Chapter 210 - The Importance of Dragon’s Blood

Kingdom’s Bloodline Masterless Sword, 无主之剑 2022/9/13 16:53:02

Chapter 210: The Importance of Dragon’s Blood

Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation

No one said anything. A deafening silence descended on the prison.

“Anymore questions?” The Black Prophet’s voice echoed coldly. No one answered him until a crisp and young male voice came.

Everyone’s eyes focused on Thales again. However, he did not start speaking immediately.

Thales heaved a long sigh. He forced himself to chase away everything related to calamities, and what they did, out of his mind.

The prince looked extremely tired, he seemed to be either hesitating or deep in thought.

After quite some time, the second prince’s voice came out with some difficulty. “His Majesty… Did he know about this plan before I departed north?”

The Black Prophet did not say anything, but Thales already understood.

“So, the rumors aren’t wrong.” With a dim expression, Thales raised his head and looked at everyone around him. His gaze rested a moment on the panicking Little Rascal. “The Constellatiates colluded with a calamity to assassinate King Nuven with the aim of causing internal strife within Eckstedt.”

He felt a surge of helplessness. “Why?”

The image of that white-haired, old, tired, but still powerful and influential king appeared in Thales’ mind. He felt gloomy. “If it’s to ensure that Eckstedt doesn’t invade Constellation, I can definitely achieve that through diplomatic means. In fact, we had already accomplished it.”

Little Rascal lowered her head, her expression was obscured.

There was only a deafening silence from the other end of the black hole. Meanwhile, Raphael flashed a slight smile without bothering to hide it.

Thales seemed dispirited, and his eyes were glazed. The sight of the king’s head falling on the ground replayed in his mind. “Just a few hours ago… King Nuven proposed to form an alliance with us…

“…The Walton and Jadestar Families.” His tone was dejected, and his voice was raspy. It was as if he wanted to show, through his words, the distress and torture he had been subjected to these few past days.

“We were to assist them in counterbalancing the archdukes’ power and to ensure the continuation of the Walton Family after King Nuven’s death. In exchange, he would try his best to maintain peace between the two kingdoms and give us the time to recuperate,” Thales said faintly. His mind was a mess. “The predicament caused by Moriah’s death had already been solved. But now…”

Wya’s mouth had widened in shock. When Kohen heard those words, he froze momentarily and was then deep in thought. Miranda still said nothing and her expression was cold.

Thales shut his eyes and heaved a long sigh, tired and wary.

‘Everything King Nuven said has now become redundant because of his death. Calamities, Lampard, assassinations… The disaster in Shield District… Damn it.’

The strange black hole on Raphael’s arm quivered. The Black Prophet replied Thales with a sombre and hoarse laughter. “Hehehe… haha…”

He continued laughing for a few more seconds. Thales frowned.

Finally, Morat’s laughter became cold words. It echoed in the empty prison. “Stop being naive, Your Highness. You weren’t like this in the Hall of Stars. Did you really think that we would count on your visit to create a miracle and extinguish the flames of war?”

Listening to the Black Prophet’s taunting words, Thales took a deep breath to suppress his anger and his urge to do something, anything.

“The problem was solved,” he said through gritted teeth. “With the power of Dragon Clouds City, Eckstedt and Constellation could have coexisted peacefully—”

“Solved?” The Black Prophet cut him off.

“Of course! The clever prince managed to use his superb tactics to convince King Nuven not to cause trouble for Constellation,” the Black Prophet said flatly. His words were shoddy, unpleasant and taunting. “Then, the two kingdoms, gaining a friendly relation, will have peace from then on…

“For how long?” The head of the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department changed his tone. “Five years? Ten years? Or fifteen years?”

Unable to tolerate this, Thales exhaled. The Black Prophet sneered slowly in a manner that made people extremely uncomfortable.

“My Prince, did you really think that an alliance between the two families can maintain peace between the two kingdoms? Did you think that all it took was a prince who sits on his horse and waves at Dragon Clouds City, and nods at the archdukes in the chamber to dispel the Great Dragon’s ambition and greed?” The Black Prophet raised his voice all of a sudden. There was now a hint of solemnity and sternness in his tone.

“Even Raikaru and Tormond were not able to achieve this six hundred years ago.”

Thales stilled for a moment.

“Do you know how many times King Nuven had dreamed of flying the black-based Red Dragon Flag at Broken Dragon Fortress these past thirty years? Did you know how much he wanted the Northern Territory of Constellation to be ruled by Eckstedtians?” The words from the head of the Secret Intelligence Department were like the tongues of venomous snakes; he sounded as if he was hissing, and it brought fear to people’s hearts.

