Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Six years ago, Gilbert had brought Thales to the place after the kingdom regained its heir for the first time. They hid from the probing of a wave of enemies. Now, after six years, Thales had become the master of Mindis Hall. The hall also, naturally, became a place for him to utilize even though Gilbert thought that along with Thales’s identity becoming public and the Royal Guards being stationed at Mindis Hall, the place was no longer necessary.
Thales locked the secret door from the other side, lifted the thick cloth, which had Luminous Stones covering it, and he looked through the small hole that allowed him to monitor the various parts of Mindis Hall under the dim light.
At the front of the hall was Mallos, who was sending off Scholar Julio politely while the latter was still uneasy. Perhaps he suspected that the restless prince had done something to prank his teacher.
Glover and his colle
agues stood at their posts in the corridor as they performed their duty and responsibilities to their very best. They were stoic.
In the garden was Kommodore and Procca, whom Thales had fought before. They seemed to be talking about something while patrolling the area. Thales had lazily named the gathering as a “teambuilding for the prince’s personal punching bags”.
Meanwhile, Doyle was in the scullery. He was squatting in a corner while feeling bored and finding his life meaningless. He bit down on a long piece of butter bread as he observed the servants, who were busy preparing lunch.
It was only then that Thales let out a sigh and collapsed on the couch in the secret chamber.
After taking a few breaths, he rubbed the spot between his eyebrows with his back against the couch. He felt a sense of ease, one that he had not sensed for a long time.
It felt like… when he was back in Abandoned House, where the child-beggars lived.
Although the wind blew through the four walls, they remained sturdy and reliable when it came to protecting all of the weaknesses he could not protect.
Thales took a brief rest before he sat back up. He pulled away the other pieces of cloth that were also covered with Luminous Stones. The secret chamber lit up.
The duke mumbled something under his breath. He approached a piece of metal at the side of the couch and touched the few pieces of spinning buttons on top of it.
A few seconds later, as the soft sounds of mechanical whirring echoed in his ears, Thales pushed away the metal plate—it had now been separated into two—and opened his personal storage. The previous master of Mindis Hall had likely used the place often too. But Thales could imagine that after the Bloody Year, this spot had been cleared out by King Kessel.
What entered his sight was a bunch of stuff that was piled up in a disorderly manner.
The moment Thales stared at the spot before him, he stopped moving.
A few seconds later, Thales took a deep breath. He walked over to the weapon rack, which was pathetically empty and looked at the greatest item in it—the rumored to be highly valuable national sword of the Empire, Sentinel.
When he held the hilt of the sword, he found the touch unfamiliar, but the sensation of the grip was amazing. It stirred up a desire within him, urging him to draw the sword.
If it were not due to the fact that he would always remember its previous owner’s face and the trouble it brought him whenever he held the sword, Thales would like it even more.
The duke lowered his head gloomily, and he grabbed the dagger that he was incredibly familiar with. It was right next to Sentinel.
The hilt of the JC dagger was icy cold, causing Thales to remember all the hardships he had experienced when he was with it.
However, the sheath cover was warm, and it suited his hand just like the two people it represented.
Ever since Thales stepped into Mindis Hall, he had gotten fewer chances to bring the JC Dagger with him. The martial arts lessons that went on every day and night forced him to repeatedly equip and remove the dagger. But Thales also did not want too many people to see it, even if those people were the Duke of Star Lake’s personal guards, whom he should trust.
Nevertheless, when Thales pulled out the familiar dagger, that feeling of security still comforted him.
Thales sighed, and he put it down reluctantly. Then, he turned to the other side.
The black cloth that Jala gave him was folded and laid neatly in the spot he was looking at. Thales still had no idea what material the cloth was made of.
Thales smiled subconsciously, but his smile vanished when he saw the next item in his collection.
It was a yellow bracelet; on one end was a long and red fang, which looked incredibly hideous. It was as if… it had been forcibly removed from somewhere.
Thales pushed down the bad memories associated with the bracelet and looked at the next item.
It was a map.
Yes, it was a detailed geographical map of a palace from a certain second-largest kingdom of some large peninsular in that world.
He sighed again.
Thales folded the map. Julio’s words from earlier had allowed him to realize that if anyone else saw the map, he would have to face even more trouble, and that trouble would not just come from the church.
When the duke folded the map, a piece of old paper fell out from the map, causing Thales to pause his movements for a second.
It was… a sketch of a young girl.
That was the picture Thales dug out from a certain book back in Mindis Hall.
The artist’s sketching abilities were not very good judging from the sketch. One thing was certain: it would definitely be beneath Master Uhran’s attention. But the story behind the sketch was not ordinary, or at least, that was what Thales thought after he finished reading Year Eleven of the Calendar of Eradication: How Raikaru and Tormond Solved the Problem of the Eckstedt-Constellation Border by the Form of a Treaty.
Thales shoved both the map and the sketch back into the lower layer of the shelf. After that, he raised his head and saw a pair of glasses with black frames.
