SoJ Episode 9 Chapter 157

Episode 9: Shackles of Judgment / Chapter 157: Awl (1)

TL: emptycube / ED: Oer


 

Flame-Rain stood in front of the thirteen towering stone plates. She did her best to not bend her back and tremble her legs and the tips of her eyes as she raised her head slightly.

Although she looked exhausted, she looked dignified like a queen.

{Did you find the location of the monsters’ queen?}

“Although we found a few possible locations-“

{Did you find it?}

“We didn’t find it.”

{So you failed your mission.}

Flame-Hell spoke coldly.

Only two out of the thirteen Exalted Wings commented, Flame-Hell and Flame-Thorn. The other stone plates remained silent as graves.

{While an incredible number of highest-ranked and high-ranked warriors died in battle… You failed your mission, you say…?}

Flame-Thorn’s words followed a rhythm like a song, slowing and popping at certain words, as she criticized Flame-Rain.

Flame-Rain bit her lips.

“… I am strongly aware of this fact.”

‘Strongly aware.’ Flame-Rain was truly pained by it.

This reconnaissance mission was, in reality, a mission leading to death, yet those warriors followed her to that place while smiling. They always considered themselves as her subordinates.

After Flame-Sky died in battle, the Flame Wing Tribe abolished the monarchy.

Flame-Rain was no longer a princess, and following this, she wasn’t able to have subordinates. Yet, there were still people who followed her. Flame-Rain had avoided them in case they would experience disadvantages because of her… Which was why she didn’t even properly know their names and faces…

‘Fools. Without receiving anything… You all went so far to protect this stupid woman…’

Flame-Rain mumbled inwardly.

The warriors had readily laid down their lives for her, yet only a hundred survived out of a thousand. That was all. The rest had died because she was weak.

She could make an excuse. ‘From the start, the Exalted Wings gave me an impossible mission!’ She could resent them. However, she didn’t.

‘Even if I did… It’s my responsibility for acting within their expectations.’

Yes, it was her fault. However, if she lowered her head in front of them and submitted because of this, it was clear that this would be an even greater fault.

Flame-Rain clenched her fist tightly as she stiffly raised her head.

“But! I cannot accept your words that I failed my mission. During the expedition over a few months, we confirmed the total area of the monsters’ universe, its topography, and three possible locations for the monsters’ queen. Not only that, we confirmed that the monsters’ forces are greater than we expected, including newly discovered ones. Of course, because of my incompetence, countless warriors… died in battle… However, we did not fail our mission. They did not die for a failed mission!”

Blaze. Blaaze!

Each and every time she opened her mouth to speak a word, her hair would blaze white.

Her flames, which usually gave off a bright yellow and orangish light, was gradually turning white. After her hair, her eyebrows, then her eyes, soon even her skin swayed with white flames; they rippled around her like wings.

Looking at her appearance, a stone plate, who had been maintaining his silence, replied.

{… Princess. Was there some progress?}

Before Flame-Rain could reply, Flame-Thorn shouted coldly.

{Exalted Wing Flame-Fog. Whether in the alliance or our tribe, there is no ‘princess’ position!}

{…}

In reality, everyone called Flame-Rain ‘princess’, even Flame-Thorn. However, no one could argue if the ‘rules’ were brought up. Flame-Fog quietly backed down and his stone plate became silent.

Then, another stone plate joined in.

{I too believe that the princess… No, Flame-Rain’s mission wasn’t a failure.}

{Exalted Wing Flame-Ember!}

Flame-Thorn raised her voice.

Unlike Flame-Fog, Flame-Ember didn’t back down and shouted.

{…!}

{…?}

That moment, various indescribable thoughts raged between them. In a single second, vast amounts of information regarding the history of the alliance and the Flame Wing Tribe went back and forth between Flame-Fog and Flame-Thorn’s stone plates. An extremely quick dispute created from their transcendent cognitive skills and the alliance’s technology.

It was an intense argument.

In the end-

{Enough-!}

Whoosh!

Flame-Hell’s stone plate rang loudly and shattered the frantic flood of thoughts. As the chairman of the Brain and the prime minister of the Flame Wing Tribe, when Flame-Hell acted, Flame-Thorn and Flame-Fog tightly shut their mouths.

Even during this commotion, Flame-Rain stood proudly, blazing with white flames.

Flame-Hell spoke.

{Flame-Rain.}

“Yes, Exalted Wing Flame-Hell.”

{The mission was finding the precise location of the monsters’ location, and you failed to do so. Then is the mission a failure or a success?}

Flame-Hell’s voice was courteous yet cold.

“However, we found three possible locations.”

When Flame-Rain argued, an enormous hologram appeared above her head. It was the map of the monsters’ universe she had brought. There were three red dots on it. They were the possible candidates for the queen’s location.

{I acknowledge that. So was it a success?}

“…”

Flame-Rain didn’t say a word. She wasn’t even taken aback. She simply proudly gazed at Flame-Hell’s stone plate.

In the end, Flame-Hell gave up on waiting for her answer and said.

{You were only partly successful. Too many warriors died compared to the results you obtained.}

He was scolding her, pointing out that they died because of her. These words were clearly meant to strike her.

However, Flame-Rain didn’t bite her lips. She simply blinked, blazing with white flames as if asking, ‘So what is it that you want from me?’

Seeing her like this, Flame-Hell realized that there was no use provoking her anymore. She was tougher than before and more resolute than ever.

‘She’s definitely changed… I don’t know if she’s truly advanced further. However… It’s too late.’

Yes, her growth had always been swift and surprising, but it was too late. Flame-Hell didn’t feel any sense of danger from Flame-Rain. Instead, he pitied her. She had been the more precious girl in the great Flame Wing Tribe. Yet, her fate now rested in his hands. No matter how resolute she became now… It was too late. In fact, because she became so resolute, she might even despair even more from now on.

