Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
Five pitch-dark prison cells appeared in front of everyone’s eyes. They were similar to the other empty prison cells, apart from the brand new bars that set off the darkness behind.
There was a thick, foul smell, but no sound and no movement. There was… no one?
Everyone stared at one another. There was puzzlement in their eyes.
Ricky tapped the absent-minded Samel’s shoulder. The latter only came back to his senses slowly, as if he was in a dream.
At this moment…
A deep and long sigh rose from the darkness of one of the prison cells. There was a lackadaisical tone to it.
“Bruley, are you snoring again?” The lackadaisical voice paused for a while, as if the person had just woken up. “Motherf*cker, it’s louder than thunder”
Upon hearing this voice, Samel jolted. The sound of someone turning over rang out in the darkness. Everyone looked at one another and held their breaths in unison.
‘It’s a person, a living person.’
Samel’s foot hung in the air. He seemed to hesitate for a long time between going forward and stopping. He stared dazedly at the darkness ahead. The flame of torch in his hand flickered slightly.
When they saw Samel’s unusual behavior, Ricky and Klein’s eyes met. Stake furrowed his eyebrows tightly, while Lasalle grew perplexed.
Soon, a dull sound echoed from another prison cell, as if someone had punched the wall hard.
Everyone could not help but shift their gazes and peer into the darkness inside another prison cell.
A man’s desolate voice arose. “Hahaha, you’re making it sound as if thunder can be heard here”
When he heard this blas voice, Samel jolted again. His entire body started to shiver.
The prisoners in the dark and foul-smelling prisons remained silent for a while. The first lackadaisical voice came again.
“Speaking of which, how does thunder sound like? Does anyone remember?”
The desolate voice let out a long hum as if he was contemplating this question.
“Of course. Listen up, Nalgi, thunder sounds like this.” The desolate voice started huffing and puffing, giving off a vivid imitation.
“Crack! Crack! Crack! Crackle! Crackle! Snort”
Apart from two prison cells, a few differing laughs came from the darkness of the other three prison cells. Thales could sense around five or six people in them.
Some of the laughter was plaintive, some dreary, and some were sonorous. But all of them, without exception, caused those who heard it to feel depressed.
“Go to hell, Tardin.” The lackadaisical voice laughed. The prisoner named Nalgi mocked him, “This is obviously the sound you and Bruley make when you think you’re sneakily f*cking the wall at night”
The desolate voice also seemed entertained by himself. He laughed boisterously. “F*cking the wall, hahaha. F*cking the wall, hahahahahahaaaaa”
Tardin’s laughter was very long and strange, but Thales could sense a bizarre agitation in it, along with misery.
At this moment, a third voice came from the third prison cell.
“Ah, whoa Nalgi and Tardin, you’re very pleased with yourselves, right?”
Thales frowned. ‘This voice is like the growl of a disgruntled wild beast.’
Nalgi and Tardin’s laughter slowly faded.
Compared to the first lackadaisical voice and the second desolate voice, the third voice was shrill, harsh, and rather ghastly. It reminded Thales of ferocious predators that lurked in the dark.
“But I know that you can’t deceive me. I know” The person spoke through gritted teeth as though he saw something he could not bear to watch.
There was silence.
“Ah.” Tardin, the one who was laughing boisterously earlier, snorted softly. He seemed rather scornful. “Oh, there goes our dear logistics officer, Naer, again.”
The next moment, the ghastly voice suddenly became shrill.
“Yes! I know now! Nalgi and Tardin, both of you are chatterboxes. The stupid things you say everyday are actually all secret codes, right? What are you both planning in secret?!”
The sound of a fist pounding on the wall rang out again.
Thales arched an eyebrow in surprise. ‘What’s with this person?’
The man called Naer spoke hysterically while pounding the wall. “You must be secretly plotting to kill me Yes, it must be so. You, you, yes. Both of you want to annoy me to death with your endless nonsense while we’re separated by these prison cells. Then, you will be able to have all the supplies for yourselves and stay alive, stay alive until the day It must be so! It must be!”
*Thud, thud, thud!*
The sound of Naer pounding the wall became louder and louder, and it seemed like he was hitting the wall with all his might.
“I’m telling you both, you’re delusional! No one can deprive me off my rights, no one! This is a DELUSION! I’m going to kill you, I’ll kill you before you attaaaaaaaaack”
Naer’s crazed growls echoed in the hall. They were filled with grief and hatred.
