Chapter 142: Who’s There (One)
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
In the corridor outside Heroic Spirit Palace’s banquet hall, Archduke Olsius muttered this name with a subtle expression, but then he stared at the tiny Thales with a disgusted expression.
“Eckstedt’s next common-elected king?” The archduke sneered.
“Brat, I heard that you are a precocious genius,” the full-bearded archduke said coldly. “Very well, you are indeed a little smarter than normal children, but this is what I hate the most…”
Thales’ face froze. ‘Looks like I left a very horrible first impression.’
“Scaring others with sensational rumors, are you? Dueling with the king, Lampard, what else?” Olsius’ gaze was cold, and his tone was fierce. “Being an expert at such things, and at such a young age, you will definitely grow into a poisonous snake full of conspiracies and machinations.
“Perhaps I should grab my sword and thrust it into your chest today.” Olsius spat furiously. “Constellation has already caused us a lot of trouble. We don’t need you to add fuel to the fire, little brat from the Empire.”
Realizing that the negotiation might go awry, Thales felt a clenching in his heart.
“Then why did you come to Dragon Clouds City?” Thales quickly thought of things to say for the sake of continuing the conversation so that it would not come to an abrupt end due to Olsius’ hatred towards him. “If it is really as you said—that my arrival is trouble—why did you come and associate yourself with this trouble?”
Even though Thales appeared calm, he was actually anxious. He raised his head and stared at the ruler of Prestige Orchid Region.
‘Will I succeed?’
“Associate myself with trouble? Even though you are troublesome, you are far from fearsome, brat.” Olsius sneered. “I’m here to take a look at the game between Constellation and the Dragon after twelve years, and see what we can gain from a prince. I’m also here to see if our king is already senile.”
“So, what is your conclusion?” Thales smilingly said, “Did your king disappoint you?”
Olsius forced a smile. However, his fierceness was visible behind his full beard.
“You should rejoice. He is still rational and did not get carried away by anger, hence you are safe. That’s why you have the chance to spout nonsense here.” The archduke sized the brat up in front of him.
“Safe?” Thales looked at Olsius’ heavy saber and laughed mockingly. “I reckon that the saber on your waist might have a different opinion. It almost had the privilege of becoming the ‘Prince’s Bane’.”
Archduke Olsius turned his head and chuckled.
“Stop pretending, kid. You actually know very well that act of forcing you to commit suicide was just a farce.”
Thales’ heart clenched. ‘He…’
“Despite His Majesty’s behavior today, he will not declare war easily.” Olsius’ gaze was sharp. “Because you are protected by your father’s pledge, the archdukes will not support him in declaring all-out war.
“As for his attitude towards you, hmph, he was probably acting in front of us.” The Archduke of Prestige Orchid snorted softly. He spoke while shaking his head and clicking his tongue. “Testing our loyalty or something. It’s an old trick.
“As for you and him…” Olsius stared at Thales with a subtle expression and raised his eyebrows. He flashed a strange smile. “Both of you are actually putting on an act together, aren’t you?”
At this moment, Thales’ expression finally changed.
‘He knows? He’s realized it?’
Thales was really stunned.
“He insisted on killing you just to see our reaction, right?” Archduke Olsius’ expression was filled with disdain. “For a person whose family is at the brink of destruction, he sure has planned everything carefully.”
From the moment he entered Dragon Clouds City, the Prince of Constellation was more or less deluded by King Nuven’s strong presence, the archdukes’ incessant prattling, Nicholas and Shiles’ joint friend and foe routine, and Putray who always tried his best to make Thales feel at ease with his relaxed attitude.
Besides, the memories from his past life kept flooding back into his mind. This made Thales complacent. He felt that even in this dangerous, dog-eat-dog world, he was probably considered intelligent. This gave him the misconception that the five Eckstedt archdukes were like two-dimensional paper dolls that can be folded and crumpled with only slight force, or like mice in a laboratory that would show appropriate reactions with only slight stimulation.
