Titan Beneath the Heavens
Chapter 142: Sixteenth Episode: Chapter 6
Chapter 142: Sixteenth Episode: Chapter 6
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Life isn't easy at all in this world. You have to rush to work every day, sweat and bleed for a copper coin, and even so, you probably would not be able to find lodging in the capital. Dulin was already crammed full of houses, but the cost of housing continues to soar. To be frank, aside from the few capable people, no one else could afford a huge house.
Deception is commonplace in the life of a socialite while internal strife is typical of the noble circle. If you are born of commoners, don't assume you can just live out the rest of your life by lying low, for the patrol soldiers and bullies of the capital were experts in looking for trouble. You'd be worse off if you have a beautiful wife or daughter, as those who have nothing better to do and busybodies would frequent your house.
"And so," the First Lieutenant of the Ministry of Justice clapped the youngster on the shoulder, "be a proper person. Whatever wrongs you may suffer, just suck it up. Even losing a daughter is nothing!"
The middle-aged man clenched his fist. He acknowledged the words of the patrol soldier's First Lieutenant. There wasn't a single proper citizen who would have anything to do with the Justice police as those police were sometimes just complete frauds and robbers.
"If there isn't anything, please return!" the First Lieutenant of the patrol soldiers waved his hand at the middle-aged man, "six Ti coins as reporting fees!"
The middle-aged man sneered. This freaking times, even reporting required fees! He tossed a silver Ti onto the First Lieutenant's table.
"Keep the change!"
"Hey! Hold on!" the First Lieutenant called out to the middle-aged man who was about to exit the door. He weighed the coin that sparkled with a silver gleam in his hand and his senses told him that there was more that could be milked out of the man.
"Your daughter is called Trinity, am I right? Uhh... she has been missing for a full day already?" the First Lieutenant enquired while assessing the notes in his hand. "She went missing in the market, right? Didn't you say she was going to buy potatoes and later went missing?"
"Yes, that's it!"
The First Lieutenant police officer nodded and shook the silver Ti before the man. "You should consider yourself fortunate! My subordinate brothers and I don't have any particular work recently. Very well, wait for news at home! There are two places where beautiful missing girls are inseparable from. First, the small hotels in dark allies and second, the bedroom of a noble."
The middle-aged man denied it, "Trinity wouldn't!"
The leader of the patrol soldiers waved his hand, "go on now! Wherever she is, with money, anything can be done!"
Upon leaving the police station, the man wandered along the clamorous street without direction. He detested this place that was billowing with smoke. He initially wanted to bring his daughter to a small village with breathtaking sceneries, but then the country folk flooded into the city saying that lands were not producing well.
Gazing at the huge fence gates that had intricate carvings, the middle-aged man hesitated. Should he enter? This didn't belong to him since a long time ago and only mockery and contempt remained.
"Is anyone home?" with a look of sincerity, the man rang the copper bell on the huge gates. Trinity was already the last member of his family and he wouldn't allow her to fall into the pits of hell even if it kills him.
"Why isn't anyone answering?" a hint of suspicion sparked within the man. This was the official residence of a Marquise, so where had the gatekeeper gone?
The anxious man gave a gentle push to the towering iron doors and it immediately opened a crack. The middle-aged man scanned his surroundings, only then did the absent-minded man realize there wasn't a soul in sight on the streets!
It was too quiet! No barking, no sound of voices and no questionings that harbored loathing and disgust!
"Hello? Gatekeeper? Is anyone home?" strolling over to the gatehouse, the man removed his hat and poked his head through the window.
The gatekeeper was indeed here but corpses couldn't ask questions. As soon as he laid eyes on the fresh blood, his eyes emanated a fiery blaze. He crept carefully into the room and used his dry coarse hands to feel for the corpse's temperature.
"Only one fatal wound at the main artery of the neck, produced by a cutlass! The blood is still wet, evidently, he died not long ago!" shaking his head, the middle-aged man had no idea why he would think of these. He originally thought he would never again run into a thing like this for the rest of his life!
Silently, he flitted past under the shade of the trees and zipped past the soft lawn. The massive house was right before his eyes. That was a place that has once been familiar to the man, but apprehension welled up inside him with every step! Among the bushes of the lawn lay the corpse of the gardener. Blood drifted in the bucket of water used to water the gardens. The burly handyman lay in front of the fountain of the main house. His face was cleaved open and the flowing water made the wound turn slightly white. The purebred German shepherd had collapsed beside the screen door leading into the gardens. Its abdomen was cut open and its intestines poured out onto the ground.
