Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
Thales gazed at the emotionally unstable man before his eyes. Quick Rope’s chest was heaving. Thales did not speak for a long time.
“You care a lot about them”
Thales’ gaze did not move. “Your father and elder brother.”
Quick Rope froze for a moment.
His gaze dimmed.
“Do you have family members, Thales?”
Thales pursed his lips.
A feeling he could not put into words surged through his mind.
‘According to those memory fragments, I probably do.
Quick Rope arched an eyebrow as he remembered something.
“Sorry, I forgot.” Quick Rope waved his hand under the dim light and flashed an apologetic smile. “Of course, that’s what made you the only heir. You have a delicate status and you’re forced to be the center of attention of all parties.”
Thales nodded without a word.
“But I do.”
Quick Rope’s smile slowly faded. “Ever since the day I could remember, I was told that I had a wise, might father and an exemplary brother.
“My father was very strict and cold. As the king of the entire Kingdom of the Great Dragon, he always had endless governmental affairs to deal with. Additionally, the reasons he gave for the things he did were always irrefutable.
“On the other hand, my elder brother was very outstanding. He was dazzling, bold, and battle-seasoned. His prestige was deeply rooted in the hearts of the people.”
Quick Rope shifted his shoulders, and his face was hidden in the darkness where the light from the flame could not reach. His expression could not be distinguished. “As for me, King Nuven’s second son and Prince Soria’s younger brother”
He was silent for a while before he lifted his head.
“Thales, for eighteen years, the pitiful second son could only live in the shadows of his outstanding father and elder brother. I ran after their footsteps and ran after their world. But no matter how hard I worked, how good I was in my studies, how eloquently I spoke during banquets, and how many preys I hunted”
Quick Rope paused for a short moment.
Thales listened attentively, but Quick Rope chuckled, as though he disagreed with what he just said.
“Then, Ginghes told me”
The light from his lamp was reflected off his eyes, and in them was an indescribable emotion.
“I’m his brother; I was born to assist him and serve him while he ruled. Soria was fated to become the Archduke of Dragon Clouds City and even the King of Eckstedt. In contrast, I had to respect, follow and be loyal to him from the bottom of my heart, becoming his assistant as well as helper.
“I could only finish my studies, grow up and reach adulthood while I behaved and kept proper conduct. I had to become an ordinary and plain Northland noble who was neither outstanding nor lousy. That was enough.”
Quick Rope inhaled deeply, and there was a barely-noticeable mocking tone in his voice.
“As the younger brother of the future king, once I reached adulthood, I would be given full ownership of a small land after I am conferred the title of baron or viscount. I would have my own family name and my own family as I bask in the glory of being an offshoot of the Dragon Spear Family. Or, I would become a chess piece for a political marriage and get married, have children, grow old and die under the king’s watchful eyes. Then I would just wait for the later generation to write my name in the family archives of both families.
“Any behavior they considered overstepping my boundaries was wrong, and any disrespectful thought was a crime. If I appeared too extraordinary or remarkable, people would suspect that I was being goaded to do so by deceitful and untrustworthy officials hidden in the dark.”
Thales looked at Quick Rope as he tried his best to imagine how the former Prince Moriah was like.
Quick Rope returned to his aloof self and said without any shred of emotion, “That was the first half of my life, or the life I once thought I would have.”
There was silence.
“However, that did not continue.” In the silence, Thales spoke in a soft voice, “Accidents always happen all of a sudden.”
Quick Rope turned to Thales and curled up the corners of his lips a little.
“Yes, it’s exactly as you think,” the former prince faintly said.
“Eighteen years ago on the night before the war, when I was sleeping, Nicholas and his guards brought me out of the castle in my rural territory. It was the place I thought I would grow old and die in. But they took me back to Dragon Clouds City.”
Quick Rope’s gaze froze, and his voice was empty.
“Soria lay there.”
Thales sighed and recalled what many people said about Nuven’s eldest son.
“Yes, that Soria. The elder brother I once regarded with deep respect and awe, the one who made me ashamed of my own unworthiness, and whom I was resentful towards, was lying down quietly in the Hall of Heroes just like that. He was not moving at all. His face was pale, and gold coins covered his eyes. Meanwhile, there was a longsword in his hands.
