Normally, Ampere Seale will enter its busiest period of the year during March. However, the northern glaciers began to thaw early on in February, allowing the merchants to ferry goods from the south to Covardo and Seifer that just recovered from its long winter. There were leather, amber, and tobacco from the Radner region and nuts and timber from the Grinoires region. But what about Trentheim? Trentheim did not have any specialty products, and to the merchants, who only cared about profits, would not bother to care about the poor like them.
Some even thought there were only bandits there.
But rumor has it that there were ships that delivered food supplies there previous winter. Everyone who heard about it was shocked. Where did this bunch of village losers get the money to pay for those goods?Of course, not many people knew that one of the three silver mines was in Aouine. But even if that was the case, it belonged to the Count, and the masses in Trentheim did not have any share of the money.
However, before the news was authenticated, rumors about the southern rebels and the war came to reach their ears. Besides bandits, they even have a rebel army now! Seem like Trentheim is still the unruly place it is known to be, with only aggressive citizens in there.
Albeit so, the nobles only cared about entertainment, spices, riches that came in from the trade channels. They did not bother its origins and left all the work to the merchants. However, with the raging battle going on right now, and the civil unrest within Aouine, plus the merchants’ fear, it was no doubt that the economy was disrupted and the nobles could not enjoy the luxury this time around.
However, The region from Etolin to Ampere Seale was the heart of economic activity, where the free trade there is enforced by the Holy Cathedral. That itself meant that the exchange of currency and goods were still high in activity at the time.
In Omitos, near the near outpost along the road to Ampere Seale, within the hugs of the mountain ranges and conifer trees that were just thawed off their ice The glaciers from Anlek began to melt, forming streams that flowed between the forest. A team of riders was marching in between the trees, alerting the birds and causing them to fly away, leaving only some of their feathers behind.
Maynild was leading her team to survey the area. The first batch of officially trained officers from the Royal Academy who could finally able to hold their own ground independently now. Behind Maynild was Freya, the mild girl who still had the innocent look was now donning a full armor that may have been part of the reason she started to gain the air of a militant. She still had the scar on her forehead that she got from the previous tournament, though it had mostly faded off.
The Lionheart sword was strapped firmly to her waist. The Princess had ordered her not to pull out her sword unless it was an emergency. Thus she also carried another steel sword. It was a little comical for a female knight to have two heavy, longswords hung around her, but she did not see it as a problem. To a soldier, a sword was like a treasure. And if possible, she would want to have more of them as they provided her a sense of security.
It was the same as a poor person finding every chance he could to save money. But even so, she had the common sense to realize that it was laughable to carry that many swords.
All the recruits in the academy were given a new sword each month. Maybe because the training that they receive was too tiring, there were only a few who bothered to maintain their swords. Most would use a new sword each year. On another hand, Freya would carefully polish her sword each time she got a new one. With all that effort, she managed to stock up six swords in her chest.
This act made her the joke of her academy.
Maynild immediately sought her out to scold her. But in response, Freya was shocked and honestly admitted that he wanted to hand these swords to the Bucce militia when she returned so they have a better chance of defending their homeland.
Maynild only answered with silence. In the end, she let her go without saying anything, allowing Freya to continue her seemingly ridiculous conduct. During that period of time, Freya became really infamous, and word of her actions even reached Princess Gryphine’s ears. But after she was acknowledged by the Lionheart Sword, no one dared make fun of her anymore.
Freya was really nervous that morning. At any rate, it was her first time executing a mission that far away from school ground. Despite having battled alongside Brendel, she could not help but shiver each time she thought that a weak individual like her is tasked with the big responsibility to guard the Princess. The future battle goddess was so jumpy that she suspected an enemy to be lurking in every slight movement from her surroundings.
By her side, Maynild was really focused as well. But unlike Freya, she was collected and astute, her piercing gaze seemed to traverse in the forest like an arrow and noticed something amiss.
She took a glance at Freya, and then one more time, and she finally could not hold back, “Freya, what are you doing?"
“Ah! Ah!” The young girl came back to her senses and swiftly replied, “Yes! I’m here.”
"Is there a need to be that tense?!" Maynild snapped.
“I… I…” Her voice shuddered.
The riders snickered, and even Bennett was shaking his head in laughter. He was someone who escaped Bucce alongside Brendel and Freya. Although they may not have gone out through the same route, they had carved out a bloody path to escape that place. Initially, he had an interest in Freya, but upon the realization that she was not into him, the two became comrades from training rather than lovers.
And even his antagonistic feeling towards Brendel had lightened.
He finds himself more mature now, and his competitive behavior from the past seemed so childlike to him. His reckless self is gone too, and replaced with it a sense of duty to protect the kingdom’s fate.
Many of the youths around him had the same thought.
As they laughed, even Maynild could not suppress the smile she was holding back. Her expression softened, and she thought, Why does Freya always look so scared each time I talk to her? It’s like thinks I’ll eat her up.
She shook her head, "Freya, you're a soldier now. You need to stay composed and collected on missions, and this is just a routine patrol. If an actual fight were to break out now, do you even have the chance to be so nervous and tense that you can’t even walk?”
A wave of laughter rang from amongst the group.
“If that were to indeed happen, I won’t be that nervous.” Freya nodded, but her guts were telling her otherwise.
Unexpectedly, Maynild seemed to see through her and announced, "Right, Bennett and you, unlike the others, have had an experience in a real battle. There’s nothing much to worry about anyway. Her highness is in safe hands. This is part of the Holy Cathedral’s land and no one would dare cause a stir here.”
“Then why do we have to come out and patrol around here every day?” A rider interrupted curiously.
“It’s to maintain the awareness of the soldiers. If the soldiers cannot detect the presence of danger, then our Kingdom will be in deep trouble.” Maynild turned towards the soldier and answered coldly.
The entire group fell silent, as if in their deep thought, they realized something.
Princess Gryphine POV
She looked back, at the forest that stretched out far beyond. There was no battle here, but another battle had just begun.
Behind the trees, in a remote valley near Viscount Landin's manor, Magadal used his connections within the Holy Cathedral to get the people from the Royal Faction here.
They welcomed the generous hospitality that they were given by the owner of the place. This place was far away from the bustling cities and, despite being relatively close to Ampere Seale, they look as if they came from both worlds. The Nun Princess knew that this sort of environment suited the preference of her best friend, and it was the perfect place for her to rest as well.
Princess Gryphine indeed needed a break. She was on the second floor of the mansion when she was quietly stared at Duke Arreck’s carriage pass through the giant gates, slowly moving through the yard in the arms of the trees. It was the first time the two parties had held a meeting to discuss the kingdom's fate direction in the future. But realistically put it, she did not have the power to decide it or, as it would seem, she simply did not have a choice to change it.
She bent down her head and let her pale white hair slide past her ears and down the sides of her cheeks. She was still a young kid, and she still had the fine fluffy hair any youngster would have. Yet on her shoulders, there laid a responsibility so heavy that no one could possibly imagine.
She took out an envelope from within her coat, read it once more before sticking it back into her outerwear.
I don’t know what you’re fighting against. But it is because of people like you who’re still fighting for Aouine that I am filled with strength and confidence, Sir Knight.”
Duke Arreck’s envoy is running late. Their arrogance had made her realize just how weak her influence was. But being angry would not change a thing, and wishes would not matter as well in this era. I have to sacrifice some things in order to reach my objectives.
She turned and ordered her maid, “Tell Duke Arreck I won’t be seeing anyone today.”
The maid began to panic. In her eyes, Princess Gryphine was never someone who acted based on impulse. She may not know much about the politics of the adult world, she must know that her current actions would at least anger some people…
She carefully warned, "Grandmaster Fleetwood, Sir Makarov, and the others..."
But Gryphine just eyed her coldly. In her irises, there was not a hint of impulsiveness or displeasure, just calm and composure.
"Is it up to Duke Arreck’s messenger to decide the time for the meeting? Can he simply decide to come late? Is he looking down on my authority? I don’t mind meeting up with him, but if he were to go on with such an attitude, this meeting will not be held! Pass on the exact same words as I just said to Sir Makarov. From this day onwards, I will not meet Duke Arreck within a week!” She paused before continuing, “We’ll meet in a week’s time. At Ampere Seale.”
As her sentence ended, the scent of adolescence seemed to have long faded away from herself. She had fully morphed into the princess that will guide Aouine onto its right path, the one princess that no player of The Amber Sword would forget to be Aouine’s sole leader.
The fate of the Kingdom seemed to be going on the right path once more.