Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
*Thud, thud, thud*
Perhaps it was due to the recent recovery of their impaired hearing, but the sudden footsteps that echoed in the dark prison were frightening.
The ailing Royal Guards reacted quickly. Everyone immediately extinguished their torches and silenced their breaths.
It was the first thought that rose in Thales’ head who had been hunted continuously for half a month.
*Thud, thud, thud*
Beldin made a gesture. All the guards moved quickly and quietly towards the sides of the tunnel. They found spots suitable for them to lay ambushes. Their weapons were in their hands, and they were ready for combat.
Thales was pushed behind Barney Jr., and even Quick Rope was pulled into the corner by Bruley.
*Thud, thud, thud*
The footsteps drew closer by the minute, and the corner of the tunnel gradually lit up.
The prince did not have to listen to know that everyone’s heartbeat was slowly accelerating.
Beldin pointed his sword at the corner in the dark. He was prepared to launch a sudden attack.
Then, the owner of the footsteps appeared at the corner with his torch in hand.
Nalgi was the first to cry out in surprise and delight.
“At ease,” said Beldin gently as he breathed a sigh of relief. He patted Barney Jr. behind him after he saw the person who appeared at the corner clearly.
“It’s Canon, our cavalry scout in charge of holding back our enemies.”
The guards exhaled, as though a huge burden had been lifted from their shoulders. They put away their weapons and lit up their torches.
The anxiety and anticipation in Thales’ heart also went away a little.
‘It’s not him.’
One of the seven prisoners, Canon, who just appeared from the corner with his torch, looked at everyone’s expression and understood something.
“You know, you almost scared the crap out of us!”
Nalgi’s shoulders trembled. He looked as if he had just escaped from a disaster as he thumped Canon’s chest.
Canon shuddered a little and lowered his head.
“Sorry, my ears haven’t fully recovered.”
Canon pointed to his left ear. He seemed to be cowering a little.
“I could only rely on my instincts to control my footsteps.
“And my scouting skills have also regressed”
Barney Jr. patted him on the shoulder and appeared very relieved.
“No, you did well, Canon, as always.” Barney Jr. forced a smile.
“How is everything back there?”
The guards’ expression turned slightly grave after they heard this.
Canon handed his torch to Nalgi. His expression was stern.
“He should have recovered some of his eyesight, perhaps his hearing as well. He has bandaged his wounds and lit his torch. He’s moving forward with a hand on the wall. He isn’t fast, but”
Canon paused and looked at everyone.
“He’s chasing after us in the right direction.”
‘The right direction?’
The expression on everyone’s faces changed.
Thales’ heart also froze. He knew who Canon was talking about.
“I’ve left a few traps, but I don’t think they can hold him back for too long Zakriel is familiar with all the tricks of the Vanguard Division,” Canon’s voice became softer.
The atmosphere grew grave and stiff.
Barney Jr. was silent. He seemed to be thinking.
“Can we ambush him?” asked Beldin, who was frowning.
“I don’t think so.” Second Logistics Officer Naer shook his head.
“I don’t need an assessment to see it. We are not in the best condition to engage our enemy. If we’re hoping for Zakriel to be in a worse condition than us
“We will lose in an even more terrible manner.” Tardin ended the suggestion with a sigh.
The guards looked even more dispirited, which made Thales think that things were not looking good for them.
Nalgi observed everyone’s expressions and coughed.
“Gentlemen, I don’t think it’s of vital importance that we engage Zakriel in a head-on struggle. In fact, I think we should avoid him if we can”
Thales noticed that although Nalgi was watching everyone as he spoke, his eyes always moved to the quiet Barney Jr. He seemed to be aware that the person who would make the final decision was him.
Everyone made a good show of judgment and kept quiet. They just waited for the vanguard’s decision.
Finally, Barney Jr. lifted his head after his eyebrows twitched about for a brief period of time. He exhaled and said, “Nalgi is right.”
Thales swore that he felt the crowd become more or less relieved.
“From now on, our main goal is no longer to kill Zakriel.” Barney Jr. turned to Thales. A strange light shone in his eyes.
“It is to protect this prince.”