“Our age gap was really big, and we didn’t usually talk to each other that much. Yet, that moment felt like the closest I had ever been to him, and we were no longer estranged.”
In a dull manner, Quick Rope said, “That day, my father, who once cut a bold and heroic figure, seemed to have suddenly aged by twenty years. He said many things to his second son, whom he had always been indifferent towards and let do whatever he wanted. He spoke of the king’s power, the relationship between the archdukes, their attitudes towards their vassals, and the impending war But I wasn’t able to take in anything; my mind was filled with Soria’s pale face.
“That night, I became the heir to the throne.”
Thales sighed softly. For some reason, he thought of the day he was recognized as the Second Prince of Constellation in Renaissance Palace.
“During the first ten or so years of your life, everyone reprimanded you and made you a submissive, obedient teenager who couldn’t even go the slightest bit out of line. But after one night, all of them then turned and forced you to become a brilliant, majestic prince.”
Quick Rope’s tone was dull and lifeless. There was a hint of mockery in his words. “This damned fate. After I experienced confusion, envy, jealousy, hatred, pain, indignance, and eventually gave up, fate toyed with me again, as though my life is a dramatic play or something.”
“Did you know what I saw in that hell when I sat in that seat?”
Thales lifted his head and looked straight into Quick Rope’s eyes.
“The twisted nature of man,” the former Prince Moriah uttered these words with a cold expression.
“At some point in time, Conkray Poffret, the once simple-minded boy from Beacon Illumination City who grew up together with me became paranoid. It seemed like he had many things weighing on his mind. When he spoke, he was secretive, pretentious, and civil.
“I tried to approach him as a friend, but ever since Conkray’s grandfather and father passed away, and he became the young Archduke of Beacon Illumination City, and ever since I became the heir to Dragon Clouds City, his gaze towards me had been filled with something I could not decipher.”
Thales furrowed his eyebrows. Archduke Poffret’s hysterical and pained confession towards the end of the duel crossed his mind.
“I persuaded my father against irritating and provoking him. I took the initiative and offered to convince Beacon Illumination City to become allies with us.” Quick Rope trembled a little.
“Yet, no matter how hard I tried, how hard I expressed my sincerity as well as regret, and how I guaranteed that I would There was no more warmth in Conkray’s smile.
“Hatred, envy, and madness… That was all I could decipher from him. It was no longer possible for us to drink without any grudges between us like we used to in the past.”
His last few sentences were extremely bleak.
“As for Chapman Lampard, the first time I saw him after the war, I understood something of importance.”
Quick Rope chuckled. “My cousin brother, Chapman, who used to be level-headed, gentle, and well-behaved ceased to exist anymore. There was only a dead look in his eyes, along with pain, emptiness, and coldness. Only the taciturn and quiet Archduke of Black Sand Region was left in his body. It was as if the souls of his deceased family members still hung over his head, and they refused to leave.
“Every time I talked to him, a chill ran down my spine, even if it wasn’t cold. Either I was talking to a dead person, or in his eyes, I was the dead one.”
Thales thought of the Archduke of Black Sand Region. He remembered how the archduke’s would vary between shades of brightness and darkness under the illumination of fire, and he clenched his fists.
“They were all twisted, Thales, twisted,” Quick Rope’s voice echoed in the room.
“All of them, including my father and elder brother, were twisted and held captive, Thales. They were held captive and enslaved by power. They lost themselves because of power.”
The former Prince of Eckstedt coldly said, “They became something else while they were bound by those shackles. They were apathetic tools, cold-blooded scums, and paranoid tyrants. They were everything but themselves.”
Thales was taken aback.
A conversation he had a long time ago with someone else echoed in his mind again.
‘”The things that are truly scary and terrifying are not the calamities.”‘
‘”To what extent will we normal people fall for the existence of these so-called calamities? How much will we degenerate, and how much of our morals will we sacrifice?”‘
Quick Rope’s tone became hurried.
“Thales, if you want to enter this circle and even climb to the top, the first thing you have to is to submit to power and let go of your body and mind. You have to let its world and its perception of the world rule every single inch of your being. You have to become someone that even you can’t recognize. Only by doing so will you be able to start playing the game and excel in it.
