Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
Hall of Heroes. The dejected boy looked at the five indifferent archdukes in astonishment. Cold sweat poured from his forehead. The gazes of the five archdukes remained ice-cold.
The footsteps outside the hall grew nearer. Thales was breathing in a daze. He could feel only his dry mouth and tongue as his heartbeat accelerated.
In that instant, the figures of many people flashed in Thales’ mind.
‘Nicholas, Putray, Mirk, Kohen, Miranda, Raphael, Ralf, Wya and Little Rascal.
‘These people, regardless of whatever reason, they believed in me, walked with me until this step… No. Wait a minute.’
Thales clenched his fists firmly. He could not fall here.
*Thud Thud* The guards’ footsteps from outside the hall could already be clearly discerned.
He could not fail. Could not!
“Alright, this is just a brief interlude.” Archduke Lampard looked at Thales’ expression, coldly shook his head, and turned to the others. “We have more important things…”
Thales made up his mind and raised his head to look at the archdukes. “Believe me, I also do not wish to do this.”
In the next moment, without the slightest hesitation, the second prince drew out JC’s dagger. The archdukes were immediately stunned, they looked at each other in dismay.
Lampard’s face grew cold.
“What?” Trentida shook his head in ridicule. “You want to duel against us again, young prince?”
Thales stared intently at the archdukes and did not say a word.
The figures of two guards appeared at the entrance of the hall. Archduke Lecco already turned to them and was prepared to give the order to take Thales away.
The boy turned around and looked at the brazier nearest to him with unswerving determination. He looked at the raging fire in the triangular iron frame.
Time He needed more time.
The second prince inhaled a deep breath. In accordance to his call, the Sin of Hell’s River surged up his arms. In that moment, Thales felt as if his arms were filled with power.
Jala’s action of executing the Assassination Blade at Red Street Market surfaced before his eyes. In the next second, the second prince resolutely swung his arms and threw JC with all his might!
The dagger shot towards the brazier with ample strength. The expressions of the archdukes turned cold at once.
The dagger struck the brazier firmly, the crisp metallic sound reverberated through the hall. All the archdukes watched in astonishment at Thales’ movements.
The brazier was tilted by the strike of the dagger, lost its balance, and eventually fell from the iron frame.
*Ka-clang clang bong!*
The loud banging of the brazier as if fell onto the ground was heard in unbroken succession. The firewood and charcoal in it scattered all over the ground, sparks flew in all directions.
Archduke Olsius frowned. “Hey, are you”
But before he could finish speaking, he watched Thales cup his palm around his mouth and turn towards the direction of the hall’s entrance.
Under the expressions of disbelief by the five archdukes, the second prince bellowed in a rough voice, “There’s an assassin! Protect the archdukes!”
The archdukes’ complexions all changed at once.
The sound of the brazier falling still echoed across the hall, its loudness could be heard distinctively, even from the outside.
The two confused soldiers of Black Sand Region who had just entered the hall looked at each other with much amazement.
In the next second…
The sound of countless swords being unsheathed came immediately from outside the hall.
Archduke Lampard was the quickest to react. Once he came to his senses from his astonishment, he instantly turned around and commanded the ones outside of the hall. “Steady”
However, before waiting for him to finish speaking, the outside of the hall flared up in an instant and covered his voice.
“Retreat, those from Black Sand Region!”
“Hold them back!”
“Hold your positions! Two of you, come in with me!”
“Archduke, please answer me”
“Hold your bows, don’t panic!”
In an instant, the commotion of orders being shouted, jostling, even the sound of blades meeting, and the collision of metal came from outside the hall.
It was immeasurable chaos.
Gasping for breath, Thales clutched his right arm with his left, relieving the aches and cramps from the excessive exertion.
“Did you think that as the heir to the throne of Constellation,” the prince said painfully, “I put myself in danger, paid an innumerable price to come here, just to play a fool with you? I was prepared to sacrifice everything a long time ago.”
