Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
The whole hall was so quiet, that even the sound of a pin drop could be heard.
The nobles were watching the confrontation between the archduchess and the diplomat from the City of Faraway Prayers with a complex expression.
Ian’s eyes were round with amazement, as though he could not comprehend the words of the archduchess.
But almost everyone in the great hall was staring at him in a hostile manner.
Ian took a deep breath, then lifted his head with a perplexed expression. “But the war with the Alliance of Freedom is right around the corner.”
Saroma moved the corners of her lips slightly.
She nodded slowly. “Yes.”
Ian raised his hand in puzzlement and apparent conflict. It looked as if he wanted to express something, but gave up halfway.
The heir of the City of Faraway Prayers ground his teeth and frowned. “You do know this, right? This war carries a significant amount of meaning to you and your familyespecially after Dragon Clouds City lost its king.
“You know this important occasion is a turning pointto decide what kind of attitude your vassals will show you.”
The vassals’ faces tensed even further.
Ian’s tone was rather agitated, “You also know that the man sitting on the opposite side of the chessboard is that King Chapman who hates you all to the bone, right?”
Saroma lowered her head, looking powerless.
Her voice was weak, as though she was weeping, and she said her next sentence in a seemingly sighing manner.
“Yes, I do know.”
Ian looked as if he had been motivated, and his eyes became lively. He peered around a few times, appearing to look for support, and smiled rather leisurely. “Very good.
“Then you should know your situation now. You know that your reputation is unlikely to allow you gain of a steady foothold in your territory, especially”
Ian stopped briefly. He examined his surroundings and sighed, looking as if he was regretful about something. “Especially since you are still a womanan archduchess.”
At that moment, the prince felt it. All the nobles in the great hall adjusted their expressions in a forced manner.
On the seats of the six counts, Lyner slanted his head, grinding his teeth softly. Meanwhile, Karkogel fixed his sight on the archduchess.
Hearst’s eyes looked as if they were about to spit fire, and Count Cotterson’s eyebrows were almost knitted together.
Count Lisban and Nazaire looked at the archduchess with a complicated expression. It was difficult to tell what they were thinking based on the look in their eyes.
The archduchess lifted her head.
Thales’ heart clenched.
The young lady exhaled, looking like she had released her burdens.
Her eyes were very calm. “Yes, I know about that as well.”
Her tone was as calm as usual, as though the other person was just saying, “Today’s weather is fine”, “This bowl of soup is not bad”, “Read your book patiently”, “Please hurry up and write some new chapters” and other such trivial matters.
Ian frowned. “Then you”
The archduchess interrupted him.
“However, I am still a Walton.”
Her voice was still soft, but there was an undoubtable resolve in it.
The gazes of the six vassals under her all shifted.
Ian was slightly dumbfounded. “What?”
“A Walton who is King Raikaru’s heir, a part of the Waltons who represent the Cloud Dragon Spear; I am Dragon Clouds City’s Walton.” Saroma looked at Ian indifferently. “Do you know what this surname signifies?”
Ian first narrowed his eyes, then revealed an expression of disbelief.
He let out an irritable breath. “Saroma! Wake up! Think about what happened earlier, think about your vassals’ attitudes.
“And think about my suggestion.” Ian was waving his hands rather agitatedly. “This is the only way for you to solve this troublesome situation!”
The words of the viscount echoed throughout the great hall.
The vassals’ expressions once again became unnatural.
She met Ian’s gaze.
“No,” the archduchess said softly, “it is not.
“The Waltons are not defined by how strong we are, or how wise we are.” Saroma swept her gaze past every vassal, who had varied expressions on their faces. “But we are strong because the Cloud Dragon Spear never fights alone.
“Seven hundred years ago, Raikaru held his spear towards the sky, and the young Waltons followed closely at the back
“And beneath the clouds separated by the dragon’s wings, under the Nine Knights on Earth were Lisban, Nazaire, Cotterson, Hearst Countless named as well as unnamed Northlander knights followed and stormed forward without hesitation, without turning back.
“They stood together and forged an army against the tide. They tore down the darkness brought forth by the calamities and seized back the future for the world.”
Under her seat, Count Hearst’s expression changed. “My Lady”
The other vassals’ facial expressions became more and more solemn.
Seven hundred years.
He could not help thinking about Tormond’s portrait in Mindis Hall. The King of Renaissance with the melancholic expression also took the spear and stormed forward with the six knights beside him. Their bodies were laden with wounds, but they charged forth on their horses without regrets.
He then thought of the madness in the duel between Giza and Asda.
