"What's wrong?" Brendel saw the look on her face. "You may as well say what you have to say, Lady Knight. I have heard of your reputation and therefore do not equate you with certain people."
"Miss Delphine went there of her own accord. Lord Veronica was unaware of what was going on between you and her, and I only noticed it later by accident. I just didn't expect her to be so determined. I'm to blame for this; I shouldn't have taken any chances with something so important in the first place," Laurenna replied with a sigh, a little self-conscious.
Brendel became curious. "How so? You know what's going on?" He really could not help but wonder how creepy it would be for anyone to be stalked by a woman who seemed to be crazy for no reason at all. In fact, even now, he still felt rather uncomfortable when he recalled that resentful look in Delphine's eyes.
It felt like he had done something unforgivable to her, but Marsha was his superior; there was nothing between the both of them. Brendel remembered vividly that he had only met the other from a distance when he was on the front lines of the Black Forest's fight against the Calamity of Wolves.
"Actually..." Laurenna was also a little embarrassed as she brought this up. She gathered her thoughts, before she bagan to elaborate on Delphine’s incident.
"...Count Elman lost his life at Andersha’s hands, but Miss Delphine has always believed that you deliberately dropped them. Coupled with the fact that she had been devoted to Count Elman, which is well-known in the Empire, the Count's death hit Miss Delphine hard..."
"That was an unexpected disaster, Ms. Laurenna." Brendel laughed bitterly. He was suddenly a little at a loss of words after hearing this outrageous story. This was an unexpected disaster that no one foresaw. If he had known that he would offend such a mulish lady, he would have been careful to send Count Elmanout of the country. He would never let Andersha have an opportunity to strike.
"I'm sorry. My Lord... Miss Delphine, she..." It seemed that Laurenna wanted to further explain on behalf of the prime minister’s daughter. However, Brendel had already interrupted her first. "I understand what you mean, Lady Laurenna, but even so, she shouldn't strike out at innocent people. This is not revenge. It's just venting anger."
He thought for a moment, and then added, "I will consider your words, but not now. It's better to let that lady calm down for now. You don't want to let her run around and ruin Lord Veronica’s plans, do you?"
Laurenna was startled, and then thought that it seemed as if there was indeed such a possibility.
With Delphine’s current mindset, even if the empire were to get involved, the sacrifices would be worth it as long as she was able to carry out her revenge. Laurenna could not help but sigh even after thinking about it. "I see."
"Then let's continue," Brendel replied. "Since there aren't many people within the empire who know about your operation, there shouldn't be many people from the Azure Skies. Can I know the size of your forces?”
"It's… Sorry, it's confidential, Count." Laurenna was a little sheepish, but she declined Brendel's question.
"It's okay. I'm just asking casually." Brendel narrowed his eyes. He was certain that the Azure Skies that had infiltrated Aouine's territory was probably just a small elite team. Just like what was mentioned in the information he got, it could be an elite knight group under the Azure Skies, but there was no need to delve into this matter. He asked again, "The letter says that the Holy Cathedral of Fire suspects that the shard might be with Duke Arreck. Is this true?"
The female knight nodded. "Yes. Lord Veronica has been receiving information that also matches with this speculation ever since entering Aouine. It might have been Duke Arreck who colluded with the Evil Cultists and Devils to smuggle the Portal's fragments away on that day."
"I heard that Duke Arreck has recently allied with Count Radner, which means that the shards might have been transported to Magitan?"
"It's possible." Laurenna frowned. "However, the news from the Holy Cathedral of Fire suggests that those shards may not have stopped at Magitan, but have moved north instead."
"Do you have a way to track the location of those shards?" Brendel froze. He stared back at the knight and thought to himself. These Kirrlutzians are not just here to entertain themselves. If they’re capable of locating those shards themselves, why do they still need us?
But Laurenna's reply immediately answered the question in his mind. "No, just some trivial divination and prophecy, my Lord."
It was only then that it dawned on Brendel. "North! Then, which way in the north?" he asked abruptly.
"This..." the female knight was tongue-tied. How would I know such a thing? But her natural serious self still led her to reply, "I'm sorry, I don't know."
However, she didn't expect Brendel to interrupt her. "It's okay. Maybe I know."
