Zakriel and Barney Junior’s match, where both sides seemed to be going toe-to-toe against each other, lasted only for a few minutes.
The next second, right after Nalgi finished speaking, Zakriel pushed his entire weight onto Barney Junior.
A sharp noise rang, and Barney’s sword got stuck in a bizarre angle due to Zakriel’s ax.
Barney Junior’s pupils shrank.
“You fight like a Northlander…” Zakriel’s left arm moved up diagonally, forming a cross together with his right arm. He accurately grabbed the shield that Barney wanted to use to attack him.
“But you still think like a Constellatiate.”
Barney Junior gritted his teeth to withstand Zakriel’s strength. Both of them were in a stalemate. They shuddered slightly.
“You must know that the Northlanders have nothing on their minds when they fight”
In the battle of strength, Zakriel leaned towards Barney Junior, who was close to him, and he shook his head expressionlessly.
“They never hesitate.”
As everyone cried out in surprise, Zakriel suddenly released his ax handle, causing Barney Junior’s sword to cut into his own shoulders. Blood spilled out from it!
Before Barney Junior had the chance to celebrate Zakriel’s injury, he felt his legs become weak. He did not have time to dodge as Zakriel used Barney Junior’s momentum, grabbed his waist, and lifted him!
Barney Junior was filled with anger and shock. This was the only thought he managed to have before he was thrown heavily to the ground.
Under intense pain, the dizzy Barney Junior knew that the trend of him engaging Zakriel on equal footing had ended. He shouted while he endured the pain in his body, “Naer, Tardin!”
At that moment, two piercing sounds from something slicing through the wind could be heard near the back of Zakriel’s head!
In a flash, Zakriel dodged, and he narrowly escaped the two darts Naer shot to save Barney Junior.
When he turned around, what arrived right before his eyes were Tardin’s merciless blade and sword!
The trajectory of Tardin’s sword and blade was extremely bizarre. They forced Zakriel, who was unarmed at that moment, to take a few steps back. He picked up a war hammer left by one of the mercenaries.
Barney Junior, however, took the opportunity to rise up to his feet with a stagger. He rolled out from the battlefield in a disorderly manner, and Beldin caught him.
“How is he?” Beldin asked in a calm manner.
“His skills aren’t as good as they used to be, his physical strength, too, isn’t as good.” Barney Junior panted gently. He observed Tardin, who took his place to fight against Zakriel. “And there’s a new wound on his back that’s quite deep. It has made his movements a little choppy.”
The prisoners all came together. They helped Barney Junior look for a new weapon while they listened attentively to the conversation between the vanguard and the penal officer.
“Very good. So does that mean that we still have a chance?”
Samel touched his own sword and asked with his eyes narrowed.
Thales watched them as they engaged each other in their short conversation. He suddenly discovered that they were holding a mini military conference in the middle of battle.
Barney Junior swept his gaze past his colleagues and fell silent.
After a few seconds, he shook his head. The group saw it, and their gazes became one of disappointment. “I don’t think so.
“His instincts and his mind are still clear.
“He can turn his weaknesses into advantages any time he so chooses.”
Barney Junior took the sword and shield that Bruley handed to him. He coughed hard. “I even suspect that he intentionally allowed me to discover the wound on his back to tempt me into attacking him from the side. Besides, you all saw it, if I hadn’t delivered that strike, perhaps I wouldn’t have”
On the other side, Zakriel and Tardin’s movements grew faster. Tardin’s attacks were strange and swift. The sound of their weapons clashing against each other reminded one of the sound of windchimes.
“What should we do then?” Beldin’s expression remained unchanged. He looked like an immovable hill.
Barney Jr. stared fixedly at Tardin’s actions.
“Tardin’s movements are very sly. He can buy us time, but”
He did not continue speaking, but Thales could feel that the guards’ mood had fallen.
Barney Jr. stood up while he shook his head. His gaze turned sharp.
“I will take his place later. This time, I won’t be testing the waters anymore. I will kill him without holding back.”
‘Without holding back’
Once this was said, Beldin and the others’ faces darkened. Samel frowned as well.
“Barney” Nalgi had a hesitant look on his face. It seemed like he had something to say, but he did not put his thoughts into words.
Nonetheless, Barney Jr. had a determined look on his face. He did not give the others any opportunity to refute him.
“More importantly, I’ll force him to let us pass. All of you take that chance to run up with the prince.” He turned to Thales, causing the teenager to tense up.
“Run until you escape the Prison of Bones and flee to the surface.”
The group’s expressions instantly changed, each member having varying expressions.
