Chapter 184: The Paradoxical Assassin
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Amid extreme pain and confusion, Thales seemingly felt something.
He felt himself crumbling.
The cracking sounds in his body grew clearer and clearer.
Thales was in so much pain he could not utter a single word. He could only keep his eyes tightly closed. He vaguely felt Little Rascal’s arm holding his head.
Her tears dripped onto his face. Mixed with the blood from his nosebleed, it seeped into his mouth, which hung open in pain.
It had a slight metallic, salty taste.
He wanted to open his mouth to comfort her.
But wave after wave of severe pain came ceaselessly from his head, chest, heart, abdomen, thighs and more.
Thales trembled in pain. He was dripping in cold sweat as he was on the verge of losing all consciousness.
Asda’s words rang in his ear.
‘”You will not utilize mystic energy anymore—I don’t want you to turn into a corpse before you become a Mystic.”‘
The words of Black Sword echoed in his mind as well.
‘”Using the legendary anti-mystic equipment too much will create a huge burden on the body… It’ll be dangerous for you.”‘
‘Mystic energy, lose control…
‘Legendary anti-mystic equipment…
‘These two very fatal things occurred on me at the same time, huh?
‘And this time, there seem to be no signs of me getting better.
‘On top of that, there’s no doctor the likes of Ramon beside me.
‘It looks like…’
Amid his pain, Thales thought to himself as his life gradually ebbed away.
‘I’ve done something out of the ordinary.
‘So, is this how it ends?’
“Ah, ah, ah…”
As the pain grew, his moans grew louder too.
His head broke out in cold sweat. Groaning constantly, his consciousness became more and more indistinct as his limbs spasmed involuntarily.
Little Rascal’s tears streamed down even more urgently.
His vision was getting darker.
He even started to hear a buzzing in his ears and he could not make out his own screams anymore.
That was until Thales faintly heard Little Rascal cry out in alarm.
He then vaguely felt someone lift him up.
A strong pressure came from several spots on his chest.
Strange fluctuations infiltrated his skin.
A bizarre stimulus suddenly arose from within his body!
‘Sin of Hell’s River!’
Thales suddenly woke up from his dazed state.
The Power of Eradication surged through his body wave after wave.
However… wherever Sin of Hell’s River was, the pain there would suddenly increase!
“AAAAAHHHH!” In a voice Thales had never brought up before, he howled tragically with his head up.
‘How could this be?’
But he suddenly realized. ‘The ringing disappeared.’
He could hear his own howling now.
The terrible and chilling cracking sounds gradually disappeared.
Every part of his body was slowly relieved of the severe pain brought upon by Sin of Hell’s River.
He then recovered his sight.
And the pain vanished completely.
Thales panted and shuddered as he looked at the scared Little Rascal.
He turned his head around.
He looked at the other person squatting by his side—the man with the strange black sword.
His body was riddled with wounds and his face was unpleasant.
“You know how to heal others as well?” Thales gasped continuously and asked Black Sword in a rasp, sounding as if he was about to die. “How… talented.”
Not having any sense of humor, Black Sword snorted.
“It’s not healing.” He patted Thales on the shoulder roughly, causing the latter to cough for a while. “It was nothing but the same Power of Eradication source that ignited your own vitality.”
“It quickly repairs the damage suffered by your body at the expense of exhausting your energy and physical strength—of course, it’s better to not use it often. I suspect that it will diminish your life.”
Thales coughed as he sat up with Little Rascal’s help. He wiped off a film of cold sweat.
He never thought that living and breathing could be such a joyous thing.
“As I’ve said, the overuse of the legendary anti-mystic equipment…” Black Sword tightened the sackcloth bandage around his left arm and plainly said, “You’ve seen the consequences.”
Thales stroked his chest in trepidation and wiped away the blood from his nose.
‘Maybe it wasn’t just the legendary anti-mystic equipment,’ he whispered in his heart.
“It’s very likely that it will take your life.” Black Sword paused as a sorrowful look surfaced on his face. “It will cause the most painful death.”
Thales frowned and looked at Black Sword, “You’ve seen it before?”
In that instant, Thales sensed the temperature surrounding Black Sword decrease significantly. Little Rascal had even gasped.
His eyes became terribly frightening.
Thales felt his skin crawl, he believed that he had asked a question that he should not have.
However, Black Sword remained silent for a few seconds and in the end, he did not answer Thales.
“Alright.” Thales stuck his tongue out and forced a smile. “Thank you.”
Black Sword remained quiet and stared at him coldly.
As the atmosphere became awkward, Black Sword suddenly sighed.
