North x Northwest - Chapter 134
Volume 4 Chapter 134
Translators – Pru and Formidable
Headnote: The following scene may be distressing for some readers, warning of slight gore.
The upper deck was cluttered. As the evening was setting in, the sky was already a dark shade, so half of the crew recognized their captain and half of them didn’t. Lil passed the artillery deck and went down to the cabin deck. After passing through a space filled with hammocks, she reached the bulkhead, behind it was the space where the involved officers were gathered.
Lil stood still and pondered, she then carefully opened the door next to the rudder control room. It was Ed’s cabin. She noticed that the cabin, which had felt bright until this morning, was now desolate as if it had all been a lie. The medicine bag was still laying on his desk, so Lil rummaged through it with bated breath.
‘Ed once took that glowing object from here. I think it might be helpful even if it’s just a little. At night, not even the horizon is visible, so it’s only natural that he won’t be able to recognise the shape of an island either. In addition, there aren’t even any uninhabited islands in the immediate vicinity… This will only be a small light, but it’s better than nothing… realistically speaking, he at least needs some kind of lighthouse to spot an island in these conditions… And even if he does find one, there’s no guarantee there’ll be drinking water…’
Lil bit her lip. Her hand trembled violently as she held the medicine bag open.
‘I need to stop worrying about it. All I have to do is turn away and pretend I don’t know… But, is there really no other way? …I can’t stand this. This isn’t isolation, it’s nothing less than the death penalty. Throwing him overboard now would be a terrible sentence of suffering until his last breath is taken away. It’s torture in itself to make him hang on to the water’s surface by kicking his feet. After a mere 30 minutes, the average person will be exhausted… There are at least six hours left until daylight! Will he be able to endure that strenuous physical activity without water or food? If the wind picks up, the waves will crash… The sea is a merciless place for people to survive. Even if he holds out till morning, will he have enough strength left to swim to an island?
This was an inevitable decision right from the start. The Bell Rock doesn’t enforce the law arbitrarily. No one should disregard the courtesy I had worked so hard on to build. I can’t just turn a blind eye to this. Everyone who boarded the Bell Rock laid their hands on the law book and swore an oath. But if executions are carelessly carried out like this, what will prevent them from breaking the law in the future? People need to be charged with the crime they committed, then a verdict can be given. Even a spy deserves a fair trial determining his fate instead of a hasty decision that plays with his life. I made the law. It’s a law that applies to everyone without exception…’
A faint light began to shine from the bottom of the medicine bag. Lil stormed out of the cabin after grabbing the balsam.
‘I might be able to persuade them in some way. Alain and Jericho are the most thoughtful sailors. I’m confident that if given more time, I can come up with something. Another option for safely isolating Ed and relieving their anxiety.’
Lil pushed hard against the wooden door in front of her.
When she entered the room, the first thing she saw was a man on the floor. At a glance, the man, who was stretched out and lying face down, was tied with a rope and covered in blood. Lil was in the middle of calling for Alain, but shut her mouth. In the beginning, she couldn’t comprehend what she was seeing. However, a moment later, she cried out, white as a sheet.
“What the hell!”
Lil ran to Ed. When she lifted his head, blood streamed from his open mouth. She grabbed his cheek and turned his head around. There was almost no skin on his face that wasn’t swollen or cracked open. Looking further down, she saw that the rest of his body was in a similar state.
Lil grabbed his blood-soaked sleeve.
‘These aren’t wounds that can be made by bare hands. Something metal-like must’ve been used to beat him.’
An angry voice called out to Alain. Alain, who was opening the sliding door, shook his head without looking back at Lil.
“…It wasn’t me, Captain.”
Her blue eyes turned to Jericho. Shaking his head as well, Jericho glanced sideways at the corner of the cabin. Lil followed his gaze in that direction. In the corner stood Courant, who flinched as her stare reached him.
“Did you do this?!”
“It happened when the two of them were left alone here…”
Alain’s explanation fell on deaf ears. Lil only cried out to the corner of the cabin.
The front side of Courant’s clothes was spattered with blood. The boy, who was shaking at Lil’s shouts, started screaming.
With his distorted face and glazed eyes, he looked nothing like his typically cheerful self.
“He belongs to the Navy! He’s the reason we’re all gonna die! The Navy is following us… and if we get caught… They love to cut our bellies open and expose our guts! They’ll laugh at us and tell us to look at our mothers. And… and if we scream, they’ll cut off our ears… just like Mellie… Yes! I saw it first hand! How much they…”
“What does that have to do with this assault?”
With his eyes out of focus, Courant only trembled. When she tried to question him again, a sour smell pricked her nose and the spot where Courant had slumped down became heavily stained. Even though he was peeing himself, his screams didn’t stop.
“A guy like him deserves to get beaten! Even if he’s beaten like this, it’s too generous a punishment! We have to cut his ears and nose to make it even! He has to die the most painful death in the world! I’ll kill him! I’m gonna… Eup! Eup!”
“Stop it, kid.”
Holding onto Courant, Jericho covered his screaming mouth. Lil, who turned away from the desperate Courant, shouted at her opponent.
“Not like this! How is he supposed to swim like this? He’s just going to drown!”
Alain replied as he cleared the floor.
