Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Thales did not like the break of dawn. His last memorable dawn was in Dragon Clouds City six years ago, when the calamities disappeared, and the gigantic dragon soared into the sky.
However, as the dark night was about to end, and the first light of morning rose from the east, he did not see hope, just an abyss.
He was the same back then as he was now: he experienced disasters in ways beyond an ordinary man’s imagination. With scarce resources and a lack of sleep, he had to deal with unfathomable difficulties.
Amid the nervous atmosphere, and under the gazes of dozens of mercenaries, Thales clenched his fists.
Barney Junior coiled the chain to his left shoulder with his only functional arm. He made his body slant and tried his best to bind Ricky.
“A marvelous… counterattack… so… what… do we do… now?” Barney’s difficult situation was reflected by how he said the words through his firmly-gritted teeth.
The other three men who held Ricky down were not in a better situation. They were recently released prisoners. After continuous battles, the replenishments they took could not match up to the energy they spent. All of them gasped for breath as they grimaced.
‘What do we do now?’ Thales inhaled deeply as he tried hard to eliminate the dizziness that seemed to have surged into his brain.
When they were held captive by the Disaster Swords, Yodel, who was hiding in the dark, could only hastily tell Thales about the rescue plan. At the time, Thales was watched closely by Ricky.
That hasty plan had now come to an end.
‘But what’s going to happen next…?’ Thales looked at Blade Fangs Camp and tried his best to think of a way out.
Zakriel still held his sword single-handedly while he was surrounded by mercenaries in a semi-circle. He faced the enemies’ gritted teeth and hateful gazes.
He was as calm and unshakeable as a mountain, and his expression was one of tranquility.
“This is not wise, Your Highness, Zakriel. You must understand that we mean no harm.” Samel stood in front of the mercenaries and tried to keep the Disaster Swords under control while he tried to persuade Thales.
“You had better listen to him.” Ricky gritted his teeth and closed his eyes while he was chained and his face was covered with sand and dust.
‘What do we do now?’ Thales closed his eyes. ‘Camp, prison, Disaster Swords, Shadow Shield… Let me think. Let me think…
‘Think of something, now!’
However, at that moment, Quick Rope suddenly shouted beside him, “F*ck!”
Thales opened his eyes, and turned his head along, with all the other impatient people, to see the trouble he was stirring this time. Surprisingly, Quick Rope was not the one who was the troublemaker this time.
Quick Rope was shocked to see his empty hands and could not stop himself from looking up and down.
“What the hell happened—”
Before he could finish his words, a blackclad shadow appeared. In his hands was the black Crossbow of Time.
It was Yodel. For unknown reasons, Thales felt a sense of relief when he saw Yodel, just like years ago.
Quick Rope’s mouth fell open. It took him a long time to recover from his shock.
As everyone watched, Yodel bent his body and bowed skillfully. He pressed down on the cocking stirrup and restrung the bow. In just a few seconds, he completed everything in one go.
He took a special arrow from behind his waist, and fitted it into the flight groove.
“F*ck! What the hell are you trying to…” Josef swore before he sank into deep thought.
Quick Rope registered what happened. He raised his hand and immediately shouted, “Wait, something’s wrong with this—”
But Yodel did not show any intention to pay attention to them.
The Masked Protector lifted the black crossbow, not bothering with anything around him. He faced the direction of the camp, and pulled the trigger in the direction of the sky.
A hasty, loud, and sharp noise was heard!
Everyone was taken aback, be it the mercenaries or Royal Guards.
The sound that accompanied the released arrow was piercing and high-pitched, and caused the people who heard them to have their expressions change.
The sound echoed through the sky. It lasted for a very long time, and could be heard several miles from where they were, and that naturally included Blade Fangs Camp.
Yodel threw the crossbow back to Quick Rope once he finished firing the arrow. He ignored the latter, who seemed to be traumatized and kept mumbling, “Why can’t I do it?”
The sound made by the arrow started to dwindle. However, Thales recalled something! He had heard this before.
“Isn’t this the signal arrow of the White Blade Guards from Dragon Clouds City?” Under the guards’ surprised gazes, the prince glanced at Yodel with surprise and delight.
The Masked Protector nodded silently. Thales opened his eyes wide.
“But how did you—”
Yodel bowed and nodded. His body started to blur. “Star Killer. You did not search his luggage thoroughly.”
The Masked Protector disappeared completely under everyone’s eyes. Only a faint voice was heard in the air, “So… I have not wasted anything.”
