Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
Two braziers had been extinguished in the Hall of Heroes.
But no one was paying attention to the temperature in the stone hall any longer.
“Lampard doesn’t just want to kill King Nuven…”
Thales finally managed to calm his breathing after a long while had passed. The Prince of Constellation whispered, “He also wants to make the most of King Nuven’s death and achieve his goals.”
The prince raised his head and looked at the archdukes who had strange expressions on their faces. “You can all already imagine it. King Nuven executed one of the five archdukes in the name of revenge, and in the blink of an eye, the other four murdered him.
“How would things be like then?”
Archduke Lecco clasped his hands together, his gaze was frozen.
‘How would things be like?’
The old archduke looked at Lampard with deep thoughts raging in his mind.
In contrast, Lampard’s gaze on Thales had returned to dead stillness, causing the latter’s heart to heart tremble in trepidation.
But Thales looked extremely calm as he continued, “I do not know about Lampard’s specific plans, but in his plans, you are probably prime suspects, and it will be hard for you to wash your hands of this suspicion. You will be wrecking your minds, thinking of ways to clear your name. However, you are in the unfamiliar Dragon Clouds City, and the savvy Prime Minister Lisban probably is not easy to deal with.”
The prince recalled bits of information and pieces of the truth he gained while he was fleeing in fear. He had constantly been surrounded by danger since the assassination happened. He sighed slightly, “Next, with Secret Room’s ‘help’, Prime Minister Lisban and the four ‘king slayers’ will inevitably clash in conflict, thereby forcing all of you to stand against Dragon Clouds City!”
There was a strange silence in the hall.
The archdukes looked at Lampard as they thought of Thales’ words with varying expressions on their faces.
Meanwhile, Thales walked over to the rectangular table. Under Archduke Roknee’s gaze, he jumped onto a chair and looked at Archduke Lecco, who was just on the opposite. “I heard earlier that Prime Minister Lisban is besieging the gatehouse?”
Lampard silently turned his head to the side, as though he was not the protagonist of this conversation.
“Initially, I did not understand why Lampard brought the army while he assassinated the king.” Thales took a deep breath and recalled the soldiers who were disguised as patrols, and the assumptions he formed in the prison cell. “I now believe that Lampard’s forces were supposed to intervene with the conflict between the archdukes and the prime minister when things escalated to the point of no return. He was supposed to rescue all of you.”
Trentida lifted his head.
“Why?” the Archduke of Reformation Tower asked solemnly, “Assuming you are telling the truth, why did Lampard do this?”
Thales’ expression froze a little.
“In order to convince you,” he said with an indifferent expression.
“Why?” Archduke Trentida instinctively asked in surprise.
“With the suspicion of committing regicide and being unable to reconcile with the prime minister, all of you will willingly accept Lampard’s proposal. You will very willingly and eagerly push the blame of the king’s death on Constellation and me.”
Thales’ expression dimmed once he said these words.
“You will voluntarily become Lampard’s accomplice, deploying your soldiers with Lampard, and invade Constellation. You will have put an end to King Nuven’s threat on all of you and fulfilled his wish.” Getting a strange look from Saroma, Thales exhaled and sighed softly.
“This is Lampard’s real original plan. Using schemes and making me the scapegoat, he can force his allies to be bound to his cause.”
The archdukes’ gazes constantly shifted back and forth between Lampard and Thales.
The Archduke of Black Sand Region still stood motionless, his eyes became increasingly calmer.
Thales exhaled and leaned back listlessly against the chair. With a strange look, he watched as Archduke Roknee’s expression turned sourer with each passing moment.
‘Did I provoke him somehow?’
Archduke Olsius tapped on the square table with a solemn face, and his sonorous voice sounded, “If this is Chapman’s original plan, why did he change his mind?”
Thales clenchedhis fist and remembered Putray’s words.
“To Lampard’s surprise, an accident happened during the assassination,” Thales calmly replied. “King Nuven was not in Heroic Spirit Palace as he was expected to be.
“Lampard had to expose himself, enter the city in advance, and witness the death of Nuven in Shield District.”
The prince raised his eyes, and he glanced at each one of the archdukes with his gray eyes.
“He lost his dominance and control over the situation. He could no longer blame you. He could not use the situation and the danger you were supposed to face to force you to form an alliance with him.
“That is why this scene is happening right now.
“Lampard had to take the risk of taking down the gatehouse as well as personally entering Heroic Spirit Palace to convince all of you to let go of Nuven’s death and work with him.”
