Chapter 250: When Swords Cross (Two)
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
Heroic Spirit Palace.
In the Hall of Heroes, the four archdukes stared at each other.
“He’s in trouble. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been in such a hurry.” Staring at Chapman Lampard, who was walking out of the hall by himself, Archduke Roknee furrowed his brows. “It’s probably Prime Minister Lisban.”
Archduke Trentida snorted softly.
His emotions were betrayed by his hands, which were rapidly rubbing against each other. He exhaled loudly.
“That isn’t the problem now,” the Archduke of Reformation Tower’s voice was sharp and strange as usual. He pouted at Lampard’s retreating figure. “You know what we need to do now… What do we choose?”
He stared at the other archdukes with a solemn expression.
Roknee sighed. He seemed extremely doubtful. “Do all of you believe in what he’s said?
“That the Constellatiates are now… different?”
Roknee subconsciously clenched his fists.
The archdukes said nothing.
Archduke Olsius was the only one who shook his head while he stood next to the brazier.
“I don’t know, Kulgon. I really don’t know.” The bearded archduke had a worried expression. “But I reckon that there’s something all of us know very well.”
The three archdukes looked at him.
Reybien Olsius raised his head and slowly went up to the others.
At that moment, his heart was extremely heavy.
“In the ten or ten something years that our kingdom will be in turmoil because of the king’s death, the population of those at enlistment age in Constellation will be back to the level as it was before the war. They will regain their vitality when it comes to both farming and trading,” the Archduke of Prestige Orchid’s voice harbored an ineffable force.
The other archdukes stirred slightly.
“If this were in the past, it would just be another fight.
“But what Lampard said earlier…” Olsius shook his head slowly. His gaze was serious. “All of you heard it.”
A glint appeared in Trentida’s eyes. He snapped his fingers. “So?”
Archduke Roknee snorted coldly and cut them off.
“I don’t know if all of you have noticed.” The long-haired Archduke Roknee shot a glance at the three other archdukes. “But it seems that after Lampard narrated his story, all of you have forgotten about your pride and creed as an Eckstedtian, even putting behind the fact that he assassinated the king.”
He shook his head slowly. “This isn’t what we agreed on.”
Having stayed silent for a long time, Archduke Lecco gently tapped on the table.
“Please believe in me, Kulgon. Believe in my reverence towards Eckstedt,” the old archduke raised his head and spoke slowly but seriously. “But even if only one percent of what Chapman Lampard said was true, I’m not willing to take the risk of belittling this hidden danger… Even if the consequences will be borne by our children and grandchildren.”
The expressions of the other three archdukes became tense.
“The act of punishing Lampard is to maintain the balance and comradery of Eckstedt, ensuring that our families’ rights are not breached,” Lecco said flatly. “But if Eckstedt isn’t powerful anymore one day, and our enemies can easily breach our line of defense as well as step into our territory…”
He slowly furrowed his eyebrows, clasping his hands even more tightly together.
“Our families that we protect and preserve with much toil, our glorious bloodline that we put all our hearts into continuing…
“Our children and grandchildren, descendants of whom we do our utmost to nurture, and the territories we take great pains to govern…
“What’s going to happen to them?”
All the archdukes went silent.
Trentida snorted softly. “Do you expect the Constellatiates to be like their ancestors from the Empire and allow us to retain our rights as well as status, letting us rule this land as suzerains?”
“In any case, it wouldn’t be the Olsius Family,” Archduke Olsius added coldly. “A few hundred years ago, Tormond almost wiped us out and built Constellation on the Olsius Family’s land, on top of our family’s skeletons.”
There was silence once again.
But everyone knew that they had to come to a decision.
“Let me put it this way, I’m starting to consider Lampard’s suggestion.” Trentida turned and threw his hands open. Arching an eyebrow, he asked probingly, “But after I’m done thinking this through… what if, and I’m saying what if… I don’t want to find an excuse to lie to all of you, and sneak out by myself to come to an agreement with Lampard. That’s why I’m saying this upfront.”
He shook his head and looked at the three other archdukes. “What do all of you think?”
Olsius shook his head internally. ‘Such a cunning man, talking in circles.’
“Do you know what this decision signifies?” Archduke Roknee’s gaze became increasingly sharp as he coldly said, “Where is the status of the common-elected king in your heart?”
“I don’t know where he is, but I am certain that his soul and body are not together.” Trentida shrugged and furrowed his brows.
“All of you have to admit that Lampard’s suggestion is very attractive.”
