Chapter 189: Symphony of Blood (One)
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Under the dawn sky, Vlad, the disciplinary officer, stared at Nicholas and Gleeward with a stern expression. “What are you waiting for?”
However, the Star Killer and the veteran did not move at all. Nicholas placed his hand on his Severing Souls Blade without a word.
“Vlad, when I asked you just now if His Majesty ordered to lift the curfew”—the Star Killer had a cold expression as he spoke said in a soft voice—”your reply was a little strange.”
Gleeward sneered a little.
Vlad was slightly stupefied. “But the curfew really wasn’t lifted…”
“That’s beside the point.” The Star Killer cut off the disciplinary officer’s words straight away. He said coldly. “The point was that you answered without hesitating, not missing a single word: ‘His Majesty has yet to remove the curfew, but we have to go against his orders to come here.'”
Vlad’s expression changed immediately.
Nicholas swept his gaze across every single patrol guard behind Vlad. Watching their sparkling gazes, he continued to speak soberly, “The lift on a curfew is issued by Count Lisban, the Prime Minister, to Viscount Leisdon, the chief garrison officer of the capital city. The disciplinary halls of the various districts will only accept a warrant with Leisdon’s signature on it, then they will arrange for the curfew to be lifted.”
He snorted coldly. “A mere disciplinary officer in the capital city would only receive orders for tasks such as the removal of road obstacles and the resumption of traffic. They wouldn’t have any idea about whether His Majesty had ordered to lift the curfew.”
Vlad creased his brow. “I—”
Nicholas continued to speak without pause, his gaze made Vlad feel suffocated. “You were so adamant on ‘escorting’ us, to the point that you made up excuses based on my words. What is your intention?”
Behind Vlad, the patrol guards exchanged glances. Their expressions varied. Nicholas watched them, it made his mood sink.
‘Too suspicious. What happened?’
Vlad sighed. “It was just a slip of the tongue. Besides, in this sort of situation, His Majesty is definitely the one who made the initial order.”
However, Nicholas still did not say anything. Instead, Gleeward spoke while his body was supported by Nicholas.
“Tell me, Vlad. Since when did you care so much about the kingdom’s affairs?” The crippled veteran exhaled. “It’s been more than ten years. From the recruitment of soldiers to clearing the city, every time something happens in the capital, your first reaction was to hide and avoid, afraid that it would affect your gains.”
While he listened to Gleeward’s words, Nicholas’ expression became even more terrifying by the second. “And what of leading armies to show how dutiful we are to the king during times of crises?”
Gleeward raised his eyebrows, and the expression on his face made him look as if he had just seen a pig fly. “Stop joking.”
Vlad’s expression became extremely unpleasant, he gritted his teeth. “Old cripple… I don’t want to argue with you right now.”
But at that moment, a clear male voice rose from the crowd. “Enough, they have already seen through it.”
Vlad inhaled deeply and moved aside, allowing the man who walked out of the crowd to take his place. This time, Nicholas and Gleeward’s expressions changed.
The newcomer was tall and his presence aggressive. His steps were heavy and he carried the strong smell of metal and blood from the battlefield.
“This is a ruthless one, alright.” Gleeward exhaled. “You know him?”
Nicholas did not reply. He stared at the newcomer.
“It’s you.” Nicholas narrowed his eyes, his expression solemn. “The Fire Knight… Romel Tolja.”
The newcomer stopped walking. He stood in front of the two men.
“I am honored to meet you again, Lord Nicholas,” Tolja, one of Eckstedt’s Five War Generals, said with a cold look.
The knight from Black Sand Region had already taken off his helmet, but he was still wearing his gray, heavy armor. Together with the cavalry sword at his waist, he looked extremely intimidating.
“If the Archduke of Black Sand Region wanted to join the banquet”—Nicholas snorted softly with an unpleasant expression—”he could have told us beforehand so that we can send an invitation.”
Tolja met Nicholas’ eyes without showing any weakness.
“Kentvida told me what you told him yesterday at the suburbs.” The Fire Knight’s expression did not change. “So, to respond to your invitation, we are taking a little ‘trip’ into Dragon Clouds City with more than a thousand people.”
Nicholas’ pupils narrowed slowly while he sized up the patrols.
