Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
In disbelief, Thales watched Fakenhaz leave. He listened to the sound of his cane slowly become weaker, until it was barely noticeable.
After some time, the prince exhaled, incensed.
“Yodel, do you know that man?” While he digested the shock he received just now, Thales tightened his grip around the national sword of the Ancient Empire which Cyril had left behind for him.
Faint words traveled from the air behind him. “I am unfamiliar with him.”
“Unfamiliar?” A light crease appeared between Thales’ brow. The teenager sensed the weight of Sentinel in his hands before he slowly drew the shining cold blade from its sheath.
The sword hilt was incredibly long. He could basically hold it with two hands, one near the crossguard, and the other near the pommel, then he could use it like a greatsword, even like a longspear.
It was somewhat lighter than Ricky’s Eternal Truth, but Sentinel’s center of gravity was just as perfectly balanced. It was an incredibly good sword.
‘But why…? Why did the Duke of Western Desert give me, the prince, a sword, as a demonstration to the world?’
“Damn you, Fakenhaz,” Thales said with a sigh. He looked at the black jewel that was much less conspicuous than the one on Eternal Truth.
“Do you believe in his words?” Thales brandished the sword in his hands so that he could slowly become familiar with the new weapon.
The Masked Protector’s voice rose airily. “What about you?” Sentinel froze in the air for a while.
Thales sucked in a deep breath before he slowly put the sword back into its sheath.
“I have always believed that he is an elite level monster.” Thales stared at Blade Fangs Camp beyond the window, his gaze was unfocused. He then dazedly said, “But in the end, he is a boss level monster.”
The room was silent for a moment.
“I do not understand.”
Thales put the longsword on the table, shook his head, and snapped back to attention. “It is nothing, a slang I learned from Eckstedt.”
But this time, Yodel answered incredibly quickly, “They do not have this slang in Northland.”
Thales was rendered speechless, but he quickly reacted. “Ah… but you were not with me in Northland…”
But the teenager suddenly remembered something. ‘Wait. Yodel and Northland.’
Thales abruptly turned around and looked at the spot behind him. “Yodel, when I was in Northland… I met the Red Witch, Calshan.”
He received no reply. Thales only heard the sound of wind coming from outside the window. This made him incredibly worried.
“She said she is your… and she and the Black Prophet…” Thales raised his head and looked at the empty air which he could not rely on. “Is it true?”
There was still no answer.
Thales exhaled softly. “Yodel?”
The room was still silent. Thales lowered his head in disappointment. He understood that this was the man’s silent resistance.
“Alright. Please go on and ignore me just like this.” Thales sat on his chair listlessly again. He pulled the tray back to him again. “This is cold violence,” he mumbled.
But this time, the Masked Protector’s voice rose again, and there was an unnatural quiver in it.
“My background is classified information, and neither is it interesting. I do not want to trouble you with it either.”
Thales’ hand froze in the air as he held the grilled fish. ‘Neither is it interesting… do not want to trouble you…’ Thales put down the food in his hand and sighed. ‘Is it? But… Isn’t mine ‘not interesting’ as well?’ When Thales thought of this, his lips quirked.
In the next second, Thales turned around and looked at the air solemnly. “No, Yodel,” he said seriously. “To me, you will never not be interesting.”
The air was as quiet as ever. Thales did not receive an answer, but he was not dejected.
“Also…” The prince smiled. “You have never caused me trouble.”
Still the same unbearable silence. Thales no longer tried to pursue the answer. He smiled in self-deprecation before he turned around and continued to eat his food, but right then…
“Thank you.” An incredibly soft and hoarse voice traveled from the air.
It sounded like it was forced out from somewhere, and it was only thanks to Thales’ refining his senses with the Sin of Hell’s River all the time that he did not miss the words.
Thales paused for a moment, but he did not hear more. “That’s all?” The teenager did not turn his head around. He only shrugged. Just as he expected, no other sound came from behind him. Thales sighed regrettably. ‘Can’t you… say at least one more word?’
Thales did not think about it anymore. He got rid of the grudge in his heart and focused his attention on the food before him. But it was as though the Desert God did not like to watch him eat in peace. Thales had only managed to down a few bites of meat and cold porridge before urgent and uneasy footsteps rose from the stairs below the room.
