Chapter 857 Casper
Casper watched the soldiers spread out and start combing the area, looking for traces of them. Although he picked a spot far from the incident, he underestimated how much the emperor cared about this project. After all, a detection array of this magnitude cost a lot of mana and money.
"Search every nook and canny! Whoever is behind this had deep knowledge about our weaknesses, so traitors are expected!" said the captain as his squad spread out. Casper fell back into their groove, hiding behind the branches.
The old man was no fighter, but he had his fair share of hide-and-seek in his philandering years before his wife tied him down. Thus, he made no sound as he walked toward the bedridden, preparing for their escape.
'The chances are slim, and it might be wiser to leave him here and run away,' thought Casper as he saw how much the young man hallucinated. 'However, after hearing his words….'
This man begged the Divine Swordsman to kill him if he had a change of heart about his revenge. Although this was a chance for enlightenment, it might have been more merciful if the enemy struck his heart instead of his soul.
'What kind of resolve did he have to wish his death rather than forget his revenge?' thought Casper with a broken heart. Even in his feverish dreams, the man kept asking someone to stop, begging them not to hurt a girl named Anna.
"There are footsteps over here!" shouted a voice behind them, and Casper rushed to carry the young man over his shoulder. His old back almost cracked, but he grimaced through the pain as he took a firm step toward the exit. The soldiers were outside, but he had a runic card that could blind their vision. He might be able to run away in their confusion, although the most probable outcome was being killed in place.
"I thought I was prepared for death a long time ago," said Casper as his legs started shaking. "It seems that I still want to live, haha."
Casper felt pathetic since he had lived thrice as long as Henry but still clung to life like this. After taking a deep breath, he activated the runic card, making the light shine through his fingers.
"There is a light coming from that tree! Surround it!" shouted one of the knights, and Casper hurried to throw the runic card in their direction. Then, like a grenade, it exploded between the soldiers to blind their eyes.
Casper ran outside, and the man's weight over his shoulders made every step sink into the ground. The soldiers were in disarray since the light struck their eyes and blinded them. As for Casper, he ran through the soldiers deeper into the Living Forest.
"You will not run!" shouted a voice from above them, and Casper turned his head to see a figure rushing at them from the sky. It was the captain flying atop a giant rock. "Rain on my enemies!"
As the captain shouted, giant boulders started to form around him before falling to the ground. To avoid them, Casper began running in a zigzag fashion, but each boulder's landing shook the forest.
"At this rate, we will both be crushed," said Casper before glimpsing hope in the trees ahead. This plot of land had small trees, but the deeper the two went, the bigger the trees were. Thus, he rushed forward at full force, hoping his speed would outrun the mage's aim.
"The traitor is going north!" shouted the captain, aiming his boulders at them. "Surround him from all sides!"
The situation was becoming dire, and Casper could feel despair crawl into his heart. However, just a few meters more, he would have the extra protection of the giant branches.f𝑟𝒆ewe𝚋𝒏૦𝐯el.c𝗼𝑚
'The irony of using the trees we destroyed as protection,' thought Casper as he made one final leap toward safety, but a shadow appeared above him. His eyes turned at the last second to see a boulder behind him, slamming into him as it landed on the ground.
The old man shrieked as his foot was crushed by the boulder, pinning him into the ground. The pain of his bones being crushed simultaneously was so immense that he almost fainted, but he knew he would die if he did.
Thus, he took out a short sword and gathered whatever strength he had in his arms. He twisted his body and stared at his leg, which was buried beneath the boulder, covered in blood. Casper's hands shook as he raised the sword toward his leg, wishing there was another choice.>
'I… I… can tell them… that I was a hostage… and that he…' thought Casper in his moment of despair, not knowing if he should sacrifice his life to a man who wished to kill him. There was not a hint of logic in his actions. 'However…'
Casper swung the sword, making one clean cut at his leg. He felt the resistance of his flesh and bones, but the pain soon followed. He shrieked like a wounded monster in a voice that he never knew he had. Then, his leg 'broke' free from the boulder, making him collapse on the ground. Casper breathed in and out as the waves of pain crippled his body, but it moved on its own.
His hand pushed the green grass dyed red with his blood. He knew that this blood loss would soon kill him, but in his last moment, he wanted to take revenge too. Casper wanted to save the man who would kill the emperor and take revenge for his son.
Every step was torture since he had to jump on one leg. However, he was running out of time since the knights were closing in on them. His mind looked for a way or a method he could save this young man, even if it meant giving away his life.
It was a bizarre state of mind because Casper was no longer fighting for his life but for a purpose. He wanted to save and feel like his life had a meaning which would contribute to something greater. This desire for a purpose was why he studied science and believed he could change the world.
"In the end, I changed it to the worse," said Casper as he reached the young man, who had rolled on the ground. He bent down to drag him, but one foot couldn't do it. Thus, he fell on his lower back, but he started dragging him deep into the forest. "I guess it's hopeless to pull him with one foot only," said Casper with a hollow laugh before using his amputated foot.
The pain made him scream again, but he mustered the strength to pull the two into the forest. He repeated it countless times, so much that he was about to faint before he fell.
It was useless since the knights were gathered around them now. All of them aimed their swords at the two as the captain descended from the sky while staring at the gruesome sight in disgust.
"You two are under arrest for plotting against the empire," said the captain, glancing at Casper's white lab coat. "This is a befitting death for a traitor like you."
"Haha," laughed Casper, with a face as pale as paper. "I already knew I would die, but I just hoped… I would take down this empire with me."
"Damn traitor dog! The emperor rewarded you with everything you wanted!" shouted one of the knights while drawing his sword, but his captain stopped him. He knew Casper was going to die any minute now.
"In your final moment, tell me the reason you betrayed us," said the captain with a blank face before glancing at the man on the ground. "Is this the man who destroyed the base? He is…"
"I…!" shouted Casper, but his voice was still weak. "I was never a free man for the past three years! I missed my wife, but I knew that if I ran, she would be killed! What do you mean everything, you foolish knight?!"
The shouting made Casper cough as the air felt unwilling to enter his lungs. It was getting harder to breathe and see, but Casper knew he had one last job. He grabbed his short sword, making all knights assume their stance.
"You are dead, old man," said the captain with a frown. "Go die in peace, and let's not give you any more suffering than this. There is no point in fighting."
"I… am not a fighter," said Casper with a grin as mana gathered over his sword. "I am a scientist! And, using mana, I know that I can jolt someone awake!"
Casper knew how dangerous it was to send mana into someone's body while experiencing enlightenment. It was akin to forcing someone awake from a bad dream. You are either saving them or making them unstable for the rest of their lives.
There was no other choice, and Casper stabbed his sword into the young man's arm. His mana exploded in one last burst before it faded, and the old man fell to the ground.
"I… have served… my purpose…" said the old man, as his breathing grew shallow. "Please… young man… don't forget your… re… ve…"