He turned back, his eyes falling on the point on the huge map marked with the name Magitan. From here till northward was the vast Misty Forest. Further northward would be Lantonilan territory. His gaze shifted sharply upward. The Anserra Forest, the Goldfinch Mountains, the mountains on the northern shore of Lake Vallendaren-
Something flashed through his mind, like a bolt from the blue. Suddenly, he looked up and realized what these Devils, or Evil Cultists, or Duke Arreck wanted.
To rebuild a Portal, a great deal of magical power was definitely required.
Preferably an energy core.
The Kirrlutzian had the Flame Gem.
What about Duke Arreck?
Brendel's eyes finally stopped, and there, on the map was a line of fine text marked in rough script: the Falling Needle Hills Avenue.
Falling Needles Hills Avenue, Stained Frost Forest Labyrinth, Dragon's Heart.
As soon as Brendel stepped out of the hall, he found Princess Gryphine standing outside the porch. The half-elf girl stood by a window with a stone frame, looking out at the hills in the direction of the Gers Beach. He immediately bowed his head after a brief pause.
The princess turned back. She seemed as if she had been waiting for him here for a long time. She looked at him quietly before asking slowly, "Count, may I ask what we should do with the Kirrlutzians? Are we going to help them this time?"
"We must help this time, Your Highness," Brendel replied truthfully.
"Huh?" Princess Gryphine looked back in surprise. "Why? I remember you didn't like them very much."
"In truth, I've got some ideas." Ferlarn followed Brendel out into the hall, letting him take the jacket and cloak from her. Brendel took a glance out the window. The undulating ridgeline was covered by a verdant forest. Above it was the deep blue sky filled with clouds that were like tufts of snow. As he watched a flock of migrating birds fly away, he said, "Now is a good time. Let's convince Duke Viero to join our front."
"With any luck," he added, "maybe we might be able to get Grinoire as well."
Gryphine was no fool. On the contrary, her intelligence was among the best in Aouine's recent generations of royalty. She could certainly understand what Brendel meant, but the young girl looked at the cloak in Brendel's hand and asked curiously, "Where are you planning to go, Count?"
As far as she could remember, the young man in front of her was not one to be interested in fashion even though he had become a count. Rarely would he wear a coat, let alone bring a cloak or shawl of some sort, if he was not going on a trip.
Thus, she keenly picked up on this detail from Brendel's subtle movements.
Brendel hadn’t thought of hiding this. He nodded. "I suddenly have an idea."
"Yes," replied Brendel. "It seems that Lord Marsha is still on our side this time. If everything goes well, Princess Magadal will be able to be awakened."
Princess Gryphine stunned at first, and then her silver eyes showed extreme joy. Not even caring about maintaining her manners, she asked, "Really?!"
"When have I ever lied to you, Your Highness?" Brendel was also relieved, as if the problems that had been plaguing him for days were all solved at once. It had to be said that both Duke Arreck and Radner had given him a big gift this time .
He had already discussed it with Bosley and Amandina. Saving Magadal wasn’t easy, but neither was it difficult. The Nun Princess was not human, and the injury she sustained should be the result of the source of magic within her body - the magic that drove and kept her bodily functions running - being destroyed by that sword. Aloz herself had indirectly confirmed this.
The easiest way to recover her magic source was nothing more than replacing it with a new one.
There was one in the territory right now who had mastered this technique. Brendel hadn't forgotten about the Titan Core that Aloz had put into his body. However, finding a new magical core was a problem.
But Duke Arreck's current movements immediately gave him an answer.
Because he had been so busy participating in and planning the matters of the Aouine civil war, he had almost forgotten that he had once been a player. The Fallen Needle Hills Avenue, a replica of the Stained Frost Forest Labyrinth, had just that most appropriate magical core.
The Heart of the Dragon.
Duke Arreck was there for this very thing, even though Brendel didn't know where he had learned of the existence of The Heart of the Dragon. But now, he obviously had to find this treasure before the other party did.
Besides, if those unsuspecting fellows did build a Portal there, he certainly did not mind sabotaging it in passing so that he could complete Veronica's mission and clear up a whole bunch of things on this side. To Brendel, there was nothing more valuable than this great gift.
Seeing the confident look on his face, Princess Gryphine gently took a breath and asked somewhat cautiously, "Do you want to go now?"
"No." Brendel, however, shook his head. "I need to take care of one more thing before I do that."
"What is it?"
Brendel smiled and replied, "A private matter."