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Brendel, Amandina, and Magadal were led into a suite on the third floor of the auction house. The room had a balcony, allowing a good view of the entire place. Brendel was quite satisfied with the room, but Amandina on the other hand, was severely underwhelmed. She’d heard of rumors of the grandiose auction house of Ampere Seale. She thought its appearance would be comparable to the grand structures of Braggs, but she was met with disappointment as she looked at the plain building.
The walls around her looked to be made of plain dull wood. The curtains hanging off the ceiling did not impress in either color or texture. As for the chair she was sitting on, the craftsmanship seemed mediocre, however she did feel strangely comfortable on it.
Little did she know that the walls were made of Black Ironwood, an expensive material used in crafting staves. The curtains were weaved from fabric imported from the Sand Nation in the south, and were considered to be a priceless treasure. The cushion of her seat was made of camel fur, a single one would cost a normal person’s life savings. A noble’s lifestyle was truly one of extravagance that’s incomprehensible to most.
Even though technically, Amandina was also a noble, her family had long since lost their power and wealth. This luxurious lifestyle was something they could only dream about.
A silencing spell had been cast over the balcony, rendering their voices undetectable to anyone outside the area of effect. There was also a barrier that prevented anyone outside from looking into the balcony. The auction house had done a great job at protecting their identities, but Brendel cast his own silencing spell just in case. This type of spell was nothing to an Elementalist who had surpassed level twenty, but Magadal was impressed nonetheless at Brendel’s lack of need for any tools to help him.
“He even knows magic. Not to mention he’s already a Gold Rank Swordsman., how did Mr. Brendel achieve such power while being so young? Is the gap between a normal person and a genius this wide?” Princess Magadal raised her eyebrow in surprise. She had thought that her close friend, Princess Gryphine was a generational talent herself, but that talent seemed dull in comparison to Brendel. And this was without her knowing that Brendel only took slightly more than a year to reach Gold Rank, or else she would have suspected that Brendel was actually a member of the dragon race.
There were talks around town saying that Brendel was the most outstanding talent in the past century. However, this rising star had a rather close relationship with the princess, prompting many to start worrying about his motives. Magadal, on the other hand, was glad that her friend had someone like Brendel supporting her.
“Okay, it’s safe to talk now. Just what is going on with the Holy Cathedral, Princess? Correct me if I’m wrong, but Archbishop Wood supports the motion that Aouine should remain as it is. Are his words not enough to sway the opinions of the leaders of the Holy Cathedral of Fire? I know that there are more archbishops, especially in a city like Ampere Seale, but there can’t be that many. So why did the Holy Cathedral deviate from their original plan?” Brendel asked once he finished his spell.
Magadal replied, “Moros must have come back with a letter. Originally, Archbishop Wood was only supposed to hand over his position to Moros one month later, but Moros had arrived early with his letter. Once Wood looked at the letter, he has not appeared outside ever since. There was also an order preventing us from leaving the cathedral, but I managed to avoid the guards and met up with you, Mr. Brendel.”
“Wood isn’t the kind of person who is easily swayed by emotions, but he is a man of faith. That letter must be from the Holy Cathedral’s inner circle, but what exactly made them change their minds so quickly? The Archbishop typically represents the entire Holy Cathedral, there is rarely any conflict of interests between the archbishop and the Holy Cathedral. Something big must have happened to cause this situation.” Brendel frowned.
Just as he finished his sentence, the auction started. The first item on auction was a magic sword. The Ampere Seale auction house was obviously on another level than Braggs’s underground market. This magic sword’s quality was extremely high, to the point where its starting bid was fifty thousand Taels. Amandina was visibly shocked at the price.
However, Brendel was not interested in that weapon at all. Halran Gaia, albeit low leveled, was already one of the top grade weapons in the world. It easily dwarfs any other weapon that was not considered a Divine Artifact. In “The Amber Sword”, there weren’t many weapons that could be considered Divine Artifacts.
“If only we could see the contents of that letter.” Brendel returned his attention to the topic they were discussing.
“Mr. Brendel, could you help Gryphine? The Holy Cathedral is trying to help the nobles of the north take over Aouine. Duke Arreck might even be pressured into joining their alliance. If that happens, Gryphine would be in grave danger.” Magadal exclaimed worriedly.
“You think that the Holy Cathedral will make their move here by trapping the Royal Faction in Ampere Seale?” Brendel frowned. I don’t think those nobles have enough power to do such a thing, but I cant’ ignore this possibility either. The Holy Cathedral claimed that they have never interfered with politics before, but history clearly says otherwise. “Even Arreck is being pressured… The Holy Cathedral is being rather forceful. But what are they doing? Aren’t they afraid that their plan will backfire?” He could not comprehend their actions. The Holy Cathedral of Fire’s presence extended to other countries as well. If Kirrlutz acts as such, then the other countries would be affected as well. Historically speaking, the Holy Cathedral has only ever interfered in politics under special circumstances, so what was it this time?
The Nun Princess nodded her head. “Moros is known for being authoritative. It seems that he wants to end this civil war as soon as possible. However, the Royal Faction still holds significant power in the south. This war would require at least a year to end. Furthermore, recovering from the war would take a long time, it seems that Moros does not have the patience to wait for that to happen.”
The commotion in the auction house was getting louder. The magic sword’s was bought by a swordsman for a hundred and twenty thousand Taels. As loud as it was, the noise did nothing to distract Brendel and Magadal. Brendel’s eyebrows were pinched. “How do you want me to help? The nobles will try to buy as much time as possible. If my guess is right, then they may have already begun mobilizing their army. If Gryphine backs out of the conference, then the Holy Cathedral might use this chance to act.
“By then, if I’m still standing behind the princess, I’d be going against the Holy Cathedral. Is that what you are suggesting?” He said cooly.
“Brendel…” Amandina was startled. Only Brendel would dare to speak of such things. Go against the Holy Cathedral? Her blood ran cold with the mere thought of it. The Holy Cathedral of Fire possessed control over many other areas other than Aouine and Kirrlutz. To the Holy Cathedral, Aouine was merely a small insignificant speck.
Magadal glanced at Brendel guiltily. She was a faithful follower of the Holy Cathedral herself, so she knew of the immense power that they possessed. The country she hailed from was completely under the control of the Holy Cathedral. With her beauty that could rival a goddess, her ability to walk around freely as the Nun Princess was owed to the Holy Cathedral.
One could say that without the Holy Cathedral, she would not be who she was.
“Mr. Brendel, I know that you are a supporter of the Royal Faction. But how invested are you in helping Gryphine?” Magadal blurted out the question, unable to hold it in when she thought of her friend’s situation.
“You are wrong, princess. I have never professed my support for the Royal Faction, and I do not support their methods, including the princess.” Brendel frowned after hearing her words.
Magadal was shocked. “H-how could this be…? Are you telling me that everything you did in Trentheim was all for your own benefit?”
Brendel shook his head. He did not need to go to such lengths for his own benefit. With his prowess, he could obtain a seat of power in Kirrlutz, Gretius, and even Sanorso. He did not need to start from a place as barren as Trentheim.
“I must admit, I do think of Princess Gryphine as someone important. But that is not because of the cause she fights for, nor do I want to restore the country to its former glory or anything of the sort. I merely want to protect the people that I want to protect. I do not want to repeat past tragedies. Do you understand, Princess Magadal?” He said calmly.
Magadal stared at him with a lost expression. “My apologies, Mr. Brendel, I don't quite understand. Are you trying to say that… that you like Princess Gryphine?”
Brendel nearly choked. This princess is rather sharp isn’t she? He cleared his throat and sighed, “You can think of it however you want to, but I will not play a role in this power struggle. I am not a player nor a pawn in this game. If you really want me to help, Princess Magadal, then we will do it my way.”
By then, it was Romona Anyao’s painting back in the first century that was on auction - the same item Brendel was auctioning in the hall. It was the fourth item to be auctioned off. Sansorno’s Wind Elf royalties may be good artists, but Princess Anyao was even more of a genius compared to them. And this painting was one she drew back in her prime, and was, therefore, more expensive. That’s why in mere moments after the auction started, the bid was already at one million Taels. Amandina could not help but be shocked!
The noise outside was deafening, but it could not drown out Magadal’s tiny voice. “Mr Brendel’s way?”
“Before I answer that question, I need you to answer me. How did you want me to help the princess?”
