Chapter 254: The Black Knight’s Death
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
Thales never thought that the moment, which the High Priestess spoke of, would arrive so quickly. He had to decide.
He knew that Asda would not give up so easily.
But what exceeded his expectation was the fact this zealous and indifferent Mystic would appear when he was in his greatest predicament, when he was forced into a corner. He appeared quietly like a savior, offering him an extremely tempting offer with the mannerisms of a person who regarded himself superior above others. This led him to an internal struggle.
He was just like a shrewd businessman.
Thales gulped while he was in a daze. He then lifted his gaze to the five hostile archdukes.
‘With Asda’s strength, as long as they die here, everything will be solved?
‘Of course, once that’s done, there will be no turning back for me as well.
‘Is that how it’s going to be?
‘But countless people are struggling on their own battlefields, looking forward to my final victory.’
Thales could feel his heartbeat increase as cold sweat started to slide down his face.
If there was really no other way, he had to accept Asda’s condition. He had to become a Mystic like him…
This could get rid of all his struggles, such as the enigmatic Secret Intelligence Department; his future, where his fate was undecided; the calculative king; and much more…
He would have nigh infinite power and immortality. He could open the door to a new world. He could obtain all of this without any effort, and all parties concerned would be satisfied. Was this not a “condition” all people could only dream of obtaining?
Thales suddenly felt tongue-tied.
He only needed to say those words…
He subconsciously clenched his jaw and ground his teeth.
Was there really no other choice?
So many people sacrificed so many things, and they went through such a difficult struggle, but he still had to accept this terrible and irresponsible ending?
Thales parted his lips with difficulty. With that thought in his head, he met the gazes of the five archdukes.
At that moment, Thales recalled those words.
‘”Be careful of Asda.”‘
The memory of the maiden with bloody patches all over her face, and also her liberated gaze appeared before his eyes.
‘”Being a Mystic….is neither a gift, nor a blessing… It is a curse and a bad fortune.”‘
Thales furrowed his eyebrows. He gulped while he was caught in a state between hesitation and uncertainty.
The archdukes all had different expressions. They were doubtful, contemptuous, or derisively staring at Thales struggling in his heart while he appeared dazed. They were watching his quivering lips and clenched fists.
It was as though they were watching a comedy.
Something unforeseen occurred at that moment, and it was unexpected to Thales and the archdukes.
Just as they descended into an intense silence…
Without any warning, a young and weak voice interrupted their increasingly hostile conversation.
“Maybe, maybe he has no right to question you…”
Thales was shocked and looked up.
“But all of you, all of you…” this voice was shaking uncontrollably. She spoke falteringly, as if she lacked confidence. “All of you, as Northlanders, as-as Archdukes of Eckstedt, by what right…”
The archdukes were momentarily startled and looked around in surprise. They were searching for the source of the voice.
“By what right…” When she said the last words, the voice seemed to speak out with courage and desperation, and her voice grew louder. “By what right do all of you have to discuss His Majesty’s misfortune?”
As the sound of firewood breaking shot into the air, the people in the hall found the source of the voice.
Under the gazes of Thales and the archdukes, a thin, young girl covered in charcoal and dirt emerged from the fireplace.
The girl with glasses wrapped her arms around herself. She looked afraid, and her body was shivering.
But after she looked at Thales, the girl seemed to make up her mind. Biting her lips and squirming around on the broken wood, she walked out of the fireplace unsteadily before she stepped on the stone tiles of the Hall of Heroes.
The second prince stared blankly at the girl, who was covered in ashes. He did not know how to react.
‘Why is she..?’
However he immediately snapped out of his daze and ran to her.
He had even forgotten about Asda’s voice, which was at the back of his mind.
“What’s going on now?” Trentida stared at the girl with a puzzled gaze, then looked at the archdukes. He threw his hands wide open impatiently. “First, a boy, now a girl…”
“Is there no one guarding the fireplace in Heroic Spirit Palace?”
Archduke Lampard frowned. He could not hide the shock and bewilderment on his face.
Archduke Roknee sighed. “This is a really special day.”
The remaining two archdukes looked at each other in confusion.
“What happened?” Thales anxiously whispered as he clutched Little Rascal’s shoulders, blocking her from the archdukes’ view.
“Aren’t you supposed to stay at the top to be away from all danger? Why are you here? Where is Ralf?”
Little Rascal looked at Thales, who was covered in dust, and slightly hesitated.
After a split second, she found her courage. Breathing calmly, she spoke to Thales with a hurt expression, “The enemy was at the top…”
“Ralf distracted them and I only had one way: to climb down. Then, I heard your conversation…” Little Rascal’s voice sounded weaker than before, like that of a guilty child.
