This chapter was brought to you by AnmesicCat, Cindy, and StellarAshes.
Fortune Teller Mocha
Jasmine walked in front of Liola, and upon seeing the girl’s back, Liola felt indescribably apologetic even though he didn’t know things would end up this way. He certainly didn’t mean them to.
“I thought you were someone ordinary.”
Jasmine’s strained voice could be heard, and the trembling of it was still audible. “In the end, your identity gets more and more astounding; Silver Mask, the Imperial Prince, and now the future Dragon Emperor?”
“I never knew I was the Dragon Emperor’s son, really I didn’t.” Liola looked down as he explained.
Jasmine was silent for some time until she asked, “Where have you been exactly, for the past year or so?”
“I…” Liola wanted to say something, but stopped and quieted down. What should he say? That he had went to another world, and then returned to this world with the help of devil Gle? If he didn’t explain the whole thing from the beginning, he’d probably end up inciting more suspicion, but how could he begin from scratch? How could he tell Jasmine and Lanski that the Dragon Emperor was a heinous mastermind who, in order to conquer the world, would unscrupulously frame others?
“Can’t you explain even a little bit? Just how many more secrets do you still have?” Jasmine’s voice was agonized, “Did you know, when we found out Liola was Silver Mask, how chaotic our feelings were? It would have been better if we could at least sort things out with you, but you just had to go missing, and no one even knew if you were still alive.”
“At the same time, Lanski and I were worried if you were dead or alive, and we didn’t know how to face one another.” Jasmine lowered her head, “Originally, we had already decided on a fair competition between us, like it always has been.”
“But you…” Jasmine suddenly turned around, her face already laden with tears, “How could you end up as Lanski’s brother? What would you have her do now? Do you have any idea how much something as simple as calling you ‘brother’ would hurt her?”
“I…” Liola lowered his head imperceptibly, knowing he had hurt Lanski. But the current situation could not be changed by any endeavor. Blood relations wasn’t something dissociated by simply saying “I don’t want to be your brother either.”
Jasmine forcefully wiped away her tears, “Tell me, Liola, who do you actually like? Do you somewhat like Lanski?”
Quietly observing Jasmine, Liola suddenly realized the girl in front of him spoke only of the injustice done against Lanski, but never did she once mention herself. Liola mulled for awhile, until he sensed another familiar girl was nearby, eavesdropping. Not wanting to harm either of the two, he carefully said at last, “I don’t know what liking someone feels like.”
Jasmine faltered. This answer was too unexpected for her; how could anyone not know what liking someone felt like?
“No matter what title I carry now, be it Silver Mask or Prince, I know who I truly am.” Liola said decidedly, “I am an Assassin.”
Both girls, near and far, stiffened at these words.
“Ever since I was young, other than the necessary training for killing people, I knew nothing.”
“Even before my first kill, the only thing I experienced was innumerous and heartless training. I never knew if I would survive the next moment. After I starting killing, the only things I knew of were the people to be killed and a list of those people. The only things I fathomed was that if I could not kill the person I faced, the one dying would be me.”
“Other than ways to survive and the thought of not wanting to die, I have never thought about anything else. Something like whether or not I liked someone eluded me.”
When even survival became a luxury, who cared about power, love, or money?
Liola apologized deeply, “Sorry, I’ve tried my best to understand love, but to this day I am still unable to, so I am unable to give you an answer.”
“Liola….” After hearing Liola’s sincere explanation, Jasmine’s heart had already softened. She had no idea the man in front of her grew up like this. A child who was raised as a killing machine, how could he be blamed for not understanding love?
“Silver Ma…” Out from the corner came Lanski, who hesitated briefly then changed her way of addressing him. “Liola.”
While Jasmine was startled by her presence, Liola, who already knew Lanski was there, quietly waited for her to continue speaking.
Lanski forced a smile, “I’m very happy you’ve returned, brother, I’ve always wondered what kind of person my twin was.”
Seeing Lanski’s smile, Liola only felt acutely uncomfortable. He urged, “Don’t force yourself to smile…”
“No, I truly am happy.”
