Chapter 29 – The Queen’s True Visage
Cloudhawk stared at her for another long moment, then carefully crept forwards to take a closer look. The Bloodsoaked Queen simply lay there, seeming completely lifeless. Blood continued to trickle out from underneath her mask, and she looked no different from a corpse.
Just a few moments ago, she had invincibly swept through all opposition! How was it that she had inexplicably perished just a few moments later? Cloudhawk stared at the Queen, his face filled with confusion. The savage mask was completely inscrutable, and nothing but darkness could be seen underneath the eye-sockets of the mask. He couldn’t see her eyes at all, but he still felt as though he was being stared at. He couldn’t help but shiver.
Cloudhawk’s gaze slowly turned downwards, only to notice that her chest was slowly rising and falling by just the tiniest of amounts. The Queen was still breathing. That meant she wasn’t dead yet! What had happened? Had she suffered a serious injury which caused her to pass out on the spot?
Cloudhawk felt certain that his guess was spot on. The Queen probably had already been injured; she had forced herself to put on a strong front when she dealt with the sweeper leader, and the reason she immediately left in such a hurry was because she knew that she was at the verge of passing out. And yet, before she managed to return to her own residence she passed out in this alleyway.
All of this was simply inconceivable! The almighty, invincible commander of Blackflag Outpost, the Bloodsoaked Queen, was lying here in the alleyway, completely helpless. Even someone as weak as Cloudhawk could do anything he pleased to her. If others discovered her or if word of her presence her spread, it would probably cause an enormous commotion.
The spoils didn’t take too long to divvy up. Some people were already beginning to return to their homes in the outpost. The Bloodsoaked Queen was in a very dangerous position. There were assuredly many who were dissatisfied with her reign, and wastelanders were vicious and sly; there was no way they would give up such a golden opportunity.
What was he to do? Should he simply ignore her and leave her to her fate? Cloudhawk’s gaze paused for a few moments on her gloves and her cross. The minute vibrations emanating from them caused his heart to tremble as well.
By now, it was all but confirmed that the Bloodsoaked Queen’s power came from these gloves and that cross. She was able to use that strange energy in her body to activate these unique items, giving birth to incredibly destructive forces.
Cloudhawk reached up, clutching his stone necklace in his hands. This stone of his was definitely an extraordinary item, but he hadn’t been able to find the proper way to use it. Cloudhawk couldn’t help but wonder… was there some sort of a connection between the Queen’s special equipment and his stone? If he could learn her abilities, would he gain access to supernatural abilities like her? This prospect was incredibly enticing to him.
The stone really hadn’t done much during the past month. He was in desperate need of someone sufficiently knowledgeable who could teach him about it.
No, no way. This is crazy dangerous. Her nickname is the Bloodsoaked Queen! That name alone proves that she’s not exactly a nice person. Even Slyfox was extremely wary of her! Given how powerful this woman was, it was entirely possible that she would recover within minutes. If Cloudhawk decided to be a busybody… he could almost imagine what would happen.
Perhaps it was best to leave. There was nothing more important than staying alive. She’s neither family nor friend. None of my damn business if she lives or dies. Even if he did save the Queen, she wouldn’t necessarily show him any gratitude… and even if she was grateful, she wouldn’t necessarily teach him her techniques. And even if she DID teach him her techniques, they might not be useful in activating that special stone!
The risks here were enormous. The more Cloudhawk thought about it, the more he felt it wasn’t worth it. It was better to not get involved and to leave immediately.
He had made up his mind, and he was going to leave immediately. If the Queen suddenly woke up and saw him lurking around here, she would probably wipe him out without a second thought. To her, it would probably be as easy as crushing a bug! But just as Cloudhawk turned to leave, he was suddenly arrested in his tracks.
