Chapter 153: Have a Drink
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Thales was stunned for a good ten seconds.
He heard Gilbert give an account on this before.
It appeared in the tragedy of the Bloody Year with the Charleton Family as the direct murderers of the Jadestar Family.
He recalled the memory of a stone urn in the Jadestar Family tomb at Renaissance Palace. From the eldest Prince Midier, to Horace, down to the twin princes, Bancroft and Herman, and the youngest, Princesss Constance Jadestar.
Thales stared at Poffret in disbelief. ‘But the Shadow Shield… murdering me? How could it—’
His thoughts were interrupted; King Nuven’s voice rang throughout the hall.
The king threw Poffret on the ground with a sullen face. “As long as I am in Dragon Clouds City, I will not allow something as despicable as an assassination to happen again.”
“Hmph,” Poffret sneered, and through gritted teeth he said, “tyrant.”
King Nuven narrowed his eyes before his helpless enemy.
“Just finish it already.” Poffret’s lips curled upwards, a cold expression on his face. “I’m going watch the destruction of your family from Hell’s River! Finish it!”
King Nuven clenched his fists a little. He remained silent for a few seconds. A seemingly complex emotion surfaced in his eyes. Eventually, King Nuven closed his eyes and exhaled through his nose.
“This duel hasn’t ended yet, but I can spare you a chance.” Under the scrutiny of the crowd, the old king opened his eyes. He said plainly, “Admit defeat now. Confess to everyone your crimes and your conspiracy with Lampard. You can still fight for your life.”
Poffret was completely stunned.
“But you will live the rest of your life in prison… Your brother will be granted Beacon Illumination City, so that the Poffrets maintain rule of that piece of land.”
The old king had a piercing look in his eyes. “Aside from you, Beacon Illumination City will not suffer any punishment. How about that?”
Everyone in the hall was immediately stunned. Poffret on the other hand, just stared blankly at the king.
“I killed your last living son,” he said, rather absent-mindedly.
King Nuven’s eyes darkened. “That’s right. You killed my son.”
Poffret watched as the king’s expression changed. Thales saw struggle and pain within his eyes. The young archduke lowered his head, and his breaths quickened.
Thales pondered about the king’s offer. At this moment, Putray whispered into his ear, “If he agrees to it, Beacon Illumination City will never make enemies with the Waltons if they want to secure their rule.”
Thales nodded in agreement, while Nicholas gave a cold snort.
A few seconds later, Poffret slowly raised his head. A bitter smile appeared on his desolate face. “Really?”
“Really,” King Nuven said indifferently. “Just say the word and you can continue breathing Northland air.”
At once, the hall was engulfed in silence. Not long after that, Poffret retracted his smile. His face was icy cold, and his gaze steely. The young archduke looked straight into the king’s eyes. He was fuming with rage, but he resolutely said two words, “Hell no.”
Thales shook his head.
“Well, this is Northland,” Nicholas whispered behind Thales. “To be pardoned by your enemy is also considered a disgrace.”
King Nuven sighed, but immediately afterwards, he raised his head and gave Poffret a gentle smile.
“Good boy,” With a complicated expression on his face, the old king smiled as he spoke.
Suddenly, Poffret stomped the ground with his left leg and pushed himself up from the floor. Then, with a roar, he rammed his body against King Nuven’s.
He was met with an effortless kick from the old king that accurately struck his calf bone.
Poffret lost his balance again and fell face-down on the ground. Poffret unleashed his final howl, filled with the refusal to admit defeat.
King Nuven shook his head. He stood up and held down Poffret’s back using his knee. He then reached out to hold Poffret’s head tightly in his hands and lifted him up to where the four archdukes could see.
Olsius, Trentida, Roknee and Lecco watched their king steadily.
In the next moment, the Common-Elected King of Eckstedt, Nuven Walton the Seventh, roared in his elderly yet bold voice.
“Look!” It echoed throughout the hall. King Nuven furiously bellowed his next words. “This is the enemy of the Waltons!”
A smile of relief appeared on Poffret’s sombre face. Amid the gasps from the crowd, the old king twisted with his two hands.
The crisp snap of the neck traveled to Thales’ ear.
Poffret collapsed onto the floor. But this time, his head was face-up, staring at the ceiling with a blank gaze.
King Nuven sat down on the ground. He stared at his enemy’s body with a vacant expression on his face.
