Chapter 225 - Save This Country

Kingdom’s Bloodline Masterless Sword, 无主之剑 2022/9/13 16:53:12

Chapter 225: Save This Country

Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation

Raphael unfolded a map, and scrutinized the routes on it attentively.

His inner right arm was still aching. As the Black Prophet said, he used that power too often.

‘That greedy, insatiable blood-sucking monster.’

Raphael frowned slightly.

But he just left the matter aside—he had too many things to worry about.

Such as the mess in Northland.

Or the boy behind him.

Raphael sighed. He rolled up the map of Dragon Clouds City to the City of Faraway Prayers and looked at the second prince, who was standing by his side.

But the moment he turned around, he could keenly sense that there was something wrong with Thales’ expression.

Thales furrowed his brows and his complex gaze was fixed on Raphael.

“You should get some rest. Our journey will not be a peaceful one.” Raphael was a little uncomfortable under his stare. He could not help but say, “You better have enough strength…”

However, Thales’ gaze remained on him. His eyes slowly shifted towards Raphael’s two hands.

Just as the youngster from the Secret Intelligence Department was about to get frustrated, the second prince spoke softly.

“The person who crippled your hands was the Duke of the Northern Territory, Val Arunde, right?”

Raphael stopped breathing momentarily.

His face twitched slightly and successively turned into a relaxed smile. “A random conjecture is not—”

Thales interrupted him.

“The branding on your hands, I recognize that letter.”

Thales silently said.

“That’s an engraved Ancient Empire letter, ‘A’.

“It represents the White-Backed Flying Falcon of the Arunde Family.”

Raphael’s words were stuck at his lips, and his expression stiffened.

A few seconds later, the man from the Secret Intelligence Department softly exhaled. He remained silent without a word.

A good while later, Raphael shifted his gaze away.

“Looks like the Cunning Fox taught you well,” he flatly said, seemingly unconcerned. “Even though it was just for a short month.”

Thales, who had gotten his tacit reply, inhaled. In his heart, he recalled what Little Rascal had told him earlier.

“I’ve heard Val Arunde say that his alliance with Lampard and the seizing of the throne was just the first step.”

Thales’ stared directly into Raphael’s eyes with a sharp gaze.

“His main goal was to create a Northern Territory that is no longer threatened by the flames of war.”

The second prince softly said, “For example, he would have his daughter marry Lampard’s son. It was the first step of reconciliation between the kings of these two countries, which had been engaged in a blood feud for the last millennium. Constellation and the Dragon would have slowly merged as one, allowing the Northern Territory to enjoy peace forever.”

Raphael was motionless.

He just listened to the prince quietly.

Looking at his expression, Thales suddenly revealed a complex smile.

“I think he must’ve been very upset when he found out that his daughter already had a lover of lower status.” Thales sighed, his gaze not leaving Raphael’s face. He softly said, “A Barren Bone at that.”

Upon hearing this, Raphael who had been lacking in expression the entire time furrowed his brow at last.

“So Duke Arunde crippled your sword wielding hands as a punishment and warning.” Thales looked at Raphael’s hands and slowly shook his head. “He snatched away the most important thing to you, ruined a swordsman’s pride and the thing they depend upon, am I right?”

Raphael lowered his head.

In that instant, his hands seemed to ache.

He felt as if he had gone back to the moment the red-hot flatiron sank deep into his muscles, bones and flesh; and he remembered the unforgettable, cauterizing pain that was etched into his bones.

‘It feels like it was just yesterday.

‘Not just that…

‘There was also the endless dark abyss, the days of painful struggle in the boundless hell, which reeked of blood after that.’

Raphael’s gaze was fixed at the empty space in the air.

‘Snatched away the most important thing?

‘To turn from being a promising Seed of the Tower of Eradication, into a useless man?

‘Or to crawl out once more from the most terrifying torture?

Raphael’s unfocused gaze refocused again.

“You ought to apply your intelligence and wisdom where you should,” the youngster from the Secret Intelligence Department resumed his usual expression and said bluntly.

But Thales remained relentless. “Why did he spare your life?

“He has no reason to spare you… isn’t it better if the person named Raphael disappeared forever?”

Raphael shut his eyes.

He seemed to have returned to that nightmarish prison cell.

Thales quietly awaited his reply.

Raphael opened his eyes again and his gaze was calm.

“A long time ago, I saved his daughter’s life. He was very thankful,” the man from the Secret Intelligence Department slowly answered. “But Val is a stubborn and unyielding man. Not taking my life was already his greatest kindness.”

“That explains it,” he muttered.

Raphael’s gaze shifted. “What?”

The second prince slowly leaned against the wall, appearing lost and lonely.

“His Majesty was very pleased, wasn’t he?”

Thales sighed as he spoke. His voice was so soft it did not seem like the words were spoken from his mouth.

Raphael frowned. “What do you mean, ‘pleased’?”

Thales gradually heaved a sigh, slowly explaining what he had just figured out.

“His betrayal, seizing of the throne… and his eventual failure as well as imprisonment?”

Thales absent-mindedly said, “Everything that happened was exactly what King Kessel—I mean, what Father hoped for, wasn’t it? He was very pleased with the duke’s actions.”

