Chapter 267: What a Shame (Two)
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
“But all of you didn’t cut in, did you?” Trentida sheathed his dagger and crossed his arms. He sighed and said, “Sometimes, even though you’re stubborn with your words, your body will reveal what you truly think.”
He lifted his gaze. “So, what’s the verdict?”
Olsius frowned. He alternated his gaze between Lampard and Thales. Roknee observed Olsius’ expression.
On the other hand, Lampard held his sword impassively, making it impossible to read his mind.
Just when Thales was starting to feel anxious, Archduke Lecco broke the silence once more.
“Do all of you know… that the high priestess must bear witness to the King Selection Congress?” The old archduke’s voice was hoarse.
Thales shuddered violently. As though on instinct, he opened his mouth to speak,
“High Priestess Holme of Bright Moon Temple is outside the gatehouse right now, waiting for all of you to summon her. She can reach us in a five-minute journey. With her detached status, even Prime Minister Lisban can’t stop her.”
The archdukes furrowed their eyebrows.
“Did you plan this beforehand?” Archduke Lecco asked, surprised.
Thales shrugged, he was drenched in sweat. Silence ensued. Archduke Lecco and Trentida each other’s gazes for a moment.
Two seconds later, the old archduke shut his eyes and let out a desolate laugh. Meanwhile, Trentida glanced at Thales and could not help but laugh, too.
Watching them, Thales felt very confused.
Roknee and Olsius’ eyes met for a moment. They seemed shocked by their fellow archdukes’ decisions.
Lampard sighed. “It’s still impossible!”
Archduke Roknee gritted his teeth and shook his head violently.
“There’s only five of us here. The King Selection Congress cannot be held when everyone isn’t present. This is unconventional.”
He looked at Olsius, as though trying to find support. However, a familiar female voice came again.
“Actually… the King Selection Congress… can be held under circumstances where not everyone is present.”
The archdukes moved. Their attention was captured by Saroma once again.
The dirty and messy girl said carefully, “On year 346 of the Calendar of Eradication, the King of Wrath died in battle under the Night Wing King’s army, and Dragon Clouds City fell into the enemy’s hands.
“Eckstedt was without a king, and there was no way for the war-stricken kingdom to gather all the archdukes to select a new king.” Saroma began to speak more smoothly, her voice was clear and pleasant.
“So, the archdukes of Sentry Region, Glacier Sea, and Defense City, whom were in the northern parts of Eckstedt, gathered to cast their votes. At the same time, they notified the rest of the territories to send their votes using messenger crows.”
Saroma lowered her head and furtively shot Archduke Roknee a glance.
“That was how Lhasa Roknee obtained four votes and was crowned during the war,” the girl said softly. “And he is one of your ancestors, Archduke Roknee.”
Stumped, Roknee was at a loss for words. As he listened to Saroma’s timid explanation, Thales felt as if he met the messiah.
… But someone still objected.
“That was a special case, and we don’t have the time to wait for the other archdukes’ votes at all.” Archduke Olsius shook his head. “When Lisban takes over the gatehouse, the illusion of peace you built will be broken. In the end, we’ll fight to the death.”
Lampard lifted his gaze. “My people are stronger than you think. They can stall Lisban long enough until… my army kills all of you, for example.”
Olsius met Lampard’s eyes. There was hate and anger in their gazes.
Thales immediately raised his hand.
“We don’t have to notify the other archdukes!” he said hurriedly. “We just have to make sure that all of your votes are in the majority and so the other archdukes’ choices would not affect the outcome. That way, the common-elected king can be decided!”
“The majority?” The full-bearded Olsius shook his head disdainfully and pointed at Lampard. “Even with him, there are only five of us here. Even if all five of us vote for Lampard to become king, we still lack—”
At this, Olsius suddenly froze. The archdukes, including Lampard, stopped as well. Then, they turned in unison…
… and looked at the same, one person.
“Yes, everyone.” Thales felt as if a stone was lifted from his chest. His arms trembled. “There’re ten archdukes. Under situations where other archdukes are not present, we need six votes to be able to decide the next common-elected king without objection.”
His pupils constricted a little. “Only six votes.”
Under the archdukes’ disbelieving stares, Thales took a few steps forward and went beside the girl. She was so frightened by the archdukes’ gazes that she did not even know where to put her hands.
“Let me introduce her once more.” Thales held the girl’s hand and solemnly raised it, with ‘Triumph’ on her finger.
“Saroma Alex Soria Walton.”
The archdukes stared at each other.
“The legitimate heiress to the Dragon Spear Family and Dragon Clouds City’s next…” Thales clenched his teeth and paused for a second. He then slowly said,
The silence in the hall was longer than usual. Eyes wide and mouth agape, Saroma faced the archdukes’ shock and puzzled gazes.
‘Why… Why does it have to be like this…?’
The girl felt frightened. She subconsciously turned to the prince beside her.
Thales tightened his grip on her hand, causing Saroma to swallow her words. The second last brazier’s fire slowly extinguished during the silence.
“No… no.” Shocked, Olsius stared at Saroma who was close to tears. He shook his head in disbelief. “She’s a girl. Eckstedt-No, all of Northland never had such a precedent…”
“Did you all not break many precedents today?” Thales exhaled. “Plotting to assassinate the king, covering up the truth, carving up territories, archdukes pointing swords at one another in the Hall of Heroes… Letting this all happen…”
“By comparison, it’s too worthwhile to have an archduchess who can offset these damages just by her existence!”
As though recalling something, Lampard stared at Saroma with a strange expression. Unexpectedly, he flashed a bitter smile.
