Chapter 8 : Difficult Decisions
“Papa?” Baolilong opened its eyes and did not understand why Liola was looking at the silver mask in a daze.
Liola awoke from his thoughts, and at the same time he realized there was someone nearby, so he instantly put the mask back on. Liola blamed himself for being not vigilant enough.
“You don’t have to cover your face, it’s me.” Blood Wolf jumped out from behind a tree while laughing
Liola didn’t know how to respond to a Knight who kept laughing and joking, and didn’t have any chivalry. So he did what he do best: stood there with an expressionless face, while waiting for the other person to strike up a conversation.
“So? Have you decided?” Blood Wolf asked curiously.
Liola was confused for a moment and asked: “What decision?”
Blood Wolf opened his mouth and said in disbelief: “The decision of whether you want to be a Prince in the Dragon Empire… Hey, it’s a rather big deal, don’t tell me you forgot about it?”
He really did forget… Liola thought for a moment and remembered; when Barbalis was telling him about Anise’s real identity, he did mention something about being a Prince. It was another problem to which Liola didn’t know how to react, so he simply said: “Let me think about it some more.”
“What’s there to think about?” Blood Wolf said: “To an Assassin who doesn’t want to kill, staying in the palace as a Prince would be a dream that comes true. All you have to do is learn the etiquette of the court, no one will force you to kill, so you can live there peacefully.”
Liola frowned and answered: “It goes against my wishes.”
“Then what’s your wish?” Blood Wolf asked curiously.
“To become a healer.”
Blood Wolf was silent for a moment, then blurted out: “Is that your wish? Or is it Princess Anise’s?”
“It’s Anise’s, but I will fulfill her wishes.” Liola answered without hesitation.
“Oh? Do you really think if you fulfill her wish, she would be happy? Don’t you think she wanted to save you and not become a copy of her?”
Liola remained quiet. He didn’t completely understand what Blood Wolf said.
Without getting any response from Liola, Blood Wolf sighed:
“You know, Liola, you’ve been an Assassin who obeyed orders for twenty years. Your biggest problem is not having thoughts of your own.”
Blood Wolf walked up to Liola, and patted his shoulder: “Think about it. What’s important here is what you want to do, not what Anise would do.”
Liola hesitated. He began wondering if his thoughts were better than what Anise might have planned. As he was thinking, he reached the dorms unknowingly, and at the door, he saw Kaiser and the others waiting for him. Kaiser’s face was filled with discontent.
“Liola-dage, you’re finally back. Let’s go eat.” Purity smiled in relief, and grabbed Kaiser, who had already been complaining about his hunger, taking him to his favorite hot pot restaurant.
Having finally eaten, Kaiser finally eased the tension on his face. As he munched on dessert, he looked at Liola, who was feeding Baolilong.
“You really love disappearing lately!” Kaiser flung his finger in disdain. Seeing Liola wasn’t going to answer him, Kaiser exploded. He placed both his hands on the Assassin’s shoulder and said:
“Explain everything to me now! When the hell did you become Lancelot’s apprentice?”
‘Here we go’, Liola thought, explaining to Kaiser and the others what had happened.
When he said he was considering whether he should become a Prince, the other three’s jaws almost fell into the hotpot, being cooked as human jaws.
“Dammit! You and I are in different worlds!” Kaiser yelled: “I’m still wondering what I should eat for my next meal, you’re actually considering about whether you’ll be a Prince?!”
‘You and I ARE from different worlds…’ Liola thought to himself.
“So is Liola-dage going to be a Prince?” Purity asked hesitantly.
‘This question again.’ Liola remained silent. He was completely clueless as to what he should do. Out of habit, Liola raised his head and asked Kaiser: “Kaiser, what should I do?”
Kaiser snapped: “How would I know. I’m not the one becoming a Prince.”
Seeing that Kaiser refused to answer, Liola’s face sank. Purity felt bad, so she said to Kaiser: “Kaiser, I will get a plate of Kobe beef, why don’t you explain things to Liola-dage?”[T/N: Kobe beef is a rare style of Japanese meat. It is sold for about $180 USD per kilogram in Japan. In the United States, One Kobe beef burger cost around $40.]
