Chapter 77: Queen, Princess and Fate (One)
"In short… below this line are all daily words starting with the letter 'P', which I have already explained about just now. If you cannot remember, there are pictures that act as hints on the side. As for why the words starting with the letters 'Ph' are not pronounced like this… Do not ask me, it is alright for you to just memorize them…"
Thales' voice resounded in the study room.
"All of these materials were prepared by Gilbert for me, but now, it seems like my progress has surpassed the level of these materials by a little. However, this is just enough for you to use."
'Surpassed by a little?'
Gilbert was looking around at the entrance when he furrowed his brows slightly while he saw Thales passing the word list to Ralf, who was unable to speak.
He did not really agree (it could even be said that he firmly opposed it) that during such a critical moment, Thales still spent time on teaching Ralf (even though indeed, no one could replace His Highness in teaching Ralf with his own mysterious yet meaningful set of sign language), to the extent that it interfered with his own studies. However, when he thought of the prince's diplomatic mission to Eckstedt approaching soon, what the prince truly needed was a trusted subordinate, not those complicated and tedious information. Gilbert would then sigh at the thought and continue to stand at the entrance, allowing His Highness to treat his subordinate with courtesy as well as carry out his actions in order to win over support. At least, that seemed like what he was doing from Gilbert's perspective.
Eckstedt's written reply had arrived the day prior. But when Baron Lasalle, the seemingly on edge emergency envoy, showed the contents of the letter, even old Duke Cullen with the best self-control could not help but to furrow his brows tightly together.
Compared to the bloody handprints on the first sealed letter of credentials, this current letter seemed more concise and composed.
On the letter was King Nuven's own handwriting.
However, there were only three extremely strong words.
"Let him come."
No terms and conditions, no declaration, no mention of the two kingdoms' conflict and no comments on Archduke Lampard's actions—there was no other supplementary content in the letter.
After Kessel the Fifth finished reading the letter, he also remained stoic. He did not express anything, but only gave an official order: After three days, the second prince and his diplomatic group shall head north towards Eckstedt, towards Dragon Clouds City.
Gilbert could not help but feel nervous.
After Baron Lasalle conveyed King Nuven's statement, he was covered in his sweat as he bade his farewell, after which he returned to his home country. Gilbert guessed that the process of meeting His Majesty that day and also Lasalle's performance had probably made their way back to Eckstedt. Lasalle probably would have to make his decision between King Nuven and Archduke Lampard by the time he returned to his country.
While he was thinking, Thales' voice continued to come through.
"Alright, next, we are going to revise the sign language from just now. How do you express 'sorry'?"
Ralf furrowed his brows. He was flipping and searching through the papers that were full of pictures beside his hand. He raised his head and lifted his right palm in confusion, then lightly moved it in a circular motion in front of his chest.
"Incorrect. That is 'please'. You have to clench your palm into a fist… yes, that is 'sorry'."
Ralf clumsily clenched his right fist and moved it in a circular motion in front of his chest.
Opposite the Phantom Wind Follower, Thales nodded lightly without even lifting his head.
Half of his attention was on Ralf while the other half was focused on his right hand, which was holding a book titled 'From the Final Empire to Constellation' underneath the table.
That is right. While Thales was teaching Ralf sign language, he was also flipping and reading what he needed to under the desk. The book was something that he could not let Gilbert know about, especially since it was about calamities, about Mystics.
Thales was dying to understand these secrets that were related to him. Especially after the last assassination attempt in which he suspected he had used mystic energy. He was constantly deeply concerned about that excruciating pain, which felt like it could almost rip his whole body apart. Would it be his time of death the next time he used mystic energy?
But as if he was pushed by fate, from the National Conference to the meeting of Eckstedt's diplomats, then being sent onto a diplomatic mission, there was no time for him to stop and investigate the truth about himself and the Mystics.
If Eckstedt's matter had not been that urgent, and this was added on with Ralf's arrival, Thales would have had an excuse to shorten his daily classes with Gilbert. Thus, he could use that extra time to teach Raff sign language. It was impossible for him to read these materials that would trigger suspicion during Gilbert's classes. He also wanted to be open about his curiosity towards Mystics in exchange for a chance to find information about the Mystics without hiding. However, who knew if the books he read would have been recorded down and passed to Kessel, or even passed to Morat?
So, he could only disguise his motives in his daily life. He stole time to investigate his own secret, just like he did today.
As for the excruciating pain after he lost control during the assassination attempt in front of the palace, it made Thales even more worried and alarmed. How many more abnormalities did his body have? When would these abnormalities expose his own secrets?
