Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
‘Sh*t. King Kessel and Lord Hansen… The kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department?’
Thales clenched his fist subconsciously and glanced in the direction where the Royal Guards were. They became smaller as they moved into the distance.
Perhaps it was the mention of the king, or the frightening reputation of the Secret Intelligence, but once the cavalier’s voice traveled into the air, a hubbub broke out among the hundreds of cavaliers under Roman’s command—including the watcher at the perimeter and the men on standby.
The two cavaliers of the Secret Intelligence Department drew closer, but there were not just the two of them; a dozen men followed behind and rode towards them.
As soon as Thales realized what was going on, his face paled. He turned towards Roman, who stood in the distance.
“Hey, pretty bo-I mean, Williams!” he shouted. His voice was filled with panic. “Maybe I can stall them with my status as the prince…”
But Roman reacted faster than he did. “What are you panicking for!”
The Legendary Wing sat on the back of his white horse in a dashing and assured manner. His earring swayed as he spoke. With a kick to his horse, he rode forward. He then bellowed in rage as he gave orders to the subordinates around him and managed to suppress the air of unease among them. “Do what you are supposed to do!”
Roman approached Thales slowly and shot him a glance. Thales was startled. At this moment, there was an air of menace about the Legendary Wing. He had a dark look on his face, as though he was about to explode in anger.
“You will do the same,” he said coldly from the back of his white horse.
The teenager nodded instinctively. Roman then raised his head and looked at the group of knights who approached them.
More than ten seconds later, the dozen members of the Secret Intelligence Department arrived before Thales on horseback, and they skilfully dismounted from their horses.
The man in the lead was the one who held the scroll. He appeared a little plump, and looked rather comical from a distance. He was dressed in thin clothing and wore a scarf—an attire commonly seen in Western Desert. He panted heavily.
The second man had a tough, angular face and a pair of sharp, bright eyes. He rode on the horse calmly, but for some unknown reason, Thales thought that his upper lip and left cheek were slightly red as though they were tinged with lipstick or blush.
The cavaliers behind them were men of varied appearances in different outfits—they were dressed like merchants, mercenaries, farmers, or nomads.
‘So, they are the… Secret Intelligence Department?’ Thales was on guard.
The plump man who led the rest was the first to trod on the sand, though he did so with difficulty. He tried to lift the scroll in his hand a little higher.
“This is a warrant from Lord Hansen, with His Majesty’s signature to validate the warrant…”
He had a heavy Western Desert accent. Meanwhile, the calm and tough-looking man behind him began closely eyeing the teenager who stood behind the Legendary Wing.
Thales looked at the warrant allegedly sent by the Black Prophet while feeling troubled. He secretly hoped that the former Royal Guards were running as fast as they could away from here.
After all, neither they nor Quick Rope were people who could exist within the field of vision of the Secret intelligence Department.
‘As for the situation here… Hopefully, pretty boy and I can keep stalling these people.’
Roman snorted softly. He got off his horse in a swift yet elegant manner and casually took the scroll from the plump man. “So, who the f*ck are you?”
Contrary to his handsome looks, Roman’s tone of voice was indifferent, and his choice of wording was vulgar. He did not intend to be friendly and welcoming.
The tough-looking man and the plump man were both stunned. The other members of the Secret Intelligence Department, who were waiting behind them, reacted to his words with varying expressions on their faces.
“Williams…” The plump man appeared to be suppressing his impatience. When he finished saying Roman’s name, he suddenly remembered something and quickly added his title, “Baron Williams, sir.”
Roman studied him with a sideway glance.
“I am one of the agents from the Secret Intelligence Department who is stationed in Western Desert. You may call me Gamus.” Gamus adjusted his breathing, clenched his teeth, and gestured to the tough-looking man behind him. “We have met a few times while planning this operation, perhaps you no longer remember me. This is my superior…”
But Roman’s next move shocked everyone, including Thales. The Legendary Wing unrolled the scroll from the Secret Intelligence Department with an indifferent attitude. Before he even looked at it…
…he calmly tore it in half.
Gamus, his superior, and the dozen other members of the Secret Intelligence Department scowled deeply. Thales raised his eyebrow and lowered his head slightly. He had a bad feeling about this.
