Most of what had happened after Princess Gryphine and Brendel left Wood’s residence had actually become predictable.
The king’s eldest son resumed his position as Duke Seifer, as if symbolizing yet another royal compromise to the localities. It was a compromise that had been repeated throughout the history of this kingdom, and that eventually formed a vicious cycle - one that started since the increasing power of the localities that began from the Year of Thunder.
It seemed like history was repeating itself, but regardless, at least the tide of unrest in the North had calmed down again with the intervention of the Holy Cathedral of Fire and the placation of the king's eldest son himself. The storm had stopped.
Privately, it was said that some nobles were celebrating the hard-won victory from the Battle of Ampere Seale, and the kingdom - which had been in a state of mess and disarray - seemed as if it had returned to the period during the Year of the Astrologer. Merchants grumbled as there seemed to be a resurgence of local thieves and plunderers, but beneath the surface, changes were being made secretly and quietly in secrecy.
Brendel understood that the princess could not sit back and allow Prince Levin to gain influence in the North, even if they had a secret agreement, and even if the other was her brother in name. However, there was no room for personal feelings in politics, not to mention that the Holy Cathedral of Fire didn't wish to see signs of a renewed division between the North and South in Aoine. The people of the Kirrltuz hoped that the ancient kingdom would maintain its apparent stability, at least until the end of the Holy War.
It was only a stability that was apparent on the surface..
In addition to these publicly-known reasons, there were more immediate conflicts of interest that determined this. This was because in the North, there were the domains of the royal family of Covardo itself in addition to the inherent domains of House Seifer. Yanbao and Janilasu also had many areas, and the princess’s party was unlikely to surrender to these complex spheres of influence.
Hence, as part of the exchange, the princess regained control of the White Lion Legion as expected. However, it was probably because the prince himself was unwilling to take control of an army that was not loyal to his cause; ever since the Lionheart Sword reappeared, there were many people in the White Lion Legion who vocally sided with the princess.
This was slightly different from the known history. In the other history, the White Lion Legion did not truly support the Royal Faction until Freya took full control of the former.
But this time, they continuously lost two of their veteran leaders. They had clearly lost their original verve.
Bennett, Jocko, and Enrique - who had survived the First Battle of Ampere Seale - were ordered to the North to receive this legion. The new head of the army was the eldest grandson of the one of the leaders that had died in the Battle of Ampere Seale, but Brendel knew that the unlucky man would only retain that position for a short time.
Everyone knew that there was only one person who could lead this legion. That person was Freya, who held the Lionheart Sword in her hand.
But now was not the time. Maynild also crossed Freya's name off that original list on the grounds that the young woman from the countryside of Bucce needed more grueling training.
Brendel shared this opinion. In the future, she might have the skills to run an army, but that time was far from now. To him, the White Lion Legion would be dormant for a long time again until the army under Carglise was formed, only then he would be able to build a White Lion Infantry that would truly recreate the glory of that era.
That was the moment when the war goddess would come into play.
Until then, there were more important tasks waiting for this future war goddess to complete.
But compared to these things, there were certain major events that caught the attention of the normal folk, particularly the Silver Folk that were intervening in the investigation of Ampere Seale’s first battle. Upon the request of the Bugas and the Silver Elves, the Holy Cathedral of Fire had to give up their control over Ampere Seale.
The culprit behind all these was undoubtedly Brendel and a certain Faerie lady.
A human and a Faerie were the driving force for what the general public saw as the most important event that happened between Aouine and Kirrlutz in the Year of the Sword. After this particular day in the middle of the month of the New Moon, the port city would no longer be titled as autonomous. It would instead exist as a trading port of Aouine.
This news shook the entire southern region of Vaunte as soon as it was released.
But no matter how the news circulated, there was only one truth that would never change; after the passage of several centuries, this sacred port had finally returned to the bosom of its ancient mother.
That evening, the princess made an exception for Brendel to take her for a walk around the outer walls of the harbor.
Beneath the golden clouds of the setting sun, the half-elf princess looked out over the distant edge of the forest and the bay. She just watched quietly without saying a word, her eyes staring into the distant horizon, where the sun was forming golden rays.
She was in the same position as her ancestor, Erik, had been a thousand years ago.
On her way down to the citadel, the princess whispered a 'thank you' to Brendel. Her voice was so soft, so gentle that it even made Brendel suspect that he was hallucinating himself.
