Chapter 275: A Game of Chess (One)
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
“The archduchess’ council hearing will continue until the sun sets. It won’t be too late for you to go in the afternoon. I’ll send someone to tell Viscount Leisdon.”
In the bedroom on the first floor, Thales glanced at the sunlight outside the window as he took a wet towel out of a basin and wrung it. While he wiped his face, he said those words to Putray, who was sitting beside him.
Putray stared at the second prince’s figure, which was a lot broader and taller compared to six years ago. In his silence, Putray ran his hand over the wrinkles on his face and watched as the fire in his tobacco pipe slowly extinguished.
‘It’s hard to imagine that this is the thin and frail boy six years ago. The boy who could not even ride a horse…
‘The boy who gritted his teeth and broke into Heroic Spirit Palace.’
Thales pressed the towel on his face and heaved a long sigh. “Trust me, she gets into a bad mood after every council hearing. It’s the same with Regent Lisban. If I were you, I wouldn’t go too early. You’ll just bring bad luck on yourself.”
Putray refilled his tobacco pipe and snorted softly. “I reckon that Archduchess Walton still isn’t acknowledged by many of the Northlanders?”
Thales raised his eyebrows. “Acknowledged?”
Recalling the things he saw and heard throughout the past six years, he could not help but shrug.
“Lisban almost exhausted all of his connections and ruined the reputation he built from his twenty something years as a prime minister just to convince the immediate vassals of Dragon Clouds City to salute the new archduchess during King Nuven’s funeral… And this was under a situation where five archdukes, including the king spoke on her behalf.”
Thales recalled the extremely strange funeral. King Nuven’s eyes were covered with gold coins and he held a precious sword in his arms. He lay quietly in the middle of the Hall of Heroes, while the stitches on his neck were completely covered by his collar. His vassals slowly walked forward in shock and sadness as they glanced in disbelief at their new, young suzerain. They then glanced at the steely-looking Lisban in anger and confusion… as though the latter had betrayed them.
The prince snorted softly and put the towel in the basin. He went into a little room, which could only fit one person. Unbuttoning and untying his inner shirt, he sighed. “You can imagine her plight these six years as Dragon Clouds City’s archduchess.”
Outside, Putray stood and nodded as though deep in thought.
The former vice diplomat moved next to the window and glanced at the guards in the back garden. They were visible everywhere. “By comparison, at least they’ve attached a high amount of importance on you as a prince who’s held hostage in the enemy kingdom’s central region…”
“If you’re talking about the large number of palace guards and the Archduchess’ Guards who fill the corridor, the top of the hall, the balcony as well as the garden…” Thales took off his inner shirt and accidentally ran his fingers over the round burn scar on his chest. He could not help but recall a past memory.
He sighed as he picked up a new inner shirt and wore it.
“Let me put it this way, after Nuven was assassinated six years ago, that dead face, Nicholas has become increasingly neurotic. If he could, he would turn Heroic Spirit Palace into a prison where people are forbidden to enter and exit, or a military camp that’s patrolled day and night.
As he wore his clothes, Thales said in resignation, “No matter where I want to go, they’ll thoroughly search the place three days beforehand.”
While he stared at the guards on duty in the corridor, Putray nodded slightly. “I’m glad to hear that the Star Killer is so responsible.”
“Wait until you see him. Then, you won’t think so anymore. The people who came before you suffered quite a lot because of him.” In the changing room, Thales wore his overalls and grabbed his heavy, intricate belt from the wall. Seeing JC’s dagger hanging from it, he slightly furrowed his eyebrows again.
“That time our kingdom sent a steed over with Viscount Kenney’s diplomat group, Nicholas almost chopped that steed into pieces before stitching it up and giving it back to me.”
Thales skillfully put his belt on and buttoned all four buttons on the belt before he sat down and wore his boots.
Putray turned from where he was standing by the window and blew out rings of smoke without any scruples.
