"The Kirrlutzian's envoy?"
"It's a person named Donnace Bernie. He's a viscount–"
"Wait, I know him," Brendel interrupted, recalling that Veronica once told him this name. He was a secret envoy for Constance. After the explosion in Deadly Tundra Forest, Kirrlutz sent a group of envoys to investigate the whereabouts of the eldest prince, and that man was the leader of the group. Veronica even told him that the person's true purpose was to confirm the death of the eldest prince.
"I know this group of envoys," he added, finally remembering this matter. Brendel had been busy with issues that came one after another, though it was mainly because of the war in autumn and the princess's letter that caused him to forget about this particular matter.
"Is the Kirrlutzian preparing to return to Kirrlutz? Why would Dilferi tell us about this suddenly?"
"No, My Lord. As a matter of fact, Kirrlutzia's group of envoys are stopping over in Lantonilan. According to the information we obtained, their leader is someone else. This Sir Bernie has never shown up," Ciel answered.
"What exactly is going on?" Brendel frowned.
"Apparently, Sir Bernie suddenly fell ill and returned with the fleet at Deldtal. He never went ashore at Arreck."
Brendel thought it was obviously an excuse. Since Donnace was the Queen's secret envoy, he would not return early without accomplishing anything. At first thought, Brendel thought the Kirrlutzian must have discovered something but quickly realised Dilferi would not have known about this if that was the case. Only a handful of people in the territory knew about the Folded Sword Squad and Lenarette's whereabouts.
Suppressing his doubts, he asked, "This is the Kirrlutzian's internal affairs. Why would Ms. Odinar inform us about this?"
Ciel naturally understood what he was implying, and he answered, "My Lord, here's what happened. Apparently, during the return of the Kirrlutzian's fleet, they hunted a rare beast in Shining Sea and intended to present it to Her Majesty. In order to guard against the attacks from the Holy Cathedral of Earth, they chose to travel on land. The fleet docked at Grey Harbor. Sir Bernie and his servants and assistants traveled past the territory of Grey Harbor and Yanbao. You know the current condition of Yanbao. No one knows how Count Yanbao is doing. Some say he's severely ill, while some say he's dead. Anyhow, ever since April, he has not appeared before the public. As for Ms. Odinar, uh, she's now visiting Trentheim... as a guest."
When he mentioned "guest", he felt awkward since everyone knew Dilferi was worried about her father and was eager to return to Yanbao. However, she was confined to Coldwood by Brendel. Well, this was also the princess's command as an act to protect Dilferi's safety so that she would not act recklessly.
After pausing for a while, he continued, "All in all, Yanbao is lacking a leader. Under Baron Dahl's lead, those guys spread all kinds of rumours to seize the chance to usurp Count Yanbao. However, with the reputation of House Odinar, they would not be able to succeed within a short amount of time. Besides, Kirrlutz had accumulated quite a large amount of influence in Yanbao, so they would not give up on the chance to butter up Sir Bernie. I don't know if you still remember this, but you and Her Highness once ordered Count Janilasu to investigate Yanbao. Not long after that, Count Janilasu sent a group of people into Yanbao, and they performed their job pretty well. Very quickly, they contacted the former subordinates of Dilferi and established a relationship network with them."
Brendel knew it was the princess's order, and he had nothing to do with it.
However, Ciel made it sound as if he lost half the merit.
Brendel knew it was a kind of flattery, but he did not bother to expose him, or rather he was used to it. Only then did he find out something was amiss.
Ciel continued, "These people reported this matter to Count Janilasu and even provided videos of Sir Bernie and his people recorded using the Recording Crystal. Then, Count Janilasu sent the complete crystal and reports to Ms. Odinar. This matter by itself isn't important, but Ms. Odinar heard about you, Mdm. Veronica, and Prince Lenarette enter Deadly Tundra Forest together. After finding out the true purpose of the group of envoys, she was worried that the Kirrlutzian would hurt you, so she sent the items to Medissa. Unexpectedly, Her Highness did notice something weird–"
"What is it?" Brendel was already frowning lightly by then.