Pushing gently against the screen door, a pot of coffee was seen brewing atop the kitchen stove. The pot was whistling and emitting a heavy aroma.
What happened? The middle-aged man's mind was whirling into overdrive. This is Dulin, the Empire's capital! No one dared barge into a Marquise's official residence and go on a rampant massacre. Just what had happened? If the man's speculations were correct, then he was about to confront a highly trained, cold-blooded assassin group!
Taking a glistening boning knife from the tool rack in the kitchen, he swiveled around cautiously to face the dining hall.
The cutleries were already laid out on the table. A man and woman were frozen midway while enjoying their meal with a dagger embedded in the middle of their backs. The middle-aged man suddenly adopted a faraway look. All memories related to the woman flooded his mind. They had been so in love and so happy together. However, the woman betrayed him, snatched away everything and also shamelessly climbed into bed with another man. He had started to despise her and everything in this world! But now the woman has become a corpse!
Just like the countless times before, the man inspected the wounds on the body. He has now completely calmed down and realized that he didn't hate the tramp as much as he imagined. He only felt too familiar with the assassin's method of splitting up into two different directions and delivering the fatal blows.
After sizing up the lifeless woman another time, the man withdrew his gaze in resentment. He had to search for his daughter. Although logic told him that it was best for him to leave the place as soon as possible, his Trinity may perhaps be here. The woman was after all the girl's mother and had requested for the teenage girl, who was blossoming into a mature and stunning girl by day, more than once.
"I will not allow anyone to take Trinity away, more so let her acknowledge your filthy marriage!" the man retorted with staunch conviction. Inhaling sharply, he ducked away. The high ceilinged entrance hall and spacious hallway were spread out before him. Carcasses of four to five servants lay on the ground with crimson blood flowing along the ground and walls.
"Trinity! Trinity! Where are you?" finally, unable to bear it anymore, his voice resounded throughout the massive house.
A rapier appeared behind him! Without having to look around, he dropped sideways onto the ground as soon as labored breathing emerged behind him. The rapier penetrated the jacket on his back and tore his clothes to shreds.
Using leverage, the middle-aged man sprang up, wielding a knife in his backhand. With a sinister flash, the point of the boning knife sliced towards the assassin's throat. The assassin swiftly freed himself and retreated. The man didn't engage in a pursuit. He whirled his body around and thrust the sharp knife behind him. Another assassin swiftly withdrew.
The doors in the hallway banged open one after another and killers dressed in full black armors and silver masks streamed out. A myriad of various blades swept towards the wide-eyed middle-aged man.
With a loud cry, the man passed the boning knife into his left hand. He kicked out violently, striking the black-clothed assassin on the chest and in the split second as his opponent was falling to the ground, he stepped onto his shoulder and launched himself into the air. The sharp knife lunged swiftly outwards at lightning speed and bloodstains immediately formed over a few of the assassins' armors.
The assassins behind him finally had him surrounded; each of the four of them wielded a long sword and they lunged at him in all directions. All the vital points on the man's body were exposed under the glint of the swords! The boning knife parried swiftly while his legs continued to alter positions! The man dodged the two swords aiming for his lower body. He stepped onto the wall while brandishing his sharp knife. Blood spurted out of two of the four assassins while the man managed to free himself from their ambush. However, the man's expression didn't relax. As soon as he landed on the ground, he continued to assume a desperate stance.
"The team battle skills of the Special Combat Brigade!" the middle-aged man assessed his opponents, stunned. No one understood the Imperial Guard's battle techniques better than he, "you guys are soldiers! Why did you come here?"
Applause suddenly sounded and two men descended the stairs that led up from the entrance hall to the second floor.
"Major Luke Citel! The Special Combat Brigade no longer exists! They are the special operation agents belonging to the Empire's Military Intelligence Bureau." O'Neil Andrew Morisette descended the stairs one step at a time.
"Congratulations, Major Luke Citel!" the Division head of the Military Intelligence, Baron Messier greeted him with a smile, "Major, you have just passed the test with full score!"
"Who are you all? What are you talking about?" former Operations Officer of the First Squad under the Guard's 8431 Special Combat Brigade, Luke Citel, sized up the approaching Military Intelligence Division Head with vigilance in his eyes.
