Chapter 24: Immortal Species (One)
Lorbec cautiously sat on a club visitor's chair. He looked reserved instead of having the conduct and dignity of a Class One Police Chief.
At the corner of his eyes, he could see the Tricolor Iris Flowers symbol on the study and the portrait of an amiable old man.
Lorbec knew that even if he had the city under control and was the suzerain who had the real power over the city, he could not comfortably sit there and talk to the extremely graceful but threatening young noble opposite him.
On top of that, the man was only a small police chief.
"Thank you for meeting me despite your busy schedule," Lorbec said as he bowed respectfully.
"Please do not say that! According to your experience and status, you are more than qualified to be my teacher. These were my late father's words." The young man had curly iron-colored hair, round face and thick lips. The man had a friendly smile. He jokingly said, "Although my father and I are different when it comes to the taste of wine, both of us agree when it concerns getting your respect.".
Lorbec promptly nodded, feeling warm in his heart. "The late Duke is a virtuous person and also magnanimous and benevolent. On this point, you are not inferior in any respect."
After these words, the young man looked at the portrait in the study. The late Duke's smile was kind and amiable.
After a few seconds, the young man recovered from his thoughts.
"I am sorry. It has been two years but I still… I hope I have not disgraced him." The young man shook his head with a wry smile. He then stood up, looked faintly at the distance with a fleeting sad smile and sighed leisurely. "I sometimes think. If my father was still here… I would rather listen to him scold me."
Lorbec felt somewhat awkward. On one hand, he also missed the late kindhearted Duke. On the other, he felt that the young Duke showing his true feelings this way was a very private thing and that he himself must not interrupt indiscriminately.
Fortunately, the young Duke promptly turned around. He shelved his memories and joked to relieve the awkwardness.
"Well, as long as he does not raise the subject of wine."
Listening to this remark, Lorbec and the young man laughed silently.
It was common knowledge that the late Duke loved to drink Eckstedt rye wine while the young Duke preferred the exquisite wine from Sera Duchy fine grape brew. Because of this, both of them argued on more than one occasion in front of the Tricolor Iris Flowers family emblem. It got to the point where they almost pulled out their swords to duel. Only the late Duchess and the lovely Miss Hille could, with a murderous glare or a coquettish look, get them both to stop at the table.
With just a few words from the young man, the awkwardness and embarrassment in the house vanished.
While laughing, the young man put down an agarwood wooden pipe in his hand. He then walked to the bar and picked up a bottle of unlabeled wine.
"I am sorry. I do not actually smoke. However, just now I went to the horse market I talked to the elderly there for a bit," the young man explained with a wry smile. "So, I hoped that holding a pipe would make me look a bit older. They would rather pay attention to a horse that lost a hoof as opposed to a young man selling his ideas to suppress bandits."
The sharp-eyed Lorbec noticed that among the various bottles of grape wine on the bar was a conspicuously placed bottle of strong black rye wine. Although it was never opened it was kept spotlessly clean.
Lorbec could not help but feel touched by the thought of the late Duke.
It had been two years since the death of the late Duke Covendier. This was the first time Lorbec had met the new Duke privately. However, in a matter of minutes, the police chief was already impressed by the amiable and approachable young Duke.
He was worthy of being passed down as one of the Six Big Clans. He deserved the 'Rather die for friends than foes' Tricolor Iris. He was truly the son of the late Duke. It seems the Covendiers have a successor.
The police chief bowed a little and then confirmed the young man's opinion. "Only those that lack talent would rely on seniority to speak. I believe that Your Excellency's character and abilities would be enough for this."
"I cannot thank you enough." The young Duke forced a smile and brought two glasses of wine. He offered Lorbec a glass. "These words coming from the mouth of the youngest chief of the Police Department. They really make me feel at ease. Did you know how Duke Cullen encouraged me?"
Lorbec happily took the red wine. His restraint had vanished at some point in time. He found it ridiculous as he watched the young Duke imitate the posture and the manner of speaking of the pot-bellied East Coast Duke.
"Do not worry. Little Zayen! You know, both your father and I were raised by the former king with a liberal smacking of the buttocks." The young Duke's expression twisted as he imitated Duke Cullen. His face was red as he said in a thick voice, "So if anyone questions our qualifications, we are going to show them our backsides!"
Lorbec and the young Duke burst into laughter again and they knocked their glasses together and emptied their wine.
A person with a high position but humble stance would always maximize goodwill from his subordinate.
After the cordial and friendly exchange, they finally talked about the main topic.
The young Duke finally frowned.
"I need a lot of bodies? Old friends? Banquet?" The young Duke Covendier voiced his doubts. "That person really said that?"
Lorbec nodded solemnly. "He said that he was following your order but as far as I know…"
"Even if I was crazy, I would not give such an order!" Duke Covendier solemnly put the glass down and resolutely waved his hand.
