Chapter 75: The Union of Two Kings
*Thud, thud, thud—*
An urgent sound of footsteps came from beyond the door.
It was the noise made by high-heeled leather boots, stepping on stone ground.
The thick door to the bedroom was abruptly pushed open!
"What exactly is wrong with you?"
An angry, agitated, but crisp female voice could be heard loud and clear.
The maid who was sweeping the floor at the side was so frightened that she immediately lowered her head as she rushed out from the bedroom door. From her peripheral vision, she saw His Majesty's lover, the first-grade female official, the once influential lady of the capital, the legendary police officer, whose exciting life story, filled with ups and downs could be written into a collection of poems by a bard—Jines Bajkovic.
At this very moment, this formidable-looking female official was in a rage as she walked into the room. She was yelling angrily at Kessel the Fifth, who was standing by the window sill.
"Do you really want to murder your own son?!"
In front of the window, the king was looking down at the mass of people below Renaissance Palace. Kessel the Fifth slowly turned around.
"As a king, I have to do this.
"That is all," the dignified voice replied.
A resounding sound of a slap could be heard behind the maid.
The maid did not dare dawdle around any longer and she exited the room, drenched in cold sweat.
"He is not only a prince, but is also your flesh and blood! He is not the one who destroyed the Jadestar Royal Family, or the person behind the scheme to harm Constellation!" Jines was extremely furious, and did not show any sign of being aware that she had just ferociously slapped the Supreme King of Constellation.
In a daze, Kessel the Fifth stroked the cheek where he was struck.
An image of the dashing 'Timely Police Officer' with an amazing presence in the past appeared before his eyes.
As well as the first time they met.
She had also greeted him with a slap in the face, did she not?
But the supreme king came back to his senses and said nonchalantly, "Such a coincidence, Yodel also made a similar comment about that boy."
"That boy?" Jines stared in disbelief at the king. "That is your only son!"
"Yes, my only son." Kessel's eyes were flickering with complicated emotions. He took in a deep breath before slowly exhaling. "That is why I have already chosen the best path for him, the trials that a kingdom heir must endure and tolerate."
Jines' furrowed brows reflected her struggles as she stared at this robust man in front of her.
Kessel the Fifth inhaled deeply, his eyes were cold like frost. "How can he qualify to be a true king if he has not experience real hell?"
Jines' heart trembled.
Jines sighed deeply. "Kay, we have to learn to get used to or even… forget some matters…"
The king sneered with an expressionless face. "Is that so?"
He took a step forward and stared directly at Jines. "I have heard the news from Gilbert, that you encountered the assassins on the way to Renaissance Palace.
"Can you truly get used to or even forget those matters?"
Jines' entire frame trembled as she stared at Kessel with a complicated look. Jines raised her trembling hand and placed it upon Kessel's shoulder. She caressed his red, swollen face and said painfully as well as miserably, "Kay, you cannot live in the past forever."
She clenched her teeth lightly and said, "Please."
Kessel the Fifth trembled from head to toe as he looked into Jines' watery eyes and pleading gaze. Grief emerged in his heart.
He quietly replied, "The past is already history. What I see now is only the future."
Jines gently clenched her teeth as a young and adorable boy appeared before her eyes.
A sting appeared at the back of her eyes, and she almost cried.
The king unconsciously clenched his fist tight when he saw Jines' reaction.
Then he clenched his teeth tightly and closed his eyes resolutely. "As for that boy… Thales… You do not have to worry about him. I will prepare everything for him, everything that a Jadestar needs.
"He will never… never become the next Lydia or Luther…"
Jines' hand trembled slightly.
She lowered her head and put on a miserable smile.
"You know, in this past twenty years, I have gone through numerous interrogations and seen countless meaningful gazes." She gently wrapped her arms around Kessel's waist and leaned into the king's wide embrace.
The female official miserably said, "All of the Jadestars, whether it was Midier or Horace, or even King Aydi, their eyes were always filled with vigilance, apathy and struggles, regardless of whether those emotions were directed to this world or to themselves. And now…"
She leaned against the king's chest and continued with a pained expression on her face. "After that year, your eyes... became the same as theirs."
Kessel's eyes were filled with sorrow when he heard the names of his two elder brothers and the former king.
"But his eyes are different. I can feel that he is different from each and every one of you…
"It is also a gaze that is not usually seen on a seven-year-old boy…"
The king sighed. 'That is because that boy has yet to go through what I have experienced…'
Jines quietly said, "Even if his mother... was that kind of existence."
In that moment, Jines could feel the strong body she was leaning against become momentarily rigid.
The king suddenly wrapped his arms tightly around Jines as he replied with his teeth clenched and his expression full of pain, "You can BE rest assured, Jines, that he will be alright…
"He will be safe. He will survive.
"Since he is a Jadestar and also the descendant of the Royal Family, more so, the son of that woman—he will be able to survive even in hell. Not to mention, this is merely Eckstedt!"
