Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
The sound of a heartbeat echoed like a loud hammer being struck against something.
Pain. Excruciating pain.
Thales stood on his feet with great effort, supporting himself by holding on to Quick Rope. He broke out in a cold sweat.
*Ba-bump…* Another heartbeat sounded.
After he snatched away Barney’s sword with all his might, the terrifying repercussions of using his mystic energy attacked him again, causing his every breath, and even every heartbeat, to be followed by excruciating pain that made him feel as if he was being torn apart.
The pain grew more intense with each wave that came. It was as if the waves were summoned by the ferryman of Hell’s River, and they crashed into him inch by inch from head to toe.
But that did not matter anymore. He could not collapse… At least not at this moment.
Thales was near death’s door. He swept his gaze over the nine men before him who were seriously wounded with eyes filled with despairthe former Royal Guards.
After his next heartbeat, the nearly depleted Sin of Hell’s River rushed forth once again, as if it was going to snatch him away from the jaws of death. It filled his limbs and surged towards his heart which could not bear the heavy toil brought on by the use of mystic energy, and his body which was on the verge of breaking down.
The vaguely familiar fluctuations surged into him again, and the scenes where he fought against the Star Killer as well as when he lived through the night of Dragon’s Blood reappeared.
The Sin of Hell’s River began to use up large amounts of his energy to speed up the regeneration and recovery of the damaged tissues in his body. It was followed by pain which was magnified without limitation.
Thales could not stop trembling.
However, this time, it was different compared to the past. Thales suddenly realized that he was able to ignore the pain that once tortured him within an inch of life as he listened to Zakriel’s confession, Barney Junior’s cries, the gurgling sounds of Nalgi choking on his blood, and Naer’s erratic breathing.
He could still hear Zakriel’s words in his ears. They might seem as though they were spoken a lifetime ago, but they remained clear in his mind.
“Ever since then, the Royal Guards served their own masters, and our comrades greeted each other with weapons The Royal Guards went through eleven instances of fratricide.”‘
Through Thales’ increasingly darkening vision, he saw the Knight of Judgment stare into the darkness with an empty gaze.
“I could only watch everything happen, feeling incapable and helpless I am sorry” Zakriel said in a hollow voice, “I couldn’t do anything.”
Thales subconsciously clenched Quick Rope’s arm and closed his eyes.
The Sin of Hell’s River acted like a wild animal that had just tracked down its prey and continued to surge within his body.
But in that moment, Thales felt like he had returned to that night when he was in Abandoned House, where he lay feeble on the dilapidated floor. He heard Quide’s crazy laughter. Kellet, Ned, Ursula He saw, in his mind the child beggars who died, floating in the air and watching him expressionlessly.
Thales saw Quide pass by his own body, and walked towards the weak and trembling Coria. She had no one to rely on. All that he could do… was watch helplessly as all of this happened. He could do nothing.
Thales clenched his fists. ‘I can’t do anything?… No.’ A voice whispered in his heart, ‘No.’
Thales loosened his hold on Quick Rope while he trembled and straightened his body in pain. He did it as though he was ordering his body to move.
The tumult and bloodshed in Dragon Clouds City that night flashed in his mind.
“I couldn’t do… anything”
He suddenly understood; what he had learned from Taurus’ teachings was not just restricted to the use of mystic energy, being ‘contactors’ as Mystics, or the ‘matter’ stage…
It was something even more important.
Thales opened his eyes swiftly. “No.” The teenager’s voice echoed faintly. It was steady and firm, and it attracted everyone’s attention.
Quick Rope was surprised to see the Prince of Constellation, who had to cling to him so that he could stand properly, stride forward step-by-step with cold sweat all over his body.
“This has nothing to do with what we can or cannot do.” Thales staggered before he took a step over Barney’s sword. He picked up the torch that was about to die out, and swung it in the air to let it burn fully again. Light lit up the dim storage room.
Zakriel glanced in his direction with lifeless eyes while Barney Junior continued to lie down on the floor while he wept quietly.
Nalgi’s gaze gradually became unfocused as he lingered on the brink of death. Naer’s coughs became weaker, to the point where they were inaudible.
