Viscount Finn from Narik, accompanied by several knights in dark blue tabards climbed up a highland near the Acropolis of Bueno. He held up the telescope and observed the blazed northern Acropolis of Ampere Seale.
In the narrow field of view of the telescope, he saw a corner of the Acropolis of Bueno that had completely collapsed. Some remnants of the rocks were melted and crystalized, and thick smoke rose into the air. Based on his experience, the opponent had used a type of fireball spell to first destroy the city wall and then charged into the city. More than a hundred Coast Guards had deserted before even trying to defend.
Viscount Finn did not say a word. So is this the defense wall of Ampere Seale’s Coast Guards told me about, which he bragged could not be destroyed? The wall was old and its defensive ability was lesser than half of some fortresses in the north, and some of the forts were covered with moss. If it was not for the wretched flag with the anchor, he would have thought of this place as an abandoned ancient fortress. Not to mention its soldiers’ incapability to battle.
Very quickly, the news the scouting knights had returned testified to his hypothesis. The princess’ army should have passed through this area sometime between eight to nine at night. The news from the Dragon Cavalry supported this evidence too, but the scouting knights still found some injured Coast Guards. According to some soldier witnesses, a small unit of the princess’ sneaked into the vicinity of the castle, two women -- to be precise, two powerful sorceresses blew the wall down with their fireball skill, then the light cavalry barged in and ‘defended with their lives’ but eventually failed.
But Viscount Finn obtained news from a more reliable source that said that in truth, the small unit which took action was not any powerful sorceress, but a tall and a short female fairy, both of young age. They seemed like they wanted to use their fireball skill to test the strength of the defense wall. But due to lack of maintenance and accumulation of moisture during the storm, it was destroyed upon coming into contact with heat. More than ten Coast Guards died, which was the only loss for the Coast Guards during the battle.
Then the light cavalry of the Royal Cavalry Academy swarmed in through the notch. The Coast Guards immediately put down their weapons and surrendered, and only a few of them managed to escape into the wild.
“The kingdom is full of useless bastards.” Viscount Finn said in anger.
But he did not raise his voice too loud as the Black Blade Squad’s performance was not in any way better. And this was the core reason why he was angry. In the afternoon, Baron Wallen who promised to contain the princess’ army brought the Highland Infantry divison along with him to ‘visit’ their enemy. Not only did he lose his life, but less than three hundred of the entire army returned. Viscount Finn did not know how he was going to explain this to Count Vitokin.
And those gangsters who were usually arrogant were ruthlessly beaten up, they couldn’t even port speak clearly anymore. Viscount Finn hated this. More importantly, Baron Wallen’s miscalculation indirectly affected his judgment and those nonsensical mountain gangsters made him miss his opportunity. Of course, Viscount Finn was too embarrassed to admit that he was terrified at the thought of the princess turning back to engulf his entire army, which wasn’t impossible. As a result, he panicked and transferred back to the Dragon Cavalry unit. The consequences of it were obvious.
At this moment, everything could be seen clearly. The princess’ army had cunningly turned to attack the Acropolis of Bueno and managed to take all the food stored. What put him even more on the spot was that they even set all the nearby noble's manors on fire.
The noblemen were in a rage and looking for his superior, Count Vitokin. The local nobility spread out all around in Aouine played a big role, so even a man with authority like Vitokin would not dare to offend them. Count Vitokin might not let this matter slide this time.
Fortunately, he was not left totally empty-handed. He put the copper telescope down with one hand, with a parchment report clutched in the other. This report was delivered by the Dragon Cavalry, and with the certification of the Acropolis officer, it was confirmed that the princess had another unit with her: the Mercenaries of Lopez.
And this was aligned with the previous information.
Viscount Finn kept the information and observed the wrecked Bueno area in detail, then he wiped his sleeve and walked down the high ground. Accompanied by several knights, he got on his horse and headed to the nearby pine forest.
Count Vitokin was waiting for him.
Vitokin was standing at a clearing in the forest. In front of him was Yoakam, Duke Seifer, Leider Dulo and a few seniors from the Northern Army of Marquis Balta. If they got caught together right here, the Northern Army near Ampere Seale’s collapse would only be a matter of time.
Unfortunately, there were ten Paladins in robes with golden-red embroidery and Flame Swords were surrounding the forest area, who would never let that happen.
Vitokin took a look at the paper report and flicked his pale finger gently, with no expression on his face. It was not that he was heartless, but losing a whole unit of Highland Infantry as not a big deal. They were not his core forces after all. Although the Grey Mountains area was his territory, the highland people were untamed and had never been submissive.
It is good for the barbarians to suffer a little bit. What did make his heart ache was the death of a loyal member, Baron Wallen.
He handed the parchment to the others, then he lifted his head and looked at the middle-aged man in a red robe with a silver gothic plate armor who was standing in the middle, obviously in a respected position. This person had a unique look, his face was sharp and long, but the two bunches of curly beard gave him a unique sense of prestige. He also had a pair of thick golden eyebrows and sky blue eyes, and the look in his eye was as sharp as a sword.
“Master Williams, it seems that the White Lion Legion’s judgment was right. The princess indeed has something we could not have expected.” Count Vitokin showed an expression of respect without even the slightest pretense. Even when he encountered Archbishop Moros he was just respectful, but in front of this middle-aged man, he was like a mouse encountering a cat.
This man was the reserved instructor of the Holy Cathedral of Fire, the Deputy Head of the Paladins, Duke Drenc (1) of the Kirrlutz Empire: Williams.
If Brendel was here, he would have recognized this person in one glance, this person’s status in the Kirrlutz Empire was no different to that of Veronica and it could be considered to be high above the archbishop of Ampere Seale. His own strength also surpassed Veronica’s by a hair’s width. It was said he was at the final stage of the Peak of Laws and was just one step from reaching the Ultimate Realm.
However, this person was an outright country chauvinist and a pure Kirrlutz nobleman. It was assumed that he did not care about Aouine at all. Although he knew that the country of Aouine was different compared to other smaller countries and had a special significance to the kingdom of Kirrlutz, he came here this time just to clean up some mess. He also came to, obviously, reclaim Oderfeiss, the Flaming Blade back.
Williams nodded proudly, but did not answer.
“But we have almost finished investigating. The princess’ army is not her private soldiers nor from the Royal Faction. The Royal Faction has clearly parted ways with her, so it is most likely that the soldiers she has are from a young man named Brendel.”
“Brendel?” Williams raised his eyebrows. “I’ve never heard that there was such a noble from your kingdom. Is he from the Holy Cathedral of Wind?”
“There are some connections.” Count Vitokin smiled coldly, “This man is about twenty years old, the first time he appeared was in Bucce…...”
The deputy leader of the Paladins frowned when he heard the name “Bucce”.
“......Then he gathered a group of criminals and stirred up commotions in Trentheim. At first, we mistakenly judged that this man was just an ordinary spy for the princess, but we realized we were totally wrong afterwards.”
Count Vitokin looked at Marquis Yoakam, then Yoakam hurriedly replied, “The first time I saw this person was in the cathedral. He was at least a Gold ranker”
“Wait, you’re saying this person is just twenty years old but he has gold-ranked powers?”
“Exactly, when I first saw him, he was honored by Archbishop Wood to become a Holy Knight. My subordinate shook hands with him once, the Archbishop can be my witness.” The marquis continued.
“Okay, I believe you. But since this person is willing to be devoted to the Holy Cathedral, he has potential.” Williams replied calmly.
“If that’s the case then it’s fine. But I didn’t expect it to be a ploy to break into the Holy Knight’s rank. Later, there was evidence that indicates that he was secretly supporting the princess to inspire a rebellion and organized a religious purging assault and the killing of noblemen.
“You’re implying that this person was actually a spy of the All for One cult or the Shepherd Cult?”
“I’m afraid it’s not only that, Master.” Marquis Yoakam replied respectfully, “When I saw him for the second time, he was with Count Yanbao. But at that time, I suspected that he was the real Count Yanbao.”
“Oh, that Sword Guardian family?”
“Exactly, but it proved that I guessed the wrong direction. Later, according to our informant on the side of the princess, we found out that this person’s origin was suspicious. He had secret dealings with the cultists but he also had a hidden alliance with the Nagas. From the latest news that we just received, it seems that the Mercenaries of Lopez were also working for him……”
“It was also the same person who used Heaven’s Armament earlier in the city.” Marquis Yoakam replied with a cold smile, every word filled with murderous intent.
Everyone knew that the Mercenaries of Lopez came from White Port and the city-state Lopez. Both White Port and Lopes belonged to the Alliance of City-States which was under the influence and power of the Great Priest Farnezain. The meaning of Brendel having both the Mercenaries of Lopes and Heaven’s Armory was a little thought-provoking.
Williams’ complexion darkened, “Well, the Holy Cathedral has bothered things that are beyond their business.” Then he looked at the others and Count Vitokin and said with a tone of reproach, “But I guess it was just to hinder some people of the cathedral. This is just an enclave to them, don’t you all forget who’s closer to the kingdom.”
The few of them did not say a word, but Leider’s face darkened. Speaking about experience, I was not lesser in any way than this so-called deputy leader of the Paladins. Both of them had fought side by side in the Eleven Months War, their duties were similar. It was just that Williams had better luck being born in a big kingdom like Kirrlutz. If the old knight had such strong financial support, his achievements may not be limited to the elements.