The Nun Princess hesitated for a moment before replying with furrowed eyebrows, “Of course it would be to bring Gryphine away from here. Ampere Seale is not a safe place for her, Mr Brendel…”
This was not her original plan. She did not think highly of Brendel at first, but hoped that by convincing him to join the Royal Faction, Princess Gryphine would be in a safer position. Somehow, Brendel’s words had swayed her original plan.
Brendel replied, “You have to understand this, if Princess Gryphine chooses to leave Ampere Seale, she would lose the chance to gain the Holy Cathedral’s support. She might even lose all the support she had originally. The Royal Faction would be on the brink of collapse, all that they have worked for would have been for nothing.”
Magadal immediately replied, “I don’t care about the Royal Faction. I’m only worried about my friend!”
“So am I.” Brendel replied, his eyes closed.
“I understand.” Magadal took a light breath. “But why does Mr. Brendel not support the Royal Faction? Your actions in Trentheim were clearly those of an actual knight. The ideology of the Royal Faction, isn’t that the path you have chosen? Why do you choose not to ally yourself with them? Righteous people like you are hard to come by in Aouine, why do you not band together, and instead choose to let the nobles of the north win? Mr. Brendel, you also wish to protect this land, don’t you?”
Brendel shook his head and replied, “The Lionheart Sword that is in Freya’s hands now represents the promise to protect the people, it does not mean that the person in possession is the rightful heir. If the one who is supposed to lead the country cannot safeguard the Lionheart Sword, what right does this person have to lead the country?
“A country is made of its people. The knights protecting the country are supposed to protect the people, not sacrifice themselves trying to protect the people. Using the claim of lineage to try and inherit the throne, the Royal Faction’s ideology is nothing but the stubbornness of the old nobles. Princess, have you been to Bucce?”
“That means you do not understand what Aouine truly needs. King Erik’s sword was meant to protect the people, but the Royal Faction’s sword? It seems that its only purpose is to strike down the nobles.”
The Nun Princess remained silent. She did not quite understand the ideologies of Brendel, Gryphine and the Royal Faction, but she felt that Brendel did make sense. Brendel’s thoughts are similar to Gryphine’s. It’s just that Gryphine did not have as clear a vision as Brendel. It seems that we’ve all been misled, the Royal Faction was never on the right path. Magadal nodded to herself.
She raised her head and asked, “How can I help you, Mr. Brendel?”
“I need to see the contents of that letter so I can ascertain where the Holy Cathedral stands. If it truly is as you’ve said, then I have no choice but to steal the princess away from here.” Brendel replied.
“It can be done. But in exchange, I’d like Mr. Brendel to stop calling me princess, just call me Magadal.” The Princess said earnestly.
“Is that fine?” Brendel turned around abruptly. His auctioned item had just been sold off for three billion thirty thousand Taels, Amandina could not help letting out a gasp. Looking at Magadal, Brendel asked, “You’re a follower of the Holy Cathedral aren’t you, Miss Magadal?”
“The teachings of the Holy Cathedral of Fire tell us to act morally and never betray a friend. While I am a believer, I am more faithful so my own heart. I believe that even Lord Wood would support me in this matter,” Magadal replied. “For this matter, I am willing to pay the price, so you can relax, Mr. Brendel.”
She really is as kind as the rumors say she is. Normally, Brendel tried his best to avoid any religious fellows, but he could not help admiring her. He suddenly thought of the princess’s fate in the future. With the intention to help her, he asked, “Miss Magadal, have you ever thought of taking control of your own fate?”
The Nun Princess’s eyes went wide. She was sorely tempted by his words. She did not know how Brendel knew her weakness so well, thus she couldn’t help but stare at him in fear.
“I’m not trying to harm you.”
Magadal hesitated, but in the end, she shook her head. The Holy Cathedral had given her so much, she did not dare to resist them. Just like Gryphine, even if she knew she had no way out, she still had to continue on her path. Seeing that Magadal was unwilling to part ways with the Holy Cathedral, Brendel could only sigh. He knew that it was unlikely she would accept, after all the Nun Princess still had an entire country weighing on her soldiers. Humans can never truly be free. He too merely asked her on a whim of his.
The auctioneer slammed his mallet down thrice, calling for silence.
“I await your news. Please tread carefully.” Brendel said.
Princess Magadal nodded in reply.