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    Warning: Blood.! — You can hide marked sensitive content or with the toggle in the formatting menu. If provided, alternative content will be displayed instead.

    Swish. Thump. Thud.

    The same sound echoed through the air for the second time. Shortly after, it was accompanied by what sounded like blood splattering on the floor. The only difference was that this time, the severed head didn’t roll down the slope below. It hung suspended on a rocky ledge, its eyes wide open, staring into the air.

    “Ugh!”

    The youngest stepped back hurriedly, gasping for breath. The eldest’s eyes, still filled with a glimmer of life, filled his mind. But he couldn’t afford to be lost in shock.

    Tap.

    The sound of slow footsteps thundered in the youngest’s ears. He barely managed to turn his gaze before he heard the continuing sound.

    Squeak.

    In the youngest’s eyes, only now did the red blood flowing from the sword become visible. It was the blood of the two people who had been laughing and joking with him just a moment ago. Overwhelmed by fear, the youngest felt as though he would die right then and there.

    Thud, thud.

    The sound of approaching footsteps and the accompanying sound struck deep fear into his bones. His whole body trembled uncontrollably, emitting a sour smell as he wet his pants with urine. However, the sight of his own embarrassment of his current state meant nothing to him now.

    I too will soon have my head cut off like that.

    With this thought, he couldn’t retreat any further and a flash suddenly came to mind. A swordsmanship so fast that it couldn’t be seen with the naked eye. Tremendous strength to cut off a neck with a single stroke. Moreover, the severed section of the body was in such a smooth and clean state.

    It was a story he had heard from someone at a tavern once. Back then, he had laughed and listened with amusement. Rumors were always exaggerated, he had chuckled, joking about how mediocre the protagonist of the story must have been for the rumor to be just this much. He even said the nickname “King of Slaughter” was undeserving of him.

    The youngest’s gaze turned towards the severed head of the eldest which had his eyes wide open. The part of the severed neck where blood was flowing caught his attention. Cutting through a human body is no easy task. Tougher skin than expected, even tougher muscles, and solid bones. Cutting all of this in one stroke was an unimaginable feat.

    But there he was, standing in front of him, accomplishing it with a single stroke and an invisible speed. The youngest couldn’t breathe due to a new wave of terror washing over him. He didn’t think it was possible, but the name of the King of Slaughter kept echoing in his mind.

    “Ka, Karas?”

    Without realizing it, he let that name slip out of his mouth. Then the sound of approaching footsteps stopped. Hazy gray eyes stared directly at the youngest. Faced with that gaze, the youngest took a deep breath. He immediately realized that he had made a mistake. The answer that shattered his belief that it couldn’t be true, that the emperor who had bathed the continent in blood couldn’t possibly be alone here, echoed in his mind.

    “Yes.”

    The other person answered his name as innocently as a child. It was real. He truly was the real King of Slaughter. All the youngest could do was choke on his blocked breath. His gaze only saw Karas’ movements.

    With a thud, the duck in his hand fell to the ground, it was as if he was saying, ‘I will really kill you,’ as he emptied his hand. However, the one who intended to kill someone had a face as indifferent as when he threw the duck a moment ago.

    To him, getting rid of the youngest was no different from throwing away the duck. Killing him immediately would be as inconsequential as getting rid of the two. The reason he didn’t use his hands right away was to ask a question.

    “Why?”

    Tap.

    Taking a step forward, he uttered in a bored voice. However, the youngest, upon receiving the question, could only half-open his mouth without answering. He still couldn’t believe it. That the mention of the name Karas elicited a response from the other person, and that it truly meant it was him.

    But as he saw his head tilted sideways thud, his heart pounded as if it would burst. He met his gray eyes that glimmered darkly.

    “Why did you call me?”

    What should I say? Even after his brain commanded, it took a while for his body to move.

    “I, I have committed a crime worthy of death!”

    The youngest remained prostrate on the floor, bowing his head. And he started begging unconditionally.

    “I, I’m sorry. Ah, for inconveniencing you… If, if you spare my life… I will do anything. If you ask me to do anything, I will do it with all my might. So, you just let me live…”

    Noticing that the sword had not yet struck his neck, the youngest dared to lift his trembling eyes slightly, clinging to a sliver of hope. Karas still had his head tilted to the side.

    His heart sank again. A desperate thought filled him that he had to do something. Otherwise, he would meet the same fate as the eldest and the second, who were beheaded in an instant. Would a solution really come when desperation reached its peak? And then, something came to his mind.

    “Ah! I, I have something to tell you!”

    The youngest prostrated himself even lower on the ground and opened his mouth to speak.

    “T, there are soldiers stationed on the flat road of the mountain a little away from here. It is dangerous, so I will guide you to a safe place.”

    “……”

    “I, I’m serious. The lower path is our activity area… But the soldiers have been occupying it for a few days, so we had no choice but to come up here.”

    Sobbing, he began to speak of what he knew but still heard nothing from above him. Did it work? The youngest lifted his eyes a second time and saw the hand raising the sword. The owner of the hand asked indifferently once more.

    “Why is that?”

    Clench. The youngest clenched his closed eyes tightly. Now he had no choice but to die. And the moment he lowered his head, a miracle suddenly happened to him.

