Chapter 330: Assassinating Lampard?
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
It was still the same empty road, which had been cleared by patrols. Even if pedestrians passed by, they would consciously stay away or be chased away by the highly efficient patrols. The Archduchess’ Guards still protected Thales’ sides while patrols cleared the way at the front and back. He was still surrounded by the same “entourage” on all sides…
However, Thales had a different feeling this time when he rode along the streets in Dragon Clouds City. It was not only because the path was different from the one he usually took when he went for chess games. It was also not solely because the Star Killer was following him closely and eyeing him with hostility.
After all, this could be his last walk in Dragon Clouds City after the six years he had been held hostage in the place.
Nicholas probably knew this too.
Therefore, when Thales acted out of character by not tugging on the reins to make Jennie speed down the path (when he went to play chess, this was always something that caused the Archduchess’ Guards around him to complain), and allowing Genard the veteran, who was one of the two people Jennie, the violent black horse did not reject other than Thales, pull the reins as he rode forward slowly like a tourist on a tour in Axe District, the Star Killer only pressed his lips together. He did not say more.
Thales was lost in his thoughts as he watched himself pass by the buildings by his side one by one. “Genard, since the time you were in the birch tree forest in the Northern Territory, you have been with the diplomat group for six years.”
Genard turned around and cast a glance at the prince before he said, “Yes, Your Highness.”
Thales sighed and said, “I have been trapped in Dragon Clouds City for so long…
“It’s far from the exciting times you experienced when you charged and broke through enemy lines under Duke John’s leadership. It’s also probably not as peaceful as working with the city defense team in Eternal Star City.
“It must have been boring.”
Genard stared into the distance as he listened to Thales.
This man was a veteran of the Starlight Brigade who had served the Starlight God of War and the Fortress Flower. He experienced the disaster that happened eighteen years ago. After spending six years in the country to the north, he became livelier. The aloof and lifeless air surrounding him when he was in the city defense team had been swept away, even though he had always felt guilty over having been used as the Duke of Iris Flowers’ tool when he was in the birch tree forest in Constellation.
It had led to the Blood Clansmen harming the prince’s diplomatic mission when he was on his way to Eckstedt.
“Compared to the difficulties and hardships you have undergone, this bit of boredom is nothing,” Genard let out a sigh. “And compared to the bloody chaos of war of the Bloody Year, this bit of boredom is even more unworthy of being mentioned.”
Thales did not say a word.
He frowned without realizing.
‘The Bloody Year.
‘The bloody, chaotic war.’
The group moved forward slowly. Even though this could be Thales’ last trip, the patrols who were made up by the Northlanders and the Archduchess’ Guards still did their part as they cleared the place and opened the path, remaining alert of their surroundings.
“Thank you, Genard.” The second prince turned his head and looked at Genard, the veteran who followed him since Eternal Star City. There was a mysterious look in his face. “The six years of your service with me have far exceeded the debt of gratitude you owe Duke John.”
“No, Your Highness.” Genard nodded respectfully. “I should be the one to thank you.
“As for the debt of gratitude I owe Duke John…” His expression darkened, and the pain in his eyes refused to disappear. He turned his face away instinctively.
“No, I will never be able to repay him in this lifetime.”
Thales stared at the veteran who led the horse in front of him.
The prince took a deep breath. He recalled the stone jar he saw in the Jadestar Family Tomb. “John Jadestar, the Duke of Star Lake. I heard about him from you… He was supposed to be humorous and amiable, right?”
When he heard that familiar name, Genard could not help but shiver slightly.
“Yes, Your Highness. But the Duke’s mannerisms, which made him easily approachable, was rather different from yours…”
It seemed like when the Duke was mentioned, Genard’s eyes would become lively, and his spirits would be lifted. “I still remember the day the soldiers were enlisted… Although the Duke was middle-aged, he was not the least overly dignified and he did not put on airs…
“His skills in martial arts were bad, but he was a good judge of character. He could sing even better and play the lute… He could mingle with just about anyone, be it the nobles, peasants, tradesmen, craftsmen, soldiers, or even prostitutes and prisoners of war. It was easy to spot John in the army camp, because wherever laughter was the loudest, there the Duke was.”
Genard was immersed in the memories of his past. He could not help but laugh. “Most of the time, I even think that he was a little… dumb and silly.”
‘Dumb and silly?’
Thales cast him a suspicious glance.
