Chapter 270: The Blood-Stained Crown
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
The breaths of the White Blade Guards and the palace guards became heavier. They even clenched their fists.
The fighters of Black Sand Region placed their hands on their weapons in response. Their gazes were cold—a warning.
The two groups became tense and were in conflict again. For a moment, the atmosphere at the scene was extremely stifling.
On the other hand, as involved parties, Lampard and the other archdukes were calm as usual. It was as though they did not see the terrifying scene at all. Only those like Nicholas and Tolja kept shooting warning glances at their subordinates.
“This is filled with Northland’s special traits indeed: Held in a corridor outside the hall with neither enough attending nobles nor special guests from other kingdoms, only two groups of soldiers who are dying to kill the other party, and conspirators harboring evil intentions.”
In a secluded corner, Putray sighed and said beside Thales ears, “This is probably the simplest, unceremoniously rushed yet also the most hair-raising coronation that I’ve ever seen.”
Thales wrinkled his brow a little.
“You can’t really say that. Six archdukes are present, and there’s us as the ‘foreign guests’.
“As for it being ‘the simplest, most unceremoniously rushed, but also most hair-raising coronation’?” The prince repeated the vice diplomat’s words. Recalling everything that happened today, the prince could not help but shake his head. “Alright, I doubt anyone would ever be able to break this record.”
Fortunately, the conflict many people were worried about did not happen. Lampard, standing in front of High Priestess Holme, nodded slightly at the priestess.
The high priestess’s emotionless voice echoed beside everyone’s ears again. “I, Bright Moon Temple’s Juwle Holme, stand here to question Chapman Lampard on behalf of the Gods, the descendants of the dragon and the late kings!”
Everyone immediately became solemn, including Thales. Due to a few strange encounters with the spokespeople of the gods, he was even more fearful than everyone else.
The high priestess’s voice was hazy, but could be heard clearly. “As the suzerain of Black Sand Region and one of the ten glorious and dignified archdukes of Eckstedt, you were chosen during the King Selection Congress, Chapman Shawlon Holt Lampard…”
Her voice was stately and her gaze was formal and respectful.
Lampard stared solemnly into her eyes above the veil.
High Priestess Holme said steadily, “Are you willing to swear upon your honor, and your life…”
All the Northlanders placed their hands on their chests—over the heart—in unison. Their expressions were respectful and earnest.
Looking around, Thales wondered if he should do the same. He abandoned the idea when he saw Putray shake his head.
The high priestess’s words were regal and steady, as though they were filled with an indescribable power that dealt a blow to everyone’s hearts.
“And as a Northlander, to undertake the heavy responsibilities as king to this kingdom, to stand at the forefront of the kingdom with your wisdom and breadth of mind, to defend Eckstedt and Northland with your life, to hold fast the glorious and noble spirit of the kingdom so that it will not be a relic of the past, to ensure that the vassals’ legitimate and god-given powers are not infringed upon, and to defend the safety of the lives and assets of Northlanders, ensuring that no harm comes to them…
“… from this moment on, until the end of your life?”
The moment the high priestess finished speaking, all Northlanders held their breaths and stared at the unsmiling archduke clad in martial attire.
Lampard inhaled deeply and closed his eyes, thinking of something.
At that moment, as he listened to the oath, Thales suddenly remembered the Archduke of Black Sand Region’s ideals and aspiration.
‘He didn’t give up.’ Staring at the archduke’s expression, Thales said to himself, asserting to himself.
‘Despite the restrictions, hindrances and difficulties, he will go forward without regrets. For his Eckstedt.’
Then, Lampard abruptly opened his eyes, his gaze was like steel.
The archduke balled up his hand that was placed on his chest. He had his fist over his heart. The Archduke of Black Sand Region’s voice was courtly and his expression was firm.
“I, Chapman Shawlon Holt Lampard from the Lampard Family, am willing to swear upon my honor, and my life…”
He left no room for doubt as he spoke, enunciating each word. His words were stirring.
