The White Lion Legion was still considered a formidable force even in current-day Aouine. Marquis Batta had once used this legion to crush the Lion Beastmen in the year of the dawn of spring to prove it. However, if he wished to satisfy aristocrats’ complacency, he wanted a lion with fresh claws, sharp teeth, and an impressive mane.
He pondered it for a short moment before he replied. “Your Highness, I’m afraid I’m not the right person for this position right now.”
The princess looked back at him in surprise. Brendel’s forehead - which was knit in a tight frown - seemed to be slowly relaxing and slowly turning into a look of determination.
“Why?” she asked in confusion.
“Well… would Your Highness like to hear the truth or a lie?” Brendel looked up. The sky over the distant sea of Ampere Seale had a breathtaking blue tint to it; such beauty, however, was merely a sign for the next round of storms. The air was dense with the dampness from the sea as he and the princess walked to the pure white square. The half-elf princess was just slightly above his shoulder in height. She wore a long silver dress, its thin satin clinging to her porcelain-like skin. Her skirt’s folds fell in place like enormous flower petals, emphasizing the elf’s slimness perfectly.
“The truth, Mr. Brendel.” The princess sounded unhappy.
“Alright. The truth is, for centuries since the late King bestowed the sword to Krentel, the White Lion Legion has always been the sharpest sword in the kingdom. It would certainly be a good thing for us to legally obtain the right to inherit this army. However, Your Highness also understands that Sir Nevander, Valen Lleida, and that ‘left-handed’ general may not accept a stranger becoming the new head of the White Lion Legion, right?” Brendel was referring to the two remaining leaders of the White Lion Legion, Sharp Claws and Lion’s Mane, and the leader of the White Lion Blade Squad.
The only difference between today’s White Lion Legion and that of the Echeolonian period was the absence of the Secret Army. A new Secret Army replaced it, which later became the forerunner of the Black Blade Legion of today. The White Lion Legion was still left with three squads - Sharp Claws, Lion’s Mane, and Jude, along with the White Lion Blade Squad. The Jude Squad was formally led by Marquis Batta, and the remaining three men were actually eligible to succeed the head of the legion after Marquis Batta’s death.
The princess disagreed. “This is the last will of Sir Leider’ both Nicholas and the knight of the Holy Cathedral of Fire, Stephen, can attest to this. They have no right to object.”
"But isn’t that the White Lion which Your Highness wants? A sword that is only respectful and obedient on the surface. How is it different from the scheming ones in the north? There is no point in compromising with anyone, no matter who they are; we want a White Lion that is truly loyal to the ideals of the kingdom." Brendel replied, and Her Highness fell silent.
Brendel could read the half-elf princess's uneasiness at the moment. The bickering northern nobles could break the peace at any moment, turning the situation in the north into a mess; the key was how much time Aouine actually had left under the pressure of strong enemies and the threat of war. The consequences of the harsh Ampere Seale war had also certainly amplified this concern.
It would be nice if we could still buy two or three years of peace. No, just two years would be enough. From what Brendel could recall, it was five years before the Second Black Rose War, five years before the long night fell and seventeen years before the wolves ran across the land. After that, Vaunte was never at peace.
But before that, there was still a war waiting for Aouine in the north. If he couldn't appease the nobles in the north quickly, Brendel would still have a hard time thinking of a way to face the Lion Beastmen. A compromise was absolutely unacceptable; the history of the other world was still fresh in his mind. How he wished to kill all these damned guys with just a slash of his sword. He couldn't help but sigh in frustration.
"So does Mr. Brendel have a better candidate in mind?" the princess stopped and asked as they reached the carriage,
“Yes, the descendant of Duke Everton.”
“Freya?” The princess sounded slightly surprised.
"Yes, Freya, Your Highness. She is very suitable both by birth and her background. She was also involved in this war, having fought alongside Marquis Batta and won the favor of many of the White Lion Legion members. The more important thing is, the Lionheart Sword approves of her. It seems more than obvious that the late King Erik favors her. Perhaps we should respect the sacred Lionheart Sword's choice," Brendel said slowly. Some of the things he mentioned here were news that he had heard from Amandina.