Nobody said a word; there was only the uneven breathing of the crowd, mixed with the whistling of the windy snowfall outside and the spitting of fire from the braziers. The dead silence persisted for a good few seconds.
It only stopped when a light, charming voice came from the other end of the hall.
“Death… is just an overdue homecoming,” Head Priestess Holme of Bright Moon Temple faintly said.
She crossed her arms again and lowered her body slightly as the eyes beneath her veil closed slowly.
“Victory and defeat has been distinguished. The sacred duel… is thus concluded.”
As her voice fell, the Head Priestess of Bright Moon Temple left. The Red Witch laughed and followed her out.
The people in the hall could finally exhale.
Servants and guards quickly rushed forward at the wave of Lord Mirk’s hand. The physicians as well as apothecarists, who were on standby hurriedly dashed over to King Nuven’s side to bandage the wounds on his chest and face.
The king’s ministers, vassals, and the four archdukes left their spectating positions with mixed feelings and thoughts.
Marquis Shiles sighed. “I was wrong. I’m not going to be able to brag about this duel for a whole year… It’s enough to last me a lifetime now.”
Nicholas shot him a piercing glance as he walked down to the center of the hall. He started to direct the White Blade Guards on carrying out reparations.
“It’s been a complicated day, my beloved prince.” Shiles held his hat up and saluted politely. “My apologies for not accompanying you further, I must head back to estimate the business losses we might suffer in Beacon Illumination City—hopefully they do not exceed King Nuven’s rewards.”
Thales shrugged as he watched the Camian depart.
Thales turned around and sarcastically whispered, “What a fruitful day. Putray, we should discuss about Shadow Shield.” Aside from this, Thales still had many matters and doubts he intended to ask his well-informed vice diplomat.
“I agree.” Putray nodded cautiously yet solemnly.
“The four of you!” The old king’s aged voice came from afar. “Do you have any objections regarding this duel?”
King Nuven looked up. His gaze pierced through the crowd and fixed itself on the four archdukes.
The hall was quiet again as everyone turned their eyes on the four archdukes.
The archdukes had varying expressions on their faces, but Thales could feel a common heaviness and alertness.
After all, a fellow colleague just died there.
“No,” Archduke Roknee replied in a cold tone. He gently said, “This was a holy duel, a righteous revenge, fair and justified—Poffret also confessed his crimes.”
Trentida continued to smile, while Olsius remained silent as Lecco looked away, his expression indistinguishable.
King Nuven scrutinized the long-haired archduke for a few seconds and suddenly sneered.
“It’d be a wonder if the answer is no,” King Nuven scoffed. “You’ve all been dissatisfied for a long time, haven’t you?”
Thales suddenly felt the nervous atmosphere in the hall pick up again.
That was, until King Nuven spoke his next words.
“You do not have to worry anymore.” King Nuven slowly sighed. “I will send a messenger crow tomorrow to give word regarding the honorable passing of the Archduke of Beacon Illumination City. The city will be succeeded by this man’s brother—he should be looking forward to it already.”
The archdukes stumbled slightly.
“In the next king selection, the Walton Family will be hopeless,” the old king desolately said. “We neither have enough prestige nor the right candidate for this.”
Archduke Olsius frowned. “Your Majesty—”
King Nuvan spoke incessantly and interrupted Olsius, “But at least, before my death, I can still do something for my family and Dragon Clouds City.”
He raised his head, and his eyes were laced with a biting cold intent.
The archdukes collectively trembled.
“Like what?” Archduke Olsius asked softly with utmost caution.
King Nuven revealed a smile.
“War,” the old king softly said. “It will be a new year soon. After the spring of next year, I will start enlisting troops for Dragon Clouds City.”
Upon hearing that, a chill ran through Thales’ heart.
‘Could it be?’
The four archdukes were startled as well.
“Constellation?” Archduke Olsius frightened Thales as he shot him an ill-meaning glance.
Luckily, King’s Nuven’s next words allowed the Constellation Prince to let out a sigh of relief.
“I feel like going for a stroll in Black Sand Region,” said King Nuven, who was sitting in the center of the hall under the care of a physicist. He patted his thighs in a relaxed manner.
“I want to see my dear nephew—Chapman Lampard.”
The archdukes frowned.
“I miss him,” the old king said with a glimmer in his eyes. “I miss him so much that I want his life.”
Archduke Olsius and Trentida, whose territories neighbor Black Sand Region frowned at the same time.
