Chapter 32: Friendly Fire!
A long time ago, Eastern City District was just the suburbs of Eternal Star City's northeast region. That was the time before Prince Tormund brought the survivors from the Final Empire and pointed at the stars above his head as he swore to build Constellation where Eternal Star City was located.
As Constellation's power rose and its territory expanded, the structure of authority for the upper class in the kingdom began to grow. The number of feudal lords, nobles, and officials increased. The important people in the capital were unwilling to live in the same area as the vulgar merchants, the commoners, the filthy prostitutes, the thieves, and the hoodlums. That was why they built their homes in the suburbs in the northwest region.
Gradually, this area became the spot where the nobles built their manors. It was soon included under Eternal Star City's rule by the Town Hall and became the most important area in the city, aside from the central region and Morning Star Region. The feudal lords who defend the entire country, the popular and influential people in the court, and even the foreign dignitaries who were exiled from their homeland, all loved to build their mansions and manors in this place.
This place was filled with properties belonging to large and small nobles as well as officials. There were practically no apartments for commoners or any sort of bazaars. Even the people who walked on the streets were mostly the servants and subordinates who belonged to each clan. Besides the stupidly exorbitant land prices, there was also an unspoken rule in Eastern City District: The people who buy a piece of land here must have an equally matching status as the land they chose. No one should want to know the consequences of the people who violated this rule. Even the six Great Clans and the thirteen Distinguished Families had built their own estates in Eastern City District, despite having their own manors in other parts of the capital. Naturally, they were all located in the best parts of the region… no matter whether the nobles in these families came to these manors often or not.
It was precisely because of this that the manors and mansions were located far apart from each other, and this was only possible because the area in Eastern City District was already enormous, to begin with. The grass and trees between the manors had been kept in stellar condition by the Town Hall, which was why they were all lush and strong. The main street had also been built wild. It was a stable road, and there were large Everlasting Lamps—provided by the Town Hall—placed one in every twenty meters on that street.
The police and city defense team that patrolled this street would have to be cautious. If they offended these big-shots, not even their superiors would be able to bear the consequences. Yet at the same time, their jobs were also very relaxing. Usually, when they ran into a matter that required the police and city defense team to intervene, the nobles would have their own ways of solving the matter most of the time; outsiders did not need to trouble themselves with it.
Genard had practically never used the sword and bow on his person during his ten years as the leader of the city defense team that patrolled the main street in Eastern City District all year long. His helmet and armor shone as if new. When he ran into the noble's carriages on the street, he would, on habit, straighten his armor, then take a step back and take off his helmet to salute these people. (In the words of the director of the police department in the Eastern City District, the city defense team should have changed their heavy helmets into hats. Taking off their helmets as a salute was simply too hilarious.)
Genard valued his job very much. He knew that his comrades had spent a great deal of effort and transferred him to the capital's city defense team when he was originally supposed to look for his own means of survival after the army was disbanded. Besides, he had even transferred to the Eastern City District, the safe and quiet Eastern City District where the residents there would even occasionally give him tips.
As a farmer born in Doron County, which was located to the south of Constellation, Genard's exciting experiences would definitely be worthy of a bardic song.
About a decade ago, when he was around nineteen-years-old—Genard never bothered remembering his own birthday after his father died—a disaster fell upon his entire village. Bandits who had gathered together had invaded their village and robbed them. Genard, who had no means to survive, responded to the call from a duke in the south and enlisted himself in Duke John's Starlight Brigade.
Genard, who fought valiantly and had a bright head over his shoulders, had gone through the perilous battle to defend Jade City and fortunately managed to survive.
He once took the risk of carrying two sacks of flour and managed to catch up to the brigade who had been retreating into Walla Passage. He followed the duke valiantly and charged into the barricades around the Land of Ivory. ("Before we unite with the other troops, we owe you money for the two sacks of flour."–Duke John)
Under the orders of his superiors, he had also charged into Count Dilbert's welcoming banquet, which was held in the count's house, and had watched Duke John, who had been a guest, deal with their private army without so much as batting an eyelid.
He had even rushed out from under the wave of the impact caused by Mystic spears in Spark Prairie and crushed a battle ax.
He had also led a small troop of soldiers under the duke's nine-pointed star banner and fended against their last, desperate charge at Blade's Gap.
made a final charge when the blades of the rebel army were pointed at their throats—and managed to turn the tables and won.
On the day of his final battle—the Battle of Zodra—Genard let out a deep sigh and cursed the day where victory and sadness existed together. He waved at his team members and had them clear a path for the knights under the Iris Flower Flag
There were thirty-four knights under the Covendier Family. No carriages were moving with them, so they should only be subordinates who were running some errand for their master.