“I know who you are.” The Legendary Wing’s gaze was cold as he continued to tear the scroll into smaller pieces callously, right in front of all the members of the Secret Intelligence Department. He said coldly, “What I meant was… Who the f*ck do you think you are?”
The expressions of the two leaders of the intelligence group members froze. The Legendary Wing continued to tear the scroll four or five more times until the warrant from the Secret Intelligence Department was ripped to countless shreds. He scattered the pieces all over the ground as he sneered.
“How dare you come all the way here… to order me around?”
Pieces of the warrant flew in the air and fell on the ground before they blended with the sand.
‘Holy sh*t.’ Thales stared the ground full of paper shreds with a complicated expression. ‘Is he allowed to be so arrogant?’
The Legendary Wing looked at the members of the Secret Intelligence Department with disdain. There was a dangerous look in his eyes. The members of the Secret Intelligence Department stared at the pieces of paper on the ground for a moment before they turned their gazes on Roman. Their eyes were filled with hostility.
“It had His Majesty’s signature on it…” After witnessing Roman’s disrespectful behavior, Gamus’ breaths quickened. He clenched his fists, and his cheeks trembled with rage.
Just as Gamus was about to lose his temper, his superior placed a hand on his shoulder from behind him. “Am I correct to assume that you are Prince Thales?”
When his name was mentioned, Thales’ gaze flickered.
The tough-looking man was taller than Gamus by half a head. There was a machete that was commonly seen in the desert dangling from his waist. He tugged Gamus back, took a step forward, and bowed. The members of the Secret Intelligence Department behind him, including Gamus, bowed as well.
“Your Highness, we are pleased to finally meet you. I am Norb, the superintendent of Western Desert division of the kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department.” Norb’s voice was somewhat raspy. Despite the hint of Western Desert accent in his voice, Thales understood everything he said clearly. Moreover, the latter recognized that the former appeared to have originally come from the Central Territory; he could tell based on his choice of words and speaking habits.
Thales drew in a deep breath.
‘Damn it. The Secret Intelligence Department… it’s them again. Worse still, he is the superintendent of Western Desert division…’
“Um, hello?” Thales puffed out his chest and raised his head. He tugged at the tears on his clothes awkwardly. He turned the bruised part of his face away from the light to try and preserve his dignity as a prince.
Norb, who appeared obviously more composed than Gamus, raised his head and said politely, “Your Highness, welcome back. As it appears, the rescue mission carried out by my colleagues in Northland has been successful.”
‘Very successful.’ Thales rolled his eyes in his heart.
The man named Norb then said with a sharp look in his eyes, “But for the good of the kingdom, I have a few simple questions—”
‘Simple questions… Sh*t. What will he ask? Will it be about the escapees from the Prison of Bones behind the sand dune?’
Just as Thales was racking his brain for a way to deal with the members of the Secret Intelligence Department in front of him so that they would not notice the retreating figures in the distance—Roman grabbed him.
“Kid, get behind me.” The Legendary Wing interrupted Norb. “Let the adults speak.”
His action made the expressions of the two members of the Secret Intelligence Department change again. If they were in a different situation, Thales would perhaps be annoyed by Roman’s tone of voice. But this time, he was genuinely grateful for Roman’s interruption, which had saved him.
Thales put on a sickly expression of someone who just escaped from a great disaster to excuse himself from the conversation and took a few steps back. He let Roman go up against Norb from the Secret Intelligence Department.
Norb’s expression was a little dark, but he still bowed politely.
“Sir Williams, we appreciate your efforts to retrieve the prince, and once again, make a great contribution to the kingdom.”
Unfortunately, his politeness was met with indifference.
“If you have something to say, say it.” the Legendary Wing snorted.
Norb’s expression froze on his face. Gamus, who stood behind him, frowned in anger. However, in that very second, Gamus seemed to have seen either the Royal Guards or the Disaster Swords leave, and his expression changed. He pointed at the group of people who were retreating into the distance on foot and gave an order to his subordinates behind him.