Thales took it off the shelf carefully. He seemed slightly dazed.
He put on the glasses without realizing it. As expected, the moment he opened his eyes after he put on the glasses, dizziness instantly took over him, causing him to take the glasses off.
Thales sighed and tidied everything up.
Everything in his personal collection ever since he arrived in the world lay there.
Every item represented a different past.
‘Wait, there’s another thing.’
Thales turned around with disinterest and picked up the Sunset Goddess Apostles’ Acts from the couch. He pulled out that blue invitation card, but he did not open it. At the same time, he stuck it in the bottom layer of the shelf with similar disinterest.
Several seconds later, Thales pulled out another empty white scrap paper from another sheet, placed it over the cover of the book, and sat down on the couch.
He looked at the blank paper and sighed slowly.
Back when he was still in Northland, the unforgiving environment had given him a clear goal: survive and return to the kingdom.
Ever since his return to Constellation, he had to meet the king in person, see old friends, get ready for the feast, catch up with his lessons, and receive guests from the temple, including receiving the invitation that came a few days earlier. When everything that felt familiar and unfamiliar came at him like a tidal wave, Thales, who had endured being beaten up for a long time, so much so that he was experienced in it, found it hard to endure as well.
And today, Julio’s unintentional words even put him on high alert.
This was not Northland.
He was not the same as he was back then as well.
Even Thales had to admit in dismay that to him, everything right then was a new beginning, and everything was extremely unfamiliar.
He needed to readjust…
Just like how he had to adapt to Dragon Clouds City and adapt to the Great Desert.
Now, he needed to adapt to Eternal Star City as well.
Thales exhaled, pulled out his pen, and let the tip of his pen touch the paper.
‘Wait a minute.’
In order to prevent the paper from being discovered by someone and to prevent someone from discovering the clues in it (after all, even an idiot like the Star Killer could notice the secrets from the Rilan hard paper), he could not use a writing style that was too obvious.
Thales suddenly had an idea. He started writing.
[1. Two Hundred and Fifty Gold Coins]
Thales wrote down the first entry.
He wanted to write “Stupid” straightaway, but he was worried that the reference would be too obvious, so he changed the nickname.
‘Yes, I can’t count on him too much.’
But he knew other awesome people…
For example, those from the Secret Intelligence Department.
So, Thales pondered over it for a moment. He wrote a subitem with a smaller font underneath the main item.
[1.1 The One with Red Eyes]
Thales remained silent for a moment.
‘Something related to this incident…’
Thales originally wanted to write “Khukuri”, but he suddenly realized that Jala’s weapon was quite renowned back in Sunset Pub.
He needed to be more careful, especially when Gilbert mentioned that his identity was no longer as it was in the past. Every move he made could lead to a disaster in the future.
And so, Thales picked up the pen and wrote [1.2 Big Sister]
Those were the priorities in the first item.
However, Thales needed to see something else. Even though he was a prince, he was still isolated and had no backup in Constellation.
He needed assistance.
There were no assistants who could possibly compare with his old subordinates who had stayed with him for six years in Northland.
So he wrote the second item.
[2. Little Old Man, Mute, and Very Old Man]
However, when Thales wrote the subitem “Little Rascal”, the duke hesitated for a moment.
There were also people who knew that nickname. One of them even found him to be an eyesore and swore that he would teach Thales a lesson.
Thus, Thales erased the words “Little Rascal” and wrote something else.
Thales wrote down a certain unofficial nickname.
[3. Little Dumb Dumb]
Thales wanted to laugh.
Yet, once he thought about the heavy meaning behind those words, he could not laugh anymore.
Thales did not stop writing under the third item with his pen.
After he wrote a noun, he frowned. In the end, he decided to give up on writing the word “calamity”. Instead, he erased the original number and wrote another number.
For the same reason, Thales decided not to write “Ricky” or “immortal”. He could not write “Disaster Sword” even more so. Instead, he replaced that with [3.2 The Mercenary Who Almost Lost His Head].
No, Ricky had been a mercenary for a long time in the desert. He could not guarantee that no one would recognize him.
Thales gave it some thought. Then, with much mischief, he changed the word “mercenary” to “Nick”.
Simultaneously, when he thought that Asda may possibly know who he was referring to, he did not write “Taurus”. Instead, he continued to write [3.3 The Big Boss].
When he recalled the things he heard and saw back during his theology lesson, Thales continued to write [3.4 The Eldest and Youngest].
Finally, he put a bracket around those four words before he wrote his final line.
[3.5 A Bad Message]
‘Asda Sakern, my dear, this is for you,’ Thales thought quietly in his heart.
Thales swore that this was probably the most serious nickname ever.
After all, it was not easy to find traces of magic in Sunset Temple.
So Thales added another subitem under this item.
But he could not ignore the clues spoken to Ramon many years ago as well.
[4.2 The Person Who Became a Limp]
Upon seeing that nickname and the organization it represented, Thales laughed once again.
However, the thing that troubled him was not only magic.
