Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
“Trust me! There’s an opening for us to turn left. It’s ten or so steps in front of us.”
Thales’ tone was filled with excitement, and when he spoke, he sounded like he was in a hurry to do something. “We go from there!”
“Huh?” Kurtz did not really know what was going on, and was still resisting Thales’ help. She spoke with confusion, “But you…”
When he felt that the person beside him was not cooperating with him, Thales became more impatient.
The seamstress sighed. “Forget about it, it’ll be faster if it’s just you”
‘Damn it! This woman Why is she so talkative?’
“Just leave me here. Maybe this is the price I have to pay. I shouldn’t have agreed to a job I don’t get rewarded for.”
Thales could not take it anymore. In the darkness, he inhaled deeply, moved his face closer to Kurtz’s neck, and shouted beside her ears.
“Shut up, b*tch!”
Kurtz was completely surprised!
“What did you call me?” she said through gritted teeth. “Brat?”
“Shut up!” Thales roared furiously and refuted, “If you die here, who’s going to take care of the cripple who only has a large pile of shit in his mind?
“Without you, one day he’ll die in some remote and dilapidated alley! No one would know even if he rots away and becomes part of the soil!”
Kurtz’s arms, which were around Thales’ neck trembled slightly.
Thales dragged the seamstress and desperately moved forward. He said through gritted teeth, “Stop with your stupid chatter! We can definitely get out alive! I don’t have so much spare time as to pass on your message. Princes are very busy! Whatever you want to tell whoever, do it yourself!”
Kurtz’s voice became soft. Thales could only hear her soft panting.
“Damn it” Kurtz gritted her teeth. Her voice was stifled, and she sniffed. “What do you know? You’re just a little brat who has never even touched a woman”
But she did not resist anymore. Instead, she limped forward together with Thales.
Behind them, the ground continued to collapse, nearer and nearer to where they were.
Thales suddenly moved away from the rock wall he had supported himself against all along, and then, with all his strength, brought the woman to the other wall across the one he had used to support himself.
A second after they left, the rock wall suddenly cracked open and collapsed.
“Follow my footsteps. There’s a slope ahead of us, we have to climb”
Kurtz was startled. “Huh?”
Thales did not care to explain. He was already so tired he was out of breath. “We’re here. Use your hands to climb! It’s right in front of us!”
The seamstress was doubtful. “But how do you know”
“Shut the f*ck up! Just climb!” Thales pulled Kurtz’s arm and pounced on the slope. He desperately supported Kurtz’s breasts with his shoulder and climbed upwards with the badly injured Kurtz. Irritated, he roared furiously, “Keep your mouth shut! This is the prince’s order!”
Kurtz was rendered speechless for a moment. Surprisingly, Kurtz, who was firm in attitude, did not answer back sarcastically this time. Instead, she submissively followed the prince and fled. This was probably the most obedient she had ever been in her life.
They climbed up the slope. A few seconds later, the place they stood just moments ago was covered by a slab of rock that had fallen.
“Hurry up!” Thales urged her to keep moving while panting. “I tried my best to choose the safest route. But the rock formation beneath our feet is fragile it’s going to collapse behind us”
Kurtz did not speak. Instead, she placed half of her weight on Thales’ shoulder and sped up.
Being alone in the darkness for an endless number of years was a frightening torture. But knowing that a fatal threat looms behind while still only being able to fumble their way forward in endless darkness was a cruel punishment worse than torture.
They could only climb forward, climb up, and find their way out to the best of their abilities; they could only move through obstacles and do their best to avoid danger… while still unable to see the exit and the sun.
It was still dark around them; they could not see the sky and the sun, their fingers, or light. It was as if everything they did was in vain.
‘Why, why are we not there yet? Did we go the wrong way?’
The hope in Thales’ heart slowly disappeared. He had a feeling that if he were to go forward alone, he would be tortured to insanity sooner or later by this frightening punishment.
‘But But now’
He felt the body to his left that was as warm as his, and felt the heart in her chest beating close against him.
No. He could not give up.
Thales bit the tip of his tongue hard and let the pain remind him that he could not give up.
Darkness continued to envelop Thales’ eyes. He felt as if he had become completely blind during these ten minutes or so.
The ground was cold and wet, which made walking difficult, and filled with all sorts of obstacles.
Still, he could not give up.
