Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
“So, my Power of Eradication has the characteristic of the rumored ‘Disaster Sword’?”
In a sideroom of the temple, Wya Caso wore a grim expression with his arms crossed.
On top of a pile of junk in front of him, Kohen was bandaging his gashed arm.
“Seems like it. Or at least, it felt similar.” The police officer was inattentively treating his wound while eyeing the attendant in front of him closely. “Are you really Teacher Chartier’s student?”
Wya took a peek at Putray and Raphael on the other side of the room. He sighed.
“I swear on my life and honor,” he said defeatedly. “Three years ago, on the eve of the awakening of my Power of Eradication, I obtained the qualification to enter the House of Scions. Teacher Chartier taught me a set of… unique sword styles.”
Wya’s gaze lingered in the air, recalling the past.
The razor-sharp Edge of No Return was born at that time.
Kohen observed his expression closely while he recalled the techniques of interrogation and detection he had learned during both his military service and his work in the police station.
However, he did not find anything odd.
‘Strange…’ Kohen thought to himself.
The Disaster Sword was clearly the sinners and traitors of the Tower of Eradication. Its power was seen by Zedi as a forbidden practice.
But why… Why would Teacher Chartier’s student…?
Besides that, why was the power of Disaster Sword forbidden? Was it due to its frightening destructive power? Was it due to the overt ferocity of its combat style?
‘Something is wrong,’ Kohen thought instinctively. He had another question: Disaster Sword and the Secret Intelligence Department.
He shifted his gaze to Raphael, who seemed to be discussing something with Putray. Kohen clenched his fists lightly. ‘Not now. We are still in danger.’
In the end, Kohen merely shrugged. Nevertheless, the spark of vigilance in his eyes did not wane. “I will remember to ask about it. Miranda is a seed who is also a bearer of the Pegasus Emblem. She is very close to Teacher Chartier.”
“Oh, the ‘Undefeatable Miranda’.” Wya’s eyelids fluttered. He looked Kohen in the eye. “I have heard about her since a long time ago.”
“I guess so.” Kohen was eyeing Wya’s facial expression. He emitted a light hum and said, “After all, she is the most recent Head of the Seeds.”
Wya returned his gaze and nodded. The young attendant of the prince mumbled, “Thanks… Be it either your understanding or misunderstanding, Officer Karabeyan.”
But he switched the subject immediately, “Shouldn’t you tell me about Disaster Sword… after you chased us down the street with weapons because of that?”
Kohen’s pupils slowly contracted.
“I shall not elaborate.” The police officer patted his shoulder. “But since you are Count Gilbert Caso’s son and the prince’s attendant…” Kohen smiled at Wya. “I think you should be cleared of suspicion, for now.”
At that moment, Wya’s facial expression seemed odd.
“Hmph.” Wya’s cheeks twitched. He raised his voice. “What if I am not his son?”
Kohen raised an eyebrow, peering at Wya. In the end, he simply shook his head and said nothing. Wya blew out a puff of air through his nose, seemingly unsatisfied.
“By the way.” The attendant looked up. “There is a feud between you and Ralf. ”
Seeing Kohen’s confused expression, Wya pursed his lips, gestured to his right and said, “That cripple, the mute who uses hidden blades.”
On the other end of the room, Ralf—his throat and chin were covered by a silver mask—while enduring the pain brought by a Constellatiate soldier helping him change the splints for his broken arm, he glared in their direction.
Kohen scratched his head and awkwardly avoided his gaze. The police officer shook his head in resignation.
“Uh, on this matter… Do you know why he is a mute?”
“That is our feud,” Kohen concluded, arching an eyebrow.
The attendant glanced at Ralf, then at the police officer. His eyes narrowed somewhat. Wya exhaled.
“You know, the prince saved his life, so he is now serving His Highness…”
“Alright, I understand,” Kohen said, troubled. “I will talk to him less… if he can still talk.”
At this moment, a small figure strode into the room and instantly captured everyone’s attention.
It was the Second Prince of Constellation, Thales Jadestar. He appeared concerned yet dazed.
“Whoa.” Officer Karabeyan’s voice was laced with a hint of suspicion. He said to Wya, “Is he always like that?”