“It has been twelve years. Everyone in Eckstedt, from the king and the archdukes, to the nobles and the common people, has been dreaming to invade the north once more.” The Black Prophet sneered and said, “The three archdukes at the border never stopped provoking us, and Dragon Clouds City tested the waters every year. Why did you think that Prince Moriah visited Constellation?”

Kohen lowered his eyes and answered in his head, ‘To revise the “Fortress Treaty”.’

Thales stared wordlessly at the black hole in Raphael’s arm.

“They are not mere nobodies.” The Black Prophet’s words traveled slowly from the black hole on the young man’s arm. “They are Northlanders, born to wield swords for battle, and are renowned since the Barbaric Era. It’s best if you bear this in mind for the rest of your life, Your Highness.

“As per the ancient customs of Northland, they take pride in joining the army and killing their enemies. They have strong bodies molded by the hardships of cold weather. They have a tenacious army formed by the firmness of willpower and honor.

“They have hunters who can handle cold pine longbows without training, and unbeatable heavy cavaliers who are experts at charging with Mystic Guns and spears. They have the Glacial Sentries and White Blade Guards who dare to fight orcs head-on.

“They will even have no complaints towards serving the army or being sacrificed. With just a few slices of bread in winter, they can march dozens of miles per day to enlist soldiers. They are the elite regular troops, trained thrice a year in each major Eckstedtian territory, and who will not scatter even when they suffer seven-tenths of casualties to their numbers.

“They were born to fight.”

Miranda’s expression grew frostier as she listened to everything. Recalling the battles of the past three years, she slowly dug her fingers into her palms.

The Black Prophet paused for a moment. The prison seemed to grow darker, casting everyone’s faces in shadow.

Thales bit his lower lip. “But—”

The Black Prophet did not let him continue. “Little prince, did you see the war twelve years ago?”

The Black Prophet’s words made Miranda freeze. She could not help but furrow her brow slightly.

“Have you ever seen Northland’s heavy cavaliers charge forth with a momentum that can shake the mountains and the earth? Have you seen heavy swordsmen and axemen covering the entire city wall as they scale it? Have you heard battering rams striking against the city gates? Have you heard trebuchets throwing boulders against walls? Have you seen the devastating sight of corpses and the starved strewn all over the plains? Have you ever seen the eyes of famine refugees? They are eyes that belong to those who have lost all hope and are forced to wander about in a daze. Do you know how long famine can last in the Northern Territory?”

Thales clenched his fists tightly, but felt as if the energy in his hands had nowhere to go. The wounds in his palms began to ache again.

He recalled the light infantry under Broken Dragon Fortress who risked their lives to encircle him and his entourage. They did not back down even when they faced the beast-like Arracca Murkh. They were Northlanders.

At the same time, Miranda’s face became extremely pale. It was as if she saw the past again. The nightmarish past… That bleak, white piece of snow-covered ground…

Raphael pursed his lips slightly. He intentionally, or unintentionally, held the swordswoman’s hand and squeezed it a little. Kohen, who saw all this, sighed to himself.

‘Miranda and Raphael. Those two are the ones who directly experienced those disasters.’

As he watched the wriggling black hole, Thales, with his mind all jumbled up, gulped and sighed. “We reached a consensus. Nuven was old, and what he needed to care about were the things that would happen after his death: The continuation of the Walton Family and the Cloud Dragon Spear, as well as the competition between Dragon Clouds City and the other archdukes. He did not need to care about Constellation…”

This time, the red-eyed young man replied him.

“You just stated the main point, Your Highness.” Raphael raised his head slightly. His red eyes glimmered under the illumination of the Everlasting Lamp. “The biggest problem was that Nuven was old.

“Yes, he might be able to control Eckstedt and the nine archdukes with the remnants of his power, allowing Broken Dragon Fortress and the Northern Territory to enjoy piece for a few years…” The young man said coldly.

“…But what about after that?”

Thales’ breathing immediately halted for a moment. The unsettling atmosphere in the prison became even more solemn. A long sigh came from the other side of the black hole.

“After King Nuven’s death, it doesn’t matter who becomes the next King of Eckstedt.” There was a hint of fatigue in the Black Prophet’s voice. “But what tactic do you think the new king will use to obtain the greatest gains and reputation by paying the smallest price? To prove, accumulate, and strengthen his position and authority as king?

“What tactic do you think he would use to console the archdukes who did not manage to get elected? What do you think he would reward the archdukes who support him with?”

Thales shut his eyes and released a long-suppressed breath. He knew what the Black Prophet was going to say.

