Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
“No, Your Majesty, you cannot take him away!”
Once he lost his composure, Ian took a step forward. He even forgot how horrifying Chapman Lampard was and was completely unaware that the man in front of him was the highest ruler in the kingdom.
“You cannot take Prince Thales away!”
Count Nazaire furrowed his eyebrows slightly and said softly to Lisban, who was beside him, “How strange.”
“Yes.” Amid the solemn atmosphere, Regent Lisban also revealed a puzzled expression. “Once the hostage prince falls into the king’s hands, the tables would turn. But
“What makes the sagacious and shrewd Lampard think that we, Dragon Clouds City, would submissively hand over the hostage?”
“Unless…” Count Nazaire narrowed his eyes. “He has something on us that would force us to give in to him.”
No one noticed that Lisban held his breath for a moment.
“Or…” Nazaire continued to ponder. He did not notice the fact that his old opponent was behaving abnormally. “This is just a passing remark, because he thinks that Prince Thales’ whereabouts has nothing to do with the overall situation at all.”
This time, Lisban did not respond to him.
As though he was looking at a clown, King Chapman watched the panicking Ian from the corner of his eye.
“Hmph. Prince Thales will affect the future of the two most powerful kingdoms in the Western Peninsula.” King Chapman’s gaze was extremely cold, like ice that would never melt. “If we were to deal directly with Renaissance Palace with him as a bargaining chip, the king should be the one doing so.”
The king turned to face all the people in the hall. His voice was loud and clear. “Do you not think so?”
Ian inhaled deeply and composed himself.
No one said anything. Everyone stared at King Chapman with grim looks.
Thales’ mind was moving rapidly as he organized the information in his mind. The prince knew that even though this tempest he faced seemed to have happened in Dragon Clouds City, the key to it all, whether it was about the City of Faraway Prayers’ visit or the archduchess marriage, actually lay in Black Sand Region, in the fight between King Chapman and his vassals.
‘It is just as Putray said, everything started from the enfeoffment act that King Chapman just issued. The king’s wild ambition caused the vassals under him to rebel, one after another.
‘At the same time King Chapman was busy dealing with this problem, he revealed his greatest weakness. The City of Faraway Prayers took the opportunity to attack him and add insult to injury. That was how both parties entered the chess game, moving their pieces one by one with growing stakes.
‘In the first round, the external forces led by the City of Faraway Prayers made their rounds. With Roknee as an example, the archdukes supported and instigated the vassals under the Lampard Family so that they had the confidence to continuously refuse to obey the king’s order. It was an attempt to totally tarnish the prestige of the notorious king known as a king slayer, and caused him to be pushed into the abyss known as complete isolation.
‘The second round started from Black Sand Region’s counterattack. The suspicious accident with the Alliance of Freedom caused the Roknee Family to be in trouble themselves. Hence, the families in Black Sand Region who made up their minds to “rebel against tyranny” were no longer so emboldened. Who would dare to rely on Archduke Roknee, who was engaged in a long-term war, to honor his promise and dispatch troops to help them when they need it?
‘In round three of the game, the City of Faraway Prayers showed their next card in response to King Chapman’s attack. Under Ian’s mediation, Dragon Clouds City, which once played the largest role in the kingdom but had been on decline for six years, finally reached a consensus.
‘The vassals of Dragon Clouds City gathered under the archduchess’ flag and promised to dispatch their vast troops to the west so that the City of Faraway Prayers would not have to worry about any problems behind them. With this, Dragon Clouds City also joined the ranks of those fighting against the king and ensured that the vassals of Black Sand Region could continue resisting the king.
‘After Dragon Clouds City made its position known, the balance was tilted towards the City of Faraway Prayers again. This is where the plan between me, Saroma and Ian comes in.’
Thales faced the king in silence as he stared at the quiet vassals in the hall. He felt that the king’s power and influence was increasing each day.
…Just like how it did for King Nuven in the past.
Ian was, after all, the viscount of a city. He recomposed himself and said resolutely and firmly, “We will… carry out the negotiations with Constellation ourselves.” Ian the Nuisance, who was already infamous even though he just arrived in Dragon Clouds City, said coldly, “It is the same with our war against the Alliance of Freedom. We do not need Black Sand Region’s help, neither is there any need for the king to worry about it.”
