Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
While the faces of the two Legendary mages swelled in crimson childish excitement over their discovery, while Joshua continued leading black dragon and balrog, traversing across the Abyssal Black Sea Plains in search of targets—Israel Diamond, the Northern Empire’s sovereign who was dressed in inconspicuous black civilian attire led two of his sons into a vast plain around the east of the Empire.
It was late into the night as the trio slowly advanced on horseback in the thick of darkness. Despite His Majesty having withdrawn his might as much as possible as he rode ahead, a substantial and virtually mountainous might spilled out. Precisely because of that, the beasts and magical creatures along the way—even some bandits who wander the grasslands—killed their thought of acting and obediently shrunk back into their lair. Behind the His Imperial Majesty, the Second Prince Dimore rode dispassionately but cautiously alongside Arlwa, the Seventh Prince.
Long ago, this broad grassland situated by the southeast of the Empire had a name that rather resonated—the Plains of No Return. From the layman’s point of view, the expansive land was virtually without horizon, with no hills around it as a point of reference. Furthermore, legend had it that meteors once struck this place, preventing compasses from working. That was why should those not familiar with the land boldly entered, they would undoubtedly be lost in this grassland that obscured direction and landscape, never to return.
That was not the case now.
During the second decree of development three hundred years ago, countless knights and displaced nobles brought their ambition and desire, as well as innumerable refugees and adventurers who did not want a plain life to this land. Using their heart and soul, they raised town and villages, expanding the Empire’s lengthy borders and turned the Plains of No Return into the ‘Green Sea Grasslands’ that the locals named affectionally.
It was the most fitting description for this grassland that was boundless as the seas. Even so, there were bumps and crevices, with one single little hill jutting out now right before the Emperor’s party. A meter said to have fallen during bygone days was now beneath that hill, with almost a thousand other similar hills that towered around it amidst the grasslands. Israel was clearly not paying attention, however—he simply rode on, leading his sons to the summit.
On the other side of the hill were a calm crescent-shaped lake and a river that resembled a silk band, reflecting crystalline silver light of the moons and stars. And on the other side of the bodies of water, a quiet village stood, with lights glinting within in silence and tranquility.
Father and sons thus simply stopped above the hill summit on their horses. Israel did not say a thing, merely staring stilly at the little village, his dull blonde hair dancing with the wind. His Majesty was in deep thought, while his two sons had each their respective ponderings too.
The Seventh Prince Arlwa—a teenager who, like his father, had dull blonde hair and sky-blue eyes sighed tiredly. He still felt that his experiences for the last three days until now was rather absurd.
Three days ago, after the Spring Day Festival ended, his father who was missing for months found him, his second brother in tow, with Israel calmly requesting then that the pair accompany him ‘for a spin’. Since neither Dimore nor the teenager would never decline such an affectionate request that had not come from their father since a long time ago, they briskly agreed.
Still, they never imagined that the ‘spin’ went on for three days.
In three days, he had escorted the Imperial Sovereign across many places, such as the Black Stone City that was filled with scholars and mages close to the Imperial Capital and the incomparably prosperous Goldburgh, situated at the western edge of the Empire. Apart from that, they had also traveled past the southern forts, uninhabited deserts, the Northern frozen lands, and coastal harbors. Using the teleportation spells and power of a Legendary champion, they journeyed past an extensive distance that no mortals would cover in their whole life, treading once over the most prominent parts of Imperial land.
Until now, when they arrived at the vast Green Sea Grasslands, beside the inconspicuous and quiet fishing village.
No one knew what Israel was thinking. The mighty Emperor had not said a thing for the last three days, merely leading his two sons peacefully across all the lands he ruled, leaving the two noble Princes puzzled and at a loss as they quietly guessed his idea inwardly.
I don’t get it, the still-young Seventh Prince could not stop himself sighing softly once more. What sort of a person was his own father? The answer was quite simply a Legendary warrior that inspires awe amongst his sons, the current Emperor who swept away the orc race that had engaged the Empire for five hundred long years. Apart from Master Nostradamus, who could guess his thoughts? Indeed, who dared to guess his thoughts?
