Arcanta grimaced after drinking the stomach medicine contained in a green bottle. "Argh, that's bitter."
The stomach medicine was as effective as it was bitter, and the abdominal pain that felt as if he’d swallowed a ball of needles quickly subsided.
"What’s really bitter is the current situation." William sighed as he looked at the White Deer Knights’ damage report and other documents regarding policies for future interactions with the Fairy Tribe.
Arcanta agreed with William and rubbed his face. "That's true. It's not this medicine that's truly bitter, but the situation right now. Even if I flatter and try to persuade the Khan and the Guardian Knight, all the power lies with the Great Khan."
Palamut had been drawing attention as the Great Khan’s next successor before he was kidnapped. In addition, this also happened inside the palace. For the empire, this was no different than if Crown Prince Zantes had been kidnapped. If that were to happen, the empire would have immediately raised its troops and demanded that responsibility be taken.
Fortunately, Palamut, the Khan and leader of the delegation, was safe. However, the envoys and the Guardian Knight, Marsen, were seriously injured. Based on how Palamut and Marsen were persuaded and the situation they reported, the Great Khan would decide the relationship he wanted to establish with the empire.
"Even if things go well, we can't stop the war, can we?” William's question was not about the relationship with the Fairy Tribe. He was talking about the Kingdom, Isaslowell, that bled over the Holy City of Zaharam during the time of the Blood Emperor.
Arcanta nodded heavily. "Yeah, we might even need to have Orphina come back down from the Demon’s Territory."
William was surprised by Arcanta's words. If Orphina withdrew personally, half of the troops in the Demon’s Territory would move south. He asked, "What? Is it that bad?"
"This time, they’ve got the resources of the Trade Union. If things don’t go well, we may end up in a prolonged war.” Arcanta said as he continued, "If we’re avoiding an extended war, we're going to have to attack all out in one go. For that level of power, we need to bring out the troops from the Demon’s Territory."
At Arcanta's explanation, William looked seriously at the map. The empire’s forces were currently distributed as such: 50 percent in the Demon’s Territory, 35 percent at the border, 5 percent in the capital, and 10 percent spread around the country. Considering that the most recent war eight years ago was fought using only the troops from the border area, the scale of the troop mobilization was different this time.
Arcanta laid down on the sofa to cool off his complicated mind. Then, he looked at the dazed Bloody and asked, “What have you been thinking so hard about?”
“Huh? Uh, just something minor.”
Arcanta smirked as he watched the bewildered Bloody respond vaguely. “You’re thinking of your runaway nephew, aren’t you?”
Bloody flinched as Arcanta went on. "And I heard it was Denburg Blade that saved the Fairy Tribe’s Khan, in addition to being the one who caught Capricorn using strange magic."
Bloody swallowed dryly at Arcanta’s casual remarks. "Uh… yes."
"And you missed him again?” Arcanta asked playfully, and Bloody smiled awkwardly.
William smiled and said, "Actually, I'm glad you missed him. Imagine if Bloody created a fuss trying to catch his nephew."
Arcanta shuddered. "Don't say such horrible things! The damaged buildings and streets are a pain in the ass, and you're talking about Denburg Blade running around wildly? My stomach won't be able to take it!"
Arcanta and William laughed cheerfully before Arcanta said, "When I first heard the news about him running away, I couldn't sleep because of the thought of some crazy incidents occurring, but I'm glad it’s been quieter than I thought.”
"No, honestly, it hasn’t been that quiet, right? He suddenly started stealing under the name of Lupin.”
At William's words, Arcanta waved his finger. "Not necessarily. To be honest, besides being active as Lupin, it’s not like he destroyed the palace or caused any trouble that was publicized.”
The lack of publicized issues was solely due to the many accidents that hadn't been revealed. It wasn't hard to resolve any problems if they were not exposed.
"Hmm, is that so?"
"And rather, we received help from Lupin."
"Help?" William tilted his head as if he didn't understand.
Arcanta stood from his resting position and pointed his fingers as he explained. "First of all, he saved the magicians of the collapsing Red Magic Tower, and despite the ruins collapsing, he prevented the Twelve Zodiacs from obtaining the previous magic stone. Although he took the great demon’s mana stone, it was because of him that we were able to beat the great demon with few losses. Most importantly, the stolen corruption ledgers of the nobles came into my hands through the Big Mama Information Agency."
Arcanta crossed his legs and smiled. "When it comes to losses and gains, it's rather profitable, and the empire has practically lost nothing."
There were perhaps more things he didn't know about, but as far as he knew, this was how it was.
"Ah, no matter your preparations, were the corruption ledgers the reason you could successfully pass the currency reform so quickly?”
Arcanta nodded at William's guess. "Of course, since we don’t know when he might cause an accident, he’s like a powder keg...”
Knock, knock, knock!
Arcanta stopped speaking and told the person knocking to come in.
"Good afternoon." It was Marsen and Palamut who came in with the aide-de-camp.
Arcanta quickly rose from his seat and welcomed the two. "Welcome! If you had sent us a message, we would have had some refreshments ready. I’m sorry about that."
At Arcanta's apology, Palamut said something in the Fairy Tribe language, and an interpreter was immediately heard from behind. "The Khan says, ‘It’s fine. It's our fault for coming without any warning.’"
