Chapter 56: Live for Constellation
This stone chamber was extremely huge, so huge that it could still appear spacious even if there were over twenty large stone pillars in it.
However, there was no window. Instead, there were only a few large black holes on the ceiling served as air vents.
It was terrifyingly gloomy and cold. Thales stared dazedly at the scene in front of him.
A robust figure wearing an astral blue cape stood with his back to Thales before a stone pillar. A grotto had been dug on the stone pillar where the robust figure was facing. Inside, two large stone urns were placed side by side, along with six little stone jars.
A deep and authoritative voice rang from the figure. "Here lies your grandfather, Aydi Jadestar. Honestly, I did not like to be in the same room as him. When he looked at me, his gaze was always filled with disappointment and accusation. After my mother passed away, I avoided him even more fervently."
That voice did not sound too unfamiliar to Thales. However, he was not very acquainted with it either.
Thales inhaled deeply and adjusted his emotions.
He walked towards his so-called father, the Supreme King of Constellation—King Kessel Jadestar.
The Iron Hand King, Kessel the Fifth was wearing the crown with the nine-pointed star. He had an Everlasting Lamp in his right hand, and tightly held a crystal-studded scepter with a shining tip in his left hand.
He turned and glanced at Thales, his sharp gaze made the boy a little breathless.
"Starting from our second king, John the First, all supreme kings and queens of Constellation were buried in this stone chamber after their death and cremation." Kessel's voice sounded extremely low and deep—as if he was afraid that he would rouse something.
Kessel extended his hand and placed it on the large stone urn on the left. A name was engraved on it.
[King of Eternal Rule, King, Aydi L.K. Jadestar, 595-660]
Kessel looked at the other large stone urn on the right. There was another name on it.
"This was my mother. She passed away when I was fifteen."
[Queen, Natalie J.F. Jadestar, 604-642]
The supreme king ran his hand over the small stone jars with a complicated, indecipherable expression.
"As for the king's sons and daughters who did not inherit the crown nor change their surname, they rest within these little stone jars."
Thales was stunned. He slowly turned his head and, as expected, saw that all four sides of each stone pillar had two large stone urns inside. There would sometimes be a few little stone jars beside them.
'Is this the royal family's… burial ground?'
Kessel lowered his head and looked towards a small stone jar. Thales followed his gaze.
[Starlight God of War, Liberator of Zodra, Duke of Star Lake, John L.K. Jadestar, 613-660]
"This is Uncle John, the only person in our family who had travelled around the world.
"He is my father's youngest brother, and was almost completely raised by my mother. This is why I insisted to place him in my father's grotto."
Kessel ran his hand over the stone jar and flashed a smile, much to Thales' surprise.
"He was experienced and knowledgeable and had great fighting skills. He was also funny, and no one's jokes could surpass his.
"When I was young, every time he came back, my twin brothers and I loved to follow him around and listen to his stories about his romance with Mane et Nox's princess—until my mother coldly exposed him. At that time, I had thought that he was the greatest person in the world.
"John's marriage made my father extremely furious. My God, he married a supreme class female knight! That part of their wedding where they hugged and kissed, I think John must have done it with both feet off the ground.
"After being anointed a duke, John often visited us in the capital city. From time to time, he brought young Constance little gifts. However, after his wife passed away, I rarely saw John smile after that."
Feeling the atmosphere in the stone chamber, Thales did not even dare to exhale. Kessel was lost in his memories, and only turned after a minute.
Kessel looked at another stone jar and frowned slightly. "This is my eldest brother, Midier. He was supposed to inherit the crown."
Hearing a familiar name, Thales immediately looked towards the stone jar.
[Eldest Son of the King, Crown Prince, Midier T.E. Jadestar, 622-660]
"He had the closest relationship with our father, and was the only one who could match up to him when playing chess. He was a man of few words, and always smiled as he watched us brothers mess around. He was clever, and also very likable. Everyone said that he was the best crown prince. He was also the brother I was closest to.
"One day, when I was sixteen, on the way back from a female servant's room, I accidentally saw him sitting despondently in the courtyard, drinking wine with a distressed expression. At that time, I was only puzzled—he had moments when he felt dejected, too? Now, I finally understand him."
Thales looked at the stone jar and thought of the things he had heard about Midier Jadestar.
'So, this is Jines' rescuer, someone Gilbert respects, and the person Yodel hopes that I "will be better than"?'
The next stone jar.
[The Sword of Reversing Light, the Second Prince, Horace M.E. Jadestar, 623-660]
"This is Horace. He still holds the record for the highest sword speed in the Tower of Eradication during his student days. The last I heard, it had not been broken yet."
