Chapter 160: The Invitation
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
It was late at night in Heroic Spirit Palace.
Outside Thales’ bedroom door, Thales was left speechless.
Thales looked at the people before him in immense embarrassment.
“How old are you? How old?!” an urgent yet dissatisfied female voice sounded in front of him.
Aida, his elf protector looked at the restless Thales and the shy Little Rascal behind him. She grimaced sadly under her cloak. “The first night of your arrival and you’ve already started bringing a girl to your bedroom?”
“She’s alone and very—” Thales grumbled as though he was wronged.
“So she needs your company?!” Aida interrupted him with an unpleasant expression on her face.
Ralf and Wya exchanged looks by her side. They also stared at Thales in a peculiar manner.
“Aida, listen to me…” Thales instinctively had a feeling that things were about to progress badly.
“How old is she?! Is she even nine?” Aida yelled furiously. She raised her right fist out of habit and stuck out a single knuckle.
Thales quivered. He raised both his hands as fast as possible, resolutely guarding his forehead.
Thales braced his right forehead painfully—’That’s cheating!’
Aida’s violent blow actually struck him from the side!
Ralf as well as Wya exchanged another look and pretended as if they did not just witness the prince being violently attacked.
Little Rascal looked at the dizzy, groaning Thales with worry.
“Mindis only touched a woman for the first time when he got married at twenty-seven! Even the most perverted playboy, Keira waited until he was thirteen!” the furious protector elf exclaimed,
“At your age… Even the bed isn’t enough for you!”
Thales smiled in embarrassment.
‘That’s a little exaggerated, sister.’
Aida wanted to continue her lecture, but she was stopped by Putray, who was behind her.
“I believe that His Highness has a reason for this, am I right?” The vice diplomat of Constellation plainly said, “All of you may return. I will communicate the rest of the matters to His Highness.”
After Putray repeatedly insisted, Aida left in an unyielding and furious mood. She still had an expression that said ‘you little bastard’ when she leaving. Ralf and Wya maintained their thought-provoking expressions.
Thales breathed a sigh of relief as he sent Little Rascal into the bedroom.
“It seems like a lot of things have happened?” Putray sighed as he watched Thales close the door.
Thales’ face darkened.
“It’s like this”—Thales scratched his head—”that person… umm, that’s…”
The words of the second prince hung by his lips as he suddenly remembered Little Rascal’s helpless eyes and Alex’s pained expression.
He met both ladies in the library, and each of them went through a fate that was unknown to all whether it was fortunate or unfortunate for them.
Thales’ eyes became dark.
‘The truth about Little Rascal’s identity…
‘Should not be revealed by me.’
In the end, the prince just sighed in his heart.
He continued, “That’s Saroma Walton, King Nuven’s granddaughter.”
Something occurred to Putray, and he said, “I remember you telling me about meeting the king’s granddaughter in the library before. Shouldn’t her name be Alex Walton?”
“Right, Alex.” Thales slowly exhaled. “That is her middle name.”
Since meeting the Black Prophet and frightening Ramon, he grew increasingly nimble at telling lies.
His expression was calm, and his complexion unaltered.
“My relationship with her is not bad.” Thales shrugged. “So, she came to…”
Upon saying those words, Thales paused mid-sentence.
He suddenly realized that it was four or five in the morning!
‘To conceal previous matters, and craft an excuse for Walton’s noblewoman to stay overnight in my bedroom…
‘Is so difficult!’
Under Putray’s skeptical gaze, Thales revealed a smile uglier than one would look like when crying. “She-she came… umm, together with me…”
Whilst smiling, Thales stuttered miserably.
“To discuss history lessons?”
As the words escaped his mouth, Thales had the urge to kill himself with a slap.
In the face of Putray’s skeptical expression, Thales smiled with a sobbing expression on his face. “You know, we met in the library…”
Thales thought his face was about to go numb from smiling. He rubbed his hands together guiltily.
“She-She excelled in history…”
Putray gently raised his brow, his eyes filled with a peculiar, profound look—Thales thought it could be translated into, ‘Go on. Continue lying.’
Embarrassed and guilty, Thales looked at him.
A few seconds passed before Putray sighed slowly.
“Alright, about you taking the king’s granddaughter into your bedroom in the middle of the night, and even getting the permission from King Nuven himself, I won’t investigate further.” Putray revealed a knowing smile.
Thales’ face twitched. He could barely squeeze out a smile as thanks for his understanding.