Way shook his head. He, too, had a puzzled look on his face.
Putray strode forward. The scrawny vice diplomat asked in a teasing manner, “Your Highness, your date with the Bright Moon Goddess has ended?”
Thales recovered from his stupor. He looked up with a blank face.
“Putray,” he mumbled, “What is the meaning of the existence of gods?”
Kohen raised his eyebrows slightly, nudging Wya beside him.
“Ah, I knew it.” The police officer eyed the prince’s facial expression and said in resignation, “Never contemplate life with priests or priestesses. They only mess with your head.”
“Maybe we should feel blessed.” Wya shrugged. “At least it wasn’t the priests of Dark Night Temple.”
When he heard their exchange, Putray shot the two men a chastising glare.
“I do not know the answer to that question, Your Highness.” The vice diplomat raised his chin slightly, peering down at him. All of a sudden, his gaze sharpened. “But there is one thing I am certain about: Regardless what their existence means, it will not change your current predicament as a prince in distress.”
Thales was slightly astonished and completely withdrawn from his earlier conversation with the High Priestess. He focused on his current surroundings.
“Yes, my current predicament.” Thales shook his head, forcing himself to start thinking about the situation at hand.
He shifted his gaze onto Putray and immediately recalled the time they arrived here.
Thales stared at the skinny man who made a habit of rubbing the pipe in his hand, narrowing his eyes instinctively and eyeing the latter closely.
Thales frowned, having thought of something. “You, Putray… When I was captured by Lampard, it was you who found the Secret Intelligence Department and Nicholas, and got me out?”
Putray’s eyebrow rose a little. His shook his head minutely, affirming Thales’ speculation without a word.
“I guess,” he said softly, appearing indifferent.
Thales was overwhelmed with astonishment. “How… how did you do it?”
Putray sighed quietly. “It is actually not very difficult, Your Highness.”
The skinny vice diplomat was gazing at his pipe, as though there was some exquisite wood grain on it.
“Not long after you went missing. The calamity appeared. The city fell under martial law. All the White Blade Guards left with King Nuven, but the king went missing amid the battle,” he said flatly. “A simple incident immediately turned complicated… And the smell of conspiracies in the air had thickened.” Putray nodded slightly.
“But how would you know where I was…” Thales’ eyes sparkled with confusion.
Putray averted his gaze to the Phantom Wind Follower across the room.
“Ralf returned, flummoxed.” Putray withdrew his hand that was reached for the flint. “The news he brought back only contained ‘Black Sand Region’, ‘Constellation’, and ‘Captured’ these three words and phrases. After I pondered over the consequences and connections between these occurrences—including the traps—everything became clear.”
Thales’ expression changed slightly.
“While King Nuven’s mandate was still in effect, I extracted everyone in the diplomat group from Heroic Spirit Palace in the quickest way possible,” Putray said solemnly. “And I contacted the Secret Intelligence Department.”
“The Secret Intelligence Department?” Thales gaped. “You were in touch with them?”
“I cooperated with them for some time when I was younger.” Putray shook his head, apparently unwilling to elaborate.
Thales thought of something, and another thought rose in his mind. “What about Nicholas? The White Blade Guards?”
“That was purely a surprise. I did not expect help from others, but those who went missing with the king included Nicholas and the White Blade Guards.” Putray shrugged. “So I figured, regardless of who our enemy was, the White Blade Guards were our only allies then.”
“Allies?” A puzzled expression appeared on Thales’ face.
“You heard me.” Putray nodded. “Despite the pressing time and limited resources, we managed to forge a temporary truce between ourselves, the Secret Intelligence Department, and the White Blade Guards.”
‘Though it was an unstable alliance. Each party still guarded against the other two. Secrets were kept,’ Putray thought to himself.
“The Secret Intelligence Department had intel and the enemy’s channels of information. The White Blade Guards had manpower and their familiarity with the city layout.” Putray took a peek at Raphael, shaking his head. “Thus commenced the rescue plan—although we were uncertain whether the person imprisoned was you.
“Of course, the outcome was rather satisfying…” As he brought it up, Putray glanced at Miranda and Kohen. “We had an extra surprise.”
