Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
Thales stared at Nalgi while he breathed unsteadily.
‘Royal Guards? Mutiny?’
No one responded to Samel’s words which struck their hearts.
Time seemed to have become still for a moment. Everything was stuck in the past and refused to move forward.
Then, Barney Junior inhaled before he let out a derisive snort. The sound awakened everyone from their shock.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Barney Junior. He sounded rather miserable, like he was thrown off-kilter. “Nalgi, your shameless lies are like”
Like an irritated animal, Nalgi retorted loudly, and Barney’s stick question was stuck in his throat.
“Lies?” In Nalgi’s voice was a cold tone filled with despair. It caused everyone to shudder, even though it was not cold.
He swept his gaze over the guards. All of them had different expressions. He spoke to Barney Junior with the ghost of a smile on his face, “Take a guess, Barney. You declared that you wanted to seek revenge and justice for our thirty-seven brothers who passed away during our years in prison. Why did they die?”
Barney Junior trembled violently without any warning. He was not the only one who had this reaction. Samel, Beldin, Tardin, Canon, and many of them had different looks.
Thales was still immersed in the shocking news of the guards’ mutiny. With a pale face, he re-evaluated everyone.
According to Nalgi, in the past, half of the Royal Guards knew about the plot to assassinate the king. While they might not have been participants, they were people who had stood on the side and watched the events unfold.
If that was the case, what was the relationship between the deceased Royal Guards who participated in the assassination and knew about the plot, and the mastermind of the plot behind the royal family’s tragedy during the Bloody Year?
Even those who were still alive here, those who swore the Praetorian’s Oath to be eternally loyal to the throne; Beldin, Tardin, Canon, Bruley…
Subconsciously, Thales turned even paler and took a small step back.
Nalgi’s quiet and pained voice continued to rise into the air.
“Remember Walker? He died in an internal conflict during the first year. I guess he found the truth later on, and brought things to light”
‘Swift Knife Walker.’ Barney’s eyes became unfocused for a moment. A cunning, thin man’s image appeared in his mind.
“Morion and Bed Bug were innocent, until they learned of the truth as well. They couldn’t accept it, whether it was the truth that there was a possibility that the companions who lived together with them day and night could be traitors, or whether they had indirectly killed the late king because they had obeyed orders”
Nalgi’s voice was weak, but the words he spoke had frightening implications. They caused the guards’ faces to change drastically. Samel even let out a pained sigh.
“Kamil knew what was going on, but he was too proud, so proud that he wasn’t able to continue living like this was nothing to him while both loyalty to the throne and his guilt weighed down on his shoulders, and while he had to face your ruthless rebukes…”
‘Morion, Bed Bug, Kamil…’ Barney Junior’s breathing slowly stilled. Beldin’s breathing quivered, and Tardin’s eyes showed terror.
“There’s big Laure, too. I wasn’t close to him… I don’t know if he discovered the truth and thus wanted to kill, or if it was because someone else discovered the truth and wanted to kill him…”
Names were mentioned one by one. Nalgi’s voice was filled with misery and he sobbed bitterly.
“Gold and Skull may not be involved, but they felt immense guilt towards the incident, and they couldn’t shake off that guilt. Then the two bastards decided to drop everything… Rogo was very determined at the beginning, but I guess the dark days of prison life dampened his will. Cox was very calm and quiet, but in the end, he couldn’t acknowledge the fact that so many of our brothers died; he couldn’t accept that his own selfishness had dragged them into this mess”
As Nalgi continued providing an account of the deceased guards’ thoughts, the surviving guards lost their composure. Samel’s bloodshot eyes showed exhaustion, Naer was frozen in place with a dumbstruck look on his face, Bruley clenched his fists in agony, and Canon covered his forehead while he trembled. By the end, Nalgi was almost shouting, tears streaming down his face.
“Among those who died, how many perished because they could not stand the pain caused by the disaster of imprisonment? How many passed away with their hearts filled with indignation and aggrievance? And how many of us left the world in guilt and depression? O arrogant and resolute Quill Barney, do you really not know?”
Thales listened to these words that struck the heart, and he felt himself become more and more upset.
‘When the forty-six Royal Guards of Constellation were imprisoned after they were accused of treason, and they came to this place with a truth they could not speak how did they manage to live through the years while carrying that shame, guilt, and pain with them?’
“I…” Barney Junior opened his mouth helplessly, but he had no words to answer Nalgi. He could only inhale deep breaths.