“You’re welcome.” The man raised the corner of his mouth slightly. “At least my labors were not for nothing.”
Thales was stunned.
Black Sword narrowed his eyes as he extended his hand, “And for the price of saving your life, and perhaps many more lives…”
Thales’ eyes were wide open.
He watched as Black Sword reached over to his leg.
“I will accept this little thing.”
Consequently, Black Sword unceremoniously grabbed the dull Blade of Purification.
Under Thales’ incredulous gaze, Black Sword slipped the Blade of Purification against his waist.
He suddenly frowned and his tone changed, “No, it has always been mine.”
Black Sword sighed. “It seems that I’ve really worked for free.”
With an unpleasant expression, Thales looked at Black Sword, and then at the Blade of Purification. He was hesitating in his heart.
‘It’s a legendary anti-mystic equipment…
‘Furthermore, if I have this little thing in hand when I face Asda…
‘But the man before me is Black Sword.
‘The legendary assassin of the Brotherhood.
‘He could also be the Bloody Year’s…’
Finally, Thales could not help but say, “About that, actually, if this little thing only works in my hands, you won’t have much use for it…”
Next to him, Little Rascal nodded in agreement.
However, Black Sword suddenly raised his head.
His steely eyes caused Thales’ expression and words to freeze.
Thales forcibly controlled his lower jaw and swallowed his words. Giggling, he said, “However, you did save my life after all…”
Black Sword watched him silently. His eyes had a thought-provoking smile, causing unease in Thales’ heart.
“This is an unregistered legendary anti-mystic equipment,” Black Sword said.
Thales’ eyes were wide open. ‘So?’
Black Sword inhaled and plainly said, “Believe me, the dangers of leaving it with you far outweighs the benefits it can provide you.”
Unresigned, Thales furrowed his brows.
“By the way.”
Black Sword shook his head and changed the topic, “In regards to the Sin of Hell’s River, after tonight, you’d best not utilize it anymore.”
Upon hearing that name, Thales revealed his doubts. “Why?”
“I’ve mentioned before that this is a cursed power. It always comes with a price.” Black Sword’s expression gradually sank. “And unlike the other Powers of Eradication, you can only upgrade it through a special method.”
Thales’ heart moved. “What method?”
Black Sword stared at him silently, as if he wanted to pierce through Thales’ face with his eyes.
Eventually, Black Sword plainly said, “Death.”
Thales widened his eyes. “What?”
From the side, Little Rascal raised her head curiously.
“The lingering state between life and death will maximize your potential,” Black Sword continued explaining. His eyes shone with inexplicable cold rays. “It’s also the only chance to activate and increase the power of the Sin of Hell’s River—it’s useless to rely on daily practice.”
Thales’ mouth hung wide open. He was speechless.
“It’s called Sin of Hell’s River for a reason.” Black Sword lifted a finger and prodded Thales’ chest. His tone was flat yet chilling, “Only those who have survived death have the qualifications to utilize and control it.
“People like us who have escaped mortal crises and earned our lives from death…”
Thales’ doubts grew deeper.
“We should have left this mortal world a long time ago, but we deceived the ferryman in hell’s river time after time, escaping the call of death during imminent perils,” Black Sword said somewhat gloomily. “Hence, our existence is the sin of Hell’s River as we are evidence of it not ruling death conscientiously.
“This is what Sin of Hell’s River entails.”
Thales was slightly stunned as though he had just recalled something. “Hell’s River?”
“These were stories and legends from the Age of the Empire. The Bright God Church, which had momentarily flourished during that time, spread them across the world,” Little Rascal said from the side, full of interest. “Hell’s River is the opposite of the Sun. It rules death.”
Black Sword furrowed his brows a little.
Little Rascal grew excited as she spoke and her eyes glimmered, “In contrast to the sun that hangs high in the sky and brings vitality to all living things, hell’s river flows eternally in the unfathomable depths of the ground. It’s continuously gathering, engulfing dead souls and cleaning the filth from the face of Earth, thus bringing balance to vitality as well as death in the world.”
“Legends say that there’s a ferryman on hell’s river, rocking a boat, which is fully hung with little bells. He welcomes all the dead souls into hell’s river.”
Thales was stunned as he heard her words.
“Receive dead souls?”
Thales turned his head around and scanned his surroundings. He sighed. “Looks like it’s going to be a busy day today.”
