Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
*Clap, clap, clap, clap*
There was a lonesome yet sharp clapping sound in the great hall. The nobles all frowned. The king had nonchalantly raised both his hands and clapped softly.
Thales felt a discomfort in his heart. He recalled that Lampard had done the exact same thing six years ago during that bloodstained dawnsoftly clapping while walking out confidently from the murderous army towards him and Little Rascal, victorious.
“Indeed, thank you for reminding me, Ian Roknee.” King Chapman clapped while saying softly, “My vassals have been a little restless lately.”
The King breathed in a puff of air, then exhaled slowly. His eyes shone with a cold glint. “So this is the best opportunity, is it not? I will give these passionate vassals of mine an opportunity to serve the country, it is the perfect moment for them.”
Behind the king, Kentvida crossed his arms and laughed gently.
Ian slowly raised his head and stared at the king in a daze. King Chapman did not speak, he only raised the corner of his lips, revealing a cruel smile which resembled a vulture.
The second auxiliary advisor of Eckstedt’s Imperial Conference, Viscount Kentvida, walked forward slowly. “Just as His Majesty has said, from the moment the Prince of Constellation admitted… No. I should say that the moment Constellation’s army appeared, this is no longer a territorial dispute.”
He grinned, showing a lively and relaxed smile. “This is no longer an issue of whom the traitorous Alliance of Freedom serves, and neither is it as simple as a dispute between Eckstedt and the small countries affiliated to her.”
Viscount Kentvida spoke in an unhurried and unperturbed manner. “As I have mentioned to you in this great hall a few weeks ago, Your Grace, our internal disputes become insignificant when it comes to the matters concerning Eckstedt’s honor.”
Saroma thought of the meeting a few weeks ago, and her face instantly paled.
Kentvida spread his arms and said with a soft huff, “Regardless of whether it is a trivial misunderstanding between the archdukes, or the little displeasure of the vassals to the king, all of these things should be placed to the side, should they not?
“This is the highest honorthe country’s warit is our great duty spoken in the Joint Ruling Pledge, and we cannot run away from it.
“With this great duty above our heads, if some of the vassals in Black Sand Region dare refuse to obey the order of military recruitment, and refuse to enlist soldiers, mobilize their troops, and obey the king’s commands… If they refuse even this”
It seemed like Viscount Kentvida was quite willing to see the people of the City of Faraway Prayers be forced into admitting defeat. He shrugged, and deliberately laughed softly. “Ha, ha, ha”
Behind Kentvida, Kroesch, who was already displeased with him since a long time ago, mercilessly knocked the back of the advisor’s head. “Speak properly.”
Viscount Kentvida touched his head with indignation. Then stopped saying anything. But, no one paid them any attention.
King Chapman’s voice rose again. This time, it was exceptionally cold, causing their hearts to freeze over.
“There is no need for cowards among Northlanders, especially those people.”
The king swept his gaze over the crowd in the great hall with a cold stare. “Those cowards… On their duty towards the country, they still refuse to set aside their internal conflicts and resentment towards their king, are unwilling to enthusiastically deploy their forces, and refuse to die willingly. They should not have any reason to hold on to their noble titles nor the benefits that follow their titles, nor to live in decadence.
“And as their master, what reason then do I have to be merciful to them?”
Sighs echoed in the great hall and there were also loud exhales that came from those who refused to admit defeat.
Thales observed all this indifferently, but he felt heavy in his heart.
‘To get rid of your dissenters in the name of fighting against the country’s enemies As a ruler, you are truly straightforward, Lampard.’
Ian was stunned for a while. In the next moment, he shook violently like a person who had a carriage weighing a thousand pounds crash into him.
The Raven of Death held him up with a frown. But then Ian suddenly lifted his head, his eyes shining with anger.
“You will not succeed. Your vassals, they are nobles whose families have held aristocratic positions for generations. They are elites. The reason that the Lampard Family could sit securely in the seat belonging to archdukes is because of their support and loyalty.” He nearly crushed his teeth, and even disregarded the proper designation for the king.
