Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
In Heroic Spirit Palace’s corridor, Thales adjusted his sleeve as he felt his head pound, trying to smooth out the nine-pointed star emblem that extended from his upper arm to his shoulder. At the same time, he walked forward next to Saroma.
“Based on our experience for the past six years, doesn’t the king’s envoy usually come only when the season changes?” the second prince said, feeling annoyed and worried. “Plus, they usually come over with the purpose of”
“Checking on your situation.” Saroma nodded in a distracted manner. She stared at Thales, who was in a flurry before she sighed and rolled her eyes. She then extended her hand and smoothened the emblem on his shoulder for him while she brusquely said, “To ensure that a certain unfortunate prince is still locked in his cage like a pet.”
“Oh.” Thales furrowed his eyebrows and snorted expressionlessly. “Thank you for reminding me of that.”
Behind them, Count Lisban let out a soft cough.
The regent quietly extended his hand and placed it on Thales’ shoulder.
“…And, to monitor, remind and warn Dragon Clouds City that we’re the biggest threat in King Chapman’s eyes.” Without revealing anything on his face, Lisban pushed Thales two steps away and solemnly said, “Even after the Walton Family lost the crown, and while the people in Dragon Clouds City are still in a jittery state, this has never changed.
“Especially now that both the Jadestar Family and the Walton Family’s futures are in Dragon Clouds City.”
Thales arched an eyebrow and looked at Lisban, who came between him and Saroma at some point.
Count Lisban had always been very estranged and vigilant when it came to how he communicated with Thales. There was also a hostility that was hard to ignore. However, when he faced Black Sand Region as well as King Chapman, the vassal and aide King Nuven trusted the most when he was alive showed exceptional trust and goodwill towards Thales, often reminding Thales that they stood on the same side.
Thales remembered what Putray told him “If I remember correctly, King Chapman is still in a dispute and stalemate with the vassals in his territory over the new enfeoffment act. And the City of Faraway Prayers’ Archduke Roknee and his allies are making a lot of noise throughout the kingdom, condemning the king for not respecting tradition
“Those seem to be the issues at hand, and Chapman should worry about them, instead of concern himself with two wimpy kids who have neither power nor influence.”
Saroma rolled her eyes at him.
“So, this is the interesting part.” Lisban did not seem to understand Thales’ insinuation. He swept his gaze across the teenage boy and the maiden on each side of him. “Why don’t you take a guess as to why they’ve come?”
Thales exhaled. “To draw Dragon Clouds City over to their side and obtain outside support for Lampard, who is extremely unpopular in the kingdom. Then, fight against Roknee and the other objectors?”
Saroma’s expression dimmed.
But shortly after, she inhaled deeply and tried her best to reveal a cold, solemn expression, just as she always did for the past six years. “In that case, they have the wrong idea. Dragon Clouds City is the least likely force of power to stand with them We all know what happened six years ago.
“No one can forget it.”
Recalling that night, Thales could not help but smack his lips. He sighed and said, “Basically, this is what I’m worried about.”
Lisban snorted coldly. His gaze was extremely vigilant. “We’ll find out.”
The next moment, they turned a corner. Nicholas and Justin had already been waiting for them a long time ago. They nodded at them and pushed open a door both Thales and Saroma had seen thousands of times before.
Under the protection of the Archduchess’ Guards behind and beside him, the Prince of Constellation walked behind the archduchess and the regent. They stepped into the oval stone hall, which was filled with a solemn atmosphere.
Compared to six years ago, there was a huge change to the Hall of Heroes. The biggest difference was that the solid and heavy long table, which signified the king as well as the nine archdukes was no longer there.
It seemed to have disappeared in the pages of history together with the Born King’s rule.
There was only a large seat made of simple and heavy cedar wood in the hall. Three steps led up to it.
The renowned Soul Slayer Pike still lay quietly on the pike shelf above the fireplace behind the seat.
Thales self-consciously stopped before the steps leading up to the seat. Nicholas and Lisban went one step farther before they turned to face the hall. The archduchess was the only one who lifted her skirt and walked up the steps towards the seat with a stern face.
The prince watched with complicated emotions as Saroma skillfully and anxiously sat on the chair exclusive to the suzerain of Dragon Clouds City. It could almost fit four or five people. First, she carefully placed her arms on both sides of the armrests. Then, she inhaled deeply, straightened her body and stuck her chest out. She raised her head to look at the hall with a forced arrogance and aloofness. Like a baby lion who just learned how to walk, she was letting out an infantile roar at her pride.