Samel frowned as he folded his arms across his chest. Beldin was quiet. Bruley’s neck was flushed red while he tried to speak falteringly. Nalgi and Canon looked at each other. They were in low spirits.
When Thales saw them reacting this way, a bad feeling rose in his heart.
“Very well, we’ll run,” Samel said sarcastically, shaking his head.
His words were barely audible as the sounds of Zakriel and Tardin’s intense fight rose in the air, but when they landed in the group’s ears, they found that his words weighed a ton.
Barney Jr. ignored Samel’s sarcastic remark.
He stayed silent for a moment before he opened his mouth once more.
“If Naer and I do not succeed, and he catches up to you”
He silently scanned each person in the group before he slowly said, “Then the order to go up against him goes like this: Samel, Canon, Bruley, Nalgi, and lastly, Beldin”
When he heard this, Thales felt his heart sink.
‘Go up against him
‘They want to’
“Each of us has a different fighting style. When each of us takes over the other, Zakriel will need some time to get used to each new fighting style, because the difference between each fighting style is huge. This will allow us to hold him back for longer stretches of time”
Samel snorted coldly.
“For how long?”
Barney Jr. turned his head around swiftly.
“For as long as we can!”
He interrupted Samel coldly, “Understand, Vice Flag Bearer? Or are you displeased with being the first in order?”
Samel snorted gently. He did not say anything else.
Thales noticed that Barney Jr. no longer addressed Samel as a “coward”.
The teenager looked at the brand on their faces, their unkempt but stern expressions, and he could not help but say, “Honestly, we can help a little”
But Barney Jr. rejected his offer brusquely.
“No. You must run, Your Highness.” Barney Jr. held Thales’ shoulders. The emotions in his eyes rippled slightly. “Run towards Blade Fangs Camp. Use your identity to locate the army.”
Thales frowned hard.
With a grave expression, Barney Jr. turned to face Zakriel, who was fighting intensely with Tardin.
“Let them use the iron hooves of the cavalries and the Mystic Guns to help us seek justice as well as clear our names of the false charges they accused us of.”
The Royal Guards’ breathing quickened.
Nalgi opened his mouth. It seemed that he wanted to speak, but in the end, he did not.
Thales could not bear with the conversation any longer. He shook off Quick Rope’s handthe man had been tugging him backwardsand took a step forward.
“Do you really plan to die here?”
Barney Jr. was slightly sunned.
“Of course not.”
He turned around and looked at the dark scene in the Prison of Bones before he let out a long sigh. There was a complicated look on his face.
“It is only on this day that we can consider ourselves ‘alive’ in this place.”
His tone was desolate.
Thales was instantly stunned.
When they heard this, the Royal Guards who were originally a little anxious looked as if they had turned dumb. They all quieted down at the same time.
“And I am very honored to have fought with you, comrades.” Barney Jr. had his back turned towards them. He pushed his sword handle against his chest and sighed gently.
“May the inheritance not perish. May the Empire be an eternal presence.”
There was only silence.
Behind Barney Jr, Beldin raised his fists without any expression and hit his chest gently.
Besides Samel, the Royal Guards all lifted their fists and hit their chests in the same manner.
When he saw them behaving like this, Thales felt his chest clench.
Before Thales could adjust his emotions and recover from his distress, Barney Junior charged forward and moved into the battleground at the next second!
“Tardin!” he shouted loudly!
Tardin’s stamina was gradually being drained, but when he heard Barney Jr., he retreated without hesitation and rolled away from the battleground. When he did so, his posture was considerably unpleasant to the eyes.
Zakriel frowned and turned around. Without stopping, he received Barney Jr.’s attacks again.
“Come, we shall end this, Watchman!”
Their weapons met. Barney Jr. had a savage look on his face.
This time, his movements were obviously more dangerous than before. He went all out and did not care about his own well-being!
Zakriel could not help but be stunned by this. His senses screamed at him that danger was approaching once more.
He knew that this time, his opponent was serious.
On the other side, Nalgi caught Tardin, who had managed to retreat. He was covered in sweat. Beldin then said decisively to the group, “From now on, I will take over as chief vanguard.
“Barney will create a chance for us to break through, and we will then take advantage of that to charge towards the stairs. Do not care about anything at all. Just charge with all your might if Zakriel blocks any one of you”
He looked at group. There was no need for him to complete his sentence, they already knew what he wanted to say.
The Royal Guards looked at Zakriel in the hall, and they all moved.
Beldin grabbed Thales by the arm and tugged him forward.
