Chapter 127: The Born King (One)
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
“You guys came at the right time. Everyone went to see that prince from Constellation and there aren’t many people around. We don’t have to worry about being discovered.
“I like you, man.” Beside a residential house in Dragon Clouds City, a short and stout man put his arm around Kohen Karabeyan’s shoulders and laughed. “Even without Kaslan’s recommendation, I can see that you are a good youngster. Only those who were in the army have such a physique!”
Miranda walked quietly behind them and watched as Kohen socialized with Kaslan’s friend by himself.
Kohen responded without a hint of unfamiliarity, fully utilizing his experience from being on the frontlines for three years in mingling with simple-minded soldiers.
“Same for you! Big Leather Belt! Look at those muscles, you definitely don’t seem like you have retired from the military!” Kohen also responded with a bold and unrestrained laugh. “Anyway, how did you get this nickname? Kaslan never told me about it.”
“About this… It was something that happened while I was in the Glacial Sentries.” The man who was nicknamed ‘Big Leather Belt’ changed his expression when he heard Kohen’s words. His face was filled with pride. “I was still a new recruit at that time. Once, during the autumn harvest, we were met with a surprise attack at night.”
“Oh, you were an elite scout from the Glacial Sentries!” Kohen put on a surprised expression. “No wonder… speaking of this, you must have fought quite a lot against the orcs?”
“Not only that!” Big Leather Belt laughed with pride. “After serving in the Thirty-Eighth Sentry Ground for ten years, me and my brothers in the squad killed fifty-two orcs in total!”
‘Orcs… These “ancient enemies” who had battled with humans since the Barbaric Era. They are not easy opponents.’
“Back on how my nickname came about… I was on duty during my first battle when five or six orcs sneaked into the sentry ground.” Big Leather Belt shook his head. “We met one head-on. That son of a b*tch was f*cking ugly. It was around eight feet tall, and its wrists were even thicker than my thighs!
“That son of a b*tch killed three of our brothers and was quite heavily wounded. I was the last one standing and had been beaten up so badly that my weapons were breaking,” Big Leather Belt said as he beamed with joy, hitting his chest hard every now and then. “At that time, I felt that there was no other way. So I just whipped out the customized belt used by sentries, jumped onto its shoulders, and then…”
Big Leather Belt clenched his teeth as he spoke and grabbed Kohen’s neck with force, “Just like this… I made a knot and strangled its neck hard!”
Kohen held his neck and coughed vigorously, feeling the effects of the other’s over-enthusiasm.
“I rode on its shoulders and desperately pulled the belt with my right hand while holding the small broken shield in my left. That son of a b*tch raised its warhammer and swung it at me like it was crazy, again and again!” Under Miranda’s odd gaze, Big Leather Belt shook Kohen’s neck vigorously, making the latter dizzy.
“Finally, it crumpled down onto the floor when my shield was almost completely shattered.”
“Ah!” Kohen recovered from the dizziness and raised his head in astonishment. “You didn’t let go, did you? For orcs, the more mortally wounded they are, the more strength they have to fight back!”
“Bro, it’s obvious that you know the ropes!” Big Leather Belt slapped his own thigh and exclaimed, “We mustn’t let go! This is something that I only learned afterwards. At the time, I thought the orc was already out of breath and let go of the belt… It turned out that damned animal sprung up as if it came back to life and grabbed my head hard while making weird, loud sounds!
“Fortunately, the king was inspecting the north at that time. The White Blade Guards were the ones who came to help. Kaslan arrived right in time and chopped open that son of a b*tch’s head from the back with his axe.
“I was almost fainting at that point! From that day onwards, all of them started calling me ‘Big Leather Belt’! Haha!”
Kohen sighed as he recalled his experiences in the Western Desert Frontlines.
“So, you’ve also fought against orcs?” Big Leather Belt asked curiously, showing keen interest.
