Titan Beneath the Heavens
Chapter 15: Second Episode: Chapter 6
Chapter 15: Second Episode: Chapter 6
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
To Oscar, Thirteen was like a treasure trove. Whatever he picked up from Thirteen, it had shone its brilliance.
Everyday, the child had to do a strange partial squat-like stance. Initially, he suspected Thirteen to have the hobby of abusing children, as after his Horse Stance training* his legs would be stiff beyond compare. After a while, the child noticed his pudgy torso was becoming lighter and lighter when using the breathing technique Thirteen taught him. He could leap across the three-meter-wide pool with relative ease.
Thirteen thought Oscar was a really hardworking disciple. He didn’t know what supported him to not fall even when he’s exhausted. He eventually increased the strength of Oscar’s training to three times his own during his childhood. He knew the child’s physique was not suitable for Eastern martial arts, but it didn’t matter, as the child was like a stubborn donkey, as long as he pointed out a direction for him, he would follow it.
Oscar’s first victim was the stone wall of the dungeon. Sporting a durable body, it smirked at the child for his powerlessness. The child didn’t give up, he kept throwing his straight punches, simple, straight punches. His fists were already sore and peeling, but the child didn’t seem like he felt those. He’s slowly digesting the words of the King of Assassins, who said, "What you hit is not the surface of the wall, but the structure of it. It’s very easy to destroy something solid, you just have to damage its structure."
Oscar tried studying the stone wall’s structure, but he couldn’t see any at all, only stones.
The stone wall began to be scared. This kid just does not give up on hitting it. It already forgot when it started, and it didn’t know when it’ll end. Its fear stemmed from an accident when the chubby kid punched it with a regular punch, but hurts to its core with the punch’s strength phasing through the wall’s strong shell.
Oscar could feel the wall’s shiver. He’d just tried a new way to direct his power under the guidance of Thirteen. He felt a swirl of air accompanied his punches for the first time, so he used it to try and penetrate the wall. His fist recognized the rebound of the stone wall, but he ignored the tiny resistance and pushed through. Even though that had split his flesh a little, he was ecstatic that the wall finally caved and cracked, meeting Thirteen’s requirement of him.
After that, Thirteen insisted for the boy to keep his Horse Stance training and wall punching, but he also increased the amount of his activity. The new ‘victims’ were the Woods family. Thirteen snuffed out the only light source in the dungeon, and the youngster commenced his harassment toward the poor rats.
It didn’t go well at first, Oscar couldn’t keep up with the rats. Sometimes he could see them, but they always managed to slink back into the darkness. The boy can sometimes even hear the teasing from the Woods family. But as usual, Oscar doesn’t not give up. Thirteen instructed him to differentiate their sounds and determine their locations, while waiting for the best timing to strike.
The child succeeded again. Even though the Woods family were on constant vigilance, they would still suddenly find themselves in the grasp of a fleshy hand. The rats were getting frantic, they’d slowed down, they’d silenced their steps, they’d avoid dangerous areas, but that kid would appear almost everywhere, catching them four to five times a day. The Woods family decided after their own ‘family meeting’ that they would yield to him. The kid isn’t a cat, if he likes to catch them without harming them, then let him. The rats accepted the fact at the end.
The rats’ compromise had proven to be a great discontentment to Oscar. He was still not reaching the standard Thirteen set upon him. The kid found Warden Hanning and asked him for a pet that is ferocious, agile, extremely irritable, as well as rat-catching.
The warden knew the boy was under some sort of special training, so he allowed it. He forked out a big amount of money to obtain a cougar. As the natural enemy of most small creatures, he chose the most untamed one of all the cougars. He knew this thing wouldn’t cause the boy much trouble, the King of Assassins will take care of everything.
The truth couldn’t be further away from Moranzo’s imagination. Oscar didn’t even get much contact hours with Thirteen, the King of Assassins of the Westland would close his eyes after giving out his mission for Oscar. Oscar would need to brainstorm ways to complete each of his tasks.
For example, this teeth-gritting cougar. It pounced right after it was released in the dungeon, exterminating the Woods family, the weakest of the whole bunch. After that, the cougar tried to target Oscar as its next prey. Even though the kid’s punches sometimes lead to loosening of its teeth, it didn’t matter, its lightning speed managed to evade most of his attacks.
