Chapter 328: Just Like Chapman Lampard
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
“Is it over? So… Your Highness, have all of you succeeded?”
From a distance, Wya cast a glance at King Chapman in disbelief. “Also, do we… really have to go to Black Sand Region?”
Only this time, Ralf who never saw eye to eye with him did not refute his words with his actions or a snort.
The prince raised his head and forced a smile, but his problems were far from settled.
“You’ve surprised me again, Prince Thales.” Lisban walked straight to stand directly in front of the prince. His face was solemn.
Thales breathed a sigh of relief, shut his eyes and said, “Me too.”
Lisban snorted lightly. “You already knew that the king was in Dragon Clouds City.”
The then regent said with certainty, “You already knew when you got onto Black Sand Region’s carriage.”
Thales did not say a word.
Lisban stared at him with a sharp gaze. “But, you did not tell us or tell Dragon Clouds City. You just silently waited for today.”
Lisban cast a glance at King Chapman, who was still standing leisurely in the hall while enduring the stares from all the people there. It looked like he would only be done with the hall once he finished touring it. “You, and him.”
Thales remained silent.
Lisban heaved a sigh. “As My Lady mentioned, Dragon Clouds City will remember everything today, Prince Thales.”
Thales finally spoke.
“Yes, me too,” the prince said in a low voice. “I will bear it in mind, and I will also keep an eye on you, Regent Lisban.”
Lisban cast him a profound glance.
In the end, the count did not say a thing. He only turned around and left. He was not the only one who did so.
“You’ve really got guts. Conspiring with Black Sand Region to betray all of Dragon Clouds City?” this was the ice-cold Karkogel. “You know, people with guts usually die faster.”
On the contrary, the harsh Count Karkogel did not say anything, but only swiped his thumb across his throat, making a slitting motion as a warning. It was paired with a hateful gaze.
Thales responded with a plain smile.
“Congratulations, Your Highness,” Count Lyner said softly when he passed by Thales. “Did you actually believe that Lampard was good?”
“Pah! Ungrateful, traitorous, coward of the Empire.” Count Hearst spat in disdain when he left.
Thales could only respond with a smile in the face of these gazes and words, as though he did not care about them at all.
However, someone else’s words were exceptionally different.
“Is she worth it?”
Thales was stunned for a moment. It was Count Nazaire.
This old and decrepit count stood one step away from him. He sighed. “Is she worth such a sacrifice from you?”
Thales frowned slightly. “I do not understand you, Your Grace.”
“Hmph. I may be old, but I am not blind.” Nazaire smiled as he shook his head. “Perhaps what the others saw was you working hand in hand with Lampard, betraying Dragon Clouds City and escaping to Black Sand Region. But what I saw…”
He cast Thales a profound look with an unclear implication. “Before this, you worked together with the City of Faraway Prayers so that she would not be forced into marriage. You also interrupted us thrice during the conference. Yet, every time, it was to save that lady, freeing her from her predicament.”
Thales’ complexion tensed.
“As for your collaboration with Black Sand Region…”
Nazaire paused. He then said in a gentle voice, “That young lady… Is she really worth it?”
Thales’ face turned pale. He remained silent.
Upon seeing this, Nazaire simply sighed without a word. He patted Thales’ shoulder lightly and slowly left.
Thales watched the old count walk away with mixed feelings.
‘Is she worth it?’
Thales jumped in surprise. He was rudely seized by the shoulder!
“Lampard was the contingency plan you spoke of, right?” With reddened eyes, the Viscount of Dual Wind City was gritting his teeth at this moment. He was looking at him in hatred and resentment.
Thales stared blankly at the person before his eyes.
He had never seen Ian in this manner before. It was as if the young Roknee whom he had joyful conversations with before had died.
Thales sighed as he dismissed Ralf and Wya, who were just about to come forward.
“Did you feel like you were watching a good show from the beginning until end?” Ian’s breathing was rapid, his eyes bitter with resentment. “Cooperating with me on the surface, then betraying me as if I was a clown behind my back? Was it very fun?!”