‘Kobe beef…’ rays of light came out of Kaiser’s eyes. He suddenly adapted professional attitude and started to analyze the situation:
“You have two choices. First choice, you become a Prince and live peacefully, not to mention you’ll never have to worry about food. Second, you stay in the Academy, living in a world where tomorrow may not come, and you don’t know when Barbalis would expel you.”
“I know.” This was why Liola was frustrated. No matter how he looked at it, it seemed he was better off being a Prince than staying here. However, Liola remained hesitant, and his biggest problem was not knowing why he was hesitating. But he can never ignore his hesitation and immediately become a Prince.
“Besides, during the past few adventures, our luck has been damn amazing. Coming back alive from those journey should be listed under the ten wonders of the world.” As Kaiser finished, he suddenly raised his head and asked Liola without thinking:
“If you didn’t have to keep your promise to not kill, would you have beaten Miluo?”
Liola hesitated, and answered: “I could have killed him.” An Assassin never defeats his opponents, he just kills them.
“But you didn’t. If it weren’t for Purity and me using our unmastered magic, we would have all died in Miluo’s hands.” Kaiser said coldly.
Hearing these blames, Liola yelled quietly: “I can’t kill.”
Kaiser suddenly stood up, and yelled angrily:
“In this world, if you don’t kill, then you’re waiting to be killed! If you want to die, it’s none of my business, but if one day you have to kill to save us, what would you do? If you do what you did last time when you faced Miluo, who was absurdly powerful, then you better effing be a Prince. Stay in your dark palace, because there will be more than enough Knights to protect you!”
Purity and Meinan’s eyes almost popped out of their sockets. They couldn’t believe Kaiser would talk in such a manner especially when he was talking to the best Assassin.
Baolilong was chewing on a piece of meat and looked confusedly at confrontation between Kaiser and Liola.
Liola looked at the angry Kaiser, and his heart had finally decided the place he should go — the dark palace…
Only in such a place, Liola could keep his promise with Anise. It was also a place where Liola wouldn’t have friends giving up their lives in order for him to keep his promise. Liola sighed and said with calm resolve: “I understand. I will leave.”
“Liola-dage!” Purity’s widened with disbelief. She could accept Liola’s decision and leave the Academy just like that.
However, before she was able to stop him, Meinan grabbed her to prevent her from saying anything. Meinan shook his head to express to Purity that she should not interfere.
Kaiser continued: “If you can’t judge right from wrong, then you’re better off hiding inside the palace.”
Liola stood up, and without saying anything else, he walked out of the room. He thought it was about time for him to find Blood Wolf, follow him back to Dragon Continent, and grow old living inside a palace.
* * *
While being held back by Meinan, and not having a chance to stop Liola, Purity exploded. Her hands were clenched into a tight fist and yelled at Kaiser: “Kaiser, did you know what you just did? Liola-dage will really leave for the Dragon Continent and you won’t be able to see him ever again!”
Kaiser lowered his head and chewed on the beef, and mumbled: “It’s not so bad to be a Prince!”
Purity was so angry that she used her hand to pull out the Kobe beef that was halfway inside Kaiser’s mouth. A fight for the beef soon ensued. Meinan watched from the sidelines and sighed: “Kaiser, your way of caring for someone is rather unbearable.”
Liola walked out of the restaurant. He felt depressed and empty.
Kaiser’s accusations felt like a twisting blade through his heart. If he caused three deaths because he didn’t want to kill, wouldn’t it be the same as killing?
Liola as getting more and more confused, and his steps got faster and faster. He wasn’t heading towards the principal’s office, but instead in all sorts of random directions. Even Liola didn’t know where his destination was…
“Papa!” Behind him, Baolilong was continuously running, but it still wasn’t able catch up to Liola. Baolilong was worried that papa would disappear, so he yelled loudly. However, being in a terrible and confused mood, Liola ears had blocked all sounds. No matter how many tears Baolilong cried or how loud it yelled, Baolilong saw that papa was getting further and further away.