Oscar wasn’t upset at the cougar that caused him frequent scratches, that was just part of his training. As Thirteen put it, he wasn’t supposed to have emotional changes during training which would only lower his success rate, or even cause his failure.
The boy succeeded eventually. The cougar had already given up on landing a hit, but no matter how it focused on evasion, the punches would still land on its head, without fail. After it realized he’s not a power to mess with, it also succumbed to building rapport with the chubby boy.
Thirteen was really satisfied with his student, but he knew the boy still needed polishing, physically, mentally. He threw the kid the dagger he poached from the idiot assassin, knowing the boy needed to master at least one type of weapon.
Oscar had etched the words of Thirteen’s teaching into his brain when he accepted the dagger. Any kind of weapon will have its own set of movements. Regardless of the attacking angle or the timing of the attacks, the purpose of it was to leave wounds on the enemies’ bodies.
Dagger is definitely one of the weapons with the shortest range, so its will be one of the hardest weapons to master. Enemies wielding spears and longswords will definitely be near impossible for Oscar to hurt. Limitations. It is already a divine gift from the God of Light for a dagger to appear in a prison, it’s impossible for Thirteen to start training Oscar from the most basic weapons.
At this point, Thirteen had already started teaching the boy all about assassination, this ancient art form already has a complete theoretical system in the East.
Young O’Neil Andrew Morisette didn’t know what assassination entails, although he had nearly killed two children, but those are brawls. There is a critical difference between an assassin and a brawler, and this child will be trained under the most advanced assassination skills in this gloomy dungeon.
Thirteen’s assassination art came from the East, passed down by the assassin syndicate for hundreds of years. This syndicate had been nurturing the finest in the lands for the longest of time, and at the same time researching new techniques of grim-reaping.
Why call assassination a technique? Simply, because no one will willingly be killed, so the technique of the assassin plays a crucial role in getting the job done.
Oscar reckoned the first assassin who came up with the theory to be a great philosopher in the Eastern continent, as he defined an assassin to be ‘the hands that assassinate’. However, this definition must not be just any pair of hands smeared with blood. According to this Eastlander, elimination by eradication is a systematic, comprehensive project of mankind that demands for willpower, valor, creativity, and even artistry. It had been going on since humankind rose to power, and will keep going on without a finishing date. The assassins were born due to this project, and from its foundation, it had established its longevity in human history. This is due to the many needs for people to be killed, and many people’s need to kill.
Assassins don’t need a reason to kill, there were only business deals between the service demand, and the supplier. Can a human life be measured with currency? Definitely, at least for assassins, it is so. Doesn’t matter if the mark was an important person with infinite influence or an old lady without a single coin, as long as someone in the world named the price of their lives, the assassins will carry out the deed, and that was all.
The skills that Oscar was slowly developing include Concealment, Evacuation, Facade, and Communication.
Concealment is a skill all assassins need. Without a clever cover, the assassin’s operation and even his life would be in jeopardy. The concealment they need is not the usual definition of it, in other words, not about covering themselves with a patch of turf or or burying themselves in the soil. The highest form of concealment is to fully assimilate into the surrounding including the flow of blood, breath, and the body’s metabolism. It was said that concealment is just a concept, to apply it to the environment, it would take a whole other set of skills.
Evacuation, no matter if the assassin could finish the job, as soon as they end their operation or notice the mission is bound for failure, the only thing they can do is to run. It is the only way to leave the scene with the shortest delay. Only by exiting the scene without leaving tracks that a mission could count as successful. If tracks were found and followed by the other party, the getaway would be ladened with obstacles, or even dangers. That was why the skill of evacuation is necessary.
Depending on whether the assassin was exposed, evacuation can be as easy as reaching a specific location as planned, under constant vigilance even when there was a partner, or be as hard as escaping with all of their skills. It includes their choice of path to evacuate and their methods of dealing with pursuers, hunting dogs, interceptions, trap-setting, and handling injuries.
Facade is Oscar’s weakest skill. The assassins’ marks are all people from real world with real job. In their process of getting close enough to their marks, there are times they need to assimilate into their marks’ environment to cover up their real identity, this involves a facade. The assassin will need to pretend to be someone who could get close to their marks in their living or work environment. If they misunderstand what a particular facade entails, it might lead to their discovery. That is why a Facade is so important.
