Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
His trick to stall for time began to show effect. It was a good thing, but…
As he watched Ricky’s murderous gaze, Thales felt even more troubled.
‘What did I do? But… if he is a Mystic…’ Thales scratched his head and recalled why the Disaster Swords came to this place. ‘Right. Dragon Breaker. No, it’s the Blade of Purification. But… What do we do now?’
Suddenly, a dry and dull voice came from a dark place behind him.
Thales snapped out of his disorderly thoughts.
Both Barney Junior and Beldin were surprised and turned around.
“Remaining calm becomes even more important the more disadvantageous a situation you are in, and when you are forced to face a strong enemy.”
When he saw who was behind him, Thales became stunned. Even Ricky’s gaze grew intense. He no longer watched Thales with his murderous gaze.
It was him—Zakriel. The Knight of Judgment who lost his mind just now, and was left by the others in a dark corner, hobbled forward to arrive in the illumination of the firelight. His left hand was bound tightly to a wooden plank. His expression was cold, while his gaze was mournful.
The knight’s appearance made many of them nervous, especially the Disaster Swords. Klein and Josef’s expressions changed suddenly, and they raised their weapons at the same time!
Thales tensed up, but under the current circumstances, he probably no longer had the energy to consider the threat Zakriel posed.
“As for you, Vanguard Barney, and Penal Officer Beldin, you two have truly disappointed me.” Zakriel looked like he was about to collapse anytime, but his voice was incredibly stern.
Beldin looked ashamed, while Barney Junior turned his head away awkwardly.
“Commanding officer?” Tardin asked in surprise and bewilderment. However, Zakriel ignored him and only looked straight at Thales, whose face was pale.
“As for you…” Knight of Judgment’s gaze at this moment was fierce and resolute, as if he possessed the power to read people’s minds.
As he recalled Zakriel’s previous action of going after his life, Thales’s heart thumped loudly against his chest.
“Think carefully. How did he ‘die’?” Zakriel asked.
‘How did he die? Who? What does he mean by “how did he die”?’ Thales was clueless.
“Zakriel!” Ricky said loudly. He seemed surprised and curious. At the same time, he did not forget to throw an enquiring look at Samel. But Samel only shook his head, and his expression was complicated.
“You surely look much better than when you were imprisoned.”
Thales stole a glance at Zakriel who, except for his eyes, had bruises and bloodstains on his face, and he looked sickly. Thales could not find any proof of how he looked ‘much better’.
“Why don’t you consider my proposal?” The surprise and wariness disappeared in a flash from Ricky’s face. His voice became steady and confident again. “We should be able to get along well. For instance, we could launch a strike at the Tower of Eradication.”
However, Zakriel did not look at him at all. He only stared unwaveringly at Thales. His stare made the young man nervous. Thales immediately turned his head away and forced himself not to engage in eye contact with Zakriel, who had returned from his self-imposed isolation.
At that moment, a thought struck Thales’ mind, and he came to understand Zakriel’s words.
‘It’s Ricky. He’s talking about Ricky. How did Ricky die earlier? Right, I remember now. He was in Zakriel’s dungeon, and Yodel…’
Right then, Thales immediately snapped out of his confusion!
‘Right.’ The prince shook his head fiercely. His condition was very bad. His injuries and weariness affected his basic cognitive skills.
Thales inhaled deeply. His half-dead Sin of Hell’s River reluctantly gave him a trickle of its power, and it relieved him slightly of the pain and dizziness he felt.
With all his might, the young man regained his composure and nodded at Zakriel. The Knight of Judgment looked away. Right after that, Thales turned in Ricky’s direction.
“You are not a Mystic.” His voice was calm and firm. “You are not a calamity.”
When that word appeared, the Royal Guards were slightly surprised. Barney Junior was dumbfounded, while Beldin watched Ricky stiffly.
Ricky raised his eyebrows. Thales took a deep breath. He felt the anxiety within him start to fade away.
The surprise among the Royal Guards disappeared in no time. All of them turned to look at Thales.
“Oh?” Ricky’s smile froze slowly. “What makes you so sure?”
‘What makes me so sure?’ Thales now felt relieved. Then, he subconsciously blurted out, as if to convince himself. “Because you are a man.”
Ricky frowned. He was puzzled for a while. ‘A man?’ The creases on his forehead began to smooth out.
“I see.” Ricky suddenly felt enlightened. “‘Because I am a man’… This means you have heard what we said about the Magic Empresses, haven’t you?”
This time, it was Thales who was stupefied. The leader of the mercenaries smiled a little. With sparkling eyes, he looked to the right and left. “Your Highness, where is your masked friend?”
Thales stiffened. He subconsciously wanted to look at Zakriel, who was the last man to have seen Yodel, but after he heard what Ricky said, he could not help but shift his attention to something else again.
“So, the sword he tried to kill me with must be a legendary anti-mystic weapon, am I right?”
Thales’ hands froze. Before him, Ricky remained relaxed, calm, and level-headed. But his eyes were fixed on Zakriel.