At that moment, Saroma slammed down on her seat and stood up against everyone’s expectations!
The entire great hall was slightly shocked.
But nothing was more shocking than the archduchess’ subsequent action.
“Fellow nobles, on this day, at this time, and in this place, I, the Archduchess of Dragon Clouds City, Saroma Walton officially declare Dragon Clouds City’s wartime recruitment!” the light and clear voice of the young girl reverberated throughout the Hall of Heroes, echoing between the heavy stone walls.
“From this moment on, Dragon Clouds City declares war against the Alliance of Freedom!”
Thales’ breath froze.
While all the people were stunned and frozen due to their inability to register what was going on just yet, the archduchess took a step forward. Her expression was one of resolution.
Her voice was cool and harsh, but full of vigor never seen before, “Soon, the Waltons will take the initiative to send out troops to the west, to provide reinforcements to the City of Faraway Prayers, and fight against the Alliance of Freedom!
“We will restore Dragon Clouds City’s honor with the blood of those who betrayed our trust repeatedly and the heads of those crafty villains!”
The hall quieted down in an instant.
Ian gaped, and it looked as if his mouth would never close again. He stared at Saroma, dumbfounded.
The vassals did not fare any better. Shock-filled eyes were fixated on the figure of the archduchess. The six counts reacted in a much more grounded manner, but the movements of their limbs were enough to prove otherwise. Hearst nearly damaged the seat with his grip, Cotterson held his fist as tightly as possible, and Karkogel’s broken arm was placed securely on the armrest.
The most senior of them all, Lisban and Nazaire, firmly stared at each other, not speaking a word.
It was seemed like one could give an appropriate response to the archduchess’ words.
This lasted until Ian strenuously inhaled, like a drowning man finally coming out of the water.
He wiped his chin, then spoke anxiously, “Lady Saroma, as I’ve said, we do not need you to provide us with reinforcements”
What came to him was Saroma’s fierce response.
“This has nothing to do with you, Your Grace!”
Ian’s words were cut off before they could fully leave his mouth.He spread his hands in disbelief, then looked at the archduchess with a stupefied expression.
“This is merely my decision.”
The archduchess then coldly said, “It is also something Dragon Clouds City must do.”
All present were shocked by the sudden persistence from the archduchess.
Only Thales, who was at the corner, curled his lips up slightly. He watched his friend who had been with him for six years, and by force of habit, was the only one who noticed that the silhouette of her fist was shivering under her left sleeve.
‘Well done, Saroma, go on,’ he silently said in his heart.
“And I need all of you I need the support of all twenty-three families of noble birth.” The archduchess slowly shifted her gaze and swept it past everyone in the great hall. “Just like seven hundred years ago, just like twenty years ago, when you and your ancestors stood in front and at the back of the two King Nuvens loyally, without regrets.
Her voice was still clear, carrying with it an indomitable determination.
But no one gave her the response she wanted.
All vassals looked at her quietly. Once their surprise wore off, doubt and wariness rose on their faces. These looks became more prominent as they stared at one another.
The hall remained silent.
Even Lisban stayed silent.
Saroma’s face turned pale.
Thales shut his eyes in his seat.
‘Not enough, Saroma.
‘This is not enough!’
The archduchess scanned the hall with an unpleasant expression. Every vassal avoided her gaze in a forced manner when her eyes landed on them.
Gnashing her teeth, Saroma said, “The war horn has sounded. Dragon Clouds City needs you!”
But still, no one gave her any response.
Thales stretched out the tip of his foot and secretly poked Ian.
The Viscount from the City of The Faraway Prayers moved a little.
Ian turned fearfully.
Once he clearly saw that no one spoke up, he then exhaled as if his worries were over. Shortly after, he displayed a calm smile.
“Lady Saroma, I hate to interrupt you”
Ian clicked his tongue and shrugged.
“But your vassals have spoken clearly just now. You want their support? Then hand over your authority by marriage.” The viscount nodded slightly. A sparkle appeared in his eyes. “You cannot expect a deal without returns.”
Many of the vassals’ faces darkened, and some looked coldly at the viscount.
“If it is a deal, why don’t you pick the most practical”
Saroma gnashed her teeth tightly and raised her head in indignation.
The young lady opened her mouth once more, interrupting Ian. “Gentlemen!
“This will not be a deal. It is not a compromise and it is irrelevant to my marriage.
“This is merely my decision!”
Nonetheless, in the great Hall of Heroes, there was still no one from the two sides of the oval-shaped stone hall who responded.