"Kill me in order to take revenge on behalf of Prince Moriah and eliminate King Nuven's hatred. That is what His Majesty said so, right?"
Thales walked into the hall at the ground floor and looked at Gilbert, signalling to the staff in the scullery as he continued. "It seems like Eckstedt is a very dangerous place. After all, we have an old grudge over the 'Fortress Treaty' and after that, their diplomatic group was attacked by the assassins, in which their common-elected king's only son and heir was killed. King Nuven is extremely angry right now, and Eckstedt's suzerains are also thirsting after our territory. Under such circumstances, the Prince of Constellation is practically a sheep among a pack of wolves."
Thales let out a long sigh. "But is my current condition any better than going on a diplomatic mission to Eckstedt in the future?"
Gilbert was slightly stunned.
"As the only heir of Jadestar, since birth, I am already standing on the opposite side against all major suzerains. Look at Nanchester, look at Covendier, not to mention the newly imprisoned Arunde. After all, if I ever run into any accidents, they will have a chance to seize the throne."
Thales walked onto a flight of stairs and walked passed the portrait of the three Kings of Constellation. His eyes reflected his absent-minded state. "Before I appeared, their focus was on His Majesty, but after I appeared, I was destined to be the new target. Even with Renaissance Palace's strength and power, my safety as well as security can never be ensured. There is a proverb from the Far East that says, 'A longspear from the front is easy to evade, but a cold arrow from the shadows is hard to fend against'.
"Comparatively, the suzerains of Eckstedt may want to take advantage of Constellation. Perhaps, they are not happy to see me, but it is not a must for them to kill me. On the contrary, no matter who stains his hands with the blood of Constellation's prince will be destined to become the public's target for attack. The whole of Constellation will become his enemy. The devoted ones will want to take revenge on behalf of the royal family, and the ambitious ones will want to gain a righteous reputation.
"Eckstedt adopts the king selection system. After the demise of the last elected king, the ten archdukes will choose the next common-elected king during the King Selection Congress to rule for the rest of his life. Every single archduke has a chance and every one of them are competing for it. Eckstedt is even worse than Constellation when it comes to their internal divide.
"Maybe Constellation's power has not yet fully recovered and it does not have enough strength to overtake Eckstedt. But under the temptation of the crown, working together to crush an Eckstedt suzerain will still be more than possible. Also, the other suzerains of Eckstedt will probably gleefully watch by the side and do nothing to see the downfall of their competitor in the King Selection Congress.
"As people from the Far East will say, I am just like 'a can of worms'. No matter which Eckstedt suzerain has me in their territory, not only are they unable to harm me, for their own benefits, they even have to do their best in protecting me."
Gilbert raised his eyebrows.
It seemed like he had been worrying too much. After all, he could tell that His Highness was mature and sensible after many days spent together with him. He was not the type of person who needed other people to worry over him.
"And so, the only person left that I have to worry about in Eckstedt is King Nuven."
Thales walked into the study room and watched the guards bring in his lunch. He smiled at Gilbert, whose eyebrows had smoothened out in obvious relief. "However, this is something that many people may overlook. When Prince Moriah died in Constellation…
"King Nuven was already destined to be an ally of Jadestar Royal Family and myself."
Gilbert finally had a smile on his face.
Thales yawned and sat down on the chair in his study room. He pushed away the messy books and notes on his desk, which he spent the last night reading through, and said confidently, "Under a situation where there is no direct male heir, Constellation allows female heirs to inherit the father's title, territory and assets. Our Duchess of Blade Edge Hill is someone who is like that.
"But in Eckstedt, females have no right of inheritance… Since the old King Nuven has lost his only male heir, it means that the inheritance in Dragon Clouds City will become a problem. The Walton Family already has no chance in the next selection of the king. They are destined to head into decline.
"Under these circumstances, maybe it will relieve King Nuven's pain and hatred in losing his only son by declaring war towards Constellation, or killing an heir of equivalent importance like me. However, after he calms down, he will realize that this will only lead to the Walton Family's final destruction.
"The possible territories that can be gained through battle or negotiation with Constellation will all be received by our neighboring three archdukes at Southern Eckstedt: the Archduke of Black Sand, the Archduke of Prestige Orchid, and the Archduke of Reformation Tower. Those three archdukes are the most popular candidates for the next King Selection Congress. Even though the territories gained under these circumstances will belong to the Walton Family as their land, it will be taken by the three archdukes in the near future because the lands are far too close to the three of them.
"It also means that, in the conflict between Constellation and the Dragon, the three archdukes who are the greatest beneficiaries will become stronger. As for the Waltons who have already lost their direct heir, they will only become increasingly weaker under King Nuven, and they will eventually perish.
"Under this situation, King Nuven will only try his best to avoid any conflict between Constellation and the Dragon, regardless if it is war or negotiation. He will not let any one of Constellation's territories or resources fall into the hands of the three southern archdukes. That is the only way to maintain even power among Eckstedt's ten archdukes, and to ensure that the weakening Walton Family does not head to its own downfall.
