Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Unlike Moldavia which was welcoming the return of their master in delight, Morlaix Palace in the distant heart of the Empire, a dark tide that caused discomfort was surging.
The Helgamoth Empire ruled by the Diamond family had weathered almost eight hundred years’ worth of storm and was one of the oldest powers in the Mycroft Continent. Known by everyone as the Northern Empire, the grand nation had not always been stable. There had been several shaky moments in its long life where it almost split or even fall, with the closest being that moment twenty years ago when the war between the Empire and the orcs was white-hot.
The former Emperor had passed away at the time, with the current Emperor having just ascended to the throne. The orcs were advancing swiftly at the frontlines, with the black smoke rising from cities burnt by the Shaman armies visible even in the Triplet Mountain Holy City. Several princes and princesses developed ill-intent as they feasted their eyes on the highest throne, while more than ten eastern nobles with true power sitting back coldly and watch as the northwestern nobles and the Imperial Family’s power was weakened, awaiting the day they would take their place.
In that period, people believed that the crumbling of the Northern Empire was a matter of time—the people below complained about the yearly heavy taxes while almost half of the influential nobles schemed for rebellion. There were many traitors even in the Imperial Family who planned to conceded land and enter peace talks with the orcs just to keep their position.
One failure and everything would no longer be guesswork but historical truth. And yet Israel never gave them a chance.
There was a flutter of wings in the quiet Royal Garden toward the rear of the Morlaix palace. As dozens of doves with completely white bodies hovered, an extraordinarily young man was stood visibly amongst them, smiling as he fed them with a packet of birdfeed in his hand.
Adrian, the Sixth Prince stood in the center of the garden that belonged solely to the Diamond family. He solemnly drew out the birdfeed he blended using corn and weed as main ingredients and threw them at the birds that cooed incessantly. He had a pair of gemlike purple eyes; his long dark blond hair hung by his waist. His features were also rather delicate, resembling his mother who was once acknowledged as the most beautiful woman of the Empire, although it was not to the point of feminine.
He undoubtedly inherited the best traits from Israel, his father, and his mother. The Sixth Prince’s performance had always been excellent whether in terms of his individual ability or his political acumen—if not for his constant enabling of his sister and never having met any ministers privately, perhaps many nobles would have invested in him, a seemingly anonymous prince. In fact, Adrian’s only flaw was maybe his meager age, with considerably many believing that if he and his sister’s age being reversed, the perplexing state of the Imperial Family would be much more cheerful.
He was certainly aware of it, but he never minded the rumors that were definitely spread deliberately. Tranquilly, he stood in the garden and fed the doves, as if all the dark tide never existed.
There had been quite some time since there were such leisurely periods. The Sixth Prince distractedly recalled the past and those rare stable times in the past dozen years even as he threw out large pinches of birdfeed.
When Adrian was born, it was coincidentally the second major battle between the orcs and the Northern Empire in the northwestern plains. His father, the Emperor was absent, and so was his maternal grandfather who was the top noble with genuine influence. Neither were there many men in the entire Morlaix Palace, with every imperial bodyguard and guardian knights following their lord to the frontlines. It was his sister—the Third Princess who had helped the doctor so that their mother who was having labor difficulties to give birth to him.
The Imperial Family was troubled then, too. Having lost their mother, he and his sister were in dire financial straits and had to rely on each other to live. If not for his sister who kept watching over him and used her own supplies to buy medicine for him, the young and weak Adrian would have died long ago, much less rising to his noble position now.
In the frontlines, the orcs presence was fearsome. Under the leadership of their new golden horde, the orc palace armies that had already been standardized swept through the insubordinate tribes over the Tartaros highlands. Then, carrying the power of a race, they planned to charge into defensive forts in the northwestern Thomas Grand Canyon and head straight into the bowels of the Empire to formally claim a base of operations on the Mycroft Continent. Behind the imperial forces were the wildly ambitious nobles who only held on to their heavy infantry—they were extremely happy with the turn of events and simply waited until the Imperial Family fell in battle before instantly making waves at the rear.
And yet nothing happened. Emperor Israel proved invincible, his title—Dragon Rider of the Blue Yonder sent shockwaves throughout the world, and every intrigue was silence under absolute power, with peace arriving rapidly.
Naturally, reality was no fairy tale, nor would everyone leave happily after the war ended. In reality, to certain people, the war had just started. The orcs had left vast lands, including twelve large-scale mining points, plains that could nurture tens of thousands of livestock and magical creatures as well as Tartaros Highlands where warbeasts such as stone rhinoceros lived—whoever owned those lands would have a great advantage in several centuries to come. Additionally, now that the Empire had regained a little liveliness through several years of peaceful development, liquidation, and reshuffling of the Imperial Treasury was about to begin.