Roknee stared scornfully at Trentida. “The part about carving up the lands, or the part about Constellation?”
Trentida blinked and smiled slightly. “Both.”
Lecco and Olsius pursed their lips tightly, refusing to reply.
A few seconds later, Archduke Olsius raised his head. His expression was solemn. “I participated in that war, and saw how the Constellatiates managed their moat. Before this, unlike Lampard, I didn’t think much of it.
Staring at the other archdukes, his gaze was extremely dignified. “Plus, both Prestige Orchid Region and the Olsius Family are very close to Constellation.”
Even though it was less explicit than Trentida’s, Olsius’ hint was obvious enough.
Roknee furrowed his eyebrows tightly.
On the other hand, Archduke Lecco let out a loud sigh.
“Very well,” the old archduke said tiredly. He looked at Roknee. “I understand what you’re thinking about. But I reckon that Lampard’s existence is still within our control, and can even be settled later. However, the threat of Constellation…”
He paused for a while.
“Lampard who does not play by the rules, or the increasingly powerful Constellation,” Archduke Lecco said slowly. “Who are we more willing to have as an opponent?”
The three archdukes stared at Roknee with a complicated gaze.
On the other hand, Roknee fixed his gaze behind the long table, on the Soul Slayer Pike’s shelf, which was situated above the fireplace.
A few seconds later…
Kulgon Roknee of the City of Faraway Prayers finally said slowly, He stared at the others with a sharp gaze. “All along, you must have been aware that no matter what, I would never vote for Lampard as king.”
Roknee shook his head, leaving no room for doubt. “Impossible.”
“Great.” Archduke Trentida swayed his head in relief. “Neither will I.”
The archdukes stared at each other, exchanging surreptitious and delicate sentiments.
A few seconds later, they laughed out loud in unison.
They had reached a consensus without explicitly talking about it.
However, they slowly stopped laughing.
Lampard’s footsteps sounded outside the hall.
“It seems that all of you have come to an answer?” Chapman Lampard’s voice rang in the hall.
The four archdukes turned to the Archduke of Black Sand Region.
Lampard’s footsteps were still steady, while his figure was still strong and healthy. However, his face was becoming increasingly worn.
“Is there anything we need to know?” Archduke Lecco narrowed his eyes.
Lampard went up to the long table. Staring at his fellow archdukes, he nodded slowly.
“Lisban exceeded my expectations.” The Archduke of Black Sand Region sighed. “His people are already starting to attack the gatehouse.”
The archdukes’ expression became tense at the same time.
Before, this would have been extremely good news for them.
“So, before facing him”—Lampard’s gaze became extremely sharp—”we must come to a decision.”
He stared coldly at the four archdukes. But this time, his manner was unprecedentedly powerful and oppressive.
“To suffer together with me here.” Lampard gritted his teeth. “Or set up your new foundations in Dragon Clouds City and save Eckstedt?”
A suffocating silence much longer than usual.
The archdukes met eyes countless of times.
Archduke Lecco nodded slightly.
Tottering, the old archduke turned to face Lampard. His gaze was sagacious and vigilant. “Chapman, first of all, you have to understand something.”
Lampard narrowed his eyes.
The other archdukes stared coldly at Lampard.
Archduke Lecco rose slowly and walked towards the middle of the hall.
The old archduke slowly extended his hand and placed his palm horizontally in front of his chest. He said flatly, “This is all for Eckstedt.
“Rogers Lecco,” Archduke Lecco said flatly.
A hint of emotion instantly appeared in Lampard’s eyes when he stared at Lecco.
Nevertheless, when he placed his left hand on the saber by his waist, his gaze immediately became firm and fierce.
“Of course.” Chapman Lampard’s expression was solemn as he strode forward.
The Archduke of Black Sand Region extended his right hand and grabbed Archduke Lecco’s palm.
His tone left no room for doubt.
The two archdukes had their gazes met, and shook their clasped hands once with great force.
Following the ancient tradition of Northland, they established an alliance through that covenant.
Archduke Trentida raised his eyebrows slightly and got in between the two of them.
“For Dragon Clouds City…”
Hearing this, the other archdukes could not help but furrow their eyebrows in unison.
Trentida flashed a slight smile and blinked. He added rather profoundly, “And Eckstedt.”
He placed his palm on the clasped hands of the two archdukes.
Olsius heaved a loud sigh and stood opposite Trentida.
His expression became extremely stern.
Olsius nodded quickly and resolutely at the other archdukes. He extended his right hand and joined the oath that the three other archdukes made.
