“How are the negotiations going, Gryphine?” The Nun Princess, Margaret asked in her long silver gown as she stepped down the horse carriage, waiting for quite some time in the carriage.
“It’s not going well. Arreck that sly fox was trying to get his hands on the Haruze. “ Gryphine blankly spoke. The weather was slightly chilly, and her servant draped a coat over her shoulders. She continued “I will never allow that to happen. I don’t think Master Fleetwood and Sir Makarov will agree to it as well. “
“Then what do we have to do?” The ever so soft Nun Princess asked with a concerning tone. “I heard that your brother had met up with Arreck.”
“That’s fine.” Gryphine was not in the slightest worried about this matter, “Arreck was just boasting. He knew we would not agree to the terms and is using this as a chance to figure out the limit in which we would offer.” At this point, the half elf teenage girl raised her head to look at the sky.
Despite nearing the year’s Revival month, the entire city was dull and inactive, like the falling snowflakes.
Gryphine sighed, “There’s still room to negotiate in this”
In Kirrlutz, the adventurers dominated the west of Aouine, and there was an inland sea near the south of the country. Moving west from Port Gris, one would enter the shining and pale blue waters. And if they continue north, they would enter one of the main channels that were headed for Ampere Seale.
It was sunny that day. A ship was traveling across the waters with high speed. It was moving not far away from the coast, and there were seagulls circling its three masts. On it, there were papyrus and crystal ornaments, allowing it to disguise as a merchant ship that came from the Rubik Nation from the south. That nation was located to the furthest south of the desert region, and was full of wonders. There was a merchant travel route from this country to the Nine Phoenix. However, due to the distance, Brendel had never ventured to that place.
Beneath his feet, the ship was known as “Faraway”. It was a new boat and was registered in the Ampere Seale to be a legal merchant ship. Carglise was only able to obtain the ship only because the Firbur Group had close ties with the merchants of Ampere Seale. It was a pretty fast boat, thus giving it the nickname “the best brat” by the native tongue.
The captain was around 30 years old. While he was a lot younger compared to the other captains, it was an indication of his superior ability to lead. The young captain was like a king, and did not bow down to any of the nobles. Brendel hated their influence as well, and this led them to become fast friends.
The captain was named James. Unlike other sailors, he kept his appearance clean. No matter if it was his beard or his outfit, he would pass as an ordinary civilian anywhere else. However, he did have an odd fashion sense, and liked to wear a large red overcoat and a boat-shaped hat with a sword on his waist as well as a smoking pipe on his lips. Brendel had heard many stories about drunken captains that were horrible at commanding a ship, but that impression was shattered upon seeing James.
However, the captain exuded an aura that was oddly similar to the militant. Disciplined and strict. Upon asking, Brendel found out that he was the descendant of some navy captain in the past. While the militant operations have now converted to a merchant business, the aura of a soldier stuck.
The two of them stood on the deck, slowly watching the waters turn to a purplish hue. They had been into the Shining Sea for one day now, and the mast’s shadow. Soon, they will reach the deep waters and by then, even the seagulls will disappear.
These were the normal sights for James. Albeit being only a young thirty years old, he had been on this route for the past twenty years. From a sailor to an officer, and then recently being promoted to the captain. And in terms of experience, there was no one on the ship who had it more than him! But Brendel was not surprised. He had much more of an exposure, and had probably seen even deeper waters. Even if he was put against the most experienced sailor, Brendel was sure that the young captain would have more to say about the sea myths!
The noble next to him, Amandina was staring blankly at the seas. As far as she could remember, she had always been living in the mountainous areas in the south of Aouine. She was unfazed by the first time she saw the sea at Port Gris, but that look was really different than what it was back then. She had read her father’s notes before, that the sea as seen from the waters was way more of a sight than seeing it from the shore. She had her doubts at first. But right now, she just realized how wrong she was last time.
Upon reaching the sea, one’s fate was placed in the arms of the sea, with a fickle mood that paid no mind to the sailors’ lives. And even in the best times, the waves looked terrifying. Even the strong and sturdy ship looked like a rowboat. Many seafarers were scared to weak knees when seeing the sea for the first time. Comparatively, Amandina was really brave.