Messier opened a record form, "I'm talking about your test results. Starting from the moment you entered the iron gates, you first discovered the body in the gatehouse. Under the sudden circumstance, you remained composed, only verifying the messages that the deceased could reveal to you. When you came near the main house, you didn't choose to use the avenue in front but made your way briskly through the wall of trees and lawn that were obstacle-ridden. The snipers we prepared for you didn't even get to fire a shot, as they couldn't see your trail clearly. Upon entering the main house, you made the best choice – the kitchen! There you could arm your defenseless self, and then you..."
"Where is my daughter?"
Messier's lips curled up slightly.
"Major Luke Citel, this is your most ingenious side yet! Initially, we thought that you called out and revealed your position because of your eagerness in saving your daughter, but when you engaged in combat with our special agents, only did we realize that it was not so; you wanted to turn around from your passive circumstance. As long as the opponent struck first, they cannot evade your sight and ears! You could thereby switch from being out in the open into the shadows and engage in combat with the enemies in this huge house! We all have seen you wound five men within half an hour. I believe that..."
"Enough!" Luke Citel exclaimed impatiently. He thrust the boning knife forwards, "whoever you are, let me ask you for the last time, where is my daughter?"
Oscar strode over with as much difficulty as the lame and his subordinates stood to attention one after another. Only then did Luke Citel realize that the soldier that was young beyond reason was actually dressed in a well-ironed Marshal uniform.
Luke wasn't slow-witted and he wasn't ill-informed in Dulin and moreover, during those days, the matter was being discussed everywhere in the city. The Empire's Majesty Emperor has appointed his little son-in-law as a Marshal of the guards. This young Marshal was the nation's hero who won the defending war at Saijo Mountain for the Empire.
Luke Citel's sharp knife dropped slightly. Either way, as a former officer of the Guards, he couldn't brandish such a thing before a Marshal.
"You are... His Imperial Highness Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette?"
"That's right!" Oscar nodded towards the plucky middle-aged man. "You're... Luke Citel?"
"Yes, that's me! But respected Highness, I'm merely a pitiful creature that has been trialed by the court-martial. You're a prince; surely you wouldn't play a joke on a pitiful creature right? Are you the one who hid my daughter?"
"Hehe!" Oscar burst into laughter, "why would I hide such an adorable lady as Trinity?"
Luke Citel's gaze became exceedingly dangerous and he punched out violently. Young Oscar evaded it, wide-eyed, but his sprained knee and thigh slowed His Highness slightly. Under the startled cry of the men, the young prince was caught by the neck by the former Special Combat Operations officer and his sharp knife was pressed against his windpipe.
"What are you doing? Have you gone insane?" Baron Messier cried out in bewilderment. The Military Intelligence special agents crowded up from behind him, but they dared not make any move.
"Major Citel! Let us talk this out!" Oscar leaned into the middle-aged man's arms, his expression unchanging.
"There's nothing to talk about! Give my daughter to me, otherwise, I will kill you!"
Oscar rolled his eyes, he wasn't sure if Citel was delirious. If he really dared murder a prince of the Empire, a Marshal of the Guards, then if he died, there really wasn't anything he should complain about!
"Citel, your Trinity is in my carriage! Do you want to see her now? I can ask someone to summon her here! But do you wish for Trinity to see what her father is doing? Do you wish for the innocent and pure Trinity to see this field of blood and her mother's corpse?"
Citel was gasping for breath, he wasn't sure.
"Major, quickly release the Marshal!" one of the Military Intelligence special agent removed his mask.
"Sir, your knife is really pointy!" another special agent unmasked himself.
"Hurry, sir! The wound you gave me is still bleeding, I need to look for a doctor!"
One after another, the Military Intelligence special agents removed their silver masks. Luke Citel was so taken aback he was trembling! He saw face after face that was immensely familiar. These faces were his military brigade brothers who've been through everything with him!
"You... How can it be you all? What are you guys doing here?"
At that moment, Luke Citel released the prince whose face was flushed due to the strangulation. He disregarded the Marshal who was coughing incessantly and with huge strides, rushed forwards! His former special warriors broke into innocent child-like smiles when they came to face their commander. They embraced him, jumping and screaming!
"Hey... hey!" Oscar finally regained his breath, "I say, you guys... leave the reunion for tonight. Listen to me now!"
Luke Citel spun around, completely perplexed. His former comrade-in-arms have retired on his behalf, but now they were actually following a Marshal of the Guards? Oh, that's right! Citel just recalled that this man happened to even murder all the people in this official residence, including his wife. What was all this for?
