The Amber Sword - v5c52p2




The weather had become colder day by day, but the black pines in the forest were thriving. Although the rivers had yet to frost, most of the places were already covered in snow. At the beginning of November, it was rumoured that a troop of knights appeared from nowhere in Mirtai, emerging from the flames. Like gods, they patrolled the sky for a week and disappeared. Those who witnessed that peculiar scene proclaimed that they were the servants of war. Their appearance signified a war era would soon begin.

As the legend spread across all places, a message brought by a messenger pigeon came to Ciel.

"We have received an update, My Lord." When he voiced through Psychic Connection, Brendel was telling his mother about the matters that had happened recently. As it was winter, the fire was burning brightly in the fireplace. Although he had told Windsor many times about those experiences, she never got bored with it. Windsor was especially delighted to learn that her son had a fiancée who was kind and good at housekeeping in Trentheim. Well, that was Brendel's description of Romaine. He figured she was innocent enough to be described as kind. Since she was good at deceiving others, in a sense, it could count as being good at housekeeping. 

However, when he heard Ciel's words, he stood up abruptly from the sofa and gestured towards the ladies before excusing himself into a corner. Then, in a low voice, he asked, "What happened?"

"You guessed correctly. Someone has seen that person near Deadly Tundra Forest. The witness is a farmer near Bernicel, and his name is Old Bayard. He has a daughter named Charice, and they rented a horse-drawn carriage to the person after the explosion. He said that person gave them money and never showed up anymore after that. Someone was with him. According to the girl's description of that companion, Medissa thinks he's a royalty named Babarn."

"They rented a horse-drawn carriage," Brendel mumbled to himself. "Bernicel has inns, so why would they rent that from a farmer? Farmers use hooded carriages, and royalties would not ride those."

"They used it to carry items," Ciel answered.

"Did anyone see that horse-drawn carriage near Deldtal? No, if I were them, I would be more careful. Did they change to another carriage halfway?"

"You've hit the mark. They changed at Alucher and Winterrose Castle. Once we confirmed their route, it was easier to find out the details. The last carriage they used was last seen at Deldtal. Someone saw them in the middle of August."

“In the middle of August,” Brendel repeated. “Deldtal, Kirrlutzian.”

Taking a deep breath, he balled his fists so tightly and squeezed out the next sentence through gritted teeth. "The 'rare beast' they were transporting must be on the carriage, right?"

"Yes," Ciel answered after a long silence.

Amandina and Freya, sitting on the sofa, watched as Brendel's face darkened. 

...

The fireplace at the study was burning brightly, reflecting light on a few faces.

Gryphine put down the letter in her hand and looked at Makarov. This was the tenth letter she received in two weeks, and he personally sent it over. From this, she could tell that when the royalties had foreseen the changes in the situation. It was not weird for Kirrlutz to bestow someone with the title of a countess. In fact, it had nothing to do with Aouine. However, the background of this countess was related to a person who had a touchy status in the kingdom.

After reading the letter, she dismissed the last shred of hope she had and put it on the desk.

Drained of energy, she ordered her servant, "Please invite Count Trentheim here, Mrs. Hill."

The woman left the room. 

Gryphine turned around and sighed as she looked at the yellow leaves outside the window. 

"Your Highness," Makarov voiced softly.

"You don't have to say anything, Makarov. I understand." Gryphine cast him a glance and answered. 

Shortly after, Brendel arrived at the study. His expression seemed rather stiff, as if he had not recovered from the news he had just obtained. After bowing at Gryphine, he looked up and noticed her and Makarov. His gaze lingered on Sly Fox for a while, then shifted his attention to Gryphine. 

No one spoke, but they seemed to have read each other's minds.

She lowered her head and looked at the letter as she spoke softly. "Count Trentheim, I have to tell you about this—"

"It's about the Azure Lance, right?" Brendel interrupted. 

Gryphine looked up at him, the emotion in her silver eyes unfathomable. In the end, she recounted the whole incident regarding Scarlet. Constance had bestowed the title of a count on her. In the past two weeks, information obtained from all over the kingdom confirmed the authenticity of this news, including her identity as a Highlander and her relationship with this count of Trentheim. After saying everything, she asked softly, "Brendel, what are you planning to do?"

After a moment of silence, he said coldly, "Your Highness, what do you think I would do if the Kirrlutzian were to ask me this question?"

Gryphine's hands that were above her lap clenched her skirt tightly. She could hear the anger hidden beneath his calm tone. 

Instead of answering him, she merely stared into his eyes, thinking as she did. 

Makarov was the one who spoke first. "Count Trentheim, they're Kirrlutzian."

"I know."

"Her Highness is telling you this out of respect for you. But I have to ask you one question — have you thoroughly considered the relationship between Trentheim and the kingdom, Trentheim, and Kirrlutz?"'

"So?" 

Makarov sighed and persuaded, "Do not put the kingdom in danger in a fit of rage. The Azure Lance is important to the kingdom but not to the extent that the lives of the innocents should be sacrificed."

As if he had heard a joke, Brendel shook his head. Staring at the important member of the kingdom, he replied, "Sir Makarov, you seemed to have misunderstood something. I do not care about the Azure Lance. Kirrlutz has made a sole mistake today for taking her out of this kingdom against her will. Of course, you might not care about this person, but I have to tell you one thing—"

His voice was not loud, but like a formless magic spell, it caused the room to fall into deadly silence.  

Gryphine and Mrs. Hill had never seen a royalty be so disrespectful towards a colleague. While Gryphine could still maintain her composure, the latter gaped at Brendel. 

Makarov's expression was grim. It suddenly occurred to him that this was not the first time Brendel had rebuked him.

Brendel did not care about his opinion. Instead, he said softly, "If the people of Kirrlutz think they can force the royalty of Aouine to back down by waging war, then I only have one sentence for them. I, Brendel, the castellan of Coldwood, the leader of Trentheim, the count of Aouine, do not tolerate bandit-like behavior."

Facing Makarov, he enunciated each word, "I swear that the people of Aouine would not be sacrificed without reason, but the kingdom should protect its people, for it's the most glorious thing in the world. The people of Aouine can suffer today for their fellow and then tomorrow, more people will suffer because of them. Sir Makarov, this is the pride and integrity of a nation. If others think they can trample upon our pride and dignity, they cannot be more wrong."

At the end of his sentence, he bowed to Gryphine like a knight bidding farewell to his king before leaving for war.  

He turned around and opened the door. Before he left, he said, "Your Highness, I promised a little girl that I'll protect everyone one of them, and I'll keep my word. Whether the enemy is Kirrlutz or Madara, I'll not have any regrets, even if I have to fight against the world. If this is what the Kirrlutzian want, then I can only answer them with one word: war."

With a creaking sound, the door was shut before the three people in the room. 

Various emotions crossed Makarov's face. His lips quivered as if he wanted to say something, but in the end, all that left his lips was a sigh. He then left the study after Brendel. 

After a long moment, Mrs. Hill finally recovered from the previous shock. Patting her chest to suppress the lingering fear, she said, "How could Count Trentheim act that way? D-Does he plan on waging war against Kirrlutz?"

Gryphine turned around and looked at her in a daze. 

"Mrs. Hill, did you know how the royalties under my father's reign answered me when faced with the same question?"

She took a deep breath as she recalled the rainy night at Ampere Seale.