However, Thales suddenly realized that the one standing in front of him was a person when the ill-mannered and seemingly crude Archduke Olsius unmasked the trick he set up together with King Nuven in an undisguised manner. A trick that they thought was infallible.
He was a live person.
Even when it came to a few young children in the Abandoned House, he could not get a clear grasp on their actions and their manner of thinking.
An experienced and highly respected Northland noble of such dignified status. He is a powerful man who has ruled comfortably for many years, and his power is comparable to that of the king. He had stood like a giant for many years amid Northland’s cold, bitter and cruel wind.
‘How would someone like this be bad at plotting against others and also not be intelligent?’
Thales lowered his head and gritted his teeth slightly under Olsius’ slightly mocking gaze.
‘No. I have not lost yet.’
He shut his eyes, inhaled deeply, and reopened his eyes.
“You know him very well? King Nuven?” This time, the Second Prince of Constellation’s tone was not as light as before. Instead, there was a hint of imposingness and steadiness.
Olsius’ eyes gleamed as he watched Thales rapidly recover from the shock.
“Yes, I understand him… Since the first time my father brought me to Dragon Clouds City to seek an audience with him.
“However, what I know more is the feeling of being in that position—to control, maintain and protect a family, a city, a territory, a group of subjects,” the archduke said faintly. “After the Walton Family’s tragedy, Nuven has had to tidy up, remedy, and arrange a lot of things. All for the sake of his family’s continuation and Dragon Clouds City’s future.
“The declaration of war will only benefit Black Sand Region and people like Lampard who might obtain Constellation’s territories, resources, and people… King Nuven definitely does not want his enemies to profit. So, you are actually the one who does not want war and has the same interest as him, little brat from the Empire.” Smiling, Olsius shook his head.
“Why would he want to make an enemy of you? No matter what act both of you are putting up, it’s nothing more than that.
“Both of you are on the same side—Walton and Jadestar.” The archduke snorted through his nose. His expression was cold.
Thales sighed softly.
‘Yeah. How can someone who became an archduke dozens of years ago and is still currently in power be an idiot?’
Naturally, these archdukes would be able to think of whatever Thales could think of. They would at least have intelligent subordinates—the Archduke of Black Sand had Kentvida.
Where did Thales get the confidence to rely on twenty-something years of incomplete, so-called transmigrator memories that took place in a totally different era and civilization, and where his social status as well as his identity was completely different from his past life…?
He thought that he could be just like countless other transmigrators before him, relying on superb interpersonal skills, extraordinary memory, and an ever-present, magnetic aura to force these elites from a different world into submission, manipulating them to his heart’s desires. These elites were the survivors and winners of a social competition that was numerous times more intense and crueler than the one in his past life.
Even when facing Quide Roda who managed the child beggars in the Abandoned Houses, and his assistant, Nayer Rick, Thales had been at a loss as to what he should do, had he not?
Thales lowered his head dejectedly.
The human willpower and action will always be intangible and mysterious entities. On the other hand, society is made up of millions of intangible human hearts.
Society is not a precise machine that will function perfectly just because the parameters are set properly.
He must always maintain the most humble, modest, and prudent attitude when facing this world that was completely unlike his previous one, like a true social science researcher, instead of immersing himself in lofty illusions of ‘improvements’.
After all, he had no system, chip, nor a skill tree like that of Sid Meier’s Civilization VI , where only the click of a button is needed to advance the game.
After all, he did not cross over to a world where everything would go according to his will either like those in those cheerful novels either.
Thales fixed his gaze on the floor, unmoving.
“Your trickery ends here. Chapman Lampard becoming king?” Olsius seemed to be very happy to see the confident seven-year-old brat speechless. “As long as King Nuven is still rational, Chapman will never profit from a declaration of war, or become king. And… don’t forget the enmity between them.
“Next time, find a better reason and think of a more logical lie before trying to sow discord between us.”
Olsius finished talking and prepared to leave. Behind him, Thales clenched his fists slowly.
‘Perhaps… I’m really not… fit to be a prince, or even a king. But…’ Under Wya’s bewildered stare, Thales laughed softly. ‘At least, I want to be a survivor… and live on.’