“And as a Northlander, I will undertake the heavy responsibilities as king to this kingdom, to stand at the forefront of the kingdom with my wisdom and breadth of mind…
Listening quietly to his oath, Thales frowned a little. On the other hand, Saroma stared anxiously at Lampard without moving.
“I will defend Eckstedt and Northland with my life.”
Archduke Olsius subconsciously clenched his fists.
“I will hold fast to the glorious and noble spirit of the kingdom so that it will not be a relic of the past.”
Archduke Roknee clenched his teeth.
“I will ensure that the vassals’ legitimate and god-given powers are not infringed upon.”
Archduke Lecco sighed.
“I will defend the safety of the lives and assets of Northlanders, ensuring that no harm comes to them.”
As though he was thinking of something, Archduke Trentida’s gaze flickered.
“From this moment on, until the end of my life.”
When he said the last word in the oath, Lampard resolutely raised his head and looked around, like the king of a lion pride. Wherever his gaze landed, everyone averted their eyes to avoid meeting with his. When his gaze fell on Thales, the archduke’s eyes seemed to widen just a little—although it could have been Thales’ imagination.
High Priestess Holme nodded faintly, then turned and faced the other archdukes.
“As one of the ten glorious and dignified archdukes of Eckstedt, and the voters of the King Selection Congress…”
The high priestess uttered everyone’s name in order. All the archdukes’ expressions turned severe.
“Archduke of Defense City, Rogers Lecco, Archduke of Prestige Orchid, Reybien Olsius, Archduke of the City of Faraway Prayers, Kulgon Roknee, and Archduke of Reformation Tower, Porpheus Trentida…”
Under everyone’s gazes, High Priestess Holme turned to the last person.
Feeling as if she was wronged, the bespectacled little girl really wanted to pout her lips. In the end, with clenched fists, she stuck out her?little chest and endured everyone’s stares, stiff but firm.
Watching the girl from afar, Lampard could not help but narrow his eyes.
The next moment, the high priestess softly uttered a title that had never been heard in the six hundred odd years in Eckstedt’s history.
“Archduchess of Dragon Clouds City… Saroma Walton.”
There was a slight commotion from the crowd, but the Star Killer and the Fire Knight went among them and forcefully suppressed the people’s objections with their murderous glares.
“Are all of you willing to swear upon your honor, and your lives, as Northlanders, to accept this oath, to dedicate your sword and shield as the king’s vassals, to stand beside the king, to defend Eckstedt and Northland with your lives, to hold fast the glorious and noble spirit of the kingdom so that it does not become a relic of the past, to ensure that the vassals’ legitimate and god-given powers are not infringed upon, and to defend the safety of the lives and assets of Northlanders, ensuring that no harm is done…
“From this moment on, until the end of your lives?”
As he mulled over the archdukes’ oath, Thales suddenly noticed that other than the first part, it was strikingly similar to the king’s oath. This made him realize suddenly that the Joint Ruling Pledge, or at least the people who drafted it at the beginning, did not consider the relationship between the king and his vassals as important. Instead, it valued the sacred agreement between rulers and their land.
“I am willing to swear upon my honor”—Olsius paused momentarily and frowned before he finished his sentence—”and my life.”
“I am willing to swear upon my honor, and my life.” Archduke Lecco’s expression was serene, as though this was only a tiny wave in the long river of his life.
“I am willing to swear upon my honor… and my life.” Biting his words, Archduke Roknee had a scowl on his face, but he suppressed his anger and finished his sentence.
“I am willing to swear upon my honor, and…” Trentida seemed a lot more relaxed. He looked around at the other archdukes before saying in a calm and composed manner. “My life.”
“I am-I am willing to swear upon my honor, and my life.” Saroma imitating the others, stuttering at the beginning. Thales could not help but worry, but the girl completed her oath smoothly. As he recalled what he said to the girl and his promise to her, Thales sighed internally.
