Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
Starfall Year 835, the 17th of March. Light evening snow in the Triplet Mountain Imperial Capital.
The new year came with the passing of white floating snow. The streets in the Imperial Capital was quiet apart from the sounds of clanging armor as teams of guards went on patrol, and a few people who were clearing the snow in front of their houses.
Unlike this quiet environment, the entire world had fallen into an ‘exploration’ craze in the first year after the Omen of Falling Stars and the Draconic Invasion.
Although the typical peasant would not be aware, high-ranking officials or powerful adepts would learn from ancient volumes found around the world or hidden deep within vaults of literature that the entire world of Mycroft was a post-apocalyptic civilization that had risen from the ashes. Countless refugees had stepped out from shelters after the Glorious Era had ended, staring blankly at the world that had been greatly altered before combating the endless tides of beasts.
835 years had passed since then. The predecessors who had once struggled to acquire land for their kin in the wilderness would have been proud to see that humans had now largely reclaimed the world. Apart from the heart of the Central Dark Forest that was so vast none had explored it before, most lands of this world had returned to human possession. The other races that did not assimilate amongst the humans would move to distant lands, toiling deeply in either isolated islands or the depths of mountains.
When the world-traversing dimensional doorway was first developed, there were mages from the Skypiercing White Tower who proudly declared then that they know everything about the Mycroft Continent, and what mankind needed now was to explore new worlds beyond the Void. That prideful yet annoying declaration had certainly gained much acknowledgment then, but circumstances now were clearly different from the past.
Beyond the Grand Dukedom of Romain’s discovery of an underground realm and the Pentashade draconic races that had went into hiding beyond the seas, there were also large-scale ruins of cities around the Eastern Plains. All these new discoveries proved that much of the world was still shrouded in mist without exemption. Leaving others aside, even the depths of the ocean that merfolk lived and the underground cavities yet to be explored by dwarves were all expansive unknown regions.
In fact, there were many deficiencies when it came to dimensional portals too. Dealt a blow by reality itself, the conceited and overambitious mages had to lower their heads and admit the fact.
Meanwhile, under the trend of discovery, many small nations had begun large-scale development into the borders and Dark Forest surrounding their borders. They all planned to emulate the Grand Dukedom of Romain that had rapidly expanded and developed after massive amount of resources were discovered in the underground plane. While other factions merely calmly watched at present, they had sent dispatched many teams to scout the region probingly, with the Radcliffe family being permitted to expand its domain towards the Great Ajax Mountains being part of the scouting.
In the central trade avenue leading towards the Morlaix Palace within the Imperial Capital, a group of chaperones wearing green-black light armor swiftly bypassed the raucous market. They made no noise beyond the boots of their exquisitely crafted armor clanging against the ground. Quite a few citizens and merchants would glance at them once, shrug and lower their heads, no longer paying attention to them.
They were the Empress’s chaperones.
In the last few days, many noblesnot just the Empresswho lived in the Imperial Capital would frequently send their own trusted aides in and out of the city as if to inquire after something. Logically speaking such actions was fine if it were their own domain, but doing so in the Imperial Capital was exceedingly overstepping one’s limits.
This, after all was the city in which the Emperor resided. Even the Empress herself should not allow her chaperones to tread the streets so flamboyantand yet, the Emperor who had been perpetually imposing said nothing for some unknown reason. While it was also more precise to say not reacting instead of ‘said nothing’, the citizens were especially puzzled. Still, whenever the higher-ups would conceal certain news, the lower would definitely have methods of ascertaining it.
And now, people with kin working in the Morlaix Palace had intermittently received some ominous news. Whether those were facts or fiction, one fact was certainsince His Majesty had hosted the celebrations during New Year, not one person had seen him in the Morlaix palace.
It’s a catastrophe!
Every single person who heard the news would cry out in surprise. All of them understood how serious a matter it was and did not doubt the truth of it.