“But now, you are holding a knife to them. Do you think that by doing this you could have them sit around obediently for your army to storm their castles, take away their wealth, and have them renounce their titles? Do you think that those loyal soldiers of yours would really be able to deal with all of Black Sand Region”
However, what interrupted him was the king’s faint, cold sneer.
“Ha, ha, ha, ha…”
In that second, King Chapman gently turned his neck and stared at the archduchess on the stage.
The Star Killer furrowed his brow. He stood in front of Saroma and blocked her from sight without showing any sign of weakness. The hatred in his eyes did not fade in the slightest.
When he saw that the man looked as if he was confronting a great enemy, King Chapman narrowed his eyes, shook his head, and said with a teasing tone,
“Did I not tell you? The Archduke of Reformation Tower has expressed his stance clearly. Once Constellation interferes with the matter regarding the Alliance of Freedom, then he will absolutely not stand by and watch.”
His words made many nobles tense up again.
“Porpheus Trentida is a man of wisdom, and understands his duties well. He is willing to send reinforcements to the City of Faraway Prayers. He and his army will be in Black Sand Region to meet with me, to meet with the warriors of the Lampard Family.”
King Chapman’s words were slow, almost every word was uttered softly. “And we will see who exactly the traitors are in Black Sand Region, and who refuses to serve the nation.”
Ian was again dumbfounded. ‘What? Reformation Tower and Black Sand Region together? That means’
“Reformation Tower, Trentida?” Ian remembered something, and sighed. In the end, he closed his eyes with a pained expression. “That bastard.”
“Reformation Tower is the closest to us.” Kentvida laughed and continued, “Of course he would understand us the most.”
Thales frowned deeply, thinking about that crafty noble with the bowl cut who had sparkling eyes and sowed discord with his words.
The Archduke of Reformation Tower, Porpheus Trentida.
Even at the most critical moment in Heroic Spirit Palace, when Roknee, Olsius, and Lampard were about to be engaged in a fight, that archduke only held on to a short knife and hid himself safely in a distant corner.
‘Oh, him. Has he defected to Lampard?’
“You have been plotting for this from the beginning, right?” Ian’s face turned ashen. “When you issued your new decree, when the noble families in Black Sand Region rebelled”
King Chapman and his two subordinates all looked at him coldly.
“Is your heart set on using this war against the Alliance of Freedom to wipe out your vassals?”
‘No,’ Ian thought in despair. ‘How, how could this happen?’
At the other end of the hall, the diplomats from the City of Faraway Prayers were immersed in a sea of sadness.
The six counts from Dragon Clouds City stared fixedly at King Chapman, their eyes were full of wariness and fear like never before.
Ian mournfully said, “You don’t care how your vassals are going to go against your edict, you don’t mind how they will receive reinforcements from the City of Faraway Prayers, because it has never crossed your mind to play fairly in this political game.
“And in fact, this move you made using the Alliance of Freedom is not to hold the City of Faraway Prayers back, neither is it to weaken your enemies’ reinforcements”
King Chapman stared at the crowd in the great hall with an attentive look, as if he was watching an interesting play.
“You don’t even care whether Dragon Clouds City will deploy troops, you don’t care about the results of the war, you don’t care about whether the City of Faraway Prayers will end the war quickly.
“Right from the start, you have already decided your plan.” Ian mumbled under his breath, “You’re going to use the most direct, the most barbaric and simplest method in eliminating those old vassals who refused to obey you.
“What you lacked was something that would allow you to eliminate them in name; a reason, an excuse written in the Joint Ruling Pledge, one which will not provoke anger among the people, one that brings the least number of consequences, a ridiculous excuse.” The distressed Ian spat out his next sentence.
“Such as’Serve the country, or I will get rid of all traitors’.”
Ian looked towards Thales in despair, but the prince just shook his head.
The viscount fell onto his seat and no longer looked at anyone; like a gladiator defeated in the arena, no longer capable of standing. The Raven of Death beside Ian let out a gentle sigh. He cast a still glance at Thales.
