Kingdom's Bloodline Chapter 538


Chapter 538 Magnificent Scene Of Hell

Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation

The sun dipped below the horizon.

Even though the main banquet had not yet started, the early arrival of the two dukes had livened the atmosphere in the banquet hall.

Outside the hall, logistics officer Stone and the chief of staff of Mindis Hall had their plates full cataloging the carriages and gifts and bickering with drivers and attendants that spoke in various accents.

Inside the hall, the personal attendants that arrived with the guests bustled about, occasionally having to argue with the servants in the secondary hall in fulfilling the needs and requests of their masters.

Gilbert had no choice but to arrange for the clowns, dancers, and minstrels to start performing earlier. He provided entertainment and food to reciprocate (distract) the enthusiasm (attention) of the guests. Reportedly, many who could not enter because they did not receive invites had rushed to the venue to try their luck on this special day.

Mallos skillfully and professionally coordinated everything. He designated seats, managed the servants, discussed on-site matters with the chief of staff from Renaissance Palace, handled unforeseen incidents (for example a low-level noble that brought his six daughters who did not have invitations along, as well as re-designating a garrulous Jorgewho excitedly pestered everyone about whether they knew who the eminent Polaris wasfrom the foreign guest table to the veterans table).

Thales could only grumble in silence. Although as the nominal owner of Mindis Hall, he should have been seated at the main table waiting for guests to arrive, he could not. This was primarily due to the fact that the banquet was attended by the respected king himself, it would not have been appropriate for the second prince to be comfortably seated. The second reason was that Thales had the special status of having recently returned, there was a pressing need to establish a good first impression.

So after the Seven Jadestars Attendants and two main dukes, Thales had to continue dragging a large band of attendants and guards around, shuffle back and forth in Mindis Hall in accordance with Mallos arrangements and Gilberts instructions (Your Highness, get over here quick, Your Highness, you need to be there, Your Highness, where were you?Thales complained mockingly under his breath), receiving designated important guests, placating guests who were dissatisfied with their seats, and reciprocating greetings (whether sincere or not) with (definitely insincere) smiles and gifts along the way to exhibit the elegance and dignity of the royal family and display the warm hospitality, affability and decorum of the new Duke of Star Lake.

Your Highness, your complexion looks good. You look healthy, Duke Bob Cullen of Eastern Sea Hill, sporting a head of silver hair and a bulging belly, supported by two attendants, greeted Thales cordially.

Thales coughed, Welcome, Mr. Prime Minister. I am glad to see you in good health too.

Duke Cullen spent three out of four seasons in a year recuperating from illness in Eternal Star City, but his portly and lovable appearance today gave the impression that he was still the affable round-bottomed doll of the kingdom.

Well, that was only partly true.

Thales glanced downward.

At least, his belly bulged even more now.

Exactly. As soon as I learned that you had broken away from the hell hole of those Northland Barbarians, my illness took a turn for the better.

The Guardian of Eastern Sea Hill looked at the portrait of the Three Constellation Kings and said cheerfully, God bless Constellation, Ive missed this mansion dearlyback when this place was open to the public, I used to visit often but didnt appreciate it. Now that Im old and opportunities are few and far between, I feel nostalgic.

Thales smiled and pretended not to understand what the duke was insinuating. He gestured to accompany the duke towards the banquet hall, making sure that his manners were faultless.

You will love the gifts I have for you. I brought you a collection of pearls, a specialty from the shores of Splendid Port, as well as spices, tea and cloth shipped from the Eastern Peninsula, all sorts of extravagant goods. These are definitely a cut above those from South Coast Hill. Im sure youre aware, if you head east, ocean currents and trade winds are in our favor

Compared to Zayens insincerity and Koshders harsh words and stern looks, Duke Cullens incessant chatter was equally unique in the kingdom. Too bad they were mostly accurate nonsense said in an agreeable manner; there was nothing to refute or interrupt.

In the past, Thales would have endured it as part of his official duties, and ended it after they reached the hall.

But now

Thales sighed, and forced himself to interject the stout dukes good-natured monologue, Earlier, Administrator Jorge of Elaphure City was trying to introduce his masters three daughters to me.

Duke Cullens footsteps stuttered, the Sun Sword and Shield family crest on his chest trembling slightly.

