Chapter 182: A Gentle Kiss
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Thales clenched his teeth. He should not give up, it was not the end, there was still a chance.
Black Sword had said that a powerful warrior must take every aspect into consideration, bet every leverage he had solely on his final victory.
‘Leverage… What else do I have?’
Thales ground his teeth, forcing himself to calm down within seconds.
The Northland Military Sword Style he had been practicing for only a month. The power of the Sin of Hell’s River… But he was far too exhausted to channel it now.
The Blade of Purification that had been lost in this sea of human flesh… That peculiar mystic energy that turned him into an untouchable phantom…
The royal title of the Prince of Constellation, and his current position as a Mystic in the making…
‘No, wait a second. There is another bargaining chip—the final one.’
Thales peered at a monster that was currently charging towards him and clenched his fists tightly. Giza’s smile widened.
In the next second, Thales gritted his teeth and stretched his right hand to his back. He then withdrew his hand, revealing a weapon—a crude, simple dagger. One side of the blade was covered in the tentacle’s blood, on which two letters were carved:
Giza was slightly startled as she watched his actions.
Panting heavily, Thales raised the dagger and pointed it at the advancing monster.
“A dagger?” The Mystic snorted. “That is not a legendary anti-mystic weapon. Are you going to stab me with it?”
She watched the boy with the dagger as he was surrounded and attacked by monsters.
‘This scene… is quite familiar, isn’t it?’
Thales lay on his belly, lips quivering while he fended off a monster with the Iron Body Style.
“No.” Thales evaded another monster’s spike, tumbling out of its way. His muscles ached.
Still panting, he raised his chin, ignoring the other monsters that scurried towards him, and returned the Blood Mystic’s gaze.
“I’m not going to stab you…”
Giza was surprised, watching in astonishment as the boy placed the blade of the dagger in his left palm.
Thales continued flatly, “I’m going to stab myself instead.”
Two monsters jumped on him, they thrust their spikes at him.
Meanwhile, the ashen-faced boy jerked the sharp blade in his palm violently. He then felt a surge of warmth and tingling pain in his left hand. The exhausted boy stayed unmoving as a group of monsters leaped onto his torso and brought him down.
A familiar boiling sensation bubbled within him. It slowly turned into a burning sensation. Snippets of memories flashed in front of his eyes.
The time when he raised a dagger and charged at Quide…
The time when he was carried by Jala on her back, running down an alleyway…
The time when he was in Vine Manor’s dungeon, reaching for the lock on Ralf…
The time when he stood in the Hall of Stars, clenching his teeth, speaking to the aristocrats of the Kingdom.
The time when his hands were bound, and he struggled to get to his feet, facing Serena.
The time when he was caught battling in Black Sand Region, holding on to Arracca desperately.
The time when he stood before the five archdukes of Eckstedt, struggling to lift a heavy sword.
The time when he spoke up as Asda and Black Sword stared at him with aggressive looks on their faces.
‘It is just another game.’ A familiar and gentle voice echoed in his ears. The searing heat intensified.
He needed to win. He needed to end this. He needed the best strategy. He needed to…
Giza narrowed her eyes, watching the little monsters pile onto Thales and bury him completely.
She was content. She knew her lovely creations would tear the boy apart mercilessly.
But at that moment, the Blood Mystic’s whole body shuddered, as if she had sensed something peculiar.
A red beam of light spilled out of the monster heap—from where the boy was buried underneath, followed by a second, third, and fourth one. The light illuminated the fleshy cavity.
Giza stared at this sight in surprise.
… until the monsters shuddered in unison.
Ashes slipped out of the monster pile, and more followed.
Most of the black monsters collapsed powerlessly, wilted, melted, blackened, and turned into ash. Eventually, most of the black monsters disappeared without a trace, and the remaining few, barely alive, escaped and hid.
The Blood Mystic glared in disbelief at the boy who rose from the mass of flesh and ash.
“How did you…?”
Thales knelt on the ground, panting. His right hand on his knee. He clenched his teeth so hard he nearly crushed them.
