Chapter 269: The Archduchess
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
In the hallway, where the atmosphere was still tense.
Barely audible sounds of talking traveled from the Hall of Heroes, but it could not be heard distinctly outside of the hall.
Thales was already so tired that he did not have the strength to summon the Sin of Hell’s River.
Nicholas who was supporting Mirk, released his grip on him and allowing him to rest on his own. With a pained gaze, the latter stared at the female warrior on the stretcher amid the Black Sand Region crowd.
“Commander!” Lord Justin of the White Blade Guards walked up. He looked at the Star Killer with a face filled with surprise. “You have been missing since last night, how…”
“Ah, Justin.” Nicholas looked dispirited. He waved his hand at his deputy commander in the distance. “You’ve done very well—at least you’ve guarded the Royal Court and left us with a chance of survival.”
Justin appeared stunned.
Nicholas walked towards Thales with a complex expression. “Actually, I never thought that it was possible for you to succeed.”
With both hands propping himself up as he sat on the ground, the prince raised his head and glared at him feebly.
“I know,” Thales replied hoarsely. He felt like an unlucky loser who just survived a drowning. “You probably thought, ‘This boy has gone to seek death’.”
Nicholas looked at him and narrowed his eyes, seemingly pondering over something.
“I have to admit.” A few seconds later, Nicholas finally nodded subtly and pursed his lips. “You do have a few little tricks up your sleeve, young prince.”
The Star Killer ended the conversation, turned around and walked towards Prime Minister Lisban.
Thales exhaled and rolled his eyes.
“Will a ‘thank you’ kill you?” Clearly in a bad mood, he called out behind the Star Killer.
Nicholas extended his hand towards the back of his head and waved as if it did not matter.
‘What a troublesome man…’ Thales silently cursed from the bottom of his heart.
Under the peculiar gazes of the two groups in front of the hall, their people returned one by one.
Wya was ashamed and filled with guilt as he apologized for not being able to fight alongside the prince.
Ralf dismantled one of his prosthetics, revealing a knee that was bleeding from the grinding. At the same time, he gestured with his hand, saying, “This is so terrible”.
Excited and gratified, Kohen told him that he was honored to have been able to go into battle with him.
Thales could only smile at them over and over again.
On a wall on the other side, Raphael helped the weak Miranda to sit down slowly.
But Miranda hooked on to Raphael’s hands instead.
The swordswoman raised her head weakly. She looked at the expressionless Raphael in distress as she endured the pain in her abdomen.
A second later, Miranda, whose eyes were slightly red, extended both hands and held on to the man’s neck. She exerted a little force in her arms in an attempt to pull him towards her.
Raphael was slightly stunned, his heart tightened.
“No.” He pushed her hands down subconsciously. He shook his head with an unpleasant expression. “We’re still in the enemy’s territory…”
The weakened Miranda did not say a word but stared at him in silence.
The next moment, Miranda suddenly inserted more strength into her hands, which were clasped around the man’s neck!
In shock, Raphael was pulled forward by Miranda.
The both of them were only a few inches apart.
The swordswoman looked at him in a serious and solemn manner.
‘Those eyes… just like that girl who told me to smile earnestly on those snowy grounds so many years ago.’
“You, listen to my every word.”
As though she was lecturing her own new recruit, she spoke each word to him in a soft yet strict way, “I almost died there today. I almost didn’t make it back. Do you hear me clearly?”
Miranda stared directly into Raphael’s eyes, causing him to feel anguish in his heart, as he did not know how to react.
Raphael heaved a sigh. He looked at Miranda’s stern expression, and his heart was filled with complicated emotions.
‘That girl on the snowy grounds… grew up.’
The two of them looked at each other quietly.
She said resolutely, “So, when I want to kiss you, Raphael Lindbergh…”
The young man of the Secret Intelligence Department stared blankly at Miranda. He looked at her approaching face, at the strands of black hair that stuck onto her forehead because of her sweat.
Miranda slowly revealed a smile. “I will kiss you.”
The next second, the swordswoman looked up and kissed his lips without the slightest hesitation, completely oblivious to the gazes around them.
At that moment, Raphael felt a shudder run through his heart.
The pain and anguish he had been suppressing in his chest seemingly disappeared in an instant, leaving behind only the thumping of his heartbeat.
It overlapped with the other pulses in his wretched body.
Even the things in his body became quiet without his knowledge.
On Black Sand Region’s side, Viscount Kentvida was frowned as he arrived by a stretcher and looked at the wounded person on it.
“How are things, Esch?” the viscount asked faintly.
“Stabbed in the ankle bone and chest.” On the stretcher, Kroesch withdrew her gaze from Miranda and Raphael’s embrace. Then, she glanced over at the saddened Mirk and gratified Kohen. She sneered. “I’ll have to lie down for a few months now.”
In the final moment, she and Miranda both spared each other.
Perhaps they both knew that this was definitely not the place to meet their end.
A moment later, Kroesch’s face began to twitch as she endured the sharp pains. “Also, don’t call me Esch. That name doesn’t belong to you.”
