No matter what happens, don’t panic.” He sighed. “Both of you must believe in me, believe in your prince.”
Confused, Wya and Ralf stared at each other. The second prince took a deep breath and continued walking towards the training field.
The archduchess’ personal guards followed him in unison. Their movements were agile, and their footsteps were bold.
In the training field, dressed in neat martial attire, Nicholas raised the axe in his hand and shot a sideway-glance at Thales who had just arrived.
“I heard that yesterday you caused trouble for Lisban again you actually went to have a heart-to-heart talk with the people of Black Sand Region in a leisurely and undisturbed manner?”
Thales adjusted his breathing. He stared calmly at the pale-faced man before him while he flexed his joints.
‘The Star Killer. The one who took Horace Jadestar’s life. What sort of person is he?’
The prince recalled how arrogant and domineering Nicholas was when he intercepted them outside Dragon Clouds City, how fierce he was when he threatened Thales in Heroic Spirit Palace, how cold and emotionless he was when watching Poffret die in the Hall of Heroes, and how staunch and heroic he was when holding off the enemy soldiers alone outside the gatehouse.
‘What kind of existence am I in his eyes? And now’
“Dragon Clouds City itself already has plenty of problems to deal with. There’s no need for me to create any more.” Thales warmed up and walked expressionlessly to the training field. Saroma was already starting her practice in Dagger Defense Skills ten or more paces away from them.
The Star Killer narrowed his eyes. “Yes, because you yourself are one big problem.”
“Hey.” Thales snorted softly and raised his shield. Tapping the surface of his shield, he lifted it like someone who was about to go into battle. “Your Grace, I forgive you magnanimously. Who knows whether I will miss your rotten mouth one day?”
Nicholas went still for a moment, then curled up his lips. “You’re especially gutsy today.”
“Come.” Thales’ tone was calm, but there was a hint of solemnness in his gaze. He said softly, “This is the time when you and I duel each other. Don’t be careless.”
In the next moment, the Star Killer swung his axe as swiftly as thunder!
Already expecting this, Thales calmly observed his opponent’s footsteps. He was not confused by the diversionary tactic.
He took a step back and did not hurry forward. Instead, he steadily defensed against the second wave of attacks that was hidden behind the first one.
Thales parried the blade of his opponent’s axe and smiled. “Hah, as long as I know the pattern of your attacks inside out, your peculiarly directed movements aren’t that hard to avoid-ugh!”
As the prince grunted, Nicholas nonchalantly withdrew his axe. “You’re dead.”
Drenched in cold sweat, the deathly pale Thales gritted his teeth. He held his breath and muttered, “The Power of Eradication again. How cunning.”
“Pay attention to your footwork.” Waving his single-edged axe, Nicholas answered coldly, “I haven’t even used the ‘Twist of Fate’ yet. This is just an appetizer. The Power of Eradication isn’t just a momentary lifesaver, over a long period of time, it’ll also mold a person’s battle style.”
With a pained expression, Thales pressed his hand to his stomach and kept moving backwards. “So, this is your style? Movements that are all over the place and can’t be predicted?”
“And I’m also the only one in Northland to do so.” With a hint of arrogance, Nicholas swung his axe and miraculously changed his direction of movement midway. He swerved the axe to the left, and the axe circled around his wrist. He then caught it again in a firm hold. “You should feel honored since most people who have seen it are already dead.”
Thales exhaled to alleviate the pain in his stomach. He glared at Nicholas while scowling and flashed an unpleasant smile. “So, the former captain of King Nuven’s team of personal guards, and former commander of the White Blade Guards You’re good at acting and are used to deceiving others even during battle, aren’t you?”
Nicholas’ expression changed a little.
“Still relaxed enough to provoke your opponent? It seems that you’re very confident. Usually, training ends after you ‘die’ thirty times… But I’m in a good mood today.” The Star Killer watched Thales icily and gave a soft snort. “How about I increase it to a hundred times?”
He slowly raised his axe with an unpleasant expression.
At that moment…
Thales had propped himself up with his sword and leaned against his shield. Whether intentionally or not, he said, “They know.”
Nicholas creased his brow a little. “They? What do they know?”
The prince inhaled and raised his head to look at the Star Killer.
“They already know that…” Thales stared solemnly into the Star Killer’s sharp eyes. “Saroma Alex Soria Walton does not truly have the Walton Family’s blood.”
It was as though, in that moment, time had frozen the area around them.
Nicholas’ gaze was still for a few seconds. He parted his lips a little and the muscles on his pale face trembled slightly.
