Chapter 219: Trust and Loyalty
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Anxious and nervous, the people in the secret passage waited for the outcome of Nicholas’ negotiation.
Thales tried his best and somehow managed to triggered a small bit of the Sin of Hell’s River, elevating his hearing.
Finally, the conversation between the two at the tunnel entrance traveled, just barely, to his ears.
“What now?” came Nicholas’ voice, “The Red Witch wants to demonstrate her finest ability already? To talk me into surrendering?”
The Red Witch just looked at him quietly. Her gaze was calm yet serious.
Even Thales, who was eavesdropping from afar, felt a misperceived restlessness.
“I have said it before: You are standing on the wrong side.” Calshan’s expression suddenly turned indifferent. “The White Blade Guards ought to be loyal to Eckstedt and not to a king. Don’t you think so?”
The eavesdropping Thales frowned. ‘What exactly does the Red Witch want to do? Does she really want to persuade Nicholas into surrendering?’
The Star Killer tightened his grip on his blade.
Nicholas snorted. “As a traitor who committed regicide, don’t you think that these words are a little too sarcastic?”
The Red Witch lifted her chin.
“Traitor?” A fierce light flashed in Lady Calshan’s eyes. “Do you really know what the common-elected king you vowed your loyalty to was prepared to do in order to extend his family line?”
Nicholas slowly shook his head. Thales assumed that he was, as usual, displaying that unsettling and disdainful smile.
But soon, the Star Killer would not be able to manage a smile anymore. It would be the same for Thales.
Calshan directed her gaze behind him and said in a cold voice, “For example…
“Disguising a child with absolutely no Walton bloodline as the successor of Dragon Clouds City?”
The silhouette of Nicholas’ back stiffened. He was not the only one who had such a reaction.
It was as if the sky had come crashing down—this was what the eavesdropping Thales felt at that moment.
He hung his mouth open in astonishment. He could not help but to look at Little Rascal, who had her head lowered in worry.
‘Oh my God. Oh my God. The Red Witch…’
Miranda noticed Thales’ odd state and frowned. “What’s going on with you?”
With his mouth still wide open, Thales’ face was overcast with shock. He widened his eyes, awkwardly extended a hand and pressed his chin, “About that… I’m just… exercising my chin…”
Miranda raised a brow and turned back around.
But for Thales, those grim words from the Red Witch went on. “He even put his hopes on Constellation’s power; he handed the evidence to the Jadestars, and also gave Renaissance Palace the right to take initiative power over the right of inheritance in Dragon Clouds City…”
Nicholas’ silhouette from behind did not respond, but Thales guessed that his expression must have now grown more and more unpleasant.
“He waited for Constellation, the Secret Intelligence Department, and that strange boy, to turn Dragon Clouds City into an insider for them in Eckstedt.” Calshan’s tone was incomparably cold, the complete opposite of her previous smiling demeanor. “To turn into a puppet of the Jadestar Royal Family.”
In the distance, Thales shut his eyes and buried his face in his hands in anguish.
“It’s alright.” Thales’ voice was dispirited. He waved his hand at Kohen who was watching him in puzzlement. “My face was numb, so I was massaging it a little.”
The Red Witch snorted coldly.
“Lord Soray Nicholas, as the leader of the White Blade Guards, the king’s most trusted head of his personal guards, his assistant and helper… Did you…” Calshan turned her head around with a complex gaze. “…Know of these issues at all? Or did you also think that they didn’t matter?”
Nicholas’ back remained as rigid as before. His hand was on his blade’s hilt, and he had not moved in a while.
The Star Killer let out a breath in great difficulty. His voice traveled to Thales’ ears. “You knew.”
“The Secret Room has indeed managed to gather all of it.” The Red Witch narrowed her eyes slightly. “Is that not enough?”
“Then that was… the reason for your regicide?” Nicholas’ voice was somewhat incoherent, as if there was something blocking his windpipe.
“It is regretful, but these things…” Calshan heaved a sigh. “If His Highness had somewhat extended his trust in me and allowed me to assist him with finding another way instead of making the decision himself, then there would’ve been a different outcome.”
Nicholas did not immediately reply. If Thales could see him from the front, he would have realized that the Star Killer had a quiet look in his eyes. His pale face began to redden.
If Mirk was here, he would have identified that this was an omen of his old friend’s impending rage; since the young Nicholas became the commander twenty years ago, he rarely became livid anymore.
“Somewhat extended his trust?” Nicholas let out a chilling sneer. “Why shouldn’t it be you ‘somewhat extending’ your loyalty?”
When he heard this, Thales exhaled slowly shook his head.
‘Old king… Are you considered… to have died from the disloyalty of your subjects? Or did you die because of your distrust of others as a king?’
Calshan narrowed her eyes.
“Why do you think that he doesn’t trust you?” The Star Killer’s tone grew colder. “You think that his vigilance and suspicions of you just suddenly appeared overnight?”
The Red Witch did not say a word.
Nicholas’ voice became firm. Word by word and filled with anger, he said through gritted teeth, “Twelve years ago, Prince Soria… When the couple was attacked by an assassin, the assassin who snuck in…”
Calshan remained silent.
