Chapter 48: The Wind Shall Rise
In his heart, the transmigrator snapped his fingers.
"Lord Hansen," Thales said hesitantly, "That night, I ran to Red Street Market. I bumped into a strange person dressed in blue in a chess room as a result.
Morat nodded and smiled while encouraging him to continue.
'Part of it must be the truth. There cannot be lies.' Thales repeated in his heart.
"He said that he didn't have a single person left beside him that he could talk to and wanted me to look at his 'chessboard'."
"After I looked at it, he suddenly started speaking nonsense. Something about how they went to war with humans before but lost." Thales put on a frightened expression.
'Connect part of the real incident to the truth Morat knows. That way, I can avoid the "human lie-detector" from detecting my lies.'
"And then he went crazy. He wanted to knead me into a ball!" Thales trembled and shivered.
"Child, it's okay. You are safe now. And then, what happened?" Morat looked at him comfortingly and encouraged the boy to continue.
"I felt really scared and uncomfortable. I couldn't breathe." Thales' memory returned to that night in Red Street Market. It was as though he was experiencing that suffocating feeling again. It felt extremely real.
Morat felt Thales' emotions. 'Up until now, he did not lie. Having gone through something like that and surviving from the hands of that calamity wasn't easy for this child.'
Thales cowered and hugged his body with his arms.
"In the end, I could faintly hear him say that he found someone who 'lost control'. And that after the Battle of Eradication, their numbers became smaller and smaller."
Morat's expression finally became solemn.
'Lost control? Looks like that newborn Mystic was still at the first stage and had not…'
The Black Prophet asked grimly, "Who? Child, did he say who that person who 'lost control' was?"
Thales shook his head while trembling, "That strange man did not say who it was… He only proudly said that he will guide that person, and that the person won't be able to reject him! And then Yodel appeared and pierced him with a sword."
Morat exhaled. The crazy look of a proud and smug lunatic who was talking to himself before killing someone appeared before his eyes.
'Looks like Yodel wasn't hiding anything.' Morat huffed. His ugly, wrinkly face twitched slightly.
On the other hand, Thales exhaled lightly. 'Part of it was the truth… Looks like I managed to muddle through. No, the acting has to continue.'
Thales added, trembling. "But Yodel said that he wouldn't die and will come back in ten or more years. Lord Hansen, they say that you are the most knowledgeable. Is this true? Will that strange person come back?"
Morat was burdened by his thoughts. He nodded perfunctorily. "Yes, the Supreme Sword is not perfect and can only seal Mystics for a short amount of time. But please do not worry, the Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department will not let him come near you." The Black Prophet furrowed his brows. His thoughts had already flown outside Mindis Hall.
'Tonight's goals have been achieved.
'One, I confirmed the news regarding the Air Mystic with Yodel, and even got an extra reward—the existence of a newborn Mystic.
'Two, I saw Constellation's future heir with my own eyes.
'Three, I left him a deep impression worth remembering forever at this age.'
Morat bowed deeply. When he raised his head, his gaze was already earnest and serious. "Thank you for your honesty and cooperation. Please be well-prepared."
Thales was a little confused.
Morat looked profoundly at him and nodded. "The exact time is a little hard to grasp, but I have a premonition that it is near."
His cold and raspy yet old and solemn voice echoed within the noble banquet hall. "Your Highness."
The transmigrator opened his mouth wide and his whole body trembled.
'Your… Your Highness? ... This status…'
However, Morat had no intention of explaining his words. He flicked his black robe and turned to leave.
*Thud! Thud! Thud!* the sound of his cane tapping on floor rang rhythmically in the air.
Thales finally snapped out of his daze.
He stood up from the chair and cried loudly at the Black Prophet's retreating figure, "Wait! Lord Hansen! The information about the three children in XC District and that bartender…"
"They are still alive. It seems like someone in the Brotherhood is sheltering them," Morat spoke, neither stopping nor turning his head back. He had something else more important to do.
