Chapter 3

Alan moved cautiously, each step filled with caution. Behind him, two guards stared sharply, their spears threatening at Alan’s back.

Alan’s mind raced, his heartbeat pounded fast, almost as if wanting to escape from his constricted chest. But he knew there was no way out from the clutches of this special force.

As Alan reached behind the monument, he suddenly vanished from sight, as did the tip of the guards’ spears, leaving only their shafts.

Fear crept among those who witnessed the event, except for their commander who calmly watched Alan disappear.

The two guards with their spears appeared relieved as they were not involved in the mysterious incident. They knew for certain that this place was a “black hole” capable of swallowing anyone who entered.

Their commander smiled contentedly as Alan disappeared.

“With this, the Count can live peacefully. Troops, return to your duties!”

“Yes, commander!” the soldiers replied disciplinedly, then turned towards their new destination.

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Shadows of the past sneaked into Alan’s mind, bringing memories of happy times with his intact family, tea parties in the garden, and Alisa’s smile. But the shadow slowly faded, replaced by a blood-filled scene in front of him.

Drops of water seeped between the rocks of the cave, awakening Alan from his sleep. He rose with his hands tied by cuffs and chains stretching from them.

Alan opened his eyes wide, recalling the previous incident.

“Where am I?”

“I remember, last they tried to kill me at the ancient tomb.”

“But where is this? Is this really inside the tomb?”

Alan started to carefully inspect the room. It was filled with small crystals scattered across the cave’s ceiling, creating a dim light. Bones were scattered around, along with several rusted cuffs.

He began to wonder if all this was the remains of prisoners “disposed of” by the empire.

Suddenly, the sound of rumbling and the roar of wild beasts filled the room.

A wolf emerged from the darkness, showcasing its sharp red fangs and claws ready to pounce on its prey.

Alan slowly retreated, the wolf’s eyes sharply observing him, its tongue lolling between its sharp fangs. Without hesitation, Alan turned to flee.

He ran as fast as he could, but the wolf was faster. As he looked back, he realized the wolf was already behind him.

Alan tried to turn and protect himself with his handcuffed arms. The wolf bit the chain of his cuffs, breaking the connection, but also injuring Alan with its sharp claws, causing him to fall.

The wolf eyed him with a lust to attack again, and mercilessly lunged towards Alan.

Alan was still, no longer able to evade. His body was tired and weak, his mind wandering to concerns about the end of his life.

“Is this the end? To die here like this?”

But the image of his family ignited in his mind. “I know you won’t give up, my son,” “Brother will definitely succeed,” “Someday you will become a strong man like your father.”

“Right,” thought Alan, “I must not give up. I have to rise and retaliate against them, to clear my family’s name.” With newfound determination, Alan prepared for battle, even if it was his last.

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Alan swiftly swung the chain still attached to the broken cuff towards the wolf’s head. His kick hit the wolf’s eye, causing it to stagger and almost topple over Alan. But with agile movement, Alan managed to flip positions, wrapping the chain around the beast’s neck.

The wolf thrashed, trying to free itself by slamming its back into the rocks, hoping Alan would fall and release its grip. But Alan held on, even though his body was filled with wounds from scraping against the rough rocks. He remained steadfast, even starting to pull the chain with the last strength he had.

The wolf howled and tried to resist, but eventually exhausted and collapsed. While Alan lay next to it, feeling an indescribable relief.

“I can’t believe I’m still alive,” Alan murmured hoarsely, realizing the miracle that he had survived the fierce battle.

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In front of the glow of a campfire emitting an orange light, Alan sat quietly cooking the wolf’s meat and drying its skin. Beside him lay two spears with their shafts cut off, remnants of the battle he had just gone through.

“Somehow I’m still alive,” Alan muttered to himself, his eyes staring off, illuminating the hidden darkness of the cave.

“But it seems this place is not as safe as it appears. And why does the air here make me feel a bit suffocated?”

He reached for a piece of almost cooked wolf meat over the coals, looking at it with a disgusted expression, realizing it was the only available food source in the cave. Reluctantly, he ate it, even though the taste made him want to vomit.

The meat tasted bitter on his tongue, and Alan couldhardly swallow it. However, the tormenting hunger forced him to keep eating it, despite the discomfort.

Moments later, the meat dropped from his trembling hands, raising a big question in his mind. What was happening?

Gradually, Alan’s vision began to blur, and his body started to shake. He felt his hands turning blue, and a strange sensation enveloped his mouth, as if his saliva was frothing.

His vision slowly darkened, even though he struggled hard to stay awake. However, not long after, his body could no longer hold on, and Alan collapsed forward, convulsing with foaming lips and increasingly pale skin. His breath became more and more constricted, and the world seemed to spin around him before everything turned dark.

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