Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Everything was blurry like he was in a fog. It was white, hazy, indistinct, and had no base to support it.
Only that gentle voice sounded as if it was right beside his ears.
“‘Qiren, I beg you, don’t be afraid.”‘
‘How can this be?’ His heart was filled with strange resentment and grief, but he had nowhere to vent these emotions. It was as if… he was losing something.
“‘I’m just… I’m just…”‘
That voice sounded so helpless, so miserable… like it was leaving him.
“‘I’m just… living in a world different from you.”‘
Her voice dispersed. He suddenly felt very empty, and his heart clenched in pain. He stretched out his hand in the direction of that voice, wanting to touch her, to hold her tight, and to make her stay.
But when he thought he was about to approach her and have her remain by his side, a red light suddenly shot through the fog!
The white fog dissipated, and the blurry view faded away.
It was as if blood had descended from the skies to dye the walls red. Everything around him turned into a brilliant shade of red that looked sticky to the eye. It appeared bloodthirsty and gloomy! Everything changed.
Strangely, he became nervous.
“It has been a while…”
While the blood-red shade surrounded him, an unfamiliar and cold voice that was sonorous and excited rose from thin air.
“It has been a while…”
A terrifying sense of weight descended on him without warning, pressing down on him to the point he could not breathe.
“It has been a while… been a while… a while… while…”
The echoes sounded grave, and the repetition was endless. It was as though there was someone striking a stately war drum, and the sound made his heart tremble.
That voice was very excited, but he was very scared.
The blood-red shade around him became even redder, darker, gloomier… and closer.
“My… My… My…”
It was inevitable. The endless red crawled up his body and his senses, and he could not free himself from it. He could not escape.
It violently crashed against his thoughts and occupied his mind. It filled up… everything about him.
“My my my my my my my my…”
Finally, when the endless red filled him up from the inside, the distant and unfamiliar voice became incredibly clear, as if it was right beside his ears, but it actually came from within him!
All the voice’s unclearness and the feeling as if there was a barrier between them seemed to fade away. That voice shot out of his mouth in a roar and it sounded like a volcano eruption, like a huge tidal wave crashing down.
He cried out in fear and struggled to sit up. Panic, helplessness, terror… He panted as if he wanted desperately to catch something.
At that moment, a heavy, black figure suddenly appeared above his head.
It was like a phantom that descended on him like darkness itself, as if it wanted to cover him and devour him. In the next moment, a familiar sensation came to his right hand. He was nervous, he did not even think, he just thrust the weapon in his right hand at the black figure!
A soft sound rang. His right hand was seized in a tight grip, he could not push forward nor pull back!
A familiar, hoarse voice tumbled out of the black figure’s lips. That figure called his name. A thought struck Thales!
“Yo-Yodel?” The teenager gasped and tried his best to separate the blood-red shade in his dreams from the black figure before him. After much effort, he managed to identify a pair of lenses that reflected chilling rays of light.
In the dim firelight, the black figure’s grip over his arm lessened slightly.
“Yes. It’s me… I-I am here,” said the black figure hoarsely. He comforted Thales, who still had not recovered from his shock. His comforting motions lacked experience. “I’m here.”
He unwrapped his gloved hand over Thales’ wrist, and patted the teenager’s arm in a stiff and inexperienced manner, trying to encourage him to relax… And the blood-red color that dyed Thales and the entire world red in his dream… was not here.
Thales’ tense nerves relaxed the moment he became absent-minded. The JC dagger in his hand slipped out of his grasp and Yodel caught it.
“I’m here, I’m here…” The black figure repeated clumsily. After a few seconds, he figured out the next words he could use. “It’s… It’s alright now.”
Thales exhaled and fell backwards, but the Masked Protector quickly supported his back and placed his head gently against the pillow. The prince saw the JC dagger in Yodel’s hand and felt rather alarmed and guilty.
“The dagger… I’m so sorry.” Thales opened his eyes halfway. His entire body felt weak, and his breathing was uneven. “That was just… a nightmare. You know, I…”
But Yodel interrupted him. “I know, I know. It’s alright now.”
