Chapter 42: Thales’ Secret
The weather turned cold for the capital during the next twenty days. Winter had arrived.
Under Jines' fierce tutelage, at the price of him spending two something hours each session during every morning and evening, under the definite condition of him ending the day dead tired and aching all over his body, he learned all three defensive styles, seven offensive styles, and one combination style of the ancient Northland Military Sword Style. When his arms began getting used to the shape and weight of the shield and sword, he finally got himself a larger sword and shield. Based on Jines' words, he had begun progressing from "passively getting trounced" to "learning how to be beaten up" (was what Jines said).
"Last time, you were the one getting beaten up. Now, you know why you are getting beaten up," said the extremely stern Jines.
"Then I'm still getting beaten up- Ack, ma'am! You haven't given the 'go' to start yet- Ouch!" From the flailing Thales.
Under Gilbert's strict tutelage, Thales also learned how to basically use the advanced grammatical structure for the lingua franca, and the national language for the Ancient Empire through his cultural lessons every afternoon and night. He started coming into contact with the manner of speech used by Constellation's nobles, and some necessary cultural words from foreign languages, such as the proverbs from the countries in the Far East and the words of warning from the elves. Through Gilbert's history lessons—which he would teach with tireless zeal—Thales also learned some basic knowledge about Errol.
"A noble who does not know how to use the Ancient Empire's alphabet and its ancient grammar to form his manner of speech is not a qualified noble in Constellation. However, Sir Thales, I believe that you will need some time to become familiar with the complex and ever-changing Ancient Empire alphabet…"
In the next second, Gilbert saw Thales casually writing the complete set of letters from the Ancient Empire's alphabet, and he emitted a sigh in an incredibly sulky manner and threw his pride as a teacher into the Sea of Eradication.
"... Urk. Fine. Let us go to the next chapter: the Ancient Empire's basic manner of speech."
Besides the pony that loved throwing him off its back as well as the very, very strange and bizarre etiquette for nobles, there was really nothing that did not go smoothly for him in Thales' eyes. Even the Blood Clan trio from the Corleone Family and that Archduchess loli did not come and bother him.
Thales nodded in his heart slightly. 'That is why… It's about time that I start investigating the mysteries of myself.'
On an afternoon that was a little warmer, Gilbert, who had been holding on to a staff in one hand and held a book in the other, saw Thales standing on a chair in the study while searching for something on the stately bookshelf. He could not help but ask curiously, "What are you looking for, my young Sir Thales?"
"Ah, Gilbert. Wait for a moment… Based on the sequence in the alphabet, it should be here… Eh? Why is this book so thick?"
Gilbert chuckled softly. He walked towards the shelf and helped Thales extract the thick tome from between two other books, since the boy had just finished practicing the sword that morning and now lacked strength.
"Thank you, Gilbert. Ah, with this, I have the complete set of books." Thales tiredly flung the book on the cedar wood study table, placing it beside the other books on the table.
"This is…" The middle-aged noble walked closer and browsed the titles on the books placed on top of the other books. 'Jadestar Family History', 'Royal Family Register of Constellation', 'Collection of Constellation Laws and the King's Warrants in October 612', 'Collection of Constellation Court Affairs', along with other books including the book Thales had just obtained, 'Chronicles of Constellation's Kings'.
Thales scratched his head and spoke in a slightly awkward manner, "These are books I found which, I think, contain my family's history after I tried searching using the letters and words I learned over the past few weeks. I intend to read through them slowly and examine them once I am able to read more smoothly. After all, as my father's only son, it wouldn't seem too good if I have absolutely no understanding towards the Jadestar Family, the royal family, and to those related to me by blood."
Gilbert arched his brows slightly, then felt relieved. 'Now that I think about the conversation we had in the secret chamber, I knew I should not have underestimated young Sir Thales' adaptability and precociousness.'
"This thought became especially dominant after I heard you talk about the King of Renaissance, Tormund, and Madam Jines spoke to me about Prince Midier, the eldest son of the previous King who is also my uncle," Thales talked excitedly as he arranged the books on the table. He placed some of the books below the others without batting an eyelid.
The boy continued speaking, "That is why I became even more curious about the Jadestar Family—my family."
Gilbert looked at Thales and smiled before he nodded his head lightly.
He did notice Thales' slightly abnormal breathing rate.
"Your studious behavior and your diligence makes me truly pleased… Did Madam Jines tell you the story about the eldest son of the previous King?"
"Yes, but she didn't say much," Thales replied with a nod. He pushed the pile of books to the side. "The general idea I got was that Midier Jadestar is a good person with a warm smile, and he seemed to be very well-received by the people."
Gilbert's eyes became dark, something that was out of Thales' expectations. He looked as if some sort of memory had been jogged in his head.
"He wasn't just well-received…" But he quickly recovered and nodded as if he was absorbed in his thoughts. "I am afraid you will not be able to find any records about him. After all, he was not a King of Constellation, and it had not been long since he passed away."