The truth that lies behind every dark tide was thus revealed after filtering away all unimportant information. Adrian, having seen through all of it, had no intention of getting involved—it was a revenge and revolution that belonged to his father.
Thud, thud, thud.
Slow and rhythmic footsteps sounded from the little garden path, causing the doves that had been peacefully feeding to scatter. The Sixth Prince looked up rather helplessly toward the path, where a young boy with blond hair and blue eyes looked up in surprise too as he leveled his gaze with his brother.
“Arlwa.” Adrian nodded as he called the name of his only junior in the Imperial Family; his tone did not change and was peaceful as ever. “Here to train?”
“… Yes,” Arlwa replied carefully, slightly surprised that another sibling was in the garden he always had to himself. Not planning to talk much with his brother that usually rarely spoke anyway, the Seventh Prince simply rerouted and headed toward another part of the garden.
Adrian watched quietly as he left. He could smell him and see the lines of presence that enveloped Arlwa. The Sixth Prince could tell that it was their father’s smell, and that his younger brother had just left the Imperial Study.
Everyone has their edge. If the Eldest Prince’s edge was his baron maternal grandfather, the Second Prince and Fifth Princess had the benefit of their individual ability. The Fourth Prince would never be defeated from the start since his maternal clan was virtually wiped out in the war against the orcs, meaning that he had the high ground of having ‘no enemies’—as long as he did not look for trouble, nobody would be able to touch him.
As for his little brother the Seventh Prince, perhaps he was simply young.
Slightly sighing, Adrian waved his hand, and every bird that had fled to the trees returned to him and their boisterous self just now.
It was not their father’s doting, but no grounds for choice.
At present, the Morlaix Palace was filled with intrigue and discord, while neutral factions such as army, nobles, and members of the Mage Guild were so innumerable it was irritating. Even if regional nobles did not dare to defy the throne due to the Emperor’s ability, intrigue and machinations were commonplace. Policies such as the construction of large-scale hydraulic engineering and the enchanted water wheel that came with that were decreed last year was not implemented even until now. Though there were definite subjective factors, the regional nobles being not cooperative from the start was the core reason. To maintain stability in the country, even Legendary champions had no way of simply issuing orders since every noble had backing—if inspections were executed to the very last, who knows if half the Empire would fall into strife.
But now, things were different. If one Legendary could not subjugate dissenting opinions before, how would things turn out now that there are three of them?
Remembering the palace rumors about initiating as a disciple, even Adrian felt envy in his heart. Both Nostradamus and that Northern Count were the biggest supporters one could have that did not lose out to the Emperor. Forming a good relationship with those champions was far important than being born in some prestigious family, and with those three combined, changing the world was but a matter of time—much less a nation.
It was easy to meet Nostradamus since Adrian could simply look for an opportunity to visit the Royal Mage Guild, while he had to especially find the right timing to visit the Northern Count. Still, the factions supporting him incidentally indicated that there was an industry which required his partnership, and now was precisely the right chance.
On the other end of the garden, the sounds of flesh striking thin air rang. Adrian knew that it was Arlwa training diligently, who started to pour even more effort into his training after he had returned from his trip with his father and the Second Prince. Perhaps he really wanted to become an apprentice of Count Radcliffe.
It was a pity. If not for himself having a supernatural instructor, he would certainly have tried for it too.
Despite those thoughts, Adrian did not too care much inwardly. The factions struggling to pave their way for their future legacy never had much to do with him. Wanting to meet the Northern Count was merely out of pure curiosity and an attempt in industrial partnership.
If the edge of every prince and princess were perfectly obvious and legitimate, his and his sister’s edge was supremely unique. From the start, they had an ‘it’s fine even if we lose’ attitude when they joined the competition that determined the future.
“Isn’t that right, Master ‘Tempest’?” Adrian narrowed his dark-purple eyes as he mumbled softly to the air that was breezing around him. In that instant, with a faint mana flash, a petite pale-green human silhouette appeared on his shoulder.
The wind-element fairy ‘Tempest’ seemed to genuinely favor the young man who appeared rather feminine but possessed his own thoughts inside. She stood on the Sixth Prince’s shoulder and patted his cheek with her little hand. “Of course!” She said, brimming with confidence. “As long as we’re here, you could travel to Fairyland and play with us no matter how ragged you become!”
