Chapter 29: The Hand that Reached Out From the Coffin
Ever since Asda disappeared, Thales had not truly tried out that power of his, which he had apparently 'lost control' over.
He did not know how Mystics control their powers. He did not even understand how mystic energy worked. He was only modeling the scene to be as similar as possible to his last experiences of 'losing control', based on his earlier induction and inference, and tried to put his power to use.
Originally, in Thales' plans, this power was supposed to be probed and investigated step-by-step in secret and when he was safe. It was also supposed to be done in his calm and safe living environment after he gained a rough understanding of the origins of 'Mystic Abilities' and 'Mystics' from Gilbert's lesson; and after he considered the reaction of the people around him regarding him 'losing control' over his power.
However, due to the impending doom and Ralf's utterly miserable condition, he decided to start this 'mystic ability test' which might bring about danger in advance.
Blood had acted as a medium with the previous two times he 'lost control' by bringing the dagger, which was a material object, and the mysterious sphere, which was an energy, before him in a mysterious manner. Hence, he made a tentative guess that the power might be related to dimensional teleportation.
As long as I can shift the stone shackles' hasp to the side of my hand. Thales silently uttered in his heart...
The process of the experiment was easier than he expected.
The burning sensation inside his body became stronger and stronger. The stone shackles became even larger right before his eyes. More and more scenes appeared in his mind.
Then Thales lost consciousness.
When he opened his eyes, he felt the moonlight, heard the sound of the wind, felt the cold, and saw the extremely shocked Blood Clansmen on the ground.
Whereas he was already held in Ralf's bosom, and beneath his feet, the ground became further and further away.
Even though the process was a little strange, Thales thought tiredly, looks like the experiment was successful.
Although Ralf cut a sorry figure and was in pain, he had already escaped the burden of the heavy shackles. He forcefully manipulated the wind and drifted upwards.
No one was more shocked than Chris at that moment.
"How was that possible?" the old Blood Clansman muttered with a dull gaze.
Istrone and Rolana were still young, so he was the only one who knew that the 'Night Wing Stone Lock' used to lock the supra class elite in the dungeon, was an heirloom of the Corleone family that had been passed down for almost a thousand years. It was an instrument of torture that belonged exclusively to Blood Clan Dukes. Only the fresh blood of the person who closed the lock could open it.
That lock was used to restrain supreme class elites! It was originally used to prevent the deranged Highness from going into a frenzy. After Her Highness' condition stabilized, it was used on the supra class blood source. Even the most advanced Mystic Gun could not destroy those shackles! How did they open it?
Before attaining such grave injuries, Ralf was favored by the wind. He could even lie on his back with his limbs facing up for five minutes while he was ten meters high in the air with the flow of the wind.
But now, after having a considerable amount of blood drawn out, he was extremely weak. He was also tired and parched. The fact that he suddenly lost both his legs also affected his balance. The immense pain in his throat distracted him. The psionic ability he was so proud of was mostly used to maintain his 'breathing' where the air was transferred from his throat to his lungs.
He knew that he had no chance of victory against the three Blood Clansmen and that what Thales had just initiated was only a temporary measure, which was supposed to be a backup plan. Hence, after Ralf escaped the shackles, the only thing he thought of doing was to continue rising with the help of the wind to a height that the Blood Clansmen cannot reach. If they managed to catch up, he would use all his might to whip them off with violent gusts.
However, he still underestimated Chris who had been a supreme class elite since hundreds of years ago.
Chris did not let his shock slow down his movements. His age of a thousand years made him even stronger. His dried-up façade grew dark and in an instant, he jumped and instantly reached a height of ten something meters away from the ground before he pounced on the people in the air!
For Her Highness, I must snatch that young child back!
In an instant, he had drawn close to Ralf. He could see a gust of strong wind rushing towards him.
With shock, Thales saw Chris whose clothes and hair were ruffled by the strong winds, and with an indifferent face, he transformed into a blood-colored mist.
It was not liquid blood like what Istrone became, but a blood mist.