“Rather, it is about whether we will be able to make the right decisions when the time comes.”
Thales used every ounce of his energy to inhale, and pushed to the back of his mind the pain caused by the Sin of Hell’s River healing him, and the sequela from the mystic energy. He lifted the torch and walked step-by-step towards the pool of blood in the darkness that lay ahead.
“No matter what you’re trying to do, it’s too late,” Samel scoffed. There was endless sorrow and ridicule in his voice. “That is a fact.”
Thales shook his head and only continued to move forward. The blood from Nalgi’s neck stained the soles of his shoes… Just like that night when he stepped on a pool of blood in Abandoned House.
Everyone shifted their focus onto the prince.
Thales stepped on the pool of blood, gasping for breath. In the next second, the pain in his body increased suddenly!
The teenager slipped. He was no longer able to support his weak body and knelt down on one knee in front of Nalgi and Canon.
“Thales!” Quick Rope cried in alarm, but he was held back by the prince when the latter firnly raised an arm.
“At least, now…” Thales gasped for a breath and took a few steps forward on his knees. He drew closer to Nalgi and met the latter’s gaze, which was now almost empty of life.
“There is one last thing we can do.”
‘One last thing?’ Quick Rope was stupefied.
“Idler Nalgi of the Defense Division, right?”
Thales withstood the waves of pain as he watched the man, whose life was slipping away right before his eyes.
With Canon’s support, Nalgi glanced at Thales with lusterless eyes. The blood from his neck flowed out endlessly from the cracks between Canon’s trembling fingers.
Immediately afterwards, Nalgi looked away shudderingly. There was avoidance in his gesture, and his movement was weak. He did not seem to dare face the Jadestar teenager before him.
“I understand. I know what you have done.”
Nalgi shivered slightly. The torch lit up Nalgi’s face as he was about to leave the earth. His face was yellow and dry, and covered in wrinkles filled with both despair and pain.
As he watched blood flow out unstoppingly from Nalgi’s neck, Thales gritted his teeth and squeezed out a pleasant smile. He tried his best to make his voice sound steady.
“You were involved in a conspiracy and the internal strife of the country. During those chaotic times, you… wavered between your family and the royal power. In the end, you chose to deny the late king, and you vowed loyalty and devotion to another Jadestar. You chose the future he represented.
“You dirtied your hands with a blood debt you could not wash away, and it is the same for your other brothers in the Royal Guards.”
Nalgi began to shiver in Canon’s arms.
His eyes were already quite gloomy before this. He trained that pair of gloomy eyes on Thales, and now they were filled withremorse and pain.
Thales watched him calmly. The grief in his heart drowned out the pain in his body momentarily.
“You paid a price for this. You were tortured by your conscience, carried the brand of criminals on your face while feeling guilty, indignant, and angry. You could never see daylight again, and you were conflicted for the remaining half of your life.” The teenager sighed and said, “You have wasted your time thus far.”
Nalgi opened his mouth in anguish, but he could only make gurgling sounds as he bled from his throat. The glance he threw in Thales’ direction was filled with even more despair.
The guards stared at the prince with all kinds of looks. Some were also filled with despair, some were mournful, some were cold, and some were empty. Thales ignored them.
The stench of blood was the only thing he could smell. He had his eyes fixed firmly on Nalgi, who lay in a pool of his own blood. It was as though Thales wanted to stare at whatever remained of his soul.
Thales forced out a weak smile. “But I also know that it was not out of selfishness that you refused to admit to your crimes in the past, and carried the brand of criminals to prison. It was because you wished to go with your decision until the end to cover the scandal of the Jadestar Royal Family.
“That might be a sad but honorable choice.”
As he said his last word, all the guards changed their expressions slightly. Canon was so surprised that he raised his head as he held Nalgi.
A look of conflict appeared on Nalgi’s dirt-stained face for a while. He stared incredulously at Thales again. He curled his hand into a fist.
In the next second, Thales sighed. “But that does not matter anymore…”
The teenager watched Nalgi with a serious look. His battered and very pathetic-looking face appeared peaceful and calm in the light.
