Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 126: The Land Where Hope Fades
Fortunately, this battle had a time limit.
After more than ten minutes of fighting, Oliver’s opponent finally gave up the fight due to efficiency considerations. He twisted his body halfway through attacking Oliver and neatly cut off the head of the death row prisoner next to him. The scattered death row prisoners seemed like crows who found carrion and quickly gathered from the strong smell of blood.
People fought in groups, like beasts biting each other. Blood gushed and limbs flew everywhere. Black and red flesh covered the ground that was continuously bombarded with magic array. It smelled so bad that it was impossible to tell what person or animal it once belonged to. Oliver suppressed the rolling of his stomach. His face became almost as pale as the skeleton helmet, but the hand holding the hilt of his sword did not waver. He retreated and guarded, struggling to pull himself away from the fanatical vortex of death.
With Oliver’s occasional care, Randy’s defense was airtight. That heavy shield was like a moving fortress wall. Few people were willing to waste more than five minutes challenging it.
During the retreat, Oliver almost stepped on a mutilated body. The owner of the body was lying on his back, full of fear and unwillingness. His bloodshot eyes bulged, and masses of powdery blood foamed as he vaguely wailed.
“God, I won’t die,” the man shouted vaguely. “I won’t die in this hellhole…”
“Kill him, Ramon,” Randy said softly. “He doesn’t have much longer to live.”
Oliver shook his head gently, which made Randy sigh and stop speaking.
As if a lifetime had passed, the announcement of the end finally sounded. The death row prisoners put away their weapons and gathered in one place again. Almost all of them had sticky, dark blood and flesh on their faces, except for Oliver and Randy, who looked clean and out of place.
The number of people was nearly two-thirds lower than they were previous.
The man with a white cloth on his face didn’t say anything similar to “congratulations”. He seemed to be able to see through the white cloth. His face turned half a circle, as if he wanted to see the death row prisoners in front of him one by one. Perhaps it was under his own illusions, but Oliver held his breath. The man’s face seemed to stay in their direction for an exceptionally long time.
Then he lost consciousness.
Oliver’s last memory was of falling to the ground—not so much falling, but the earth slapped him on the side of his head. He focused too much on the masked man and was unprepared for the sudden pain and paralysis.
After he woke up, the first thing he noticed was the pain on the side of his face.
The Rest in Peace was tightly grasped by him, and under him were the familiar bumps and the hot, sour, and smelly air that lingered on the tip of his nose. Everything just now seemed like a nightmare. Unfortunately, the dirt that stuck to Oliver’s chin was mixed with flesh and blood, and the uncomfortable moist touch that bit into his skin reminded him of the true reality he was in.
He returned to the original carriage. The crowded people were gone, and there was only one companion left in the same carriage—rather two. Randy didn’t squeeze Oliver into a corner this time. The burly assassin sat upright in the other corner, holding his shield firmly in his hand.
Oliver straightened the skeleton helmet on his head. Thank God the restraint spell didn’t fail.
“You guys… Are you okay?” He tugged out a smile.
Randy’s eyes swept across his face quickly. His eyes were complex and didn’t answer his question.
“Where did the others go?” Oliver swallowed his saliva a little nervously as he added carefully.
“Mobile barracks,” Randy replied slowly. “…It seems you really don’t know anything.”
Oliver felt embarrassed. He laughed dryly, subconsciously trying to scratch his head, but only scratching the hard skeleton helmet.
“They train death row inmates there. When training is complete, they will be sent to the Death Row Legion and sold to various countries. I think you should have heard of the Death Row Squads. They are all ‘finished products’, living weapons.” The assassin grinned mockingly. “While it’s in poor taste, it’s said that the evaluations from the various countries are quite good.”
It didn’t sound like a good place. Oliver nervously grabbed the edge of his cloak. His temples were still throbbing with pain, as if he had just woken up from a hangover. The collar on his neck began to suck his strength back again, making his muscles soft and weak. The originally light Rest in Peace in his hand seemed to weigh several times heavier, but by now he had begun to get used to the feeling of his stomach roiling with pain.
“What about us?” Oliver asked more tentatively.
“Withered Castle.” Randy looked at him for a while, with a faint trace of pity in his eyes—there was no mocking, but real pity. The gaze made Oliver’s hair stand up. “…I think we’re almost there.”
“Is there anything I need to pay attention to?” Oliver resisted his gaze and continued to ask. Randy, contrary to his previous norm, didn’t seem willing to talk to him. Oliver consciously didn’t do anything wrong, which meant it wasn’t a good sign.
“No,” Randy sighed. “Ramon, I know you are nervous… It’s useless.”
Oliver blinked, trying to pour polite curiosity into his eyes.
“I think my judgement of people is always accurate.” This time Randy didn’t respond to his gaze, but instead stared intently at a certain blood stain on his shield. “You’re not from ‘our side’. To be honest, I don’t want to have any more interactions with you. Otherwise, when you disappear completely, our mood will only become worse.”
“Disappear completely?” Oliver clenched the hilt of the sword. His back felt chills.
“Do you know when honest people suffer?” Randy pulled the shield, and the edge of the metal shield slashed across the floor of the carriage, making a shrill sound. “Your thoughts are really easy to guess. There are only a few. You have to know that the harder things are, the more thoroughly they break,” he muttered with a cold tone.