There were plenty of books on the prince’s study table. Some were half-open, while some had bookmarks in them. There were also many notes on their pages.
Next to the study table, three sheathed swords were placed neatly on a sword rack, and two shields were neatly stacked together, leaning against the side of the sword rack.
The corners of Putray’s lips curled up.
He shifted his gaze to Thales’ bed. The blanket and pillow on it were clean like they were new.
‘They’re probably washed and changed often…’ Putray thought.[email protected]@@@=====ADADADAD=[email protected]@@@@=======
However, his gaze proceeded to shift to the corner near the bed. Ordinary people may not have noticed it, but the sharp Putray realized that compared to the area beside it, the color of the walls in this corner seemed brighter.
The area was exactly enough for a person to lean against while lying in the corner.
Putray narrowed his eyes.
A few seconds later, he sighed quietly.
“Your Highness.” For some reason, Putray became calm. His tone was serious, “How have you been these few years?”
The voice in the changing room paused for a fraction of a second, as though the person there was thinking of an answer.
“Ha,” the prince breathed. He sounded nonchalant, “A regular schedule, magnificent Northland scenery, protection everywhere I go, no longer having to worry for my life, no longer having to face shrewd and crafty enemies…
“The only things I need to worry about are a little girl, her female officials, a dead face and a regent, who is a horrible old man…”
In the changing room, Thales tied up the laces of his boots. His breathing slowed and his expression was still. “Why would my life not be good?”
‘Why would your life not be good?’
A few seconds later, having readied himself, Thales opened the door of the changing room and walked into his bedroom.
He raised his head to look at Putray, who was standing in front of the study table. He sincerely said, “I’m still glad to see you, Putray.
“In Dragon Clouds City, it’s not everyday that you get to meet an old friend.”
‘Especially those who have gone through hardships with you.’
Thales added internally.
He took a hand-and-a-half sword from the sword rack and tested its weight. He then slipped it into his belt.
“I really want to say that I feel the same, Your Highness.” Putray smiled. “But you know, I am not very used to dialogues that are too emotional.”
Hearing that, Thales chuckled.
“So, where have you been for the past six years?” Standing in front of the dressing mirror, the young prince simply pulled his collar. “Back then, I thought that you would stay with me in Dragon Clouds City, as the instructor whom Gilbert assigned to me.”
Putray bit his tobacco pipe and snorted softly, twitching his mouth in a quirky manner.
“Speaking of instructors, I heard that you’ve been causing the teachers in Dragon Clouds City a lot of trouble?” he flatly asked as though he did not hear Thales’ question.
Thales blinked. He did not continue to ask about Putray’s whereabouts for the past six years.
“First of all, I’m not very used to the way many people teach. Plus, I’m a straightforward person.” He brushed his hair and felt that it was somewhat presentable. “Next, I feel that the education I’m receiving isn’t suitable for an archduke…”
Thales’ voice unknowingly became softer.
Putray spat through his tobacco pipe. “What?”
The teenage prince shook his head and cleared the images of a few lessons out of his mind. “Nothing. Just pretend that I thought those teachers were an eyesore.”
Putray watched him and snorted.
“The people in our kingdom are also having a huge headache over the issue of your education,” the gaunt vice diplomat firmly said. “Hence, I have specially invited a teacher for you on my trip here this time.”
“Invited a teacher?” Thales furrowed his eyebrows a little. “I thought that you wanted to teach me personally?”
“I will only turn you into a gloomy prince with a head filled with conspiracies and plots.” Putray laughed. “At most, I will be able to teach you a few interesting bardic poems… Gilbert will probably kill me.”
Thales let out a hollow laugh along with Putray. Shortly after, his face sank.
“You should know that King Chapman does not allow Constellatiates to come here and give lessons to me.”
Thales sighed softly. “He refuses to let any Constellatiate take part in the Prince of Constellation’s education.”
The prince recalled the times he received Northland’s education for nobles together with that girl.