Den was following Marsen and Palamut as he smiled and spoke. As soon as Bloody’s eyes met Den’s, Bloody’s face became stiff, and he smiled awkwardly, avoiding Den’s eyes.
* * *
Uncle Bloody awkwardly evaded my gaze when I walked in. Perhaps it was because of his simplicity, but he couldn't maintain a poker face and made it obvious. I recalled last night when Mac hyung's arrow made my mask fall off, and my workplace was revealed.
"So, what are you going to do?"
Uncle Bloody’s face stiffened at my question, and he grabbed his head as if he didn’t know what to do. "Uh, what should I do? I never thought I'd really find out where and what you were doing."
I grabbed his shoulder and smiled. "Then let's just pretend it didn't happen. We’ll simply have to clear your memory."
When a huge greatsword came out of my pocket space, Uncle Bloody freaked out and backed away from me as he exclaimed, "Hey! You're gonna kill me if you hit me with that!"
"Oh, don't worry. This sword is one of the treasures of the Holy Tribe’s royal family, so it won't break."
This was a sword that wasn’t even scratched after I smashed it with all my might using the Dance of Fireflies. It didn’t have any special power like the Holy Sword Caladbolg, but it was hard enough to be even sturdier than Old Man Arpen’s 10,000 year Ice Stone magic.
"No! I’m not saying that the sword will die; I’ll die!"
"Ayy, how can a sword like this kill your hard head?" I believe that Uncle Bloody's head is harder than this sword.
When I swung lightly, Uncle Bloody took a considerable step back and put his hand on the hilt of his sword.
"Hahaha, I'm just kidding, just kidding." I put the greatsword back in the pocket space.
"Where did you even get that kind of greatsword? The power I feel from it is about the same as your grandfather's favorite sword."
"I got it as a gift from someone I know.”
Uncle Bloody looked at me with suspicious eyes. "You didn't steal it?"
“No, I didn’t!”
It was a sword that Queen Arietta possessed, but she gave it to me, saying that she had no use for it anymore. Although to be precise, she couldn’t use it because her body was too damaged.
"So what are you going to do? Are you going to inform Father and turn the capital into a flat land? Or will you keep your mouth shut?"
While I pushed for an answer, Mac hyung approached me at some point and put his arm on my shoulder. "Ahahaha, Youngest Master, don't be so difficult. Even if we say that we’re going to let the boss-nim know, you’ll just run away again anyways. No, considering Youngest Master’s personality, perhaps you’ll just leave since you don’t know when he’ll come crashing in?"
That's right. Mac hyung knows me too well.
"Well, I won't deny it." Uncle Bloody was in a difficult position when I shrugged lightly.
If I decided to hide again, there was no guarantee that he’d be able to find me. There were two options that Uncle Bloody could choose from. One was to keep it a secret. The other was to subdue me here. If he decided to select another option, I would naturally consider it as him choosing the latter.
After careful consideration, Uncle Bloody nodded. "Hmm, all right. I'll keep it a secret."
“What about Mac hyung?”
Mac answered my question with a smirk. "I'll keep it a secret until I’m asked directly.”
He’s so quick-witted and cunning. He knew I wanted him to say that he was going to keep it a secret, and so he did.
I clapped and said, “All right, that's the end of the contract.”
“Hmm? A contract?” Uncle Bloody didn't understand and looked at me. At the same time as I clapped, a magic circle appeared near me.
"What is this?!”
I looked at the surprised Uncle Bloody and spoke as if it wasn’t a big deal. "It's magic created by mixing the Holy Tribe’s magic with the Druid's contract. It forces you to follow through with your words."
“What happens if you don’t?”
“Who knows? I wonder what’ll happen?” I returned the question and smiled playfully.
I glanced at Uncle Bloody, interpreting Palamut's words. It seemed that Uncle Bloody was perplexed as his mind grew complicated. Maybe Uncle wasn’t thinking at all, but my thoughts were convoluted, and in my eyes, this is what he looked like.
Actually, yesterday's contract magic was all a lie. Magic that forced a person to act a certain way wouldn’t be so simple. I was just fooling around with fancy effects. If they believe it, they won't be able to ask Leisha noona anyways.
I bought some time, but what should I do?
I have a lot on my mind.
* * *
There was a secret prison west of the capital that laid underneath the headquarters of the White Deer Knights. It primarily kept prisoners who could not be made known to the public.
"Senior, what kind of prisoner is this?” asked a knight guarding the bars as he sat on a chair and rested his chin.
The knight sitting next to him yawned and shrugged his shoulders. "Haam~ I don't know. I'm just guarding because I'm told to. It's not like this is the first time our superiors have asked us to do something weird."
"Hahaha, that's true.”
As the two knights chatted and chased their sleepiness away, they suddenly felt pressure in their hearts and found it difficult to breathe.
Faced with this abrupt situation, they hurriedly tried to leave the basement but couldn't reach the stairs as they couldn't breathe. As their consciousness became blurry, the two knights saw a woman wearing a red mask.
"Ohohohohoho! How stupid, getting sealed like that.”
"Shut up. Anyways, you were alive...”
That was the last thing the knights' consciousness heard before completely disappearing.Previous Chapter Next Chapter