Thales slowly sighed. “It’s different from his plan of using the situation to force you to agree to his plans. This time, he’s using a reason you can’t refute to convince you to join his plan.”
He finished speaking.
The only thing left in the hall was silence.
The archdukes had interesting expressions painted on their faces.
“This is what you wanted to say?”
Archduke Lecco was immersed in his thoughts for a while. “Chapman’s original plan was to use a dirty tactic to get us roped into his plan?”
“Words spoken without any prior thought,” the Archduke of Black Sand Region spoke in disdain and indifference. “Plus, there’re plenty of loopholes.”
Thales clenched his teeth.
But Trentida interrupted his rebuttal.
“Our Archduke of Black Sand Region is a very conniving person,” the Archduke of Reformation Tower said with a smile, “But what about it?
“Even if he was really prepared to scheme against us and turn us into scapegoats, things have already progressed to this point.” Archduke Trentida turned to the others and spread his hands slightly. “It’s too late.”
The archduke turned his head around slightly and looked at Thales.
At that moment, Trentida’s eyes shone with a cold glare. “For Eckstedtians, what needs to be done still has to be done.
“There is nothing you can change.”
Lampard still had a look that said he had no intention to be involved in this. Nonetheless, the Archduke of Black Sand Region turned and nodded at Trentida.
Thales was stunned.
He observed the archdukes’ expressions and found that they seemed to be indifferent.
With a worried look, Saroma stepped forward and tugged on his torn sleeve.
But Thales smiled.
The prince revealed a smile in front of the archdukes. It was a smile that was free of burden,
“My dear archdukes, how did Chapman Lampard convince all of you to work with him?” Thales glanced at the suzerains, each with great power in their hands. He then licked his lips. “What reason did he give that would make you unable to refuse his offer and be willing to work with him so obediently?”
The archdukes’ expression became slightly dark.
“It’s okay.” Thales closed his eyes and sighed. “In fact, I’ve guessed this when I was on my way here.”
Lampard’s gaze froze a little.
Thales straightened his back. With a stern expression, he faced the archdukes. “Did Lampard tell all of you that compared to his insubordinate act, there is a more terrifying threat rising to power in the country to the south? So strong that even Eckstedt would not be able to fend against it?”
At that moment, the archdukes’ expressions became slightly unnatural, though the degree of it varied from person to person.
It seemed that they were not used to the Prince of Constellation saying such words.
Lampard snorted softly.
But Thales ignored the Archduke of Black Sand.
It was his turn.
Thales clenched his fist.
“Did he tell you that the country born after the Empire is changing like never before?” Thales’ gaze grew sharper and his voice slowly became louder, “That the power of their nation is integrating into one in an unprecedented fashion, becoming more efficient? Thus, the king can command as he wishes?”
Saroma was surprised.
“Did he tell all of you it’s only by striking the enemy first using war and violence that you can destroy this threat before it grows regardless of the cost Eckstedt bears to find a path of survival?”
Archduke Olsius and Trentida glanced at each other with a startled look.
“Did he also tell you that if you do not do this, one day, your territory will be taken away, your family will be killed entirely, your bloodline will be cut off, and everything you have will be wiped out so they no longer exist?”
Archduke Lecco raised his eyebrows. His veins were visible beneath his skin once again.
Thales sighed and said the final sentence, “And did he tell you this as well? ‘Everything that I, Chapman Lampard, did, whether it was a coup or instigating war, was because I was forced to do it. I had no choice but to do it. I am willing to sully my name as a sacrifice. I am determined to stand tall in this world with the ambition of a fierce and ambitious person. I am doing this righteous cause for the country’?”
After he finished speaking, Thales could feel that the gaze Lampard had on him becoming even colder with time.
“Alright.” Archduke Trentida sighed slightly. “For these few words alone, you’ve shown that you really deserve your reputation, boy.”
Archduke Roknee furrowed his eyebrows.
“Who told you?”
“That’s not important, but that is how he convinced all of you, right?” Thales clenched his teeth without giving any attention to the strange looks from the archdukes. “You have approved his reason. You agreed to cover up the truth of the king’s death. You are willing to work with him to march down south to Constellation, and you accepted the condition of his gift of a masterless Dragon Clouds City.
“All this just for the sake of Eckstedt?”
Just when the archdukes were struck by bewilderment and surprise, Thales lifted his head and clenched his teeth as he said, “But, don’t you find something strange?”
Thales stood up from his chair and slammed his hands onto the square table. His expression was solemn.
“If he could convince you on his own just as he did just now, why did he have to waste so much time originally, scheming to shift the blame of the king’s assassination on you, then forcing all of you to stand against Dragon Clouds City?”
