Chapter 405 Sinner
Marina’s blade was very cold, especially when it was held against his throat.
Thales had felt himself improve after that battle, in which he found himself stuck between the Star Killer and the Raven of Death. The three of them brought out all their cards at the end of the bloody battle. His reflexes in real battles had become better, his movements were quicker, and his Power of Eradication flowed more smoothly.
Thales looked at Ricky’s indifferent expression with an unwillingness to admit defeat. He stared at Ricky’s relaxed attitude, and he was forced to move his neck when Ricky shifted the blade.
The entire encounter lasted less than two seconds, right from the moment the prince suddenly charged forth to the moment Ricky successfully suppressed him. Their clash of fists lasted as short as a greeting, and the sudden turn of events ended as soon as it began.
Quick Rope and Dean were firmly pressed against the ground by numerous opponents while they tried to cover for Thales. They could not move at all and had painful expressions on their faces. Many mercenaries were still in their battle stances, and they were surprised to see the instant turn of events.
“Someone obviously has to teach our prince what he shouldn’t do in certain situations.” Klein snorted disdainfully as he put Twilight back into its sheath with a lightning quick move.
“Told you.” The former Baron Lasalle, who had calmed down from his shock, looked at the Disaster Swords around him in dissatisfaction. “This prince is very troublesome”
Stake frowned and looked at Thales who had failed in his counterattack. “A restless child, huh?”
“Bastard” The red-faced Marina held a single sword and walked forward as she gritted her teeth. She was ready to take the impudent prince down and give him a lesson.
However, at that moment…
The prince turned around without hesitation. He relaxed his right arm, then firmly grabbed his enemy’s sword arm.
Ricky’s expression changed, and he stared at Thales in surprise.
Even Marina stopped moving.
“Hey, Disaster Sword.”
Thales’ arm muscles were tense as he pushed the sword away from his neck. His voice quivered in the contest of strength. “It’s not the end yet…”
Right then, unfortunately, the prince found that his opponent’s wrists were as immovable as a thousand-year-old tree, which had its roots buried deep into the ground. It also reminded him of a thousand-pound stone that sank into the ground.
He could not be pushed off and could not be shaken.
“I heard that you’re very interested in Black Sword. Is that right?” Thales tried not to think about the cold sword by his neck. He could barely force out a smile. “Sadly, I am very interested in him as well”
Ricky looked at his opponent and frowned. His opponent still put up a final struggle even though he was trapped. Ricky seemed to be very displeased.
“Wise men should know when to give up”
As Ricky spoke, a strange force surged into Thales from Ricky’s wrist
Thales’ expression suddenly changed!
At that point, Ricky’s Power of Eradication surged into Thales’ whole body through his palm.
Thales felt like he had been thrown into a big pot and covered with a lid, while flames were subsequently lit under him.
In his daze, his blood began to release dull, restless thuds, and his skin sent prickles of stimulation down into his nerves. He could not move any of the bones in his body. It was as if they had been tied up and were made to suffer great pressure.
With his Hell’s senses, he found that Ricky’s Power of Eradication was like an endless, deep whirlpool, consuming everything while rotating in a never-ending stream of undercurrent.
Once trapped, it was impossible to escape, and he would be powerless leave.
‘What the hell is this? Thales thought in pain.
That moment, Ricky’s icy cold voice slowly traveled into the Thales’ ear.
“…Just as you should.”
Ricky watched in satisfaction as Thales’ face turned from red to white. His breathing froze.
Ricky witnessed as Thales’ eyes lost their focus under his terrifying power. Thales shuddered, and his grip over Ricky’s wrist loosened.
The corner of Ricky’s mouth lifted, and he thought of the situation indifferently.
‘It’s the same every time.’
When their Power of Eradication flooded their opponents’ bodies
He shook his head disdainfully, but right when Ricky was prepared to push the powerless Thales away, his prey suddenly trembled under the sword.
Even though he was down to the last ounce of his strength, the prince suddenly took a deep breath and extended his left hand, seizing Ricky’s collar under everyone’s gaze!
Ricky’s pupils contracted instantly.
Thales clenched his teeth and exerted strength in his hand to close the distance between the two of them.
In a daze, Ricky stared at the Thales before him. There was slight puzzlement in his voice. “Y-You can still move?”
“As a leader, you’re very special, Ricky.” Thales’ breathing became quicker. Sweat broke out on his forehead, but his face was flushed red. He also spoke fluently, “They’re normally cold and violent, but yours”
Ricky jumped. “What?”
