As the gargantuan Demon Whale sank beneath the waves, the soldiers of Ampere Seale nearly exploded with joy. As Faraway docked, Brendel and the rest were not questioned as Lord Qinoan was too busy wondering how he should embellish the report with his glorious deeds, chasing the legendary sea monster off. Thankfully there were other vessels entering the harbour too, so no one could have imagined that the Demon Whale was accompanying Faraway until the felucca entered the harbour safely.
Faraway docked at pier number 14. Brendel immediately noticed Sue, who had come to receive him. She had travelled to Ampere Seale earlier under her father’s orders. The almond-skinned girl who now wore her hair in a twisted braid was managing Trentheim’s trading with the rest of the world, so she held a tremendous amount of power. She displayed her dedication to her task in Braggs, so Brendel had a lot of faith in her, entrusting important tasks to be completed by her. Now, Sue controlled nearly the whole of Trentheim’s foreign income, yet she was still wearing the same checkered skirt as before.
Sue was slightly dumbfounded. She had been informed of the past year’s happenings through her father’s letters. However, being able to see Brendel in person still left her in awe.
A familiar face in an unfamiliar place. He mused to himself as the side of his mouth curled upwards.
The young lady wore a stony expression, but she did not forget the relationship between them. She had heard that Brendel had found a few more females to accompany him, thus she decided that she would never let Freya lie in the hands of such a womanizer. The only reason she was willing to work for him was because of her father.
“Sue!” Romaine skipped towards the young lady and grasped her hand. “Thank you for the past few months! How have you been? I heard from Uncle Leto that you’ve been working late recently.” Romaine was now in charge of Trentheim’s trading and finances, so in a way Sue was one of her underlings. Even though Romaine did not act like her superior, Sue could not get rid of the feeling that the gap between their statuses was too large.
The teen stared at Brendel for a moment longer, before nodding her head slightly. “Miss Romaine,” she greeted.
“Oh, don’t be like that! Are you trying to hide something from me? You know that I’ll sniff it out!”
Sue struggled to maintain her serious demeanor duwe to Romaine’s behaviour. “Is my father still well?”
“He is doing well,” Brendel found an opening to say something. “It is as you have received from the letter. The territorial conflict has been resolved, and the war is over. I am saddened to have known this, but your father has given up his post to become a farmer. He has done a lot for Mirtai, but did he really have to throw away his years of training only to pick up a hoe?” Brendel sighed dramatically.
“He has worked on a farm before,” Sue replied。
“Good, then he’s returning to his roots,” Brendel replied playfully.
The corner of Sue’s lips quirked upwards into a small smile. However, she disliked Brendel’s tone, glaring at him while asking rigidly, “So what does My Lord plan to do now?”
“Rest, of course.” After being out at sea for so long, Brendel felt that he needed more time to find his land legs once more. If that was how he felt, then others were having it worse. The youngsters of White Lion Legion were still doing well on the ship, but once their feet touched the ground, all of them hurled their stomachs out over the pier. Romaine was also slightly wobbly, but she did not seem to be affected otherwise.
“I have already arranged your lodgings at the Bauhinia Inn. My Lord has certainly brought more people than I expected, so I rented the apartment opposite so that you don’t draw too much attention. I had also bought a farmhouse for emergency purposes…” Sue looked at him and replied.
Brendel was mildly impressed. He had no idea that this girl was so capable. Initially, he noticed only her honesty and reliability when completing tasks. He did not anticipate that she would predict he would have been tangled up in some trouble and have several hideouts prepared beforehand.
“Then let us leave at once.” Brendel felt relieved that such a capable person was working for him. “Is there a carriage?”
Sue nodded her head.
There was not a carriage, instead there were ten. Brendel let his underlings ride the carriages first. It was not his first time in Ampere Seale, and he knew that the young ones from Trentheim must have been excited to see the Aouine’s largest and busiest city for the first time.
The carriages veered out of the harbor into the city’s gates, onto a wet, slimy road that smelt of fish. The buildings lining the road were all for trading, from pelts to herbs, jewels to metals, goods from all over the world could be found on this street, along with the merchants who peddled their wares. These people hailed from the north, the south, and even from foreign countries. Amandina even saw merchants from Nine Phoenix. The carriage riders were shocked by the diversity within the walls.