Thales lowered his head, falling into a long silence. After a while, he looked up again.
“Thank you, Putray,” he heard himself say. His voice sounded melancholic; there was a hint of dejection in his utterance.
Putray heaved a long sigh as he watched the prince. “It is my job.”
Thales turned his head and took a glance at his surroundings. Then, he felt a jolt.
“Wait, where is Aida?” Thales’ eyes widened, searching for his elfin protector.
But Putray merely shook his head with a look of worry.
“She went to look for you some time ago and still has not returned.” The vice diplomat squeezed the pipe in his hand. “I assumed Your Highness would return with her.”
“I know,” he mumbled. “She… she said she was going to stop a powerful enemy.”
A strange spark flickered in Putray’s eyes.
“Did she…?” He stared at Thales. “Then, you can only have faith in her.”
Thales did not speak. Asda’s face came to his mind and he could not help but tighten his fists.
“And before that…” A strange light flashed in Putray’s eyes. He turned around, staring at the other Constellatiates in the room. “We need to plan our next step, Your Highness.”
When he heard this, Thales’s breathing slowed down.
‘The next step. Do we have a “next step”?’
Thales suddenly recalled the letter from Gilbert. In the letter, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs showered the Prince of Constellation with words of encouragement, sharing his experience and knowledge in Eckstedtian diplomacy. His words were filled with his confidence in Thales.
Thales’ expression darkened. He lowered his head. “Next step?”
When he finished reading the letter back in the palace, he thought for a moment that he had fulfilled Gilbert’s request wonderfully, that he had successfully buffered the friction between Eckstedt and Constellation.
Putray’s sharp glance flitted over the Constellatiates around him; over Willow: who was learning a trick or two from the veteran Genard; Ralf, who was tending to his arm; Miranda and the others who were each in deep thought, and in the end, back to Thales.
The vice diplomat of Constellation raised his voice sternly. “Yes. Our next step is leave Dragon Clouds City; to leave Eckstedt.”
Thales knit his brows together slightly.
‘Leave… Such a comforting word.’
If he heard this word a month, a week, even a few hours ago, he would be thrilled and cheering at the top of his lungs.
The departure then meant an escape—the end—and to be away from this uncultured enemy kingdom, ending this wretched trip.
‘But now… Now… Leave…?’
Raphael’s voice came from behind Putray. The young man from the Secret Intelligence Department appeared before Thales. “Basically… we run. Run for our lives.
Raphael’s expression was calm. His tone of voice was relaxed as usual. Nevertheless, it made the others tense up instinctively. “Before the Kingdom of the Great Dragon—enveloped by conspiracies and lies—devours us all.”
‘Run for our lives.’ Thales’ breathing quickened. He tightened his fists once more. ‘Leave… Run for our lives… Run for our lives?’
“Wait, the Eckstedtians- I mean- What did the White Blade Guards say?” When Kohen saw Raphael walking towards Thales, he and followed him, asking, “After all, they were the ones who brought us out of there.”
A cold voice echoed from the doorway. “It’s more or less the same plan.”
The group was startled. They then realized that Nicholas stood at the doorway, tossing them a chilly look. Mirk stood beside him wearing a gloomy face.
“Our men will take Lady Walton away.” The Star Killer appeared to have treated his new wounds and changed out of his torn clothes. “I will meet with and inform Prime Minister Lisban alone. He was one of His Majesty’s most trusted man.”
Hearing the Star Killer’s plan, Thales thought of something and frowned instinctively.
“Prime Minister? Can he help you?” the prince could not help asking. “Such as resisting, or even eliminating Lampard, and determining the truth? Is this situation reversible?”
Nicholas did not speak, but his gaze grew colder and colder.
Thales had also realized something. He was prepared to continue the inquiry, but then put a stop to the question at the tip of his tongue, and panted.
The person who answered the prince’s question was Mirk, who was by Nicholas’ side.
“It is difficult.” This man who had experienced a traumatic event the other day; a former White Blade Guard, and the former administrator to the king; Byrne Mirk looked weary. His voice was hoarse, as though it was grounded up by sand. “The direct bloodline of the Walton Family has been severed, leaving a little girl who cannot inherit the throne.”
