Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
“Information from the west.”
Kentvida stuck his chest up. His expression was solemn.
“Three days ago, our ‘little friends’ in the west held a secret meeting behind closed doors. At least three elders suggested that it was time to discuss and adjust the number of items, or offerings to Eckstedt as tribute every year.
“The west” At that moment, Lisban’s pupils contracted. “Are you talking about the Alliance of Freedom, which is part of the Golden Passage, southwest of the City of Faraway Prayers?”
Next to him, Nicholas suddenly raised his head when he heard that term. His expression was dark.
Kentvida nodded expressionlessly.
“The Alliance of Freedom has not made a final decision yet, and the elders’ standpoint keeps swaying. Nonetheless, there’s no doubt that the moment they dared harbor this thought in their idiotic and cowardly minds, raising the bill at the round table where Prince Soria once tested his sword They have already trampled upon Eckstedt’s dignity,” Kentvida said grimly. His words were formidably cold.
The moment Kentvida finished speaking, he shut his mouth and quietly waited for a reply.
Thales noticed that all the Northlanders held their breaths for a moment, whether they were personal guards like Nicholas and Justin, or high-ranking nobles like Lisban.
It was as though the air in the hall had solidified for a moment because of those words.
‘The Alliance of Freedom.
Thales exhaled. He felt relieved that what he was most worried about did not happen.
He cast the archduchess a questioning glance, but Saroma only shook her head quietly with a hint of worry on her face. It was obvious that she knew the significance of the term.
A few seconds later.
Count Lisban raised his head slowly and cast his gaze into the distance while he reminisced the glorious times of the past. However, there was an unassailable influence in his words. “Twenty years ago, we generously ‘taught’ these little friends of ours in the Golden Passage to fulfill their duties.
“Under the fury of the Great Dragon, even the White Elves who regarded themselves as a higher class of beings could not protect them Has the Alliance of Freedom not learned a lesson from this?
Kentvida snorted. His gaze was profound.
“It is obvious that compared to twenty years ago, our little friends seem to be under the illusion that without the Born King, Eckstedt has become kinder.”
Viscount Kentvida’s eyes flashed with cold light. “Then, it is time to teach them another lesson.”
Behind him, Kroesch chuckled.
The hall descended into silence.
‘What’s going on?
‘Eckstedt and the Alliance of Freedom?’
While he maintained his composure, Thales recalled the geographical knowledge he obtained from six years of education for Northland nobles. Of course, his lessons on geography were centered on Eckstedt The prince once jokingly referred to it as “Little Rascal’s Exploration of the World”, causing Saroma to roll her eyes at him for a whole three days.
After the Battle of Eradication, a safe haven was formed in the western part of the Western Peninsula’s Great Desert in the beginning of the Calendar of Eradication. This was due to its distance away from the two new powers, Constellation and the Dragon. Many kingdoms and states of various sizes were established, forming a very long area, which spanned from the north to the south, and crossed many powers of the Western Peninsula. To the east, it reached the inland of the desert and Rock Valley. To the north, it was connected to the Northern Sea Kingdom and Northland. To the west, it reached the Demon Sea and the Sea of Despair with their many ports. It neighbored Dragon-Kissed Land and Thornland, which were located on the shore of the Sea of Long Corridors in the south. To the southeast, it was connected to the Two Misty Seas and even Constellation.
This passage mainly comprised of small kingdoms along the road, and all the powers exercised their own autonomous rule. They were renowned for being free from the influence of powerful kingdoms. That was until Camus Union gradually rose during the peninsular wars. When people of the states farther down eastlater known as Camiansstarted trading within the peninsula, they called this complicated and confusing overland passage the “Golden Passage” as it was connected to various countries and filled with trade items
The Alliance of Freedom that Kentvida and Lisban talked about was situated on the northeastern end of the Golden Passage. It neighbored the City of Faraway Prayers, which was situated in the western part of Eckstedt in the east. It was also connected to Camus Union’s Good Flow City in the west. For those who were braver, they could even reach the Western Desert Hill of Constellation by going southeast and crossing a patch of desert.