Daughters?

He cradled his bejeweled belt that seemed like it was about to break under the weight of his belly.

Three?

Duke Cullen paused, carefully sized Thales up and sighed heavily. Sure is great to be young

Thales smiled awkwardly.

But the old duke went on with a hint of nostalgia in his voice, To think I used to have three in a night as well

That old bustard at the brothelhehe, I mean, the madam at Laya Club, on account of my status and generous tips, insisted on adding one more, but was sternly rejected by me. After all, the Sunset Goddess teaches that us nobles should lead by example, avoid immorality, and exercise self-control

The old fatsos ability to interject and veer off topic was probably unparalleled throughout Constellation as well.

Of course, in this regard, Im not as capable as your father. Rumour has it that he once sparred with thirty in a night at Red Street Market

The more Thales heard, the more he was annoyed. He quickly interrupted, No, thats not what Elaphure City meant, and they certainly didnt mean all three at once, just

The Duke of the Eastern Sea was still staring at him with a grin.

The prince sighed and gave up his efforts to explain, understanding that it would only make matters worse. You have nothing else to say about this information, about Elaphure Citys marriage proposal?

Cullen froze for a moment, and seemed to ponder seriously.

A second later, he suddenly realized. Oh! Im so sorry. All my daughters are married and have children, some are even grandmothers.

The Prime Minister seemed slightly disappointed.

As for my granddaughters, alright, Ill gather some information when Im back Yeah, and itll take me some time to get their portraits done, preferably full-body portraits, then Ill present a list to you It doesnt matter which one you pick, or which ones?

Thales closed his eyes and let out a deep sigh.

When he opened his eyes, the prince interjected the duke unceremoniously, Eckstedt has a considerably long coastline, and their maritime territory borders ours. This includes Elaphure City.

Duke Cullen stopped in his tracks.

He patted the shoulders of his attendant, and the latter bowed and retreated as if well-trained to do so.

Thales felt relieved.

Now were talking.

Whether its Reformation Tower or Glacier Seathe former limited by the Sighing Mountains, the latter suffering from freezing coastlinesboth lack good ports. Only the Gaddro Family of Elaphure City, with the two ports of Elaphure Citywhich connects inland transportation as well as hinterland townsunder their control, are able to support a fleet capable of sailing long distances

Thales gradually revealed his main point, Able and qualified to sail the Sea of Eradication and, with Constellation Thales gaze shifted as he corrected himself, To be precise, its with the Seven Eastern Sea Ports under your ruleshare the enormous profits of the Eastern Sea Route.

The Duke of the Eastern Sea straightened his back and beamed from ear to ear. You seem to have a decent grasp of geography.

The Duke of Star Lake took a deep breath. For a century, due to the unprecedented dominance of Dragon Clouds City, Elaphure City had been restricted in every aspect: they crave the support of Heroic Spirit Palace yet fear the kings authority, and have been content with their lot and keeping a low profile in Eckstedt all these years, while concealing their strength and biding their time.

Cullen shook his head. Theres an advantage of growing up in the north, I see?

Thales frowned.

Pretend to be ignorant.

But he had no choice.

He had to make the most of this encounter today.

The prince chose to cut straight to the point, But today, Archduke Gaddro took the initiative to send a delegate to visit Eternal Star City, to attend my banquet.

Cullen chuckled. To propose marriage to you, as a sign of friendship?

Thales shook his head. The purpose of their visit, including the childs play-like marriage proposal, is mostly posturing and reconnaissance, The Duke of Star Lake had a gleam in his eyes. Waiting for the highest bidder.

The Duke of Eastern Sea paused for a few seconds.

When the master of Sun Sword and Shield spoke again, the hint of crass and unctuousness in his tone was now replaced by vigilance and shrewdness. Waiting for the highest bidder? Waiting for whose bid?

Thales took a deep breath and chose the most appropriate wording, Your Grace, you have ruled the Eastern Sea and managed the Gulf of Brilliance for nearly half a century. I believe you know the answer better than anyone. I believe, you understand more than anyone, what Elaphure Citys actions today mean, and whats at stake.

The Duke of Star Lake stared squarely at Cullen.

The stout old duke was silent, his emotions imperceptible from his shrewd eyes.