Klein scratched his ear awkwardly outside the prison cell. Everyone stared anxiously at each other. However, Ricky raised his hand to stop them from taking any action as he stared at Samel’s back. Meanwhile, Samel listened quietly to the voices. He did not move.
As curses were hurled back and forth, the lackadaisical Nalgi laughed. Then, he whistled in a rather rhythmical manner. Naer’s curses paused momentarily. Then, Nalgi started singing. His voice was melodious.
“The lad rode a horse, the maiden held a basket. They met by the street, it was love at first sight. The stars were bright, the breeze was gentle. The lad whispered, ‘When I have all the riches in the world, I’ll still love you as before'”
Without anyone noticing it, the curses became softer. Nalgi had a good sense of rhythm. The ditty rose airily from the dark prison cell, and was mixed with Naer’s curses. His voice was crisp, like a clear stream.
“The king grew old, the woman held a cane. They met again years later, time was merciless. Withered leaves fell, and the sun set. The old woman sighed, ‘Now that you have all the riches in the world, how is there space for you to love me as before?”
Slowly, as Nalgi’s singing voice faded, Naer’s curses also disappeared. Only a loud panting was left. Nalgi snorted angrily. Then, there was a sound of something heavy falling to the floor.
It was quiet again in the five dark prison cells.
Samel still did not move at all. He quietly stared at the darkness before his eyes. Only the flame of the torch in his hand flickered a little.
Soon, a timid voice rose into the air. There was a quiver in that voice.
“Nalgi, no” This person was either born with a thin voice, or was easily frightened. He spoke falteringly, and his voice was still quivering. “It’s not, it’s not.. ”
Nalgi sighed in the darkness. He then spoke lackadaisically, as if he was coaxing a child to speak. “What is it, Canon?”
“That isn’t, isn’t”
Canon said with a trembling voice, “That is neither the sound of thunder nor Bruley’s snores. I know it, that isn’t”
He sounded extremely frightened.
“That’s that’s the sound of the iron curtains being drawn”
Everyone including Thales trembled in unison. The people in the prison cell noticed them.
Canon continued talking, but his tone slowly changed.
“Th-they’re here, they’re h-here to drag us out and behead us. For our crimes, for our negligence in our duties, for our impertinence, for our selfishness Ah, they’re h-here I knew it”
Rustling sounds came. It sounded like the owner of the voice had prostrated himself and curled up on the floor. He wailed in panic.
“They’re here… Aaaaahhhhhh!”
Tardin, the one with the desolate voice, said faintly, “Ah, Canon is off rambling nonsense again.”
“It’s like the last time. Do you remember, Nalgi? He said a girl appeared in front of him. You’re in the same cell as Canon, do me a favor and knock him out.”
At this moment…
“Nalgi, Canon, Tardin.”
A steady voice rose slowly. It was as if it carried an unexplainable power, even in the darkness.
“The three of you, be quiet.”
The person spoke very slowly. But the moment he spoke, the other three went quiet.
“I think I’m seeing something indeed.”
When he heard this calm voice, Samel lowered his head slowly in the hall. He seemed to be at a loss.
Klein was about to reach out his hand and alert Samel of what was happening, but Ricky pressed down on Klein’s shoulder. The man shook his head at Klein.
There was a stern expression on Ricky’s face as he observed the prison cells. A pair of footsteps rose slowly from behind the fourth prison cell.
Everyone turned anxiously towards that cell. A dark and thin figure which could not be seen clearly appeared behind the metal bars.
Thales could vaguely see that the figure had messy long hair which covered his face. The clothes on his body were in patches of black and gray, and his disheveled appearance and dirty face was barely discernible.
“Light. I see light,” the calm voice said serenely.
Tardin, who had been making disparaging remarks all this while, let out a soft and scornful snort.
“It’s just an illusion, like how Naer always thinks that people are trying to harm him, and how Canon always sees a female ghost. Honestly, I sometimes dream of King Aydi”
“Be quiet.” The steady voice came again. It was a command, and it left no room for refusal.
Thales noticed that the prisoners in the other cells said nothing, as if they were waiting for his decision. The thin figure slowly approached the bars.
Outside the prison cell, Samel took a deep breath, raised his torch, and held it close to the person.
There was a pained scream. The next moment, the thin figure abruptly raised his arms and covered his eyes with them in the bright light. He took a few staggering steps backwards. “Too harsh! What’s with this light!”
Samel hesitated for a moment and moved the torch back a little. This time, Thales saw clearly. A figure appeared in the dark behind the bars of the cell.