Archduke Lecco sized up the girl arduously. He wanted to say something, but swallowed his words.
“A woman…” Archduke Roknee narrowed his eyes. “All of Eckstedt, whether they be a commoner or a noble, they will not recognize an archduchess.”
Thales said gravely, “This is why she needs all of your support. She needs to be recognized and approved by five archdukes of Eckstedt to secure her position, silencing those who oppose and disapprove of her!
“And her status as an archduchess will ensure that our…” Thales took back his words in time and used a different pronoun. “… Ensure that you can all easily select a king. This will solve the awkward predicament all of you are in right now; so that you do not die in a chaotic battle and the Prime Minister does not kill Lampard.
“At the same time, it’ll make up for Dragon Clouds City’s losses and fill the position left by King Nuven’s death.”
Trentida shot a glance at Saroma with considerable interest. He stroked his beard and clicked his tongue.
“I have laid out all the choices and their respective consequences before you all.” Thales wiped the sweat off his forehead, at the same time wiping plenty of ash from his face. He did not realize this at all, and continued to speak solemnly, “I earnestly request that all of you stay as rational as possible.”
No one said anything. Lecco looked like he aged another few years, the wrinkles on his face became more severe. Olsius pursed his lips. On the other hand, Roknee continued staring at Lampard even though the latter remained unmoving.
Thales tightened his grip on Saroma’s hand. He knew that the archdukes were struggling and hesitating.
“King Nuven’s death…” Olsius stared at Saroma with a bitter gaze. “Can she accept it?”
Thales immediately nudged Saroma.
“A-Ah!” The girl was apparently jolted out of her thoughts. “I… I can compromise…”
Staring at Thales’s encouraging gaze, Saroma bit her lip. “But-but this is Dragon Clouds City’s blood debt… I won’t forget it.”
Lampard snorted, soft yet mockful.
Olsius closed his eyes. “Very well. How do we explain Nuven’s death to Lisban?”
“The calamity.” Trentida chipped in.
The Archduke of Reformation Tower’s gaze was dim—a rare look on him. “We’ll say that the king died during the Blood Calamity’s attack. They’re evil enough anyway, what’s one more slander to them?”
Recalling the sealed Giza, Thales said nothing. The hall was silent again.
“Your Excellencies, what do you say?” Thales asked softly. “How…?”
It was as though a long time had passed; no one said anything.
Nevertheless, someone moved: Lampard.
Under everyone’s gaze, Chapman Lampard raised his saber. His gaze was chilly. Thales’ heart skipped a beat.
But in the next moment, Lampard bent his wrist slightly and turned the direction of his saber…
He tucked his blade back into its sheath.
The Archduke of Black Sand Region lifted his gaze and swept it across the other archdukes in an overbearing manner.
At that moment, Thales held his breath. Lampard had given his answer.
Archduke Reybien Olsius heaved a loud sigh and went beside the long table. He slammed his heavy blade onto the table and sat down angrily.
‘One.’ Thales counted to himself.
Trentida sneered and shrugged. He, too, pulled out his chair and sat down.
Watching their movements, Roknee said in disbelief, “Do all of you really know what you’re doing?”
“No.” Archduke Lecco answered him. The old archduke’s voice seemed tired. He shook his head and withdrew the dagger in his hand, he then pulled out his chair and sat down.
At this moment…
“Hahahahaha…” Lampard let out a bleak laugh.
The archdukes stared at him in dissatisfaction.
“Even in my dreams, I wanted to destroy the Joint Ruling Pledge.” The Archduke of Black Sand Region stared back at the other archdukes with a sorrowful gaze. “But now I have to assume the identity of a king and rely on this pledge to protect myself.”
“On the other hand, all of you did your utmost to safeguard the Joint Ruling Pledge.” Lampard swept his gaze over the faces of all the other archdukes. “But now, you want to elect me as king and trample down this pledge.
He threw his hands open wide and said tauntingly, “Isn’t this the greatest irony?”
The other archdukes’ expressions became extremely unpleasant.
There came a sound like metal rubbing against leather.
“What’s more ironic is that you’re using the Joint Ruling Pledge so that you can break it in the end.” Roknee kept his sword back in its sheath and said coldly, “While we violated the pledge so that we can safeguard it better.” Roknee gritted his teeth and gave Lampard a scathing glare. “We’re not done with this yet, Lampard.”
Lampard stared back at him coldly and said nothing. Roknee went beside the long table and stared at Thales fiercely. The prince’s heart skipped a beat.
‘What’s going on?’
“Listen up, brat!” Roknee grabbed the back of the chair beside Thales.
“This chair, placed in this order, has been the Roknee Family’s designated seat for six hundred years,” he said coldly. “If you have the nerve to jump on it again…”
Thales immediately dragged Saroma and retreated about ten paces. He flashed an innocent and cajoling smile.
‘F*ck. No wonder he looked so pissed just now.’
Roknee sat down with a thud.
Thales exhaled a long, relieved sigh. He immediately relaxed from his tensed state, and cold sweat instantly broke out on his skin. His vision swayed, and his knees grew weak. He was about to collapse on the floor.
Amid Saroma’s frightened cries, Thales only felt a stiffness behind him. Someone had grabbed the back of his collar and lifted him up, saving him from the fate of collapsing.
Shocked, Thales stared at the person behind while he recovered from the dizzy feeling caused by that moment of weakness.
Releasing his collar, Chapman Lampard stared at the prince with a complicated expression. His gaze was cryptic yet subtle. “You didn’t drink that goblet of wine that day…
“It was truly…?a pity.”