About Communication, Thirteen taught Oscar sign languages in great detail, however, Oscar was much more interested in the long-distance communication methods, fantasizing about keeping mail pigeons or even the small hawk eagles with strong flying abilities that Thirteen talked about.
In the dark dungeon, the kid had no way to examine or even practice the knowledge he learned, even the dagger seemed superfluous.
Oscar’s brain is really extraordinary, he understood that it takes a really good assassin to kill his marks with a dagger. Since the dagger’s range is limited, only the best assassins can appear in front of his marks without them knowing. As a novice with only theoretical understanding, it was impossible for Oscar to get close to his marks without trouble.
The boy also understood, as a successful assassin, Thirteen’s pride comes not from the dignitaries he had killed, but from the fact that he’s still alive. In his ruminations, he kept repeating Thirteen’s words, "What is most important for an assassin? Not the marks’ death, but his own survival during missions."
Sacrifice is a major teaching within the House of Andrew, the chubby boy had inherited it, so it took him a long time to decipher this concept of survival. Yes, life is the most important thing, an assassin should always work under the guarantee of his survival. Assassins are different from suicide killers, assassins use their intelligence to kill, suicide killers use their lives. Little Oscar never wanted to be a suicide killer.
Inevitably, Thirteen became Oscar’s only sparring partner. The boy kept slashing and piercing at him, and even though it was what Thirteen requested, he was still pretty surprised by how engrossed the boy is by the act.
Initially, the boy’s movements were slow and clumsy. To Thirteen, of course. His breathing too rough, his actions too slow, his dagger didn’t even have a sense of threat to it, however soft he made his noise, it was still too loud. This level of knifing was not even worth Thirteen’s time, but he still trained the kid with patience. To him, seeing the kid’s growth was very satisfying.
Oscar slowly became more proficient in applying the theories in practical fights through practice. However, his practice partner was the champion of all assassins, so his assassination attempts he planned out had never succeeded. Even so, he never gave up on trying, which resulted in him successfully slicing off a few strands of the King of Assassin’s hair, which was his best result.
Thirteen was happy. He didn’t think any warriors of Westland could even touch him in a duel, and the only one who could do it is his disciple. Thirteen was supremely proud of the boy, being only a little older than 7 years old, his achievements could only be higher.
The capture of the King of Assassins was a collective effort of twenty five Paladins, with Thirteen having killed fourteen of them, and hurt all of the rest. But now, a child seven years of age managed to almost slice off his head with just a dagger, it seems impossible to believe, but it is the truth.
Time slipped away from them in between their attacks and defenses. When Oscar was informed he would be transferred to another cell, Thirteen decided to teach the boy one last thing.
Oscar couldn’t understand Thirteen’s decision, his teacher targeted his pet, he wanted its pelt. The kid tried to convince Thirteen to use skins of other animals instead, but Thirteen only wanted the cougar’s.
Little Oscar fell into a dilemma, he named it Anroust and became really good friends with it, Oscar couldn’t possibly aim his dagger at his playmate.
In the end, Oscar gave in to Thirteen’s pressuring. He trudged shakily toward Anroust, attempting to send it off painlessly, but at the last second, the dagger slipped away from the vitals, pain and the scent of blood woke Anroust with a start. It lost its ability to reason, leaving only instinct to drive its movement. It didn’t understand why its friend would do this, its thrashing about left Oscar with injuries that covered most of his body. Just when it was about to snap its jaw at the boy throat, he drove the dagger into its heart.
O’Neil Andrew Morisette set down his quill and rubbed his sore shoulder. His mind was muddy and full of unintelligible feelings, screaming for rest.
The young prince was still in sort of a trance when he saw the sunlight in the room. His mind was still wandering in the darkness. His most memorable days were spent with the King of Assassins.The prince had finished writing the part, but the meaning behind the everlastingness of it, His Imperial Highness couldn’t figure out.
In the garden, maids greeted the young prince cordially before returning to play with a fat cat that wandered in from somewhere. The furball wasn’t scared of strangers, instead, it enjoyed the maids’ caresses and the sweets they brought. The prince remembered his Anroust, the big cat used to give him that expression too, but its dying glare was forever imprinted in his brain. Thirteen’s education definitely succeeded, the young man would never forget his words, "If you never want to experience the betrayal and hopelessness that comes after, then don’t give your trust to anyone easily."