It was a man who had fallen from grace. He had long hair, and his beard reached his chest. He slowly lowered his arms as he stood before the bars.
Samel stared at the person blankly. He looked at his sunken cheeks, yellow skin, lackluster eyes, and his old and dispirited face. Just from his appearance, he looked like he was fifty or sixty years old.
Samel felt a dull pain in his heart. He remembered that this person was once valiant and strong. But now
Meanwhile, Thales saw something else.
The prince watched this person push his long hair aside to reveal his gaunt and wrinkled face, as well as the brand there which extended from the right side of his face to his chin.
Thales was stunned.
It was just like Samel’s. It was a brand with the letter ‘S’ from the Ancient Empire’s alphabetthe brand of criminals.
Samel’s lips moved slightly, and he said in a trembling voice, “Barney?”
The prisoner in the cell froze!
Samel forced these words out of his mouth as he looked at the disheveled prisoner.
“The chief vanguard, Quill Barney Junior?”
Before him, Barney Junior widened his bloodshot eyes and fixed his gaze on Samel, who stood outside the prison, separated from him by the bars.
He did not move at all, as though he was petrified. The other voices in the prison cells also went silent. Only their panting sounds slowly grew louder.
On the other side of the darkness, the shaky voice of the person called Canon rang out again, “Wait, this voice itsounds like, it sounds like”
The sound of someone climbing up from the floor came, and a second figure appeared in another prison cell. Samel turned slowly and had his torch shine on the other person.
Thales saw this prisoner. He stood with his shoulders hunched, and he reclined against the wall while he inched towards the bars. He covered his face firmly with his hands, only revealing his eyes, like he was afraid that something would hurt him.
Soon, Canon slowly put down his hands, revealing his filthy face.
“You, you’re No, no” The prisoner stared at the fire outside blankly. He looked terrified, and he trembled more and more violently.
And on his right cheek was the letter ‘S’ from the Ancient Empire’s alphabet. It was also branded in the same spot.
Thales suddenly understood something.
There was an anguish not known to others contained in Samel’s thoughts as he stared at the person in front of him.
‘Jonah Canon, he was… once the bravest person I’ve ever known. He even had the courage to fight against wild beasts. But…’
“Something’s not right”
In the same prison cell, the lackadaisical voice rose from behind Canon. “I think I I think I’m hallucinating, too. I actually actually see the iron curtain being drawn open, and… and I even see Samel?”
As the light from the flame flickered, another person who was similarly covered in filth appeared beside Canon.
His hair was untidy, his beard unkempt, his eyes were glassy, and his face was old. There was also a foul smell coming from him, as if he was a hairy savage.
Samel inhaled deeply and shifted his gaze. In his eyes was an anguish that could not be concealed. “Nalgi, it’s really me.”
Nalgi’s filthy face froze.
There was also a commotion from the three other prison cells. A few figures appeared one after another from the darkness where the flames could not reach.
Samel turned slowly and looked at the two other people in the third prison cell. He slowly called out their names.
“Gutee Tardin.” The prisoner stared at Samel with his head tilted. The corners of his lips slowly curled up to reveal an eerie smile.
“Sol Bruley.” This man was rather healthy and strong. He said nothing.
The two remaining people were alone in their prison cells. Samel sounded especially different when he called out their names.
“The second logistics officer, Sazel Naer.” This was the ‘savage’ whose entire body went stiff. He stared at the torch outside the bars with a skeptical gaze.
“And you, chief penal officer, Luton Beldin.” Samel looked at the last person, and exhaled slowly. “It has been a long time.”
The person only watched him coldly.
Thales stared in astonishment at the old prisoners with their pathetic appearances, as well as their pale and sickly faces. It was obvious that they had suffered for a long time, and all of them, without exception, had an S-shaped brand on various positions of their faces.
‘So, they’re all’
However, the people in the five prison cells reacted unexpectedly.
“What is this?” The final person, Beldin, lowered his head nonchalantly and mumbled to himself, “Who went crazy this time? Perhaps there aren’t enough supplies? Or did we really encounter a ghost?”
“It’s nothing,” Barney Junior interrupted him coldly. He was looking past Samel, as if he was staring at air. “It’s impossible that he’s real.”
There was distaste on his extremely filthy face. He turned around. “Go back to sleep, everyone. It’ll be alright after you wake up. This is just another hallucination.”
Barney Junior’s figure disappeared into the darkness.