Lisban let out a heavy and long sigh. “So, Your Majesty, if your vassals accept the edict, that means they would need a huge sum and a large amount of manpower to send their armies to the west. It would also mean that the people, the troops, their descendants, the supplies, their reinforcements, and all these lifelines of the nobles are to be handed into your hands.”
Lisban shook his head. “However, if they refuse the conscription, you would have the right and reason to use the joint military might of the Lampard Family and Reformation Tower to renounce their noble titles and even wipe off their names, in the name of the Joint Ruling Pledge, and no one can argue against it.
“You can then make Black Sand Region be under one man’s complete rule.” The Regent sighed deeply. “Is that right, Your Majesty?”
Thales felt heavy-hearted as he looked at the stupefied Ian, then at Lisban, who looked as if he had aged a few years in an instant.
He knew this kind of feeling. He felt it once and would never forget it in this lifetime.
What was horrific about the kinslayer was in his terrifying attacks where he would refrain from attacks even when the others attacked him, and when he fought back, his moves would shock the world. The bloody encirclement at Broken Dragon Fortress, the terrifying blow on the night of the tragedy…
It was, as always, as swift, direct, violent, cruel, decisive, and as effective as thunder leaving only shock and regret for his enemies.
King Chapman whispered, “They are not without a choice.” The king turned away and had his gaze meet Lisban’s directly.
“They could choose to pledge their loyalty to the king, to obey the law, choose to continue loving Eckstedt, and we would all be happy.”
The king spoke coldly. His sharp gaze looked as if it hid an unblockable sharp blade. “They could choose to do that instead of secretly contacting someone else other than their rightful king, hoping that they could avoid their inevitable fates.
“Of course, this also delivers a warning to those who stretch their hands into my territory. It allows to give a warning to those poking their noses into my affairs to mind their own business, or else I will come looking for them.” Once he said this, King Chapman again swept a cold glare at the crowd in the great hall Just like a ferocious beast that patroled his territory.
The Iron Fist insignia on his robe which represented the Lampard Family was incredibly piercing to the eyes at that moment.
Other that the barely discernible breaths from the nobles that varied in speed, the great hall was silent.
Thales watched the dejected Ian quietly. A cold feeling rose in his heart.
Regent Lisban first let out a gentle sigh, then he said with a grave expression, “You really do not plan on showing mercy, and neither do you have the sense of honor nor the moral limits of a noble, do you, Chapman Lampard?
“Mendes, Dawnson, Peruno, Ika…these are familiar and well-known Northlandic Families to us in Black Sand Region; these are families who pledged their loyalty to the bloodline of the righteous king, to the Lampard Family since Raikaru’s era. There are illustrious family names that bear hundreds and thousands of years of history,” Lisban said, aggrieved. “They thought they could do the same thing they did in the past, to dethrone you together so that they could have you take back your orders, to prevent you from spreading your power But they met you.
“Before your cruel methods, before your merciless edict for conscription, they will either recognize your edict, compromise by bowing down, obey, and listen to you, or”
Lisban could not continue his words. With grief and despair, the regent’s words evoked anxiety in some nobles.
Thales slowly exhaled and sank into deep thought.
In Dragon Clouds City, due to Saroma’s identity as the archduchess, she lived fearfully and maintained what little prestige she had with all her might to trade for the cooperation and compliance of her vassals.
In Black Sand Region, Lampard, with the horrid reputation of a kinslayer and reformer, dyed his path with fresh blood without showing any mercy, leaving only the obedient and compliant vassals.
Which was better?
King Chapman’s left hand pressed down on his old sword and he laughed coldly.
“There are many who wish to serve the country, and plenty among these people do not have any lands and titles.” Even though it was summer, the king’s voice seemed to bring the chill of wintry winds; the words he spoke brought a chill to the nobles, even though the room was not at all cold.
“In this world, there are too many who hold high positions but do not serve their purpose.”
Lisban closed his eyes, not giving a reply. The great hall became silent for a long time.