Holding each other’s hands tightly, the four archdukes stared in unison at the only remaining archduke.
Archduke Roknee fixed his gaze on the ground while pursing his lips.
Just when Trentida was starting to worry, Archduke Roknee suddenly shrugged his cape off and got next to Lampard. He stared at the Archduke of Black Sand Region.
Lampard stared back at him without flinching.
Averting his gaze, Roknee shot a glance at the other archdukes.
The next moment, the Archduke of the City of Faraway Prayer extended his hand without hesitation and grabbed the four other archdukes’ hands.
“Kulgon Roknee,” he said softly and profoundly.
Black Sand Region, Defense City, the Reformation Tower, Prestige Orchid Region, and the City of Faraway Prayers.
An alliance was formed between the five archdukes.
One floor above the Hall of Heroes, in a secluded cloister, the soldiers of Black Sand Region surrounded their commander and his captive tightly.
“You know, after talking to you in the snow that day, I started taking notice of you… Lord Nemain, the Vice Diplomat.”
Black Sand Region’s Viscount Kentvida sighed while he stared at Putray, whom he held captive. “So, I asked some friends to do some research on you.”
Putray furrowed his brows slightly. “And what did you find out?”
Viscount Kentvida smiled a little while he approached the bound Putray.
“Quite a lot.” The Viscount of the City of Halting Light nodded slowly. “As Prince Midier’s attendant, there is far more to you than what can be seen on the surface.”
Putray narrowed his eyes. “For example?”
“The people from the Secret Room aren’t very familiar with your kingdom’s organizational system, and have always assumed that you were Prince Midier’s servant.” Kentvida snorted softly and said, “They didn’t pay much attention to what you did with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after you left the Royal Court.
“So, I took special effort in finding out your whereabouts after you left the Royal Court.”
Putray’s expression changed slightly.
“Twenty-four years ago, you were at Lerden…” Kentvida said flatly.
Putray furrowed his eyebrows.
But Kentvida continued.
“Long Chant City twenty-two years ago, Steel City nineteen years ago, Kirin Holy Capital fifteen years ago, the Golden Passage fourteen years ago, Broken Dragon Fortress twelve years ago, Crystal Jade City ten years ago, and the Ruins five years ago,” Viscount Kentvida smiled and stated the names of the places one by one. He said merrily, “You’ve been to quite a lot of places.”
Staring solemnly at the viscount, Putray sighed softly.
“There is a great deal of work to do in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he gave a short reply.
“I’m afraid that there isn’t just a great deal of work to do.” The viscount went behind Putray and shook his head. “Shall I remind you?”
Kentvida started to circle him.
As he walked, he said, “The Hanbol Royal Family’s dispute over their right of succession twenty-four years ago; Anlenzo Dukedom’s continuous rebellion twenty-two years ago; the war between the Sacred Tree Court and the Hall of King’s Chronicles nineteen years ago; King Yao taking over the throne fifteen years ago; the Alliance of Freedom’s civil war, which engulfed the borders of Constellation fourteen years ago; and I don’t have to elaborate on the Bloody Year. There was also the incident ten years ago when the merfolk attacked a ship, and the Desert War five years ago.
Just like earlier, Kentvida uttered quite a few terms.
Stopping in front of Putray, the viscount stopped recounting the past. Calm and composed, he stared at Putray’s expression.
However, Putray was only staring at Kentvida. He said nothing.
“The attendant of Prince Midier, the eldest son of the king; the former second-grade civil officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and former viscount, Lord Putray Nemain.” Kentvida exhaled slowly and narrowed his eyes.
“It seems that wherever there’s a war, you were there?”
Putray furrowed his eyebrows slightly. “Is that so? I don’t even remember those things.”
“Or should I say…” A strange look appeared in Viscount Kentvida’s eyes. He changed his words.
“Wherever you are”—Kentvida curled up the corners of his lips—”there’s war?”
Putray burst out laughing.
“You really have a sense of humor.” The vice diplomat shook his head and laughed in spite of himself. “Following what you’ve just said, the chaos in Dragon Clouds City right now is also due to my presence?”
Kentvida’s expression changed.
‘This man reveals nothing.’
“Looks like you’re not anxious, Your Excellency?” the viscount’s tone became cold.
Putray arched an eyebrow. “Should I be anxious?”
Putray narrowed his eyes and nodded, pretending to acknowledge this.
“And you responded really well, Your Grace,” the vice diplomat said begrudgingly. “It was not easy for us to maneuver pass you and your people. Not only that, all of you didn’t put up a rigid defense. Instead, you dispatched a small number of elites to stop us from coming close through continuous attacks, as it should be.”