“All of you are asking for death,” the Star Killer said coldly. “In Dragon Clouds City alone, we can gather seven to eight thousand soldiers by emergency conscription. There are also the patrols and the royal court’s regular troops, not to mention the troops of the vassals in the suburbs—”
Tolja cut him off nonchalantly.
“Yes, Dragon Clouds City is very powerful, with hundreds of recruits, and regular troops with extremely strong battle abilities,” said the Fire Knight flatly, “However, who is the one with the right to summon them?”
Nicholas’ heart sank and an unending chill ran down his spine. He remembered what Vlad said in the beginning: Someone was trying to assassinate His Majesty.
“What do you mean?” He asked solemnly, involuntarily sounding a little anxious.
‘This is impossible. His Majesty is protected by the extremely valiant White Blade Guards, and every single one of them possess supra class skills and plenty of experience. They are also willing to risk their lives. It’s impossible for even the Kingdom’s Wrath to… Daring to do so with such few troops… What is Lampard trying to do?’
Nicholas and Tolja’s eyes met, and it looked as if sparks were about to fly off because of how hostile they were.
“What I meant was that both of you do not have to worry about this.” The knight from Black Sand Region was expressionless. “Eckstedt will soon be reborn.”
Nicholas forced himself to calm down.
“There’s a traitor, right?” The Star Killer tightened his grip on his blade. He said coldly, “How long had you all planned this? To be able to bring two thousand people into Dragon Clouds City… Neither the chaos caused by the calamities, nor the mere boss of a gang would be sufficient to do this. Who else did all of you buy over?”
‘Leisdon, the Chief Garrison Officer? Or even Lisban, the Prime Minister?’
However, Tolja did not answer Nicholas’ question.
“Chief Gleeward.” The Fire Knight turned to the crippled veteran with a respectful expression. “I have heard good things about you, and know that you have always been dissatisfied with the Walton Family’s rule…”
Nicholas furrowed his brow slightly. However, Gleeward’s reaction was faster than he had imagined.
“Enough.” Gleeward exhaled and said in a light tone, “It’s true that I can’t stand Nuven, and this king of ours is indeed a bastard…”
Tolja’s eyes brightened. “Then, you—”
“However, Chapman Lampard?” Gleeward did not give Tolja a chance to speak. Revealing his large, yellow teeth, the veteran laughed like a street ruffian. “Even though I’m poor and illiterate, I am, after all, a Northlander.
“No matter how dissatisfied I am with my king, I wouldn’t bring soldiers into the capital city to kill him.” Gleeward’s tone became colder. “Neither would I pledge my loyalty, at such a low price, to this beast who killed his own brother; to this traitor who betrayed his king.”
The Fire Knight showed a regretful expression. He lowered his head and sighed.
“Very few people understand Archduke Lampard’s will and determination,” Tolja said solemnly while raising his head. It was as though he did not sense Gleeward’s sarcasm. “But please believe me when I say that the things he did, the things he sacrificed, as well as everything he did that the world does not understand, are for Eckstedt and the Northlanders’ future.”
Gleeward spat on the floor, his expression filled with disdain.
“He killed his own brother for the title of archduke, and now he’s here to exploit the opportunity of the calamity slaughtering the citizens, their blood turning into rivers while he helps himself to the spoils?’ the veteran said fiercely, “What future can this kind of ruler bring to the Northlanders?”
Tolja did not say anything. Vlad flipped his braids, his expression was sinister.
“Perhaps we shouldn’t waste any more time.” The boss of the grand bazaar in Sword District whistled with a ruminating gaze.
“According to the archduke’s orders, if we can’t deceive them, then we have to carry out plan B.
“This might be a little painful,” Vlad said sinisterly.
The moment he said that, the atmosphere suddenly grew tense. It was as if the balance of the scale had been broken.
Tolja nodded slowly. “You know, Your Grace, I would really like to exchange blows with you… To make up for my regret of not being able to kill the Sword of Reversing Light with my own hands.”
“Your wish shall be fulfilled today. The prior fight in the snow was indeed not satisfying enough,” Nicholas said flatly as he drew his blade.
He swept his gaze across the patrols. Fortunately, there was not too many soldiers from Black Sand Region. They did not even make up a quarter of the total, most of them were the disorderly squad under Vlad.
