Brendel lowered his head and his brown eyes constricted, bit by bit. His gaze was as still as a lake, but they glinted with some light. One hand was hidden underneath his jacket and the exposed left hand drooped naturally. Those pale and slender fingers were like daggers. The knuckles were thin, like bones, but there was power in them as they curled up.
That was the hand of an excellent swordsman.
He stared intently at Princess Gryphine standing nearby. The look in his eyes was complicated.
“... Tea-teacher?” Haruz looked up, his face pale. He reached out a hand and made a weak grabbing motion as if he wanted to grab the Brendel’s hand that held the sword. Instead, he grabbed onto Brendel’s left wrist; Haruz knew that underneath Brendel’s jacket, Brendel’s hand probably already grasped the unadorned cross-like hilt -- the black blade of the Staff of Earth is fast asleep, sheathed in the scabbard decorated in the style of the Dwarves. It was controlled by a calming influence.
Haruz looked up and those gentle eyes opened wide. A thin layer of sweat covered his forehead as he looked in shock at his teacher. He shook his head violently and his features were almost pleading as he said, “No-no, that’s…”
He had seen, with his own eyes, how Brendel killed. Their opponents had been a group of cult members they encountered during their journey. The Count he knew, his teacher, had drastically changed from his usual gentle and calm demeanor into this persona, cold as a drawn blade, just like right now.
He saw how his teacher turned into an emotionless executioner during battle. Every sword strike would take away a life, as easily as cutting the stumps of grass on a practice field. In the little prince’s memory, only one other person came close to that during battle. Maynild. But the female knight was nowhere near as skilled when it came to sword-wielding. Brendel could easily have it slit someone’s throat so that red, the color of roses, flooded across the platinum of the metal.
The air that got sucked into the exposed windpipe mingled with the clots of blood that kept welling out from the throat, the sight of the lifeless body falling onto the ground, and the muffled sound of something heavy collapsing against the earth. Brendel’s eyes were as cold then as they were now, like metal. That was the sword art of a soldier, Brendel had once said. Haruz shivered in his heart.
He looked back at his sister -- though she had many differences than the sister in his memory, she was more mature and more beautiful but also more authoritative. But that was her sister after all and Haruz would never mistake her for someone else. He suddenly remembered all the things that Brendel had cautioned him before and the fear grew stronger and stronger in his heart, quietly creeping in through the crevices like a vine along the wall.
No matter what, he refused to see his sister dying by the hands of his teacher.
Brendel let Haruz grab his left hand.
He could feel the anxiousness in the little prince’s heart and this anxiousness seemed infectious so that his hand holding the sword was filled with sweat, soaking through the gray wolf leather on the hilt of the Staff of Earth.
This was Viscount Cauldell’s dream, just like the Eternal Sleep the Witches talked about. Only the owner of the dream could decide when this prolonged dream would begin or end. But unfortunately, Viscount Cauldell has long lost himself. His world only existed in this fragmented world of fog. In order to wake him up, they had to make him recover the memory he kept running away from.
The only way to escape this was to wake up. But the owner of the dream had lost himself and his world only existed in this fragmented world of fog. The only way to wake him up was to make him rediscover himself.
Should he finish the incomplete mission?
The voice in his mind seemed to be howling at him to draw his sword. During the long wait, Viscount Caudell’s regret has turned into a monster filled with anger, regret, jealousy, and other negative emotions. It roared in Brendel’s heart like a ghoul.
Brendel’s hand rested his hand on the sword hilt, took it off, and then put it back on. He knew this was a dream maze, and the pale phantom in the dream was clever enough to take advantage of a human’s desires. If he hesitated, he’d be trapped eternally in this fog-filled dream.
What about the opposite?
Brendel remained unmoving.
The Princess Gryphine in front of him might be an illusion, but the emotions in his heart were real. If he drew his sword against her here it was akin to drawing his sword against something that he had always protected --
Being lost in a dream could confuse and fracture someone’s heart.
