TL: So the next chapter will come 5-6 days later. I’ll be fixing TOC and proofreading chapters for errors. I should be ready to post some artworks as well.
Chapter 81 – The story of fishes swimming in chaos (2)
================ Eke POV ===============
The battle abruptly ended as soon as it had started. Eke was almost certain that the bastards draped in black robes were at least silver-ranked fighters. While he predicted there would be a fight, he did not expect the ending—
He was almost certain that Capo and the others were going to be cut down; he finally could not suppress himself and wanted to pull out his sword in order to prevent the tragedy from happening.
But there was an old man with wispy white hair who walked out from Capo’s back and pointed his finger at the enemies. The enemies that Eke saw as nightmarish devils were struck by grey beams and turned into piles of dust.
The youth’s mouth went wide and for a moment, wondered if he was dreaming.
When the old man cast his magic, the Holy Sigil of Earth briefly appeared on top of his hand. The signs of an unlocked Element was apparent and visible, and Eke knew there were no more than ten people in Aouine who had this kind of power.
[Who is this? Amongst this ten people are a certain lord and several famous high level wizards. The remaining people who could possibly have such power are from the Black Tower and the owner of ‘The Association of Stars and Moon’.]
Capo bowed to him and spoke respectfully.
“Grandmaster Liszt, thank you for taking the trouble to aid us.”
The words struck Eke like a lightning bolt, rooting him to the ground. There were many people who had the name ‘Liszt’, but there was only one worthy of the title ‘Grandmaster’.
Liszt Hardaway Gemmer.
The chief royal wizard in Aouine and a great minister who aided the throne.
Eke was momentarily confused and did not understand why someone of such importance appeared in such a remote area. It seemed like Liszt was actually there to aid them.
“This….. I……” The youth was tongue-tied and he stared and pointed at him: “Y-you’re……”
Liszt nodded and acknowledged his guess.
“It is going to take a while to explain things, mister Eke. Let knight Capote take us to safety, and I’ll explain the situation in detail.”
“Knight…… Capo…….. Capote?” Eke looked at Capote and felt his world spinning out of control.
================= Brendel POV ==================
Brendel and his men traveled on the quiet eastern forest which led them upwards to a mountain slope. The fifteen-strong group’s footsteps across the dense tall grass caused a rustling noise, like an invisible long snake passing through the darkness. If they looked back, they would be able to see parted grasses leading back into the lower valley’s smouldering camps.
It was originally an area which was lit with proper fire torches, now it was nothing more than scattered burning remains.
“Our horses are still in the camp.”
Romaine said this sentence for the third time. Brendel knew she was hurting over the horse she had, but he shook his head.
“The mercenaries will retreat, right?” She looked up at Brendel and asked.
Her eyes went back to the areas that used to be the heart of the Grey Wolves Mercenaries’ camps. She understood Brendel’s meaning, but she was still soft-hearted.
Even though she and her aunt were not very popular amongst the Bucce citizens, it was still a place that she could call home, and also why she wanted to help Freya rebuild Bucce. Now that their former allies were in trouble, she was reluctant to leave them behind.
“I’m afraid only Mother Marsha would know the answer.” Brendel replied.
[Whether or not the Grey Wolves Mercenaries’ name will become part of history lies not with my decision but Makarov’s.]
“But if they discover that it’s a trap he will be on the alert, right? Do you think that Makarov is a smart person?” She asked.
“He’s too smart.” Brendel thought back on Makarov’s past.
He was the chief advisor in an effort to revolutionize the Royal Faction, but his failure in a political fight eleven years ago caused him to end up in this current state.
“So he and his enemies are plotting against each other?” Amandina asked.
“That sounds about right.” Brendel nodded.
“I don’t understand. What is the reason for them to fight each other?” She made a new hypothesis: “Is there something in this forest that would drive them to such greed?”
[There are secrets in this forest, certainly, but they are not precious enough for people to act on them. They are fighting over something else entirely.]
She saw his smile and immediately asked: “My lord, you do know something.”
“That young man we saw a few days ago, do you still remember him?” He nodded his head: “His real name should be Eke Ophelon Lantonrand.”
“That name sounds familiar.”
“Naturally. Because you should have heard of the name Canon Ophelon Lantonrand .”
She formed her breath into a gasp, but because of the acute rush of air she took in, she started to cough instead. After regaining her composure, she asked breathlessly: “Duke Lantonrand?”
“Eke should have his own rank and land, the Earl of Merak.” Brendel narrowed his eyes, “It’s just that he probably doesn’t know about it.”
“You mean…… It has something to do with that political fight eleven years ago? Hold on, Duke Lantonrand’s son had already been missing—“
She suddenly stopped and looked at Brendel with an odd expression.
“My lord, why do you know so much about this?”
“It’s a public secret in the upper echelons.” Brendel lied through his teeth.
“Then this would mean……”
“The current Aouine is no longer the Aouine of the past. The so-called high nobles are rotten to the point where they don’t deserved to be saved. This sickness have spread into their very bones, to put it mildly.” Brendel deliberately said these words in front of her.
“I am not the only one who sees this point. You can mark my words, Miss Amandina, this kingdom will break up in a civil war within three months. The events that you are seeing now are the final struggles to stop it.”
“Can the Corvado empire be saved?” Amandina’s mind was thinking of the once glorious royal family that brought honor to Aouine.
“Perhaps it can.” Brendel stroked his chin and thought about the ‘princess regent’.