Then, the relieved Thales began talking about King Nuven’s proposal.
Upon hearing the prince’s narration, Putray frowned deeply.
“If you put it that way, King Nuven has made up his mind on involving us in his schemes?
“So that we will help him succeed the Waltons’ rule?”
Thales nodded unhappily.
“I will report it to the kingdom,” Putray muttered. “From interests to standpoints, this matter involves too many…”
“There is also Shadow Shield. If they murder any one of my members in the fortress…” Thales recalled Poffret in the duel, feeling deeply worried. “Even though I know that they will not let us go because of the Bloody Year, according to Poffret, could it be that they have an alternative goal? Or perhaps, they were entrusted by someone?”
Putray’s face grew dark.
Each scene from twelve years ago resurfaced within his mind.
“It is indeed not that simple.” Putray finally shook his head in front of Thales. “According to the words of that archduke, they wanted to kill you for entering Renaissance Palace. I’m afraid that it’s not just a simple case of vengeance, or paying an assassin to kill you…
“Especially after the Bloody Year, Shadow Shield had suffered several heavy blows. They laid low especially in areas under the power of Constellation’s king and his allies.
“Yet, they still did not give up and chose to murder Jadestar’s final kin…”
“Renaissance Palace… So again, it’s matters relating to the throne?” Thales scratched his head in frustration. “Does this mean that we have to search for the mastermind behind those assassinations again?”
Putray stared intently at Thales’ expression.
“No, let your father and the Secret Intelligence worry about that. I just need to take good care of your safety.” The vice diplomat of Constellation was adept at discerning people’s thoughts. He revealed a reassuring smile. “You’ve done enough tonight, and you’ve also done well enough.
“The risk of war between Constellation and Eckstedt… has been eliminated. The Kingdom of Constellation is safe.”
Thales’ heart skipped as he looked at Putray.
“This is your doing.” The latter nodded at him, his eyes full of motivation and approval. “I do not say these words much… I held strong prejudices against you initially, but I’ve found you to be worthy of the title, Your Highness.”
Putray had a complex yet sorrowful expression on his face as he slowly said, “At this age, not every prince can go beyond his country’s borders to prevent an unavoidable disaster for his country and citizens.”
Thales took a breath, and slowly lowered his head.
‘The mission was accomplished.’
In spite of all the twists and turns in the process, there was still no great danger.
“Thank you, Putray,” The prince raised his head to reveal a smile, and he sincerely said, “Thank you, all of you.
“Without you, Aida, Ralf, and Wya… I’m afraid my trip would have ended in Constellation’s birch forest.
“Furthermore, there was the arrival in Eckstedt and the matters after arriving in Dragon Clouds City.”
Putray laughed lightly.
“That is our responsibility.
“And you allowed for greater success of this mission; the ending was perfect.” He calmly nodded and cast his eyebrows downwards. “If Gilbert were here to see you, he would be very pleased. Back in the day, when the young Prince Midier went on diplomatic missions to the North, it was just as so.”
Thales curled his lips as he remembered the gentle, middle-aged Gilbert, the valiant Lady Jines… and habitually silent Yodel.
On top of that, there was the little bits and pieces in Mindis Hall.
“Rest early.” Putray pointed at the door. “If all goes well, we shall be able to return home in a few weeks,”
Thales nodded as he pushed the door open.
“Also, the first batch of messenger crows from Constellation arrived,” Putray smilingly said. “One of it’s written for you by Gilbert. I’ve placed it on the desk.”
Thales’ heart skipped a beat.
“Thank you.” Having experienced the ups and downs in the Hall of Heroes, his heart felt much more at ease now. He smiled. “A letter from the ‘Cunning Fox of Constellation’, I can’t wait!”
Putray shrugged and raised his brow.
“One more thing…”
Thales turned around curiously.
Putray hesitantly said, “You know, your father was very outstanding when he was young… Se-Sensible and also early to…”
Thales squinted and expressed doubt.
Putray hung his mouth open. He looked at Thales, and then at the door. Eventually, he still expressed some concern and whispered, “But…
“You are indeed too young, your body has not matured…”
Thales’ smile froze.
Putray winked awkwardly, “Maybe you should wait a few years?”
What he got in return was a powerful slam of the door from Thales.
“Don’t be scared.” Thales looked at Little Rascal, who was still feeling all panicky. A sense of sympathy surfaced from his heart, “They can’t hurt you here.”