After a long while, he spoke slowly, I didnt see them in such a hurry when King Nuven passed away

But in the next moment, Duke Cullen narrowed his eyes, a cunning expression on his face as he asked, So, Dragon Clouds City that has been transporting supplies and reselling goods for them and backing their maritime plunders Whats happened to it?

Thales sighed inside.

Damn that old fox.

Thales had no choice but to reveal the answer to him blankly. The Alliance of Freedom has won. Lampard might be on the verge of winning too.

Duke Cullen stuck out his big belly and put on a eureka expression.

Thales observed Cullens expression and conveyed his own thoughts, Without the robust support of Heroic Spirit Palace, Elaphure City has been forced to revert to their original northerner self: no means to transport goods and no backing for their plunders. More importantly, they have no king behind them, and no belief in their hearts. They are cut off on land and face sinking if they go by sea.

Cullen frowned deeply.

Before King Nuven passed, Dragon Clouds City tightened and loosened the reins accordingly, by being generous yet stern, and giving and retracting benefits to accumulate supremacy. This subdued the arrogant Elaphure City that relied on the thoroughfare of the coastal border region to the point of obedience, too afraid to rebel.

The latter had borne a conflicted attitude towards the rule of the Walton family: they coveted the strong support of the kingdom sovereignty, yet worried about the independent status of their key northern ports.

(Hmph, they shamelessly ask for rice but cant be bothered to reach their bowls out, is there such a lucrative bargain in this world?! That goatee, gutless and recalcitrant, is only worthy of carving out the words King of Dragon Clouds City in letters as an act of cynicism. Upon witnessing this, your grandfather merely laughed and dispensed even more supplies and resold even more goods for the sheepish Elaphure City, words that Regent Lisban once blurted out while explaining northern history to the Archduchess.)

But now, the strong support they lean on is not only kingless, but also on the verge of collapse.

Thales categorically stated, Elaphure Citys maritime trade, will definitely be affected.

Duke Cullen did not speak.

Thales, however, took a step forward and caught the strong scent of exotic spices coming from the duke. So you are free to act mercilessly, when Archduke Gaddro is burnt out from domestic politics and hesitant

Thales heart sank as he silently thought about his own motives.

When they are hesitant about whether to betray Dragon Clouds City and shift their alliance to King Chapman

When they are waiting for Constellation to react and make a stand, waiting for Black Sand Region to make an offer to get them on their side

The second prince said decisively, Initiate the attack and subdue them with a pre-emptive strike to recapture the maritime profits lost to the northern fleets since the Bloody Year due to the weak state of our kingdom All of it.

Duke Cullen blinked his beady eyes, a look of amiable ignorance on his face.

Show those bunch of northland barbarians with holes in their heads who think they can navigate seas just because they can paddle, show them who the ultimate boss on the Sea of Eradication is.

Thales gaze was resolute.

He did not know how effective his words were.

But if they noticed even a sliver of Eastern Sea Hills attitudeself-serving and prepared to kick someone when they are downthen Elaphure City would soon understand:

A distant well cannot quench immediate thirst, the future is no match for the present.

Even when Dragon Spear was worn out, and Heroic Spirit had been dimmed

The aid and support that King Nuven and Dragon Clouds City were able to provide them, regardless of the number of King Chapmans and Black Sand Regions

Could not be replaced.

I believe, this aligns perfectly with the interests of Eastern Sea Hill.

At this thought, Thales looked at the Duke of Eastern Sea solemnly, and reciprocated with the greeting, The opportunity is upon us, God bless Constellation.

He stopped speaking.

The Duke of Eastern Sea stared blankly at the Duke of Star Lake.

Slightly surprised.

As if he had come to know Thales for the first time.

After a long while, the old duke subtly poked his own waist. Tsk tsk. Eliminate them while they are down You utterly detest those northerners, dont you?

Utterly detest.

Thales froze slightly.

He slowed his pace down.

Thales recalled those faces from the past: first, that of King Nuven who entrapped him while roaring with laughter, then that of King Chapman who raised his glass towards him with a cold stare.

Those of the dukes with prominent statuses at Heroic Spirit Palace, each harboring their own sinister motives.

And that of the person who beat him up badly to the verge of death multiple times, and even left him with a permanent disabilityStar Killer.

At this thought, Thales flexed his stiff left wrist.

