Chapter 205: Execute on the Spot
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Silence fell in the prison cell.
“Will there be mishaps in the Northern Territory?” Wya asked in a rather downcast mood, “Will Eckstedt really send troops down south on the grounds that the king was assassinated?”
“That is exactly Lampard’s intention. With this reason, he may easily gain the support of the residents here.” Looking at their expressions, Thales could not help but say, “However, I think the other archdukes will not agree—every one of them can see that this is a scheme of Lampard’s.”
“What happened previously has proven this.” Thales shook his head. “Judging plainly from Black Sand Region itself, it is impossible to take down Broken Dragon Fortress.”
“But they have Miranda.” Kohen sighed and gritted his teeth. “Her safety will affect the attitude of the Northern Territory’s vassals—and Broken Dragon Fortress’ supplies and backup all rely on the stability of the Northern Territory.”
Miranda shook her head.
Her mood was evidently poor. She leaned against the fence and slowly said, “Since my father was imprisoned, His Highness has dispatched specialized government officials and nobles to Cold Castle. At the same time, he also increased the number of regular troops in Broken Dragon Fortress in hopes of stabilizing the state of the affairs in the Northern Territory.”
“Even if I were to be taken prisoner, Northern Territory will not be inferior to the extent where the fortress’ logistics and backup cannot support itself.”
“Rest assured, with the lessons learned twelve years ago, His Highness will not loosen his guard,” Wya sighed slowly as he spoke words that were more comforting than substantial.
“But war is unavoidable right now, is it not?” Kohen’s voice resonated at a low volume. His tone was that of dejection. “Because of us.”
A silent sense of dejectedness and despair pervaded the prison cell.
Thales furrowed his brows.
‘Something’s not right.
‘There’s something I missed regarding the Northern Territory’s affiliations.’
“Haih.” Kohen sighed irritatedly. He violently knocked the back of his head against the ground twice.
“That damned Disaster Sword… We shouldn’t have come here.”
‘Also, if we had listened to Raphael’s words back then and disappeared immediately…’ Kohen thought sadly in his heart.
Upon hearing the name of the Disaster Sword, Thales raised his head all of a sudden.
‘Wait a minute, there’s still something strange.
‘Nicholas said that Disaster Sword was the mastermind behind the assassination of the two princes—to assassinate Thales at the fortress and Moriah within Constellation’s borders.
‘Because of it, the incident was related to Archduke Poffret.
‘The former assassination was intelligence passed to Kohen by Kaslan, and the latter assassination an information made known through an investigation in Constellation done through men sent by King Nuven himself.
‘Now, the former has been proven to be a lie. Disaster Sword and the Mystic Gun incident are not related, so the latter…’
Thales furrowed his brows. His brain continued to revolve frantically.
After the experiences of nearly losing his head during his attempted assassination, the confusion in Gu’s butcher shop, the impossibility in the carriage of Good Flow City and the deep reflections in prison right now, the clues that were initially impossible to unravel gradually became clearer. Every conjecture and element was slowly being pieced together by Thales, forming an inexplicable, messy jigsaw puzzle.
‘I’m just lacking the final few pieces.’
The young prince narrowed his eyes and nodded absent-mindedly. “I’m starting to understand how Lampard’s plan unfolded.”
Miranda raised her head. With her sharp eyes wide open, she looked at the prince.
“What?” The police officer grimaced as he endured the pain. He rubbed his right arm against the ground desperately in an apparent attempt to straighten it out a little.
Kohen shook his head and realized awkwardly that nobody answered him again. He felt embarrassed.
But this time, Thales quickly helped him out of his chagrin.
With a solemn gaze, the second prince slowly opened his mouth amid his deep thoughts.
“Half a month ago, during the falling through of Archduke Val Arunde’s sinister plot in Renaissance Palace, the incident of Lampard killing Moriah was completely exposed,” Thales’ voice echoed throughout the small prison cell, his tone faintly discernible.
‘Everything started from here.’
“At that time, Lampard made up his mind that before King Nuven crushed him to death with the entire country’s army, he would stake everything in one attempt and fight back while forced into a corner.” The second prince struggled to stand up. He raised his head under the dim lighting and gazed at the pitch-black ceiling in a daze. Archduke Lampard’s ice-cold face surfaced vaguely before his eyes.
Watching the prince’s serious expression, Kohen and Miranda looked at each other blankly. Meanwhile, Wya just heaved a sigh.
Little Rascal bit her lower lip as she was on the verge of sobbing.
Lampard’s attitude in the carriage flashed across his mind.
Thales told himself, ‘This terrifying, formidable lord of Northland… By collecting sparse bargaining chips and chess pieces at every step amid the most dangerous circumstances, he performed a perfect counterattack that allowed him no way of backing out of this situation within a limited frame of time.’