*Thud, thud, thud, thud…*
It was heavier than Fakenhaz’s footsteps. Thales instinctively tightened his grip on Sentinel, which was beside his table. Then, he heard the door to his room slam open with a bang.
A clear, pleasant, and rude voice suddenly rose. “You met him?”
‘Him. Him again.’
Thales closed his eyes in agony before he reopened them. The prince rubbed his face and made himself smile before he turned around on his chair.
Just as he expected, the Baron of Blade Fangs Camp, Roman Williams, walked without bothering to conceal his footsteps. He was covered in sand and dust, and did not even remove his face mask. He walked into the prince’s room without hesitation, and even did it so aggressively, leaving behind his subordinates to stand beside the door, trembling in fear. Frank, Snake Shooter, and the dozen people behind them did not even dare breathe out loud.
“Who else?” Even if he was travel-weary, Roman was still as dashing as ever, and his eyes burned with rage. It was obvious that he was in a bad mood.
While he observed the room like he was searching for assassins, he demanded angrily, “That foul-smelling old coot Fakenhaz! He came to find you, right? What did he say to you?”
‘Foul-smelling old coot,’ Thales muttered this title in his heart. If there was a similarity between the Duke of Western Desert and the Baron of Blade Fangs Camp, it was their opinion towards each other.
At least their descriptions of each other were quite accurate. Thales coughed and put down the weapon in his hands.
“Honestly, I did not really—”
But before Thales could finish speaking, the Legendary Wing yanked off his face mask and, with an oppressive air, he strode forward and reached out his arm!
The prince was stunned. With a presence that could turn others into ice statues, Roman seized Thales’ left wrist tightly. Under Thales’ astonished gaze, the Legendary Wing held the sword handle for Sentinel coldly and took it from Thales’ left hand, as well as its sheath, before he let him go.
Thales stared at the empty sheath, and his eyebrows twitched.
With a murderous look, Roman brandished the longsword, and in the end, he fixed his eyes on the crude engraving at the end of the sword hilt.
“F.” Roman stared at the engraving before he raised his head coldly. “F. Fakenhaz’s F.”
Thales immediately felt troubled. He shook the empty sword sheath in his hands.
“Um, yes, but this—”
Roman snorted coldly. He did not give Thales a chance to speak.
“A good sword.” The Legendary Wing spoke with such an obviously mocking tone that even Nicholas would be able to tell. He continued, “My good prince, I let you stay here, but it has somehow made it easy for you to receive illicit dealings and bribes behind my back?”
‘Bribes?’ Thales was stunned. He stared at the Sentinel in Roman’s hands, and he suddenly felt as if he was wronged, but he could not explain himself. “I—”
But in the next moment, Roman moved his arm, and the sword came towards him. Everyone was astonished!
And Thales only had time to bring up the sword sheath and place it in front of himself as a shield.
The sound of leather clashing against metal rose. When Thales registered what happened, he discovered to his surprise that the Sentinel had been perfectly sheathed into the sword sheath in his hands.
The sword and sheath were joined tightly together, showing incredible precision.
‘This is… How did he do that?’
Behind Roman, Frank and Snake Shooter’s faces were already pale. Both of them had one leg in the room, and their arms were stretched outwards. Their faces were still stuck with the expressions that said, “My Lord, no!” and “That is the prince!”.
Roman lowered his arm and used his gaze to make his subordinates put away the aggrieved looks on their faces. He then stared coldly at Thales while the latter still had not recovered from his shock.
“If you like their gifts so much, Jadestar, then leave tomorrow, together with the great suzerains. Get out of my territory,” the Legendary Wing said viciously before he turned around and left.
Thales stared at Sentinel. He still had not wrapped his mind around what had happened. “But…”
Roman stopped moving when he reached the door. “As for you, Nameless.” The Legendary Wing did not even turn his head around. “Do you know that even though you thought you were perfectly hidden, that hollow in the floorboard is very obvious?”
Thales was shocked, and he looked at the floorboards in the room. If he did not use hell’s senses, he would never be able to tell that there was something wrong with the incredibly flat floorboards.
The leader of the Freak Squad, Snake Shooter, had the same expression.
“And you, members of the Freak Squad.” The Legendary Wing suddenly turned his head around. Snake Shooter and the Freak Squad members behind him shuddered visibly.
