[What's going on? Since when was Alfreid on Alissanda's side?] Leguna wondered in shock.
[Since when? They've always been on the same side,] Nidhogg said with a cold chuckle, [Did you think the fight for the throne was a fair one? No! It never had been! Larwin had long acknowledged Alissanda as his true heir! The only one who knows that apart from Larwin is his loyal dog, Alfreid. While he looks to be supporting Geoffrey, it's but a ruse. There has to be pressure on Alissanda for him to grow, and a fine balance has to be maintained between the factions in the empire. However, Alissanda had long seen through the rules of the game his father set for him. That's why he had been in secret contact with Alfreid since years ago! And you, as the head of the bureau, didn't even find out about that. For you to join their little power play with your abilities… I really can't find a word to describe your foolishness.]
"So I had been wrong from the very start?" Leguna muttered. He finally understood it now. Fate was a series of choices. One's choices led them from one point to another. However, one wrong choice could be all it took for one's whole future to turn in the wrong direction past the point of no return.
"Kneel!" The guard escorted Leguna to the execution platform and kneed his abdomen to put him on his knees.
Leguna gave him a threatening glare. Even after losing all his reputation and being framed, he didn't feel the slightest bit guilty for what he had done. And now, he even had to endure being stomped on by those ants. Even though he was completely powerless now, the domineering aura he had built up over time didn't fade at all. With a mere glare, even the guard who had gone to the frontlines to protect the empire was taken aback. He backed off a little in fear and didn't dare to go rough on him.
"Apologies, but I hope you will play along with this final performance," Alissanda said softly. He took out the key of the Godbinder and pushed the button on top.
Another beam of golden light engulfed Leguna. Once it dissipated, Leguna was chained down and kneeling.
"Praise the Sacred Light!"
"Praise His Highness Alissanda!"
"Long live the empire!"
"Humans will definitely not bow to darkness!"
"Dark Requiem, go to hell!"
The crowd of commoners cheered at the sight of him kneeling as they spat and threw rocks, rotten eggs and all kinds of other stuff at him. Had the guards not blocked them off, they might've swarmed him and eaten him alive. The Tide of Death and war with Stok had brought great stress and suffering to the people of the empire, and now, they finally found the perfect outlet for their frustrations.
The curses, cheers and throwing lasted ten whole minutes. Alissanda made no attempt to stop them as he knew the commoners needed to vent. So, he let Leguna suffer a bit longer.
When the crowd was simmering down, Alissanda used the opportunity and waved for them to be silent. By then, Leguna had was covered in injuries from all the abuse and even his mind was zoning out.
[What a state you're in,] Nidhogg mocked cruelly.
A blurred figure manifested beside Alissanda.
"How is it?" he asked the shadow behind him in a whisper.
"Miss Lisana is still throwing a fit, but the court magi association and the Monitors have her securely detained. There's no way she will be able to leave the palace for now," she shadow replied.
"Well done, Soulslay. Have your men watch her well. Don't let her cause any trouble. Once Leguna dies, I will personally explain this to her."
"Your Highness, let us begin!" Alfreid suggested.
Alissanda looked at the haggard Leguna for a moment before he sighed deeply. "Let's begin! Brave and loyal subjects of the empire, I am the second imperial prince, Alissanda Hocke."
He walked to the front of the podium. Even without using any device to broadcast his voice, his sound reached each and every listener's ears clearly. "I am happy that you all have gathered in Melindor Plaza today. Today is a glorious and hopeful day for us. I want to officially declare that war between the two empires has ended! The Tide of Death which we've come to fear much over the past year has also been neutralized. While there are still many corpses in the southern territories, I believe I can now declare that Chino has been united under our banner!"
"Long live the empire!"
"Long live His Highness Alissanda!"
The cheers boiled once more. Peace and security were back on the continent at long last. Apart from that, Hocke would undergo a transformation, a new birth. They had achieved the impossible -- the defeat of the ancient empire of Stok and uniting the continent of Chino!
The commoners cheered for a long moment. When they finally quieted down, Alissanda continued, "Similarly, it is also a painful day. Despite surviving the war and the Tide of Death, many of our loved ones and friends have left us. I share in your pain, because my precious imperial father, Emperor Larwin, and my most beloved brother, Prince Geoffrey the magical prodigy, have both lost their lives through these trials. This is a great loss for the empire and humanity as a whole! I hope you can all mourn with me in silence for five minutes. Let us mourn for the heroes that protected our homes with a great, dignified sacrifice! They are all our heroes, heroes we'll never forget! Their glory shall forever live on!"
The grand plaza echoed with his voice and fell completely silent. Everyone closed their eyes and prayed for the lost heroes. They understood that it was their selfless sacrifice that won them the light and glory of the empire and the peace they could continue to enjoy.
"Cough… cough…" A disharmonious cough rang out right before the mourning ended.
Leguna was struck by a rather large rock at the back of his head. He had been kneeling like a dead man the whole time. he coughed out blood and struggled to crawl up and adjusted his posture. He was barely able to sit with his head lowered.
Even with his head bent down, he struggled to look up. He wanted to see Alissanda, the sacred knight he had thought was kind and undoubtedly just.
"Alissanda…" Leguna could see apology in his eyes, but not a tinge of regret. He raised his voice and shrieked, "Alissandaaaaaaa!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter