Chapter 571: Defects
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Renaissance Palace, royal guards’ night shift break room.
“Lord Mallos, you mentioned that Prince Thales’ Power of Eradication is the Wrath of the Sea?”
As Chief Flagbearer and vice-captain, Vogel did not dwell on the prince’s sexuality. He switched to another report and pressured flag bearer Will, who was frantically cleaning up the stains, with a sideways glance.
But as the subject of interrogation, Mallos felt the tension in the room intensify.
The watchman stood in his world of dead silence and desolation, sensing the emotions that emanated from Vogel expressionlessly—after extreme rage, the latter seemed to have reverted to calm, with dark undercurrents.
“When did it awaken?”
“Since His Highness is only fourteen, it should have been fairly recently.”
Vogel opened the report, keeping his eyes on Mallos.
“Awakened at fourteen, that seems to be the earliest record of it… No exact timing?”
“Lord Talon.” Mallos looked exasperated. “I’ve only known him for a few months.”
Vogel stared at him for a long time, but the watchman exhibited absolute calm, not revealing any flaws.
“You wrote in the report that it is a ‘variant’ of the Wrath of the Sea. What does that mean?”
Mallos pretended to ponder seriously. “Exactly what it means literally. That at time, it will show characteristics different from the Wrath of the Sea that we know, since Powers of Eradication vary from person to person.”
Vogel snorted. “If it varies from person to person, how can you be sure that that is it?”
Mallos gave a polite smile.
“Perhaps you have forgotten, but I am the watchman of the guards. The legacy watchman.”
Sure enough, the moment he said this, he saw Vogel’s expression stiffen.
“I have access to legacy Eternal Files—there are many records about the ‘Enemy of the Wolves’, including his incredible Power of Eradication.
“If you have doubts, Lord Talon, you’re welcome to apply to His Majesty to enter the watchmen’s chamber and access the top-secret files.”
Vogel was silent.
But in that moment, Mallos sensed that the fire in Vogel’s chest blazed.
Irritable, uneasy, frustrated.
‘He minds,’ Mallos told himself.
‘It has been more than a year since the watchman selection process ended, but it still bothers this guy.
‘Why does everyone worry about, cling on to and obsess over things they did not obtain?’
The atmosphere was a little strange. Will could not help but gulp.
After a few seconds, Vogel moved his blade-like lips.
Mallos smiled in response.
“The prince has a good physique and recovers twice as fast compared to an ordinary person.” Vogel returned to normal very quickly, and displayed the exemplary qualities of a flag bearer. “Is that so?”
“That I’m not sure. Supposedly, Lady Jines took care of His Highness’ daily needs six years ago…”
But Vogel refused to go easy on him. “But I’m asking you.”
Mallos paused for a few seconds before nodding naturally. “That should be true.”
The watchman continued, but in a sterner tone, “At least in martial arts training, no matter how hard the punches he receives are, he will be hopping around in no time.
“Although he likes to sleep on the floor and wash his hair every three to five days, he has never had a severe cold.”
Vogel’s gaze flitted between the report in his hand and Mallos.
“You’ve never doubted it?
“It’s a good thing that His Highness has an extraordinary physique. Even the Secret Intelligence Department does not question it, why should I doubt it?”
“What about your personal guesses?”
Mallos’ gaze shifted.
“The royal family pays my salary and grants me responsibilities. They did not employ me to make guesses.”
“But I did.” Vogel’s gaze turned incisive. “And I’m not asking, Lord Mallos.”
Their gazes met and clashed in silence.
Feeling the pressure build, Will was more meticulous in filling up the cups of the two commanders.
Looking at Vogel’s cold eyes, Mallos thought about the countless top-secret Eternal Files displayed in the watchman’s chamber.
‘Even though in those days, the Six Praetorian Divisions were far from as fraternal and close as they seemed.
‘But when did the Flag Bearer Division become one of a kind, and transformed from flag protectors and military couriers to monitors and investigators…
‘Becoming so annoying, obnoxious, unrelenting, and aggressive?
‘Was it during the era of the Virtuous King?
‘After the kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Department removed its gray coat and became an official state organ?’
After a few seconds, Mallos finally conceded a step. “If I were to guess, that type of physique is possibly a special effect of the Wrath of the Sea, just as it was recorded in the watchmen’s files: the ‘Enemy of the Wolves’ could predict and adapt to changes, surviving and avoiding death like a miracle…”
But his tone took a sharp turn, as if he suddenly realized something, “Oh, sorry, I wasn’t supposed to tell you that.”