Fortunately, he used his right hand for meals.

Hmph, you know, for the past six years. The irked Thales subconsciously ground his teeth, I really have hated that bunch of northern thugs who enjoy bullying children.

The Duke of Eastern Sea stayed silent for a while.

Somehow, something was odd about the way Cullen looked at Thales.

The duke even subconsciously glanced at Thales buttocks.

After being discovered by a frowning Thales, Cullen coughed awkwardly and retracted his gaze. Its understandable, butperhaps you should inform His Majesty about this? After all, the Eastern Sea is the throat of Constellation. This matter implicates the entire kingdom.

Thales felt a weight in his heart.

He inhaled deeply and grinned, Yes, I should, Thales looked towards the innocent-looking Duke of the Eastern Sea. But I am merely his son, he continued gravely, whereas you are his prime minister. Cum mayor of Splendid Port City, and suzerain of the entire Eastern Sea Hill.

Duke Cullen stayed silent for a long while before he responded. But this time, he no longer spoke with that smart-ass, nonchalant attitude. Thank you for this reminder. I will take note.

But his gaze then changed. But why? Why tell me all this?

To

Repay the kingdom?

Thales ditched this lame reason and sighed in his heart.

As a gesture of gratitude.

The graceful figure that stood up for and did everything to protect the Prince of Constellation during that turmoil flashed before Thales eyes.

He pulled his thoughts back to the present, and grinned at the Duke of Eastern Sea. Its all thanks to your sudden change of heart at the National Conference in the past to resolutely vote for me that I am where I am today. This is my gesture of gratitude.

Duke Cullen pursed his lips.

Sudden change of heart, these words

Be careful, Your Highness. He was still beaming as he looked at Thales and patted the latters shoulder, as one would treat a beloved nephew, and said calculatedly, Mindis Hall is not like Renaissance Palace. The carpets here are very new, every step is slippery.

Thales kept silent.

He remembered the Little Rascal whose whereabouts were still unknown and whom he was uncertain whether was still alive.

But the next moment, the person that appeared before his eyes was Lady Elainor. She was leading her dull son into Mindis Hall, enduring the strange stares from the crowd.

Little Iron Spike Junior.

But this is our family tradition, is it not? Thales came to his senses and whispered, The slippery carpet aside He looked up. even if there were millions of iron spikes under it Thales grinned, I would still have to stroll down it coollywithout so much as a flinch.

As soon as he said it, a gleam flashed across the eyes of the Duke of Eastern Sea.

Duke Cullen burst into laughter and raised his hand gesturing his attendant to come forward, but refused to be accompanied by Thales, waving him away.

As for their marriage proposal, Your Highness, keep in mind, even in the North Duke Cullen swaggered off and ended casually, beauty is still injurious to health.

Listening to the dukes words that carried a hidden meaning, Thales heart sank.

Little Rascal.

He slipped into a daze as he stared at Duke Cullens leaving figure.

Now

Theres only so much

That I can do for you.

Whoa, so that northerner was serious that he introduced the Archdukes daughters to you? Doyle caught up and put Thales cloak on for him. Thales adjusted his cloak absent-mindedly and responded with a mere uh huh.

Doyle pursed his lips, You know, Your Highness, theres a saying among the Seven Jadestars Attendants: never ever marry a northern woman.

Thales walked back slowly and queried, Why is that?

Doyle shrugged. Legend has it that this is the cause of decline of the Wild Stallion Barney family: At that time, the old lady Little Spike Irons youngest son stubbornly wanted to marry a northland woman. Little Spike Iron firmly opposed but to no avail. In the end, they removed him from the family tree and kicked him out of the house, but the curse brought by this woman still implicated the familylook at the Barneys now.

Stubbornly wanted to marry a northland woman

Implicated the family

Look at the Barneys now

Thales felt a little heartbroken, and said bleakly, Why dont you look at yourselves?

Perhaps it was because the princes tone was too harsh, Doyle was startled.

Glover calmly stepped forward and shoved Doyle behind him, the Doyle that wanted to joke around with the prince to relief his boredom but met a sharp rebuff instead.

Was it possible that

Doyle walked behind Glover dejectedly.

In the six years that His Highness has lived in the north, hes really taken to

A northland woman?

