Chapter 271: The Day Before the Bitter Cold Winter
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
King Chapman and his subordinates regrouped their people under the people’s curious gazes. The king then went before the Prime Minister-No, the former Prime Minister.
Count Lisban rose from beside the archduchess and met with the new king’s eyes, showing no signs of weakness.
Saroma watched them anxiously.
“My people and I will now leave Heroic Spirit Palace, the First Gatehouse, and Dragon Clouds City.” With a cold expression, King Chapman nonchalantly placed his hand on the saber at his waist, and, with his right hand, tossed the Severing Souls Blade to Lord Tolja. “Count Lisban, the patrols under you in the city will not stop us?”
Count Lisban flashed a cold smile. He swept his gaze over the soldiers of Black Sand Region who were still extremely hostile.
“We don’t have the audacity to impede Your Majesty’s journey,” the old count said flatly, “As long as the people of Black Sand Region evacuate Dragon Clouds City in an amicable manner.”
Lisban narrowed his eyes. “Other than the most unreasonable of lunatics, no one in this kingdom dares to disrespect the king.”
Chapman the First nodded slowly and expressionlessly. He did not seem to catch the count’s implied meaning.
“Then, I hope that all of you can provide supplies and a place for my people to rest so that we may brave the coming Day before the Bitter Cold Winter.” the king probed, seeming indifferent. “It shouldn’t be a problem as well.”
This time, the count downright refused the king’s request. “I regret that I cannot comply with your wishes.”
King Chapman exhaled through his nose. His gaze turned cold.
“Because of certain ‘reasons’, there’s a horrible mess in Dragon Clouds City that has to be taken care of.” Having gone through many trials and tribulations in life, Count Lisban’s expression did not change. He casually said, “I apologize for Dragon Clouds City’s poor hospitality, but I must serve my mistress first before sharing the burdens of the Northlanders’ overlord.
“As you are aware of, I’m no longer the prime minister who serves the entire kingdom.”
Chapman furrowed his brow in a barely discernible manner. He stared at the bespectacled girl beside Lisban, at her platinum hair that was covered in dirt. Saroma anxiously crossed her arms.
King Chapman nodded slowly. “In the end, even the king has to depend on himself, right?” Chapman said flatly. “We’ll find our own campsite.”
Count Lisban walked slowly, shielding the archduchess behind him. He had an unapproachable look.
Only then did the king avert his gaze.
“I wish you a smooth reign, girl,” King Chapman said profoundly. “After all, we’re now tied together…
“I’ll be watching you and that boy,” the king said flatly, “Please remember that he’s our leverage against Constellation. And remember your oath to defend Eckstedt and Northland with your life.”
Saroma immediately paled.
Wearing the blood-stained crown, King Chapman turned without waiting for their responses and left the palace, surrounded by his soldiers.
The White Blade Guards and palace guards watched coldly as they left, their fingers never left their weapons.
Amid the crowd, Tolja the Fire Knight held the Severing Souls Blade and walked past the former commander of the White Blade Guards with a cryptic yet subtle look.
“Take good care of it,” Nicholas said without looking up form bandaging the wound on his arm. “It severs souls with one strike. This is not only the symbol of Eckstedt’s king, but also a mighty weapon that saved the Western Peninsula.”
The Fire Knight frowned a little. He stopped to size up the Severing Souls Blade in his hand.
“I’ll dispatch someone to send the ‘Legend of the White Blade Guards’ to Black Sand Region. Of course, you will have to bear the costs of making the white blades.” There was not the slightest hint of emotion in Nicholas’ tone, as though he was doing the most boring and rigid task. “From now onwards, the spirit of the White Blade Guards will have to be carried down by all of you…
“Do not soil its name.”
‘So f*cking ironic,’ the Star Killer thought coldly.
Tolja ran his hand over the strange curve of the Severing Souls Blade, then raised his head.
There was a hint of aggressiveness and provocation in the Fire Knight’s words, “Without this blade, what else can you do… Star Killer?”
Nicholas stopped bandaging his wound. His expression also changed.
“Let me think…” Nicholas clenched his fists tightly, his gaze cold. “I could… suddenly appear from some unknown, dark corner and chop off a certain king slayer’s head?”
Tolja stared at him quietly.