“No, Norb, those people are escaping! We must stop them first—”
The members of the Secret Intelligence Department were clearly well-trained. Before Gamus finished, they hopped on their mounts at once, jerked at the reins, and were ready to chase after the escapees.
Thales felt shock. ‘Damn it! Regardless of whether it’s the Royal Guards or the Disaster Swords they spotted… I need to stop the Secret Intelligence Department first.’
Just as he was prepared to step forward and stall them by using his rank, the Legendary Wing waved his hand suddenly.
In the next second, the sound of countless hooves thudding against the sand echoed at once!
Norb and Gamus’ expressions changed, and they looked back instinctively.
They saw hundreds of cavaliers under Roman’s command ride towards them, and they were as fast as an ocean wave.
With savage expressions on their faces, the cavaliers formed a loose yet obvious hoop within a few seconds as they rode in circles, surrounding the members of the Secret Intelligence Department with a distance of a few dozen feet between them. They pulled out their blades and swords, and nocked their bows.
They were murderous.
The sound of hooves thundered. Clouds of sand dust unfurled and rose into the air. The members of the Secret Intelligence Department were alarmed, and they tightened their hold on their weapons instinctively.
“Your Grace?” Norb looked at Roman in disbelief.
The latter gave a cold snort. “The only person who has the right to give orders around here is me. Have I made myself clear?” The Legendary Wing put down his hand and stared coldly at the men in front of him.
Gamus was startled. He immediately clenched his teeth and said, “No, you are…”
But Norb reached out and held Gamus back again. He bowed and lowered his head. “Your Grace, we do not mean to offend you, let alone interfere with your command.
“However, the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department has a number of questions regarding the joint operation tonight.” Norb’s tone of voice was humble and polite, as if he had realized something.
Roman shot him an indifferent glance, and he turned to look at the camp, from which smoke still rose in the distance. “Questions? So, are you going to interrogate me?” he asked softly.
Norb forced a smile. “No, we just want a discussion with you.”
Norb seemed to worry that Roman would not believe him. Hence, he immediately turned his head around and gave his subordinates an order. “Everyone, dismount and move back.”
Under the hesitant and nervous looks of his subordinates, Norb smiled and said, “We just need some space and time to talk to the baron in private.”
Other than Gamus, the other members of the Secret Intelligence Department exchanged glances, but in the end, they got off their mounts. They tugged at the reins, retreated, and kept a safe distance between them and the four people.
The Legendary Wing’s cavaliers promptly changed their battle formation, divided into dozens of units, and closed in. They watched them, as if they were monitoring them, while they waited for the members of the Secret Intelligence Department to lead their mounts a distance away.
Norb gazed back at Roman with a serious look in his eyes. He seemed to be waiting for the latter to do something. The Legendary Wing let out a snort before he finally raised his right arm and made a gesture.
There was a drastic change in the sound of the stomping hooves again. At last, the cavaliers who surrounded the members of the Secret Intelligence Department, shoved their blades and swords back into the sheaths, put away their arrows from their bows, and slowly retreated.
The cloud of sand dispersed, and the desert fell silent once more. The tense atmosphere became relaxed as well.
“F*ck, those people, f*ck…” Powerless, Gamus glared indignantly after the mercenaries and the Royal Guards as they moved further and further away. He struck himself in the thigh furiously.
Thales, too, sighed in relief without his own knowledge.
When Norb, who had maintained his composure all the while, saw that the conflict had been settled, he nodded. “Your Grace, according to our original plan, we aim to ‘reinforce’ the loyalty and submissiveness of Western Desert nobles to the crown during the disaster in Blade Fangs Camp.
“In the meantime, we will use the illusion that the camp is without a government and can be exploited to set up a trap, lure, and instigate the ill-intentioned forces who aim to benefit from the disaster and take control of the camp. We can use this opportunity to capture them all and clean up the Western Frontline. Norb stared at Roman calmly with sharp, keen eyes. “Of course, you are the key figure and the commander of this operation. The Secret Intelligence Department is just here to assist you.”
Thales tugged at his luggage as he listened to their exchange. ‘I knew it.’
But Roman merely narrowed his eyes and responded with a hum, “Mhm.” He had a relaxed expression, and his stance was awe-inspiring.