Her Highness listened in silence before finally saying, "Mr. Brendel, I do not wish to conceal anything from you. Your thoughts coincide with someone I know well, and she has also recommended Freya to me to take the place of Marquis Batta.”
Brendel was curious. In fact, he already had a plan in mind to have Freya lead the White Lion Legion, for who else could be better suited for the position than the historical student of Leider, the leader of the White Lion Legion later, and who was also the Valkyrie of Aouine?
Even so, this would not be enough reason to convince anyone. The current Freya was simply a nameless country girl from the village of Bucce. She may be the descendant of Duke Everton, but this a secret that wasn’t known to many. Furthermore, she was not the most outstanding pupil in the current batch of students at the Royal Cavalry Academy when it came to talent.
So, who was the one who nominated this future Valkyrie?
“Maynild," the princess told him. "You should have seen her before. She is the most trustworthy person I know, and one that I can call my best friend."
The curiosity in Brendel’s heart grew; the position of the leader of the White Lion Legion's army was never an inconspicuous position, so how did that knight named Maynild set her sights on Freya?
After all, not everyone in the world had eyes like his, which could see into the future.
For a moment, he couldn't help but recall his encounter with that female knight under the rain. That cold woman, whose name he had never heard of in history, had an appearance almost identical to his senior’s, but her personality was different.
He couldn't help but frown, and with a hint of suspicion, he spoke. "I don't know how Lady Maynild thinks, but it is true that no one could be found better suited for this position than Freya, Your Highness. The heart of the matter is still the Lionheart Sword. The White Lion Legion is also bent on retrieving this holy sword in order to once again realize the value of the White Lion. Coupled with the will of Knight Leider, it's unlikely that their higher-ups will have any objections.
"On the other hand, the descendant of Duke Everton, might be less likely to make those three feel threatened. In any case, I'm still a knight by Her Highness's side."
The princess nodded gently as if she had accepted this idea. "And then what?" she asked softly.
"I intend to let Freya and Carlo lead the team. Let the Royal Cavalry Academy be the base for supplying the White Lion Legion with new blood. The White Lion Legion also needs a group of outstanding young people to hold up its future, which is in line with the philosophy of the Royal Cavalry Academy. Besides, for these young people, being in the White Lion Legion is better than being in the guard. Isn't it better?" Brendel continued to answer. His goal was simple; if he wanted a brand new White Lion Legion, then infiltration and transformation were inevitable. He didn't have the manpower on hand, but the Royal Calvary Academy was a good choice.
The half-elf princess frowned as if she had detected Brendel’s implications between the lines. "But will this really work, and will it cause a backlash from the White Lion Legion?" she asked in a nice, soft voice.
"Of course it will," Brendel was direct, but at least being direct had the advantage of not intensifying the conflict in the first place. Now it was actually a mutual compromise, and the other party had no reason to reject them completely, but there was no way he and Her Highness could completely get a grip on the White Lion Legion in an instant.
Neither side would want to push the other to the brink, and if the other side were to think he and the Princess were trying to control the future, they might just laugh at their naivety.
But mockery was just mockery.
Brendel continued to explain, "But if we can complete the reunification of the South in a short time, then the White Lion Legion will become even more arrogant. What else can we do then?"
The half-elf princess took a soft breath. "Mr. Brendel, what you are saying is quite different from what I have heard, but for some reason, I'm more inclined to trust your opinion. However, can we complete the unification of the south in a short period of time?"
Brendel saw confusion in the half-elf princess's silver eyes, and it wasn't directed at him. Rather, it was directed at the statement. He answered truthfully, "If the nobles in the north don't give us additional trouble, we will have a chance."
He wasn't lying. The Highland Knights seemed to have an obvious affection for the princess's side because of his status. Duke Viero and Duke Grinories, on the other hand, were clearly not keen on the struggle for power. They were forces that could be fought for. In fact, their only enemies in the south were actually Count Radner and the missing Duke Arreck, not to mention that Count Radner himself also had a deep grudge against Duke Viero.