Kentvida turned abruptly. Staring at Putray, his gaze was sharp like a sword.
“We have heavy infantry guarding every single route leading to the Hall of Heroes, six floors above and below it,” Kentvida’s words became icy and resolute. “We know about every single secret passage in Heroic Spirit Palace, and there are even people guarding the windows and the observation towers… I know that there’s a Psionic among you, who can fly. Trust me, if he is outside the window, our archers will leave a deep impression on him,” Kentvida spoke coldly and with certainty.
“Whether it’s Nicholas or another person, or even the Kingdom’s Wrath, all of you won’t be able to go near the hall and harm the archduke at all.”
Staring into Kentvida’s eyes, Putray’s gaze was profound, providing much food for thought. “Really?”
Kentvida furrowed his eyebrows.
‘Why is he still so confident?’
Kentvida gritted his teeth and asked the biggest question on his mind, “Why did you come walking right into the trap?”
Putray let out a long sigh.
“Because I’m worried,” the vice diplomat said flatly. “I?want to make some final confirmations… especially in this place.”
Kentvida suddenly thought of something. “What confirmations?”
Putray blinked and revealed a cunning look.
“To confirm that all of you are neither scared of the cold, nor sending any firewood inside.”
Putray smiled slightly.
The next moment, Kentvida’s face became extremely pale. He turned abruptly and asked one of his subordinates. “Did all of you check the fireplace in the Hall of Heroes, and its chimney that connects to the top floor?”
Putray arched one of his eyebrows. “Oh, you reacted pretty quickly.”
Going up to him, Kentvida’s subordinate furrowed his brows. “We checked both. There is a metal grid on every floor of Heroic Spirit Palace’s chimney to prevent assassins. A normal adult will not be able to pass through it at all.”
He shook his head. “If they try to sneak into the hall through the chimney, they will have to break open at least six metal grids. We will definitely detect their movements…”
At that moment, Kentvida felt as though he had been struck by thunder.
“Mental grid… Normal adult… Will not be able to pass through?”
Face pale, Kentvida turned towards Putray. “That prince, that boy…
“Where is he?”
In the Hall of Heroes, palms tightly clasped together, the five archdukes stared into each other’s eyes and nodded slightly.
“Great.” Staring at the four other archdukes, Lampard’s gaze was firm. “As the first step to our sincere cooperation…
“…it’s time to explain the ‘truth’ about our king’s death to our prime minister.
“From today onwards, Eckstedt will start a new chapter.”
The four archdukes’ expressions froze.
At this moment…
A strange, stirring sound reverberated through the hall.
“Damn it, the rope isn’t long enough…” a youthful voice rang.
“It’s the last one… let me in… Ah!”
The five archdukes were slightly startled.
There was an odd clashing sound.
Before the five archdukes could react, on the other side of the long table, something suddenly fell out of the large fireplace below the Soul Slayer Pike’s shelf. It was a… black ball?
A cloud of dust rose.
The five archdukes turned in unison. They froze at the same time.
Amid the dust, the tiny ball, which looked like a piece of charcoal extended its limbs and rose abruptly.
The ‘ball’ waved its hands furiously while it coughed violently. It broke into a jog and escaped the killing range of the firewall’s dust.
Then the ‘ball’ threw itself at the edge of the round table, and only then did it escape the attack of the dust.
Still holding each other’s hands, the five archdukes stared in shock at the dark, tiny ‘ball’.
It stood up while cursing, and pulled off a piece of black cloth from its dark face, revealing the fair, bottom half of its face.
Letting out a few more coughs, it carefully folded the black cloth and kept it in its pocket.
“Ah, Merry Chris… I mean… Hello to all of you.” The ball raised its charred, dark head and wiped off the black dust on its face. It flashed a mouthful of white teeth at the archdukes. “Sorry, everyone. The grids in the chimney were a little narrow.”
Slowly letting go of each other’s hands, the five archdukes stared in disbelief at the tiny, uninvited guest.
Lampard looked like he was suppressing his anger, Olsius was extremely shocked, Trentida seemed deep in thought, Lecco furrowed his eyebrows tightly, while Roknee’s gaze was icy.
“Mind if I join?”
Covered in dust and looking extremely dark, a little boy flashed a smile at the archdukes, who just finished swearing their oath to the alliance, and who had their eyes widened and their mouth hanging open.
Rubbing the ash off his face, he imitated them and extended his right hand.