The Masked Protector helped Thales tug the pillow up so that he could lean against him. He also did not forget to tuck the teenager in. When Thales lay back down on the bed, he noticed that he was covered in a layer of cold sweat. It soaked into his undershirt, which he had changed into at some point. Thales pressed against the bandages beneath the undershirt. All he could smell was the scent of medicine. He sucked in a deep breath in his pain, and only then did he realize that they were in an unfamiliar room.
It was dark, gloomy, and narrow.
The room was not big. There were only about ten steps between the head of his bed to the entrance of the room. A small study table was placed beside the bed, and the wooden window beside the study table was shut tight. He could vaguely see a few rays of sunlight seep through the cracks of the window. An Everlasting Lamp was placed on a wooden bench in the distance, it barely lit up the room.
‘But…’ Thales narrowed his eyes as he lay on the bed. He found that while the headboard and study table were clean, the four walls of the room were dark and solemn, and there were even a few spider webs in the corners of the ceiling.
“Where is this place?” Thales forced out the question, his throat felt dry.
“Blade Fangs Camp.” The Masked Protector walked to the wooden bench. When he returned, there was a cup of water in his hand. “You slept for a full day and night.”
‘So, we came back. One full day and night… so long?’
Thales gratefully received the cup of water and wet his throat, which was so dry that it felt like it was about to burn up. Yodel watched him drink as he grabbed a length of rope beside the bed. He tugged it gently.
*Ding ding ding…* The faint sound of a bell chime rang from beyond the door.
“The doctor said you must eat.” Yodel provided a simple explanation under Thales’ puzzled gaze. Before Thales could react, the indistinct sounds of people arguing and footsteps rose from outside the door.
“The bell! It’s the bell!”
“I swear on me life, I heard the bell ring! Felicia said it’s the lords’ way of crying in bed… ahem, I mean, it’s the way they make their servants wake up… No, I don’t think it’s ghosts… Fine, ya chickens, I’ll go meself!”
The owner of the voice and the footsteps was clearly in a hurry. When he made his way over, they could even hear crashing that came from the person accidentally bumping into things, and also him knocking into things out of panic.
In the next moment, as the door to the room was pushed open, Yodel disappeared into thin air. Thales narrowed his eyes as he leaned against the bed. He watched the man who hastily opened the door now try his hardest to maintain his balance while flustered. This was… a soldier, and Thales found his attire somewhat familiar.
“You are…?” Thales put down the empty cup and asked in puzzlement.
The soldier finally managed to regain his balance. When he saw Thales, his expression changed; he was first surprised, then delighted.
“F*ck me arse, ya woke up! Ya finally woke up!
The soldier spoke with a heavy Western Desert accent, but he seemed to have noticed something and immediately coughed violently a few times before he instinctively stood up straight. He then switched to a more standard version of the common language in the Western Peninsular, which was also unique to military couriers.
“I mean, Your Honorable and handsome Highness, now that ya woke up, all of us in Blade Fangs Camp are so touched we’re about to keel over and die!”
The smile Thales tried his best to put on his face froze.
The rather excited soldier stared at Thales—still lying feebly on the bed—as if he was afraid he would miss him if he blinked. At the same time, he stiffly and mechanically recited a long string of words.
“Ahem, your present—urgh, is it present or presence—we, um, add… luster…?”
With every phrase he spoke, the soldier would lower his head. His facial expression changed during the times when his speech was not refined. He even stuttered sometimes.
“Anyway, we will definitely work hard to protect the borders of the kingdom. We will watch over the desert and keep the orcs at bay. Therefore, please rest assured, Your Majesty… ack, isn’t this the last part? Ahem…
“Um, my team and I are very honored to have your… I mean, to take your, no, to receive your…”
Thales coughed loudly and interrupted the soldier’s mistake-laden welcoming speech.
“Alright, thank you, soldier, I understand your zeal.” Thales pointed feebly at the soldier’s waist. “There is no need for you to recite the rest of your script.”
The soldier’s face turned red. He awkwardly stuffed the “cheat sheet” that was full of words and pictures, and which he had raised to his waist, back into his trouser pocket. “Um, the stenographer in charge of writing our letters bit the dust half a month ago…”
“You’re the only one here?” Thales looked outside the door but found only dim lighting.