Thales’ eyebrows rose.
In a very awkward manner, he returned the gazes that were directed at him with a friendly smile.
“Maybe you should count your lucky stars that they are quite loyal,” Quick Rope whispered to Thales.
‘Not entirely loyal,’ Thales returned Barney Jr.’s gaze and silently said in his heart.
“Then let us press forward. We can no longer rest. We will continue moving down.” Samel, who was leading the way, stepped forward and glanced at Barney Jr.
“Maybe we can find the exit before he catches up.”
Barney Jr. furrowed his eyebrows.
“Wait, go down?”
He looked at his other colleagues in surprise.
“Are we not going to the surface?”
Barney Jr.’s entire face was as dark as thunderclouds once Beldin sighed, and Samel explained the entire story in a cold voice.
However, in the face of the others’ slightly troubled expressions, Barney Jr. did not say anything. He just furled his fists and urged everyone to continue going down.
So, the Royal Guards and the two princes continued to move forward, but this time, their footsteps quickened by a considerable margin.
“You better find that so-called exit, Samel.”
Barney Jr. went to the front of the team and walked side by side with Samel.
He suppressed the emotions in his heart. His tone was steady, but Thales could feel the vanguard’s dissatisfaction.
“Otherwise, everything we do today will be meaningless.”
Surprisingly, Samel did not refute. He just cast a profound glance at Barney Jr. and continued moving forward.
The group walked quietly in the deep darkness. They were less relaxed and they were more serious than before.
Samel led the way as he recalled what Ricky said to him. He also discussed with Penal Officer Beldin, who had some understanding of the Prison of Bones.
Barney Jr. occasionally joined in on the discussion, but his communication with Samel was still stiff.
Behind the vanguard were Thales and Quick Rope, who moved forward in fear. Nalgi and Naer were next to them, and they never left their sides.
Both Bruley, who was unable to speak, and Tardin were behind them like two iron walls. They acted as the second barrier.
Canon was still lurking around at the back of the group. He constantly paid attention to the movements behind him.
In a few minutes, they walked down many flights of stone steps and finally arrived at the empty hall on the last floor.
The moment the torch illuminated their surroundings, everyone’s expressions became stiff.
There were corpses.
There were corpses everywhere.
All of them belonged to the Disaster Swords.
There were more than twenty people lying down on the ground. They were scattered everywhere, from the corner in the distance to the floor tiles under their feet. The blood that flowed from their bodies was enough to soak the hall.
These people died in different ways. Some were beheaded, some had their throats slit, some had the bones in their necks bent into irregular shapes, some had arrows pierced through their bodies, and there was even one impaled on the wall by an ax so large it was terrifying.
All of them had the fear of a person, who was moments before death, written all over their faces.
Thales almost thought that the Blood Mystic was back after he saw this.
“This person died because of his companion’s sword. This one has eight wounds. He must have been used as a human shield and that one on the wall must have been hit by the ax next to him when he was attacking. What an unfortunate man.”
Barney Jr. schooled his face and swept his gaze past the corpses. His expression was rather unnatural.
“It was Zakriel.
“This was his warm-up after he was just released from prison.”
Samel looked at the familiar and unfamiliar corpses expressionlessly. He walked over a corpse that had been cut open at the abdomen.
As the guards moved forward, the blood pools on the ground went from sparse to dense. In the end, they led to a tunnel.
Thales looked at the deep tunnel, which led to Zakriel’s prison, and he looked at the bloody sight in front of him. He frowned deeply.
He remembered that he and Yodel left the place Zakriel was locked up in through that tunnel.
And after they left
He recalled Zakriel mentioning that those Disaster Swords “ran away”.
“They must have charged at him because they thought that they had more people, and they only needed to deal with one person” Beldin lifted his torch and looked at the hellish place as he shook his head slowly.
“But they didn’t know what they were facing.
“Forty White Blade Guards Hey!” Quick Rope, whose face was pale, muttered subconsciously, but he accidentally stepped on a block of blood that he did not know was made of intestines or something else.
‘The Chaos of Armies.’
Thales mulled over the term. His nerves grew tenser.