Thales felt his heart sink.
‘Now, even Little Rascal’s in danger.’
Thales turned and subconsciously kept Little Rascal behind him. Looking at a few of the archdukes, he felt anxious.
“Enough,” Lampard interrupted them coldly, “these ignorant little devils have insulted our meeting today with their performance—”
“Wait,” Roknee interrupted Lampard’s sentence. The Archduke of the City of Faraway Prayers narrowed his eyes as he observed the girl behind the prince. “Who are you, lassy? It can’t be that you came here by coincidence.”
Olsius took a glimpse at the fireplace and harrumphed coldly. “Constellatiates really get into every nook and cranny they can find, hmm?”
Lampard noticed the archdukes’ reactions and could not help but display a steely expression on his face.
The rest of the archdukes had alert and questioning gazes.
Thales was nervous. He clenched his teeth.
‘What should I say?
‘What should I say to prevent Little Rascal from falling into their hands?’
But he did not have to worry about it any longer.
The next second, the girl shook her shoulders a little and she unexpectedly broke free of his arm. She stepped out from behind Thales and revealed herself.
Under Thales’ astonished gaze, Little Rascal lifted her dust-covered face and spoke while shuddering in hesitation and fear.
‘I am-I am…”
The archdukes had hostile looks on their faces, while Lampard snorted coldly.
Little Rascal looked really nervous. With the snort acting as a warning, she lowered her head, trembling a little as a few crystal clear tears collected in her eyes. She was unable to say the rest of her words anymore.
However, Little Rascal’s next move was once again beyond his imagination.
The tiny and weak girl stared at the stone tiles as she clenched her teeth.
In that split second, the cowering girl forcefully shut her eyes before she opened them again, all of a sudden. She cleared her blurry vision by forcing the tears to flow to the corner of her eyes.
Little Rascal slowly raised her head and observed Thales’ face. Then, she took a deep breath.
Her fear and panic gradually faded from her face.
At that moment, the girl felt as if she had just laid down a heavy burden and crossed a great ravine. She summoned her courage and lifted her head.
Thales was shocked when he noticed Little Rascal insert her hand into her pocket. She trembled, yet she did not hesitate to pull out the object from her pocket.
The second prince was momentarily startled.
There was a fierce glare in the girl’s crystal-like gaze. She bit her lower lip and slowly raised her right hand to show everyone the object in her pocket.
The archdukes were surprised when they saw it, and their eyes were locked on the girl’s right hand.
All except Chapman Lampard, who had already guessed it. The other archdukes cast their gazes on the girl with shocked, probing, scrutinizing, or contemplative looks.
Thales was in quite a state of disbelief in regards to the situation. Even though she was still trembling and still crying, the girl still chose to raise her right hand.
He felt that something within Little Rascal, this little maid, this vulnerable girl, had changed.
The girl sighed and sniffed before she parted her lips, “This is my…”
Just then, Lampard lifted his head.
His eyes were full of cold, murderous intent when he looked towards the girl.
Little Rascal pretended to be brave and met Chapman Lampard’s gaze.
The unprepared girl trembled, and the words were stuck in her throat as though something had crossed her mind.
Little Rascal’s hand became unstable for a while, and the object slipped to the floor, causing clattering sounds to ring from the floor.
Against the pressure brought on by the Archduke of Black Sand Region, Little Rascal looked as if she had been beaten back to her original state—a little kitten. She sighed, not knowing what to do next. Even her glasses were knocked askew due to her trembling.
“I don’t think we need to waste any more time,” Lampard said with a faint sneer. His gaze was as sharp as blades. “Unless you intend to go and explain to Prime Minister Lisban yourselves on why we only appeared in a hurry after so many corpses appeared?”
However, the other archdukes did not utter a word. They only communicated with each other silently through their gazes.
Thales, who was staring at Little Rascal in silence, suddenly noticed a problem.
After Little Rascal appeared, he had subconsciously put Asda’s presence along with the options he offered Thales to the back of his mind.
But for some reason, Thales felt a lot calmer now.
The inexplicable fear and uncertainty he felt when he was forced to make a choice were gone.
At that very moment, Thales what choice he would make.
He lowered his gaze and showed a bitter smile.
‘When you faced Giza, you already made up your mind, didn’t you?
‘No matter how tempting it is, how easy it is to get something…
‘You should never…
‘Never give up on your future!’
Once he thought of this, the expressionless Thales extended his right hand!
He grabbed the girl who was about to bend over to pick up the object, preventing her from doing so.
Little Rascal looked back at Thales in shock.