"Major Luke, I understand that you must feel like you can't comprehend all this." Oscar approached the middle-aged man, "you should have gathered as much that it is my Military Intelligence Bureau that recalled your team members. Actually... most surviving officers and soldiers of the former 8431 Special Combat Brigade are under me, risking their lives. Are you interested?"
"No interest!" Luke Citel rejected the invitation of the Guard's Marshal straight away. "if you can forgive my offense towards you a while ago, then please allow me to leave here with my daughter! I guarantee that I won't bring up anything that happened in this house to anyone else!"
Oscar sized up the man who was considerably dejected and hard-edged, "I think... I know the reason why you rejected me. You're disappointed in the Guards through and through, am I right?"
"Once the Supreme Military Court established your crime of disobeying orders, you were stripped of your title and military duty and at that time, the lawyer your wife united with in adultery obtained your properties! I wish to know why a slaughter machine who charges through the enemy lines on the battlefield didn't punish that disloyal wife with the most extreme of punishments."
"I'll only answer the second question!" Luke Citel scoffed coldly, "I won't kill her; I'm afraid of tainting my hands with blood that cannot be washed away! Moreover, I need to care for my daughter! Even if I'm driven mad with anger, I will not resort to such foolishness for a whore!"
"Great! Great!" Oscar clapped his hands, "I've repeatedly studied the secret operations that you manage and participate in. What I admire most is your accurate judgment and critical thinking towards matters, your patience before striking and your unwavering spirit!"
"Sir? Do you not intend to lead us once again?" a Military Intelligence agent interjected impatiently.
Luke Citel shook his head bitterly. He didn't bother with the Marshal's compliment and merely patted his former subordinate on the shoulder.
"I don't wish to have anything to do with the army anymore!"
Oscar's lips curled up slightly, "if it's like this... then I would like to discuss the other issue! You know? Your ex-wife didn't have the true intention of being a frivolous whore!"
"What are you saying?" the man glared at him impatiently.
"She's a spy!" Baron Messier answered loudly, "the top-rank spy sent by the Kingdom of Engels. The reason she initially chose you is none other than your special position within the Guards. Once you lost your office, you outlived your usefulness. She's a spy and had to search for a new source of intelligence and so she abandoned you and then hooked up with a few resourceful men. In the end, she chose that guy!"
The Division Head of the Military Intelligence pointed towards the male corpse in the dining hall.
"The General Secretarial Officer of the Imperial Ministry of Foreign Affairs! A Marquis of prominent position! She can use her identity as his Madam to access plenty of secrets."
Luke Citel gazed at the corpses in the dining hall and then darted towards the straight-faced Messier, somewhat in disbelief.
"Do you want to see the Empire's Majesty, Emperor Alfa III's warrant regarding today's clean-up operation?" the Division Head of the Military Intelligence asked while fishing out a document.
The former Major of the Guards shied away as if taken aback, "I... I don't understand what is going on here and I don't wish to judge the actions of that whore. Where... where's my daughter?"
Messier still wanted to continue persuading him but Oscar already stopped him.
"I've mentioned that Trinity is in my carriage. She's a good child and I shouldn't allow her to worry about her father. Come with me!" Oscar beckoned while walking towards the back door of the main house.
The carriage was rushing towards the direction of Sparjoxin. Summertime in University Town appeared more or less deserted. During this time, it was the yearly summer holidays and the university students were hiding in their cool dormitories and coffee shops.
The streets became unusually narrow after entering the town. Quaint bookstores were packed next to each other from the mouth of the street, all the way to the end. Hunchbacked scholars were buried in their books, seeking for a source of knowledge while the destitute students were taking great pains to haggle prices with the storekeepers.
The paradise of the Tortoiseshell cats was exactly the same. University Town was still the distribution center that hung with the heavy smell of books.
Through the carriage windows, a beautiful young lady took in everything outside the window with curiosity. Sunlight streamed in through the carriage window and spilled onto her fair face. She gathered her long golden hair that was inherited from the Engels, poked out her high-bridged nose and the pair of huge, mesmerizing, ocean blue eyes.
Opening her full, rosy lips, an involuntary exclamation of awe escaped the tall, young woman. This was Sparjoxin? This was University Town? Look at those energetic youngsters on the streets. They were so confident in their harangue, full of passion and charisma!
Especially their books! Lady Trinity Citel gazed in admiration at the silhouettes that flitted past the carriage window. The people on the road were all clutching a book. They were reading on the streets, in restaurants, and in coffee houses! This was such a sight to behold. Trinity thought about herself, only having those few miserable thread-bound books that were actually given to her by the parish pastor near her house. But here? It seemed to possess all the books in the world!
