Kingdom's Bloodline Chapter 207
Chapter 207: The Princes Doubts
Chapter 207: The Prince’s Doubts
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
In the quiet prison, Kohen and Miranda stared at the newcomer with complicated expressions.
"You? The Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department?"
The prince was shocked. He thought of the Black Prophet, and then of Kessel.
Still in shock, Thales breathed while he scrutinized the newcomer, Raphael. Those peculiar red eyes made him feel a little unsettled.
Little Rascal pressed close to Thales' back, only daring to show half of her face.
Raphael was also carefully observing Thales.
'Compared to the time in the Hall of Stars...' Raphael smiled a little. '...he seems to have grown quite a bit."
The next moment, Raphael suddenly stood up. Thales was taken aback.
"Come in," Raphael said flatly, "It's safe now. My people will keep watch."
Thales froze. But at that moment, the thick door that separated the inside and outside of the prison was opened once more.
A person dressed in the uniform of the patrol units walked into the prison with his head lowered. His legs did not seem to be very agile, and one of his arms was stiff.
That person raised his head and tore off his camouflage, revealing the bottom half of his face. He was wearing half a silver mask. Thales widened his eyes.
"Ralf!" The second prince blurted out.
The Phantom Wind Follower raised his head and nodded silently at Thales. He went in front of Thales' prison cell and turned the key left behind by the guards to open the cell door.
Wya let out a long sigh and crumpled onto the ground, as though relaxing suddenly. "My God… I knew leaving you there would come in handy."
Thales also heaved a sigh of relief. 'We're safe.'
He walked out of the cell together with Little Rascal. Staring at Ralf and Raphael, who were opening the other doors, his eyes brightened.
"The wind just now that suddenly blew in." Thales' gaze flickered. He said in realization, "Ralf, that was you?"
Ralf opened the door to Wya's cell and winked slightly. He gestured to the prince in confirmation.
"Hopefully, the sound of the wind can mask the sounds we make as we hide and fight." Raphael went in front of the poor head guard and searched the deceased man's pockets impassively. "Be quiet. There are still a few hundred people standing guard outside. We cannot let our guards down."
Thales' heart tightened slightly. 'A few hundred people?'
Raphael fished out a bundle of keys and rose. He went to the front of Kohen's prison cell.
"Raphael." Kohen sighed and said exasperatedly, "I can't believe that you let those people punish us. Wasn't there any other reason…?"
Raphael chuckled softly. Ralf glanced in annoyance at the police officer. His gaze was still filled with hatred.
When he saw the Phantom Wind Follower, Kohen shrugged in exasperation.
"All of you know each other?" Thales creased his brow as he watched Kohen, Raphael and Ralf's unusual interaction.
"Know each other?" Kohen snorted softly. "More than that."
Raphael ignored Kohen's tone and said flatly, "There were six of them. It was impossible for me to quietly kill all of them. Therefore, I had to wait for an opportune moment.
"For example, when all of them turned to open the locks with their backs towards me..." With the leader's key, Raphael expressionlessly went beside Kohen and knelt down to open the lock for the iron chain that bound Kohen's body. "... And conveniently have them open the prison cell locks for me."
Free from the restraints, Kohen shrugged the iron chain off his body and sat up.
However, his face immediately contorted. He hugged his right shoulder tightly with his left arm and cried from the immense pain in his right arm.
Raphael realized something. He pressed his hand on the police officer's right shoulder and grabbed his injured and dislocated right arm. Kohen tacitly let go, letting Raphael take care of it.
"The person who popped your arm back in probably suspected that you have the ability to shrug the chain open, and deliberately left behind some imperfections. Endure it, I am going to pull out the joint and pop it back in again," Raphael said flatly.
He suddenly exerted force on Kohen's arm, pulling and pushing it.
Kohen bit his lower lip and groaned in pain. His entire body shook violently with the cracking of his joint. A few seconds later, drenched in cold sweat, the police officer sighed in relief as though he had escaped a massive punishment. He gasped for breath and patted Raphael's shoulder. The latter pulled him up from the floor.
The panting Kohen stared at Raphael in a daze. "Speaking of which, Raphael… How did your swordsmanship become… so powerful?"
"Easy"—Raphael glanced nonchalantly at him, turned and headed for Miranda's cell—"a lot of practice."
