In a dimly lit room, two men approached each other.

Their eyes met, reflecting a deep sadness. They failed.

They knew, in the quiet of their hearts, that their efforts to defend their nation had fallen short.

They stood there, close yet divided by the weight of their disappointment.

The silence between them was laden with regret, each man lost in his own reflections of what could have been, what should have been.

"Richard, I did everything within my power," Becker said, his voice wavering as he fought back tears.

Becker struggled against the rampant corruption that plagued the nation.

He tried to eradicate the many criminal organizations tarnishing their land. Novel Fire -

Yet, despite his best efforts, he found himself powerless against the Blackguards' overwhelming influence.

Becker clenched his fists in rage. "It is all his fault!"

Richard stone looked at his friend with sad eyes. He, as his right-hand man, knew how much he tried. He knew how much effort he put in.

"It's not your fault, Armand. Who could predict Volkov would join the Blackguards?"

"I should have." He threw a punch to the wall, shattering it into many pieces.

"Volkov has always been jealous. Since the day I got put as Frant's leader, he did everything he could to put me in a poor light. This time he succeeded."

Richard did his best to support his friend. "For all that matters, we know you didn't really do what he accused you of."

"That doesn't really make me feel better… Can you believe it? He unleashed a Heniate near New Alexandria just to get rid of me… Many people died because of him."

Silence ensued. There was no way to change the past.

"What did you do when you fled the city?" Richard asked.

"I went to the forest. I wandered for a little before Volkov's men found me. Luckily, Liberty Watch's village found me before they could kill me."

"If it wasn't for Noah, they would have killed you."

"Yeah. I guess, after all I've done to them, I can't blame them. But I had no choice, you know that, right? If I got that training technique, maybe our men would have been able to do more. To prevent the Blackguards' influence on the city."

"Yeah. But we wouldn't know that for certain. Maybe that would have led to nothing."

"What did Noah promise you?" Richard asked again.

"To help me get rid of the Blackguards. I had no reason to refuse cooperation. What really surprised me, though, was that he works for Erik Romano."

"Yeah," Richard said. "That was a surprise for me, too. I thought he was dead."

"That was what I believed. When he disappeared, I got really mad. I wanted him to help me get rid of the Blackguards. He had the power to do so, based on what some people said. But learning he was alive, and he was already working against them, was a genuine surprise. I guess it's ironic how Lucius's son is the one that is trying to end what his father started."

Richard had a sad and concerned look on his face.

"Is there any news about Lucius's location?"

"No. Becker said. The day we were supposed to meet, he disappeared. I guess the Blackguards got him before I could send men to help him."

A pensive look appeared on Richard's face. "Based on what Lucius said, he had solid proof the Blackguards are the ones behind the Sinister Cold. Do you think it's a coincidence that his son became so powerful?"

Becker was shrouded in uncertainty about many things, yet he harbored a strong conviction regarding Erik Romano's sudden rise in power.

It seemed far from a mere coincidence that the once-crippled son of one of his most formidable agents had undergone such a dramatic rise in power.

In Becker's eyes, this was no random twist of fate. He was convinced that Erik must have inherited something significant from his father, something that could explain his newfound strength.

That Erik's sudden transformation was merely a stroke of luck didn't sit right with him—it had to be more than that.

"When I got told he awakened I was doubtful, but now, based on what the Blackguards are doing, it is clear that is not the truth, or at least not the whole truth. They know something we are not aware of."

Richard maintained a stoic silence, his expression unreadable. He was aware of the secrets that Becker kept closely guarded, information shared only between Becker and Lucius.

Richard, often left in the dark about anything regarding Lucius, could only speculate about the depths of these undisclosed matters.

The realization that there were layers to Becker's plans and strategies, beyond his comprehension, lingered in his mind.

"Last time you sent him on a secret mission. Where did he go?"

"On the Mur continent," Becker said. As he heard those words, Richard got the shock of his life. That was the most dangerous place in the world.


"There is a reason the Blackguards made their base in Hin. That nation is linked to that continent, and besides, they are the only thing that prevents the Thaids from invading the rest of the world, including Hin. To be honest, I think the Blackguards were the ones that formed the nation itself. That is why I attacked them. I needed to know what they were searching."

"Searching?" Richard asked.

"Yes. They made their base there to search for something, but I don't know what. Lucius said he had found out what it was in his last message, but couldn't share that information with me at the time, as the bastards were already on his tracks."

Memories started resurfacing inside Becker's mind. They were not pleasant.

"By stirring troubles in Hin, I gave Lucius the opportunity to sneak inside the country unobstructed. Based on what happened, I bet he found something, maybe the very same thing the Blackguards were so desperately searching for all those years. I bet that something ended up in his son's hands."

"That would explain why the Blackguards are going all out to capture him."


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