Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
‘Renaissance Palace…’ Thales’ memories toward the palace were very blurry.
A long time ago, to the child beggars who earned a living on the streets, the palace was the “house of the king”, and it sat at the end of the avenue in the city, and it was a few districts away from them. It was like a legend that they could not touch. It was mysterious, majestic, could not be seen clearly, and dignified.
They could only learn about this legendary palace who shared its title with the King of Renaissance from Dark Night Temple’s ludicrous plays, which deviated largely from reality. They learned about how it had an extraordinary background, how it went through numerous trials and hardships, but still remained tall under Dark Night’s protection.
They also learned bits and pieces about the palace from drunkards who were absolutely smashed, and they would say things like, “I’m telling you, I know this person, and he has a friend who works in Renaissance Palace. That place is like this…” Those accounts were very diverse, and they could only infer from particular facts.
They could even sneak a peek at the huge silhouette of the palace through the gaps between the passersby as they rushed down the unfamiliar and clean streets when the child beggars went out to beg for money and craned their heads into those clean streets in a terrified manner. They would suck in sharp breaths because of how shocked they were by the palace, and they would not be able to look away because of how envious they were of it.
This feeling lasted until six years ago, until Thales’ fate changed.
The Duke of Star Lake shut his eyes slowly.
However, even after he had become the prince and the heir to the palace in name, Thales found that he still did not understand Renaissance Palace.
Six years ago, when he first entered Renaissance Palace, he ran into an assassination, and while he was unconscious, he was brought into the palace.
Six years ago, when he left Renaissance Palace, he was to head north in a very short while, and while he was dazed, he left the palace in a carriage.
As for now…
As the guards beside him flanked him while they kept their gazes forward and the guards behind him escorted him with orderly footsteps, Thales opened his eyes, and he snapped out of his daze. Then, he noticed that his group had long since passed the heavily guarded palace gate. In fact, they had passed by the vast meadow between the palace wall and the inner palace, and they were now headed straight to the inner door of the mottled ancient palace.
Then, when they entered a narrow and dark passage without stopping and locked away the broad sky and the endless horizon beyond the stately and old palace gate, Thales came to a realization.
Six years later, when he personally stepped into this place, he still did not manage to see Renaissance Palace clearly, even though he did not run into any unexpected assassinations and was not to be sent away from the country as a hostage.
When he left the streets and carpets, the sensation under his boots became hard, and the sounds his footsteps made were clear.
*Thud, thud, thud.*
The footsteps Thales made echoed in the quiet air. Those echoes traveled into his ears.
Under the light that suddenly became much darker, the young Duke of Star Lake sucked in a deep breath. All he smelled was cold and humidity.
Stones, the cold, the coarse surroundings, darkness… and silence.
This made the duke, who had gradually became used to the dryness in Northland and the heat in the desert, to instinctively become uncomfortable to this.
In the nearly silent and dark stone corridor, they moved into the inner part of Renaissance Palace. They moved past hall after hall and moved up flights of stone steps.
The few windows and candle lights provided the source of light for them to lead their way.
Thales suppressed all unnecessary thoughts and looked up in this silent and solemn palace which had a long history. While he walked in this traditional and humble stone corridor that did not lose its charm, he looked at Mallos’ back as the man walked in front of him.
The watchman was expressionless. He stared ahead and led the way forward in a manner befitting of his position.
Gilbert was one step behind Thales. The sound of his footsteps was rather light, but his steps were steady.
Farther behind him was Glover, Doyle, and the others, they did not say a word, and they seemed to have disappeared into the air.
It was as if they had already become used to the simple palace with its somber colors and suffocating air, and they found nothing strange about it.
And Thales could only follow them quietly.
The group was not alone. On their way, they passed by many guards who were on duty in their stations, servants who moved in a hurry, government officials who acted cautiously, and nobles whose actions showed great discipline.
These people did not speak in the quiet air, as if they had known all along. They would all stop moving forward respectfully and politely before they moved to the side. Then, they would soundlessly but accurately bow to the teenager in the group.