Kohen's gaze flickered. "Your right hand was hacked open just now—"
Raphael turned suddenly...
...He slapped Kohen's shoulder.
Surprised, Kohen stared dazedly as Raphael showed Kohen the back of his right palm.
"See?" Raphael stared at the police officer with the scarlet eyes exclusive to him and said softly, "He wasn't able to hit me."
Kohen was shocked.
He rubbed his eyes violently and observed Raphael's whole right hand from top to bottom. Still in shock, he then stared at his old friend.
'How is that…? Sleeve. Even his sleeve was cut into two?' Kohen furrowed his brow. 'And…'
Kohen swept his gaze over the six dead men and replayed Raphael's phantom-like movements just now over and over in his mind. Recalling the fight just now, the police officer was filled with shock.
Kohen admitted that throughout those three years, the life and death experiences on the Eastern Desert's battlefield had thoroughly remolded him. His swordsmanship, characterized by a wild style of attacks, improved greatly under the immense pressure. Miranda, too, became more powerful in the dangerous stalemate at the northern border. The fighting rhythm of her Pegasus' Music became even more distinct.
'However, having killed six people in one go, Raphael's movements and timing just now…' Kohen creased his brow. '...was more than what a Power of Eradication can provide. It was neither about a certain distinguishable sword style or way of fighting, nor was it about a fixed fighting skill or the pure utilization of strength.
'Instead, it was about integrating the battle into one's inbred instincts, a more intrinsic understanding of battles…'
Kohen recalled what his teacher, Zedi Taffner, once said, and gritted his teeth gently, "The breakthrough between ordinary class and supra class is easily distinguishable. To put it simply, it would be when an ordinary person suddenly becomes extraordinary. They just have to turn a simple fight into something circus-like, messy, long, and violent."
His teacher's cynical words echoed in his ears.
"But the point of breakthrough between supra class and supreme class"—Eyelids fluttering slightly, the teacher flashed a lopsided smile—"is hard to determine. From fearsome swordsmen who spent all their lives on the battlefield, to theoretical experts who never touched a weapon, many of them have argued about this for thousands of years. Their theories range from reasonable to unreasonable, and from those based on proof, to totally nonsensical ones.
"That elegant 'energy control', 'fine control', that incredibly obscure 'epiphany of the essence', the 'release of the aura of the stupidly powerful' spoken by those idiotic experts, and even that nonsense about 'suppression of classes' and 'natural abnormalities'..."
At that moment, Zedi heaved a long sigh and, with his back to Kohen, he murmured,
"As for myself, there is a most effective way of determining whether one is supra class or supreme class."
Teacher Zedi turned and stared straight at the young Kohen. His gaze was spirited.
"One day, when you realize that you can finish off a fight in the blink of an eye, win or lose, whether you are facing weak novices or unbeatable and powerful opponents, and whether you are surrounded in a hopeless situation or facing an opponent of equal strength…"
The teacher nodded slowly. His gaze was profound as he crossed his arms in front of him.
"... Then you're probably approaching supreme class."
Kohen felt an indescribable emotion. Partly, it was grief that his peer who began the same time as he did was now ahead of him. He was also deeply moved by the fact that his friend was becoming increasingly more powerful.
'But, it's impossible. Raphael... How did you… Miranda and I both…'
Having thought of this, Kohen immediately looked across from him… at Miranda.
Miranda was staring at the floor dazed, and had a subtle and complicated look in her eyes. Raphael released her from the iron chain with a blank expression. Miranda helped herself up by holding the bars. Her expression did not change.
Both of them said nothing. They did not even look at each other, as though they were deliberately avoiding each other's gazes.
This appeared to be quite deliberate.
Raphael turned. At this moment, the swordswoman's voice echoed.
Miranda kicked away the chain beneath her feet and said softly, "Your hand."
Raphael froze for a moment.
"It's nothing," he said flatly without hesitation, and walked out of the prison cell towards Wya.
Watching everything, Kohen could not help but criticize them in his head.
On the other side, Ralf knelt beside Thales and cut the rope behind him and Little Rascal with his hidden blade.
Exercising his sore and numb arms, Thales pouted at Raphael. "The Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department… How did you find him?"
Ralf flashed a smile, took Thales' confiscated JC's dagger from his waist and handed it to the prince.