Thales slowly turned his head, and gave her a reassuring smile. He stretched his hands out to straighten her glasses.
Under the archdukes’ grave looks, Lampard’s murderous gaze, and Little Rascal’s puzzled eyes, Thales Jadestar, the Second Prince of Constellation slowly bent down.
He reached out and picked up the object by the girl’s feet.
“I guess you should be familiar with this. It’s one of the proofs of King Nuven’s power and status,” Thales straightened up as he spoke languidly.
The archdukes frowned and looked at each other
When she saw Thales’ actions, Little Rascal seemingly regained to her normal composure. She looked at him, not knowing what to do next.
Thales’ gaze slowly became firm.
‘Who do you think you are?
‘I don’t believe you to be that sort of portable systems in those sci-fi novels where they constantly declare themselves to only serve their host and would absolutely do them no harm… or those old men who act like butlers in those novels set in medieval times who constantly talk about how they will help me in doing so and so…
‘You want to control my destiny, you want me to follow your plan?
‘Just like them? Rick, Quide, Kessel, King Nuven and Lampard?
Thales sneered in his heart while he solemnly raised the object in his left hand. He pulled Little Rascal by her left hand without any hesitation.
The archdukes gazes towards them changed.
Archduke Lecco was expressionless, yet his fists were tightly clenched.
Thales looked up and solemnly said, “As you can see, this lady is the current owner of this ring.”
Looking at the ring, Lampard unconsciously pressed down on the saber located by his waist. His expression was complicated.
The second prince looked at the dumbstruck Little Rascal and did not hesitate to grab her left hand.
Then, with an extremely solemn expression, Thales put ‘Triumph’, which carried important and dark history that represented the rule of many emperors and kings in the past, on Little Rascal’s left thumb.
The archdukes stared at the black ring, which they were familiar with. Their gazes were filled with wariness and guardedness.
“What she’s wearing are the glasses that the Queen of the Sky wore,” Thales whispered. He helped to lift Little Rascal’s black-rimmed glasses, while he wiped off some of the stains on her face with his sleeves. “And this lady herself even had a conversation with Clorysis!”
Archduke Olsius shifted a little. “What?”
Little Rascal was stunned. Her pupils shrank and she started to instinctively shiver.
But Thales gaze was determined. The hand he used to hold her left wrist suddenly tightened.
Little Rascal was startled.
“She has more authority here. She is more qualified to question the truth behind the king’s death, and question every single one of you on your morality,” Thales said each word in a serious tone through clenched teeth as if they were his last words. “More than me, more than you, more than this city and more than every other person in this kingdom.”
Archduke Roknee folded his arms and had a solemn expression on his face.
The second prince looked directly into the girl’s eyes.
At that moment, Little Rascal felt her nervousness gradually fade.
“Please allow me to introduce all of you to the blood descendant of the Hero Raikaru…” The second prince took a deep breath, turned around, and raised Little Rascal’s hand, along with Triumph, high above her head.
Thales and Little Rascal stood in the hall side by side. He gritted his teeth, and in a deep voice, he said, “The blood relative of Nuven the Seventh and Prince Soria, a direct descendant of the Walton Family, the most legitimate heir of Dragon Clouds City and Cloud Dragon Spear…”
Trentida narrowed his eyes. There were mixed feelings in his heart.
Thales turned his head to the side and nodded slightly at Little Rascal.
The girl stared back at Thales with crystalline green eyes, then slowly raised her head.
Little Rascal took a step forward and raised the Ring of Triumph in her left hand high above her.
“I am…” The girl turned her head swiftly and forced herself to stare at the mighty as well as stern gazes from the five archdukes. As if she was ready to risk everything, she gritted her teeth and said, “I am Saroma!”
Little Rascal saw the stone carving of the Cloud Dragon Spear from the corner of her eyes. She controlled the tremor in her voice, shouting loudly so that she could hide her own panic and nervousness.
The archdukes had profound expressions and complicated emotions. While they had strange looks in their eyes, they remained silent.
The girl took a step forward again, leaving the support provided by Thales’ arm. She pushed her chest out, and with a distorted expression and loud voice, she shouted, “I am the granddaughter of Nuven Walton, the Common-Elected King of Eckstedt and the Archduke of Dragon Clouds City!
“I am the daughter of Prince Soria Walton and the daughter of Marquis Gestad of Vine City!”
Archduke Olsius lowered his head slightly, while Archduke Roknee shook his head a little.
The girl shut her eyes in the Hall of Heroes, under the stone carving of the Cloud Dragon Spear and right in front of the five Eckstedtian archdukes.
Tears fell from her eyes and landed on the ground before they shattered into countless droplets.