“As a Northlander, I will accept this oath, dedicate my sword and shield as the king’s vassal, stand beside the king…” The four archdukes and the archduchess placed their right hands on their bosom. Even though their expressions differed, they repeated the prior oath respectfully.
Everyone waited for the high priestess’s reaction anxiously and not without anticipation.
A few seconds later, the high priestess nodded somewhat. As she stood beside Lampard, she turned to face the crowd.
Tolja walked past the crowd and went beside the high priestess. He was respectful and held something in front of his chest. Everyone focused their gazes on it and went still simultaneously.
Thales fixed his gaze on Tolja’s hands…
… and he recognized it.
It was an iron crown. It was dark gold in color and looked unremarkable, even simple and shabby. However, a dark red gemstone was inlaid on the fore of the crown.
It was the crown King Nuven wore before he died.
Thales was somewhat startled. As he focused his gaze on the dark red gemstone, Thales felt that it looked extremely familiar.
Amid the crowd, Nicholas snorted softly. Under Viscount Kentvida’s threatening glare, he slowly walked forward, took down the Severing Souls Blade from his back and stood in line with the Fire Knight.
As part of the Five War Generals, the two men turned and their eyes met for a moment. It was as though there was an electric current in the air.
High Priestess Holme nodded slightly. Extending her hands, she took the crown from Tolja and turned to look at Lampard. The other archdukes also stared at him with differing expressions.
Lampard took a deep breath. He kneeled down on one knee, facing the outside of Heroic Spirit Palace. His gaze was firm.
Thales also sucked in a deep breath. He could not help but notice that on the side of the crown—held by the high priestess—there was a black and unusual mark.
Thales’ heart sank.
That was the blood that had splattered onto the crown when King Nuven was assassinated. Since a few hours already passed, the blood had dried and could not be wiped off.
With bated breath, everyone focused on the high priestess as she raised the crown.
“Thus, in the name of the Bright Moon, bearing the weight of Errol the Holy Sun, and in accordance with Raikaru’s Joint Ruling Pledge…”
High Priestess Holme went slowly to Lampard’s side and held up the crown.
“I crown you, the Archduke of Black Sand Region and descendant of Quiso Lampard the Revolutionary King, Chapman Lampard, as the first Chapman in the Lineage of Common-Elected Kings…
“The heir of the King of Dragon Knights and Raikaru the Hero, the Overlord of the Western Peninsula Northlanders, the Watcher of the Glacial Defensive Line, the Defender of the Northlanders…”
The Northlanders’ expressions became a little more solemn for every title stated.
Finally, after the head priestess stated the four customary titles, she gently placed the crown on Lampard’s head and said the last and most important title,
“The 46th Common-Elected King of Eckstedt and Glacier Quiquer.”
Everyone fixated on this scene. The man beneath the crown lifted his head slowly. High Priestess Holme took the Severing Souls Blade from Nicholas and passed it to Lampard. “As symbols of the king’s authority and status, may the Dragon Scale Crown remind you of your identity, and the Severing Souls Blade remind you of your duty.
“With the Bright Moon as witness, may Errol’s light shine on Eckstedt forever, King Chapman.” High Priestess Holme did a salutation in the style of the Bright Moon Goddess and retreated slowly.
In the most overbearing and solemn atmosphere, the new King of Eckstedt, King Chapman the First, rose slowly with the blood-stained crown on his head and the Severing Souls Blade in his hand.
As he looked around with his sharp, knife-like gaze, the crown made him seem even more powerful.
‘Like a massive dragon that is slowly waking up and opening its eyes after a very long, deep slumber inside a cavern.’
This thought flashed through Thales mind, giving himself a scare. King Chapman turned and looked at the four archdukes and the archduchess.
With differing expressions, the archdukes bent down their bodies and bowed their heads to give their regards, starting from Archduke Lecco.