Kessel tapped the stone jar with his fingernail and snorted. "He is the only supreme class elite in my family, and even had a prestigious nickname. My father always exclaimed about how the Jadestar Royal Family finally had a third person in the supreme class, after the 'Oath Keeper', Midier the Fourth and the 'Enemy of the Wolves', Prince Keira.
"His relationship with my eldest brother, Midier, was very bad. When playing chess with Midier, he liked to use his Power of Eradication to catapult off the latter's chess pieces in secret. Even with that, he was never able to defeat the smiling Midier. He always told us that, if he was not born a year later than Midier, he should had been the Crown Prince.
"A month before he passed away, he received an invitation from the Tower of Eradication to become a scion. If he passed, he could have become one of the eight supreme class scions of the Tower of Eradication.
"These are Bancroft and Herman, my twin brothers." Kessel glanced towards two stone jars, which were placed side by side, with a complicated gaze. "It was said that a careless female servant messed up their birth order. My father could not endure the sight of two doctors arguing about which baby's head was bigger. That was why my mother simply flipped a gold coin, and with Tormond the First's head portrait, decided that Bancroft would be the third prince, and Herman the fourth.
"That gold coin is now placed in my mother's stone urn together with the first sheet of Politics homework Midier got full marks for, Horace's first Swordsman Trophy, and the baby wrapping cloth used on me and Constance when we were born."
Thales took a step forward and surveyed the two little stone jars clearly.
[The Third Prince, Bancroft N.E. Jadestar, 624-660]
[The Fourth Prince, Herman N.E. Jadestar, 624-660]
"When we were young, both of them fought endlessly on the dining table. It was virtually our whole family's nightmare. Midier joked that Horace probably went to study in the Tower of Eradication because he was so horrified by those two.
"Bancroft especially enjoyed drawing and sculpting. Half of the funding for the Arts and Culture Department of the National Research Institute was donated by him. However, he was also quite vain. The degree of his vanity was probably only second to his love for money. When we were young, we always said that he should unite with the Seucader family through marriage. Even the dowry itself would be enough for his entire life's spending. In the end, when he visited the Southern Islands, he really did manage to marry a girl from the Seucader family by proposing with a sketch.
"As for Herman, he was the most handsome one out of the five brothers. He was also skilled in music and poetry. All the young girls, whether from the populace or noble families, liked him a lot more compared to the other brothers. Every time he walked on the streets, screams and flowers would follow. That was why he was my father's first choice for the leader of Constellation's delegation to Sacred Tree Kingdom. Unfortunately, he did not manage to marry an elf. Otherwise, my father might have passed the crown down to him to strengthen our elf blood that had been present since Midier the Fourth..."
Kessel held his scepter and gazed at the flame inside the Everlasting Lamp.
"The five of us used to be so close. I still remember that when we were young, we had a group fight in the palace with three princes who visited from Mane et Nox Dynasty. Horace was responsible for attacking and Midier was the one defending. He was mainly protecting me. The twins were flanking. But after we grew up, everything changed.
"Midier was still full of smiles, and I was the closest to him. But I felt that he was becoming more and more unhappy. After returning from the Tower of Eradication, Horace became murderous, and was always trying to show off in front of our father. I still remember that during an Imperial Conference, he reprimanded me for five minutes for going to Red Street Market. Bancroft did not care much for matters between us siblings. However, he always walked the other way when he saw the four of us. Herman was always following Horace around like a lackey. That smile of his really disgusted me."
However, Kessel suddenly stopped smiling, "But all that is not important anymore. Now, they are reunited here."
Kessel walked towards the last little jar. Thales lowered his head and softly clenched his fist.
[Eldest Daughter of the King, Constance N.E. Jadestar, 642-660]
"This is Constance, our little sister," Kessel lowered his head and spoke with a heavy voice. He seemed like he did not want to say much. "She is the only consensus between the five of us. We would have sacrificed everything to protect her happiness and smiles."
Thales sighed. He shut his eyes softly and imagined his aunt, the princess who died when she was eighteen.
"The Jadestar family was born to carry the fate of Constellation," Kessel said plainly.
Thales opened his eyes. Listening to Kessel's heavy breaths, he contemplated the king's reasons for doing what he did today.
In the empty stone chamber, both of them did not speak for quite some time.
The king suddenly knocked his scepter hard on the ground. Thales was so surprised he almost jumped.
"I do not know how much you understand about us, nor do I know what you are imagining in regards to the Jadestar surname." Kessel the Fifth's voice was low and stern, not a hint of fatherly emotion was present. "But this is definitely not a relaxing title. It signifies glory, history, and power. More importantly, it signifies sacrifice."