The counts of Dragon Clouds City showed solemn expressions, one which they had not shown even when they had to come face to face with the archduchess’ willful behavior.
“My God.” Count Hearst’s face turned pale. “What kind of a king are you?”
“The worst king of all,” Count Lyner clenched his fists tightly. “The kind which is the worst of all.”
“Hmph.” Cotterson shook his head disdainfully, but his eyes were filled with wariness and fear. “Scum.”
Count Nazaire looked at the King quietly, but he also turned his gaze occasionally to Prince Thales, who stood in the corner, seemingly deep in thought.
“Dragon Clouds City, now you finally understand, yes?”
King Chapman did not bother himself with the criticism from the crowd. “If the City of Faraway Prayers really wants to draw you to their side so that they could continue egging those foolish idiots in my territory on to go against me”
The king lifted his head, gazing at that person who sat on the highest seat. That girl who had been constantly staring at him quietly, but refrained from speaking.
“What a pity,” King Chapman raised the corner of his lips, appearing to be in a very good manner. “Because that is now meaningless.”
Ian lowered his head, looking at his knees. He did not seem to notice any of the gazes directed at him at that moment.
“None of you need to be involved in this war any longer,” King Chapman shook his head. “Black Sand Region has taken over it.”
At that moment, the three people from Black Sand Region stood proudly in the great hall, as if the place was their territory.
The vassals in Dragon Clouds City clenched their fists tightly again, and they burned in anger and indignation in their hearts.
The king’s expression was rather ferocious. “No matter how long this war against the Alliance of Freedom will last, the result on the chessboard has already been decided.”
Thales shook his head
‘You seized your chance, Lampard. You got what you want. So’ At that moment, Thales gazes fixedly at King Chapman. ‘Where’s my reward?’
In the next second, King Chapman felt Thales’ gaze, he turned his head around to look at the prince who gradually turned from being emotionless to being serious, and a small crease appeared at the center of his brow. Thales remained staring coldly at him.
The corners of the king’s lips rose slightly. King Chapman let out a long puff of air. “As for this prince, there is no need for you to trouble yourselves in escorting him to the City of Faraway Prayers, bring him to Black Sand Region. As someone who will deal with Constellation in person, I will receive Prince Thales. It is only right for me to do so.”
Thales closed his eyes and let out a sigh of relief in his heart.
At that moment, even though he was at the Waltons’ Heroic Spirit Palace, in Raikaru’s Hall of Heroes, Chapman acted like the true master there, arrogantly delivering his words to all the vassals present.
“Is there anything else?”
No one replied.
“Are we really going to Black Sand Region?” Wya looked at Ralf. His expression had also changed drastically. “This is”
Thales snorted lightly at the corner, quietly consoling the two people behind him. “Stay calm, this has not ended yet.”
The prince thought to himself, ‘I didn’t call him over so that I’ll be a guest in Black Sand Region.’
He noticed that Nicholas’s gaze had become colder. The Star Killer’s sight had never left the prince since just now. It was as if he knew the role Thales played in this.
The great hall was very quiet, no one spoke.
In the chilling atmosphere the king brought with him, everyone thought about the consequences this sudden surprise had put on them.
The results for the game between the City of Faraway Prayers and Black Sand Region could already be seen, where should Dragon Clouds City now stand?
This lasted until a clear and pleasing voice spoke up all of a sudden.
King Chapman’s expression changed slightly and he turned to the person whom he originally thought would not bring about unforeseen circumstances.
But the highest ruler of Dragon Clouds City in name, Saroma Walton, lowered her head, and said weakly, “As you said, Your Majesty, I will not send Prince Thales to the west, to the City of Faraway Prayers.”
The vassals of Dragon Clouds City all frowned.
King Chapman looked at her approvingly, “You are a smart girl.”
But in the next moment, the archduchess suddenly stood up.
“But do listen carefully, King Chapman: He will not go to the City of Faraway Prayers.” Amid the crowd’s shocked and perplexed gazes, the archduchess put on a stern expression and her tone changed completely. “And he will not go to Black Sand Region as well.”
