The carriage arrived at Valhalla. After passing through the city gate, it stopped at the central district. Brendel looked at the scenery outside and made a gesture to Ferlarn to stop the carriage. He opened the door and jumped out of the carriage. The young prince was waiting for him not far away.
Haruz saluted Brendel respectfully. Maynild and another figure dressed in a white linen robe like an ancient Greek goddess but with snake hair and prismatic pupils stood behind him. She was a Medusa. Brendel had heard of this Medusa who was named Lysemeka, but it was his first time meeting her.
“Your Highness, how has your swordsmanship progressed over the past two months?"
Haruz’s face flushed red and he didn’t know what to reply.
It didn’t seem like it was good. Brendel smiled and patted the young prince’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, it’s okay."
Suddenly, there were several turquoise vines hanging down from the few hundred-meter-tall trees. The vines were as thick as a person’s arm and they intertwined to form a basket. Brendel, Haruz, Maynild, and Romaine got into one basket, and the rest of them got into the other basket. After giving a command, the vines rose up slowly. Although it wasn’t Romaine’s first time riding in such transportation, she was still very excited. She made the vine basket swing around in mid-air and shouted loudly, which had frightened Haruz as he grabbed tightly onto the sides of the basket. But as soon as they reached a certain height, the merchant girl clenched onto the sides of the basket as well and dared not move.
"Swordsmanship isn't everything, Haruz,” Brendel looked at the hills that gradually became smaller and the brown forests underneath his feet, and continued where he left off, “If I’m not mistaken, you’ll turn thirteen after next month."
Haruz looked at his teacher confusedly and nodded.
“I’ll teach you magic from next month onwards."
"Magic?” Haruz was shocked. "Can I learn magic too, teacher?"
"Of course.” Brendel nodded his head. Suddenly, he felt as if someone was staring at him. It was Maynild. The knights injuries seemed to have already recovered and she donned a tight-fitting military uniform today, looking very heroic. “What’s the matter, Ms. Maynild?” asked Brendel.
“Have you told the princess about this?” asked Maynild.
“Not yet, but Haruz is quite talented in magic. He has wasted too much time on swordsmanship, perhaps it’s time for him to try something different. It’s too late to learn swordsmanship at the age of thirteen, but it’s the right time to learn magic now. Maybe he’ll become a magnificent mage in the future, who knows?” He smiled. “I’ll report this matter to the princess later."
The vine basket soon rose to the top. There were a number of wooden bridges that extended from the central square so that it was easier for the people in the vine basket to exit from it. Amandina, who was the first to arrive at Valhalla, was waiting for them there with a bunch of parchment in her hands. Tia and the Raban Mercenaries were behind her. When Tia saw Brendel, Romaine, and Ferlarn, she squealed with delight. Amandina, on the other hand, glanced at Brendel. He got the hint and asked, “Are they here yet?"
"Where are they?” asked Brendel.
“Ms. Tania doesn’t like staying in a noisy environment, so she’s now resting in another hall."
If she didn’t like being in a noisy environment, why did she open a store in the downtown area of Ampere Seale? Brendel shook his head in confusion. “Let’s go and meet her first."
The nominal owner did arrive as expected.
Amandina pushed open an arched door with ornamental engravings on it, and there sat a faerie on a cushion by the round wooden table in the hall. There was a small porcelain tea set filled with fragrant tea on the box-sized tea table. When she saw Amandina and the group of people, she turned her head back towards the table, scooped the teacup with both hands, took a sip of tea, and put it back down gently.
“The council is displeased, young man.” Everyone in the hall fell silent after she spoke.
Medusa Lysemeka stared intently at the silver star brooch on the faerie's chest, feeling as if she’d been stabbed.
“Initially, not everyone has agreed to place Azure Lance here for protection. It was Master William and I who managed to convince the council to reach a consensus, but now you’re making us seem very passive."
“Aunt Tania, this is not entirely our fault. I’m sure you know this,” Brendel gestured to Ferlarn to close the door as he replied innocently, “You all are the ones who swore to me that the illusion you’ve cast on Azure Lance would never be broken by anyone in the first place unless that person is a living holy saint. But now, that holy saint is still in Eleranta and your gun has been stolen by the Kirrlutzians."
Tania lifted her eyelids and looked at him in surprise through her silver-rimmed glasses. “Don’t get smart with me, young man. How could the illusion on Azure Lance have dissipated if you hadn’t used it to fight against a real god?"
"But Scarlet wasn't around at that time. If it couldn’t even withstand a little surge of divine power, I think this so-called strongest illusion is too much of a misnomer, isn’t it?"
