Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Thales was astounded by Viscount Patterson’s exaggerated movements. Before he could understand the deep meaning embedded behind those words, Gilbert’s voice was heard behind him.
“The preparation for the special seats in the banquet hall is all set. If you…”
Gilbert had been welcoming guests who were not that important on the other side, from important leaders of the industry to the bureaucrats of the kingdom. It was clear that he knew about the emergency over here, which was why he rushed over here.
“No need, little Caso. I came here for him.” Patterson obviously did not manage to hear what Gilbert said clearly. But it did not affect him from behaving coldly when he saw Gilbert. “Just for him.”
Viscount Patterson bowed to the prince once again. His movements were very large, causing the people in the surroundings to break into a cold sweat. Soon after that, the man was escorted over to the banquet hall.
Thales, Doyle, and Glover let out a breath of relief at the same time.
Gilbert watched the shadow of the viscount’s back slowly leaving into the distance before he sighed gently.
“Patterson… he is one of the Seven Jadestars Attendants who have quite the character. He does not bother to even attend many events. Part of the reason is that he is old now, and there is nothing for him to fear.
“But it is obvious that he has reached a time where he needs to consider his successor.”
As he looked at Thales’ puzzled eyes, Gilbert continued to explain, “One of his sons is currently among your private guards, Vice Penal Officer Lord Gray Paxton.”
Thales understood what was going on.
The guests continued to arrive in the vicinity. Although most of them were just officials and noblemen of low status, which made it unnecessary for Thales to welcome them, Mindis Hall was still so busy that they had their hands full.
Mallos and Gilbert were already feeling overwhelmed for just welcoming the guests. Even Viscount Kenney and Count Godwin, who were pretending to be the master of the event were moving about back and forth. They did not have any time to rest.
However, against their expectations, Patterson was not the only one who arrived at the vicinity much earlier.
“By the blessing of Holy Sun, Your Highness!”
The honored guests who followed behind Patterson did not give Thales the opportunity to get back to the waiting room to rest again.
Viscount Adrian brought his wife along, forcing Thales to get rid of his idea of rest as he recomposed himself and had his expression light up with joy.
“You have grown up, and you seem very high in spirits. You have an elegant posture, and you have Lord Kessel’s elegant demeanor back in the days.”
Adrian was just in his thirties. He looked young, promising, and very energetic.
However, through the intensive horrific tuitions over the past few days, Thales knew very well that the family of the viscount ruled the region around Swan Province, which was located in Central Territory and was fertile and beautiful, and he was one of the most important members of the Seven Jadestars Attendants.
Thales did not dare to show the slightest sign of laziness as he showed his respect to them with a smile on his face to greet them.
“Obviously, no matter how cold the weather is in the north, how great the blizzard is, how ferocious the yellow sand of Western Desert could be, how hot the weather could be…” Viscount Adrian looked straight into Thales’ eye. His wife smiled without uttering a single word. She just remained quiet and looked beautiful while her husband continued to speak, “It will still be difficult to hide the stars in the sky from shining brightly.”
Thales could only act accordingly to Gilbert’s teaching. He responded gently in a manner that was neither too humble nor too arrogant, neither too exaggerated nor not enough to suit the standards, neither too prominently nor too quietly, just like an eligible Jadestar Prince.
Then, Adrian bowed down and gently held on to Thales’ palm before he gently kissed the back of Thales’ hand.
Thales sent Viscount Adrian away as he rubbed the back of his hand which was kissed twice. He asked in puzzlement, “I am not their suzerain nor am I their supreme king, though? I mean… I am temporarily not those things to them.”
“No,” Doyle replied in a distracted manner.
His guard’s abnormal response made Thales notice that something was off.
It was only then that he saw D.D. nodded and bowed while he watched Viscount Adrian depart in an almost obsequious fashion. Even Glover seemed to be more respectful all the while Viscount Adrian was around.
Compared to when they served the old viscount just now, their attitudes were completely different.
“What is the matter?” The young duke furrowed his eyebrows.
“Are they very special?”
Doyle only snapped out of his daze before he scratched his head.
“Oh, my apologies, about that, Your Highness, do you still remember Lord Adrian? Our highest commander-in-chief, the head-captain?”
Thales frowned. He remembered the one scene during the time when Lord Adrian led the Royal Guards while he went into Renaissance Palace to seek an audience with the king, as well as the scene where Lord Adrian personally came into Mindis Hall to present the reward warrant.
The prince seemed to have understood something.
“If that is the case, Viscount Adrian, who arrived a while ago, is not just a Seven Jadestars Attendant, but also…”
“That is correct.” When Doyle saw that the man had slowly disappeared from his vision, he let out a breath of relief.
“He is the nephew of our highest superior.”
Thales thought about it, but deep down in his heart, he thought about the career politics that even Doyle and Glover could not be excluded from.
‘Patterson and Adrian… These two great families of the Seven Jadestars Attendants arrived at Mindis Hall much earlier than I expected, and they came at me… like that…
‘This could not have been a coincidence, right?’
The doubt he had deep down his heart was soon verified.
Five minutes later, when Thales was preparing to return to the waiting room to wait for the next batch of important guests, a man and a woman stepped out of the carriage with their hands joined together. Under the escort of a servant, they walked into Mindis Hall with different steps to arrive before Thales.
When they saw people coming over, Glover and Doyle’s expressions changed slightly, as if their great enemies had arrived.
D.D said worriedly, “Your Highness, um… we better get back… and have Count Caso handle this…”
Thales was skeptical as he said,
“But I recognize their symbol. That’s one of the Seven Jadestars Attendants… why? Is there something wrong with them?”
Glover scowled. Doyle, on the other hand, opened his mouth and bared his teeth.
“How do I put this in words… I have never expected his arrival…”
But the guests walked very quickly. Before Doyle could finish speaking, they arrived before Thales.
“Yo-Your Highness.” The lady beside the young man urged the young nobleman to speak, and it was only then that he spoke with great unwillingness, and his voice was unclear. His breath was also very airy. “I am… I am Luther, Luther… It is my… genuine pleasure to…”
Thales furrowed his eyebrows as he started to size him up from top to bottom.
The boy before his eyes was very young. He looked only seventeen or eighteen years old. However, everything about him exuded an awkward presence, his expression seemed tensed, and his posture suggested bashfulness.
What was worse was that he kept his head down all the time and only staring at his shoes. He did not even look Thales in the eye, as if the marble floor in Mindis Hall was much more charming than everything else.
Thales also noticed that, even though this little nobleman named Luther seemed strange and nervous, he was groomed well, and his clothes were fancy. It was obvious that he had groomed himself very thoroughly.
The number of carriages outside the hall was gradually increasing. The sound of the wheels rolling and banging against the stone road was getting louder and messier.
In the next second, before Luther could finish greeting Thales with his faltering speech, his features tensed up.
He suddenly became anxious while he continued staring at the floor. He struggled as he shook the lady’s arm. His words sounded a little childish, and the pacing of his speech also sounded strange.
“Mother, I want to go home, I don’t want to be here… I want my chess pieces…”
The lady’s expression changed instantly.
It was only then that Thales noticed the noblewoman beside Luther. She seemed to only be in her thirties. She appeared pretty, she moved with grace, and her posture was descent. But her expression seemed a little tired. She wore conservative clothes, and the colors were dark.
She looked worriedly at Thales and forced an apologetic smile toward the prince. Soon after that, she went near to her son’s ear and whispered gently, “Son, you’ve practiced before. You’ve done well. Remember what you told me…”
Her tone gradually gained a stern edge.
But Luther’s voice became anxious. His movements became violent. “No!”
He sounded as if he was crying. The movements of his arms became larger. “I want to go home. I want my chess pieces, I want my chessboard…”
He ignored the fact that the Duke of Star Lake completely, including the entire squad of his attendants, guards, and servants on the porch were watching the incident by the side.
His mother was anxiously comforting him. But Luther’s struggles started to get more unreasonable. He directly sat down on the floor, and his posture was inappropriate.
“I want to go home! Go home! Go home go home go home go home go home go home…”
Glover and Doyle looked at each other. The two of them approached anxiously and tried to separate Thales from Luther, whose movements were getting larger and larger. They seemed to be afraid that this guest who was obviously not very harmful would do some harm to the duke.
Thales suddenly understood why his two fellow guards had been so hesitant about this.
The pretty and graceful lady looked pale. She tried her best to pull her son to her feet. At the same time, she comforted him with gentle words. But it was obvious that her efforts were futile.
Then, a gentle voice interrupted this little incident. “It is alright, Luther.”
While Luther was crying unreasonably, a few people turned their heads around. Everyone saw that Thales smiled while he pushed Glover and Doyle aside. He ignored their attempts to stop him and crouched down in front of Luther.
The noblewoman who was ready to call for the servants to help her was slightly shocked.
“I also like to play chess. The Rise and Fall of the Empire Edition, right?”
As if the prince’s words had some magical effect, Luther no longer struggled and also stopped causing a ruckus. He stared at the floor and panted nonstop.
“It is just that I never manage to use the Swordsman nicely. I usually lose half of the forces before I can upgrade them into Knights.” Thales shrugged.
Luther did not utter a single word. He only continued to pant rapidly.