Raphael frowned and stared at Thales with a solemn gaze.

‘This boy…’

“I cannot understand your utterly disorganized words, Prince Thales.”

The youngster of the Secret Intelligence Department warned, “Also, it isn’t good to rashly speculate His Majesty’s intent—just a word of advice from the Secret Intelligence Department.”

Thales lightly snorted. He appeared to be completely unconcerned.

The prince then took a step forward. With a complex expression, his stare at Raphael gradually became clearer.

“So he was indeed pleased, and was even looking forward to Arunde’s rebel.

“He awaited that erroneous and insane step from the Duke of the Northern Territory.” Thales sighed. “I even have suspicions that His Majesty had long expected it and just allowed things to slide along.

“Thus, he was able to set about imprisoning Arunde on authoritative and fair grounds.”

Raphael’s brows knitted even tighter together. “Looking forward? Expected?”

The man from the Secret Intelligence Department snorted as if he had just heard the funniest thing.

“You think too much…

“Why would His Highness look forward to the imprisonment of the Duke of the Northern Territory, or look forward to Arunde’s risk taking? If he had known everything a long time ago, why would he let the situation worsen and allow the Duke of the Northern Territory to really step onto the path of rebellion, putting the Northern Territory at risk?” Raphael shook his head. “I’m telling you, don’t speculate rashly…”

Thales clenched his fist tightly.

He gradually raised his volume, seemingly accumulating his resentment and grievances from the past few days.

“Because His Highness needs and craves this opportunity, right?”

Raphael’s words halted by the edge of his mouth. Slightly astonished, he watched the prince, whose chest was undulating.

“Miranda told me that His Majesty already sent government officials to stabilize the state of affairs in the Northern Territory.” Thales gasped for breath, unable to stop the trembling of his chest.

“It sounded reassuring.

“But here lies the key—His Majesty sent his government officials.” Thales raised his head and gritted his teeth as Kessel’s resolute face surfaced before his eyes. “Tell me, Raphael.”

The prince stared tenaciously at Raphael, looking into his red pupils.

Thales could not help but remember the Nanchester Family’s One-Eyed Dragon, Koshder; and what he said before he left.

‘”You underestimate your father, the Iron Hand King and underestimate the fear he brings upon the whole of Constellation.”‘

The prince’s lips opened and closed as he fiercely said, “If it wasn’t for the assassination of Prince Moriah; the pressure of war from Eckstedt; Arunde’s desperate risk-taking, which caused him to get jailed; a masterless and lost Northern Territory; the series of attacks that caused the Northern Territory to become dangerous and weak, then His Highness could have…”

Thales paused for a moment.

Meanwhile, Raphael’s gaze dampened slightly.

Thales clenched his jaw and forced himself to finish saying the rest of his words.

“Without hindrance, he sent the king’s direct subordinates, officials and nobles towards Cold Castle in the name of fighting against the enemy, on the grounds of war, in the name of using warning and punishment towards the rebelling officials as reason…

“He could blatantly increase the number of regular forces at the fortress, and consequently, assume control of taxation, handling the judicial system there, the land, as well as more important territorial affairs…

“Until the Jadestar Royal Family completely replaces the imprisoned Duke of the Northern Territory…

“Until the Arunde Family’s generational rule over the Northern Territory is thoroughly transferred to the royal family, right?”

Once he finished saying these words, Thales felt a pain in his head. He could not help it as his body swayed.

He supported himself with one hand up against the wall. Meanwhile, the other hand was firmly pressed against his forehead, and he rubbed his temple nonstop.

‘Val Arunde, Kessel Jadestar…

‘The shocking change in the diplomatic groups of Eckstedt, everything in the Hall of Stars, my own appearance and what I thought was an ingenious plan of mine of solving the problem in the Hall of Stars…

‘From the looks of it now, it’s all…

Thales felt his head grow increasingly painful.

A memory fragment surged uncontrollably into his mind, slotting itself back into the vast sea of his memories.

A fragment that was comprised of only a few words, but could cause a chill in people’s hearts.

‘The Earl of Zheng…

‘The Earl of Zheng overcoming his younger brother, Duan at a place called Yan.’ [1]

“As His Majesty’s largest conspirator as well as most important eyes and ears, the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department…

“Tell me, was it so?” Thales opened his eyes and tried hard to suppress his voice. However, half the room still turned around repeatedly.

Raphael did not speak for the longest time.

But the prince seemed to be very patient. He stared motionlessly at the person from the Secret Intelligence Department. An incomparably complex expression raged in his eyes.

Finally, Raphael heaved a long sigh. His expression was filled with the same boundless, complex and subtle emotion. He spat out a few powerless and helpless words, “No comment.”

It was an answer that did not resemble an answer.

Nevertheless, the prince had already obtained the information he wanted.

In that moment, Thales was like a deflated ball as he slowly relaxed.

He leaned against the wall unconsciously. His expression was rigid.

“Why?” Raphael watched Thales with indifference on his face, but his words were laced with dignity. “Why would you think that way?”

Thales automatically scoffed.