Thales raised his head. Without cowering at all, he stared at Archduke Lecco who had an unpleasant expression.
“I know that Lampard told you something to make you choose your current standpoint.” Laboriously, Thales gasped for breath. He only felt the pain in his arm grow stronger. “But at least finish listening to what I have to say, you’ll know the complete picture of the matter, then you can wisely make your decision again.
“Because we all know that your next move is tied to the future of both our countries, and even more so to all of your destinies.”
In that instant, Lampard clenched his fists. His gaze was laced with boundless killing intent.
Olsius glared firmly at Thales, the look on his face was extremely terrifying. Trentida revealed an amused expression, as if he just met the boy. Roknee’s eyes lit up. Archduke Lecco did not say a word, he raised his eyebrows and his nostrils flared.
The chaos outside the hall still continued.
A soldier with the appearance of a White Blade Guard rushed into the hall wielding a blade. Mercilessly, he struck with his blade and slashed at the two Black Sand Region soldiers who had just entered.
With gritted teeth, the Black Sand Region soldiers resisted the other party’s assault. They both exchanged a glance as they hesitated on whether or not to counterattack.
The White Blade Guard held his blade and said with a malevolent expression, “Archduke Lecco, we heard an unusual sound I knew it. These Black Sand Region bastards trying to barge in wouldn’t have had any”
At that moment…
*Bang!* A loud sound echoed.
Amid the chaos, Archduke Lecco firmly punched the table with his fist and caused everyone to jump in surprise. He furiously let out a great roar.
Thales was stunned for a moment. He had never seen such an imposing moment from the old archduke, as if that old man before with one foot in his grave was just a facade.
Archduke Lecco was seen bellowing like an angry elephant at the outside of the hall, “If you’re still a warrior, remain steady! Whether it is us or Chapman, neither of us are dead yet!”
A few seconds later, the clamor outside the hall grew softer.
The White Blade Guard was stunned for a moment. He surveyed the hall once, saw the current state of the archdukes, and only then did he put his blade away and fell back.
On the other side, Lampard coldly said, “Lord Justin, just manage the people outside. I just have to deal with the child”
Archduke Lecco turned his head around and glared at Lampard with stern eyes. His intent to want to urge the conversation forward was extremely obvious. “Not now.”
The Archduke of Black Sand Region frowned.
“I thought you have all made your choices,” Lampard said with a hostile look, “Don’t forget, he’s the heir to Constellation, the Kingdom of Constellation!”
Lecco’s complexion turned cold. Trentida raised his eyebrows. Thales’ heart skipped a beat.
Archduke Roknee who had not said a word all along raised his head, his eyes were piercing. “Then you should have nothing to worry about at all, right? In this game of chess, we’ve got their heir, the bargaining chip of victory held in our hands. There’s nothing we lack now.”
Thales shifted slightly.
‘I’m the “bargaining chip of victory”? In other words, these archdukes are indeed prepared to’
The archdukes’ gazes were all cast on the Archduke of Black Sand Region, the implications were complex.
Lampard did not say a word. His eyes shifted back and forth between Lecco’s severe expression and Roknee’s indifferent face.
The two archdukes at the scene felt the strange atmosphere. One of them swept his eyes over the archdukes. Grasping the hilt of his sword, he coldly said to Lampard, “Archduke, if there are any difficulties, all you need to do is to give the command. Regardless of who we are facing, we will not hesitate.”
That White Blade Guard who was in confrontation with them coldly snorted. Archduke Roknee glanced at Lampard disdainfully.
Thales strenuously suppressed the loud throbbing of his heart.
‘Good. This state of affairs indicate that both parties are still in a highly intense confrontation. Lampard and the archdukes’ alliances had only just formed.
‘There’s still an opportunity. Even if there are no more opportunities…
‘I have to do exactly as what Lampard did below Broken Dragon Fortress.’ Thales bit his tongue, his expression was resolute. ‘I must also create an opportunity! Never give up. Never concede.’