But no matter what, at least he remembered the Princess's shining eyes as she looked away. She must have been proud, or those eyes that shone like gold reflecting the shadows of the clouds would not have a hidden look of excitement.
It was not the king of Aouine who loved the land the most, but the princess,
The tumultuous events surrounded the port like waves, so much so that for a month, all life was merely a fleeting mirage adorning it.
And interspersed among these big events were trivial things that became interludes of mediation.
Take, for example, the recovery of Garlock the Trendsetter. At one point, shock swept through the city when the kingdom’s chief Conjurer - who was Ampere Seale’s hero of the day - reappeared in the public eye. After all, Garlock was already a legend in the kingdom compared to the unknown Brendel.
That day, Ampere Seale held a day-long revelry, so much so that the princess came to joke about Brendel and asked if he was jealous.
But Brendel was not the tiniest bit jealous at all.
He was more concerned with another matter, that Garlock had taken Amandina as his apprentice as he had said he would. According to the words of Garlock himself, it would be a pity for a person with such great talent to willingly be a mere ordinary person.
Brendel deeply agreed with this.
But more than that, he respected Amandina’s own opinion. On the contrary, she had wanted to learn magic for a long time, but she just did not have the opportunity nor the time after her family went bankrupt.
And that was how Amandina nominally became the only heir to Garlock.
According to the princess’ words, it was likely that she would become a future Court Mage.
The third widely circulated incident of the month was also related to Garlock. The incident originated from a group of young people's curiosity about the legend of how the great mage escaped from the battlefield. However, the party in question refused to say a word, which instead piqued everyone's curiosity.
Soon, an absurd rumor spread among the city folk. It was said that Garlock had escaped that day because he was hiding among a pile of devil corpses.
Indeed, it was an embarrassing experience for a Court Mage. Thus out of some goodwill, the port quickly banned the circulation of similar rumors.
Only once did Brendel encounter this Master as he passed through the vestibule of the rebuilt Anderla Cathedral. He overheard the latter muttering as he walked along, lost in thought. "Damned dung, damned dung!”
Time seemed to have flown by.
At least, to Brendel and everyone around him, the time spent inside the port of Ampere Seale seemed to pass by a blink of an eye in the midst of all these events.
The gentle New Moon faded from view, like wood shavings drifting through a river which then swirled through one’s fingers. The weather began to grow hotter by the day. The storms off the coast of Ampere Seale were subsiding, and the greenery of the mountains and forests were taking on a more palpable color with each passing day. As if the people in the harbor had not noticed the subtle changes around them, the mountains and forests were already in full bloom and ushering in summer.
The Naga and the Silver Elves left Ampere Seale. The port seemed to become deserted in a moment. Brendel asked the Naga to bring back the kingdom of Aouine’s gratitude. It was certain that the Winter Dew, whose name left a great impact on history, could understand what he meant.
Aouine needed an ally, and so did the Nagas under the glittering sea.
However, there was another thing that Brendel was concerned about. Just as promised, the Silver Elves had taken their token, the precious ginkgo leaf. This loss was about the most heartbreaking thing to Brendel throughout this war, and he would not have wasted this precious opportunity were it not for the princess’ rescue.
In the other world, a player had traded it for an entire Dragon's nest. The value of the treasure therein was enough to buy up the entire Radner region and rebuild it again after destroying it. And Brendel had traded it back for a mere nondescript title of Count Trentheim.
While the princess acquiesced to his attack on the Radner region, but again, it was only a matter of time before Aouine’s power could be concentrated in the center. As such, his power as a lord would have been taken back sooner or later as well.
Brendel thought hard about it, but he felt like he was asking for trouble.
But the good news was that the Silver Elves did not give him too much trouble for Medissa's sake. Instead, it was only by standing firmly on his side from the start that the Holy Cathedral of Fire’s authority was completely driven away from Ampere Seale’s port in the shortest amount of time possible. In that regard, it was worth it.
However, along with the Silver Elves’ departure, officials of all levels within the Port of Ampere Seale still inevitably felt as if everything had become easier all of a sudden. Most importantly, those disputes which often arose due to the difference in habits between humans and Silver Elves seemed to have disappeared without a trace in a mere blink.
All things seemed to have come to an end at once after entering the Month of the Hazy Summer, and so Brendel soon understood that there was only one thing left unfinished at this port.
The date was moving forward in an orderly fashion.
Just like the dates marked on an accurate timetable, the expected guest arrived on schedule one sunny afternoon.