“Alright, Esch.” Kentvida nodded absentmindedly. “Would you like some medication to relieve the pain?”
Kroesch furrowed her eyebrows.
She looked at Kentvida with a displeased expression and snorted coldly.
The viscount looked back at her without feeling any sort of guilt.
“You better not mention medication.” A few seconds later, Kroesch turned her head to the side and brusquely said, “I’ve had enough of your medication.”
Kentvida broke into laughter.
“You’re still holding a grudge…” Kentvida rolled his eyes and raised a corner of his mouth. “Is this about the time I drugged you?”
Kroesch turned her head around abruptly!
She glared directly at Kentvida, her gaze was vengeful.
“Hmph.” Kroesch snorted coldly.
Kentvida smacked his own head in resignation.
“I may have drunk a bit too much that night, but…
“Apart from removing a few pieces of your clothing, I didn’t do anything else.” The Viscount of the City of Halting Light shrugged and narrowed his eyes. His gaze swept across Kroesch’s full bosom. “You know, I have no interest in girls with big chests.”
Kroesch watched him silently, causing the viscount to feel a chill in his heart.
“Right, you didn’t do anything else,” Kroesch said softly.
“But, you destroyed my beliefs with your drunken talk that night.”
‘Lhasa Kentvida…. You were the one who destroyed my belief of living by the sword… You were the one who made me first realize: What exactly am I? Where does my value lie?’
“Also”—Cold rays shone from Kroesch’s eyes while she stared straight into Kentvida’s—”no matter what you’re interested in, it has nothing to do with the size of my chest.”
Kentvida smiled faintly.
“To be able to destroy your beliefs, that drunken talk was indeed worth it.
“Moreover, you may think that the size of your chest is only of your concern.” The viscount sighed and raised a finger to stab the leather armor in front of Kroesch’s chest without the slightest apprehension. He did so like he was poking an ordinary piece of pork. “However, this world doesn’t think so.”
Just as Kroesch’s expression turned murderous, the door of the Hall of Heroes opened.
Everyone outside the hall turned their heads at once.
Along with the sounds of footsteps, which could have been steady or lithe, heavy or nervous, a group of people filed out in a line.
Soldiers and guards immediately stepped back in deference, making a path for them.
Thales frowned. The Archduke of Black Sand Region walked in front, while the other archdukes accompanied him on the left and right with varying expressions—their faces looked grim especially after they saw the ferocious, murderous, and tensed army of the Black Sand Region.
The first person to respond was Prime Minister Lisban, who had been waiting for a long time.
The prime minister patted Nicholas’ shoulder, ending the whispered conversation between them. He then took large strides forward.
“Chapman Lampard.” The old prime minister’s pace was steady, his tone unfriendly, “What a surprise, be it last night or right now.”
Lampard’s expression was very complicated. He pursed his lips lightly, and his apparent weary face grew increasingly solemn.
“Prime Minister Lisban.”
He turned a deaf ear to Lisban’s greeting, which held a profound meaning.
The archduke turned around and nodded to Kentvida to give him a signal. Shortly after, he looked at the other people who came out with him.
With a solemn expression, Olsius stepped aside, whereas Roknee looked elsewhere in disdain.
Before everyone’s eyes, High Priestess Holme of Bright Moon Temple stepped out slowly from behind them.
Thales felt nervous and held his breath.
She was still covered in a veil. Her eyes were melancholic as well as misty, and she would occasionally sweep her gaze in Thales’ direction. It caused a sense of anxiety to rise in the prince’s heart.
The high priestess held Saroma’s hand. She appeared still and at peace.
But Saroma was looking for something, appearing anxious and nervous. The girl only seemed to relax and breathed a sigh of relief after she met Thales’ gaze.
Thales returned it with an encouraging smile.
The girl was as disheveled as before, but at least her small and ash-covered face had been cleaned so that the others could see how she really looked like.
As a vassal of Dragon Clouds City, Count Lisban cast a solemn and dignified gaze on Saroma. He seemed to be thinking about something.
Lampard raised his hands slowly. The whispers in the hall ceased immediately.
Lampard was heard saying faintly, “I hereby announce to all of Eckstedt.”
His voice was not loud, but exceptionally sonorous. It reverberated across the corridor and seemed to possess a sense of grandeur.
“Last night, under the attack of the calamity, our venerated king, King Nuven the Seventh unfortunately passed away.”
In that instant, Thales could catch clear glimpses of the archdukes’ extremely unpleasant expressions. Lecco was an exception as he still remained expressionless.
Count Lisban fixed his eyes on Lampard’s face instead.
Even though everyone had been prepared for a long time, even though rumors had been running wild, even though the delay in the king’s return had indicated that something bad happened, once the people there heard the news, they all gasped because of it.
The expression on the faces of Nicholas and the Class One White Blade Guards became even darker.
In an instant, the warriors of Black Sand Region and the Royal Court became restless. They began to whisper into each other’s ears.
