Ampere Seale was Aouine’s busiest harbor. From the moment the first light of dawn hits the city, until the moon’s reflection shone on the waves, the harbor was always busy. Merchants and harbor workers were ceaselessly working, which allowed the massive harbor to be as rich as it was. It was only when the storms avoided the Shining Sea did this golden route calm down momentarily, allowing its citizens a short reprieve.
Archbishop Wood, wearing a white robe with red lining adorning his body, stood under the Marble Lighthouse. This man of stature had been sent over by the Holy Cathedral to become the Archbishop of the Ampere Seale parish. At the same time, he was also the spiritual leader of Aouine’s Holy Cathedral of Flames. If one managed to hold this position for fifteen years, then he would have the qualifications to become one of the cores of the Holy Cathedral, the eleven Archbishop. When that time comes, even becoming the Pope of the Holy Cathedral would be merely one step away.
Most people couldn’t understand why he would aim higher as his status and position were the dreams of many. Wood’s cheeks were sunken, the skin hanging loosely off his bones. Even though he had yet to reach 80 years of age, he seemed as if he had been weathered by the passages of time. However, his sunken sockets held eyes that burned with youth so majestic that the citizens would part before his very presence. His lips were pursed, exuding an air of calmness about him, yet his heart contained just as much turmoil as all the other tribe members of Aouine.
“The Lion Beastmen are getting ready to attack, it must have gotten the Holy Cathedral of Earth’s support.” Wood stood on top of the hill and looked down into the harbor, where vessels big and small drifted in and out, leaving trails of foam in the azure bay. The scene before him left him breathless. “Aouine is the vanguard of the war against the Holy Cathedral of Earth, we must not allow it to drag out, which leaves us with very little time.
Icahn nodded in agreement. Both of them had been partners for many years. Despite neither of them hailing from Aouine, their loyalty towards the old king held no bounds. “Even if the Lion Beastmen have already made preparations to attack, they will still wait until next year before it gets serious, especially since this Spring’s harvest has yet to commence. The Holy Cathedral of Earth can’t make their move so easily.”
Wood glanced at his partner.
“Do you know the history of this Marble Lighthouse, Icahn?”
Icahn stared at the lighthouse beside him that was the symbol of Ampere Seale. “When King Erik founded this harbor, Ampere Seale was not the massive trading port it is today. This lighthouse once lit the way for King Erik and his naval troops against the forces of Holy Cathedral on the sea. The Marble Lighthouse has always been the symbol of Aouine, the symbol of the defense against the forces of darkness.
“Unfortunately, tragedy befell when the lighthouse was destroyed in a fire about 50 years ago, and so did its historical value. The new lighthouse was built in place, but it can never replace the original.” Icahn understood the meaning behind his partner’s words. He admired the king and the princess because they were willing to defend their honor, but the past is in the past. Wood was reminding him to look at the situation from a fair and just perspective.
“The king is the same. No matter what he did in the past, the honor he had fought so hard to defend has been thrown away by his descendants, all that is left is a husk. Isn’t it better to be given a new meaning, just as the lighthouse had been? Only then can it regain its value.”
“I understand, Archbishop,” Icahn replied humbly.
Wood nodded his head. The Cathedral had always been a just dominion, they would not interfere with the inner workings of a country on a whim. If they did, they would lose all the authority they commanded. Wood and his assistant had worked together for many years, they both admired the opponent’s sense of honor and justice. Now that the situation was as such, he would definitely not allow his assistant to interfere with Aouine’s government and favor the princess.
Wood could not help looking towards the city. Ampere Seale was one of the largest cities in the south, the expanse of rooftops extended from the harbor to all the way to the horizon, the tallest structure was undoubtedly the temple of Holy Cathedral of Flame, shrouded in mist, causing it to flicker in and out of sight. He could not help thinking of Magadal’s warning, shaking his head to rid himself of the ominous feeling.
It’s impossible. No matter what the Holy Cathedral will not favor any parties, the Archbishop can’t be that desperate.
At that moment, the bell of the Marble Lighthouse tolled once more. The brass bell’s sound made the ground tremble, pebbles were jumping on the ground. The sound traveled tens of miles out, even half of the city could hear it clearly. The bell signified the arrival of a ship. Wood and Icahn raised their heads to see a ship with three massive sails hanging from its masts.
“It’s the ship from Rubik.” Icahn immediately recognized the ship’s flag.
“The storm season is upon us again, the route south will no longer be accessible. This should be the last ship from Rubik for the month. Any later and their bones would lay at the bottom of the sea.” Wood could only sigh.