For quite a long time, this piece of land, which served as the Golden Passage, was in constant chaos. After the Fourth Peninsular War, many forces of power reached a compromise and agreed to form a joint rulership to create a political state. It was known as the Alliance of Freedom. It had managed to exist for more than a hundred years, despite being in a complicated situation where many internal and external powers were entangled.
It was obvious from Lisban’s words that the Alliance of Freedom had fallen into Eckstedt’s hand in the most recent conflict. With their then flourishing power and influence, as well as their terrifying war achievements of forcing Constellation and Camus Union into submission, they seized influence and dominance over the Alliance of Freedom. They were hence able to possess plenty of benefits from the northernmost part of the Golden Passage.
‘So, if the Alliance of Freedom is trying to break away from Eckstedt’s control,’ Thales thought, ‘does Lampard want to go to war with the west?
‘But the people led by Archduke Roknee are all criticizing his rule. Lampard should be extremely busy dealing with his problems at this time, and he’s also probably in an incredibly anxious state. It can’t be that the king expects to clear his name with this war that is fated to be arduous?
‘It has been impossible to resolve the conflict between the king and the archdukes since that incident six years ago, right?’
Viscount Kentvida raised his head and looked expressionlessly at Saroma, who was deep in thought. “Archduchess Walton, this is the important information King Chapman asked me to convey to you.
“The Northlander’s dignity can only be defended with blood.”
Kentvida focused his gaze. There was a hint of aggressiveness in his eyes. “What is Dragon Clouds City’s view on this?”
Facing Kentvida’s seemingly polite question, which was in reality, a very overbearing one, Saroma furrowed her eyebrows.
In that moment, Thales saw a fleeting hint of helplessness and fear in her eyes.
But the young girl quickly coughed softly and looked habitually at Regent Lisban.
“Ciel, what do you think?”
Count Lisban pondered for a pretty long while.
“Thank you very much for your information.” The regent finally raised those profound eyes of his, which seemed to be greatly burdened. “Even though Black Sand Region is far away from the desert and the Golden Passage
“But you actually reacted to the situation far quicker than the City of Faraway Prayers, which neighbors the Alliance of Freedom, despite the gravity of the situation. You even sent people to notify us of this earlier than the City of Faraway Prayers.
“Is it an oversight on Archduke Roknee’s part, or are all of you too mindful?”
Lisban deliberately emphasized his pronunciation on the word “mindful”.
The moment Lisban said that, Thales could not help but arch his eyebrows up a little.
Viscount Kentvida could not refrain from slightly changing his expression either. He sized up Count Lisban once again.
‘I see.’ The Prince of Constellation realized what was suspicious about Black Sand Region sending their envoys over. ‘This isn’t something they should notify us about. Additionally, they shouldn’t have been so passionate about it.’
Behind Kentvida, Kroesch snorted softly, and coldly said, “We are in service of a king who is ready to realize his aspirations all over the kingdom. Surely, we have to be able to live up to his ambitions and plans.”
Kentvida curled up the corners of his lips and nodded slightly at Kroesch. But the female fighter did not even spare a glance at him. Instead, she fixed her gaze on the archduchess.
Lisban snorted flatly.
“Forget about Eckstedt’s influence on the Golden Passage” Count Lisban straightened his body a little. His tone was solemn, “Plenty of the goods and profit we enjoy comes with Eckstedt being connected to the Alliance of Freedom. Besides, the Alliance of Freedom is neighbor to the City of Faraway Prayers. Once it breaks away from our control, the one who would suffer the most losses and be the most worried should be Archduke Roknee, correct?
“All of you are very generous indeed to worry about his affairs as well.”
Amid the increasingly stifling atmosphere of the meeting, the count directly pointed out his suspicion.
Kentvida smiled slightly. “The Roknee Family and the City of Faraway Prayers’ losses are also Eckstedt’s losses”
But Lisban cut him off loudly. “Even though Archduke Roknee is tirelessly and clearly criticizing King Chapman’s rule? Even though he calls for us to refuse to pay taxes to the king, who is a rebel with no respect for tradition?”
