Shadow Slave -
Chapter 121 Graveyard Of Hope
Chapter 121 Graveyard Of Hope
In the next ten minutes, the foundations of Sunny's worldview were shaken to the core. Kai had drowned him in a torrent of questions… all of which had nothing to do with anything even remotely important!
What interested the charming Sleeper were very strange things like what types of shoes were in fashion, which celebrity wore what to some pompous award ceremony, who of them had a scandal and what was that scandal about, what was the latest dance craze, and so on.
He was endlessly curious about that type of stupid crap and absolutely indifferent about all of Sunny's dark secrets.
It was almost insulting.
What's worse, Sunny felt like a complete fool because he couldn't provide even a single answer. What did he know about fashion and high culture? Nothing!
After a while, Kai's enthusiasm had waned. Looking at Sunny with a comically disheartened face, he sighed and gently asked one last question:
"Sunny, tell me honestly… were you a hikikomori in the real world as well?"
'What is this fool talking about?'
"A hik… a what?"
Kai cleared his throat and offered him an apologetic smile.
"Ah, you know… a recluse? A shut-in? Someone who lives under a rock?"
Sunny stared at the gorgeous young man, feeling like the world completely stopped making any sense ever since they had met.
"What are you talking about? Why would I live under a rock? You would freeze to death! I lived in a cargo container once, but it had four walls and a roof, at least…"
Kai sighed one more time and turned away.
"I see. Well, sorry to bother you. It's just that I've been stuck in this place for about two and a half years now, and life here is so monotone."
His beautiful profile was radiating melancholy and sadness, as though Kai was lamenting something serious, as opposed to utter rubbish.
'Two and half years… that dimwit survived here for two and a half years?'
Sunny was surprised to hear that. Kai seemed like a nice guy, but not exactly someone well suited for the ruthless nightmare of the Forgotten Shore. Perhaps he had underestimated the charming Sleeper… or perhaps there was another, much simpler reason.
There was a group of people who tended to live here the longest. Suddenly suspicious, he asked in a cold tone:
"Are you a part of Gunlaug's gang?"
Kai looked at him with surprise.
Then, he chortled.
"Gods, no! If there's one thing I absolutely despise, it's bullies like him. I would rather die than become one of Gunlaug's minions. Plus, the man has no style. That armor of his is the most hideous thing I have ever seen!"
However, after saying that, he suddenly grew quiet and added after a few seconds in a dejected voice:
"But I do accept jobs from his lieutenants from time to time. That is the reason why he tolerates my existence, so I don't really have a choice."
Sunny hesitated for a bit, but then decided that he believed the other Sleeper. He really didn't look like one of Gunlaug's thugs. Besides, if he had been one of them, no sane person would have dared to kidnap and imprison him. Members of Gunlaug's cohort were nearly untouchable.
Which meant that Kai was, indeed, much more capable than Sunny had given him credit for.
Noticing that the eerie sobs of the Fallen beast had grown sufficiently distant, he shifted his perspective to the shadow and made sure that the terrible creature was already far away.
Standing up, Sunny dismissed the glass bottle and said:
"We're safe now. Time to move."
Once they were ready to leave, he summoned the shadow back and prepared to take the first step forward. However, then Sunny suddenly stopped and glanced at the charming young archer with hesitation.
"Hey, Kai. Can I ask you a question as well?"
The older Sleeper smiled, honesty and eagerness written all over his face.
Sunny was silent for a couple of seconds, then said in a strange voice:
"That armor of yours… do you wear it because it's the best one you could get, or because it looks good?"
Kai looked at him with confusion. Raising one exquisite eyebrow, he said:
"I don't understand the question. Is there a difference?"
Sunny closed his eyes, sighed, and turned away.
"Never mind. Let's go."
As the sun rose above the horizon, they went deeper into the city, slowly approaching its center.
The castle stood on a tall hill in the middle of the cursed city. It was grand and magnificent, with dozens of towers rising into the air, each supported by a number of elaborate arches and columns. Grotesque gargoyles were staring down on the ruins from under the eaves.
The road leading to the castle was as impressive as the castle itself. It was narrow and heavily fortified, circling the hill in a way that allowed the defenders of the castle to endlessly rain arrows down on any possible attacker.
At the end of the road, a grandiose staircase led to the gates of the castle. In front of it, there had once been a vast stone platform, meant to serve as the gathering ground for the soldiers in case the enemy was to somehow breach all but this one last line of defense.
Now, the platform had turned into a makeshift settlement, with small shabby buildings made out of stone, wood, and anything else the inhabitants of this slum could get their hands on standing chaotically here and there, forming messy groups and narrow alleys.
This place did not look like the outskirts where Sunny had grown up, but it had the same unmistakable air of misery, fear, and desperation.
As the two of them approached the outer settlement, several Sleepers greeted Kai with friendly smiles.
"Hey, Night! Glad to see you, man. Where have you been lately?"
Kai smiled in embarrassment.
"Ah, you know. Flying around. What about you, pal?"
While the charming young man was exchanging pleasantries with his acquaintance, Sunny cautiously looked around.
The place had imperceptibly changed since the last time he was here. The settlement itself seemed to be almost the same, with just a few buildings slightly changing shapes. The people, however… people somehow seemed more energized and confident, as though the ever-present fear of death and starvation was not as pressing anymore.
However, there was a strange sense of tension in the air.
'I guess she was busy in these three months, too.'
Finally managing to end the conversation, Kai turned to him and smiled apologetically.
"Sorry about that."
"Why are they calling you Night?"
The charming young man stared at him, then cleared his throat and said with a bit of strangeness in his voice.
"Oh, you really don't know. Well… it's a nickname of sorts. Nightingale, that's how I am known around these parts."
'What a stupid nickname,' Sunny thought, and decided to get things done as quickly as possible.
He couldn't wait to leave this depressing place.
"Alright, since we're here, time to make good on your promise."
Kai gave him a nod.
"Sure. What do you need me to do?"
Sunny looked around, making sure that no one could hear them, and said:
"It's simple. Go into the castle and find out about who is selling Memories, and what the price is. Then come back and report to me."
His companion blinked a couple of times, clearly surprised, then shrugged.
"No problem. But it's going to take a while. If you want the best information possible, of course."
"Do as you see fit. I'll be waiting for you in that alley over there."
Kai looked at him one last time, smiled, and walked away.
Feeling nervous and tense, Sunny walked other to a secluded alley and rested his back against the wall. He tried to become as small and unnoticeable as possible.
Being here was making his skin crawl. Maybe his decision to come back was a mistake, after all. Maybe he should simply turn around and walk away.
However, he didn't. Deep down inside, he knew that he had to take this opportunity to gather as many Memories as possible, so that his Shadow could become stronger as fast as possible.
Perhaps he would never get this opportunity again.
Time slowly passed. An hour went by, then another. Kai was certainly taking his sweet time gathering the information Sunny had asked from him.
However, nothing bad had happened. Yet.
Sunny was almost starting to believe that he was nervous for nothing, but then, of course, the thing he dreaded the most became a reality.
A calm, painfully familiar voice suddenly resounded from somewhere behind him.
He froze, feeling like a beast caught in a trap, and then slowly turned around. A strange, complicated expression appeared on his face.
Forcing out a smile, Sunny licked his suddenly dry lips and said:
"...Hey, Neph. Long time no see."
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