“I don’t have chess pieces on me right now” Thales sounded a little frustrated as if he was also not happy about it.
“But fortunately, I have a more interesting and new chess piece.”
Thales extended his arm to his chest.
Glover saw the duke’s action clearly. He was instantly shocked.
Thales removed the emblem on his chest that represented the nine-pointed star and showed it to Luther as if he was showing off his treasure.
“Look, it is a socketed crystal. It gleams brightly under the sunlight. There is a special reel attached to this. If you change its angle, it will refract different colors of light. Try and count, how many colors are there?”
Luther looked up with a dumb look on his face.
The lady stared at the prince’s movements with a dazed look. She wanted to talk, but she did not.
“And there is a hidden switch here as well. You can hide some papers and other things… Put it on the chessboard, and it can probably replace the king, ahem, I mean, it can replace a knight.”
Thales seemed to be excited as he toyed with the emblem that represented his identity. He slowly got back up.
Luther’s eyes slowly followed the prince’s emblem up. He subconsciously stood up.
Thales suddenly grinned and smiled.
“Do you like it? Take it.”
Luther reached out in shock.
But Thales suddenly stopped halfway.
The prince smiled and said, “But today, you must listen to your mother’s words, or else, I will take it back.”
Luther only stared at the emblem of Jadestar. He just stared and it with a very focused expression. Thales did not know how much he understood.
Thales felt a little resigned, but he placed the emblem into the boy’s hand in the end.
When the boy received the emblem of the nine-pointed star, he lowered his head and began to do some research on the hidden switch and the refraction of light on the item.
Thales sighed in relief. He kept smiling while he watched Luther as he focused his attention on the item.
Glover and Doyle looked at each other at a loss, even though they had been battle-ready all this while. Then, they retreated to their original positions.
The young noblewoman breathed in softly before she exhaled slowly.
She looked at her own son at first before she turned to face Thales. Her smile was genuine, and her words were filled with gratitude.
“Prince Thales. Although I have heard about you before, compared to the rumors of your intelligence and your genius traits, your kindness and your tolerance is more touching.
“As expected of the master of this hall.”
The woman elegantly lifted her skirt and tilted her head slightly. She looked incredibly graceful, and her posture was very charming.
“Elainor Barney. Greetings.
“Our sufferings have passed. May you overcome all obstacles, spread your wings, and soar into success.”
“Of course, thank you, Madam Elainor.” Thales politely nodded as a gesture, but he could not help but have his eyes look toward Luther, who was by the other side.
‘Barney of Central Territory.
‘A familiar surname, isn’t it?’
Elainor was aware of the prince’s eyes. She took a deep breath.
“Luther has not grown up yet.” The woman pursed her lips as she tried her best to hide the tears pooling in her eyes, even though Thales did not know whether it was born of awkwardness or shame.
“But even teenagers can create miracles. I believed that you know this very clearly, Your Highness” Her eyes were filled with stubbornness.
Thales smiled back as a response.
Elainor also smiled. She extended her right hand elegantly.
Thales gently held the mother’s hand respectfully and was ready to kiss the back of her hand to return the gesture.
“Of course, Madam Elainor. I know it well.”
But in the next second, Thales only sensed the grip over his hand tighten, and his expression changed.
Elainor revealed an apologetic expression as she smiled. But she was behaving against tradition as she turned Thales’ palm around before she knelt down.
“Please do not take this personally. As a vassal, it is my responsibility to kiss the hand of my ruler as a greeting.”
Thales was extremely shocked as he watched Madam Elainor hold his palm with both of her hands. She slowly pulled off his glove and took the initiative instead to kiss the back of his hand.
Her lips were soft. The strength she applied to the kiss was completely different from the people before this. It was rather like gentle friction on his hand.
“My son could not fulfill his duty.” It was only at this moment that this mother let go of the prince’s hand. She suddenly smiled to get rid of the awkwardness from before. “Hence, it is only natural that the mother fulfills it in his place.
“The Barney Family will forever remain by your side.”
Thales was terrified by the woman’s bold move, and she was so shocked that he could not utter a single word. He could only subconsciously pull his hand back.
Madam Elainor thought nothing of it. She only smiled gently, turned around, and left. She pulled her son, who was very focused on the toy, and walked toward the banquet hall.
Thales was stunned for a second. Then, he turned around and looked at the two guards who were also dumbfounded.
Doyle only took a deep breath after a long moment had passed.
“I believe that you have just met Little Iron Spike Junior.”
D.D scratched his head and felt a little troubled.
“About that, Your Highness… I know that it would only sound unconvincing coming from me…
“I also know that a mature lady’s charm is very great…”
Thales quirked his eyebrows.