    “Ugh, why….”

    The clear voice of a young man, awakened from sleep, pierced the air filled with the scent of blood. As the youngest hastily turned his eyes, he saw a fairy with a grimacing face lifting his upper body. The fairy was muttering while pressing his stomach with his hand.

    “Haa, why is my stomach rumbling… huh?”

    Abel, who had half risen, finally noticed the situation around him. A strange man lying on the ground and two severed heads. And the familiar figure of Karas holding up a sword. He understood the situation immediately. He had experienced something similar before.

    Back then, it was numerous corpses strewn across a field, and now it was just two, but the shock still made his heart sink. However, there was still more to be surprised about. The youngest began crawling towards Abel, shouting.

    “Y-Young Master! I’m sorry. I’ve committed a grave sin. P-Please forgive me!”

    Abruptly asking for forgiveness, Abel’s mouth, which was half open in surprise, widened even more.

    What is he saying? But the youngest turned his body towards Abel and burst into tears mixed with pleading.

    “Uhuhu, please, please spare me. P-Please spare me. Only my life, only spare my life, young master. Uhuhuhu, master, please.”

    A stranger shaking his shoulders and crying for mercy. Abel blinked, momentarily forgetting the pain in his stomach.

    “Oh, uh, yes?”

    He barely uttered a foolish remark and looked up at someone who seemed to know everything about this situation. Karas, who still had his sword halfway up in the air, noticed the gaze and turned his eyes at him. When his gray eyes met Abel’s, Abel sensed the presence within them. It was the same eyes he had seen when they first met on the field. Involuntarily, a shiver ran down his spine, and the desperate plea’s words echoed once more, this time with even more incomprehensible words added.

    “Ugh, Young Master, please. If you spare my life, I’ll do anything. I truly, truly didn’t know. I didn’t know you were such a precious person to him!”

    Who’s what? As Abel doubted his ears, the youngest continued his explanation.

    “B-Because you are so beautiful, we committed a crime worthy of death. Huhuh, if we had known that you were such a precious person to Karas, we would never have done anything to approach you. Uhuhuhu.”

    It was revealed that Karas was the one they were talking about. However, even when he heard the name directly, Abel still couldn’t make sense of what the youngest was saying.

    What on earth is going on?

    Startled, he looked up again and saw Karas staring down at him with narrowed eyes.

    And once again, Karas seemed to sense Abel’s gaze like a ghost, and he quickly turned his eyes.

    Abel trembled at the increased tension. The gray eyes that looked at both of them were equally cold as if the youngest’s words were Abel’s opinion.

    Fainting and waking up already disoriented, Abel’s stomach also grumbled unexpectedly. And on top of that, there was a sudden death threat that came out of nowhere. Although he didn’t know what was going on, Abel felt like he might die right there so he hastily spoke to the man.

    “Oh, um, I-I think there’s some sort of misunderstanding here. W-what I mean is, I’m, um, a precious person to him…”

    “Yes! I understand that you’re his precious person! So please, I beg for your forgiveness and spare my life, young master! Uhuhuhuhu.”

    The misunderstanding deepened. Abel didn’t avert his eyes, but he felt the intensity of the gaze on his skin.

    Thud.

    Moreover, he heard the sound of footsteps taking a step forward. Abel didn’t know who the man was, but he was sure he was going to die. So, unfortunately, he didn’t have the luxury to grant his plea. Abel hastily bowed his head to the youngest in the same manner.

    “No! I am definitely not a precious person!”

    Startled by Abel’s attack, the youngest raised his head in confusion but soon burst into tears and shouted even louder.

    “Why, why are you doing this, young master?! Uhuhuhuk, please have mercy on me and spare my life. Uhuhuhuk.”

    “It’s true! Please believe me too! I am definitely not, uhuh, a precious… person!”

    Abel shouted desperately, clutching his painful stomach. Then, an immediate retort was heard.

    “Did you say that he even caught that for the young master himself?”

    Even while lying face down, the youngest pointed with his finger near Karas. Abel and Karas both turned their heads to that spot at the same time. Two ducks were neatly laid out together on the ground.

    “….”

    “….”

    After a long silence, the two men’s gazes met. For a brief moment, it seemed as if Karas’ eyes were looking at the empty space, but soon he spoke in a low voice without concealing his presence.

    “I’m going to eat it all.”

    “Ah, yes.”

    Of course, added Abel, quickly nodding his head. Yet, somehow, he couldn’t shake off the feeling of unease mixed in his voice. Of course, there was no time to dwell on it, especially when his life was at stake. No, his growling stomach was more urgent.

    He felt like his stomach was about to explode. Before dying at Karas’ hands, Abel felt like he would die from the pain in his stomach first. Abel, who had turned paler than a corpse, decided that he needed to end this situation quickly. He barely stood up and proposed to Karas.

    “Commander. If you spare our lives…”

    Abel didn’t feel like saying the next words, but he closed his eyes tightly and blurted them out.

    “I will give you very important information that can lead to future success.”

    As he took a deep breath and opened his eyes, he saw his cold gray eyes. Abel looked straight into those eyes and added.

    “It’s information about that person.”

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