‘Yes. She’s a smart girl.’
Chapman was momentarily taken by surprise.
“Thales is Dragon Clouds City’s guest. This is something we agreed upon in this great hall between the six archdukes six years ago,” Saroma said coldly. “He will stay in Dragon Clouds City, and he will not go anywhere else.”
King Chapman’s expression became cold again Just like six years ago.
But something beyond the king’s expectations happened.The girl who trembled before his stare six years ago now appeared dignified, and her gaze was firm.
In this soundless confrontation, Viscount Kentvida frowned. Kroesch, however, revealed a smile.
“The promise made by the six archdukes?” King Chapman let out a soft snort. “You are very naughty, girl.”
“That is not the only thing.” Saroma shook her head, not showing any signs of weakness. “You must also understand another thing. Regardless of how the City of Faraway Prayers acts, regardless of how you act, Dragon Clouds City will send her troops, to subjugate the Alliance of Freedom. Just like how my father and grandfather personally suppressed the Alliance of Freedom twenty years ago, this duty belongs to the Walton Family, and it is part of Dragon Clouds City’s dignity.”
She kept her expression grim and said unyieldingly, “This will not change because of a person, whether he is a king or a beggar.”
The atmosphere in the great hall became cold. The counts watched the confrontation between the king and the archduchess with mixed feelings.
King Chapman pressed down on his sword and pursed his lips while Saroma refused to back down and squarely met his gaze.
Finally, after a few breaths, the king smiled in a cold manner.
“An unwedded little girl wants to bear the pride of the Dragon Spear Family already?” King Chapman looked around. “Would your experienced, authoritative vassals agree?”
But Saroma stepped forward, her expression did not change. “All my vassals support my decision.”
Under the king’s gaze, all the vassals of Dragon Clouds City frowned and looked at each other. At that moment, Regent Lisban took a step forward without hesitation.
“The archduchess’ will is our will,” Count Lisban said coldly. “If she says that Prince Thales will not go to Black Sand Region, then he will not go.”
His former acquaintance, Nazaire sighed gently. “And thus, the problem has been solved.”
Count Cotterson also snorted coldly. “Our Lady has said it. We are going to assist the City of Faraway Prayers, kinslayer.” Cotterson laughed ferociously. “And since that is the case, we will sharpen our axes and bring our swords.”
King Chapman frowned, he lifted his head and looked at Saroma. The Archduchess remained staring at him with a firm expression, her gaze refused to move even the slightest bit.
Count Hearst looked at the archduchess, then nodded heavily. “Our Lady’s stance, is Dragon Clouds City’s stance, no matter what bullsh*t order a bullsh*t king gives us.
“If that king dares to, he could bring his army and his lackeys to Dragon Clouds City to strip us of our titles,” Count Lyner said derisively. “Who knows, maybe I might happily hand my title to him.”
Karkogel’s eyes turned cold, his words were short and clear. “Welcome to Dragon Clouds City, Your Majesty.”
Once the archduchess and the counts said their words, the vassals of Dragon Clouds City reached a consensus as they exchanged glances with each other. With similar cold and hostile gazes, they glared at the king.
“You heard them,” Saroma still looked at King Chapman coldly. “Do you have any questions, Your Majesty?”
For the first time, King Chapman regarded this young girl seriously, as if he was examining a weapon.
“Not bad, little girl,” he whispered. But King Chapman’s words contained a deep chill as he said softly, “However, you are wrong about something regarding the promise made between the six archdukes six years ago.”
In the next second, King Chapman turned to Thales, revealing a strange expression. Thales could not help but tense up.
Saroma was stunned for a brief moment. “What?”
King Chapman waved his arm, then turned around swiftly to face an entire hall full of perplexed gazes.
The King’s spine-chilling voice echoed between the pillars. “Why is it that I seem to recall that six years ago, in this great hall
“…there were only five recognized and legitimate archdukes?”
Saroma’s expression froze.