Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
“Now I remember. You came to the underground prison to find me,” Zakriel said softly in the dead silence between the trio.
“You came for the Dragon Breaker that was modified years ago, and you kept implying that our misfortune was caused by the two supreme Mystics we could not speak of.”
Ricky turned his head around and smiled. “Who would not be plagued by misfortune in the face of fate?”
Zakriel was not swayed by Ricky’s evasive reply. He calmly asked again, “So the purpose of Disaster Sword’s existence is the exact opposite of their name: to fight against calamities?”
During Zakriel’s round of questioning, Thales suddenly realized that compared to trying to unravel the enigma that enshrouded Ricky, the organization he led was a better point of entry to uncover the mysteries surrounding him.
Ricky clicked his tongue and shook his head. He wore a look of disdain. “Correction: We are the scions from the Outer Tower, not Disaster Swords, whatever that is.”
Zakriel stared at Ricky. “You want me to join you, but I know nothing about you people, only the casefiles archived by the Secret Intelligence Department, which contain information on your peculiar Powers of Eradication, and your activities as mercenaries in the Western Desert.” The knight shook his head. “But what makes me curious is this: the Secret Intelligence Department turned a blind eye on you.”
At the mention of the many of the Secret Intelligence Department, Thales felt a chill in his chest. He thought of something and turned to look at Zakriel, but the latter merely shook his head slightly.
Ricky gave a faint smile. “If this will clear your suspicions, my dear knight… Our relationship with the Secret Intelligence Department of Constellation is closer than you can imagine.”
When he heard this, Thales became vigilant. He thought of ‘Dragon’s Blood’ which happened six years ago. During that time, the relationship between the Secret Intelligence Department and Lampard was closer than he expected, and it would have been better if Thales was not the last person to know that.
Perhaps Zakriel’s relaxed tone gave him hope, because Ricky chuckled and went on.
“More than a hundred years ago, Hill Crassus, after leaving the Tower of Eradication, sought refuge in Constellation. It happened during the Red King’s wrathful conquest in Sharp Blade Valley—when the relationship between Constellation and the Tower was at its worst.
“At that time, Crassus and the ‘Red King’, John the Second, struck a deal. He obtained the king’s permission and protection, and was able to hide in the Western Desert as part of a mercenary group.”
Zakriel and Thales were both startled.
Ricky smirked and gestured to the people around him.
“That was the beginning of ‘Blood Whistle’, the beginning of us whom you see today.”
‘More than a hundred years ago, Crassus and the Red King, the Disaster Sword and Constellation, struck a deal?’ A thought flitted across Thales’ mind.
“What kind of deal?” Zakriel continued to ask in a grim tone, “The king had his Royal Guards, vassals, and servants serving him. Why would he reach out to an outsider—”
“Persuade your subordinates to join us, knight, and I will tell you more,” Ricky interrupted Zakriel with confidence.
“Believe me, we are not at conflict with your beloved kingdom. In fact, we go way back… And I can help you.” Ricky’s voice was bewitching.
He was disappointed, however, when Zakriel merely lowered his head and pondered for a while.
“But there must be a reason why the Tower of Eradication labelled you ‘Disaster Swords’,” said the Knight of Judgment softly.
Ricky heaved a sigh. “Correction, we never admitted that we are Disas…”
He seemed to be rather bothered by this. But Zakriel looked up abruptly, and his eyes glinted.
“According to you, more than a hundred years ago, Crassus the First started your organization as a mercenary group, and went into hiding in the Western Desert. Do you know what that reminds me of?”
Ricky arched an eyebrow and shot him a look that said “so what?”.
In the next second, Zakriel’s tone became solemn.
“Coincidentally, right at the same time, a certain underground association, which started its business by smuggling bootleg liquor from the Western Desert, expanded and flourished in Eternal Star City under the acquiescence of the nobility. Then, it took control of the entire underground world.”
Ricky was somewhat startled.
When he heard this, Thales had a thought! The experience and things he witnessed when he struggled to survive in the underground world before becoming a prince resurfaced in his sea of memories.
‘The underground association that started its business by smuggling bootleg liquor from the Western Desert… The nobles… expanded and flourished in Eternal Star City… took control of the underground world…
“Blood Bottle Gang?” Thales blurted out the name. He could not help feeling shocked.
In that very second, Ricky’s expression darkened. Thales understood many things at once. Zakriel built him a bridge of information that connected all the dots.
“Of course.” Zakriel confirmed Thales’ surmise with a frosty tone. “Later on, we all learned who the people behind Blood Bottle Gang were.”
