Chapter 322: The Moral of the Story
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
The young lady had very obviously become anxious.
Saroma’s breathing accelerated. She shook her head subconsciously. “But, Count, no…”
But her hesitation only lasted for a few seconds. The archduchess raised her head again and steadied her tone.
“Count Nazaire, you do not understand,” she was rambling slightly, but her words contained an unyielding attitude. Lisban could not refrain himself from frowning as a result. “I swear… I am requesting for everyone to give me some time. I can definitely solve this issue. Whether it is Constellation’s army or anything else… Prince Thales is of extraordinary value. He was our comrade six years ago. We cannot bite the hand that fed us!”
Thales shuddered all of a sudden!
After those words were spoken, the whole hall seemed to turn cold in an instant.
Count Lisban heaved a heavy sigh. As for Nazaire, his expression turned extremely unpleasant.
The other counts had similar reactions.?More and more Northlanders turned towards Thales again.?It was just that the eyes that gathered on him had become increasingly alarming.
“Silly girl.” Ian held his forehead in annoyance. He nudged Thales and said in a low voice, “Yes, she may be able to protect you by doing so…
“But to sacrifice all the support of Dragon Clouds City for this…?Then what’s the meaning of everything we’ve done today?”
Thales did not reply, but chased all the excess emotions out of his mind. Silently, he watched the unyielding archduchess.
“My Lady, Lady Saroma Walton. You said…”
The old Count Nazaire called out her full name and narrowed his eyes. “…our comrade?”
Nazaire repeated Saroma’s words in a soft voice.
Saroma took a deep breath. Her complexion was pale. “Yes. You all may not know, but Ciel knows this very clearly…”
But in the next moment, Count Nazaire widened his eyes and increased his volume abruptly,?“Indeed!”
His loud voice shook the hall as the old count stood up from his seat!
The vassals’ expressions changed in unison.
Saroma was stumped by the sudden shout from the count.
Nazaire was seen with a tensed expression. His words were stern, forcing others not to forget his age. “And you think we do not know??Six years ago, from Archduke Poffret’s conspiracy, to the calamity’s invasion of city, to King Nuven’s death and King Chapman’s coronation…
“Yes, I know what roles that group of despicable Constellatiates played in the tragedy!”
The sounds of discussion rose in the Hall of Heroes again.
Saroma stared blankly at the man. “Count Nazaire…”
Count Nazaire looked at Saroma coldly, then at Thales. “Lady Calshan explained it very clearly. What came with this Prince of Constellation was that disaster, which caused the falling of heaven and earth in Dragon Clouds City! Our current state of abject destitution is because of him!”
Lisban was preparing to put in a good word for Thales, but once he heard that, he could not help but feel startled.
“Calshan…” The regent sighed. “Old partner, it looks like you’re also not what you said were, a hand extended by the despicable Black Sand Region.”
Nazaire snorted coldly.
The old count cast a fierce gaze, which did not belong to someone of his age. It caused those who met his gaze to feel a chill in their hearts.
“It has been six years. The disasters brought upon by this ominous prince has never stopped,” Nazaire took gradual steps and spoke to the archduchess, who appeared to be panicking.?“As a so-called hostage, he cannot be moved simply, cannot be used and cannot be harmed. Yet, he still eats and lives with you in Heroic Spirit Palace!
“I hate to say this, but…” Nazaire gritted his teeth. His words were filled with a resentment that was never present before. “Dragon Clouds City has had enough, whether it is his involvement in the disaster back then or the predicament now,?whether it is Black Sand Region or the Constellatiates,?whether he is by your side or far on the battlefield near the Alliance of Freedom.”
Saroma stared blankly at him. She did not know how to respond.
Sounds of agreement reverberated throughout the hall. Pairs upon pairs of eyes shot over to Thales, and they were filled with enmity towards him.
Count Cotterson and Lyner exchanged glances, while Count Hearst and Karkogel looked down in silence. Regent Lisban knitted his brows tightly together.
After a long silence, Nazaire coughed heavily for a few times.
“I am sorry, I have overstepped my boundaries.”
Nazaire lowered his voice. He seemed to have resumed the appearance of that old and clumsy count everyone knew.
“And it is also time for your naivety to come to an end.” He shook his head, sadness present in his eyes. “Please forgive me as I reconsider my decision to send my forces—maybe Dragon Clouds City should also stay further away from these things, even if it is harmful to your reputation.
“Please understand. The purpose of our response to the recruitment was absolutely not to satisfy the perversity of a child protecting her childhood playmate.”
Nazaire snorted coldly and sat down again.
His merciless words caused a chilling atmosphere to fall into the whole hall in an instant.?The vassals’ breathing slowly turned chaotic.