Thales saw the blood mist scatter as Ralf blew on it. However, it continued spreading upwards and passed through the protective screen of strong wind built by Ralf without any obstacles.
The blood mist seeped through the wind and arrived in front of Ralf. Under Ralf and Thales' solemn gazes, it slowly transformed back into the pale-faced, old man, who had an expression on his face that was difficult to read. The old man began falling again.
"Ah—" Ralf could not speak, and could only growl furiously. He raised his left hand and strengthened his psionic ability, trying to blow the old man from the sky.
But before he finished growling, Chris Corleone's hand had already grabbed Ralf's left wrist.
"Those born without wings should not dream of flying." Chris' tone was a lot colder than the high-altitude temperature as he spoke eerily.
The sound of Ralf's bone snapping and his painful howl rose into the air twenty-something meters above the ground together.
And then, Istrone, who was on the ground, and Rolana, who held her half-regenerated arm as she rushed out of the dungeon with a dirt-covered face, saw Chris seizing Ralf—who held Thales to his bosom—by the left hand and then dragging Ralf and Thales towards the ground with fearsome strength.
Ralf looked as if he had gone crazy. With all his might, he drove the wind upwards, almost forgetting to 'breathe'. But he still could not shrug off Chris' sharp claws which had pierced through his carpal bones and tightly restrained his wrist.
Thales was buffeted by the strong winds to the point that he could not open his eyes. His whole body was devoid of energy and he had used up all available cards at his disposal.
The boy had long-since become incapacitated.
Finally, Ralf who fought adamantly was inevitably dragged down from the sky by Chris.
Ralf lost his balance. Having exhausted almost all his strength, he tried his best to manipulate the wind, but Chris' great strength made it impossible for him to rise into the air again.
"For Her Highness, the young child must be kept alive!" Chris said coldly as he descended from the sky, holding on tightly to Ralf.
With a face full of hatred, Rolana licked her teeth. She extended her newly regenerated arm and smiled, preparing to catch the child.
Istrone had a stronger perception compared to her. As he stood beside her, his expression changed, and he abruptly looked outside the main door of the manor.
There, an intense vibration was approaching.
"Rolana—" Istrone spoke with slight anxiety, but Rolana kept her full concentration on the two people in the air.
Thales did not dare open his eyes, but the increasingly swift sound of wind and the heightening sense of weightlessness indicated that things were going badly.
Did he still end up making this move too early due to the sudden, unforeseen circumstance?
Ralf had already given up trying to shake off Chris' hand.
Looking at the moon that was getting further and further, and at the approaching ground, Ralf's gaze slowly became filled with clarity, brightness, and relief.
At that moment, Ralf suddenly realized that after experiencing so much suffering, the fracture in his wrist was not really painful at all. The corners of the Phantom Wind Follower's lips curled into a smile that had been absent on him for a long time.
What a pity, child. Thank you for the chance you gave me. At least I did struggle. As for those vampires, they won't have the chance to touch you.
It was as if time slowed down.
And then, Rolana, who was preparing to catch Thales on the ground, saw in shock that the half-crippled Ralf began howling and growling the instant he was about to hit the ground.
With one hand, he threw Thales using all his strength towards the direction of the Manor house.
"No!" Chris growled furiously and gracelessly. Ralf, who now had a free hand, grabbed onto Chris' waist tightly and hurled him towards the ground.
Thales could only feel his downward momentum changing as his body involuntarily flew towards another direction.
In an instant, the stone wall of the house appeared before him, becoming closer and closer. His head was about to crash into it.
Thales could only shut his eyes tight.
Is it going to end just like this?
However, to the boy's surprise, the miserable scenario where his skull would shatter into pieces did not happen.
His momentum was suddenly halted and his head felt dizzy. He then dropped into a steady and safe embrace.
Ralf and Chris fell hard on the ground. The huge impact even smashed and broke the ground. Dust swirled in the air of the open space outside the manor.
