Clack, clack, clack.
The bones collided, the horrifying rhythm sounding bizarrely cheerful. The blue mist rose to roil and twist under the cold moonlight. The black shadow coming out of the mist showed the outline of a carriage.
You c an fi nd t he la te st cha pte rs at ( th e ir on tr ee bl oo ms. c o m )
How could there be a carriage here?
What kind of carriage could move so unimpeded in this forest? Could they be witnessing a horrible apparition? On this cursed night! The vow knights clenched their swords and their loyalty was definitely worthy of a rose badge awarded by the King himself——they shuddered at this terrible and unexpected circumstance, but did not flinch away.
“Let’s tell sad stories of the death of kings, my dear.”
A singing voice comparable to that of first-rate tenors echoed out from the thickening fog, each pronunciation so clear, so elegant and so impeccable. But it was also full of unspeakable evil and ostentatiousness, as if a poisonous snake was flicking out its tongue and showing off its fangs. The voice was saturated with both ridicule and coldness.
It was as if the impending death of a king was an excellent performance to be seen at the best operas.
The shadow of the carriage finally revealed itself in all its horrifying glory, and some of the vow knights could not help but groan weakly——
Oh God! What kind of carriage was that?!
Droplets of sulfurous flames splashed around a humongous bone pale carriage that was pulled by shadowy monsters with an unclear visage. They seemed not to pass through the real world, but to cross the distance in a different spacial realm that happened to overlap with the material world. They passed directly through the thousands of years old pitch-black giant trees.
“Some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison’d by their wives: some sleeping kill’d;
In the wake of the ancient opera, the poisonous snake that wandered in the dark raised its head high.
The sound of the wheels rolling forward was like thunder, the skulls letting out high-pitched cackles, the nightmare horses rose up from hell, and countless night owls screeched in the dark as they flew up into the sky, their wings dotted with the cold darkness of night.
The carriage leaped out of the dark woods and bushes, and suddenly stood still on this small clearing amidst the sound of night owls flapping their wings and the low cry of the nightmare horses. The sulfurous fire dripped onto the dark green moss. The blue mist rose from both sides, and the vow knights could clearly see every delicate bone that made up the pale carriage, every flame of ghost fire, every red rose in full bloom on the vines coiled along the bones.
The handsome guest from hell in black formal attire sat in the driver’s seat of the carriage. And it was he who let the ancient opera sound once again in the world.
His voice suddenly changed, becoming extremely low and deep, like the hissing of a poisonous snake before it launched a fatal attack.
“——For within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court!”
The singing was interrupted, and the knight commander bravely launched an attack on the guest from hell he had never faced before. The silver armor on his body was cast in a glorious light by the moonlight. The other vow knights followed his lead, roaring together and swinging their swords at the uninvited guest with evil intentions.
The Devil wore a top hat, his face shrouded in shadow. He did not move.
The nightmare horses pulling the bone carriage flicked their tails impatiently and the cold black mist floated out. The brave and loyal vow knights fell one by one, dragged into the deepest nightmare.
The Devil jumped down from the carriage and walked briskly past the vow knights on the ground, not sparing them even a glance. The Devil came to his unconscious little king and took off his top hat.
“I’m here to pick you up, Your Majesty.”
The Devil bowed deeply and gracefully to the young king shrouded under the cold light of the moon.
He appeared so elegant and so polite, despite singing the most terrible and strange opera verse and arriving on a bone carriage driven by nightmares.
The scarlet rose was still pinned on the Devil’s chest. He picked a few roses from the rose vines coiled on the carriage, and held the throny roses in his hand just like a person attending a funeral would hold a bouquet of white roses. Lying silently on the dark green moss ground was the King shrouded in cold moonlight, eyes still.
The sharp, ice-blue eyes of the young King no longer opened.
The moon god was attached to this child. He only appeared more beautiful in the moonlight. The coldness, violence, and sharpness temporarily faded from the King’s countenance. With his eyes closed he looked like the perfect holy son, exquisite and sacred. It was definitely not an exaggeration to claim that he was the incarnation of a saint from just his appearance alone——if not for those few drops of blood.
The scarlet red, already coagulated blood stained the corner of the King’s eyes and cheeks.
They were only a few small flecks, just like a devout religious painter who suddenly fell after carving out the most perfect holy child, and heavily splashed the wicked, the crazy, the cursed bloody tears onto his perfect face.
Therefore, heaven and hell, sacred and bloody, merged into one to be embodied by the King.
The Devil walked around the King unhurriedly, constantly tearing off the soft petals of the roses, just like the priest did when he sent the deceased to sleep in the grave, and sprinkled the blood-red petals on the King’s body.
He was here to happily prepare the funeral for the King.
Death shadowed the King.
For the Devil, nothing was better than this. He had been waiting for this day for more than ten years. When the King’s breathing ceased completely and life’s vitality was gone from the King, he would welcome the King to another kingdom.