‘Perhaps we can handle this by relying on the terrain of the wreckage.’
However, the mixed quality of the patrols did not make Nicholas feel better. ‘Where is the main force of Black Sand Region right now?
‘Do they… have a more important mission?’
Tolja had no intention of attacking. Instead, he looked at Vlad and waved his hand slightly. The expressions on the patrol units became increasingly solemn.
“Can you still fight…” The Star Killer let go of Gleeward, letting him stand by himself. “…cripple?”
“Stop joking, dead face.” Gleeward coughed violently and wiped the blood off his lips, looking extremely pale. He gritted his teeth and said, “Now? I can kill one hundred more calamities—”
But the veteran stopped mid-sentence.
Along with Vlad’s wave, almost fifty patrol units came forward. They formed two semi-circles. The ones in front kneeled down and the ones behind stood.
‘Supreme class elites.’
Nicholas stopped breathing for a moment, Gleeward’s eyes widened.
‘That’s… Almost fifty infantry crossbows. Against… the two of us?’
All of Gleeward’s emotions at that moment could be summarized in one word, a word that Nicholas very much agreed with.
The man with eight braids turned his body slightly to the side and slipped into the battle array formed by his subordinates.
“Two great men who surpass others in valor and are renowned in the kingdom, allow your humble servant to introduce himself one last time.
“Chad Vlad. I run a small business in Dragon Clouds City.” Vlad chuckled, as if he was very happy. “My business scope ranges from infantry crossbows to Mystic Guns.”
Staring at the large number of crossbows, Nicholas and Gleeward sighed. Vlad stop smiling. He opened his eyes and revealed an extremely cold gaze.
Tolja turned his head, he looked slightly displeased.
Then, in an impeccable attack, fifty arrows fired simultaneously at the two supreme class fighters. It rained black arrows. They whistled in the air…
… and drew much blood.
Archduke Lampard lowered the tip of his sword.
More than ten soldiers of Black Sand Region at the front row raised their crossbows.
The White Blade Guards roared. Thales and Little Rascal were pressed to the ground, shielded behind everyone.
However, the Prince of Constellation’s mind was a mess at this moment. He knew that he was of no help in such a battle, just like that time at the fortress.
The only thing he could do was… Thales looked towards the middle of the crowd, where Lampard stood. His thoughts wandered.
‘No, everything is wrong. This is too unusual.’
As Thales was lost in thought, more than ten White Blade Guards faced the crossbows and went into a defensive formation that was shaped like a tortoise shell.
They kneeled on one knee at the same time and leaned against each other with their bodies slanted. They raised the arm-shields on their forearms and placed it across themselves, protecting their heads and bodies.
The arrows went hissing towards them.
Thales still did not understand.
‘After King Nuven died, Lampard appeared. He even tacitly admitted that he was the culprit behind the scenes. But…’
Arrow after arrow hit the arm-shields and were deflected, producing sharp sounds successively. Unfortunately, two or three arrows also pierced into human bodies, producing dull sounds of flesh being torn apart. But none of the White Blade Guards made a sound, they only exchanged cold glances.
After the first wave of arrows, the White Blade Guards rose in an instant. The person at the front let out a furious, earth-shattering roar.
Without hesitation, ten White Blade Guards charged towards the soldiers of Black Sand Region. The few of them took on numerous people.
In a daze, Thales breathed. He did not even realize that he was being escorted off the battlefield by a few White Blade Guards, his mind was filled with questions.
‘Why? Why did Lampard come to Dragon Clouds City?
‘If it’s to exact revenge and eliminate the threat of Dragon Clouds City, Archduke Lampard has already succeeded.
‘The king is dead, and Eckstedt will descend into chaos. The Walton Family and Dragon Clouds City don’t have the chance to contact the other archdukes for revenge on Black Sand Region… Then Black Sand Region is safe.
‘Even if Lampard is the true culprit, why would he want to appear in such a suspicious situation? To get rid of witnesses?
‘No, Lampard didn’t need to come at all. He only needed to stay in his territory and wait for news of the king’s death. This way, the king’s assassination will just become another crime with no lead.
‘But the Charletons will bear the sin of the regicide again, befitting their reputation as the Assassin’s Flower and the regicide family.