Even so, the question was back to square one. "Does Mr. Brendel think the nobles in the north will give us that chance?" Her Highness asked again. It wasn't that she didn't understand, but everything until now seemed like a dead end.
Will the nobles of the North give them that chance? The answer to that question sounded obvious, but of course, it wasn’t. Those schemers would love to make a mess of the situation.
However, after some thought, Brendel came up with a completely opposite answer. "I think there will be a chance."
The princess looked at him, curious.
Brendel was thinking of what the Kirrlutz people and Tulman had said to him earlier. Maybe Wood really would surprise him. In any case, the key to breaking the ice in the North was the attitude of the Holy Cathedral of Fire.
"The Holy Cathedral of Fire may not want Aouine to get caught up in the mess, Your Highness. We'll just have to wait and see. This time, the Kirrltuz people will give us a satisfactory answer."
"But I don't want to give in to them. You understand that, Mr. Brendel.."
"We won't compromise with anyone, Your Highness."
Unlike Princess Gryphine, Brendel didn't actually have much tension and anxiety because to him, the most difficult and arduous times seemed like yesterday. The darkest part of history was now over, and the future would only get better.
He just needed to identify that goal and persevere through it.
The princess froze slightly, but she seemed to have understood and she looked at Brendel brightly. Brendel gave her a slight nod - some things were as simple as that, but they were still trapped in this situation. Even in the princess’s most vulnerable moments, the Holy Cathedral of Fire hadn't taken the slightest advantage of her. Did the Kirrlutz people presume that they will bow to them now?
The tables had turned.
A faint smile came to Princess Gryphine’s face and she let out a soft breath. She turned around and extended an invite in that energetic, bright and clear voice that was characteristic of elves, "It's a nice day, Mr. Brendel. Would you like to walk with me? I'd like to see the rebuilt Ampere Seale Port."
Brendel gave a little shudder.
He felt those beautiful silver eyes looking at him, and the fondness contained within them was self-evident. However, he was in a dilemma; on one hand, it was an invitation from Her Highness, and on the other hand, it was an arrangement of equal importance to him.
Before coming out, Brendel checked his gained EXP from his spoils of war. The reward could be described as very handsome, especially in the final battle, where nearly all the EXP gained from the defeated Titan that Romaine took out was granted to him. The only problem here was that the gained EXP was now turning a bleak grey.
This represented only one situation.
And that was when the EXPs arrived at the upper limit of the Elemental Activation. What followed was a process he was exceptionally familiar with, the task of the Elemental Activation.
In fact, the timing was just right. The Ampere Seale War was like an important point for Brendel. After the war, everything was all on the right track, and as long as the situation in the north was pacified, he would have time to complete this series of tasks.
But there was a problem.
Now that all of his equipment was damaged, he couldn’t possibly go on a mission completely unequipped. However, repairing equipment - especially magic equipment - was a time-consuming and lengthy task in the game. He had to prepare for it as early as possible.
Princess Gryphine seemed to see his hesitation and asked, "Any problems?"
"Well, I was thinking of going to the workshop area first," Brendel replied somewhat awkwardly.
"I see." The princess seemed to understand, and she thought for a moment. "Does Mr. Brendel know the most famous blacksmith in Ampere Seale?"
The name immediately came to Brendel’s mind. Ampere Seale’s most famous armory was neither run by the dwarves who were best at forging steel, nor did it belong to those elves who were skilled in magic.
Instead, it was a shop ran by a demon.
This shop was very famous in the game, but it wasn't specifically open to players. Rather. it only catered to nobles. Only a few prominent players with enough prestige could enter it, but Brendel, who dealt with skeletons all day long, was apparently not one of them.
He looked up. Her Highness can’t be thinking of coming with me to the clanking, smoke-filled armory for the whole day, right?
However, he heard Princess Gryphine reply in a pleasant voice, "Please get in the carriage, Mr. Brendel. Triniyss, send the carriage to Lucretia's Armory."
Before Brendel could react, he saw the female officer in front of him personally open the carriage door for him...