“Because eighteen years later, when you were one step away from escaping from this prison, when freedom and liberation were within your reach, you made the decision to give up on the false pretense you put on and the good fortune of having no one discover your actions in the past. You faced your nightmare, your pain, and the ugly truth head on. You decided to face your past self again.”
As Zakriel listened quietly, he swayed. Even Barney Junior had calmed down.
As he listened to Thales, Nalgi’s breathing, which had been quick earlier due to his bleeding, started becoming uneven.
“Maybe what I am about to say is insignificant and too late”
Thales, feeling weak, reached out with his left hand. He placed his palm gently over the ugly brand of criminals on Nalgi’s face.
His palm was right on top of the flesh with the letter ‘S’ from the Ancient Empire alphabet burned into it.
It was as though his touch was magic, because it gradually calmed Nalgi down.
Thales gritted his teeth lightly. “But I at least want you to know… that even if no one knows about this, even if the kingdom does not acknowledge it, and even if this matter can never be made known to the world… at least I know it, from the bottom of my heart…” Thales took a deep breath and said with a smile,
“…I do not think you are a bad person, Nalgi.”
At that moment, Nalgi’s pupils suddenly constricted! The way he looked at the prince changed, just like his expression.
“You are not a selfish and purely evil traitor.”
The teenager’s voice was soft as though it could only move dust particles, but his words traveled in the prison, and they were incredibly clear. It traveled into everyone’s ears.
“On the contrary, you are a person deserving of respect. You made your own decision and shouldered the consequences without resentment and regret. You held on to your principles to the end.”
Nalgi’s breaths started to quicken. The sound of his breathing drowned out the sounds of blood gushing out of his neck. He stared at Thales, while his mouth opened and closed. He let out fragmented murmurs. However, his seemingly agitated words were buried in the sounds of his rushing blood.
Thales smiled. “I know, Nalgi. I understand.”
The prince pressed down on Nalgi’s forehead gently and drew closer to him. Nalgi’s murmurs continued, but they grew weaker.
“So, at this moment, at the final moments of your life…” Thales noticed that his voice was quivering, and those quivers were even more intense than Nalgi’s trembling as he lay on his deathbed.
“Tae Nalgi.” Thales breathed in his daze. Nalgi’s haggard face started to become blurry before his eyes. “In the name of the legitimate descendant of the Jadestar Family, the only heir to the Nine-Pointed Star Crown, I, the second prince, Thales Jadestar” The teenager heard his own trembling voice.
“…I forgive you.”
At that moment, the prison was quiet to a frightening degree. Everyone was at a loss for words as they watched the teenager speak softly while he looked at the wounded man.
“I forgive every crime and wrongdoing you committed in the past, have committed, or have not committed.
The prince’s voice was heard. It was as if nothing had happened during that second. The prison was as quiet as before.
However, after barely less than a second, Nalgi’s chest began to heave violently. He seemed to be struggling to get up.
“Hic” In the end, Nalgi crumbled, like a huge dam that had been holding back water for a long time. His eyes had already lost focus, but he still reached out with his weak left hand, trembling fiercely. He tried to seize something in the air, but it was in vain. His lips twisted and twitched. He let out intense sobs and whimpers towards Thales, as if he had endless things to say. “Hic”
Nalgi’s intense reaction caught Canon off-guard while the latter pressed his hand against Nalgi’s neck. He could only try his best to control Nalgi so that his condition would not worsen, even though there was already nothing that could be done to save him.
Thales put the torch down, and, without minding the blood all over his body, held Nalgi’s hand, which was empty and had nothing to support it in the air. He bent down to hold the dying man.
“No matter who you have betrayed or who you are loyal to, no matter where your heart is inclined towards and where you were headed to, and no matter where you stood in the past or the present…”
He pressed his cheek against Nalgi’s forehead so that the man’s struggles could gradually calm down because of his voice.
“…I hope that you will not be trapped in distress, conflict, torment and guilt, and that you will be free from now onwards.” Thales gasped for air and held back his urge to cry. “May your past be gone with the wind, and that this moment marks the end of your nightmare.