“This is not meant to be disrespectful.” Genard furrowed his brow. “It is just that, I do not know how to express this… In simple terms, those of us in his team of personal guards could talk to him easily and cheerfully; we subconsciously treated him as one of our own, not the commander who holds power or the Duke of Star Lake, the younger brother of the King of Constellation who is of noble blood.”
The more Genard talked, the more enthusiastic he became. “Eighteen years ago, during the military councils of the Starlight Brigade, the Duke was always absent-minded, daydreaming, snoring, or even drooling. The noblemen who were present were embarrassed… Because of this, Captain Sonia would apologize profusely in a pitiful manner while she knocked the Duke’s head in front of everyone with gritted teeth, until he woke up from his dreams. Either that, or he would be knocked out. Captain Sonia even poured ice water on him to wake him up from his nap once.”
The veteran laughed joyously. “The Duke always put on an aggrieved face and defended himself in a pitiful manner, saying that he was not sleeping and he was actually thinking up strategies in his dreams.”
‘Sleeping in military councils?
‘Is this… the Starlight God of War who put down a rebellion?’
Thales was dumbfounded and could not help but scratch his head. “He sounds really… umm, special?”
“Of course, all of this certainly sounds ridiculous.” Genard looked at Thales with a profound glance and sighed. “After all, if he was indeed a fool, he would not have earned the name ‘Starlight God of War’.”
Thales frowned a little.
“How about you, Willow?”
Willow, the soldier who was walking behind Thales’ horse and carrying a long as well as a short pike on his back, was startled because his name was called suddenly.
For the past six years, the new recruit who was rescued from the gallows by Thales in Broken Dragon Fortress had undergone tough times from Black Sand Region to Dragon Clouds City. The naive air around him had been washed away, though the veterans in the team still liked to crack jokes at his expense.
“How do you feel about your six years in Dragon Clouds City?”
“To be honest, when I left the fortress six years ago, I did not expect to stay in our enemy’s country for so long.” As Genard the veteran urged him to speak, Willow immediately adjusted his expression. “But…”
He creased his brows. “Uncle Genard said that it is exactly because of your presence here that the people of the Northern Territory get to enjoy peace.
“So, I guess it is worth it.”
Thales was a little startled.
Willow looked up with some anguish in his face.
“You know, sometimes I would think.” Willow sighed. “If you had been here eighteen years ago and offered yourself up as a hostage to be sent to Eckstedt on a diplomatic mission, just like the present…
“Perhaps the war would not have broken out. My sister would not have died from illness too.”
Thales looked down and sank deep into his thoughts.
“Is that so?” he said lightly, as though he was talking to himself.
The troops continued to move forward and came to the junction that separated Spear District and Axe District.
“Wya.” The prince who was riding his horse raised his hand. He moved past the heavy protection by his sides and pointed at a three-storey building with a balcony, which was not far away from them.
“Is that building the chess room that we go to once every month?”
“Yes, Your Highness,” the male attendant observed it carefully before he answered cautiously.
Thales watched the familiar-looking silhouette of the building. He felt a strange, indescribable sorrow rise in him.
“We used to go straight to Spear District. I have never seen it from this angle.”
He looked at the chess room with its unique decor, and his gaze was profound. He recalled the few times he had a “class” with Asda in that place. “I will most likely miss playing chess in that room.”
“It is actually not that far away.” Wya estimated the distance to the building. “If you want to, why don’t we go take a look?”
“That won’t be necessary.” Thales shook his head, and pointed at Nicholas, who was next to him. He let out a sigh and said, “Look at his expression…
“He probably hopes that an assassin would jump out from nowhere and kill me before we get to Black Sand Region.”
This caused Wya to frown and take a look around subconsciously.
Ralf jeered at him. Unsurprisingly, it drew an angry glare from the attendant.
Nicholas turned around and snorted derisively. He urged his horse to move forward.
“Where is your vice diplomat?” the Star Killer asked coldly. “Why don’t I see the sly Lord Putray Nemain going to Black Sand Region with you?”
Thales’ face darkened. He shook his head. “We haven’t seen each other for nearly six years. To be more specific, Putray Nemain has long since left my diplomat group.”
“You have not seen each other for six years, but suddenly, when he appears, he is going along with the Constellation soldiers who have been deployed to the Alliance of Freedom?” Nicholas’ face became tense, and his words were stiff.
“Perhaps I should have had him locked away long ago. He is not an easy man to deal with. He could be the middleman between Constellation and Lampard.”
