Chapter 64: Put to Vote
Thales heard the strange ringing in his ears again!
This time, Thales lowered his head in pain, his face contorted.
Compared to just now, the ringing in his ears this time was especially loud. It was almost as loud at the magic sound from the psionic assassin yesterday!
'What on earth is this?'
Thales endured the pain as he knew that he could not make any mistakes at this time. All the people from the capital city were witnessing this moment!
Liscia's glowing eyes looked towards him in puzzlement. The light became increasingly brighter!
It was so jarring that all the people on the balcony raised their hands or turned their heads away. Even the five dukes, who stood the closest, could not see clearly nor hear the things happening at the center.
Under the bright light, Thales was also slowly becoming unable to see the situation outside clearly.
Amid the painful ringing in his ears, Thales could barely see Liscia and Kessel's silhouette. He was starting to grit his teeth, enduring the torment of this ringing in his ears. The boy's abnormality was subsequently noticed.
Liscia's eyes, which were shining with bright light, closed and opened. She then asked in bewilderment, "You? Why are you..?"
'What is going on?' Thales felt inexplicably anxious.
At that moment, Thales could clearly see King Kessel's robust figure. Amid the light, the king suddenly turned his head.
"Liscia…" the king spoke softly. Only Liscia and Thales, who were the nearest to him, could hear it.
For some reason, Kessel the Fifth was not authoritative and cold like usual. This time, his tone was a pleading and helpless one!
The dignified Supreme King of Constellation pleaded in a soft and submissive tone, "Please. This is the future of Constellation, and also Midier's long-cherished wish."
For some reason, Liscia's hands that were holding on to both their hands trembled slightly.
However, she then turned her head and looked towards the king. Liscia asked in disbelief, "Her… it's her?"
But the king did not answer her.
The next moment, the light disappeared. The ringing in Thales' ears also disappeared.
Finally free from the ringing in his ears, Thales sighed in relief. He took huge, deep breaths.
'What on… what on earth is going on? The ringing in my ears, the Head Ritual Master's suspicion, the king's pleading…'
He recovered from his stupor and the people on the balcony returned to his vision.
The only thing remaining in the air was a streak of red light which connected Thales and Kessel's wounds.
After being under everyone's astonished, delighted, disappointed, and complicated gazes for over ten seconds, that streak of red light finally disappeared too.
Liscia's expression at the moment was one of extreme fatigue. She raised her head and gave Kessel a profound glance. Kessel the Fifth did not speak. He calmly endured her gaze.
Liscia glanced at Thales again. This time, without mistake, Thales saw surprise, disgust, and… fear in her eyes?
The nobles around them were holding their breaths as they watched everything.
Thales knew that it was not the right occasion. He could only grit his teeth and bury his qualms—along with the pain of that ringing in his ears—in his heart.
Just like what he did to the other countless number of mysteries.
The Head Ritual Master of Sunset Temple turned her head and gave Kessel a complicated and pain-filled glance before she feebly announced, "The Goddess has decreed that these two are father and son. Their blood is related, and their fates are interlocked."
Having said that, the Head Ritual Master left decisively by the side of the hall. Amid the people in the crowd, who were worshipping her on bended knee, she left the balcony. She did not glance at anyone nor at anything in the hall—without any hint of attachment to the people in there.
Only the silent Kessel and the shocked Thales were left there.
The child priestess anxiously glanced at the two of them before hurriedly picking up the salver and leaving, too.
The next moment, a cheer erupted in the Hall of Stars which had been silent because of the Bloodline Ceremony.
Under Gilbert's prompting, the guards passed the messages to the plaza.
After twelve years, the Jadestar Royal Family finally had a new member.
The commotion on the balcony soon turned into one that affected the entire plaza, a revelry that affected tens upon thousands of people!
The cheers were almost reverberating through the vaults of heaven!
The expressions of Koshder and the few counts became one of defeat.
Gilbert and those from the king's partisan excitedly exchanged glances. Jines was the only one whose gaze also carried obscure and complicated emotions apart from delight as she watched Liscia's back.
The plump duke exhaled, his expression was filled with delight. "Alright, since the Sunset Temple has acknowledged this child's bloodline, I believe that he is indeed, unmistakably, His Majesty's blood descendant."
Koshder, who was beside him, stared at Duke Cullen coldly. 'What a sly old fox; he changed sides so rapidly.'
"According to the 'Holy Constitution of Constellation', after the royal family and Sunset Temple both acknowledge his status, the next procedure would be for Constellation's Higher Parliament, which is comprised of us, the nineteen nobles, to acknowledge his status; to acknowledge that this child is a prince of Constellation," Duke Cullen said with a smile as he stood on the balcony, with the cheers from the plaza serving as background noise.
"Wait!" Koshder gritted his teeth and said the following words, "I remember that no matter who this child's mother is, it is not Queen Keya?"
The expressions of many of the nobles present immediately changed. Gilbert's expression also immediately became unpleasant. Kessel the Fifth turned his head and looked towards Koshder.
The mayor of Steep Forest City and the Duke of the Land of Cliffs, Koshder Nanchester, exhaled. "This child is His Majesty's illegitimate son!"
Thales clenched his fists tightly. 'As expected, my status…'
Count Dagestan was the first one to react. "Yes. According to the constitution of Constellation, an illegitimate son does not have the right of succession!"
The conversation on the balcony could not be heard clearly in the hall. However, the nobles sitting at the front who were the closest to the balcony were passing down the conversation. Hence, the entire Hall of Stars still burst into an uproar!
"Tormond the First was also an illegitimate son!" Gilbert's eyes were blazing. "And he is the King of Renaissance that all your ancestors pledged their loyalty to!"