‘Not wasted anything?’ Thales raised his eyebrows.
He imagined the plight Nicholas the Star Killer would be in when he woke up. He would realize that he lay naked on an uncultivated land, robbed of his horse and luggage, and left with no money.
Thales put these boring thoughts away. He felt delighted.
‘Good. Now, all we have to do is stall for time and wait for help…’
“Oh no. I know you.” Tardin, who pulled the chains with all his might, widened his eyes and stared at the spot where the masked shadow disappeared to. He hissed, “You’re from Renaissance Palace, that tiny—”
But Zakriel, who had been observing the enemy, suddenly spoke and interrupted him, “Tardin! Focus! We have no time for this!”
The Knight of Judgment’s severe reprimand drew everyone’s attention back to the enemy.
“I have had enough, and you just reminded me…” Josef, who also stood at the front line of the mercenaries, walked past Samel. He stared at the Knight of Judgment, who stood between them and their leader like a natural chasm. Fury was written across Josef’s face.
“Since we are outdoors, let’s change our weapons to crossbows!”
The dozens of mercenaries in the last row did not hesitate. Filled with rage, they were quick to put away their short-range weapons and pull out a crossbow or a short bow from their backs or waists.
‘What?’ Thales’ expression froze. Zakriel frowned a little.
‘Crossbows. Great. That’s another thing I hate.’
“Fix as many arrows as you can! Load them up!”
Josef looked malevolent as he pointed his longsword at Zakriel, who also frowned.
“Take cover as you shoot! I don’t believe that we can’t kill this son of a b*tch, branded warrior!”
Thales looked pale as he watched the mercenaries take out more than a dozen crossbows that came in different sizes, and sinister-looking bows. The snipers pressed down on the cocking stirrup, bowed to pull the trigger or fix the cocked string. The archers took arrows out and fixed them to the bow string swiftly.
The scene of countless arrows flying at him and Little Rascal during the night of Dragon’s Blood appeared before his eyes.
However, next to Josef, Samel exasperatedly pushed down a bow that was about to be fixed with an arrow.
“Ricky wants them alive! Especially that prince!”
The mercenaries’ actions froze for a moment. They hesitated once the opinions between two of their leaders clashed.
But before they could give any other reaction, Josef grabbed Samel by his collar and roared, “You’re the one who wants them alive because you can’t let go of your goddamn brotherhood, you Royal Guard! As for me, I don’t care about that because I care more about us!”
Samel seemed to be stunned by Josef’s sudden explosive rage. He was stupefied. Then, with a troubled expression, he looked at his old comrades who struggled in the face of death, before he glanced at the mercenaries, who could barely restrain their anger.
“Continue to load the bows!”
Josef pushed Samel aside and gave an order through gritted teeth before he turned around to say to Zakriel. “Listen, branded warrior, if you want to be a target, continue to fight for all I care! After all, Ricky won’t die.”
The mercenaries’ actions caused the Royal Guards to change their expressions!
Canon subconsciously tugged Thales behind him, while Quick Rope, like a frightened bird, looked left and right before he hid behind Thales without being told by anyone what he should do.
The atmosphere grew more tense.
“Damn. We won’t make it in time for reinforcements…”
Once he saw that the present situation was not to their advantage, Barney Junior made a decision while he remained pulling on his chain through gritted teeth. He said to others, “Bruley, you and Beldin let go and take cover for Zakriel. Take the leader down no matter what—”
The sudden interruption caused Barney Junior’s words to die in his mouth, even though he was in the process of laying down his plan.
“What?” The vanguard turned to the man who interrupted him. He looked unhappy.
The Knight of Judgment who stood in front of everyone shook his head once he saw that the countless crossbows and bows were fully-loaded. “We should retreat to the prison and take cover.”
Zakriel appeared calm. He gestured towards Rocky with his chin, the latter still had his eyes shut.
“But before that, we should cut this freak’s head down, and kick it as far away as possible. On the count of three—”
Barney Junior was already irritated because he had a hard time binding Ricky. After he was interrupted, his expression grew even more unpleasant. He yelled angrily, “I’m the chief vanguard!”
Thales knitted his eyebrows, because he was worried.
“But… he’s the watchman.” Tardin pulled the chain with all his strength on the other side. He shook his head in his pain, and said, “Isn’t his rank slightly… higher… in the chain of command?”
Once he spoke, everyone fell silent. Barney’s expression froze.
“No.” Zakriel turned around slowly. He was very calm and appeared unaffected by what was going on. “The watchman who takes over the legacy are second only to the guard captain, and holds the same rank as the vice captain when we’re not at war. So, my rank is much, much higher.”