“If I told Roan what you’ve just told me word-for-word, do you want to bet that he’ll come and find you for a battle like a mad lion?” Tania almost couldn’t hold herself back from laughing at him. “I didn’t know that a little surge of divine power could destroy three cities and blow up the Deadly Tundra Forest. We’ve heard of it, okay?” She knocked on the white porcelain teacup and asked, “This is a nice cup, why do you have a tea set for faries here? It is prepared specially for me?"
“Those are for the light spirits,” replied Brendel after taking a look at the tea set.
“You don’t know how to make women happy, just like your grandfather.” Tania rolled her eyes at him. “Anyway, the council wants us to retrieve Azure Lance."
“That’s easy,” interjected Brendel, “With your strength, you can subdue the Holy Cathedral of Fire easily, right? Plus, Azure Lance is ours in the first place and the Kirrlutzians were in the wrong from the start. So if you step in and ask them to return it, I’m sure they won’t dare to decline with all sorts of excuses."
“You’re so naive, it’s not that simple,” replied Tania, “Although Buga is the most powerful country in the world, the Kirrlutzians are not to be underestimated. Plus, the Holy Cathedral of Fire has a vast territory with a large population. There will be a lot of complicated issues if such large forces are in conflict, and there may even be war. To be honest with you, young man, there is zero chance of convincing the council.”
“And you want to retrieve Azure Lance, don’t you?"
Brendel suddenly came to the realization. “Oh, I see. You guys are counting on me again."
The faerie squinted at him. "Stop pretending, you knew it all along, didn’t you?"
Brendel smiled. “But Aunt Tania, as you can tell, I’m not a match for Kirrlutz at all. Unless there’s someone aiding Aouine behind the scenes."
“Apart from direct intervention,” said Tania.
"Apart from direct intervention,” Brendel repeated with certainty.
“So, what do you want us to do?"
Brendel made a gesture to Amandina who was next to him, and she quickly unrolled the rolls of parchment that she’d been holding in her arms and laid them on the table. They were blueprints. After looking at the blueprints, the faerie said, “This is a Kirrlutzian warship. You want us to help you build this thing?” She laid down on the drawings and looked at Brendel. He nodded and then shook his head.
“I want you to help me build ten of these warships, at your own expense, of course. And I also want you to build a large magical dock in Valhalla that is of post-Year of Thunder technical standards, which is at least capable of building the smallest Type 4 battleship. The dock must have a gargoyle foundry that can provide the dock and the port with at least a brigade of gargoyles as an air defense force, and also to help this dock train three boatmen as well as supporting professional mages."
Tania looked at him in surprise. “You seem to know a lot about magical shipbuilding."
“Just a little,” replied Brendel smugly, “just so I don’t get duped."
“This is just a piece of cake. Any city-state in Buga is capable of building such a dock, so there is no need for us to falsify this matter,” replied Tania disdainfully as she casually flipped through the Kirrlutzian warship blueprints that Brendel and Amandina regarded as their treasures. “You’re the only one who thinks highly of such trashy blueprints."
“The origin of the Kirrlutzians’ technology is from the Wind Elves. Don’t tell me that you don’t know who taught the Wind Elves the technology of magical warships."
Brendel knew, of course, that the Craft Mages in Buga were the only ones who were capable of doing so. One of the two extremes of Vaunte’s Magical Technology was right in front of him at this moment. He inhaled gently and asked, “Does this mean that you can build a Model-1 battleship for us? The Akagas Dragon Class?"
“Huh? How do you know about the Akagas Dragon Class?” asked Tania in surprise. “That’s impossible."
The Akagas Dragon Class was the latest model of battleship that Buga had been building since the Year of the Cold Moon. It would be the revolutionary main battleship for the Slate War in the future, so Brendel didn’t think that it would be possible as well. It was just a casual remark. He then asked another question, “What about the older ones?"
“That would be impossible as well.”
“What about the warships?”
Tania shook her head. “Young man, just drop the idea forever. The Silver Council has already made an exception to be willing to help you. It is impossible to convince the old guys. We can only use the Wind Elves’ or the Kirrlutzians’ technology if we want to build a magical dock. As for the gargoyles, it's a technology that has already been exposed before the second Holy War, so it shouldn’t be a problem. As for the others, you shouldn’t think too much about them."
Brendel sighed. He’d expected this. “If that’s the case, why did you have to give me false hope, Aunt Tania?”
“Because you’re stupid,” the faerie replied uncharitably, “Although we can’t do it, someone else can."