A good while later, he choked on his words, “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry?” Ian’s anger appeared to be stirred up by this sentence. His voice trembled as he said these words, “The City of Faraway Prayers, the City of Faraway Prayers was betrayed just like that… all because of you, traitor!”
Ian’s gaze grew increasingly terrifying. The force in his hand, which was clutching Thales’ shoulder also grew stronger and stronger.
“You think it very smart of you? You receiving the King’s protection, the Archduchess receiving the vassals’ support?”
Thales did not speak. He turned his head in a stiff and unnatural manner, not looking into Ian’s eyes.
‘I’m sorry, I had no choice.’
“I’m sorry,” he could only repeat this sentence.
His attitude seemed to have agitated Ian. The latter let out a low growl in bitter hatred. “No, no, no! You cannot run! I assure you that one day, you will all regret this.”
Ian gritted his teeth. His complexion was rather crazed as he made a solemn vow, “One day… you will all pay the price.” Ian turned towards the stage to stare directly at the motionless archduchess. With a fierce tone, he threatened her, “Especially that little girlfriend of yours! Just you wait and see!”
Thales’ whole body tensed up! He flung Ian’s arm off abruptly, causing the latter to be stunned.
“Before threatening me with senseless things, Ian Roknee…
“You better take care of yourself first.” Thales’ face turned cold as he met the eyes of the extremely embittered Ian. “You and your sister.”
Ian was stunned momentarily.
“You have to know that even if your sister obtained zero marks in Defense City,” Thales said in a soft voice, “it’s still better than a certain someone getting a negative score in Dragon Clouds City.”
Ian widened his eyes. His expression became increasingly unpleasant. “You…”
“That’s right, Ian. A long time ago, a frightening and ugly old witch taught me before”—Thales’ gaze sharpened—”that betrayal is the true essence of an alliance.”
Ian glared at him, as though this was his first day knowing Thales.
“Today, I’ll pass these words to you. Free of charge.”
Ian’s expression changed, and he was about to fly into a rage when his shoulder was seized by another person!
“Losing is losing,” Monty, the Raven of Death, said coldly behind Ian. “Ian, in any case, act like a man.”
Ian looked at Monty incredulously.
“This isn’t over yet.” Eventually, Ian gave up on pestering Thales any further. “I know now… that my opponent isn’t just Lampard…”
He approached Thales and stared unwaveringly into his eyes. “Thales Jadestar.”
Thales looked at him coldly just like before, without a trace of weakness.
The next second, Ian shook off Monty’s hand furiously. With a dark expression, he brushed past Thales, then left.
As he watched Ian’s back, Thales sighed in his heart.
‘It was a great honor, Ian.’
Monty snorted lightly, shot a glance at Thales and revealed a somewhat ferocious smile. His malicious gaze caused a pang of discomfort in Thales’ heart.
The Raven of Death walked past him and left an airy sentence, “You live up to your reputation indeed, Prince Thales.”
Monty ground his teeth together, as though he was chewing something. “What a pity.”
Thales swallowed uneasily. He did not know what the other party was feeling pity for, but his complex gaze that followed caused Thales to feel apprehensive.
With Nicholas accompanying her, the young lady silently walked towards the big gate. The archduchess passed by Thales’ side, and during that moment, her footsteps halted for a moment.
Thales shut his eyes. A voice brimming with rage was heard, but it was not from her.
“How did you do it?”
Thales took a deep breath and opened his eyes.
The Star Killer stood in front of Thales, his eyes were already devoid of anger. Only an icy coldness and hatred remained.
“You’ve lied to us for so long regarding Lampard, but… there were at least three layers of guards from Axe District to this place.” Nicholas sneered. “How did Lampard get all the way to the hall’s doorway without the slightest hindrance, then appear at just the right time to fit into your act?”
Thales had to wave his hands again, indicating to Wya and Ralf that they did not have to come forth.
Saroma was standing not too far away from them, and she did not turn around. Thales exhaled.
It was only at that moment that he truly felt heavy in his heart.
“The diplomat group of Black Sand Region’s been here for a long time,” Thales said flatly. “Viscount Kentvida came in the name of presenting himself to the Archduchess. As long as nobody knew the King, they could successfully pass through the patrols of the First Gatehouse.
