Uncle Mason nodded and I continued, saying, “Tell Uncle Akbu that the one coming is the Ghost King, Blood Queen Margaery. He has to send the young men away as well.”
“Oh, Akbu!” Uncle Mason called Uncle Akbu, who had started to leave. Uncle Akbu turned to look at him, and Uncle Mason immediately said, “Xiao Bing said that some ‘Blood Queen Margaery’ is coming. She told us to bring the young men too.”
“What?! Blood Queen Margaery?!” Uncle Akbu did know Blood Queen Margaery’s tastes. He immediately pulled aside another middle-aged man and whispered into his ear.
The other man’s face grew pale and he shouted, “All men below twenty-five years old, listen up! Put everything aside and get onto Wave Braver.” That man’s voice was as loud and bright as an amplifying speaker. My ears were buzzing too. Although his face was covered by a thick beard, I could faintly sense that he was like Bill.
The young men who had been providing assistance earlier immediately put aside everything they were doing, boarding Wave Breaker along with the women and children.
“We’re handing them over to you. We owe you a great debt.” Uncle Akbu held Uncle Mason’s hand firmly. “I didn’t get to ask your name earlier, brother.”
Uncle Mason looked stunned, choking back sobs as he answered, “Just call me Sam. We’re leaving before a hurricane sinks us. Don’t worry, we will come back for you.”
“I saw their fleet.” Brother Qian Li suddenly appeared on the screen too. He’d already already become a man. He was no longer our big brother, but a steady father instead. He seemed to be wearing light, improvised glasses.
Uncle Mason patted Uncle Akbu’s arm. Then, he immediately boarded Wave Breaker. Uncle Akbu stood in the fading sunset and watched Wave Breaker leave in silence along with the other men. They hugged one another and let out breaths of relief. It was as though they had just won a battle. They quickly cleaned up the scene.
Brother Qian Li could see really far away, and he told us it would be a while until Margaery arrived.
“Luo Bing, we’re coming back.” Uncle Mason was overjoyed and tears welled up in his eyes. “We got them. We got them,” Uncle Mason repeated twice. He lifted his hand to wipe away his tears. He nodded with a smile, saying, “I finally brought them home.” His voice and the image disappeared as he turned.
What I actually thought then was this: It may be easy to bring them home, but the difficult part will be to keep them. Would they forgive you for what happened back then?
“Ugh. Why is he so emotional?” Gehenna looked down at me as he stood by my side. I didn’t reply.
“I never expected that there would be so many people in Koont Village,” Nathan sighed.
“Mm, they hid well.” Blue Feather crossed his arms.
“That’s because no one doubted them, and we were too lazy to search. How could they escape from your eyes, Nathan?” Nino took out a cigar from his waist bag and put it into his mouth. “No one comes by that place. It’s so old and poor. Who would have thought that there would be so many people?
Nino was right. Koont Village was located in a remote area. It could be said to be on the border of the Ghost Eclipsers’ territory. It was only used as a temporary stopover, and the people of the village were Ghost Eclipsers too. Koont Village looked old, and as Nino had said, most Ghost Eclipsers were too lazy to search carefully. That was why the other Ghost Eclipsers had never thought to be suspicious.
“They met the North Star, and she really brought light to them,” Nino puffed out a smoke ring. The others nodded and sighed too. They looked as if they were missing something; more than that, they looked worn out.
What were they missing? They missed their past selves from before they had become Ghost Eclipsers, and the identity of being a ‘good person’ that they had lost.
Why were they worn out? They were exhausted by massacre, weary of war, tired of plundering, sick of being Ghost Eclipsers.
“They could stop being Ghost Eclipsers and become good people. Heh,” Blue Feather sounded disdainful, but in truth, I could tell he was jealous.
Gehenna looked at me cautiously. I rolled my eyes at him. “Say it quickly if you have something to say. Fart if you want to.”
“Pfff.” There was someone who farted for real.
“Nathan!” Blue Feather roared at Nathan, who was next to him, while holding his nose.
Nathan was stunned. Everyone looked at Nathan disdainfully and waved.
Nino held his nose. “Nathan, you were frightened to the point where you farted. You must really be scared of Boss Luo Bing.”
“Protect Boss Luo Bing!” Blue Feather suddenly spread his wings and fanned away the scent that had yet to spread. Nathan slowly squinted and glared at Blue Feather.
“Sweetheart...” Gehenna stood in front of me and blocked the bunch of drama queens with his body. “They’re so despicable! They follow whoever gives them milk. They’re not worthy of you treating them well. If the Ghost Eclipsers were to come around, Akbu would definitely betray you,” he commented with a tone of certainty.
I looked at the blank screen. “They wouldn’t, because they were once family,” I said as I turned to look at Gehenna.
Gehenna looked at me, clearly confused. “Family? Who are you talking about?” I only continued to look at him.
“You’re saying… Akbu and that Mason?” Vanish was astonished. Everyone looked surprised when Vanish spoke.
“I remember... eighteen years ago, there was a war on Saya Plain. They were fighting over a military base,” Earl said solemnly, and everyone fixed their gazes upon him. He became even more serious, as though he were a scholar giving a lecture on history. “I remember that both parties were powerful. Oh yeah, it was the Ghost King who was knocked out by Nubis. He didn’t manage to take the base, but he took his enemy’s people as captives. Then they joined his troop as Ghost Eclipsers. Back then, the Ghost Eclipsers weren’t operating on such a large scale. People ran their own territories.”
“Yes, it was much messier back then.” Vanish nodded in agreement. “Actually, there weren’t many Ghost Eclipsers. You were the people who strengthened the current Ghost Eclipsers.” Vanish looked at me grimly, anger churning in his eyes. I could see his deep disappointment with the world.
Gru kept his distance from Vanish and the other men, but when he heard that, he couldn’t help but look at them.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
Everyone fell silent. Nathan lowered his head, Nino smoked with his eyebrows tightly knitted, Blue Feather retracted his wings, Vanish looked away, and Earl pushed his glasses up.
“You didn’t want them. You abandoned them,” Gehenna chuckled and said. He lifted the corners of his lips and smirked in disdain. “You had forsaken them. Those who were weak, sick, and old became the Ghost Eclipsers you see. Hmph. Now I understand why you said that the people in Koont Village were family of those people you know. They were once abandoned, right?”
I fell silent. I looked at Ghostie, and he said nothing.
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