It was only whispers in the beginning, then it developed into a greater clamor, as if an indescribable panic was spreading among them.
It lasted until Lampard raised his hand once again. “Silence!”
Lampard turned his head with a complex expression. He said airily, “As his granddaughter and next of kin, Saroma Alex Soria Walton will take over his position.”
The people’s gazes followed the archduke’s gestures, and they saw the bewildered, bespectacled-girl by the high priestess’ side clearly.
“She will become the next Archduchess… of Dragon Clouds City.”
This time, in contrast to the progressive panic aroused by the death of the king, the whole hall immediately burst into an uproar!
That girl… an archduchess?
Whether it was the Black Sand Region soldiers, the archdukes’ subordinates, or the palace guards who were already loyal to King Nuven and Dragon Clouds City, they were all extremely shocked as they looked at one another.
If a majority of the people there had not been warriors, the situation might have gone out of control long ago.
Only the White Blade Guards, including Nicholas, appeared to be abnormally calm.
The archdukes and Prime Minister Lisban, who had a steely look on his face, all looked hardly surprised.
Thales watched Saroma’s complexion turn from ruddy to pale, while she panicked from all the attention. He felt horrible.
Lampard observed the crowd solemnly and remained motionless.
At this moment, Prime Minister Lisban walked to the front.
His action attracted everyone’s attention.
Count Lisban was seen arriving right before Saroma. Then, he slowly knelt down.
“My Lady, are you alright?” he asked gently. The tone he used was that of comforting a child.
Saroma stared at him in a daze.
The wrinkles on the Count’s face could be seen twitching slightly. “I am Ciel Lisban, once a vassal to your grandfather and his kingdom’s prime minister.”
“Hello.” No one knew if it was because of the priestess’ gesture, but Saroma replied shyly, “Your Grace…”
Lisban shook his head. Tender affection and grief seeped from his eyes.
The count sternly said, “No, please bear in mind that I am your vassal. I pledge my allegiance to you.”
Saroma was stunned. She stared at the count’s serious expression.
In the clamorous corridor, Saroma nodded and pursed her lips.
“Hi.” The girl tried hard to assume an air of firmness. “Ciel.”
With that, a smile finally appeared on Lisban’s wrinkled face. He slowly got up.
Among the restless crowd of people, Kroesch shook her head in mockery while she sat up halfway from her stretcher. “Heh… At the end of the day, our enemies were the ones who managed to bring out an archduchess. How ironic.”
Viscount Kentvida turned his head around. “You really think so?”
Kroesch was still contemptuous. “Isn’t that the case?”
Kentvida laughed softly and jabbed her on the head.
“No, no, Esch.” Under Kroesch’s murderous gaze, the viscount deftly pulled back his right hand before the warrior broke his finger. “Use that cute little brain of yours and listen carefully.”
Kentvida shifted his sharp gaze towards Saroma, before he eyed each one of the archdukes. He watched their rather steely, silent, uncontrollably angry expressions and sighed. “Northland got its first archduchess not because of coincidence and whatnot, but because we swung the first hammer. We crushed those iron rules that hovered over Northland for the first time in millennia.”
Kroesch paused for a moment.
The viscount raised the corner of his mouth while he spoke with a hidden intent in his words. “Because we swayed this hammer, Northland and the Northlanders were caught off guard. Surrounded by the fragments and mess we left in our wake, they had to accept their?first archduchess.”
Perhaps not just an archduchess, but also other things.
“Do you remember these words?” Kentvida’s eyes burned with a strange flame. He then enunciated each and every single word carefully. “Those who don’t work, don’t get any rewards.”
Kroesch lowered her eyes, seemingly thinking something over.
At this moment, High Priestess Holme released the girl’s hand and took gradual steps forward.
Archduke Lampard moved back extremely gracefully as he made way for her.
The high priestess spoke casually.
The commotion outside the hall had not subsided, and her words were also not very loud, but unexpectedly, the high priestess’ words rang clearly in everyone’s ears.
“As the spokesperson of the Bright Moon Goddess, I solemnly declare to all of Eckstedt.”
Everyone turned solemn expression at once.
“The 45th Common-Elected King of Eckstedt, Archduke of Dragon Clouds City, Nuven Raikaru Kahn Walton has passed away today.”
They were still quiet, but the atmosphere hanging over them was no longer as depressing as before, because everyone knew what was coming next.
High Priestess Holme faintly said, “According to Raikaru’s Joint Ruling Pledge six hundred and sixty two years ago: When the old king passes, a new king shall stand.
“The Bright Moon Goddess stands witness here. Under the holy decree of Raikaru’s Joint Ruling Pledge, someone has achieved the highest vote and was chosen as the next common-elected king in the great and solemn King Selection Congress.”
At that moment, everyone’s attention swept towards the few archdukes there. Almost every archduke had unpleasant expressions on their faces. Roknee even turned his head?to the side in contempt.
Amid the oppressive atmosphere in the hall, the expressionless Chapman Lampard flung his cape and gradually walked forward. He stood before everyone’s scrutinizing gaze.