King Chapman did not reply. He did not even turn to spare a glance at Ian.
Suddenly and unexpectedly, Count Cotterson who hated Ian the most before this, spoke rudely, as though he was agreeing to Ian’s words, and this was a completely unprecedented sight.
Cotterson mocked the king fiercely. “It is better if you mind your own business, ‘King’ from Black Sand Region. I heard that Count Mendes of Pine Sea Town’s notice to denounce the king has almost reached even Sentry Region.”
He snorted softly. “We cannot rely on a king who cannot even rule his own territory well.”
King Chapman raised his eyebrows a little.
“Your Majesty.” Saroma, who had stayed silent for a long time, had a tense expression. She was having difficulty concealing her anxiety. “No matter what, Dragon Clouds City and the City of Faraway Prayers are the ones who have a grudge against the Alliance of Freedom,” the archduchess said seriously. “This war belongs only to the Walton Family and the Roknee Family.
“Logically speaking, for Eckstedt to obtain victory, it will be far more effective for Prince Thales to be in the City of Faraway Prayers than in Black Sand Region.”
Thales shook his head internally.
‘What King Chapman doesn’t need the most right now is probably a “logical” excuse.’
The king stood quietly for a few seconds. He then turned slowly to the enraged Cotterson and Ian with only half of his face. Ian looked as if he was facing a formidable enemy. The king then looked at the archduchess and gestured at Thales with a nod.
“All of you really do like this boy, do you not?”
King Chapman’s pupils constricted slightly. The sound of his breathing was rather unsettling. “All of you are counting on relying on him to drive off Constellation’s interference.”
In the face of the king’s rhetorical question, Ian had no choice but to summon up his courage and reply politely,
“This is the City of Faraway Prayer’s internal affair. It has nothing to do with you.”
Thales could not help but sigh softly as he listened to the people in the hall fighting over him. Right at that moment, both he and Saroma were confronted with an accident they did not expect.
It could be said that this was the fourth round of the chess game.
‘Constellation’s army suddenly entered the picture and caused the clear balance of military strength between the Alliance of Freedom and the City of Faraway Prayers to become unsteady again, shaking the overwhelming advantage the City of Faraway Prayers originally had. Constellation became the most important leverage in this game, and their attitude towards the matter will be what determines the magnitude of trouble the Alliance of Freedom could bring to the City of Faraway Prayers.
‘This send me into the eye of the storm. My arrival in Black Sand Region would signify that this gambit with Constellation, and the right to maintain the position of power in the war with the west, has fallen into the king’s hands. He could make Constellation withdraw its troops and end the war as soon as possible or he could extend the war.
‘It would determine the victorious party in this round of the game, where the City of Faraway Prayers schemes against Black Sand Region. But even worse, due to uncertainty of where I will go’
The prince could not help but sigh when he thought of this. ‘The relationship between the stubborn archduchess and her vassals is strained again. Dragon Clouds City, originally expected to dispatch her army, is back to being unable to make up her mind once more.’
That was why he could not continue to sit idly by. He had no choice but to put his trump card on the table.
“But twenty years ago, King Nuven went out to battle the Alliance of Freedom in the name of Eckstedt, right?” Chapman sighed. “Now that there is an unforeseen circumstance rising with the Alliance of Freedom once again, as his successor and nephew, how can I sit still by the sidelines and just watch?”
Upon hearing King Nuven’s name, the expressions of the vassals of Dragon Clouds City became more and more unpleasant while they glared at King Nuven.
“Why did such a strange incident with the Alliance of Freedom appear at this time?”
Count Lyner’s expression was cold. He continued utilizing his verbal talent of always being able to get straight to the heart of the matter. “Just like how eighteen years ago, your father, the former Archduke of Black Sand Region, strangely lost his life to a few defeated soldiers from Constellation under the heavy protection of his guards and your care.
“Do you truly have no idea what happened? The kinslayer king who has no moral limits?”
At that moment, King Chapman’s jawline trembled slightly.
Once they heard Count Lyner’s malicious, underlying meaningeven though the meaning was very clearsoft sneers echoed in the hall.
Beside the king, Kentvida and Kroesch’s expressions turned cold. They were about to speak when Chapman stopped them with a hand gesture.
Thales watched King Chapman quietly, the king did not say a word. The prince stared at Lampard’s extremely calm and unperturbed eyes, and became even more vigilant and fearful.