“Don’t go over there, Bessidine!” Princess Grpyhine saw her “sister” grab Brendel and hurried forward to yank her backward. As soon as she took a step back with Haruz, two knights immediately surrounded them in protection.
The Crown Princess raised her head and looked coldly at Brendel.”Cauldell, I know very well who you are. You had sworn sincerely that you’d leave everything behind. You should know what your uncle did. I am not even asking that you become his enemy, just that you protect Bessidine as her fiance -- but you have disappointed me thoroughly.”
She took out a letter and continued in that same cold voice, “Your true intents have been exposed --”
“Sister, it’s not like that…” Haruz wanted to explain but swallowed his words under Brendel’s cold look. The little prince still hasn’t realized that in this dream they were Cauldell and Bessidine.
And not Brendel or Haruz.
Just as the Crown Princess finished her words, Brendel suddenly heard a huge sound come from above the palace. Almost immediately after, the great hall started shaking. The relief-covered walls and the faux Doric-order pillars started shaking as if the palace was going through a terrifying earthquake.
The nobles in the great hall lost their footing and screams rang out. The scene immediately turned chaotic. The crowd pressed against each other, trying to escape from their various exits. The sounds of tables and chairs getting knocked over and the arched windows shattering filled the great hall.
But the quiet corner in the great hall was in great contrast to the chaos. Brendel, Haruz, Her Royal HIghness, and the knights seemed unbothered by the shaking ground.
Brendel looked at the nobles throwing themselves out of the broken window. He knew this wasn’t an earthquake that Cauldell had experienced, but a turmoil in his heart. His fear probably originated from the letter in Princess Gryphine’s hands. Viscount Cauldell must have gone through something similar and it left an impression on him.
The Princess’ words stabbed through his heart like a sharp blade.
Brendel remained quiet. The voice in his mind did indeed start shrieking, “Hurry, hurry and kill everyone!”
But Brendel held onto the hilt and didn’t pay him any attention.
At that precise moment, cries of fear came from outside the Palace. He turned around and saw the crowd that rushed out now come running back in. Countless numbers of soldiers dressed in the dual-colored red and white battle robes appeared outside the Kinten Palace. These soldiers were dressed from head to toe in armor and even their faces were covered under a metal helmet. They held sharpened swords in their hands and killed anyone within sight. In the blink of an eye, Kinten Palace was flooded by a river of blood.
“How could this be!” The little prince watched this happen from beside Princess Gryphine. His face turned pale and he cried out instinctively, “Who are they?”
“It’s Duke Arreck!” Princess Gryphine inhaled lightly. She raised her head and stared at Brendel as she commanded, “Capture Viscount Cauldell before Duke Arreck arrives!”
How could these soldiers be under the command of Duke Arreck.
In the previous world or this one, the noblemen’s army under Duke Arreck’s command would never wear the red-and-white battle robes. Besides, this never happened during the ball in Brendel’s memory. The scent of blood that floated in the air around him seemed to become real in this scene and become more pungent. In addition, the scent of something burning gradually took over his smell.
Brendel looked up and saw that flames were indeed burning through the ceiling. As if in an instant, the entire great hall turned into a sea of flames.
This was Viscount Cauldell’s dream. Everything that happened in the dream is now being reenacted in Brendel and Haruz’s dream because of their efforts at repairing the Viscount’s dream.
From next to Princess Gryphine, two knights rushed at Brendel. Haruz ran forward and tried to stop one of them, but the dress on the ‘little princess’ almost tripped him.
Brendel pulled out Harlan Gaia. The black longsword left its scabbard like a flash of black light. But he felt the sword was heavier than usual because here, his powers were only 10% of what they were in actuality. He was maybe at an Upper Silver level.
Luckily Brendel had expected this. Abilities in the dream were determined by the owner of the dream, which meant that he represented the Viscount Caudell currently. However, an Upper Silver level was practically useless at a time when the Wind Elves had returned to glory.