“Oh! Right, you mentioned meeting that young Legendary warrior?” The fairy’s thoughts seemed to have turned an entire circle even as she spoke excitedly while poking at her own little head. “What a coincidence,” she said, seemingly to herself. “His card hasn’t been designed… You have to go!”
“That’s for sure,” Adrian smiled. This was his trump card that kept him fearless against everything. With the help of this lively fairy instructor that he met unexpectedly in his childhood, he and his sister would never lose everything no matter how much they lost.
Or perhaps it would be better if they lost.
His deepest thoughts brewing in the depths of his heart, the Sixth Prince closed his eyes. The packet of birdfeed was now empty, but the doves around had not left and merely hovered around him. Encircled by the numerous avian, Adrian clenched his fist and could not help showing a rather sinister smile.
It was only through defeat that his naïve and cheerful sister who was occasionally so foolish to the point of cuteness would abandon her dream to become a female Emperor. It was only through that she would lose all support and backing. In turn, she would be forced to rely on him, even journeying together to the distance.
Only through that, she would never escape his palm.
Meanwhile, in the liege’s residence of Moldavia in the North on the other end of the Emperor, a small conference had begun.
“We can’t keep calling it luminous orb.”
Joshua sat on the comfortable armchair in the hall, feeling the softness of the swan feather cushion behind his back before summarily laying the keynote of the conference. “I’ve said many times, ‘it’ is an intelligent lifeform—you guys can’t keep playing with it like a toy.”
“Eh!” The silver-haired girl standing in the hall exclaimed involuntarily. Ying looked down at the warm globe that she was embracing before her chest, blinking in astonishment. “You actually have intelligence?”
The orb issued a series of protesting sounds that sounded like wind chimes no matter how one listened to it. However, Joshua seemed to understand it, and nodded in agreement. “Luminous orb is right.”
“Wouldn’t it be just fine if Master named it?” Ling suggested softly and helpfully while consoling Black, who was sulking in a corner after having the orb stolen. “Since you brought it back anyway… by the way, what did luminous orb just say?”
“I name it?” Joshua mumbled nonchalantly, leaving Ling’s question unanswered. “I find White alright—it’s rather fitting with Black…”
He was just halfway through his sentence when the orb jingled again as if in vehement protest.
“If we call it Ring, it feels repetitive with Ling.” The warrior kept pondering, not minding the protest. “How about Ding-Dong? Although there are much more glamorous names.”
The orb appeared to be utterly enraged—it shot a translucent beam on Joshua body, although it was imposing, it did not have a hint of damage. Leaving aside the warrior who seemed smiling and perfectly comfortable, the wooden chair that was struck by a residual wave from the beam seemed to regain life and appeared ready to germinate and grow roots, while the youths beside them could not hold back their laughter.
After a while, Joshua shook his head and intended to have the orb stop and not have the chair really sprout when he abruptly frowned and rose from the chair, his expression serious.
Ying, Ling, and Black were caught surprised and looked up simultaneously at their master—even the orb was shocked too, its rays began to fluctuate. Toward that, Joshua gravely commanded, “Don’t stop, continue.”
The orb kept shooting its beam at its orders. At the same time, Joshua raised his right hand and stared at his palm where his palm lines were distinct as if carved, with nothing unusual about it. Soon, under the orb’s illumination, another dazzling silver radiance unfurled and shone upon every being in the liege residence hall. Sensing the incredible energy undulation, Zero-Three’s projection appeared in the hall too, and was left astonished by the spectacle before her.
At the center of the hall, the warrior raised his right hand. In that palm, a little shard that was emitting pure silver radiance was whirling in the air. It resembled a fragment of steel, but a stunning energy luminescence was flowing all over it. Dust, great wind, fluorescence, frost, and other mana elements were assembling as sorts of rainbow colors, making it more eye-catching than a shard.
In an instant, Joshua understood that although he had declined Karlis’s goodwill it had slipped its reward to him discreetly. A Steel Shard that contained a world’s authority had latched on to him at some unknown point in time, and if not for the shining orb’s rays he might need a few months to notice it.
Some accident could have happened by then!
Just as Joshua frowned in thought on how the Steel Shard should be handled, the unexpected abruptly happened.
For some reason, the orb that was lazily held by Ying in her embrace suddenly became spirited. It sprung away forcefully, arching through the air and dove toward the Steel Shard that was releasing silver light and absorbed it entirely within its own body.
Silver light instantly shot out from every window of the liege’s residence, leaving every Moldavian citizen awestruck.
In the residence, after a brief shock, Joshua reacted first like a master who saw his dog swallow a piece of jewelry that had been dropped to the floor.
“Spit it out!”