‘Blood Bottle Gang…’ Two peculiar figures surfaced in Thales’ mind. One was elegant and ethereal, another was sweet and lovely, but…
Ricky frowned deeply. The demon suddenly realized that he had underestimated the human before him.
Zakriel was like a knight in hot pursuit of his enemies after obtaining victory over them. He coldly said,
“Then, as Blood Bottle Gang flourished, Crassus and his newly recruited scions of the Outer Tower were called ‘Disaster Swords’ by the Tower of Eradication.”
In that moment, Ricky’s face turned livid with rage.
Thales remembered now. Ralf once told him that during the gang war six years ago, Blood Bottle Gang hired some swordsmen with bizarre Powers of Eradication, and they answered directly to… Asda.
‘Furthermore…’ Thales stared at Ricky, whose facial color became redder and redder with rage, and the prince recalled another detail.
Back in Dragon Clouds City, Asda told him before leaving… that he was heading to the Tower of Eradication.
Thales clenched his fists subconsciously. He had never been so eager to see the mastermind of Blood Bottle Gang at this moment.
‘Asda, and… Um, maybe just Asda.’
“Your organization was built together with Blood Bottle Gang, and you attacked the Tower of Eradication together with a calamity.” Zakriel’s voice was filled with the mocking tone of someone who just saw through a lie.
“Right, come on, tell me again. Are you not the Disaster Swords who belong to the calamities?”
Ricky was silent. Thales watched the two clashing parties warily.
It was uncertain when it had happened, but at some point, the tables had turned for the aggressive Ricky and the stammering Zakriel. The Knight of Judgment was now on the offense.
“You do not plan to join us, do you, knight?” Ricky raised his head. His eyes gradually turned cold. “You obliged me just to get information out of me, just like when you were guessing whether I was a demon earlier on.”
Zakriel snorted coldly. “You did not come to me for the sole purpose of recruiting me.” Zakriel clenched his teeth, and raised his voice. “Blood Bottle Gang and the calamities were involved in the riot eighteen years ago, while all of you who had a close relationship with them, were part of it as well. Am I right?”
Ricky did not answer his question. The demon’s attitude had become utterly cold and hostile.
“As it appears, fighting is not your only area of expertise, knight.”
“I only excel at fighting.” Zakriel held Ricky’s gaze fearlessly, giving him tit for tat. “But fighting does not necessarily require swords.”
The two of them glared at one another. Their gazes were like swords, clashing and exchanging blows.
Thales felt a chill on his back as he watched them.
At last, after their suffocating exchange, Ricky turned his head away.
“Samel!” Ricky said loudly and coldly, “I think Zakriel’s legs are numb after sitting for too long. Could you be so kind as to accompany your old superior for a walk?”
Samel came over, took a glance at the two men who seemed to be on the verge of fighting, and nodded. “Happy to.”
Zakriel snorted and shook his head. The Knight of Judgment did not wait for Samel to walk over. He helped himself to his feet, stood up on his own, and limped away with his heavily wounded body.
“It turns out he can walk on his own.” Ricky peered at Zakriel’s back coldly. Wariness sparkled in his eyes. “He pretended to have submitted to me just to extract information from me.”
This man was not a mere boor who knew only how to fight and slaughter. On the contrary, his observation skills were sharp, and his comprehension skills were astounding.
Perhaps, while he was on the battlefield, he would deceive his enemy, show weakness, and lay down traps… just to get the information he wanted.
‘The Knight of Judgment…’ Ricky tightened his grip on his sword.
“He made you nervous.”
Ricky turned his head around. Thales narrowed his eyes and looked at the demon while enjoying Ricky’s misfortune.
“You lost to a human in a verbal spar, and relinquished plenty of information to him, didn’t you?”
Ricky’s face darkened. Thales let out a faint sigh.
“But you just said that the real demons could be so inhuman that one would think they are human…”
As he listened to the teenager repeat what he said, Ricky furrowed his brow even though his mind wandered.
Thales raised his head.
“The real demons…?”
Puzzled, Thales asked, “What does that mean, Ricky? Do you mean that you are not a real demon?”
Ricky’s cheek twitched, but Thales had yet to finish.
“Back in the tavern a while ago, I tried to copy your Power of Eradication, didn’t I?” Thales said softly as he watched Ricky’s facial expression closely.