It should be noted that the Northern Empire’s Royal Family differed from the monarchs of the traditional kingdoms in the West Mountains. The Morlaix Palace was not the private lodgings of the Imperial Family, it also held the Imperial Library, the Imperial Archives, and many diverse public facilities. With permission, even peasants could enter the palace, and there were days when facilities like the Imperial Library was open to the publicone could freely browse through the collections as long as they pay.
Furthermore, His Majesty never kept himself deep within the palace. He would often head out to survey the streets, occasionally tasting the civilian delicacies. It was almost a tradition for Emperors of the Northern Empire, with most famous restaurants in the Imperial Capital using slogans asserting that a certain emperor once ate here. Indeed, they never shied away from crowds and would arbitrarily wander as they liked.
Nonetheless, it was normal if peasants did not come across the Emperor for months. But for the palace servants to not encounter him for months in the Morlaix Palace, it either meant that His Majesty was dealt severe harm and was confined to bed, or he had left the Imperial Capital and did not return for a long time.
Everyone was leaning towards the latter explanation.
Perhaps it was exactly because His Majesty was not coming back for months that the nobles and the Empress could not restrain themselves from probing for any news everywhere? It was thanks to an uneventful winter that the mysterious disappearance of a nation’s sovereign could be hidden for three months, but now the flames were definitely irrepressible.
In the Delphi Palacethe Empress’s residence inside the Morlaix Palacechaperones wearing green-black light armor and whose face was covered swiftly walked past the vast corridors. Most of the others had remained outside the palace doors, the leader himself had passed through the guards’ security check and entered the palace.
The inside of the palace was quiet and cheerless, with only the occasional maid seen clearing the dust since both incumbent Emperor and Empress did not like being served by too many attendants and would rather clean the place themselves. It appeared that the chaperone often came herea maidservant held off her task at hand and silently led him to an open-air garden inside the palace, where a lithe lady was enjoying the view of the flowers with several noble ladies.
Despite it being the winter season, the palace interior was kept warm as if spring with magic circles. There were also formations that adjust humidity and brightness around the open-air garden, allowing any flower to bloom at any given moment.
The mana consumption was rather high since it involved the natural techniques elves used to encourage growth, with dozens of mana crystal depleted daily. It certainly sounds luxurious when the fact that a single crystal could grant a citizen in the Imperial Capital a stable living for months is taken account, but it was nothing to the Empressthe most honorable woman of the Empire who had no other hobbies other than flowers.
It could almost be considered being plain.
The maid left the chaperone by the entrance to the garden while she herself prudently entered the garden. The lithe woman also noticed the chaperone and dismissed the noble ladies while telling the maid to bring the chaperone in.
The robustly built leader wore a pure black armor unlike the green-black his subordinates wore. Led by the maid, he quickly walked to the lady and knelt reverently on one knee, his head lowered.
“Don’t waste your words, Gurnis. Tell me what you found.”
The ravishing lady known as Edna lowered her head slightly and sighed tiredly, while allowing the maid to tidy her loose silver coiled hair. Her gaze was a rare pale gold, and her pupils slightly contrasted to humans, bearing a resemblance instead to the golden dragons who belong to the metallic dragon family.
In other words, the Empress’s might have draconic bloodline ancestral or was simply a golden dragon.
Meanwhile, hearing the urgency of his master, the black-armored cavalier briskly answered.
“His Majesty had inspected the southern fortresses in secret with Master Nostradamus three months ago. He also met Viceroy Ceres of the Southern Provinces, before heading to three ‘Lands of Starfall’. He was next spotted a month later to the east of the sand dunesa team of traveling merchants saw his figure in the distant.”
At those words, a hint of contempt appeared in the cavalier’s tone. “I believe that the Emperor deliberately allowed himself to be seen. Otherwise, how would some ordinary traveling merchants sense His Majesty’s race?”
“The southern forts, the silent dunes What is His Majesty doing there”
The Empress who wore a pale gown frowned lightly at the news, and pondered for a moment before turning back to the chaperone.
