Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
In the boundless silence and amid the gazes of the people, Barney Jr. frowned as he looked behind the Knight of Judgment.
He gazed at the man who walked up the stairs while leaning against his scabbard. The same brand was on his face.
“It’s you,” Barney Jr. whispered with a hint of disdain.
Finally, Zakriel, who had been listening quietly, sighed and slowly turned.
He smiled weakly at the person behind him.
“I’m very happy that you are fine, Samel.”
The former Vice Flag Bearer of the Royal Guards, the main culprit who brought the Disaster Swords there, and the man who had just been knocked unconscious by Yodel, Colin Samel stood in front of Zakriel with an indifferent gaze.
A well of emotions suddenly stirred within Thales.
Eighteen years had passed. The only nine former Royal Guards left from the Bloody Year had nine ugly brands left on their faces, brands that they would find hard to make disappear. Right then, they reunited in the deepest, darkest, gloomiest, dirtiest Prison of Bones that never saw light.
When they saw Samel, many of the people there had complicated expressions.
“Wow, we’re all here now,” Nalgi’s voice rose in an untimely fashion. His smile was forced, but Thales could see that he was trying to lighten the atmosphere.
“Barney, Zakriel, and of course, you, Samel. I really think that we should all sit down”
Samel ignored them. He just pointed at Zakriel and interrupted Nalgi.
“Zakriel, the man who has our respect He’s keeping his mouth tightly sealed, refusing to say anything. He would prefer to respond by force because of the dirtiest, darkest secret in his heart.”
Samel enunciated each word clearly. Every word he said seemed to possess some magical power that caused their breathing to turn irregular. His words also caused the atmosphere in the hall to become more solemn.
Thales frowned as he looked at Samel.
The latter sneered and glanced at the seven prisoners before he continued, “And they are asking in such a secretive and hesitant manner… because that ‘thing’ is the most horrible nightmare in their hearts, isn’t it?”
The seven prisonerssans Zakrielexchanged glances, but Thales sensed the horror and avoidance in their eyes.
Barney Jr. even closed his eyes.
“It’s not just Zakriel.”
Samel’s words were as sharp as a knife. Inch by inch, his words cut into the indifferent expressions of his former colleagues.
“In fact, every one of them’s escaping from it. They are unwilling to face it, unwilling to believe in it, and are unwilling to uncover it.
“It’s all because of that secret!” Samel roared.
He raised his arm and pointed at Thales!
“The secret that drove Zakriel against this child, Prince Thales, will also explain what happened in the past, right?”
Thales was stunned.
‘What happened in the past?’
The next second, Barney Jr. opened his eyes!
“You are not qualified to speak here, Samel!”
He looked at Samel angrily. “You are just someone who abandoned the guards”
Nevertheless, Samel widened his eyes and talked back in a voice even louder than Barney Jr.’s. It was as if he wanted to throw all the resentment he felt when he was interrogated earlier back at the man.
“And this secret…” Samel said fiercely.
“Involves the time when our former chief flag bearer went to the South! That time, Zakriel, whom we respected the most, took over some of the flag bearer’s duties, and our watchman ‘just so happened’ to be the closest to the crown prince. He was the person who came into contact with his orders every single day.”
As soon as this statement came out, everything fell silent, as though someone had muted all sounds. The sounds of everyone’s breathing, footsteps, grinding teeth, and rubbing of clothes vanished without a trace.
Samel clenched his teeth and said, “The secret involves the year Zakriel led you, me, them, and the majority of the Defense Division as well as Vanguard Divisionthe elite forces among the guards. We rushed back and forth in Renaissance Palace to fight against the assassins and the mob. But we were still one step behind, helpless to do anything; we could only to watch the king and crown prince die before our eyes”
Thales breathed absentmindedly, and the guards trembled as they did the same. Meanwhile, Zakriel just breathed in a daze.
Barney Jr. could no longer bear it. He used his sword to slash at the wall. Then, as a piercing sound rose, he shouted, “Enough!
“Shut up, you traitor, coward, deserter! ”
He was shocked, but after he recovered, Samel gritted his teeth subconsciously.
Barney Jr. pointed his sword at Samel and angrily said, “This is a conversation between Zakriel and us. A traitor like you has no right to speak!”
Samel was silent, then he began to chuckle
He lowered his head before he raised it again. He pointed at BarneyJr. with his scabbard and mocked him.
“Did you know, Barney? Earlier on, I was just like you.”