“What are we going to do, my lord?” Amandina broke his chain of thoughts as she asked quietly.
“We should first search for the Sage Slate.” Brendel looked at the landscape of arching mountains and gentle slopes that repeated itself. It appeared to Amandina like he saw things differently; as if he was able to see past the darkness and opaque obstructions as if he was already there at their destination.
He brought everyone across a mountain peak; the gale from the southern sea strengthening and billowing towards him, which made his cloak unfurl and spread out behind him.
He sniffed the air and stared into a dark and silent valley, his eyes glazed over with surprise, then turned into an evident look.
“It’s really here. The only question is whether the person who wrote the walkthrough isn’t lying.”
Everyone heard his murmurs and turned towards him.
“Do you see the valley down there?” He said.
“What’s wrong?” Romaine asked.
“Hmm……” Brendel pointed into the valley, but they saw an empty carpet of darkness with trees lined on each side. He turned towards them and his eyes were gleaming: “Have you heard of altars?”
“My aunt and I have seen an altar in the ‘Temple of the Flame God’. Do you mean something like that?”
“Of course it’s not that. But everyone has heard of ‘Nests’ right?”
They nodded as they knew about monsters spawning from them.
“There’s a Nest within the valley.”
“What?” The Nightsong Tiger jerked with fright.
A Nest allowed a kingdom’s forces to prosper as they produced creatures that could be used for wars. However, a natural Nest was much more dangerous than a man-made Nest, and subjugating and purifying such natural Nests would require a tremendous price.
“What rank is it?” He immediately asked.
“No need to worry,” Brendel motioned him to calm down. He paused for a while before he continued. “That’s an Altar of Order, and related to the Temple of Truth.”
“What is an Altar of Order?”
“Have you heard of the Heaven’s Gate?”
The mercenaries felt their breaths chill. The Mercenaries of Lopes came from a kingdom known for its cavalry and knew what the term signified. The Nightsong Tiger looked at the clueless Amandina and Romaine, before he explained: “Angel of Thrones.”
Amandina gulped and looked at Brendel in disbelief; the kingdom Glace was only one-fifth of Aouine’s land area, but its combat prowess towered over all other kingdoms because it possessed two powerful armies.
The Knights of Fanaticism and Order of Brilliance, and part of their armies consisted of living creatures from Nests.
In the previous Holy War, the Aouine forces under the banner of the Holy Cathedral of Flames had suffered under these two armies greatly.
The Nightsong Tiger looked at Brendel with an incredulous look, and he stuttered to get his words out: “My lord, are you saying there’s a Heaven’s Gate there?”
Brendel immediately shook his head.
[Of course not. Are you kidding me?]
The Heaven’s Gate was unlikely to be found by him. The Heaven’s Gate gave birth to the strongest creature that could be used by the ‘Order of Brilliance’, the Angel of Thrones. Any place that had a Heaven’s Gate would have shown strange omens in the near vicinity, and unless the local Holy Cathedral of Flames were foolish enough to miss it, he would never be able to get to them.
“No, the Altar of Order below is similar to the Heaven’s Gate.”
“Similar?” The Nightsong Commander reflected on the words Brendel said. He was not as learned as a scholar and most of these Nests were controlled by rulers or great lords. A man of his position was usually not privy to know such things.
“You mean that this natural Nest has been blessed by Mother Marsha?” Amandina caught on to what Brendel was trying to say.
Brendel stopped for a moment. Even though his mind had the explanation available for the local citizens, but he still used the linguistic words from the game. He could only nod with an awkward smile.
“If that’s the case, then it’s a great find. A natural Nest is difficult to purify, and changing them requires at least ten years, and perhaps even twenty years.” The Nightsong Tiger immediately said.
The Nests that were blessed by Mother Marsha were gifts to the citizens in the world. The living creatures that were born from within are allies of sentient creatures. As long as the mana and maintenance was paid for, the forces that controlled the Nests were able to gather a powerful army.
Any kingdom who offered the Holy Cathedral of Fire an Altar of Order would immediately get a rich land three to four times the size of a knight’s. In addition, that land was hereditary and transferable.
Amandina’s eyes seemed to flare up with vigor.
But Brendel immediately raised his hands: “Everyone is overthinking things. That is merely an abandoned altar.”
“Abandoned?” Amandina’s first reaction was disappointment, before it went back to curiosity: “How does my lord know that?”
Brendel did not reply. He knew where the approximate location was because there was a serene and tranquil air to it, and he was familiar of that feeling in the game since he traveled throughout the continent.
There was also the fact that a game window with the words ‘Holy Area’ appearing in his vision. As to why it was already abandoned, the walkthrough had already stated clearly that it was abandoned, of course.
The group made its way to the valley, and once they did so they realized that the outside world seemed to be cut off. There was no sound within the valley, not even the common shrill of the insects commonly heard in the summer.
With the aid of the light from the moonlight, they slowly walked through an unclear path filled with cracks and holes. Within the dense foliage, they would sometimes catch glimpses of glimmering lights.
They could simply be fireflies, but perhaps they were the eyes of animals.
Amandina and Romaine had traveled through the night several times. Even though they were tense, they were not exactly afraid of the environment. The Mercenaries of Lopes were not fazed in the slightest, but the surroundings made them feel that there was something odd about the place.
“This altar wasn’t actually discovered by me.” Brendel finally spotted some man-made fragments of a large boulder, and suddenly spoke aloud.