“Yours is hot, oppressive, and heavy. It covers everything, just like a terrifying, inescapable whirlpool.” Thales smiled while drenched in sweat. He sensed his Power of Eradication surging into his body inch by inch. It chased away and eradicated the strange power, which invaded his body in such a manner that it felt like it was sentient.
“But that ominous momentum is still the same, Disaster Sword.”
Thales’ Power of Eradication started to fill his brain. It was boiling and filled with excitement.
Ricky widened his eyes in surprise after he heard what Thales said. “You How did you”
Thaels seized the man’s wrist and collar as he forced down the influence of Ricky’s Power of Eradication. He also suppressed his impulse and desire to counter-attack.
‘It’s not enough, it’s still not enough.
‘He still doesn’t believe me!
‘I need more!’
Thales grunted as he thought about it.
He observed the characteristics of Ricky’s Power of Eradication. Then, just as the Twist of Fate in the past, he urged the power in his body to change.
When Thales thought of that, the Sin of Hell’s River charged in him. Shortly after, he sensed a frightening heat.
His Power of Eradication roared. It covered his blood vessels, muscles, bones, and almost every structure in his body like dark clouds covering the sky. Not a single gap was left untouched.
Inexplicable pressure descended on Thales’ body, and as his power changed, the pressure became more distinct like it was corporeal.
Soon, the Sin of Hell’s River swirled at the center of his body, as if it wanted to tear him apart and devour everything. At that moment, Thales surmised that as long as he was still immersed in the whirlpool formed by his own Power of Eradication, he could easy fend off all forms of attacks.
Thales exhaled in pain. He vaguely heard his body letting out loud, scratching sounds, which chilled heart. It made his body sound like a machine that could no longer bear the weight placed on it.
No one knew that in less than a second, he experienced the horror of falling off a cliff and into a pit, then rising from the bottom of the earth to the top of the clouds.
In contrast to his “mastery” over the Twist of Fate, this time, the cost and burden for the transformation ofhis Sin of Hell’s River was greater than he had imagined.
Thales tried his best to focus and look at the enemy before him.
The teenager took a deep breath and increased the force over his opponent’s wrist. His smile made him look as if he had been released from his burden.
Soon, the newly transformed Sin of Hell’s Rivercompleted while his mind was in a dazeflooded back into Ricky’s body.
Ricky was puzzled at first, but as the incredibly familiar force gradually traveled into his body, the man’s breathing grew quicker.
‘It’s covering everything…
As Ricky looked at Thales’ smile and felt the sensation travel into his body, there were no words that could describe his current expression.
He widened his eyes and shook his head instinctively. It seemed that he could not believe what was happening before his eyes.
Thales coughed in pain, and his immature Power of Eradication dissipated.
His hand left Ricky’s collar and fell on the ground feebly.
The people at the side were unaware of the actual events. They only heard the dialogue between the two, and surprise appeared on their faces.
The anxious Shawn wanted to step forward, but stopped in his tracks when Ricky waved at him.
“What’s the matter, Ricky?” Klein asked tentatively.
However, the leader of the Disaster Swords just shook his head slightly. He did not answer, especially since he was immersed in the unbelievable surprise.
Thales looked like he was near death. He appeared to be in a daze, and he forced himself to focus by gritting his teeth and saying, “I know why you want Black Sword.”
Ricky’s shock slowly faded away, but he furrowed his eyebrows even more.
He began to face the facts before him.
“Who are you?” Crassus of the Disaster Swords asked in a low voice.
Thales just inhaled deeply and shook his head.
“Believe me, Ricky. You do not want Black Sword.” The prince was exhausted.
“You want me.
“The one whom you really need is me.”
The young man looked straight at the person before him.
The light in the tavern was much dimmer than before, making Ricky’s expression appear extremely solemn.
On the other side, Stake from Shadow Shield coughed, warning the Disaster Swords.
“What are they doing?” Lasalle urged impatiently. “Are they chatting?”
Masked Man looked at Ricky worriedly as he suppressed the prince, but he did not move. “Ricky, we should act”
He waved at Shawn as well as Marina, and one of them cautiously moved forward while the other stomped to the front in exasperation.
However, Ricky lifted his head abruptly!
The leader of the Disaster Swords had never been so serious.
He glowered at the subordinates around him who were about to grab the prince. He said, “All of you…”
The mercenaries were all stunned.
Before they could react, Ricky pulled back the sword in his right hand and yanked Thales’ collar with his powerful left hand. He lifted him from the ground and slammed him into the table nearby.
Following the loud noise, Thales lay on the table in pain and moaned.
He did not have time to respond. Ricky flipped the sword upside down and swung it down on Thales’ head with a force that sliced through air!