"The Haizaiers. They are the sworn enemies of the Kirrlutzian, and if you ever do stand against the empire one day, I can find a way to contact them for you. I'm sure those arrogant dwarves will be more than happy to help you become a threat to the empire’s southern border." She took a look at Brendel before continuing, "You don't look down on their technology, do you?”
“Of course not!” Brendel was full of joy. They were one of the two extremes of Magical Technology, so he definitely wouldn’t look down on them. It was just that the Haizaiers rarely came into contact with the outside world, so the thought of it didn’t cross his mind.
Tania patted on the blueprints and asked, “So are these all your requests?"
Brendel shook his head immediately. “Of course not, Aunt Tania. I’m obviously not bringing ten warships to the empire to retrieve Azure Lance. The previous request is just for a precaution in case the empire retaliates against Aouine after I’ve gotten Azure Lance back. Retrieving Azure Lance is a difficult task on its own, so I’m going to need your unreserved support in order to do so."
The faerie had expected that he would say that. She looked at him and said, “Don’t tell me that you’re going to need a battleship to head to the empire.”
Brendel smiled awkwardly. She’d said what was on his mind. He quickly shook his head and said, “Obviously not. I just want a small favor from you, Aunt Tania."
After reaching the initial consensus, the discussion that followed was much more laid-back. But of course, it was only relaxing for one party. After two hours of bargaining, Brendel was satisfied, but Tania didn’t seem happy. “If your grandfather was half as shrewd as you, he wouldn’t have ended up in that mess.” These were the faerie's exact words. Of course, although she looked very dissatisfied, she still accepted Brendel’s invite to the banquet in Valhalla. After all, both parties knew very well that these business deals were insignificant to Buga.
When Amandina followed Brendel out of the hall, she still felt as if she was dreaming. She was used to seeing occasions like this, but she still whispered to Brendel and asked dubiously, “My lord, did Ms Tania really promise to give us a thousand gargoyles?"
Brendel nodded his head.
"And three hundred Iron Golems?"
Brendel nodded again.
"And Ether Dragons?"
Brendel could guess what was on her mind. He turned around and replied, “We’re just helping the Bugas to get rid of their stock. These are all outdated technology for them, which are just stored in the warehouse and they have to pay for the maintenance every year. If they want to discard them, it will cost a large sum of money, so it’s more worth it if they gave them to us instead. They’re not a gift for nothing anyway, we have to risk our lives for them."
"But those are gargoyles, my lord. In the earlier years in Aouine, if any noble had a gargoyle as a guard in their castle, it was something honorable. It’s unbelievable that we have so many of them at once.” Amandina couldn’t believe that all of these things were just junk that the Bugas was eager to dispose of. It was at this moment that she realized how powerful the legendary Silver Kingdom was. Of course, she also admired Brendel’s bargaining capabilities. She wouldn’t dare to price herself out of the market if it was her.
Actually, Brendel was more concerned about that last little deal compared to those things. He wanted Tania to help him gather some special materials that Valhalla desperately needed. The white-bearded mages in the Silver League had the richest collection in the world.
It took a while for Amandina to recover from being stunned. She rubbed her forehead and asked softly, “My lord, where are we heading next?"
“The Kirrlutzians gave us trouble, so we have to give them some trouble too. Come on, let’s go and meet Prince Lenarette,” he replied.
Both of them left the hall, and when Prince Haruz was about to follow them, someone grabbed his arm. He turned around and realized that it was Medusa Lysemeka. He looked at her confusedly and asked, “Sister Lysemeka, what’s the matter?"
Lysemeka held a finger in front of her lips and gestured him to shush. She then whispered, “Is that count your teacher?"
“Is he supportive of you being the king?”
Haruz shook his head. “I don’t want to be the king, Lysemeka. Please don’t tell my sister, she’ll scold me."
“Alright, young man,” Lysemeka patted his head, “whether or not you want to be the king, you must hold on to this teacher of yours. I’m afraid there is no one who is more capable than him in your little kingdom."
"What?" Haruz was puzzled.
“Nothing.” Suddenly, Lysemeka asked, "Little prince, can I tag along with your mission to that empire?"
“I thought you didn’t want to go."
"I've changed my mind.”
“Oh, I guess you can. I'll choose some men to go with me and ask Mrs Wenzel to stay behind."
“Thanks a lot, young man,” Medusa Lysemeka licked her lips with her forked tongue and looked in the direction that Brendel had gone to, “it’s interesting that he can persuade the Bugas."