Thales paled. A soft voice spoke to him in his mind. ‘No. That is not it. It can get worse… Much worse.’
Putray also sighed and said softly, “Perhaps Dragon Clouds City is destined to be governed by a new family—Eckstedt must live on. Even a prime minister cannot change that.”
Nicholas lifted his chin abruptly. Shades of red emerged on his pale cheeks.
“But the truth needs to be known. Hatred must be cleansed with blood.” The Star Killer clenched his teeth. His eyes harbored endless fury and antipathy. “His Majesty’s blood debt is the White Blade Disgrace.”
Mirk, who stood few feet away, heaved a deep sigh. Thales could sense that his feelings toward the late common-elected king were complicated.
‘Right… That king… The unforgettable king who died in a rather tragic or spectacular manner. Nuven Walton the Seventh.’
Thales lowered his head. He felt a chill in him, as if King Nuven’s head was still rolling beside his feet. His words before he passed away echoed repeatedly in his ears.
Putray changed the subject and asked in seriousness, “If that is the case, where are you planning to bring Lady Walton to?”
“Anywhere far from Lampard’s threat.” Nicholas looked up. His eyes were shining, as though he had reverted back to his previous role as the competent, decisive, and unyielding Commander of the White Blade Guards.
“We will complete our unfulfilled responsibility towards the Walton Family, to the common-elected king.”
Thales lowered his gaze.
‘Little Rascal… Her fate…’
From the day before yesterday, to last night, and this morning, her fate had been tossed and turned numerous times. It was plunging deeper and deeper into the abyss by the second.
Putray rolled his eyes. The corners of his lips upturned. As though he was giving a solemn suggestion, the vice diplomat mumbled, “What about Constellation? That is the one place where Lampard, even Eckstedt, cannot reach. It’ll be far away from the internal conflicts in Eckstedt.”
A thought appeared in Thales’ mind. He thought of the Red Witch’s words:
‘”Since we cannot take things as is, then why not capture someone of Walton’s bloodline back to Constellation as a bargaining chip, right?”‘
Nicholas snorted frostily and his tone was unkind.
“We have discussed this,” the Star Killer said coldly, “You know my stance, citizen of the Empire.”
Mirk, too, shook his head slowly with a stern expression.
“The Secret Room is a participant behind this conspiracy,” Raphael chimed in. He fixed his gaze on the ground, and spoke meaningfully. “The white blade may be sharp, but surely there were chinks in it.”
“I have not forgotten how this disaster began, little brat from the Secret Intelligence Department.” Nicholas folded his arms. The glare he shot at Raphael was like a sharp blade. Then he chuckled. “But at a time like this, you Constellatiates are already in deep trouble, thanks to yourselves.
“I’m uncertain about the other things, but Lampard wants war,” the Star Killer said coldly. “After today’s incident, perhaps it will happen according to how he hopes events will unfold.”
Raphael frowned. Thales felt a chill in his heart.
‘In deep trouble…. As he wished for… War. That’s right, the Kingdom of Constellation…’
Thales closed his eyes. He could not help but think of the Broken Dragon Fortress, as well as the people at said fortress.
The dazzling and hearty Fortress Flower, Sonia Sasere; the hot-tempered, unapproachable Kingdom’s Wrath, Arracca Murkh; and the countless Fury Guards who died charging into the battlefield at the fortress.
Thales squeezed his eyes shut, he was quivering involuntarily.
‘”Most of the soldiers under my command and your diplomat group have died… Just so that we could send you here.”‘
The voice of the volcano-like, wrathful warrior, Baron Murkh, echoed in his mind.
‘”Do not let them die in vain.”‘
Thales’s trembling intensified.
‘…Die in vain… Die in vain…’
As he met the Star Killer’s challenging glare, Raphael fell silent.
“I strongly recommend that you to reconsider my suggestion,” Putray added insistently.
Nicholas turned to the vice diplomat, chuckling coldly, and fired back, “Oh? Then perhaps you should consider MY suggestion. I alone probably cannot persuade Count Lisban. But in the presence of the Prince of Constellation, whose reputation is ruined but remains dauntless, it is far more compelling.”