Thales stood behind her and quietly stared at the girl’s performance. He had mixed feelings in his heart, and there was an indescribable, heavy sensation in his chest.
The next moment, the girl clenched her fists tightly and shouted the one name that would accompany her for the rest of her life.
“I am Saroma! Saroma Alex Soria Walton!”
Her voice echoed throughout the hall. In fact, there were even muffled rings of her voice beyond the hall.
The archdukes’ expressions were stiff. They did not speak. Even Lampard had a cold expression on his face as he remained motionless.
Once she finished shouting this sentence, the girl quickly panted a few times. Shortly after, she swayed a little as though she had been drained of strength.
Thales quickly went up to hold her.
Silence lasted for several seconds.
Only the girl’s sobs and the archdukes’ whispers could be heard in the hall.
The girl looked as if she had just made the biggest decision in her life. Her teeth chattered, and she sniffled without a sound.
“It’s okay now,” Thales gently patted her on the shoulder and comforted her with a low whisper. “Think of the scene when we met the Queen of the Sky, and compare it to now…”
The girl’s heart trembled. The image of the huge dragon, which possessed an awe-inspiring air as well as elegance flashed before her eyes.
She took a deep breath, then slowly but determinedly raised her head.
Little Rascal… No, from then on, she was Saroma Walton. Saroma left Thales’ arm and with a face full of indignation, she said, “It is just as Thales said, I stand here to represent my bloodline and Dragon Clouds City to inquire all of you…”
Saroma fixed her stare on the five archdukes. In that moment, she felt as if she could no longer be bothered by their gazes and might. She had also forgotten about the fear and cowardice that had been constantly following her.
“My fellow Archdukes of Eckstedt, all of you clearly uphold the sacred Joint Ruling Pledge and protect this similarly sacred land.”
With a cold expression, Saroma said with a dark tone, “But, when the king slayer stands before you…”
The girl’s gaze swept past the four archdukes as if she was looking at four thick books.
“…why do you still protect the murderer?”
Her voice was very steady and callous.
The archdukes frowned, then turned their heads simultaneously towards Archduke Lecco, who was the most qualified to speak among them.
Nevertheless, the old archduke stared at the girl without a single word.
Saroma gritted her teeth and took a step forward. She raised the ring and continued speaking.
“Why do you not distinguish what is right from wrong? Why do you overthrow justice? Why do you associate yourself with evil?
“Why do you make yourselves fall willingly into the chambers and into the dark? Why do you misrepresent Northland’s dignity and traditions? Why do you throw away Eckstedt’s sense of righteousness and glory?”
The archdukes stared at the the girl in disbelief. Their gazes moved back and forth from her face to Triumph. For a period of time, no one refuted her.[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
The girl’s voice grew louder in the hall. Her face turned redder, and her gaze was also aggressive.
Thales stared at Saroma’s performance in shock. She seemed like a real inquisitor.
The girl panted and cleared her throat. In a just, forceful and formidable manner, she spoke,?“How can you stand in Heroic Spirit Palace, which has been passed down through generations in the Walton Family; stand under the stone carving of the Cloud Dragon Spear, which will rise and fall with Eckstedt… and have no qualms about humiliating my grandfather, your king’s glory and honor, all while keeping a straight face?”
Saroma stared at the archdukes in front of her coldly.
“You are all archdukes who should protect Eckstedt with your loyalty, who should shoulder the glory of Northland with your conviction…
“Answer me…” She tilted her body forward, then cried out without hesitation, “Answer me!”
Saroma put down her arm and panted rapidly. She stared at the archdukes. There was a slight nervousness on her face due to her stage fright, but she also seemed like she was very surprised by her own performance.
Thales walked to the front and pulled her behind him.
The archdukes stared at each other, speechless. Their expressions were different, and only after a long while did someone speak.
Archduke Lecco stared at Saroma and sighed before he said languidly, “How awkward, to be questioned by a little girl.”
“What should we do now?” Archduke Olsius said to the old archduke coldly, “Should we be aggressive or gentle?”
Archduke Lecco snorted softly.
Behind him, Trentida moved in displeasure towards Lampard, whose face was as cold as ice.
“I thought you already had her under your control,” Trentida hissed through gritted teeth. He cast a glance at Thales, who was speaking softly with Saroma. He then whispered, “She should be a girl who knows nothing of the world. She’s supposed to be very ‘obedient’ and ‘cooperative’!”
Lampard did not answer him. He only glared at Thales.
“If the blood descendant of Dragon Clouds City doesn’t ‘cooperate’… it looks like you’ll have some problems when it comes to getting new, cultivated land, Porpheus,” the one who answered him was Archduke Roknee. This archduke from the City of Faraway Prayers loved watching Trentida make a fool of himself. He shook his head in derision.