Rolana's expression changed drastically. She went for Thales, who was flying in the direction of the house. Her figure flickered and reached him in an instant whereas Istrone looked at the manor's main door with a grim gaze. As his eyes sparkled, his voice rang through the entire manor in the quiet night.
Thales dizzily and slowly opened his eyes in the arms of a person which felt familiar and strange at the same time.
In front of him were two dark-colored lenses on a dark-purple mask. They looked towards him under the moonlight.
"Do not worry, Thales," Standing on the second-floor balcony of the manor house, the royal secret protector, Yodel Cato, spoke hoarsely with a slight tremble in his voice, "you are safe now."
Thales smiled tiredly with relief. He closed his eyes and became completely at ease.
Waves of vibrations densely packed with one another rang clearly from outside.
The main door of Vine Manor was crashed open.
Countless hoof beats rushed in.
"In the name of Constellation's Supreme King, Kessel Jadestar!" Count Gilbert Caso's steady and sonorous voice rang above the dust and hoof beats. "All present personnel in Vine Manor are suspected of being involved in the theft and subsequent hiding of a royal treasure!
"Surrender now and do not resist! Whoever disobeys will be killed where they stand!"
In a dark chamber with only boundless darkness and not even a single torch, two breathing sounds that seemed faint and indistinct could be heard.
"What a pity, this is probably the closest we have been to the Air Mystic in the past twelve years," an aged and acrid voice spoke.
"However, all information showed that someone has gotten rid of Asda," a light and clear male voice echoed.
"Then let me guess, you, who think someone has 'gotten rid of him', has probably also read about how Mystics are immortal?" the old and acrid voice mocked.
"Don't be so stern, teacher." The light and clear voice continued speaking, "At the very least, he has been sealed."
"The problem is, who, in Eternal Star City right now, has the capability or weapon to seal Asda?" the hoarse, drawling voice continued the question.
"It must be none other than those few," the light and clear voice spoke playfully.
"True. Ha..." The hoarse and acrid voice seemed to have a hint of disappointment as it echoed in the air, "It's none other than them, only those few."
"You do not have to continue investigating the truth regarding the Red Street Market incident anymore. All records—including those regarding the massive explosion in the central area, and the witness report of that woman who was piggybacking a child—shall be sealed permanently.
"As for Asda Sakern... Make full preparations. The Paramount Sword is not complete. Whether it takes ten or twenty years, the Air Mystic will eventually return," the hoarse and acrid voice ordered sullenly.
There was a long silence.
"Don't make that face, teacher. To think of it positively—we have lost one arch enemy. To think of it even more positively—we might be able to draw out the Blood Mystic," the light male voice spoke languidly.
"Don't pretend that you can see my expression," the hoarse and acrid voice said with dissatisfaction. He then heaved a sigh. "The Blood Mystic. Ha... this accursed fate. The capital city will probably be in chaos again soon. Twelve years ago, at least I had Lance, Jines, Thysen and Lanzar Nov beside me. Now, the only manpower I have is you." The hoarse voice's sigh was filled with solitude and loneliness.
"However, twelve years ago, even though you were all there, the late king still died, didn't he?"
"Obviously, strength is not the key—luck is." The light voice seemed to talk about the tragedy twelve years ago without any qualms.
In the dark, both voices were silent for a long time.
"Yes, even with what we had twelve years ago the late king still died." The hoarse voice finally answered. This time, his tone seemed to be full of grief and indignation.
"By the way, 'Secret Room' sent someone to pass us an anonymous letter. The letter said that yesterday, a member of the gang was spotted leaving Eckstedt and departing for Constellation, towards Eternal Star City. The old woman who delivered the letter also said that the letter was to pay a debt of gratitude towards you." The light voice seemed to finally realize the odd atmosphere and stiffly changed the topic.
"Ah, the long-anticipated collaboration between the Secret Intelligence Department and the Secret Room." It seemed that the interest of the hoarse and acrid voice was piqued. "Coming to the capital city at this time? The Blood Mystic?"
"No. I've sent some people to investigate it. It appears to be a doctor from Black Street Brotherhood, Ramon."