They did not move in a straight line. Instead, they quickly went back and forth as they walked through the dark underground maze.
Whether it was above their heads or below their feet, the structures behind them kept collapsing, and there were a few times when crushed stone grazed their heels.
“No, don’t turn there. There’s a precipice in front of us that will lead us even further underground. We turn right” Thales gritted his teeth and as he spoke.
He gasped for breath. With his hand on the rock wall, he swayed his head to confirm what he sensed.
After holding it in for the entire journey, Kurtz finally could not help but speak. She asked him, full of puzzlement, “How do you know? The sound of rockfall on our right is too loud, we’ll be buried alive!”
“Because there’s a precipice in front of us, formed during an earthquake either a few thousand or a few hundred years ago.” Thales shook his head. “And there’s a naturally formed grotto to our right. It’s very sturdy inside there”
“No, no, no.” Kurtz became more and more suspicious. “I mean, the precipice and the earthquake, how did you know about all this?”
Thales held his breath for a brief moment.
They turned right, into a grotto. The sound of the tremors kept echoing above the grotto, and dust fell on their heads from time to time.
But in the end, the grotto did not collapse.
“I don’t know.” Thales climbed laboriously and muttered, “I just I just know.”
He just knew the way… That was it.
Thales knew very well that Kurtz was very skeptical of him suddenly becoming a guide who was familiar with the place, but he did not have time to explain that now. The moment he touched the rock wall, Thales felt like he was able to see more things even though time did not become slower, his field of vision did not become wider, and his sensory organs did not become more powerful.
The cracking of the rock formation, the mountain range pressing down against the cave, the rhythm of the earth’s crust, and the place he should head to…
Everything was in his mind.
Thales panted intensely. He was shocked by this amazing sensation, and wondered if it was a new function of his ‘hell’s senses’ after it was further developed.
But according to what Black Sword said, he had not ‘died’ yet. Why was his Power of Eradication upgraded?
“Go straight. Keep going straight. That is the only way to the world outside, the only exit.” Thales was drenched in sweat, but he could no longer tell if it was Kurtz’s sweat or his. His shoulders ached, and his legs kept trembling. His back that was supporting Kurtz was almost numb.
He did not continue.
Based on this situation, regardless of whether that place was the exit, it will collapse completely in a few minutes and disappear. Then, the Black Track will be completely separated from the people of the world.
However, after climbing up a gentle slope, Kurtz suddenly said,
“This feeling Yes, the air is becoming clearer. We’re getting closer to the surface and the exit!”
Kurtz’s voice carried a hint of pleasant surprise at that moment once she senseddue to her vast experiencethat they were getting closer to the surface. “Brat, you’re really incredible!”
Thales immediately perked up.
Finally, after turning a corner, they could see the rock formation in front of them clearly as there was a faint ray of light seeping into the cavern from the top of a slope.
Both of them inhaled deeply. They were there!
The rumbling sounds behind them suddenly grew louder. A huge stalagnate crumbled to pieces behind them!
“Quick, run!” Thales roared furiously. Kurtz did not need a reminder. With strength born from desperation, both of them climbed up the slope with all their might. They only fixed their gazes on the exit at the top and went forward with no other thoughts.
Crushed stones scattered all over the place behind them. The rumbles caused them to not dare turn their heads at all. They slowly climbed higher and higher, and there was blood on their wrists and knees from the friction.
Thales gritted his teeth. He felt more and more tired.
‘No. Climb. Quick, climb!’
Kurtz’s equally rapid breathing rang beside his ears, grazing his temples and making his scalp itch. He was carrying her life and her future on his shoulders.
Kurtz’s obedience and trust made Thales feel a heavy weight in his heart.
Even if Kurtz lost hope… he could not give in to despair.
The rumbles beside their ears and the vibrations beneath their bodies continued. The cracking sounds behind them continued as well.
Nevertheless, he could not give up. He must go forward, continue to go forward without stopping!
Finally, they climbed onto the last piece of rock. Thales stuck his head out of the entrance of the cave, onto the ground, and greedily sucked in a long-awaited lungful of fresh air.
Even though he could not open his eyes because of the bright sunlight, Thales felt relaxed.
He did not care about resting. He quickly rolled out of the exit in a hurry, then turned and pulled Kurtz, who was lagging behind due to not being able to move freely.