He glanced at Thales, but the prince’s eyes were still closed and did not move.
Nicholas turned around and exchange glances with Miranda, who was wiping her long sword. “Surely… It is the same with the heiress of the Dukedom of Northern Territory.”
Raphael gave a light snort. Kohen rolled his eyes.
Putray heaved a sigh. “Let us get back to the previous topic.”
Nicholas smiled he did not speak again. Raphael switched back to the original topic with a calm visage.
“Do you have any reliable route to leave the city? We need to evade the eyes and ears of the black market, patrol units, and the Secret Room.”
“Not many.” Nicholas shook his head. “We used to have many, but Kaslan… he knows a lot about them too…”
Raphael narrowed his eyes. “We actually have one—”
“What will happen?”
The group was startled. After a few seconds, everyone recovered from their shock. The person who just chimed in was Thales; it was the second prince who had stayed quiet for a long while.
Nicholas frowned. “What?”
Thales lifted his chin with a dazed look.
“We leave, just like that…” Thales’s voice became rather croaky, like a long-dried river canal. “Gone.”
Putray seemed to have sensed something. He quickly went behind Thales, pushed down on his shoulder, and gave him a subtle sign.
However, Thales seemed unaware. He began to speak, his voice was weary and trembled slightly.
“What will happen to Eckstedt? What will happen to Constellation?”
Kohen and Wya exchanged a look. A hint of guilt and remorse emerged on their faces and they averted their gazes.
Raphael seemed unmoved. His hands crossed and held on to one another.
“We came with the mission to forge peace, but we’re leaving like this…?” Thales’ voice was soft, but in the silent temple, it was nerve-wracking.
“Run away…” Thales released an indecipherably complex snicker. He felt exhausted, immensely exhausted.
He endured the discomfort in his throat, clenched his teeth, and said, “The futures of Constellation and Eckstedt. What will become of them?”
From a distance, Miranda sighed. Her sigh could be heard clearly.
Putray did not speak, his eyelids drooped somewhat. His face was full of weariness and dejection, but he lifted his gaze and directed it at Thales.
“Your Highness.” The vice diplomat’s voice sounded tired, too. “You already know that… right?”
In that moment, Thales felt a jolt in his chest and could not help a shudder.
“Eckstedt lost a king,” Putray said slowly with his deepest voice. “Dragon Clouds City lost its suzerain family.”
Nicholas’ face reddened. His teeth grated, nearly crushing his molars. Mirk turned his head away with a sorrowful gaze.
“But Constellation became the culprit’s scapegoat,” Putray continued.
Kohen lowered his head. Miranda tightened her grasp on her sword hilt.
The vice diplomat took his flint out leisurely.
He ignited the tobacco in his pipe.
“Lampard eliminated his greatest threat, and now he has the situation completely under his control.” Putray chuckled, but his utterance was laced with an intense coldness. “His plots and traps were laid out one after another, like the ferocious waves of the Sea of Despair. We are horribly beaten, stripped of any strength to counterattack, and can only keep ourselves alive.”
In the room, smoke rose from the pipe in Putray’s hand. Raphael stared at Thales with a frosty expression.
“Other than saving you, we cannot do anything in this situation.” The vice diplomat held the pipe bit in his mouth with a solemn expression and a blank gaze.
In the next moment, Putray suddenly bit on the pipe and took a deep drag.
He puffed out a mouthful of smoke abruptly, he looked conflicted.
“It is true that you and we—our diplomat team—are bearing the expectations and burdens of the Constellation Kingdom, travelling all the way here with a mission to prevent war…” the pace of Putray’s words and his breathing hastened. “But it is time to accept the truth.”
Thales closed his eyes, inhaling a mouthful of smoky air. It was exactly as Putray said.
‘The tobacco grown in the Northland, it stings, it’s pungent and awful…’
Thales exhaled a mouthful of smoke. The smoke made his eyes bloodshot. He turned away, shivering, avoiding the smoke.
Within the smoke, Putray slowly turned his head and directed his gaze onto Thales. A firm but agonizing emotion loomed in his eyes.
“Your Highness… We have failed.”