Lanski cut off Liola’s words, contemplating Liola’s earlier monologue. The two of them were twins; she had always been the princess everyone adored, but Liola was the child of prophecy who would kill his own father, and thus lived as an outcast and nurtured as an assassin, to the point where he was unaware of emotions… the difference of heaven and earth between their situations aggrieved Lanski.
Now that Liola was finally accepted by his father, the Emperor, how could she not feel happy for him? From a young age, her brother had undergone so many sufferings. Compared to it, Lanski felt her love was far too insignificant. She could not possibly trouble her brother even more because of it…
“La-Lanski.” Jasmine felt unbearable, for Lanski’s smile was much too bitter.
“Brother, it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand love right now. Jasmine will teach you well.” Lanski smiled brightly, even deliberately glancing ambiguously at the other two.
“Lanski.” Jasmine quelled Lanski, and pleaded, “Can we not talk about this right now, please?” Even if it was already impossible for Lanski and Liola, even if Jasmine herself still really liked Liola, she didn’t want to see Lanski get hurt for her sake.
Lanski could not help but nod at her good friend’s plea, and though she stopped speaking about the matter, she made up her mind to find a way to match these together one day. Nobody deserved happiness more than the compassionate Jasmine.
Though unaware of the significance of Lanski and Jasmine smiling at one another, seeing the two were no longer under a cloud of despair, Liola finally relaxed a little. As soon as he looked up, however, he saw Mizerui standing a dozen of paces away, staring at him with a terrible expression, his eyes looking like he wanted harm Liola severely.
Seeing Mizerui, Liola sighed in relief, thinking his escape shouldn’t be too difficult now.
Seeing the three had noticed him, Mizerui walked over leisurely, and greeted Lanski indolently, “Greetings, Your Highnesses, Prince and Princess.”
Lanski didn’t seem to have much of a response towards Mizerui’s courteous greeting. Everyone knew this mysterious Sorcerer seemed to acknowledge no one but the Crown Prince. She simply nodded in answer.
“His Highness Mocha wants to see the brother he never met and had me bring His Highness the fourth Prince to him.” Mizerui blinked towards Liola.
Liola understood immediately and played along, “Okay, I will accompany you to go see eldest brother.”
Turning around, Liola met the unquestioning eyes of the two girls, and suddenly felt compunction. Say if he ran away undeviatingly, wouldn’t doing so be unfair to these two girls?
“I… am going for a bit.” Liola struggled for a bit, but still said this to the two.
“Eldest brother…” Lanski was a bit hesitant. After all, the person who prophesied Liola would kill his father was the eldest Prince. She didn’t know what Mocha’s intent was in meeting Liola, but no matter what Mocha was planning, Lanski couldn’t really find a way to prevent Liola from seeing him. When she was done hesitating, Lanski suggested, “I haven’t seen eldest brother for a long while either; how about I go with you together?”
Liola and Mizerui’s faces changed slightly and the latter lethargically glanced at Liola, implying “you handle it.” Unable to think of an excuse, Liola decided to frankly deny Lanski, “No, I want to see Mocha alone.”
Noticing Lanski’s downcast eyes, Liola couldn’t help but say, “I-I want to ask him about the prophecy he told back then, so, uh…”
“Okay.” Lanski nodded, but then said worriedly, “No matter what eldest brother says, d-don’t take it personally; prophecies aren’t necessarily true.”
Liola nodded, feeling a bit apologetic underneath, for Lanski had always cared about him, yet he seemed to have done nothing but deceive the girl. He swore to himself that at the least, he would see these two again before he left, and no longer disappear without a word.
“Then let’s go see the baby.” Jasmine pulled Lanski along, then said to Liola, “After seeing His Highness, come find us. We promise to take good care of the baby and not take one step away from him.”
Jasmine was giggling in expectation of seeing Baolilong after such a long time and truly wanted to go hug it. But the more prominent reason was that Jasmine was skeptical of Liola staying in the palace. After all, the man had too many precedents of running away, and since she couldn’t follow Liola everywhere, she decided to follow Baolilong everywhere, believing Liola would not desert Baolilong and escape.