Vogel’s breathing staggered for a second; undercurrents surged in his eyes.
In the world of desolation, Mallos sensed that the flame in the vice-captain’s chest had raised by an inch.
Fury, humiliation, sufferance.
‘Vogel didn’t just mind,’ Mallos told himself somewhat mournfully, ‘He minded it too much and too deeply.
‘So he doesn’t realize it at all.
‘Unlike me, locked deep within and unable to self-extricate.’
“But you just told me.” Vogel continued breathing expressionlessly. “That Prince Thales’ Power of Eradication had only awakened recently.
“But his physique indicates that it’s been at least six years.”
Mallos took a sip of tea. “You seem to know more than me.”
“Answer the question.”
The watchman stared at Vogel for a while.
“I don’t know, but I think some other people may know.”
“Eckstedtians, particularly the Star Killer—I heard that he supervised His Highness’ outdoor trainings in Dragon Clouds City.”
Vogel’s breathing halted slightly.
“Yes, the person who murdered Prince Horace.” Mallos smiled calmly. “Do you intend to summon him for an interrogation? Like this?”
The night shift break room was silent for a while.
Until Vogel leaned forward slowly, as if he wanted to see Mallos inside out. “Have you not thought of another possibility?”
Mallos did not reply immediately.
In his world of desolation, he sensed that Vogel was transforming into a huge dark shadow, igniting everything around him with the indifferent flame in his chest.
‘What else does Mallos want, beside this?’
The watchman met Vogel’s gaze.
“I don’t understand what you mean.”
Vogel’s expression became colder.
“So, like you, His Highness and Captain Adrian ‘don’t understand’ too? Watchman?”
Mallos’ pupils contracted.
“Why don’t you ask them then?”
In that moment.
The confronting pair turned around in unison.
With a look of embarrassment, Will pointed awkwardly at the broken pen nib in his hand and gave a miserable smile.
Conscious of the existence of a third party, Mallos and Vogel exchanged glances and both retreated.
Will let out a sigh of relief.
“It’s fine,” Vogel’s tone softened, even though his gaze licked at Mallos’ composed face from time to time like the tongue of a serpent, “Let’s talk about something else.”
Mallos picked up his maté tea and allowed the bitterness to hit his tastebuds.
Vogel waved; Will put a fresh stack of files and documents on the table.
“Twenty-four royal knights were transferred from the royal guards to your command to receive Prince Thales on his return.
“But have since stationed permanently at Mindis Hall, escorting the Duke of Star Lake everywhere,” Vogel sneered, “So, Lord Mallos, how does it feel to leave Renaissance Palace and strike out on your own?
Strike out on your own.
Will, who had only just relaxed a little, had to hold his breath again as he turned back around to concentrate on monitoring the Sound Replication Spell.
“For the first few months, the guards were not accustomed to the work.” Mallos pondered for a while, pretending to not understand what Vogel meant. “But thank you for your concern, we are now on track.”
Vogel lowered his head and scoffed; its implications were unclear.
“In fact, the incident at the banquet last night had a profound impact.”
The vice-captain picked up one of the reports. The perceptive Mallos recognized it as the personnel file of the Star Lake Guards.
There were so many pages in each file on the table and their entries were so complicated that not even a compilation of the autobiographies of the persons concerned would be as exaggerated.
The old trick of the Flag Bearer Division.
Damn it. Who drew his portrait? Couldn’t they have made his hairstyle look better? He was the watchman, after all.
“This made me realize that there are many deficiencies in your daily work at Mindis Hall.”
The vice-captain continued unhurriedly, “In a team of twenty-four, you selected three from the Command Division, eight from the Vanguard Division, six from the Defence Division, three from the Discipline Division, three from the Logistics Division, and…
“Only one from the Flag Bearer Division.”
Vogel paused. There was a profound depth in his eyes. “You’re not a big fan of our division, are you?”
‘Not a big fan?
‘Old friend, you’re too elegant with words.’
“I picked Hugo Fuble from the Flag Bearer Division for his experience and ability.” Mallos looked at Vogel and then at Will. “I think he is capable of undertaking the responsibilities of two guards by himself.”