Thales raised his eyebrows.
“According to Putray, he has been under your watch ever since he was in Dragon Clouds City.” Thales sighed. “Aren’t you supposed to know his each and every move better than me?”
Nicholas gritted his teeth and threw him a warning glance.
“You know, speaking of this,” the Star Killer said coldly, “I’ve verified what you told me. The person who disclosed the Archduchess’ secret to the Secret Room was not Lisban.”
Thales was slightly surprised.
The prince, who seemed to have recalled something in that second, twitched his lips and exhaled secretly.
‘Really? You had to verify it?’
Nicholas’ expression immediately turned dreadful.
“But you brought Lampard here.
“Therefore, if it wasn’t Lisban, was it you who leaked the secret, my little prince?”
The Star Killer’s face was dark and cold. He looked like he was going to beat Thales up at anytime. “It was you who took the initiative to disclose Dragon Clouds City’s biggest secret to Black Sand Region and the Secret Room. That’s why the King came here to work with you when he got hold of something that could be used against us, correct?”
It took Thales two seconds before he snapped out of his dazed state and figured out what Nicholas meant.
The next moment, the prince opened his eyes wide. He raised his voice, “What?”
Nicholas ignored his shocked exclamation and continued to speak in a cold tone, “Tell me, was it you who gave Lampard this blackmail?”
Thales looked at the Star Killer in a startled manner. He recalled the lie he made up when he tested him not long ago.
The Star Killer was still looking at him with eyes burning in anger.
When he saw that the Star Killer was not joking, Thales was not sure if he should laugh or cry, and he felt incredibly troubled.
A second later, Thales took a deep breath. The air he inhaled remained in his lungs for a while before he exhaled weakly.
“I’ll say the same words I told you before, Nicholas.” He shook his head in a somewhat resigned manner. “When it comes to certain matters, you and I…”
Thales stared into the Star Killer’s eyes and very sincerely said, “…are certainly of different levels.”
Once he uttered this sentence, Thales no longer cared about the horrible expression on Nicholas’ face. He indicated to Genard to urge the horse to go faster, and moved past him.
Behind Thales, the swift elf protector caught up with him in no time. With half of her face underneath the cloak, she stuck out her tongue at the Star Killer, who was livid.
At that exact moment…
A rapid, piercing noise suddenly rang from afar!
An invisible hand seemingly descended on the whole team, causing them to stop all of a sudden.
There were some whose expressions changed drastically.
Thales’ face paled, as though he recalled a particular scene in his memory.
The second he recognized the loud noise, he shouted anxiously, “It’s a crossbow!”
The patrols on the outer periphery quickly got into their formation. The Archduchess’ Guards were on alert and stood guard on the inside. The Constellatiates responded accordingly, surrounding the prince and making him the center of the formation.
Aida lowered her body and slipped past Jennie’s legs in two steps to arrive next to Thales. Genard guarded the spot in front of the black horse as per his habit. Willow gritted his teeth and drew out his dual pikes.
Wya instinctively had the urge to pull Thales off the horse right away, but he was stopped by Nicholas who extended his hand to press him down!
“Everybody, stay calm!”
The annoyed Star Killer pushed Wya out of the way and reprimanded the attendant impatiently, “It’s the crossbow signal of Dragon Clouds City! And it’s not nearby!”
The tense-looking Nicholas nodded at the people around him. The Northlanders’ protective formation dispersed in a well-practiced manner. Their roles were clear. They were on guard and ready for combat.
Among the patrols who led the way in front, a few soldiers jumped on their horses quickly and easily, heading towards different streets to search for information.
Only then did Wya snap out of his daze. He looked at the similarly pale Thales, who also glanced back at him.
“What… is going on?” this came from Thales, who was still surprised and bewildered.
“Based on the sound, the front,” this came from Ralf’s sign language.
“That was the whistling arrow of the patrols.” Nicholas’ eyes were fixed on the empty street ahead.
“They need reinforcements.”
Thales furrowed his brows a little.
Lord Justin stared into the distance with a serious face and anxiously said, “The direction of the whistling arrow… is towards the front. It is where our destination is, the inn of the diplomat group in Axe District!”
The Northlanders’ troops, especially the less well-trained patrols, immediately burst into an uproar.
The troops, who usually stood guard on the periphery, instantly looked at the street ahead at the same time.
Nicholas hummed. His face was calm and his eyes were fixed on the direction where the loud noise was heard.