Lorbec finally calmed down after seeing the young Duke's actions.
"I am new to government affairs. I also have not paid attention to the Blood Bottle Gang contact details. However, you have ample experience and are a police officer that knows about worldly affairs. What do you think of this?" the young Duke raised his head and earnestly asked.
The young Duke's humble and respectful attitude made Lorbec feel comfortable. So, he wholeheartedly provided his opinion.
"As far as I know, there are not many situations that require the use of corpses. The mysterious Mystics have died off long ago. The heretical god or demon sacrifices have not appeared for a long time. It is also not possible for the Blood Bottle Gang to expand to medical and therapeutic areas. So, what is left are races that live on dead bodies or blood." Lorbec analyzed in detail.
Zayen Covendier nodded slowly and closed his eyes as though he was thinking about something. After about a dozen seconds, he suddenly opened his eyes to stare at Lorbec. He incredulously said, "Immortal species?"
Lorbec nodded in affirmation.
The duke gave a long sigh.
The police chief no longer spoke. He knew that the next step was to wait for the promising young and high ranked noble to give the final decision.
"Through bribery or persuasion, progressively and in an orderly manner, bring the underworld into the kingdom's structure and legal system…" The young Duke's complexion looked bad. He put his hands behind his back and slowly strolled around the room. This reminded Lorbec of the late Duke.
"This is the governing policy my great grandfather was ordered to use during the reign of Kessel IV. The Blood Bottle Gang was a fruitful example for decades."
"However, it looks like they have now fallen into conflict. They cannot avoid revealing their lawless nature." The young Duke furrowed and cautiously chose his words. "Although there is a rising gang that is pressing down on their territory, blindly permitting it is not a long-term solution."
"The use of Red Street Market to lay an ambush has endangered the lives and properties of the Kingdom's residents. It even alarmed the Imperial Council and caused His Majesty to question furiously. It was extremely excessive and even overly atrocious..."
The young Duke's face was solemn and majestic. His words were firm and cold. Each word sank into Lorbec's heart, making him respect the other even more.
"On top of that, after losing the internal strife, he did not restrain his bad temper and licked his own wounds. Unexpectedly, he was like a cornered beast and wanted to use an outsider to help him prevail. He even used my name to threaten the police and demand for the corpses."
Lorbec lowered his head and waited for the final verdict of the Tricolor Iris Flower.
The young duke shouted loudly and a white-haired butler in formal wear answered as he came in. Lorbec recognized the man and hurriedly greeted him. The man was the late Duke's most trusted butler.
The old butler meticulously greeted in return. He then respectfully listened to the commands of the Young Master.
"Who is the person maintaining contact with the Blood Bottle Gang? Forget it. No matter who it is, tell him to come to my study to explain himself!"
"Send in a group of people bearing our Tricolor Iris flag. Go and get some answers from any Blood Bottle Gang member who has authority. They must give me an explanation for threatening my father's trusted lieutenant and a police officer of the kingdom!"
"In addition, send another small squad, with a supra-class Knight of Eradication. Go and find their new guests and flush out those that desecrate corpses like vampires and werewolves! If you find any that violate the Pact of Humans and Immortal Species, you do not need to ask any more questions and immediately bring their heads to me — never mind, that would be too messy —just give their heads to the dogs!"
"Prepare the carriage and my clothes. I will move my trip to Renaissance palace next week ahead of time. Sigh. These matters about gangs and the common people. I hope His Majesty would listen to me..."
"Notify the Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department, His Excellency Morat, that they should pay more attention to the Grand Banquet Hall and Wild Vast Mountain. Immortal species enjoying corpses in the kingdom? Hmph! When did they last gather at the kingdom? The Bloody Year? If I had found out that the vampires and werewolves interfered in our internal affairs again to subvert Constellation…"
When Lorbec heard this, he knew he must not listen anymore. He quickly bowed. With the friendly and encouraging gaze from the Duke, Lorbec left the study.
Behind him, the young Duke was still unhappily exhorting the butler.
The police chief stepped out of the main door of the Covendier's family estate and exhaled with relief. That evening, after the discussions with the Duke, he knew he would not suffer any serious consequences due to disagreements with the Blood Bottle Gang.
Most importantly, he had seen Zayen Covendier in person and sincerely felt that…
'There is still hope in this deteriorating kingdom.'
After confirming that Lorbec had left the estate, the butler Ashford quietly closed the door to the study.
Duke Zayen closed his eyes. He took a deep breath and sat down on his chair.
"I really admire him. He is already forty and yet he still has so much ardor." Zayen rubbed the bridge of his nose gracefully in relief. His face looked tired. "It was as though he could change anything. It is a pity that taking care of the self-esteem of an official, especially one that has a high position, is compulsory."