The second Nicholas mentioned “assassin”, her eyes instantly radiated with a different and complex tint.
Thales was stunned for a moment when he heard those words.
‘The death of Soria? Assassin? The assassin sent by Constellation?’
“That handsome pretty boy, do you remember him?” Nicholas asked ferociously, “I had already intercepted him at that time…
“If it weren’t for your Secret Room…” Nicholas’ words trembled faintly. “If it weren’t for your people causing such hindrance from within, I would’ve long ago had that assassin cut into pieces!”
Thales raised a brow. He understood Nicholas’ words as his breathing got heavier subconsciously.
‘That assassin… the assassin sent by Constellation… That assassin was actually… backed by the people of the Secret Room?’
Calshan lowered her head slightly, stared at the ground, and sank into a long silence.
Nicholas was panting raggedly. “That’s right. I managed to find out afterwards, but His Highness made me stay silent.”
Thales noticed that the Star Killer’s leg was trembling a little. Only the Star Killer himself knew that this was because of two arrow-related injuries that had not been treated yet.
“You have known since before that, right?” The Star Killer gritted his teeth. “You knew about the presence of the assassin. You probably knew since long before that Constellation was going to send an assassin!
“… Or was it just a show arranged by your Secret Room, and the curtains only dropped on Prince Soria’s death?”
Thales’ expression changed successively upon hearing all that. His heart was in tremendous disarray.
‘What’s going on? Constellation was the one who sent the assassin, but after hearing Nicholas…
‘Why? Twelve years ago… the Secret Room witnessed, and even consented to the death of Prince Soria?’
At that moment, the Red Witch’s gaze shifted minutely.
“Now… Do you know why His Highness did not trust you? Simply on the basis of your cheap and capricious ‘loyalty’?” Nicholas sneered, his words were as sharp as knives.
The Red Witch’s opened her mouth slightly, but did not utter a sound. The old woman—who was previously so quick to reply, calm and unperturbed—suddenly seemed to have something stuck in her throat.
A few seconds later, Madam Calshan softly spoke up, her voice heavy with exhaustion. “That incident… was an accident. I was also caught off-guard.”
The response she got was Nicholas spitting in contempt. The Star Killer viciously said,
“His Highness sealed his lips on this matter, and I also did not know what trickery you were playing. Maybe that assassin was a spy you planted in the Secret Intelligence Department, maybe not…
“Maybe it was for the future of Eckstedt, the interests of the king, an excuse to start war in the south; you always have excuses either way. Moreover, nobody at all knows if it’s genuine. Perhaps, only the Black Prophet is able to differentiate them.”
The Red Witch’s expression had been stagnant for a long time.
“However…” The Star Killer’s words were chilling. Nicholas’s voice was overcome with fury. It was unpleasant, like a torn bellows.
“…The king and his bloodline, what are they in your eyes? An existence that can simply be wiped off once it does not conform with your expectations?”
Calshan slowly raised her head, her gaze unreadable.
“Please do not say that.”
Calshan shook her head, her voice laced with a deep despondency. “We’re not the Secret Intelligence Department, after all.”
Thales’ face changed again—he understood what Calshan meant.
‘”…can be simply wiped off once it does not conform with your expectations…”‘
‘”We’re not the Secret Intelligence Department, after all…”‘
‘These two sentences… What do they mean?’ Thales stood blankly rooted to his spot.
Nicholas did not say a word. The Star Killer’s complexion regained its paleness, an undercurrent of something surged in his eyes.
“To plunder everything, suspect everything, eliminate all concealed dangers and be merciless”—He spat ferociously—”it was not wrong of them at all to call you a ‘witch’. As soon as you begin suspecting someone, all you lot can think of will forever be about using underhanded measures to deal with them.
“These are exactly the instincts rooted deeply in the bones of the kind of people who live in the shadows like you. Trust and loyalty are worthless to you,” the Star Killer said malevolently, “Whether it’s you or the Secret Intelligence Department, you’re just a plague left behind by the Empire.”
But at this moment, the Red Witch dropped her impassive expression. Instead…
“Very well,” Calshan said softly, “Now, we’re beginning to talk.”
That tone was as if she just caught the biggest bargaining chip. Nicholas quivered a little.
Thales frowned slightly upon hearing that. He was starting to not understand.
“After the tragedy twelve years ago, the elderly King Nuven laboriously sought for balance between country and family, territory and bloodline.” The Red Witch smiled like before. There was a trace of ineffable sorrow in her flat tone. “Now I can be sure.”
But Thales was indeed baffled.
‘Why? Why did Calshan suddenly change the topic?’
Nicholas’ shoulders began to rise and fall.
“What do you mean?” Nicholas’ voice came slowly. “What exactly do you want?”
Thales held his breath. He wanted to catch the Red Witch’s reply clearly. Calshan watched his expression for a full three seconds.
Then, the Red Witch broke out into a smile.
“I came here searching for an answer. As well as… some things that I don’t have.” she said calmly. “Such as…”
The Red Witch walked towards Nicholas without the slightest apprehension, seemingly indifferent to the risk of him capturing her. Solemn colors flashed before her eyes.
“… your unconditional loyalty to King Nuven…
“And his unreserved trust in you.”