Saroma lowered her head in a daze in front of the archdukes. With her right hand, she reached out for Triumph, which was on her left thumb.
Her face was flushed, and she breathed absentmindedly.
At the instant, she touched the ring and sensed the metallic sensation from it. Saroma’s expression changed, and she quickly pulled back her hand as if she had just been scalded.
Saroma turned her head around, seemingly too scared to look at the ring.
But her left hand was subsequently seized in a tight grip.
Saroma raised her head in a daze.
“You did well.” Thales stood beside her and gave the girl an encouraging smile.
The flush on Saroma’s face faded away slightly. She then nodded her head happily like a student who had just been acknowledged.
“One question.” Smiling with his eyes, the Prince of Constellation suddenly changed the topic and lifted his eyebrows.
“Where did you memorize those lines from?”
Saroma was originally very excited, but right then, like a student who had just been caught doing something bad, she froze a little.
She pulled a long face, and blinked behind her glasses.
The girl seemed to have instantly lost all the awe-inspiring presence brought on by her impassioned speech as she stared at Thales pitifully.
Thales furrowed his brows a little, and his gaze spoke of only one word. “Well?”
When she saw the prince’s expression, Saroma instinctively shrank back.
A second later, her face turned stark pale. She pouted, then spoke feebly, “‘Erados’ Collection of Plays’, Chapter 10: The Black Knight’s Death…”
Right before his eyes, Saroma pursed her lips and said pitifully, “They’re the words Head Inquisitor Elson Slade used to denounce the ‘Black Knight’, Yousley Ander for killing the Supreme Emperor of the Ancient Empire… I changed it a little…”
Thales was momentarily stunned before he broke into chuckles.
He instinctively extended his hand and happily pinched Saroma’s cheek.
The girl stared at him blankly, not knowing how to respond to him.
At that moment…
“Lady Saroma, I am deeply sorry for the loss suffered by the Walton Family and Dragon Clouds City,” Archduke Lecco’s voice traveled into their ears, attracting the two children’s attention to him.
The old archduke slowly walked to the long table and sat down. “His Majesty’s misfortune is also Eckstedt’s misfortune.”
Saroma’s face turned pale.
But Thales only smiled.
The other archdukes glanced at each other. Their expressions varied. Only Lampard remained expressionless, and no one knew what was going on in his mind.
“But, you are still too young, and you cannot understand all that has happened.” A strange glint flashed in Archduke Lecco’s eyes. The bald archduke used his unique and old, but sonorous voice to slowly say, “I suggest that you do not believe in the words of the enemy kingdom’s prince alone, especially when it comes to who assassinated His Majesty.”
When he heard this, Archduke Roknee let out a peculiar snort, immediately receiving an angry glare from Trentida.
Saroma bit her bottom lip.
“I-I stood in Shield District, and on the land belonging to Dragon Clouds City. I personally saw… King… Nuven’s… head fall to the ground.” When she remembered that terrifying scene, she had to use every bit of her strength to stop herself from trembling. “I watched the Born King die-die from a despicable, lowly assassination—”
“Child!” Archduke Lecco widened his eyes in rage and interrupted her. “Lady Walton! I respect your grandfather…
“…but do not suspect our loyalty towards Northland and Eckstedt. We stand here right now because of Eckstedt’s future! It does not matter if it is you or me, or even King Nuven, or the entire Walton Family, before that future and before Eckstedt, we are only dust in the desert!” Archduke Lecco said coldly.
Saroma was stunned and momentarily speechless.
Behind her, Thales sighed softly.
“We too, have to make a very difficult decision.” Archduke Trentida sighed and waved his hand in a dismissive gesture. It looked as if his heart was aching in pain. “One day, you will understand, but not now.”
Roknee folded his arms across his chest. His expression was incredibly sour.
“Of course, if you do not understand, we have no other choice but to resign to persuading you to cooperate with us while enduring the pain of doing so.”
Without a word, Lampard continued to glare at Thales as if he was his greatest threat.
The hall fell into silence again.
“Cooperate?” Saroma frowned. Since this was her first time running into such a situation, she was quite alarmed and she did not know what to do. “You…”
However, she felt the grip over her arm tighten.
Saroma looked at the prince curiously.
Next to her, Thales stared at the girl’s red face quietly.
Saroma felt a little embarrassed by his stare.
Thales exhaled slowly.
“Enough, My Lady. You have done well.”
Right before Saroma’s eyes, the boy from Constellation gave her his most brilliant smile and shook his head gently. “Leave everything else to me.”