Little Rascal seemed to be hugging her knees nonchalantly. She had shrunk to the floor and sat by the bed, leaning against it without saying a word.
Her eyes were locked on the floor, while both her hands clutched at that rough, unrefined skirt of hers.
This helpless scene provoked memories of Thales’ own past in Abandoned House—along with those unfortunate child beggars.
He could not help but sigh.
“I have to be Miss Walton now, right?” Little Rascal noticed his arrival. She felt extremely distraught, and said, “It feels just like a dream…”
“Yes, perhaps,” Thales whispered. “Nobody can change King Nuven’s will.”
Little Rascal trembled. Her eyes became red as she helplessly put her arm around her shoulders.
In that instance, Thales just felt deep sorrow.
‘This girl was swept into their dangerous games by the waves of her destiny.’
He hesitated and said, “But, it’s not necessarily a bad thing…”
However, Little Rascal simply kept her head down and began muttering to herself,
“Year 1090 of the Empire Calendar. Tatoris, Duke Farret’s successor of Mingus Province was suspected of coming from an improper lineage. The Empire’s magistrate burned him to death at Capital of Triumph… Year 552 of the Calendar of Eradication. Grenfell, Camus’ Marquis of Libra City was found to be an impostor. He was hung in the center of the city’s Central Plaza, four carriages…”
Thales’ skin started to crawl as he heard her words.
“Stop!” he exclaimed. “Now is not the time for you to exhibit your ability to remember!”
Little Rascal held her tongue, and stared at him pitifully. She looked like she was on the verge of tears.
“Do you want to know a secret?” Thales sighed. “A secret nobody knows.”
Little Rascal’s expression slowly changed. She blinked and looked at him in surprise.
“You won’t see this in any book—the secret history of the Prince of Constellation.” Thales sat down in front of her and shrugged.
Little Rascal’s eyes lit up as she adjusted her glasses and nodded.
The memory Thales recalled was from more than a month ago. He chuckled as he said, “You know… when I first became a prince, I was just like you, on edge all the time.”
“Became a prince?” Little Rascal curiously asked. “Weren’t you born a prince?”
Thales hesitated, but said, “No, I was born a… a wandering illegitimate child, until I was recovered and brought to the palace.”
Little Rascal revealed an expression of sudden realization.
“When they took me back, I wasn’t used to anything.” Thales smiled helplessly.
“The sensation of chewing food in my mouth was strange, because I was used to eating burned bread—in the winter, that stuff was so hard you could use it to kill…” Thales twitched his eyebrows.
“Also, I had a taste of flavored liquid for the first time… except, umm… it had a little smell to it. Do you know how smelly water is like?”
Little Rascal let out a burst of laughter.
“The clothes on me were too smooth, too soft. I felt like I was constantly naked, so I made three more holes on my belt. Although it was painful to walk, I still felt safer and more secure. Oh, right, I didn’t even know how to wear the pants on my first night there…” Thales reminisced his ridiculous history. He could not help but shake his head and sigh.
Little Rascal was enthralled. She gradually forgot about the tear stains on her face.
“I’ve never walked on such a flat and smooth black stone floor. In the past, if it wasn’t a mud road, it was a dirt, or brick road… When I saw that the library was actually paved with wood…
“It was practically torture to sleep on such a soft bed every night. It was suffocating to be covered by a quilt, so I would go down to the floor, and hide in a corner. I’d sleep like that, just covered in my clothes…”
Thales shook his head.
Little Rascal looked at him sympathetically, blinking and nodding.
“But, I still couldn’t sleep with any peace of mind. Instead, I only slept better when we were camping in the wild during a diplomatic mission to Eckstedt…”
“Gilbert was very strict and the academic program was also intense. He wanted me to write 200 words a day… On the twentieth day, he actually forced me to compose a poem using the Ancient Empire language…”
“When I first took the carriage, I had to cling on the handles on both sides so that I wouldn’t fall down…”
As he spoke, Thales himself was captivated. Little Rascal listened to him very intently as well, and she echoed him once in a while.
When he spoke about being thrown off the same colt fifty-eight times, Thales suddenly realized something.
Little Rascal had already fallen asleep against the bed, and her head was slanted towards her right shoulder.
With her glasses laid askew, she had her head rested on the soft bedside.
Her small hands were folded atop her chest and supported by her bent knees. Her entire body moved up and down as she breathed.