“I don’t care how many soldiers they have, how great their statuses are, how well their subordinates fight, how strange this stupid tower is, how frightened you are, and how tired you are from your shifts, if you let outsiders break into our territory again without any respect for us, then you can walk back into the Prison of Bones yourselves.”
Thales could not see Roman’s expression, but he could sense the chilling tone in his words.
Snake Shooter originally wanted to curry to Roman’s favor or defend himself, but he was so terrified that he immediately shut up and stood straight.
In the next second, the Legendary Wing stomped down the stairs with Frank, wearing an expression that said “You’re on your own”. He left Snake Shooter and the others behind, they shut the door to the room incredibly respectfully and gingerly.
Roman and his guards’ footsteps faded away. Thales remained in that posture of holding his sword. He looked lost. ‘What… happened just now?’
As he walked down the old Ghost Prince Tower, Roman Williams did not say a single word. The guards behind him did not even dare breathe loudly. Every single one of them knew that the Legendary Wing was not to be trifled with the most when he acted this way.
“Frank,” the Legendary Wing suddenly said. Behind him, Frank immediately responded respectfully. Roman said coldly, “Tell those noisy nobles that if the aristocrat soldiers we caught yesterday during the mutiny do not hand over sufficient compensation money, they can forget about leaving the prison.”
Right when Frank was prepared to nod, he was stunned. When he understood what Roman meant, he spoke in a troubled tone, “But some of them are children from great aristocratic families, and they have sensitive statuses…”
But Roman just snorted coldly, forcing Frank to swallow whatever he wanted to say next.
“Right, those people.” The Legendary Wing turned over a corner and said coldly, “Their compensation money will be twenty times the original.”
Frank froze up again. A few seconds later, he sighed. “Very well, they will hate us even more.”
Roman came to a stop, the dozen people behind the baron stopped as well. Their movements were uniform and well-practiced, as if they had done this thousands of times.
“Very good,” the Legendary Wing said coldly. “And we are able to keep a firm foothold here today…” When he said this, Roman suddenly raised his head and stared at the darkness at the top, which lay above the layers of stairs over his head. “It is precisely because they hate us.”
Frank was stunned. However, his commander had stopped speaking. He only continued his walk out of the tower.
Thales stared at the door to the top of the room skeptically before he awkwardly stared at the longsword in his hands. He suddenly had a feeling that this was perhaps one of Fakenhaz’s goals. He wanted every single person to see that the prince had received the Fakenhaz Family’s gift.
But he said those words to Thales…
“‘Hold on to your sword tight. Do not lose it.”‘
After some time, Thales finally sighed. ‘Damn that ugly old coot who stinks from head to toe. Has he always been like this? What did he say to Prince Herman in the past?’
When he thought of the name and remembered that Herman died here in the past, Thales lost his appetite.
‘What connection does Herman and Shadow Shield really share? As for Teng, the man who has been mentioned by numerous people, who is he?’ Thales’ expression became stiff. He remembered something.
The prince stood up, strode to his luggage and began searching. A few seconds later, he finally brought out that letter written on valuable paper, but the moment he was about to open the letter, Thales paused. He sucked in a deep breath.
“Yodel, how much do you know about my fourth uncle, Herman Jadestar?”
Several seconds later, the same faint reply rose in the air, “I am unfamiliar with him.”
‘Very good.’ Thales closed his eyes gently. “I thought so,” the prince said with a smile before he opened his eyes.
In the next moment, Thales carefully but unhesitantly opened the letter that bore great significance to him.
[To the Kitten who enrages me,
[You did not reply to my letter, eight months and twenty-one days after we met in that valuable meeting, even though we parted on bad terms. Perhaps you do not understand what kind of emotions I harbor when I write this letter.
[They are the results of our last argument.
[That is right, Kitten, you have always been sensitive and considerate. Your instincts are accurate, and it always hits the nail.
[But my dearest friend and lover, you might perhaps not understand what you mean to me. You turned around and left, free, arrogant, and brave, but you took away everything from me.
[In the past eight months, no matter how urgent my tasks were, they were boring and trifle. No matter how interesting my life was, all joy has seeped out of me. The friends whom I acquaint myself to every day became mediocre. Even the imported wine and novels written by the incredibly talented writers from Sera Dukedom became dull and uninteresting.
[Do you know, my dearest Kitten, from the moment I was a baby to the moment I became an adult, and from the moment I became a viscount to a prince, no one has ever treated me, Herman Jadestar, like you do.