Kentvida seemed to be infuriated too. His smile disappeared, and his expression became cold. “Eckstedtians are one and the same. If one of us stands in glory, the others will bask in glory as well. If one of us is injured, all of us will also be injured!
“This is the future our king has envisioned and worked hard for Of course, we hope that Archduke Roknee would understand the trouble the king has taken. We hope that you would understand it too.”
“Ha! This is news to me.” Count Lisban looked like he was prepared to bear all the pressure Kentvida gave, allowing the archduchess, who was flustered, to relax. “The king slayer is actually a patriotic man!”
The moment Count Lisban mentioned that nickname without hesitation, Kentvida and Kroesch’s expression became cold.
Thales sighed internally. ‘King slayer. This will probably be a dark mark in Lampard’s life and sully his reputation forever.
‘But’ Thales remembered Chapman Lampard’s expression while he was illuminated by the fire. ‘Compared to other people’s opinions, the biggest mark should be the one in his mind.
‘This could be considered a sear that King Nuven has left Lampard with. It will be with him for the rest of his life.’
“Trust me, King Chapman bears Eckstedt’s dignity and interest in his heart at all times.” Kentvida’s expression was cold.
“I don’t know how to tell you just how much His Majesty wanted to gather Eckstedt’s entire military force to dismantle the Alliance of Freedom’s city walls, then use those bricks to build their gravestones the moment he received the news”
However, Lisban snorted angrily and curtly.
“Enough with the flowery words,” the old regent’s tone was very flat, but it harbored a tenseness that made it hard for others to breathe. “At a time when Archduke Roknee of the City of Faraway Prayers enjoys popular confidence and leads all the heroic men to call for the entire kingdom to criticize the king’s act of injustice…
“The Alliance of Freedom, west of the City of Faraway Prayers suddenly becomes internally unstable for some reason, and is bringing trouble to Roknee?”
Thales could not help but furrow his eyebrows at Lisban’s straightforward attitude.
That aside, the prince could not fathom the reason for Kentvida’s visit. ‘This is a fight between the king and Roknee; why do they have to intentionally notify Dragon Clouds City?
‘Is King Chapman really counting on Dragon Clouds City to stand on his side?’
“Roknee will have to make a choice, right?” Lisban brought his arms out from behind and crossed it tightly in front of his chest. He took a step forward and stared at Kentvida with an extremely pressuring gaze.
“By principle of right and wrong, if he wants to solve the problem at hand without leaving any worries, and defend his prestige as the Archduke of the City of Faraway Prayers, he must stop fighting against the king, or even consider working together with the king. This is so that he can free his hands to handle the internal rife of the Alliance of Freedom with all his might, and recapture the profit that belongs to the City of Faraway Prayers.”
Kentvida was silent for a few seconds. “I don’t understand what you mean, Your Grace.”
Lisban snorted coldly. “We are all Northlanders. Let us not engage in the Empire’s political trickery like the Constellatiates.
‘The Empire’s political trickery?’
Thales could not help but arch an eyebrow. The prince swore that he saw Saroma curl up the corners of her lips a little.
“Tell me,” Lisban said solemnly, “If Roknee does not make the choice that all of you anticipate, how will King Chapman react?”
Kentvida stared at Lisban for a few seconds.
Eventually, the envoy from Black Sand Region smiled.
“I reckon that His Majesty will still have to respect the Joint Ruling Pledge. After all, the City of Faraway Prayers is the nearest to the Alliance of Freedom. So, he respects Archduke Roknee’s opinions and the City of Faraway Prayer’s interests as well as autonomous rule when it comes to settling this issue It is one thing to condemn those little friends of ours, but it is undoubtedly unwise to hastily stick his nose into another archduke’s internal affairs.”
“Hey!” Lisban yelled mockingly. “Right now, our king actually remembers the Joint Ruling Pledge and the fact that this is ‘another archduke’s internal affairs’?”
Kentvida did not reply. He only bowed slightly. The regent stopped talking as well.
The hall was strangely silent once again. Thales saw that Nicholas’ eyebrows were tightly furrowed, and Saroma seemed to be deep in thought.