Romaine who was jumping so enthusiastically at first was now dizzy with sea-sickness and was left to rest in her room. She was complaining so much about it that she scolded Brendel for bringing her upon this ‘pirate-ship’.
“But if you want to become a big merchant, you must have to suit yourselves in such waves. It is unheard of for a merchant to be sick in this situation.” Brendel coaxed her and she was left with the only option to bury her head beneath the pillows and cry.
“I think I’m beginning to understand my father, my lord.” Amandina was standing by the side of the ship, her head bent down to see the streaks of white left by the ship as it coursed through the blue waters. In reality, she was feeling sick, but upon seeing Brendel on the deck she thought to herself:
How can I back down when My Lord is here? How can I be weaker than him!
And so she gritted her teeth to stay on it.
“Yep?” Brendel looked back at the silent lady. Everyone’s impression of her was a young noble lady with a lot of knowledge, and was studious yet silent. But what they had not seen was a sight of her valor.
“Before when I had never been to see the outside world with My Lord, I had never expected it to be so beautiful. Although I have seen the sketches left by my father, they were really incomparable to the actual thing. If not because I’m looking at it right now, I will never expect myself to long for it so much.”
“...As I am here, looking at the skyline where the waters met the skies, I cannot help but want to see the end of this ocean, cannot help but wonder what lies there.” Amandina continued, her voice becoming rater soft and innocent. “I believe my father had the exact same thoughts as me.”
Brendel sensed rue in her words. She must be thinking about her dead parents and her relatives back in Grinoires.
How stupid am I? I still have my family here. Although I may not be the real Brendel, I should probably return someday. But, when…
Amandina was mourning for not having a home to return to; He, on the other hand, had a place to return to, but was unwilling to do so. [T/L: The irony.]
At that moment, he could not help but ask, “Do you blame him?”
She shook her head, “I don’t know. Despite being a noble, Mother rants sometimes too. But I believe I could understand her thoughts. Just because we’re noble, I had always expected myself to be more mature than those my age. And yet, the hatred still lies there.”
She sighed, a hint of melancholy in it, “Despite how beautiful it looks, can it compare to your own family? I had always admired my neighbors. Even with a family less wealthy than mine was, they felt much happier.”
Brendel was staring onto the side of her face, “Did your father know of your talent in creating Magicites?”
“He must have had his doubts. Although he was rarely home, he always brought me countless ancient scrolls. He may have cared for his daughter, but his methods seem a little...wrong.”
Brendel reached out for the grey rock in his pocket. Ever since he got the rock from the tomb, he felt that the object was part of something important.
“I agree. He may have cared for you, but his methods were indeed crude.” Brendel whispered softly.
Amandina looked up, her dark eyes laced with doubt as she looked at Brendel.
At this point, Carglise brought over an officer of the White-Mane Squad over. Although this was the young man’s first attempt at going on a boat, he was walking on the decks like that of the most experienced sailors. It was as if he had a talent for picking things up quickly-- even Captain James was shocked.
James was obviously shocked at Brendel’s maturity, making the latter to embarrassingly explain about having a couple of years of seafaring experience. But -“How old are you? Aren’t you’re experiences a little too much?” - was the reply he got.
And Brendel could only lie that he has seen some manuscripts about them. The experiences gained from the books were different from experiencing the actual thing, and that fact would have never escaped James’ eyes. It was just that the belongings of a wizard must be really mystical to a normal human being, plus Ciel was a really high leveled wizard, helping Brendel fabricate the lie perfectly.
But the soldier did not look good. Brendel had never seen the boy having such a pale face before. In the face of nature, it seems like even the bravest souls will perish.
“Your retainers are really superb. Despite all my years in Karsuk, I have never met such an outstanding militant before.” The captain suddenly turned and pointed to Carglise and the other officer, nodding with approval of their skills.
It was indeed true. Albeit shaking and shivering, their composure was excellent for someone who’s going out to the sea for the first time.