Thales tapped his shield and stared at Nicholas, calm but worried.
“Are you saying that” The Star Killer’s expression was unpleasant, but he quickly came around. “Yesterday, Black Sand Region…? That was what they told you?”
Thales nodded impassively.
Nicholas stared wide-eyed at Thales without moving. Even his heavy axe stayed aloft.
His expression was like that of a lone sailor sailing in the sea who had just realized that the bottom of his boat was leaking.
Thales exhaled, staring at the Star Killer’s face. “The only saving grace is that he won’t easily threaten us with this.”
Faced with a confused and worried Nicholas, Thales tapped his shield softly. “The archduchess was one of the participants of the King Selection Congress, and the vote she cast was an extremely vital one for the new king, ensuring that the King Selection Congress was legitimate and effective.
“If she loses her position because of her bloodline, King Chapman’s throne will also be hanging by a thread. This is the only reason why we’re still safe.”
Nicholas seemed to have not recovered from the earlier shock. He muttered, “So, this means that”
Thales nodded grimly. “The situation right now is that both of us, Dragon Clouds City and Black Sand Region, have a sword against our throats. The hilts of those swords are in each other’s hand, and we could destroy one another at any time.”
There was a long silence until, without warning, Thales shifted his feet. He tilted his shield forward and thrust his longsword forward!
Nicholas still had frightening instincts and awareness, despite being absent-minded. He made a backhanded swing with his axe at a shocking speed and deflected Thales’ longsword. He then spun around and stepped towards the prince and slammed bodily against Thales’ shield, trapping it there with his elbow.
Thales’ hand trembled and his vision blurred.
The crowd watching the fight let out a soft cry of alarm.
When Thales came around, despite the pain, he could see clearly, the Star Killer already had him pressed to the ground, and his sword and shield were no longer in his hands. Meanwhile, the hilt of the axe in Nicholas’ hand was pressed firmly to Thales’ chest.
“Lampard and Black Sand Region…” Nicholas increased the force of his hand. With gritted teeth, he inched his face close to Thales’ ear.
“How did they find out?”
Face contorted, Thales tried hard to inch his throat away from the axe.
With effort, the prince said through clenched teeth, “Kentvida mentioned the Secret Room. I reckoned that Madam Calshan has not been idle these few years”
Nicholas coldly punched the ground beside Thales’ ear and took advantage of the force to stand up from Thales’ body.
“How is this possible?” Nicholas scowled and extended his hand to Thales who was panting continuously on the floor.
Gasping twice, Thales continued to stare at the Star Killer’s face.
‘You knew… You knew very well since that year that the Red Witch knows about this secret. Yet you react by saying “how is this possible?”‘
Growing more suspicious, Thales inhaled deeply.
“I recognize your expression, and am very familiar with it.” The prince grabbed Nicholas’ hand and relied on its strength to stand up. “It was a look of surprise and doubt.”
Thales swept off the dust covering his whole body. He turned and said solemnly, “Instead of worry and anxiety, Lord Nicholas, you still seem filled with confidence and not truly that worried.”
Nicholas held his breath for a while. “What are you saying?”
“You remind me of what happened six years ago, Lord Nicholas.” Thales repeatedly called the Star Killer by his official title, unwittingly making the solemn atmosphere tense again. “There shouldn’t have been a fifth person in the Hall of Heroes when we witnessed that scene together with the old king and the archduchess in the Hall of Heroes.”
Thales sighed. He picked up his sword and said, intentionally or not, “Theoretically, no one else should know about the secret that is ‘Little Rascal’.”
Nicholas shifted the axe to his left hand. His gaze slowly became terrifying. “What are you trying to imply?”
Thales scoffed. He lowered his head and said softly, “Do you still remember something what also happened six years ago, when we encountered Madam Calshan in the secret passage beneath the gatehouse?”
The Star Killer’s eyebrows furrowed even more.
“Soray Nicholas, among so many people, you were the only one who dealt with the Secret Roomwith the Red Witchconfidentially.”
Sighing, Thales continued to stare at Nicholas’ face, unwilling to miss the slightest detail. “The contents of the deal between the two of you remains a mystery even now. And yesterday, Black Sand Region learned the truth about the archduchess from the Secret Room.”
Nicholas struck the soil hard with the blade of his axe. The Star Killer’s pale face became abnormally red. His gaze sharpened, and his tone was filled with danger.
“You suspect me?”
Thales greeted Nicholas with a merciless, head-on chopping motion made with both of his hands on his longsword!