Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
The iron curtain was completely lowered. The light from the fire shone into the space behind the bars, showing a figure kneeling on one knee on the floor.
Ricky and Samel stood before the prison cell and stared at him. Thales narrowed his eyes, and saw the man in the prison cell clearly under the flickering light.
A middle-aged man knelt on the floor behind the bars. He placed his palms on his chest, and shook his head continuously as he continued talking to himself.
“Of course, I will shoulder my duty, I will face my own sins”
It was as though he did not hear the sound of the iron curtains coming down and did not see the brilliance of the light from the fire.
Thales looked at that man in a daze. ‘No wonder Ricky said he sounded like he’s praying. But… what’s he doing?’
Ricky and Samel shot each other another glance. Their puzzlement clearly seen in their eyes.
With subtle emotion, Samel took a step forward. Deciding to test waters, he asked, “Zak Zakriel?”
He already had experience with the prisoners prior to this. This time, he was exceptionally careful, he did not even hope for a response.
However, the man replied.
The mumbling man kneeling on the floor slowly stopped whatever he was saying. He lifted his head slowly and moved his shoulders a little, like a porter carrying a heavy load.
As he raised his head, Thales saw him clearly: Brown hair, long face, prominent facial features. He appeared even younger than Putray, who liked to look and act like an old man.
Obviously, compared to the seven dirty and miserable former Royal Guards locked up above, this man had practiced very good self-care. At least his messy hair did not reach his chest; there were clearly noticeable signs of it having been cut by a knife. His beard, too, did not become a nest, but was instead kept only a few inches long. Even at first glance, he did not look sallow and skinny.
At the center of his forehead was a clear ‘S’ brand that turned his skin inside out.
If not for the dirty clothes, the dirt-covered face, and the unignorable smell, even Thales had a hard time thinking that the person in front of him was a prisoner.
The man stared at the light ahead, narrowed his eyes, and showed puzzlement. After a few seconds, he lifted his palm to block the piercing light from the fire, as if he had just reacted to it.
“Light and sound?” The middle-aged man revealed a confused expression. He seemed to be a little slow in the head. “There are even people?”
Very soon, however, the man hid his face behind his palm again. He placed his head against the floor, curled up, and moaned in pain, “No, no, no”
Samel and Ricky cast each other a surprised glance. They did not know what was going on.
The middle-aged man who buried his face in his hands asked unclearly, “Is this one of your tests again?”
“Zak, you” Samel took a step forward and watched the man’s reactions, unable to believe his eyes. He wanted to speak, but found that he could not. In the end, he finished his question.
Within a few short seconds, the middle-aged man suddenly raised his head again. “The test in front of me.”
This time, the long-faced man became nervous, he finally shifted his gaze to the three guests. “Three people, seemingly alive. Two are armed, one is young. What is this? Do I need to defeat someone, or do I need to rescue a hostage?
“…Or is this an illusion forged by hope, but is really a trap to lead me into despair?”
The three people mentioned were rooted to the spot.
Very suddenly, the long-faced man changed his expression, he turned to Ricky, frowned, and in a grim tone, he asked, “Hey, you, are you a demon?”
The torch in Ricky’s hand shuddered slightly. The Disaster Sword gritted his teeth, and then looked at his partner with confusion. “What is he?”
Samel shook his head. He looked troubled, and there was pain on his face.
The long-faced man did not seem to have any intention of answering them. He sucked in a deep breath, climbed up from the floor, and revealed a smile.
“I must admit, I always see them. Legendary demons who tempt men, the monsters who do not see daylight in hell. They never stop scratching my heart with their claws, and they never stop whispering into my ears with their tongues.
“They always lurk patiently in the dark. With every minute and every second, they produce their illusions, trying to tempt me to fall into the deep abyss… into hell.”
The man leaned against the wall. His gaze was profound as he stared into the distance. He appeared to be having a conversation with them, but also looked like he was talking to himself. “They will tell me this, ‘Give up, accept this, compromise After all, there is no longer hope in your world.'”