“As for Heroic Spirit Palace… today was special. The elite Archduchess’ Guards were all guarding the safety of the nobles around the Hall of Heroes, so the palace guards were responsible for defending the palace gate. Furthermore, they had to receive the dukes’ attendants waiting outside.”
Thales silently said, “So, as long as we knew their shift schedule, with the cooperation of Ralf’s psionic abilities and Wya’s identity… Lampard could then avoid the palace guards and arrive at the hall’s doorway. Only the Archduchess’ Guards under you remained before him.”
Nicholas narrowed his eyes. “Palace guards?”
Thales nodded, his face gloomy. “There was no way of escaping the Archduchess’ Guards, but Lampard did not have to face them directly. He just had to have Kentvida find the messenger at the door and get him to notify Count Lisban, who was in the hall, that the King was here.”
“The Archduchess was already forced into a corner.” Thales sighed and said, “What I had to do was incite conflict. I had to push the terrible situation in the hall to a point where no one could possibly do any sort of damage control. Count Lisban, who is good at making correct assessments of situations, would know what to do. He’s skilled at making decisions.”
Not far off, Saroma’s shoulders trembled faintly.
Thales had finished speaking.
Nicholas stared coldly at him.
“The palace guards’ shift schedule?” Nicholas’ voice grew increasingly scary. Every word he spoke next was laced with a dangerous connotation, “That’s actually a secret that is changed monthly. Which rat betrayed us?”
“There’s no need to bother other people.” Thales shook his head. “That head chef’s son, Joseph. Remember?”
Nicholas frowned. It was as if he was trying hard to search for the name in his mind.
“He was very lonely in the palace.” Thales revealed a bitter smile. “I often practiced my sword skills with him when he sent my meals to the court.”
Nicholas seemed to have understood something. His face paled. “The scullery?”
“Of course I couldn’t get my hands on the shift schedule that’s reshuffled on a monthly basis.” Thales nodded slowly. “But the palace guards still had to eat. The scullery’s daily cooking arrangement is fixed. For instance, when they had to make bread for a small team, where specifically to send it…”
Nicholas appeared more and more unpleasant.
“Don’t make it difficult for Joseph.” Thales shook his head, and his tone was calm. “He’s still young. He thought that it was just a casual chat during practice.”
“That’s to say, your actions in the palace these six years… whether it was skipping class, running away to read in various corners, conversing with the animals out of boredom, lowering your status to meddle with the servants’ work, being amiable and approachable to chat with the servants and guards…” The Star Killer let out a faint sneer, yet it caused a chill in people’s hearts. “It was all to gather intelligence, or test our defenses? And you behaving during these past six years… was all an act?”
In the distance, Saroma remained rooted to her spot. The Archduchess’ Guards waited respectfully around her.
Thales’ breathing froze for a moment.
Silence fell between Nicholas and Thales for a few seconds.
Almost all of the nobles in the hall had left. Only King Chapman, who was accompanied by Kentvida and Kroesch, looked at them in the distance from where he stood. He seemed rather interested, all the while still maintaining his imposing demeanor.
“I conversed with the animals because I was really way too bored. As for the others…” The second prince took a breath and forced out a dull smile. “I had no choice.”
Thales turned around. He could not help but sigh when he looked at the Soul Slayer Pike on the rack. “It’s been six years in Dragon Clouds City…
“Every single one of my letters had to be opened and examined; wherever I go, that place had to be searched through in advanced; everyone I talked to had to be interrogated thrice; even the papers used in class had to be examined; every book I touched was recorded by a specialist, and if my daily itinerary or movements were slightly abnormal, you, Lisban or Ginghes the female officer’s interrogation would come in succession. Then I’d be grounded…”
Saroma shuddered slightly.
Thales lamented, “Every single one of my movements was under your surveillance. If it wasn’t for the Archduchess’ concession, I wouldn’t even have had the chance to step half a foot out of Heroic Spirit Palace.
