Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
“When I was younger, when Count Lisban told me about them, I had always thought that they were just legends. They were only as real as the Queen of the Sky, and the gods in the temples.”
Moriah stared at Thales with a complicated gaze, one the latter had never seen on him before. Thales recognized that expression…
It was the one on Quill Barney Junior’s face when Samel failed to take his oath earlier. Lost, hollow, agonized, and filled with regret.
There were also hints of confusion and helplessness.
“But the story passed down in our family through generations is true.” Moriah fixed his gaze on the teenager, shook his head slightly, and his chest heaved.
It was as if he no longer knew his companion, who had once experienced life and death situations with him, and had went through dangers together with him for a short period of time. That foreign prince who shared the same fate as him…
In the face of Moriah’s bow and arrow, Thales could only bite his lower lip hard. At that moment, it was like even the pain in his chest was not important anymore.
What could he say? What should he say?
“Calamities are humans, or monsters who look like humans” Moriah’s gaze did not stray from his target. The bow and arrow in his hand trembled slightly. He could not control the tremors.
“They breathe, eat, move, and live in every corner of this huge world like us. Every movement of theirs is extremely similar to ours,” he uttered subconsciously. His voice was airy, as if he was narrating an old tale from a long time ago.
“But in the end, they’re not us; they’ll tear down their masks, reveal their original forms, and start destroying and killing everything in sight.”
Thales subconsciously clenched his fist tighter over his chest. Moriah slowly furrowed his eyebrows and took a step back as though he could not believe everything he was confronted with.
He gritted his teeth and inhaled deeply a few times. The scenes from just now flashed in his mind.
“You’re just like what I said, right? Let’s take how you behaved just now as an example.”
Thales, who was leaning against the wall, was silent for a moment. His face was pale, and his facial color did not improve even when illuminated by the red firelight.
‘In the end, they’re not us; they’ll tear down their masks..’
Thales recalled every time he lost control and knocked on the Door. He remembered the Thales who seemed to know everything, and seemed to be someone who only existed in his dreams. He also remembered the consequences he had to face every time he regained consciousness.
After a long time, Thales replied sadly in a tone that made him sound like he was in a dream, “I don’t know… Even for me, this is a question shrouded in mystery.”
Moriah also went silent for a moment. For a time, in the deep and quiet dungeon, only their breaths were heard.
Then, Moriah’s cackles echoed in the air. “So, among the calamities King Raikaru fought against which one of them were you?”
Thales was a little absent-minded.
Moriah spoke with the sternest and wariest tone as he enunciated each word.
“The King Calamity? The Nightmare Calamity? The Blood Calamity? The Secret Calamity? The Seer Calamity?’
Every time he uttered a term, Moriah’s expression became a little grimmer. These terms had only appeared in the Walton Family legends, but he never regarded them as real.
When he heard these unfamiliar and strange terms, Thales frowned slightly.
Then, Moriah raised his crossbow and spoke his next words, “Or are you the leader of all the calamities: the Nemesis of the Gods?”
‘Nemesis of the Gods?’
When he heard this vaguely familiar nickname, Thales felt pain in his chest again. The teenager stopped looking at Moriah. He lowered his head and spoke in a tone as if he was somewhat dejected, but also as though a burden had been released from his shoulders.
“None of them. I am a newbie.”
Moriah paused for a moment. “Ha…” His shoulders shook slightly, and his laughter was a little mournful. Even the flames, his bow, and the arrow trembled. “So all of you are like White Blade Guards. You even have newbies”
There was a slightly mocking tone in his voice. Thales tried his best to curl up the corners of his lips, even though he did not know how he felt at that moment.
“Yes. Mystics, calamities…” When he thought of this, his mind wandered a little. When he spoke, he sounded dispirited. “Everything is like a nightmare. No matter how many smiles you flash at the usual times, and how much courage you muster… when all is quiet in the dead of night, it will always return to your mind”
“Enough, calamity.” The trigger of Moriah’s crossbow vibrated a little. He cut Thales off and fixed his eyes on the latter. His gaze was unfamiliar, his smile was cold, and the veins in his hands bulged out.