Samel could no longer bear it and stepped forward. His torch shone brightly on the man’s face, and he shouted the man’s name, “Zakriel!”
His voice was loud. It reverberated throughout the large hall.
The long-faced man in the prison cell jumped slightly. He then stopped moving for a moment. His dazed eyes focused slowly.
“Zak… ri el?” The middle-aged man slowly repeated his own name slowly, saying each syllable.
Samel gritted his teeth. A strange sense of anger rose in his heart. He waved the torch in his hand furiously, making it burn brighter.
“Yes!” Samel knocked the bars with his torch. Sparks flew.He said, “It’s me! Samel! Wake up! Knight of Judgment Zakriel!”
The man named Zakriel was stunned. He breathed slowly, then asked, “Knight of Judgment?”
But immediately, Zakriel shook his head. He laughed out loud. “In the past, yes, in the endless time that I spent living, the demons in my heart always like to use this to tempt me the glory of the past, the regrets, the hatred… But all of it is fake, these are things they use to deceive me, thinking that they can lead me to believe in those things.”
As he went on, Zakriel started murmuring to himself again,“Perhaps I’m not perfect enough, perhaps I’m still not determined enough, not strong enough, that’s why they had a chance to take advantage of me again. They tracked down my weakness, tried to defeat me, to break me but I can at least feel relieved about this.I realized their existences, and I also know that we will one day fight against one another.”
He had failed in trying to communicate with Zakriel. Samel watched this person in a daze. By his side, Ricky let out an indistinct sigh.
Ricky suddenly noticed that Thales was staring at this manwho seemed to be a little off in the head. There was a stunned look on his face. He had apparently thought of something.
Nevertheless, as Zakriel went on talking, his expression slowly changed.
“But, yes, I will persevere, I will remember. I once fought to the death against my greatest enemy, and gave myself as an offering to the most noble beliefs, but everything in front of me… are just forks I encounter on my path when I’m lost.”
The middle-aged man’s smile gradually disappeared. His breaths quickened; he seemed to have thought of something. He grabbed his hair with both hands and he knelt on the floor again.
The man’s lips quivered and his whole body shook.
“Wait, Zakriel? Zakriel… Zakriel…?”
The men outside the prison cell watched how he behaved, and did not know what to do. Suddenly, Zakriel’s eyes brightened.
The man’s eyes suddenly burned in anger. His expression instantly became extremely ferocious and savage!
Zakriel roared angrily. He grabbed his hair and screamed loudly with his head thrown back, “GET OUT OF MY HEAD!”
His roar was loud, and his movements were wide. The three people in front of the prison cell subconsciously took a few steps back.
However, Zakriel’s madness had yet to end.
“DIRTY MONSTERS! DESPICABLE WRETCHES! SNEAKY DEVILS! TRICKS OF DEVILISH CULTS!”
The man was seen scratching his head furiously. He knelt on the floor and was heard screaming in pain towards the heavens.
“I AM IMMANUEL ZAKRIEL, A GLORIOUS RUDOLLIAN! THE NOBLE DESCENDANT OF THE EMPIRE WHO WALK THE LANDS BELONGING TO THE ANCIENT CHAUVINISTIC COUNTRIES! BORN TO A FAMOUS FAMILY OF ANCIENT KNIGHTS WHO SERVED THE GREAT EMPEROR CAMELOT!”
Thales stared fixedly at the other man’s madness. He did not even register the words he shouted.
Immediately after that, Zakriel clenched his fists tightly. An enormous strength erupted from his muscles and he punched the floor violently!
Zakriel’s actions grew even more crazed. His roars resounded through the great hall, causing Samel and Ricky to change their expressions.
“I AM THE IMPERIAL KNIGHT AND HONORARY LORD OF CONSTELLATION! THE PENAL OFFICER OF THE ROYAL GUARDS, THE WATCHMAN, THE PROTECTOR OF THE THRONE, THE GUARDIAN OF THE ROYAL TREASURY”
*THUD! THUD! THUD!*
He hit the floor repeatedly with his fists. The anger burning in his eyes was something that a normal person could not possible bear.