A long time had passed since Flame-Sky died in battle, and the moment the Flame Wing Tribe abolished the monarchy, the course of the game had already been decided.

Even Flame-Fog, who wanted to maintain his fidelity to Flame-Rain, couldn’t do anything in front of him for a long time now. The only one who could protect her was herself. This was also her weakness.

It might have been more of a pain if she gave everything up and clung to him, but she always tried to protect herself with her own strength, making her easier to use.

Wasn’t it the case this time? This princess volunteered to walk into hell, and she selected her troop according to the wishes of those who hoped to be her hands and feet. The more she tried to depend on herself, the more power she would lose.

Flame-Hell decided to make another announcement. While it didn’t equate to certain death, he assigned her a mission where it was highly likely she would die. For she wouldn’t be able to refuse this time as well.

 

{Then I will give you the opportunity to fulfill the other half.}

Following Flame-Hell’s words, two of the red dots disappeared, leaving only one red dot remaining.

{According to High-ranked Warrior Choi Hyuk’s information, a Kahur Kabkun creating a demise-ranked monster is near that red dot. Search the red dot region and destroy that unborn demise-ranked monster.}

Blaze!

The moment she heard the words ‘demise-ranked monster’, Flame-Rain’s proudly blazing flames wavered. Seeing this, Flame-Hell said.

{Please avenge His Late Majesty Flame-Sky…}

Choi Hyuk had already wreaked havoc at that Kahur Kabkun. The monsters would obviously be prepared now. Him ordering her to enter that region and destroy the demise-ranked monster was the same as telling her to step on a visible landmine.

However, Flame-Rain didn’t become gloomy from this thought. This wasn’t the first time anyways.

Only, Flame-Rain vacantly gazed up towards the sky. She might have been thinking about her father. Her eyes soon returned to their unwavering state as she stared at Flame-Hell’s stone plate.

She said,

“Please do this for certain. If I return victorious… Please arrange an event commemorating my triumphant return. Don’t change your words after I finish doing everything you asked.”

{Your declaration just now could be considered as an insult to the ‘Brain’. Why not be careful of what you say?}

Dark-Sound cut in.

Flame-Rain sighed as she turned around.

“I, Flame-Rain, am the 28th ranked transcendent warrior in the alliance. I have only now returned from the war. Since it wasn’t a loss or a victory, I plan to redeem my insufficient results. As I will provide the alliance with certain victory this time, I expect a warm reception according to the alliance laws the day I return victorious. Then, due to being exhausted, I will go rest now.”

{…}

The Exalted Wings showed their agreement with their silence.

They had been able to push her because she had been cooperative all this time. As the 28th ranked warrior in the alliance, she undoubtedly had the authority to request a break after returning from war. This was especially true considering she would soon step out onto the perilous battlefield again.

 

Tap. Tap. Tap.

On her way back down the Road of Glory, Flame-Rain discovered the flower petals on the floor. When she spread her hands, the petals gathered on top of her palm. Flame-Rain put them away in her pocket and began walking again.

With slightly lighter steps and clearer eyes, she resolved,

“If I return alive this time….”

 

**

The colonization of the Laniakea and Shapley Superclusters was progressing smoothly. Since they had annihilated the Kahur Kabkuns of the Rotten Border and a large area, the monsters’ obstruction wasn’t fierce either.

Only, whenever they found traces of karmalings who had experienced a gruesome extinction, they were momentarily filled with mixed emotions as they thought, ‘They all died to be used as nutrition for the demise-ranked monster…’

It progressed smoothly with no hiccups. At this rate, it was only a matter of time before they finished the mission given by Dark-Sound and Choi Hyuk would receive his large reward.

However, Choi Hyuk didn’t seem to be very motivated in colonizing. There were many instances when he stared blankly, lost in his thoughts.

“Leader, what are you thinking about?”

When Lee Jinhee asked,

“Huh? Uh… The demise-ranked monster.”

Choi Hyuk would either reply like this or mumble to himself,

“… Isn’t she going to contact me?”

Looking at him like this, the artillery captain Handke tilted his head, saying, “Hmmm…. If he wasn’t the leader, then these definitely are the actions of a boy falling in love for the first time… This would be true if it wasn’t the leader…”

Then a day came when Choi Hyuk, who acted like someone with a screw loose, regained his vigor.

It was the day Chu Youngjin contacted him again.

 

Choi Hyuk abruptly shouted,

“What? A subjugative expedition has already been formed? Without me? Then what about me?”

{Ah… Yes, they already left for battle.}

“Already?”

Facing Choi Hyuk’s admonition, Chu Youngjin said as though there was nothing he could do about it.

{This was originally a secret. The troop that I’m a member of obtained this information because they are very informed for some reason… But I didn’t hear about it right away since I’m a new recruit.}

“Ah… But I wanted to slice it…”

As if disheartened, Choi Hyuk stretched his legs and burrowed himself into the sofa. Seeing this, Handke mumbled, ‘He’s in love alright. In love with fighting.’ It seemed like Choi Hyuk couldn’t forget the thrilling sensation he felt when he faced the demise-ranked monster.

While Choi Hyuk was wallowing in his disappointment, Chu Youngjin, who had been paused for a moment, added some more information.

{Apparently, the princess is the leader of the subjugative expedition again.}

“… What?”

Choi Hyuk’s eyes shined viciously.

 

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Comments 7

  1. a hundred survived out of thousand > out of a thousand | Even within in this commotion > Even during this commotion | wasn’t loss or a victory > wasn’t a loss or a victory | But I hear about it > heard

    Thanks for the chapter.

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