Chapter 406 The Intruders
The bright moon to the west shone in the corner of a small alley. Thales leaned against the wall in the alley while he looked around at the Blood Whistle mercenaries, or rather, the Disaster Swords. They were lurking around silently and skillfully while being extremely vigilant. As he watched them, he felt anxious.
After they left the tavern, they took their separate ways, but they became more alert.
‘I won’t find a chance like this anymore.’
The Disaster Swords pretty much acted as fast as lightning from their planning to execution. After a few minutes, the Prince of Constellation and Quick Rope were brought out of the tavern efficiently and in an inconspicuous manner. They were now near the Prison of Bones.
The cooperation between Shadow Shield, Disaster Sword, and Lasalle was not to be looked down upon. Aside from them intentionally splitting up to conceal their operation, they did not alert a single person as they moved from My Home to their current location. The patrols they were supposed to meet on the way also disappeared.
However, at that moment, that was not what Thales was worried about the most. It was the person watching over hima certain enraged swordswoman.
“About eight or nine years ago, when I went back to my hometown, a local ruffian tried to rape me.”
Marina rubbed her lips with one hand, and with the other, she pressed down lightly on her sword hilt.
She went up to Thales’ ear and spoke softly. There was a hatred, which could not be ignored, in her words.
“Do you want to know what happened to him?”
‘Not one bit.’
Despite that, in the face of the exasperated Marina, Thales could only reply with a remorseful but helpless, awkward smile.
“Hey, that matter earlier… I’m very sorry for that. Your skills are too good, so I could only do that to…”
Before he finished, a cold glare shone in Marina’s eyes!
It caused Thales, who was in the wrong in the first place, to freeze.
His flattery did not have any effect on her.
The heavens could tell he had never sexually harassed anyone before in this lifetime or the past, which he could only remember vaguely. He, too, looked down on such acts.
Thales lowered his head in great sorrow to avoid Marina’s severe gaze.
The good name he bore in two lifetimes was gone in a night.
Marina snorted coldly and drew her sword gently.
“That time, I placed my sword in between that bastard’s legs, just like this…” As goosebumps broke out all over Thales’ skin, the cold-looking Marina lowered her weapon gently. “And I turned my wrist”
Luckily, a mature and gentle voice stopped her right when Thales was about to cry out for help. He felt a chill in his groin.
“Marina, I asked you to watch over him, not to find a chance to finish him.” Ricky’s figure appeared at the tightly-guarded entrance of the alley. He nodded slightly at his subordinates in the small alley. Then, with a serious expression, he said, “Restrain yourself a little.”
Marina frowned, but still put away her sword before Thales’ hopeful expression.
“Of course,” she said softly. The indignance on her face disappeared.
However, the next sentence from Marina once again made Thales groan in his heart.
“We should gag him, and maybe even cut off one of his arms or legs just in case he decides to”
But Ricky shook his head.
“Our noble guest is not some idiot.” Crassus of the Disaster Swords narrowed his eyes while he watched the prince force himself to appear calm. “He knows when to negotiate and when to retaliate. He also knows who he can depend on at this moment.”
Thales instantly became downspirited.
He knew that the people of Shadow Shield were hiding around them. Compared to those people, being in the hands of the Disaster Swords was not a considered a terrible choice.
Ricky tilted his head back.
Quick Rope, Dean, and Tampa were over there. The three poor hostages were unceremoniously bound, gagged, and brought to the place by around a dozen fierce Disaster Swordsmen. They frequently threw enraged or pitiful looks in Thales’ direction.
As he watched them, the prince could only sigh sadly.
Compared to that, Thales only had his weapon and luggage taken away from him. He was already very lucky. He glanced at the Crossbow of Time on Marina’s back and the JC dagger at her waist. He unwittingly gulped.
That action of his made the look of disgust in Marina’s eyes even more prominent.
Upon Ricky’s signal, all the mercenaries including Marina obediently widened the space between them and Ricky.
Ricky stood before the prince. His eyes sparkled, and they made Thales uncomfortable.