Morat’s voice became extremely cold. “Would it not be Constellation, incredibly weakened due to the disasters from twelve years ago and has not recovered, and whose royal family does not have a steady hold of the country? …Would it not be Cold Castle, Overwatch City, Lonely Old Tower, and Broken Dragon Fortress, which Eckstedt has eyed for four hundred years? Would it not be the supreme glory of being able to unite all regions of the north again, and to restore it to the state of when their ancestors lived?”

Thales’ heart quivered a little. He subconsciously looked towards Little Rascal, and a horrifying thought came to mind.

‘King Nuven asked me to marry his granddaughter. As long as the Jadestar and Walton Families look after each other, one of their children will inherit the Jadestar surname, and the other will inherit the Walton surname.

‘Hence, Constellation would have the excuse to meddle in Dragon Clouds City’s internal affairs and control Eckstedt. It would not only ensure the continuation of the Walton Family, but also increase the authority and bargaining power of Constellation.

‘But… What about the other way around? What if an accident befalls me? Would Eckstedt and Dragon Clouds City also have the right to meddle with the Jadestar Royal Family and make demands from Constellation?’

Having thought of this, Thales felt a slight chill run down his spine. He suddenly remembered the family motto of Constellation’s one-eyed duke, Koshder Nanchester: War comes with a price, and victory comes with rewards.

Raphael silently let go of Miranda’s wrist and steadily continued his superior’s words. “Defeat Constellation, take over the fortress, and unify Northland. No matter which one of these aims is achieved, it would strengthen the new king’s position.”

The Black Prophet snorted coldly, and the black hole on Raphael’s hand trembled along with it.

“The conflict between Constellation and Eckstedt will never disappear because of the decision of two families, not even when you are crowned in the future,” Morat said flatly. “We are terrified of them. Just like how they dread us too.

“So, if the opportunity arises, if they’ll benefit from it, and if they have the means for it, they will definitely invade the south.”

Thales lowered his head. The Black Prophet’s words gave him substantial pressure.

“If they invade our kingdom… Facing such an opponent, how long do you think the orphans, widows, discomfited troops, and beaten generals in the Northern Territory would be able to hold them off?

“Lady Sonia Sasere is known as the Fortress Flower and permanently guards Broken Dragon Fortress. Everyone says that so long as the Fortress Flower blooms, the fortress’ defences would be as strong as iron. It sounds glorious, but did you know that, on the day she left to protect the fortress, she left behind a will and entrusted it to the royal family? It has been twelve years since then.

“Because she knew that very possibly, one day in the future, when the bitter, cold northern wind blows and the Giant Dragon roars as it soars to the sky, the Fortress Flower might wilt in the north and never return.

“Do you know how immense was the price we paid to obtain peace through the ‘Fortress Treaty’? Did you think that we relied purely on the Cunning Fox’s eloquence?

“Do you know how tremendous a price we have paid to maintain this fragile peace to protect the dying Northern Territory and this weak kingdom from war?”

Thales swallowed back all his words, feeling a rush of indescribable irritation.

“The nobles blamed His Majesty for involving our vacant and fragile kingdom in the detrimental Desert War five years ago.” Even though the Black Prophet’s voice sounded rigid and cold, it harbored a kind of unsettling power.

“But those complacent, rich, and short-sighted worms will never know, and do not wish to know, that after the Bloody Year, if Constellation did not partake in the seemingly insane Desert War to showcase our kingdom’s capabilities through an absolute victory; if we did not sharpen our determination through blood and sacrifices, and prove that the tip of our swords are still sharp and invincible through the skulls of orcs and the altars of the Barren Bone people…”

Having heard this, Kohen suddenly understood it. Wya even gripped his sword hilt so tightly that it made cracking sounds. The Black Prophet continued to speak.

“During that winter five years ago, the Born King, Nuven the Seventh—who had control over the Northland skies and whose strength spread through the whole Northern Territory—might have wanted to tear apart the Fortress Treaty, then with fully-equipped Northlanders covering the entire land, they would come to take back what they lost at the negotiating table.

“It would have ended there. There would not have been any disputes regarding the royal succession; you would have never become a prince! Do you think that there would not be a king like this after Nuven?”

Thales said nothing and fixed his gaze on the empty ground.

Raphael lowered his head and said calmly in the dark. “Why did we carry out ‘Dragon’s Blood’? This is the answer, and also the significance of ‘Dragon’s Blood’.

“What we want is not a mere few years of fake peace where we live in anxiety and fear every year, and go through many dangerous negotiations and stalemates.” The pale-faced, red-eyed Raphael bowed slightly to the prince with a complicated expression.