Liola wasn’t sure if it was just a hallucination, but it seemed that Jasmine’s eyes were flashing with craftiness. Nevertheless, since Mizerui was still standing on the side waiting, he didn’t think much of it. After nodding to Jasmine, he left with Mizerui.
* * *
Mizerui still appeared lackadaisical, but Liola noticed that his his footsteps were fast and hurried, completely contradicting the relaxed look on his face. With Mizerui’s fast pace, the two quickly left the imperial palace, and though they were still within the city walls, they were a good distance away. Liola raised his head, and quickly found Mizerui’s destination: a lonely tower standing over a grassland. The black walls, the thin body, and the runes on the tower all looked incredibly strange.
“You troublemaker, why did you come back with the Dragon Emperor?” asked Mizerui blamingly after he slowed down, knowing there wouldn’t be anyone around in the vicinity.
Liola hesitated, then replied, “I don’t know… I came here as if it was the natural thing to do.”
“You…” Mizerui felt an immense headache, not even able to admonish any more, and could only say helplessly, “Don’t you already know how powerful the Dragon Emperor’s hypnosis is? Did you stare into his eyes?”
Liola paused, and the deep purple eyes of the Dragon Emperor surfaced in his mind. Those caring and worried eyes gave Liola a sense of family for the first time. From then till now, every action of the Dragon Emperor reflected that of a happy father who finally had his son back as well as that of a faithful husband who had lost his wife. Realizing this, Liola’s pace slowed to a stop. Was his being friends with Mizerui and Barbalis behind his father’s back in a way a betrayal?
Seeing Liola stop, Mizerui also stopped. He asked, bewildered, “What’s wrong?”
Liola raised his head to look at the strange tower, then turned around to look at the shining palace. He couldn’t help but backed up slowly. No matter how much he speculated, the black tower was for more sinister than the palace behind him. For the first time, Liola began to have doubts about his having chosen right or wrong. Up to this point in time, he had only seen things from the perspective of the people in Aklan, and never from his father’s…
Mizerui also noticed something was wrong with Liola. Deciding immediately, he charged up and pulled out the Dragon Cross Necklace hanging on Liola chest. Liola had at first thought Mizerui was about to attack him, and almost pulled out Broken Silver, but stopped when he saw Mizerui was simply pulling out the familiar necklace. Mizerui used this opportunity to press the Dragon Cross Necklace against Liola’s forehead.
In an instant, a burning sensation came from his forehead. Liola yelled in pain, and pushed away Mizerui’s hand, but the pain finally cleared Liola’s mind. The recurring images of those purple eyes were gone, and Liola looked nervously at Mizerui. He asked skeptically, “Was I just…”
“Hypnotized, yes.” Mizerui said coldly.
Liola thought it was strange, “I didn’t feel like I was hypnotized, just that…”
“You suddenly felt like the Dragon Emperor wasn’t a bad man, and perhaps you misjudged him?” Mizerui said bluntly. Liola nodded, and Mizerui sighed, “If this hypnosis had continued, you would have felt the whole world had misjudged the Dragon Emperor, and with him taking over the world would bring everyone happiness. Then, like Lancelot, you would help him uncompromisingly.”
Mizerui sedately explained, “Dragon Emperor’s hypnosis is fairly mild. Coupled with the imagery he purposely created, it is actually the strongest way to control someone.”
Liola froze. The imagery he purposely created? That Dragon Emperor full of fatherly love and the love for his dead wife were all fabricated?
“Let’s go. Mocha is still waiting for you.”
Liola shook his head. It didn’t matter whether the Dragon Emperor’s fatherly love was real or not. He knew it would be fine as long as he stood with his companions. Having made up his mind, Liola once again walked to follow Mizerui, his back facing the shining palace, and walked into the dark tower.
When they arrived at the tower entrance, Mizerui suddenly stopped and said, “You go in.”