Thread-bound books, printed books, handwritten leather-bound books, deluxe edition books, and also books in foreign languages that she absolutely couldn't make sense of!
Trinity gazed at everything, entranced. She didn't pay the least attention to the interest the two men had in her.
Oscar found it odd. Why didn't his heart stir for this beautiful girl who was rare to come across?
Citel also found it strange. His daughter who enjoyed climbing trees and scaling walls have never been as quiet as she was now!
"As a soldier, there are bound to be certain things that must be done! But there are also things that absolutely shouldn't be done!"
Luke Citel was lured by the prince's words.
"For example the secret operation that got you tied up in a lawsuit!" said Oscar while lighting up a huge cigar. The thick smoke made the lady turn her head away in disgust.
"During that operation, you beat up your superior and refused to carry out his orders! As a Marshal of the Guards, I must say you did a foolish thing! As a soldier of the Empire, I must say that the approach you adopted in handling this silly matter is worth one's respect! This is because your superior wanted you to bury a group of women and children alive. Despite them being family to the insurgents, this is absolutely not something that a true soldier should do!"
"That's right!" Lady Trinity nodded her head with certainty.
Luke Citel looked at his daughter and couldn't help but break into a smile, "young lady, what would you know?"
"Of course I know!" Trinity straightened her back stubbornly, "uncle Oscar told me that..."
"Hold on, you!" the young prince cut off the teenage girl with a queer expression on his face, "what did you call me?"
"Oh, uncle Oscar!" Trinity's eyes widened innocently, "Didn't you say... you are my father's colleague?"
"Ola... actually..." Oscar whipped around to face the girl's father in exasperation, "how old is she?"
"She'll be an adult next month!" Luke Citel gazed at his daughter with pride.
"Oh my God of Light!" Oscar covered his face, giving a strange yelp, "do I appear that old that even a sixteen-year-old girl calls me uncle?"
Luke Citel let slip a laugh but immediately averted his head away. He knew that His Highness was trying to take advantage of him all the while and he has to tread carefully.
"Where are we going?" Trinity's eyes shot wide open innocently.
Oscar instead glanced at her father, "we are going to the Chief of Staff of the Guards, Marshal Robin Sparse's home. He has a colt with quite an irascible temper in the ranch at his home. Your father and I would like to tame it!"
Trinity nodded with understanding. She was aware that her father relied on getting along with horses and training them to make a living. "Could those injuries on you be caused by that colt?"
Oscar heaved a dejected sigh, "you guessed right!"
"I'm a little curious!" Luke Citel finally had some interest. He indicated at His Highness Prince's bruised chin and swollen head, "what kind of colt could make you end up looking this way?"
"Ola!' Oscar sighed while cupping his sore and loose teeth, "its name is Oslu, a year and a half and is a descendant of Narcissus County's Raytheon and West Percy's blood-red horse!"
"A descendant of a Raytheon and blood red horse?" Luke Citel's eyes flew wide open, "what kind of monster would that be?"
"Ola!" Oscar groaned in agony, "you'll know when you see it!"
Perhaps it was because the master of the ranch has already been promoted to the Imperial Guard's Chief of Staff, the once desolate little manor exuded a thriving air. The morning glory on the fence bloomed brilliantly. The tall poplar was intertwined with horizontal grape vines. The summertime sun was like a blazing ball of fire and the scorching sunlight cloaked the pasture below the hills in a dazzling gold.
Marshal Robin Sparse was waiting at the entrance of the racecourse for the young prince who was running late. The old man hung his leg up leisurely, savoring a bowl of iced red date soup beneath the shade of an umbrella.
Leaping off the carriage, Oscar pursed his lips in dejection, "don't bring it up! The other day when I was thrown off by this little brute, Oslu, Sasha was shaken up pretty bad! Today she put her foot down and refused to come along!"
"Hehe!" Marshal Robin burst into joyful laughter. He knew that this kid would have a hard time. "Who is this young lady?"
As animated as a deer, Trinity rushed towards the old man, raised her skirts and bowed, "respected grandfather, I am the daughter of Dulin's most famous horse trainer. You may call me Trinity Citel."
"Marshal!" the former Major of the Special Combat Brigade appeared before his daughter. He saluted with slight awkwardness to the old headmaster.
"Luke Citel!" Robin Sparse eyed his former student up and down, "you little rascal still dare return?"
"My apologies Marshal!" Major Luke hung his head in embarrassment. He finally felt the inseparable army feelings, especially towards his teacher who earnestly guided him.