The soldier who was busy being awkward had a thought. He quickly stood upright and replied, “There is also Weird Flame, and Spirit Blade—she just changed shifts. Mystifying Eyes is not here yet. We will come up to check on you once every half hour because we are afraid that the ghosts will take your life, or Spirit Blade, who has been going crazy over money, will sneak her way into your bed and embrace you…”
Thales quirked an eyebrow. The soldier immediately felt that something was off right after he finished speaking. His expression changed.
“My apologies. You know that is not what I meant…” In his panic, he forced a smile. He flailed his arms about, because he found he had no idea where he should place them. “What I mean is, Your Honorable and handsome Highness, we have been taking great care of you, and we loved you as if you were our own son…”
The more he spoke, the more horrible it sounded. Thales was originally exhausted, but as the soldier continued chattering on, he became somewhat energized. He sighed and reached out to cut off whatever the soldier wanted to say next.
“I remember you. You are Snake Shooter, a Psionic. You are… the new captain serving Baron Williams.”
The soldier named Snake Shooter was stunned for a while before he showed great delight.
“Ah, you remember my name! As expected of the honorable and handsome prince… Yes, Your Highness, please remember me. I am Snake Shooter, and I serve Baron Williams. I am loyal, and I absolutely have never smuggled, evaded taxes, or committed any other form of organized crime. After I was recruited by the baron, I have bled, sweated, and wept for the kingdom…”
Snake Shooter, who was immersed in showing his loyalty again, noticed that Thales’ expression darkened. He quickly coughed and returned to the main topic.
“The baron originally wanted to get a few pretty whores or some of the nobles’ maidservants to let you have a good time-ahem, I mean, to serve you and warm your bed or something, but you know, the camp has just regained its peace, so he had the Freak-urgh, let us, the glorious third shock brigade of the Stardust Unit take care of you, love you, and make you so comfortable so that you will refuse to leave in the end—”
Thales stretched out his arm, because Snake Shooter’s chatter gave him a headache. He cut off the man’s lengthy speech, which he had clearly been cooking up for an entire day.
“Thank you, please convey my gratitude to the baron. Now then…” The prince forced himself to smile. “I am a little hungry.”
Snake Shooter was astonished for a few seconds before he patted his own head. “Oh, right, food! Yes, the baron snatched-I mean, the lords-I mean, the nobles graciously donated a lot of food to you and the baron,” Snake Shooter said while beaming with joy. He rushed out of the room hastily, leaving a bewildered-looking Thales behind.
“Weird Flame!” After a series of footsteps, Snake Shooter’s cries traveled faintly into Thales’ ears from beyond the room. “Send food up there! Don’t go sneaking around-ahem, sneaking around, I mean, sneaking around to ‘investigate’ stuff anymore!”
Around ten minutes later, the door to the room was closed, and Thales sat in front of the study to stare at the food Snake Shooter just sent him. He looked at the white wheat bread, oats porridge, goat’s milk, honey, roasted fish, chicken, pork, and some seasoning that cannot be found in Northland. All of this was placed on the tray.
‘Didn’t Snake Shooter say that the Legendary Wing seized all this from the nobles in Western Desert?’ Thales sighed and drank a mouthful of broth. ‘Hmm, the taste is really good… compared to scorpions, spiders, and Bloody Thorn Lizards, that is.
‘O Desert God, if anyone tells me that the nobles in Western Desert are located in a remote area, where the land is barren, and the unrest here makes things dangerous, the place destitute, and the life miserable, I will cut all ties with that person…’
As he felt his stomach gradually fill up, Thales asked the air, “So, what happened to Blade Fangs Camp later on?”
He waited a few seconds before Yodel’s hoarse voice came from the air, but he could not tell from which direction it came from. “Later on, Williams won.”
‘Williams won…’ Thales bit down on the spoon in his mouth, and his eyebrows slanted in resignation. ‘Wow, so detailed.’
This was just like how Yodel answered Thales when he asked the man who his father was when they first met. ‘He still talks like a diplomat.’
