Kurdak gradually regained consciousness. The cold stone bed made him shiver as there was only a thin layer of straw laid on the bed. While those would stick on one's body during summer due to the sweat, it was pathetic and keeping warm during winter.
Even so, the feeling of sleeping on straw and hard stone made him reminisce, causing him to fall into a slight daze.
After recalling what had happened to him, he was surprised to find that there was no injury on him. The wounds he got from fighting Geoffrey were mostly healed. It was incredibly odd. He knew what kind of person Geoffrey was. How could he still be alive after pulling one of his legs off?
The thought of that caused him to briefly remember the dark-skinned middle-aged man. He had been able to block a hit from Kurdak, a high-order warrior, like it was nothing.
It didn't take long for him to understand what had happened. The Wandering Lance had saved Geoffrey and him. If he could, however, Kurdak would've preferred giving his life in exchange for the first prince's.
He sat up with great difficulty and tried to get a bearing on his situation. Since he was taken away by Kevin, he had been out cold. Part of it was due to his injuries, but Kevin no doubt had something to do with it as well. After all, hauling someone unconscious who wouldn't try to escape would be far easier.
"You're aware?" a deep voice asked.
Kurdak turned to the direction and only just noticed someone sitting on a stool outside his cell. He wasn't able to see the face clearly thanks to the only light source in the room being a weak torch.
However, he knew who that was. The first time they met, Kurdak remembered the sound of that voice by heart. That man had changed his life, ruined it in fact, and forced him to fight nonstop to where he was now. In a sense, he was the one who created Kurdak.
He was none other than Hocke's premier, the old fox that no other fathomed -- Alfreid Rolin.
He quickly calmed down when he found out who that person was. He didn't explode with rage or go berserk and merely looked at the premier calmly. "Since you're here before me, I bet this is the dungeon of Melindor."
"You're a sharp and capable one," Alfreid said with a sigh, "So I really don't understand…"
"I really don't understand why I couldn't identify your talent back then and only saw you as a common stable boy. If you caught my attention back then, I wouldn't have to go through so much trouble dealing with you right now. And boy do I hate troublesome things."
"So, you know who I am then?" Kurdak's expression didn't change at all. If Alfreid really knew who he was, there was a good chance he intentionally acted against him. That meant that Vera was most likely in his hands.
"Smith Merchant Guild,." Alfreid uttered a name that had long been forgotten.
The guild used to be a weapons supplier to Hocke some ten years ago, but they somehow got into conflict with Alfreid, then a strategist. So, he schemed and plotted the guild's downfall. Most of the guild members were either locked up and died in captivity from some accident or exiled to lands with conditions far worse than the cold northern heights to wander and die.
Basically, all members of the guild were cleanly dealt with by Alfreid. However, he missed out on one person, someone with close ties to the guild. He was a youth by the name of Kohler Smith, the son of the guild's chairman. Kohler Smith eventually became Cyranos. He had no choice but to change his name and hide his identity to avoid capture by Alfreid. His new name meant 'silently watchful' in the common tongue and he hoped to remind himself about the dangers of the world and the hatred of the past through it.
Cyranos had always been a rather quiet person as a result of the hate of the family he bore. But, reality was cruel and he didn't get a chance to exact revenge after being killed by orcs out of nowhere.
As for Kurdak, he was someone from the guild as well, but back then, he was a mere stable boy whom Alfreid thought not to be much of a threat.
On the day it went down, Kurdak happened to be out playing with Cyranos, so they managed to escape the Hockian soldiers. But as the searches for the two teenage boys intensified in Melindor, they left the place and hitched a ride to the continent of Lance.
Eventually, those two used the skills they learned from the guild to work as mercenaries. Thanks to meeting a decent man who became the leader of their party, they were able to survive without much trouble. Eventually, they met Vera and Leguna, but it was too bad Cyranos didn't get to survive the last few years of the party.
That was the truth behind the relationship between Cyranos and Kurdak. Cyranos used to be an aloof young master while Kurdak was just a lowly stable servant.
Back then, they had a really close relationship. The young Cyranos was a bright fellow and didn't throw his weight and status around at all. He loved to go play with the huge Kurdak and every time they were discovered, Kurdak wouldn't hesitate to take the blame for Cyranos.
Eventually, some changes in the household caused Cyranos to lose his status as heir. Eventually, the two of them referred to one another as brothers. Kurdak was also rather smart and capable, so he eventually took over as the party leader. Cyranos wasn't the least bit dissatisfied with that as he knew well that he didn't have talent in that department and understood he had only survived for so long thanks to Kurdak's efforts.
Yet, he still perished in the end.
Kurdak shook his head to snap out of his flashback. Those things weren't important for now. Since he was already in that state, there wasn't a point in hiding the fact. "Since that's the case, why don't we have an honest chat then?"
"That is precisely why I came. I also wanted to talk to you." Alfreid stood up and approached the cell. As the cell was constructed with special materials, Alfreid wasn't afraid Kurdak would lash out and hurt him. Not to mention, the court magi sealed off the magic and impetus of all the inmates. Kurdak was now no different from the average strong man.
Kurdak stood up and walked to the cell bars. He could finally see Alfreid's face clearly. After meeting his gaze for a moment, he asked, "Is Vera in your hands?"
"She is. I've always wanted to gain some leverage over you, and that woman set out alone at the most opportune time."
"Where is she?!" Kurdak gripped the bars of the cell tight.
"Do you think I'll tell you that now?" Alfreid expressionlessly said, "If you really want to talk, you might as well ask some more conducive questions."
"Is she still alive?"
"Well, she wouldn't be of use to me if she were dead, would she? Of course, she's alive and living rather well. I have professionals taking care of her. She can't even go on a hunger strike or kill herself even if she wanted to, so don't worry."
"You say it like you expect me to thank you for that! Where's Balor? Did he go to you?"
"Who's Balor?" Alfreid asked, scratching his head.
"Don't play dumb! I know you've looked into our backgrounds!"
"Fine. I admit I did, in fact, do my research. I know that Balor is Vera's younger brother," he said with his eyes unfocused, "But as far as I know, he died on the night he fought Sir Dark Requiem, didn't he? What does he have to do with this matter?"
Kurdak wondered if Alfreid was just lying.
However, most would fail when trying to see if he was telling the truth from his expression.
Kurdak couldn't guess no matter how intently he looked. Balor was a shadow creature, after all, and he himself said that they were really hard to kill. While sunlight did inflict great pain on them, relying on that alone to kill shadow creatures wasn't enough.
The only thing that could kill them was strong light-aspect magic, but Kurdak's investigations showed that the strongest magi in Alfreid's household couldn't be stronger than Bribahns, who was only at the peak mid-order. There was no way he could have killed Balor.
Could he have carelessly encountered a high-order priest then, or was it something else? Kurdak wracked his mind over where Balor could be.Previous Chapter Next Chapter