“His Majesty’s whereabouts became extraordinary afterward,” Gurnis continued, “he would be found at the western borders one day, and the depths of the Dark Forest in the eastern wastelands the next. We had compiled a lot of information, and the only possible reason was Master Nostradamus’s further sublimation of his dimensional spells. He must now be capable of continental warping in brief momentsHis Majesty’s position would not shift so rapidly otherwise… But now, it’s been a month since His Majesty had completely vanished with the archmage, no one had seen them since.
“Teleporting around all corners of the Empire. They must have been searching for something The Land of Starfall. Perhaps Israel is interested in those objects dropping from the Infinite Horizon?”
Edna glanced sideways at the lively flowers beside her, her expression doubtful. “He’s already Legendary, those things from the last era would never help him” she muttered to herself. “No, that might not be the case if the reason he suddenly fully recovered was that!”
Pausing her musing, the Empress turned to the black-armored who was still kneeling reverently. “Gurnis, take a guess. Where would His Majesty and the archmage be that all of us could not find them throughout the Empire?”
Though her tone was mild as if a simple inquiry, Gurnis knew that punishment awaits if he failed to answer. Even so, he already had a solid idea.
“My guess is that His Majesty and the archmage are now in the Void Star-Observatory!” He quickly answered. “His Majesty would see every move made by the noblesYour Highness included!”
“It’s just as I expected.” Edna was unsurprised by the answer. She looked up towards the sky, her mouth twitching in a helpless expression. “Since when he could come up with such a move To think that he had always been the unromantic soldier who knows nothing apart from fighting.”
As the lady complained, the maid and cavalier kept still as if they were deaf. Soon, Edna spoke again, but irritably. “Forget about it, not that I have the time to do a thing. Gurnis, cancel the operation. Although His Majesty would not mind us women conducting palace intrigue, it doesn’t mean that we can really make a move.”
“Yes, Your Highness!” The black-armored cavalier quickly replied and left the garden with the maid. Empress Edna herself stayed, her thoughts a mystery.
“Things have changed, darling. Though I do not know when you’ve recovered from your hidden injuries or further developed, I do know that your intentions still have not changed. You still don’t want to be shackled on the throne as you yearn for a further and higher place.”
Plucking a flower in passing, a bright golden radiance suddenly ignited in the seemingly meek and ordinary Empress’s hand. As the light shone, the fragile violet suddenly wiggled and turned into a little treant. Arching her back, Empress Edna placed the little creature that had a flower on its head upon the ground and stroked her head.
“But even before you left, you still back the Second Prince Dimore” She muttered to herself. “It’s not wartime. The Empire doesn’t need a champion who resembles you so muchso fierce that he would keep subjugating the nobles for centuries after he had grown up and become Emperor.”
Neither do I need a son who isn’t mine becoming Emperor.
There was no hint of anxiety on the Empress’ expression. She became his wife when Israel was fighting against foes from all directions and slaughtering orcs. Though she appeared unassuming, she was assuredly calmer and more composed than most men, a far superior than a lot of other women.
At present, however, it did not mean a thing even if she had schemes by the ten thousand as she faced the tide that was a Legendary champion. She certainly could have simply waited if things were like beforewhen Israel only had a bare few years to live. She would have waited the passing of her darling emperor, but now it’s impossible.
She fell into a long silence as she thought on. The state of the Empire had changed a lot more than she thought, and unlike Israel who could go on excursions as he wished, she has to stay in the palace as Empress, and at most only tread on the outskirts of the Imperial Capital. That was why she had to wait for others to report most information, and even when she became aware it was too latesuch as the Northern Count’s progress into Legendary. She did not even hear a thing about it, and it was too late to establish rapport when that person announced the news.
Still, is he not allegedly prepared to accept apprentices recently?
The Empress promptly smiled at the thought. As if getting a great idea, she spoke softly to the treant beneath a hand.
“Go to the seventh prince.”
“Tell him that there’s an unprecedented opportunity.”