Then, Thales raised his head abruptly and glared at Archduke Olsius who did not walk far.
“You are wrong!”
Olsius’ footsteps stopped.[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
Thales’ voice rang from behind him. “It is precisely because King Nuven is still rational… that Chapman Lampard is destined to become the next king. And my safety is not guaranteed like you said. That is why we are having this conversation right now.”
“This old verbal technique again?” Olsius sighed. “My hatred for you will only—”
The second prince did not give him a chance to speak.
“The key doesn’t lie in my verbal techniques, but in whether this benefits you.” Thales’ gaze became firm and steady again. “And whether this benefits Prestige Orchid Region. Listen to what I have to say… and make your own decision.”
Olsius furrowed his brows.
“Whatever I say next is for you, alone, to hear.” Thales glanced at the two muscular and sharp-eyed subordinates behind Olsius, they were obviously extraordinarily skilled.
Archduke Olsius narrowed his eyes, as if in deep contemplation.
“Why? Are you afraid that you would be assassinated by a child?” Thales chuckled and said, “Or are you eager to go back earlier and drink a few more glasses of wine with your four good friends?”
Staring at the foreign prince who appeared young but spoke maturely, Archduke Olsius found the situation strangely absurd.
A few seconds later, the archduke chuckled and ordered his followers to step back.
Thales heaved a silent sigh of relief. Under his signal, his attendant, Wya, also nodded and left with a somber expression.
As the braziers in the corridor burned brightly, the two figures, one larger than the other, silently faced one another in the darkness.
“Go ahead and tell me. Based on your theory, how would Lampard become king?” Olsius did not look at Thales. He nonchalantly extended his hands towards a brazier to warm his freezing hands.
With a cold expression, Thales went straight to the point. “I was met with an assassin when I was right in front of Broken Dragon Fortress. The culprit intended to frame Lampard for it.”
Archduke Olsius pursed his lips and raised his eyebrows. “I’ve heard of it before.
“It’s a pity he didn’t succeed, though,” Olsius continued contemptuously, “whether it is killing you or shifting the blame to Lampard.”
Paying no heed to Olsius’ enmity, Thales continued speaking. “This made Lampard realize that someone is scheming against him in the dark, and that his circumstances within the kingdom was not favorable.”
“Lampard is a powerful man. This is nothing to him.” Archduke Olsius was poker-faced.
Thales continued to pay no heed to Olsius’ words. Like the robots in his past life, he stated the facts plainly without emotion. “Because of that, Lampard brought up his intention to form an alliance with me, to fight together against our enemies.
“He provided me with all the resources I needed in Dragon Clouds City in exchange for help of one future king of Constellation.”
At this moment, the corner of Olsius’ lips curled up. He slipped up and started laughing.
“For the promise of a seven-year-old brat who hasn’t even ascended the throne. Lampard must be an idiot to ally with you. He only changed his stance at the last minute because he saw that there was no hope in attacking Constellation. This can’t make him king, either.” The archduke flipped his hands over and warmed the back of them.
“Of course,” said Thales coldly.
“That’s all?” Olsius snorted softly. “How are you going to help him become king? Send out an announcement announce your support for him?”
At that moment, Thales’ expression suddenly changed. “But this is not Lampard’s plan!” After adopting an even tone for more than ten seconds, he suddenly raised his voice. “I am also not the one who can help him become king.”
Olsius’ eyes flickered. He moved his gaze away from the brazier and stared at Thales.
“Of course he knows that I’m not worth that much! Apart from being branded with the ‘Constellation’ symbol, I am completely worthless!” Thales sighed. “But trust me, I have met him once at his military camp—he is definitely not an idiot.”
“Hmph, I know him better than you.” Olsius clenched his fists above the brazier. His tone was cold. “Twelve years ago, he killed his elder brother by mercilessly nailing him to the ground in the arena. I saw it with my own eyes.”
Thales inhaled deeply and nodded. “He only pretended to form an alliance with me. In reality, I reckon he has other plans… And he is about to carry them out.”
Olsius creased his brows again in deep thought. He scrutinized Thales carefully.