It was an envelope with a silver feather. On the cover were words written in a flighty, floating manner.
The same envelope was delivered to the princess’ desk.
The ambassador of Buga had arrived.
“Brendel, Brendel, look at me!”
A soft voice which was as happy as a child’s drifted through the forest. As Brendel looked up, he saw a few beams of sunlight descending from the shade, falling in staggered patches on the dead leaves and moss. Between these jagged rocks laid a fallen log. The merchant lady stretched out her arms and walked on it shakily, as if she was very proud of her balance.
Then, she jumped down from the log at once. Landing in front of Brendel and Amandina, she preened. "How about that? Was it awesome?"
“Super awesome.” Brendel sighed helplessly. “Romaine, aren’t you tired of this?” The forest outside the harbor was stiflingly hot with the humidity. It was like mist from a steamer. Everyone was sweating profusely, except for a certain energetic person.
What irritated him somewhat was that the Faerie lady had plainly told him that the mages of Buga had specifically picked a cool, cloudy day. Now, it seemed that either the Silver Folk had some problems regarding their understanding of cloudy weather, or the craft mages simply could not be trusted with astrology.
Brendel turned and looked back. He had called Ciel, Freya, Carglise, and even the Countess of Yanbao to gather here. The countess was whispering something to the princess at the back. Carglise was with the young men of Trentheim as usual. Ciel and the Raban’s mercenaries were on guard. Only Scarlet sat under a poplar tree reading a book - which had a red cover - intently, her long ponytail trailing down to the floor of moss.
In fact, Scarlet had originally been unable to read much, only a little more than the average mountain folk. Of course, most mountain folk were completely illiterate, but ever since Amandina acted as her teacher, it seemed that the quiet mountain girl who did not like to talk much had now found some quiet pleasure in reading.
However, Brendel worried that she would end up becoming like Romaine, what with reading those novels about knights and chivalry all day long.
He turned and glanced at the merchant lady again.
The merchant lady had taken his arm and sat down next to him, having finally calmed down for a moment. It was a relief to Brendel, but not long after, there was a sudden rustling sound from a shrub in front of them. Everyone raised their heads to see the neatly dressed Makarov, Oberwei, Count Audine, and a few others coming out from behind the aforementioned shrub.
They had obviously just arrived here.
The first thing Makarov saw was Princess Gryphine, who was beside Dilferi. He was mildly startled as he turned back to Brendel. "Mr. Brendel, who exactly are we meeting today, and why is the princess here?..."
They had in fact just gotten the news the day before. The first thing that came to Makarov's mind was the Dragons behind Brendel. It was precisely because these Golden Folk might stand with the princess that the Royal Faction leaned ever closer to the princess after the war.
Of course, the death of Fleetwood had also dissolved the misunderstandings between the two sides to a certain extent.
Regardless, that kingdom’s chief Court Mage was still considered Princess Gryphine’s teacher.
To Makarov, however, the last thing he knew was that the female Dragon called Aloz had disappeared without leaving a trace after making a big scene in the harbor one day by simulating a Fire Dragon attack on the city. Everyone assumed that the fearsome Dragon was gone, but he did not think so, and had stubbornly insisted that the Dragon had hidden herself.
The young man called Brendel, who had an extraordinary relationship with the Dragons, was clearly the greatest support to the princess.
He just did not know that the answer to the question he had been holding on to was actually a simple one for Brendel. After listening to his story about the Loop of Trade Winds, that ill-tempered Dragon had supposedly gone back to Trentheim to take a look at her 'Hall of Heroic Spirits’.
And it was a different group of people they were going to see today.
Just before Brendel could answer, the shrubs parted once more.
This time it was an old man in silver robes who appeared. The old man was startled when he saw Brendel, and then a familiar smile appeared.
"I came to see the Aoine of today for my old friend. I hadn’t thought we would meet again, my young friend, Brendel."
"Fuck!" Brendel almost jumped right out of his skin. He thought that the Buga people who would come would be Tania and Tulman. After all, the two of them had a much deeper connection to this kingdom. Never in his dreams did he imagine that such a person would come.
The Silver Storm, as the world called him, the chief mage of the Silver League.
He subconsciously looked back, and indeed he saw the princess, Makarov, and Oberwei looking at him in a very odd way. It felt as if they were looking at some monster right out of legend.
The meaning in their eyes was clear.
"Brendel, who in the world are you?"