From the young girl’s expression, it was probably not very comfortable to sit up there.
‘It’s been six years.
‘She’s still not used to it, is she?
‘Because of me, she sat on this seat.
‘Because of me, she didn’t have a choice.’
Saroma seemed to notice his stare. The maiden turned her head rigidly to look at Thales, and hidden in her eyes was a discomfort only the prince could see.
For the time being, Thales did not dare look at the seat and its mistress anymore. He turned his head a little to the side and stared at the floor tiles with a gloomy expression.
The next moment, the messenger’s sonorous and melodious yells rang in the hall.
“The Viscount of the City of Halting Light from Black Sand Region, the special envoy and gosling officer of the king, and the second auxiliary advisor of the Imperial Conference, Lhasa Kentvida!”
The atmosphere in the entire Hall of Heroes immediately became tense.
Whetherintentional or not, Nicholas shifted the hilt of his blade from his back to his right shoulder. Meanwhile, Lisban placed his hands behind him, as per habit.
The bodyguards on both sides of the hall stuck out their chests and raised their heads with pursed lips. Even the experienced personal guards who were once part of the White Blade Guards adjusted their breathing without realizing it. They revealed their fiercest and most serious expression.
They knew who that person was.
As two pairs of footsteps approached, a man and a woman appeared at the door of the Hall of Heroes.
Thales narrowed his eyes.
It had been six years since they last met. Kentvida, the number one adviser of King Chapman, the tall viscount who once “escorted” the prince to Dragon Clouds City with two thousand soldiers, seemed a lot more mature to Thales. Compared to his martial attire in the past, he was currently dressed in simple attire. However, his steps were as brisk as they used to be, and together with his polite, scrutinizing smile, Thales could not help but feel that he was even harder to deal with now than in the past.
Nevertheless, he was not the most eye-catching person.
The person next to Kentvida stopped when she passed by the messenger.
She was a female warrior with a butch cut and light armor. Her presence was not in the slightest bit inferior to Kentvida’s. The longsword by her waist had a familiar white hilt.
“I see.” The female warrior stared straight at the messenger at the door with a fierce gaze.
“It is not common practice for you to announce the name of a female guest, am I right?”
At the far end of the hall, the people including Thales looked towards the door curiously.
“It has always been this way. Please do not take it to heart.” The messenger stared vigilantly at the female warrior without showing any intention of backing down. He snorted softly through his nose. “Welcome to Northland.”
The female warrior chuckled. “Is that so?
“Even though all of you have been ruled by a woman for six years?”
The messenger furrowed his eyebrows. He seemed to have been rendered speechless for a moment because of her sentence.
Kentvida had been walking in front of them, but he was forced to stop right then.
“Esch,” Kentvida placed his hand on his forehead and called out to his comrade in a rather soft, resigned tone.
“It’s alright.” The female warrior acted like she did not hear Kentvida’s reminder. She continued to stare at the messenger, who had a disdainful expression. “I’ll do it myself.
The next moment, the round-faced female warrior turned and faced the entire hall!
She stared straight at the other end of the hall and said loudly without hesitation, “I’m the Deputy Commander of the White Blade Guards from Peck Village of Flatiron County, Dragon Clouds City…
“Lady Kroesch Mirk, King Chapman’s administrator and personal guard!
“I’m here to have an audience with
“…the Archduchess of Dragon Clouds City!”
The woman’s voice was mellow and clear. It echoed in every corner of the hall.
Even Thales could hear her voice clearly despite standing on the other end of the hall.
The expressions of the Archduchess’ Guards on both sides of the hall changed. It was as though they were looking at some peculiar object in the market. They stared in shock at the Deputy Commander of the White Blade Guards who announced her own arrival.
Thales furrowed his eyebrows a little, but he immediately curled up the corners of his lips.
‘A lady having an audience with the archduchess.
‘Would the Northlanders be able to imagine this scene six years ago?’
“Now, have you learned how to announce my arrival?”
Kroesch arched an eyebrow and stared apathetically at the messenger, who was so shocked that he was at a loss for words. Not mincing matters, she snapped her fingers in front of the messenger and broke him out of his trance. “And”
The female warrior snorted joyfully and softly.
“Welcome to Northland.”