“His limbs are still attached, so he probably won’t die, right? We just need to untie him.”
“How can you say that? He isn’t even conscious!”
Jericho laid down the fainted Courant and intervened cautiously.
“Ca… Captain. We’re all about to die, so why should we waste our time worrying about him? Let’s do it quickly, all right? I kept quiet, but to be honest, I’ve been holding my pee like Courant!”
Everyone was losing their minds from fear. The empire trampled on the islanders’ peaceful lives and slaughtered their families and neighbours. They killed them for no reason and didn’t treat them as human beings. The hatred for the navy was deeply ingrained. Lil glared at Cesar, blaming herself for overlooking their deep rooted fear.
‘But Cesar knows better than anyone else that the Navy shouldn’t be treated like this.’
Cesar coldly looked down at Lil and affirmed.
“As long as there’s life attached to him, he’ll survive somehow.”
Lil almost screamed.
“Did you forget?! It’s the Navy we’re talking about! He’s not supposed to die!”
“I’m not saying this thoughtlessly. This much won’t kill him.”
Lil flatly ignored him and when Alain and Jericho were approaching, she stood in front of Ed to block them.
No, she could only try to block them because Cesar suddenly pulled her arm. Lil, who was trying to shake him off unconsciously, was trapped in a tighter grip than before. It felt as if her shoulders would soon crumble. Surprised, Lil looked up at him while swallowing a groan. Cesar muttered low.
Nonetheless, she spun back around. Alain and Jericho were already lifting Ed’s droopy body from both sides. Lil attempted to stop them by yelling. However, Cesar shook her as he gripped her shoulders again.
Cesar’s rough treatment came as a surprise. When Lil stumbled and became unable to maintain her balance, Cesar reached around her, held her shoulder and vigorously turned her. With her shoulders forced up and her chest pressed against his, her heels were gradually lifted off the floor.
When Lil faced Cesar’s fierce, dark red eyes, it rendered her speechless.
“…You’re trying so hard to delay this, aren’t you?..”
Such a horribly murderous gaze.
“…If I were you, I would rather have him thrown into the sea…”
They were just looking at each other’s eyes, but it felt as if his gaze was weighing Lil’s whole body down. With that, Cesar carved into her how cruel his intentions of murder were.
“…Or else I’ll kill him myself…”
Cesar meant it. If she resisted a little more, his patience would explode. He would stab Ed proudly in front of her eyes. He would gladly sacrifice Ed instead of her for her own immorality. Her body, which had been resisting until then, was drained of strength. Lil begged with her eyes to let her look back at Ed just once. However, the red eyes that twinkled even in the dark never allowed it.
The sound of a heavy body being dragged over the floor gradually faded away.
A stingy heat ran up her throat and her breath came out in pants as if she was on the verge of collapsing. Lil clenched her jaw to keep her sobs from escaping. From her chest to her shoulders and neck, every part of her upper body was shaking. She squeezed the balsam in her hand. There was one sound that was even more terrifying than the sound of something bloody being dragged away, it was the silence that eventually came after it. And that terrible silence seemed to last forever.
– Splash! –
The sound of a person being swallowed by the waves rang in their ears. Cesar never took his gaze away from her. He seemed to be patiently waiting for the sea to devour Ed whole.
Jericho and Alain wiped their hands and a few moments later, several pieces of wood falling into the sea could be heard.
Slowly, very slowly did Cesar let go of Lil. Soon enough, the pressure on her shoulders disappeared as if it had never been there. Her half-raised heels sank to the floor. After putting her down completely, Cesar turned around and left the cabin. Alain and Jericho quickly followed, taking Courant with them. The previously opened door slammed shut again. Frozen and stuck on her spot, Lil stared at the leaving Cesar. Only when her head reached its limit and became dizzy, did she release the breath she was holding. She took a faint breath, the air coming in through her sour nose was unfamiliar.
Lil turned stiffly. The bloody drag marks that ran across the floor dried up in a dark red. The sliding door was still open and a lukewarm wind, which felt like it came from the depths of hell, blew against her cheek. Despite being grazed by the heat, she felt chilled for some reason. Streams of water trickled down her cold face and dripped down her chin. When the hot tears dried up by the wind, her cheeks felt cold all over again.
Lil moved her feet along the sparse bloodstains. Blood that had not dried yet, clung to the bottom of her feet. With each step, it became more and more difficult to move her legs. When she finally collapsed, her bent knees hit the floor with a thud.
Completely broken, Lil dropped the balsam she was holding.
– Tung, tung. –
The ray of light rolled over the floor and fell into the sea below. It disappeared without a single trace in the waves that were as calm as ever.
The moon was bright, and the stars were shining.
The waves that reflected the night flowed dazzlingly.
They flowed dazzlingly even after swallowing a person…
– – – – –
TN: Announcement of a short hiatus
Wow, this was such a heart-breaking chapter! 😭 Even after reading it over and over again it still gives us the chills every time. We knew that Cesar was as cold as ice, but this was so brutal…
That’s also why we feel a bit cruel to take a break at this point in the story, but due to an extended business trip, we’ll be taking a break till Friday the 10th of February. We’ll resume the story on Monday 13th/Tuesday 14th, depending on your time zone.
See you soon!
Pru and Formidable