"His Late Excellency thought highly of his talent. Besides that, he is likely worried about how the Blood Bottle Gang's discord would affect your perception, Your Excellency." Ashford quietly poured a glass of wine for his master. He then walked back to the wine counter and began to clean the many bottles, especially that bottle of rye wine.
"Speaking of the Blood Bottle Gang…" Zayen lifted the glass, gently sipped, and enjoyed the sweet wine.
He then shook his head and showed a helpless expression. "They openly went to the police to request for corpses. I really do not know whether to laugh or cry. Mystics originate from magicians. I believe they would have the appropriate wisdom."
"Their leader, the Air Mystic, had disappeared after last night's battle," Ashford quietly reminded his master. "On top of that, after the crushing defeat of the Blood Bottle Gang, their manpower became stretched thin. They presumably could no longer supply the Corleone family's blood food. This resulted in this stupid action." Ashford did not bother to glance at Zayen. Instead, he concentrated on wiping the bottle of rye wine that the Old Duke was never willing to drink.
"Losing a battle that is necessary to win must cost a lot." Zayen pondered as he shook his glass of wine lightly.
"However, I must make up for my own mistakes."
"The Eckstedt's diplomatic group would arrive in the nation next month. The scheduled transfer of manpower from the Blood Bottle Gang may not be sufficient." Zayen looked down at his wine. He looked worried as he smelled its fragrance.
He closed his eyes and exhaled deeply. He then slowly unbuttoned his collar and sipped his wine again.
As the wine flowed into his throat, Zayen looked up at his father's portrait. The man's kind smile made him feel even more burdened.
"At least the Corleone family had quickly responded to your invitation. Letters have also been secretly sent out to the others. Based on their relationship with the Tricolor Iris Flower, I believe there would be a reply soon," Ashford lightly replied.
"Hmph. The Corleone family is simply the leader of the 'Lower Seven Pillars' of the Night Kingdom but barely three people and some blood slaves came." Zayen frowned and poured out the wine at the bottom of the glass. He closed his eyes and gently rubbed his temple. "This is not their usual style."
Ashford lowered his head, signaling that he was listening.
"A Duke who has lots of descendants rich in blood, like the powerful Blood Clan, ended up in the same situation as the beggars of the Lower City District. The blood of the dead should have been enough but they still impatiently wanted more and reached out to the living. On top of that, they even asked for ordinary class and supra class fighters." Zayen slowly opened his eyes.
His eyes seemingly turned darker. He received more wine from Ashford as he faintly said, "What a pity."
"After all, you are the one that 'invited' them here and provided them with 'food and lodging'," Ashford silently said to remind his master.
"They hid the truth — about the current situation of the Corleone family," Zayen said expressionlessly. He closed his eyes and exhaled to calm his mind. When he opened his eyes, his gaze was ice cold. "Any accidents may destroy our plan."
He then heavily said, "Let Seychelles and Cassain bring a group of four knights to the Vine Manor."
"First, discuss this with Nikolay. Pressure the Blood Bottle Gang. As long as they do not make trouble, the Iris would ensure their survival."
"Since they were already defeated, why do they want to make a fuss? After that, there is also the three vampires that came from the Eastern Peninsula."
Zayen Covendier's tone was resolute and without doubt. His round face was calm yet terrifying for some reason.
"Find out the secret that they are hiding. If they do not cooperate…"
"Draft a formal letter to the Sunset Temple. The Covendier family has always been loyal to the Sunset Monarch. With this letter, attach three vampire skulls to say hello."
"Summon an interrogation for the East Continent's intelligence. I want to know all the recent events of the Night Kingdom."
"The three Blood Clan cannot be used anymore. Let us find someone else for this matter."
Duke Zayen lightly put down the glass in his hand.
'King Kessel would be forty-eight the following year. All the kings chose their successors at this age. (When Luo Er Xing transmigrates four times at the starry sky.) This is the crucial moment for the succession of the throne. But the contest with the other five powerful clans is the real crucial point.
'If Jadestar was destined to be without an offspring, then the equally remarkable descendent of Leinster Covendier, who had fought together from the start with King Tormond I, with his Tricolor Iris Flag, would take the oath of King.
'That way, I would have enough authority to…'
Thinking of this, Zayen felt his shoulders turn heavier but stronger.
He remembered about the fat Duke Cullen. Zayen's pupils moved slightly as he laughed. There were no traces of warmth in his eyes.
Ashford put the bottle in his hands down, made a perfect bow and left.
"That's right. Although it is just a trifling matter, have Seychelles ask Nikolay."
Zayen looked up. Duke Covendier of the Tricolor Iris' eyes were abstruse as he asked, "How is the probing of the Mindis Hall?"