Thales looked at Barney Jr. as he charged madly at Zakriel. The guard had basically given up on defense and was prepared to die in his offense. He also saw Naer by the side, who held his daggers tightly in his hand while he watched the battle closely. The sight made him feel terribly upset.
‘Is there Is there no other way?’
However, at that moment, another hand came out of nowhere and pressed down on Beldin’s shoulders, preventing him and Thales from moving forward.
Thales was surprised, and so were the others.
Beldin frowned. With a puzzled expression, he stared at the person who stopped him.
“If we follow Barney Jr.’s instructions, we will all die,” Samel said coldly.
He turned to Thales, and his eyes were cold.
Samel’s warning look made Thales’ heart freeze.
Beldin was stupefied for a moment. He cast a glance at Barney Jr., who was attacking Zakriel like a mad man, and immediately after, anger appeared on Beldin’s face.
“That’s the best plan, and it’s also the vanguard’s order”
However, before he finished, he was fiercely interrupted by Samel.
“We need to climb eighteen levels to reach the surface!”
Samel pointed at Zakriel and said decisively, “And for the remaining six of us, even if we each charged at him without regard for our lives, could we even stall him for six minutes?”
Beldin was taken aback.
“You and him were penal officers before, Beldin. There are many unique prisoners that the both of you have sent here from the capital He knows the geography here. He will catch up with us sooner or later.
“That’s not a good idea. Think with logic and reasoning. We cannot escape.”
Samel looked at everyone gravely.
“We must find another way.”
‘We cannot escape.’
Beldin became silent.
He knew that Samel was right.
The others were also dumbfounded.
They began to think of another way out.
An idea appeared crossed Thales’ mind.
Beldin was quiet, but he had an unyielding disposition. He regarded Samel’s disagreement with much displeasure, and just as he was about to fly into rage, Thales suddenly said, “You mean that you have a plan?”
Samel nodded and pointed at the stone stairs.
“We will head down to the bottommost level. I know that there is another path, a mysterious exit Zakriel doesn’t know about it, and that might be our only chance of survival.”
Thales’ eyes brightened.
“You mean, the other exit of the Prison of Bones? The one built by the wizards from the Alchemy Tower?”
Beldin frowned. He exchanged one glance with Beldin.
Samel turned to the other prisoners. He sounded rather agitated.
“Trust me, that is our That path of retreat was originally prepared for the Disaster Swords. Our leader’s very careful when he does things, amd he always plays it safe. If he said that there’s an exit down there, then there will definitely be an exit.”
Beldin looked at him skeptically.
“Then where is your leader Where is he?”
Samel was instantly rendered speechless.
He looked at Thales with a complicated look.
Thales raised his eyebrows, and he subconsciously moved the sword in his hand to his back.
He forced a smile and changed the topic. “That should be true. Shadow Shield once fought against them over this.”
“Are you sure that exit is usable?”
Samel panted as he ignored the unhappy looks from the group around him.
“Ricky did find the Black Prison, didn’t he?
“Even if it isn’t usable, would you rather die after he catches up to us on our way up or while we head down? Which one will you choose?”
Thales frowned. His gaze shot past the duo who were fighting intensely to look at the stairs behind them.
On the battlefield, Barney Jr. recklessly delivered a heavy blow to Zakriel’s ribs, but in the process, Zakriel struck Barney with his knee. The two of them retreated at the same time with grunts.
“I know what all of you are planning.” Zakriel cast a look at the crowd in the distance before he looked at the stone stairs behind him.
“It won’t work.”
Opposite him, Barney Jr. rose his shield while he trembled. He could sense the numbness in his arms and legs.
The battle was harder than he thought.
Zakriel knew what Barney’s resolve was, so he persistently blocked the path to the stairs, not giving them any chance to escape. While he blocked the stairs, he intended to use the safest and the least energy-consuming method to slowly wear Barney down.
“If I get rid of you, it will work,” Barney Jr. said through gritted teeth.
‘I must seize this chance.’
He lunged forward once more!
On the other side, Beldin was silent for a moment, but in the end, he still shook his head.
“Barney is trying to seize a chance for us with all his might. Hope may be slim in the path he has chosen for us, but I cannot take a risk when I have the prince’s life in my hands”
Samel took a step forward, pressed down on Beldin’s shoulders, and said through gritted teeth, “Going forward obstinately even though you know it’s an order that leads to certain death is stupidity!”
Anger burned in Beldin’s eyes. He pushed Samel away!
When he saw that the two men were about to fight each other, Thales spoke, “Penal Officer Beldin, maybe it is worth a try He is right, we cannot escape.”
Beldin’s expression changed.
But Thales shook his head. He held the longsword in his hand tightly.