Suddenly, a shadow grabbed Baolilong, and took huge steps towards Liola. When they reached Liola, the person tapped Liola’s shoulder. Liola suddenly turned his head.
* * *
“Ahhh!” Purity screamed explosively on the headboard of Kaiser’s bed. Even Kaiser’s specially-made thick pillow was no match for Purity’s scream. Two hundred decibels of terrifying voice reached Kaiser’s ears.
The biochemical noise weapon, Purity vs. Kaiser’s unbeatable sleepiness. The former seemed to be winning…
“What the hell do you want?” Kaiser couldn’t take it anymore. He got out from under his pillow and started complaining.
With tears in her eyes, Purity grieved: “L-Liola-dage has already been gone for three days. Is he really not coming back?”
Kaiser turned, and pretended he didn’t care:
“He went to enjoy his life as a Prince in the Dragon Empire. Why the hell would he come back to the peasants he only spent a few months with? He didn’t even say goodbye before he left! Hmph!”
‘Looks like Kaiser was also unhappy that Liola left without a word…’ Purity and Meinan concluded.
“For Liola to leave on the same day you had the confrontation… He was probably hurt by your words.” Meinan sighed.
Kaiser’s body twitched a little on his bed: “I was just telling the truth.”
“No matter what, you should go ask the principal. Perhaps Liola is still on campus, and he just doesn’t want to see us.” To comfort the irritable Purity, Meinan quickly suggested with a smile.
Who knew that as soon they spoke of the devil, he arrived. The principal kicked open the door, and then rushed in. He immediately asked Purity: “Where is Liola?”
All three of them were confused: “Didn’t Blood Wolf bring Liola to Dragon Continent?”
Barbalis was stunned. He had been frustrated for three days because he couldn’t find Liola. Since something happened in the Dragon Empire, Blood Wolf had rushed back to the Dragon Continent, so Barbalis came to find the trio who were closest to Liola, but he couldn’t believe that these three would say that Blood Wolf had taken Liola.
Barbalis scratched his head in confusion: “Blood Wolf didn’t take him. Both he and I haven’t seen Liola in the last three days.”
Kaiser and the others widened their eyes. ‘Where the hell was Liola?’
Purity’s face turned pale: “C-could it be that Liola-dage got really angry at Kaiser? Could he have done something stupid…?”
Kaiser snapped back: “You’re thinking far too much! If an Assassin would kill himself just because I yelled at him, I would make a hell of a living from this special ability. Besides, Liola still has to follow his promise not to kill. Suicide the same as killing!”
“Could Liola have run away from home?” Meinan suggested with hesitation. But as soon as he did, 3 pairs of eyes stared at him. He then lowered his head in shame.
Barbalis frowned and murmured: “Could Miluo put his plan on motion this quickly?”
“What did you say about Miluo?” Kaiser rushed up, and grabbed Barbalis by the collar. Even Barbalis wanted to run away from the crazy look in Kaiser’s eyes.
“I guess it’s fine to tell you. Miluo had ran away from the Dragon Empire. From what the Emperor told me, it seems Miluo had teamed up with an underground group, and planned on turning the Empire inside out.”
Kaiser and Meinan took a deep breath. Purity asked: “This doesn’t have anything to do with Liola-dage, does it?”
“Of course there is!” Kaiser yelled loudly: “There are two things Liola has that are important to both sides!”
“Dragon cross necklace!” Barbalis said with a frown.
“Sacred White Dragon!” Meinan added.
Purity understood now, and she covered her mouth with both of her hands in fear.
Kaiser paced around the room, as he tried to collect himself:
“Liola is really strong, and he was close to the Emperor’s daughter. Unfortunately he is also the master of Miluo’s child. Now both sides probably want Liola on their side. No wonder the Emperor would request that Liola to be a Prince. Liola was practically a gosu who fell out of the sky.”
Kaiser suddenly stopped. He looked at Barbalis and asked sharply: “Old geezer, you said Miluo had already acted, what did you mean? Do you already know Miluo’s plan regarding Liola?”