“You know, for those who are of supreme class, those who are warriors are not the ones who can utilize the strength of those in supreme class the most,” Nicholas said softly, “It’s assassins.”
Tolja gazed wordlessly at Nicholas, letting the subordinates behind him leave in groups. His expression grew icy.
Nicholas did not seem to care. He continued to stare at his opponent without showing any sign of weakness.
A few seconds later, the Fire Knight laughed coldly, “Hahahaha…”
Tolja placed the sheathless Severing Souls Blade beside his waist and sized up the pale Nicholas with considerable interest. Nicholas stared grimly at him.
What happened next was beyond the Star Killer’s expectations.
Without hesitation, Tolja grabbed the other weapon at his waist and pulled it out together with its sheath. He then threw it forcefully.
Shocked, Nicholas instinctively extended his hand to catch the weapon Tolja had thrown at him from a distance.
A moment later, when he saw the weapon in his hand clearly, he gaped in surprise. He immediately returned the Fire Knight’s gaze, the latter had a reserved expression.
“What is the meaning of this?” Nicholas clenched his teeth, staring at the Rising Sun Saber in his hand. He looked resentful.
Tolja displayed a sentimental and reminiscent gaze as he stared at his old saber.
“Take good care of it,” the Fire Knight said softly. He was apparently filled with a lot of emotions. “Compared to the one that saved the Western Peninsula, this is a mighty weapon that saved the world.”
Nicholas held the golden saber in a daze and was momentarily lost for words.
“Remember, Star Killer…” Tolja turned and tapped the Severing Souls Blade at his waist. His voice was solid and his gaze subtle. “Neither of us have the better of the other yet.”
Clad in his torn armor, the Fire Knight strode away with firm steps without looking back.
Staring at Tolja’s retreating figure, Nicholas furrowed his brow and gritted his teeth even harder.
‘Detestable. This… this man…’
“A good man.” Clutching a walking stick, Mirk went beside Nicholas. As he watched Tolja, he shook his head and sighed heavily. “It’s a pity he’s standing on the wrong side.”
Nicholas closed his eyes and heaved a loud sigh. The Star Killer turned to his old friend.
“I’m here to say goodbye.” Mirk tapped Nicholas’ shoulder, his looked bitter. “We shall meet again some day, my friend.”
As he glanced from afar at Archduchess Walton, who was surrounded by the crowd, his expression became hesitant.
“You know, you can stay,” Nicholas said in a low voice.
“No. My story in the Legend of the White Blade Guards…”
Finally, Mirk sighed. He turned to leave, gazing into the distance and supporting himself on the walking stick.
“… truly ends here.”
Nicholas said nothing as he watched Mirk walk away falteringly. He just reached his hand into his pocket and tightly grasped an ordinary-looking stone.
Among the retreating crowd of Black Sand Region people, Kentvida walked beside King Chapman. When he saw the Fire Knight catch up from behind, the viscount glanced at the Severing Souls Blade at Tolja’s waist. His looked displeased.
“That’s the Rising Sun Saber, said to be the first legendary anti-mystic equipment that changed the world,” Kentvida said in dissatisfaction, but the latter paid him no heed. He could only turn to the king. “Are you just going to let him simply give away the sharpest weapon in the world like it’s a piece of trash, Your Gra-Your Majesty?”
Tolja snorted softly. King Chapman did not even turn; he only shot a glance at them.
The newly crowned common-elected king lowered his head and said in contemplation, “The sharpest?”
But Chapman the First only paused for a second before raising his head, he was indifferent and calm again. Striding forward with an imposing air, the king stepped on Heroic Spirit Palace’s floor tiles and walked past the simple and boorish decorations, one by one. He said slowly,
“Isn’t my sharpest weapon… standing right behind me?”
Kentvida’s expression froze for a moment. He then frowned.
Behind the king, the tall and strong Lord Tolja curled up the corners of his lips in an a barely perceptible manner.
The viscount slowed down his steps and let the others overtake him. Tolja passed by and nodded slightly at him.
“This is really a dissipation of our fortune…”
Viscount Kentvida watched the king and the lord’s figures from behind, he then closed his eyes and sighed softly.
“But this is precisely why I’m willing to follow him and believe in him as our king… until the end of my life.”
He crossed his arms. His countenance was indifferent and his gaze was sharp. He flashed a smile that bore interesting connotations.