At the same time, while he looked around him, Viscount Kentvida said appropriately. “The former king is dead…” He slowly lowered his body and kneeled on one knee. He spoke, solemn and loud,
“Long live the king! Long live King Chapman!”
His voice echoed in the palace.
Then, led by Tolja, the fighters of Black Sand Region in the corridor knelt unanimously on one knee. They placed their right hands on their bosoms and bowed their heads.
In Heroic Spirit Palace, the fiery and furious roars of countless fighters echoed in unison.
In the resounding cries, even those who were unwilling—such as Nicholas, Justin, Mirk, the White Blade Guards, and the archdukes’ personal guards—had no choice but to kneel on one knee and salute their new king.
On the other hand, King Chapman stood in the center of the crowd with his cold gaze, listening to their shouts with an unchanging facial expression.
Among the saluting crowd, the four archdukes were the most prominent. They only pressed their hands to their chests and lowered their bodies slightly.
“No, my lady.” Count Lisban stopped Archduchess Walton, who was subconsciously about to kneel. His expression was stern, and his tone was forceful. “Remember, you’re not one of us. You only need to bow. As an archduchess who also rules Northland, you never have to kneel before the king.”
Saroma nodded, staring at Count Lisban, dazed. She then imitated the archdukes and bowed at King Chapman.
They were not the only exceptions. In one corner of the corridor, the Constellatiates stood against the wall and stared with complicated expressions at the Northlanders kneeling on one knee. They watched the special coronation with concern.
“Tell me, my prince…” Putray sighed a little while he watched the very powerful King Lampard. “The first time you met him, have you ever thought that this would happen?”
“No.” The prince answered without hesitation. “But the second time I met him, when I was held captive by him…”
Under the deafening yells, Thales rested his gaze on King Chapman and frowned a little. “I suddenly thought that… perhaps this man…”
Thales recalled the time King Chapman—when he was still an archduke—stood outside the carriage and spoke with anger and authority to the Shadow Shield’s ‘Stake’.
“This man, whose face is as calm as water, but whose gaze is fiery… is the most suitable king for Eckstedt,” the prince said absentmindedly.
Putray narrowed his eyes. “What a pity,” the vice diplomat said flatly.
“Yeah.” Thales nodded. He had mixed feelings. “I’m starting to regret it a little.”
At this moment, amid the crowd’s cries of salutations, King Chapman suddenly looked at him. It gave Thales a scare.
King Chapman raised his left hand slowly. The people slowly stopped yelling and saluting when they noticed newly-crowned king’s gesture. They rose one after the other. Some ten seconds later, the corridor was silent once more.
Chapman the First looked around and said coldly, “As your new king, I will now issue my first order.”
Thales’ heart skipped a beat. ‘It can’t be. He just became king. What does he want to do?’
But the other archdukes’ gazes were calm, and their expressions were indifferent. They, apparently, already saw this coming.
Only Saroma stared at Thales worriedly, and this made the prince anxious. Everyone was solemn as they waited for the king to speak.
The new Common-Elected King of Eckstedt, Chapman the First, turned slowly to the Constellatiates and said coldly,
“As the Common-Elected King of Eckstedt, I hereby extend an invitation to the esteemed Second Prince of Constellation, Thales Jadestar, to reside permanently in Dragon Clouds City as a testimony to the friendship and rapport between our two kingdoms.”
At that moment, Thales felt as though he was struck by lightning. The Constellatiates stared in shock at King Chapman, and then at their prince.
‘Permanently reside in… Dragon Clouds City?’
Just when Thales was subconsciously about to say something, King Chapman suddenly spoke, leaving no room for doubt. “And he will accept this benevolent proposal and stay in Northland with the Eckstedtians, and enjoy the snow with us, until this esteemed prince…”
At that moment, Chapman Lampard’s gaze became cold as he stared at Thales.
“… becomes king.”[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
In his daze, Thales met with the cold King Chapman’s eyes. His mind was in chaos.
A few seconds later, the prince subconsciously lowered his head and sighed softly.