The new Duke of Star Lake instinctively cleared his throat and wanted to respond to their greeting, but Gilbert pressed down on his arm from behind him and shook his head.
The king preferred silence in Renaissance Palace.
Thales was momentarily taken aback.
But he came to understand something. Hence, the Duke of Star Lake only gave a slight nod at these people and smiled as his response.
When he was in Heroic Spirit Palace in Dragon Clouds City, no matter where the Prince of Constellation was, the Northlander palace guards–especially the former White Blade Guards–and Eckstedtian nobles would all stare at him in hostility and wariness. Even after they faced each other every day for six years, those gazes only turned from “so enraged they would gnash their teeth in his face” to “scornful”.
But it was different in Renaissance Palace.
Regardless of the servants, guards, nobles, or government officials, Thales could sense that they held extraordinary interest and curiosity toward the Duke who had just arrived in this place. However, when they passed by the teenager, their gazes on him were filled with respect, caution, politeness, and restraint.
And when the Duke met their gazes, they would usually immediately look down or shift their gazes at somewhere else.
The moment their gazes met, they would look away, and it looked rather deliberate. They looked as if they were sneaking peeks at him from a corner and were afraid of alarming something.
And along with the creation of this timid and cautious atmosphere, they maintained this still and grim feeling.
The Duke of Star Lake could not help but suck in a breath before he exhaled slowly.
For some reason, Thales constantly felt that the cautious, polite, and restrained gazes in Renaissance Palace made him feel uncomfortable. It was as uncomfortable as the completely unhidden, hostile, and estranged gazes from the Northlanders in Heroic Spirit Palace.
Agitation rose in him.
In fact, at some point in time, the teenager really wanted to have the Royal Guards beside him move closer to him and surround him even better so that they could block off those gazes.
It would be best if they could block off everything, until nothing could seep through, just like how the thick wall blocked off Renaissance Palace from the city.
The quiet and nearly dead silent journey soon came to an end.
When they went up another flight of stairs and arrived in front of a rather large hallway, a few figures suddenly in front of the stone door ahead of them.
Mallos was the first to stop.
Thales was on the verge of taking one more step while he followed behind him. Then, he instinctively pulled his foot back.
But very soon, he noticed that besides Gilbert, who remained smiling, the guards behind him, including Doyle and Glover, all puffed out their chests and raised their heads. They appeared even more solemn, and they were like lutes with their strings strung tightly.
The figures in front of the stone door were dressed in a similar fashion as Glover and the rest, even their equipment was similar. However, they were dressed in leather armor that allowed them to move around easily indoors. Their expressions were stern, and their gazes awe-inspiring. They did not seem to intend to greet their colleagues who were in the prince’s escort group.
Just when Thales began to suspect the identity of this group of people, a person walked forward from those unfamiliar figures. He had his hand pressed down against the longsword by his waist and drew close to them.
This was a middle-aged man with an old face that inspired awe. He was around fifty years old, and he was slightly on the plump side, but his back was straight. His beard and hair were mixed with gray and white hair, but it was neat. There was a great number of wrinkles by the corners of his eyes, but his eyes were lively.
His attire was clearly different from other people. His equipment was exquisite and meticulous, and his footsteps were incredibly steady.
The middle-aged man with the graying hair stopped moving. He did not even cast a glance at Thales, who had long since become accustomed to being the center of attention.
He only stared at Mallos, who served as the leader, and spoke slowly, “Who are you?”
The words he used were solemn, and his tone was cold and grim.
When he said that, Thales was stunned. He was once again certain that this was Renaissance Palace, where his father stayed.
And he… had truly come home?
However, including Gilbert, no one showed any surprise. They only waited quietly and solemnly while they held their breaths. They did not even dare breathe loudly, as if whatever they faced right then was a major matter.
Mallos took a huge step forward expressionlessly. His tone was indifferent. “Tormond Mallos. Watchman of the Royal Guards. In the name of the king, I have escorted the Duke of Star Lake back to the palace.”