Wait a second! Cloudhawk suddenly thought back to those strange words the mysterious man had said. The Bloodsoaked Queen seemed to have a unique background. She wasn’t from Blackflag Outpost; in fact, she wasn’t even a wastelander. Then… where did she come from? Was there actually something beyond the wastelands? If there was… what type of a world was it? Had that dreamy world of the Old Times truly been completely destroyed?
Ever since his earliest days, Cloudhawk’s greatest dream was to leave the wastelands. Blackflag Outpost was nothing more than a temporary residence for him. Cloudhawk felt certain that he would leave this place, sooner or later, and embark on a journey through the wastes. If he continued to just remain here as a mercenary, he would be trapped in the wastelands for all his life. In the end he would die a meaningless death and turn into yet another wastelands corpse, as he had in that dream.
Saving this woman carried inherent risks; there was no question about that at all. But… there was no way he would have a second opportunity at this. Was he really going to give up his one and only chance?
Cloudhawk felt as though his head was exploding. Countless conflicting thoughts were clashing in his head, smashing together like meteors and creating countless sparks. In the end, one desire blazed hotter and hotter, becoming so powerful that it completely overwhelmed all of his other worries.
“Fuck it. If I die, I die!” Cloudhawk grabbed a piece of tattered cloth, covered the Queen with it, then lifted her onto his back.
This woman was terrifyingly powerful, capable of stopping blades with her bare hands. But right now, she was weak that she didn’t seem to have so much as a single bone in her body. She was like a soft, elastic ball of cotton… and this was doubly true for her ample, perky bosom which pressed against him. Although Cloudhawk’s young age meant that he didn’t really understand much about the affairs between men and women, he knew that no wastelander woman could ever be like her.
Thunk. Cloudhawk used his leg to kick open the battered door to his wooden residence, then piggy-back carried the Queen in, his forehead mattered with sweat. He first put her down on his bed, then ran outside to scan the area. After verifying that no one had trailed him back or had noticed him, he carefully crept back inside and shut the door.
Cloudhawk sat there in front of his bed, his mind a complete blank. He was still uneasy, and he didn’t know if he had made the correct decision or not. The Bloodsoaked Queen was someone who cut down men like grass. Last year, she had killed the previous commander as soon as she arrived at Blackflag Outpost, then used absolutely bloody methods to wipe out any who dared oppose her rule. She had then established iron order upon the outpost, and no one who dared to violate her rules would be spared!
She was like a chunk of cold iron, a cold-blooded tyrant. However, Cloudhawk hadn’t experienced any of that himself, and so he didn’t really truly ‘know’ what she was like. But if Slyfox knew what he had just done, Slyfox would’ve been so furious that he unquestionably would’ve executed Cloudhawk with a single shot.
Did the kid really think that the Queen would be grateful to him just because he had saved her? When she woke up… in order to preserve her image of invincibility and her rule, the very first thing she would do would be to get rid of this busybody kid. Honestly, he was probably the only person in the entire outpost who would make such a stupid decision.
And it really was a stupid decision! Even Cloudhawk knew it, but he felt he had no choice. The allure of the outside world was simply too great for him. He desperately wanted to learn more about what lay outside the wastes.
Can I become as strong as the Queen? Will my dreams end up as just that; empty dreams that will never be realized? Is there really a ‘heaven’ that exists outside the wastelands, or is there nothing more than an even greater wasteland?
Cloudhawk felt extremely nervous and restless. Not only was he worried about how the Queen would react, he was worried about if his dream would vanish like a popped bubble. He wasn’t satisfied with living an ant’s life, with simply surviving one day at a time. He wanted to live, to truly live. He wouldn’t give up any chance of that!
Deep breaths, buddy. Deep breaths. Cloudhawk forced himself to calm down, then wiped his face and stood up.
What sort of a face lay under that savage mask? An equally savage, hideous, and violent one? Did she look like a monster, with glaring fangs and a savage mien? But in this era and in this place, not even the most hideous, monstrous, and disgusting of faces would cause Cloudhawk to feel even a hint of surprise.