Thales was shocked. “The inn of the diplomat group? Isn’t that Lampard—”
Nicholas shouted loudly and interrupted everyone’s wild guesses, which were formed by their anxiety.
“The patrols work under Garrison Officer Leisdon’s chief disciplinary hall. Reinforcements for patrols from other districts will be here soon.”
He spoke coldly, and his tone was filled with the prestige of a commander, “That has nothing to do with us! What we have to do now is stay here on standby as we await orders. The same goes for the front—”
The next second…
Another sudden loud sound put a stop to Nicholas’ words!
“Boss, the second arrow!”
Next to Nicholas, Justin whispered, but he could not hold back the anxiety in his words, “It appears that the situation is critical!”
The breathing of the Northlanders and Constellatiates quickened.
Thales’ eyes were fixed on the street ahead. He sensed that the tension in the air was getting stronger.
Nicholas scowled and gritted his teeth. “Where is the cavalry scout? What is the report from those ahead of us?”
“If something serious has happened”—Thales pursed his lips—”they could be held back.”
Aida pouted. She snorted in dissatisfaction and said something Thales did not understand.
However, she did not drag her feet. The elf protector?ran at top speed to one side of the street. She grabbed on to a window frame, then made it to the top of the three-storey building in no time.
In everyone’s vision, she was as quick as a lizard and her movements drew amazed looks.
At the rooftop, Aida lifted her right hand lightly, and it stopped at her forehead, which was covered by the cloak.
In that moment, the elf seemed pleased as she felt the breeze blow past her.
But the team on the street stared at her nervously.
The Star Killer snorted in dissatisfaction and mumbled to Justin, “So this is why our scouts can never follow her…”
A few seconds later, Aida turned her head and her expression became dark.
“The exact situation isn’t clear, but I see people running away,” Aida muttered as she faced the nervous people who were watching her in anticipation. She told the people about the situation ahead of them, which was happening from a distance no normal person could see. “Oh, there are still sounds of fighting in the air. At least dozens of people are fighting…”
Thales narrowed his eyes slightly. ‘People running away? Dozens of people are fighting?’
But soon, the elf no longer needed to tell them what was going on.
As the clatter of hooves were heard, a cavalier who was on patrol came rushing back. He was out of breath and sounded exasperated.
“Up ahead… Black Sand Region’s quarters… Lampard… The King’s inn… is under attack!”
Everyone was taken aback!
‘The King’s inn?
The cavalier’s anxious words could still be heard, “The protectors of the inn… seem to be in a very bad situation… The patrols in Axe District… were caught off guard. Two disciplinary officers and three squads are fighting. I see a few dead bodies—”
Many of them furrowed their brows.
“Stop!” Nicholas spoke resolutely, breaking off the cavalier’s report. He was really just rambling at this point.
“Speak only of two matters. What is the enemy’s situation? What is the current situation?”
The cavalier was startled. He only managed to recover his strength a little while he panted.
The cavalier who went scouting shook his head. “The enemy launched their ambush from more than one place. The number of attackers is unclear. They look like Northlanders. They do not only possess swords, but bows and crossbows too…
“As for our side, Black Sand Region and our patrols are fighting against the enemies. The disciplinary officers in the periphery of the battle zone have locked the area down and are setting up defenses. But the place is filled with fleeing civilians. There are even some who have lost their cool and are ready to pick up their weapons to join the battle…”
When Justin heard this, his expression tensed. He got close to Nicholas’ ear and said, “It is the day of the council hearing. There are too many nobles in Axe District. Their private armies and guards all spell trouble…”
Thales frowned even more.
Nicholas’ face looked like it was covered in a layer of frost. He nodded and said, “Continue scouting the area. Have more people report back to the castle and Regent Lisban.”
The Star Killer turned around. He first looked at the Archduchess’ Guards. When he saw that most of them appeared calm and level-headed, he nodded in satisfaction.
“Hmph, to think that they have the nerve to act in an area of nobility like Axe District on the day of the council hearing.”
Nicholas looked up at the sky ahead of them and snorted. The tone in his speech suggested that he was taking pleasure in their misfortune.
“No matter who the enemies are, they must really hate the King…”
He turned his head and clicked his tongue at the worried looking prince. “Looks like your trip to Axe District to seek refuge in Lampard’s arms will have to be delayed, young prince.”
Before Thales could respond, Nicholas shouted his orders.
