Cale put down the gulping Cat Knight Sir Rex from his arms and started to walk.
Cale walked down the dark entrance into the underground with only the sound of his steps being heard around him.
* * *
Tap. Tap. Tap.
This dark path had torches at equidistant intervals. There were some water drops falling from the ceiling that looked as rough as a cave.
Only the sound of the water drops filled this area.
There was a long straight path as soon as they arrived at the bottom of the stairs. It was wide enough for a carriage to travel through.
‘It really was a secret passage.’
Choi Han was in the front of the group looking around.
He started to frown.
He could smell the scent of death.
It was a terrible smell that he wished he did not know. It was the smell that he had smelled too many times in the Forest of Darkness and in Harris Village.
His gaze started to turn cold.
– …Human, this smell-
Raon stopped before telling Cale what it was. He tightly clenched his chubby front paws while his round face started to frown.
The front paws of the Cat that was walking down the passage were shaking.
He was used to this smell.
The same thing he smelled a long time ago when he had left his siblings without even saying goodbye in fear that he might be caught overwhelmed him now fifteen years later.
He was barely able to walk.
– Human! There are people up front!
Cale stopped walking after hearing Raon’s warning.
Two knights and one alchemist.
There were two knights standing guard on either side of the wide passage. The alchemist was next to one of the knights reading a document.
Cale tapped on Choi Han’s shoulder.
Choi Han started to walk without responding back.
‘It’s fine if we catch the hunters, however, we will be quickly be found if we touch anybody within the Alchemists’ Bell Tower.
That is why we will not touch anybody and instead quietly go in and come back out.
That is the only way to successfully save the footage and give us time to spread it to the citizens of the Empire.’
Choi Han started to think as he recalled what Cale had said to him.
‘He chooses to take such a difficult path.’
Someone would eventually realize that they had infiltrated the tower, but wouldn’t they work faster and more efficiently if they just knocked everyone unconscious?
However, Choi Han could only move seriously as he was not making that decision.
A strand of breeze blew by.
“Wow, the outside air really is warmer now that it is springtime.”
The knight holding the spear commented while the alchemist reading the document started to grumble.
“I’m just thankful its Spring. Do you know how hard it was in the Winter? All that cold air coming in from the outside, sigh.”
Cale walked past the knights and the alchemists quite leisurely while making sure to remember their faces.
– Human! I will remember these bastards’ faces! I will not let them survive! I won’t forgive anyone in the Alchemists’ Bell Tower! I promised Mary that we would destroy it together!
The six-year-old was constantly being loud, however, Cale looked around without any emotions visible on his face.
They soon came to the end of the passage.
A wide area appeared in front of them.
He suddenly heard the voice of the alchemist behind him.
“There will be no ventilation and this rotten smell will fill the area if we close the entrance. That’s even worse than the Winter cold.”
‘…You son of a bitch.’
Cale started to frown.
It was an extremely wide and large underground hall.
There was also a path coming into it from the east, west, and south, in addition to the northern passage they had come through.
Cale closed his eyes.
– Human, I don’t think I can look at this.
Cale could feel the round front paws that grabbed onto his back.
Raon was holding Cale’s back.
Choi Han’s hand was shaking with a sword in his hand.
They saw a staircase heading down as soon as they entered the hall.
He could not help but look down the stairs.
There were skeletons.
Billos covered his mouth.
He was looking a few meters underneath the ledge they arrived at after entering this hall.
There was a mountain of skeletons.
He could see that these bones were wearing clothes that had not rotted away.
‘…These damn crazy bastards!’
Choi Han’s body started to shake.
‘How could people, how could people do such things?’
It was a large pile of corpses.
There were cylindrical containers located at many spots within that pile of corpses.
Those containers were full of a black liquid.
It was dead mana.
– Human, this must be where they made the dead mana.
Cale blinked after hearing Raon’s weak voice.
He grabbed his left hand with his right hand.
It was slightly shaking.
He was shaking because he was about to go crazy in anger.
He wasn’t the only one.
Both of Billos’s hands were shaking.
Both of Choi Han’s hands were shaking.
One was shaking in disgust while the other was shaking in uncontrollable anger.
Their minds started to go white.
It was at that moment.
They heard someone’s suppressed cry.
Choi Han and Billos flinched.
Mana covered the group at that moment.
“I put a soundproof barrier around us.”