Oh my god, then what about the mission that Dad gave me?

For a miser like Dad, hes really promised a lot of money for this!

At this moment, a minor commotion could be heard happening outside the hall, attracting everyones attention.

Thales turned around to look and was shocked.

A lone man without loyal attendants, accompanied only by vigilant guards, slowly stepped through the doors.

Even though he wore extravagant clothes and had an extraordinary aura, he looked solitary and grim.

The sound of clanging metal also followed the man into the hall.

It sounded jarring and harsh in the elegant of Mindis Hall.

A fervent chatter spread amongst the oblivious, whereas the nobles who had an inkling shared an uneasy silence as they subconsciously made way for the new guest.

Mallos received a report and hurriedly rushed over from the side hall, in time to see the arrival of this special guest.

The watchmen frowned as they watched the guest that walked slowly in, their gaze focused on his hands.

On them were a pair of dull shackles, with chains trailing on the ground.

The guest looked up to reveal a gaunt and weary face as well as a chest-length beard.

He stared bewilderedly at the brightly lit and lively Mindis Hall in front of him.

Mallos quickly stepped forward and motioned for the guards to bring him in promptly to avoid the countless curious gazes, while he held the penal officer, Gray Patterson, who had led the guest here.

Gray, whats this

He refused, Gray hurriedly answered with a look of resent and frustration on his face. No matter how we coaxed and cajoled, he insisted on attending the banquet in shackles, The penal officer continued, Even that beard

Mallos looked at the abstracted guest and those problematic shackles with a solemn expression. Couldnt you guys have been tougher about it?

Patterson shook his head in embarrassment, His Majesty made it clear that he was to attend the banquet so there couldnt be any injuries to his face. Its difficult.

Mallos snorted. Get a piece of cloth to cover them and lead him directly to his seat Send him back once the time is up.

Patterson nodded in acknowledgment and turned to look at the new guest. He said matter-of-factly, Master Val, welcome to Mindis Hall. Please follow me

But the new guest broke his silence. Tormond Mallos, in its glory days, your family

Mallos expression shifted as he turned around to face the guest.

The guests voice was deep and majestic, but his tone resembled a sickly, worn-out horse; its dreariness aged the listener. Your father proposed marriage on your behalf to the daughter of the Arunde family.

Mallos frowned slightly.

He probably thought, Nolanur would eventually inherit the family fortune, and my younger brother was close to the two princes. Regardless of who succeeds as king, the Duke of the Northern Territory would be influential. As for you, with marital relations with the family of a duke, naturally your status in Seven Jadestars Attendants would be higher.

At these words, the guards responsible for escorting the guest froze as they looked tentatively at their commander.

Mallos merely paused for a moment before he put on a smile and looked at this strange guest politely.

The guest let out a bitter laugh. He raised his hands, causing the metal shackles and chains to clang again. The clanging fused with the faint joyous music, as if a stroke of cold color was infused into a spring landscape painting.

Now look at us. One, a family of prisoners in shackles, the man raised his head slowly. He looked at Mallos, then looked around Mindis Hall; the movement of his mouth stirred his silver beard. Another, a family of shackle guards.

Shackle guards

Mallos furrowed his brows as he forced himself to ignore the connotation in the mans words. Your Grace, we have arranged a seat for you in the banquet hall

But the guests words carried an august that had been accumulated over the years, as if it was always capable of interrupting him at just the right moment. You know, many years ago, the man in extravagant clothing examined the layout and furnishings in Mindis Hall absent-mindedly, my brother was just like you. He stood here, diligently carrying out his duty as an honorable royal guard and guarded this royal manor. As for me, I passed the garden countless times and watched that crazy lass run towards me.

The gaunt man put down the chains. There was a glaze across his eyes. Now Mindis Hall has reopened. Yet my brother, is no longer here.

Mallos did not speak.

The man scoffed. He looked up high at the portraits of the Three Constellation Kings. The color in his eyes turned a shade darker.

Bastard King, Adulterer King, King of Bad Debts, the man thought to himself as the corners of his mouth curled upwards.

But a few seconds later, his gaze turned cold. And he is not the only brother I have lost. He looked at the Three Constellation Kings and said disdainfully, No.