The Sin of Hell’s River spread into his arms and legs. Thales roared furiously and pulled her out of the opening. Kurtz collapsed in pain beside Thales’ legs. Both of them panted and sat at the opening below the hillside.
“My God” The seamstress’ face was covered in scratches and bruises, along with a lot of dirt stains. She trembled as she looked excitedly at the clouds in the sky. She extended her hand to the air, as if this was the first time she was touching air.
“We actually came out alive?”
Thales fell down limp on the floor. He was also covered in wounds and panted in pain. But a few seconds later, he laughed blithely.
At that moment…
When that loud sound came, a strong gust of wind blew out of the cavern, stirring up a large layer of dust that moved with great momentum.
Thales and Kurtz had no choice but to lift their arms to cover their heads. At the same time, they coughed unceasingly.
“Cough, cough What’s going on?”
After a while, the huge cloud of dust dispersed. Thales and Kurtz sat on the ground with their faces covered in dust. They looked at the sight before their eyes, then stared at each other.
The cavern they climbed out of was completely blocked off by a huge piece of rock that fell from inside the cave; the exit was sealed.
If they had come out a little later
Kurtz stared intently at Thales who looked like a refugee. She suddenly burst out laughing and lay down on her back. Thales laughed, too. He slowly lay down on the ground as well.
Just like this, they lay at the foot of the hill and laughed out loud in unison. They laughed for a good few minutes.
At this moment, the prince genuinely felt that being able to see the sky and the sun was a very blessed thing.
‘Compared to those who are underground’
When he thought of this, his mood sank.
“Hey, have you been here before? How did you know about the exit?” Kurtz had laughed enough. She lay on the ground and looked at the blue sky as well as the white clouds that she had not seen for a long time. Satisfaction welled up in her heart.
Thales’ smile froze.
“I’ve walked the Black Track more than ten times.” The seamstress chuckled and said, “But every time, I was the one who led the way for other people.”
The next moment, Kurtz rose abruptly from the ground. She propped up her hands beside Thales’ shoulders and clamped the prince’s waist between her knees in a kneeling motion. Her whole body was on top of Thales, obstructing his view.
“Don’t tell me that this is part of a compulsory course for nobles or the royal family.” Kurtz nodded slowly and moved her eyes closer and closer to Thales. There was an intelligent spark in her eyes. “Even the noble families in Heroic Spirit Palace who have fiefdoms don’t know about this rotten place. It took a few generations for us to find a route here, and many people never came out again once they went in.”
Thales stared at her anxiously. Her posture made the teenager feel rather unsettled.
Kurtz’s gaze grew fiercer. The prince’s heart beat faster and faster.
‘Shit. How do I, how do I explain?’
“Hahaha, I was joking.” Kurtz suddenly started laughing loudly again. “We managed to escape anyway. Who cares about how you knew about it? Look at how scared you are.”
Thales relaxed and let out a breath.
“But…” Kurtz’s eyes flickered. Her gaze was a scrutinizing one, and she seemed to be deep in thought. “You are quite calm. It doesn’t seem to be your first time.”
“Huh?” Thales was startled.
Kurtz moved her palms away from the ground and supported herself with her elbows against the ground instead. She drew closer and closer to Thales.
Her breasts were almost touching Thales’ chest. Thales stared anxiously at her.
Kurtz observed his expression and grinned cheekily. “No wonder you dared to call me a bitch. Hehe, you’ve toyed with quite a lot of girls, haven’t you?”
This time, Thales choked and blushed. “Ack, cough.” He turned his head awkwardly. “No such thing.”
“Really? You enjoyed supporting my breasts just now, didn’t you?” Kurtz narrowed her eyes and fixed her gaze on Thales as if she just caught him in the act.
Thales felt a surge of embarrassment rush to color his cheeks red again. “That, um, ah… By the way, regarding why I know the way It’s because”
“Tsk.” When she saw how Thales chose to change the topic, Kurtz shook her head scornfully. She rolled off Thales and sat back up.
After getting out of being pinned down, Thales apprehensively fled from where he was and stood up. But he then became speechless due to astonishment.
‘This place is’
He raised his head and looked at the lofty summit of the hill, layers of rocks, quiet ground, and tenacious plants before his eyes. He then looked even further up, his gaze tracing the curve of the summit and taking in the hills that meandered outwards.