“So, you wanted to be in the Prison of Bones”
The prince coughed and spoke, attempting to get some information, but was unexpectedly interrupted halfway by Ricky.
“It’s not enough,” the leader of the Disaster Swords whispered.
Thales was shocked. “What?”
“The Sin of Hell’s River.” Ricky cast him a weird look. “You haven’t experienced it enough, so you haven’t fused with it deeply. You can’t even touch the threshold of that power.”
‘The Sin of Hell’s River.’
The shift in sudden topic made Thales nervous.
“What does that mean?”
‘I can’t even touch its threshold’
The prince stiffened. “So, you need someone like Black Sword?”
However, Ricky shook his head to deny it.
“He’s not enough either.”
When he looked at the prince, there was an undisguised coldness and ruthlessness. But there was also a feverish zeal that caused others to be uneasy. These two contradicting emotions made Thales increasingly uncomfortable.
“So you need to endure more hardships amid blood and danger. It will then grow faster and become stronger. You must release it, so that it will eventually surpass the supreme level and reach the legendary level.Let it grow in maturity as soon as possible, strengthen it, and release it until it surpasses the ultimate level, to the extent that it achieves true legendary status.”
Thales frowned, and he became more confused. “Surpassing what level?
“What are you talking about?”
“That is the only way,” Ricky continued as if he did not hear him. He proceeded to focus his attention on Thales. “We believe that there is a reason why you’ve been chosen by the Sin of Hell’s River and why you returned from the dead.”
Thales’ eyelids twitched.
“In fact, there are people who have this power as far back as the Iron Blood King, Jill Kurse, and the Black Night. Then there are the Ninth, Shawlon Tannon, and Hill Crassus, the recent ones who were recorded to have this power,” Ricky recited names, some of which were familiar to Thales, and some not. “You are one of them, Thales Jadestar.”
Thales was perplexed.
‘The Iron Blood King… He sounds like the ancient Northland King who led the army against the ancient orcs…
‘Jill Kurse… I haven’t heard this name before…
‘The Black Knight… Hmm, I may have come across him in Little Rascal’s pile of novels about tragic knights or from some bardic songs I read before
‘As for the Ninth, what the hell is that? A nickname?
‘Shawlon Tannon… Tannon, a very familiar surname
‘Hill Crassus… Strange, isn’t Crassus a title for the leader of the Disaster Swords?’
‘As for Thales Jadestar Wait a second, what about me?
‘Damn it. If he’s like Saroma who likes reading and has photographic memory’
Ricky continued to say, “We believe that the people who struggled back from the edge of Hell’s River over the course of thousands of years have their own destiny to fulfill in their era.”
Thales could not help but ask, “What sort of destiny?”
However, Ricky did not reply him. Instead, he revealed a very discomforting smile.
“You received a key, prince, which can open up the door we’ve been waiting for over one hundred years.” The leader of the Disaster Swords laughed and said, “Don’t waste it.”
The bewildered prince was about to speak, but was interrupted by the sound of horse carriages coming from beyond the small alley.
The mercenaries who were silently lying low around him all became alert at the same time, as if they were beasts and that their territory had been invaded.
Ricky lifted his head and looked at a figure outside the alley.
“Their signal is here.” Crassus of the Disaster Swords frowned and said, “Go.”
Thales’ expression changed. Before he could react, he was unceremoniously brought out of the alley by the impatient Marina, who was standing behind him.
On the empty, dark street, a long line of caravans was moving towards them. There were carts carrying unknown goods pulled by humans, and there were also horse carriages pulled by horses.
Tampa let out an uneasy moan behind him, but when Shawn gave him a rude “warning”, he quieted down.
When he saw the wine glass on the flags of the caravans, Thales immediately registered what was going on. Those were My Home’s supply caravans.
There were about twenty people in that group, and they all wore ordinary clothes made of rough fabric. It made them look shabby, but allowed easy movement. They looked exactly like the locals in Blade Fangs Camp. They did not stop, and they ignored Ricky as well as his group when they came out of the small alley.