“The archduchess has already made it very obvious, and our intentions are also very clear. This is just a local conflict, and it is an internal affair that the archduchess should settle by herself.” Count Karkogel’s gaze was burning with anger. “We did not ask you to come, our esteemed king. Stop flattering yourself.”
King Chapman creased his brow a little. He nodded and did not say anything.
As the three counts of Dragon Clouds City joined the fight and worked together with the archduchess and Ian to attack the king, he seemed to be momentarily rendered speechless until…
Ian raised his eyebrows. He seemed to have regained some confidence. “Now, Your Majesty, if there is no other matter”
King Chapman turned abruptly and fixed his cold gaze on Ian.
Ian was shocked. As if someone seized his throat, causing him to choke on his words, the heir to the City of Faraway Prayers did not continue speaking.
The king sneered and shook his head. “Local conflict?”
The king raised his head slowly. Thales noticed that the dark red gemstone in the middle of his crown was reflecting a bit of light.
“But Constellation has already poked their noses into this matter, have they not?” King Chapman spoke softly and in a relaxed manner. “So, allow me to make this confirmation one more time…
“Did King Kessel really dispatch troops”He turned slowly and looked at the Prince of Constellation again”due to the matter with the Alliance of Freedom?”
Everyone’s faces changed. Everyone in the hall stared at the guest from Constellation once more.
Ian, Saroma, and Nicholas’ gazes were especially prominent.
Faced with Ian’s anxious eyes, Saroma’s puzzled gaze, and the Star Killer’s furious expression, Thales continued to appear as calm as he usually did. The prince inhaled deeply and showed no change in emotion on his face. He said with a calm expression,
“Yes. Constellation believes that Eckstedt, represented by the City of Faraway Prayers, should not interfere with the Alliance of Freedom’s internal affairs with brute force.
“So, we dispatched our army in an attempt to stop the possible conflict between the Alliance of Freedom and the City of Faraway Prayers. This is how it is.”
The moment he said that, there was an uproar in the hall! Ian’s expression was the first one to change.
“Thales.” The breathing of the Viscount of Dual Wind City from the City of Faraway Prayers grew rapid. He said in disbelief, “What are you joking about? Are you, are you really really standing on his side?”
‘Didn’t you say that that you knew nothing about it? But now you How is this possible?’
Ian stared bitterly and anxiously at the Prince of Constellation. The muscles on his cheeks twitched.
Thales said nothing.
The next moment, Ian pounced forward to grab the edge of Thales’ lapels!
Wya and Ralf, who were prepared for this since a long time ago, charged forward in unison and shielded Thales behind them.
Ian wanted to go forward again, but behind him, Monty brought his hand forward and grabbed Ian with a firm grip, keeping him in place.
“Calm down, Ian,” the Raven of Death said coldly.
No longer able to move forward, Ian took a few deep breaths and finally calmed down. He rudely shrugged Monty’s hand off and shouted indignantly through gritted teeth, “Answer me, Thales!”
Thales closed his eyes and sighed.
“I have always stood on your side, Ian.” As if he did not see Ian’s accusing and shocked gaze, the prince said flatly, “Do you not think that the best way to go about this matter is by leaving it in King Chapman’s hands, the king whom all of you serve?”
Everyone in the hall watched the scene quietly. When they heard what Thales said, many people frowned.
Ian stared at Thales in a daze and shook his head with a pained expression. “You you”
Thales did not answer. With an indifferent face, he stared quietly at the air in front of him.
At that moment, even Saroma lowered her head slowly. Her eyes were filled with disappointment.
“It is clear as day.” With an extremely cold gaze, Nazaire whispered to Lisban, “Even though we held him hostage, he still managed to communicate with the people outside and made a fool out of all of us.”
Lisban stared at Thales from afar and sighed softly.
King Chapman smiled. His voice echoed in the hall once again.
“Therefore, this is no longer a local conflict! For all of the Kingdom of the Great Dragon’s sake, I will not let the Alliance of Freedom’s disrespectful act slip by us easily.” The king let out a cold snort. He was no longer looking at Thales and the stricken Ian. “This is not just about the City of Faraway Prayers’ interests and Dragon Clouds City’s prestige.”