Barney Jr.’s pupils shrank.
“Until I saw myself clearly.”
Samel spread his arms open and sneered, as though he wanted to embrace all of the darkness in the prison. “What are you afraid of?”
Thales felt that Samel had changed into another person. After his fallout with his former colleagues and Ricky’s death, he reappeared in front of everyone like a devil who tempted the hearts of man.
“Are you afraid of the past, the truth, the answer? Or are you afraid of your incompetent, cowardly, ostrich-like self?
“Where is the unquestionable courage and determination you had when you accused me just now?
“Where is your whole self-satisfied air, your whole shtick of ‘I have suffered more so I am more qualified to scold all of you’?
“Where did all of that go…
“Quill Barney Jr.?”
Samel’s smile was very wide.
Every single one of his words seemed to stab into the guards’ hearts, causing crimson drops of blood to bleed from them.
“In the name of the chief vanguard”
Barney Jr.’s voice trembled with his sword. His gaze was murderous. “I will say this for the last time…
“Shut. Your. Filthy. Mouth.”
Samel’s smile grew even brighter. It looked like a brilliant firework that was about to disappear in the next moment.
He raised his hands, shook his head, and a defiant look settled in his eyes.
Before the situation went out of control, Nalgi cut into their conversation again. But this time, he was particularly cautious.
“Barney, Samel, I think maybe we shouldn’t rush into”
Barney Jr. turned his head around swiftly.
“You shut your mouth too, Nalgi.
“This is the vanguard’s command.”
Nalgi was rendered speechless. His expression instantly turned unpleasant.
Barney Jr. tried to adjust his breathing. He then turned his gaze back to Zakriel.
“A shameful traitor is accusing you, Zakriel.”
Barney Junior stared at the Knight of Judgment, who did not utter a word.
“Because you, who were loyal and devoted to your task eighteen years ago, went mad eighteen years later and suddenly pointed your weapon at the bloodline you vowed to protect.
“Do you have anything to say for yourself?”
Quick Rope looked at Thales in horror.
Barney paused and took a deep breath. It was as if he was doing something incredibly difficult.
“For instance, do you know some secret that we don’t about the prince, so you had to search for him as a result?
“Or, do you have a better reason? Perhaps this prince is actually an impostor?
“Or, is there a secret hidden in the Jadestar bloodline, and youhave a mission to accomplish because you were ordered by the late king to do so, as you have proclaimed just now?”
There was a faint hope in Barney Jr.’s gaze, along with a barely noticeable plea for Zakriel to answer his question.
“So much so that… he is a scourge that must be removed?
“Something like that?”
Thales’ heart nearly leaped out of his chest again.
But for some reason, he knew that he did not need to worry.
The scene became very quiet.
It made Thales think of the drains in the Abandoned House. There were only corpses there.
In Barney Jr.’s gaze were emotions that perhaps even he himself could not identify. He waited for Zakriel’s answer.
Samel continued to smile coldly as he looked at everyone in disdain.
The other members had different expressions.
The atmosphere in the hall was getting more and more unbearable.
“No, we used to be brothers. We should not fall to this point”
Nalgi gave up on the possibility of communicating directly with Barney Jr., but he did not give up his efforts. He turned his head to ask his colleagues for help. There was even a pleading tone in his voice.
“Beldin, your position is higher. I beg you, say something”
Even Quick Rope could see that this small soldier was trying to distract everyone’s attention to delay what was eventually coming.
Yet, Penal Officer Beldin only shook his head with a sad expression on his face.
“In accordance with the rules, the penal officer cannot interfere with a vanguard’s decisions during war unless there is an order from the captain.”
Nalgi’s words froze in his mouth.
“During war? But now”
At that moment, Zakriel, who had been standing in silence for a long time, suddenly raised his head, and his dull voice rang throughout the Prison of Bones once more.
“It’s all right!”
This time, there was a touch of joy and relief in his voice.
The Knight of Judgment looked at his former colleagues with a gentle gaze. “Nalgi, Beldin, and Samel…
“It’s all right.”
He turned his head slowly and met Barney Jr.’s gaze. He had been staring at Zakriel the entire time.
But there was no animosity when their gazes met, only solemnity.
“Someone needs an answer, that’s all.”
Zakriel’s voice was hoarse.
Without realizing, Thales’ breathing became shallow.
He immediately noticed that he was not the only one reacting this way. Many of the guards could no longer keep a calm expression.