“Do you know that all temples, no matter how dilapidated or deteriorated, they warn every single king of Eckstedt that the calamities who destroyed the world would one day return and destroy us, like how they destroyed the Final Empire in the past…?”
Thales did not look at him. He only shut his eyes. “I”
But Moriah did not plan to let him answer. Nuven’s son spoke through gritted teeth. He exerted force on the fingers around the foregrip of the crossbow and fought to suppress his complicated emotions, of which he had nowhere to vent.
“Do you know that everyone from the Walton Family is educated from young about the sort of terror and despair Raikaru and his peers had to endure in the Battle of Eradication, the sacrifices they had to make, and the casualties they had to witness to miraculously turn the tide around and defeat the insane and evil calamities before they could establish Eckstedt?”
Thales did not open his eyes. He tried his best to curl up the corners of his lips. “Is that so?”
The Prince of Constellation could feel that his nosebleed had stopped. His strength was slowly returning to his body under the nourishment of the Sin of Hell’s River, and the pain in his chest was gradually alleviating.
He should at least be able to stand up by himself… But for some reason, when he faced Moriah who glared at him, and the Crossbow of Time which appeared shaky and unsteady in his hands
…Thales suddenly felt very tired.
‘So, even a companion who once went through dangerous situations together with me, and whom I thought I could depend on would become like this.
‘This is what it means to be a calamity. This is myself… and my future,’ he thought dejectedly.
The pleasant voice of a woman he had not heard from for a long time rose in his mind.
‘”You are going down a dark path. Mystic energy is not a gift or blessing… it is a curse and a misfortune”‘
At that moment, as he listened to the bitter and harsh sound of Moriah’s breathing, Thales suddenly felt as though he was in a long dream that drained him of all his vigor… and there was no hope of him waking up from this dream.
‘”So, I suppose this is the end.”‘
Another spark flew from the torch in the prison.
“Was it you?” Moriah asked coldly.
Thales kept his eyes shut. “What?”
Moriah stared at the mournful Thales. Anger and suspicion rose in his heart at the same time. “Six years ago…Those legendary monsters wouldn’t have appeared in Dragon Clouds City for no reason.” Moriah gritted his teeth. “Tell me. Were you related to my father’s death, and the destruction of half of Dragon Clouds City which you were incredibly secretive about?”
He raised his voice unknowingly, and his tone turned harsh. “Look into my eyes and tell me!”
Thales shivered. He subconsciously opened his eyes… and stared into Moriah’s eyes in a daze. They were furious, pained, hesitant and bloodshot eyes. Thales’ thoughts began to drift back to that night in Dragon Clouds City.
‘Ah, yes. The shattered eaves, the mottled and dilapidated walls, the silence everywhere…’ These things he thought he could cast away from his mind…
His entire body trembled, but this time, it was not because of pain. Instead, it was because his heart had suddenly clenched. It was because of those unavoidable truths.
One second later, Thales uttered absentmindedly, “Yes.”
The muscles on Moriah’s arms tensed. Thales endured Moriah’s gaze and said in a trembling voice,
“That night. The calamities, and Kilika the hydra… they went to Dragon Clouds City and caused many people to die.” Thales shut his eyes in agony. “And it’s all because of me. Me…”
There was silence. For a time, even the sound of Moriah’s breathing could no longer be heard.
The sound of the torch falling to the ground echoed.
The next moment, Thales felt his collar tighten. His entire body was lifted by the enraged Moriah with one arm, and he was pushed against the wall!
The teenager grunted as he endured the pressure on his chest making him unable to breathe easily. He suddenly felt a pain on his chin. Moriah had already pushed the Crossbow of Time against Thales’ chest, pointing it straight at his head. The protruding tip of the arrow pressed against Thales’ skin and caused it to sting.