The maids’ loud giggles pierced Oscar’s ears. The view in the garden was showered with warm sunlight so exquisitely, they repulsed Oscar. He suddenly realized how out-of-touch he was with this world filled with light.
His Imperial Highness returned to his study, and as he revisited his memory, the darkness in his past breached the dam of light, ripping the young prince in half, he even saw the young chubby kid in the past carrying his own head on the side of his body.
The prince wrote and wrote, tracing his own memory. He know not why, it wasn’t something a teenager his age would do. The prince asked Baron Erbe to decline all social meetings for him. He knew it wasn’t time for him to appear in a crowded room, not yet. He’d be like a beast choosing its next meal. On the papers full of his past, his cry for help bellowed wildly.
The winters in Damorga had the most distinct colors. A snowstorm would have transformed the prison town into a sheet of white paper. Inhabitants here would not be deceived by the pureness of white, anyone who has heard of the place would know, every single one of the prisoners in there are people who had heavily defiled the teachings of the God of Light, they are monsters who had been lured by the Devil.
Damorga Prison claimed a huge part of land to its own. It had a main fort and two side forts. Outside of those, there were also a huge area peppered with wood and stone shacks. Those huts could not even be called prison cells, they looked more like the slums of some big city.
The strictness of the Titan Laws was the direct cause behind this labor camp. People who lived in the huts were all family members of the prisoners in the fort. This was a system without mercy. As soon as one was convicted of something serious, their family would follow. It was to help deter people from crime, as well as prevent the convicts from escaping. Titan’s law with regard to prison breakers was to execute their family members and throw them back behind bars.
No matter if one was a noble or a commoner, businessman or bellhop, once they were convicted, their dignity had already been lost. They could only earn a living with all their lives.
People die everyday in the labor camp. In the eyes of the guards and the overseers, their lives are less important than a bug. The meaning for the coal mine’s existence was the God of Light’s punishment to the sinners. In other parts of the world, every little crime would be judged, in the labor camp of the Damorga Prison, nobody cares.
Mining is, naturally, a job for the men, and all men must mine. The labor camp does not give the elders support, nor do they give children education. Every man is to be given a number, and every number, a task. Is the workload heavy? Don’t be silly, no one asks that! The lieutenant general only cares for the numbers at the end of the day, he and his subordinates never took into consideration absurd questions such as workload, those are the job for the prisoners! In the labor camp, only the dead may rest.
Women who went in always has to do with bad luck. In Damorga, their misery is unimaginable. They can sell their bodies for a piece of warm clothing, or exchange their daughters for a loaf of bread to fill their stomach. Their chastity? Don’t joke around, how would you choose between chastity and life? Don’t get too proud if you choose chastity over life, the men in Damorga can make you lose both at the same time.
The warden knew his prison’s situation very well. He’s reluctant to make changes, and there is nothing to change. Damorga had always been this way. Even though the lieutenant general would hand the idiot bastard when he sees a child with her bloody nether region, but these accidents only happen occasionally, he still believes his soldier were not irredeemably evil.
The really irredeemably evil ones were the secret agents from the Ministry of Justice. Lieutenant General Hanning despised those douchebags who sullied the good name of his prison. Lieutenant general sometimes even think those people were originally criminals due to the sheer number of dirty tricks they employ.
These secret agents are the real dominators of Damorga. Even though they belong to different leaders, they share everything about Damorga, the women, the property, food, and the luxury items like tobacco and alcohol. Their lives are almost identical to the free world, and they even feel their lives were freer and more exciting.
They would do all they could to entertain themselves with the inmates. ‘Death Boxing Tournament’, ‘Initiation Night’, they would come up with entertainments like this, new or recycled. They knew about the hatred the inmates harbor against them, but what does that have to do with anything? They kept continued taking bribes from the inmates, continued raping the wives and daughters of the convicts. They even claimed this was not their fault, but Damorga’s.
This damned Damorga! Commoners will not survive this land, even nobles suffered. Their area lies between the labor camp and women’s camp, cries of misery bleeds in from both sides, torturing their soul. They would never know if the evil ones would one day invite themselves into their cells.