Just like how Serena taught him caution and suspicion in a failed alliance; just like how Zayen Covendier taught him hypocrisy and sanctimony in that friendly trap; and just like how Nuven Walton taught him resolution and prudence by using the strength and the death of the king’s honor.
Thales raised his head. With an unwavering determination, he looked at the Archduke of Black Sand Region who had an indeterminate look on his face. This is the person who taught Thales the most valuable lesson amid the reeking blood and darkness, the terror and the nightmares.
It was quiet, except for the chaos and clamor outside the hall which still continued.
A few breaths later, the Archduke of Black Sand Region unclenched his fists. He slowly exhaled, clearing away the chilliness from his face.
“We’re fine, you can leave first.” Lampard looked at the two soldiers and nodded at them with a rigid expression.
Archduke Lampard turned his head again and roared to the outside of the hall, “The people outside, let Lhasa defend his original position! Stay alert!”
With that, Archduke Lecco eased his complexion. Roknee put on a smile.
“Lord Justin, please also leave first,” the old archduke said faintly, “As you can see, we still have something we haven’t finished discussing yet.”
Lord Justin of the White Blade Guards was stunned for a moment. Immediately afterwards, he nodded slowly.
He cast a glance at the boy who had suddenly appeared with soot all over his face. He suppressed the suspicions that filled his heart, walked behind the Black Sand Region soldiers, and left the hall.
Ten seconds later, the riot outside the hall stopped. The atmosphere seemed to have returned to that tense moment.
Watching all this, Thales slowly calmed his own breathing. He could only feel cold sweat pouring.
Sure enough. Nicholas was right, “Welcome to Northland.” In the face of tougher Northlanders, you have to first appear as a soldier as strong as iron, then you can win their respect.
In the next second, Archduke Lecco sat down heavily on his seat.
“You have one minute to finish what you want to say, o fearless troublemaker.” The old archduke looked at the Prince of Constellation with a seemingly austere face. “Otherwise, I will personally ‘escort’ you out.”
Olsius swept a glance at the brazier and dagger on the ground. He coldly added, “Then, we’ll send you to the gallows with the criminal charge that you ‘yearned for’. Such as: planning to assassinate an archduke.”
The expressions of the other three archdukes were all different.
With effort, Thales gulped. Out of habit, he barely squeezed out a smile and took three deep breaths. Once more, there seemed to be a gentle and pleasant voice ringing beside his ear,
‘”Just treat it as another game.”‘
The prince raised his head and faced the five archdukes. They stood on both sides of the long, rectangular table in silent confrontation against each other. On one side was an unbearably thin little boy with a beaten appearance, and on the other side was five tall and powerful men dressed in uncommon clothes.
“Planning to assassinate an archduke? I’m hardly surprised by your threat, Archduke Olsius.”
Olsius pouted one side of his lips.
Thales could feel the blood still raging in his whole body, but as before he used his calmest voice and slowly said, “I know that Lampard has recommended that you to pin the death of the king on me, on Constellation’s king. Then, to come together and have the entire country go south.”
The prince’s voice traveled across the stone hall. “In the name of ‘avenging King Nuven’, you would start a war and seize the land and riches of Constellation, isn’t that right? Compared to this, the criminal charges of assassinating an archduke doesn’t amount to anything at all.”
His voice died away. Other than Lampard, the four archdukes had varying expressions. Full of interest, Trentida glanced at Lecco, but the old archduke just stared straight at Thales without saying a word. Roknee snorted lightly and nudged Olsius beside him. Archduke Lecco gave a cough.
The old archduke replied straightforwardly but did not lose his manners, “Prince Thales, according to what I heard last time, someone had meticulously plotted the assassination this time, and that the Secret Intelligence Department is the hand manipulating the calamity. Constellation cannot escape this anyhow.”