Mallos was silent for a moment before he exhaled and looked towards his subordinates. EscortHis Grace into the banquet hall through the side doors. Keep a low profile. And of course, becourteous. His tone was grave, his gaze stern.

Penal Officer Patterson understood his commanding officer. He had had enough along the way to the banquet. At a wave of his hand, two guards with cold expressions stepped forward to restrain the man.

But the man turned around abruptly and burst into a fit of rage!

I am the descendant of Arunde, master of Cold Castle, Guardian Duke of the Northern Territory of Constellation! I spotted that old fatsos carriage. He walked in from here, all dignified and upright!

The majesty he radiated at that moment perturbed those around him.

Arunde glared at Mallos coldly, If your master wants to prove to the kingdom that I am still breathing, prove that he isnt ruthless, then the least he could do is respect the status of a duke.

Mallos gaze turned cold.

At that moment

Mallos! A young but gentle voice shouted. Thales walked over from another side door and nodded at the watchman. Allow me. You can back down now.

Patterson eyed Mallos warily.

Mallos paused for a moment, looked at Glover and Doyle behind Thales, then nodded to Patterson.

As you wish, Your Grace. The penal officer bowed to Thales and retreated aside with the guards.

Thales exhaled and approached the new guest.

Long time no see, Duke Val.

Ever since Thales appeared, the guest had fixed his gaze on the young master of Mindis Hall.

He took stock of the Duke of Star Lakes figure, initially surprised but then relieved.

So youre back.

Val Arundethe Duke of the Northern Territory who had his conspiracy foiled and was consequently jailed six years ago stared at the second prince with mixed emotions. How is Eckstedt?

How?

The prince looked at the man and sighed slowly, Neither harsh winds nor bitter frost can sway it.

Thales meticulously sized Val up too. He noticed that Vals once muscular figure was much thinner now, and he now had a shaggy boxed beard.

Inexplicably, he suddenly remembered what Josef of Disaster Sword said when he was in the Prison of Bones:

This is the effect imprisonment can have on a person No matter who you are, and no matter how powerful you are.

Theyre forever lost in a lonely hollow, and will never be able to return.

Thales focused his eyes in front of him.

The once impassioned and majestic Duke of the Northern Territory

Was no more.

Val hesitated for a few seconds. Lampard, how is he?

Lampard.

Thales heart sank.

How did Val feel when he met with the then Archduke of Black Sand, Chapman Lampard and agreed to collaborate with him?

Six years later, when their situations are poles apart, how does he feel?

Neither harsh winds nor bitter frost, the prince started speaking softly, and gave an identical answer, can sway it.

After this series of peculiar questions and answers, Val fell silent.

But then he started chuckling softly. He strode forward and made his way into the banquet hall habitually.

Like a wanderer returning home.

Patterson and the guards from the Discipline Division immediately followed suit.

But when Val reached Thales side, he stopped.

Glover and Doyle anxiously stepped forward in an attempt to separate the duke from the prince, but were again held by Mallos.

Thank you.

Thales was slightly stunned.

The emaciated Duke of the Northern Territory did not bother to look at Thales but merely whispered, Someone told me. About everything you did for my daughter six years ago in Eckstedtian territory.

In Eckstedtian territory

Miranda?

Thales recalled Dragon Bloods Night and the cold swordswoman with a heavy heart.

The imprisoned duke turned his head and said expressionlessly, Its just, please do me another favor. Vals expression became somber, Dont marry her.

Thales was dumbfounded.

If you must marry her, Val scoffed, like an enlightened despondent gambler who had lost all his chips, dont leave your seed in her belly.

Thales blushed. He immediately adjusted his expression.

Mira faced misfortune in her early years, Val looked at the ceiling as he continued mournfully, Shes seen enough bloodshed.

Thales gaze trembled upon hearing this.

A second later, at the sight of the gaunt, lonely and aging Duke of the Northern Territory in front of him, Thales sighed, I promise.

Val laughed. He lowered his head to reveal his wrinkled-face with a smile, Thank you. You are different from him. You have yet to become him.

Different from him.

In that moment, Thales had a sudden realization.

He remembered that, before they parted ways at Blade Fangs Camp, the former watchman of the royal guards, Knight of Judgement, Zakriel, said something similar to him.

This made Thales, who had been putting on a smile to greet guests all night, realize that, this emaciated man who was disinterested in everything was probably the only person who would be honest with him in this night of joy and mirth.