The middle-aged guard in his fifties sized up Mallos before he nodded.
Under Thales’ curious gaze, Mallos answered the question faintly before he stared at the middle-aged guard before him with an aggressive gaze.
“And who might you be?”
The middle-aged man was silent for a while, but he still did not cast Thales a glance. He still had his right hand on the sword by his waist.
The man took a fitting step forward, and his demeanor was stern.
“Fabio Adrian,” the middle-aged man named Adrian said softly, “The chief commander of the Royal Guards. In the name of the king, I have come to receive the Duke of Star Lake.”
Thales swore with his life that he could sense Doyle suck in a breath behind him in a depressed manner.
‘Royal Guards’ chief commander?’
Thales remembered the security gates the Six Praetorian Divisions had in their system. Mallos, too, fell silent for a while before he nodded at Adrian, who had graying hair but still had a stern expression.
In the next second, Adrian turned his head around, and for the first time, sized up Thales, who was one head shorter than Mallos.
No one knew whether it was because Thales was affected by the atmosphere or whether it was because of the pressure brought by the man’s gaze, but the Duke of Star Lake instinctively puffed out his chest and sucked in his stomach to withstand the man’s gaze.
However, just like everyone else, Adrian’s gaze only lasted for a moment before he turned toward Mallos again.
“Lord Mallos, thou hast completed thine duty with due diligence,” Adrian said faintly, “Wilt thou announce the end of thine mission?”
‘Completed duty with due diligence. Announce the end of mission…’
Thales was stunned for a moment before he remembered something absent-mindedly.
Mallos calmly but solemnly answered, “Lord Adrian, I might have completed mine duty, but mine sword hast yet to be broken.” The watchman narrowed his eyes.
When he heard his answer, Adrian nodded at him. His gaze turned a little gentler, and it was no longer as sharp. “Then thine mission hast yet ended.”
Mallos nodded slightly before the corners of his lips curled up. “Then mine mission hast yet ended.”
Thales frowned slightly. He found even more links connecting this to his memories.
Just as expected, the conversation he heard right then… was filled with a ceremonial air he was familiar with.
The air was still as quiet as ever. The atmosphere was still as stern as usual. The duke was forced to cast a puzzled look at Gilbert, but the latter just gestured at him to not be restless.
Finally, Adrian smiled.
The middle-aged commander removed his gloves and extended his hand to Mallos.
“Then, welcome back, my lord.”
Mallos also put on a faint but controlled smile that had not appeared on his lips for a long time. He removed his gloves and went forward to hold Adrian’s right hand. “Captain.”
Adrian smiled and nodded before he called out Mallos’ name. “Tormond.”
Right when Thales wondered whether this was the Royal Guards’ tradition, Adrian released Mallos’ hand and coughed. “Alright, we’ve completed the ceremony to hand over your task. You can relax a little.”
In the next second, Thales heard the Royal Guards behind him sigh, as if they had released a sigh of relief at the same time. They all relaxed.
It was as if they had just ended a meeting with a leader, and all of them were not allowed to move and must listen attentively from the start to the end.
Adrian walked over and smiled at Gilbert.
Gilbert also smiled, moved forward, and shook his hand happily. “Lord Adrian.”
Lord Adrian smiled and said, “Looks like I was right. When you returned, you were indeed high in spirits.”
“It is all thanks to you.”
Once they were done with all the small talk, Gilbert turned around and looked at Thales. “Welcome to the meeting hall, Your Grace.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister extended his hand and gestured at the stone door behind Adrian. “This is the place where His Majesty usually meets with diplomats and foreign ministers.”
When he saw the puzzlement on the duke’s face, Gilbert added, “This is an important place where we discuss national affairs. You are the Duke of Star Lake. In the future, you will definitely become familiar with it.”
Thales politely gave a response to the explanation. At the same time, he looked toward the stone door.
‘Meeting hall. Meets with diplomats and foreign ministers… Wait.’
Thales was suddenly stunned.
He stared at the stone door behind Adrian, which was guarded by the guards, and remembered something. He also recognized something.