Barney inhaled deeply. Then, as though he had constipation, he turned his head laboriously and uttered a silent curse through bared teeth. His facial expression was one of extreme regret, and it seemed to say “Why didn’t I kill this man with my sword earlier?”
The Royal Guards looked away; they tried to avoid looking at their chief vanguard’s face.
But at that moment…
Beldin, who was quiet before this, suddenly spoke up. He watched Ricky, trapped in chains. His voice could not hide his terror. “This man’s power…”
Everyone was alarmed and turned around.
Right when he finished speaking, the chains in Beldin’s hands trembled! He seemed to have lost control over himself and slid a few inches towards Ricky on the ground!
Beldin was not the only one. The other three men who held and controlled the chains—Barney Junior, Bruley and Tardin—also started sliding!
Thales stared at the bound Ricky. At some unknown point in time, he had freed his hands from the chains, and now grabbed the barbed chains to pull it towards himself.
The chains started to tremble violently.
“No, no, no. There are four of us. What’s going on?” Barney Junior was in disbelief as he watched the tracks he left behind as he slid across the sand.
At that moment, a terrifying voice rose out of thin air and lingered in everyone’s ears, “You thought you trapped me.”
Violent. Piercing. Coarse.
Like the coarsest of scratching noises, that voice rang in their hearts. It was at times louder and at times softer, sometimes, high-pitched, and sometimes low-pitched.
Everyone present, Royal Guards and Disaster Swords, trembled!
But the reverberating and horrifying voice that seemed to be in their minds did not plan to let them go, “But you didn’t…”
The four men pulling the chains felt their faces twitch, and their breaths were disorderly. The space between where they originally stood and where they currently stood widened tremendously in an instant.
Many of the mercenaries accidentally dropped their arrows or accidentally released the strings they had drawn halfway.
Some even pressed their heads in pain.
Zakriel abruptly shut his eyes, got down on one knee, gasped for breath, and supported his body with Everlasting Truth.
“You did not…”
The voice echoed continuously. Thales could not help but tremble violently. He subconsciously turned around to hold on to Canon, whose body swayed!
Quick Rope was in a more dire state; he let out a pained cry, knelt down, and covered his ears in pain.
“Did not…” Thales tried his best to maintain his balance even though he looked as if he was on the verge of losing it. He stared fearfully at Ricky, who had been the one who said those words.
‘What… is this?’ When he heard this voice, Thales’ heart beat faster, and his blood surged. He felt goosebumps break out uncontrollably on his skin as cool wind swept around him, as though the wind was drawing out endless nightmares from the depths of his mind.
In the next second, as he stood in the center of the chains, Ricky exerted force in his arms. This made the Royal Guards flanking him unable to tolerate his strength anymore, and they lost their grip over the chains!
A piercing, loud noise arose!
When many of them shut their eyes in pain, Thales tried his best to open his, and he was surprised to see that the chains broke inch by inch before they fell powerlessly at Ricky’s feet.
It revealed the blood-stained wounds on his body caused by the barbs.
This was not the most terrifying part.
Ricky wiped the sand off his face gently and smiled at Thales. It was one of those smiles that made others uneasy. Thales’ body tensed up. He felt that there seemed to be some power contained in those yellow eyes. The man who freed himself appeared to be… different.
Was it his aura? His posture? Or… something else?
“I told you: don’t think that you’re smarter than demons, and don’t think you’re more powerful than them.”
Ricky’s voice was still terrifying. Under the faint rays of the predawn, his irises shone with a rare and ominous yellow light as he stared at Thales. Thales was shocked and immediately registered what happened.
‘Oh no. Ricky’s first target after he frees himself is…’
In the next second, Ricky moved and charged towards Thales!
The sudden change only started since two or three seconds ago, but Zakriel was the fastest to respond. He roared as he got up shakily from the sand. Then, he charged towards Ricky.
The four Royal Guards who let the man get away were the next to react. They gritted their teeth and got up one by one before they went to block Ricky.
On the other side, Klein, who had just recovered from his dizziness, pushed his way past the swaying mass. He pushed aside Josef and Samel, who stood on the frontlines covering their ears. Then, he gave an exasperated order, “Attack!”
The mercenaries bellowed in response. With the help of their Powers of Eradication, they got up, drew their swords, and attacked!
The situation that had initially reached a balance turned chaotic again!