“The world is being blinded by gold. Wealth is good to have, but it will never be as valuable as life itself.” Icahn too shook his head.
This time, Archbishop Wood did not agree with him, and instead replying with a famous quote, “Without money, how can life flourish?”
While the two men were discussing worldly matters on the hill, things were not progressing smoothly in Ampere Seale’s harbor office. All of the officials who were already busy enough on normal days were now being worked to the bone.
Qinoan Oparis was the heir of a medium-class noble family who managed to obtain the seat of the vice-manager of the harbor through his father’s connections. However, within a week, one piece of news nearly made him throw down his hat and run out the door.
“What did you say? Palin, you bastard, did I not tell you yesterday if you are caught fooling around again I’d kick you out? I don’t care who your father is! Do you think I’m an idiot?!”
“But it’s true!” on the other end of the Transmission Crystal was Qinoan’s good friend. Both of them had grown up together as if they were brothers. As they got older, he started to get involved in illicit activities. There wasn’t a crime at the harbor that had yet to be committed by him. However, Qinoan still kept him around due to their brotherhood wrought in iron. But at that moment, the youngster who always carried himself with swagger seemed as if he had gotten a huge fright, crying out, “Brother, I swear in Marsha’s name, I’m not lying! I actually saw a Demon Whale! Unless that self-proclaimed female pirate was lying to me, then that creature I saw was exactly the same as the tattoo on her butt… No, that thing in the sea is much scarier…”
“Shut up! Don’t mention that woman!” Qinoan dropped the noble act. Of course, their generation did not actually care much for etiquette and such, especially the ones of Ampere Seale who grew up around rascals and scallywags. He viciously grabbed Palin’s collar, but after hearing Marsha’s name, his heart wavered slightly.
There is a Demon Whale who is going to attack the harbor? Qinoan felt extremely helpless.
Am I living in some fantasy world? He wrought his brain for any way to get out of this mess, but in the end, all he could think of was to run away.
Unfortunately, he knew that his father would hunt him down if he abandoned his post. Qinoan, just like his best friend Palin, was a lawless person who feared none, but in the face of his father he was but a child. He shuddered at the memory of his father’s rage. Brother, it is here that we part ways, take care! However, what came out of his mouth instead was, “Wait right there, I’m coming right now!”
The soldiers stationed at the harbor were hectic. Somewhere out in the sea, a certain someone was looking at Ampere Seale, a feeling of futility in his heart.
“Ampere Seale has a population of 310 thousand people, there is a system of magic that maintains the city’s operations. Rare magic in other parts of Aouine can be found here in abundance. Merchants would often hire mages to do their bidding, and so some of these mages have been here for decades. They have even formed an association for mages, known as 'The Eye of Ampere'.
“Not only do these mages ensure the city’s daily operations, but they also protect the peace within these walls, including a massive array at the city center that protects against aerial attacks.”
Brendel stood at the stern, stopping his speech before letting out a sigh. He turned around, searching with his helpless gaze, finally spotting the Demon Whale, the legendary beast, king of sea monsters. As intimidating as its titles sounded, the gargantuan beast was like a playful child, waving its tail at the ship before sinking beneath the waves.
“My old man used to say that a Demon Whale’s intelligence was no lesser than an adult human’s. Well, it certainly does seem so,” Captain James chuckled.
Amandina, curious as ever, looked questioningly towards Brendel. “My Lord, what exactly did you give those Nagas? They looked at you as if you were their king. They even had the Demon Whale accompany us into the harbor. How are we supposed to hide our identities now?”
“But I heard that the leader of the Nagas was a female…” After a week of grueling training, Romaine could finally stand on the deck. Brendel shuddered to think of what she was implicating.
Brendel broke out in cold sweat. He too did not expect the Nagas to be so “welcoming”. But being able to let the Demon Whale follow them to the harbor, other than Sani, there weren’t a lot of people who could come up with such an idea.
He cleared his throat and replied uncertainly, “I guess we’ll just see how it goes. It’s not like the people in the harbor know that it is following us, we should be fine if we keep silent.”
Brendel looked towards the young captain who merely shrugged his shoulders. “If My Lord doesn’t want to be known, of course I’ll keep my mouth shut. You can rest easy knowing that my men won’t let out a single word.” He continued exasperatedly, “To be honest, right now they have much more respect for you than they have towards me. Even if I don’t tell them to shut up, they’d never tell on you.” Just as he had just said, Brendel’s Holy Water had taken effect, and now the entire crew looked up to Brendel like a mentor, an elder to be respected.