A thought appeared in Thales' mind. He flipped open a book with smooth movements and blocked the back of the pile of books placed by his side. With a curious expression, he asked, "If that's the case, then did you know him? Based on your impression, how was my uncle, Prince Midier, as a person?"
Gilbert was taken aback for a moment before he sank into deep thought. He no longer paid any attention to the pile of books beside Thales' hand.
"Prince Midier…" After a few seconds, Gilbert sighed softly. His words were filled with fond remembrance as he spoke, "When the previous king, King Aydi, was sixty years old, Prince Midier had already begun assisting the King in governmental affairs. At that time, no one had any doubt that he would become the next good king after Mindis the Third.
"He had once been the overseer of foreign affairs for a period of time, and I was fortunate enough to work under him.
"At that time, because I did not have good teamwork with my colleagues, I ruined the task to receive Steel City's diplomat group. I used a Crystal Drop wine goblet with the symbol of the Sacred Tree to serve the dwarf prince from the Hall of King's Chronicles.
"At that time, Prince Midier used a joking tone to appease the enraged prince. He said, 'We're using a wine goblet with the Sacred Tree during our banquet in memory of your ancestor, who once forced back the army of Sacred Tree Kingdom.' I could only hide myself in shame.
"Of course, Prince Midier did not punish me afterwards… He was as tolerant and kind as the rumors depict him to be. However, he passed the Crystal Drop wine goblet with the Sacred Tree's symbol personally and said…"
At that part, to Thales' shock, he saw Gilbert using a tone filled with emotion when he repeated the previous prince's words, "'Gil, this Crystal Drop wine goblet has a current value equivalent to the friendship between Renaissance Palace and the Hall of King's Chronicles. This is the debt you owe to the kingdom. When you have performed enough meritorious deeds to pay for this value, then return the goblet to me to clear your debt.'"
Gilbert looked into the distance and did not speak for a long time. Thales was left alone to try his hardest to draw up the image of this uncle of his in his head based on Jines and Gilbert's stories: A prince with great skills in dealing with all kinds of matters, and who had a respectable personality.
After a few minutes, Gilbert continued talking in a soft voice, "The people say that he is a kind man and that he was gentle to others. But to us officials, His Highness's capabilities and intelligence were not in the slightest bit inferior to his personality.
"It's very difficult to imagine how a person can be kind but awe-inspiring, gentle but decisive at the same time… And yet Prince Midier is this sort of person." Gilbert placed the book in his hand down on the table before placing his hands behind his back. Admiration rose in his eyes. "It might sound exaggerated, but even now, I still think that the citizens in Constellation are not worthy of such a good prince."
Gilbert looked as if he had snapped out of his thoughts, and with brightly burning eyes, he said to Thales, "It's still too early to speak of such things. If it is possible, young Sir Thales, then I wish that you would set Prince Midier as an example. Constellation needs an heir like this."
Gilbert's especially stern and serious gaze caused a light shudder to run through Thales' body.
At that moment, Thales suddenly thought of something.
"Gilbert, just how…" Thales dipped his head down. He hesitated for a moment, but after that, he lifted his head and asked, "Just how did my uncle die? You only mentioned that he wielded a sword and died fighting alongside the guards at the palace gate."
"Ha…" Gilbert closed his eyes and sighed heavily before he spoke, "During the Bloody Year, he ordered the guards and soldiers to withdraw and walked into crowd alone. Without even sacrificing a single soldier, without even injuring a single person or taking a single life, he appeased the mob and resolved the danger of them rushing into the palace gate.
"Alas! Even though his guards had reacted in time, the assassins that had hidden themselves among the mob and had plotted for this for a long time prepared six hidden swords and sharp blades that had venom spread on the blades. At that time, I was terribly busy with my foreign affairs assignments, which were progressing from bad to worse. When I learned that the royal family had been assassinated… Ha…"
Thales looked into Gilbert's eyes. For a long while, the child did not say a single word.
The boy recalled how Jines had told him about Prince Midier a few weeks ago, in a manner that was completely uncharacteristic of her, and her last few sentences had been especially unlike her.
"Thales, I know what Gilbert told you today, but I don't know what you think about it. Still… I still remember that Prince Midier had handed me a letter in the past. I only wish to tell you the contents of the letter in its original words.
"'Madam, I spared you because I admire you, not because I am merciful towards you.
"'I admire your courage, which allowed you to break free of your shackles and chains.
"'However, since you have made the decision, please do not hesitate. Do not be weak and return to the cage that once suffocated you. Do not let the cage in your mind chain the wings that will lead you to freedom, much less let those illusory rules make you sacrifice your true self.
"'I sincerely give you my blessings and wish that your life will now belong to you from now onwards.
"'I hope that you will pass the police qualification test.'"
Thales was absorbed in his thoughts of thinking about the meaning behind these words. What sort of state of mind would a prince, who was born into this 'cage' he spoke of, have when he said these words?