Thales had never seen Moriah act this way; the latter’s face was ferocious, his breathing was harsh, and he clenched his teeth. The muscles on his arms and the veins beside his neck were extremely obvious.
He was just like a furious lion, just like that former king of Northland.
“How dare you!”
Moriah growled in a low voice, and Thales could feel the former’s muscles tremble. He grabbed the teenager’s collar with his left hand, and supported the trigger of the crossbow with his right hand and right shoulder.
The string of the Crossbow of Time was extremely taut, storing up momentum and waiting to be fired.
It was selecting its victim.
Moriah was desperately suppressing his hatred and anger, which welled up inside him like a volcanic eruption.
“You damned Do you know what sort of sin you carry, and what kind of disaster you’ll bring?”
Thales only absentmindedly let Moriah threaten his life with a dreary look in his eyes.
“Why do you still dare to go near them? Why do you dare to go near Dragon Clouds City, Eckstedt, my father, and Alex!” Moriah clenched his teeth so hard that they made crunching sounds. His eyes were bloodshot.
“How could you go near her kingdom and her people?! How could you go near my people?!” Moriah’s entire body trembled. He had practically lost control over himself. “You brought your bad luck and the evil around you to them, and you delivered a misfortune as great as the Bloody Year on them! Do you know that your existence is the source of all disasters?!”
Thales felt pain on his chin again. He could feel that as the tip of the arrow vibrated it penetrated his skin.
‘Alex.’ This name pierced into his stupefied brain one step faster than the arrow. ‘No. He’s talking about her. Little Rascal.’
In his vague memory, the bright and beautiful girl with the pince-nez covered her lips with her hand. She stared at him with a hint of astonishment and an indescribable gaze.
“‘You want to take me away? Bring me to Constellation?”‘
At that moment, his thoughts which were close to becoming disorganized became clear. Thales inhaled through the gaps of his teeth and spoke laboriously as he ignored the pain on his chin.
Moriah was still tense, and he still glowered at Thales. It was as if he was going to pull the trigger the next moment and shoot through Thales’ head.
The teenager said in anguish, “I know it better than you. In truth, I know it better than anyone. I know everything that happened around me from that day onwards.”
He knew every single pair of eyes of those who wanted to breathe but could not. He knew every sound uttered by those who cried and fled from the hydra. He knew every still, cold corpse in Dragon Clouds City.
He could only kneel in the middle of the road, and hug the only warm living being to his bosom, with his face covered in tears as he trembled violently.
Thales shut his eyes tight and spoke softly with a heart filled with desolation and sorrow, “I’m sorry… Sorry, Moriah…”
He clenched his fists. Those were all blood debts he owed… Those people all died because of him. That was the consequence of his arrival in Dragon Clouds City. These were the things he had to face.
This was not something he could forget and treat indifferently with a simple sentence like “This was not what I intended”, “I had no choice”, or even “It was not my fault” which would allow him to place the blame on others, much less a nauseating sentence like “It was a pity, but it was a necessary sacrifice”. Naturally, he could not evade his responsibilities and burdens with an easy mind with these sentences, either.
Perhaps other people could, but at least he could not.
“…for everything that happened.”
Moriah’s breathing became heavier. Thales’ collar was pulled with even more force. He could even feel that under the threat of the arrow, a drop of blood dripped down from his neck.
A long time ago, Thales had imagined a similar scene. But in the situations he imagined, he always faced a large group of people, or the whole world. Everyone’s faces were blurred, regardless of whether he knew them or not. They gesticulated at hima monster who caused countless disasters.
‘Right now, I’m already very lucky, aren’t I?’ When he thought of this, Thales felt like a huge burden had been released from his shoulders.
He slowly opened his eyes and gazed calmly at Moriah, along with the sorrow and anger accumulating in the bottom of the latter’s eyes.
He thought indifferently, ‘Moriah, I wonder… When this brave prince, who uses his smile to hide how troubled he felt, and humor to mask his sorrow, walked alone step by step in the remotest corner of the earth; when he drifted about at sea; when he gazed in the direction of Northland with complicated feelings, and stared emotionally at the homeland he left behind; when he received news that Dragon Clouds City was struck by a disaster and his father had suddenly died
‘How did he feel?’