Clearly, Gamus the plump man was rather displeased with the Legendary Wing’s arrogance, but Norb was completely unaffected. He continued, “However, after setting up traps and waiting for half a night, except for some unimportant individuals, we only caught a Northland noble at the entrance of the Prison of Bones, and he claimed that he had met King Kessel and was entitled to diplomatic immunity.”
His voice was filled with dissatisfaction.
Thales furrowed his eyebrows deeply.
It was Lasalle.
He represented… King Chapman.
“We also intercepted a tavern owner who has a lot of interesting connections and serves as the middleman between employers and mercenaries. Your Grace, we certainly believe that after we finish roughing up Tampa, the mercenary groups who had long settled down and have a firm footing in the camp would learn to behave. Your governance of the camp will be more stable and smoother.”
Norb observed the Legendary Wing’s facial expression as he spoke. He was very careful with his choice of words, as though he was afraid to agitate the latter.
‘A tavern owner.’ Thales was worried again. Tampa and Quick Rope were rather close, if he revealed any information…
But Roman still replied with a faint hum. “Mhm.” He resembled a portrait on a canvas, one where the character had great posture, but did not move.
Norb furrowed his eyebrows slightly, but he quickly put on his usual expression. This time, he spoke seriously and cautiously. “But we did not catch ‘Stake’.”
‘Stake.’ Thales tightened his clenched fists.
“He is an important target whom we have been following closely lately. He is most likely in charge of a rather large part of Shadow Shield, including their operations at the border of Constellation and within Eckstedt.
“He also holds classified information about the top management within Shadow Shield.” Norb’s expression was somber. There was indignation in his eyes. “In addition, we did not encounter the mysterious mercenaries you hired either—the sect that had separated from the Tower of Eradication.”
As Norb spoke, he looked towards the armed mercenaries in the distance who were about to disappear from view.
“According to our plan, due to the large number of Disaster Swords in the mercenary group and their staggering combat abilities, we had to take them down at once when we wrapped up the operation. Moreover, they are just as valuable as Shadow Shield.”
Norb peered at Roman, he seemed to be expecting him to respond. But the Legendary Wing merely continued to stare at the camp and did not reply.
Gamus could not take it anymore. He picked up where his superior had left off. “Listen, neither of our two primary targets appeared! The plan and arrangement we had agreed upon were not executed either, so it could only mean that—” But he did not manage to finish.
“I am guessing!” Once again, Norb interrupted Gamus while casting a stern, warning glance at his subordinate. “Baron, you must have encountered an emergency that was totally unexpected and was unble to inform us in time. Therefore, you were forced to make changes to the original plan, is that correct?”
The Legendary Wing remained still, but the look in Norb’s eyes were keen and razor sharp. He took a glance at Thales.
“Perhaps for certain reasons, such as rescuing the prince, you opened a secret exit that can only be activated during emergencies, which led to our targets’ unexpected escape from our trap?”
He seemed to be trying to force information out of Roman.
‘Trap…’ Thales recalled that after Ricky and Samel entered the underground prison, they were determined to make sure neither the Disaster Swords nor Shadow Shield returned to the surface, whether it was during the time they faced off against each other, or when they faced Thales and the Royal Guards.
…He began to understand something.
This time, the Legendary Wing responded, “So you wrapped up your plan, exited the camp, and rushed all the way here.” He turned his head and glanced at the solemn Norb and the furious Gamus. “You’re not as dumb as you appear.”
Norb huffed. He seemed to have suppressed his emotions. “Fine, we will let the incident with the Disaster Swords slide… But what about Stake from Shadow Shield? I guess you got him?”
Roman suddenly snickered, and he looked like a sunbeam that melted an iceberg. “Worry not, I have already dealt with him.”
Norb narrowed his eyes. “‘Dealt’ with him?”
The Legendary turned around to face them. He gave the giant skull on his left shoulder a light tap. The exquisite earring that dangled from his left ear swayed slightly as he moved.
“Coincidentally, I found out that your man, Stake, was the main culprit behind Prince Herman’s assassination, and the fall of Blade Fangs Camp during the Bloody Year. So, I gave him… the punishment he deserved.”