A strange light flashed across Archduke Lecco’s eyes. “At this very moment, as the spokesperson for Constellation, Thales Jadestar, you’re the one who should bear the responsibility for the death of His Highness. There’s no doubt about this.”
Thales frowned. The other party’s speech technique moved away from statements and loopholes that would appear odd. It was ingenious and perfect. And by the look of their attitudes, direct rebuttal would be ineffective.
The embers across the ground had almost finished burning. They extinguished slowly.
‘What do I do?’ Thales forced himself to laugh delicately. His gaze swept across every archduke.
“We Constellatiates paid for an assassin? The ‘Assassin’s Flower’ who has a hatred for the Jadestar Royal Family as deep as the sea?”
Archduke Roknee frowned.
The prince continued to speak, “And it just so happens that Lampard led troops into the city, took down the First Gatehouse and Heroic Spirit Palace, and met you here?”
Olsius watched him coldly.
“But this is all unimportant.” The Prince of Constellation straightened up. Earnestly and cautiously, he said, “Dear archdukes, I did not take you for fools at all.
“Because of that, please treat us sincerely as well. Throw away all the unnecessary talk and falsehoods and just place your chips, as well as your conditions, on the table.” Thales gritted his teeth and said coldly, “After all, with our statuses, everything that happens in this hall will not spread out.”
Lampard put on an impatient expression. “Hmph.”
The archdukes turned their heads around and shot a glance at each other. At least two of them had gazes were filled with surprise.
With a contemptuous and thought-provoking expression, Trentida shook his head and clicked his tongue before he said these words,
“This is far too interesting. A little boy wants to join a game between the adults?”
Thales was in a state of high anxiety at that moment, he ignored him. He had to find the breakthrough.
The most important of it all was what Lampard had used to convince them. Was it just as he had thought?
Thales sucked in a deep breath and gritted his teeth. “I want to know what exactly Lampard told all of you.”
Archduke Olsius crossed his arms over his chest and looked towards Lampard, only to discover that the latter’s expression had become stiff.
“What did he promise you?” Thales gritted his teeth. “Land? Money? Power? The future?”
Each time Thales uttered one word, he would carefully observe the archdukes’ expressions.
When he heard these words, Trentida narrowed his eyes and an ill-intentioned smile appeared on his lips.
The prince clenched his fists and gulped. “Or” Thales frowned. “Is it the things that threaten your existence?”
In that instant, Thales felt a chill crawl down his spine. Chapman Lampard’s gaze was like a hunting predator. It was fixed on his body in an aggressive manner.
But compared to the discomfort in the army camp, the fear in Shield District, and his nervousness in the carriage At that moment, in the face of Lampard’s gaze, Thales only felt incredibly calm.
It was just like the ease a scout would feel after finally discovering the location of the enemy army on the eve before two armies become engaged in war.
As he stared at Lampard’s reaction, Thales’ blood in his heart began to race. He had a vague feeling that he had caught the key to this.
Compared to Lampard, the other archdukes’ expressions were also very interesting.
“This is already beyond the scope of our conversation,” Trentida said impatiently. “What do you say?”
When he remembered what Shiles and Little Rascal said, Thales became even more certain of his doubts.
Right then, he had to know just how much Lampard had told them, what he had said to them and to what extent that he was able to make these archdukes reach a consensus.
At that moment, Lampard’s cold chuckle echoed in the hall.
“Your presentation left a deep impression on me, young prince.” The Archduke of Black Sand Region was clearly smiling, but his face, which was usually stern, did not make others feel that he was smiling at all. “But the games between adults are very cruel.”
A light crease appeared between Trentida’s brows. He exchanged a glance with Olsius who was beside him.
Thales was momentarily stunned.
Lampard slowly moved to the side of the hall and blocked off the light from the fire by the side, leaving behind a long and dark shadow that covered Thales’ expression.