"Also, is there any other huge kingdom other than Constellation, hailed as 'Western Peninsula's Shield', or any other famous, prosperous, and powerful family other than the Jadestar Royal Family, which is a more fitting ally in seizing the attention of the three southern archdukes as well as exerting pressure upon them? In treating Constellation or the Jadestar Royal Family as their natural ally, plus ensuring the recovery of our strength so that we become even stronger and more powerful than before, only the Walton Family can be assured of the continuation of their family and a chance in the next king selection.
"Under such a scenario, them and us, the Walton Family and Jadestar Royal Family's benefits are unprecedentedly the same.
"Walton and Jadestar are already natural allies.
"Presumably, the act of letting King Nuven 'kill' me is only the king's shocking method to let the other party cool down. After King Nuven's fury is quenched, mutual understanding will grow and sprout in King Nuven as well as King Kessel's hearts at the same time. There will be no need for an agreement, no need for an oath and no need for a negotiation; this is the natural treaty.
"A treaty that belongs to Cloud Dragon Spear Flag's Walton Family and Nine-Pointed Star Flag's Jadestar Family—'The Union of Two Kings'."
Thales sighed deeply. "The Battle of Eradication's two outstanding human heroes, Raikaru and Tormond's respective descendants. How ironic that the two kingdoms are sincerely working together only when the two kingdoms are unprecedentedly hostile towards each other."
Thus, it could be seen just how immature the two feudalistic nations, Constellation and the Dragon were. In a world full of many illogical technologies, it was still apparently a feudal society. On the surface, the highest ruler had authority over foreign affairs and military affairs, but in reality, the highest ruler was skating on thin ice and had to be very alert, being in a life or death struggle with territorial suzerains.
'The state's autonomy is truly pathetically limited and painfully weak.'
The prince put away his past memory and lifted his head while he continued his speech. "And so, compared to Constellation that is seemingly peaceful but in reality, very dangerous due to the threats lurking in every corner, Eckstedt that is seemingly dangerous and hostile but is actually safe and secure is the best place for me to go. This should be the true intention of His Majesty."
Thales added, at the bottom of his heart.
The image of the expressionless king appeared before his eyes. 'After all… I cannot see affection in the king's eyes.'
He snapped back to his senses and said with a smile on his face, "And so, I, as a representative of the Jadestar Royal Family, may encounter King Nuven's test in Dragon Clouds City. Maybe some mean people will deliberately make things difficult for me, maybe I will be ridiculed by the suzerains and become their bargaining chip in confronting Constellation. I may even face conspiracies from different forces with different motives. However, it is still safer for me to be there than to be in Constellation…"
In the next second, Thales' eyes shone brilliantly with intense confidence and affirmation.
"Therefore, I will survive!"
Gilbert started to chuckle.
However, in the next moment, he immediately lifted his head and said seriously, "Since you think of it that way, Your Highness, I have nothing to worry about anymore. I came here today to discuss the candidates for your diplomatic group, and also the candidates for your attendants."
Gilbert bowed slightly. "But before that… Your Highness, there is someone who would like to meet you."
"Meet me?" Thales had just picked up his knife and fork. He raised his brows when he heard of Gilbert's request.
'To meet me at this very moment?'
Thales nonchalantly picked up a piece of potato and put it into his mouth. "If the person is attracted by my fame and wishes to see the last of Jadestar's Prince with similar interest as looking at a rare animal, please reject the request on my behalf. Be more polite in your wording, I have already offended way too many people."
However, Gilbert shook his head.
"No, I think this person is one of the very few people who want to visit you regardless of your identity as a prince. In fact, a little over a month, he has been recuperating from his wounds in the barracks located at the back."
"Are you saying…?" Thales seemed to recall something as he lifted his head in astonishment.
These sounds came from outside the study room.
Gilbert nodded and lamented. "He suffered such serious injuries, and could only eat with the help of tubes. Even the doctors thought that he would not survive, but his will to live is indeed astonishing, and we never had a shortage of medication as well as drugs."
Gilbert cleared the path to the entrance of the study as he sighed slightly.
"Come in, this is the person that you insisted to meet.
"The Second Prince of Constellation, Prince Thales Jadestar."
Thales placed down his cutleries and furrowed his brows tightly together.
The person's left hand was wrapped in thick bandages and secured with a wooden plank. He was holding onto a pair of crutches, and his actions showed that he was clearly unfamiliar with it. He could be seen limping into Thales' room with strenuous effort.
There was a horrible scar of knotted flesh on his throat and his legs were only to his knees.
Even though he had stubbles on his face, and his entire figure had become terribly thin, and he had even gotten a haircut and the tattoo on his face had faded a lot, Thales still managed to recognize him immediately. The man who once wept in despair, but had now recovered from his serious injuries.
Phantom Wind Follower.