Chapter 299: Friend and Foe
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
There was the sound of horses galloping behind Thales. He had complicated emotions in his heart as he listened to Wya’s complaints and watched the group from Black Sand Region leave into the distance.
The vigilant Wya and the others instinctively blocked the prince from view, but Thales, who had long since expected this, sighed and calmly turned around.
‘They sure arrived quickly, and in a hasty manner to boot.’
While the horses neighed in discontentment, the person who arrived got down from his mount. Accompanied by his attendants, he moved through his team of personal guards to walk towards Thales with a stiff expression. By the side, Lord Justin greeted him respectfully.
The aged but still spirited regent of Dragon Clouds City stood in front of Thales. His expression never changed from the moment he arrived.
“Your Grace.” The prince’s gaze swept past the patrols of Dragon Clouds City who came with the count before he politely nodded at Count Lisban. He did not seem to be surprised at all by his sudden appearance, “Should I be shocked that you are so concerned about my holiday?”
But the Count who rushed there after the news had a dark expression and did not want to make small talk with the prince. “Do you know how much of a ruthless act it is to directly go into Black Sand Region’s carriage?”
Thales shrugged in resignation, then moved towards Lisban on his steed, Jennie. Wya and Ralf took a step back and maintained a set distance from them.
The former prime minister looked around with a serious gaze, which made his team of personal guards, who had just let out a sigh of relief, to become nervous again. “What happened?”
“What did Black Sand Region say to you?”
‘What did they say?’
The prince recalled the secret King Chapman told him and could not help but feel solemn.
“They’re very interested in Dragon Clouds City, but they cannot establish direct contact with the archduchess.” Thales turned his head in the direction of the people from Black Sand Region and gestured at them by jutting out his bottom lip. He then said with a relaxed face, “For this reason, they want to draw me to their side.”
Lisban’s gaze changed a few times.
“You? Do they want to draw you to their side?
“Do you want me to remind you of the relationship between Dragon Clouds City and that King Chapman? Or, what kind of role you played in the storm six years ago?”
Thales blinked a couple of times.
“I think Black Sand Region will not put its hopes on a foreign prince who is almost an arch enemy to them with no certainty of success,” the count said gloomily. “Or do they have a very good reason to talk to you?”
Thales furled his fists in his sleeves and began to reevalute Lisban, who was in front of him.
“So, Prince Thales,” Lisban sounded polite but oppressive, “what can I do for you?”
Thales could not help but feel a surge of wariness rising in his heart.
Were Lampard’s words credible?
Who was his foe and who was his friend in Dragon Clouds City?
How on earth should he choose?
Thales took a deep breath and could not help but recall the terrible secret Lampard told him.
The former king’s gift.
The prince looked at the count in front of him as his gaze swept past his graying temples.
During the past six years, just what sort of emotion did the most powerful official in Dragon Clouds City harbor as he watched Saroma grow?
What did he think of Saroma, his superior in name?
An archduchess? The wife of a future archduke? A little girl who was naive of the workings of the world?
The prince sighed slightly. “They gave me a very convincing reason.”
The count was all ears.
Thales looked up and said without changing his expression, “They said that as long as I can help them, King Chapman will personally give the order…”
The prince paused for a while before he spoke between gritted teeth.
“…to let me go home.”
That second, the old regent’s gaze was fixed on Thales.
Thales forced out a smile as he spread out both of his hands.
“Oh, really. That’s interesting.” After pausing for a few seconds, the count pursed his lips. His tone when he spoke was intriguing, “How did you answer?”
Thales stood in front of Jennie and looked at the finny’s jolly attitude. He seemed to be deep in thought.
“I have to think about it,” Thales answered slowly. “This was my answer.”
Lisban did not utter a word.
After a few seconds, the regent raised his eyebrows a little. “You know, you are in Dragon Clouds City.”
Thales nodded. “I know.”
Lisban looked at him with a glint in his eyes. “You also know that the archduchess is protecting you.”
Thales exhaled. “I know.”
“But you also need to know that…” This time, Count Lisban increased the volume of his voice slightly. There was a fierce look in his eyes. “…six years ago, during the king selection, when the five archdukes agreed not to let you leave Eckstedt…
“…the solitary Miss Saroma single-handedly stood in the Hall of Heroes and threatened the archdukes in front of High Priestess Holme. If she was not allowed to leave you in Dragon Clouds City, then she would refuse to elect the king and die in Dragon Clouds City with the others.”
He lowered his head and looked at the ground with a dazed look. He remembered how Archduke Lecco patted him on the shoulder in Heroic Spirit Palace and told him to take care of himself in a somber tone.
“Now this, I really don’t know,” the prince said in a daze.
Lisban looked at Thales’ expression and nodded a little. “Please don’t make her regret that decision.
“You should go back to the palace. You wouldn’t want to offend Lord Nicholas at this time. You have outdoor classes tomorrow, after all.” Once the regent uttered his words, he glanced at the prince who was deep in his thoughts. He then turned away.
Thales stopped the count. “Do you miss him?”
Lisban turned around and looked at the prince with no emotion on his face. He lifted his eyebrows slightly.
“Do you miss King Nuven?” Thales added. “You know, the Born King, a real dauntless Walton.”
The prince had a slightly gloomy look on his face, just like that of a melancholic poet. “And, have the ‘wouldn’t it be great if he was still here’ kind of thoughts?”