"But, can you tell me—" Thales ran two steps forward and spoke anxiously. He wanted to know more details. "All of them are my friends—"
"Boy!" Morat suddenly raised his voice, shocking Thales so much that he came to a stop. "You are not the king, and are not even the prince yet, heir of Jadestar!
"Wait until you become Constellation's heir and become powerful enough, then you can talk about protecting them, or else, these past attachments will one day become your weaknesses." As the Black Prophet approached the door, his raspy voice rang. It seemed to be full of… indignation?
"And my sixty years of experience in the Secret Intelligence Department tells me that the only way to prevent your enemies from detecting your weaknesses…" Morat stopped and turned his head back, flashing a hideous smile. Thales felt a surge of coldness in his heart.
Morat slowly raised his hand and lightly clenched his fist while showing off a smiling face full of wrinkles. "Is to take every single weakness you have and destroy them entirely. Do you understand, the not yet… Prince Thales?"
Thales looked at him in a daze. Morat turned again and tapped the door.
The guards outside opened the door together and revealed Gilbert and Jines' anxious figures, whereas the Masked Protector stood alone on the other side.
The former two looked over anxiously. Jines even ignored Morat and took brisk, large strides across the antechamber towards Thales.
Morat chuckled as he spoke, tapping his cane on the floor. "Do not worry, the three of you. Constellation has an outstanding heir. One day, the Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Department will become his backbone and be of his service."
Gilbert furrowed his brows and watched as the Black Prophet limped past him.
At this moment, Thales suddenly spoke when he entered the hall, "Lord Hansen! How about you? Have you destroyed your weaknesses?"
Morat was stunned. He raised his head and looked at the little boy, who was on the other side of the hall.
At that moment, Thales suddenly felt a surge of strange emotions that he could not decipher passing through the unreasonable Black Prophet.
Under everyone's gaze, the Black Prophet, Morat Hansen, said with certainty, "Of course. Entirely. Not even one is left."
And then he left Mindis Hall.
Only Yodel clenched his fists tightly without anyone seeing it as he stood by the side.
"Madan Jines and Sir Gilbert, I am alright!" Thales shook his head while smiling at Jines and Gilbert, who were anxiously enquiring him about his condition. He then turned towards Yodel and spoke seriously, "In fact, there's something that I need to do first."
Gilbert furrowed his brows and Jines looked at Thales with a surprised gaze. The little boy extended his hand towards the Masked Protector who was about to leave.
Thales spoke firmly, "Yodel! I need your protection! Please escort me to Madam Serena Corleone's room."
"No heir? Coming from you, who only has a daughter, these words are quite appropriate." King Kessel propped both of his arms on the table and exhaled lightly.
Val also spoke with a hostile tone. It was filled with the unique bluntness and crudeness only found in warriors. "I traveled for two days and two nights, and I arrived almost only a few minutes slower than the messenger raven. I did not do so for us to mock each other, Kel. Although I, too, really want to see you fall off that damned throne."
"If the worst happens, how are your preparations in the North?" Kessel did not take heed of Val's tone. He lowered his head and ran his finger on the map of the Western Peninsula on the long table.
"Broken Dragon Fortress has entered a critical situation." Duke Arunde took off his chain glove and threw it on the table. "However, Sonia emphasized many times that the three hundred regular troops of the monarch, and the five hundred militias recruited locally are not enough to deal with that Great Dragon's fury at all… She needs reinforcements."
"Based on the military potential of the three archdukes in the southern part of Eckstedt, she needs at least eight thousand more well-equipped and well-trained soldiers to ensure that the fortress will not be lost. If road safety from the Northern Territory to Central Territory is to be ensured, fifteen thousand people are needed. Also, there needs to be one thousand cavaliers who are proficient in riding to guarantee adaptability outside the city's defenses. Heavy cavalry would be best, but light cavalry is fine too."
As Val spoke, Kessel furrowed his brows.