“I remember. I came to the meeting hall before,” Thales said in a daze. “I came here once.”
His words made Gilbert pause for a moment.
However, Thales knew that he had indeed come to the meeting hall in Renaissance Palace before.
Thales stared at the stone door absentmindedly, and he tried to imagine how it would look like after the door was pushed open.
‘That’s right, it’s this place.’
Six years ago, he met with the arrogant Eckstedtian envoy in this place, who threatened them without fear and tried to force King Kessel to make the difficult decision between waging war or dividing his land.
Six years ago, he watched Duke Arunde vent his resentment and indignation hysterically in this place. He told them how about the political scheme in which he affected two countries in the hopes of turning the order of how things worked in the world.
Six years ago, it was in this place…
Thales thought absentmindedly.
…It was in this place that he saw Kessel the Fifth swing his scepter in an awe-inspiring way that left no room for doubt. Amid nervous and stunned breathing, he decided the fate of the Second Prince of Constellation, and on this day six years later…
“Oh? Oh, my memories are failing me.” Gilbert seemed to have remembered something as well. His expression darkened, and he cut an end to the topic in slight awkwardness.
On the other side, Adrian coughed gently and interrupted the conversation between Gilbert and the duke.
Lord Adrian first turned around before he patted Mallos’ shoulder.
“Will and Jayden are waiting for you in the watch room. You know… paperwork.”
Mallos’ smile fell away, and he frowned slightly.
Adrian nodded at him and urged him to leave. “Go on.”
However, the watchman turned his head around and looked toward Thales. His gaze was unreadable.
The Duke of Star Lake did not understand what was going on. He could only put on an appropriate smile.
Adrian looked at the duke with Mallos.
The middle-aged man seemed to have understood something. He smiled and signaled at Mallos by saying, “Leave it to me and Count Caso.”
Mallos turned his head around and cast Adrian a glance that was neither faint nor profound.
“Alright,” the watchman said calmly, “I will take my leave now.”
Under Adrian’s encouraging gaze and Thales’ puzzled gaze, Mallos turned around and left without any hesitation to head to the other exit in the hallway.
Doyle and Glover, who were the closest to him, were also stunned. They instinctively wanted to follow after him, along with the others in the group, but Mallos immediately stopped moving.
When Mallos turned his head around, he had a deep scowl on his face. He stared at Doyle and Glover, who had stopped moving in their puzzlement. “All of you will stay.”
“Yes, sir.” Glover nodded without hesitation and retreated to stand behind Thales.
Doyle blinked before he was dragged back by Flag Bearer Fabian.
When he saw this scene, Commander Adrian smiled.
Mallos nodded at him before he cast Thales a glance. Then, he left at a languid pace.
Gilbert cleared his throat. He was amiable and gentle.
“Your Highness, please allow me to introduce to you the head-captain of the Royal Guards, who is also the person in charge of His Majesty’s safety and the safety of Renaissance Palace. This man is Lord Fabio Adrian. He is born to the leading family of the Seven Jadestar Attendants, the Adrian Family within Swan Province of Central Territory.”
Adrian turned around and nodded respectfully at Thales.
Thales nodded at him as a greeting while feeling overwhelmingly flattered. He came to a realization in his heart.
‘I knew it. Fabio Adrian is the highest-ranked commander among the Royal Guards in all of Renaissance Palace, and that includes all the chiefs within the Six Wings. And he’s even one of the Seven Jadestar Attendants.’
“We shall save the introductions and small talk for later.”
Right when Thales was deep in thought, Adrian seized the moment Gilbert paused in his speech and interrupted him in an appropriate and timely manner.
“Your Highness, Your Grace, His Majesty is in the meeting hall.” Adrian gestured at the stone door behind him and said, “I do not think you should make him wait any longer.”
During that instant, Thales felt as if all his blood had frozen.
“His Majesty is… He has completed the imperial conference today?” Gilbert swiftly became elated.