“Yes, but they were desert orcs instead of glacial orcs.” Kohen laughed. “We were mercenaries there. We fought against the orcs by bending down and lowering our heads, and then attacking from the back or from below.”
“Ah, this is the method of the citizens of the Empire from the south, going around in circles with the orcs,” Big Leather Belt contemplatively said, “This cannot be done in Northland since our movements are stiffer than usual in the cold and we would not be agile enough. So, in Northland, the best method would be to launch a sudden head-on attack. To fight promptly and annihilate them with one blow.”
Kohen nodded in praise. “It is different in the desert. The orcs have a high tolerance to heat and are not afraid of the high temperatures of metal armor. They have equipment ranging from plate armor to chain armor. I had even seen orcs who had their groins equipped. That’s when we had to put our agility to use and look for opportunities to strike their vital organs…”
As they chatted warmly about each other’s battle experiences, Big Leather Belt finally brought them into the house.
“Oh, look at you, what a typical Northland maiden! Tall and voluptuous. You even have a beautiful face.” Leading them into the house, Big Leather Belt’s eyes brightened when he saw Miranda. “Since Kaslan recommended that you come here… do you want to consider staying? We have quite a few good men here who are single. There are even toughened men who were part of the White Blade Guards…”
Miranda’s expression changed immediately. She looked awkwardly at Kohen. Kohen spread his hands to show that he did not know what to do, either.
However, Big Leather Belt immediately frowned. He shook his head and said, “Forget it… they’re not good enough for you. They’re wretches and brutes who are unwilling to be manual laborers in their homeland and want quick cash instead. They probably can’t take care of their families well, either. What right do they have to have such a good wife like you?”
Big Leather Belt sighed. “They’ll be biting off more than they can chew. They can’t even feed themselves. Serves them right to be celebrating Singles’ Day.”
Miranda listened to Big Leather Belt’s words mutely.
“You are a tall, well-built and strong Northland maiden. Based on the standards of those upperclassmen, you must be very popular in your homeland. You also have fair skin.” Big Leather Belt sat down while he chattered on with light pants. “I have three younger sisters, so I know that maidens your age are impulsive, passionate, and often not interested in young men near home. All of you desire to leave home to seek the opportunity to meet a warrior who is the bravest, the most heroic, and has the highest battle achievements. You might even have the opportunity to marry one.
“But trust me. Even though the world outside looks splendid, it’s often a lot more complicated and harder to understand compared to your homeland. The men outside clad in armor might look handsome, but they’ll never be as pure and as loyal as the silly lads at home.
“Listen to my advice: You should go home and knit the stoutest gown, forge the toughest dagger, and weave the prettiest flower crown. After that, use those things to choose the sincerest lad out of those who follow you around. But don’t be too eager to please him. Keep him dangling, and then wait for him to be drafted for military service to train himself on the battlefield—this is how men become someone who is worthy of respect. Then, if his feelings towards you are still the same, put that flower crown over his head and bring him to meet your parents…
“Don’t bother about his wealth. Don’t bother about his family background. It’s more important that he is responsible, sincerely loves you, cares about you and knows how to dote on you. It would be the best if he is also a little afraid of you… Nowadays, neither extensive wealth nor a noble status can compensate for the lack of sincerity.”
Kohen pressed his stomach hard and held back his laughter as he watched Miranda’s darkening expression.
“I tell my daughter all the time that she will have to marry into a decent family when she grows up. However, it must be to somebody who truly loves her. I also look forward to handing her over to a good lad one day.” Big Leather Belt was spluttering when he suddenly furrowed his brows.
Kohen watched in surprise as Big Leather Belt’s expression became extremely unpleasant. The latter stood up abruptly and dashed out of the house.
“Both of you… I thought you went to town to see the prince. Turns out you’re hiding here!”
The next moment, before the two people in the house could react, a maiden and a young lad outside cried out in fear.
“Daddy, stop it! Kevin is… is only here to give me something…”
“Mister… let’s talk this out… ah-ah!”[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
After that came Big Leather Belt’s deafening roar.
