Chapter 302: Not too bad?
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
Sword and axe clashed into each other.
With a cold face, Nicholas blocked Thales.
“I wanted to present myself as politely as I could, Your Grace, so I tried not to think that way.” Gritting his teeth, Thales tried to regulate his breathing while he strenuously increased the force in his hands. “But you know how serious things are, and we have to be cautious, so excuse me for asking an unnecessary question: Does the Red Witch know about this secret? And if she knows about it… was it leaked from your side?”
In reality, Thales eavesdropped on their conversation back in the past.
The Red Witch knew about the secret indeed. She revealed this to Nicholas before.
Yet, Thales still wanted to ask.
“No.” Effortlessly, Nicholas deflected Thales’ blade. His expression unchanged, he answered without hesitation, “Of course she doesn’t know—at least not from my side—otherwise, she wouldn’t have let go of the opportunity to use it.
In that instant, the look in Thales’ eyes changed.
Behind the sword and axe, he gazed at the Star Killer’s eyes. His thoughts surged like a torrential tide in his heart.
‘He’s hiding the truth from me on purpose, hiding the fact that the Red Witch knows the truth. Why? Is it because he’s afraid that after I find out, I’ll continue questioning him with “why would the Red Witch let us go”? Or, is he afraid because there’s a secret hidden behind the matter of the Red Witch letting us go? A secret that will derive into “it’s not a problem even if this archduchess is not part of Walton’s bloodline”? Such as… right?’
In that moment, Thales’ mood only grew increasingly gloomy.
He took a step backwards and moved his blade away.
“Very well.” After he raised his head, Thales was beaming as he appeared to have let out a sigh of relief. He resumed to being that laid-back prince. “Even though I don’t believe that you would have leaked the information, I’m still much more relieved after hearing you prove this point in person.”
Frowning, Nicholas looked at him without offering even half a smile.
“Let’s switch to a different direction then.” Thales took deep breaths with a look that suggested he was using all of his energy to think deeply. “What about the people… who got to know this secret from you? Any possibilities of them interacting with the Red Witch?”
Nicholas swung his axe. “Other people?”
A gloomy emotion rose in Thales’ heart.
‘He has acknowledged it implicitly.
‘He implicitly agreed that the Red Witch knows about Little Rascal’s secret. So, the meaning of that “how could it be” earlier wasn’t “how could the Red Witch know”, but “how could the Red Witch leak the secret”.’
Thales recomposed himself as he nodded without batting an eyelid. “Does Lisban know the real identity of the archduchess? In six years, did you really not tell him a thing?”
This time, he clearly saw how Nicholas’ face did not move an inch. It was as if it had been frozen by ice.
Thales let out a long sigh.
“Uncle Nicholas.” The prince looked somewhat anxious. He seemed to be really worried about something. “We’re not discussing some cheery joke before the dinner table, but the life and death of Dragon Clouds City…”
Thales narrowed his eyes.
He turned towards the young lady practicing with her dagger by the side. “…as well as Saroma’s rule. Lampard is holding our greatest weakness. Your secrecy and hesitance in sharing the truth will only add to our troubles, Northlander.”
A few seconds later, Nicholas looked up without any expression on his face and stared at him calmly. He did not say a word.
Thales could not help but sigh and raise his sword as he watched the silent Nicholas.
“So you told him.”
Nicholas raised his axe and absent-mindedly blocked Thales’ sword, which was light as a feather. It was completely devoid of strength.
“Impossible.” The Star Killer’s face was stiff, as though he saw the most terrifying thing. “He has no reason to betray us. He wouldn’t reveal that information to our enemy.”
Thales snorted lightly.
“Who knows? Count Ciel Lisban, the kingdom’s former prime minister; he’s only loyal to the Waltons,” Thales said, not without hidden implications in his words. “If he knew the truth about the archduchess, knew that he wasn’t serving a Walton, then wouldn’t he think that he’d be more suited…”
Nicholas raised his head abruptly as he gritted his teeth. “It is even more impossible, precisely because he is loyal to the Waltons!”
Thales did not say a word, instead he looked at the other person with a complex expression.
‘Why are you so certain and confident? Why do you have such confidence in Lisban’s continuous compliance to his testament and service towards a girl who is completely unrelated to the Waltons without complaint?’
Thales sighed faintly. “Don’t forget, Walton’s direct bloodline has, in fact, become extinct.”
Nicholas shuddered a little.
“Don’t tell me that after the Born King’s death, the former king’s testament conveyed by a personal guard could be so supreme?” Thales pushed Nicholas aside and laughed in a cold manner repeatedly. “To the extent of causing a traditional Northland suzerain of great reputation to relinquish his honor and habits, then submit to a girl who’s actually not the bloodline of his master?
“Unless, King Nuven is alive. Otherwise, how could a vassal who practically holds the authority of Dragon Clouds City remain loyal as if those decades were just days to him when dealing with a powerless and weak girl?”
Thales shrugged. “You know, if it was up to Lisban, the rule of Walton’s name would’ve probably ended already—this secret that he’s holding is enough to overturn the archduchess…”
“I said, it’s impossible!” Nicholas’ dissatisfaction was already incredibly obvious. “You don’t know anything, you also don’t understand Lisban.”
Thales sighed lightly in his heart when he saw how the Star Killer reacted.
‘That’s right. Lisban isn’t someone like that. He also wouldn’t be so stupid as to trade the secret with Black Sand Region. So… there’s only one explanation: Lisban knows that everything he painstakingly laid out throughout these six years was still to show his loyalty to the Waltons. King Nuven’s bloodline is still what he’s truly loyal to.’
“Your concern ends here, unless Black Sand Region approaches you again,” Nicholas said coldly. “If that happens, let me settle it.”