The answer is yes. The secret agents would never let these nobles go without squeezing them dry, they are the ones with the money. These greedy maggots would extend their tendrils to the hidden stashes of gold before their wives and daughters. Worry not! Keep up the extortion! Continue the raping! It doesn’t matter anyway, nobles who were imprisoned in Damorga had never been able to rise back up in the history of this place. This is a land of hopelessness, this is the blind spot of the light.
Oscar skinned Anroust despite the pain on his body and handed it over to his teacher. Thirteen looked at the child with a wry smile on his face. His own teacher had asked him to take the life of his friend, that’s a real person, can the two even be equated? Thirteen noticed the boy’s eyes, they had became deep and dark, and he knew at least the effects had been the same.
O’Neil Andrew Morisette had moved out of the dungeon the next day. He hadn’t talked to Thirteen since, and so did Thirteen after his final instructions. The boy turned back and looked at the dungeon he had lived for one and a half years. He saw the King of Assassins slowly faded back into the darkness, as if he was never there in the first place.
Oscar saw sunlight as well as Annie. He had learned to control his expression of emotions from the King of Assassins. He allowed Annie to touch his face, her tears streaming down on hers. The countess tried her best to control her own voice. She thought the young boy had become slow-witted, her body kept shaking when she hugged him.
Oscar used a lot of time to convince Countess Antonia Horman he wasn’t a gone case. Annie even popped open a bottle of champagne to celebrate that. Oscar also drank some, but he was brooding about his first sips of alcohol being under that circumstance.
Countess Antonia Horman was definitely a great woman. No one else would enter Damorga to accompany an inmate. Even though there were a number of faithful servants followed their masters into Damorga, but none of them survived the cruelty of it.
Antonia didn’t care for the possible dangers, she let the son of Princess Mica’s son in the prison for a whole year and a half, that was the longest she could bear. She had sworn toward the dying princess in the name of the God of Light to look after her son until her last breath.
The countess noticed multiple malicious intents as she entered the prison. She knew danger might befall on her and the boy, but she ignored it, believing the God of Light to not abandon his children.
Lieutenant General Moranzo Hanning didn’t give any specific reaction to Oscar leaving the dungeon. He was warned by some powerful people that the kid has to die, and as the messenger from Dulin very politely put it, he would be in the same position if he doesn’t choose a side.
Lieutenant general didn’t dare defy these people face to face, but the warden had done some thinking, he was positive these people wouldn’t do anything to him, as they didn’t have the capability to do so. Him and his division were under the direct management of the military, and the military would never pander to those weaklings in the politics. Their resentment toward the politician didn’t just appear out of nowhere.
The lieutenant general had put much faith into the father of this juvenile offender. The trust came not of the military rank of the child’s father, but of the respect from a soldier to another. Duke Andrew, the commander of the Narcissus Knights, almost all of the Titan soldiers dreamt about being a soldier in this division. Compared to the pitiful child of the Secretary of State, the guards of Damorga Prison sympathized more with the youngest son of the Marshal. The guards had had conversations about the young prisoner’s crime and unanimously agreed that, in some ways, the boy was comparable to the ‘Tiger of Andrew’ on the battlefield. They even knew about the secret agents’ offer of reward to kill the child. However, as a soldier, they would follow general’s order without question. The lieutenant general ordered them to stay vigilant, reminded them that the prison belongs to the army, not the thugs sent from the Ministry of Justice. The soldiers all reckoned this was one of the few correct decisions their lieutenant general had made.
Just as the soldiers though, Titan Empire’s Lieutenant General Moranzo Hanning, Defender of Damorga, made the best choice he had made in his life by choosing to protect O’Neil Andrew Morisette. Even though the offer made by the marshal was tempting too, but Lieutenant General Hanning’s primary reason in making the choice was that the God of Light has the power to strip anyone of their lives, but that shouldn’t include children, who were not mature enough to bear that burden.
Count Moranzo Hanning contemplated on his decision for a long time before settling on the usual way. The mysterious body that appeared in the dungeon had proven that method effective, only by staying with freakishly strong people that the boy could be saved.
Oscar and his aunt were only allowed a short meeting. Under the escort of the warden, Oscar was brought to a cell in the top floor of the fortress that apparently detained a general, an extraordinarily strong Persian general.<script>chaptererror();</script>