There was a coachman on the carriage nearest to them. He tipped his hat at Ricky and nodded his head courteously.
Thales recognized the coachman. It was Stake.
“No need to worry, the patrol team closest to us has left.”
Stake sat on the coachman’s seat and approached Ricky, looking pleased. “There were three thieves who wanted to take advantage of the darkness to steal, but they have also been taken care of.
“All factors which may expose our actions”
Ricky ignored him. He looked at the other person sitting next to Stake.
Next to Stake was Samel, the former Royal Guard of Constellation. He snorted softly.
“Along the way I must say, Shadow Shield really has some skill.” Samel did not bother to hide his disdain, but he still nodded his head.
Stake smugly tipped his hat.
His gaze moved past Ricky to Thales, who was in front of Marina. He continued to smile.
Thales raised his eyebrows.
Examining the back and front of the line of caravans, Ricky noticed Stake’s gaze, and he snorted coldly.
Nevertheless, he did not say anything in the end. He just entered the storage area in the horse carriage and waved his hands.
The Disaster Swords caught up to the line of caravans and easily moved into the gaps between the carriages. They became one with the caravans. As for Thales, he was pushed roughly into one of the horse carriages.
The caravans moved on as the different wheels rotated.
The caravans were very quiet. No one made a sound, whether it was the hidden Shadow Shield or the murderous Disaster Swords. Those steering the carriages steered the carriages, those rising the carriages rode the carriages, those walking continued to walk. At that moment, there was only the sound of wheels and hooves. The atmosphere was very oppressive.
While Thales was filled with discomforting thoughts, a seemingly familiar building appeared in his swaying vision: it was a huge fortress in the shape of a large bowl, with only a protruding archway serving as its entrypoint.
The Prison of Bones.
As the supply caravan drew close, the guards guarding the archway lifted their torches and walked forward.
Thales looked from afar and could not help but frown.
“You’re a bit too early.” A guard who appeared to be the leader walked near the first horse carriage accompanied by a few of his colleagues. He looked at the smiling coachman, then frowned.
“There’s still some time before the breaking of dawn”
The horse carriages in front stopped.
The coachman jumped down from the carriage. He instructed his “workers” to unload the goods while he spoke with a smile, “We’re under special circumstances now, could you make an allowance…”
The leader’s gaze, however, moved to the back of the line of caravans.
“Your line is alittle long.” The leader of the guards looked at the unending line of caravans coming from the back. Suspicion appeared on his face. “And why are there some who have brought weapons?”
Even so, the coachman was calm. He just spread his arms, and explained with an obsequious laugh, “We’re new here. You know that the campsite hasn’t exactly been peaceful recently”
The leader’s gaze froze.
He took a step back, and subconsciously placed his hands on his waist.
The eight guards behind him were also alerted.
Observing from the side, Thales clenched his fists tightly. He saw it; the leader’s armor had the emblem of the Stardust Unit.
“Not too safe, my foot.” The guards’ leader had already discovered that something was amiss. He drew out his weapon without hesitation and warily said, “There is no need for this many people to deliver supplies!”
The faces of the guards behind him changed.
The coachman’s face turned pale. He quickly waved his hands to defend himself. “No, no, no, that’s b-because we are Hell’s River’s”
The armed leader was stunned when he heard this. “What of Hell’s River?”
The next second, a guard behind the leader suddenly took a step forward and hugged him from behind!
“…Ferrymen,” The mole behind the leader calmly continued what the coachman said.
The leader’s mouth was covered. He convulsed, and his eyes were wide in disbelief. He looked at the blood-stained sword that came out of his chest.
Thales breathed hard, but next to him, Marina covered his mouth with a firm grip.
Before the remaining guards could react to the sudden, drastic change, the coachman suddenly shot up!
He moved past the leader who died with his eyes wide open. He arrived before the second guard, and under the latter’s shocked expression, he stabbed the guard’s throat with a dagger, pinning his screams between his chattering teeth.
At the same time, six or seven mysterious figures materialized in the dark!