Eruhaben informed the group before the knights in the passage looked behind them.
“What the…? Did you just hear something?”
“I think you must have heard wrong. We’ve heard so many people dying that we think we hear moaning all the time now. Hehe.”
Someone started to speak once even Billos started to frown.
“Damn bastards that deserve to die.”
Billos flinched and turned his head as his body started to shake.
He could not see the person.
However, he could clearly imagine an angry Cale.
But Billos still had no choice but to lower his head.
The sound was coming from somewhere lower than him.
He could hear someone crying.
It was not very loud.
It was someone who couldn’t help but cry after trying to hold himself back so much that he was twisting in pain.
The Cat, Rex. He was the one who was crying.
‘I managed to survive, but…!’
Rex felt like his whole world was shaking after seeing this underground area that he had never clearly seen before.
‘Whose bones are those?
Are those the skeletons of my siblings? My neighbors? My friends?’
The Cat slammed his head on the ground. His forehead started to bleed after being scratched by the rough floor, but Rex did not care.
Blood and tears started to mix together.
The red fluid seeped into the ground without turning invisible.
Rex slowly pushed off of his shaking legs to stand up. He slowly started to walk as he started to speak.
“I, I’m going to go down.”
His voice was shaking and blood dripped from his forehead with every step he took.
Choi Han could only blankly stare at the falling blood drops.
The soundproof barrier magic prevented the enemies located at the entrance of the passage from looking toward them.
There was not much light in this area.
None of the enemies paid any attention to the falling drops of blood.
No, they probably could not even see it.
Choi Han didn’t know what to say about the sight in front of him.
He could feel despair.
Sir Rex’s sorrows and despair made Choi Han think of his past.
Choi Han heard Cale’s voice at that moment.
“I’ll go with you.”
Choi Han also started to walk when he heard Cale’s response. He slowly followed behind the Cat’s small steps.
The Cat, Rex, started to descend the stairs.
He finally arrived underground to the lowest spot in the Empire.
He could see the skeletons piled up into hills.
They seemed to have been dead for a while, as only the skeletons remained.
Rex slowly took all of it in with his eyes. The blood from his forehead had reached his eyes, making him look like he was crying blood.
‘Turn into a Cat and run away!’
‘Yes. Youngest brother, you can do it.’
He still heard his noona and hyung’s voices.
Rex started to speak.
“…I’m going to kill them.”
‘I’m going to kill them all.’
He didn’t know who, when, or how he would do it. He could not think about anything right now.
However, he couldn’t control himself to not say anything right now.
“…The Imperial Prince… The Tower Master.”
He started to list the people he needed to kill.
His tears had dried up at some point.
Rex flinched at the voice he then heard coming from behind him. No, he flinched at the feeling of a soft cloth covering his forehead.
Cale was pressing down on the floating blob of blood, which was where he presumed Rex’s forehead was located, with his handkerchief.
He then bluntly, and honestly explained to Rex.
“The Imperial Prince is mine.”
Rex slowly returned to his senses after hearing the blunt and cold voice that was different from the warm hand that was touching his wound.
He then heard someone else’s voice coming from behind Cale.
Choi Han called out to Cale who slowly responded back.
‘What does he know?’
It was as Rex’s eyes were full of confusion.
Cale crouched down next to Sir Rex. He then whispered in Rex’s ear.
“Sir Rex, look at the highest point.”
‘The highest point?’
Rex’s eyes that had only been focused on the skeletons slowly headed up.
The underground hall seemed to go up forever.
It was almost unbelievable that such an area was located underneath the capital.
But he also thought that they managed to not get caught because it was so deep down.
His eyes stopped at a certain spot as they went up.
It was at the highest spot in this underground hall.
His eyes stopped right beneath the ceiling.
There was an area there that was sticking out like a terrace to view a play.
It was a terrace surrounded by glass.
It was as if the location was built just to look down at this pile of skeletons.
Sir Rex heard Cale’s voice the moment his eyes landed on that terrace.
It was a scary voice that was a mix of both joy and anger.
Cale could see the people visible inside the terrace.
There were heavily armed knights and mages, as well as some alchemists.
“He’s weaker than I am.”
Cale looked at the person at the center of the group as the ancient Dragon, Eruhaben, calmly deducted the strength of the person.
Billos shouted at that moment.
“It’s the Imperial doctor!”