The two knights attacking him were both Middle Gold level. No wonder Princess Gryphine didn’t bother hiding the chilliness in her eyes. No matter what era, the gulf between Peak Silver and Middle Gold was uncrossable. Of course, geniuses of geniuses were an exception.
Brendel wasn’t a genius but his wisdom and experience came from millions of people. For example, his sword art. Though he could only fight with the strength of Viscount Cauldell, that didn’t mean he had lost all advantages.
The two knights got close and before they could draw their swords, Brendel’s blade was there. The heavy black blade sliced through the air and the side that reflected the light glinted with cold light. In an instant, it cut into their field of vision.
The two knights looked surprised. They didn’t even see when Brendel drew his sword. Before the second Holy War, Wind Elf knights placed equal value on both attack and defense. Because most of the underlings for the Darkness Dragon were monsters made of dark magic. Exchanging their lives for cannon-fodder was clearly not worth it; besides, the war hadn’t even gotten as cruel or violent as it would get in its later years.
Therefore, Brendel’s sword skills looked insane to them. But this crazy guy clearly had a better grasp on the art of the sword than they did. The two knights were forced into taking a step back but Brendel had already keenly grasped the opportunity.
He followed closely behind and with one strike, he hit the elven sword of one of the knights. With a clear ringing sound, the upper half of the sword directly shattered in half and then flew out and pierced into a table. When has the knight ever seen such a brutal move? With his heavy armor, he kept retreating but Brendel kept pushing forwardly until the other knight took the opportunity to stab his sword forward.
But Brendel didn’t even turn around. That snow-silver elven sword pierced through his body like it was just an illusion.
The illusion didn’t stop at all. Instead, it whirled around and swept its sword horizontally. With a clang, the elven knight’s helmet instantaneously flew into the air.
Underneath was an elven face that Brendel didn’t recognize at all.
But Viscount Cauldell would have a clear memory.
“Nine Luminaries Sword Art!?” Princess Gryphine was slightly surprised. “Cauldell, when did you...”
Princess Gryphine would not recognize Nine Luminaries Sword Art. Brendel thought for a moment and realized that this was the influence of Cauldell’s memories. This was not the Crown Princess being surprised; this was that guy being surprised. Right then, he had already broken through the defenses of two knights. He took a step forward and arrived by Her Royal Highness’ side and grabbed her wrist.
The Crown Princess struggled slightly but couldn’t free herself. She looked up, bit her lip, and stared coldly at him. Her silver eyes almost seemed to spit fire, “Cauldell… kill me right now if you dare.”
“Kill you so that Duke Arreck will forever bear the sin of having committed regicide, right?” Brendel looked at her. In that instant, he seemed to understand many things.
Princess Gryphine trembled imperceptibly and looked up at him.
“Arreck is a member of the All for One Society. Princess, your plan is right in line with his. He doesn’t care about the throne at all. He just wants to turn the kingdom upside down.” Brendel answered quietly.
He looked at Bessidine, “You think there’s still your sister, right?”
Her Royal Highness looked at Bessidine beside her. Those silvery eyes shone with complicated emotions but her tone had already softened. “Kill me and let Bessidine go. She’s really in love with you…”
“No!” Brendel heard the voice cry in anger, “She’s lying. She and her evil sister are in this together!”
“This pitiful guy.”
Brendel laughed in his heart. He looked at the Crown Princess, who couldn’t hide her vulnerabilities for an instant under his gaze, but she immediately became calm again. Then he looked at Haruz and then took in the soldiers rushing into the great hall, dressed in white and red battle robes.
Though he hadn’t experienced this, it was so similar to the scene in his memory. The nobles have long died. He just didn’t know where Bai Jia and the others were. Even if he knew this was a dream, Brendel couldn’t help but worry.
“Teacher, what are you saying?” Haruz didn’t quite understand.
Brendel smiled at him instead of answering. But in that instant, he already had a plan.