The trading centers were tall and majestic, as intended by their owners to flaunt their wealth and authority. Amandina and Romaine could not stop marveling the magnificent establishments before their eyes. “Wow! Even the city hall of Braggs can barely compare with these buildings!”
Brendel completely agreed with Amandina. The fourteenth bishop of the Holy Cathedral in Ampere Seale had once said, “This is the land of golden opportunities.” He had perfectly described the glorious city, but at the same time many have come seeking their fortune, only to end up buried in a mountain of crippling debt. People often look at the attractive aspect of something, yet do not realize that every opportunity has its own risks too.
The carriage passed by the second city gate. It was a magnificent fortress. When Brendel first came here, he could not afford the luxury of a carriage. He could vividly remember the bewilderment of having to traverse through the fortress.
This was the entrance to Ampere Seale. Ampere Seale’s geography made it the perfect location for a trading port, and King Erik had fortified it into an extremely sturdy naval fortress. The city rested between the valley of two mountains, any attacks on land would prove to be fruitless. Any attacks launched would have to be conducted on the sea, which was why the fortress protecting the entrance was exceptionally strong. It had a watchtower that permitted a view of up to ten nautical miles, allowing enemy ships to be spotted long before they could reach the harbor. The fortress was already massive, but it became even more so after its second restoration. The Holy Cathedral had built a statue of the Flame King, thus the temple looked as if it could reach touch the sky.
Past the fortress was Ampere Seale’s well-known Plaza Avenue. Here, lavish hotels gathered like clouds, as well as luxurious lodgings where merchants and visitors would live year-round. The locals called this place the “Golden Plaza”. Even though it was only a small part of a big city, it was the most decadent place in Ampere Seale.
Brendel felt nostalgic as he looked at the detailed statues and the diverse botany. The last time he came, it was the Flower Festival, so it was much more crowded back then. Now, he took the opportunity to take a good look at the view that he had missed the last time.
“It’s so pretty.” Romaine leaned against the carriage door, resting her chin on the windowsill.
“Valhalla will be even prettier in the future,” Brendel commented.
“Really?” Romaine turned her head around. The little lady was too lazy to move her body, instead pivoting her head on her chin. Her eyes pointed diagonally towards Brendel as she could not turn her head completely. Cute. Brendel thought.
Brendel answered with confidence. He had already seen the World Tree in the Loop of Winds, so he had the utmost confidence in his territory’s future. Furthermore, it was his city after all, how could it possibly be bad? While they were still chatting, the carriage halted unexpectedly, and a few guards appeared outside.
Brendel was startled. He thought that the soldiers had come to apprehend him. Sue shook her head, signaling for him to calm down.
“What’s going on?”
“Nothing much. The Holy Cathedral caught wind that the Lion Beastmen of the north have started to make their move, so the guards are being more strict. Ampere Seale is full of people from foreign lands, so they are trying to weed out any spies who have infiltrated Aouine as merchants,” Sue said plainly.
Only then did Brendel remember that this was the situation here. Ever since the War of the Black Roses, the Lion Beastmen have been restless. However, there were some problems between the tribes of the Great Plains, so they only invaded Aouine in the second year after the civil unrest in Aouine. At the time, Aouine had yet to recover from its internal fighting, but the princess who was proclaimed the regent managed to stabilize the government, and the players joined in the war soon after. That war was what led to Her Highness’s prestigious reputation.
However, it was still early as there was still another year to go. Brendel breathed out a sigh of relief, only to ask hurriedly, “How goes the meeting of the nobles?”
“As I was not involved in the meeting, I am not too sure myself. But some say that negotiations have fallen through, and the next meeting would be next week.” Sue glanced at Brendel. “However, there has been progress with the talks between Her Highness and Duke Arreck. The ministers have already met with the duke’s envoys three times, but there has yet to be news of an alliance. Now that the noble families of the north and south have gathered here, I suspect that the next time they will meet will be after the meeting of the nobles.”
Brendel nodded, thinking that the situation was going as he had expected. The current timeline was aligning well with history, so he still had some time. But as he looked at Sue, he was still slightly alarmed. The little barmaid in the castle had already grown up so fast and had become a fantastic talent. If anyone were to look at Sue now, none of them would think that she was that young girl from before.
Brendel went silent for a few moments before asking, “Is it possible for me to attend the nobles’ meeting?”
“Impossible.” The teen shook her head.