“Give something?! Did you think that I don’t know what you’re thinking about, stinky brat! F*ck off! F*ck off! Stay away from my daughter Cecelia!
“My daughter is not at the age of marriage yet! If you dare to come and find Cecelia in secret again… I will break all three of your legs!”
Amid the sounds made by the chickens and dogs next door, Kohen watched Big Leather Belt—whose words did not match his actions—with eyes wide and mouth agape. He then met Miranda’s eyes.
Both of them burst out laughing at the same time.
Smiling, Miranda raised her head and gazed afar at the top of the hill where Heroic Spirit Palace was situated.
Her sight soon became blurred.
‘The silly lads at home… are pure and loyal…’
Thales treaded Heroic Spirit Palace’s floor tiles stiffly, one step at a time.
Compared to Renaissance Palace’s simple, restrained style where the outside and inside were consistent, the interior design of Heroic Spirit Palace was very contradictory.
Some sections appeared rough and imposing, like the crude carvings on every portico, stair railings made of huge logs of wood, and animal heads that were specially made into war trophies. However, there were many parts that were meticulously and intricately carved, such as certain exquisitely cut floor tiles, ceiling domes covered in paintings, and luxurious Everlasting Lamp holders.
Traces of the history and time were also varied. The material and lustre of the wall tiles in some corners looked as if they have been there for a few hundred years, but it was obvious that other parts were renovated a few years ago.
In his opinion, the interior of Heroic Spirit Palace was like layer upon layer of murals. New inscriptions were piled on past impressions, weaving history and the present into one.
But Thales was not in the mood to admire all of this. He was trying his best to compose himself while thinking about the political identity of the ‘king-cum-archduke’ which was exclusive to Eckstedt, preparing himself to face the upcoming challenge.
Even though Nuven the Seventh had already reached out to him through Nicholas and Shiles, Thales’ experiences had made him believe that life is always full of unknowns, and that accidents always happen suddenly.
He MUST be well-prepared.
Under Mirk’s signal, the Second Prince of Constellation walked past the White Blade Guards who were staring straight ahead, and passed through countless porticos. He then walked slowly towards an ovular ring-shaped stone hall with no corners.
The lighting there was not good and it was very dim, but there were six braziers in iron stands that burned vigorously. Apart from chasing away the cold, they shakily illuminated the stone hall.
‘Braziers again, just like Lampard… The suzerains of Eckstedt like braziers this much?’ Thales thought mockingly.
He took a deep breath and stepped forwards into the stone hall. Mirk did not follow and the doors closed behind the prince.
From afar, Thales saw a simple and sturdy table in the middle of the stone hall. It was brownish-black and rectangular in design.
A white-haired old man sat facing Thales on the other side of the table. He was around sixty to seventy years old. He wore a thick, red-and-black robe, and a dark gold crown on his head. The crown’s design was quite simple and set into the forehead position was a dark red gemstone.
The old man had his hands placed on the table, but his head was lowered and he did not say anything. Because of the distance and the dim lightning, Thales could not see his face clearly.
However, Thales could guess his identity.
The boy approached that simple yet sturdy table.
On both sides of the old man sat five men of varying appearances and adornment. Two were on his left, three on his right.
The only similarity those five men of varying ages shared was that from the moment Thales stepped into the stone hall, they glared at him with unfriendly, almost ferocious gazes, sizing up the seven-year-old boy.
One king and five archdukes.
Thales frowned as he got to the front of the long table. The Eckstedtians did not save him a seat. They showed no intention of adding an extra seat for him either.
‘This is bad.’
He gritted his teeth slightly.
Thales was forced to stand on the ice-cold stone floor as he faced six of the most powerful and influential suzerains in Eckstedt. He was not even tall enough so he had to raise his head and look upwards at them.
This made the atmosphere highly unfavourable for him.