The two men leading the team seemed to possess abilities above supra class. As for the others, based on their movements and the spots they placed their weapons, they were just there for show. Genard discreetly pursed his lips and retreated to one side of the street.
Within just a short year and a few months, he had been promoted from a Transport Corps Officer to a recruit, then to an axeman, an infantry unit leader, and finally, the most honorable title of them all—the Duke's Personal Guard. Genard had transformed from a farmer who did not even know how to hold a sword, to a splendid commander who had fought in many battles. His rare experiences in battle had also made him a rare sight within those in the ordinary class. As long as he had three to five companions setting up a formation with him, then even if they ran into supra class warriors, Genard would be a great fighter who would not retreat. Even after the Starlight Brigade was disbanded, Genard still remembered the teachings from the respected leader of the Duke's Personal Guards, and he never once missed his training.
He had once seen many knights during those days which he dubbed as the most dangerous days in his life. Some of these warriors, who were famous for their charging power on horseback, were heroic, skilled, and brave men. But there were also those who were cowardly, useless good-for-nothings who only knew how to bully the weak and cower before the strong. Of course, those in the former numbered far more than the latter when he was still in the brigade under Duke John's command
That was why Genard could tell with just one glance that the two knights in the lead were elites who had some experience in battle before, based on their smooth movements despite the calm expression on their faces, their slightly bent backs that would allow them to gain leverage while they were on horseback at any moment, and how the swords on their waists and saddles were close to their dominant hands. These elites who were above supra class were definitely high-ranked officers in an offense unit, be it vanguards, assault teams, defense teams, reserve squads, or even personal guards for commanders. These people were the essential backbones and cores of an army, like the famous Baron Arracca Murkh in the kingdom.
Right then, these two, leading twenty-something knights, should have passed them by, but one of the two elites tugged on his reins to make his horse stop before he rode towards Genard.
"City defense team!" This was a balding knight in his thirties. His green, patterned, light armor was clearly a beautifully handcrafted piece of treasure that was a family heirloom. He had a stoic look on his face as he looked down on Genard from his horse and demanded from the leader of the city defense team. "We saw horse hoofprints from a large group on the way. During this hour, there should not be this many cavaliers appearing in Eastern City District. Have you seen them?"
'And you should be here?' Genard looked at the noble knights under the Tricolor Iris Flower and whispered in his heart with derision.
However, after working in the city defense team for ten years, his temper was already gone. The former personal guard of Duke John bowed his head respectfully and submissively before he answered, "My esteemed lord, only feudal lords are able to dispatch large batches of private soldiers in Eastern City District. We do not dare pry into their matters."
Seychelles, who was Duke Zayen's trusted knight, frowned. "Did you run into these cavaliers? Which clan do they belong to? What flag did they ride under?"
Genard fell into momentary silence.
Around ten minutes ago, the thirty-two knights that had passed this place by, were composed of those from ordinary class up to supra class. The leader was a noble and moved dexterously, but was clearly not a soldier. There was even a woman trailing behind him, but Genard did not see any flags over them.
However, how could he not recognize the soldiers' movements, equipment, and their shield models after he had served so many years under Duke John's banner? When he had been in the duke's team of personal guards, there was quite a large number of private soldiers the duke had brought out of his own clan to go with him to the south as his personal guards.
Some of those people had saved his life before, and he had also saved them. They were almost all good men—oh, and a woman—who he could entrust his back to, and all of them did not put their title as warriors under the nine-pointed star flag to shame.
'That's right.' Genard told himself once again, 'Those thirty-something cavaliers are members of the Jadestar Family, and the private soldiers of the royal family.'
More importantly, they were members of Duke John's family, whom Genard had sworn to serve until the end of his life.
"Indeed, my esteemed lord," Genard answered firmly, "we ran into them just now. They did not put up any flag, and neither do I know where they have gone to."
Duke John's former personal guard bowed. Such irony. When he was serving under Duke John, who had been the king's younger brother, no one had taught him how to bow to a noble. Yet on the second day he arrived in the capital, a low-ranking officer from the Town Hall had taught him the standard way to bow while seething with anger. ("They are nobles, understand?"–Genard's former superior in the city defense team.)
However, this ordinary city defense team captain might not know just how great of an effect he would bring to Constellation's future by keeping the information to himself.
Seychelles frowned, then reached into his gold pouch and grabbed a handful of coins. Once he threw a silver coin, and another gold coin which he grabbed accidentally, back into the pouch, he scattered the remaining copper coins to the soldiers in the city defense team.