Vogel scoffed. “It’s not just him.”
He picked up a file. “There’s also Danny Doyle, who almost lost his own life and implicated others last night.”
Will sensed that the situation had gone awry: he was embroiled in the political battle between the watchman and the vice-captain—the people around the future king.
Mallos chuckled and decided to take a defensive stance. “I thought we were done discussing D.D. His Highness has disciplined him…”
But Vogel’s voice eclipsed his, “You think you are protecting them.”
Vogel shoved the file towards Mallos. In the file, Doyle’s handsome portrait was smiling at the watchman.
“But as you can see, Danny Doyle’s reputation in the capital is extremely poor. He indulges in women and there are even rumors that accuse him of being a Don Juan.”
Mallos’ expression was unchanged. In the world of desolation, the flame that belonged to Vogel burned hotter than ever.
Radical, incisive, determined to win.
The watchman shook his head calmly. “D.D is from a noble family and handsome, it’s not his fault that he’s popular with the opposite sex.”
Vogel sneered. “Hence the indecorum last night was not accidental, but the inevitable consequence of his unchecked life, not to mention the mess his father made.
“You are relying on such men to protect the kingdom’s bloodline?”
Mallos stared fixedly at Vogel but did not retort.
Given how this involved guard conduct, Will, who was in charge of recording, did not even dare to breathe too loudly.
The night shift break room was silent for a while.
Vogel pulled out another file and said in a colder voice, “Caleb Glover.
“Honestly, when I saw this name appear, I was surprised.”
Mallos did not speak.
“Let’s see what Stanley’s report says,” Vogel scoffed softly, “Vanguard Glover has poor social skills, is reclusive and extreme, and has hidden violent tendencies. They call him—Zombie.”
Vogel put down the report and looked at Mallos.
Mallos did not dispute this. He merely raised his cup and stated calmly, “The strong always have a distinctive character…”
Vogel interjected, like a just and stoic flag bearer, “Vanguard Glover has a history of attacking his comrades in a mission, and it’s happened more than once!
“The worst case was when this son of a b*tch severely injured six of his peers from the Vanguard Division in Blade City, causing three to leave the force and one to be permanently disabled.
“Is this what you call ‘distinctive character’?”
Upon hearing such insider knowledge, Will’s expression changed. He could not help but think whether he had ever offended Zombie.
“Even though the news was suppressed, this was a stain that could not be erased by his noble status. Neither the power of the Glover family nor the prestige of his grandfather could save him,” Vogel sneered, “Until you saved him from the detention hole with a warrant and took him to the Western Desert.
“Then after a few months, he is transformed into a personal guard of the Duke of Star Lake?”
Mallos was composed as usual.
In his world of desolation, a shadow was cast over Vogel and the burning flame filled the room.
‘Vogel, he’s aiming for something.
‘Since earlier, everything he’s done has just been tactics.’
“Logistics Division, Leo Procca.”
Vogel turned the page over to another personnel file. His voice became calm, “In his early years in the Vanguard Division, he was quite famous, and was said to be comparable to Stanley.”
With a change in tone, the Chief Flagbearer said with contempt, “But since he was wounded in the Desert War, his body is no longer what it was. He lost his aggression and is left only with an ability to bow and scrape—I heard he lost to Prince Thales in training?”
Mallos took a sip of maté tea. The bitterness made him feel alive. “I’m more inclined to call him ‘suave’.”
Vogel scoffed disdainfully. “Blunt and chipped blades can still regain their shine.
“But there is no cure for lost will.”
Mallos watched as Vogel threw Procca’s file aside and picked up another file.
“Defence Division, Jean Luca Kommodore.
“This one’s an opportunist. I heard that he didn’t even complete knight training, but instead started out as a police officer and employed various means to climb up to where he is now.
Vogel snorted and looked towards Mallos. “Beside Prince Thales.”
Mallos raised his eyebrows and pretended to not understand the sarcasm in Vogel’s words.
Will turned around to maintain the Sound Replication Spell and avoid the increasingly unpleasant topic.
At the same time, he cursed at himself, regretting why he decided to betray his soul for two gold coins and switch shifts with that old fox, Jayden.
“Why aren’t you speaking?” Vogel asked coldly, “Aren’t you very skilled in rebutting?”
“I’m taking in your advice, Lord Talon.” Mallos looked up. “And self-reflecting.”
