These were just suspicions and not genuine evidence. Nonetheless, with Mangrove risking his life to get here, there must be solid evidence to be presented, and Brendel was aware of that.
“About a week ago, Kirrlutzian envoys arrived in Aouine,” Veronica replied.
“What do you mean?” Brendel frowned at the statement, which was no longer breaking news at this point. With one of Kirrlutz’s Squad leaders and their crown prince missing during the catastrophic explosion, it made perfect sense that the Kirrlutzians sent a special envoy to investigate and potentially locate their whereabouts.
If they don’t however, it would have raised even more suspicion on the ruling class. He wasn’t quite sure why Veronica would mention this as noteworthy as he side-eyed the Squad leader herself.
“On the surface, it sure is protocol,” Mangrove finally lowered his cigarette, on a leisure pace he continued, “But the problem is that there is an unnecessary excess of a person within the parade.”
“Unnecessary person, you say?”
“His name is Donnace Bernie, and he is the secret envoy of Her Highness. Before he left the kingdom we got intel that he was here to confirm the death of the crown prince.”
It all instantly clicked. It meant somebody wanted the crown prince to die, and this person could just be the Silver Queen herself, because Count Bernie is one of her closest subordinates. But I’ve gotta be careful, this is a revolt in the making and it could be treason if the wrong assumptions are made.
Giving it some thought, he proceeded with another question,
“That’s just one proof, it could be a coincidence. After all, this isn’t a minor technical mishap, the line of succession is crucial to the future of the empire, it is reasonable if the Queen sent someone close to her to investigate the alleged death of the crown prince.”
Veronica glanced towards Mangrove, before she answered, “That is true, but we have another.”
“Who?” Brendel was surprised but seeing that the both of them were this certain they must have something ready. Regardless, he knew it would be far too treacherous for them to have kidnapped an envoy from the Queen to the guest house.
What caught him completely off-guard was Veronica's subsequent reply, “Brendel, do you remember the Lizard Sword Saint that you’ve met at the Spiral Platform?”
“Shang,” Brendel readily answered. It was a man that he shared a life and death scenario with, that name wouldn’t have slipped past him just yet.
“You know him?” Veronica was rather astonished.
Brendel nodded, “There aren’t many Sword Saints from the other species, to begin with. Besides, I’m acquainted with the Grey Fins Nagas, I’m familiar with their archenemy.
Shang is from the Red Ring Lizard race, and they are known to be of servitude to the Grey Fins Nagas. Shang however was the greatest warrior amongst them, and has been a Sword Saint for decades now.”
“Well, he’s locked under this very guesthouse as we speak.”
“What the f...” Brendel was terrified, nearly jumping out of his seat. He had always assumed the brute had returned to the Shining Sea after the explosion, only now was he finally notified that he was held prisoner by Veronica.
He couldn’t think of what he was supposed to react next besides, “What you are saying is…”
Veronica fanned the smog before her face as she replied, “Brendel, there is something I can guarantee you wouldn’t know. The Grey Fins Nagas have aligned with Her Highness.”
“So…?” A bold thought flashed through Brendel’s mind.
The female Squad leader did not reply, but she did, however, offer a nod in response. For a servant of the empire and the crown, a discussion of such a matter was already treasonous as it was, but for her to mouth those words would require her head off her shoulders.
Nonetheless, that was more than what he needed to know. It all went as he imagined, Shang was actually sent here by the Silver Queen to assassinate the crown prince!
He found it rather hilarious however that he initially thought their remarks were targeted at him. But now he truly considered it, there were just so many gaping plot holes. It turned out the Grey Fins Nagas were in search of an ally on land.
But they wouldn’t settle for a bloodsucker like Arreck, despite his insistence that they would ally with him, in turn making their archnemesis allying with other enemies of their own. Belatedly, however, he found out that his perspective had only been restricted to Aouine.
The truth was, the Grey Fins Nagas didn’t even see Arreck as an equal, they wanted someone on land that would support them militarily and not one that would pick a fight with Brendel.
With that in mind, the Kirrlutzians were truly the best options there were. If the Silver Queen were to take over the entire Vaunte, she’d definitely need a partner from the sea.
Furthermore, in his first encounter with Shang on the Spiral platform, his first reaction was to murder himself. But what baffles him with this deduction was that, if the Grey Fins Nagas were to assassinate him, they would have done that at Trentheim, since it was by the sea.