“May you rest in peace.”
No one made a sound. In that moment, the only sound that could be heard was Nalgi’s breathing, which slowly calmed down before it gradually grew faint and weak.
One second, two seconds, three seconds…
It was not known how much time had passed, but Nalgi’s struggles finally calmed down. Thales exhaled, patted Canon who was frozen, and let go of Nalgi.
Thales looked down, feeling lost. It was unclear when the man in his arms had closed his eyes… He never moved again.
‘He’s gone,’ Thales told himself in anguish. ‘After eighteen years of torment… He’s gone.’
But immediately after that, Thales twitched. Endless tears flowed down Nalgi’s lifeless face. The tears that gushed and flowed down his face were greater than the blood that flowed from his neck.
Thales felt like crying.
“Thank you.” Canon sobbed while he still held his comrade’s body. “Thank you, Your Highness. Nalgi Nalgi”
Thales raised his head and watched him, dazed.
Nalgi’s cheeks were soaked in tears, but an arc had formed on his cheeks. He looked as though he was tormented by extreme pain.
But Thales knew… It was not pain. It was a smile. One that Nalgi had not shown for eighteen years.
Thales froze for a moment while still feeling lost. Then, he got unsteadily onto his feet before he raised the torch again.
He only noticed at this moment that, although he was not certain when it began, everyone present had their eyes fixed on him. Some of them were surprised, some worked up, some worried, and some in grief. At this moment, it was as if the teenager was the protagonist on a stage play.
Even Zakriel watched Thales dumbfoundedly without moving.
Quick Rope was silent. His eyes as he gazed in Thales’ direction had an additional, underlying meaning. Thales inhaled deeply and moved his gaze away from Nalgi. He strode to another side.
He did not know whether the sequela of the mystic energy had decided to spare him, or whether the Sin of Hell’s River had finally finished repairing his body, but the pain had started to become numbed. It was insignificant against the situation he faced at that moment.
Thales walked forward weakly and approached Beldin, who was holding Naer. Naer coughed in pain. Light was reflected off his gaze as he stared at Thales, making them shine.
“Your Highness, we”
When he saw that Nalgi was no longer breathing, Beldin held back the emotions in his heart. He was about to speak when Thales lifted his right hand and stopped him from doing so.
“Wait a minute.” The teenager shook his head.
Beldin closed his mouth immediately, not showing the slightestobjection to Thales’ order. It was as if obeying Thales was his calling.
Perhaps they were affected by what happened just now, but no one did anything to interrupt Thales.
Just like earlier, Thales knelt on one knee in front of Naer and looked at the man who was still smiling even though he was coughing non-stop.
“This internal bleeding is serious after sustaining a blunt hit. I won’t be able to recover from it. I know this very well as a logistics officer,” Naer said arduously. His face was pale, and cold sweat trickled continuously down his body. Beldin could not bear seeing his comrade suffer like this, and closed his eyes beside Naer.
Thales looked at him sadly. “Sazel Naer, second logistics officer,” the teenager said in a serious tone.
Naer subconsciously pushed against Beldin who was holding him, and puffed out his chest. It was as if he wanted to appear more presentable.
The young prince softly said, “I do not know what you have undergone during these eighteen years, but I do know that what you have been through is unfair to you.”
Naer glanced at the prince with a calm look. His heavily wounded body started to become numb. Thales suppressed the anger that was born out of the sadness in his heart.
“It has been eighteen years. While his heart filled with grievances and pain, you shouldered the consequences which do not match what you have done.
“I know that you have no place to complain about the grievances you have suffered; you cannot voice the pain you suffered, and perhaps the justice you should have will never come. You might never be able to clear your name, either.”
As he listened to the prince, Naer’s gaze became unfocused, and his eyes were filled with sadness.
However, Thales clutched his hand. Naer’s hand was as cold as ice, as though blood had never flowed to this part of his body before.
“But you, logistics officer… please be at ease.” Thales’ tone of speech rose a little. “Because at the very least… at the very least, I will always remember your innocence and righteousness.”