The prince clenched his fist. “Why didn’t he barge straight in here and tell you, ‘For Eckstedt, for everything that you have to not be destroyed by the future Constellation, please understand my hardships and cooperate with me in my selfless, magnificent feat.’?”
Trentida looked up and glanced at Lampard, who was no longer talking. His lips quirked into a smile. “He’s doing it now, isn’t it?”
Thales looked at Lampard and watched him press his hand on the saber by his waist.
“I just said it. The thing he is forced to do right now is his backup plan,” the prince whispered.
“Otherwise, Lampard would never give this reason to convince you. He neither intends to tell you about the threat of Constellation, nor tell you about the drastic changes in that country. And he was definitely not going to tell you his true purpose.”
Archduke Lecco frowned. ‘His true purpose?’
Thales’ fist was on the table, recalling what Shiles said, “Lampard would rather that you joined him because you were opposing Dragon Clouds City, not cooperate with him because you were aware of the threat in Constellation.”
“Why?” Archduke Roknee opened his mouth impatiently, “Speak directly, Northlanders hate all this talk where you just go about in circles.”
Thales turned to face him.
“Why?” The Prince of Constellation narrowed his eyes. “Because these are his genuine words.
“Because he’s afraid.”
At that moment, Thales finally saw the cold Lampard slowly raise his head.
The Archduke of Black Sand Region looked at him, and his chilly gaze turned to a still gaze.
Thales clenched his teeth as he looked back at him without hesitation.
‘This is the battle between us.
‘It is also the fairest battlefield.
‘Lampard, get ready.
‘Now, this is my counter-attack.’
“Afraid?” Trentida questioned, feeling puzzled.
Thales nodded slowly and firmly.
“He is afraid that you will find something wrong with his words.”
Thales Jadestar took a deep breath, “He is afraid that once you start thinking about it, you will find that behind the ‘threat of Constellation’… is the cruel truth.”
“The truth?” Archduke Roknee muttered again.
The next second…
“My dear archdukes!” Thales stood up straight and stepped on a chair with a serious look. “Once you accepted Lampard’s proposal today to take Dragon Clouds City as your own and send your soldiers down south and invade Constellation…”
Archduke Lecco unknowingly straightened up in his chair.
Roknee raised his chin.
There was a solemn expression on both Trentida and Olsius’ faces.
As for Lampard, his still gaze had not changed for a really long time.
But Thales no longer had any time to care about his opponents’ feelings.
Thales clenched his teeth as he glanced through each archduke solemnly, and found that their expressions became more complex as well as subtle. “In the future, each of you as well as every region you have will face great disasters and be eternally doomed in a storm you cannot fend against!”
A strong gust of wind from a blade came charging straight at the back of the Fire Knight’s neck!
In the nick of time, Tolja, who had his right hand held by Raphael, took the initiative to unfurl his left hand and release Wya, who was getting weaker from all the struggling.
The Fire Knight then swung his left arm.
*Dang!* A piercing sound shot into the air.
*Schick!* Bright red appeared on Tolja’s neck.
Kohen’s powerful slash hit Tolja’s rerebrace mid-air.
The tip of his sword was drawn to the Fire Knight’s neck, and the knight’s skin was pierced.
Blood slowly trickled out of the knight’s neck as he let out a muffled groan.
Tolja’s rerebrace was cracked by Kohen’s sword, and blood gushed out from the crack.
The police officer felt his heart chill. ‘He still managed to fend against a fatal blow.’
“Gambling on your life? You pampered brats.” Tolja held off the long sword on his left arm, and waves of pain shot up his arm. He ignored the blood on his neck and said darkly, “You are not worthy.”
Kohen held on to his sword tightly and slashed down with great strength again. Tolja’s rerebrace let out an unusual clang.
Raphael clenched his teeth as the strange muscles in his arms rapidly swelled again. While he was controlling the enemy’s right arm and his weapon, he was trying to create another opportunity for Kohen.
Tolja shifted his gaze, and his sharp eyes were focused on Raphael once he sensed Raphael’s extraordinary strength.
“My dear young masters, when your father rewarded his vassals because of your mother’s swelling belly, I was in the snow in the wild, shivering next to my mother’s stiff body, struggling through another damn winter!” Tolja’s expression was savage. With his right arm, he engaged in a contest of strength against Raphael, whose strength was growing stronger. With his left arm, he withstood Kohen’s strength, which had fused with his Power of Eradication.
His Power of Eradication burned his entire body like fire as Tolja roared and turned his neck.