“As for Wya, Aida and the others, every Constellatiate who exited the palace did not just have to be searched, there were also scouts shadowing them. Even if they threw a copper coin to a random beggar, you would’ve locked that beggar up for up to two months. Even the diplomat group sent to visit me in the country had restrictions and were monitored…”
Nicholas was staring at him silently with that same scary expression as before.
“I know that all of you used King Lampard’s name, but acted on your own in locking me up in this deep palace. You cut off all my contacts with the outside world, put a stop to the normal education that should have been given to me and expected me to live a meaningless life in ignorance—to turn into a canary that could only cry in its cage…”
Thales lowered his head and gloomily said, “Constellation, the Secret Intelligence Department, and I did bring you enormous troubles and even disasters. But at the very least, we’ve fought beside each other before… Was it necessary?”
This time, the silence lasted for a long time.
Nicholas let out a cold snort.
“It wasn’t just necessary…
“From what I’ve seen, it was far from enough,” he said resolutely. “Justin was still too laxed with you. He shouldn’t have allowed you to contact the people from Black Sand Region in the first place, thus allowing you to obtain the opportunity to betray us.
“You betrayed us all and thought you wouldn’t have to worry about anything once you escaped to Black Sand Region?”
Nicholas’ eyes shone with a cold glare. “You will do well to remember this, young Prince of the Empire.”
Thales furrowed his brow slightly.
“Am I supposed to be scared of you now? Forget it.” The prince shook his head slightly. “Don’t overestimate yourself just because people call you the Star Killer, dead face. You and I… we were never on the same level.”
Nicholas’ complexion stiffened.
“Very well,” the Star Killer said hatefully. “You’d best be careful not to fall into my hands. When that time comes… you won’t even have the chance to regret your decisions.”
Nicholas glared at him fiercely. He turned around, took big strides to catch up with the archduchess’ retinue, and left.
‘Thank you, dead face. I will be careful, just as before.’
The archduchess did not stop. She walked directly out of the big door and did not even turn her head around.
As he heard the footsteps by his ear leave into the distance, Thales sighed. There was an indescribable heavy feeling in his heart.
“Aren’t we leaving?”
As he watched wave upon wave of important people release harsh words, Wya, who moved closer to Thales, did not dare let out a single breath. “Your Highness?”
‘No. there’s one more.’
Finally, a set of heavy footsteps approached them. Immediately, Wya and Ralf looked as if they were facing a great enemy.
“You did not plan to seek help from me initially, did you?” King Chapman’s sonorous and somewhat hoarse voice rose into the air.
Compared to the awe-inspiring tone he had earlier, his manner of speech right then lacked some of the domineering air he previously had, and in its place was a teasing tone.
However, Thales did not answer immediately. He gestured for Wya to step back.
“No.” Thales shook his head. “If it weren’t for an accident, you wouldn’t have had the chance to appear.”
He raised his head, and his gaze was rather unfocused. “My father always liked giving me surprises.”
The air turned quiet for a moment.
“Yes,” the king began to speak slowly. His tone concealed certain inexplicable emotions. “I understand.”
Chapman narrowed his eyes. His hand, which was clutching the sword by his waist, tightened. “My father was the same too.”
While this unique ambience surrounded them, Thales and Chapman both remained silent in tacit understanding for a while.
A few seconds later…
“But you reacted very quickly.” Thales turned to the king and said sincerely. His tone was filled with all sorts of feelings. “I only touched upon the matter of Constellation sending troops to the Alliance of Freedom lightly, and you caught the opportunity.”
King Chapman snorted lightly in disdain. “Same here.”
“But…” The prince faced the king and took a deep breath. “Just now, you said that victory has been determined in the battle between you and the vassals who oppose you in Black Sand Region.”
The king’s expression changed. “What about it?”
Thales narrowed his eyes. “You also said that Archduke Trentida would send troops and deal with them with you?”
King Chapman raised his eyebrows.
Thales stared intently at him and did not move his gaze away for a long time. A while later, the prince laughed.
“Stop joking.” Thales shook his head and said, “We all know him—Trentida of Reformation Tower. Why would he help you?”