Naer’s icy cold hand started to tremble.
“I will always remember this one man. No matter how much pain and injustice he endured, be it in the past or present and whether he was alive or dead, he has always believed in and cherished his comrades. He trusted them from the beginning, and his belief in them never wavered.”
Naer’s vision was already incredibly blurry, but he used up all his energy to show a smile to the prince.
Thales felt extremely gratified because of this, and the heavy feeling he had after experiencing Nalgi’s death was slightly alleviated. The prince sucked in a deep breath and forced down his sadness at the bottom of his heart.
“Sazel Naer, may your journey to Hell’s River be smooth and unhindered.” As Thales spoke, he pushed his forehead against Naer’s. He whispered, “May you rest in peace.”
Naer’s body shivered a little even though there was not much life left in him. The prison was still very quiet, but at that moment…
“No, Your Highness”
Thales let go of Naer and was surprised to see Naer still insisting to speak up to refute him, even though his face was covered in tears.
“We made a pledge.” Naer shook uncontrollably while his dull eyes watched the empty ceiling. He opened his mouth with great difficulty, smiling with tears in his eyes.
“As the Emperor’s Praetorian Guards, our souls will enter neither heaven nor hell, but will be smelted into…. the majestic Empire.”
‘Soul?’ Thales was slightly startled.
As tears continued to fall endlessly down Naer’s face, Naer’s smile grew brighter. Thales was saddened to see this.
“Just like our brothers in the past” Naer could not see the things in front of his eyes clearly anymore, but with what little remained of his energy, he turned to each and every person as he trembled.
“I, Sazel Naer, a Royal Guard, and second logistics officer…”
He clenched his right fist laboriously and pounded his chest! He did not care whether this action would bring him great pain and burden to his body.
Thales glanced at him in surprise. He suddenly realized that the guards who were around them, be it Zakriel, Barney Junior, Beldin, or Samel, they puffed out their chests and looked solemn. It was as if they were attending the most formal event.
“Gentlemen!” Naer opened his eyes even though they only reflected darkness now, and said in a hoarse voice, “My sword is broken, and my mission is complete.”
He seemed to be forcing his weak lungs to breathe as he tried to squeeze that sentence out of his mouth. His words were clear, and they were spoken in a firm and decisive manner.
Every single word of that sentence caused the Royal Guards to tremble. Naer inhaled deeply.
“I have I have fulfilled my duties with full dedication on my part” Halfway through his sentence, Naer’s breathing faltered. He gasped for air a few times. Once he recovered, he quickly resumed,
“I shall surely I shall surely rest beside the Emperor” Near death’s door, Naer unfurled the fist on his chest. “…No.”
Naer shook his head. He touched Thales’ scruffy face with his trembling hand. Thales bent his head down gently to put his cheek against Naer’s palm. Naer touched the prince’s face and cast a deep glance at Thales.
In the next second, Naer’s palest and gentlest smile bloomed on his face. He said determinedly, “I rest now by the Emperor’s side.”
‘”My sword is broken. My mission is complete. I have fulfilled my duties with full dedication on my part. I rest now by the Emperor’s side.”‘
The prisoners listened to his last words with blank expressions. They were either moved by his words, or were sighing in their hearts.
Naer stared at the air. He used all his energy to hold his breath, as if he was waiting for something.
Finally, a rustling sound rose up. Barney Junior seemed to have woken from his nightmare as gloom still loomed over his face. He held his right arm, which was in extreme pain, and pressed it against his chest while he leaned against the wall.
“Second logistics officer, Sazel Naer. Thou hast fulfilled thy duties with full dedication on thy part.” With every ounce of his strength, Barney Junior tried to keep his voice steady, even though his pitch had changed. He said hoarsely, “Thou shalt surely rest beside the Emperor.”
Finally, Thales saw the smile on Narr’s pale face relax, as though the burden that was troubling him had been lifted from his shoulders.
Thales looked up and saw that all the Royal Guards had pressed their hands against their chests. They delivered a funeral speech for Royal Guards simultaneously in either graveness, sadness, or agitation.
