Chapter 534 Unpleasant Memories, Rest Well
"She was disappointing till the bitter end. No matter what we did to her, she didn't make a sound—what a freak. That kid was probably already broken beyond repair. How boring. Wouldn't you say?" Rox stated mockingly.
He then pulled the dagger out of the table and continued, "Were you trying to play the hero or something by taking in a street rat? What? Did your noble friend promise to adopt her out of pity? Well, let me make something crystal clear."
"The territory outside the city walls is my property! My kingdom! Some damn noble wants to humiliate me? Forces me to accommodate a worthless street rat in my territory?! Screw them! Who do they think they are?!" Rox viciously bellowed. He then took a deep breath as he regained his composure.
A smile then appeared on Rox's face as he said, "You shouldn't feel pity for her—since you will be joining that brat soon enough. But, first, I will have you pay the price for that noble friend of yours! You will learn that in this place, I am the king! Ahahaha!"
"Are you done?" Izroth spoke as he stayed with his back to Rox.
The deathly calm aura that lingered around Izroth just moments ago had faded. There was no fear, no hatred, no anger, no sorrow, no killing intent, only a vast emptiness—a vacuum of nothingness.
Izroth turned to face Rox, but there was something different about him. His expression matched that of one who completely severed their connection to the world around them. Izroth's eyes nor face possessed even the tiniest shred of emotion. With no haste to his steps, Izroth emerged from the room as two men near the doorway charged him with their weapons drawn. At the same time, Izroth's entered into a trance-like state as he submerged into his thoughts.
'It's been a long time, yet I still remember it as if it happened yesterday. That time, I also failed to protect her. In the Seven Realms, I reached the summit. Not because I was gifted, nor was it due to some fortuitous encounter that altered my fate. I came into the world with nothing. I crawled my way to the summit with my bare hands and the peak's wind pushing against me at every turn. Power, wealth, fame—it's always obtained too late. By the time you acquire the power to protect those you care about, you look back only to see that there is no one left. But, being alone in a world where everything you once cared about has departed beyond reach... Those who approach you do so solely out of fear or hatred... Living in that kind of world—what's the point?'
"...Ah, this sure brought back some unpleasant memories. It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth whenever I think about it." Izroth snapped out of his trance-like state.
"...M-mon... Mons...! M-monster..!" Rox's trembling voice drifted into Izroth's ears.
After Izroth exited his trance-like state, his surroundings had undergone a drastic change. Several dozen bodies associated with Rox's organization were sprawled out on the room's floor, and the area looked as though it had been turned upside down from the wreckage. Besides Izroth and Rox, there were no signs of life within the whole building—it was total carnage!
Rox was currently on the floor with his back against the wall and one of his arms and legs missing. There were no traces of his previous arrogance as his fearful expression could not be concealed.
"S-spare me! I'll give you anything you want! You like street rats, right?! I can get you ten- No, fifty more of them! You can do whatever you like to them! You want money too, right? I can get you-" Rox pleaded but instantly fell silent when he felt the tip of a cold blade pressed against his throat.
"Death for you would be a release. However, living is too good for your kind." Izroth stated without hesitation.
"Wa-" Rox was unable to get a word out before Izroth's blade plunged into his throat, reaping his life.
'Ever since I've come to this world, I have grown too complacent. The humans in this world are not as threatening as the dangers that lurk within the Seven Realms. Because of this, I have allowed my enemies to bide their time, whereas if this were the Seven Realms, they would have been killed a thousand times over. Complacency is one of the most dangerous flaws for cultivators—I had nearly forgotten this simple truth. Even if I can protect myself, at any moment, those around me can be affected. This has been a wake-up call. One that I did not wish to seek, but one that I needed.'
Izroth returned his sword to the leather belt on his waist. He walked back into the room where Selene was located and carefully took her into his arms as he made his way towards the exit over the piles of dead bodies.
'When this event comes to an end... I will make certain that I no longer have any enemies remaining in this world. Those who have wronged me—will be killed without mercy.'
Around one hour later, Izroth stood in front of a freshly made grave located at the outskirts of town, deep within the forested area. At the head of the grave was a stone with the name "Selene" carved into it that appeared to be made by sword marks.
"This world may be an illusion, but this much is the least I can do for you since you've woken me up from my dream."
Izroth placed a neatly folded pair of clothes with a set of small shoes next to the makeshift tombstone. In addition, there was a wooden carving of a crescent moon placed directly below the tombstone. These were the items he purchased for Selene inside the palace walls.
After taking a few moments to make sure that everything was in order, Izroth knew that it was time for him to take his leave if he wanted to meet up with Nixere as promised.
"Rest well, Selene," Izroth said. He then proceeded to leave out of the forest and travel back towards the town.
A few minutes after Izroth left Selene's grave, something unusual transpired.
The wooden carving of the crescent moon Izroth placed on top of Selene's grave disappeared.
Several hours later, Izroth had long since returned to the town located within the inner palace walls. Upon his arrival, Izroth met up with Nixere, and the two proceeded to prepare for the upcoming ceremony. However, this was nearly one hour ago.
At the moment, Izroth, accompanied by Nixere, was already standing in line at the entrance into the main palace!
Both Izroth and Nixere were hardly recognizable with their current choice of outfits.
Izroth donned buttoned-up formal clothing that was blue with silver linings embroidered into its outer edges. His hair was neatly combed back, and he had an air of nobility to him that drew the attention of those waiting in line.
However, in terms of drawing eyes to them, Nixere was in another league. She wore a lovely white dress that hugged her skin just right. Her hair was tied up in a bun and braided into three separate parts—one on each side of her head, and the other skillfully wrapped around the lower part of her hair bun. She emitted an aura of refined elegance and bore an even closer resemblance to her elder sister, Queen Nixpera.
"Remember, once we're inside, we have to gain an opportunity to speak with my sister alone," Nixere whispered.
"Being one of the two stars of the ceremony, with so many guests, such an occasion may not present itself readily," Izroth replied.
"That's why I'm counting on you to do your part, dear cousin," Nixere said with a smile.
"I'm not sure I'd call what you have in mind a plan," Izroth stated nonchalantly.
"It's fine, it's fine. Some things are better left to the moment. Wouldn't you agree?" Nixpere lightly giggled.
It did not take long for Izroth and Nixpere to reach the front of the line. After the guards confirmed that they were not carrying any weapons, the two were granted entry into the palace.
"Welcome." When Izroth and Nixere walked through the palace doors, they were immediately greeted with a bow by a group of suitably dressed servants lined up at both sides of the doors.
'So this is King Sonamus' palace. It's even more pretentious than the tale described.'