"Where is it?" Oscar lost patience. The badly battered prince rolled up the sleeves of his Marshal uniform and tore open his collar aggressively.
Marshal Robin withdrew his gaze on Major Luke and whistled towards the racecourse.
The servant managing the racecourse promptly opened the fence gates. Practically immediately, a muddy black and strong silhouette sprang through the door. The sound of horse hooves rumbled and blood red horse hooves zipped past like lightning. Having a sense of foreboding, Oscar climbed over the hardwood fence surrounding the racecourse. Little Oslu evidently recalled the man who once humiliated it. Its hooves flitted closely past the door beneath His Highness Prince.
"Ola! That was close! Too close!" Oscar screamed with relief deep inside. He retreated to stand behind the fence quickly. Being unable to find a rival, little Oslu broke into a gallop around the racecourse with extreme zeal, showing off its physique to the people.
"It's so beautiful!" Trinity exclaimed in awe. Her father liked bringing her along when he went to train horses and she was only too familiar with these beautiful creatures!
Little Oslu, who just received praise, reared up and gave a long neigh towards the heavens. Its muscles shone with a dazzling splendor and perfectly proportioned lines flowed with every movement.
"Indeed a fine steed!" Luke Citel nodded repeatedly, "Your Highness, all your sufferings are worth it. This little thing is worth all the riders in the world doing their utmost for it.
The attendants around the racecourse gathered forwards. With difficulty, managed to subdue little Oslu that was galloping ceaselessly using thick lasso poles.
Oscar couldn't help but complain to Marshal Robin, "what do you usually feed it? Stimulants? It's like a psychotic patient who had just sniffed on opium!"
Marshal Robin shrugged, "little Oslu and its younger sister love carrots. Didn't Sasha just ride away on little Catya that same day? This just indicates that you are incapable!"
"Catya is even more docile than a cat. Can she be compared to her brother?" Oscar roared in fury. Really! Having the nerve to say he was incapable!
The young prince brought knee and elbow pads for himself. He wanted to once again challenge Oslu's willpower!
Little Oslu sized up the man who was approaching it with vigilance. It yearned to give him a good kick, but it was trapped in a narrow stable, unable to move an inch.
Oscar climbed over the surrounding poles of the stables. The attendant already put a completely new saddle onto the little black horse, causing its temper to flare.
The young prince mounted his horse carefully. Fortunately, nothing happened this time. However, he knew that the little black horse was preserving its strength. They were both waiting for the moment the surrounding fence opened.
Finally, a daring servant opened the gates. Oscar gripped the reins tightly and secured a firm grip on the stirrup. With a neigh, little Oslu leaped out urgently. It soared in a magnificent arc in the sky and landed on the ground heavily. The great inertia tugged the young prince towards the air! Oslu sprinted in every direction. It wanted to trample the rider on its back on the ground while the rider intended to completely subdue it.
The two stubborn male creatures refused to give in to each other. Their perspiration soon mixed together and their willpower gradually fused together.
"Oh!" the people around the racecourse suddenly cried out in alarm. Oscar was flung up into the air as the little black horse halted urgently during one of its leaps. His Highness Prince was thrown onto the ground heavily, stirring up a cloud of dust that was like fog.
The attendants used their spears and lasso-pole to drive the indignant little Oslu to the other side of the racecourse at once. The people feared that the violent little creature would trample on the prince who has fallen onto the ground.
Just when the people thought His Highness Prince was about to breathe his last, Oscar suddenly sprang up. He rubbed his chin that seemed to be off to a corner and spat out a mouthful of thick bloody phlegm.
"Darn it! Again!"
Thus... another round of wrestling commenced!
"This isn't the way to go on!" naïve Trinity tugged at her father's arm and cried out anxiously as she gazed at "uncle Oscar" who was covered all over with dust, "we need to find its weakness; it definitely has one!"
Luke Citel gave a slight smile and merely stroked his daughter's head.
With its powerful explosive force, high-speed turning, quick reaction, insane jumps, and muscles that were similar to that cast by the devil, Little Oslu seemed to have no weakness. It threw its rider onto the ground like a sandbag, repeating it relentlessly.
"Its shadow! Its shadow!" Trinity suddenly cried out loudly, pointing towards the little black horse that was zipping everywhere, "have you all noticed its shadow? It always has its back towards its shadow! It keeps running towards the direction of the sunlight!"
Luke Citel and marshal Robin glanced at the girl.