On the other hand, his brother’s musings could be grasped easily. As that notion crossed his mind, the teenager discreetly sneaked a glance at the dispassionate youth. Coincidentally, the other was also coolly glancing at his younger brother, although both turned away at once as their gazes clashed.
He hates me, Arlwa thought—the implication behind that ice-cold glare that seemingly was not looking at something alive was very clear. He wants to kill me. But that was absolutely normal since her mother died by my mother’s doing.
As the Overlord of the Empire, whether it was thanks to his position or ability, Israel Diamond would not only have one single he shared his bed with. The Emperor had succeeded the throne precisely during cruel wartime, and so as to pull in support from the nobles he accepted many marriage connections without hesitation—it was an Emperor’s duty after all, and the struggles within harem was not a problem the Imperial Family could never avoid. There was no right or wrong because everything happened in the name of profit.
If anyone were to be accused, that would his brother’s maternal family declining after on particular disaster, with the Second Prince’s mother coincidentally giving birth to Dimore. Arlwa’s own mother, however, did not bear any child for a long time due to issues with her physicality. As such, one clan appeared important with their progeny despite their family’s poor state, while another was left in dire straits due to childlessness despite their significant influence—everything was simply unfolding by nature.
To Israel, it was unavoidable. After all, he spent most of his time away in the battlefield, shouldering the fates of billions of Imperial citizens. How could he have the time to mind such ‘frivolities’?
That was why that cold gaze from the Second Prince was reasonable, what with the hate over his mother’s death, the struggle for the throne and all sorts of factors.
But while Arlwa could understand it, he could not accept it.
Additionally, the meager-aged teenager was starting to become sick of it. However, he was not left sick of his brother who wished for his death, but the calculative relationship between the royal progenies, all of whom were siblings by blood. He was also sick of the Imperial Family’s cold, oppressive environment, sick of being compelled to hate due to grudges of the previous generation, sick of that mother of his who desired him to take the throne under all circumstances.
Naturally, above all else, he was sick of that father of his who never said a word and whom intentions Arlwa had not the faintest idea.
He did not want to be restrained for he desired his own life, a life regardless of being rich, poor, noble or base—a life belonging to Arlwa Diamond and not the Seventh Prince of the Empire.
At the same time, after leveling his gaze with his own younger brother, the Second Prince closed his eyes.
A Gold-pinnacle warrior who was fit to be called champion, Dimore could identify the oppression and irritation from Arlwa’s eyes. Still, unlike what his younger brother believed, the Second Prince’s heart was unexpectedly calm with no hint of hate.
Indeed, that child’s mother had forced his own mother to such a dead end that she found her own demise through poison. But, so what? What could he gain by throwing his own weight at his own younger brother, a child who was just over a dozen years old? He would get nothing and change nothing—the Imperial Family had always been so for thousands of years.
Even before her death, Dimore’s mother had not left a word of loathing or grudge, merely peacefully asking that he forget it all and keep on living. Be that as it may, he still remembered until now—the sight where his mother stopped breathing, a nightmare entrenched at the depths of his heart.
And it was exactly because someone had snatched away his mother that Dimore swore he would never become one who plundered from the weak in this life. It also became the drive and pressure that urged him on—he longed to become strong, and so powerful that nobody could take away anything he cherished and so influential that he could change everything. He would become Emperor, change the Imperial Family or even foolish system that was the Emperor and repair the origin of all sadness from its roots. All who stood in his way were his enemies, and Dimore would never be merciful towards his enemies.
Certainly, just before everything was done, he would claim some interest from that high and mighty ‘Empress’.
Meanwhile, Israel was only staring at the little fishing village in front of him.
The fishing village had no name—in fact, most of the little villages around the Green Sea Grasslands had no name. After all, the plain locals would all use titles such as ‘that Fishing Village by the Crescent Lake’ or ‘that Shepherd Hamlet by the East’. Either way, those healthily fit and proficient fishermen and herders had the uninhibited demeanors of grassland folk-style, Imperial Citizens who never minded trivialities.