Thales had a premonition that every secret lay within his origins, including the secrets on his mysterious mother, the Head Ritual Master, Liscia's deeply confidential and peculiar attitude, the suspicious conversation between the king and the Head Ritual Master during the Bloodline Ceremony, and other things.
'The Truth About My Mother' was listed as number two by Thales in his list— The Five Big Unsolved Mysteries About Me. Its ranking was before 'Bloody Year', 'Flashbacks' and also 'Abnormal Body', and only below the most pressing matter, 'The Mystery of Mystics'.
He had to save himself in this dangerous world.
Thales could not help but sigh when he came to that thought.
"What about 'thank you'? How do you make that sign?" he simply asked.
Ralf searched for that piece of picture with much difficulty, and clumsily used the tip of his right palm to gently touch his chin. He then flipped his hand with his palm facing outwards.
Thales' gaze flickered between Ralf and the book. Right at this very moment, his eyesight started to blur again.
Wu Qiren's voice echoed in his ears.
"Miss, are you going to the special school again to be a volunteer for the disabled?"
"Yes. Ah, do not use such a derogatory term while addressing them. They are not disabled or ill. Every time you address them in this manner, you are isolating them from normal society. You should use terms such as 'people with physical obstructions' or 'people with physical inconveniences'."
"Haih... I have always thought that you should focus on your degree, instead of spending your time on this matter so that you can be of an influence from the plane of social construct and upgrade special education. After all, you alone are not enough. The inconveniences they face in their daily lives will not become better with your occasional actions. This is not the way to change society."
"Wu Qiren! It is not their fault that they encounter inconveniences in their lives. In fact, it is because of people in the society like us, who do not fulfill our responsibilities of enabling every single person to live in society without obstacles regardless of his or her condition. If we can be considerate and design individual washrooms for children with heights below 120cm in order for them to live without obstacles in this society, so why can we not let a deaf or mute person communicate with others without any barriers and let them live without obstructions in this society?"
"Eh, when did you become a person with such morals that only those from social sciences would have?"
"This is not morals but fundamental values! Your claims that the 'right way of promoting society's improvement stems from a holistic structure' is problematic! I do not believe that someone who does not even bother to sympathize and help the surrounding community will make genuine contributions towards the society. I am talking about you, Wu Qiren!"
"Stop! This serious conversation ends here, we shall depart now."
"Eh? Where to?"
"I am sending you to the special school! Didn't you say wanted to become a volunteer?!"
"Ahhhh! Wu Qiren! Are you going too? You have definitely been influenced by my brimming integrity, am I right? You are going to learn sign language with me, it's a deal!"
"Eh… I am just sending you over to—"
"I do not care! You have to be with me! Otherwise, you are not allowed to enter my room tonight!"
Thales shook his head with all of his strength to once again hide those few profound, deeply impressionable but untouchable memories of the past at the back of his brain.
He shifted his focus back to the present.
"Not bad, let us increase the degree of difficulty…'Try it again'... No, no, no, what I meant was how do you gesture the sign language of 'try it again'?"
Thales flipped two pages of 'From the Final Empire to Constellation' while Ralf was covered with sweat, searching for the drawing.
The value of this book was lower than the last book. Basically, the book consisted of a compilation of fictional legends and long-winded chronicles of major events. The book failed to describe the 'calamities' in the Battle of Eradication clearly. It was just like how ordinary people treated the Battle of Eradication, a boring program in Dark Night Temple. Many people even believed that the world was originally made up of two peninsulas… eh?
Thales furrowed his brows.
A piece of paper fell out from a wedge between two pages of the thick book.
Thales gently picked up the piece of paper.
The color of the old parchment was already faded. That particular paper seemed older than the old 'From the Final Empire to Constellation' book he was holding, where turning its pages itself was already being a huge problem for him despite it being remarkably maintained.
The side profile of a teenage girl was drawn onto the parchment with an erasable black pen.
The young girl in the drawing seemed gentle and graceful. She was smiling pleasantly and her plain face was pure like a lotus flower. She had a multi-pointed star earring hanging down from her left ear.
Was this piece of paper which was obviously older than the book randomly used as a bookmark by one of the people from the older generation?
Thales had a puzzled expression on his face. He moved his gaze downwards and discovered a signature.
Those four letters were probably the initials of the painter.
Just as Ralf was clumsily gesturing the sign, Thales flipped the parchment over and saw a word scrawled on the back.
The word ended with a huge exclamation mark.
Thales shook his head, unable to make sense of its meaning.
Gilbert's voice suddenly came through. "Your Highness, sorry to interrupt you!"