The Blade of Purification—the strange, red smallsword he had lost earlier—reappeared in his trembling left hand.
The bright red blade emitted a blinding glow.
“It’s your power again, isn’t it?” Wearing a conflicted expression, Giza glared at Thales’ left hand so intensely she could burn a hole through it. “No, you are going down a dark path…”
Thales frowned. ‘Dark path?’
“Mystic energy… is not a gift or blessing…” she said. Her eyes were brimming with anger and hatred. “It’s a curse and a misfortune…”
Thales was on all fours, listening to her, tightening his grip on the Blade of Purification which had just magically appeared in his hand. He spat.
“Enough!” The prince roared in frustration.
Giza stopped talking, looking at him in surprise.
“You stubborn maniac.” Thales struggled to stand up. “Listen up!”
He took a step forward, hacking at a tentacle and reducing it to ash while it tried to stop him.
He felt terrible. His footsteps felt oddly weightless. In spite of that, he gritted his teeth and advanced. “Asda wants to force me to become a Mystic, whereas you want to stop me from becoming one?
“Go to hell.” Thales panted heavily. “Go to hell, the whole lot of you!”
The Blood Mystic watched him silently.
“I have been doing one thing, and one thing only, since the day I arrived in this world.”
Thales exhaled, brandished his sword, stabbed a monster that tried to attack his left leg twice in its torso and watched it turn into dust.
“Struggling to survive. That’s it.” He took another step forward with great effort. “Whether it’s as a child beggar, or a prince…”
Giza narrowed her eyes with a complex and profound look.
“I dislike this world. I want to be able to choose what kind of life I want to live.” Thales inhaled a mouthful of foul, putrid air, and said with a cracked voice,
“To become who I want to be, I refuse to be pushed around, to be forced, to be coaxed into doing anything for anyone.
“I struggle for only that.”
Thales walked on until he was in front of Giza, his eyes were firm and unrelenting.
“That is me… Thales Jadestar.”
The Blood Mystic glared at him wordlessly.
But in the next moment, he sensed a strange, drastic change.
Like a fierce current, it surged up within Thales.
In an instant, Thales felt lacerations on his hand, in which the Blade of Purification was held. It felt as though someone was cutting his palm.
Thales looked down at the sword. Its red glow was getting brighter.
The next second, the sharp pain heightened to an intense spasm and began to spread.
Thales could not bear it any longer. His face scrunched up and he shrieked in agony.
‘The Blade of Purification is… rejecting him?’
The throbbing pain surged from his arm to his torso, forcing Thales down onto his knees.
The pain intensified, as though the weapon was threatening to destroy him.
He suddenly remembered that the legendary anti-mystic equipment… was… very much… the enemy of Mystics?
Tormented by intense pain, Thales trembled, attempting to throw the Blade of Purification out of his hand, but it was all in vain, as though the weapon had been glued to his skin.
While regretting his life decisions, he thought back on Serena’s words. He also recalled, while he was on Arracca’s back, every time the Motionless Bow was activated, it also brought him a pricking sensation.
Nevertheless, that kind of pain could not be compared to searing spasms like this.
“You are a little too naïve, after all.” Thales gaped at the Blood Mystic in disbelief. She said softly, “To defeat me, you needed the anti-mystic equipment, right? You did succeed with the help of your undeveloped mystic energy.”
Giza sighed. “But did you also forget that… you are halfway to becoming a Mystic?”
“Ahhhh!!” Thales screeched. Panic ensued once more.
‘Giza… She saw this coming?!’
He recalled what Giza had said, ‘”That is not a legendary anti-mystic weapon. Are you going to stab me with it?”‘
Thales thought regretfully. ‘So, at that time, she was implying that she was well-prepared for my counterattack, and even limited my options to the Blade of Purification?’
“Hehehe,” the Blood Mystic chuckled, shaking her head. “See, this is one of the disadvantages of being a Mystic. Succumbing to such a crude and harmless-looking thing.