The messenger stared at her in a trance and could not react for a long time.
Viscount Kentvida sighed. Shutting his eyes, he urged the person behind him in a pitiful tone to stop, “Esch”
But before he could finish, Kroesch mercilessly shoved his shoulder, causing him to stagger forward!
“Let’s focus on our proper business.” The female warrior started to walk once again, and she snorted coldly. “And stop calling me that.”
Kentvida, who was caught off guard and shoved forward, smiled awkwardly. He turned and waved in embarrassment at the messenger. “I apologize. Kroesch has always been quite passio ah nate!”
With a cold expression, Kroesch shoved him again. The viscount could only flash an appeasing smile, straighten his clothes, and walk inside the hall.
Saroma furrowed her eyebrows while she sat on the archduchess’ seat a distance away. She stared at the two people, who just created a commotion. “Did they deliberately do that?”
Lisban shook his head. “I don’t know, but at the very least, the Viscount did not attempt to stop her.
“From this alone, we are able to tell many things.”
Thales shrugged, and he could not help but sigh emotionally while he stared at Kroesch. He then said, “Even so what a special woman.”
‘Especially in Northland.’
“Elegant, unconventional and bold. I couldn’t help but marvel in astonishment.”
The prince stared absentmindedly at Kroesch, who walked in an elegant and unrestrained manner. He could not help but remember Sonia Sasere the Fortress Flower, who laughed boldly amid a pool of blood while she ruffled his hair.
The next moment, Thales realized that the three people on the flight of steps were staring at him with strange expressions.
That was when the prince stopped smiling and coughed softly.
Kentvida and Kroesch finally stood still five meters away from the main seat. The viscount stared at the teenage archduchess on the seat with considerable interest.
Saroma quietly endured his stare. She tightened her grip on the armrests.
Count Lisban furrowed his eyebrows slightly.
“Good day, Archduchess Walton.” Viscount Kentvida bowed slightly, as though he could not sense the tense atmosphere in the hall at all. “Please allow me to convey the King’s regards and blessings. He hopes that everything is well when it comes to your governance of Dragon Clouds City.
Thales could obviously sense that he was not being very respectful with his etiquette. Instead, Kroesch’s bow was more sincere.
Saroma nodded slightly. She glanced at Lisban and spoke carefully as well as emotionlessly, “Of course. Do convey my gratitude to His Majesty too.”
She leaned back against the chair and said nothing else.
Viscount Kentvida’s eyes flickered, and his gaze swept past the silent archduchess as well as the stern-looking Lisban. Then, he flashed a meaningful smile.
“I don’t seem to be seeing those important officials of Dragon Clouds City whom I can recognize with ease.” The viscount looked around pompously. “Where are the counts other than Regent Lisban? Was yesterday not the day of the council hearing?”
“This is not a formal visit,” Lisban himself answered Kentvida. The former prime minister said coldly, “There is no need to alarm them.”
“Is this really alright?” Kentvida put on a slightly surprised expression.
“I heard that they were discussing the archduchess’ marriage yesterday? Was it mentioned that both Count Najir’s son and Count Hearst are good candidates to become the archduchess’ husband?
“But all of you are overlooking them when the king’s special representative is visiting?”
Thales’ breathing immediately froze.
“You are really well-informed. Only Dragon Clouds City’s immediate vassals would be so accurately informed about this.”
After being dumbfounded for a barely-perceptible period of time, Count Lisban quickly replied in an unpleasant tone, “Did all of you bribe some rat in the Hall of Heroes again?”
Kentvida smiled. “I wouldn’t dare. The vassals of Dragon Clouds City have always been loyal. They would not be swayed to our side.”
“I was only saying that the rats in the palace have multiplied to the point where they are a nuisance,” Lisban replied without showing any trace of his emotions. “Why did you associate them with the vassals, Your Grace?”
Kentvida arched an eyebrow.
‘Ciel Lisban, the former Prime Minister who’s served the kingdom for dozens of years, the Born King’s most capable aide. At some point, the man was known as the ‘Eye of the Dragon’.
‘He is indeed equal to his reputation, and is a hard opponent to deal with at least in terms of speech.
‘And he is becoming firmer as he grows older.’
“I have not seen you for years. I’m glad to see that neither disease nor disaster has befallen you, that you are alive and in good health.” The next moment, without hesitation, Kentvida shifted his gaze towards the only person with the nine-pointed star emblem in the hall. He flashed a smile. “I am asking you this on behalf of the king: how have you been recently, Prince Thales?”