“I know that humans take pride in their Powers of Eradication, I also know that other creatures such as the Blood Clan or the orcs have very different powers compared to the Powers of Eradication.” Thales became stern. “If you are indeed a demon living both underground and in hell, Ricky, then why do you have a Power of Eradication? Is it truly as Zakriel implied, are you possessing someone? If that is true, where did you get this body?”
Ricky’s expression turned sour again. He suddenly realized that the teenager before him was no less difficult to deal with than Zakriel.
“As I have said, Your Highness, there are all kinds of wonders in this world.” Ricky gazed at him meaningfully. “And my existence is more complicated than you can imagine.”
‘…much more complicated.’
As Thales thought about how he could get more information from him, Ricky interjected,
“So, you use the Sin of Hell’s River to imitate other Powers of Eradication, right?” Ricky narrowed his eyes. “Did you figure that out yourself, or did somebody else teach it to you?”
Thales sensed that Ricky was changing the subject, but he had to admit that the new topic had caught his attention.
‘Sin of Hell’s River…’ Black Sword’s face appeared in front of Thales’ eyes.
“Does it matter?”
Ricky laughed and said, “Of course, if you came up with that yourself, then you’re pretty good.” But Ricky’s expression changed abruptly, as if his face was winter itself. “If someone else taught you that…”
Ricky assumed an air of importance, and he said coldly, “Then that person intended to do you harm, or did not want you to grow and improve.”
For a full second, Thales was utterly stunned. ‘Do me harm?’
Thales thought of Ricky’s identity as a demon, and was about to retort scornfully, but he suddenly recalled the moment when he and Black Sword parted.
‘”In regards to the Sin of Hell’s River, after tonight, you’d best not utilize it anymore.”
‘No way.’ The teenager clenched his fists subconsciously. Once he thought of it, Thales stopped himself from retorting sarcastically. In the end, he asked,
“Harm me? What does that mean?”
Ricky took a deep breath. Thales suspected that this man desired the delight derived from other, confused people desperately seeking answers from him. He leaned back unhurriedly, shook his head, chuckled, and said,
“It is because the versatility of the Sin of Hell’s River opens up so many functions and possibilities for self-improvement… but you chose the most foolish, ineffective, time-wasting, and boring one.” Ricky’s eye glinted, and he wore a profound expression.
“Imitation.”Thales frowned. “Is there a problem with that?”
Ricky gave a cold snort. “Of course there is. Crassus the First discussed this issue before.”
Thales felt a jolt in his chest. ‘Crassus the First? He’s the…’
“I know, it is perhaps effective, interesting, and impressive-sounding at first.” This time, Ricky looked at Thales, serious and stern, and said in a manner very unlike him. “‘The omnipotent Power of Eradication’, right?”
When he heard that, Thales paled. ‘He really does know something.’
Ricky let out a cold laugh when he saw Thales’ expression, because Thales had practically admitted he was right.
“Therefore, you believe that when you encounter powerful fighters and greater Powers of Eradication in the future, you would activate your Sin of Hell’s River, imitate them, and easily make them your own like some kind of trophy. You cheat to obtain their powers.”
The teenager was dumbstruck. He never… really thought of this issue.
Jala’s bizarre knife-wielding style, Wya’s Edge of No Return, Nicholas’ Twist of Fate; he had imitated so many people all these years, but…
“So, to you, the Power of Eradication is either an apple or a sword.” Ricky’s facial expression was becoming increasingly stern. The rumbling sound around them became clearer as well. “You can bite it when it is delivered to your mouth, and wield it when it is placed in your hand.”
Thales was setupefied by Ricky suddenly adopting a harsh tone of voice. Ricky, then, gave a light snort. “Tell me, Thales…”
This time, Ricky, who either addressed him as ‘Your Highness’ with formality, or called him ‘my dear’ teasingly, uncharacteristically called Thales by his name.
The demon coldly said, “Do you think that this is the purpose of the Sin of Hell’s River, or even the true essence of the Power of Eradication?”
Thales raised an eyebrow, then twitched his lips awkwardly.
“Uh… no?” Of course he would not be stupid enough to say, “Yes”.
However, Thales had a feeling that Ricky was different in his mannerisms when he fought against Barney and Zakriel, when he talked about his subordinates’ past, and talked about the Sin of Hell’s River with Thales right now; Ricky appeared to become a completely different person when certain topics were discussed.
It was as though the last shred of respect he had left for people…
And at that moment, Ricky was staring at Thales like he wanted to look straight into his heart.
“Barney… did I remember his name correctly? Have you imitated Barney’s Power of Eradication?”
Thales was startled while he pondered about what kind of person Ricky was.