“Although you mentioned not to listen to the Red Witch many times, you have to know, lies that are enough to sway the will of others are all based on certain facts,” the prince’s voice sounded very exhausted, as if someone else was talking in his place.

Raphael’s complexion shifted slightly.

“What Calshan said to Miranda…” Thales closed his eyes and firmly exhaled. “‘If you do not want to see this land seized through despicable means’, ‘Northland belongs only to Northlanders’—I understand now.

“The Red Witch wasn’t speaking random words.”

He smiled bitterly and his laugh was desolate. “The one who schemed to seize the Northern Territory was not just Eckstedt, it was not just Lampard.

“Initially, I didn’t think too much about it. That was until I heard the history about the ‘Virtuous King’, King Mindis the Third from a long time ago,” Thales said absent-mindedly. “It instantly solved a lot of my suspicions.”

Raphael frowned a little.

‘Virtuous King?’

“His Majesty…” The corner of Thales’ mouth twitched slightly. He attempted to recall the face of the Iron Hand King, but all that appeared in his mind was his grim, solemn voice, and fleeting yet powerful movements.

“If he truly not afraid of the Eckstedtians really… really going down South in a large scale?

“Not afraid of them seizing the Northern Territory?”

Thales clenched his fist tightly, squeezing the scar he had made on his palm.

Raphael sighed momentarily.

“With all due respect, Your Highness,” Raphael softly said.

“If it wasn’t for your unexpected actions, including the opportunity you gave to that doctor to contact the Secret Room, and your inexplicable appearance outside Heroic Spirits Palace, Eckstedt would now be in a mess according to our predictions.” The youngster from the Secret Intelligence Department slowly shook his head.

Thales began laughing for an unfathomable reason.

His chest trembled slightly, and his laughter continued on with unknown implications.

“Has he always been such a risk taker, so crazed in his actions?” the prince asked weakly. “Or was he only like this after the Bloody Year?”

Raphael did not say a word.

But he did not understand. ‘What’s so funny?’

Thales let out a final chuckle. He lowered his gaze towards the ground, his expression unclear.

“Regarding the Northern Territory’s affiliation… does Miranda know?” His smile vanished as he softly said, “Does she know that you were involved?”

This time, Raphael stood rigidly in place.

‘That girl.’

“No… comment,” Raphael spoke the same words. But this time, his words were laced with a stagger and quiver.

Raphael’s red pupils flickered slightly and his breathing accelerated.

‘Miranda. A meticulous girl with keen senses… How could she possibly…’ Raphael shut his eyes. ‘Possibly not know?’

Amid heavy gasping, the man from the Secret Intelligence Department attempted to end the conversation. “If you’re just doing this to—”

But he was interrupted by Thales once again.

“Help me.”

Yet, not a trace of dullness or sadness could be found in it.

Raphael paused momentarily.

“What?” The person from the Secret Intelligence Department softly opened his eyes and looked at the prince in puzzlement.

Before his eyes, Thales raised his head slowly as well.

“I said…” the prince’s voice was completely void of its previous hesitation and weakness. It became firm, persistent and unquestionable.

The prince cast a rare expression from his ash-colored pupils, directly meeting Raphael’s stare.

“I need your support, Raphael Lindbergh. Help me convince them…

“Help me!”

Raphael was absolutely stunned.

“What do you want to do?” the man from the Secret Intelligence Department asked subconsciously. He even forgot about honorifics.

Thales laughed softly. His hand had long since left the wall as he stood firmly on the ground, staring at Raphael.

Optimism and relief were written all over his face.

Astonishingly, Raphael realized that the current Thales was not the same anymore.

His eyes were filled with unprecedented spirit.

They seemed to be burning with raging flames.

“Whether it’s you or me, the Secret Intelligence Department or the Kingdom,” Thales slowly said. His complexion was like ice and his tone like iron. It was filled with a rare determination, “Whether it was an accident or failure, my fault or your negligence…

“After we’ve worked so hard for so long, gave so much, experienced so much…

“You’re willing to lose all the bargaining chips to Lampard, and push the kingdom into the abyss of war?

“Are you willing to accept such a sorrowful circumstance, and tacitly approve of such a terrible ending?”

“At this point, you…” Raphael furrowed his brows. Looking at the prince, he found himself at a loss. “What do you still want to do?

“What else can you do?”

Thales revealed a mysterious smile.

In that moment, it seemed like Raphael was just getting acquainted with the Prince of Constellation, who had unexpectedly returned and also brought countless mishaps, for the first time.

He was not that helpless boy who was pushed along by the tides in Mindis Hall.

He was also not the prince who gritted his teeth and fought tooth and nail while he was in a dangerous situation at the Hall of Stars, and he was definitely not the struggling marionette in a game of power, but Prince Thales, the one and only Thales Jadestar.

As if they were just facing a small problem, the Prince of Constellation flatly said, “Of course it’s…”

Chapman Lampard’s figure and his firm, forbearing face suddenly appeared before his eyes.

The prince’s eyes lit up and he blurted, “To save this country.”

Translator’s Note:

1. A historical piece recorded in the Commentary of Zuo.