The Amber Sword - v5c42

The breeze blew past the treetops and the leaves rustled, creating a melody.

 "It all began during your grandfather's era." Her Highness' gentle voice seemed to harmonize with the melody, "Around sixty years ago, when Anson the Eleventh was still on the throne, the kingdom had Darius, the Sword Saint, and Tulman, the Lord of the Silver Fortress. It was the Year of Thunder, Aouine had just issued the decree for militia training, and it was the time where Vanmier started to build its defence line at Fortress Riedon. It was the most glorious period in this ancient kingdom ever since the Seifer Dynasty, and your grandfather’s name was one of the most dazzling names in that era."

Brendel looked towards the field quietly. The clouds floated over Stag Forest and Yulsong’s mountains could be seen faintly in the distance.

Sword Saint Darius was indeed a legend in that era, being the strongest Sword Saint in Aouine, and the only general in the kingdom to have served as the marshal of the United Army of Holy Cathedral of Fire.

But the light of this star didn't last long. Soon after the Holy War ended, he'd inexplicably disappeared. Some said he was dead, some said he'd just gone missing, and there were even rumours saying that the Sword Saint would return to rescue Aouine when the kingdom was in danger again. But Brendel knew that it was only a fond wish as these legends had been buried underground along with the kingdom’s destruction, and no one would remember them a thousand years later.

If he wasn’t experiencing what he was going through right now, he wouldn’t have known that Darius had never left the kingdom. He was born and had his last breath in this land, and he was buried anonymously in the city that was located at the edge of the kingdom.

No one would've imagined that the kingdom’s former hero had once lived and was buried in this inconspicuous mill that was located by Bucce River outside the city of Praguesse.

"Princess Gryphine,” said Brendel. These matters weren't related to his current situation, but he felt that there was some kind of connection. “Can you tell me what exactly happened to my grandfather in the end? What made him leave the capital and live here in seclusion? I know that it must’ve something to do with Bunide’s Highland Knights, and perhaps with Aouine's Royal Family as well. This is why you’re here now, right?"

“You’re always exceptionally sensitive to the way things are, my lord. You seem to be able to see the past and the future. I’ve always admired you and I still do till this day,” whispered Gryphine. She then shook her head and said, “I would never lie to you, I really don’t know what happened to your grandfather. All I know is that after there was a decline in the royal power, the kingdom became weaker day by day and Aouine’s glory was gone. Before you appeared, my brother and I were in the depths of despair after my father died."

Brendel could hear his heartbeat. He looked at Princess Gryphine while thinking of why she’d told him that. At this moment, the afternoon breeze brushed through her silver hair gently and her skirt swayed along with the wind. She held her longsword with her delicate hands as she stood there with her face expressionless. It was as if she’d just casually brought them up, and no one could tell what was on her mind.

Brendel pursed his lips. He knew that she would tell him something eventually, otherwise, she wouldn’t have written a letter and even avoided the Royal Faction and her grandfather just to meet him here. So, he waited patiently for her to talk.

Sure enough, a few moments later, Gryphine continued, “But don’t you worry, I can at least assure you that your grandfather and your family members weren’t at fault during that turmoil. Your grandfather took the blame because of some other reasons and chose to live in seclusion with your family. I don’t know much about what had happened back then, but secrets are passed down in a Royal Family for generations, and my father told me that House Covardo will always owe the Kardiloso family a favour."

She then glanced at Brendel with her silver eyes and said, “Of course, it’s probably two favours now…”

Brendel was stunned.

His thoughts ran wild in his mind. After hearing what Her Highness had said, he quickly assembled the information in his head, gradually piecing out a rough outline. This meant that his grandfather, Sword Saint Darius, wasn’t at fault for anything that’d happened in Alkash Mountains that day, and he’d taken the responsibility for someone else. Everything started to make sense. No wonder the Holy Cathedral of Fire didn’t investigate further into his grandfather’s disappearance after he lived in seclusion. It seemed like the Holy Cathedral of Fire knew the inside story and they just put on a show after that.