The Imperial doctor that Billos pointed out was handing the person at the center a wine glass. Eruhaben looked at this and added on.
“It’s dead mana.”
The wine glass was full of black liquid.
There was a person drinking that and leisurely looking down at the underground hall.
“…The Imperial Prince.”
Rex’s pupils started to shake.
Imperial Prince Adin.
He was shirtless and sitting on a wheelchair, making the injury Choi Han left by his heart visible to them.
‘He’s drinking dead mana?’
A thick smile appeared on Cale’s face.
Raon shouted in shock at that moment.
“That thing, that bastard!”
Raon stuttered and continued on after seeing Eruhaben not saying anything.
“That bastard became a black mage!”
Billos and Choi Han gasped.
Silence filled the area.
They all flinched after hearing someone laugh.
Cale was the one laughing.
However, it was different than his usual laugh.
Cale didn’t care what his group thought of him as he quietly watched Imperial Prince Adin and his subordinates.
Adin was looking down from the terrace.
“Looking down at this really is entertaining.”
He had a relaxed expression on his face.
Cale slowly petted Sir Rex’s fur as he started to speak.
“Wouldn’t it be fun to grab that bastard by the neck and drag him down to this lowest spot in the Empire? Don’t you agree?”
Rex raised his head without being able to say anything.
He was currently at the lowest point of the Empire. He could see Rex looking down at where he was standing.
Rex then felt the hand move away from his back.
Cale stood up and asked a single question.
“Did you record it?”
They all responded to him.
“I got it.”
“Sigh, never in my Dragon life did I… Sigh.”
Cale’s smile became even thicker.
He started to speak again.
“We will split into different teams and look around the rest of the Bell Tower. It would be great if we could locate the Tower Master, but retreat if you determine that it is dangerous.”
He then emphasized the next part.
“And record everything you see. We will meet back right here.”
Cale touched the video communication device in his chest pocket as he added on.
Choi Han, Mary, Billos, and Eruhaben all started to move.
Cale, Raon, and Sir Rex were one team.
Cale calmly started to speak to Raon.
“What is it, Human?”
“Inform Commander Rosalyn.”
Sir Rex flinched.
It was because Cale’s demeanor was extremely cold.
“Tell her to activate the airship.”
Cale was calling the airship to the Empire.
“As for us…”
Cale slowly started to walk.
“…We are going to the terrace.”
Adin. He needed to verify the condition of that rotten bastard.
What was he?
How did he become a black mage?
How did he heal his body?
– I understand, human!
Cale’s body started to float up. Raon was using flight magic on him.
He quickly held Sir Rex in his arms and slowly reached the ceiling of the underground hall.
Cale was at the same level as Adin now. He could see that Adin’s injury by his heart had healed, but that he was still missing a leg. He still looked fine.
– Human, he does seem to be a black mage! But something is weird. He’s full of vitality! How did he heal? Something is definitely weird!
Adin started to speak as the information Raon just said was quickly moving through Cale’s mind.
“There’s a rumor that Cale Henituse is dead?”
The corners of Cale’s lips were twitching.
There’s a rumor that I’m dead, right?’
“Yes, your highness. There is indeed such a rumor. It supposedly started from the North.”
The knight responded back while Adin took a sip of dead mana as if it was wine before casually responding back.
“That’s a lie.”
Adin looked out in front of him.
Although he couldn’t see it, Cale was making eye contact with him right now.
“There is no way that Cale Henituse would die that easily.”
Adin confidently shook his head as if he didn’t even need to think about it. He slowly closed his eyes as if he was feeling the dead mana roaring inside of him before opening them back up.
He seemed completely relaxed as he confidently added on.
“I’m sure that he is at least hurt since the airship is said to have exploded. That is probably why Alberu Crossman pulled out this drastic card of saying Cale Henituse is dead in order to buy some time for him to heal.”
Cale barely managed to prevent himself from laughing.
‘I’m not hurt.
I’m completely fine.’
“We need to hit the Roan Kingdom before he heals. We need to shake it up. We need to shake this board up. Then I’m sure that they’ll forget about the black magic incidents. Although a lot of people will die.”
Adin had his gentle smile on his face as he shrugged his shoulders to his trusted subordinates in order to say that it was sad but that there was nothing he could do about it.
Cale was smiling right in front of Adin.
‘Hey bastard, you’re the one who is going to kick the bucket soon enough.
You don’t have time to worry about others right now.’