Moreover, being the representative of the White Lion Legion was naturally a nemesis of the Kirrlutz people. The old man snorted and did not want to look at him.
Marquis Yoakam did not expect his words to invoke dispute within his own party so he changed the subject immediately, “Actually there is more than that, my Lord. A piece of more important news is being missed out.”
“It’s enough.” Williams gave this person a slightly disgusted look. “I know what you’re trying to say, but colluding with the Holy Cathedral is a serious crime that is sufficient for him to get killed. I know that you all want to ask the Holy Cathedral to take action, but if you want me to take action, I have one condition, which is to have your princess sent back to the kingdom.”
He did not mention the cultist but this deputy leader of the Paladins was not a fool. He knew that there was something wrong about this from the very start. However, the nobles had many relationships that were in grey areas, so as long as they weren’t completely in favor of one side, it could be tolerated.
Either way, he knew that these guys were just using each other.
Marquis Yoakam was slightly stunned, he did not expect the other party to suggest such an opinion. Princess Gryphine was a member of the royal family, after all, the most they would dare to do was to assassinate her with poison. But to send her back to the kingdom, it would leave the Aouine’s nobles in embarrassment.
But the deputy leader of the Paladins was obviously not here to negotiate so he just replied calmly, “Since the paladins had been involved, it is necessary for the Holy Cathedral to have a sinner with sufficient value to settle this account.”
“But that man has sufficient value too,” Grand Duke Seifer who had not spoken suddenly replied.
“Hmm?” Williams said in dissatisfaction.
“The previous conversation about the Highland Knights have already revealed the identity of the other party. If I am not mistaken, the person who was by the side of the young man is called Ciel from the Palos family. So, the identity of the young man who has been hiding in the dark is finally made known to us. Anyone left who still has this influence in the kingdom could only be his descendant.”
Williams’ complexion changed when this name was brought up. He turned and stared at Duke Seifer coldly; as if he was not the duke, but his subordinate.
At that moment, Duke Seifer had the illusion of Brendel staring at him similarly, chills went up to his back and he froze.
“You all better not joke around, even if you do not know how serious this matter is, you should be aware of the Holy Cathedral’s bottom line.”
“No, Master, we are dead serious……” Marquis Yoakam stuttered, he too also felt the sudden cold killing intent.
“No, this is just your hypothesis.” The old knight Leider frowned and interrupted, “Just as what Duke Drenc said, you all should know how serious this matter is. We should not make guesses before getting confirmation!”
“Commander Leider Dulo, you know best! That guy Benninger once said that the wielder of the Lionheart Sword is the descendant of Gaia's Knight. That girl is Freya? Everyone clearly knew the one who took Everton, the descendant of Gaia's Knight away. So now since she appeared, why can’t he appear?”
“All the clues are pointing right to the truth!” Marquis Yoakam yelled with all his might. “Mr. Leider, I know how you feel. You should understand what kind of choice is beneficial to the kingdom!”
The old knight was stunned at first, then he sighed and shook his head.
Williams’ expression constantly changed, he stared at them and nodded his head at last, “Very good, it better be true. I cannot decide on this matter, but I will notify the Holy Cathedral immediately.”
He closed his eyes slightly. After a few moments, he opened them again. Those sky blue eyes of his were full of murderous intent. “Darrius is dead, but he indeed had some descendants. Even if that’s not the truth, I would rather mistakenly kill hundreds of innocents then to let one descendant go.”
This deputy leader of the Paladin looked at them coldly and said, “You all better be responsible for your words, and you all should be responsible for all the dead souls who died here today. All those who have followed him before can only die.”
“The Holy Cathedral will never repeat mistakes from the past and reenact it today. I will do it myself, but you all better keep your mouths shut.”
Marquis Yoakam and the others felt their bodies turn cold and could not say a word. Only Leider felt as if he became a weak old man, he shook his head and let out a sigh.
Williams turned and shouted at his subordinate, “I need manpower, ask Archbishop Wood if he had found any traces of Mephisto there.”
“Master,” that Paladin immediately replied, “there should be some news now, but it won’t come in a while. These were the original words of Archbishop Wood.”
“That cunning old man.” Williams could not help but raise his eyebrows.
But he raised his head, his eyes were filled with cold determination and asked, “Where is the princess now?”
“They have headed towards the Mar Highlands, Master.”
“Trying to enter the Arreck Mountains?”
“It won’t be that easy.“
Drenc, the Archduke in the northern part of the Kirrlutz Empire. Archduke Drenc was also one of the powerful dukes preparing to succeed in the throne of the Kirrlutz Empire.