A terrified guard drew his weapon, but just as he was about to scream, a “worker”, who moved behind him, seized his chin and effortlessly cut open his trachea.
In his despair, he looked at his colleague beside him to ask for help, but he discovered that his colleague was being strangled with a metal string by an assassin who appeared at some unknown point of time. His colleague was looking at him with an expression of pain, scrabbling at his neck in vain.
Another guard instinctively turned to the archway to call for help, but before he could complete his actions, a scary cracking sound was heard. His head was twisted in another direction by an assassin.
There was even an assassin who took out a crossbow and accurately shot through a guard’s nape, right through his spine. It effectively cut of the guard’s screams and halted his footsteps.
In Thales’ terrified eyes, the sudden appearances of the mysterious figures resulted in the stabbing, strangling, or twisting of the guards’ necks. They silently yet efficiently ended the lives of the nine guards.
It all happened in the blink of an eye.
Thales had even nearly forgotten to breathe.
The mercenaries who came with the caravan all widened their eyes as they watched the scene under the moon in shock.
When the similarly shocked Marina released Thales, who was breathing frantically, the assassins ahead had already carefully held upthe guards who could no longer move. They then skillfully removed the torches and weapons they dropped before they dragged the bodies to a dark corner, hiding them from the eyes of the crowd.
Very soon, the area before the Prison of Bones became empty. The last traces of Constellation’s troops had also disappeared from the streets.
There was only an indistinct blood stain on the ground, which served as a testament to what happened moments ago.
Ricky’s frown grew deeper.
“Williams’ underlings are indeed alert.” Stake clicked his tongue as he watched everything before him, but he remained nonchalant. “They’re vastly different from those recruits. If we had not been well prepared, and you acted alone”
Ricky nodded slightly and got down from the carriage.
He maintained his composure. He knew that Stake was demonstrating his power towards him, all because they had detained his “goods”.
“Damn it.” At one point, the Northlandic swordsman, Klein had arrived at Ricky’s side with an unpleasant face. He commented on the silent bloodshed, “I’ve killed many, but this is just”
He looked at the blood stains on the streets, and he could not go on.
Thales understood what he meant.
Ricky patted Klein on the shoulder and made a hand gesture.
The mercenaries who were stunned by the scene then came back to their senses.
The caravans in disguise continued to move forward. They entered the archway and the deep passage leading to the Prison of Bones.
Thales was among them. His expression was grave.
“As you can see, the guards on the ground who guard the area outside the Prison of Bones have quietly been disposed. We’ve arranged men to take over their positions.” Stake moved past the torches and blood stains, as though they had nothing to do with him. He smiled at Ricky and said, “The patrol team will pass by this place after fifteen minutes during curfew, but they are all recruits sent from each Great Clan to fill up the gaps in manpower. They’re up to their throats in complains, their morale is bad, they are inefficient, and they cannot be compared to Williams’ regular troops. They won’t be able to tell what’s wrong.
“We will have at least four hours for our plan until the shift at the Prison of Bones changes.”
Thales’ heart froze when he heard their conversation.
Ricky nodded. “And is there anything else that I should know?”
“Even if there is an accident somewhere along the way, we can try to delay the time for the patrols to investigate this place and allow ourselves enough time to retreat. The patrol team in charge for these two areas belong to Brave Souls Fort and New Offering Land, and there’s conflict between the two factions,” Stake said with a smile.
Eckstedt’s former envoy, Lasalle Weider appeared among them and frowned.
“According to what I know, Frank the Stallion is still in the camp, and he’s a tough character. The few Stardust Unit soldiers he commands are the elite of the regular troops under Williams. Their reaction is fast, their battle skills shocking, plus they know the camp well.”
Stake nodded with a smile.
“That’s right, but Blade Fangs Camp has nobles whose statuses are far greater than a bumpkin like Frank. Don’t hope for a group of counts and viscounts to obey his orders. He would already have to thank his lucky stars if they don’t act as his stumbling block.”