“I only managed to release all of you in the name of Jadestar today. Compared to watching all of you run to your death” Thales looked into the distance. There was a profound gaze in his eyes.
“…I’d rather take the risk.”
His shocked everyone, even Beldin. The man was about to retort swiftly when he heard those words and was rendered speechless.
Quick Rope exhaled and shrugged.
“Ah, this is how he is.”
The Royal Guards all became silent.
At that moment, Barney Jr. roared in anger. He rammed into Zakriel, and the two of them were entangled!
“No matter which direction it is, we have to go.”
Tardin had been paying constant attention to the fight. He grabbed his sword tightly because he sensed something.
“Barney’s attacks are at their fiercest right now. Zakriel may not be able to spare the effort to stop us.”
Beldin widened his eyes. He looked at Samel before he stared at Thales. He seemed to be hesitating.
Nalgi interrupted him warily tone.
“I think that what the prince said is very reasonable.
“And I hate climbing up stairs. I hate being chased while I’m climbing stairs even more.”
Beldin furrowed his eyebrows even tighter.
Thales did not pay attention to the hesitant Royal Guards. He turned to the duo engaged in battle. His expression was tense.
“If we walk down here, is it possible to save Barney and Naer?”
Beldin pursed his lips. There was a look on his face that said he could not bear the thought of losing those two.
“Your Highness, but they are prepared to be sacrificed here.”
Thales clenched his fists.
Samel snorted coldly.
“Zakriel is not a hunting dog who will obediently run after a flying frisbee.”
He looked at the fight, which was getting more intense, and coldly said, “There must be someone to hold him back before he hacks us into pieces.”
‘Hold him back’
Thales stared at Zakriel and frowned hard.
“You just said that the crux of the Chaos of Armies lies in extraordinary perception through the senses, observation, and attention, right?”
“Yes, but Your Highness, please think twice”
However, the teenager did not pay any attention to him. He turned to the others, and he muttered repeatedly.
“Perception through the senses, observation”
Thales suddenly lifted his head and scanned the crowd.
“Is Zakriel invincible?
“Is there no one who can beat the Knight of Judgment?”
The prisoners all looked at each other, at a loss for words.
Many were obviously still struggling between choosing to follow orders or to take a riskthey had to either side with Beldin or Barney.
Right then, Nalgi airily said, “There is a second part to the battle that brought Zakriel to fame.”
‘A second part?’
Thales narrowed his eyes.
Nalgi shrugged. “It’s still what Barney Sr. told us’
“When young Zakriel defeated forty opponents and caused the Northlanders to turn pale with fright, a middle-aged man arrived.”
“A middle-aged man… what man?” Thales asked curiously.
The prisoners all stared at one another.
Nalgi lifted his head and cast a glance at Zakriel, who was fighting on equal grounds with Barney Jr..
“That was Zakriel’s only failure in life, and that person is also the enemy he paid attention to the most. That is the shame he has hidden deep in his heart. He challenged that person twice decades later, but he never won.”
Thales instantly felt surprised.
‘His only failure?’
Nalgi looked at Zakriel in the distance. He still had a calm look on his face. Nalgi sighed and said, “It’s not just because of Zakriel’s lost to him that made Zakriel pay such attention to the man. The man’s skills, bloodline, and identity also drew Zakriel’s attention. Anyway, everything about that middle-aged man made Zakriel pay a great deal of attention to him. He always feels ashamed when that man is mentioned.”
‘The enemy he pays attention to the most.’
A thought struck Thales’ mind.
“Most importantly, before they fought, in front of everyone”
Before Nalgi finished, his tone changed. Faint sentiment and pity seeped into his voice, making him sound like a bard.
“That legendary man told the young and spirited Zakriel these words”
When he listened to Nalgi, Thales’ pupils slowly contracted.
After a few seconds, Barney Jr. withstood Zakriel’s counterattack laboriously and took a few steps back.
He just successfully left a wound on Zakriel with his sword, but he did not make his opponent leave his position. Zakriel remained standing, firmly on his spot.
‘Damn it, if this goes on, they will never find an opening’
At that moment…
A teenager’s voice rose. It was loud and sharp, and it echoed in the dungeon.
Barney Jr. was thinking at that moment, but when he heard those words, he was stunned.
When he heard that name, Zakriel shuddered while he was still locked in a stalemate against Barney Jr.!
A face that never faded away from his memories slowly surfaced at the forefront of his mind.
The Knight of Judgment darted a look at Barney Jr. who was panting, and he turned his head around expressionlessly to look at Thales, who was standing before the Royal Guards.