“Every day.” After that long period of silence, Count Lisban finally said faintly, “I miss him every day, especially when a mountain of documents as well as chores are stacked on the table again and again.
“You cannot imagine how deep our friendship was.”
Thales stared at him firmly. “You’re right.”
“You know, when King Nuven was here, Dragon Clouds City and even Eckstedt were far from this state.” Thales sighed. “The vassals all stuck to their own positions, and they conducted themselves in an orderly manner. The suzerains and citizens each had their own duties, and everything was in order.”
Thales stared at the count’s face closely. There was a slightly sentimental look on his own face. “But after he passed away, and the archduchess came into power, the entire Dragon Clouds City has been in turmoil, and the people have been uneasy.
“Now, even Black Sand Region dares to run to Dragon Clouds City to contact me.”
Lisban looked at him without moving.
“She has not ruled for a long time, and the people are not used to it. We need time and patience,” the count answered without giving away his thoughts.
Thales narrowed his eyes.
“Yes. Perhaps Dragon Clouds City thinks that there is still a big gap in power between a weak, helpless girl and Archduke Walton,” Thales spoke with a hidden meaning as he shook his head.?“Perhaps she is far from qualified to rule Dragon Clouds City.”
Lisban frowned slightly, and his tone when he spoke next was unpleasant, “Please do not interpret my words as you please, Prince Thales”
Thales closed his eyes and let out a long sigh.
“Your Grace,” the prince asked in a seemingly nonchalant manner, “if one day, the bloodline of the Dragon Spear Family is completely wiped out and the Waltons no longer have any descendants, how will you and your family protect yourselves in Dragon Clouds City?”
Count Lisban’s expression froze.
Lisban cast him a profound gaze after he said this.
“Even if we are allies, your words can still very easily cause misunderstandings, Prince Thales. This is especially so after your meeting with the envoys of Black Sand Region,” the count’s words were polite but unquestionably harsh, “even if you’ve been with us for six years.”
Thales smiled apologetically. “Please understand that the current state of Dragon Clouds City is worrying me, whether it’s the Alliance of Freedom and the City of Faraway Prayers in the west or Black Sand Region’s envoys in the city. And of course, that includes the vassals of Dragon Clouds City. I have to think more about it and plan ahead.”
Lisban did not move as he fixed his gaze on him.
“Dragon Clouds City will always belong to the Walton Family,” the count slowly said. “Raikaru’s descendants have ruled the land for nearly seven hundred years. The Cloud Dragon Spear Flag is still being passed down through the generations until now; there is a reason for that.
“There will also be news regarding both the Alliance of Freedom and the City of Faraway Prayers.
“Please do not have superfluous and unnecessary worries about this matter.”
Thales stared at Count Lisban for a long time, and his mind was full of thoughts.
Thales spoke with a profound meaning in his words.
The next moment, he nodded slightly. Without hesitation, he sat down on the saddle upon Jennie’s back and rode the horse away, leaving Count Lisban as well as his group of patrols behind.
After entering the First Gatehouse, Thales unsurprisingly saw Nicholas at the palace gate, but the Star Killer only took a glance of him from afar before he turned away. He disbanded the Archduchess’ Guards, who had just gathered together and regarded Nicholas as if they were facing a great enemy. Then, Nicholas left.
The prince furrowed his eyebrows.
Thales did not sleep that night.
For the first time, he found the walls and tiles of Dragon Clouds City exceptionally hard, and his back ached.
“Let me summarize.”
In the archduchess’ study room, Meryl Hicks the Old Crow sat in his favorite seat. Just as he conducted his discussion during the first day, he did not use books or strokes, just a walking stick. He smiled with twitching cheeks while he nodded at his two students.
Thales rested his chin on his palms and looked at Hicks with a serious expression.
“In regards to how the Joint Ruling Pledge was formed, our dear Saroma gave us a lot of interesting and powerful explanations. For example, why was Nuven the First, who was the most powerful of all forces of power, willing to compromise?”
What was the terrifying old king thinking about?
Hicks continued, “For example, the prestige of King Raikaru and Queen of the Sky is still deeply rooted among the hearts of many.”
‘How much prestige does Saroma need in order to stabilize her rule in Dragon Clouds City, so much so that even her bloodline will…’
“For example, the defense lines of the glacier will require more than the power of an archduke of a territory to maintain and defend…”
‘An archduke of a territory…
‘How will the gamble between the archdukes affect Saroma’s rule?’
“For example, as we said in our first lesson, the boundaries of governance. If the system of autonomy is not maintained by the great feudal lords, but only by a king and his vassals, it would be hard for Eckstedt to maintain and protect this vast territory from West Billow to Northland across four ancient provinces after the Ancient Empire.”
‘Boundary of governance…’
At this moment, Thales felt a stab of pain in his ribs!
He turned his head in confusion and saw Saroma by his side, pulling her elbow back as if nothing had happened.
Thales stared at her.
“Sorry, let me repeat.”
Hicks looked straight at the Prince of Constellation.
The Old Crow said with a smile, “What else do you need to add to the conclusion of the Joint Ruling Pledge, Thales?”
It was only at that moment that Thales snapped back to attention.
He, who had at some point started to daydream, hastily turned over his notes. He shook his head apologetically and nodded. “Sorry, I… Yes, why was the Joint Ruling Pledge of Eckstedt formed? I have something to add…”
Hicks looked at him with interest.
Thales looked up and replied, “The achievement of the Joint Ruling Pledge is, to a large extent, thanks to the contribution of Constellation.”