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What a pity!

A sigh escaped my lips as we arrived at the door of my deceased crewmen

"Let's get to work!".


I turned to Beric and asked. "Is this the last body?".

He was breathless and numb from the cold after assisting me in carrying the frozen corpses downstairs to the sleigh, under the harsh conditions of the environment.

"Yes" He replied with a sigh. He cast a side glance at Annabelle, who had decided to wait in the sleigh and keep watch, having seen the state of the men.

As for the state they were in... let's just say they died memorably, with their spears standing proudly at attention. Beric and I carefully loaded the bodies onto the cart, while Annabelle chose to avoid the image, afraid that it might be forever burnt in her mind.

With a resounding "Thud" I loaded the last body and clapped both hands together, as if to wipe away the imaginary strain. "Alright" I said, turning my attention to Annabelle. "You stay here and safeguard the bodies until we return".

With surprise etched on his face, Beric echoed "We?".

Perplexed, Annabelle furrowed her brows and inquired. "And where will you be heading, Captain?".

In response, I shook my head and reassured her. "No worries, we'll return before daybreak to make a quick departure".

Aware that I hadn't provided a direct answer, Annabelle added. "Captain, it's too dangerous to act recklessly. If you disclose your plans, I might be able to--".

I understood the gravity of her questions as the tension in the air remained as palpable as ever. "I need to verify if someone is still alive or not" I reiterated.

Despite not mentioning the person by name, it was evident that Annabelle immediately recognized who I was referring to. Afterall, she had previously confronted me about this individual before Ag'na decided to make a visit.

Surprisingly, she nodded in understanding and responded. "Okay. I'll safeguard the bodies and keep watch until you return... Good luck, Captain".

Was it just me, or did her face brighten up with a hint of relief?

Upon taking another glance, I spotted a small smile on her lips. It wasn't just me - she was clearly relieved.

Regardless, I turned my attention back to Beric and said. "Let's go...we can't afford to waste any more time".

Once again, Beric's body jolted in surprise as he quoted. "We?" After my conversation with Annabelle, it was apparent that he had gleaned some details and understood that we were going to search for someone. Thus, his response was expected.

"But why can't I stay behind and take care of the bodies while you and Annabelle go search for..." Beric's words were quickly cut off by Annabelle's interjection.

"What will you do if you're ambushed by some ascendants, or if the kingdom's soldiers suddenly spot you and label you as a criminal?'" Annabelle raised her eyebrows in amusement as she watched Beric's lips snap shut.

Annabelle grinned mischievously at the silent Beric. "Yes, exactly. You can do nothing... so instead of relying on luck and waiting here, it's better if you follow the captain".

Beric vigorously nodded his head in understanding, feeling awkward about his earlier suggestion. "Yes, I now understand what you're trying to say". I was surprised by his sudden change of character and attitude.

"See you later, Miss Annabelle. And please, protect the bodies of our fallen crewmen" He said, making it sound like he was the one making a painful exit.

Then, he turned towards me, straightening his back with an astonishing amount of confidence. "I'm ready, Captain. Let's go".

Exhausted, I let out a tired sigh. Even Mad John took time before he could stand up to an ascendant, so his actions were understandable. Training him would take some time, but it was something I had planned to do. Perhaps I could also help them prepare for a ritual to see if they were capable of becoming ascendants themselves.

"Alright, let's head over to the nearest city" I said.

Considering that Nina had chosen a rare path as a Trickster, I figured there must have been some news about her if she had participated in the war.

Unless, of course, she had died as a nobody.


I shook the thought out of my head.

Positive thoughts Wyatt… Have some positive thoughts….. Positive thoughts.


Velve city

King Bor's residence

Death was a sly friend!

The assassin's words pierced through the silence, his tone slow and firm, his aura suffocating and dreadful. "Behave as King Bor when the Queen and the other fallen royal send their troops tomorrow" He instructed her. A silent threat of what would happen if she didn't comply lingered in the air.

As she looked at the man, she couldn't help but feel a sense of unease. He exuded a dangerous energy, warning her not to cross him. His mere presence spoke volumes; she knew that if she made one wrong move, he would kill her without hesitation.

Unspoken but understood, they had given her a choice: follow their instructions or face the consequences. She had been promised death, but as she attempted to escape time and time again, she realized that they had lied. Despite her failures, she was still alive.

They lied!

Instead of granting her the release of death that she so desperately craved, they inflicted unimaginable torture upon her, using a whip meant for wild magical beasts. The pain was unbearable, the brutality unfathomable, and yet, she clung to life even as she wished for its end.

The assassin asked. "Do I make myself clear?".

She smiled and closed her eyes, her head resting back against the oddly comfortable chair.

"Do I make myself clear?!" The assassin repeated his question with a bark. His magical energy seeped into the room, increasing the pressure on her shoulders tenfold more. And yet, she remained oblivious to his threats, her mind lost in a realm of its own making, far away from the pain and suffering of the present.

But why wouldn't she, when death was a sly friend.

"DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR!?"The assassin's voice thundered through the room once more, demanding a response. Her eyes rattled with discomfort, and she attempted to ease the irritation by sticking a finger in them to clean them. Slowly, she opened one eye and looked at the assassin with a smile that belied the agony she was experiencing.

"Is that any way to speak to your king?" She asked, her words laced with a subtle hint of amusement. Her voice, husky and more masculine than before, seemed identical to that of the fanatic king who had once wreaked havoc atop Miracle Mountain.

The assassin, clad in a pristine white garment, gritted his words out through his teeth. "!" He spat, his hands moving faster than her eyes could follow. In an instant, they were wrapped tightly around her neck, threatening to cut off her air supply.

"You are only a temporary substitution" he continued, his voice low and menacing, "Until he is well and ready to become our leader once again. So respect yourself, or I will tear that mask away from your face and beat you until you surrender to the pain".

She shivered, her body wracked with fear and uncertainty. Every word that came out of his mouth felt as real as the emotions that he had uttered them with. Yet, despite her apprehension, she knew that at the end of the day, when all words and threats were exchanged ---

They couldn't kill her!

A frown adorned her lips as she began to respond. "Is that any way to speak to your ki--".

But before she could finish, a sudden sound cut her off.


A hand slammed into her face, sending her head reeling to the side. The pain was excruciating, but she bit her lip and held back the urge to cry out.

Painful. It was painful yet, she remained unrelented.

The assassin snorted, the sound dripping with disdain. "Humph!" He flung her head to the side before withdrawing his hand. "You are lucky" He said in a voice that was cold and devoid of emotion. "Regardless, please prepare and do as you have been told tomorrow. Carry yourself well and imitate the attitude of our king, in order to make it more difficult for the fallen royals to doubt you".

He paused, fixing her with a penetrating gaze. "Do I make myself clear?" he asked, his words ringing with another hint of threat.

Nina remained silent, closing her other eye and adjusting her neck to a more comfortable angle. She could sense the assassin's frustration and anger, as if she could hear the grinding of his teeth against one another.

"I will take that as a yes" He finally said, before she heard the sound of his footsteps receding as he walked towards the door. She sighed inwardly, grateful for the respite, knowing that at least she would have the comfort of a king's abode to sleep in, even if her end was near.

But suddenly, the ground shook violently beneath her.


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