“Even though you’re not a real Mystic yet, you have used your power. That alone is enough to allow the anti-mystic weapon to detect you.
“If you have indeed become a Mystic”—Giza watched the screaming boy, a sorrowful expression replaced her smile—”the second you touched it, you will lose your consciousness and all your power, to be sealed away for eternity.
Thales had no mood to listen to her ramblings. He felt as though he was getting overwhelmed by the power that emitted from the blade.
“Don’t worry. I will help you end this pain forever. If becoming a Mystic is your fate, then let me save you from it,” she said flatly. “As I have promised.”
‘Save me? Save me, my foot!’
Thales endured the violent rejection from the Blade of Purification. His closed his eyes. He desperately wanted to let go of it, but he could not even feel his hand as his face contorted from the extreme pain.
Giza sucked in a deep breath. Another batch of tentacles, summoned by the Mystic, wriggled out of the flesh-wall beside Thales. She smiled sweetly at the paralyzed boy whom was being rejected by the anti-mystic weapon.
The human flesh beneath Thales’ feet transformed into a trap and closed in on him. The tentacles brought out their spikes, ready for the next wave of attacks.
‘No.’ Thales squeezed his eyes shut, shivers wracked his body. ‘No!!’
All of sudden, he felt a familiar burning sensation surge from his hand.
The red glow on the tip of the sword began to gather together, as if it had corporeal form, and transmitted to Thales’ left hand.
The boy shuddered.
At that moment, he felt as though he was caressed by a hand. The touch had somehow lessened the pain.
The red glow crept along the veins on the back of Thales’ left hand, as though the blood that flowed in his veins was glowing. It was an eerie sight.
For some unknown reason, the Blade of Purification’s warm red glow managed to soothe the searing pain of rejection from the weapon.
Thales gasped. The excruciating pain was reduced to a slightly more bearable soreness.
‘How does this even work? It can somehow… relieve the negative reaction of the anti-mystic weapon towards me…?’
Trembling, Thales grew dubious about the sword, but at least he was saved.
He stood slowly and raised his head to gaze at Giza with a strange look.
Giza’s countenance wavered. She noticed something odd about the boy. “You…”
Thales glanced at her, then at the traps below and the spiky tentacles around him, feeling the aching and burning sensation in his hand.
“Perhaps one day I will become a Mystic.” Thales endured the pain and said slowly, “But it’s not because of an inescapable fate, or that there’s no other choice.”
Giza’s eyes widened while she was on the ‘wall’.
“It will be my own choice,” Thales said, biting his lips. He lowered his head and continued, “I will see for myself what Mystics are and understand what mystic energy is. What kind of power can be acquired, what kind of risk I must bear…
Thales lifted his head, eyes filled with determination. “Then, I will decide whether I want to be a Mystic… and what kind of Mystic I want to be.
“It doesn’t matter how far I can go, or what I will see at the end of the journey. What matters is that it’s my choice.
“This is what I have been fighting hard for since the day I came to this world.”
Thales heaved a sigh. He raised the sword and swung it at the trap beneath him and the tentacles around him.
Amid the ashes, the boy stood back up on his trembling feet.
Giza’s eyes twitched. “Don’t you even try!”
The girl flashed a grin with a cold gaze. The ground under Thales’ feet shook. The relentless tremors that had made him trip and lose the sword erupted again. Thales lost his balance and nearly toppled over.
He had experienced this before and was quick to respond this time. He knelt down, shoulders hunched, thrust the Blade of Purification into the flesh-ground under him, and managed to stay on his feet.
The flesh sizzled and began to melt, evaporate, blacken, and turned into ash.
The ground made of human flesh twitched and contracted, as though it was groaning in pain.
Giza unleashed a low, enraged growl.
‘Lucky me.’ Thales thought. He tried to stand back up. What he needed to do next was—
“Forget it.” Giza said coldly from a distance. “You cannot even stand up, let alone get closer to me and seal me with that weapon.”
Thales furrowed his brow.
“But we shall see…”
The flesh around Thales bloated up again. The silhouettes of several monsters emerged from it.