Though he was still curious about the person whom his grandfather had taken the responsibility for. The princess’ words made it seemed like he’d taken the responsibility for Aouine’s Royal Family, but it didn’t really make sense because none of the Royal Family members participated in the Holy War, and it wasn’t related to the battle at Alkash Mountains. But if it was for someone else, why did House Covardo owe the Kardiloso family a favour? What kind of person could let his grandfather and the Royal Family make such a big sacrifice for him?

Brendel knew very well that if his grandfather didn’t leave the capital when he was in his prime, Aouine’s royal power wouldn’t have declined so quickly. This ancient kingdom would probably fall one day, but nobody would’ve expected it to happen so soon.

Is it for the Holy Cathedral of Fire?

He then shook his head shortly after, as the Holy Cathedral of Fire’s attitude wouldn’t be like that if it was for them.

"Your Highness, do you really not know a single thing about what had happened at that time?"

“My lord, these have long been history when I was born. I’ve only heard about them from my father and my history teacher, so I'm just as curious as you are about the history of that era."

"No,” Gryphine shook her head gently, “Actually, I’m more resigned to this than you. I don’t understand why the late King Anson had made that choice. If he didn’t do so, the kingdom wouldn’t be this weak now, allowing others to trample upon it."

Brendel saw a glimpse of light in her eyes and was suddenly soft-hearted. Wasn’t this his doubts and his wishes?

May the black pines be evergreen, may Aouine live forever; may faith shine still as always, may the longswords stay as sharp as ever.

This ancient song gave hope to everyone who was attached to this homeland.

He then paused, suddenly remembering what the princess’ intentions were. Did she invite him all the way here to meet up with him alone just to tell him this? She said that the Covardo family would always be indebted to the Kardiloso family, but it wasn’t necessary for her to bring this up now. If she still thought fondly of the relationship between the Covardo family and the Kardiloso family, then there wouldn’t be bad blood between the Royal Family and Trentheim right now. Though Brendel knew very well that the princess had never fully trusted him.

She was always careful of the relationship between him and her and her brother, even though she knew that he was the grandson of Sword Saint Darius.

“My lord, I still remember how you described this kingdom's future in your letter, saying how ideal Aouine could be. I’ve always wished that the citizens will have a different faith in this kingdom.” Princess Gryphine suddenly changed the subject and said softly, “Since Count Radner has been defeated and Arreck is dead, there’re no enemies standing in your way now. Can you tell me what’ll happen in the future?"

Brendel shuddered.

He looked at the delicate half-elf girl, who stood there with her sword in her hands. She just asked him that question straightforwardly, as if she’d asked a question that was as simple as whether he’d eaten his lunch or not.

Brendel fell silent for a moment.

"What does Your Highness think?" he asked.

Gryphine didn't say anything. She was a little disturbed. She thought that she was surrounded by a lot of trustworthy people who had the same beliefs as her and would fight towards the same goal together, which was to change the face of this ancient kingdom completely. But she then realized that these were just her wishful thinking. Nobody knew how the kingdom would turn out in the future, and the future she wanted was just one of the possibilities.

She looked at Brendel. Her silver eyes were emotionless, she just wanted to see through him.

"A while ago, my brother wrote me a letter saying that he intends to betroth his sister to you,” said Princess Gryphine quietly.

This information seemed to have hit Brendel hard.

At that moment, he understood what her thoughts were.

Trentheim was now very powerful, and Valhalla’s army had displayed their great strength in the battles with Madara and Radner. Now that Arreck and Radner were dead, there didn't seem to be an army in the South that could stand in the way of this new count. Lantonilan’s army was his best allies, whereas Viero’s army was old and decrepit, and Karsuk’s Highland Knights would definitely side with him. Princess Gryphine realized that there was no longer a reliable force around her that could hold Brendel back.

She tossed and turned every night as she'd suddenly realized that there was another Arreck around her.

Brendel had promised to give her an ideal Aouine in the future, but she didn’t know how to trust him. Perhaps he’d really had that thought, but people would change, just like Grandmaster Fleetwood and Sir Makarov. When a person had a higher status, their thoughts would be different. She was born in a royal family and had been betrayed by the royals before, so she had trust issues. 

The only way she had now was to get Brendel onto her chariot.