When the mortal King closed his eyes, the monarch of hell would open his.
“Leave with me, my dear Majesty.”
The last rose petals fell and the Devil sat on the ground next to the King. He manifested a golden harp out of thin air. His slender and pale fingers flicked the ancient strings at random, making a pleasant sound. He lowered his voice and whispered in the ear of the King, like the poisonous snake tempting the first man to swallow the bright red fruit of evil.
The cold moonlight continued to cast down on the King.
“Come with me, Your Majesty.”
The Devil made a sweet promise softly.
“The long river of red gold flow over the dark earth eternally. It is the wealth that has fallen into the darkness through the hands of the greedy. The most beautiful diamonds, the most flawless marble walls, the most splendid golden river……all of that can be yours.”
The crows quietly landed on the branches, waiting for the new corpse with dark red eyes.
“There is also a kingdom there. Although those naughty little fellas look a bit odd, I assure you that they will be the most obedient servants in the world. If you want, you can fly across the skies on the keel, and even the lords of the abyss would not refuse your calling.”
The cold enveloped the King, his pulse gradually became slower, his breathing became lighter than that of a kitten, and the last bit of blood on his lips disappeared quietly.
The Devil’s voice was gentle and soothing. If he was willing, he could be the most successful persuader in the world.
Even an angel would be tricked into falling to hell by him.
Now, he had undoubtedly taken out all of his abilities, trying his best to seduce the young King to give up his tenacity and allow death to swallow him up.
He sneered slightly in the ear of the King, a sneer with such a deep meaning.
“Your father betrayed you——he sold you to the Holy See and then to the Devil. Your subjects betrayed you, and your so-called relatives long for your early death. No matter where you are, people are trying their best to make you die.”
“In truth, no one wants you to survive.”
“Aren’t you very clear on this?”
No one wanted you to survive.
Curse-like words traveled to him from far, far away.
The King stood in a mist and raised his head expressionlessly. The sky was gray and the surroundings were also gray. There were many fuzzy figures hidden in the surrounding gray mist.
He vaguely felt that he had forgotten a lot of things.
Where was this place? A dream?
The King walked forward.
The shadows on the left and right moved with him, like maggots burrowing their way through flesh and bone. The scarlet fire was burning against the ground and trailing behind him like a viper, intent on swallowing him whole. Countless hands stretched out from the mist, dry and pale. Those hands grabbed the King and tried to drag him down.
——You see, no matter where you are, people are trying their best to make you die.
The whispering, ghostly voice burrowed into his mind.
The red fire raged up and swallowed the King. Boiling, blazing, burning the soul. Blood rolled down from the corner of his eye. He closed his eyes tightly.
——Come, to another kingdom that truly belong to you.
The golden lake of fire, the black earth, the docile and loyal servants, all the wealth of heaven and earth……the magnificent and luxurious picture unfolded in the King’s mind. All the existence there was waiting for him with joy.
——Please leave with me.
That voice was also laced through with suppressed joy.
A slender hand stretched out from the thick fog and reached out to the falling King. The hand was pale as if it was lit with brilliance.
Waiting for him to reach out.
The King slowly stretched out his hand. The voice stopped as if its owner was restraining ecstasy.
The King suddenly opened his eyes in the fire, and the drop of blood rolled from the corner of his eye and plunged into the black flames. The ice-blue eyes were as cold as a long blade tempered in ice water.
He opened his arms and let the scarlet flames swallow him up.
Leaving the pale hand hanging there empty.
In the forest.
The King’s breathing came quickly, and an abnormal flush swept across his pale cheeks. A fierce battle between death and life was enacting within his body.
The Devil put down the harp whose strings were all broken in an instant with a sullen face.
Darkness hung over his face.
His dark eyes stared at the King who was gasping for breath, but was still in a coma.
The Devil said in a compromising tone.
“Sorry but, you can’t expect a Devil to abide by the contract, right?”
He stretched out his elegant and slender hands and stroked the King’s pale cheeks, the blood staining his hands.
He intended to take away the King directly.
A smile flicked across the lips of the Devil.
But at the next moment, a bright and holy light surged up, like an ice cube suddenly being dropped into a blazing fire. The Devil jumped up abruptly and threw off the damn holy flames that had covered his hand in that moment.
“Secret baptism! Those damn priests!”
The Devil was furious.
You c an fi nd t he la te st cha pte rs at ( th e ir on tr ee bl oo ms. c o m )
The church once held a grand baptism for the King in St. Westa Cathedral. On the day of the King’s coronation, the representative of the Pope, who had specially crossed the Abyss Strait, used holy oil from the golden eagle-shaped bottle and anointed the King’s chest, the center of his back, as well as the head, shoulders, elbows, and palms.
This had become the King’s protection at this moment.
The King opened his eyes.
“Go away, Devil.”
AN: Devil: Wanna go on a date?
King: F**k off!
 From Shakespeare’s “Richard II”
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