[5. The Horse Carriage That Came Apart]
Upon writing down this item, he was reminded of Fakenhaz’s ghastly appearance, and he also recalled King Kessel’s cold tone in the meeting hall. He felt a wave of discomfort for a moment.
Jines’ serious and concerned eyes flashed in his mind.
At that moment, the Iron Hand King’s cold no longer seemed to be as unbearable as before.
Firstly, it was that group of old guards.
Thales’ eyes were focused. Zakriel and Barney’s figures came to the forefront of his mind.
They were closely related to the Renaissance Palace of the Bloody Year in the past.
‘That group of branded warriors.
‘No, “branded warriors” would lead many of those ambitious ones to clues.’ Thales immediately removed it and wrote [5.1 Gestads].
He also could not ignore the murderer pointed out by King Nuven six years ago. Yes, and he was related to Black Sword.
Not to mention Herman, that uncle of his who was not too lucky. ‘Ha, as if a certain someone is luckier.’
After he wrote down five items, Thales exhaled and took a quick rest.
The remaining one was…
Thales clenched his fist, and Taurus’ warning flashed across his mind.
“‘Who are you?”‘
He shook his head.
First of all, there was the thing that was related to his life—the Sin of Hell’s River.
It was related to Black Sword and the Disaster Swords.
Thales was a little worried.
There was only one nickname for Black Sword. He shared his nickname with his weapon. But then again, that man was inconspicuous. He could not think of any other nickname to replace his with.
However, Thales suddenly remembered that Black Sword was the founder and also the leader of the Brotherhood. So, he got an idea and wrote [6.1 Old Former Boss].
He also added Ricky.
[6.2 Nick, Who Almost Lost His Head]
This was not the only thing about him.
Thales held the handle of the pen. He hesitated for a long moment.
But he did write in the end.
Thales stared at the word. The questions and unfamiliarity that never faded overwhelmed his heart.
The Drakonic language, Dragon Breaker, desert, servants, legend… Countless words were gathered together, and they combined into a name in the end.
‘Who are you?’
Thales put down the pen as he skimmed through the contents on the paper.
‘My to-do list… is really long.’
Thales let out a sigh.
‘This is just like writing a thesis.’
Writing the table of contents and the titles was always the smoothest process before writing a thesis, was it not?
At that very moment, he felt as if he had a wide heart that could contain all knowledge.
It was just that he was in a critical situation right then, and it was the moment before he had to finalize his draft.
How many of the items in the table of contents could be fulfilled? How many of those items could be filled up with words underneath? How many will be completed in a perfunctory manner? And how many would not be removed from the table of contents?
‘It’s just like… my life, especially with how lost I feel and how unknown my future is.’
Thales was in a daze.
Fortunately, there were many things that did not need him to be in a hurry to accomplish.
Thales took a deep breath.
The duke looked up and stuck the paper into the shelf as well.
There was no time to get sentimental.
He had too many things, too many expectations placed upon him. Meanwhile, the people who placed those expectations on him watched him, and there were also too many responsibilities he needed to bear.
Firstly, he needed to get through the most urgent issue at hand…
The welcoming feast that was only a few weeks from now.
There, the new Duke of Star Lake, the second prince, the heir to Constellation, Thales Jadestar would once again face the entire kingdom after six years.
Thales pushed open the door to the secret chamber with a calm expression as he responded to Mallos’ inquiry, who was outside the door.
He shut all his secrets and gloom behind him as he walked out of the door with optimism and determination.
“The arrangements for your feast is almost ready. Here is the schedule for that day, the name list of the guests, and the specific arrangements.” When he opened the room door, he saw Mallos pass him a stack of documents.
“I think that it is imperative for you to look at it earlier and make some preparations.”
‘Come on,’ Thales moved forward steadily as he quietly told himself.
He took the folder from Mallos with a smile on his face. The latter was as calm as usual, and he did not seem shocked.
Six years ago, when he headed north, he saw the calamities descend, the king assassinated, and the rebels forcing the ones in control to abdicate… He had experienced all of those ordeals.
He had survived terrifyingly powerful enemies like the vampire archduchess, Mystic Giza, and Chapman Lampard.
As for the feast that would be held for his triumphant return to the kingdom in his own territory, could there be an opponent who would make him wary and trouble him?
Thales lowered his head, going quiet.
The guest list was shockingly long, and the words were packed densely together.
However, at the top rows of the name list were the people who were written right under His Majesty’s name, along with their eye-catching titles and family emblems. They were all reflected in Thales’ eyes at the same time.
[Keya Jadestar, Honorable Queen
[Val Arunde, Master of Cold Castle, Guardian Duke of Northern Territory
[Bob Cullen, Master of Splendid Port City, Guardian Duke of Eastern Sea
[Koshder Nanchester, Master of Steep Forest City, Guardian Duke of Land of Cliffs Region]
[Zayen Covendier, Master of Jade City, Guardian Duke of South Coast]
Three seconds later, Thales put the name list down as he revealed a bitter expression on his face.
Would it be alright if he did not go to this bothersome feast?