“All hands! Patrols clearing the way, once the next batch of scouts return, immediately stop moving forward! Form a defense line, lock down all flow of personnel from Axe District! Stop anyone from passing through, be it yourself or anyone else!”
When they heard these orders, the patrol team immediately started moving. The accident six years ago had caused the patrol team of the First Gatehouse to be the same as the palace guards. They would only listen to direct orders from the Archduchess or the Commander of the Archduchess’ Guards
Nicholas’ voice was resolute, “As for the Archduchess’ Guards… Archers, spread out! Clear the highest spots on both sides of the streets and increase the defenses there! Make sure your field of vision is clear, and kill all unidentified targets who move towards this place at high speed!
“As for us, we will change our direction and head back to Heroic Spirit Palace… Justin, lead the fourth team and form the interception formation. You’ll be in charge of the rear guards. Beware of all threats from that direction!”
The actions of the Archduchess’ Guards were swifter and much cleaner than those of the patrol team. All of them immediately moved to retreat, causing the teams that were at the back to now lead the march. Lord Justin’s team practically formed a human wall to seal off the path leading to the chaotic district. A rather large number of archers scaled the houses on both sides of the street and drew their arrows before they cautiously took aim in that direction.
Once he heard Nicholas’ orders to lock down the street and retreat, Thales sighed. He knew what stance the Star Killer held now.
Thales turned to Nicholas and reminded the Star Killer indignantly, “Hey, I know that you want to see him dead, but if Lampard dies here today… are you sure it’ll be a good thing for Dragon Clouds City?”
Nicholas shook his head in contempt. “My current responsibility is to bring you back to Heroic Spirit Palace in one piece. I don’t care about anything else.”
“All right.” The prince spread his arms. “Think. King Chapman dies for some unknown reason in Dragon Clouds City, ruled by the Archduchess…
“If I were to be from the City of Faraway Prayers or Defense City, I would definitely criticize Dragon Clouds City for not providing adequate protection to the King and being highly suspicious of regicide. Plus, I would make all my accusations in a righteous manner. Then, during the shady dealings in the King Selection Congress…”
The Star Killer froze for a moment.
He turned his head to look at Thales, his expression chilly.
Thales shrugged in resignation. “For Dragon Clouds City?”
At that very moment, the sound of the third whistling arrow came from afar.
The atmosphere grew even more tense.
Several seconds later, Nicholas harrumphed angrily and grumbled while he turned around.
“This son of a b*tch…”
He roared, feeling displeased. “Galla. Bring the fifth and sixth teams and head to the inn to support the patrol teams there. We’ve practiced this sort of situation six years ago. You know what to do!”
Galla, an old timer among the archduke’s personal guards, nodded. With a look of pity that this became a missed opportunity, he smiled, and brought half of the archduke’s personal guards to support those ahead.
Nicholas’ mood was clearly not good. “The rest, retreat based on the original plan!”
In the horrid atmosphere, the group turned around with complicated emotions. They went back in the direction they came.
They traveled back swiftly for several minutes until they returned to the intersection point between Axe District and Spear District. When they saw the familiar chess room, the tense atmosphere among the group slowly bled away.
“Damn it.” Wya clicked his tongue, feeling tense. “Why do we always run into such things?”
“Calm down, Wya,” Thales said with a sullen expression. “Remember what I said, don’t panic.”
However, Thales was also regulating his breathing on his horse, thinking about what just happened.
‘Who’s the one attacking, no, trying to assassinate Chapman Lampard in Axe District, where the nobles would gather on the day of the council hearing?
‘And… if Lampard dies here…’
When Thales thought of this, he clenched his fists and tightened his hold on the reins.
He stayed among the retreating group with a solemn expression.
“Hey, young prince.” The Star Killer rode to Thales’ side and coldly said, “You know, if we had maintained our normal speed and reached Axe District earlier, we might have been caught up in that ambush.”
Thales frowned. “What do you mean?”
Nicholas shook his head. “I’m saying… your head may not be less valuable than Lampard’s life.”
Thales thought of something, and he felt his skin crawl.
“Are you saying that the group of people may have wanted to attack me?”
Nicholas scoffed derisively.
The second prince instinctively looked around. The street was quiet. Aida ran across the roofs cautiously and observed her surroundings from a high place. Everything was normal for the group of Northlanders.
Only then did Thales turn his head around and ask with a skeptical look, “I-I can’t possibly be that unlucky, right?”
Just as he spoke, an accident occurred.