“But you should wait until you are slightly older, when you can command your country with a flick of your wrist, before you call to hold us accountable,” the Archduke of Black Sand Region said coldly.
When they heard these words, the archdukes’ expressions suddenly froze.
Thales frowned. ‘Lampard has started his counterattack, and his weapon for this is definitely not my age, but’
“I look forward to the day several years later, or ten something years later, or several decades later…” Lampard turned his head around, and a dangerous glint appeared in his eyes.
“…when you become a wise and brilliant king, what sort of interesting opponent would the Constellation under your rule be?”
At the moment when Lampard’s words fell on his ears, Thales had a feeling that the other archdukes’ gazes had changed.
“It makes me so excited when I think about it.” Lampard stared at him with a gaze that was blatantly looking down on him, then he turned to the other archdukes and said in a cold tone, “What do all of you think?”
The temperature in the hall felt as if it had instantly dropped to half its original temperature. The archdukes cast a glance at each other before they trained their gazes on Thales, as if they were sizing him up.
But this time, their expressions were far from the cheerfulness and poise they previously had.
Archduke Trentida coughed softly.
“Prince Thales, I respect your bravery, but you did not say anything meaningful. You are only here sowing discord and making inflammatory statements. I even suspect that you are stalling for time.” The Archduke of Reformation Tower lowered his head, making his gaze look even more sinister.
“The Northlanders are not people you can make a fool of.”
Trentida looked at Lecco. The latter had a stern visage. He raised his head slightly, towards the exit of the hall. “I believe we should call for an end to this.”
Thales felt his heart let out a thump.
‘What did Lampard say just now? Constellation?’
But Archduke Lecco had already opened his mouth.
When he saw that, with a few words from Lampard, he had descended into a bad situation, a thought came to the second prince’s mind, and he spoke desperately,
The archdukes paused for a moment.
“I do not know what my future will be like, but Chapman Lampard, you are a terrifying opponent, and this is an indisputable fact.” Thales’ breathing quickened. He could not help but frown. His right arm had started to ache faintly again. A fierce glare shone in Lampard’s eyes.
Thales gritted his teeth and stared at Trentida’s smile as well as Lecco’s stern expression. “Just what sort of smooth talk could make these archdukes have such sincere belief in your arguments and make them be at ease with receiving your patricidal acts, ignore your crime of disregarding Raikaru’s Joint Ruling Pledge, and become seemingly blind to the threat you bring to the internal structure of Eckstedt?”
The second prince’s words caused the archdukes to frown simultaneously.
Thales regulated his breathing. While in a state of incredible anxiety, he could no longer care about testing them. He just flung out everything he knew in an unpolished manner. “Now I understand. They are not afraid of you, but you are trying to convince them that Constellation will sooner or later become”
The archdukes’ expressions changed.
At that moment…
Thales froze for a moment. He swallowed the rest of his words.
The one who interrupted him was not Lampard, and neither was it Trentida; it was Olsius.
The Archduke of Prestige Orchid Region said coldly, “Who do you think you are? What makes you think that you can stand there and sow discord between the archdukes without fear of any repercussions?”
Thales frowned. ‘Looks like Prestige Orchid Region has become a firm supporter of the Archduke of Black Sand Region. This is very bad.’
He had not found the key to the breakthrough, and neither had he found all the cards his opponent had in his hand. He still could not declare “checkmate”.
Judging by the archdukes’ expressions, if he made his move too soon, he might even bring about an adverse effect.
“Sowing discord? You are all standing here for Eckstedt. You advance and retreat together, and you are as close as family.” With great difficulty, Thales searched for a point where he could continue the conversation. He pointed at Lampard. “But does that jackal who killed your leader think the same way? Did you know that he originally killed King Nuven for”
He was interrupted once more.