“Thank you, Barney.”
Zakriel’s tone was very calm. There was a touch of gratitude and friendliness in his voice. He sounded just like a kind and gentle neighbourhood uncle.
“Thank you for asking so much, and thank you for being willing to ask so much.”
He stared at Barney Jr. with an unfocused gaze and nodded.
“Thank you for your trust.”
When he met the other person’s gentle gaze, for some reason, Barney Jr. was taken aback.
He looked at the man before him. This was the man who still had some of his past strength, the man whom Barney Jr. looked up to in the past, was once envious of, and swore to defeat. For some reason, Barney Junior began to shudder.
Right then, Barney Jr.’s tone softened. He no longer sounded aggressive, and his words were neither cold nor unpleasant.
“Answer me then.”
He struggled to speak. There was a barely-noticeable pleading tone in his voice.
“I beg you.”
No one said a word.
Zakriel stared at Barney Jr. in silence.
He knew… He knew what kind of answer Barney Jr. wanted.
He knew what Barney Jr. wanted to hear, and what he felt conflicted about.
Zakriel bowed his head. He heaved a long sigh and revealed a comforting smile.
“You already have the answer, don’t you?”
Barney Jr. trembled a little.
Zakriel’s gaze swept past every single one of his colleagues before his gaze finally stopped at the empty air. “When you reunited with Samel earlier and obtained your final confirmation that Samel was not the one”
His eyes were glazed over.
“You already had the answer.”
At this point, Thales sensed a lot of emotions from the people in the hall based on the changes in their breathing and heartbeats.
Relief, pain, shock, surprise, resentment, sadness, disdain
“I’m sorry to have dragged you into this mess, everyone.”
Zakriel looked up and stared at the ceiling, but his melancholic expression and his frown made him look like he was staring at the setting sun.
“But, I need to complete the unfinished business of that year,” he said in a daze.
Barney Jr. swayed. His chest heaved.
He forcefully suppressed the thing in his throat as he clenched his teeth and continued to ask, “What did you do that year, Zakriel?
“How is it related to this child?”
Thales saw how Zakriel continued to stare at the dark ceiling, as though his exit lay in that direction.
The smile on his lips grew wider.
He raised his hand gently and touched his own forehead. Then, he forced a fake, clumsy smile, which looked as if someone had pulled at his cheeks to force his mouth into that smile.
As Thales stared at Zakriel in a daze, he felt a mournful feeling from that smile. Zakriel looked like he was crying.
Zakriel opened his mouth and spoke in an airy voice, as though he was telling a bedtime story,
“Barney, the answer you have been searching for all these years… is just right here.”
Thales frowned and stared at the Knight of Judgment.
Zakriel took a deep breath and slowly exhaled while he withstood everyone’s complex and profound gazes.
“Eighteen years ago”
Thales grew nervous.
“The one who forged the crown prince’s order at Renaissance Palace and deliberately removed all of you from the Hall of Stars to create a hole in the defenses so that Shadow Shield and the Charletons could assassinate the late king
“The one who deliberately led the team away from the palace gate, leaving the crown prince behind to the assassins”
The Knight of Judgment slowly moved his hand and combed his bangs to the back of his head, exposing the ugly brand on his forehead.
He lowered his head and looked at the people there.
The Knight of Judgment’s facial features became sharper and more aggressive after his bangs no longer covered his forehead.
Everyone waited with chills down their spines. His words grew more and more indifferent.
“The key figure in that treason
“The one who betrayed the Royal Guards, the crown prince, and the late king… The one who caused the Jadestar Family to be destroyed, the bloodline of the Royal Family to wither, and the kingdom to fall into repeated chaos”
Every word and every sentence he spoke was extremely dull. There was no warmth in his words, and he sounded like a person reciting holy texts in the temple, the type that made listeners feel drowsy when they heard it.
However, his words made everyone in the room feel nervous.
The Knight of Judgment continued to speak plainly.
“The one who truly needs to bear the crime of fraternizing with the enemy but has despicably hidden the truth for eighteen years The disgraceful, sad, hypocritical, disgusting, self-proclaimed aloof… The sanctimonious traitor who acts differently from how he looks is me.” The Knight of Judgment’s lips curled up.
The people in the prison could not help but gasp. As they did so, the Knight of Judgment exhaled.
His smile remained unchanged. It still made him look like he had been released from a heavy burden. After throwing out a series of adjectives and titles, he added an unusual name that made everyone sad.