“So the legend is true. Other than the four pieces held by the Three Commanders and the king, there is another one kept in Renaissance Palace. Now, based on what I have seen, it looks like the last legendary anti-mystic weapon is a sword.”
Most of the Disaster Swords and the Royal Guards were puzzled by what they heard. They could not keep up with Thales and Ricky’s trains of thought.
However, Thales’ stare on Ricky grew graver and graver.
‘This isn’t good.’
He followed the clues Zakriel provided as a reminder to determine that Ricky was not a Mystic—based on the fact that he was “killed” by the Supreme Sword.
Ricky, however, was quick to catch on to the logic in their train of thought, based on only a random and strange sentence uttered by Thales: ‘”You are a man.”‘
With that sentence, Ricky deduced the sword that “killed” him to be a legendary anti-mystic equipment.
Thales subconsciously peeped at Zakriel behind him, but the man did not look at him at all—he only stared at Ricky coldly.
‘No. I can’t count on him.’ Thales shook his head.
Zakriel’s mental health had been bad since the moment they met. Besides, after experiencing battle after battle, and getting “baptized” by the Alchemy Ball, Thales did not think it was a good idea to bet on Zakriel—even though he had just snapped out of his self-imposed isolation—because he was limping and could not even walk steadily.
Thales had no other other choice but to brace himself and carry on.
“So, your ‘death’ was planned? And…” Thales watched the Disaster Swords across from him, and counted their numbers. “And you just sat around, watching us kill each other while you waited to benefit from our dispute?”
‘There are at least thirty to forty of them… But the main point is Ricky. He’s still the biggest variable. If he is not a Mystic…’
Thales recalled the man’s “magic” of resurrecting from the dead. He felt like he was surrounded by an even thicker layer of the unknown after he had freed himself of his fear towards Mystics.
“Planned?” Ricky chuckled. His gaze never left Zakriel. “Your Highness, you have to understand: This world is complicated. Nothing will ever go exactly as planned, like tonight, don’t you agree?”
‘Nothing will ever go exactly as planned.’ Thales clenched his fists.
“Half the people in Blade Fangs Camp are here: the mysterious and horrifying Shadow Shield, the Northlander with a formidable background, the well-known Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department, the Northland Secret Room who are not inferior in any aspect, the former Royal Guards-now-turned-prisoners, and even the Constellation noblemen in the camp.”
Ricky clicked his tongue and shook his head. “Of course, there is also us and you, Your Highness. When all these are woven together, all pre-supposed plans will be interrupted. Only surprises play the main melody of this symphony.”
Ricky narrowed his eyes, wariness shone in them. “We have never planned anything, or rather, the only one plan we can count on is that we act according to the situation.”
‘Act according to the situation?’ Thales ran through everything that happened tonight from the inn to the dungeon, from the mercenaries to the assassins, from the prisoners to Zakriel…
His expression changed slightly.
Ricky could be seen as the culprit behind what happened tonight. All this began because his Disaster Swords broke into the Prison of Bones to obtain the information he sought.
Ricky also linked multiple parties together and gathered all of them: Shadow Shield, who wanted to use them; the Northlander who was interested in the prince; the innocent and neutral innkeeper; Secret Room, who had ulterior motives; and Thales himself.
He was the one who ignited the conflicting views between the parties. He took Samel to see the former Royal Guards, and brought up the old story from eighteen years ago; he led his subordinates to fight Shadow Shield; and he was the one who dragged everyone in the dungeon into this vortex.
And he was now about to be the one who ended this game of chess. He came here to witness the ending after Samel led the Disaster Swords to this place, right when almost all of his goals were achieved and when nearly everything was set in stone.
Thales felt his heart grow heavier. He suddenly realized that he had seriously underestimated Ricky.
This man could still stand here safely even after he was dragged into endless chaotic situations and accidents. He certainly was not just anyone.
And his mysterious and strange means of resurrection…
In the suffocating silence, Ricky laughed a little. “Now, will you come home with me?”
Again, to everyone’s surprise, a figure suddenly shot up!
Thales’ nerves jumped, but his thoughts were still in chaos. He just heard a gust of wind before he saw a hobbling shadow shoot past him and attack Ricky who had just finished speaking!
It was Zakriel. The former watchman maintained a straight face and strode forward resolutely with legs that were no longer agile, causing his speed to be a little slower.
Thales was completely dumbfounded. ‘What happened to… staying level-headed and calm?’
This time, the Disaster Swords who had been prepared for this a long time ago, no longer remained passive. They roared, launched a counterattack, and blocked the attacker.
At least six men went to face Zakriel.
Only Samel’s expression changed completely. He cried out to stop them, “No, not so many of you! He—”
But it was too late. In the next six seconds, Thales thought that he was watching a comical acrobatics show.
In the first second, a mercenary swung with a hammer. The Knight of Judgment dragged him forward, and he crashed absurdly into his comrade to his left. In a flurry, the two men tried to avoid causing injury to each other. They rolled on the ground.