Nalgi’s words became sharper. “And you, you extremist, you obstinate freak. For over a decade, you complained about the injustice you suffered before them, you cursed the damn traitors, spat on their shameless plots endlessly, day in and day out…” Nalgi gnashed his teeth as he spoke.
Barney Junior seemed to have thought of something. He looked dazed, confused, and surprised. After a few seconds, the emotions on his face turned into the deepest fear and panic.
“When you stood before the thirty-seven of us, made a solemn oath that you would never turn back until you discovered the truth, exposed everything, and made the criminal pay the price so that our brothers could remove the stigma placed on them, and even forced them to support you…”
Nalgi’s tears flowed uncontrollably. “Do you know how your seemingly just and loyal accusations and resolve appeared to themthe disheartened ones who couldn’t free themselves from their own nightmares?”
At that moment, Barney Junior’s body swayed! He only managed to prevent himself from collapsing by plunging his sword heavily into the ground.
However, the vanguard’s face was so panicked and nervous that cold sweat covered his entire body.
“No…” Barney Junior’s mind was almost blank. He looked like atimid and helpless child at that moment. “No! You don’t f*cking know what you’re talking about, Nalgi.”
Barney took a staggering step back and shook his head madly.He was filled with panic. “Over the years, I watched them die, I buried them, I prepared eulogies for them. I was doing this for them in order to one day clear the injustice they suffered. This is the only reason I managed to survive until now.”
Barney Junior’s mental state had almost plunged rock bottom.He talked to himself like a madman, and he acted almost the same way Zakriel had at the beginning.
The guards looked at each other in low spirits. They could see pain from each other’s faces, along with an inability to bear the pain brought on by the thought of their companionswhether dead or alivegoing through such suffering.
But Nalgi, whose mental condition was no better than Barney’s, was obviously not prepared to let the vanguard off the hook.
“Hahaha, are you saying that they were the only reason that kept you living?” Nalgi was crying and laughing as he mocked Barney.
“But you didn’t know… Most of them, after being imprisoned, were burdened by their shame, regret, guilt, self-condemnation, pain and torment. They had to face their ugliest selves, drag out their meager existences, and live, feeling that the days were going so slowly, that it felt like years
“And you, Quill Barney!” Nalgi pointed at Barney Junior with a face full of resentment and hatred. “You thought you were encouraging them, saving them, and exacting vengeance for them, when in fact, you were whipping their hearts every day. You reminded them of that year, made them recall what they did, deepened the shame they felt, and added to their impression of that night. You used your noble character, loyalty, moral integrity, fearlessness towards death because of your righteousness, and your determination to make them suffer even in prison.
“You forced them into a corner, and they tortured themselves over it”
As he listened to Nalgi’s words, Barney Junior looked like an unfortunate traveler who fell into an abyss. He trembled in fear, and even his breathing was no longer smooth.
“It was you!” Nalgi’s vicious accusations were engraved into their bones. “It was you who pushed them to a dead end, and in the end forced them to escape through death with your seemingly motivating words as curses, and you did it day by day, never once stopping!”
Nalgi’s words were full of grief. They echoed in the dungeon. All the expressions on the listeners had changed.
“You are the murderer who killed our thirty-seven brothers, Quill Barney!”
As everyone’s spirits were shaken, the sword and shield in Barney’s hands fell to the ground simultaneously. They shook continuously.
“No!” Barney Junior buried his face in his hands in misery. His entire body trembled. “No… it wasn’t, it wasn’t me…”
His voice was timid and filled with fear. Nalgi laughed out loud when he saw Barney behave like this. “And you still want to return to the kingdom with all your righteousness and enthusiasm, saying that you want to uncover the truth for them and seek justice, you soldier of noble birth?”
His smile slowly faded away.
“Stop kidding, you son of a b*tch Barney. You have no idea how much your words made me sick when you stood there just now and accused Zakriel with all your presumptuousness.”
Barney Junior’s moans became more and more pained. Thales looked at this unusually cruel confrontation with complicated emotions. His mind was also torturing him with doubts and gloominess.
He remembered the brutal and merciless confrontation between the Star Killer and the Raven of Death at the Land of Barren Rocks in the City of Faraway Prayers. They, too, were once brothers. But even then, their confrontation could not hope to compare with the present situation.
The rest of the guards stared at this scene blankly, and even Samel was silent.
For some time, only Barney Junior’s low, pained moans were heard in the prison. He bent over and pressed his hands against his knees. He took deep breaths, as if he could only get nourishment to keep on living by doing so.