Adrian answered politely, “No. In truth, His Majesty ended the conference beforehand. He has taken a great interest in the messenger crows from Western Desert since yesterday.”
‘His Majesty.’ Thales breathed in a daze.
He suddenly understood where the unfamiliar feeling he could not get rid of from the moment he stepped into Renaissance Palace and even from the moment he stepped into Eternal Star City came from.
It was not because of the ambiance and decorations in Renaissance Palace, and neither was it because of the commotion and the events transpiring around him in Eternal Star City, which had repeated itself daily since the past.
Instead, it was because…
Thales automatically clenched his fists tighter.
“Of course.” Gilbert looked at Thales excitedly. “I am certain His Majesty has been looking forward to this moment as well.”
Adrian did not answer. He only made a gesture to Thales and Gilbert to move them forward, and he walked toward the stone door leading to the meeting hall.
Thales felt his own feet move forward, and he moved together with Adrian.
Gilbert followed them. He never left Thales’ side.
One of them was in front of him, and the other behind him.
It allowed him no escape.
When he stood in front of the stone door, the Royal Guards to whom he did not know belonged to which division bowed to him together, and they respectfully and professionally pushed open the stone door to reveal the endless darkness within it.
There were only some lamps that illuminated the path forward.
Adrian turned his body to the side and gestured to the Duke of Star Lake to enter first in a manner befitting of his position.
He was no longer surrounded by one person in front and behind him.
However, Thales realized that he would rather have Adrian move in front of him.
Hence, Thales once again noticed his feet rising and falling repeatedly.
He moved until he moved past Adrian, went past that heavy and stately stone door, and stepped into that endless darkness.
“Not you lot!” Adrian suddenly tightened his vocal cords, and his voice became stern and cold. It was the exact opposite of the cordial tone he adopted when he spoke to the prince and the count.
It made Thales instinctively stop moving.
However, he soon realized that Adrian was not speaking to them.
“You, stay back.”
The head captain’s voice was very faint, but he could not hide the tone that brooked no disagreement in his voice.
“Yes… Yes, A-Adria… Com-Commander.” A few seconds later, Doyle’s nervous and quivering response rose from behind him.
Amid the dull sounds of friction, the thick and stately stone door separating the hallway and the meeting hall slowly fell shut.
It shut Doyle’s murmurs outside.
Behind him, Adrian and Gilbert’s footsteps drew closer, as if he was urging him to do something.
A puff of air rose from Thales’ chest, and it escaped through his mouth and nose.
He noticed that he had begun moving forward again.
Just like six years ago, the meeting hall was narrow and deep. If he looked at it from the entrance from his end, the end at the other side would be shrunken to a small dot, and it could not be seen clearly.
In the past, vassals filled the two sides of the meeting hall while they listened to the negotiation between Constellation and the Dragon.
Compared with six years ago, the lamps in the meeting hall had been reduced, and many of the windows that transmitted light had been shut, making the hall even darker.
Right then, there was not a single person on the two sides of the platform. If a pin fell on the ground, the sound could be heard.
However, as Thales moved forward, he soon saw the throne at the end of his sight. It stood tall from the floor like a hill protruding from the ground, and it was located at the top of a few steps.
Thales’ breathing slowly held his breathing.
A robust and lonely figure appeared on the throne above the stairs.
That figure had his head bent and his back bowed while he sat cross-legged on the throne.
His right elbow was placed on the armrest and his right hand was placed on the scepter that stood before his knees.
He had his forehead pressed against the back of his hand, and he was cast in shadows. His face could not be seen.
Thales stopped moving.
He stared at the figure he had not seen in six years, and he could not decipher his own emotions.
When the prince stopped moving, it made Gilbert also stop moving as well. However, the Foreign Affairs Minister soon reacted to the situation. He increased the volume of his voice and shouted to the figure sitting high above on the throne in an enthusiastic manner.
“Your Majesty, I am very pleased to bring to you the newly appointed Duke of Star Lake, your—”
The bottom of the scepter tapped against the floor lightly, and a dull thud echoed in the meeting hall. It also caused Gilbert to stop talking.