The Phantom Wind Follower raised his hands and gestured. "He found me."
Thales heaved a sigh and looked at the newcomer from the Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department. His gaze was complicated; there were some things that he must clarify with him.
Ralf turned and took a bundle down from his back. He opened the cloth to reveal two longswords.
The Phantom Wind Follower went in front of Kohen, and with drawn eyebrows and a face filled with hatred, threw the Karabeyan sword at Kohen.
Kohen raised an eyebrow and checked the hilt.
"Alright." The police officer exhaled and hummed softly. "I covered your body in wounds, and you saved my life. I think we're even now?"
Ralf was stupefied.
"You hurt him, and was then rescued by him." Wya widened his eyes and stood up with Raphael's help. He could not help but say, "No matter how I look at it, you owe him one… How is that EVEN?"
Ralf glared at Kohen and clenched his fists slightly. Kohen flashed a smile. The Phantom Wind Follower then turned his head away and did not look at Kohen anymore.
After releasing Wya from his chain, Kohen prepared to turn and retrieve his saber, which was stuck in one of the dead bodies. But then he realized that the hilt was right in front of his eyes.
Raphael raised his gaze and stared at Miranda, whose expression was indecipherable. Their eyes met with differing expressions. A few seconds later, Raphael averted his gaze and took the sword Miranda gave him. He nodded slightly.
Kohen, who was flexing his arm beside them, rolled his eyes.
Just when Thales was about to speak, Raphael's cold voice rang out. "Inspect your conditions… and listen up."
Everyone turned their heads and looked towards Raphael.
"We are in a very dangerous situation," the young man said solemnly, "The most urgent task right now is to flee this place."
Thales furrowed his brow a little and looked around. "Actually, where are we?"
Raphael looked at Thales.
"The tallest gatehouse in Dragon Clouds City, between Axe District and Heroic Spirit Palace. This is the temporary guardpost of the gatehouse."
Thales froze momentarily.
"A gatehouse near Dragon Clouds City? Are you saying that this place…"
"Yes, Lampard has taken over this gatehouse…" With a solemn expression, Raphael nodded in confirmation. "The soldiers of Black Sand Region relied on the geographical advantage of this gatehouse to block communications between Heroic Spirit Palace and Dragon Clouds City."
"Lampard?" Thales expression changed slightly.
"Lampard," Raphael affirmed.
Everyone stared at each other. There was an indescribable solemnity in the air.
"How is that possible?" Kohen, who had experienced war before, said in bewilderment, "This is the partitioning gatehouse in Dragon Clouds City, renowned for how difficult it is to conquer! How did they manage to gain control over it?"
"They did not attack forcefully. Instead, they silently conquered it with artful planning." Raphael shook his head. "Now, Heroic Spirit Palace is already isolated from the other parts of the city."
Thales furrowed his brow.
He asked, somewhat meaningfully, "What about the other people in the city? Are they just going to watch?"
"The vassals of Dragon Clouds City are still unaware," Raphael answered steadily, "Both Prime Minister Lisban and the main disciplinary hall are busy searching for King Nuven's whereabouts while trying to ease the chaotic situation.
"There are a few hundred more people at the gatehouse. The floor above us has two units itself. We do not stand a chance against them." He swept his gaze over everyone, pointed up and said flatly, "Our only advantage is that we have yet to be discovered."
Thales' expression changed. "How did the both of you get in? How are we going to escape from here?"
"We hid in the darkness and sneaked in. We also forged Lampard's warrant." Raphael found Thales' question a little strange. "As for escaping… It would be impossible to camouflage ourselves."
Staring at the two children, Raphael's gaze stilled for a moment. "I already have a route planned out. With myself as the vanguard, and with Kohen and Miranda's cooperation, we should be able to smoothly break out of the enclosure if we strike suddenly. After all, most of the men went to Heroic Spirit Palace with Lampard."
Thales was shocked.
"Lampard went to Heroic Spirit Palace?" he asked in his shock. "What is he trying to do? Capture the other archdukes?"
"I do not know." Raphael shook his head, his expression calm. "But it is good news for us. We were only able to sneak in because there were not that many men inside.
"As long as we break out of this place, we can meet up with the people from the Secret Intelligence Department who will receive us."
Miranda furrowed her brow a little.