The village beside the crescent moon lake was not too large—there were just around two hundred families whose huts, constructed of stone and wood, spread over the flat but firm soil beside the lake. There was a circle of mud around it, piled up into a low wall as a makeshift fort. Ultimately, the Green Sea Grasslands was boundless, and with its center lacking adventurers, there is a need to be vigilant against magical beasts that had never been exterminated.
By the edge of the crescent moon lake was a simple harbor, with many crude fishing boats around it. At the heart of the village was a little church built from stone and the same simple construction, the wall of which was carved with the crest of the Seven Gods.
At the moment, a bunch of people were arguing in front of the well-lit church. But even while His Majesty watched them, he was minding his two sons at the same time.
They are different. The Emperor nodded slightly as he tranquilly recalled his other children. Completely different.
The Eldest Prince wants to be Emperor. His life and labor that been for that goal—whether it was his request to hold office in the Eastern Provinces, or his discreet plotting and conspiracies, everything he did was to become Israel’s successor.
Third Princess Nadia, a kid so lively it was rather ridiculous desired to become the second female sovereign in Imperial history. Nevertheless, there was no reason she desired the throne, other than that she believed it was ‘cool’ and extraordinary, which was why she simply strived and did it. Her younger brother—the Sixth Prince Adrian who was also a little feminine had always unconditionally supported all his sister did.
Though the Fourth Prince Elvis appeared a little dull, he was a person of deep thought. Even so, he had no inkling of becoming Emperor. Israel could tell at once that the little fellow who often hid his lacking by staying quiet did not want to be shackled by the fight for the throne, and so simply assumed an unthreatening front while keeping a keen eye for an opportunity to travel the world and take in sights he never saw before. As for the Fifth Princess Aphra who kept hiding within the Skypiercing White Tower in the Eastern Plains and never once returning, her desires are clear and simple—she like magic and art, along with graceful and cute pretty boys. Absolutely uninterested in the shady strife within the Imperial Family, she hence would never join in the fight, or return to visit her father for that matter.
Israel was perfectly aware of all his children’s ambitions, lust, and desire. That was why he knew that they were unfit for the throne. Or, in the very least, the Emperor who would succeed the new era Israel himself would soon establish.
Only Dimore and Arlwa. Only these two had a desire to surpass the title of ‘Emperor’ in their hearts.
One longed to not be reigned over by anything, one wanted to change this world that was gradually entering a solid state.
It was wonderful.
That was why Israel liked them—he appreciated brash youths who did not know their place, and it was exactly their hearts which refused to accept things as they were that allowed them to rise incessantly. Youths should be brash in the first place, and the Diamond family does need vulgar descendants who could only think of grabbing power even at a meager age.
A rumbling but imposing voice cut short the two princes’ ponderings when Israel called the names of his children. It was the first time he spoke in three days, which was why both Second and Seventh Princes hurriedly looked up and focused on their father’s back, waiting for him to continue.
His Majesty did not say much. He did no more than raise his hand and pointed from above the hill to the nearby fishing village.
“Look at that village,” he said quietly. “What do you think?”
Both Dimore and Arlwa craned their necks as they solemnly observed the village. Their abilities allow them to see every little detail in the little village, and with Israel’s subtle help, they could hear the two parties’ arguments in front of the church at the center of the village.
The cause for the discord was plain of simple—there were two factions of fishermen in the village, and their respective leaders were competing for the leadership over the settlement with certain devious actions. Recently, however, one of the leaders had unexpectedly drowned in the lake a few days ago out of carelessness. The other faction leader obviously would not let such a change go, and with direct threat and oppression, the two wanted to exile the entire family of the recently deceased leader from the village and completely wipe out that invisible threat.
In short, the intrigue and strife at village-level.
Two princes groomed in the Imperial Family notwithstanding, even ruffians, rogues, and tramps would never bear any opinion towards such mundane events—it could not be more ordinary, or perhaps people would still be moved by the daily rising of the sun?