Thales and Norb’s expressions changed at the same time.
“Punishment?” Norb furrowed his eyebrows and exchanged glances with Gamus.
The Legendary Wing turned to his side and gestured to an empty spot in the distance “If you want him, or at least most of him, be my guest.”
Norb and Gamus looked towards the direction he pointed and saw a headless corpse half-buried in the yellow sand in that spot.
“As for the rest, sorry about that, I’m adding it to my collection.”
At this point, Thales had seen plenty of dead bodies, but Stake’s corpse which was ‘processed’ by Roman simply left too much to the imagination.
The part above the corpse’s shoulder was a mess. It was stained with an unidentifiable red and white fluid, and slices of soft tissue—such as the eyeballs. It no longer looked like it belonged to a human. The sight of it made Thales wanted to retch.
The second they saw their target’s corpse, Norb and Games instantly turned pale. Norb even swayed a little.
“That is, that really is…” Gamus was in disbelief.
“He is dead?” Norb clenched his teeth. His emotional state was similar to Gamus’.
The Legendary Wing let out a cold snort and turned around to face Thales. “Tell your father when you go back; tell Kessel that his brother has been avenged. He is welcome.”
Thales rubbed his nose and looked away. The two members of the Secret Intelligence began breathing quickly, subconsciously neglecting the fact that Roman just addressed the king by his name. They merely gazed at Stake’s corpse blankly.
They stared at it for a few seconds. Thales almost felt sorry for them when he saw their indignant expressions. The wind blew, and the morning light illuminated the sandy ground.
The two members of the intelligence group turned around with livid expressions, as though the worst thing that could happen had just happened to them.
Thales could tell that Norb was suppressing the frustration and anger within him.
“How about the group of sellswords you hired to do the dirty work, Your Grace? Had they been dealt with as well?”
The Legendary Wing shot Thales a sarcastic glance. “They had the prince, so, yes, I could only let them go.”
Thales could only go along with Roman’s explanation and flashed the seemingly doubtful Norb a silly grin which he had learned from Quick Rope.
“The prince… You let them go?” Norb clenched his fists indignantly.
However, Gamus, who stood behind him, could not help but say out loud, “Impossible. You obviously have an overwhelming advantage in military—”
But Norb quickly held Gamus back again. Gamus shut up in anger, even though he was unable to suppress the look of disgust in his eyes.
“Your Grace!” Norb forced the words through his teeth with difficulty. “I know His Majesty trusts you, and he has given you immense power in this operation, but regarding this… incomplete capture mission…”
Norb peered at Stake’s corpse angrily, and he appeared to be in anguish.
“I think that perhaps you owe an explanation to the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department, and Lord Hansen.”
In that very instant, Thales felt the atmosphere in his surroundings turn slightly chillier.
“An explanation?” The Legendary Wing raised his head. There was a dangerous expression on his face. “Such as?”
Norb held Gamus back, the plump man was fuming with rage. He panted heavily as he said, “Your Grace, regardless of whether it is Shadow Shield or the Disaster Swords, they are extremely valuable and bear great significance. Some of them are even involved in the plans and operations that the Secret Intelligence has been executing for months, years, or even longer than that.
“Thus, you should not deal with them however you wish. Instead, you ought to contain them and leave the rest to us! For that is the right thing to do as the sign of your allegiance towards the kingdom and His Majesty!
Norb finished his speech. The Legendary Wing was unfazed. Gamus clenched his fists furiously.
“Certainly, Stake is dead, and his death is irreversible.” When Norb saw that Roman was unmoved by what he had said, his voice was filled with anxiety. He pointed at the distance.
“But I can see that the Disaster Swords are still in our field of vision.”
Thales exhaled. ‘If Ricky and his people end up in the clutches of the Secret Intelligence Department, then Samel and the Royal Guards who encountered them earlier…’
Norb clenched his teeth. His tone softened. “From what I know, your Stardust Unit is the best of the best among light cavaliers. No other forces in the entire Western Desert could rival them in manhunting operations and direct confrontation…” Norb spoke in an anxious and serious manner, “Your Grace, if we intercept them now, perhaps we have a chance… to fix this.”