“So tell me, brat.” Olsius sighed as well. He impatiently said, “Very well, you have successfully piqued my attention.”
‘This line… I think I’ve heard it somewhere? Whatever, it’s not important.’
Thales sucked in a deep breath.
“Nuven,” he spoke calmly, carefully, and slowly. “Chapman Lampard wants to work together with King Nuven… To form an alliance with Walton, the Dragon Spear Family, and Dragon Clouds City.”
A few seconds passed…
“Hahahahaha!” Olsius burst into unbridled laughter. He tilted his head with a nonchalant expression.
Thales silently watched him.
Olsius put his hands down and clasped them together. His gaze was gloomy and cold. “This is your guess? I thought that you were only good at using petty little tricks, I had no idea that you are also good at creating them!”
“I saw this with my own eyes, Lampard was trying to contact Dragon Clouds City,” Thales replied coldly.
“Impossible!” Olsius stopped smiling and resolutely said, “Lampard is suspected to be Prince Moriah’s murderer. That is a blood feud; King Nuven will not work with him.”
Thales soon caught up with Olsius’ line of argument. He refuted with a cold gaze. “Why do we avenge our blood relatives’ deaths? So that justice will prevail? No.
“It is so that the same kind of harm will not come to our families again. To give our enemies the sternest warning and to ensure the continuation and prosperity of our families.”
“To achieve this aim, everything else can be forfeited.” Thales nodded slowly. “Including hatred and honor.”
Watching the archduke’s extremely doubtful expression, the second prince said plainly, “King Nuven is still rational. This is what you said. The Walton Family had lost their last direct descendant. However, it has not perished yet, neither will King Nuven let it perish.”
Olsius was shaking his head. “Lampard was the one who acted first and targeted Dragon Clouds City. He even killed King Nuven’s only heir. The trust is already broken. Even if he wants an ally, it will never be King Nuven. Lampard will not invite trouble for himself.”
Thales calmly refuted the archduke’s words. “You said just now that you know Lampard better than I do. You would know whether he has the courage to risk reconciling with his enemies for the sake of his own benefit. Do not forget that a few years ago, with a hood over his head, Constellation’s Duke of Northern Territory, Val Arunde, formed an alliance with Lampard. The Arunde Family and the Lampard Family were enemies for generations.”
Archduke Olsius inhaled deeply.
“Besides, you saw through our acts, didn’t you?” Thales could see from Olsius’ eyes that he was wavering, so he continued to throw out the bait he had prepared.
“Why did you think that Lampard dispatched his troops to escort me to Dragon Clouds City in such a dignified manner? Did you think that King Nuven really ordered the White Blade Guards to depart early and ‘kidnap’ me to Dragon Clouds City out of rage and fury?”
Olsius was slightly stunned.
“That was indeed an act!” Thales tightened his face and spoke quickly so that he sounded more hurried and agitated. “For all of you to see! To see how the king’s rage burns… Therefore, deluding all of you and masking his deepest desires.
“But it is not for preventing war between Constellation and the Dragon, not for preventing the Archduke of Black Sand and other southern regions from benefitting from the war, either. It is for the sake of the alliance between Dragon Clouds City and Black Sand Region.”
Archduke Olsius pursed his lips and exhaled deeply, as if in deep contemplation.
“These past few days, God knows what Nicholas of Dragon Clouds City and Kentvida of Black Sand Region were talking about behind closed doors!” Thales sighed and said, “We could only see the tension between them when they are out in public.
“But I can roughly guess.” Thales’ tone became steady once more while Olsius’ gaze became deeper.
“The Walton Family is already doomed to go downhill.” The second prince sighed softly. “Once King Nuven passes away, and the next king selection has passed, the Walton Family might even face total annihilation.
“So, he must place his bet on a powerful archduke, on a future king. Even if this person is suspected to have murdered his son.”
Olsius turned and gazed at the moon outside. Thales slowly drew his lips together. He waited for Olsius’ reply. This was the archduke’s battle. Thales had done all he could.
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI : A game created by Firaxis Games.