The second after Ricky took action, Thales instinctively turned tail and ran, because he no longer had time to care about other things. He ran towards the exit of the prison!
However, he overestimated his own body.
If he had taken a stroll after he ate and rested, he would have been fine, but for his current self, the more he ran, the weaker he felt, and the darker his vision became.
Ricky suddenly stopped moving amid the chaos. He turned around, swung his arm, and hit Beldin when the latter tried to stop him from the side!
The Knight of Judgment only made it in time to protect his head in time. He grunted, fell backwards due to the terrifying and powerful force, and landed on the soft sand.
At that moment, the three men who stood closest to him—Barney Junior, Tardin, and Bruley—caught up with Ricky!
Bruley raised his arms and bellowed, ready to face Ricky head-on. Barney Junior’s left elbow hit Ricky’s waist. Tardin attacked the man’s knees. The three of them prepared to work together to suppress their enemy.
But at that moment, an endless Power of Eradication surged in Ricky’s body like a bottomless abyss. It allowed him to turn around calmly to face the three men.
Right when the three men crashed into their enemy’s body, they immediately felt the force of their attacks disappear without a trace, as though they had touched a bundle of cotton… or a bottomless abyss.
Ricky merely quivered.
“Did you think that I was only a sitting duck that won’t die?”
The terrifying voice traveled into their ears again. The three men who pressed against Ricky trembled.
Barney Junior could only manage to spit out the first half of the curse. In the next moment, Barney Junior, Tardin, and Bruley either flew back in a straight line, or tumbled backwards like kites with their strings snapped. They caused dust to fly up from the ground, and looked like splashing waves.
At that moment, Ricky seemed to have transformed into another man. His gaze became more ruthless and severe, and his actions more forceful and swift. He was… crazier.
Ricky snorted, turned around, and strode forward. The tip of Zakriel’s sword followed him immediately like a shadow!
Ricky wanted to dodge and avoid him, but he frowned when he saw that Zakriel seemed to have taken the most strategic position—there was no way he could avoid him.
So, he smiled faintly.
Steel cut into bone.
Zakriel was stupefied. The edge of his sword cut into Ricky’s cheek from the side. It even slashed open half of his mouth, but stopped at his oral cavity.
“Did you say… you were going to cut my head off?”
Ricky bit the tip of the sword in his mouth, in every literal sense of the phrase, and revealed a strange smile with his lacerated face. He bled profusely and the only word that could describe him right then was “horrifying”.
His teeth and lips clearly did not move, but that terrifying voice echoed strangely from nowhere and caused Zakriel to tense up, feeling his skin crawl.
“But… a stupid idea.”
Ricky extended his hand to hold the edge of the sword, then he pulled it out!
Zakriel immediately released the sword hilt, only then did he manage to avoid getting dragged over by the man’s great power.
During that short period of time, cries for murder rose from all around them!
The mercenaries stepped forward and surrounded Barney Junior and the others who tried to struggle to their feet. They had no choice but to engage with the enemy immediately.
“Give up before you suffer more casualties!” Samel gritted his teeth and said as he faced Barney Junior.
“F*ck you!” Barney Junior swore and threw the chain he grabbed from the ground.
Thales felt his knees buckle right after he reached the exit of the prison. He only managed to stand steadily with Quick Rope’s support.
Thales tried to summon the stagnant Sin of Hell’s River and the taboo mystic energy, while he said to Canon as the man was uncertain of what he should do, “Go help them. Stall for time. Go!”
Canon’s hesitation only lasted a short while. He shook his head resolutely. “No! You are more important!”
Thales was so agitated that he felt weak. He could only grit his teeth and gasp for breath.
On the other side, Ricky took his silver longsword back. Without waiting for his lacerated face to recover, he jumped up and charged towards the unarmed Zakriel!
Zakriel avoided his strike and frowned.
To his displeasure, he found that the man’s power seemed to be limitless, his movements were continuous, fast, and well-practiced.
His moves were ruthless, his presence was shocking, and he delivered great pressure on Zakriel.
The Knight of Judgment lost the initiative, and his condition was bad. He had a hard time coping with the situation. But whenever he was in danger, he miraculously avoided all threats.
A blow caused Zakriel to tumble backwards in a pathetic state. Suddenly, Ricky stopped and turned around to attack with his sword!
He slashed the air and drew a line of sparks with his swing.
As metal clashed against metal, Ricky stretched out his right arm and stabbed a shadow that appeared when ripples were formed in the air.
Thales was shocked!
“You forgot something, masked person.”