“Son of a b*tch,” Ian cursed violently behind Thales. “Everything was going well…”
Nobody said a word.?Everyone was waiting for the young lady who was sitting at the highest point in the Hall of Heroes, and perhaps even the highest point of Dragon Clouds City.
Saroma trembled faintly as she looked at Nazaire in disbelief.
‘No.’?She struggled internally. Her eyes slowly turned red.
“Anyone else?”?Saroma’s voice gradually rang, as though it was separated by a screen of water. “Is anyone else determined to withdraw their troops in this matter?”
Count Lisban clenched his fist tightly. He cast a hesitant glance at the archduchess.
Count Hearst looked like he wanted to say something, yet, in the end, he did not say a single word.
Count Lyner and Cotterson exchanged a glance, but the meaning behind it was unclear.
Count Karkogel bowed his head deeply.
“Naive? Perverse?” Saroma muttered.?“Protect a childhood playmate?”
She raised both arms, seemingly in an attempt to catch something. However, she could only rest them on the chair powerlessly.
The young lady looked at Thales with saddened eyes,?but Thales did not respond to her.
A few seconds later, her gaze turned back to Nazaire. She looked at the count’s grieved and unhappy face.
“The determination a wise archduke or archduchess should possess?”?Her expression slowly turned angry.
“It is easy for you to say that, Count Nazaire.” The young lady’s breathing accelerated gradually. “You were not there in the first place.”
Puzzlement surfaced on Count Nazaire’s face,?and Saroma was seen taking a deep breath.
“Six years ago, when the disaster happened, you were not there,” she said with great difficulty.
As Count Nazaire listened to the archduchess’ words, he frowned.
Next to the prince, the Viscount of the City of Faraway Prayers tugged his sleeve in resentment. “Do you see her expression??I think something’s not right.”
Thales nodded emotionlessly.?He had a sudden premonition that Saroma was about to say something.
An unfathomable emotion broke through the blockade of the Sin of Hell’s River. It surged into his heart.
“My Lady.” Count Nazaire let out a sigh. “You are now—”
“King Nuven!”?Saroma raised her head and interrupted him in a loud voice. “During King Nuven’s unfortunate death…”
This name caused many vassals to feel a squeeze in their hearts.?Many remembered the king and looked down.
“When that Blood Calamity… destroyed Shield District.
“When the Queen of the Sky descended.
“You were all not there during those times.”
With a distressed expression, Saroma slowly curled the corner of her mouth.
‘That’s not all.?When King Nuven… killed Alex.
‘When he put the ring into my hands.
‘When I was held captive by that monster.
‘When Lampard arrived and surrounded us in a siege.’
As the vassals watched how the girl was behaving, doubt and puzzlement slowly crept into their hearts.
“My Lady?”?Lisban let out a cough and reminded her in a gentle voice, “Perhaps you should consider…”
But Saroma did not care about what he was saying.
‘How would you know??How would all of you know?’
The young lady clenched her jaw firmly. “So, you do not know…?what exactly is it that I owe him during those times.”
At this moment, Thales, who was positioned at the center of the storm, slowly raised the corners of his mouth.
The young lady and Nazaire’s words made him recall those events all those years ago.
Those… events that he would never forget.
From a distance, he watched the archduchess struggle and hesitate. He let out a soft sigh.
Saroma held her head up high. Supporting herself with the arm of the chair, the anger in her eyes slowly turned into an emotion that made her seem as if she was released of her burdens.
The expression on her face also turned cold and detached from its initial indignance.
“Nazaire,” she plainly said, “do you feel like Dragon Clouds City is lacking a true archduke?”
Nazaire’s expression turned grave. Subconsciously, he felt that something bad was about to happen.
“Do you feel like it is inappropriate to send troops in the name of a naive archduchess?”
Lisban’s breathing grew increasingly rapid. He looked at the archduchess in astonishment.
Saroma exhaled and coldly said, “Very well. Then, I will conduct myself according to your words… Now, pick a husband for me.”
The archduchess revealed a cheerless smile. She sighed, as though she had just let go of a big burden.
The counts’ expressions changed. Count Lisban even had a drastic shift in his countenance!
“Pick a husband among the vassals’ families and let me give birth to an heir. It is not a problem even if we get married tomorrow—if I can get your cooperation in return,?then I will do it.”
Boiling hot water seemed to have been poured into the hall, and the group of vassals immediately cried out in surprise!
“What’s going on?” Ian looked like he was unable to come back to his senses. He pulled at Thales in a daze. “S-S-She…”
However, Thales’ expression remained flat amid the other people’s shock and astonishment.?He just watched the girl quietly.