Even if that was his home base, the only other person amongst the party that could put up a genuine fight was his mentor Mephisto, yet here the Grey Skins Nagas chose the Deadwood forest deep inland instead.
Besides the obvious downsides for the Sea Lizards and the Nagas to arrange an assassination miles away from the sea, they knew full well then that Brendel had formidable allies Veronica, Mephisto, and Aloz by his side, the news of which was well known to the public, it would be a shocker if the Nagas were not informed.
Henceforth, the only assumption Brendel had now was that Shang was there with further motives.
But what could they be?
It was not plausible for them to be helping Arreck, the Grey Skins Nagas were not a charity organization, to enter deep within Aouine territory to support a rebel organization, especially one with clear ties to the All-for-one society was strange, to say the least.
Now with the revelation that the Grey Skins Nagas were working with the Silver Queen, all dots seemed to have finally connected, and that Shang’s goal was aimed directly at the Crown prince.
The conclusion pointed towards the Lizardman Sword Saint being down on his luck and his assault was caught red-handed by Veronica herself.
In the history of the game, Veronica was notably not on par with Shang. However, after the Battle of the Loop of Trade Winds, the squad leader had drastically improved in fighting prowess and had far exceeded herself at the same point within the game lore.
Shang understandably executed his mission with predetermined expectations, breaking in expecting it to be an effortless fight, only to be decisively overwhelmed and caught.
Just with the time of a few breaths taken on words explained and now Brendel had all the information he needed to come to a conclusion. If Veronica can so confidently say all of that, then Shang must’ve exposed enough intel to them, after all, there is no reason for him to hang tight to that information, not like he’s part of the death squad of the Kirrlutzian forces.
Brendel, arms crossed, thoroughly considered all aspects of Veronica’s requests.
Earlier on, he agreed to conceal the information of Veronica and the company’s arrival back to Trentheim per her request because it was an effortless affair. But this time, given the chain reaction that it might bring upon them, he had to genuinely consider all factors.
It involves the seat of the throne, which could be an immensely deadly ordeal. Given the power and authority at stake, Nobles and clergies alike would do whatever it takes to bend the outcome towards their favor. An agreement of this matter with the Kirrlutzian commanders might drag the newly revitalized Trentheim into the danger of war, and he would hate to see Kirrlutzian spies of all factions lurking in the corners of Coldwood city.
But from a counter-perspective, it was an opportunity.
Even though the prospect of the truth that the crown prince was still hiding within Trentheim would surely enrage the Queen, but if expanding the empire was within her aspirations, then Aouine that was right across the border would definitely be part of that grand plan, and by then it would hardly matter if the revelation ticks off Queen Constance or not.
That said, with a portion of the most elite Kirrlutzian forces allied with Aouine, when the time truly comes for the Queen to execute her world domination plan across Vaunte, it might cause an internal uproar within the ruling factions, potentially breaking the empire and creating a civil war in the process.
If that truly happened, Brendel, thrilled at the thought alone, would be laughing in his sleep.
Furthermore, with the Holy Cathedral of Fire still influential within Kirrlutz, even with the oppression by the Queen’s support of the Dragon tribe, if a threshold was to be broken, it would not sit well with a leader like Archbishop Valar.
The Queen, now at the throne for forty long years, of which the Holy Cathedral had been sidelined and diminished for just as long. With the end now within sight, if the Dragon tribe were to provoke, he would no longer tolerate any further.
Brendel, placing himself in the shoes of Archbishop Valar, would not have tolerated this. Even if the Archbishop was endearingly named by the people as “Valar the Wise”, if one day the Queen goes too far to the detriment of the Holy Cathedral, the church sect would initiate a retaliation, and the civil war would be on the brink.
Brendel was as silent as a dead man as he rewinded the details of the proposal more times than he had kept track of. These underground schemes and shady ploys were not his strengths, which was why it took longer than ever to offer even a brief reply.
But Veronica and Mangrove did not appear to be in a hurry. Veronica took a sip of her teacup, Mangrove rolled up a full box of cigarettes, pulled out one, hung it sloppily off his lips, lit a match, and lighted it up as he took a strong mouthful, clearly enjoying the process.
The room was left silent for long stretches of time, while Amandina was anxiously watching over at the two people sitting across her Lord Commander. The chain of events she had just heard like a narrated tale now involved a conflict of succession far beyond their paygrades. Knowing the magnitude of the decision, she would prefer to keep her silence, afraid even, to offer any sort of potential world-changing opinions.