Liola looked with confusion at Mizerui, who casually shrugged and said, “Mocha insists on talking to you alone.”
Liola nodded, pushed open the door himself, and a long, spiraling staircase appeared before him. Liola climbed the stairs step by step, and the door behind him slammed shut with a bang. The inside of the tower suddenly lost its only rays of light. Although darkness wasn’t a big problem to the Assassin, Liola felt puzzled, would the other people who came here not need light as well?
Without even taking more than a few steps, Liola suddenly noticed fluorescent letters and symbols appearing on the two surrounding walls, some of it even looked like pictures. Two of these words written in a large font attracted Liola’s attention. To anyone else here, the two words looked like nothing but symbols and pictures, because nobody understood the language; that is, unless the person looking was from the other world.
“Silver Moon,” The two words were written, using the language of the other world.
Because of these two words, Liola began to carefully examine the things on the wall. In fact, if someone else saw this, they would definitely think these were drawings of a child. Every pictures and symbols seemed to have little relations with one another; some of which looked like indecipherable drawings. However, in Liola’s eyes, this wasn’t the case at all.
One of the pictures had a thin and long stick. Though Liola was a bit skeptical, but this should be a painting of his Broken Silver.
Another picture had an unusual crude gun. Judging from the shape, it should be Kaiser’s gun.
Liola followed the pictures on the wall. Some of the pictures, he knew immediately after seeing. But as he progressed, Liola practically didn’t know what the pictures were about. One of picture was a doll with a X crossed on it, and another had two hearts being together within a circle. Seeing such strange pictures, no matter how much Liola guessed, he couldn’t figure out what the pictures represented.
He continued to circle a few times, but he was still clueless. Liola decided to ignore them, and walked towards to the end. The moment he stepped out of the staircase, he suddenly realized he was standing underneath the stars. This staircase reached all the way to the top floor of the tower, and the tower had no roof.
“What did you think those pictures?”
With a seemingly ethereal voice and with his black long hair reaching the ground, a purple-eyed man sat quietly in the center of the floor with crossed legs. He had a black robe on him, and there were no redundant decorations in this floor. The only things there were a futon the man sat on, as well as paint and carving knifes scattered about. Liola noticed, the circular drawings on the ground looked like a magic circle, but he had no idea what it was for.
This man must be none other than Mocha. Just seeing his purple eyes were identical to the Dragon Emperor’s, Liola was certain he was the eldest prince, Mocha.
Mocha’s eyes looked at Liola coldly. Although he was waiting for an answer, he didn’t actually cared about Liola’s answer. Whether it be veneration, admiration, or fear, he didn’t care. In fact, he didn’t care about much of anything. After seeing the future, Mocha had long lost the feeling of anticipation.
Liola thought briefly, and answered honestly, “Hmm… the drawings are a bit ugly.”
“Huh?” Mocha paused, then asked, “What did you say?”
Liola was quiet at first; he didn’t know if he was too direct. He repeated tactfully, “The drawings are a bit abstract.”
Mocha still stared at him blankly. Liola didn’t know what he should do. Was he supposed to lie despite what he really thought and say the drawings were done well?
Mocha burst out laughing. Opposite of his previous coldness, his laugh was unexpectedly hearty.
Liola suddenly didn’t know how to react. He didn’t understand what Mocha was laughing at, nor did he know what response he should make. He stood still as he listened for a while. Liola suddenly realized, the sound of his laughter was quite similar to Cappuccino’s.
Finally, Mocha refrained from his laughter, but he still said with a smile, “What I meant was, how do you feel about the content of those pictures.”
“Oh.” Liola responded, although he still didn’t understand why Mocha was laughing.
“I do sincerely apologize, my pictures were too ugly, hahaha.” Mocha couldn’t help but say, and at the same time burst into laughter again.
Liola scratched his face, deciding to add the person in front of him to his list of people who have Sudden and Compulsive Laughter Disorder, and ignored all his laughter. He asked, “Could you really see the future.”
“Yes, although I really didn’t want this ability.” Mocha smiled vaguely.