In this strange meeting, Thales quickly found a few questionable points, which he could not fathom.
‘Black Sand Region raised the issue with the Alliance of Freedom But according to Lisban, this is just part of King Chapman’s game with Archduke Roknee and his other opposers.
‘But what does this have to do with Dragon Clouds City? Why did Lampard send someone to notify Saroma of this?
‘More importantly, what does this have to do with me?
‘If what Gilbert said about ‘there being no meaningless words in foreign affairs’ and ‘testing waters and gauging our actual strength’ applies’
Thales furrowed his eyebrows. He had too little information.
A few seconds later, Count Lisban thought of something. He raised his gaze.
“I know why all of you came to Dragon Clouds City.” The count became stiff. “The incident yesterday”
Lisban narrowed his eyes. “All of you sent Dragon Clouds City into the eye of the storm.”
‘Sent Dragon Clouds City into the eye of the storm?’
Thales was momentarily startled. He could not really keep up with their thoughts.
Obviously, he was not the only one who did not understand Lisban’s words. Saroma’s eyes widened. This was the young girl’s usual behavior when she was confused.
The boy and girl exchanged glances, and they saw the bewilderment as well as confusion in each other’s eyes.
“The ‘Eye of the Dragon’, Ciel Lisban. Very well.” Kentvida’s expression became completely serious. He met his opponent’s eyes once again. “Now, our conversation has truly begun.”
Lisban snorted coldly in reply.
At that moment, Thales had a feeling that the meeting that day was a battle between Lisban and Kentvida. It was a chess game only both of them understood.
“The meeting shall end here, My Lady,” Lisban said coldly.
Saroma stared at Lisban in a daze, but she nodded obediently.
“Are you sure?” Kentvida snorted coldly. “This concerns the Great Dragon’s honor and humiliation. And His Majesty is waiting for the archduchess’ answer.”
The viscount added rather profoundly, “He’s not waiting for the regent’s answer.”
Thales sighed a little internally.
“Enough. You know better than anyone how this would proceed.”
Lisban stared at Kentvida with an extremely cold expression, not even bothering to maintain a friendly facade. “The archduchess will give you an answer, but not now.”
The count said coldly, “At least, not before the City of Faraway Prayers sends their envoys over.”
Kentvida inhaled. His expression became calm once again, and he bowed slightly.
“Then, we will excuse ourselves first, Your Grace,” the Viscount of Black Sand Region said softly. “By the way”
Kentvida glanced meaningfully at the rather puzzled Saroma and said, “…Your new spectacles are very beautiful.”
Saroma could not help but change her expression.
Thales felt a chill run down his spinethe regent’s gaze on him was extremely aggressive.
Count Lisban snorted coldly. “You have said enough, Your Grace.”
Kentvida smiled. He bowed slightly and deliberately at the Prince of Constellation, then turned to leave.
At this moment…
“Star Killer, my commander sends you his regards.” Kroesch, who had been silent the entire time suddenly raised her head and looked at the warrior next to Lisban. “‘That blade is seriously hard to use’. Those were his original words.”
Nicholas snorted as he stood on the flight of stairs.
“Then, you may as well tell him that this blade is quite easy to use.” The Star Killer shook his head and stared at his old friend’s daughter. “What a pity.”
Kroesch nodded and turned towards the archduchess’ seat.
“Your Grace, please take care of yourself.”
She stared at Saroma, and her gaze was gentle as well as hopeful. It made Thales a little stunned.
“Ah, thank you for your goodwill,” Saroma answered subconsciously.
“Please believe me that you are far more important, and far worthier than what you imagine yourself to be.” The female warrior seemed like she only wanted to finish what she intended to say. She continued softly, “No matter what, your existence is a rare miracle in Northland, and a good example for us in taking a step forward.
“Please seize control of your power, be self-reliant, and be a true Archduchess of Eckstedt.
“Because you are not inferior to anyone else.”
Once she said this, Kroesch took a deep bow and turned to leave with firm resolution, paying no heed to Saroma, who did not manage to react in time. She caught up with Kentvida, leaving behind a hall full of startled and solemn-looking people.