Thales’ brain went blank.
The tip of the sword swept past Thales’ scalp and was driven deep into the table with a dull thud.
It was just an inch away from Thales’ forehead.
Out of the corner of his eye, the prince saw the cold glare from the tip of the sword. His heart was beating rapidly as he met Ricky’s gaze in shock.
“Hey, be careful!”
Stake widened his eyes. He reached out and cried, “We don’t want a corpse.”
Nevertheless, Ricky did not pay any attention to him, and Masked Man stood coldly in front of Stake, not allowing him take any further steps.
The leader of the Disaster Swords slowly bent down and got closer to Thales who had hardly recovered from the recent shock.
His hand still remained on the sword’s hilt. He twisted the blade, and the sword let out a frightening noise while it ground against the pierced wood. “You conceited prince…”
Ricky enunciated each of his words carefully, “You Have you ever tasted death before?”
His gaze was akin to ice, and even the light reflected off his pupils was cold.
At that moment, Masked Man and Klein both gawked at each other, as though they knew something.
Thales stared into the other person’s eyes and digested his words.
‘The taste of death…
Thales breathed a sigh of relief.
He had achieved his goal, but obviously, the others did not understand.
“Respectful Crassus, if I may be frank, perhaps he has offended you, but the prince in your hands is very valuable” Stake seemed to be worried about the implication in Ricky’s tone. He raised his hands anxiously. “If you are displeased with him”
Ricky suddenly turned around. He glared at Stake and shouted at him fiercely, “Shut up!”
Stake was rendered speechless, and the rest of his words died in his mouth.
In the next second, Ricky turned his head around and continued to stare at Thales, who was on the table. “Answer me, prince,” he said in a harsh tone.
His breathing was urgent. “You… Have you seen death?”
At that moment, Ricky was like a sharp claw, a fierce beast with its hackles raised. He was no longer the nonchalant and aloof person they first met.
Thales frowned, and his thoughts drifted away.
‘”Only those who have survived death have the qualifications to utilize and control it.
‘”The moment it becomes one with you, you’ll be hovering between life and death, blurring the lines between the living world and the underworld.”‘
After he remembered those words from the past, the prince recovered the energy he just spent and clenched his fists.
Ricky still had him detained. His grip did not loosen at all.
The whispers in the tavern slowly disappeared, and although the mercenaries were puzzled, they remained in place and waited for their leader’s decision.
A few seconds passed.
“Of course.” The prince gritted his teeth. His breathing was irregular. “I have seen it more times than you can imagine.”
Ricky’s eyebrows slowly relaxed.
“Yet, you are alive,” he whispered. His anger and shock slowly faded away.
It was not a question.
Thales repeated his words and forced a smile.
“I can’t remember, but” Thales took a deep breath. He did not look at the tip of the sword, which stopped next to his forehead. “Yes, I came back every time…”
He raised his trembling right hand, and pointed at his chest.
Ricky stopped scowling. He no longer twisted the blade on the table.
“How did you know?”
His tone was cautious. “About us, about”
Ricky’s gaze moved along with Thales’ fingers. He said the next word solemnly and sternly, “It?”
He struggled to exhale.
“Don’t forget, I am a Jadestar.” The prince laughed weakly. “We know everything.”
Ricky’s expression froze, and he narrowed his eyes.
Ricky took a deep breath, and when he lowered his head, the volume of his voice dropped as well. “Was it him?”
“He knew all this from the Tower of Eradication?”
Thales was slightly stunned.
“Whether it’s him or not” Thales gulped. He was determined to get through the crisis right before his eyes. “You want me.”
He stared at the slightly perplexed Ricky. “You want me above everything else.
“Because I represent the miracles and opportunities you dream of,” Thales repeated his words in a whisper.
“I am the end of an old era, and the beginning of a new century.”
As Thales spoke, Ricky’s bewildered expression slowly faded away.
He lifted his head.
“Yes.” Ricky looked at the prince in front of him and sighed, as though a burden had been released from him.
“I want you.”
His words were quite profound.
The next instant, Ricky used the strength of his right hand to pull the sword out of the table before he turned to the others.
Thales was left lying on the table, panting to calm his shocked and thundering heart.
“Take him. Be polite.” Ricky brandished the sword, then threw it back to Marina, who was staring at Thales with adisgruntled expression.
Shawn nodded and walked up to them.
“Get ready.” At that moment, Ricky became the unflappable and aloof leader he was earlier. “We’re going to begin the next step of our operation.”
Klein and Masked Man glanced at each other, then darted a look at Thales before they nodded.
The mercenaries took action.