"Your tip," he said, then made his horse turn around and gallop forward so that he could catch up to his companions.
"Don't think too much into it, and don't bother about the clans as well. We just have to do what the duke asked us to do. With the both of us here, as long as it isn't about infiltrating Renaissance Palace, there isn't anything in the capital that we can't solve. If the vampires don't work with us, they will only end up dead." Seychelles returned to the head of the ground and listened to the calm Cassain speak softly by his side.
"If they are from the other clans, then why didn't they put up their flags? A cavalier unit of about thirty to forty people with unknown identities charged into Eastern City District late at night… How long has it been since this sort of thing happened?" Seychelles said with a cautious tone. He had journeyed to the chaotic battlefield in Mane et Nox Regnum and had learned how to be cautious as well as meticulous from the sagely citizens to the east.
"His Majesty's forty-eighth birthday is around the corner. This birthday is too crucial. All the messengers from the nobles around the country, the ambassadors from the suzerains' territories, as well as the forces of power that lurk in the dark corners of the country, be they big or small, will gather in the capital. You can even say that all the eyes from the entire world will be gathered here.
"The great clans in the country are also taking action on many fronts. Their plans may be in plain sight or in the dark, and this is completely normal. Are we not doing the same thing? We're even working hard towards it." Cassain turned his head around and stated flatly, "If you're really that worried, then once you have finished your task, go back and make a report. This has nothing to do with our mission."
"Let us hope it is…" Seychelles touched the sword by his waist. When he remembered the city defense team leader with the sharp gaze just now, he said absent-mindedly, "Let's hope it isn't something by the other clans."
"Do not worry, Lord Seychelles," Cassain said languidly. "At this point in time, besides the forces of power that serve the royal family, all actions taken that support the nineteen noble families will be seen as acts of betrayal.
"And how could a traitor of the nobles succeed in the 'king selection'?"
A brilliant light shone in Jines' eyes as she avoided the two blood slaves that had charged towards her in a crazed dash. With a flick of her wrist, the silver chainsword in her hand jerked upwards and bound them together. The other two Jadestar Family Swordsmen of Eradication moved forwards in a show of great teamwork and plunged the silver swords in their hands straight into the two blood slaves' hearts.
However, the female official seemed to have sensed something during that instant. She crouched down and rolled to the side, avoiding the sharp claw that had suddenly appeared.
When the Blood Clanswoman, Rolana, saw that she was unable to hit Jines with one single move, she turned around swiftly and warded off two silver swords. Then, with one piercing scream, she retreated swiftly. Hissing sounds followed in her wake.
'I'm still not used to using this new right arm. It's limiting my actual abilities,' thought Rolana in anger. 'That damned, thrice cursed, half-crippled Psionic.'
"Hey, you bloodsucking whore! Next time, be more accurate! I've seen plenty of you vampires committing crimes in the city! I've even personally captured a Blood Clan Count from Olas Family before!" Jines sat up fiercely. She swung her long, slender arms and the chainsword instantly bound itself around Rolana's left leg.
Then, she wrapped the chainsword around her own right arm, and a bizarre, powerful strength surged from her arm as she yanked the chain ruthlessly!
Rolana, who had just avoided a sword flash, staggered before she fell to the ground! She screamed as she was continuously dragged across the floor.
'This female mortal's strength… Is she a monster?'
Rolana roared and seized the ground to resist Jines' monstrous strength, but before she could gain her footing, another silver sword tried to stab her.
'This damned sword formation!' Rolana cursed in her heart. She absolutely could not make full use of her superhuman speed and unique abilities when she faced this sort of enemy.
The Starlight Formation was a circular, defensive formation. The main parts of the formation were the small teams formed by a handful of people jutting out from the edges. They were the antennas and the explorers of the entire formation. They also allowed the entire formation to agilely press forward and retreat during a scuffle.
Rolana carefully avoided the silver swords while resisting Jines' monstrous strength and kicking away the swordsmen that were ambushing her. The blood slaves were dwindling in numbers as they were trapped in the sword formation's encirclement. After all, how could monsters without intelligence hope to fight against swordsmen who had fought in hundreds of battles?
"Gilbert!" As Jines let out an enraged shout, she tightened her grip on the chain in her hands. "Where is the child? We've been held back by these two and a bunch of lunatics for so long, you better have a justifiable plan!"
On the other side of the formation was the entrance to the house. Over there was Gilbert, with one hand wielding a sword and the other a staff. He was working together with a few Swordsmen of Eradication and attacking the blond Istrone after surrounding him.