Very soon, the grave, solid, awe-inspiring, and thunderous voice that appeared in Thales’ dreams traveled forth from the throne and echoed in the hall.
“Gilbert…” The voice from the throne paused for a moment. “Thank you.”
Compared with six years ago, the voice was hoarse, drawn-out, and dejected, as though there was indescribable fatigue in his voice.
Thales listened to his voice in a daze, and his gaze was locked on the figure.
Gilbert frowned slightly before he sucked in a deep breath.
“The prince is weary from his journey, Your Majesty. While he was on his way from Dragon Clouds City to the desert—”
He was once again interrupted by the voice on the throne. That voice echoed in the hall.
“My friend, I told you…” The voice on the throne was originally very steady, and it gradually became firm and crisp. “Thank you.
“I will come and find you later.”
Gilbert was stern.
However, Captain Adrian seemed to have understood the king’s meaning.
Adrian extended his arm to the door behind him and said politely to Gilbert, “Count Caso?”
Gilbert cast a glance at the shadow on the throne before he cast Thales a glance with a heavy heart.
However, in the end, he said nothing. He only cast an encouraging look at the Duke of Star Lake before he bowed and turned around dejectedly.
Thales forced himself to smile and nod at Gilbert, only to suddenly realize that the Foreign Affairs Minister’s back appeared very old.
“The same to you, Yodel.” The voice from the throne rose again.
Gilbert’s footsteps paused for a moment before he resumed walking with his previous rhythm. He slowly left into the distance.
Nothing happened around them.
And Lord Adrian did not seem to have heard those words. He just accompanied Gilbert and left.
But Thales knew that the air around him had become different.
This made him especially fearful.
The footsteps left further into the distance, and they grew fainter. In the end, once the stone door closed, it completely vanished from the end of the hall.
Thales was the only one left with the shadow on the throne. They looked at each other face to face in the silent hall.
The teenager shuddered slightly.
Thales could already be considered to have gone through multiple fights, he believed himself to have seen many things, from bloody battles to dangerous plots.
But for some unknown reason, when he heard those words, he still could not help but clench his fists.
Thales looked up and stared at the figure on the throne. He slowly moved and headed to a spot where he could see the stairs and the throne clearly.
However, the figure on the throne remained blurry before his eyes. The Everlasting Lamp behind him flickered.
“Closer.” The shadow on the throne increased his volume slightly.
The teenager was silent for a moment before he raised his feet again.
This time, he moved even closer. He could even see the boots that were pressed against the bottom of the scepter at the foot of the throne.
“Closer.” The voice from the throne seemed to have become a little impatient. He spoke with a drawl, causing the flames from the Everlasting Lamp to shake slightly.
Thales sucked in a deep breath.
Hence, in the next moment, the prince raised his feet in determination and continued forward.
Then, he saw the figure on the throne move slowly. Thales froze.
Under the dim light, the thirty-ninth Supreme King of Constellation, the Iron Hand King, Kessel the Fifth looked up from the scepter and met the prince’s gaze. He had aged more than just six years.
Thales had to look up to see him, and his breathing began to quicken against his will. He could not control it.
He withstood the gaze that he had met in his dreams multiple times, but always woke him up from his dreams. Then, Thales blurted out one title.
“Your Majesty.” Right after he spoke, Thales instinctively added another sentence. “Fa-father?”
The man on the throne propped his chin against his hand, and he frowned slightly.
‘He has become thinner.’ This was Thales’ first impression.
Even though the body under the robe was still robust, even though the scepter was still held in a steady grip, and even though those eyes still shone with a cold light, he could still tell that King Kessel’s face had become much thinner, his eyes had shrunk slightly, and his cheekbones had become more prominent.
He also had more wrinkles now, and they had crawled up the king’s face.
The knuckles when he held the scepter also jutted out even more, giving them a rather sharp feeling.
Compared to six years ago, the only thing that did not change and may even be greater than before would probably be the feeling that Kessel released—the quiet, dull, suffocating and uneasy feeling that felt like the calm before the storm, which would make others fearful.