“I can probably guess what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that no matter where the Withered Castle is, you can always find one or two not-so-bad people to inquire about information and then work together. After all, you’re not bad. You’re sure you can find loopholes in this mess and get lucky and escape there.”
“You believe that no matter how bad people are, there will always be residual goodwill in their hearts. You believe that you can arouse their will and hope for life. You believe that kindness will always last longer than malice.”
Oliver opened his mouth and failed to make a sound. He could feel his heart sinking slightly—Randy’s tone was gradually becoming cold.
“You believe that good is rewarded with good and evil is rewarded with evil. All despair will eventually end, and there’s always a solution to everything.”
“This shithole will make you abandon these ideas. You will regret your decision today. In contrast, killing someone was really much easier.”
The carriage suddenly bumped violently, causing Oliver’s body to lean forward from the momentum. It seemed like the carriage had stopped.
“We had a great time working together, Ramon.” Randy finally raised his head and looked into his eyes again, this time with no emotion on his rigid face. “Goodbye.”
Almost in the same second. The door of the carriage was opened heavily, and a strong light pierced into the dark carriage.
Oliver was the first to get out of the carriage. He held back the softness in his legs and forced himself to look up at the building in front of him.
It was difficult to say whether it was a mountain or a castle. The castle in front of him seemed to be carved out of an entire mountain. The unexpected atmosphere of the architectural style did not match the somewhat slender name “Withered Castle”. Countless man-made buildings surround this weird mountain-shaped castle. Oliver didn’t see the boundary at first glance. If the surrounding small stone fort was also counted, its size was even close to a medium-sized city. A dark and cold mountain city.
The masked man didn’t leave him much time to observe the terrain.
That person wasn’t the same as Oliver’s memory. He was a lot thinner and his clothes that were originally the right size were now one size larger, making the man covered in white cloth look a little skinny.
Oliver immediately knew the reason.
The man trembled strangely a few times, and then split. It seems that the body was made of colored mud. What made people uncomfortable was that the part that was missing due to the split didn’t grow back but remained missing. Not only did he look horribly thin now, but he also didn’t even have a decent human form anywhere.
The “person” who split out was also masked with a white cloth. He led Randy in the other direction. Oliver turned his head desperately to look, but Randy didn’t seem to respond to him in the slightest.
Oliver rubbed the live collar that was slowly squirming around his neck, sighed, and finally retracted his gaze.
Instead of leading him towards the entrance, the strange, masked man headed straight for a wall. Oliver tried to distance himself, but the impersonal thing seemed to have an invisible leash tied to his hand. Once he was too far away, the sudden pain would make him kneel. Originally, his physical strength was exhausted by the suction of the collar, so Oliver decided to suspend his resistance first. He had to look for the right opportunity…
Just like Randy said.
No, no. Oliver shook his head violently, trying to throw the cold words out of his ears. He will succeed. Nemo was still waiting for him. They had just met not long ago—Nemo was probably going crazy at this moment.
Yes, his lover was waiting for him, and he must be looking for him with his companions. Their journey hadn’t been smooth sailing, nor had they ever seen cruelty before. Oliver desperately tried to lift his spirits. This was just another difficult problem, and the answer must be hidden somewhere.
However, when he stepped into the Withered Castle, he suddenly understood what Randy meant.
Passing through the fantasy-like walls and across the cold and dry corridors, the first thing they passed was a huge square iron cage. The cage was densely packed with people. Men and women next to each other, motionless, with only the faint rising of their chests. They were wearing thin cloth robes of the same style that had been stained with so much dirt that he couldn’t tell what the original color was. The space only allowed them to stand, and they couldn’t do anything other than breathe.
Their collarbones were nailed with uniform metal rings, and the cold metal pierced their flesh. Half a palm-sized metal tag hung at the end. No one spoke, except for the occasional groan. All that was left was muddy and suppressed breathing. The cage was higher than the ground, with a complete set of purification arrays engraved below, equipped with a drainage system. Even so, the faint smell continued to drift everywhere.
It was like captive livestock.
Hearing voices, the crowd in the cage swept their eyes over. There was no emotion in them. They were blank and numb, like the eyes of a dead animal about to be deflated. There was no thought, no pain, not even despair. Oliver couldn’t think of any other words to describe their state besides the word “alive”.
They stared at him with empty eyes, without expectations or pleading, more like a subconscious reaction to a moving object. This was the first time Oliver saw such a gaze on a human.
For the first time in his life, it made him truly scared.
Oliver bit the corner of his mouth fiercely, and after a numbing pain, the smell of blood kept him sober. His throat was so dry that he didn’t even have saliva to swallow. The remaining strength left by the collar was only enough for him to stand firm and move forward. Exhaustion had completely emptied his spirit and his stomach, which had not received food for a long time, began to twitch. He wanted to force himself to continue thinking, but his thinking was like a rusty gear, which could only produce meaningless sounds.
He had never felt so helpless since the night he killed his father with his own hands.
And this time, he didn’t have that warm support by his side.
Unable to despair, Oliver yelled severely at himself in his heart. There was nothing at all.
These chapters are killing me. How long are they going to be separated?!