"Yodel is held back by the other person. That man is also in supreme class!" Gilbert said with a frown. "But since we're all held back here, we can only trust him!"
"You… are all a bunch of incompetent men!"
Gilbert did not bother himself with Jines' verbal abuse. He turned his attention back to Istrone. It was precisely this clansman who had kidnapped Thales from under the eight guards' noses with his extraordinary speed and had even taken away the guards' lives.
Istrone's unique, inborn talent was that he had the speed that surpassed the average member of a Blood Clan. Even though he was still in supra class, his speed had already surpassed most of his peers of the same level. However, just tonight alone, he had already met two mortal enemies who were both also in supra class, and both were completely unafraid of his extraordinary speed.
One of them was Blood Bottle Gang's Nikolay. Istrone had seen that person's first few moves clearly. Nikolay had completely been unable to catch up to Istrone's speed, but for some unknown reason, after they exchanged a few blows, Nikolay's speed and reflexes became increasingly faster, and during the most crucial moment of the battle, Nikolay's punching speed and bodily reflexes were equal to Istrone's. If Chris had not suddenly intervened, Istrone had a feeling that Nikolay's speed would surpass his in the end!
The second one made Istrone's skin crawl, and he was the elegant and dignified middle-aged man standing before him, who made fear rise in Istrone's heart! Gilbert was the same as Nikolay. He, too, could not catch up to Istrone's speed, but this noble had used his own method to suppress the high speed which Istrone prided himself with.
The silver sword in Gilbert's right hand was very stable. His footsteps were filled with the elegance possessed by nobles as they fought, but what Istrone was worried about was not his sword. The blond Blood Clansman could easily handle the speed of the sword, and could even flip over two swordsmen as he dodged it.
What he was worried about was the staff in Gilbert's left hand!
Compared to the orthodox sword style he used, the staff looked as if it was wielded by someone else! Every single time Istrone dodged or blocked a silver sword and was just about to counterattack, that strange staff would strike him out of nowhere, and it would always hit him in the direction where he was just about to counter without ever missing, or it would hit the crucial joint which he used to gain leverage. He would force Istrone to back down while he nursed grievances in his heart. Then, he would be surrounded by the other swordsmen and be attacked again.
It was precisely because of that strange staff that Istrone even had a feeling that he was not holding back Gilbert, but Gilbert was the one holding him back!
However, Istrone did not know that he had fallen into Gilbert's trap since the beginning. The key to the martial arts in Gilbert's family, which had been handed down generation to generation, did not lie in the staff, but by the sword in his right hand that moved in an orthodox, ordinary manner!
"Sir Chris." Istrone's ears twitched. He had heard Rolana's low mummers during the scuffle.
"It's very difficult for us to continue holding on. Has Her Highness not woken up yet? If we can't make it here, then let's take the ancestral coffin and retreat."
They did not know that Chris, who was holding onto Yodel's short sword in a tight grip, had a face full of shock and disbelief at that moment.
This emotion had even affected his opponent, Yodel, who was right before him, his face hidden behind the mask.
Chris murmured a few words under his breath. Only Yodel and the members of the Blood Clan with superhuman hearing could hear them.
The two supreme class elites stopped fighting and let go of each other before they pulled back in different directions.
Rolana and Istrone heard Chris' murmurs, and their jaws fell slack simultaneously. However, they immediately retreated swiftly, only dodging, never retaliating.
Soon, the people who were engaged in a scuffle on the lawns discovered to their shock that the blood slaves had also retreated to one side as they hissed and roared. Even if they had their heads cut off by the swordsmen beside them, they still did not care.
Jines looked at Gilbert in shock from her place inside the sword formation. The latter was frowning as he thought about the situation before his eyes.
They were not puzzled for long.
*Thud! Thud! Thud!*
The sound of footsteps belonging to children traveled swiftly from within the house.
Along with those footsteps came a young boy's voice.
All the people on the lawns saw the same thing. They saw a half-naked Thales, dragging a girl with silver hair dressed in his shirt behind him while panting harshly. They ran out of the door to the ground floor and arrived at the lawn in the manor.
Before he could see the situation before him clearly, Thales used all his strength as a seven-year-old and all the methods of conveyance he already knew to shout at the sky with his muddled mind.
"Stop! We're allies! Friendly fire! Knock it off!"
Right at the moment he finished shouting, the silver-haired girl who had not been able to stop herself in time, since she had been rushing behind Thales, knocked into the boy's back and crashed onto the ground with him.