Stake spoke in a crafty manner, “We also did some work here.The recruits, regular troops, local nobles, the Royal Family, and the disunited Blade Fangs Camp will take a much longer time to realize something’s wrong, gather their troops, and rush here to provide assistance.”
Lasalle finally understood, and he nodded in approval. “Constellatiates gathered their troops to march west en masse. It may seem like they’re showing off their might in the desert, but they bound their hands and feet together themselves in their own camp.You are very lucky.”
Samel rubbed the brand on his face, and snorted coldly. “Why do you think we picked this time to enter, Northlander?”
When Stake saw that the two men who never got along were about to start fighting again, he immediately changed the topic.
Stake coughed and said, “Even if we are driven to a corner, we can still strike the gong and lure the tigers away.”
Klein was confused. “What?”
Stake laughed smugly. “This is a saying from the Teng Family. It means to divert their focus. Think about it; an accident happened at the Prison of Bones, a noble who came from afar was assassinated, a fire broke out at the army storehouse. If you were Frank, and these three things happened at the same time, which matter would you attend to first as the watchdog Williams left behind?”
The three Disaster Swords understood what Stake meant. They exchanged looks, and their gazes were serious.
“You all seem to have forgotten about the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department and their ears in the camp,” Ricky whispered. “Do you think they won’t detect a thing?”
Stake’s eyes brightened.
“They probably have noticed a lot of clues, but they can’t react. We’ve already released a bait along time ago. A young man who looks like the Prince of Constellation showed up at the Tower of Eradication recently. Trust me, for this news, all the agents of the Secret Intelligence Department have set off to the north.”
When he heard this, Thales sighed in disappointment.
Ricky remained silent for a while.
“You didn’t come here at the spur of a moment, or because this event in Blade Fangs Camp happened all of a sudden.” Ricky understood something and lifted his eyes. His gaze was wary. “You’ve been planning this for a long time.”
Stake laughed in a nonchalant manner.
“Perhaps you’re more used to killing in direct confrontation, but when it comes to this”
Stake peered at his surroundings. “We are the professionals.”
Samel snorted angrily. “Just like eighteen years ago?”
Stake smiled. He wisely chose not to continue with the topic.
They finally finished walking the passage, which was neither too long, nor too short. They then entered the main building in the Prison of Bones.
A wooden door, which was the height of three or four men, appeared in front of their eyes.
Behind the big door were jumbled shouts from the prisoners.
Klein walked forward and knocked on the door.
“My Home, here to deliver supplies,” he said coldly.
A small window on the wooden door was pulled open, revealing a man’s face. He regarded the caravan skeptically. “Supplies?
“You’re here early, and shouldn’t you be accompanied by the guards?”
Those were his last words.
In the next second, Klein drew his longsword from his waist, thrust forward at the speed of lightning, and delivered his sword straight through the guard’s face behind the window.
An alarmed scream came from behind the door.
It was clear that the guards behind the door had realized the situation in front of the door. An alarmed voice rose into the air. “Quick, sound the alarmArgh!”
He fell silent. Even the other frantic noises behind the door disappeared.
After a few seconds, the terrifying silence was broken by the sound of a few large objects dropping on the ground behind the door.
As Stake continued to smile in the same manner, Ricky released his grip from the sword hilt by his waist.
Thales’ breathing grew faster. The muscles on his arms became tenser.
Very soon, the sound of metal scratching against something was heard, and the door was pushed open with a loud creak.
Two assassins dressed like guards came out from the darkness. They nodded expressionlessly at Stake.
As Thales sighed, the Disaster Swords all got down from their caravans. After that, they lifted their torches and entered in a single file.
In the dark, the sounds of intense fighting continued.
Not long after, the brief scuffle ended.
Thales took a deep breath. Then, as Marina urged him forward, he entered the Prison of Bones.
He left the world lit by the moon, and entered the dark place illuminated only by torches. It was a place filled with sounds unique to prisons: knocking, moaning, crying, cursing, and roaring from prisoners.
“Whoa, come and take a look. We have some entertainment!”
“Hahaha, who’s got the guts to do this?!”