“But… all of you didn’t know, did you?” Barney Junior shiveringly turned to the others. He no longer possessed the calm dignity of a vanguard. “That’s right… it was such a huge thing, it’s impossible that all of us did not know… Tell me that he made this up…”
His tone sounded like he was almost pleading, hoping to get an answer… But the answers were often not what the person wished for.
“I once suspected it before,” a low voice arose. Naer lowered his head under everyone’s gazes. He looked defeated. “The order that day was too strange, too rare, but no one stood up against it, so I… I did suspect it when I was in prison after that, but…”
He did not say anymore. Barney Junior looked shocked first, before it changed into despair.
Beldin stared at Naer incredulously.
Another calm, weak, and unnerving voice interrupted their conversation,
Everyone turned their eyes to another person.
“It’s true… I know everything that Nalgi said,” the speaker answered in a manner like he had lost all joy in living.
Barney Junior’s voice was trembling as he looked at the person who spoke.
Thales raised his eyebrows. Tardin dropped his sword and blade, and started to speak in a desolate and still tone, “If they told me there will be such an ending, if I knew that Constance will… then I wouldn’t have, I wouldn’t have…” As he spoke, tears streamed down his eyes. “I wouldn’t have”
Tardin’s words seemed to be stuck in his throat. They faded into nothingness as he lowered his head. He did not continue speaking.
Samel looked at him in extreme shock.
“No.” Barney Junior was baffled.
The third trembling voice came, “It shouldn’t be like this…”
Thales turned his head and saw Canon shivering in the corner.
“I served to hold back our enemies. I summoned the sentries back and left the door open… But according to the plan, everything should be done in a straightforward manner. It should be over before they were even aware of it, then I should have died with the assassins, and not have lived until now.”
Canon’s eyes were soulless as he muttered to himself, “I’m sorry”
The light in Barney Junior’s eyes gradually dimmed, as though his last shred of hope had been wiped off. “Canon?”
Canon laughed laboriously. “Nalgi is right, and Samel is also right. This is our fault, we can’t escape it.” He shook his head neurotically and muttered to himself, “We can’t let Zakriel do this alone… he is already carrying too much on his shoulders…”
Right when Canon finished speaking, the prison was quiet for a long time.
Then, Barney Junior’s hoarse and numb voice rose again, “Is there anyone else?”
After a few seconds, Bruley sobbed in pain, fell to his knees, and began to make agonized grunts.
“Bruley?” Barney looked at him, dumbfounded.
Nalgi chuckled. His gaze was unfocused. “That’s why he can’t talk anymore,” Nalgi whispered. “He didn’t have the courage to face it.”
The last expression on Barney Junior’s face disappeared.
“Tardin, Canon, Bruley, Nalgi…” The vanguard looked numbly at the four people who all showed different facial expressions. “For more than a decade, thirty-seven people… Why… why didn’t you tell me the truth?”
His voice echoed off the four walls. No one spoke. Thales watched them while he felt incredibly depressed.
At that moment, it seemed that everything else was not important anymore.
The one who spoke was still Nalgi. He stared at Barney with a mocking look. “Barney, do you know who was the leader of the event that year?”
As soon as these words came out, almost everyone’s countenances changed… including Barney, his numb and lifeless face twitched again.
Thales suddenly had a realisation, and seemed to have understood something.
Nalgi bent down and laughed in his anguish.
“Barney… you are a tragic fool. He really loved you, didn’t he?” There was a deep hatred in Nalgi’s words. “So he protected you too well. You didn’t know anything… Maybe he was just betting on both sides, and was counting on you to escape from this matter afterwards, while remaining innocent and ignorant. He hoped that you could continue living in the palace perhaps even take his place?”
Barney Junior’s eyes widened all of a sudden!
“No, no,” the vanguard muttered. Great sadness and despair washed over him.
“That’s right.” Nalgi’s said coldly, “That year, the person who led our group, conspired us to turn a blind eye to the turmoil in the palace, threw us all into this endless abyss while he escaped the final judgment alone, was none other than that person.”
Nalgi clenched his teeth. The emotions in his eyes were indescribable.
“I hated him, I cursed him,” he said hatefully. “That’s right. It was the vice captain of the Royal Guards, Quill Barney Senior… Your damned father.”
Barney Junior’s sword and shield fell from his grasp, and his knees fell to the ground. He knelt on the ground with a dumbfounded look. He might still be breathing, but his eyes were hollow.
From that moment on, his face was devoid of all expression, as if he had lost his soul.