“But Your Highness, you must not be enticed by beautiful ladies…”
Thales snorted softly in resignation. He understood what he meant and felt awkward.
But he was instantly stunned immediately after. “Little Iron Spike Junior? Are you referring to Madam Elainor?”
Thales thought about it slightly. He had found the answer from the recent horrific tuitions of Constellation’s history lessons. Soon after that, he felt calm once his question was answered. “This lady must be extraordinary to have this title.”
Iron Spike. This was not some strange or evil s*x toy.
Over the course of history, this represented someone from the middle of the third century, which was around four hundred years ago, and who was also Thales’ great great great great… great grandmother (Earlier than a certain someone who loved to eat chicken drumsticks).
Empress Dowager Iron Spike Elainor.
This legendary woman became the Queen of Constellation when she was twenty-six years old. During the seventy years after she was crowned, she went through all sorts of ordeals, and she saw all sorts of things until her hair turned white.
She had experienced twelve wars in her lifetime, four munities, saw eight supreme kings, witnessed the Munity of Cutters, Return of the Teenager to the Kingdom, the Humiliation of the Giant Spirit, the Ferocious Waves of Eastern Sea, Blood of the Sharp Mountain, and many more legendary stories that were edited into history dramas, but remained at the peak of her era, at the era where that giant dragon rose to power while Constellation was weak. During that era where chaos was rampant and many troubles brewed, she firmly held the wheel that controlled the ship that was the destiny of the kingdom.
But Thales was immediately puzzled. “But why is she called Little Iron Spike Junior?”
Doyle beamed. He seemed happy that the prince asked him about gossips about the noblemen.
“Because there is another Iron Spike Junior, and unfortunately, she is also from the Barney Family. She is the great grandmother of this puppet baron.
“That old lady still lives today. I met her once when I went to Barney Manor. I thought I have run into a legendary evil dryad.”
Glover cleared his throat loudly.
Doyle noticed that he had said the wrong words. Very wisely, he immediately changed the tone of the conversation.
“Anyway, that Madam Elainor who loves to kiss your hand married into the influential Barney Family when she was still very young. That was the time before the Bloody Year. Iron Spike Junior was amazing, causing them to earn a seat among the important offices in the kingdom. They also had a feudal land outside the territory. They even have two branch families among the Royal Guards, and they are still on duty.”
Doyle spoke carelessly. He seemed to be enjoying this sort of gossip very much.
The Barney Family… had shone brightly like the sun.
Thales was stunned for a moment.
“It was just that…”
D.D looked at Madam Elainor’s shadow as he muttered softly, “It is unfortunate.”
“What is it?”
“Madam Elainor’s newly wedded husband, who was Viscount Barney at that time… was not only old enough to be her father, but he was also a sickly man who was constantly bedridden. A few years after the Bloody Year, he died.”
Doyle pouted with a sorrowful expression. “He left her behind to be a widow when she was still so young, and she had to take up a stupid orphan. Even if she wants to remarry, it will be troublesome.”
However, Doyle suddenly had a thought.
‘That’s not right. With Iron Spike Junior in the picture, who would dare to let her granddaughters-in-law and granddaughters to remarry?’
“You know, there are quite a number of people laughing in the dark in the area around the capital. They say that the child from her belly is actually not—”
Doyle’s words were still ringing by his ears. But the prince’s attention had already been attracted by the mother, who had been a widow long ago and raised her child alone.
Thales looked at Madam Elainor’s shadow with a solemn expression.
He saw that she went to hold her special son’s hand calmly. She held on to her son’s fingers in a manner that brook no problem. She took a few deep breaths first. After that, she puffed out her chest, walked forward with heavy steps, and walked right into the banquet hall of the Duke of Star Lake.
She did not care about the strange ways the other people looked at her.
It was only at that moment that Thales noticed that the makeup on Elainor’s face was done well. But it was still difficult to cover the wrinkles by the corner of her eyes.
But her neck was fair and long. Her waist was also very mesmerizing.
She never bent it.
Thales suddenly remembered that after Empress Dowager Elainor’s torrential and wild life came to an end, people had different opinions about her.
There were people who criticized her for her desire for power, for her act of controlling the palace, poisoning the people with her conspiracies to have sole authority over the government, and persecuting the faithful and honest.
The people who supported her praised her for her superb skills, her tenacity and courage, for her support over the kingdom during the dark times in Constellation, and turning the tides in their favor.
However, the remark that shone through history and was remembered by heart the most across the world was actually left behind by a nameless bard.
“I can no longer remember if Elainor is pretty, nor how elegant she was.
“I only know that, even if there were tens of thousands of iron spikes hidden beneath the carpet…
“She will stroll along calmly with her expression never changing.”