Shadow Slave -
Chapter 143 Gunlaug
Chapter 143 Gunlaug
Despite the fact that Gunlaug's heavy presence permeated every centimeter of the castle, the Bright Lord himself was strangely elusive. He didn't show himself often, preferring to rule through his five proxies. Whether it was out of arrogance, paranoia or some other reason, Sunny did not know.
After the incident with Seishan, he was afraid to let his shadow walk too freely and tried to avoid going anywhere near the fearsome master of the ancient stronghold. Because of these precautions, he had not seen Gunlaug until their fifth day in the castle.
As it turned out, when Golden Serpent did show up, he liked to leave an impression.
Sunny and Cassie were about to receive their usual breakfast when the whole grand hall suddenly grew deathly silent. Feeling that something was wrong, they turned to the entrance — just in time to see a torrent of Guards pouring inside.
Sunny's heart skipped a beat.
Fearing for the worst, he tried to think of the best way to escape… but luckily, the menacing soldiers of the Host paid them no attention. Instead, they quickly dispersed around the hall and moved the long tables to the walls, creating a large open space in the middle.
Cassie grasped Sunny's shoulder and whispered:
"What is going on?"
He hesitated, then answered uncertainly:
"I'm not sure…"
Suddenly, he caught sight of Caster standing among the crowd. The handsome young man had a solemn look on his face. His gaze was turned to the dark alcove at the far end of the hall.
One by one, all the Sleepers turned to face the same direction. Sunny followed their example.
Slowly, five figures stepped out of the darkness of the alcove and stood at the steps leading up to the throne. They were Gemma, Tessai, Seishan, Kido, and the last of the five lieutenants.
When Sunny noticed him, an involuntary shudder run through his body.
The fifth lieutenant had no official duties in the Bright Castle, but everyone here feared him the most. It was a strange, pale man with a bony face and glassy, emotionless eyes. His spine was twisted, making him appear deceptively short.
The hunchback was wearing simple black clothes with no adornments and holding himself with a bit of awkwardness, as though uncomfortable with all the attention.
His name was Harus, and he was Bright Lord's hidden blade and executioner. When someone needed to be disposed of, he was sent to carry out the punishment. If Gunlaug wanted everyone to know about his displeasure, there would be rivers of blood left in his wake. If not, there wouldn't be even a single drop.
People would just disappear, as though they had never existed.
Harus was Gunlaug's murderous shadow.
Many of the inhabitants of the castle had seen nightmares in which they awoke only to see his glassy, cold eyes staring at them from the darkness. For some, those nightmares became a reality. Harus was willing and eager to follow any command of his master, no matter how vile.
What disturbed Sunny the most, however, was that looking at Harus was like looking at a dark mirror. Despite the fact that they were almost nothing alike, for some reason, he couldn't help but recognize traces of himself in the sadistic butcher.
Or, to be precise, of a possible future version of himself.
'N—no way… I am… I am much more pleasant on the eye.'
Forcing himself to look away before the hunchback felt his stare, Sunny turned his head and looked at the tall man who had finally appeared from the darkness.
At least he assumed that it was a man, and not some golden demon.
Bright Lord Gunalug was clad in a strange, gilded armor that covered his tall figure from head to toe, not leaving even his eyes exposed. It seemed simultaneously solid and liquid, almost flowing over his mighty muscles and broad, powerful shoulders.
In the place where his face should have been, a smooth and empty expanse of polished gold reflected the frightened faces of hundreds of Sleepers back at them. Sunny saw his own reflection staring at him and suddenly realized how small and weak he was in front of this brilliant giant.
His legs trembled.
The pressure Gunlaug exerted on the space around him was almost palpable. All the people near Sunny were going through a similar kind of experience as him. Their faces were pale, their eyes wide, drops of sweat appearing on their temples. Even the lieutenants seemed slightly uncomfortable, affected by this oppressive aura just like the rest of them.
'God… damn… it… that's not an aura, that's a mind attack!'
Protected by the [Doubtless] trait of the Puppeteer's Shroud, Sunny was more resistant to such attacks than most. Gritting his teeth, he shook off the effects of Gunlaug's psychic pressure and drew in a deep breath. Then, he glanced at Cassie, concerned about her well-being.
To his surprise, the blind girl was doing absolutely fine. Unlike the rest of them, she wasn't showing any signs of distress. Sunny stared at her and blinked a couple of times.
'The reflection… this all started when I saw my reflection in the visor of that bastard's weird armor… but Cassie is blind, so…'
It seemed as though Gunlaug wasn't actually attacking them. It was just an enchantment of that strange golden armor of his. Whoever looked at its mirror-like face was immediately assaulted by a crippling feeling of awe, dread, and the crushing desire to submit.
'What… what kind of a Memory can practically paralyze several hundred people just from its passive effect?' Sunny thought, astonished.
How was this possible?
Meanwhile, Gunlaug approached the empty white throne and gracefully sat down. The light falling from the numerous holes in the back wall of the alcove reflected from his armor, making it appear as though he was enveloped by a bright radiance.
The golden mirror that served him as a face turned to gaze at the rows of Sleepers trembling at his feet.
A few moments later, a deep and insidious voice resounded from all around them, as though the castle itself was whispering into their ears:
"Ah, what a nice day it is today. A perfect day for justice, don't you think, my precious wards? I've heard that there's a criminal hiding among us today. Well… am I not fair? Am I not just? Let me show you how just I am…"
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