“Only our legacy lives on. It shall bear witness to eternity.”
Once they said the final word, in the next moment, Naer’s arm, which was the one he used to support Thales’ face, buckled. His arm fell abruptly and feebly before it was grabbed by Thales.
The prince lowered his head, only to see that Naer’s eyes had lost its spark of life entirely.
“He’s gone,” Thales said these words to himself softly once more.
Beldin let out a mournful whimper in his throat. Canon sobbed quietly. Barney Junior closed his eyes while strong emotions rushed inside him. He said in a quivering voice, “Thirty thirty-eighth”
He paused briefly, and hesitantly snuck a glance at Nalgi’s body, who lay across from him. In the end, Barney Junior still looked down and shook his head, hopeless and gloomy.
Zakriel buried his face into his palms again while his shoulders trembled.
Once they sent off two of their brothers, every guard became incredibly quiet. After staying silent for a few seconds, Thales gently let go of Naer’s body.
‘It’s not over yet,’ he told himself as he moved his weak body. ‘It’s not over.’
Thales turned around and swept his gaze over each and every figure around him. “Chief penal officer, Luton Beldin. Vice flag bearer, Colin Samel.”
Beldin bit down on his lip. Samel’s expression seemed complicated.
The prince raised his torch and stood up, swaying. His figure became clearer before their eyes when he was illuminated by the flames.
“I understand both of you, and find your reasoning logical.” Thales said in a hoarse voice, “But I do not possess power like my father, nor am I in a position as high as his; I cannot absolve you from your blame, clear your names, or plead for you.”
As he spoke, he glanced at Barney Junior, who had all his hopes dashed to pieces and did not say a word.
“I know my father’s personality; even if I returned to Eternal Star City, I would still have no authority and power. What I say will be of no value, and even meaningless.”
Beldin had a solemn expression. Samel shook his head and sneered softly.
“I cannot wipe away your brands, clear your names, change your circumstances, or make up for the injuries you have sustained.” Thales inhaled deeply. “But at least… and I can only say this to you using my status as Thales Jadestar…” He looked down and said softly, “I am sorry.”
Beldin and Samel jolted simultaneously.
“Like Naer, I know the unjust treatment you have received, I know your past, and I know of your innocence.” Thales tried his best to sound calm and sincere. “I also know your determination… And I will remember this forever, regardless of what others may think.”
At that moment, Beldin put on a sorrowful smile with great effort, and shook his head while Samel’s eyes sparkled. He watched the prince with an indescribable gaze.
“Like Naer, in my heart, both of you have long been cleared of all the accusations against you.” Thales tried to dispel the sadness at the bottom of his heart. He tugged at the corners of his lips. “You are extraordinary Royal Guards… Thank you.”
Beldin’s words froze in his mouth. He was unable to utter any words. “Your Highness”
Samel turned his head as though he wanted to immerse himself in darkness. His expression was unclear.
Thales tried hard to smile. With his weak body, he turned to the other three men.
“Calvary scout of the Vanguard Division, Jonah Canon. Guard of the Defense Division, Sol Bruley. And you, Gutee Tardin of noble birth.”
When they heard their names being called, Canon shuddered while he held Nalgi’s body. He did not dare look up. Bruley sobbed in pain. Tardin even turned his head to the other side, feeling ashamed.
“All of you were involved in the conspiracy and chaos back then, and you even took part in it. You were part of the Bloody Year, caused the misfortune of the royal family, brought about the disaster of the kingdom, and your crimes cannot possibly be eliminated.”
The three men felt even sadder. Canon buried his face into Nalgi’s bosom as he sobbed continuously. Burley knelt down on the floor. There was a blank look on his face. Tardin bit down on his lips and seemed prepared.
Thales looked at the three men with complicated emotions in his heart. It was impossible for him to describe those emotions.
But in the end, he still took a deep breath and shook his head.
“However” Thales revealed a faint smile.
“…I forgive you.”
The air was as still as death.
Beldin opened his eyes wide. Even Samel furrowed his brow. The three men concerned, be it Tardin, Bruley, or Canon, were completely dumbfounded at that moment.