"Somebody saw him perform a 'little trick' while on a village path."
"Little trick?" The hoarse voice finally became solemn.
"Yes, a 'little trick'," the light male voice replied with cynicism.
"After I read through everything contained in the deep knowledge reserve in all twenty floors of the Jadestar Library, my conclusion is that, for this 'little trick' that can heal wounds in an instant, a thousand years ago, it was known as—"
His light voice immediately became deep. "Magic."
His voice slowly faded away. Only then did the darkness in the chamber truly sink into a deathly-still silence, like a cemetery at midnight.
After a long time, the old voice said, "That old woman." The hoarse voice chuckled lightly. "I can't believe she gave me this information as a debt of gratitude. She is indeed as cunning as she always was."
Gilbert led the guards—consisting of Swordsmen of Eradication—and they all rode on horses as they barged into the manor.
They surrounded the three members of the Blood Clan!
"Unsheathe the silver swords, prepare to fight the enemy!" Gilbert said nothing more. He knew that his declaration of "sparing those who surrender" earlier was merely a formality.
Often, the only effective methods are strength and weapons. Just like diplomacy.
"Rolana!" Istrone avoided two sword blades that had immediately attempted to take his head in a flash. He shouted anxiously and furiously, "Summon the Shadow Guards!"
Rolana landed on a window on the second floor. She was extremely furious; neither her unparalleled body nor devastating sharp claws could do anything to Yodel, who kept appearing and disappearing from view while he held Thales in his arms. She was also aware of the situation at hand, which was why she decided to spread her arms wide open and emitted voiceless howls with a strange rhythm towards the direction of the dungeons.
Suddenly, quaking sounds that were packed so closely to each other that they sounded like thunderstorms boomed from the dungeon.
Gilbert's expression changed. He decisively waved the long sword in his hand. The swordsmen beside him shouted loudly in unison.
But it was too late. A black swamp suddenly burst out the entrance of the dungeon. It dashed towards the horse formation formed by the thirty Swordsmen of Eradication.
"Form a ring!" Gilbert saw the thing dashing towards them clearly, and shouted loudly with a ghastly expression, "They are blood slaves!"
The thirty Swordsmen of Eradication who were all at least above ordinary class also saw the things dashing out. The black swamp was made up of creatures with frenzied faces and blood-red eyes.
Almost all the swordsmen present were guards with plenty of experience on the battlefield. They knew what the creatures before them were.
They were Blood Clansmen that belonged to the lowest and most inferior class in the clan. They were originally humans or other races who had then received the blood essence of Blood Clansmen and transformed into hungry, frenzied, and loyal blood slaves who are unafraid of death.
More than ten blood slaves swarmed towards the horse formation like a flood.
Gilbert assessed the situation clearly. He knew that Thales was already safe, but relying blindly on horsepower and dashing towards these fearless creatures would only increase their casualties.
"Stand still!" he ordered loudly.
The thirty Swordsmen of Eradication yelled angrily. They dismounted and formed a round formation quickly. All the guards stepped out with their left foot and slanted the swords on their right, protecting the person beside them.
This was the defense formation Constellation was famous for, the Returning Light Formation!
At that moment, a figure slowly stood up from the hole smashed by Ralf and Chris.
And then, in the blink of an eye, the figure disappeared in a flash.
"Please wait here for a moment and take a short rest." Yodel put Thales down on the second-floor balcony lightly. He saw Chris, whose figure showed up in the dust, and also his subsequent disappearance. "We will take care of the rest." Then Yodel disappeared in front of Thales, too.
The next moment, Yodel's dark-colored short sword with that crisscrossing cross-guard appeared in the air. It clashed fleetingly with Chris' sharp pair of claws as he dashed towards the second floor, producing a spark.
The jarring sound pounded on everyone's eardrums. But there were strangely no collisions of air were formed due to the clash of their weapons.
Yodel and Chris can be considered as the two best supreme class elites in the Western Peninsula. Having dueled once, they had roughly understood each other's capabilities. They moved away from each other.