When he remembered the past, Thales could not help but have his lips curl up. ‘My god, I’m still young, and I’m already beginning to reminisce the past?’
Then, Thales remembered something, and his spirits were dampened. “What about the Secret Intelligence Department?”
Thales’ real question was hidden, but Yodel seemed to understand what he wanted to ask. “They don’t have horses and are forced to return on foot.”
The prince sighed in relief. ‘So Quick Rope, Barney Junior, Beldin, Tardin, Canon, Bruley, and Zakriel, they…’
His mood was lifted.
“That was truly an interesting and eventful day, was it not?” Thales asked in a somewhat teasing manner.
A few seconds later, a hoarse voice appeared, and there was a barely noticeable hint of amusement in it. “Indeed.”
Once his appetite returned, Thales happily began to finish off the food on the tray. “By the way, Yodel, your injuries…”
“They are healed. Do not worry.”
The answer that came was incredibly swift. Thales did not even have the chance to finish asking the question, but it made the prince frown.
“They are healed?” Thales put down the half-devoured loaf of bread. ‘His injuries… are healed.’
He remembered Yodel shielding Thales from three fatally poisonous arrows a long time ago and was severely wounded. They got separated ever since.
Thales did not know what happened after that. His mission as the prince urged him to head north, and he was there for six years.
The memories of the past and a strange sense of melancholy surged into his mind at the same time. ‘Six years.’ Thales’ smile vanished. He remained quiet for a while.
“Yodel, have you… been well these past few years?”
The reply from the air was still as crisp and short as ever. “Yes.”
Thales nodded slightly, and his lips curled up a fraction. ‘Yes, he’s still himself; reticent, quiet, and treats his words like gold. He’s still the same Masked Protector as before, isn’t he?’
When he thought of this, Thales suddenly changed his topic.
“You know Zakriel, right?”
This time, the voice in the air only answered after a few seconds. It was filled with an inexplicable emotion. “…A long time ago.”
Thales furrowed his brow. His voice was filled with worry. “He said that your mask is one of the secret treasures of the royal family.”
The room was very quiet. There was no answer.
Thales sucked in a deep breath. He turned his head around and looked at the dim and narrow room. There was still no sign of another living person in it.
When Yodel did not answer him, Thales could only sigh and continue asking, “Did he not also say that you will need to pay a price if you use that strange mask?”
Another few seconds of silence passed. When Thales could no longer bear with the quiet and wanted to speak again, the Masked Protector’s voice traveled into his ears.
“It is fine. Every person has to pay a price for their actions.” His voice was still as hoarse as ever, but his words were filled with an unknown yet profound meaning, and a firm determination to end the conversation.
‘He’s not prepared to continue talking.’ The teenager managed to decipher this meaning through his words, but Thales was not satisfied.
“So what exactly is it?” He looked worriedly behind him and felt a little silly talking to the air.
No answer came.
This time, there was an urgent tone in Thales’ voice, urging Yodel to speak. “You did not suffer light injuries when you were nearly assassinated by Arunde six years ago, and when you were injured in the underground prison… But now, you are… if there is a price for this…”
But his answer was still silence. Thales sighed in resignation.
“I saw it!” The teenager scowled and stared at the air. He was filled with dissatisfaction and worry. “When Ricky tried to take off the mask, you reacted as if he was about to peel off your skin! If you’re really alright, why have I never seen you without…”
Thales stopped with his urgent speech. The dim room was enveloped in dead silence. Not a single ripple could be found in the shadows of the darkness. It was as still as ever.
‘Alright. If that’s the case…’ Thales sucked in a deep breath. The displeased expression disappeared from his face. He put on the bearing he learned six years ago and turned into the lofty, proud, noble and aloof Prince of Constellation who faced the aggressive nobles in Dragon Clouds City.
Thales said solemnly and indifferently, “Yodel Cato, I order you to tell me.” He raised his chin, schooled his expression, and raised the volume of his voice. “This is my order, the order of the second prince, Thales Jadestar’s order!”
His voice was cold, and his tone was stern, allowing no refutation.
His answer was still silence.
Thales suddenly sensed that the shadow in the darkness seemed to move slightly. Then, the movement was followed by a cold and hoarse voice.