“After Poffret bribed Shadow Shield, he attempted to assassinate me in front of the fortress and frame Lampard, but he failed.” Thales thoughts grew clearer as he faintly said, “Why would Archduke Poffret betray Lampard? I initially thought it was the cowardly Poffret being afraid of being exposed because of Lampard. That’s why he chose to act first.”
“Poffret of Beacon Illumination City?” Kohen asked in suspicion. “First it was King Nuven, then it was Lampard. In the end, he betrayed Lampard—who exactly is he partners with?”
“It doesn’t look so simple now.” Thales’ pupils slowly constricted as if he was seeing the hysterical Poffret during his final moments. “I’m afraid that Poffret was really frightened by Lampard’s notion to put everything at stake. Hence, he attempted to put an end to Lampard’s insanity in one go with the aid of my death and Constellation’s power before Lampard dragged him to hell.
“After suffering the consequences of the Mystic Gun Unit beyond the fortress, Lampard tracked down the assassins. In the end, he found Shadow Shield.” Thales remembered the fair-skinned Northlander, who went by the codename of Stake. He recalled Stake’s interactions with Lampard and the scene of him uttering the phrase, “As long as Shadow Shield does not die”. His heart was slightly uneasy. “However, Lampard chose to shake hands with Shadow Shield and start a new collaboration—their target was most likely King Nuven.”
“Shadow Shield. Them again?” Kohen’s expression changed and he conveyed his surprise, “Oh God, don’t they want to survive in the Western Peninsula anymore?”
Feeling distracted, Thales shook his head, ignoring the police officer.
Thus, the latter sank into embarrassment once again.
“At the same time, Lampard began to contact other allies.” Thales took a deep breath. Sorting everything out piece by piece, he reconstructed the outlines of the plot. “Marquis Shiles Bamra, who had a cooperative relationship with King Nuven; Vlad, who was the underground influence and disciplinary officer of Dragon Clouds City; and even former renowned commander of the White Blade Guards, Kaslan Lampard—I don’t know how he found these people.”
‘No,’ a voice said softly in Thales’ heart.
‘Actually, you do know.
‘You’ve always known.
‘You just never dared to think about it.’
Strangely, the lighting in the prison cell flickered a little, bringing about a trembling of light and shadows.
Miranda fixed her gaze on Thales, her eyes full of surprise.
In the wake of Thales’ words, even the six guards in the prison cell gradually turned around as they listened to the prince’s deduction.
Thales heaved a long sigh, only to find their prospects murky and futures at a loss.
He boosted his spirits and continued by saying, “Via Kaslan’s channels, Lampard sold Poffret out—the other mastermind behind Moriah’s death—to King Nuven.”
Thales felt very uncomfortable as soon as he recalled Kaslan’s sanguine and forthright image, followed by his betrayal as well as hypocrisy.
“Hence, under the Marquis of Camus’ secret instigation, both King Nuven and I set our sights on Poffret, on vengeance, on dealing with the hoodwinking and deception of the archdukes.” Thales remembered that smiling marquis and that duel, which was a feast for the eyes. His sight grew grimmer.
“Chapman Lampard then took advantage when King Nuven was too busy to attend to him. He hid in the dark, gathered strength and formulated a plan.”
The scene of Lampard wiping the blade of his sword, expressionlessly narrating the tragedy that happened to the Lampard Family twelve years ago appeared once again before Thales’ eyes.
Thales’ vision gradually came back into focus.
‘Nuven the Seventh; he used merciless plots and strategies to erode Black Sand Region and the Lampard Family into practically nothing.
‘And Chapman Lampard, that young Northland noble under the wing of his patriarchs grew up amid the darkness and bloodbath left behind by Nuven. He then became the new Archduke of Black Sand Region.’
Thales could not help but clench his fist lightly as he adjusted his breathing.
“First of all, Lampard seemingly used two thousand people to escort me into Dragon Clouds City.” Thales shook his head, shaking off the thought in his heart and returning to the present. “Actually, he was using me to escort the warriors loyal to him into Dragon Clouds City.”
Thales could not refrain from remembering Viscount Kentvida’s respectful demeanor as he escorted him. At the same time, he recalled the moment he mercilessly commanded the archers to kill Thales.
“Secondly, Lampard also used Kaslan’s channels and the pretense of Disaster Sword to attract the heiress of Northern Territory—Lady Miranda Arunde into Dragon Clouds City.
“He even had the guts to use the Tower of Eradication.” Miranda sighed faintly. “He sure extended his reach and influence far and wide…”
A gust of cold wind blew from outside the prison cell. The shrill sound of the wind rushed in from the slit under the thick door, interrupting Miranda’s words.
“Didn’t he find this plan just a little too big?” Wya looked indignant. “If there was a slip-up in any one of the links…”
It was yet another gust of shrill wind. The howling of the wind was even greater than before.
The few imprisoned people turned silent.
Until Miranda broke the silence once again.
“There are two questions that still don’t make sense,” Lady Arunde faintly said.
Kohen raised an eyebrow. “What?”