“THE WORLD CALLED ME ‘THE KNIGHT OF JUDGMENT’. I WOULD DELIVER SEVERE PUNISHMENT TO THOSE WHO DESERVE IT, MY METHODS ARE ENDLESS!”
Zakriel screamed in pain. After a while, he seemed exhausted, but he only stopped in hitting the floor. He stood up and lunged at the bars!
“WHAT ARE YOU?! HOW DARE YOU TRY TO POLLUTE MY SPIRIT AND MY DETERMINATION?!”
He gritted his teeth and stared at the empty darkness. His hands shook unceasingly as he held on to the bars. “AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!! GO AWAY! DON’T EVEN DREAM OF DESTROYING ME!”
The three people outside the prison cell watched with fear in their hearts as the prisoner descended into a fit. They looked at each other, not knowing what to do.
“I AM GOING TO CRUSH YOU, DEFEAT YOU, DESTROY YOU I WILL DIE WITH MY ENEMIES, AND I WILL DO EVERYTHING IN MY POWER TO ACHIEVE THIS!”
Zakriel’s madness was almost at its peak. He grabbed hold of the bars and roared hysterically in anger.
Finally, the smoke produced between the bars and his palms turned into a bright light.
After that loud bang, the crazed Zakriel fell to the floor and did not move. The great hall returned to silence.
The three men outside the prison cell stopped breathing. They did not come back to their senses even after a long time had passed.
“I thought, I thought Barney and the others’ conditions were severe enough.” Samel turned his head around laboriously. “But I never expected that even a strong warrior like Zakriel would turn turn”
He could not continue. Ricky snorted gently, and looked at the still figure in the prison cell with disdain. He then finished Samel’s sentence.
“…Turn into a lunatic.”
There was silence. Then, a youthful voice broke the silence.
“Not a lunatic.”
Ricky and Samel turned their heads around in surprise to look at Thales who had spoken.
The prince stared at the person in the cell. A pain of unknown origin flashed in his eyes.
“He just just lives in another world a different world from us.” Thales forced these words out of his mouth. His feelings were complicated.
Ricky stared at the prince with a strange look.
“He was locked up and alone for eighteen years.” Samel let out a sigh. “This is not his fault.”
However, after a few seconds, a dry and dull voice they did not expect came once more from the prison cell.
“You lock up a coward for eighteen years, he will still not become a brave man.”
Compared to before, the man’s voice was firmer and more sonorous.
“But when you lock up a strong man for eighteen years and let him face his inner self, he only gets stronger.” Zakriel crawled up from the floor again. He supported himself against the wall. The act seemed like very a difficult task for him.
Zakriel, the former Watchman of the Royal Guards, but now a prisoner.
He turned around to reveal a nonchalant yet cold face. His eyes were incredibly clear, and he watched them through the bars.
The three of them stared at Zakriel who had spoken once more. They remembered Zakriel’s actions earlier, and stared at him with great doubt in their eyes.
Ricky stared at the prisoner, then turned his head around. He asked Samel in disbelief, “He is talking to us?”
Samel only watched Zakriel in a daze. He did not reply. Zakriel snorted coldly. His gaze moved to the three people outside the cell.
The crazed look in him just now could no longer be seen. When Thales felt his gaze on him, he grew nervous. But the prince was not too sure whether the prisoner was now mentally sound.
“Did you expect someone else?” Zakriel’s dry voice was a little deep. He spoke in a rhythm that made people nervous. “So I have visitors today? That’s rare.”
The three of them looked at each other, and finally reached an agreementthe long-faced man was talking to them.
Surprise slowly appeared in Samel’s eyes as he stared at the prisoner. “Zakriel? How are you”
“No need to worry about me, my mind is now quite clear. It’s just that I haven’t seen light for so long.” Zakriel scowled and hit the bars, then he waved his palm. It was obvious that he was not in a very comfortable state.
“This thing is pretty useful… As for earlier, that’s just a daily routine that I need to go through. It might seem a bit odd, but it’s nothing.”