The little girl’s platinum long hair fell softly with a few strands dropping into her mouth. So. the girl in deep sleep had to smack her mouth from time to time.
Thales gazed at her sleeping face, and a smile surfaced on his face as he shook his head.
He carefully swept her hair aside and pulled out the few strands of hair from her mouth.
He then pulled up a corner of the quilt and blanketed Little Rascal’s body.
Thales stood up and lightly sighed.
‘Hopefully, she can have one last peaceful slumber…
‘Before becoming an official Walton.’
At the thought of that, Thales turned around desolately.
He arrived at the desk. After expending much effort, he got into the chair and picked Gilbert’s letter up.
Thales looked at the familiar handwriting on the letter, shook his head in nostalgia and unfolded the paper.
It was a short letter.
[Your Respected Highness,
I hope you have arrived safely in Dragon Clouds City.
We learned of your unfortunate encounter on the road—Lady Jines is very worried about your safety. She repeatedly urged me to enquire about your health.
Also, allow me to express my concerns to you.
His Majesty has notified the suzerains of Northland and Central Territory along the way. He also sent a diplomatic note to the two commanders of Broken Dragon Fortress. They will send patrols and troops to ensure that the birch tree forest is safe when you return.
News and matters related to the Blood Mystic have been completely transferred to the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department. Lord Morat personally assured me that they will handle it properly.
In the name of the Kingdom, His Majesty has officially sent an overseas letter to the Night Kingdom. So far, we have not received a reply from the Night Queen.
In addition, after a “deep conversation” with His Majesty, Duke Zayen Covendier has generously donated a high-yielding crystal drop mine, increased the lifetime shares for transportation to the Central Territory, agreed to hand jurisdiction rights of the three southern barons over to the Kingdom—His Majesty kept telling me to inform you that all of this arose because of your hard work, Your Highness (As he read this, Thales curled his lips).
His Majesty has already commended Baron Arracca Murkh and Lady Sonia Sasere, increased the number of troops to Broken Dragon Fortress, urged the Northern Territory noblemen to take action, and ordered the two commanders to give Black Sand Region the pressure they deserve—this is to express our solidarity to you and protest Archduke Lampard’s dishonorable acts.
Allow me to once again express my concerns about your encounter outside the fortress and also my pleasure as well as happiness upon learning that you are safe and sound.
In spite of this, I fully understand your difficulties after entering Eckstedt, Your Highness. The true test and obstacles are just about to begin.
In this regard, I must take the role of the former Foreign Affairs Minister to remind you of the three most important points:
Firstly, there is a large difference between Eckstedt’s political system and ours. Apart from King Nuven’s identity as ruler, he also holds the identity of Archduke of Dragon Clouds City and master of the Walton Family. The interests of Eckstedt and the Waltons are very different to him—please pay special attention to this.
Thirdly, no matter what predicament you encounter, please always believe that you are the sole successor of Constellation’s throne, and you are also Tormond’s descendant. You are considered the Imperial Family’s descendant. Henceforth, do not worry about your safety. At the same time, please believe that King Nuven’s current position of interest is similar to ours. Whether it is prestige or strength, no one else can compare to his in Northland. Therefore, the best strategy is to win him over, get his help, and direct his hatred towards Lampard. To quell the scourge of war, you may turn the conflict between Constellation and the Dragon into a contradiction between Eckstedt’s king and its archdukes. That is my suggestion.
The above are just some of my realizations for your reference. My purpose is to ease your strategic discussions with Putray. But I know that true politics and diplomacy swings between plans as well as mishaps. Hence, seize the essence of things and adapt accordingly. That is truly the brilliant way—just like how you performed in the Hall of Stars. I have much confidence in you.
One more thing, when you asked me to send someone to Sunset Pub at Lower City District’s Black Street, I found that the boss has been replaced. The female bartender and the few children you spoke of were nowhere to be seen. I suspect that they have fled to avoid disaster.
To know the specifics, we may want to seek assistance from the Secret Intelligence Department—after all, it is not ideal for us to blatantly investigate in Lower City District in the name of the Royal Family. It will allow many people to guess your past, nonetheless it will not do your friends good.
Please do not worry, our people have received information of a girl very similar to the female bartender you spoke of. Not long ago, she visited the Western City Police Station. I believe that we will find them soon.
While you are in Eckstedt, please do not fall back on your homework. When you return, I would like to test you on your sonnets.