“They’re still far from deserving your praises.” Brendel shook his head. This time, most of the people he brought along were the future White-Mane soldiers. A total of 40 of them, they took up two-thirds of his troops. He had high expectations for them, and wished that with time and training, they will become the backbone that supports the Aouine.
Of course, the soldiers would not understand the motive of their Lord. But no one would doubt his decision. They were young and full of vigor. It was the time for them to bravely push forth and attempt to achieve the impossible.
“Thanks to you, captain. I brought quite a few men today, and include the goods as well as the food supplies it must have heavily burdened you. Brendel followed quickly.
The reason he brought over such a huge number of personnel this time was that he would be involved in some business affairs. Thus he would be required to bring Romaine along. But Brendel was worried about her methods, and brought along Amandina as insurance. She was once a noble and the one most familiar with the Aouine customs, plus she had a good brain, thus her existence would definitely be of help to Brendel.
After that was the Mercenaries of Lopes. Brendel had joked to Amandina about bringing Dia and Felarn to Ampere Seale once to gain some experience. Coincidentally this was a good chance for him to bring them there to do so. Plus, The Mercenaries had a lot of experience, and would not perish in battle, making them the perfect mentor for the White-Mane Squad.
Ciel came along too. As his aide and the facade as the highlander wizard, he had no choice but to go. Besides him, there was Ropar, Morpheus, Andrea, Medissa that followed. Brendel deemed his current plan to crash the wedding was one filled with dangers. He knew that there would be others who did not wish for the marriage to happen. But the Royal Faction and House Arreck must have prepared defensive measures to prevent an incursion, thus he could not rely on anyone besides himself.
Scarlet was also here and was like an extension of Brendel’s shadow. She did not speak much, ad she never left Brendel’s side. Although there should be no more repercussions of the Blood of God after consuming the Golden Apple and the Dragon Bloodline, it seemed that she could not leave his side for the moment. Brendel had said that once she had fully recovered, she could roam freely on her own, but it seemed like she was being so mute that he did not receive a reply.
The most unexpected guest he brought along was Mephisto. After receiving news of Brendel's plan, he actually appeared on it without notifying anyone. He then explained that he was there to ensure his contractee and his student’s life in Ampere Seale. But even if he said he was there to sightsee Ampere Seale, Brendel was certain no one would say anything about it.
Nobody dared to offend him due to his strength after all.
Brendel also requested Kodan to come along, but the latter said that he was not going to participate in any events that were conspicuous. The old knight was still employed by Count Randner, after all.
Most of the youth's current summons were sent back to the library, including the Fireclaw Lancers, Wind Spirit Spiders, Fire Dijinn, and Pristine Archangels. Even so, his men had completely filled the ship. A typical merchant ship would only require the necessary amount of sailors, and it was unlike a military vessel that was filled with naval soldiers; Faraway had enough manpower to qualify as the latter--- minus the cannons.
"But thanks to your help, Captain James, I'm able to bring more men along with me. With the increase of food and water necessary to feed them, you're forced to carry fewer goods." Brendel apologized.
"You're being too serious, Lord Brendel, it's a business transaction after all." Captain James smiled in response. Trentheim did not have any specialty goods at the moment, but Brendel promised to secure a trade route for him, though he did not put too much weight on the youth's words.
To them the merchants, it did not matter if they were dealing business with the bandits or the rebels. As long as the other party was honorable to their words, they would always welcome them. Plus the impression James had on Brendel was really good. Others may have given him bad remarks, but he could see that Brendel was a courteous noble. Although his methods of handling things may be a little peculiar, he had really attracted the attention of the captain.
James was also full of praise for Brendel's subordinates. He had seen private armies from various factions and nobles, and the quality of Brendel's men were as good as the men working directly for the kingdom, perhaps even surpassing them. There was some kind of trust or belief in Brendel that rivaled the royal knights' sworn oaths.
The longer he took to observe Brendel and his men, the more curious he became. In his eyes, Brendel probably had an identity that was more complicated than a simple noble as he claimed.
Perhaps we could have a better business deal in the future.
The captain of Faraway knocked out the ashes from his pipe, as Carglise and the accompanying officer came by Brendel’s side.