The Blood Mystic narrowed her eyes, glaring at the Blade of Purification that was thrust into the ground. “What will you use that sword for? To balance yourself, or to eliminate the enemy?”
Suddenly, Thales felt an odd sensation.
The monsters emerged from the sea of flesh and blood, but Thales ignored them. He did not even spare a thought on what monsters they were or the threat they posed.
He seemed to have entered ‘that zone’ again.
The light, carefree feeling of aloofness washed over him. But this time, it was not as invasive as before; not as magical and… relaxing.
Thales glanced at Giza from afar—a distance of a dozen strides.
As the ground rocked, he had a hard time trying to stand steadily, let alone approach her. In spite of the distance between them, Thales believed that the sword could reach Giza.
He could do it.
As he thought that, the prickling sensation in his hand amplified. Thales smiled a little. He was beginning to understand.
He knew that, based on his current condition, he could summon more mystic energy, although he knew nothing about this one. However, since the Blade of Purification had been rejecting him, he must be on the right track.
The corners of Thales’ mouth spread and his grin grew wider.
Giza blankly instructed her monster army to advance.
Thales gasped for breath in an absent-minded state, grasped the Blade of Purification that was lodged in the ground, and pulled it out.
As the flesh monsters lunged at him, he stooped down, raised the blade in his hand, pointed it at Giza a dozen strides away, and gave a light shove.
The sound of gushing blood traveled to his ears. At that very second, the counter-reaction and the sharp, aching sensation inflicted by the Blade of Purification became greatly amplified.
Thales did not care about the pain. He had succeeded.
Giza looked down in disbelief.
“When did—” the maiden asked in bewilderment.
The next thing she knew, Thales had advanced almost a dozen strides.
He knelt before the Mystic. The red blade in his hand sunk deep into Giza’s bare abdomen.
Shuddering, Giza looked at her wound, and then at Thales.
Then, relief appeared on her face, as though it was what she had been waiting for.
“So, I suppose this is the end,” Giza said flatly, coolly. She ignored the anti-mystic weapon in her abdomen.
Thales withdrew the Blade of Purification. Blood seeped down the blade and out of Giza’s stomach before it evaporated.
Her abdomen and the flesh around it slowly withered and blackened.
In that very moment, Thales was pulled back from the strange mental state from when he was wielding the Blade of Purification.
He took a deep breath, as though it was the first lungful of fresh air he had after being underwater for a long time. Various emotions returned to him.
He stared at the Blade of Purification in his hand, then looked up at the Blood Mystic who had a relieved and serene look on her face.
“You’ve been through a lot, child.” Giza reached out a hand and cupped Thales’ cheek gently. “Take good care of yourself.”
For some reason, Thales thought that Giza, at this moment, was filled with complicated, conflicting emotions.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t help,” she said softly.
‘What?’ Thales’ breathing became calmer.
“I’m sorry.” Giza’s eyes gleamed with tears. “You are on your own now.”
In that instant, Thales’ hostility towards her faltered.
The sweet-looking girl lowered her head and the purplish red veins on her body gradually faded. With soft lips, she planted a gentle kiss on Thales’ forehead.
The boy shivered. Seeing Thales’ reaction, Giza chuckled and whispered, “Beware of Asda.”
These were the Blood Mystic, Giza Streelman’s last words.
Then, cracks started appearing on the maiden’s smiling face.
Her face, even her smile, slowly broke apart like a crumbling statue, followed by her neck, chest, torso—her whole body. Within seconds, the Blood Mystic and the interior of the giant tentacle crumbled into ash.
The night sky of Dragon Clouds City appeared once more before Thales’ eyes. The ash rose like black butterflies and filled the sky.
Every one of the Blood Mystic’s creations in the distance—the clumps of flesh, flesh monsters, tentacles, severed limbs—shriveled, wilted, and disintegrated into ash all at once, leaving only Thales in the ruins. The boy held the Blade of Purification in a daze, and while at a loss, stared at the ashes as they drifted away with the wind.