In the next second, and the first half of the third second, Josef and Zakriel clashed head-on against Zakriel’s axe. Then, when Josef stepped away, he found himself standing in the way of his comrades who came to provide support for him. He consequently made two people trip.
In the second half of the third second, Klein’s peerlessly quick sword thrust forward, but strangely, it blocked another attack that headed towards Zakriel, who just so happened to lower his head.
In the forth second, the last mercenary who stood in front of Ricky was clever not to engage with Zakriel directly. Instead, he threw three darts at the Knight of Judgment. Zakriel was quick to avoid one dart, and that dart pierced the foot of the attacker behind him.
In the fifth second, the second dart hit Zakriel’s axe blade, coincidentally changed its trajectory, and flew into the crowd… to stab the backside of one of the two men subduing Barney Junior.
In the sixth second, the third dart accurately hit the plank on Zakriel’s left arm, which was used to fix it in place. The Knight of Judgment turned his head, bit the dart, and then spat it out. The saliva-drenched dart immediately appeared in the air. It was then shoved by Zakriel’s axe before it hit its owner’s crotch.
When it was the seventh second, Ricky was shocked to see the dart-wielding mercenary curl up in pain, fall backwards, and coincidentally fall in the direction of his right leg. At the same time, Zakriel’s axe flew into the air and hit his left leg.
Ricky had to take a large step to avoid his shrieking comrade rolling on the ground. He then used his sword to block Zakriel’s flying axe.
When he was finally done with all this, Zakriel appeared before him.
Ricky struggled to regain balance. He did not even manage to finish that syllable when Zakriel coldly raised his right arm and his bound left hand simultaneously.
A horrifying sound caused by cracking muscles and bones was heard. Thales trembled.
In the next second, Ricky’s head turned towards an impossible direction.
Ricky, who had been swollen with arrogance before this, opened his eyes wide in disbelief, and fell to the ground. His head was twisted in a weird angle. He was looking at his own back.
Then, he stopped moving.
While the Disaster Swords screamed in pain and wailed, the battle was over. Aside from the people who were crying, everyone else was stupefied.
But it was not over yet for Zakriel.
He extended his hand coldly to catch Ricky’s Everlasting Truth, which had slipped from his grasp. It looked as if Ricky threw the sword to Zakriel of his own accord as he fell down.
Everyone quivered! Thales subconsciously turned his head.
The sound of ripping flesh was heard again. This time, Ricky was beheaded, and blood gushed from his body. His head rolled on the ground powerlessly.
Three seconds passed…
Under everyone’s shocked gazes, Zakriel stood up.
*Clank.* The longsword fell on the ground.
Ricky’s body lay on the ground and stopped moving. His head was not far away from his left shoulder. His eyes stared at his neck dully.
Zakriel grunted once he was done. He pressed his hand against his chest and lowered his body. Obviously, he was not entirely free of injuries.
The surrounding mercenaries registered what had happened, and they tried to step forward. However, Zakriel only inhaled deeply and turned his head to look around him.
The mercenaries froze. Then, they retreated like a receding tide, or a herd of sheep that met a hungry wolf.
On the Disaster Swords’ side, Klein supported Josef while the man coughed. With fear and shock, he stared at the warrior before him who attacked like a phantom.
‘Damn it, what happened in the dungeon wasn’t a coincidence. This man can really…’
The people on Thales’ side were just as shocked by what they saw, and were speechless.
“Forty… forty…” Quick Rope watched the injured men sprawled all over the floor, before he stared at Ricky’s dead body. He mumbled fearfully, “Shit. That is seriously real?”
The Knight of Judgment ignored the others and turned around to stare at the headless corpse on the ground solemnly.
A long time seemed to pass…
…but the dead body on the ground did not move.
Zakriel let out a breath of relief and turned around. Thales and the others also exhaled in relief.
‘Indeed, stabbing a dead man’s heart after killing him was the right thing to do.’
But after a mere few seconds, Zakriel was about to move back to where he came from, but stopped…
…because some strange rustling noises came from behind him.
Thales, Tardin, Canon, Bruley, and Quick Rope looked behind the Knight of Judgment, and all their faces instantly turned pale! Even the Disaster Swords around them also turned pale and looked away.
Zakriel’s pupils froze.
In the next second, he kicked the axe up from the ground without thinking, caught the axe shaft with his right hand, and turned around!
The sound of steel penetrating flesh was heard.
Zakriel drove the edge of the axe directly into the chest of the man behind him, but it did not make Thales and the other observers feel better, because they saw the dead body, which got up again, catch Zakriel’s arm.
That body was unbothered by the axe that sank into its chest, and neither was it bothered by the blood dripping down the blade, as if the chest did not belong to the body.
“You’re so cruel. You beheaded me.” At some unknown point in time, Ricky’s head had returned to his body. He laughed and said,
“You truly are a troublemaker.”