The Eckstedtians taught the common language with a Northland accent, and even taught the language of orcs. Additionally, they also taught them the history and traditions of Northland. The importance of the Thirty-Eighth Sentry Ground and the dangers of Broken Dragon Fortress had to be memorized. But, they did not teach the things that Gilbert taught him in Mindis Hall, such as the ancient language of the Empire, the history of the Empire, Constellation’s past or even the language of elves and noble rhetorics.
Thales could not help but shake his head.
Fortunately, having rugged and agile Northland fighters as training partners for the Northland Military Sword Style… was quite convenient.
“Please do not worry.
“The scholar is from Anlenzo Dukedom’s Dragon Kiss Academy. He is respectable and renowned.” Putray seemed to have predicted what Thales was going to say. He nonchalantly blew out another ring of smoke. “He will only arrive after a few days, and he will be teaching you as well as the archduchess at the same time. Regent Lisban will only be pleasantly surprised by his arrival.”
Thales paused momentarily, and his eyes shone with curiosity. “Dragon Kiss Academy? Respectable?”
Thales’ eyebrows were so tightly furrowed that he could squeeze a mosquito to death in between them. Putray extended his tobacco pipe and casually knocked the ash out of the pipe on the windowsill.
“When he was young, he used to be my home tutor as well as Gilbert’s.” Putray sighed with emotion and said, “It took Gilbert and I a lot of effort to convince him to come.”
‘Putray and Gilbert’s… teacher?’
Remembering the former Foreign Affairs Minister whom he had not seen for years, Thales’ curiosity grew.
“Who is he?”
“You will find out,” Putray said calmly. “Before that, forgive me for keeping it a surprise.”
Thales turned to a side Putray could not see and arched an eyebrow.
The second prince narrowed his eyes.
“You came this time with the purpose of solving the problem regarding my education?”
Putray snorted softly. With a playful expression, he changed the subject a little. “Yes, why else? In these six years, the heir to Constellation has almost become a Northlander.”
Thales could not help but roll his eyes.
Nevertheless, in the next moment, Putray’s eyes suddenly shone with an odd light.
“Prince Thales.” Putray tapped his tobacco pipe with a profound expression. “For the past six years, did you ever miss home?”
‘The Abandoned House, Sunset Pub, Jala.’
When he thought of “home”, those were actually the first terms that came to mind.
Perhaps… there was also Gilbert, Jines and Yodel?
Thales crossed his arms and sighed.
“I don’t know.” He managed to force a smile. “I haven’t been in Constellation for a long time, and my memory of it is very vague.”
Putray stared quietly at him and said nothing.
Thales was quite sentimental, but he became puzzled because of Putray’s stare.
“Great.” Putray’s gaze was deep as he stared into Thales’ eyes. “Then, it’s time to refresh your memory.”
Thales was taken aback.
A few seconds later, the prince sighed, having understood something.
Thales lowered his head and asked in a soft voice, “The Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department?”
Putray whistled softly and swayed his head. “Who else?”
The prince’s expression froze.
After some time, Thales snorted with a faint smile on his face. His face sagged miserably. “Them again.
“I really don’t know if I should feel happy or sad.”
Putray arched one of his eyebrows and said nothing. Instead, he stared quietly at the prince.
“Alright.” Thales rubbed his face, as though he was trying to get rid of all the emotions he felt earlier.
He took a deep breath and turned abruptly, grabbing a book on the study table before saying, “It’s time to go!”
“Go?” Putray was shocked. “You want to see the archduchess with me?”
“Of course not.
“I have no desire to seek bad luck at this time of the day.
“Didn’t I tell you?” The prince turned and flashed a white-toothed smile. He then closed the book in his hand. “It’s a habit of mine to go outside the palace for a game of chess once a month.”
A puzzled expression showed up on Putray’s face.
‘A game of chess?
The moment Thales closed the book, the hawk-eyed Putray vaguely saw a thin, sky-blue piece of paper inside.