It seemed incredibly unique under the illumination of the sun.
‘It’s the Sighing Hills.’
He exhaled slowly and walked forward without realizing it himself. He touched the layer of rock that was in front of him.
This was the first time Thales, while standing away from the valley at the foot of a hill, looked around at this hill ridge which surrounded Dragon Clouds City.
It lay quietly above the ground and beneath the clouds. It never moved an inch despite the scorching sun, the beating of the wind and rain, and the footsteps of travellers on it.
It had never moved since the ancient past to the present, and it would not move now and in the future; it would not move for eternity. There was a peculiar beauty to it.
At that moment, Thales suddenly understood something: It was not the Sin of Hell’s river, not hell’s senses.
“You asked me why I knew the way. It was because…” Thales was lost in thought for a moment. “Because someone gave me a blessing when we parted.”
“What?” Kurtz’s expression changed. “A blessing?”
Thales felt the tremble of the rock formation beneath his palm and smiled.
‘Yes.’ He lowered his head and looked at the sealed cavern. The silhouette appeared in his mind once more.
‘”May the mountains be tolerant of your feet. May the earth bless you on your journey.”‘
“He wished for me” Thales looked at the ground absent-mindedly and thought of the deep and quiet space beneath his feet. He then said with complicated emotions in his heart,
“…To never be lost. So, I found the way out.”
Kurtz fixed her gaze on Thales and observed him for a few seconds. She stared at his absent-minded expression.
“Hah.” Kurtz sighed and shrugged. “Another person went crazy.”
Thales snapped back to attention and chuckled. “Maybe.”
The two of them lay quietly on the ground to replenish their very depleted strength.
There was no frightening darkness, soundless solitude, vibrating ground, and falling rocks behind them. At this moment, it was as if the whole world became laid back.
Thales rested his head on his arms and stared at the dark human-shaped silhouette that could be vaguely seen on the summit. The corners of his lips slowly turned up.
“Heroic Spirit Palace,” he said faintly.
Kurtz was taken aback. “What?”
Thales stared at the dark silhouette and muttered absent-mindedly. “It’s the palace where generation after generation of Dragon Clouds City’s archdukes had lived in, the magnificent Dragon Clouds City.
“It is built on a perilous slope and is the summit that suppresses all mountains.” He smiled a little and said, “But why is it named as such?”
Kurtz frowned and stared at him with the type of gaze one used when looking at a lunatic. “Heroic Spirit? Well, you should ask the person who built it.”
Thales snorted softly. He shook his head, feeling incredibly sentimental. “In the language of ancient Northland, it means: the deceased spirits of heroes.”
There was a breeze. It brought a new gust of air to the tiny piece of flat ground at the foot of the hill. The sunlight was obstructed by the clouds, enveloping both of them with shade.
Thales stared at the summit. “Did you know, Kurtz, that perhaps there really is the deceased soul of an ancient hero in a corner of the city, somewhere under this chain of hills”
The teenage boy sighed. “He keeps watch over this city and land, day after day, year after year, never to see the sun or the sky. He guards the city without end, without anyone knowing in the darkness where Dragon Clouds City and the people can’t see.”
Kurtz arched an eyebrow. Her gaze when she stared at Thales became stranger and stranger.
At this moment, the prince suddenly remembered the time he first encountered Silver Shadowman.
While his mind was not clear, Silver Shadowman had seized Thales’ throat. His arms, emitting silver light, went to pierce into Thales’ chest. But the moment he seemed like he was about to take away Thales’ life, he stopped.
Thales sank into a daze. He subconsciously extended his hand towards his chest and pressed down. The teenager trembled slightly.
Thales’ expression slowly darkened. With complicated emotions in his heart, he said, “What do you think, Kurtz?”
Kurtz stared pitifully at Thales with the kind of gaze one used when looking at the sick. She turned over in resignation. “You’re asking me?”
‘He’s at it again, this crazy brat,’ she criticized in her mind.
“Only the gods know.”
Thales continued touching his chest. He could not help but curl up the corners of his lips a little and flash a slight smile.
“You’re right.” He stared at the towering summit in the clouds and said with a smile, “Only the gods know.”
Beneath his palm, he could feel the outline of a pair of spectacles.
It was precisely that pair of spectacles. That heavy, old-fashioned and worn pair of black-rimmed spectacles that had lots cracks in it.