Stake coughed, reminding the others of his existence. “Now that you’ve subdued the mischievous prince, let us take him away, at least to a safe place”
However, Ricky suddenly lifted his head and interrupted him.
“The prince must stay with us, as a pledge.”
His firm words took Stake by surprise.
“When we complete our goal and vacate this camp, we will hand him over to you,” Ricky said lightly.
When he said those words, both Stake and Lasalle widened their eyes.
Thales breathed a sigh of relief and felt slightly at ease.
Quick Rope and Dean, who were pinned to the ground, became more and more confused. Just like the mercenaries, they did not know what was going on.
“Wait a minute!”
Stake looked at Ricky from a distance. “I’ve given you such a huge guarantee, yet you still insist on your original plan?” he said in disbelief.
He pointed at Thales, who was roughly dragged from the table by Shawn.
Nonetheless, Ricky just snorted.
“You didn’t give me anything, Stake. Shadow Shield has always been Constellation’s enemy,” the leader of the Disaster Swords said coldly. “Even if the letter is made public, it will only shift your name several places up in the Secret Intelligence Department’s list of enemies.”
Stake’s expression turned cold.
The blood vessels in his hands could be vaguely seen.
“So, my efforts in giving the letter to you was a complete waste?”
Stake’s voice became strained, just as his expression became tense. “This is not the way to do business.”
He put his hands into his robes and slowly walked forward.
Masked Man automatically moved in front of him to block his path.
The mercenaries sensed the barely discernible tension, and they did not need to be reminded. They started to make pre-battle preparations of their own, standing in formation and being on guard against the enemy hidden outside the building.
“We mercenaries have our own way of doing business.
“Accept it, or throw your entire plan into jeopardy. Those are your choices,” Ricky said nonchalantly.
Stake’s gaze became extremely cold.
“Jeopardize my plan?” The Shadow Shield guest gritted his teeth and his tone grew colder with each word.
When Lasalle saw that they were about to reach a stalemate again, he quickly spoke, “Everyone, the camp is full of Constellatiate troops. If we obstruct each other’s path, no one can get out of here safely, let alone achieve our goal.”
Ricky smiled in response.
“We did what we promised to do for you; the prince is here.
“I don’t think you should mind us taking the goods temporarily, until you make the final payment,” said Ricky. He glanced at the corners above the tavern, though no one knew if he did it deliberately or not.
He knew that Ricky had just looked at all the spots where the Shadow Shield assassins were lurking outside the house, ready to attack at any moment.
Stake clenched his fists indignantly.
“I’m certain you don’t take me for a blind fool, yes?”
“Earlier, you whispered for a long time with that prince” Stake said through gritted teeth.
Thales was tied up roughly by Shawn, and he watched as Shawn carried his luggage. When he heard those words, he was stunned.
Stake glared at the calm Ricky. “Have you truly been tempted by the prince and made some kind of deal with him?
“For instance some deal between you and Constellation involving the Prison of Bones?”
Ricky stopped whatever he was doing.
Lasalle did not speak. He saw the eyes of the others being filled with great distrust.
Masked Man frowned.
“This will make things very ugly,” Stake said coldly. “Do you think that Shadow Shield would come all the way here just to let you take our target so easily?”
Ricky took a deep breath and turned around to look at Masked Man.
Masked Man laughed as well like they had heard the greatest joke in the world.
“I can understand that you feel indignant because you gave me the letter, and you feel as if you’ve been taken advantage of.” Ricky laughed happily and waved his hand. “Are you still worried that we’ll act based on the situation and suddenly join forces with Constellation so that all your efforts turn out to be in vain?”
Stake’s expression grew more and more unpleasant.
Ricky walked forward and moved past Masked Man, arriving in front of Stake.
“Let me tell you, Stake. Like you, we were doomed to be enemies of Constellation a long time ago.”
Stake was slightly startled.
Ricky stared at him and plainly said, “As a reward for your ‘sincerity’ by giving us the letter…”
His expression was calm as he beckoned someone behind him with his finger.
While Stake, Lasalle, Thales, as well as the rest were still puzzled, Masked Man snorted and stepped forward.
He reached out and pulled his mask off without hesitation.
The flickering light cast a shadow on Masked Man’s face, allowing the others to only see his face vaguely.
It was a worn-out face belonging to someone who had experienced many great changes in life. The man was around forty or fifty years old. He had high cheekbones, and the graying hair on his temples were somewhat visible.
Stake scrutinized him, appearing puzzled. For a moment, he did not know what to make of the situation.
Masked Man shook his head in disdain.
However, next to Stake, Lasalle’s expression changed!