‘It seems that it isn’t a thing here to respect elders and love children. It’s like I’m back in my child beggar days.’
Having thought of this, the second prince chuckled internally. It took a lot of his anxiety away.
Thales calmed himself down. He had toughened up from the immense dangers he went through ever since that night at Red Street Market. He was confident that he can calm himself in a split second and think of a solution even in perilous situations.
Thales looked at the five men, but because they were facing away from the light, their faces were hidden in the dark and could not be seen clearly. Only pairs of eyes could be seen flickering in the glow of the fire, casting immense pressure on the visitor.
Also among them was the culprit who co-conspired with Archduke Lampard and Duke Arunde in trying to meddle with the succession of the throne, attempting to assassinate the prince twice—having succeeded in their second attempt—and even caused an unprecedented crisis of foreign affairs between the two kingdoms.
‘The culprit who nearly brought about war and conflict, as well as disasters and death… the culprit responsible for my current plight is among these five people…’
Thales stared at the five indistinct figures in the darkness and clenched his fists in secret.
And then there was also the matter of his only possible ally who did not know how to be friendly towards him.
Thales raised his head and looked at the old man sitting furthest away, at the other end of the table. That old man was the supreme ruler who had just lost his dearest son.
He could not help but notice that the stone hall was decked all over with flags that had the Cloud Dragon Spear symbol on them. Only the area behind the old man was occupied by a large, square fireplace with a shelf made of darkwood mounted on the wall above it. There was a strangely-shaped pike made of unknown material on the shelf.
It was different from the ancient knight pikes that Thales saw in the books at Mindis Hall, which had knuckle-guards and pike handles. Even though this pike was two meters long, it had no knuckle-guard and its entire shaft was uniformly thick. The portion near the bottom of the spear, the place where it was supposed to be held, was intentionally sanded. The shaft of the pike was silvery metallic in color, but the part near the spearhead was dark and shiny. The pike was equipped with a ferocious-looking and sharp spearhead which was shaped like a pyramid.
“Soul Slayer Pike.”
A deep and slow voice rang in the stone hall.
“It used to be Raikaru’s weapon. It is the Walton Family’s symbol, and the reason why we are known as the Dragon Spear Family.” The old man at the other end of the table turned his head back slightly. In the flickering firelight, his face could be seen in the darkness.
His face was resolute and steadfast, but covered in wrinkles. Underneath his silvery-white hair, his facial features were that of a typical Northlander, with deep-set eyes, a tall nose bridge and a well-contoured profile. However, the curve of his lips held a hint of coldness.
“It was said that only the Judgement Spear from Constellation could match up to its sharpness and the level of danger it posed to others. It has taken countless lives.
“It had killed and wounded many highly renowned enemies in the past few hundred years, including the sinister ‘Mourning Archduke’, the cruel ‘Human Slaughterer’ Xyra Darkstorm, the powerful ‘Enemy of the Wolves’ Keira, the ferocious Night Wing King, and the strange Power Mystic.”
Thales frowned slightly. He suddenly recalled Kaslan’s words about the old man in front of him.
‘”When he was younger, he was a good king, the epitome of a sturdy Walton man.”‘
When Thales met the old man’s eyes, he realized that he had a pair of green eyes and wondered if it was part of the Walton Family genetics. Thales himself did not inherit Kessel’s sky-blue eyes, anyway…
Thales was suddenly dumbstruck. He recalled the Head Ritual Master, Liscia, and Queen Keya’s comments about his gray eyes—that they were from his mother.
His thoughts returned to the present, but Thales immediately felt a shiver run down his spine.
He vaguely noticed at that moment, the old man’s green eyes had a strange emotion in it. It was worn, gloomy, bitter, and sorrowful. It was as if he had lived in despair for years.
Dangerous and horrifying.
“In the hundreds and thousands of years after this, the Soul Slayer will continue to live up to its name,” said the steely looking old man slowly, “It will definitely slaughter more people.”