Blood poured out from his arm as he pulled back his rerebrace and broke free from Kohen’s sword.
The wounded police officer lost his balance, his legs were shaking.
The next moment, Tolja loosened his grip on the Rising Sun Saber in his right hand.
The Rising Sun Saber fell to the ground and the blade lost its heat. As it bounced on the ground, it let out clattering sounds.
Raphael watched his opponent’s weapon fall by his side, and warning bells swiftly rang in his heart.
‘This is bad.’
Sure enough, without the blade acting as a hindrance, Tolja no longer tried to compete against Raphael in a contest of strength. While Raphael’s strength was overwhelmingly great, Tolja lowered his body and slammed him with his right shoulder!
Raphael could only feel his body sway before his back shuddered.
Before Kohen could react to the situation, Raphael was slammed into the wall by the Fire Knight.
Raphael coughed painfully as his face turned pale, yet he still maintained the tight grip on his opponent’s right hand.
“When you were crying in expensive swaddles, I was in the dusty countryside having bloody fights over moldy bread. I came out of those covered head to toe in injuries.” Tolja burned his Power of Eradication and pressed Raphael firmly against the wall. His gaze was scary.
Kohen’s heart tensed. He thrusted forward with his long sword!
Tolja shifted sideways, avoiding Kohen’s sword that was aimed towards him, albeit in a sloppy manner.
Kohen’s sword slashed through Tolja’s rerebrace, causing pieces of it to fall off. Sparks could be seen due to friction between the wall and the sword.
But Tolja did not pay attention to his shoulder injury. He rammed his shoulder against Raphael again, all the while having the latter pinned against the wall.
He hit Raphael’s chest real hard.
Raphael let out a pained groan and finally released his opponent’s right arm.
“When you were reading books and learning your letters in the study, I had to drag my bruised shoulders transporting the most foul smelling garbage and feces. I learned how to count from the crisp sound of a piece of copper,” Tolja pulled his right arm back as he spoke in a cold voice.
The Fire Knight turned his body swiftly and caught Kohen’s sword when it came slashing at him again.
There was a loud sound of friction between the sword’s tip and Tolja’s iron gloves.
Blood flowed from the knight’s fingers.
The bewildered officer looked at the beast-like Fire Knight, wanting to withdraw his longsword.
“When you learned how to wield a wooden sword in your manors, I was wrapped in wounds on the vast glaciers. With the last of my strength, I killed all sorts of enemies, from beasts to my own comrades in any weather and terrain!” Toljathrew a right punch at Raphael’s abdomen, causing his consciousness to dim and his back to bend.
The Fire Knight then grabbed Kohen’s sword, turned around and took a swift step back!
Kohen wanted to raise his arm to defend himself, but he was suddenly kicked by Toljain the knees.
The police officer’s sword flew out of his grasp and fell on the ground.
“When you were flirting with girls in banquets” Tolja pulled his right hand back and tore away his broken pauldron as well as rerebrace.
The Fire Knight coldly threw away all the burdens on his body, including his clothes. This revealed out-turned flesh, plus scars the color of blood covering his neck, shoulders, and arms. All these parts were covered in horrifying as well as serious burn scars and wounds.
Tolja’s expression was as cold as ice, while his gaze was like burning flames. He threw away Kohen’s bloodstained longsword.
He turned around and threw a punch.
Raphael had just stood up and he was ready to launch a sneak attack. However, he was punched on the head by the Fire Knight and slammed into the wall once again.
“I climbed out of charred corpses burned by gasoline, with burnsall over my body; I moaned in pain, only hoping to see the sun the next day.”
Kohen clenched his teeth anxiously and in anger, he screamed and rushed at the enemy, throwing an astonishingly heavy punch at Tolja.
The punch hit the Fire Knight’s cheek, and he was momentarily stunned.
But Tolja only roared and bent down to resist Kohen’s charge. He ignored the earlier punch on his cheek as if it was not more than just a mosquito bite.
“I was reborn from the flames of hell made of blood and fire.” He extended his arms and skillfully grabbed Kohen’s attacking arm. Locking his legs, he lifted Kohen onto his shoulders.
“This is how the Fire Knight came to be!”
The next second, Tolja swiftly turned around with a crazed expression. With a burst of strength in both his arms, he lifted up the struggling Kohen and threw him down.
The tall and sturdy police officer was thrown heavily onto the ground, and he fell on his back.
Kohen felt pain all over his body and saw stars. All his strength was stripped away from him.
“Gambling on your life?
“All you young masters will never understand what that means.”