[My father can’t, my mother can’t, Midier can’t, Horace can’t, Satome the scholar can’t, my wet nurse Allie can’t, and not even my grandmother is allowed to treat me like this.
[My plain outlook on life, my naivete, my kindness, my sincerity, my optimism… They took many things away from me, but they never took everything.
[They never mercilessly and crudely dragged me out of the noble palace and yanked the fancy mask from my face. They never pushed me into an abyss filled with mud and let me grieve while in great pain under the pouring rain and cold moonlight, all so because they wanted me to show my true self within me, which is covered in injuries.
[Because I never allowed them to.
[Herman has never been famous because he is good in battle, but believe me, he is a warrior who has never surrendered to anyone in his heart. No one can make him bow his head, submit to them, compromise, and admit defeat.
[No one besides you, Kitten. You’re the only one.
[The emptiness and pain of losing you has constantly tormented me, and it tore me apart. In fact, it won over my pride and ego. Before them, my defenses, my ego, and all of my arrogance were nothing before them.
[I am like a fly, a base, deplorable, unrefined ruffian. I am overcome by hysteria and anxiety. I cannot sleep, and I do not have any appetite. Damn it all, this is all reminiscent of the play I once despised the most.
[You know, Kitten, if I have to bear with this, it would be better if you just killed me, but that is no longer important.
[Before I met you, I was high in spirits. I assumed an air of importance, and I regarded myself with respect. After I departed from you, I was left with nothing, and I bemoaned my fate.
[But that, too, is no longer important. If one of us has to be the first to bow our heads in this prideful indifference, then I want to let you know, Kitten: On the days without you, I suffered greatly in deep pain.
[I cannot stop myself from thinking of you, I cannot stop my hand from writing to you, and I cannot remove your reflection in the mirror. The only thing I can control over my entire body is that childish urge that cares not for dignity, honor, pride, and tradition, that only wants to give up on everything and make me draw close to you.
[Kitten, over the past eight months, I have constantly thought about these things: what brought on the disputes and bad blood between us?
[Is it our sensitive statuses? The future between us that will not be blessed? Our completely different lives? Our personalities which cannot blend well with each other? Our different experiences?
[But just like every time we argue about responsibilities and freedom, life and love, unity and independence, reality and dreams, whether Cahill Yarrow is better than Bose Carndir in terms of prose or vice versa, the answer to the questions I had are the same as the conclusions we have for those arguments: there is no answer.
[Recently, when the king spoke about society falling into decline while the land filled with unrest and flames raged the kingdom, I suddenly came to a realization. I realized what is most important to us in a world where no tomorrow exists.
[Just now, the horn signalling nightfall was sounded in Blade Fangs Camp, but what I saw in my mind is the time when we first met.
[That night, you pointed at me with your sword, and with a disdainful smile I could never forget, you said softly, “This kitten can dig out your heart.”
[You did it, Kitten. If you don’t believe in me, my cruel and adorable friend, then lower your head slightly.
[Now, do you see it? That is my heart. It has no power to beat, it is bloody, but it is without any disguise. It now lies quietly in your hands, in the river of fate that it is destined to fall into, and it falls willingly.
[Right now, the army and the citizens under the observation tower bustle with activity, and I suddenly realize that to me, young Kessel is fearless and determined. He is madly in love with that young police officer, who came from a humble background and has a notorious reputation. He loves her entire being, and he loves her more than the entire world.
[Naturally, he can give up everything for her. He will not balk at the thought of himself committing a great crime against the world and casting the entire world of nobility as his enemy. He is willing to give up on swearing dignified marriage vows, the Jadestar family name, the status of a prince, the property of the royal family, the right of inheritance to the throne… and our father’s stern love.
[Compared to him, I, his brother, am a brother.
[It is me, Kitten, it has always been me. I was the one who held you back. It is my insignificant worries and dignity that has always served as your obstacle, and it served as a wall to our future.
[Kitten, you have always been free and never been bound by anything. You are proud, elegant, brave, and strong. You march forward to your goals with an indomitable spirit and without care of the price you have to pay.
[And I, as a so-called son of a king, am but lethargic. I carry on my shoulders great burdens, I am sensitive, weak, and full of worries behind this mask named Jadestar.
