The Amber Sword - v5c54p2




Immediately, the maids bent their backs and retreated, giving Scarlet furtive glances before retiring, as if they were afraid that the unworldly girl would offend the queen too severely and be beheaded. The round-faced maid even risked her life by grabbing Scarlet's hand and giving it a firm shake. Naturally, her movements did not go unnoticed by Constance, but she pretended to have seen nothing. Once the maids had left, she said, "Although it's your first meeting with them, they seem to care about you a lot. Do you know the situation of the Highlanders in Kirrlutz?"

Scarlet was not a puppet, so she could feel the concern from these young girls of the same birth. Though she was slightly touched, she remained silent. 

"What a stubborn little girl," Constance remarked. "But it will do you no good to be stubborn. You are the countess of Kirrlutz today, and you will forever be one. Whether you accept this title or not, you must pledge your allegiance to me." 

She warned, "I can tell you unequivocally, Scarlet, that if you dare to leave the White Rose Garden at San Cotepe Palace even half a step, then I will send an army to attack Aouine and hang that beloved count of yours."

Scarlet looked at her in disbelief, her face paling from terror. However, Constance, unbothered, continued, "Of course, until you swear allegiance to me, I will set aside that land in the Wilderness of Four Realms as your territory, as promised. But remember, there is not much time left for you. I'm sure that you do not want to gamble with the future of your Lord Brendel, do you?"

The Highlander almost staggered to their feet when she heard that name coming out of the queen's mouth, and for a moment, she felt like the world was spinning around her. Even though she felt helpless, she mustered up her courage that seemingly came from nowhere. 

Gritting her teeth, she raised her hand, and the emerald-coloured lance suddenly appeared in her hand. With a low, beastly growl emitting out of her throat, she raised it and stabbed Constance in her abdomen, almost piercing through the Silver Queen. Then, as if she was drained of energy, she panted. She looked up but could not see any signs of pain on Constance's face. Instead, the latter looked at her grimly. "Is this your answer?"

"You..." Scarlet looked at the lance in her hand in bewilderment.

Constance raised one hand and placed it on the Azure Lance, then pulled it out of herself inch by inch. Glancing at her blood-stained abdomen and then at Scarlet, she shook her head in disappointment." Azure Knights acknowledge you; there is no way you or your Azure Lance can hurt me. Go down. You need to clear your head. But mark my words, if you dare act rashly again, I'll be the first to take Aouine to the task."

Scarlet was petrified.

"Guards!" Constance shouted coldly with one hand over her abdomen. "Bring Countess Mitra down."

A moment after the guards escort Scarlet away, a look of resignation finally appeared in her eyes as she grimaced before releasing the hand pressed to her abdomen. Her palm was already covered in blood. However, instead of summoning a bishop or physician, she glanced behind a bush in the garden and said coldly, "Come out. It's not decent to be sneaking around." 

A few minutes later, the bush rustled, and out came a man dressed as a chamberlain. He looked at Constance with some trepidation and asked respectfully, "Your Majesty, are you all right? Do you want-"

Constance interrupted, "What are you doing hiding there? Are all heralds out there dead?"

"Your Majesty, of course not. It's because it's a secret document from the Wilderness of Four Realms." The man was startled and replied in a meek manner.

"A secret message from the Wilderness of Four Realms." Constance frowned. "What is going on with the elves again?"

The man hurried a little closer and whispered something to her.

Constance's face fell slightly as she listened. "Is this letter credible?"

"Yes, Your Majesty."

... 

North of Janirasu and Grey Mountain regions, the infiltration of the Lion Beastmen was dwindling by the day, and such a situation seemed unusual in the north where tensions were increasing. Human scouts headed north and soon found an unprecedentedly large army on the grassland. This army was converging from all directions, and at the moment, was headed north, approaching the pass of Anvil Mountain. This piece of news soon made its way to the Shining Sea, over Ampere Seale, and inland to those who needed it.

"Brendel," Gryphine called out to Brendel in the courtyard when the latter was preparing the saddles for the horses. Brendel was slightly startled at the sight of Gryphine, who stepped out of the house. "Your Highness, I was just about to go to your place."

"Come to say goodbye to me?"

Brendel scratched his hair in an ungraceful manner. Although he did intend to do so, it was still quite embarrassing to be pointed out by Gryphine just like that. After all, this was his home, and she was his guest, so to leave his guest out in the cold while he rushed back to his territory was a bit impolite, to say the least. However, it just was not the time for him to care about courtesy.

"I am sorry, Your Highness. My subordinate has been missing for some time now, and I must hurry." That was the only reply he could give.

Gryphine was slightly displeased. "You weren't so polite the other evening when you slammed the door out of my study."

"I slammed the door?" Brendel was shocked. If word got out that he treated Gryphine so rudely, he might actually be stripped of his title. Besides, he only left the room first because he did not want to waste his time talking to Makarov. He sure did not slam the door behind him.

Gryphine looked at him quietly. "Brendel, it's fine for you and the Royal Faction to have opposing views in politics. I understand your ideals–but the power of the old nobles are deeply rooted in the kingdom, and the Royal Faction is part of them. You have offended them many times, and they may not let it slide."

Brendel was a little disdainful. He knew too well about those old nobles that she had spoken of in his previous life. They were simply a bunch of worthless people. The Royal Faction was considered to be slightly better than them, but it was no more than that. 

He shrugged and said, "I am just stating my stance. I admire Sir Makarov and the others' decisiveness, but I just don't agree with it. Today, the people of Kirrlutz can take one man from our kingdom, and so can they take more tomorrow. If Aouine cannot even protect their people, then what dignity can this ancient kingdom speak of?"

"I understand," Gryphine replied, "but what do you intend to do, Brendel? Are you really planning on declaring war on Kirrlutz, as you say?"

"Are you here to dissuade me, Your Highness?"

Gryphine shook her head gently. "I can't dissuade you, but I'm sure you know the limits, don't you?"

Brendel heard the resignation in her tone, and he could not help but soften a little. Being too proud in front of a lady did not appear to be seemly. He was silent for a moment and nodded. "I'm not so irrational. As for the war, it depends on Kirrlutz's attitude, but I must bring my subordinate back from the hands of the Kirrlutzians. It's hard to say if the queen will be furious, but either way, Aouine needs to be prepared for war."

Gryphine breathed a sigh of relief.

"I knew that you would be rational."

She paused for a moment then said, "Well then, I will appoint you as the head of the next Aouine lead envoy to Kirrlutz. What do you think?"

Brendel watched as she looked up at him. Her pale silver-grey eyes seemed to contain some sort of cunning glint, and it stunned him for a moment. 

"Envoy? What envoy?" 

He could not wrap his head around this for a moment. Could it be that Her Highness had formed a group of envoys to condemn Kirrlutz into returning the hostage? Wait, that's too outrageous. I was planning to sneak into Kirrlutz's territory with a small group of people and rescue Scarlet secretly, but Her Highness' suggestion is simply much greater than mine. Kirrlutz would surely feel humiliated!
 
"Your Highness, that... is a little inappropriate, isn't it?" Brendel was taken aback and carefully weighed his words.

"Why?"

"Uh..." He pondered over it and thought that the princess might be a bit too idealistic. Left with no choice, he explained, "The Kirrlutzians value their reputation, and that Silver Queen even more so. If we do that, wouldn't we be humiliating them?"

"Where were you thinking of, Brendel?" She looked at him in surprise. "I am asking you to be the ambassador of Aouine in the Holy War.”

"Holy War?" Brendel could not help but raise his voice. "The Holy War has begun?"