"This is the ability to move through shadows!" Chris' countenance was cold. He dug his right claws into a wall of the first floor and secured himself onto it.
"As someone who is at the peak of supreme class even if it's in Constellation, you shouldn't have been a nobody. Is it because you are shielded by the overly brilliant rays of The Kingdom's Wrath?" the old man said coldly. He was totally unconcerned with the battle between the blood slaves and the guards. It seemed that all his energy was focused on Thales, who was on the second floor.
Yodel did not say anything, nor show any emotions as usual. His mysterious figure was lightly perched on the panel of a window on the first floor, projecting an illusory quality. He looked unsteady, but he never fell.
In the courtyard, the blood slaves and the circular formation of guards were finally engaged in hand-to-hand combat.
The first dull thud came from an intense clash between a blood slave and a guard.
The guard used the double-edged short sword beside his body to angrily slash open the blood slave's body. But the blood slave slashed open the guard's armor, completely indifferent of what would happen to its claws and nails.
The same scenario quickly happened at every part of the circular formation. The situation immediately became chaotic.
Amid the chaos, Thales noticed Rolana Corleone leaping towards him while growling furiously, but she was stopped halfway by a long, silver-colored metal chain that sliced through the air in a zigzagging manner and was forced to take two steps back.
"Your battlefield is here, blood-sucking whore!"
Following the furious words, Thales saw a black-haired woman around forty years old, wearing a suspicious, light-blue, female official uniform (he did not know her at that time). She angrily whipped the chain in front of Rolana.
Rolana chuckled coldly, and as she moved in a flash, tried to leap away from the area that can be reached by the chainsword. However, as she moved, the chain fell on her and wrapped around her neck tightly. The part of her neck that was entangled by the chain was even emitting a hissing, green smoke.
"This chainsword is made of silver, whore!" The female official, Jines, growled with an unpleasant expression. "I really threw in a lot of my savings to prepare a nice treat for you people!"
At that moment, with blood-red eyes, Istrone transformed into liquid blood and rose into the air, dashing towards Thales.
Istrone growled angrily and, crossing his hands, which were in the shape of claws, deflected a silver sword that shot straight towards his chest.
"Sir!" Gilbert had dismounted and moved through the blood slaves while working with three Swordsmen of Eradication before he arrived at the door to the ground floor and stood firmly there. He looked at Istrone with a displeased expression and raised the silver sword in his hand, striking a standard pose one makes when inviting someone for a duel. "Please stay away from that child."
The skirmish between the blood slaves and the swordsmen was still ongoing.
However, in the midst of his fatigue, as Thales watched the three Blood Clansmen, who repeatedly charged towards him but were continuously stopped by their troublesome opponents, the boy suddenly understood something.
What they want isn't me… but something on the second floor. He thought silently. They must have an Achilles' heel there.
The sounds of battle between the blood slaves and swordsman continued. The three Blood Clansmen and the three warriors were also engaged in fierce battle.
Having thought of this, with an uncertain and fearful gaze, but still full of determination, Thales abruptly pushed open the balcony door.
After pushing open the door, his weak body immediately collapsed inside the room.
However, a dull and strange tapping sound attracted the boy's attention.
While panting lightly, Thales raised his head. Borrowing the moonlight from outside the balcony, he gradually saw the dim room clearly.
Especially the thing in the middle which was connected to countless blood tubes and covered with complicated patterns and obscure words…
It was a gigantic, black coffin.
As if roused by something, the dull tapping sound within the black coffin grew more and more violent, and also increasingly fierce.
*Thud! Thud! Bang! Bang!*
Thales suddenly realized that his act of pushing open the door and entering was more or less a little careless. Until...
An incredibly loud sound shot into the air.
Thales fell backward from the vibration and his eardrum rang.
As if there were some horrifying internal explosion, the cover of the black coffin abruptly shot upwards and fell onto the floor.
Holding his aching ears, Thales clenched his teeth and got up.
He saw that at some point, something had extended out from the edge of the black coffin which had lost its cover.
It was dried-up, charred black, and ominous...