“So, is this it?” Thales became completely calm. He curled up the corners of his lips. “Is this our ending?”
Moriah continued to stare at Thales with bloodshot eyes. The fury in his eyes did not reduce at all. This reminded Thales of the time he opened his eyes in the desert.
At that time, it was this red-haired Quick Rope who blinked his curious and excited eyes at him…
When he thought of this, Thales sighed softly. “By the way, while I still have the chance Thank you, Quick Rope, for saving my life in the desert,” he said softly.
At that moment, Moriah trembled a little. His left arm tensed and he pinned Thales even harder to the wall. He also moved to pull the trigger of the black crossbow with his trembling right hand.
Thales closed his eyes, and waited for the other party’s decision.
The next moment…
Thales could only feel a sudden shock at his right cheek.
Before he could think clearly, he felt the world spin and he was flung sideways with his body close to the wall. He crashed onto the floor.
“Cough, cough” Thales grunted in agony. His whole head was ringing. He first felt a numbness that spread over half his face. A few seconds later, it became a burning pain that made him grimace.
Thales trembled as he got up. He tried to see clearly even though his mind was swimming. ‘What?’
The next moment, something solid was shoved into his hands.
Thales was at first startled, then he realized that it was a sword hilt.
Soon, he felt someone seize his right arm, and his entire body was pulled up. His arm was placed around a thick and broad shoulder. An arm was also placed around his waist, forcibly helping him up.
In his shock, Thales kept shaking his head to reduce his dizziness.
He then saw with surprise that he was leaning against Quick Rope’s shoulder, bouncing up and down as the latter supported him and moved forward. From the teenager’s view, he could only see Quick Rope’s face in profile; he could not see his expression properly.
The bow and arrow in the latter’s hand had already disappeared, replaced by the torch which had fallen to the ground just now.
“You” He only managed to utter one word before a stinging pain shot up his cheek. It came from the part where Quick Rope hit him just moments ago.
“Shut up.” Quick Rope ruthlessly cut him off, hissing through gritted teeth. His unstable emotions and hesitation could still be sensed through his words.
“Our enemies are still here.” He raised the torch to illuminate the road ahead. His entire body trembled. “We must go somewhere safe.”
Thales froze. “But”
“Shut up!” Quick Rope turned his head towards him. He glared at Thales with bloodshot eyes, his tone was filled with the straightforwardness and boorishness exclusive to Northlanders. “Don’t force me to hit you again! I still remember those two slaps!”
Once he said that, he did not look at Thales anymore. He turned around wilfully. From his breathing, one could vaguely tell how complicated his feelings were at that moment.
Thales stared at the side of Quick Rope’s face in a daze. The flame flickered, and the air was still. An indescribable feeling rushed into his heart.
The prince lowered his head and gritted his teeth hard. He dragged his weak body and leaned against Quick Rope’s shoulder to catch up to him.
Both of them left the unconscious Marina behind them. One of them breathed quickly, and the other breathed slowly. They walked slowly, but steadily.
Both of them advanced quietly for a distance and stepped over a few dead bodies. They finally reached the stone staircase that spiraled upwards, and started to climb.
For a time, they sank into this strange atmosphere.
Thales suddenly chuckled in the silence. It was very unexpected. Quick Rope’s footsteps came to a halt. Thales continued his chuckling.
“Shut up!” Quick Rope replied very impolitely. His tone was so stern and his manner was so unpleasant that Thales felt like he was back in Northland.
Quick Rope lifted the torch, turned a corner, and gritted his teeth. “What’s so funny?”
“Nothing much.” The exhausted Thales shook his head. “I’m just really glad.”
He paused for a moment and pounded Quick Rope’s chest with a heart filled with grief.
“…I’m glad that you’re still your old self, Quick Rope.”