Chapter 232: The Archduke’s Fight
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
The four archdukes stared at Lampard with different expressions. Olsius’ eyebrows were tightly furrowed, and his face was filled with surprise and bewilderment. Tilting his head, Trentida peered suspiciously at Lampard. Archduke Lecco’s gaze did not move, as though it was frozen in place. On the other hand, Roknee clenched his fists hard. His eyes were filled with disdain.
After a while, in a soft voice, Archduke Olsius asked the question that was on everyone’s mind, “Have you gone crazy?”
Containing Eternal Oil, firewood and other fuels, the six large braziers burned with increasing brightness.
During that moment, half of the Archduke of Black Sand’s body was hidden in the darkness, and the other half was illuminated by the firelight in the hall.
Lampard turned and stared at the empty main seat at the innermost part of the long table.
He recalled the time he played there with Harold when they were young.
He subconsciously placed his hand on the saber by his waist.
“Who knows?” Lampard’s expression was indifferent, and his gaze was cold. “Probably.”
Olsius looked increasingly puzzled. His eyebrows moved a little.
At this point, having peered at Lampard with narrowed eyes, Trentida burst out in laughter.
The other archdukes looked at him.
“Dragon Clouds City, hahaha… Dragon Clouds City.” Resting his right hand on his left arm, which was placed horizontally across his body, he held his chin. Due to his laughter, his shoulders trembled non-stop and the radiant embroidery of a sword’s blade on his chest shook. “Carve it up?”
The Archduke of Reformation Tower continued laughing, as though he just heard a good joke.
His sense of humor obviously did not affect the other four archdukes. They stared quietly at Trentida with a steely expression.
“I’m sorry… haha…
“Everyone, forgive me for being rude.” Archduke Trentida shook his head with a big smile. Still resting his right hand on his left arm, he waved casually at the other archdukes.
But not a single hint of remorse was in his tone.
“As an archduke, I don’t often hear such shocking words.” Archduke Trentida’s smile slowly faded, but he still had an amused expression, and his gaze was profound.
“Especially from another archduke.”
Lampard stared at him and snorted softly. His expression was unfathomable.
“Very well,” the Archduke of Prestige Orchid chipped in coldly. “We’ll take over Dragon Clouds City’s vast land and countless citizens, then eat and drink to our hearts’ content…
“After that, conveniently forget about what you did, right?” He seemed contemplative, but his gaze was getting increasingly unpleasant.
“Just like a good business deal?
“To obtain the king’s territory in exchange for his life?”
Lampard did not even glance at Olsius. Instead, he stared into the air and said, “Don’t read too much into my words, Reybien. You have always been prejudiced towards me since we were young.”
Olsius snorted and chuckled. His expression was unfriendly.
Archduke Lecco, the only one sitting, heaved a long sigh.
“To disregard the assassination of King Nuven, a certain someone’s domineering behavior, and that person’s betrayal?” The oldest archduke shook his head. His expression became solemn, which was rarely seen from him. “This cannot be considered a good suggestion.”
Staring at Lecco, Lampard’s expression also grew intense.
“I firmly believe that this is a good suggestion Rogers, my esteemed elder,” he said with a respectful and grave expression. “Dragon Clouds City is located in the heart of Eckstedt. It has countless thoroughfares running through it, rich resources, vast lands, fertile soil and many citizens.”
Lampard’s gaze flickered a little. “It holds a natural, suppressive advantage over the other territories.
“During the days of Nuven’s rule, all of you suffered from it too. He pulled all sorts of tricks on us… For example, when our army passed through his territory. He set up tolls, cut off our supplies, hoarded grains, caused migration and opened up wastelands.”
Archduke Lecco sighed. His gaze was unfocused.
Lampard extended his right hand and slowly clenched his fist as he looked around at the archdukes. “So, the purpose of getting rid of Dragon Clouds City is to ensure that these shackles called the Walton Family do not exist anymore. It is to liberate all of you… who are sitting here.”
He swept his gaze across the other four archdukes again.
But all of them were not swayed.
Only Archduke Roknee raised his chin a little. He first flashed a faint smile before his gaze became cold.
“This is really interesting…” he said in a deep voice.
“After doing all of this—shamelessly murdering the king and leading your army into Heroic Spirit Palace, you actually want to use the late king’s gains and territory in exchange for our understanding and alliance?” A suppressed anger slowly revealed itself in Roknee’s voice.