Perhaps, Thales answered with a forced smile, somewhat hoping that his words would bring comfort to this man who had abandoned all hope in life.

But Val shook his head, his smile desperate yet cynical, Just like then, he too thought he was different from the previous master of this place.

Thales expression changed. What do you mean?

Val did not answer; he merely turned away.

He looked at the boisterous and lively scene outside the hall, and took in the thriving scene of Mindis Hall where large crowds were coming and going. Do you see that? As the Duke of the Northern Territory watched the magnificent scene before him and listened to the soft music, illuminated by the resplendent Everlasting Lamp above him, it was as if there was a disparate scenery in his eyes. It took him a while before he said with a smile, This sceneits a magnificent scene of hell.

Hell?

Thales furrowed his brows.

Val looked around; he seemed unhinged. Some of them are hypocrites, pretending that everything is fine; some deceive others and believe in their own lies; some of them are concealing dissatisfaction but force themselves to bear it; some have seen through the faade of this world and choose to detach themselves. Under the lights in the thick of night, everyone is pretending to be joyous and harmonious, there was a chilling message behind his gradually increasing sneers, oblivious that they are all in a pot, while fuel is being added to the fire.

Mallos coughed once.

Thales expression tensed.

Recalling his encounters ever since he returned to Constellation, he felt inexplicably dispirited.

He knew that his conversation with the Duke of the Northern Territory was about to come to an end.

Thales knew. He knew what the duke meant to say with those words.

Just like all the others.

But he would not waver that easily.

Nevertheless

Thales gritted his teeth.

Val lowered his head and sneered, Kid, youre just like how I was.

Thales stirred inside. Alike? For example?

For example Val continued, his gaze cloudy. For example, you seem to have a close relationship with them, your interests are aligned, you share your honors and disgrace, it is the perfect moment. In this lifetime, you will never oppose each other and become enemies.

It is the perfect moment.

Thales could not help but remember what Viscount Patterson said to him before.

The kingdom is young. It is the perfect moment.

But only you know Vals words became more cryptic, like a traveler finding his way in the fog, with no sight of the road ahead, surrounded only by illusions. Ahead lies a high precipice. Behind lies a deep abyss.

At that moment, a racket and commotion could again be heard coming from outside the hall.

Everyone in the hall shuffled about. They anticipated this and prepared to welcome the next important guest.

But this time, what they heard was a blended cacophony of uniform footsteps, stern commands and the clamor of excitement.

Mallos was slightly puzzled.

Until a majestic and imposing commandconveying absolute compliance, as if a holy edictcould be heard coming from a distance and penetrated the walls, In the names of the supreme king of Constellation, Kessel Jadestar

Thales blanked.

The expressions of the attendees changed.

Muffled sounds could be heard coming from outside the hall.

And the supreme queen, Keya Jadestar

The messengers voice permeated throughout the hall.

Whether it was the joyous music within the hall, the fierce arguments between attendants in the hallways, or the drawn-out neighing that could be heard coming from a distance from time to time, all of it faded away in this moment.

It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Only the lights were left glowing.

Fellow subjects

The right to breathe had given way to that authoritative voice.

Salute your king and queen!

The messengers command ended but his voice echoed endlessly and hovered in the air.

Unyielding.

In the next moment, Mallos, Patterson, Glover, Doyle

Whether they were royal guards, attendants or servants, nobles, bureaucrats or commoners, everyone present subconsciously adjusted their posture and held their breaths.

Everyone retreated aside to form a pathway as they turned around solemnly and respectfully towards the banquet hall doors.

They got down on one knee.

Put their hand on their chest.

Hung their heads low.

As if this was innate instinct.

Immutable.

Habitual.

Only Thales was left standing in a daze under the Everlasting Lamp, under the watchful gaze of the Three Constellation Kings, staring out the hall towards the darkness.

And you have no way out.

Unknowingly, Duke Vals cold voice and clanging of his shackles came from behind him and bored through his heart.

You can only take a leap of faith And give it your best shot.

The messengers command and the Duke of the Northern Territorys words lingered in the air at the same time, intertwined.

The disconcerted Thales took a deep breath.

A few seconds later, he forcefully took a step back.

And got on one knee.