It was as if there was someone blocking off Saroma’s voice from reaching their ears.
The observant Ian frowned.
Above the stairs, Saroma felt like she was bearing the weight of a thousand. She watched the silent hall, feeling crushed.
Eyes filled with doubt, skepticism, contrivance, and displeasure were directed at her, but no one responded.
It was as if all this was just her own soliloquy.
Saroma instantly felt her legs beginning to quiver.
She subconsciously gritted her teeth, and her heart began to beat faster.
Panic made its way into her.
‘This What should I do?’
At that moment, Saroma suddenly noticed that among those eyes, only one pair of eyes remained unperturbed and calm.
Those eyes were watching her silently from the distance, just like before.
Just as they did for the past six years.
The owner of those eyes smiled gently at her, lifted his left hand and tapped his thumb.
Saroma trembled slightly. While her mind was blank due to her nerves, she suddenly felt a weight on her thumb, which was covered by her left sleeve.
It was a ring.
Six years ago, that boy put the ring on her personally.
His eyes blinked gently, and immediately turned elsewhere.
But that one blink seemingly gave the young girl strength.
Saroma’s cheeks moved slightly, then she took a deep breath.
The young girl did not look at the people in the hall without a goal in mind, but she trained her gaze upon the most senior count.
“My respectful Count Nazaire, thank you for speaking up just now.”
Count Nazaire was staring fixedly at Lisban, but upon hearing these words, he slowly moved his eyes away from the man. “My Lady”
Saroma’s face turned solemn, and she said the following words with great difficulty, “You showed me what kind of situation Dragon Clouds City is in right now. We cannot continue burying ourselves in hate and regrets from past misfortunes.
“But, this has strengthened my belief that Dragon Clouds City’s future cannot depend on the protection formed from doubts and plots between its ruler and her subjects. It also cannot depend on such emotions between the vassals.”
At that moment, Count Nazaire’s eyes moved.
“So I will not use my marriage in exchange for your agreementDragon Clouds City is still not that divided and weak to require a marriage between a suzerain and her vassals to fight against a common enemy. We are still not at the stage where we need to desperately fight among ourselves to survive.”
Nazaire slowly leaned against his seat. He still remained silent.
“The victories as well as glories won by my grandfather and my father can only be defended by our own hands. Thus, we have to fight for it with our own hands!”
The six counts sitting in the six seats at the frontmost portion of the hall had a mixture of reactions, and all of their expressions were different from each other.
The archduchess cast a sideways glance at Ian before she looked at the crowd of vassals again. “Only by doing so can we truly defend ourselves from foreign powers that intend to extend their claws into Dragon Clouds Cityregardless of what method they use.”
Ian was slightly embarrassed. “This is a bit too much, Saroma”
But Saroma did not give him the opportunity to speak.
The young girl took a deep breath. “So, no matter what, the Waltons will go on an expedition to the west, bringing what is left of King Nuven’s dignity and following the footsteps of Prince Soria, personally taking back what is ours!”
Saroma stood in front of her seat before the Soul Slayer Pike and looked around the hall. She tightened her fist, and her face was pale.
The archduchess ground her teeth. “Even if none of the families will support me.”
Breathing of various intensities could be heard in the silent hall.
“Even if those affiliated to my family and I will be the only ones bearing our own flag for the expedition.”
In the face of the archduchess’ rising and falling voice, many of the vassals began to display a strange countenance.
Even the guards who had no right to speak could not help but turn their heads to look at the archduchess.
“Saroma, you are mad.
“This will be an ugly sight.” The eyes of the viscount were shining with solemness and vigilance. “Whether it is the present or when you ride forth into your expedition.
“If you forcefully deploy your soldiers, it will mean that you are forcing all of the people here to stand at the edge of a cliff. The abyss below them will be where all of you are forced to become enemies.
“You will be forcing yourself into a corner.”
All this while, there seemed to be a barrier in the hall that held all the air in it, causing the place to be still, and right then, a hole seemed to have been pierced in that barrier, causing things to change.
Commotion started to boil in the hall.
The expression on the vassals’ faces became more and more agitated, and also harder to read.
“Yes.” Saroma revealed a bitter smile. “I know.”
The archduchess immediately looked at her vassals with a mixture of expressions, and the look in her eyes was indiscernible.
“I know, I am far from the late King Nuven. Perhaps I will never be able to compare to himEveryone, you may not think highly of me, you may not look highly upon the young girl on this seat of the archduchess, you may bear resentment, you may have your own schemes against me.”
Count Cotterson’s lips twitched like he was deep in thought.