“You aren’t stupid enough to confront him directly, are you? You’re going to deal with Lisban?” the prince asked flatly. “Plainly based on the affection and gratitude the both of you have towards the late king?”
In contempt, Nicholas shifted his body aside and refused to acknowledge him, keeping a set distance between them.
He continued to ignore him until Thales said the next sentence.
“Have you forgotten that traitor?” Thales laughed derisively before him. “You’ve forgotten how you refused to believe his betrayal until the person himself appeared in Heroic Spirit Palace? Until you personally killed that traitor—Kaslan Lampard?”
This sentence was like a spark that lit up a straw. Nicholas turned around abruptly and struck Thales in the abdomen with a fist!
However, out of the Star Killer’s expectations, Thales seemingly turned into someone else. He spread out both hands at a high speed and firmly clutched the punch, which had changed its trajectory due to force of habit.
“That’s right, maintain a low-profile. It’s best if you act as though nothing has happened.” Thales clutched his opponent’s arms tightly with his utmost strength. He gritted his teeth and said, “Because most of the time, even I don’t know who’s my enemy and who’s my friend in Dragon Clouds City.”
Nicholas stared at him with a frown. A few seconds later, the Star Killer withdrew his arms brusquely, causing the prince to stumble for a moment.
He looked at Saroma who was practicing her dagger with Justin in the distance, and pursed his lips. “Have you informed the archduchess about this matter—Black Sand Region’s bargaining chips and threat?”
“No.” Thales exhaled and swung his numb hands. He was experiencing the numbness of the Sin of Hell’s River as it slowly settled down. “Not yet.”
“Very good, remain silent then.” Nicholas seemed to have calmed down, his eyes fixed on Saroma. “She doesn’t need to know.
“The White Blade… Archduchess’ Guards will send someone to investigate the matter.”
A long while later, Thales heaved a sigh in sadness. He stood up and did not look at the Star Killer again.
“Is that so?” Thales glanced at the archduchess practicing with her daggers and snorted lightly. There was deep meaning in his voice. “You think you can protect her with swords and shields, so you only taught her how to use a dagger.”
He shook his head. “Think about it: when an enemy’s sword swings down on her, the weak and powerless archduchess will only have a small dagger, only knowing how to pierce and slash. I cannot imagine anything crueller than that.”
Nicholas cast a glance at the archduchess and turned to Thales again. His expression was disdainful. “Don’t worry. Before the enemy’s sword arrives, I’d have beheaded him already.”
“Hah, how strong of you.”
Thales shook his head. A hint of melancholy was mixed with his voice, “Yet, the sword that belongs to Lampard has already landed on her throat. Lampard’s brain is still attached to his neck—and she’s still happily learning how to use a dagger from you.”
Nicholas did not say a word, but his eyebrows were knitted together even more tightly.
Thales narrowed his eyes. “Did you train Prince Moriah like this too? Did you teach him self-defense with a dagger and keep him far from the dangerous secrets?”
The prince lowered his head and patted his hands free of dirt. He sighed. “No wonder Moriah couldn’t return from Constellation—”
“Women do not belong on the battlefield, and Moriah wasn’t a woman.” Nicholas interrupted him coldly. “His training was much more difficult. He was also a brave swordsman and axeman. His inability to return was definitely not because of the lack of skill.”
Thales crossed both his arms and was silent for a moment.
“Of course.” Thales shook his head. There seemed to be a different meaning contained in his eyes compared to the words he spoke. “Moriah; a lawful male heir to inherit the title of archduke. If he was still around, then Dragon Clouds City would’ve probably stabilized by now. Then, I likely wouldn’t have to come to Eckstedt anymore.”
Nicholas snorted coldly. It seemed like he did not understand what the prince wanted to say at all.
“But she…” Thales gestured with his bottom lip at the archduchess as if he was chatting casually with Nicholas. “But she happens to be a woman, and she’s not even of Walton’s bloodline. This has brought on many problems. She cannot just know how to defend herself with a dagger. It is far from enough—”
“That is not a matter you should be worried about. Just take care of yourself,” Nicholas bluntly cut him off. “That’s my problem.”
“You are indeed confident.” Thales shook his head and snorted lightly. “You sound as if with just one word, Dragon Clouds City will become stable, and the suspicious aspects of Lisban as well as the others will be eliminated.”
“We’ll end today’s class here,” Nicholas was heard saying stiffly. “Practice on your own for the remainder of the lesson.”
Thales sneered in his heart and shook his head. “What about the one hundred times you mentioned earlier?”
However, the Star Killer just cast a cool glimpse at him, turned around and left without stopping.
Thales simply watched his back and slowly furrowed his eyebrows.
It was still early in the day, and the sun was shining brightly.
“It ended so early?” Wya walked forward, took the sword and shield from Thales’ hand as he asked in bewilderment. “Today’s training seemed a little different.”
The second prince inhaled deeply and shook his head lightly.
“Really, wasn’t it the same as always?
“He still has overwhelming advantage over me.” Thales watched the Star Killer’s figure, which was moving farther away, and he could not help but sigh in regret. “Both parties in the duel are simply not at the same level.”
“You don’t have to compare yourself with the Star Killer.” Wya raised his brows. Following the prince’s line of sight, he looked at the terrifying former commander of the White Blade Guards. He said tentatively, “But, I’m relieved to see you become so optimistic again.
“It’s not too bad, isn’t it?”
Thales turned around and cast his gaze in a different direction, at Saroma who was practicing her dagger with a head full of sweat. Then, he glanced at her vigilant personal guards and servants who filled the field inside and out. He did not say a word.
‘Not too bad? No.’
In that moment, only the prince himself knew how bad the situation he was about to face was.