"Tormond the First's mightiness is not due to the imperial blood from the Empire flowing in him. He built Constellation through personal struggles, countless conquests, and blood baths. It was the same with our ancestors. Do not forget that six hundred years ago, many of them were their family's illegitimate sons, sons of extended families, or frustrated knights. They worked for their status with their hands," Count Sorel, whose territory was within the Land of Cliffs, added to what the Duke of the Land of Cliffs said.
"Is this illegitimate son five or six years old? What has he done to deserve the right to inherit this great kingdom left behind by Tormond the First, like a son born from wedlock, without being constrained by his status as an illegitimate son?"
The One-Eyed Dragon's gaze was chilling. "Your Majesty, of course we should acknowledge him as your son, and as a blood descendant of Jadestar. This is the Goddess' will. However, if you want to acknowledge that he is a prince with the right to succession… An illegitimate son as our next king? At least I will not be bending my knees and pledging myself to him!"
The Duke of the Northern Territory watched the One-Eyed Dragon, there was sadness and resignation in his gaze. "You just refuse to give up. Right, Koshder? Even if it is for Constellation, for the impending war?"
Koshder deliberately avoided Val's gaze. He only stared at Kessel the Fifth.
The shady Duke Fakenhaz gave a hollow laugh and said, "Of course he will not give up. He has become arch enemies with this child, hasn't he?"
Thales' heart skipped a beat.
He suddenly understood what Gilbert meant just now by telling him that he did not make a brilliant political move.
He had angrily denounced Nanchester and lured out the secret organization just now. He then targeted Covendier. This act removed the Tricolor Iris Flowers from the list of enemies, and planted the seeds of doubt in him. However, it also thoroughly made the Land of Cliff's Koshder Nanchester, the Great Deer Antler, his arch enemy.
It can be said that Koshder Nanchester's initial aim was to strive for the greatest gains on behalf of the organization of nobles, in face of the royal family that was doomed to be heirless. But now, the Great Deer Antler's aim changed into 'not letting Thales inherit the kingdom'. This was for the sake of the Great Deer Antler's future survival.
Had he, after all, been too impulsive just now? Thales discreetly clenched his fist.
"You all saw that. The child has a dark personality and is not of a generous disposition. He is unsettled and disturbed over the fact that he encountered assassination, and harbors doubt towards all of us." The One-Eyed Dragon took a step forward on the balcony. Although his voice was low, the words he said were bone-chilling, "That is why, out of nowhere, he made up the alleged conspiracy about us planning to usurp the throne. Do you think he will easily let go of you all—the ones he once suspected to be the manipulators of the things he experienced—once he takes the throne?"
The suzerains furrowed their brows simultaneously. A few watching Thales in contemplation.
Koshder continued with his criticisms, "There is only one 'virtuous king' in Constellation's history! And that is Prince Midier, whom all of you have met, and who was kind-hearted, fair of mind, and tolerant!"
Kessel furrowed his brows deeply.
"Whether you participated in his fabricated organization or not, you all are already on his blacklist. Many years later, after he takes the throne, are you certain that he would remember today, and remember you all?
"Hmph, the ruin of Constellation? Only when a day comes when all the nobles feel that they are in danger, then that would be true ruin!"
Gilbert gritted his teeth. Koshder had grasped onto the thing that the nobles were most afraid of.
Kessel the Fifth lowered his head and glanced at the pale-stricken Thales.
"Even if it was for the sake of Constellation's future and stability, Your Majesty, are you sure that choosing such an heir will not push Constellation towards the abyss of fragmentation and ruin?"
The other counts looked at each other and did not say anything. They contemplated Koshder's words until one of them broke the silence. Count Dagestan coughed and spoke with his brows furrowed, "Yes. Going back to the main topic, I, too, feel that right now, having an illegitimate son of low status as the Supreme King of Constellations is not very appropriate… Even though the royal family and the temple have already made their decisions, we, the Higher Parliament, should still be more careful…" He looked at Thales, who had not yet recovered from the aftershock of the Bloodline Ceremony. However, his gaze was no longer rude and scrutinizing. Instead, it was prudent and careful.
Kessel the Fifth knocked his scepter on the floor and spoke calmly, "It seems that it is indeed difficult for all suzerains to reach a common outlook, is it not?
"Then, let us take the final step. The members of the Higher Parliament can decide their stance towards this child through voting."
Thales exhaled deeply. 'So, in the end, I still could not hold my fate in my own hands?'
The supreme king looked towards the side at Duke Cullen, who was being supported by someone.
Duke Cullen sighed and nodded slightly. "The vassals from Blade Edge Hill are not present, reducing the total number of votes by three. However, the remaining five guardian dukes and eleven counts—amounting sixteen high-level vassals—still have the right to make this decision."
The plump duke widened his eyes slightly. "Gentlemen, should this child be a Prince of Constellation who has the right to succession?"
Jines, who was standing behind the king, could not hold it in anymore. She furiously bellowed, "Hey! Why does a prince of the royal family have to be acknowledged by the Higher Parliament?"
The dukes and the counts ignored her. Only Koshder snorted softly.
The One-Eyed Dragon said in a derisive tone, "This is men's business. Ladies, please remain silent."
"Because this child is involved with the right to succeed the throne, this is a pledge from the day Constellation was founded," the old Count Karabeyan said at this moment, and relieved Jines' embarrassment. He sighed softly and continued, "The king and the suzerains ruled the kingdom together in the hopes that dictators such as those in the era of the Empire never appear again."
Duke Cullen glanced at Thales. "According to the rules Mindis the Third set a hundred and fifty years ago, as long as the votes tally over half, it will be effective. If the votes are less than half or exactly half, this child would be an illegitimate son who only has the right to inherit assets.
"The voting begins."