Barbalis replied seriously: “As you’ve said, Liola would be a huge advantage to both sides. We’ve guessed Miluo might do something to Liola soon. Either bring him to his side or… kill him!”
“Liola has been missing for three days.” Meinan tried to remind everyone of the seriousness of the issue.
Purity couldn’t help but scream, while Kaiser paced back and forth while pulling his hair.
Tuning his brain gear to the highest, Kaiser attempted to make sense of the situation. He finally yelled:
“Not possible! It’s impossible for Miluo took him, at least it wasn’t Miluo who did it!”
“Why?” The other three asked.
“It’s not easy to take Liola by force. There would have been be a huge battle at the very least before Miluo can capture Liola. But there hasn’t been any battles around the Academy.”
Kaiser bit on his finger: “Who could possibly take away Liola without making a fuss?”
“A Sorcerer!” Meinan brushed his hair confidently, and said the conclusion what he deeply believed:
“By using the unfamiliar Sorcerer spells, could someone take such a powerful Assassin.”
“Who cares! Let’s find Liola-dage and bring him back!” As soon as Purity thought of the horrors Liola being in the hands of Miluo, she immediately bawled. Who knew how much Miluo would torture Liola?
Barbalis hesitated, and stuttered: “I do have a way…”
“Then tell us!” Three of them yelled together.
“We could use the senses between dragons.” Barbalis shrunk his body, and said timidly: “But there are only three Dragon Knights in the Academy… And the closer the Dragon Knight’s rank to Liola’s, the better. Which means…”
“Daylight!” Kaiser and the others yelled in unison.
After Kaiser yelled, he pulled his hair again: “Damn, we just finished messing with the Knights. Liola even defeated Daylight. How the hell are we going to get him to help us?”
“Purity must save Liola-dage! Even if I have to threaten Daylight by sending the whole Academy into a dark hole, I’ll do it!” A chilling expression floated on Purity’s face, which made the others shiver. The words “Human Weapon” emerged in their heads…
* * *
Liola was deep in his self-blame and regret. Because of his negligence, he had fallen into a terrible predicament. This made Baolilong hungry, and it could do nothing but lie sobbing in Liola’s arms.
That day, Liola ran into Blood Wolf. Without thinking he gave Blood Wolf his answer — to become a Prince in the Dragon Empire.
Blood Wolf smiled and asked Liola to follow him. Liola followed him to a small field in Aklan, and five or six other people suddenly appeared. These weren’t enough to worry Liola worry, so he quietly waited for Blood Wolf’s explanation.
Blood Wolf gave Baolilong, who had fallen asleep, to another person.
“These are Sorcerers. They can transport us directly to Dragon Continent.” Blood Wolf laughed, and he beckoned Liola:
“Let’s go, we can now go to the Dragon Continent. There you can live comfortably and without any worry as a Prince.”
Liola hesitated. He didn’t think he would be leaving immediately. He said: “I need to say goodbye to Kaiser and the others.”
“What good bye, you will be the royal Dragon Empire Prince soon. The Emperor wouldn’t be happy if you’re friends with such lowly peasants.” Blood Wolf seemed a bit hurried.
Upon hearing Blood Wolf’s disagreement, Liola’s eyes turned cold. And with an even colder tone, he asked: “Who are you?”
Liola glanced at Baolilong, and he tried to use telepathy to call him, but there was no response. Liola frowned.
Blood Wolf was stunned: “Me? I’m Blood Wolf, the Dark Knight Blood Wolf.”
“No matter who you are, you’re not the Blood Wolf I know.” Liola narrowed his eyes. That easygoing Blood Wolf would never say something like ‘lowly peasants’.
Blood Wolf’s expression changed, stomped his foot and yelled: “Binding Symbol activate!”
A magic circle suddenly appeared on the ground, and it was covered in indecipherable runes.
Liola’s outline quickly flashed towards the impostor Blood Wolf, but before he reached him, a transparent wall separated them.