The archduchess sighed and said, “But, I still hope at this moment, that you will bring your own warriors as well as your honor with you and stand with me, with Dragon Clouds City.”
Count Hearst’s beard twitched.
“Let us prove to the world outside, prove to this guest from the City of Faraway Prayerswho proclaims that a marriage in paper will allow me to solve my problemsthat Dragon Clouds City is still strong, still united, and I do not need to bow down to foreigners to protect myself.”
Count Lyner tightened his fist in a forced manner, then repeatedly moved his fingers.
At the next second, Saroma raised her left hand with a solemn face, allowing the sleeve around her small arm to slide down. It revealed her fair wrist as well as the ring on her thumb.
“Everyone, I believe that no one in this world other than you, other than my vassals, are more fit to fight for me and gain victory for me.
“Because, I am Dragon Clouds City.”
Once they saw that ring, everyone in the great hall frowned.
“However, Dragon Clouds City is not just merely me, it is also everyone who is seated here.”
Right before the people’s eyes, the archduchess gently removed the large ring, which was inlaid with a black jewel, and lifted it high in the air.
“Everyone, in the name of the Waltons, I am going to war.”
The archduchess’ eyes turned cold and she shouted loudly.
“Are all of you coming?!”
Thales was slightly stunned.
‘Are you… with me?’
The young girl’s voice continued to echo in the great hall, but this time, the vassals stared firmly at the black ring.
They stared at the person and place it signified.
Lisban looked conflicted.
The one-armed count shut his eyes.
Count Nazaire’s expression tensed, which was a rare sight on him.
The vassals turned left and right in surprise and bewilderment, all the while exchanging words with one another.
Saroma took a step forward and coldly proceeded to say, “Everyone, I also believe that as vassals, you will not allow a foreign guest to gladly rob you of your duty and responsibility, then flaunt it in your faces.”
Ian was stunned.
The young girl lifted the ring on her hand while it lay flat on her palm. She had it facing the stone carving of the Cloud Dragon Spear above their heads in the great hall.
“The most loyal vassals of the Waltons, brothers of King Nuven!”
The voice of the young lady resounded once again, “Are all of you coming?”
As he listened to the words of the archduchess, Thales was a bit dazed.
It was as if he was back six years ago, back to the days when he fled in despair. While he was in the safe haven provided by the Bright Moon Goddess’ temple, he had acted in this manner as well, shouting out similar words against Nicholas, who was preparing to escape at all cost.
“‘But this is my decision”‘
“‘Are all of you coming?”‘
The whispers of the vassals became louder.
Thales met Nicholas’ gaze. Nicholas was on the stairs, and the prince saw a similar shock in the Star Killer’s eyes.
An inexplicable feeling was evoked in Thales’ heart, and it was difficult for him to suppress the emotion.
He only kept remembering that scene six years ago.
“‘You’re right. The Constellatiates are just marching to their own deaths.”‘
“‘Northlanders, are all of you coming?”‘
“Are all of you coming”
“Dragon Clouds City!”
In the great hall, Saroma’s voice was raised to its limit. The young girl’s youthful, high-pitched voice resounded in the ancient hall. “Are all of you coming?”
The hall slowly quieted down.
Many vassals had finished their agitated discussion. They lifted their gazes at the same time to stare at the few most important people in the hall, awaiting their decision.
The archduchess ground her teeth. Her arm, which was lifting the ring, shivered, and her eyes were mildly bloodshot.
She almost roared at everyone in the great hall. “Are all of you coming?”
A guard, who had been holding back his emotions, accidentally pressed the hilt of his sword. His sword then knocked against the wall, emitting a sharp sound.
This sharp sound caused everyone to be more nervous, and the atmosphere became even heavier.
Only the archduchess bit her teeth as her gaze trembled. She lifted Triumph, which represented the suzerain of Dragon Clouds City, and stood alone in front of the Soul Slayer Pike, facing the entire hall of agitated men.
Among the six counts, Cotterson, Hearst, and Lyner’s unnatural behavior was almost unconcealable. They looked anxiously at each other, as though they were unable to reach an agreement for a long time.
One second passed.
The one-armed count still shut his eyes and remained silent.
Ian narrowed his eyes and exhaled, feeling rather gloomy.
Lisban and Nazaire’s confrontation had seemingly ended, but they still remained silent, waiting and observing.
Time dragged on longer and longer.
The atmosphere in the great hall became increasingly unbearable.
Until a muffled, deep laughter arose from the crowd at a piercing degree, and it echoed throughout the entire great hall.