But contrary to that, both princes frowned.
“I don’t think that’s right,” young Arlwa said. His expression was unhappy, and yet he did not fear the fact that his father was the one asking, and simply revealed his thoughts. “Competition is ordinary, but extermination is excessive. I wish to stop it.”
“Foolish infighting.” Dimore’s reply was dispassionate and dry. “Their partnership would gain them more riches—I can’t tell what meaning lies therein.”
Israel nodded, having no retort, but neither did he critiqued if his sons’ opinions were right or wrong, childish or simple. He just turned his head and kept staring at the heart of the village, where the bunch of fishermen busily squabbled over trivialities. “To ordinary people,” he said serenely, “it is certainly nonsensical behavior. But to me, the Emperor, all of it is my responsibility and error.”
“Why would they quarrel? Why would they compete? Why one side must eradicate the other that had failed?”
Without being concerned by Dimore and Arlwa’s perplexed expression, the eyes of the Empire’s sovereign had not a sense of being high and mighty. Instead, he watched the fishing village, his gaze just like that of an ordinary person’s.
“It’s because of profit,” he said softly. “You two would understand such insignificance even if I don’t say it, but ultimately, it’s because the desire of men could never be satiated.”
“And as an Emperor, as a ruler, the citizens’ desire should be fulfilled. They should be stuffed if they want to eat, clothed if they wanted clothes, wipe out their foes if they wanted peace and provide the stairs if the wanted to improve.”
“The Emperor rules millions of citizens and carries the greatest authority in this world, which is why the Emperor also shoulders the greatest responsibility in this world.” The Sovereign of the Northern Empire said, his expression composed even as he uttered words that every king and every of the world would vehemently protest. “The fishing village that is so plain that men would actually fight meaningless for it is an epitome for the entire world. The same thing is happening in any part of the land beneath the heavens, and how to solve them so that it never happens anymore is the question Master Nostradamus and I had been considering for half our lives.”
“Arlwa, there are innumerable things that are not right in the world—you can solve one but not all. Dimore, selfishness is the reason all partnership breaks apart, but even more so human nature, for not all are Sages.”
Israel then shook his head as his gaze lingered upon his two sons that were not quite grasping his meaning. He knew that what he was about to say next may be too early for them, but His Majesty always felt that his time was not enough and could not help telling them.
Incidentally, Dimore could not help speaking either.
“Then what should be done as Emperor? How could everything be changed?” The youth pressed urgently, only to notice that his tone was not quite appropriate after the words escaped his lips. However, in that very moment, the Second Prince had not the thought to correct his demeanor, and stared intently instead at his father.
He had a feeling that he never really understood his own patriarch.
Israel laughed lightly at Dimore’s words, and spoke calmly again.
“As Emperor, you do not need to think in shallow terms such as whether things were right or not, whether things were idiotic or not, and instead observe the essence through the phenomenon.”
“Since everything is correlated to profit, then as long as the nation’s power is developed and its productivity is immensely enriched so that people would satisfy their fundamental desires, most strife in the world would therefore no longer exist.”
“If you wish to stop strife, formulate laws. If you wish to uproot strife, develop the nation’s power.”
“That is the way kings think.”
As he watched his thoughtful sons, Israel was pleased and helpless at once. He understood that these two children might need a long time to truly understand his own ideals, but they ignored something else.
And that it was the fact that this world is not solely composed of kings and subjects. There are those who hold majestic power within their own bodies, individuals who were equivalent to an army, a city or even a world.
Being an Emperor alone but without ability is futile. Apart from the way of kings, they still need to learn more regarding ‘champions’. Israel was not familiar with such things, because he must be Emperor before Legendary champion. His might is not pure enough, and he did not comprehend certain concepts.
And throughout the Mycroft Continent, there was probably just one person whose might was the purest and absolutely without any blemish.
Israel could not help grinning as he remembered the person who should be in the Abyss at present. He knew that there was no man more fitting than him as a teacher for his children in the aspect of ‘champion’.