If Liola used Broken Silver and forced his way out, he wouldn’t be trapped. However, as a result, the impostor on the other side of the wall would end up being pierced by Broken Silver. Because of this reason, Liola hesitated, and it gave a chance for the impostor to yell for backup:
“H-hurry, use Illusion of Paradise!”
The other five immediately started an incantation. The spell made Liola, who was standing in the circle, feel weight on his eyelids, and his body started to become uncontrollable.
Liola used the Assassin’s Strong Will, and forcefully rammed the unguarded part of the circle.
With one hit, the wall started shaking violently, and cracked slightly. Though it was quickly repaired with magic, the six of them who maintained the symbol were in a state of shock. The impostor yelled again: “Use Lightning spells to hit him.”
“It will kill him!” One of them hesitated.
Liola stood still and attacked with what seemed like an infinite amount of hits.
When they couldn’t repair the wall fast enough, the crack became bigger and bigger. The six of them no longer hesitated, three bolts of lightning headed towards Liola. But unexpectedly, Liola easily sidestepped it, and Broken Silver continued to enlarge the crack.
The impostor trembled with fear. Without any hesitation, and without any time to ask others for help, he chanted a spell: “Element of fire, obey me… Fire Bomb!”
Liola suddenly feel a heat wave behind him. He turned around, only to see a fireball shrinking, and then finally exploded. The magic circle where he was trapped was in range of the explosion, so Liola had no place to run. He could only use his back to take this attack.
The six of them looked at the explosion nervously. If this person dies, they would be in big trouble. After the smoke cleared, the impostor yelled: “H-He’s still awake.”
That’s right, Liola’s silver eyes were looking at them coldly. With another charge, Liola broke a foot-wide hole in the wall, and the impostor, who was closest to the hole, received a jab on his shoulders. He yelled in pain, then screamed: “Beat him up, or we will all die here!”
Without thinking, they all unleashed their most powerful attack into the magic circle. In a flash, Liola’s body was submerged under the colorful lights from the spells. Terrifying bolts of thunder, huge boulders dropped, and invisible wind blades…
“Damn, he’s going to die.” The impostor pressed down onto his shoulder, which was continuously bleeding, and cried out. He didn’t expect them all to attack at once, or use their strongest spells.
Under the ferocity of these spells, even the wall couldn’t handle it, and it fell into pieces. And the ground on which the magic circle was, became a huge crater.
When the smoke cleared, the impostor kept feeling uneasy. Although he thought it would be impossible for Liola to stay alive. And even if he was, there was no way he’d be able to move…
Right before the impostor’s face, appeared a pair of ruthless silver eyes. A line of silver light passed by him, and a stream of blood oozed out the impostor’s chest.
However, the ruthless killer was not satisfied. He suddenly appeared before his next target, and frightened him to the point where he fell on his knees. Nevertheless, before he even any felt pain, his stomach was sliced open.
The Assassin found another his next target, but before his Broken Silver could chop the target’s hands off, it was stopped. Countless vines held the Assassin tightly, and he was no long able to move.
The Magician who almost peed in his pants, mustered all his encourage and yelled: “Bind!”
The strong vines tightened around the Assassin. After the sounds of cracking bones filled the air, the Assassin, whose body was covered with injuries, finally spat out blood like a fountain, and fell unconscious.
The Magician who casted the binding spell didn’t dare to get any closer.
He immediately casted dozens of the strongest vines, then sighed in relief. However, he wasn’t brave enough to check whether the Assassin was dead.
The impostor, whose body was oozing blood like a fountain, finally received healing from his accomplice, and then said weakly:
“Three rank-A and two rank-B Magicians, trying to catch a single person. We even used deceit. Still, we ended up with two seriously injured… No wonder, master Miluo valued him greatly.”
* * *
When Liola woke up, he realized he was hanging in the air. A layer of thick steel chains locked him in place. In addition to the chains, he was also locked inside a steel cage.
Even though Liola felt extremely weak, he was still able to sense the unusual energy continuously flowing through the cage. Touching it was definitely out of the question.
Without needing to examine himself, Liola already knew he was in a horrible state. A sharp pain began to manifest from his body.