With gusto, Little Rascal said, “Anyway, the second chapter of ‘The Holy Decree of the Bright God’ says this…
“It records the original words of the supreme Bright God when He created the world. ‘Thou art the Sun hanging high beyond reach. Thou art the world’s most sacred as your brilliant vitality awakens all living things; thou art the Black River, the world’s most extreme prison as you engulf death and eradicate all living things.’…”
Black Sword sensed that she was about to go into a lengthy talk, so he firmly spoke up.
“So, don’t obsess over what upgrading such powers can bring to you,” the man slowly said. “First of all, the Sin of Hell’s River tends to stir up powers that overburdens the body.”
Black Sword cast him a profound look. “Furthermore, we can’t actually escape death every single time.”
While bearing Black Sword’s gaze, Thales felt a chill from the bottom of his heart.
“What about you?” he could not help but ask. “How many times have you experienced ‘death’ to achieve your current skills?”
Black Sword narrowed his eyes as his expression slightly changed.
“Enough times,” he said in a straightforward and simple manner.
Black Sword moved all of a sudden. He slowly stood up.
“The people of Dragon Clouds City are approaching.” Black Sword fastened the two weapons on his body a little tightly and slowly sighed. “It will be daybreak soon. This night ends here.”
“Little fellow, we’ll meet again someday.”
Black Sword turned around.
Thales watched his figure from behind as he recalled his first encounter with the man that night.
He left an impression on Thales; whether it was the duel with the Air Mystic on the Cliff of the Sky, the decisive battle with the Blood Mystic on the streets, or even his words regarding the strong ones and the Sin of Hell’s River…
Black Sword was the only one he had ever seen face a Mystic with no trace of fear and restrain in his eyes. He did not panic or evade, he was someone who had nothing but inexhaustible conviction to his beliefs.
Even though he had no legendary anti-mystic equipment…
Even though he was just an ordinary human being…
Even though countless of times, he was down to his last breath and seemed so close to death…
He still rushed into the battlefield without hesitation.
It seemed like besides himself, nothing could beat him.
Suddenly, Thales felt an impulsive urge to find out the answer to a certain question.
“You were not an assassin!”
As soon as Thales said that, he could clearly see the steady and calm Black Sword tremble all of a sudden!
“Right?” the second prince blurted. “During the Bloody Year, the assassin who killed the Royal Family wasn’t you, right?”
However, Thales felt some regret for his impulsiveness as the words left his mouth.
Little Rascal widened her eyes in surprise. She covered her mouth with her hands as she looked at Black Sword, and then at Thales.
Black Sword’s back remained stiff for a long time…
Until he slowly turned around.
He was like a withering old tree.
“You heard Asda’s words, right?” Black Sword revealed the side of his face and asked softly.
Thales opened his mouth, but after weighing things out, he nodded with mixed emotions.
“Then why would you still dare to ask?” Black Sword’s tone grew more serious, causing nervousness in his listeners’ hearts. “If I were the assassin who killed the royal family… you would be in danger right now.”
Thales felt Little Rascal lightly tremble beside him.
“So, you are indeed not an assassin, right?” Thales asked cautiously.
Black Sword remained silent for three seconds before he asked, “Why would you think so?”
Thales swallowed a lump in his throat as he adjusted his breathing.
“It’s rumored that you’re a vicious, merciless, unprincipled and terrifying swordsman—the infamous leader of Black Street Brotherhood.” He scrutinized Black Sword’s expression. “But what I’ve seen has not been as such.
“You seemed cool, ruthless, utilitarian and unscrupulous.”
Black Sword did not move an inch.
Thales sighed and continued.
“But on the Cliff of the Sky, you did not forget to save my life in the end, although you used me to impede Asda.
“When we were being chased by him, you allowed Ramon and I to leave first while you stayed behind and covered our backs.
“When Asda caught Little Rascal and threatened me, you did not hesitate to come forward.
“When I was swept away by a tentacle, you rescued me regardless of your personal safety.
“Upon receiving the Blade of Purification, you told me that we had a responsibility to eradicate the Mystic on behalf of the ruined city and sacrificed lives.
“Even when you knew that our actions of sealing the Mystic could come at the expense of your own life…
“You did not hesitate on going forward.
“Furthermore, when I agreed, you said in a tone of approval, ‘You are indeed a Jadestar.'”
Thales paused and looked at Black Sword’s face.
Under the fading moonlight, the man with two swords on his waist seemed desolate and sad.
This gave Thales a lot of confidence to go on.
“Everything tells me that you’re not the man you portray yourself to be. And you’re nothing like the people’s rumors described,” Thales said as he bolstered his courage. “At least, you’re a good person in the eyes of the people of this city.”