“My apologies, Your Highness.” It was indistinct and fragmented, merciless and cold. “I only obey His Majesty’s orders.” He finished talking.
At that moment, Thales suddenly felt the area around him turn cold. ‘Only obey… His Majesty’s orders…’
He stared at the air with a flabbergasted expression. He looked a little befuddled. ‘Is that so?’
Thales sucked in a dazed breath before he turned his head around stiffly; he no longer looked behind him.
A few seconds later…
“Alright.” Thales heard himself say unnaturally. He felt that his tongue was stiff like he was out of practice in using it. He was even worse than Snake Shooter when they spoke in the room just now.
“Of course. His Majesty’s orders… Of course,” he forced these words out. Thales sucked in a few deep breaths, picked up his cutlery, and began eating again, just like what he was doing a moment ago.
Just now, for the first time ever, the shadow behind him that seemed devoid of a person… no longer made him feel safe. The unfamiliar yet familiar purple mask, too, no longer gave him a dependable feeling.
‘His Majesty’s orders… Yes, I forgot. From the first day since he met me, he has always been acting on His Majesty’s orders.’
Thales suddenly remembered Saroma, who was currently in Dragon Clouds City. He remembered Nicholas and Lisban, who seemed to serve her by her side and listened to her orders.
At that moment, he felt gloomy and cold. In his absent-minded state, Thales forced himself to use the most standard dining etiquette—taught to him by Jines—to eat his next bite of food, be it meat or bread. For some reason, he felt as if there was an awn pricking his back, as if there was a bone stuck in his throat. He felt incredibly ill at ease.
‘This place is too small. It feels a little stuffy,’ he thought.
Thales put down his cutlery and raised his head irritably. Besides the dim Everlasting Lamp, the only other source of light came from the three tightly shut windows, the light seeped through the edges.
‘There’s absolutely no ventilation, no wonder it’s so stuffy. It’s so dark I can’t see the sky and the light. I don’t even know what time it is.
‘So, what exactly is this place? The Legendary Wing’s “sweet home”?’ When he remembered Roman’s arrogant, conceited, and cold face, Thales’ breaths froze. ‘That damn pretty boy.’
Thales schooled his face and stood up, intending to push open the window in front of the study table, but once he pushed it, he was stunned.
The handle on the window before him was nailed firmly shut by an additional wooden plank.
‘What?’ Thales scowled and glared at the nailed window. ‘What is this? Are they afraid of intruders, or are they worried that I’ll run away? Is that why they sealed all the exits and entrances? Do they intend to trap me here? Just like… in a prison?’
Once he remembered the Black Prison that had tortured him for most of the night, Thales instinctively turned his head around, feeling gloomy.
“Yodel—” But he was only halfway through his sentence before he forced himself to stop.
‘Damn it.’ The prince closed his mouth and took a few deep breaths. He did not speak again. Instead, he sat down and picked up his cutlery once more.
Thales glared at the window he could not open. His breathing started to quicken. He was already in a gloomy mood to begin with, and now, his mood became worse.
‘Damn you, Roman. Damn you, you pretty boy.’ In less than five seconds, Thales threw down his cutlery viciously.
He walked barefooted to the wooden bench with the Everlasting Lamp, picked up his JC dagger, and quickly walked back. He stuck the dagger in the crack between the plank and the window, and tried to pry it open with force!
Perhaps it had been nailed to the plank for many years and had fallen into disrepair, but he did not even need to use his Power of Eradication to pry off a corner of the plank. Even the nail was exposed.
Thales did not stop. With a cold expression, he stood on the chair and pried off the other corners.
‘Does he think he can trap me like this?’ Thales forced himself to ignore the hunger in his belly, and in his irritation, continued to pry off the other corners of the plank.
‘Damn it, you can just dream on…’
But at that moment, a gray sword manifested in the air. It drew a beautiful arc and stabbed the wooden plank before it changed direction and swiftly slashed the corners of the plank!
A few rattling sounds came. The plank landed on a gloved palm and was held firmly in that hand.