‘That Little Rascal.’
It seemed as if all of the things that transpired had never happened.
“But Thales is the friend who went through all sorts of trials and tribulations with me.”
Saroma’s icy and arrogant voice was like a beacon in the night. It disregarded all the interferences brought forth by the other voices, which aimed to drown her voice. It spread out clearly and unmistakably amid the noisy clamor.
“As long as he is in Dragon Clouds City, he will not be harmed!
“And I will not treat him as a disposable chess piece and send him to the frontline because of our fear of Constellation.”
With a warning glare, she shot a glance at Count Cotterson and Lyner. Both counts turned their faces away with unnatural expressions.
As for the spectating Raven of Death, Monty, he looked solemn. There were merely some emotions in his gaze as he stared at the archduchess.
“It is a promise, and also a favor I owe to him.” Saroma cast a glance at Thales. Her eyes contained an indescribable emotion.
“And it is worth repaying with my entire life.”
The discussions from the group of vassals grew increasingly louder. The complexions of the counts immediately turned pale, and Count Hearst even turned his head around with an angry grunt.
Thales returned her gaze in silence.
A second later, the prince revealed a plain smile.
It was a smile just like the one he had from the past. He?completely ignored Nicholas’ glower from the archduchess’ side.
Saroma appeared to be encouraged, because her expression became lively.
Proudly, the archduchess raised her head and addressed the whole hall, “Well, gentlemen, what do you say to this deal?”
Count Nazaire stared blankly at her. He seemed to be shaken by the young lady’s determination since he was rendered speechless for a long while.
“My Lady!”?Unable to resist any longer, Count Lisban yelled. “Enough of your willfulness!?Do you know what you are saying?”
Saroma turned her head around slowly and looked at the regent who had accompanied her for more than six years.
“She’s losing this game, losing the bargaining chips as an archduchess.” Beneath the stage, Ian looked at Prince Thales with a complicated expression. His voice was not without grief, “She’s throwing away everything that we’ve built for her just to protect you?”
‘I really don’t understand.’?Ian scoffed coldly.
Thales was slightly shaken. He slowly turned around.
“No,”?Thales spoke up coolly, interrupting Ian. “She has not lost.”
In the face of Ian’s perplexed expression, Thales inhaled, tugged at his collar, and rubbed the emblem of the Nine-Pointed Star. He then pressed down on the pocket at his abdomen.
An old pair of black-framed glasses was hidden in there.
The prince looked at the stone carving of the Cloud Dragon Spear on the ceiling of the hall. His expression was one of firmness and determination.
“At least when I’m here, she won’t lose,” he said flatly to Ian.
‘She also cannot lose.’
Ian was stunned.?“What do you mean?”
But Ian seemed to have understood something. He became nervous. “Thales, what are you going to do?”
Thales subtly raised the corner of his mouth and revealed a smile.
“As I said…” Thales seemed to be filled with all sorts of feelings. He chuckled. “I have a contingency plan.”
At the same time, everyone was waiting for the archduchess’ response in either astonishment or anger.
It was an important decision that would likely determine the political future of Dragon Clouds City.
The tremors in the young archduchess’ hands grew increasingly violent. However, her expression became more and more resolute.
“I certainly know what I am saying, Ciel. Thank you.”
Indifferent, Saroma said, “But I am a Northlander, and Northlanders never kick a benefactor in the teeth. I will not do so, even if it is at the expense of my life.”
In that moment, every Northlander stared unwaveringly at their overlord, but everyone was in awe.
The archduchess looked coldly at Count Nazaire. “Rather than someday harbor shame as I sit in this position and recall this day—”
However, before Saroma could finish speaking…
A loud laugh belonging to someone who did not bother to lower his volume rang out of nowhere in the Hall of Heroes.?It interrupted the archduchess’ emotional speech,?and also shattered the solemn atmosphere.
Saroma, who was about to continue talking, was immediately stunned.
The brazen laughter repeated itself and echoed in the hall,?as though the owner had encountered something really funny.
Similarly stunned were the many vassals. Lisban frowned,?while Nazaire turned around, astounded. Even more nobles shifted their gazes unhappily to search for the completely disrespectful, tactless fool.
A chair was pushed away forcefully. The unpleasant noise of wood scraping against the stone ground rang in an ear-piercing manner throughout the entire hall.
Saroma and the other vassals frowned together and looked in the direction where the noise came from.
The archduchess was stunned.?Everyone else, including Ian, was stupefied as well.
A person walked slowly out of his seat.
Count Karkogel narrowed his eyes in puzzlement. Count Hearst frowned, whereas Lyner and Cotterson exchanged glances in surprise as well as bewilderment.