“Instead, we don’t want any more woes to befall our disadvantaged kingdom. We want the northern region of Constellation to be peaceful and stable for dozens, or even hundreds of years. Long enough that Constellation can recover from the huge blow of the Bloody Year, that your family’s rule can become stable again, that we become powerful once more, as fearless as we used to be.

“With this objective, whether King Nuven lives or dies is insignificant.”

Thales raised his head as understanding came to him.

“Lampard’s actions destroyed the myth that had existed since the establishment of Eckstedt, and proved that Raikaru’s supposed Joint Ruling Pledge is only a mere scrap of paper—the creed the Northlanders sincerely believed in also becomes useless.” Raphael smiled slightly. “More importantly, Lampard set a precedent by openly assassinating the king.”

“The earliest precedent was set by the Mourning Archduke Tannon from Prestige Orchid Region.” Thales snorted faintly, his gaze, intentionally or otherwise, drifting towards Little Rascal. “He’s not the first one.”

Afraid to even breathe loudly since just now, Little Rascal raised her gaze and met Thales’ eyes for a moment. But there was nothing other than fatigue and grimness in the latter’s eyes.

Raphael creased his brow slightly and had stopped talking.

“I understand now.” Thales exhaled and visualized his understanding. “What all of you needed wasn’t vengeance, unrest, or even anyone’s death.”

The second prince sighed loudly and completely took over the conversation. “Instead, it was to destroy the pretense and sugar-coating of Raikaru’s pledge, and to make the deep-seated internal conflict between the king and the archdukes known, causing uncontrollable chaos.”

‘For example, the fact that an archduke of Eckstedt managed to assassinate the king through violence and conspiracy would cause the sons and daughters of the Northern Wind and Dragon great shock. It would also deal a destructive blow on the Northland beliefs cast by Raikaru, and smash the principles that have been scrupulously abided by the ten archdukes for almost seven centuries.

‘And also stirring up emotions that the archduke shouldn’t have, inciting strange thoughts in them outside the King Selection Congress, stoking a different kind of ambition in them outside the Joint Ruling Pledge, and adding fuel to greedy inspirations that they could only dream about for six hundred years. All this despite the legend of how the hero and the dragon established the kingdom. More importantly, and more pressingly…

‘Nuven’s death, Lampard’s betrayal, and even the possible civil war in Eckstedt, would overshadow the new king’s rule and set a precedent, causing him to have unparalleled vigilance and misgivings about the other nine archdukes who rule jointly with him. It would also cause the archdukes to endlessly doubt their common-elected king.

‘By then, it would not be easy to accomplish heroic feats, like the time King Nuven gathered seven archdukes and invaded the south with tens of thousands of men and got past Broken Dragon Fortress.’

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Raphael nodded in confirmation of Thales’ words. Even though he understood the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department’s reasons, Thales still did not feel happy. His heart was as heavy as before, like there was a sharp thorn within, unsettling him every single moment.

For some reason, Kessel’s words came to his mind again: ‘To fight for Constellation, to die for Constellation, to live for Constellation.’

Thales shook his head, as though that would ease his heavy heart a little, but he obviously failed.

Finally, Thales sighed and asked the biggest question in his mind, “Then, did the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department succeed? If it was a success, why did I end up here?”

The black hole trembled again, the Black Prophet began to speak.

To Thales’ surprise, Morat Hansen asked a question this time, “I am also very curious: What on earth is going on in Dragon Clouds City?”

Raphael’s expression changed into a solemn one.

“According to the plan, you should be in Heroic Spirit Palace right now, spending the night comfortably and well-protected as Eckstedt’s honored guest. Then, when all the suzerains are in misery after this matter, you will remain neutral, and then return to Constellation while we negotiate with the other party.” The young man’s tone was a little solemn. “But for some reason, King Nuven decided to leave Heroic Spirit Palace, and even brought you along, causing you to fall into Lampard’s hands.”

Thales’ heart clenched. It was not Nuven who brought him out of Heroic Spirit Palace.

‘It was…’

He could not help but glance at Little Rascal—she met Asda. She also met Black Sword and witnessed their duel.

“And?” the prince asked without changing his expression, intentionally skipping the question.

“Apart from this.” Raphael raised his brow a little. “There were also some accidents to our plan.”

“We still have ten more minutes.” Morat’s cold and hoarse voice was still unsettling. “Do tell us.”

Raphael’s gaze became solemn. Sweeping his gaze over everyone around him, many indecipherable emotions flickered in his eyes. Finally, he coalesced his thoughts into two names and uttered them softly,

“The calamity… and Lampard.”