"Can we not notify the other people in Dragon Clouds City who are loyal to the Walton Family?" she said, "Once they notice the unusual state of the gatehouse, Lampard will have nowhere to hide."
"First of all, even though they have not found the king's dead body yet, to a rumor mill like Dragon Clouds City, His Highness is in the eye of the storm as a suspect." Raphael shook his head. "Even those loyal to the Walton Family such as Prime Minister Lisban, they would detain His Highness the moment he is found."
Thales' expression darkened.
"Next, we do not know how many more spies Lampard has in Dragon Clouds City, and we do not know if he has a way to perfectly deceive the Walton Family's vassals. After all, the rumors now…" Raphael paused a moment, he did not finish his sentence. "So I do not suggest that you risk it."
Raphael tested the sword in his hand. Thales noticed that his right hand was smooth and delicate, without a speck of dust. "Lastly, I reckon that since Lampard took over this gatehouse, he definitely has follow-up measures in place. He might not even be afraid of being discovered.
"The situation had already gotten out of our hands. For your safety, and for Constellation's future, you must leave immediately." Raphael stared at Thales with his scarlet eyes and said in a deep voice, "Leave Dragon Clouds City, leave Eckstedt…
"...and return to Constellation."
Thales stared quietly at the young man. His gaze became more profound, as though he was trying to see something through Raphael.
The prince's gaze made Raphael a little uncomfortable.
"Alright," Thales finally said softly, "Last question."
Raphael nodded slightly and gestured politely for the prince to continue. Under everyone's gaze, Thales heaved a soft sigh.
"I am a little curious, Raphael," the second prince said softly with a hint of coldness in his voice, "Standing here, you did not ask me how King Nuven is, or what I encountered... I am bitterly disappointed."
Raphael stopped momentarily. 'What?'
The people around them froze, too.
Blinking, Little Rascal did not understand what was going on.
"Your Highness." Wya furrowed his brow. "This is perhaps not the time—"
Wya did not continue because Thales spoke again.
"Right now, all of Dragon Clouds City is in chaos, and even the Walton Family's vassals are in the dark." Thales slowly walked to a corner and placed his hand on the wall.
"But Raphael, you know very well that Chapman Lampard planned all this behind the scenes." Thales turned and stared at the young man. "You even found this gatehouse, easily forging Lampard's warrant and sneaking in to rescue us."
Thales narrowed his eyes and his pupils constricted slightly.
"Is the Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department really this powerful?"
Raphael did not say anything.
Kohen scratched his head and glanced at Thales, and then at Raphael. In the end, he stared questioningly at Miranda. But unexpectedly to Kohen, Miranda was also staring at Raphael with a glowing gaze.
A few seconds later...
"We have our own sources." The corners of Raphael's lips curved upwards as he spoke softly. His tone was extremely careful. "The Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department has operated in the dark for over six hundred years—"
But he did not get to continue, Thales cut him off.
"I also find it very strange that…" Thales shook his head slowly. His tone became forceful, and he spoke more rapidly. "Relying on only a retired commander, a petty official who's involved in the gangs, and a foreign noble, Archduke Lampard from Black Sand Region could travel north into the capital city of the strongest kingdom in the Western Peninsula...
"...And easily kill the Common-Elected King of the Kingdom of the Great Dragon, King Nuven the Seventh, the 'Born King' who ruled for thirty years...
"Is Lampard really this powerful, too?"
Raphael's expression did not change, his eyes gleamed.
Thales' gaze became harsh. "As the representative of the Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department, which has 'operated in the dark for over six hundred years'... Raphael, can you clear my doubts?"
The atmosphere became a little sober. Eyebrows together, Wya nudged Ralf, but the latter only shook his head gently. Kohen sensed that something was not right and bit his lip. He hoped to get some hint from Miranda, but the latter said nothing.
Little Rascal looked around timidly, not knowing what to do among a bunch of Constellatiates.
"We will investigate this." Raphael sighed. "But right now—"
"Now..." Thales cut him off again. "Now, Raphael, if you want to keep up with your act…"
The second prince inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly, his tone was firm. "I will be a bit more straightforward."
Back facing the wall, Thales stared straight into Raphael's strange red eyes.
In the stillness of the prison, Thales said softly, "Since when did the Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department…
"...begin working with Chapman Lampard?"