He passed by a mercenary with an arrow pierced into his left eye.
Nalgi kicked a corpse who had his hand wrapped around a dagger in his chest.
He sighed and said, “I guess he was quite polite to us, wasn’t he?”
No one answered him.
“Here.” Samel walked past the crimson red tunnel leading to the Zakriel’s prison and illuminated another path,
“Ricky mentioned before that this path leads to the storage room.”
Thales turned around and tried not to see the mess on the ground. He looked at the squarish tunnel, which seemed to be one used to deliver goods.
Compared to the other two roads, it looked unremarkable.
“Ricky said that the Alchemy Tower has a secret tradition. They are always ready for war.” Samel’s expression was complicated.
“And the storage room is one of the preparations they’ve made.”
He held his torch and took the first step into the tunnel.
The rest of the guards looked at each other at a loss.
Barney Jr. glanced at the group behind him before he sighed and caught up to Samel. The rest shrugged in resignation and walked into the tunnel in single file.
“How did you find out about this? How do you know about secrets that even the kingdom hasn’t discovered? Did you discover a forbidden wizard book?”
Barney Jr. swept a thick cobweb aside and carefully illuminated his surroundings.
“The place where Ricky came from studied these things,” Samel said, not even turning his head. He moved forward step by step.
“I’m guessing from his hate-filled tone that they’re probably enemies of wizards, at the very least. They’ve studied how to deal with wizards and magic before.”
Thales heard this and frowned slightly.
‘The place where Ricky came from
‘If that’s the case, the Disaster Swords aren’t all traditionalists. There should have been plenty who joined the organization at some point in time.’
“The one you mentioned… Ricky, was it? How did he end becoming a Disaster Sword?” Barney Jr. asked.
“I don’t know. Each Outer Tower scion has his own story, and it is especially so for the leader. Most of their stories are full of bitterness and hardship.” Samel shook his head.
“Including you, right?” Barney Jr. asked. There was an underlying meaning in his words.
Samel paused in his footsteps for a moment in the face of the hostile probing.
But he only hesitated for the fraction of a second.
“How about you?” Samel strode past a low flight of stairs, which only consisted of three steps. “If you manage to get out, what do you plan to do? he asked.
“Escort the prince to the capital, help him, watch him ascend the throne, and complete your vow?”
All the Royal Guards were slightly depressed after they heard this sentence.
Thales bore everyone’s gazes, and he suddenly felt a little awkward.
Barney Jr. became quiet for a few seconds.
“Not only that.
“Our dead brothers, they must have a confession.”
Barney Jr.’s words echoed in the tunnel of dust and cobwebs. There was an unshakable resolve in him.
“The truth of that year must be revealed to the world.”
Thales shuddered slightly.
‘The truth of that year’
The guards were quiet. Bruley snorted a few words, but no one knew what he meant. Nalgi immediately hit him.
However, Samel responded to Barney in a satirical tone, “The truth? Are you talking about what Zakriel said about the cooperation between the late king and the calamities?”
He snorted in front of the group.
“If that is true, based on my knowledge of Kessel, he would rather die than admit to this truth, whether it is from the perspective of Constellation or the Royal Family.”
Samel’s words were very cold.
“He’d prefer to bury you in the grave forever, together with these secrets and disgrace. He’ll make sure that this never gets out, even if you saved his beloved son.”
As soon as this statement came out, the Royal Guards became even more silent. For a time, he could only hear footsteps rushing forward.
Barney did not answer.
Thales pursed his lips. There was a little feeling of melancholy in his heart.
He knew that what Samel said was probably a fact.
He wanted to say something, at least refute Samel, and inspire the others.
‘But what can I say?
‘When I return to the capital, I will try to rectify your grievances?’
When he remembered King Kessel’s cold expression and the gloomy eyes of the Black Prophet, Thales once again pursed his lips. He found that his words refused to leave his tongue, and he felt upset.
Quick Rope obviously understood what was going on. He hid behind Thales obediently. He did not even dare to breathe loudly.
His voice rang from behind Thales. There was a slight quiver in his voice.