“That’s” Eckstedt’s former baron stared at the other person and shuddered a little.
Many of the mercenaries, including Quick Rope, were puzzled, and they began to look at each other.
Thales tried to stretch his neck to have a look, but he could only see Masked Man’s side profile.
‘Who’s that fellow?’
But Thales was immediately stunned.
It was just a side profile.
Yes, he could only see Masked Man’s side profile.
But it was enough.
There was an obvious and hideous brand on the side of the man’s face. It stretched from his chin to his cheekbone.
His skin was turned inside out, and it was blood red.
Thales stared at the brand on the man’s face.
It was just like the two brands on the wrists of Raphael Lindbergh from the Secret Intelligence Department. He saw them six years ago. The Arunde Family’s symbol was inscribed there
The prince was given another shock immediately after that!
He recognized it.
The brand on Masked Man’s face had a pattern and a shape
Thales could not believe his eyes.
Regardless, Masked Man spoke quickly, providing an answer to Thales’ question.
“This is the ancient letter ‘S’ of the Empire, which symbolizes the Jadestar Royal Family. I got this brand a long time ago,” he said coldly. He touched the ugly and horrifying brand on his face gently.
Masked Man whispered, “A person marked with this brand is a sinner who’s been punished by the Supreme King of Constellation. He will carry this shame and sin for eternity, with no way of redeeming himself.”
Stake stepped back, feeling dismayed.
Ricky wrapped his arms around himself and sneered coldly. Klein looked like he had known about it a long time ago and was not surprised.
There was a complicated look on Marina’s face as she listened to Masked Man’s confession.
Thales stared at the man named Samel and found himself filled with indescribable emotions.
Stake remembered something, and he asked with uncertainty, “You said that you are Samel? You’re”
The unmasked Samel snorted.
“As you’ve mentioned, everyone has a past.”
Samel turned around and faced the entire tavern.
“After the war eighteen years ago, aside from all of you thrice-accursed assassins… there was also a group of peoplein Eternal Star City who was sent to jail by the newly-crowned King Kessel.”
Samel slowly moved his feet. His tone was icy.
“They were all warriors who were highly skilled, highly experienced, and of noble descent. They once made a glorious pledge to defend the most noble blood of the kingdom.”
Samel turned his head and looked at Thales, surprising the latter.
Under the reflection of the light, the brand on the other person’s face became more obvious, and he looked even scarier.
His gaze was very strange. He was clearly staring at Thales, but it seemed like there was a water curtain separating them, and he was actually staring at the fog in the distance.
“However, because of that failure and disgrace, which the whole world knows occurred eighteen years ago, the new king placed false charges on them in his rage. They were forced to bear heavy charges, and they could only waste their lives away in the miserable underground world,” Samel slowly said.
“Never will they be free, never will they see the sun.”
Samel looked up, and his tone was filled with pride as well as pain.
“I am Colin Samel, the youngest son of Viscount Luca Samel. I am from Eternal Star City,” he said sadly.
“I used to be the vice flag bearer of Constellation’s Royal Guards, the personal guard of the late King Aydi the Second, part of the glorious ‘Emperor’s Praetorian Guards’.”
His gaze on Thales was incomparably complicated. “I was a member of the royal guards who guarded Renaissance Palace during the Bloody Year.”
Thales stared back at him. His mind was a mess.
‘Then, that means he’s’
Samel gritted his teeth and clenched his fists. “I am also the only fortunate one to have fled while all forty-six of us were on our way to the white Prison of Bones. We were sentenced to be imprisoned there for life when we refused to plead guilty during that unfair trial,” said Samel angrily amid the almost-suffocating atmosphere.
“I am a felon who has no place in all of Constellation.”
Stake no longer spoke. He just looked at Samel with a profound gaze.
The tavern was silent.
Then, Ricky spoke again, “This is our guarantee. Compared to that letter of yours, which is really more of a little parlor trick than anything of substance, ours is much more reliable, Stake.
“We can’t work with Constellation.
“So the prince will remain under us, even as we act together,” Ricky said coldly. “His safety and whether he can be handed over to you depends entirely on the success of out next move.
“And right here, right now, I shall thank the both of you beforehand for your gracious help,” Ricky said, his words filled with an underlying meaning.
Stake and Lasalle frowned.
Ricky snorted lightly, turned his head, and ignored them.
The leader of the Disaster Swords swept his gaze over the grim-looking mercenaries and allowed it to linger for a while on Thales’ face. Thales, conversely, had a myriad of very complicated emotions in his heart.
“Now, we leave. Our destination is the Prison of Bones.”