“What happened? What happened?”
“Oh, f*ck, I think I saw the guards falling to the ground!”
“Hey, those who live near the door, tell us what happened there.”
“It seems like the guards were fighting?”
“I bet ten gold coins. Big Lyer will surely win!”
“Twenty gold coins! I’m putting all my money on Morpheus! He was trained in the Tower of Eradication!”
“As if you two smugglers even have any gold coins!”
Thales averted his gaze away from the dead guards to examine the place before him.
The Prison of Bones looked like a crudely-made, dome-shaped colosseum from the outside, but the interior of the building was incredibly complex. Clearly, they had only entered one layer within the prison.
The first thing that entered Thales’ view was the ground made of hard rock. It was solid but crude. The walls made of huge stones had several torches fixed on them to provide light. It did not matter whether it was the low ceilings, the darkness from the tunnel, or the nonstop buzzes from the prisoners’ screams, all of them caused Thales to feel incredibly depressed, and he felt awful.
And the jumbled up noises came from the darkness in the arc-shaped tunnels which the torches could not illuminate. He could vaguely see arms stretching out of the darkness, and they were waving in the air furiously.
“Damn it, I can’t see clearly!”
“It’s a prison break! There’s definitely someone doing a prison break!”
“Enough already. Every single week, there’s someone who declares that there’s a prison break. Can we please have another story?”
“Hey prison breaker, help a man out and break my lock, will you?”
The Disaster Swords ignored these voices. With one single command, they spread out orderly in a well-trained manner, and entered the darkness on both sides.
Stake stopped moving, and turned towards Ricky.
“We’re inside. Of course, we won’t be able to help but miss someone. After all, even the guards have to be on patrol, but there’s only one exit to this place. Based on the information, there are quite a number of people who are locked in each layer.” Stake took a torch and gestured to his left and right. “There will be the most number of prisoners in the first layer, and when we move one layer up”
But Ricky only lifted his hand gently and cut him off.
“That’ll be something we’ll take care of ourselves.”
Even though he had been tactfully rebuked, Stake still bowed amiably once his smile froze for a moment on his face.
Several minutes passed. The sounds of battle shot out from the darkness, along with the prisoners’ feverish shouts.
After a moment, while the clamor among the prisoners grew louder, a rather large number of Disaster Swords came back from the tunnel to the left in a continuous stream with the signs of battle on their bodies. The observant Thales noticed that there were a lot of shabbily dressed newcomers among them, and they seemed to be the Prison of Bones’ prisoners.
Among them, a built prisoner came to stand before Ricky, and with a perfectly collected expression, he caught the weapon and clothes Shawn threw at him.
“Looks like you’re pretty used to jail food, Josef,” said Klein with a cold smile.
“Eckstedt, Anlenzo, Alumbia, Constellation. Different places, but their prisons are all the same.” The prisoner named Josef changed his clothes and looked around before chuckling softly. “Besides them shutting me together with the disgusting cross-dressing male prostitutes, there’s really nothing different about these prisons.
“But you sure move fast. I thought you would cause more of a ruckus.”
“We were very lucky. We obtained some ‘help’ we didn’t expect,” Ricky answered with a smile.
Stake winked amiably.
By the side, Lasalle observed the prisoners who were released, and he frowned.
“You did a prison break to release these people?” He seemed to rather disapprove of this action. “Honestly, you just need to use some money”
Ricky chuckled and shook his head.
“This must be your first time in the Prison of Bones, Baron Lasalle.”
Lasalle was somewhat taken aback.
He narrowed his eyes and looked towards Stake. The latter only smiled helplessly while he was beside him.
“In truth, there are two parts to the Prison of Bones.” Ricky patted Josef, who just escaped from prison, then turned around and said to Lasalle, “Your Grace, what you see is just one part of itthe White Prison. And we are going to”
He looked towards Josef. “Tell me that you lot found it.”
Josef shrugged. He put away the weapon that had just been delivered into his hand, took a torch, and walked into the darkness before them.
“Of course. Come with me. We’ll be moving down.”