“Even making it sound so morally righteous.
“As though you’ve been standing on our side and you had no choice but to do so for our sake.”
Archduke Roknee spat coldly before Lampard’s face. “F*ck you, Lampard.”
Lampard stared back at him expressionlessly.
‘Even though Kulgon Roknee of the City of Faraway Prayers is as bold and uncompromising as people say, this is my first time witnessing it.
‘He could be troublesome.’
Archduke Lampard shut his eyes, then opened it slowly.
“I must reiterate that even though there was a misunderstanding, which was hard to solve, between me and King Nuven, as well as deep hostility, the entire tragedy last night…
“…was planned by the Constellatiates. All of you must have heard of their Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department’s tactics. Some of you may even have experienced it,” he slowly said.
“I am here so that we can save ourselves before the blow they deal on the Kingdom of the Great Dragon worsens—”
Olsius rudely cut him off.
“So, what is this?” The Archduke of Prestige Orchid tilted his head and glanced at Lampard. His expression was unpleasant. “Are you finding the means to make an adequate offer so that you can bribe us to say what you want?
“Do you take this glorious hall… for a bazaar where lower class people shout and bargain?” Olsius raised his voice abruptly. His expression turned fierce.
“Do not tarnish our honor, Your Grace.”
Lecco looked coldly from the side as the other archdukes conversed. He said nothing.
Lampard’s expression darkened. He lowered his head a little and exhaled slowly.
“So, all of you aren’t accepting this offer?” His voice was a little deep. “The same thing happened once, three hundred years ago. If Chara hadn’t acted as regent, the Walton Family would have lost their rule over Dragon Clouds City a long time ago.
“In other words.
“This is a once in a blue moon opportunity that only comes by every three hundred years…”
Having heard this, Roknee could not take it anymore. He slammed the table and shouted furiously.
“That is impossible!”
Looking offended, he shouted angrily, “Do you want us to abandon ourselves to vice and conspire with a king slayer? Cover up and pardon your crime, along with the evil consequences you’ve brought about?
“You are insulting us and Eckstedt simultaneously!”
Trentida burst into laughter.
“But this cannot be the reason for us to clear up your mess for you.” Retracting his gaze from Lampard, Archduke Trentida said with a smile, “It’s also not a good way to bargain.”
Staring back at the Archduke of Reformation Tower, Lampard’s expression changed.
“Is that so?”
“Trentida, no matter how all of you open up wastelands in the direction of the Sighing Mountains, the arid Reformation Tower will never have enough new farmlands.” Lampard turned to face Trentida, his words momentarily startling the latter. “But if you had two or even three counties at the southeastern part of Dragon Clouds City, you won’t have to feign politeness and compliance in front of those barbarians in the mountains anymore. You won’t have to worry about the famine that comes every Day before the Bitter Cold Winter anymore.”
Trentida narrowed his eyes.
“Are you talking about two enclaved lands that don’t connect to my territory at all?” The cunning archduke sneered coldly. “Just who exactly would benefit more from it?”
The corners of Lampard’s lips curled up.
“Since you mentioned it, Poffret from Beacon Illumination City just passed away, and his territory is very close to Dragon Clouds City,” the Archduke of Black Sand Region uttered these bone-chilling words in a deep voice.
The gazes of the four archdukes flickered a little again.
“I believe that his younger brother is too young and thus not qualified to undertake such a huge responsibility,” Lampard concluded coldly. “Coincidentally, it would solve Reformation Tower’s predicament. Of course, in this case, we’ll have to discuss again on how the lands in Dragon Clouds City would be distributed. The City of Faraway Prayers and Prestige Orchid Region would both get more.”
Trentida froze. He stared at Lampard in a daze, as though he was getting to know Lampard for the first time.
Having heard this, Archduke Roknee cursed him with a horrifying expression, “Damn you!”
Archduke Lecco tapped the table with his finger. His gaze was indecipherable.
“From the little Chapman who used to walk behind his elder brother in a daze to the infamous Archduke of Black Sand Region he is today…” His voice was long-drawn and steady. “I really underestimated you in the past. It seems like there’s a reason the old man chose you instead of Harold, who commanded public respect and support ”
Lampard’s pupils contracted a little.
The scene from twelve years ago flashed in his mind once again.