"I know that it's a bit of an exorbitant demand, but you have to admit that she makes quite some sense. Broken Dragon Fortress had already fallen once, and Eckstedt is better than us in fighting during the winter. Over the past few years, the three archdukes of the territories who are right next to the borders of our kingdom have been continuously enlarging their army."
"The night before I departed, I called together all the vassals under me. Within ten days, they would be leading soldiers to continuously reinforce the borders. If we add the forces directly under me, we have at least five thousand soldiers, including three hundred cavaliers. Of course, I do not guarantee their quality." Val took off his other glove and warmed his hand on the Everlasting Lamp.
Kessel quietly got up and walked to the window. Looking down from the towering Renaissance Palace, a myriad of twinkling lights under the darkness of the capital city could be seen. "It is not just these three archdukes. Ever since the 'Fortress Treaty' was enforced, all the archdukes have been aiming for the things from North Harbor's Eternal Oil to the Crystal Drop Mines in the three counties in the southern banks, and they have been waiting for this day for a very long time. Moreover… it involves the heir of the Cloud Dragon Spear."
"That is why this can't be avoided anymore. Kel, dispatch your messenger and, at the same time, sharpen your long sword." Val, the Castellan of Cold Castle who acted like a warrior more than a noble, rubbed his cold, red hands together and spoke through clenched teeth.
Kessel the Fifth's gaze was profound. His sky-blue irises reflected the nightscape of the capital city. "So, was that sentence really left at the scene? 'The empire shall last, so long as the stars remain'?"
"Yes, that passionate, damned motto of your family. Although I sealed the news, you know how capable the Secret Room is. I imagine that the moment King Nuven receives the news, he will, at least on the surface, start mobilizing his troops and promoting his vassals. Otherwise, he would not be able to pacify his feudal lords. Looking at the military potential of all of Eckstedt..."
Duke Val Arunde snorted coldly and removed his hands from the lamp. He had a displeased expression. "I suggest that you first call together all the direct vassals of Central Hill, and then prepare to summon all the great feudal lords. Even the Seucader Family located far away in the Southern Pacific Islands must be mobilized. Once war breaks out, call all our allies—from Sacred Tree Kingdom and Sera Dukedom, to Steel City and the Alliance of Freedom, and even Mane et Nox in the Eastern Peninsula—into action."
Kessel looked at the nightscape of the capital city outside the window and clenched his fists lightly. "But we are far from taking our last step. King Nuven is not a hot-headed young man either."
The Duke of Northern Territory was filled with rage. He slammed his hand on the surface of the table. "Do you think there's still a chance for the matter to be resolved peacefully? You know that the problem is far more than just that sentence! There are people hoping for it to happen on both sides, that's why this mother*ck*ng problem happened!"
Both of them were silent for a while.
Kel snorted softly and lowered his head, inhaling a lungful of the winter air. "Hmph. If Midier was still around, what do you suppose he would do?"
The completely unreserved Val stood up furiously. "Why can't I communicate with you? Or did you become stupid after sitting on that throne? This is not the time to cherish the memory of your saintly brother, Kel! Our kingdom, our land, and our people are facing the threat of war!
"Why do you think I rushed back here? You know how much I despise you! However, there is a pledge to be fulfilled and honor to be upheld. When you and Constellation are in trouble, the whole Northern Territory will stand behind you. This time, we will stand in front of you!"
Kessel stared at Val—the companion who grew up with him—and did not move at all.
"I already came back and am right in front of you! I heard that the Cullen Family's old Treasured Sword is also recuperating in Eternal Star city. The young fellow from the Covendier Family lives nearby and the Nanchester Family's One-Eyed Dragon will be able to reach here in a day from Steep Forest City. Only the Fakenhaz and the Tabark Families who stay in the Ruins and Blade City are further away and need to be summoned by urgent order. Once you're done dealing with the six of us, every single one of the Thirteen Distinguished Families will also come."
With rounded eyes, Val glared furiously at the supreme king. "It's time, Kel. Issue the Constellation's Edict for Assembly. The nineteen noble families will gather once more in the capital city and fight for you and for Constellation."