“I was thinking, maybe we need to hide some parts of the truth”
At this moment, Barney Jr. suddenly spoke up and interrupted Nalgi, “That is why we need the prince.”
Thales was stunned.
He stared at Barney Jr.’s back through the crowd, but the man did not turn around. He just moved forward stubbornly.
“He is more fortunate than us, more fortunate than the late king and the late princes. He was born after the tragedy. He does not live under the shadow of that year,” Barney Jr. said.
“I believe that compared to the king on the throne in Renaissance Palace, he is more qualified to handle this matter properly. He can reveal the truth of that year to the people.
“Earlier, he didn’t want to leave his companion behind. Based on that, he definitely can understand us.
“He will surely understand those who died eighteen years ago and understand the grievances we suffered during the past eighteen years.”
The guards’ breathing became disorderly.
As they took the difficult trek, some of them even lost the original rhythm of their walking pace.
Thales listened to his words and bore the gazes of the people in front as well as behind him. He felt the burden on his shoulders become heavier.
“At least, I believe he can find the best way to expose the truth for us while preserving the name of the Royal Family…”
Barney Jr. spoke falteringly, and he sounded like he was experiencing difficulty in saying these words.
“No matter how hard it is, and no matter how long it takes.”
A lot of sighs came from the team.
Thales lowered his head.
No one knew what he was thinking.
Quick Rope patted him on the back with a barely-noticeable sigh.
“That’s why you’re so dedicated to protecting him,” Samel said faintly. He sounded even more tired than just now.
“Do you regard him as your savior and also the saviour of the Royal Guards from the Bloody Year?”
Thales’ gaze became unfocused.
Barney Jr. snorted. He looked a little desolate while he said in a daze, “At the very least, I hope that, including us, the forty-six… fifty-five Royal Guards who were imprisoned that year will no longer have to bear the shame of treason.
“All of us guards will no longer have to be tortured for the great sin committed by a certain person and have the brand placed on our faces. We were tortured for a full eighteen years, and some died without being able to rest in peace.
“We don’t have to cry again at night, tremble from our nightmares, and rot in the shackles of regret.”
Many of the guards turned their heads and looked at the sides of the tunnel as if there was something worth watching there.
There was a hint of relief in Barney Jr.’s voice.
“That is good enough.”
Samel did not respond to him.
The group continued to move forward, but Thales felt as if a weight had been tied to his feet.
Barney Jr. took a deep breath and seemed to have recovered from his emotions. His tone sounded more jovial than before.
“So, yes, we will remove the stigma placed on us. We can return to Eternal Star City with dignity. At the very least, we will be able to see our families again.”
There was slight hope in his voice.
“I remember that Naer has a newborn daughter”
Behind him, Naer sighed.
Right at this moment…
Nalgi suddenly opened his mouth.
He sounded very disheartened and terrified like a lost child.
“Then, what about Zakriel?”
When they heard this name, even the surrounding fire seemingly dimmed for a second.
Just as expected, after a moment, Barney Jr.’s tone turned cold.
“Ah, that traitor”
He snorted, and his words were laced with strong disdain and bitter hatred.
“Zakriel’s despicable deeds must certainly be made public.
“All of Constellation and the whole world will know of his evil actions as well as his shamelessness. He will pay for his betrayal.”
A cold chill descended among the guards again.
It was as if Barney Jr.’s words, which he said through gritted teeth, caused the temperature around him to drop.
“He will always be labeled a traitor, and alive or dead, he will suffer for it.”
Thales sensed it: by his side, Nalgi was hesitating to speak.
Barney Jr. snorted coldly.
“We will… We will track him down and obtain peace in the end, whether it is ours or his.”
Nalgi took a deep breath.
“But Zakriel… He used to be one of us. He was also one of the Royal Guards.”
His voice was full of hesitation and pain.
Everyone became silent.
Barney Jr. furrowed his eyebrows.
“What do you mean?”
Thales saw Nalgi lower his head and shudder.
“I think everyone has suffered enough, regardless of Zakriel or us.”
He seemed to be withholding something back. Then, after much difficulty, he forced out a few words that were filled with various emotions.
“Why must we turn against each other like this?”