Thales remained calm and collected as he stuffed the parchment into his bosom. He closed the book and secretly kicked it to an unremarkable corner.
The prince lifted his head and smiled towards Gilbert.
"His Majesty has just sent news." Gilbert tipped his hat towards Thales as he bowed down slightly. "He hopes that you will make a trip to Renaissance Palace before you depart, so that the family gathering of the royal family members will be whole."
"Family gathering?" Thales opened his mouth in shock. "What family?"
'Aren't the Jadestars already…?'
At this very moment, the figure of the first-grade female official appeared behind Gilbert.
"Just follow me," Jines said faintly.
Her gaze towards Thales was filled with pity and lament.
Jines was walking in her high-heeled boots while leading Thales, who was already dressed, up the cold stone stairs. "Since you have already been recognized as a prince, you have to meet your mother-in-name. Even though she is not your biological mother… but at least, before you leave for Eckstedt…" Her voice was cold when she said this.
Thales asked in astonishment, "What mother?"
"Your father's only wife, of course." Jines's face was clouded with unbearable sorrow. "Queen Keya."
Thales was stunned for a few seconds.
They stopped outside of a palace room.
"His Majesty is too busy, so he will not come over today," Jines stared at the closed door and whispered.
Deep doubt crept into Thales' heart.
'He could not even attend his own family gathering?
'Is he just letting his newfound son meet the queen by himself?'
But Jines' mind was apparently not on this father-son pair.
At the next moment, the female official said towards the puzzled Thales in a serious and solemn tone, "No matter what happens later, do not be surprised or afraid."
Before Thales could come back to his senses from his absent-minded state, Jines had already pushed the door open and walked into the room.
Jines cautiously said, "Keya, I am here."
Thales followed behind the female official as he slowly stepped into the room.
The wide room was decorated in a simple manner, but it had its own unique style that gave out an elegant aura.
A lady who was probably in her forties stood before them. Her fresh face was soft and elegant, and she was dressed in a luxurious star blue gown. She turned around to look at Jines and Thales.
"Jines, here you are!" This gorgeous lady, Queen Keya gave out a genuine and delighted smile. "This is wonderful! Recently Kessel has been so busy over the diplomatic relations with Eckstedt, and I thought you would probably be busy too…"
Thales was slightly reserved. After all, he was the king's illegitimate child.
At the same time, he was also surprised over the current scene. If Jines was the king's lover, then why would Keya get along so well with her as the queen?
"I mentioned this to you before, this person who would come and meet you today…" Jines paused for a moment, as though she felt like there was no need for her to talk about this too much. Hence, she took a deep breath and pulled Thales forward as she said silently, "This is Thales, Kessel's second… son."
"That means, you are the one?" Keya slowly walked towards Thales and crouched down slightly in front of him. "Kessel's youngest son?"
Her gentle eyes looked straight at Thales.
Thales felt like he could not breathe properly due to his awkwardness.
Her Majesty the Queen stroked his head with an affectionate expression on her face. "Do not be afraid, I am also your family. Look at your eyes and nose… they look exactly the same as your charismatic mother."
Thales suddenly stopped breathing and widened his eyes.
He could only listen to Queen Keya's gentle and sincere voice as she continued, "... I hope you can also inherit your mother's wits, erudition and also her smooth eloquence in every endeavor. Hehe… After all, there are very few females who are as outstanding as her and Jines."
'Intelligent and an erudite.
'Eloquent in every endeavor?'
Thales eagerly kept those information in that specific region named 'Mother' in his brain.
It was the key for many of the unsolved mysteries about him.
Jines' expression became sour as she hastily replied, "Alright… Keya, if there is nothing important… I still have to bring him around… You know, soon, he will be heading towards Eckstedt."
Thales felt strange. Why would Jines be this nervous in front of this gentle and kind queen?
Also, why did she want to end this meeting in such a hurry?
"Oh dear, poor child." Queen Keya sighed. "I have never been to Eckstedt, but I have heard about it. That place is uncivilized, crude, and advocates violence as well as battle. You are only so young… I am afraid that you will have to suffer hardship."
"Er, thank you for your concern…" Even Thales, who was smooth and slick when it came to dealing with people, could hardly withstand a harmonious and happy scene that would only appear in a family with a stranger. His voice was stiff when he replied, "No, this is His Majesty's order… this is also Jadestar's mission."
Queen Keya chuckled lightly. "Jadestar's mission… they always say it that way."
Jines suddenly voiced up stiffly, "Alright, Keya, he has other tasks to complete. We shall leave now…"
Thales furrowed his eyebrows.
'There must be something wrong.
'But... which part exactly of this is wrong?'