King Chapman’s voice was very soft, but his words carried a lot of weight. His smile was powerful and mocking. Like a general with victory in his hands, he waved his arm in a refined manner at the nobles in the hall, who had unpleasant looks on their faces. It was as if he wanted to use up half his entire lifetime’s worth of smiles into that one single smile on his lips right then.
King Chapman walked towards the archduchess and said slowly, “Therefore, as the Common-Elected King of Eckstedt, I hereby announce that”
His words made many of the nobles anxious again.
“To stabilize the situation with the Alliance of Freedom, to frighten our potential enemies, and for the lasting friendship between the Lampard Family and the Roknee Family, Black Sand Region will send reinforcements to the City of Faraway Prayers to battle the Alliance of Freedom!” Lampard spoke loudly, joyfully and confidently, in an imposing manner that allowed no room for doubt.
The moment he said that, the hall was filled with cries of alarm!
Puzzled, Saroma stared at her regent, but Lisban had a bitter expression and his lips were pursed tightly.
Many of the vassals stared at one another in puzzlement. There was discussion among them, but no one understood King Chapman’s actions.
“Reinforcements? From Black Sand Region to the City of Faraway Prayers?” Ian muttered.
Thales was puzzled. ‘Black Sand Region will be dispatching its army to help the City of Faraway Prayers?’
At that moment, Thales furrowed his eyebrows and thought hard. His mind worked without pause.
‘Wait, what does Lampard want the most right now? What is his most pressing problem right now? It is of course’
The next moment, Thales understood the whole story. He fixed his gaze on King Chapman with a solemn expression.
‘It’s been six years. Your tactics are still so hard to deal with Old friend.’
King Chapman’s sonorous voice appeared into the hall again. “It is just as I said, we are here to help.
“Soon, from the Northern Plains and the tributaries of Sunset Snow River, to the Sighing Hills and the Eastern and Western Pine Forest Every single town, castle and feudal lord on the soil of Black Sand Region will receive my command of military recruitment.”
The king stared coldly at all the nobles in the hall who had unpleasant expressions. When his eyes landed on Lisban and Ian, his gaze was especially unique.
“For Eckstedt, my vassals will wage their reputations, dedicate their wealth, mobilize fighters, send their sons to the army and head to the west. The Alliance of Freedom’s foolishness and their eventual defeat will be a testimony to Black Sand Region and the City of Faraway Prayer’s indestructible friendship, and to show how we passionately love this mighty kingdom together!”
The moment Lampard said that, the shrewd and ruthless vassals such as Lisban and Nazaire froze together and stared at one another in shock. They already knew the king’s intent.
The hall slowly went silent.
Ian Roknee, who was incredibly emotionally affected by Thales’ sudden betrayal, stared at King Chapman absentmindedly. His mind was a mess.
‘What, what is he doing? Using Dragon Clouds City’s actions in the past as an example to earn a reputation in a justified and righteous manner?
‘No, what sort of reputation can a kinslayer even get? Helping others at his own expense, and assisting us in suppressing the Alliance of Freedom? How is that possible?’
‘Or is he trying to take down the City of Faraway Prayers in one fell swoop through violence? That’s even more likely.’
A surge of anger immediately rose in the viscount’s chest.
“What is the meaning of this?”
Ian’s face was contorted. He could not help but yell at King Chapman, “What do you want? Ask for peace? Show kindness? Or a negotiation with terms and conditions?”
King Chapman did not answer. He continued smiling. Ian suddenly realized that quite a number of people were watching him sadly. Trepidation rose in his heart.
The Viscount of Dual Wind City clenched his fists and turned towards the king again in a brusque manner. “Help us? Hmph, at this time, who will you be able to order? All of Black Sand Region is rebelling against you, against the tyrant who does not respect tradition, against that rubbish enfeoffment act you enacted!
“Who would answer to your order for military recruitment?!”
Beside the king, Viscount Kentvida snorted coldly. He seemed to be very dissatisfied with Ian’s disrespectful tone.
Regent Lisban coughed softly.
“Viscount Ian,” Count Lisban said solemnly once he saw through something, “Do you still not understand? This is exactly what he wants.”
Ian froze for a moment, but he immediately understood what was happening. The viscount’s expression changed greatly.
The next moment, with a face filled with trepidation, Ian swayed and collapsed back onto his seat.