The silence seemed to have lasted quite a while. However, Thales only stared at the king quietly as the king stared at him as well. He felt that he could not move his gaze away.
Finally, the king’s expression moved.
His voice was as before. It was steady and sonorous.
It was especially clear in the empty and narrow meeting hall.
Thales snapped out of his daze and cleared his throat. “Pardon?”
The King Kessel six years later snorted softly. “It is what you feel right now.”
The king said slowly, “Anxiety.”
Thales scowled. He did not understand King Kessel’s words. “I…”
But the king continued speaking on his own accord. He did not seem to be bothered by the teenager’s puzzlement.
“Anxiety is very strange. It is not terror or panic. These feelings will usually surge forward when you are caught off guard. It will make you feel at a loss, and it will also make you feel helpless.”
The teenager’s breathing froze.
King Kessel’s voice echoed in the hall. That voice sounded like a pressure that came pressing at Thales from everywhere, and there was no escape from it.
“Such as when you are about to sit for a major test, go through a hearing, do something major, or such as when you are about to become the heir of an ancient kingdom, and carry a burden that is much heavier and much more tiring than any moment in your life.”
The king snorted heavily, and it felt as if he just made the hall shake.
“But you know that you are not fit for it. You know that you cannot bear that burden, and you know that you are set for failure. During that moment, you are incredibly terrified. You do not want to face it. You only want to run away from it at all costs. That feeling is panic and fear.”
In the face of the king’s gaze, which seemed to have seen through something, Thales tried his best to maintain his expression and also retain his dignity.
He felt that the act of looking up had become more and more tiring with each passing moment.
However, he also felt as if there was some sort of force supporting him. He could not move his gaze away or use the momentum to lower his head.
King Kessel slowly exhaled.
“But once a critical moment, method, or turning point appears at one point before the final moment, you will feel that there is still a bit of hope in your situation. You will feel that the results might come later, and you will think that judgment will be brought upon you a moment later.
“And you will feel that you can stall for a little more time so that you will not have to face the result you fear the most face to face.”
King Kessel removed his chin from the back of his right hand, which allowed him to reveal the faint blue light on the Constellation Staff.
“For example, going through that test a few days later, receiving that judgment a few weeks later… or accepting the identity that you cannot avoid a few years later.”
Thales stared at the king’s calm face and listened to his words, which contained an underlying meaning.
“That moment is practically salvation. You will rejoice, you will feel numb, you will feel ecstatic after you escaped from death, you will feel as if that burden has been removed from your shoulders.
“You will feel that ‘the end is still far away’, and that ‘I can still be saved.'”
When he heard this, the teenager could not help but shudder.
“However, when all of this was over and when the suspended sentence the heavens gives you is over, all of the misconceptions these things give you that made you believe you could breathe a sigh of relief… will all disappear.” The king chuckled. His gaze was profound, and he was still as expressionless as ever.
Thales listened in a daze, and his palms were cold.
The supreme king slowly straightened his back on the throne. Under the dim light, he looked as if there was a gray cloud over his head.
“And the disasters you thought you escaped by luck will come charging back at you right before your eyes, and they will come with feelings of regret, which will make you think that you should have known about this a long time ago, uneasiness, self-blame, and panic.
“In the end, it will turn into anxiety, which you already know, and which you cannot keep away from yourself.”
Thales met the king’s gaze, and he only felt a strange emptiness in his heart, which could not be filled.
And Kessel rubbed against the scepter in his hand coldly while he stared at the strange blue light that shone at its top.
“It is this annoying anxiety that will make you suffer while you scratch your ears and cheeks in anxiety and uneasiness, and it will make you understand that the fleeing, the lucky flukes that allowed you to escape, the stalling for time, and the illusions over the past six years were all meaningless.”
Thales breathed in a daze as he listened to the king finish his words.
“It is like an accursed but useless leather whip that will force you to face the fate that you knew was bound to come, but in the end, are helpless to do anything against.”