“But, I don’t like loneliness, so I do not wish to go alone.” King Nuven looked sharply at the four archdukes. “What do you say?”
They kept their silence until the old king solemnly said, “After ‘visiting’ him, shall we discuss the matter of the king selection?”
The four archdukes exchanged glances. This time, they quickly made a decision.
“Defense City will be sending troops in response. We will stand by your side eternally,” the bald Archduke Lecco was the first to say with a sigh.
Archduke Olsius solemnly nodded as well. “Prestige Orchid Region has no objections. We will also send out reinforcements.”
“This is an appropriate avengement to warn those secretly plotting.” Archduke Roknee’s gaze burned. “The City of Faraway Prayers is also willing to provide assistance.”
“Since all of you have agreed, if Reformation Tower doesn’t send troops, how can I even walk out of Dragon Clouds City alive?” Trentida exclaimed.
‘Of course the king is going to take the lead in eliminating a competitor for you, what could you possibly have against that?’ Thales criticised in silence.
King Nuven looked at them and laughed out loud.
At this moment, Archduke Olsius could not help but ask, “What about Black Sand Region?
“Let Chapman’s son succeed the archduke’s position?”
King Nuven paused his laughter and shook his head lightly.
“I have a candidate in mind already. He is definitely a good one for the position of archduke.” He stretched his previously bandaged arm. “Kaslan Lampard… Chapman’s uncle, the former head of my personal guards’ team.”
Thales was stunned as he recalled the sturdy, elderly uncle from Hero Tavern.
“I heard that he has no interest in any positions of power, and that he hated his family,” Archduke Roknee said flatly.
“That’s right, but it is not up to him.” King Nuven laughed softly
The archdukes were slightly startled.
“Alright!” The old king pushed his physician aside and stood proudly. He yelled at the top of his voice, “Everyone, let us adjourn upstairs!
“The banquet is still on!” King Nuven addressed the crowd and laughed. “Don’t lose your spirits!”
The four archdukes exchanged glances. With varying expressions, they bowed and left.
The members of his Imperial Conference collectively left as well.
Thales noticed the smile disappearing from the old king’s face as everyone turned around.
“You may go as well!” King Nuven shook his head and said to the White Blade Guards. “Just stand guard outside the hall…”
Nuven the Seventh heaved a sigh and grabbed a wine barrel. Desolately, he sat on the steps where the battle occurred. “I will sit here alone.”
Nicholas and Mirk exchanged a look and nodded.
Thales and Putray’s eyes met. Very cautiously, they departed with the crowd.
‘This night has gone on long enough.
‘And it has been very enriching as well.’
At this moment, King Nuven’s voice rang,
“Thales! My dear guest!”
The people who had yet to leave the hall collectively set their gazes on the Prince of Constellation.
Particularly, the three archdukes and in particularly, Archduke Lecco, who looked like he was deep in thought.
“Why don’t you stay behind?” King Nuven patted the steps next to him, seemingly at peace. “I have yet to thank you properly—let’s have a drink together?”
Thales’ mouth hung open as he stared awkwardly at the king.
‘After I’ve stepped on the toes of a bunch of archdukes, after you snapped one of their necks and forced the rest to join you in battle…
‘You want to “have a drink together”?
‘What I want to do now is immediately vanish and keep a low profile. Once the timing is right, I am going to go home!
‘This is not how you provoke someone, man!’
He turned around to meet Putray’s eyes. The latter shook his head lightly.
“It is an honor to have the privilege of drinking with you, but I am only seven,” Thales turned back to face King Nuven. In a polite but mocking manner, he said, “Plus, I am drained—”
“What a joke, seven years old?!”
However, King Nuven discontentedly interrupted the second prince and raised his wine goblet.
“When my father took me drinking for the first time, I was only five—as the future king, how could you not know how to drink?”
Baffled, Thales prepared his next excuse.
“Do you mean that you intend to reject the invitation of the Eckstedtian King?” King Nuven revealed a sly expression. “Even you, like the fellow lying on the ground, look down upon this dying king?”
The atmosphere in the hall grew odd again and Thales’ heart rate started to pick up.
He could only bow his head and sigh.
Nonetheless, he turned around and started to walk under Putray’s concerned gaze, Nicholas’ frown, Shiles’ smile and the four archdukes’ queer stares.
Constellation’s second prince walked against the crowd with a drooping expression, straight towards King Nuven.