Ricky turned his head and watched Yodel whose form gradually appeared. His terrifying voice rose again. “The night has ended. Dawn has arrived on the desert. When you strike, I can see your footprints.”
The Masked Protector trembled. He grabbed the sword that had been buried in his left shoulder and tried to stop Everlasting Truth from sinking further into his flesh.
In the next second, Yodel seemed to have given up on struggling. Instead, he raised his head, exerted strength in his right hand, and threw his gray shortsword away swiftly!
However, Ricky only tilted his head slightly and avoided the attack.
“You missed.” Ricky sneered as he glared at the masked assassin who trembled and knelt down in the face of his terrifying Power of Eradication, but the man who answered him was not Yodel…
It was a gray shortsword that pierced into him from the back of his neck and came out of him from his mouth!
“He did not miss.”
Zakriel had appeared behind Ricky at some unknown point of time. He spoke coldly.
Ricky trembled as he felt his cervical vertebrae get severed. He then lost all feeling below his neck.
Unable to help himself, he loosened his grip over his longsword.
“No…” Ricky widened his eyes in disbelief. His oral cavity may have been damaged, but his terrifying voice still echoed, which caused Zakriel to quiver. “How did you—”
Zakriel twisted the sword with all his strength and stopped him from continuing with his words.
“Do you know what power this legendary anti-mystic weapon possesses?”
The Knight of Judgment shook his head in disgust and pushed Ricky’s body away.
‘So it truly is… a legendary anti-mystic weapon?’
Ricky fell down in a lump. He could only watch as Zakriel pulled Yodel up, patted the latter’s shoulder, and picked up Everlasting Truth before he turned to Ricky again.
Zakriel lifted the longsword indifferently. “I’ll never tell you.”
However, in the next moment, Ricky, who lay on the ground, screamed!
His howl was mournful and thundering!
Everyone engaged in battle trembled and subconsciously knelt down as they lost control of themselves!
Thales held on to the steel board at the exit of the dungeon with all his might while Canon and Quick Rope who were beside him knelt down in pain.
‘What exactly is this?!’
On the other side, Ricky struggled to get up at a speed that was even faster than before. He intercepted Zakriel’s quivering longsword with his arms!
It looked like he no longer required more time to regenerate and recover.
Zakriel and Yodel exchanged a glance and watched Ricky in surprise. The yellow light in the latter’s pupils grew more obvious while the wounds all over his body revealed faint signs of burned and strange muscles.
“Then, you can stop speaking, forever.”
Ricky glanced at Zakriel and Yodel before him. For the first time, his eyes revealed a determined intent to kill.
At that moment, Zakriel trembled from his blood to his skin, because of his instinctive reaction to danger!
Thales glared at Ricky from a distance, because the man raised his arms and threw Zakriel and Yodel away! Zakriel fell to the ground and coughed blood in pain.
Ricky was drenched in blood. He was a terrifying sight as he walked towards Yodel.
“You have done well, masked person. The last man who killed me twice and left me with no power at all was named… Molly Loraine.”
Ricky lifted the Masked Protector off the ground. His right hand covered the dark purple mask!
“Now, let’s see what lies beneath your mask…”
Zakriel stretched out his arm in agony and fear as he lay by the side.
“That mask… No!”
Ricky revealed a savage grin. Endless power surged out of his palm as he seized the edges of the dark purple mask.
In the ten or so years he had lived, Thales had never heard Yodel scream in such pain or misery before. The Masked Protector was a man of few words. Even when he was wounded in battle, he would only grunt.
“AAAHHHHHHH!!” Yodel cried heart-wrenchingly!
Ricky grinned ferociously, pleased with himself. He exerted endless power to yank off the mask, and when he did, Yodel struggled even more!
His limbs trembled uncontrollably, and the tremors were so violent that he looked as if he was enduring the most gruesome torment.
“No!” When Thales saw this scene, he gritted his teeth so hard that he almost shattered them!
He instinctively snatched the Crossbow of Time from Quick Rope. “Give me the arrow!”
Quick Rope was dumbfounded. “But, but its sight pin—”
At that moment…
A mournful, sharp, and loud sound was heard. It sounded as if dawn had defeated darkness. What followed was an even more piercing bang.
The mercenaries, Royal Guards, and everyone else’s movements froze. Then, they looked up simultaneously.
Dazzling fireworks shone in the dim sky. It made the shadows on the chaotic sand sway. It was not only flames that interrupted the chaos.
A long sound of the horn traveled from afar. It was clear, loud, and pierced through one’s mind.