Lisban and Nicholas furrowed their eyebrows in unison.
They looked at Thales.
Saroma blinked. Apart from being surprised, she actually breathed a sigh of relief. She seemed to be quite grateful that the prince took some pressure off her when it came to this “opening show”.
Thales furrowed his eyebrows. Everyone in the hall, especially Lisban fixed their gazes on him. He stared at the smiling Kentvida with an extremely skeptical expression.
‘Made it sound like Lampard and I know each other very well.
‘Even though it’s true that we “know each other very well”‘.
But Thales immediately recalled what Gilbert once said to him.
“‘Be careful, Prince Thales. In diplomatic affairs, there should not be any meaningless arguments or exchanges. This is actually a test and a change of steps before the official clash of swords. The opponent is testing waters and gauging our actual strength before finally making his first sword strike.'”
The prince could feel a headache building in his head because he had to deal with this problem, but he subconsciously cleared his mind and treated the situation seriously.
“It’s true that it has been many years since we last met, Viscount Kentvida, but”
Thales put on a bold face and said, “To say that neither disease nor disaster has befallen me, that I am alive and in good health
“Why did you make it sound as though you were consoling senior citizens who do not have much time left in the world?”
Saroma giggled while she remained seated up high.
Kentvida’s polite and smug smile froze on his face.
Beside him, Kroesch blew out a mouthful of air without bothering to mask her actions. She seemed to be mocking Kentvida.
Coincidentally, Lisban, who usually did not smile much, also sneered cooperatively.
“You are still as eloquent as you used to be.”
Looking around at the unpleasant gazes around him, Kentvida had no choice but to stop smiling. He spoke rigidly, trying to mediate the situation. “His Majesty misses you very much, Your Highness. He often mentions that he still owes you a drink.
Thales sighed internally again.
Lisban looked at him once again.
“You know, eighteen years ago, my uncle Herman died from a goblet of poisonous wine.” The prince scratched his head. “‘Owe me a drink’… Are you sure that these are the king’s original words?”
Kentvida stopped speaking. He found himself unable to continue with the conversation anymore.
He scowled a little in his heart.
‘It seems that His Majesty was right.
‘This journey of ours would be very interesting.’
At this moment, Count Lisban laughed.
“Let us forgo the useless small talk and provocation, and get straight to the point.
“Viscount Kentvida, Black Sand Region’s Night Falcon, who shot to fame in recent years…” The regent’s laughter rang throughout the entire hall. “Why have you come?”
‘Can’t all of you Northlanders give each other more imaginative nicknames?’
Recalling that Duke Arunde’s nickname was “Iron Eagle”, Thales could not help but criticize them inwardly.
Lisban tilted his head and studied Kentvida.
“King Chapman would not send you here just to sow seeds of discord at a time when he is very busy dealing with internal and foreign affairs brought by both the commotion in his territory as well as Roknee’s anti-king alliance.” There was an indescribable authority in the count’s voice, and at some point, it reminded Thales of the Born King, who died many years ago. “You won’t be able to rescue your king, who is under fire and facing a lot of problems just by quibbling.
“So, what important information have you brought us today?”
Kentvida raised his head. The smile on his face slowly faded.
Staring at Lisban, his gaze slowly became serious.
“I must admit that there was a small dispute between His Majesty and a few archdukes.”
Thales sneered inwardly.
‘A small dispute?’
“But I believe that for the shared future of the Eckstedtians, we can definitely stand together.
“For Eckstedt’s shared honor and humiliation, no matter what hardships or dangers we face, we will be able to get through it, hand in hand.”
Viscount Kentvida’s expression became cold. He then uttered a sentence that alarmed everyone.
“For example, our current situation right now.”
Thales thought of something.
‘He said that for Eckstedt’s shared
‘This means that’
There was silence in the hall for a few seconds.
The experienced and sharp Count Lisban already realized something.
“Shared honor and humiliation?” the old count fixed his gaze on Kentvida’s expression and asked slowly, enunciating each word. “Why?”
He jumped straight to the conclusion he made. “Are we going to war?”
Thales’ eyelids twitched.
Kentvida raised his eyebrows slightly, as though shocked by the count’s reply.
What made Thales rather uneasy was that the next moment, with a smile, Kentvida