The level-one Ritter, Xif, served Margrave Shia’s family, whose fate was intertwined with the royal family; they’d fall and rise mutually. Hence, staying behind was perfectly reasonable. On the other hand, Margrave De Sandro had probably opted out of the planar war due to old age. Even a powerful level-two Erdritter wouldn't be able to change the dismal expectations of casualty of a planar war; it was so deadly that every deployed knight would leave their wills to the Hall of Knights before departure.
Romm and the Faustian king continued to talk until midnight. While Romm’s physique was powerful enough to allow him to last a month without food, the Faustian king was prone to fall ill without sufficient sleep. It was only under the insistence of Queen Kent that the king finally made a move for his bedroom. This gorgeous woman looked young enough to be the king’s daughter. Ever since she was married into the kingdom, her thirst for power was never quenched. It was especially intense during her earlier years; when Queen Kent had a constant hand dipped in the kingdom’s military, political and business affairs. However, her little encroachments had been put to a stop by the king after she attempted to harm Angelina. The king hadn’t fallen for her tricks, proving himself to be the true apex ruler of the kingdom. If not for the fact she was Kenzir's biological mother, the king would’ve permitted Kenzir to kill her with poison long ago.
Just a few years earlier, after Princess Angelina had left Faustian, the prince had threatened the queen consort with a glass of poisoned wine. Perhaps the incident had left her quite terrified, causing her to mellow down in recent years. The extent of her current machinations never ventured beyond the king's tolerance.
“Your Majesty, I wish you wouldn’t deal with official duties this late at night again.” Queen Kent stripped off the king’s luxurious robe and brought him to bed like a virtuous wife.
King Faustian huffed. As much as he didn't want to accept it,he was growing old. Exhausted by a whole day of duties, the king wasn’t too keen on talking to his wife. Queen Kent had been looking after him well in recent years, hoping to keep him alive as long as possible. She feared that Prince Kenzir would kill her immediately if he was gone. The four legions of Faustian had fallen under the command of the prince after the Shalorian War, so it was obvious that he was next in line for the throne.
As she kept on nagging, the king laid down. It felt as if his body was running out of time. Yet, he’d love to leave behind a complete kingdom to Kenzir; that way he’d leave behind no regrets as a member of the Faustian royal family. I wonder how Angelina is faring, he thought as he slowly drifted to sleep. He missed her dearly, letting their wonderful memories together lull him to slumber.
Apart from the king, the head of all kingdoms across Missia was in for a restless night. As the Hall of Knight’s recruitment was abrupt and of great urgency, the kingdom’s governance could be jeopardized as high-rank Knechts were akin to the pillars of a country and most of them were inclined to answer the call. The absence of a strong military was bound to set off a series of political crises. The outcome was difficult to gauge, and the leaders were left to fret about their impending doom. However, the absence of level-one Ritters wouldn’t bring as much impact to a kingdom in comparison since they were few and far in between to begin with.
The Sanctum and the Hall of Knights had ruled that lifeforms level one and above were forbidden from attacking normal people or initiating conflict. Hence, the level-one lifeforms were typically detached from worldly conflicts, having spent most of their time tending to matters behind shadows.
The Sanctum had predicted the total numbers of deployed high-rank Knechts to be one hundred fifty-four thousand and six hundred; a number more accurate than the Hall of Knight’s own estimation. Around fifteen thousand level-one Ritters were expected along with seven hundred level-two Ritters.
Outside the Hall of Knights' branch in Princeton...
“A deployment?” Locke stared at Xith confusedly.
“Yeah, though I’m not sure what the assignment is going to be.” Leaning the back of his chair against a rock pillar, Xith’s expression was bitter. The deployment was mandatory and had higher priority over the mandatory mission issued once every five years. As a member of the hall, there was no escape for Xith.
“Did everyone receive it too?” Locke had seen many with the notice in the past two days.
“Yeah.” Xith continued, “Yours should be coming soon. You’re a newbie so you’re probably getting it later.”
“I see.” There were roughly eight thousand high-rank Knechts affiliated with the Princeton branch. The branch’s gates had almost broken due to the sheer number of people travelling in and out. Many knights had shown up in the last few days to answer the call. This was Locke’s first time seeing so many knights of his rank; there were only a few dozen of high-rank Knechts in the academy.
Soon, a long winding queue was formed outside the spacious Hall of Knights. Most high-rank Knechts seemed to be middle aged, with many looking around the same age as Wyr. Xith had requested Locke to come help with the registration process. Their main task today was to man the registration counter that was expected to be busier once more information on the mission was released.
“Had there been any similar mandatory deployments in the past?” Locke asked out of curiosity.
“I’ve been a member for the last seven years and this is the first,” answered Xith solemnly. Even those who had joined the Hall of Knights for decades were equally clueless. It seemed as though high-rank Knechts in touch with Ritters or stronger quasi-Ritters were the only ones with a gist of the situation.
“Even if the sky falls, we’ll be safe here. With so many high-rank Knechts gathered in this place, there’s virtually nothing to worry about.” Xith shrugged casually. An army of eight thousand high-rank Knechts could seize ten kingdoms, let alone complete a single mission.
“That’s true,” Locke agreed. Though he may be a high-rank Knecht, he was just a nobody in the eyes of Ritters and beyond. Sadly, unbeknownst to Locke and everyone else, the mission wasn’t something so simple. The deployment of eight thousand high-rank Knechts was nowhere near sufficient as it was a conquest that called for almost all powerful beings on the continent. By the time Locke would finally learn about it, he’d be left traumatized for a very long time.