"What does this imply?" the old Marshal did a once over of the young girl gleefully. He knew that she was a very bright young girl.
"This implies... this implies that..." Trinity's lake blue pupils suddenly dilated. She raised her hand towards Oscar, who was still wrestling.
"Uncle Oscar! It's afraid of its own shadow! It's afraid of its own shadow!"
The call of Uncle Oscar already made the youngster lose his focus and the prince once again slid off the horse. He rolled repeatedly the moment he landed on the ground, evading Oslu's hooves that kept kicking at him, for his life.
"What did you say?" Oscar hurried to stand before the girl.
Trinity jumped up hastily as if showing off her breakthrough, "It's afraid of its own shadow! It's afraid of its own shadow! It's afraid of its own shadow!"
"It's afraid of its own shadow?" Oscar eyed the little black horse that had retreated to a corner to rest dubiously. It hung its head and licked the red-brown hair around its hoof; its shadow fell to one side of its body.
"What does that mean?" Oscar gazed at the old Marshal who has a slight smile and remained silent.
"Actually... it's not afraid of its own shadow, but its father. This foolish little thing doesn't know that it is now taller than its father. When it sees the humongous shadow it itself leaves on the ground, then by instinct, it assumes it to be its father by its side. Its father left a deep impression on it when it was young and it is forever etched in its memory!"
The prince bored into Marshal Robin with a dark look, "you already knew that since long ago, didn't you?"
The old Marshal gave a sinister laugh, "of course! But as I've said before, it's because you're incapable!"
"Dang it!" Oscar cursed under his breath, but this discovery wasn't too late!
The young prince again leaped into the racecourse, but this time brimming with confidence.
Young Oslu, who was dripping with sweat, assessed its adversary carefully for the first time. It has to admit by all means that this adversary was indeed strong and persistent, but it refused to give up its inherent honor. Despite it feeling that the youngster before him was a little familiar looking, it still refused to yield. It could sense that the hour of a decisive battle has almost arrived!
The Raytheon's shadow appeared before Oscar's eyes. He still remembered his stallion's final moments before it breathed its last. The Raytheon was the noblest creature on the battlefield and one had to subdue it, one had to pay with their blood and life.
The young prince drew out a glistening dagger. The cold light from the lethal weapon made Oslu, who has its eyes locked with his, retreat a small step.
Oscar used the sharp blade to slice against his palm and blood flowed out along the wound. With extra care, Oscar placed his palm that was dripping with blood on Oslu's forehead. The black-bodied, red-hooved young stallion blinked several times, feeling the warmth that radiated out between its eyebrows. An ancient desire surged up within it and Oslu huffed out labored breaths. It was familiar to this throbbing in its veins but didn't know what it should do.
"Your surname is Raytheon! Your name is Andrew! You are the world's greatest, noblest creature of the battlefield from birth!" Oscar pointed towards the horizon at the east, the place where the sunlight ended, "you will set off on the road of conquering with me! Are you ready?"
Oslu huffed heavily.
Gripping the reins firmly, Oscar leaped swiftly onto the back of the horse. The stallion was momentarily stunned before letting out an earth-shaking neigh! It still refused to give up its pride!
The spurs on the leather boots dug deep into the horse's abdomen and the pained stallion shot forwards. The jolts and jumps during the charge didn't perturb the rider. He held on fast to the reins like mad. Oscar's looming shadow kept being cast in front of it. The stallion that was already weary beyond words finally felt at its wit's end! Its father, tall and imposing, kept appearing before its eyes, urging it to grow up quickly and to run faster!
Faster! More! Catch up with father! Surpass father! Faster!
The horse's black shadow galloped at breakneck speed away from the sunlight. The rider on its back continued to cheer! The fine steed was chasing after its own shadow, unaware that it was pursuing a task that was impossible to complete!
Gazing at Oscar and Oslu who were gradually disappearing along the horizon, Marshal Robin heaved a contented sigh.
"Come sit!" the old man gestured towards Luke Citel who was standing there gaping. "Little Oslu can gallop for two days and two nights. Our Highness Prince will not be back anytime soon!"
The former Special Combat Commander of the Guards eyed the seat beside the Marshal uneasily; he knew what the old man wanted to say.
The sound of a girl's joyful laughter traveled through the quiet open ranch. Trinity hugged a lamb and kissed it and soon she started to chase the calves that were frisking around.
CItel watched his daughter's silhouette, lost in thought. His daughter could absolutely get a better life. He knew that she loved studying and was aware that she secretly used the meager income from doing laundry in exchange for attaining the right to listen in during evening school. All the more, he knew that she was like the other girls of her age who longed for romance, trouble, and friends.