All the people representing Dragon Clouds City did not manage to react to the situation.
Ian stared blankly as the young man next to him stepped out of his seat and walked towards the center of the hall.
The Deputy Commander of the Archduchess’ Guards, Lord Justin had a special mission. That moment, his face changed. He extended his hand and held that special guest. “Prince Thales…”
But did not expect the supposedly frail youngster to actually react quickly in that moment—Thales extended his arm to the back with a resolute expression.
He firmly seized the arm extending towards him!
Under the numerous staring eyes, Thales was seen speaking in an icy tone, “Let go of me, Your Grace.”
Before he waited for Justin to respond, Thales took a step nearer and whispered by his ear, “Or watch her fall into an even worse state.”
Justin was stunned—the force, which was rarely seen from the prince’s hand had caused him utter bewilderment, while the implication in his words caused his heart even more unrest.
The next moment, a tremor suddenly came from the prince’s hand, and Justin was momentarily unable to keep a proper grasp on the prince as a result. This allowed the prince to break free of his hold.
The leader of the archduchess’ personal guards, the one in charge of maintaining order, the Star Killer, Nicholas shouted in anger, “Justin! Stop him!”
But in a daze, Justin could only watch the prince as he continued to move forward. He did not move an inch.?His hand was still slightly numb.
‘What power… is this?’
Thales had already walked to the center of the hall and stopped.
He disregarded the angry gazes of the rest and turned to face the archduchess.
Right before the Northlanders, this young man narrowed his eyes. With the most disdainful expression, he frowned and swept his eyes across all the people who were staring at him with a cold glare.
“All of you, have you had enough fun?”
With an apathetic face, Thales said these words to the whole hall. It was as if he was just out on an excursion.
Saroma stared blankly at Thales, who was acting in an unusual manner. She was completely at a loss as to what was happening.
“Young Prince, shut up,” the Star Killer spat out in anger. “Otherwise, I will get people to ‘courteously’ bring you out right now!”
“Stop wasting your breath, Star Killer. Have you not realized what is going on?” Thales let out a cold harrumph and glared at Justin, who wanted to catch up to him. “In this hall, your roars are exactly like the archduchess’ prestige. Just a farce.”
Once he heard that, Nicholas paused and revealed a resentful expression immediately after.
Thales seemed to be amused by himself. Once again, he smiled. “Hmph… Now, you will listen to me obediently.”
But in contrast to his smiling face, his eyes were devoid of any smiles. In fact, there was only a cold, steely look in his eyes.
The Northlanders seemed to have unconsciously realized the prince’s “sense of humor”.
Together, they looked at the presumptuous prince. Their eyes harbored malicious intent and their fists made loud cracks. Additionally, the sounds of them gnashing their teeth rang incessantly to all those who heard them.
Count Lisban and Nazaire looked at each other in bewilderment. They tacitly confirmed that this was not one of the other party’s tactics.
Ian watched his partner in disbelief. ‘This was definitely not part of the plan.’[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
As for Saroma, she looked blankly at Thales, who got out of his seat. She could not say a word.
“We are discussing how to rescue, or perhaps take your puny life.?And you think this is so funny, Citizen of the Empire?”
Count Cotterson shifted his gaze and stared at Thales coldly.
Upon hearing that, Thales sneered again.?The expressions of the Northlanders grew increasingly unpleasant amid the prince’s laughter.
“Have you heard of this story?”
With a cold and detached expression, Thales began to pace.?“A gluttonous, lazy fisherman and an opportunist of a woodcutter ate lunch as they sat below a tree… Their families were impoverished, so they had never tasted the flavor of beef. So…?So they thought of a way… They imagined the pieces of black bread in their hands as beef…”
The ice-cold eyes of the Northlanders moved with the prince as he walked about.
Thales’ voice grew colder with each passing moment. Yet, it was as expressive as before, like a qualified bard describing a scenery in his mind. “Then, they began to discuss, ‘Ah, look at this piece of beef in my hands. Should I bite into it horizontally, or vertically—'”
Before he could finish, Thales laughed again.
There was a mocking tone in his laughter, and his words bounced off the four walls of the hall. They also attracted the increasingly insuppressible fury of the Northlanders.
Count Cotterson could not withhold his anger any further. He gritted his teeth and glared at Thales.?“What the hell are you talking about?”
Thales restrained his laughter, exhaled, and shook his head. “Don’t you get it?
“Whether it is my life or that piece of beef in their dreams, they’re both an unreachable delusion.”?The prince’s expression returned to its previous icy visage.
In contempt, he swept his gaze across the vassals around him. “The moral of the story is, don’t be conceited and bite off more than you can chew.
“What do you say,?Dragon Clouds City?”