“Will I… really kill the Dragon Emperor?” This was the future Liola was most concerned with.
“I foresaw you drove Broken Silver into father’s chest.” Mocha didn’t respond directly, but instead told the picture he had seen.
This imagery was clear enough. Could driving Broken Silver into the Dragon Emperor’s chest be anything other than killing him? Thinking about the Broken Silver in his boots might one day stab into Dragon Emperor’s chest, Liola suddenly felt a discomfort in his heart. What was wrong? Could he still be under hypnosis?
“Brother…” Mocha suddenly called to Liola, and asked with hesitation, “Do you hate me?”
“Hate you? Why would I hate you?” Liola frowned.
Mocha remained silent for a long while before he explained, “When I saw you would kill father, I thought about it for a long time. Finally, between you and father, I chose father, and so I told him my prophecy, hoping to stop this from happening.”
“I abandoned you, and caused you to be exiled when you were young, resulting you being trained as an emotionless Assassin.”
“But, perhaps I didn’t stop this from happening, and instead stimulated it.” Mocha turned his head to look at Liola, his brother, and the only person he felt guilty towards.
Liola was quiet. He didn’t care about what had happened; it was not necessary to dwell on things that had already happened. What he truly cared about was the future. If this continue as they were, Liola was bound to oppose Dragon Emperor, and killing him seemed like the only way to resolve the problem.
However, Liola suddenly remembered the feeling of his head being touched, as well as the kapok left in front of the tombstone.
Facing Mocha, Dragon Emperor’s eldest son, Liola naturally thought of him as the person who understood the Dragon Emperor the most. He asked the question that had been echoing in his mind, “Do you think Dragon Emperor is a evil man?”
“Evil?” Mocha smiled warmly, as if he heard the words from a naive child, “What do you consider as evil? Does a person who want to conquer the world represent evil? Is a person like you, who had been trained to kill since you were child and your hands are covered in blood, evil? Is the lawless Gle evil?”
“I don’t know.” Liola, who only had one question before, gained nothing but more questions.
“Whenever you decide to stand on one side, the other side must be evil.”
This answer didn’t seem to answer anything. Liola fell even deeper into silence.
Perhaps feeling guilty towards him, Mocha sighed, and gave him even more hints, “Would you ever oppose your companions?”
Liola immediately shook his head.
“Your companions include son of Aklan prime minister, daughter of a Commerce Alliance Commander, and the descendant of Gle, who had been framed. Could they ever not oppose father?”
“Then why are you vexed? You do not have any room to choose.” Mocha threw this conclusion cruelly.
“I… I don’t want to kill him.”
Liola hesitated for a while, and finally formally admitted what he thought. Even though the Dragon Emperor had caused him much pain, the Assassin, who didn’t think much of killing the Dragon Emperor, was now hesitating. He suddenly realized, the person who carried the name of Dragon Emperor was his own father. When the man who wanted to conquer the world was his father, instead of a man who could be completely described by the word “evil”.
Mocha suddenly stood up, and held onto Liola’s shoulders. He said movingly, “Then do whatever you can so you won’t kill him. Brother, facts have proved that, even if I could foresee the future, the only one who could prevent it is you. Only you can stop yourself from driving Broken Silver into father’s chest.”
Liola looked at Mocha quietly, and he said slowly, “You hope I don’t kill him? Then why do you side with Mizerui? There’s no way you didn’t know Mizerui opposes the Dragon Emperor.”
“I didn’t side with anyone. If there is anyone that I side with…” Mocha slowly took out a flute from underneath his robe. The wooden flute looked aged, to the point where it was beginning to decay.
“I think I side with Caffey.”
Mocha lightly touched the decaying flute, “Brother… whether the Dragon Emperor is successful or not at conquering the world, I don’t care at all. I just hope you wouldn’t take Caffey’s life; don’t kill our father.”
Looking at the decaying flute, he suddenly understood.
He was the only prince who would play the flute in the royal garden, then falling asleep without knowing it.
“I won’t kill him. I swear I won’t.”