Tolja straightened his body and shook his slightly flushed head. He then spat out a bloody tooth without hesitation. “In order to stand with you in the same manor, I climbed all the way from mud and blood. I’ve already gambled on my life countless times in endless hell.”
Tolja was half-naked, and his body was full of scars. Blood flowed all over his body, and his face was terrifying.
The Fire Knight coldly turned his body to face Raphael, who had just stood up, and said, “Even if we are in the same supreme class, the experiences we have are far too different.”
Raphael wiped the blood off his forehead and endured a burst of nausea. Shortly after, he drew the broken longsword from his waist.
“You are a very scary warrior.” The young man from the Secret Intelligence Department forcibly struck an attacking stance. Then he glanced at the barely breathing Kohen and frowned. “You live up to your name as one of the Five War Generals.”
Tolja turned his head and glanced at the Rising Sun Saber on the ground, which was a distance away from him.
With a sullen voice, Raphael said, “But with your skill, why do you have to follow Lampard and embark on this road of no return called rebellion?
“In order to experience more hell?”
The Fire Knight snorted coldly. He kicked up Kohen’s ‘Load-Bearer’, grabbed it with his hand and weighed it while he tested the suitability of its length.
The next second, Tolja roared and rushed before Raphael!
Raphael narrowed his eyes.
*Clang!* Their swords clashed against each other, and Raphael forcibly parried Tolja’s horizontal slash.
However, Tolja did not intend to cross swords with Raphael. Like a real beast, his left arm was pressed against the back of the sword, and he pushed Raphael to the wall!
*Bang!* Raphael blocked the Fire Knight’s sword as he was slammed against the wall, his own longsword was pressed against his chest.
Tolja’s expression was like that of a savage. His left elbow suddenly shot up and struck the two swords. Then, the two swords, which were in the form of a cross, turned to resemble the letter ‘X’!
The Fire Knight’s left arm was pressed at the upper part of the ‘X’, and that part was pressed tightly against Raphael’s throat, pressing down on him so tightly that he could not breathe.
“When you were carrying your swords and your glory while you were traveling around the world, I stood in front of deserted villages, on barren land where even weeds could not grow. There, I burst into tears, all for my first property, my first rank of nobility, which I obtained using three decades of my youth and life,” said Tolja through clenched teeth.
Raphael struggled to defend in pain. He could not even take a breath. Despite that, Tolja pressed down on Raphael’s sword continuously and inexorably. Meanwhile, he compressed Raphael’s trachea with his elbow.
The Fire Knight clenched his teeth. There was a mixture of pain and hope in his gaze. “It’s only after experiencing all of this that I’ve managed to stand here to face all of you prodigies and fight against you with my weapon lifted high.”
“You asked me why I followed the archduke?”
*Bang!* The Fire Knight roared and hit his head against Raphael’s forehead.
Raphael loosened his grip on his longsword, and it dropped from his hand.
The young man from the Secret Intelligence Department looked as if he had lost consciousness. He slid down the wall limply, but Tolja lifted him up by his collar.
The knight turned around and rammed his knee against Wya, who had climbed up from the ground. He vomited blood and fell back.
“All of you will not understand…” Tolja panted, and due to habit, swung the sword in his right hand. It was obvious the Load-Bearer did not feel the same as the weapon he was used to wielding.
He looked at Kohen, who was struggling on the ground, then said through clenched teeth, “His Grace
“His Grace is
“What he sees in his eyes is a future far ahead of us.” The Fire Knight took a deep breath and revealed a wistful look. “It’s a new world never seen before, where everyone can have their own future.”
Tolja panted heavily and stretched his left arm out to seize Raphael’s neck. He lifted him up.
With a fearsome expression, the Fire Knight licked the blood in his mouth before he pulled Raphael closer and looked right into his enemy’s eyes. “For the archdukes’ goals and also for the future he promised, I am willing to pay whatever price is necessary.”
The Fire Knight exhaled with great difficulty.
Raphael just gritted his teeth. His gaze was unfocused as he looked weakly into his enemy’s eyes.
Tolja proceeded to raise Kohen’s sword. His eyes bulged as he stared at Raphael with a serious and zealous look. “No matter what the obstacles are, I must crush them.”
At that moment, Raphael thought of the girl from a long time ago.
He thought of her as his mind was no longer clear. Soon, he closed his eyes.
The next second, without hesitation, the Fire Knight thrust forward with sword in hand.
The sword stabbed into Raphael’s heart and came out through his back.
Blood poured out everywhere onto the ground.
And Kohen’s heart-wrenching screams were heard.