“The troops.” The swordswoman with black hair raised her head. The stains on her face did not affect her heroic bearing in the least. “And also the calamity.”
Thales’ eyes lit up as he raised his head to look at Miranda. They were now face-to-face.
A carefree sense of ‘as expected, talking to intelligent people is relaxing’ sprung up spontaneously.
“I’ve had these doubts since the beginning.” The prince nodded reassuringly, “From weakening the enemy to seeking allies, from arranging plans to the final implementation, Lampard did everything that could be done. He just had to hand over the rest to Shadow Shield, go home and take a bath. And as he rubbed himself with soap, he prayed for King Nuven’s head to fall to the ground.”
Kohen raised his brows.
Thales revealed a thoughtful expression.
“But he didn’t just travel personally to Dragon Clouds City, he also brought troops—just to capture the both of you?”
“What is there in Dragon Clouds City that would require him to bring along an army?” Wya could not help but say. “Robbing, destroying Dragon Clouds City? Or capturing and threatening the other archdukes in Heroic Spirits Palace to support him as king?”
“No,” a small female voice rang timidly from the corner. “Dragon Clouds City is the capital. From the patrols directly reporting to the Prime Minister and Chief Disciplinary Hall, to the palace guards serving Heroic Spirits Palace, as well as the White Blade Guards directly serving the king, the numbers already range from two thousand to three thousand five hundred. If they begin mobilizing Walton’s private army, they could even gather up a recruit unit of nearly ten thousand people for a short period of time. Not to mention, the multiple layers of gatehouses and terrain… Two thousand people can’t even take down one gatehouse—The Night Wing King proved this point three hundred years ago.”
Thales was stunned. Along with the others, he looked at the girl in the corner.
Little Rascal regained her senses and suddenly realized that everyone was looking at her. She was so nervous that her little face paled as she shrunk back timidly into the corner.
Thales reacted as he helped her out of her predicament. “In addition, the four archdukes are not soft eggs that can be kneaded and pinched at Lampard’s will… Each one of them is not a simple man.”
Miranda nodded in agreement. “As long as Lampard isn’t an idiot, he will not act in ways that would make it seem like he can’t wait to die.”
“Two thousand people. Two thousand people who cannot fight or arrest people.” Kohen’s mind seemed to be working much better now. He raised his head and a thought struck his head. “It can’t be that they were specially sent here to get killed? What sort of demonic offering requires two thousand lives or as a sacrifice, or the like…”
A silence fell upon the entire prison cell.
Everyone else turned their gazes uniformly towards Kohen.
The expression on Kohen’s face stiffened as he noticed their gazes.
“Those… novels and epics frequently contain…” The police officer appeared a little awkward and he forced a laugh. “Of course, I was just saying.”
Wya got rid of the look of disdain on his face. He turned his head around and said with concern, “Furthermore, with the huge commotion that two thousand people would cause, how exactly did they send the troops into the city?”
“That is the second question,” Miranda took over the topic of conversation. There was an incomparable seriousness in her eyes. “The calamity.”
Thales’ expression darkened. He did not say a word.
“From the calamity’s devastation and chaotic uprising to the assassination and their entry into the city, Lampard seized the timing to mobilize his army all too well.” Miranda frowned deeply. “Practically… It was practically as if…”
Miranda raised her head and looked around at everyone else. Then, with a grave voice, she said, “As if the calamity was working together with him.”
Upon hearing the calamity being mentioned, Little Rascal seemingly remembered something. She bit her lips, as if she had been wronged.
Kohen’s expression changed and began to look pensive.
Just then, the head guard opened his mouth once again.
“That’s enough, the lot of you.” He walked coldly to the middle of the corridor and scanned the few prison cells. “It’s been a long discussion. Even for death-row prisoners, such a treatment is enough.”
The head guard turned his head around and looked directly at Thales. “From now on, be obedient for me and shut up.”
Thales furrowed his brows. Just as he was prepared to strongly contend, someone suddenly knocked on the thick door that separated the prison cell and the outside world.
As the thick door opened, cold wind and light visited the small prison cells once again.
Another soldier from Black Sand Region, donned in patrol uniform entered the prison cell. It seemed like he came to deliver an order.
Thales’ heart tightened. He shifted his body and leaned against the bars in an attempt to clearly see the situation outside. Very carefully, Little Rascal followed in his footsteps.
Kohen, Miranda and Wya did the same.
The military courier cautiously closed the thick door before he turned around to extract a scroll and hand it to the head guard.
“The archduke has arrived in Heroic Spirit Palace. This is his warrant.” The military courier approached the guard, lowered his eyes and spoke into the guard’s ear in a low voice, “Carry it out immediately.”
The head guard frowned. He opened the seal on the scroll and matched the stamp on it.
A few moments later, the guard’s face changed dramatically. He raised his head swiftly and looked at the military courier.
“Is this real?”
With a heavy expression, the head guard gazed at the newly arrived military courier. “Execute them on the spot? All of them?”