Thales frowned. He watched the black figure beside him swiftly and efficiently pull off the plank to reveal some of the light from the world outside.
“You could have asked me to do this.” The masked figure put down the plank gently.
Thales snorted. He stepped down the chair and threw away the dagger before he patted the dust on his palms.
“Can I?” the prince mocked, “I thought you only listened to His Majesty’s orders.”
The Masked Protector did not answer. Ripples appeared on his body, and he disappeared into the air. The prince snorted and turned around indignantly to push open the window.
A lot of dust rose into the air, making Thales cough violently. ‘Damn it. I should have put on a mask…’
Thales narrowed his eyes. He diligently fanned away the dust with his hand while he tried to get used to the powerful light and cold wind that suddenly appeared.
‘Sun, cold wind…’
The sunlight which he had not seen for a long time seemed like a tidal wave that found an outlet. It surged through the window and lit up everything in the room. The bone-chilling cold wind seemed like a pack of wolves that had smelled blood. It pounced on the window hungrily and filled the room. It blew at everything.
When Thales raised his head and looked at the scene outside the window, he was stunned. ‘No, this is… this place is…’
*Thud, thud, thud!*
At that moment, swift footsteps suddenly came from outside the door. Thales turned his head warily and picked up his dagger. Snake Shooter’s voice rose from beyond the door, and he sounded panicked and uneasy.
“No, no, no, Your Grace, this is the baron’s order. Even someone as honorable as you cannot… urgh!”
A dull thud traveled into Thales’ ears. Snake Shooter’s speech came to an abrupt halt.
Thales tensed up.
‘What? Is someone here… to ambush me?’
The teenager no longer cared about the awkwardness between them and cried out softly, “Yodel?”
“Do not panic,” came the familiar reply from the air, “I am here.”
A feeling of safety and relief he had not felt for a long time instantly returned to his heart, like déjà vu. The prince let out a sigh of relief, but before Thales could be filled with various emotions about how despicable and fickle he was…
The door to the room was thrown open roughly! All of Thales’ muscles became tense!
A robust figure lowered his head and stepped into the narrow room. The unwelcome guest was a warrior decked in full armor. He exuded the aura of someone who was not to be trifled with. The man shifted his gaze and cast Thales a look.
The faint, dangerous intent coming from him stunned the prince so much that he instinctively raised his dagger. ‘Who is he?’
The man had rather dark skin tone, and his face was unlike a normal person’s. There were interlocking braids tied on his head, and black tattoos on his face. There was also a strange tattoo shaped like a saw on his neck.
However, since Thales had already met Raphael and Mickey, he soon recognized the man.
‘He’s a Barren Bone man.’ Thales stared at him in shock. ‘What’s going on? What’s… a Barren Bone man doing here?’
Yodel remained in the darkness and did not move.
‘Calm down…’ Thales could only summon his courage and tell himself to remain calm, because Yodel must have his reasons to stay hidden, and he would not be mad at Thales for what happened just now… maybe.
However, the seemingly dangerous Barren Bone man only cast a glance at the room nonchalantly.
He did not even let his gaze linger on Thales for an extra second.
Then, another sharp, abrupt, and incredibly unpleasant middle-aged man’s voice rose into the air. There was cold amusement in that voice, and it gave displeasure to all those who heard it.
“Do not be scared by Gotham. The tattoos on his neck are just a part of the Sharlurn tribe’s tradition. It just means that he won thirty-six battles.”
Thales frowned. ‘The Sharlurn tribe? Thirty-six battles?’
The Barren Bone man named Gotham turned around and nodded before he left.
*Clomp, clomp, clomp…*
‘This sound…’ Thales had heard the Old Crow walk with his cane, and also heard the sounds produced by the Black Prophet when he walked. He immediately registered the sound in his head. ‘This is the sound of wood tapping against the floor.’
However, this time, the sound was much more rhythmic than the Old Crow’s and much brisker than the Black Prophet’s.
“Oh my, heh heh, it has been a long time since I was here.” The piercing voice rose again, and there was a slight Western Desert accent in it.
However, Thales would swear on his life that this was the most standard, perfect, and coherent version of the common language of the Western Peninsular ever since he entered the Great Desert. In fact, the person’s choice of words was common among those who lived in Eternal Star City.