“I heard that they found you from among the commoners, Thales,” Quick Rope called out to him softly, jolting the absentminded Thales out of his thoughts.
“If that’s the case, think carefully about what sort of person you’ve become after taking the role of a prince.
“Can you still choose your own path and do what you want to do?”
Quick Rope’s words were like a sharp knife, stabbing straight into Thales’ heart. “After becoming a prince, are you still yourself? Are you still Thales?
“Or have you become something else?
“What have you gained, and what have you lost?”
Thales listened quietly.
‘”You know, I suddenly realized that I… I almost can’t recognize you anymore.”‘
‘”Hahahaha It’s not just you. A lot of times, when I stare at the man in the mirror I almost can’t recognize who he is.”
When he thought of this, he subconsciously reached behind his back and gripped JC’s dagger tightly.
The dagger he brought over from the Abandoned House…
A few seconds later, Thales shook his head with a dreary expression.
“I don’t know,” he said
“What do you think?” he forced those words out of his mouth.
Quick Rope smiled.
“Just like you…” The former prince tapped the wall and leaned stiffly against it. “I don’t know either.
“But I know how it will end.”
Quick Rope’s gaze was focused, and his eyes sparkled brightly.
“I don’t know how Soria died, and no one told me what that suspicious hunting trip was about. However, ever since I became the damned heir, I felt that I understood one fact: Soria was fated to die.
“Not because of a certain person, conspiracy or accident. It was due to his position. Even more so, it was due to him being born to tread this path and live in this environment. His resolution, callousness, and ambition were an omen. While he was used to advancing in the dark, navigating through cunning schemes with great ease, going back and forth when it came to politics, waving his sword in the battlefield and climbing the snow peak while wind and frost blew against his face in the Kingdom of the Great Dragon it meant that he would one day die from them, sooner or later. If it wasn’t this time, it would be the next time. One day, his way of life would come back and swallow him whole.”
Thales inhaled deeply.
‘Come back and swallow him whole.’
What the Raven of Death said about Soria was still vivid in his mind, but Quick Rope’s words helped him gain more understanding.
“This has nothing to do with your power, Thales. On the contrary, the more powerful you are, and the bigger your influence is, the tighter these shackles will bind you. The deeper you’re sucked in, the more you can’t escape from it.”
Quick Rope stared at him coldly. “Just like our fathers, and just like the current Chapman Lampard.”
The room became silent again.
Just like that, a corpse and two people of unusual identities sat facing one another in silence. They were illuminated only by the moonlight and fire.
After a moment, Thales forced himself to speak.
“That’s the cause of your change?
“Are these all your reasons for running away?”
Thales relaxed his grip around the dagger behind his waist and sighed. “When both King Nuven and Poffret told me your story, there was always a girl involved.”
Quick Rope stirred slightly.
He sat up straight without realizing it himself.
It was rare, but Quick Rope flashed a smile that was not gloomy. “If you heard it from them, they probably said nothing good.”
Thales arched an eyebrow. “So?”
Quick Rope froze for a moment. He then glanced at the Prince of Constellation with a strange gaze. When he spoke next, his tone was profound and gentle.
“Thales, you’re young. But have you ever loved someone, or, been loved by someone?”
“Sometimes, immature love is all the more unforgettable,” Quick Rope said quietly.
Thales was about to shake his head.
However, at that moment, he recalled a voice.
It was a gentle and pleasing female voice, which had only appeared in his memory fragments.
‘”What? Love stems from affairs? It sounds so exciting”‘
His body went stiff, stopping him from shaking his head.
‘”Then, is what we’re doing right now considered an affair”‘
It was the voice that made him subconsciously tremble, and caused him pain everytime it appeared.
The voice belonged to someone he could never remember.
Thales quivered a little.
“Perhaps,” Thales said instinctively before he nodded absentmindedly. “Perhaps I have.”
Moonlight shone into the house, as though it was gently caressing the two silent people.
Quick Rope stared at the prince for a long time. In the end, he flashed a faint smile.
Quick Rope hugged himself and shifted his gaze away from Thales to the moon outside the broken window.
“It is a form of happiness, whether it is you caring about someone, or someone caring about you” he said airily.