“Deliberately waiting for me to pass by before striking a pose, and trying to impress me with these words.” Lying on the stretcher, Kroesch happened to be carried past Kentvida. The female fighter let out a cold, disdainful snort. “Isn’t your tactic a little too old-fashioned?”
Kentvida furrowed his brow.
“At least cooperate with me a little and say something like ‘Ah, that’s the reason we fight’—” The viscount started walking again and followed Kroesch’s stretcher with dissatisfaction.
Kroesh coldly cut him off. “Forget it. Because of that boy, the Joint Ruling Pledge is now even more stable. In the end, we’re back to where we started and nothing has changed. We toiled for nothing.”
Viscount Kentvida raised his eyebrows and revealed an interesting expression.
“‘Toiled for nothing’, ‘back to where we started, nothing has changed’?” The viscount looked as if he heard something funny. He turned and stared at the archdukes in the distance who were discussing something in hushed voices. “Only those who live in the past and refuse to wake up would think this way.”
Kroesch stared at him, puzzled.
Kentvida turned again and chuckled. “In truth, the people, including King Chapman, the archdukes, and the prince… They have already changed everything.”
As she watched Kentvida’s profound expression, the female warrior suddenly felt that the man before her was a little scary.
“Trust me. Starting today, the Bitter Cold Winter approaches.” Kentvida sneeringly swept his gaze over the endless decor in the palace with their long histories. He tread softly on the tiles beneath his feet, which had been set in place for an unknown number of years.
“Eckstedt… could never go back to where it began.”
As he stood in front of the Prince of Constellation and stared at the spiritless boy, Archduke Lecco sighed and said, “Be relieved, Prince Thales. If it was not for the little girl’s insistence, your permanent residence would have been Black Sand Region. Always being by the king’s side… It would have been a wonderful experience.”
Thales’ expression changed a little. He turned and watched Saroma from afar, she was talking to Lisban.
The prince inhaled deeply and turned again. “He, King Chapman, brought up this order as a condition during the King Selection Congress?”
“Oh, no.” Archduke Lecco shook his head. There was an interesting flicker in his murky eyes. “It wasn’t a condition he brought up, all of us agreed that this would be safer, my esteemed prince.”
Feeling his heart being burdened by numerous things, Thales was immediately rendered speechless. A moment later, the prince lowered his head like a deflating balloon.
“All of you? Is that so…”
Shutting his eyes, his mood was dim.
‘That’s right. After I did all those things… at all costs…’
Archduke Lecco watched him quietly.
“You know, Prince Thales, after today, apart from the threat of Constellation Chapman talked about, many people will be dreading you… Just like how they dread the Jadestar Family which has produced many outstanding people, and is prosperous and unfailing.”
‘Of course, they don’t only produce outstanding people.’ Archduke Lecco added to himself. ‘There are lunatics as well.’
The old archduke’s eyes brightened, and his face became lively. “But I also have great expectations of you.”
Thales opened his eyes. “Expectations of me?”
Archduke Lecco nodded quietly.
As he stared at the king’s retreating figure that was gradually blocked from view by his soldiers, Lecco said solemnly, “I don’t know how Chapman became like this, but all of us can tell that he’s becoming more and more dangerous.”
He sighed with a myriad of emotions weighing heavily in his heart and said, “The Day before the Bitter Cold Winter is coming.”
Thales contemplated Archduke Lecco’s words.
“Maybe one day, we’ll have to draw support from your power to fight against him.” Archduke Lecco stared solemnly at Thales. “Just like today.”
Thales did not know how to reply with his mind in turmoil.
“Is it over?” Archduke Olsius walked forward coldly and shot a glance at Thales. “I’ve had enough, and I don’t want to stay in this damned place for another moment, letting other people hold my life in their hands.”
Archdukes Roknee and Trentida watched them from a distance. The former was quiet, while the latter grinned cheekily.
Glancing at the retreating army of Black Sand Region, Lecco exhaled. “We shall meet again some day. Take care of yourself, Prince Thales.”
The old archduke added flatly, “Archdukes, watch out for the king.” He blinked, quite profoundly. “…And the archduchess.”
Thales was immediately at a loss for words.
Watching as the archdukes left with their personal guards, Putray went beside Thales with furrowed eyebrows.