The archduke he was destined to serve, supposed to serve.
It felt like he was seeing his brother on the floor again, painfully coughing out blood while flashing his final smile at him. Lampard’s face was covered in tears and he was bawling.
‘We never give in.’
Lampard’s gaze froze.
The old, bald archduke sighed. “So ambitious, wanting to swallow up the two most central territories in the kingdom at the same time.”
Lampard said quietly.
‘All of you can’t bear the weight of my ambitions.’
Trentida’s gaze flickered.
“You make it sound like the nobles in these territories and the other archdukes are all dead,” the Archduke of Reformation Tower’s tone sounded like he was taunting him. “This definitely won’t sit well with Elaphure City… since Beacon Illumination City is nearer to the territory of the one with the goatee, right?”
Lampard shifted his focus back to the reality.
“Archduke Gaddro did not come. That’s his loss,” Chapman Lampard spoke gravely, as if he had thought seriously and deeply into this. “But if you’re worried, we can negotiate with him… We can all achieve a good outcome.”
Trentida chuckled playfully. His intention was hard to discern.
Olsius clapped twice.
“Enough with this, all of you,” the man with the full beard said coldly. “Do you still remember your status?”
An idea then entered Lampard’s head.
“I know that Prestige Orchid Region doesn’t need more land, and that the Olsius Family’s good reputation among the Northlanders is no trifling matter.” The Archduke of Black Sand nodded. “But if you accept this offer, all of you won’t have to be constantly on guard while being sandwiched between the king’s Warrant for Action and the mobile sentries of Constellation’s Overwatch City,?all because of the defenses at the borders of Pine Forest.
“As for you, the frank and outspoken Roknee…” Lampard looked at the long-haired visitor from the City of Faraway Prayers.
“With these new citizens, the City of Faraway Prayers can have the best source of recruitment in the world as most of the people possess their own full set of equipment. This way, the next time there is unrest from the desert and the Golden Passage, all of you can be full of confidence. At least, there will be no need to be so nervous like you’re facing a formidable enemy.”
Saying nothing, Roknee stared coldly at Lampard.
Lampard turned and looked at Lecco, whose wrinkles seemed more obvious than usual. “Whereas, for Defense City, there are rich mines in the northern part of Dragon Clouds City… What’s wrong with obtaining a vast territory that has rich deposits of Crystal Drops for no reason?
“The next time Archduke Stustel or the new king forces you to mobilize all your forces to fill up the Glacial Defensive Line, you can just throw them a bunch of gold coins to shut them up.”
Archduke Lecco declined to comment.
“Enough,” Archduke Olsius cut off Lampard’s one-man show. He shook his head. “Do not test our patience. We’re not here to talk bullsh*t with you.”
“You should rejoice that we’re still willing to listen to your nonsense,” Roknee added rudely.
“But you don’t seem to know what sort of circumstances you’re facing,” the long-haired archduke said furiously.
“You, you are our biggest problem!
“The Chapman who murdered the king… or at least the Chapman who is suspected to have murdered the king?”
Lampard furrowed his brows a little. He glanced around at the other three archdukes’ expressions.
None of them showed objection to Roknee’s words, not even the most stingy and calculative Trentida.
Lampard sighed internally.
“All of you just can’t understand, can you?” He shut his eyes and raised his left hand to massage the area between his eyebrows. He seemed very exhausted.
“Even though I’ve given my suggestions so earnestly and sincerely?” Lampard opened his eyes and raised his eyebrows. “Even though these terms are actually beneficial to all of you?” said Lampard, suddenly raising his voice.
“Oh, come on!” Olsius cut him off loudly.
The bearded archduke snorted and said, “The morning after the king’s death, five archdukes coincidentally appear at the same time, apologize and tell them that Dragon Clouds City is no longer the Walton Family’s territory. Then tell them that they now belong to us and will pay taxes as well as respond to our recruitment calls from now on?”
Next to him, Trentida hummed sarcastically. On the other hand, Roknee crossed his arms, looking as though he was suppressing his anger.
With his gaze focused, Olsius continued to say, “You either take the four of us for idiots… or think that the subordinate nobles in Dragon Clouds City are all blind, and the citizens of Dragon Clouds City are all stupid!”
Lampard stared at him quietly.