Vogel growled in anger.
“Mike Jonveled, originally of the Discipline Division, but transferred by you to the Vanguard Division in the Star Lake Guards.” The vice-captain flashed the next file. “He received knight education in the Northern Territory. It’s no wonder that he’s a left-handed swordsman. The Northlanders must not have corrected him in his youth…
“But why did I hear that he had an affair with his young stepmother?”
Mallos sighed softly.
This he truly wasn’t aware.
He had underestimated the Flag Bearer Division.
Vogel turned to the next page, speaking faster, “And Nate Ness.
“Accomplished apprentice of Tower of Eradication, practitioner of the Flash sword style, the genius that was admitted by exception, and in time, part of the supreme class.”
The Chief Flagbearer looked up maliciously. “It’s just that he has a nickname. In fact, they are two joint nicknames.
“The King of Duels…” Vogel paused for a beat before maliciously uttering the second moniker, “The Sinkhole of Group Battles?”
Mallos frowned. “About that…”
But Vogel seemed to have found an attacking rhythm, and advanced mercilessly. “Ness is arrogant and selfish. He has no awareness of teamwork, and would even step on the heels of the person in front of him when marching in formation.
“These are the original words written in Marigo’s training report: ‘Although exceptionally talented, he is naturally not suited to teamwork. He is unable to partner and work together with others. Whether it is in a formation of the Age of the Empire or the contemporary Starlight Formation, if there is even one companion within two meters of him, his swordskills in which he prides himself are greatly diminished, to the extent that he attacks blindly regardless of friend or foe, affecting the entire battle and proving to be more of a hindrance than an aid.”
Mallos sighed inside.
Vogel put down the file and continued to sneer, “I can’t believe there’s someone in this world where ‘one plus one is less than two’.
“Reminds me of your predecessor, Lord Mallos.”
The watchman’s gaze froze.
Vogel glanced sideways at Mallos. “For one, when the enemy is against him, the fewer people, the better. For the other, when he is against the enemy, the fewer people, the better.
Vogel shook his head sarcastically. “Sure enough, all geniuses have something in common.”
‘And you, Vogel Demented Talon, you and your predecessor share something in common too.’
Mallos reminded himself to not retaliate sarcastically—perhaps it was because he had been living with an unsparing Jadestar boy, his desire in this aspect had flourished. It was not a good sign.
In the world of dead silence, Vogel’s shadow was growing and the flame was spread throughout his body.
Confident, greedy, fierce.
But also becoming hollower.
Next, Vogel shuffled through the files as if he was dealing cards. Will carefully collected the files that he had looked through.
“Penal officer, ‘Gardener’ Gray Patterson. To be honest, Falcondor should be grateful to you. He had intended to get rid of this deputy who was born into a Seven Jadestar Attendants family but cannot be simply meddled with for a very long time.
“Logistics officer Stone? You really know how to pick them. I hear he’s going to retire in a year?
“Defence Division, ‘Iron Tower’ Bastia, someone who can’t keep up with a rapid march…
“Defence Division, Tall Man Franzuke, a guy with phobias towards water and heights?
“Defence Division, gawky Ferri. I hear he suffers from manic syndrome.”
Mallos remained silent.
With a snort, Vogel went on, “Vanguard Division, Ghost Face Vladivostok. He’s such a social outcast that he has to sit on his own at lunch.
“Vanguard Division, ‘Poop’ Supa Langley. Well, just his nickname itself gives you some food for thought, doesn’t it?
“There is also ‘Bronze’ Jose Kostad, a foreigner, and a Child of Thorns.
“Rio Morgan. You presumptuously promoted him from the Jadestar Private Army when his staffing status was yet to be decided, and had him follow you to Western Desert to receive the prince…”
At the mention of this name, Vogel’s expression changed.
“But most importantly…
He raised the file. On it was the sketch of a menacing man with a face full of scars that would keep children awake at night.
“Morgan, a veteran who had previously murdered his superior in battle?”
Vogel slammed the table.
“Are you f*cking kidding me?”
Mallos glanced at the portrait of Rio Morgan on the file that did indeed resemble a murderer. He was calm and it was unclear what he was thinking.
“These are the ‘elite guards’ that you selected? For the heir of Constellation, the crown jewel of the kingdom, you selected this bunch of…”
The vice-captain ended through gritted teeth, “Defects?”