Tardin instinctively said, “Your Highness”
Thales did not let him continue. Instead, he spoke faintly while he looked at Nalgi and Naer’s bodies, “Like Nalgi, you made your own choice among the many paths laid out before you. Today, times have changed. It is no longer important to pursue what is right and wrong in the past.”
As Thales said these words, Tardin shook a little. Without any hatred or contempt in his voice, the prince said calmly, “What is more important is that you have paid the price, be it the passing of your brothers, the punishment brought to you by your conscience, or the guilt and nightmare which will follow you forever.”
The three men still stared at Thales incredulously.
“Even I can tell what kind of people you all are. Regardless of what decision you made back then, on this day, you did not let Zakriel bear your crimes alone. Instead, you faced your past and stepped forward to admit to what you did that year.”
A few of them cast a glance at Zakriel, but the seriously injured Knight of Judgment remained silent.
Thales sighed. “Also, you saved my life today even though you knew very well that doing this will not get you pardoned, because you were different from Barneyyou knew the truth.”
As he spoke, Thales did not know whether his Power of Eradication had taken effect or whether the time taken for the sequela from using mystic energy to wreak havoc in his body had passed, but Thales felt that the pain in his body had disappeared entirely.
All that was left was weakness, bewilderment, emptiness and an unprecedented relief, as if a heavy load was removed from his shoulders.
Thales lifted his head and tried his best to smile while he said hoarsely, “Thus, I forgive you. I forgive all of you. You have been pardoned. You have been pardoned so that you will be free from the torment of the past and the eternal guilt. I hope that you are reborn from this second onwards…”
‘This is… my decision,’ the voice in Thales’ heart said softly. ‘Compared to power and status, this is… what I should really cherish, care for, and uphold.
‘This is my real anchor point.’
In the silence that lasted a few seconds, only the sound of sparks coming from the torch, and the breathing more interweaved.
Finally, Canon was the first among the three of them who could no longer keep his composure. He placed his hands on the pool of blood, prostrated himself on the floor, and burst into tears.
Canon’s reaction seemed to have triggered something, because immediately after Canon threw himself on the floor, Tardin went down on his knees and covered his face in pain and remorse.
“Your Highness I I…” He sobbed bitterly, unable to speak.
Bruley’s lips quivered, but no sound was made, he just squeezed his eyes shut. Then, in Thales’ direction, he lowered his body and head to the lowest possible point he could manage.
Samel sighed. Beldin put Naer’s body down while he stared at Thales fixedly.
Thales smiled at them. “I am sorry. I can only speak using my own name. After all, I am not the king…
“This is the most I can do,” he added, feeling somewhat dispirited.
Beldin shook his head and flashed the prince his most grateful and most restrained smile.
‘No. What you have done is far beyond this… Far beyond this.’
Once he had finished saying these words to himself, Thales inhaled and gazed at Barney Junioron the other side of the room.
Quick Rope watched all this with a stupefied expression as he stood at the side. In the dark prison, two bodies lay peacefully on the floor. Zakriel knelt on the ground and stared at Thales, feeling lost. Barney Junior leaned against the wall indifferently. He did not move at all.
The other four prisoners including Samel were in a terribly sorry state; they were either worked up, filled with grief, sobbing while they covered their faces, or sighing while they knelt on the floor.
The teenager remained lifting his torch as he stood amid the group. There was a smile of relief on his face. His thin and weak figure was illuminated by the flames, and he appeared tall and strong before their eyes.
“What is he doing?” Samel mumbled in his daze as he stood aside.
Beldin heard what he said. “Nothing at all.”
The Knight of Judgment watched Thales walk towards Barney Junior before the prince spoke softly, anguish and hope in his voice at the same time.
“He only raised the torch.”
Beldin watched Thales from afar and said quietly at the bottom of his heart, ‘Then, he lit up our darkness.’
In the next moment, Beldin could no longer keep his composure. The warrior, who had fought so hard and violently, turned his head away abruptly.
He covered the tears that gushed out of his eyes.