When Gilbert regained Thales' attention from his memories and his absent-minded state, they began their afternoon lesson.
As Thales listened to Gilbert use ancient proverbs and poems as examples to explain the four different voices in the lingua franca the humans used, he stole a glance at the pile of books by his hand.
He did not tell Gilbert the truth just now. He was not searching for the Jadestar Family history, neither did he want to understand his uncle, who was like a saint.
Thales wanted to search for information regarding the Mystics.
From the first day he arrived in Mindis Hall, Thales had already been planning to research 'Mystics'. Once he went through the matter in Vine Manor and triggered the unstable but effective explosion, he became even more desperate to examine his secrets.
And once Gilbert was talking about the history of the Battle of Eradication while also showing his attitude towards those 'calamities'—'Mystics' like Asda—Thales became even more terrified.
Thales whispered to himself softly, "Even though… Yodel might have heard my conversation with Asda."
'Battle of Eradication Chronicles: The World's Destruction', 'From the Final Empire to Constellation', and 'Cahill Yarrow's Travel Notes: Supplementary Information before the Great Crack and Sink'. These three books were his true targets hidden among all the other history books used as a diversion. They were about the Battle of Eradication and the truth behind Mystics—the 'calamity'.
No matter what, before he could be certain of his own safety, it would be best if he did not reveal the strange 'mystic ability' within himself. Once he has learned how to read and write, then he would start searching through the books. That was the safest method.
However, now, Thales had to start copying the different voices used by nobles in their choice of words.
Compared to the relaxed attitude and the carefree air he set up, he was mumbling in his heart, hoping that Gilbert would not personally look through these books, that he would leave right after he finished conducting the class, and that he would not help Thales bring those books back to his room.
If everything went smoothly, then these peaceful and quiet days would continue. Perhaps he would be able to gain some progress in regards to understanding his secrets.
However, Thales soon discovered that a quiet life would forever be just an illusion to people like him.
For example, Thales did not know that there was a meeting about him, regarding the secret he was trying to hide, being held in a spot not too far away from Mindis Hall.
And his secret was in danger of being exposed.
Yodel stood quietly under the shade of a tree, as if he was waiting respectfully for the person in the pitch-black carriage in front of him. However, all those who had fought against Yodel before would know that Yodel was incredibly tense at that instant and was in a state where he would attack at any moment.
"It's been a while, young Yodel."
As an old and hoarse voice travelled into the air, an old figure walked with faltering footsteps out of the door to the carriage, which had been pushed open by the king himself.
Although the intuition of those in supreme class already allowed Yodel to know just who the other person in the carriage other than the king was, when Yodel saw him with his own eyes, his brows still furrowed against his will behind his mask.
It was an old man dressed by a plain, black, long robe. He held a wooden black cane in his hand. His hair was thinning and white. There were a lot of wrinkles on his face. He had average looks and did not stand out. In fact, he would not even be able to leave behind an impression to even the sharpest person.
"Aren't you going to say hello to your father?" An aged and hoarse voice rose from the old man's throat languidly. It was a voice that seemed to have been born from the nurturing care of darkness, causing it to be emotionless and monotonous.
Yodel chose to remain silent in the face of the old man's question.
The man grinned, revealing gums that had very few teeth left, "Alright, I almost forgot. Even if you have my blood flowing through your veins, your family name is Cato, not Hansen."
Yodel still provided him with no reaction.
"I just returned." The old man seemed to be long-since used to Yodel's attitude. He was completely unbothered by it and continued speaking, "There is also something interesting in the results of the investigation about Red Street Market brought to me by my children."
Yodel still did not answer him.
The old man chuckled softly, then said, "The Air Mystic, Asda Sakern, whom the Secret Intelligence Department had been searching for twelve years but to no avail, has been verified to have returned to the capital, and appeared in Red Street Market."
The gears on Yodel's mask began turning inconspicuously.
"Blood Bottle Gang may be the gang he built with that homicidal maniac, but the famous Air Mystic had clearly not personally gone to the place to destroy the Brotherhood and cripple their forces."
Yodel did not speak, but the gears behind his mask were turning even faster.
The old man let out a bark of laughter that was unpleasant to the ears using that hoarse voice of his. "Don't be nervous, Sir Cato. I only listened to His Majesty's orders and investigated how you managed to seal a Mystic even though you had the royal family's kin with you."
Yodel's head shot up!
The pair of Crystal Drop glass lenses on the mask instantly turned from a dark color to a bright yellow as Yodel stared at the old man.
"That mask is still as annoying as ever, even though I've suggested to His Majesty since a long time ago to make you throw it away…"
The old man leaned against his cane, as if he did not notice the eyes that were staring at him behind the glass lenses. He staggered forward and stood before Yodel before he laughed in a manner that was unpleasant to the ears.
"Now then… Sir Yodel Cato, as one of the bearers of the legendary anti-mystic equipment, the Supreme Sword and Shield, can you explain clearly to me what exactly happened to the Air Mystic on that night?"