However, what has he given her so far? A shameless mother, oh that's right, a spy mother, a tiny room, dresses that didn't fit, work to cover the house expenses, and...
"You really don't want to come back?" the old Marshal interrupted the train of thought of Major of the Guards.
"Why should I go back for? I am already sick of the slaughtering and also of dealing with the noble commanders' antics."
"It's more of the latter, right?" Marshal Robin broke into a wry smile, "this morning didn't you hand in an answer sheet that was full marks? This proves that you are still the Luke Citel of before! You're still the one who was known as the Crossbow of the Guard's Special Combat..."
"Enough sir!" Luke Citel couldn't take it anymore, "until now I still feel endless guilt for what I have done before! Every night I have nightmares and every day I will..."
"You're a soldier!" bellowed Robin Sparse suddenly, "don't forget this point! You're a soldier of the Empire! This isn't the oath that you swore beneath the 8431 flag!"
"8431 no longer exists!" the Major suddenly snorted quietly. The sharp old man noted all these.
"But now you've obtained the opportunity to rebuild a Special Combat Team!"
"What... what are you saying?"
Marshal Robin looked to one side in triumph, "You heard me!"
"Rebuild a Special Combat Team?" Luke Citel's eyes were wavering. He couldn't deny that offer that the Marshal threw out was even more alluring than the happy life he longed for. "Why... why me?"
"Because you are worth the trust! Because you are phenomenal!" exclaimed Marshal Robin while indicating the direction in which the young prince has disappeared into. "Haven't you already met my child? He may be young, but he has already assembled a group of the most outstanding soldiers by his side, but he still needs your help. Otherwise, he will definitely lose his way in the southern mountain area."
The former Commander of Special Combat gulped with difficulty. "South? Is His Highness Prince going to deal with 8431's old friends?"
"That's right!" the old man nodded, "it's time to get rid of those bandits! Don't tell me you don't even have the slightest interest? I recall that you kept brooding over your brothers' sacrifice. You probably won't get another chance for vengeance better than this your whole life!"
"I cannot accomplish anything alone!" Luke Citel gritted his teeth and clenched his fists. He concluded a lesson from the experience of the special southern battle. The 8431 brigade suffered heavy losses mostly due to having only a single special battle tactic and a weak composition of military strength. If he could gather a great number of elite soldiers to pull it off this one time... oh gosh! Has he gone into character that soon? The Major was astonished at his thoughts! Hasn't he always been avoiding it?
"Of course you wouldn't be alone!" Marshal Robin's words once again attracted the Major's attention.
"'Big Worm' Blasky, 'Alligator' Macier, 'Fire Eyes' Arthur, 'Ghost Archer' Mitchen, 'Gay' Mike! Oh, that's right, there's also 'Zero'! Marksman Monia Amerson! If all these most outstanding Special Combat Officers are taken into account, is it still not possible?"
The Major was dumbstruck. These people were the Guard's most precious battle resources. "Does His Imperial Highness Prince... intend to level out the southern mountain area?"
"More or less!"
"Then I think... these men aren't enough!"
"We need to add on Heavy Crossbow Luke!"
Marshal Robin gazed at his former student and finally expressed a proud smile. "That's right! You must include the Crossbow of the Guards – Luke Citel!"
The sound of galloping came again and both the Marshal and Major twisted their heads around in astonishment.
"Back so soon?" the old man glanced towards the hillside with disbelief.
"Uncle Oscar!" the innocent girl waved excitedly in the direction the rider was charging from.
The black giant creature was carrying the future Commander-in-chief to across the hillside and its massive shadow appeared as if it has fallen from the sky! The man adjusted the angle of the horse's head. Just when a fierce gust of wind whipped up the girl's skirts, "Uncle Oscar" dashed past. Using his strong arm, he lifted the screaming girl onto the horse's back! Not long after, the heavens resounded with the girl's joyous laughter.
"Don't worry about your child, I'll take care of her! She will receive everything that a teenage girl can ever have. She no longer has to rub her swollen hands and squeeze into the small classroom of the evening school. She will be an envied university student!"
Luke Citel nodded, "thank you, what else can I say?"
"Then don't say anything! We are soldiers! I only care about what you will do and not so much about what you say!"
"Hehe! I've been fighting in one place after another in the southern mountain area. Marshal, you should believe in me for I surely know what I should do!"<script>chaptererror();</script>