She lowered her head and there was a slight flush on her neck. “In order to repay the favour that was owed by the Covardo family back then, the late King Anson wanted Princess Gloria to marry your father, but Scott was engaged to your mother at that time. After Anson the Great, his brother, King Oberg the Sixth, succeeded to the throne and the matter was put on hold. But until King Oberg the Seventh’s era, there was always a marriage contract between the Covardo family and the Kardiloso family, so every Highland Knight's descendant had to be betrothed to a Cardiligial noble. Do you know why you didn’t have to do so, Brendel?"

It was her first time calling his name. She then said softly, “It’s because you’re betrothed to me, and Chief Bunide already knew this a long time ago."

Brendel took a deep breath.

He was confused, yet he knew very well that he’d longed for her to be his wife. But the princess he liked was the strong, independent and the one who never gave up, not someone who’d easily promised to marry him in order to repay favours or to get him onto her chariot. What did she treat him and Romaine as?

He stared closely at her silver eyes, hoping that he could get a clue from them.

But he got nothing from them.

"I am not Arrek, Your Highness."

Gryphine's face flushed, feeling deeply insulted. She clenched her fists in anger and looked at him. “My lord, I’ve never had that thought."

“Yes, you had. You knew that there's a marriage contract between us, but why did you only bring it up today? It’s because you just realized that the marriage contract is of value to you. It’s just an insignificant verbal agreement before this, right?” Brendel’s heart was cold and he felt that his faith was destroyed. He continued angrily, “I’m disappointed in you, Your Highness. You should know by now that everything I’ve done for you isn’t superficial."

After taking a deep breath, he continued, "Well, I admit that I had once longed for you, but the person I longed for was someone who has the same dreams and beliefs as me, not a woman who compromised just for the sake of it. Do you still remember the ideal kingdom that I’ve described to you in the letter? Your Highness, what you’re doing right now is bringing disgrace to it."

Princess Gryphine's face turned pale. She shuddered and looked at Brendel incredulously.

"But you speak with a strong sense of righteousness.” Tears welled up in the half-elf’s silver eyes. She clenched her fist while sobbing. “My lord, do you remember what you did to me in Ampere Seale that day?"

Brendel felt as if a sharp sword had pierced through his heart.

He opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came out.

He finally understood why Princess Gryphine didn’t trust him as much as before after the incident in Ampere Seale. All this while, he’d always thought that she was wary of how his power would endanger Aouine’s royalty in the future. But now he realized that his irrational behaviour at that time had traumatized this seventeen-year-old girl.

Brendel wanted to slap himself badly. His face flushed as he stood there.

"I'm sorry..."

"Your Highness."

"I'm sorry."

At that moment, he could only think of those two words to express his feelings.

Princess Gryphine bit her lower lip and looked at him with tears on her face. She was so angry that she almost shivered, but she calmed down eventually. She wiped her tears and looked away as if she was going to something irrelevant, “So, can I still trust you, my Lord?"

Brendel also calmed down.

Both of them stood in the courtyard as the breeze blew past them. They could only hear the insects chirping at that moment. In the distance, Brendel saw a few elks galloping through Stag Forest.

There was a moment of silence.

At last, he nodded his head.

"You said that everything you’ve done for Aouine isn’t superficial and you’re still working towards the ideal kingdom, right?” asked Gryphine softly. She looked towards the forest with her face slightly flushed. 

Brendel nodded his head again.

Princess Gryphine opened her mouth as if she felt suffocated after knowing the answer. “I’m sorry for blaming you wrongly, my lord."

Brendel replied with great embarrassment, “I’m the one who is supposed to apologize, Your Highness."

When Gryphine turned around and saw how awkward she was, she burst into laughter. The smile on her face at that moment was the same smile she showed when Oberwei told her the story of the young knight that day. That story reminded her of the kingdom that was once strong and powerful.

“Brendel, do you still remember the story of your grandfather that I’ve told you just now?"


"Do you want to know the truth?"

Brendel was slightly stunned and he looked at her confusedly. Gryphine shook her head and said, “Don’t look at me like that, my lord, I didn’t lie to you. Though I know that there are a few people who’d survived the battle in Alkash Mountains."

"Who?” Brendel asked excitedly. It was as if he’d caught a ray of light in the darkness.

"Silver Queen Constance, the King of Wind Elf, and Great Priest Farnezain."