Beldin’s expression was incredibly tense. Samel was paying full attention to Zakriel himself.
However, this could not be compared to what Thales was about to say next.
Thales stared at Zakriel and whispered, “Kaslan is dead. He died in the hands of his disciple.”
Zakriel’s eyes slowly opened wide.
The Knight of Judgment’s heart started to beat faster.
“Dead Dead?” he asked rhetorically, though he seemed to be unaware that he had asked the question.
“Yes, Ground-Shaker Kaslan is dead.”
Thales took a deep breath and walked forward slowly.
“The person who won against him is Soray Nicholas, but even though the Star Killer of the White Blade Guards won against the strongest man who was undefeated in the Western Peninsula…”
Zakriel stared silently at Thales. A perplexed look slowly appeared on his face, as though he had returned to the past.
Thales exhaled to try and calm his heart, which was beating faster with each passing second.
“…he never forgot about you. He never forgot about his teacher’s opponent.
“While you were in prison, he asked someone to bring word to the Royal Guards.”
Thales stared at Zakriel. The Knight of Judgment looked utterly lost at that moment. Through gritted teeth, the prince said, “It is a sentence you are very familiar with.”
Just as he expected, he saw Zakriel’s eyebrows slowly pull together.
‘I am very familiar with
Thales took a deep breath, and he puffed out his chest.
He recalled the moment he met the old man who invited him to drink six years ago in that tavern. He tried imagining the man’s bold, magnificent, and imposing demeanor.
“Come, brat from the south.”
Thales was calm. He placed both of his hands behind him, appearing composed. He said in a crude and disdainful manner, “I will give you a handicap of two hands.”
‘Give you a handicap of two hands.’
At that moment, it was as if time had stopped.
Zakriel stared at Thales with a stiff expression. He did not move as if he had lost consciousness.
‘Brat from the south”
He mumbled as he trembled.
That one scene many years ago slowly surfaced before his mind.
‘I will give you a handicap of two hands’
Zakriel lowered his head. He slowly shrank into himself. The veins on his neck popped up. The muscles on his arms started to bulge inch by inch.
As he watched the Knight of Judgment lower his head and mumble softly, Thales subconsciously gulped.
A chill he had never experienced before rose from under his feet.
The Sin of Hell’s River roared disobediently in his blood vessels.
Immediately after, a roar of sorrow erupted in the prison!
Before Thales could register what happened, Zakriel, who had been shouting ferociously, instantly charged forward with the force of a collapsing mountain and roaring sea!
His momentum was astonishing!
Thales felt a chill crawl down his spine. Just as the guards behind him were about to act, two gusts of wind rose from behind Zakriel.
Even though the Knight of Judgment’s eyes were bloodshot and resembled those of a wild beast’s at that moment, it was as if he had another set of eyes on his back. He threw the war hammer in his hands behind him casually, and it crashed into Barney Jr.’s longsword, charging forth to take his life. A loud clang came from the impact, and its trajectory was forced to change. It crashed into Naer’s dart, which came shooting towards him from another direction!
It only left a wound on his back.
Right then, there was only one figure before his eyes.
That person still acted the way he did many years ago. He had his hands behind his back, his chest was puffed out, and he mocked him in scorn.
‘I will give you a handicap of two hands.
‘How dare you
‘How dare you!’
Zakriel roared in anger. His expression was terrifying, and his charge could not be stopped!
At that moment, Thales felt the Sin of Hell’s River boil endlessly in him. He gritted his teeth and made his decision.
The next second, he closed his eyes and turned around with his back facing the Knight of Judgment.
Barney Jr. was running after Zakriel at that moment. Panic rose in his heart, and he cast a glance at Naer, who was also chasing after Zakriel desperately.
But before he could shout, an object suddenly slid out of Thales’ hands, which he still kept behind his back.
It was a ball.
It fell to the ground and bounced a little.
Everyone was stunned.
What followed was the sphere vibrating slightly between Thales and Zakriel. Then, it buzzed.
Zakriel instantly snapped back to his senses, and he immediately frowned.
That weird, golden ball jumped about freely on the ground like an innocent, happy child who did not know what danger was.
‘I hate this.’ That was the last thing on Zakriel’s mind.
At the next moment, Thales felt an incomparable force crash against his back!
It devoured him entirely!
That instant, an earth-shattering bang rose from the ground!
The weird Alchemy Ball released a terrifying energy, which had a force equivalent to mountains crumbling and the earth cracking. Endless light rays erupted from it!
It was blinding to the eyes.
It was very bright.
It was very spectacular.
It devoured the small prison
…and everyone in it.