In addition, Lady Jines expressed that you should continue your sword practice. Do not slack. She wants to train you with real swords when you return (Thales grudgingly sighed).
As the Royal Family’s protector, Miss Aida’s loyalty and strength are unquestionable. But she is not perfect and there are still certain aspects in her that are not adequate (Upon reading this, Thales could not help but roll his eyes and admire Gilbert’s tact). Hopefully, you can take care of yourself as the other followers make up for their deficiencies.
Allow me to once again express my care and concern. I hope everything will go smoothly after this.
His Majesty is very concerned about your safety and the smoothness of your journey. In the days of your departure, he has missed you dearly (Thales was sure that this sentence was later added by Gilbert).
Your loyal friend and aide,
Year 672 of the Calendar of Eradication, December 27th, Eternal Star City.
P.S. Yodel seemingly entrusted me to send his regards to you, but hopefully I did not misunderstand his intention]
Thales put the letter down. The image of Gilbert holding his cane surfaced before his eyes. His respectful bow and lively manner when he instructed brought a wide smile to Thales’ face.
He reread Gilbert’s three recommendations on Eckstedt and lightly shook his head. Gilbert probably did not know that they had completed the task on the first day of their arrival in Dragon Clouds City.
At the same time, Thales could not help but be worried about the disappearance of those in Sunset Pub—Jala, Sinti, Ryan, and Coria. However, Gilbert had mentioned that Jala had appeared before, and since Jala was safe, then the child beggars should be fine.
Besides, the Brotherhood had gone through the great incident that was the battle in Red Street Market. They should not have the energy to be bothered about a few child beggars.
He exhaled and remembered his past as a child beggar as well as his family in the sixth house. He was filled with sentiment.
Fate was not fixed, was it not the case?
It was just like Little Rascal, who was deep in sleep behind him at that moment.
When he thought about this, Thales could not help but stretch and let out a satisfied moan. Excluding all those weird event, this trip to Eckstedt actually went on pretty smoothly.
Little Rascal mumbled and muttered to herself in her dreams behind him.
His remaining days in Eckstedt should be much more relaxing.
With this in mind, Thales happily rolled up the piece of paper.
At that moment, Thales was momentarily stunned.
He discovered that there was another letter at the spot where the paper was originally placed. Perhaps his attention had been attracted by Gilbert’s letter just now, which was why he did not notice this letter.
‘No.’ Thales picked up that thin, deep blue, double layered, hard piece of paper, and frowned. ‘This isn’t a letter.
‘This is an invitation.
Thales stared at the blue invitation in bemusement and scratched his head.
Written on the cover of the invitation were four words: To my dear friend. It was written in classic cursive handwriting, and he could not help but remember the agreement between Tormund and Raikaru placed in Raikaru’s library. The cursive writing on it, excluding Tormund and Raikaru’s, was similarly beautiful to this.
Thales frowned slightly. He stared at the strange invitation and was a little hesitant.
He had even lived through the ordeal this night. What else should he be afraid of?
Thales shook his head while laughing at himself and opened the invitation without hesitation.
Another line of the lingua Franca written in beautiful cursive entered his vision.
It has been a long while since we last met. I miss you dearly.
It is especially so when I searched for you through much difficulty. After I learned that you managed to restore your identity, besides having my heart ache while missing you, I was also happy for you. I hope that you have learned enough, educated yourself well, expanded your horizons, and obtained extensive knowledge during the time you are a prince.
After all, it does not matter whether it is Jadestar or Carlose, both are great names.
Our last meeting was in too much of a hurry and was also too short, so much so that I could not tell you plenty of the things I wanted to. There are simply no words that can describe my regrets.
This also made me think of our mutual friend—the nimble and masked friend of ours. I am very happy that he did not accompany you with your trip to the Northern Territory. It is the only reason why I could send you this invitation. Of course, I miss him dearly as well.
As I write these words, I become very eager to meet you. At this moment, forgive my rudeness and allow me to extend my invitation to you for our next meeting.
You may choose the location.
As for the time, why don’t we set it as fifteen minutes after you open the invitation?
I hope that you will be happy.
I look forward to our meeting, which is about to arrive very soon.
Your loyal, sincere, old friend whom you were acquainted with in Red Street Market,
P.S. With reference to your complaint in Red Street Market, I have specifically prepared the invitation this time. I used the star blue color that compliments your family as the cover design. I hope you will find it to your liking.]