“What’s the problem with that?” King Chapman scoffed. “Everyone knows that Porpheus Trentida has always been indecisive, treacherous, and cunning.”
Thales begrudgingly smoothened his hair as he recalled that archduke with his bowl cut and sparkling eyes.
“Correct, but let me put it this way. If you invite Trentida to go deer hunting together, then he definitely wouldn’t go.” Thales sighed. “Unless he knows beforehand that the deer that’s being hunted has died, and all he has to do is drag its meat back…
“Only then would Trentida, with a face full of forthrightness, dignity, solemnness and vehemence, ride to his death like a hero. He would haul his bow, sling his arrows over his shoulder, carry his blade, and ride out the gates.”
They both looked at each other in silence.
A moment later, King Chapman smiled.
“Hahahahaha, ‘ride to his death like a hero.'” This time, Lampard’s smile was particularly carefree, and it was different from his previous cold sneers as well as ridiculing smiles. It seemed like in this moment, he was truly happy. “I can’t not say that this fits his image very well!”
Thales laughed along with him. His shoulders shook slightly.
Nevertheless, his smile disappeared quickly. “So, even though Trentida made it sound good, he simply won’t mobilize any troops with you.”
The smiling expression in Thales’ eyes was replaced with a solemn and serious look. “If your vassals gather together, have a fall out with the Lampard Family and decide to fight to the death against you, it will still be unclear as to who would emerge the victor between you and them.”
King Chapman’s laughter came to a stop as well.
Thales stared coldly at him. “Your claims that ‘the results of the chessboard have been decided’ was no more than empty talk. So that’s why you came in person.”
‘Just like six years ago.’
King Chapman did not deny or admit to anything. He just stared at Thales with a mysterious expression.
Thales looked in the direction of the door and sighed. “Ian is still a little too young. He still lacks experience when it comes to facing you. That’s why he was so easily intimidated by you. If it was his father who was here instead, that steadfast, resolute, stubborn, and callous warrior-cum-Archduke of the City of Faraway Prayers, Kulgon Roknee…”
King Chapman sneered, “Your assessment of him is quite high.”
“Judging by Lisban and Nazaire’s expressions, I’m afraid that they have doubts in their hearts.” The prince exercised his aching shoulder and said in a low voice, “But because of a fear of your relationship with Constellation and also the lack of confidence in Trentida, they fear that you’ll really promise him something he cannot refuse. That’s why they didn’t dare take the gamble.”
King Chapman shook his head in a seemingly casual manner. “Not everyone has the wisdom to see through my gamble and still have the courage to bet against me.”
Thales shook his head and snorted lightly.
“That aside, everything that’s happened in this hall, whether it’s the huge loss the City of Faraway Prayers suffered in their confrontation with the King, or news about Dragon Clouds City not joining the alliance condemning the King and handing the Prince of Constellation over to him instead, both pieces of information will spread quickly and widely across Eckstedt, especially back to Black Sand Region.
“Now, you can hold back the City of Faraway Prayers using Constellation, crush the confidence of your opposers who hear this news, and even attach the title of a royalist on Trentida…”
Thales suddenly felt mentally exhausted. It was as if the hearing that morning had drained him of all his energy.
“Only the moment the Archduchess agreed to hand me over did you completely win,” he said, disinterested. “Everything else earlier was just a bluff. Are you satisfied now?”
The people in the hall stared at each other silently.
Their delay also caused the Archduchess’ Guards defending the hall to frown, but Kentvida’s smile and Kroesch’s chilly expression had effectively held them back.
“But it’s not like you didn’t gain anything, Thales.” After some time, King Chapman said quietly, “First of all, not only did you not avoid being dragged into a war, you also broke free of Dragon Clouds City’s clutches.”
“Really?” The prince yawned, as though he was completely unconcerned. “Pardon me for being blind then, I cannot see how this is supposed to be good.”
But the king ignored him. However, his voice was slightly cold, “And based on the terms we have agreed upon… I have already given the girl a chance to build her prestige so that her vassals will no longer be her enemies.”
This sentence caused Thales’ unfocused gaze to instantly sharpen.