Indeed, the current Zakriel looked just like a normal person. Too normal, in fact. He did not seem like a man who was locked up for eighteen years.
Ricky stared at him in distrust. He said in a mocking tone, “A bit odd? Are you sure?”
“It was just part of a journey, that’s all,” Zakriel responded indifferently. Then, he deliberately looked at Thales. “As you said, child. It’s another world, a different world.”
His eyes were very calm, yet he always made Thales subconsciously clench his fists and tense up his muscles.
‘This man, this current Zakriel… is the legendary Knight of Judgment?’
Nevertheless, Samel and Ricky still shot each other a worried glance.
“Do we still need to ask?” Samel whispered into his ears, “He does not necessarily recognize me. I can’t guarantee that the things he says in this current state will”
Zakriel had obviously heard their whispers. The Knight of Judgment chuckled softly in the prison. His shoulderthe side he used to lean against the walltrembled slightly.
“Did I not tell you this a very long time ago?” Zakriel exhaled as he leaned against the wall. He narrowed his eyes, using the light to observe his own fingernails. He seemed quite relaxed. “There are plenty of times where you have to fight against yourself, but this enemy known as yourself… is very powerful.”
He clenched his fists and turned to Samel. His gaze was profound. “But you just can’t give up, Colin Samel. You mustn’t.”
Samel’s expression changed, like he had remembered something. He sucked in a breath and took a step forward. He seemed rather worked up.
“Zakriel, youyou still remember me?”
The corner of Zakriel’s lips twitched. He unfurled his fist and started to check the fingernails of his other hand.
“I recognize everyone in my team. I even recognize the brand on your face.” He grabbed a tool that looked like a stone knife and began rubbing it against the nail of his index finger as though there was no one around him.
“As I said, my mind is now quite clear. After all, you don’t usually hear fighting from the few levels above.”
Ricky looked at his calm actions, and his expression became more serious.
Zakriel blew at the finger nail, which was now neatly filed by the stone knife. He then looked at Samel a distance away.
“You just said eighteen years, right?”
Samel’s cheeks twitched.
‘Eighteen years…’ Ricky and Thales both moved. ‘This is what we said when Zakriel was having one of his “fits”. He actually remembers it?’
“So, fugitive Colin Samel. Eighteen years have passed. You’re here. Either they finally caught you,and delivered you down here to rot”Zakrielnarrowed his eyes and looked at his old comrade”OR you once again broke the law, and came here not too ‘legally’.”
Thales examined this legendary figure of the Royal Guards whom did not seem to be of very sound mind, and wondered what kind of man he was.
Samel pursed his lips. He had experienced “reuniting” with the guards once, he now knew how to speak to his former colleagues.
However, it was the skeptical Ricky who spoke, “Very good, he can still have a conversation, although he still doesn’t seem to be of too sound a mind.” He nodded at Samel. “Let’s try.”
Once he heard the leader of the Disaster Swords speak, Zakriel’s eyes moved towards Ricky and Thales. The light in his eyes sparkled, and he seemed to be thinking of something.
Samel sucked in a deep breath. He then spoke seriously in a mild tone, “Zakriel, listen, it has been eighteen years. You shouldn’t be trapped here, we’re here to”
But Zakriel quickly interrupted him, “Breaking into the prison, saving people, looking for treasure, revenge, commiting suicide, penance, seeking answers to your questions.” The former Royal Guard cum prisoner laughed coldly. “These are the only few reasons for you to be here.”
He then pushed his body off the wall and turned his head around. “Whichever one it is, I’m not interested.”
Zakriel did not even turn his head around when he said his next words coldly, “You can now go.”
At that moment, Ricky and Samel were stunned. Both of them were rendered speechless by his decision to absolutely not cooperate with them.
Zakriel did not even look at them. He had his back turned to them, and he looked dignified even though his movements were slow. The three people outside the prison cell looked at each other, feeling lost.
Then, they saw Zakriel touch his rough chin. He said softly in a somewhat regrettable tone,
“Ah, maybe I should shave my beard.”