“I’ve met people the likes of you,” Thales’ words turned grave. A heroic lady brandishing two blades, wearing skin-tight clothing and a pair of goggles flashed before his eyes. “She also stood by her principles in the filthiest of environments.
“Someone like you…”—he took a deep breath and looked at Black Sword’s back—”would you really be an assassin… and kill the Jadestar Royal Family…
“Disrupt all of Constellation’s peace to the extent of causing it instability and unbearable chaos, even to the point of dragging millions of people into the quagmire of war and the abyss of chaos after that?” Thales gritted his teeth and firmly spoke.
“Or… do you have any inescapable hardships you cannot speak of?”
Black Sword did not say a word.
Little Rascal did not dare to even exhale.
Thales watched him silently.
After an unknown amount of time, Black Sword took a deep breath and exhaled evenly.
He then abruptly turned around!
Thales and Little Rascal jumped in surprise.
“You don’t know me, little fellow,” Black Sword’s expression was incomparably terrifying at this moment. His eyes were laced with a chilling grimness. “And don’t you dare jump to conclusions about my past.
“Don’t even think for a moment that you are in control of the whole situation…”
The next moment, the gloomy looking Black Sword moved his right hand.
Thales was startled!
In an instant, he felt a chill around his throat.
Little Rascal screamed out loud.
Thales looked at him in a daze. ‘Black Sword raised his right arm and his hand is directed at me.’
And that weird black sword was already positioned across Thales’ neck.
The tip of the sword was only an inch away from his skin.
A gust of wind stirred up by the blade grazed his neck.
“How do you know that I won’t turn on you?” Black Sword said indifferently.
His expression was like a ten-thousand-year-old glacier; heavy, ice-cold and not dissolvable.
Thales was so shocked he could not speak.
The chills from the tip of the sword caused him to tremble a little.
Black Sword raised his sword with a ferocious expression in his eyes. There was a coldness in his tone, “Listen well, Thales Jadestar, the pitiful and lamentable Prince of Constellation…”
Thales felt chills on his skin. He felt very regretful in his heart.
“Twelve years ago, on that day…” Black Sword’s tone was gloomy. His eyes were fierce, like a beast who picked its prey before devouring them. He fiercely said, “It was indeed me…
“I was the one who personally used a sword…
“And pierced Midier Jadestar, your former crown prince.”
The man looked sinister. The tip of the blade turned slightly.
“And it was all voluntary. I never regretted it.”
Thales stared blankly at the assassin’s expression. His brain was in a mess.
In the next moment, Black Sword instantly retracted his sword.
He turned around and disappeared before both of their eyes.
Little Rascal felt her legs weaken and she knelt by Thales’ side. She trembled while she held on to him tightly.
“It’s alright, don’t be afraid.”
Thales touched his throat in trepidation.
“He’s already gone.”
Black Sword was gone, but countless questions remained on his mind.
Black Sword’s identity.
Black Sword’s behavior.
Black Sword’s attitude.
An assassin who once had his hands dyed with the blood of the Jadestars; the ruthless leader of a gang.
As he recalled the corrupted Black Street Brotherhood, the countless children who died from persecution in the past four years; Quide, Rick and Morris, Thales could not help but clench his fists.
‘He’s their leader?
‘But this man has another side that doesn’t fit with his identity.
‘Knowing my identity…
‘He still rescued and protected me regardless of his personal safety.
‘In the face of the crisis in Dragon Clouds City and the horrors of the Mystic, he did not hesitate to move forward.
‘How can there be such a paradoxical human in this world?’
Thales watched Black Sword’s figure in the distance.
At that instant, he suddenly found the ordinary man’s figure so lonely and desolate.
Filled with an indescribable sorrow…
Thales heaved a sigh and felt even more confused.
He sat for a whole few minutes at the same place until he felt like he had recovered. After that, he and Little Rascal helped each other up again.
With a lot on their minds, they followed the relatively intact road and walked towards the street.
At this very moment…
A huge vibration came from underground!
It knocked both Thales and Little Rascal down.
With great difficulty, Thales stabilized his body. Before he had time to be astonished, he and Little Rascal fell to the ground again.
A giant, bloody tentacle broke through the ground next to them.
Then, a second, and a third…
A giant monster with an indistinguishable head and tail formed by scarlet mangled limbs emerged from the ground!
It extended dozens of giant tentacles, one of which violently struck everything in its path.
It disintegrated a half-ruined house into fine powder!
Amid the smoke and dust, Thales stared blankly at the lively, barely weakened hydra before his eyes. ‘How can this be?
‘Wasn’t she sealed already?
‘How can this be?’