Cloudhawk took a deep breath, summoning all his courage and tamping down the fear in his heart. He then reached out to lift the mask up, wanting to satisfy his curiosity… and he was thunderstruck by what he saw.
Cloudhawk’s eyes bulged out, and his entire face froze. He stared blankly at the face in front of him. Not even in his wildest dreams would he have imagined that a face like this was hidden behind that terrifying, savage mask.
Willowy eyebrows, almond-shaped eyes, cherry-red lips… this was the epitome of classical beauty. The woman had a high nose, and a head of long and smooth night-black hair. She was tall and slender but had curves in all the right places. She truly had every single trait of Asian standards of beauty, and when you factored in her absolutely alabaster-white skin… she truly was flawless and without blemish.
The demonic Bloodsoaked Queen, who the members of Blackflag Outpost venerated like a god, had the youthful face of a seventeen or eighteen year old girl. Her eyes were tightly shut, her long eyelashes were fluttering slightly, and she was wincing slightly as though she was in pain. Even the most hard-hearted of men would feel a desire to protect and cherish her.
This maiden was several years older than Cloudhawk, but Cloudhawk had never seen anyone as beautiful as her. She couldn’t even be spoken of in the same breath as the ugly, coarse humans of the wastelands. She truly was like an angel that had fallen from the heavens. No one would ever conflate the merciless, murderous Bloodsoaked Queen with this statuesque, jade-like beauty.
This world really was a crazy place! Cloudhawk grabbed a towel, then used it to help clean her bloodstained face. He moved with the utmost of caution and care, as though he was cleansing a priceless work of art.
The Queen’s beautiful crimson lips trembled a few times, and a wince of pain once more appeared on her surpassingly beautiful features. Cloudhawk hurriedly went to find some water, bringing it to the Queen’s lips. The Queen gulped down water in large mouthfuls before the anguished look on her face slowly relaxed, but she still did not wake up.
Cloudhawk removed the gloves from her hands. As he did so, he sensed a strange type of power tremble through them. These gloves clearly were no ordinary gloves; otherwise, how could they possibly have allowed her to block that world-shattering knife-strike with them?
With the gloves gone, a bloody scar was now visible within the Queen’s right hand. Her fair, tender skin had been cut open. It seemed as though using her hand to block that strike hadn’t been as simple as it had appeared. Cloudhawk ran over to Mantis’ workshop, grabbed some medicine, bandages, and tools, then ran back and helped bind the Queen’s wounds in a simple manner.
But her wounds definitely weren’t limited to the external ones he could see. She had definitely suffered heavier injuries than he had imagined, and she had been unconscious for much longer than he had expected. Thankfully, he had brought her back. Otherwise, she definitely would’ve been discovered in that alleyway by someone else. There was a limit to what Cloudhawk could do. Right now, her life was in her own hands.
As Cloudhawk sat down to relax, he couldn’t help but turn to look at the Queen’s chest. It was virtually impossible for wastelander women to have such a voluptuous figure, simply because there wasn’t enough food for most of them. However, the young Cloudhawk wasn’t really interested in her chest, nor did he have any evil designs on her. What really attracted his attention was that white cross.
Now that was a truly powerful item. The Queen had used it to chop the sweeper leader in half! Cloudhawk reached out towards it, wanting to take a closer look at it… but right at that moment, the Queen’s tightly shut eyes suddenly opened.
Cloudhawk was caught completely off-guard. His hand was right over the Queen’s chest, and it was far too late for him to draw back.
Fast. Incomprehensibly fast! The Queen’s slender, jade-like right hand struck out with lightning speed, latching onto Cloudhawk’s wrist and trapping it with the power of a steel vice, then gave it a sharp tug.
Ow ow ow OW! Cloudhawk didn’t even have a chance to cry out before his head was sent smashing straight into the headboard. An icy aura instantly filled the entire room as though a blizzard had suddenly descended upon it as waves of undisguised, murderous rage seemed to crash down upon Cloudhawk!