“Your Highness, regarding your future…” The vice diplomat was about to say something, but swallowed his words.
“I know.” Thales replied calmly. “I’m both a bargaining chip, and a threat.”
Putray put on a questioning look.
“Under the contradiction and compromises, the archdukes must hold on to their leverage and suppress all threats against them simultaneously.” Thales shook his head absentmindedly, thinking clearly about the antecedents and consequences. “To restrain Constellation, Chapman… and Dragon Clouds City…”
Raphael came forward.
“In terms of results, you made the ten archdukes vigilant of each other. This is rather close to the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department’s desired objective, maybe even exceeding it.
“Perhaps you’re more suitable to work in the Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department.” The cadre smiled mysteriously. “I’ll see you again someday.”
Thales rolled his eyes.
Putray tapped the prince’s shoulder, unsure of what to say.
“I will report to the kingdom as soon as possible and come up with a countermeasure.” He turned to the weakened Raphael. “You know what to do, right?”
The cadre of the Secret Intelligence Department nodded slowly. “His Majesty and Lord Hansen will be informed of everything that has happened here as soon as possible.”
“Another thing.” Putray went in front of Kohen and Miranda, his expression grew stern. “Both of you, even though you are badly wounded… you have to hide your identities at once and leave Eckstedt before the enemy stops you.”
Kohen’s mouth gaped wide, while Miranda seemed to be in deep thought.
“As aristocratic members of two great families—especially Miss Arunde who is the heiress to the Guardian Duke of the Northern Territory—both of you are immensely valuable to Lampard-to King Chapman. He can’t act right away because we’re in Dragon Clouds City, and he was just crowned. But he definitely won’t let you two go the moment you leave Dragon Clouds City.” The vice diplomat concluded in a few sentences.
Even Raphael had his expression darken.
“I’ll leave with them immediately, while Nicholas’ people are still on good terms with us.” With a cough, Raphael said, “I know of a secret passage through the birch tree forest that leads to our kingdom. We can outsmart Black Sand Region’s spies.”
Putray nodded at him. “Go.”
While Kohen was sighing with resentment and Miranda looked as if she was troubled by her thoughts, they left with Raphael.
When they passed Thales, Miranda shot a glance at him.
“Take care, Your Highness, don’t give up.” The swordswoman’s expression was a little contrasting, and she frowned a little. While enduring the pain of her wounds, she said rather profoundly, “You’re a good prince, and you aren’t like others.”
Putray turned aside and pretended he did not hear it. Thales scratched his head; he was so embarrassed that he could only smile in reply.
The badly battered Kohen went to Thales’ side.
“Your Highness.” The police officer’s robe was singed at the shoulder and there was a terrifying burn on his neck. Even though he used the Power of Eradication to perform basic treatment, it still looked extremely hideous. He seemed a little hesitant at first.
“You… I just want to say that…” Kohen’s mouth opened and closed many times. A few seconds later, he pursed his lips and nodded forcefully. “Thank you.”
Thales, still having mixed feelings in his heart, forced a smile.
“I should thank you, Kohen Karabeyan. Thank you, everyone, for fighting so bravely without rest.
The police officer blinked.
“No, no, Your Highness. We only risked our lives in a few encounters.” The corners of Kohen’s lips curled up. He scratched his head as though he was somewhat embarrassed. “But you…”
For a moment, he could not seem to find the right words. After quite a while, the embarrassed Kohen straightened his face and said sincerely, “You saved the world.”
“You’re exaggerating.” Thales burst out into laughter, blushign a little. “I only did what I could to mediate a conflict. It’s not my turn to save the world yet.”
Kohen paused for a while, his gaze flickering slightly. He hung his head and his face dimmed.
As though recalling something, the police officer said with a tinge of emotion, “Trust me, Your Highness, for those who would have been affected by the war…”
Thales gazed at him questioningly. The police officer inhaled deeply and flashed him a bright smile again, revealing a mouth full of shiny teeth. He bowed slightly at Thales.
“…You have indeed saved the world. It has been my honor to fight beside you.”
Thales looked at him in a strange manner. He watched Kohen leave, nodding subconsciously.
Raphael, on the other hand, nodded at him slightly. “Well done, Your Highness.”