“Even if you look down on those ignorant and boorish common people, the counts of Dragon Clouds City are not easy to deal with.” Archduke Trentida sighed while watching from the side.
“They are Northlanders, and are only loyal to the Walton Family.
“Carve up Dragon Clouds City? This will only be a joke.”
The Archduke of Reformation Tower shook his head and threw his hands open. “Without that surname, we will never be able to rule over this land.
“To bribe us with a piece of delicious cheese that we won’t even be able to eat, so that we will cover up those dirty things you did?”
Trentida flashed a smile as his eyes flickered. “You can’t convince us with this.”
Lampard furrowed his eyebrows tightly.
In front of him, Archduke Roknee snorted loudly.
“And how do you think all of Eckstedt would perceive us?” Archduke Lecco said slowly. Once in a while, his eyes shone with bright gleam. “Five archdukes splitting up the king’s territory after plotting together to murder him?”
Lecco shook his head and did not continue to speak.
Roknee took a step forward and narrowed his eyes. He said, almost boorishly to Lampard’s face, “Perhaps you’re alright with being shameless, since you killed your brother and the king.”
“And yet, you can still be pleased and proud of yourself…
“But please remember that we’re Northlanders and Eckstedtians,” the Archduke of the City of Faraway Prayers said coldly. “We have our dignity and pride. If you’re really here for ‘Eckstedt’s future’…”
Roknee furrowed his eyebrows as though he was filled with disgust. “Stop talking like a Camian. It disgusts me.”
Shutting his eyes, Lampard turned and took a few steps. His chest rose and fell.
He was suppressing his emotions…
Suppressing his growing impatience and anger.
Even though he had rehearsed this thousands of times in his mind and expected the archdukes’ reaction…
Lampard opened his eyes abruptly.
‘These short-sighted and foolish worms behind me.
‘They’re arrogant because of their self-perceived nobility.
‘Totally unaware of imminent dangers.
‘Turning a blind eye to the most terrifying threats.
‘They do not realize where the fearsome entity that really decides their life and death is.
Lampard suddenly turned. His expression was firm and resolute.
He had seemingly come to a decision.
The four archdukes could not help but feel slightly tense.
But Lampard did not do anything that would end up with him throwing his towel to the game.
He exhaled loudly. In a few seconds, his expression became calm again. “I understand… what all of you mean.”
The four archdukes exchanged a few glances.
“First of all, all of you feel that there is no way that we can take over Dragon Clouds City smoothly, and without any hidden danger?”
Trentida snorted, and the others declined to comment.
“Next,” Lampard continued saying, “according to what Roknee said, as Eckstedtians, all of you have your own creed?”
With a fierce expression, Roknee ground his teeth in Lampard’s direction. His eyes were filled with scorn.
Inhaling deeply, Lampard firmly swept his steely gaze across every single archduke of Eckstedt who was present.
At that moment, Lampard remembered what happened twelve years ago.
How he was at that time.
He was young, but his heart was already as dead as winter itself. He had experienced all the vicissitudes of life, but he was still a young count who did not know his future.
He was Black Sand Region’s heir—a nightmarish title to have.
Back then, with the same great determination and resolve as he did right now, he stood in the Hall of Stars of Constellation’s Renaissance Palace, and faced a hall full of Constellatiates with unpleasant gazes.
He faced the Supreme King of Constellation, Aydi Jadestar. Although the king was extremely old, the intentions he harbored in his eyes were unsettling.
He faced the murderous Sword of Reversing Light, the Butcher of Constellation—Horace Jadestar, who was laden with blood debts.
He faced the king’s eldest son, who sat on the right hand side of the king.
Midier Jadestar, who always had a smile on his face, as well as a modest and gentle tone. His presence unknowingly calmed others down.
Lampard clenched his fists.
Then there was the woman sitting beside King Aydi.
Lampard could not really remember how she looked like.
For some reason, whenever he thought about that dignified and poised woman, whose expression was as cool as water, Lampard still felt the same as he did back then—terribly frightened.
He knew that it was an anxiety that rose from deep within his heart.
Lampard exhaled and refocused his gaze.
“If these are your worries,” he said flatly to the four archdukes, “I can solve them.
“Dragon Clouds City, and even Beacon Illumination City,” Lampard’s voice was very nasally. “We can take over them steadily and peacefully without having to worry about any problems that might occur in the future.”