“He’s doing it again.” Archduke Trentida raised his head and used his chin to gesture at Thales whose expression had distorted. He spoke in a voice dripping with acid. “Constellation’s Prince Thales, what status do you have to say such words here? To voice your grievances for King Nuven? Stop making wild accusations.”
Thales’ words died in his throat.
“Even if we throw away suspicion of you assassinating our king, you are still a foreign prince. You should not be here.” Archduke Olsius snorted coldly. With a hostile expression, he shook his head at Thales, then said grimly, “Stop interfering with our country’s internal affairs.”
‘Not good. This is seriously not good.’
He had originally opened the conversation in an attempt to make the archdukes speak to him equally as if they would an opponent, then he could find the conditions Lampard laid out for them and then counterattack.
Thales bit down on his bottom lip, his heart was panic-stricken and anxious. ‘But Lampard turned the tables around and used my own intentions against me. Indeed, the archdukes now treat me as a dangerous future opponent.
‘Because I don’t have enough cards in my sleeve; because I’m currently in a terrible situation; and because of my “outstanding” performance just now, Lampard easily stirred up the archdukes’ hostility towards me.’ Thales clenched his fists and looked at Lecco, Trentida, and Olsius, feeling stumped.
‘What should I do?’
Lampard sighed. “Allow me to speak my humble opinion, we still have some misunderstandings we need to resolve with Prime Minister Lisban. He is already waiting for us at the gatehouse.”
The archdukes exchanged a glance with each other and nodded their heads slightly.
Archduke Lecco nodded impassively. “It’s time for the guards to come in, or we can personally escort him out. Then… it’s about time for us to do something for Eckstedt.”
Thales felt as if he had fallen into an icy river. When he saw Archduke Lecco slowly stand up, his heart began to beat faster.
‘So many people were sacrificed Are two countries’ futures going to be decided here? What should I do?
‘What should I do?’
At that moment, a familiar but frightening voice rang in Thales’ ears.
“I can help you.”
The second prince jolted!
‘That’s’ Thales felt his hair stand on end. Under the archdukes’ curious gazes, his face turned pale and he was drenched in cold sweat.
The archdukes seemed to have no reaction to that voice, as if they had not heard it. The prince forced down his urge to look around.
Thales’ heart started racing uncontrollably!
‘It’s him. It’s him! He hasn’t left!’
“As long as these people die here, then the truth in Dragon Clouds City will be concealed.” That pleasant voice belonging to a man continued echoing in Thales’ ears. It was very, very tempting. “All that you are worried about, and those you care for, will find themselves with a satisfying end. However”
The prince’s breathing quickened even more. Panic and hesitation appeared on his face. Thales clenched his fists tightly and stared at the floor.
When the ignorant archdukes saw Thales’ reaction, they glanced at each other and could not help but snort.
‘Looks like he’s still just a child.’
Lampard did not even bother concealing the cold chuckles escaping his mouth.
Archduke Olsius moved to stand in front of the spaced out Thales and said coldly, “Do you wish to leave on your own, or should we escort you out?”
Thales did not answer him. He only panted as he ignored everyone else around him. His whole body shuddered.
In a place where other people could not see, that voice traveled airily into Thales’ ears.
“But the condition is that you give up on everything and leave with me.”
During that moment, the dazed Thales suddenly remembered what Head Priestess Holme told him when he was in Bright Moon Goddess Temple,
‘”But one day, you might have to make an important decision again, one that you could even say will be critical perhaps you will come to remember what I said today…
‘”Be careful with your choices.”‘
“Hurry up and make your choice. I will not be able to wait for you for long.” That voice urged him softly by his ear. “The legendary anti-mystic equipment is near me.”
Thales struggled to raise his head and, with an incredibly grave expression, he stared at the five archdukes before him.
‘Kill them all? Leave with him? How should I choose…?’
“So, Thales Jadestar?”
In the air no one noticed the Air Mystic’s return, Asda Sakern said airily, “Are you going to accept your fate as a Mystic or end your own future?”