‘Everything is so perfect. Without investing much effort, Lampard was able to get rid of his greatest and most fearsome enemy tonight while the calamities wreaked havoc.’
Earth-shattering battle cries arose.
“White blade in hand, our lives belong to Northland! Charge to the right!”
Ten White Blade Guards serving as the vanguard shouted their commands with ferocious expressions and a murderous aura before they turned around and charged into the enemy’s formation.
The momentum Black Sand Region had gathered by relying on their numbers and by somewhat surrounding them was instantly snatched from their hands.
Archduke Lampard furrowed his brow tightly.
‘The Dragon’s Imperial Guards. Such a pity.’
A guard positioned his arm-shield horizontally, blocking the attacks from an enemy to their left. At the same time, he thrust his longsword forward, and working together with his comrade to the right, tore open an enemy’s stomach.
The opponent fell on the ground in pain. He moaned and screamed miserably while he clutched at his spilled intestines.
However, the White Blade Guards did not have the slightest intention to end his life. Instead, they stepped over him and continued to charge forward… into the next wave of opponents.
The soldiers of Black Sand Region had no choice but to send out some people to drag their comrade back into the battle formation.
Thales could not help but remember the Kingdom’s Wrath and his Fury Guards’ charge.
Blood splattered amid the crowd.
The White Blade Guards divided themselves into teams of two people. One blocked off attacks from the left and another tore open the opponents on the right.
Charging forward in unison, they exchanged positions and duties periodically. When one went fast, the other slowed down. When one stopped, the other moved. Even though they were occasionally injured, they did not care and continued to charge onwards. It was as if they only cared about the opponents in front of them. Under the White Blade Guard’s unexpected counter-attack, five or six of the soldiers from Black Sand Region died in a flash.
Small in numbers but exceptionally ferocious, the moment the Dragon’s Imperial Guards launched their counter-attack, Black Sand Region’s battle array retreated step by step.
The White Blade Guards brandished their blades madly, and with their rich experiences, their powerful combat abilities, and their ingenious cooperation, they held back and even countered their enemies. They acted as the rear guards for their retreating comrades
Thales was carried under one of the fighter’s arm, the boy was panting without realizing it. He diverted his focus away from the fight and thought hard about the bizarreness of Lampard’s actions.
‘Lampard brought his army into the city without bothering to hide them. He placed himself in a dangerous situation and brought suspicion on himself… He even… wanted to kill me!
‘Not only did he expose himself, he brought trouble on himself, and there is even the possibility that he will be condemned by the public. It will then be difficult for him to escape from being labeled a criminal.’
‘The people in Eckstedt will not let go of the one who assassinated their common-elected king. The chance Black Sand Region seized to catch their breath after much difficulty will only disappear like sand through the cracks between fingers. This doesn’t benefit Lampard at all.’
Thales really did not understand why Lampard made such a foolish decision. It was just like that unexpected strike below Broken Dragon Fortress. Compared to the unfathomable King Nuven, Archduke Lampard was unpredictable and beyond Thales’ comprehension.
Thales could not help but to question it again, ‘Is Lampard going crazy?’
But then he immediately recalled Putray’s words: Lampard is not crazy.
‘Chapman Lampard… What on earth do you want?’
Escorting Thales and Little Rascal in the retreat, the White Blade Guards strode past an abandoned roof. But suddenly, they stopped. Raising his head, Thales immediately felt his blood run cold.
In front of them stood the tall Lazaar Kentvida, a vassal to Black Sand Region and also the Viscount of the City of Halting Light. A row of soldiers flanked him.
They stood facing Thales, Little Rascal, and the four White Blade Guards, and raised the bows in their hands.
Thales sighed. ‘Bows again.’
Before his eyes he saw the sight of Yodel being hit by the arrow shot by the assassin sent by the Duke of the Northern Territory when they were ambushed on their way to Renaissance Palace
‘Such a despicable weapon,’ Thales thought despairingly. He turned to look at Little Rascal, her eyes were also filled with terror.
“It is as the archduke has said before, Prince Thales…” Archduke Lampard’s adviser, Viscount Kentvida, smiled and said, “‘Please do be careful in choosing your enemies and friends. Not being wise in handling matters is a great taboo for a king.'”
Then, the viscount waved his arm at them, bowstrings trembled… and arrows were fired.