“I once thought that I would never come to this tiring and ominous place again.” Finally, a person with a cane limped his way to the entrance of the room. He stood in a slouching manner.
The moment he stepped into the room, Thales’ anxiety and attention towards Gotham was completely snatched away by the newcomer.
The man used the cane to support his clearly handicapped left leg, and he leaned his full weight against the cane. Strangely enough, there was a longsword of a unique style bound to the cane, as if it longed for its owner to brandish the sword at the same time while he supported himself with the cane.
The owner of the piercing voice held on to the door frame. He tugged the armored robe on his body and cackled darkly. “Whew. This is truly a test for my leg.”
He raised his head as he continued to lean against his cane. He revealed a middle-aged face that could belong to a non-human. He looked withered and pale, and his mouth was askew.
Along with his cold and piercing voice and lively, sharp eyes, the impression he gave others caused those who saw him to feel chills creep down their spines.
The moment he saw the man, Thales was shocked! The terrifying middle-aged man gasped softly as he gauged Thales.
“Ha, you did grow up considerably over the past six years.” The man chuckled in a manner that brought displeasure to others. His laughter was like a poisonous needle that stabbed their hearts. “Let me guess, the Northlanders must have fed you well, yes?”
There was a few seconds of silence. Thales stared at the ornaments on the middle-aged man’s body and remembered something. The man continued to smile in that terrifying manner of his while he waited for Thales’ answer. In the end, Thales sucked in a deep breath.
“It has been a while, Your Grace.” The prince put away the dagger he held and straightened the flimsy clothes on his body before he spoke sternly.
The owner of the cane stared at him for a long time before he burst out in laughter. “Hahaha! Very good, you still remember this sack of old bones!”
His expression was exaggerated, making his non-human face look even more fearsome. He even clapped fiercely, as if he just saw something incredible.
The Barren Bone man, Gotham, turned around coldly as he was outside. He knocked Snake Shooter out again, right as the psionic woke up from unconsciousness.
‘Stay calm,’ the prince thought to himself. Thales forced himself not to look at Snake Shooter’s condition, instead he stared at the guest before him calmly.
“Your arrival was indeed unexpected…” The prince gently pulled a chair out from the table and gestured towards it before he casually sat down on the bed. “So, did you come to assist me, Baron Williams… or Blade Fangs Camp?”
At that instant, the man’s sharp and cold laughter came to a halt as if he had understood something. The terrifying looking middle-aged man stared at Thales who appeared to be composed and relaxed. He clicked his tongue and said,
“Very good. You do not have the unique stink that turns the aristocratic young masters into useless pieces of trash… very good.
“We should change our views regarding those Northlanders. Perhaps they are not barbarians who only know how to use their fists to flip tables.”
A light crease appeared between Thales’ eyebrows. The middle-aged man snorted softly. He raised his left leg together with his cane and hobbled into the room.
Behind him, Gotham shut the door to the room in tacit understanding, leaving the middle-aged man alone with Thales… and turning the room into a tightly sealed cage again.
‘Stay calm,’ Thales advised himself again as he watched the man draw closer to him.
The middle-aged man limped towards the chair Thales pulled out for him before he spoke in a tone that was half mockery and half sentiment.
“However, Williams truly should not have brought you here as the first stop in your journey back to the country. This place is too high, far too high…”
The middle-aged man stopped before the study table as he mumbled. He turned his body sideways and stared at Thales coldly to reveal the window behind him, along with the many tiny and exquisite buildings in the distance that looked like building blocks.
“It is so high that I am worried whether you will accidentally… fall from here.”
Thales watched the longsword on his cane and felt his entire body tense.
Just like that, Cyril Fakenhaz, the master of the Fakenhaz Family—one of the Six Great Clans of Constellation—who used the Four-Eyed Skull as his emblem, the Guardian Duke of Western Desert, the suzerain of the Ruins, and the Unwelcomed, stood at the tallest point in Blade Fangs Camp. Then, in the highest room of Ghost Prince Tower, he casually said,
“Just like… that brother of your father’s.”