“Under a certain terrifying king’s pressure, in a short period of time, the Archduchess of Dragon Clouds City will not lose their support, and she will not be forced to marry beneath her status as well. With an external force bearing down on them, they will be sincerer in working together. Is that not what you wanted?”
“But she is still just a girl,” several seconds later, Thales forced this sentence out of his lips. “No matter what, her existence will cause many people in Dragon Clouds City to be uneasy and refuse to obey her.”
King Chapman lifted an eyebrow. “I am powerless regarding that matter, unless you are capable of turning her into a man, of course.”
Thales looked up. He stared at King Chapman’s profound gaze confidently and with a look that allowed no disagreement. “So, you must help her maintain her power, no matter what method you use.”
The king appeared to find this statement slightly hilarious. “I must?”
He said calmly, “The Archduchess is a girl whose status has sparked continuous discussions, and overturned tradition. As the King of Eckstedt, enabling her to maintain her rule over Dragon Clouds City, which has a strong foundation and many talented people born from it, will grant you benefits.
“You do not want to see someone like the flawless Lisban, the cunning Nazaire, or the forceful and direct Karkogel become the Archduke of Dragon Clouds City, yes?”
King Chapman’s expression froze for a moment.
Thales stared at him, and he did not move his gaze away.
A slight change of expression appeared on the king’s boorish face. “Indeed, we do not need a second King Nuven.”
Only then did Thales breathed a sigh of relief.
“For that to happen, you will even need to help her obtain a relative amount of power,” the second prince emphasized his words and spoke faster. “Do not forget, as an archduchess, the obstructions she has to face is in some sense the same as the problems you face. For instance, the tradition that has lasted for thousands of years in Northland…”
When King Chapman heard this, the interest in his eyes grew stronger.
“Besides, she is the Archduchess you acknowledged, and you obtained her vote…”
Thales suddenly stopped speaking.
‘Besides, you have the card that will cause her death. Her title is tied to your crown.’
Thales steeled his expression and no longer spoke.
King Chapman exhaled slowly.
The king smirked. Coupled with his gaze, he gave others a sharp feeling that could cause them slight pain. “Thales, I have a feeling that we will get along well when you are in Black Sand Region.”
Thales’ expression darkened.
“Is that so?”
The two of them sank into silence again.
King Chapman only spoke in a profound manner after a long while. “The same old question; how do you feel?”
Thales responded with a cold snort. “What do you mean, how do I feel?”
King Chapman took a deep breath. His expression was one of delight like he was enjoying the beautiful scenery in Dragon Clouds City at that moment.
“From the City of Faraway Prayers to Dragon Clouds City, from Lisban to the Archduchess. You have practically betrayed all the people you can betray, or at least, that is what they believe.
“How does it feel to shoulder that burden and walk forward alone?”
King Chapman’s gaze as he stared at him became sharper. His words were piercing and aggressive.
“How does it feel?”
He lowered his head and did not speak for a long time.
The prince suddenly remembered himself sitting in the Camian marquis’ carriage six years ago. At that time, he had indignantly questioned the then Archduke of Black Sand Region and the now King Chapman. What he obtained was a callous answer.
“‘Child, you know nothing.
“‘Black Sand Region and I were already doomed.”‘
King Chapman stared at his expression, then shook his head in contempt before he turned around and left.
The instant he turned, the Prince of Constellation’s voice rang out behind him.
But it had never sounded so gloomy, dark, and aloof.
Thales stared at the ground. He did not even lift his head when he continued hoarsely, “I feel… just like Chapman Lampard.”
The king’s figure instantly froze when his foot was still in the air.
Thales snorted quietly amid the silence.
With a calm expression, he called out to Wya and Ralf before he walked out of the door.
When he arrived at the door, he paused for a short moment.
He stared at the slightly bumpy as well as coarse floor tiles in the hall and curled his lips.
Six years ago, he met the Born King, whose name shook Northland, for the first time in this place.
The next moment, Thales forced down the urge to turn his head, and took a deep breath.
Thales lifted his foot without hesitation.
‘Six years later, my foot.’
With two easy steps, he moved out of Raikaru’s Hall of Heroes.