He saw group after group of people off. With the inclusion of the fact that he would be imprisoned in Dragon Clouds City, Thales suddenly felt listless.
‘Forget it.’ He consoled himself. ‘At least the outcome isn’t too bad. At least they’re still alive…
‘Hmm? Did he forget someone?’ (A short figure burped in a corner somewhere in Dragon Clouds City before he immediately sneezed.)
At that moment…
“I’m sorry for dragging you into this.” The girl’s voice came from behind him. “They insisted that you stay…”
Thales turned around and directed their gazes at the apologetic-looking Saroma.
“No. This is a plot and for their own benefit. It has nothing to do with you.” The prince let go of the cheerlessness at the bottom of his heart; he shook his head, freeing himself of his burdens.
‘Also… the person who was dragged into this mess… the person who should apologize is…’
Thales shrugged gloomily. “For King Lampard to put me under house arrest, if the Archduchess of Dragon Clouds City and the prince of the enemy kingdom are too closely associated with each other, it will weaken your prestige and damage your reputation.
“To the archdukes, they would rather have me in the severely weakened Dragon Clouds City rather than let Black Sand Region have control of me as a gambit.
“And to all of them, having a prince being held hostage in the enemy kingdom all year long will allow them to make sure that he is far away from Constellation’s power and influence.” The prince shook his head. “If I were return to my country one day and be subsequently crowned, I will definitely be a new king who will have an unstable rule.”
“This suits everyone’s interests and benefit, so I’m most likely bound to be unlucky.”
He raised his head in a resigned fashion and concluded his own fate. He then sighed drearily and said, “And Lampard hates me to the core. He will absolutely not want to see me go back alive like this…”
Thales felt the muscles in his arm tighten. Surprised, the prince stared at Saroma gripping his arm.
“No, I already told them that you must be in Dragon Clouds City.” The little girl puffed up her cheeks and shook her head. “You’re my friend. You won’t be unlucky, and nothing will happen to you.”
Saroma pursed her lips, as if she was about to cry. Regret and worry appeared in her green eyes. Thales was speechless.
Saroma blinked her crystalline eyes, then said with a quiver in her voice, “You will live a good life here, you’ll be fine… Lisban is a good man. He won’t make things hard for you. Dragon Clouds City will also protect you! We…”
As if she wanted to prove something, Saroma’s eyes became panicked and she said anxiously, “We can read together…”
Behind her glasses, her eyes brightened suddenly.
“That’s right, Raikaru’s library has plenty of books I’ve never read before.” Saroma’s breathing quickened, as if she was worried that Thales would not be happy. “I remember that you were quite interested in the Battle of Eradication…”
As he stared at the panicking girl, Thales felt as if he was slowly cheering up from his gloomy mood.
“That’s right.” The prince scratched his head and could not help but chuckle softly. “I’m very interested in it…”
Such as magic. Such as… dragons.
Saroma looked as if she had just sighed in relief. Then, she asked gingerly, “So you’ll stay in Dragon Clouds City and read with me?”
“Ah, I understand, my lady.” With a smile, he pressed his hand on his chest and bowed slightly.
Only then did Saroma’s lips slowly curl up. With Lisban urging her to leave, she turned around and left, occasionally turning her head to look at him. The Phantom Wind Follower moved to stand in front of Thales.
Thales looked at the dispirited Ralf and smiled. “How was the past month or so, compared to your life in the gang?”
The Phantom Wind Follower’s eyes moved slightly while he still had that half-piece of the silver mask covering his face. He used his right hand, still fixed into position with splints, and made a few gestures with great difficulty. “Horrid.”
Thales raised his eyebrows. Ralf shrugged, then made another gesture.
“But also good.”
Only then did Thales chuckle softly. The prince raised his head and stared at Dragon Clouds City’s sky beyond the window with mixed feelings in his heart. There was a feeling of ease that he had not felt for a long time.
“Did you see it?” He parted his lips slightly and murmured in a voice no one could hear, “This is my answer.”
This time, no other voice appeared in his ears.
The blizzard outside the window grew stronger. Freezing wind howled, charging for his face with ice shards mixed in them. The Dragon Clouds City in his line of vision instantly grew dark and became filled with fog.
The Day before the Bitter Cold Winter that enveloped the entire Northland had officially arrived.