The Legendary Wing raised his head and looked in the direction the Disaster Swords were headed. He saw them disappear into the distance.
He was quiet for a few seconds. It was only a few seconds, but it made Thales extremely nervous.
At last, Roman turned around, raised his feet, and sauntered forward. “Tell me, lad.” His gaze on Norb turned sharp. “Are you lecturing me?”
Norb was slightly startled.
“Lecturing me on how to do my job?” Roman said arrogantly.
Norb realized something, and he turned pale instantly. In the next second, he sucked in a deep breath.
“Of course not. I am just—”
Roman snorted and interrupted him. “Good.” He then enunciated each word clearly. “And I am telling you now, to let. Them. Go.”
Norb froze, and his clenched fists began to tremble. He appeared to be suppressing his emotions. Gamus, too, bit his lower lip tightly. The Legendary Wing averted his gaze and turned to stare at Blade Fangs Camp, which had been plunged into chaos for a long time.
“Just do as I say.”
He turned around and left the two members of the Secret Intelligence Department behind as they trembled with rage. However, in the next second, just when Thales thought everything was coming to an end…
“Roman Williams! Are you sure you want to do this?”
When he heard his full name, Roman froze slightly. He maintained his domineering stance as he looked back slowly.
However, surprisingly, the person who spoke out this time was not the plump Gamus, who was already enraged. Instead, it was his superior.
It was Norb, the calm, composed, and polite man.
“Are you sure that you want to let them go?” Norb glared at him with a dark look on his face. It even scared Gamus, who stood behind him.
The Legendary Wing frowned as though he just saw something strange. “Are you deaf, or retarded?”
Norb closed his eyes and took three deep breaths. “No, I am just…”
Gamus, who stood behind him, seemed to realize something and grabbed his shoulder. “Norb, you…”
In the next second, Norb widened his eyes abruptly. “I’ve had enough of you!”
Thales realized that the composed and calm superintendent of the Secret Intelligence Department’s Western Desert division, Norb, was gone. What he saw instead was a trembling, furious man clenching his teeth.
“Do you really deserve the title of the Legendary Wing, one of the Three Commanders of Constellation? Just because you like to kill, indulge in bloodlust, and carve human skulls into decorative pieces?”
Thales drew his eyebrows together when he heard that.
The Legendary Wing seemed surprised by what Norb had just said. He remained silent for a second before he said slowly, “Oh.” The Legendary Wing appeared to be ruminating on the words he had just heard. “What do you mean?”
Norb strode forward, peered at extraordinarily handsome Roman, and said in a straightforward manner, “What I meant is, since the Bloody Year in the past decade, since I was assigned to Western Desert, Roman Williams, you sissy… Aside from relying on His Majesty’s tolerance and the lack of oversight to do whatever you want; acting unreasonably and in arbitrary fashion; occupying and dividing lands to claim as your own; disregarding orders; behaving arrogantly; abusing power and authority…”
Norb’s eyes seemed to be burning with rage. “Have you done a single good thing?”
Once he finished, everyone was startled.
‘Do whatever he wanted… occupying and dividing lands to claim as your own, disregarding orders… behaving arrogantly; abusing power and authority… Holy sh*t.’
The list of descriptions—or accusations—had been an eye-opener to Thales. He suppressed the shock within himself, furrowed his eyebrows as he looked at the Legendary Wing, who appeared motionless and indifferent, and recalled his impression of the latter. ‘Um, it sounds… somewhat accurate?
Gamus, who stood behind Norb, seemed to be terrified by his superior. He held on to Norb from behind, wanting to pull him back. “Norb, you’re crazy. Stop talking…”
But the Legendary Wing waved and stopped him. There was a rare look of interest in his eyes. “No, no, no. Let him continue.” Roman stared at the furious Norb closely and walked towards them slowly.
“I’d like to listen to different opinions. They are beneficial. They make me even more…” The Legendary licked his lips, and it made him appear particularly enigmatic and otherworldly because of his handsome looks.
In that moment, Thales had a premonition of imminent disaster.