Thales was at a loss for words. He did not know how to reply. Nothing seemed like a correct response.
"Are you prepared?" Kessel finally turned around. His sharp and oppressing sky-blue irises stared straight at Thales. "After being conferred the Jadestar surname, to battle for Constellation, die for Constellation, and…"
Kessel stared at the six little stone jars. His gaze dimmed. "Live for Constellation."
Thales' breathing halted for a moment and then became intensely heavy. 'To battle for Constellation. To die for Constellation. To live for Constellation? This order…'
Thales thought fearfully, 'So, as a Jadestar, to live is far more difficult than to battle and to die?'
The king's gaze was fixed on him. "I am waiting for your answer," the king enunciated each word slowly.
'No room for doubt, and no possibility of defiance.'
He could not really stand the atmosphere right now. The boy forced a smile and spoke, "To scream about dying for a country or anything like that, it really sounds like I'm about to fight in a war."
However, Kessel still watched him with a burning gaze.
'Alright, then.' Thales took three deep breaths and opened his eyes. He spoke with a downcast tone.
Kessel's brow furrowed slightly.
The boy said with disappointment, "Before leaving Red Street Market, all I did was for the sake of struggling to survive. To survive in this damned world. I never thought about anything like what is happening right now—the royal family, conspiracies, being an heir, everything."
He spoke sincerely, "I am not ready to play these games at all, these games where everyone is able to talk and laugh as if nothing is happening even though lives could be lost any time.
"I am more used to worn down houses and hard beds. More used to curling up in a corner, cold and hungry. More used to striving for my friends' survival, as well as my own survival. I am not used to eating and drinking in a luxurious room while plotting conspiracies, taking away lives, and… starting or dealing with wars, all with a straight face."
The boy exhaled and lowered his head. "I am also not prepared to become Thales Jadestar. Everything happened due to a coincidence, I am not prepared at all."
It was as though Asda's figure appeared in front of his eyes again and was smiling while speaking to him, "Yes, this is indeed a coincidence."
There was a long silence.
Kessel stared at Thales. However, the king who was usually authoritative and unapproachable suddenly put on a complicated and profound expression that the latter had never seen before.
"To strive for the survival of one and one's friends. This is probably the entirety of Jadestar's destiny. It is fine."
There seemed to be emotions running through the king's eyes. He spoke slowly, "That year, I was not prepared either."
Thales raised his head in surprise.
With mockery and hatred, Kessel the Fifth spoke firmly, enunciating each word, "And fate will prepare everything for you."
He swung his cape and took large strides. Thales followed Kessel as he went to the side of the stone pillar.
There was also a grotto there, but it was empty without any large stone urns. There were only two little stone jars in it.
"This shall be my burial ground, even though there are already two jars here," Kessel said plainly as he bent down and caressed the two stone jars without any facial expression.
Thales' mind stopped working for a fraction of a second.
He thought of Gilbert's words about the Bloody Year, and gazed at the jars.
[The Eldest Daughter of the King, Lydia G.K. Jadestar, 656-660]
"I still remember when Lydia was first born, I carried her in my bosom, and was more at a loss than she was. After growing a little, she began running everywhere and was never quiet."
[Eldest Son of the King, Luther K.K. Jadestar, 659-660]
Kessel put the Everlasting Lamp down, hiding his gaze and expression in the shadows. Only his moving lips could be seen, and the corners were slightly curled up. "Luther, on the other hand, was very well-behaved and quiet. He never cried. This was horrible, because we never knew when he was hungry.
"These two children made Keya and Jines worry a lot. As for myself, I was always happy because I was required to do nothing."
The Supreme King of Constellation put his hands on Thales' shoulders. The boy was stunned.
"Fortunately, they do not have to worry about the children anymore." Kessel's words were bone-chilling.
Thales listened with his hair standing on end as Kessel finished speaking.
"Because they will always be here. Not crying and screaming, not running around… Always."
The king suddenly exerted force and grabbed Thales' shoulder hard. Thales' left shoulder was still in pain from the injury. However, he endured it and did not say anything.
"Look, this is what fate prepared for me."
Looking at the two little stone jars, Thales clenched his teeth and his fists lightly. 'Are these… my older sister and brother?'
At that moment, a long and heavy chime rang from outside the stone chamber that buried all of Constellation's kings.
"Go." Kessel Jadestar let go of Thales. "Gilbert and Jines are waiting for you outside the door."
The king stood up and regained his authoritative and oppressing demeanor. He spoke with an ice cold countenance, "They will prepare everything for you. Just like how fate has also prepared everything for you."