[Status, identity, age, difference, the words of the world outside, the dignity of the royal family, and the responsibilities of a prince are all mere excuses.
[It is I who enjoyed the joy I gained when I am with you. I asked for your understanding and consideration, but I use all those things as excuses because I did not want to make any sacrifices.
[You are right, Kitten. Perhaps when he has his chest split open, his skull cracked open, and his skin ripped apart, the real Herman Jadestar shown under the sun will just be a coward who is selfish, does not dare to confront reality, has only an undeserved reputation, and has no responsibility.
[Right now, there is an emergency in the desert. The report about the abnormal gathering of orcs and Barren Bone people is placed on my table. But I cannot stop thinking about the years we spent together.
[I miss your nimble footsteps, your touching voice when you sing, your lyrical playing on the piano, your meaningful poems, your pure smile, your graceful lips, your clear eyes, and your figure when you stepped out of the forest and revealed yourself, as well as when you danced under the moon.
[I can quote classical verses and debate against the most dangerous enemies eloquently. I can talk incessantly and logically with great calmness before the most shrewd of merchants. I can act freely and keep my cool under the most desperate of circumstances…
[But I have no way of remaining strong and confident when I write this letter to you. Right now, even the tip of my quill quivers. My words are as unpleasant as an orc’s painting.
[Yet I understand now, Kitten. You gave me the most precious chance to discover my truest self. My world is only meaningful when it is related to you. But when I think about losing you because of that insignificant argument, my heart will feel as if it has been cut by blades. Perhaps… the argument is not as insignificant as I thought.
[You are like dew that falls from the sky and washes away all the filth in me. You washed away my muddle-headedness, disguises, and all my madness. Without you, what would I become?
[No. I cannot imagine it any longer. That is why I have come to understand, Kitten.
[I love you. There are no conditions behind it. I love you, no matter the price I have to pay, and I will love you without ever turning back.
[I have nothing else I want.]
As he read the increasingly confusing words—even though they retained a unique esthetic—Thales could not help but notice as he quietly read the letter that some of the ink on a few lines were smudged, as if they were stained with tears.
Thales was dazed for a few seconds before he continued reading.
[But perhaps you do not understand. Yet, my Kitten, at the risk of angering you once more, I still have one more thing I have to do in this dirty world, and it has nothing to do with us.
[It is the final thing.
[I know that while we are together, I should not bring up these annoying, worldly affairs to taint your ears. I, too, know that you are sick of me overworking myself for those boring and insignificant governmental affairs. I know as well that you have always disliked watching me worrying myself over everything.
[I’m sorry. But ever since you left, I no longer have anyone to listen to my woes. I have no way to tell you how dire our current situation is.
[My blood kin, family, kingdom, politics, history, and future. Everything is intertwined with each other. I cannot free myself from them, no matter how much I struggle.
[I’m sorry, Kitten. I love you. But I cannot leave just like that, not when they are in their greatest despair. I want to beg you for your forgiveness, my Kitten, my love, the blood of my heart, the crime of my life, the source of my madness.
[Forgive me for personally walking into this bottomless vortex, so much so that I cast aside our future, even though the sun has begun shining on it.
[But just as you said, you love me, not for my appearance, not for my talents in literature, and not for my status. You love me for the spark in the depths of my soul.
[Now, that light has suddenly started glowing. It tells me what we should do.
[Once I am done, my Kitten, no matter how heavy the shackles of the cruel reality will place on us, no matter how many difficulties our statuses will bring us, no matter what kind of answer my father will give to our love, and regardless of whether fate will bless or curse us for our union, it is no longer important.
[After all, in our family’s history, we have always been the ones who provoked the gods in our conceit, and the gods have never protected us out of tolerance.
[I love you, Kitten, forever.
[Wait for me. Once I have ended everything in this suffocating vortex and returned all my debts, wait for me.
The one who loves you, and who hopes for your love,
[Night, Year 660, 19th of November, in Blade Fangs Camp
[Fate is like a poem, but do the rhymes know?
[P.s.: I will have Roman send this letter. Ever since Tyrell, the man you are familiar with, passed away due to an unfortunate accident, he became my most trusted messenger. He knows the path to Half Tower, but his temper is rather worrying, and he is occasionally rather mischievous.]
After a long time had passed, Thales exhaled. With slightly trembling hands, he put the letter down gently.