"There's nothing wrong with Sir Bernie, but Princess Medissa recognised someone among his entourage."
"Recognised someone?" Brendel thought of something. "Who is it?"
"This person should be someone from the convoy of the Kirrlutzian and Veronica. I have some impression of him, but it's not as deep as Medissa had."
Medissa's voice rang out at that moment, and she sounded gentle and logical as usual. "My Lord, if I remember correctly, this person is called Boymer. I've heard someone address him in that way. At that time, he entered the glacier with us. He's part of the Kirrlutzian royal army and looks young. I think he's only in his twenties."
Brendel felt chills down his spine, causing the hair on the back of his neck to stand up. Then, he took a deep breath. Though he had yet to speak, Amandina and Freya could see the seriousness on his face. Worried, they exchanged glances before looking at him again. Brendel propped his arm on the desk as images flashed across his mind. After pondering for a moment, he blurted, "When did Kirrlutzian's group of envoys arrive at Deldtal?"
"August 19th. It was the Highlanders' Fire Festival," Amandina answered without thinking twice.
"August 19th," Brendel muttered under his breath, repeating the date. "It's the fourth week after we left Deadly Tundra Forest. Exactly one month."
Then, he asked again, "Ciel, how long has it been since Sir Bernie arrived at Yanbao?"
Ciel calculated the time. "Ms. Odinar received the letter last week, but it took some time before it arrived Trentheim, so I'm pretty sure he has been there more than a month."
A month. That's enough time for the Kirrlutzian to walk back to Lusitar, Brendel sneered in his mind.
Freya, who had been watching the changes in his expression, finally asked, "Brendel, what happened?"
"It seems like we've overlooked something, Freya," he enunciated each word.
"It's my fault. This never even crossed my mind." He patted his forehead in frustration. Then, in a deep voice, he said, "Ciel, have our scout ask around, search the vicinity of Deadly Tundra Forest, and spread that guy's image around. Affirm if others have ever seen him—No, I'm sure someone has seen him before. I want to know where and when. I want to get to the bottom of this as soon as possible. Also, try to dispatch a group of people to Kirrlutz. If it's not possible, ask Count Janilasu for help. He won't reject us."
"My Lord, Ms. Romaine had sent someone out before I recounted this piece of news to you. Everyone in our territory has been engaged. However, the mercenary commanders are still unaware of the whole situation and wanted to ask if you're making a mountain out of a molehill. That's also why Medissa and I have come to see you."
"She made the right decision." Brendel let out a long breath when he heard this. Then, he said solemnly, "Wait for the news. Let's hope that the Kirrlutzian won't regret—"
He paused when he felt someone touching his arm. Turning around, he saw Amandina looking at him with a worried gaze.
"Do you have news about Scarlet?" she asked.
He nodded slowly.
The victory of the war in autumn had not spread to the southern regions, but rumours had spread in nearby places affected by the battle, causing people in Radner to feel uneasy in the initial two weeks. At the same time, they were feeling expectant. On one hand, their uneasiness stemmed from their fear of being negatively affected by the battle. On the other hand, they were hoping for the young and accomplished count to be their new ruler. In contrast to the countless rumours spreading throughout the southern region, Viero and Trentheim were eerily silent. In Viero, Castle Vallendaren had been sending out messengers every day, carrying secret messages back and forth to the northern and southern regions.
Meanwhile, only a few perceptive people managed to realize that a storm was brewing in Trentheim beneath the peacefulness. Even the merchants at Port Gris could tell that the frequency of soldiers patrolling the area had increased. The interrogation had also become more stringent. Moreover, the export of goods had changed secretly. Magic Crystals within the Black Forest had decreased in the few months and seemed to have depleted. Leather goods and metal ores had been replaced by other goods. Besides that, the number of ships with imports docking at Port Gris had increased tremendously.
People were speculating that Trentheim was preparing for a new war.