“This is very urgent!”
The nobles of the Swallow Empire had a suspicious expression on their faces as they saw the messenger rushing into the court.
“Speak slower and tell us what’s going on.”
Prime Minister Marco asked on behalf of the dumbfounded aristocracy.
“The Baker estate was attacked! About 1000 of the guards who were manning it are dead!”
The nobility of Court's eyes widened in surprise in an instant.
“What nonsense is that?”
The enraged Duke Momori screamed.
“Please explain it in full detail.”
Prime Minister Marco replied, his palms casually outstretched as though attempting to soothe the duke.
“That’s… Lord Baker is looking into it for now, but the only thing that was clear from the scene was this—”
The messenger produced a muddy rag that he had kept concealed in his arms.
“This… This is the only evidence that was found.”
“Bring it here.”
The messenger swiftly approached Prime Minister Marco and politely put out a piece of cloth in response to his words.
“The Baker estate is located between Thran and Swallow… His majesty’s burdens are piling up each day—”
Duke Momori commented, punching his own chest as if he was fighting his urge to explode in anger.
When Prime Minister Marco saw the pattern engraved on the piece of cloth, he let out a quiet groan.
“Prime Minister! Do you have any information regarding the suspects' identities?”
When the Duke asked the question, Prime Minister Marco sighed and held out the piece of fabric.
It resembled the Swallow Empire's pattern, but it wasn’t the same.
The pattern showed a small bird soaring in the sky.
“What does the pattern mean?”
“Isn’t this pattern clearly Thran’s?”
The prime Minister took a step forward when the nobility of the court descended into chaos, where some were bursting with anger, whereas some were readying to flee.
“Stop! It’s too early to conclude who was responsible!”
In response to Prime Minister Marco’s restraint, Duke Momori raised his trembling voice.
“What are you saying, Prime Minister? Do we still need more evidence? If this doesn’t scream Thran’s preposterousness, I don’t know what will! What other country will attack ours if not them?”
“One victory is all they need to completely be hostile against us! Am I the only one who sees this? It's clear evidence! Their declaration for an all-out war is this, a piece of cloth!”
“No, that isn't it. Don’t any of you think that there is something odd about this?”
As Prime Minister Marco's quiet but powerful speech reverberated throughout the court, the murmur began to dissipate.
“If a large army moved to slay a thousand of our men, then Lord Baker would’ve noticed it because the place is situated in a vast plain land. This meant that what we are dealing with here was only a small number of people.”
Prime Minister Marco finished his speech with his eyes gleaming, having correctly summarized the circumstance in only a few sentences.
“This is strange indeed. Since such a situation would mean that there were only a small number of people. They’re definitely talented, but they left such evidence.”
After speaking, Prime Minister Marco waved the piece of cloth in his hand.
“No! That’s only the Prime Minister’s guess! The post war situation made it clear what’s on Thran’s mind!”
Duke Momori, who had been chasing after the Principality of Thran, continued to raise his voice.
“This time, we have to get rid of them completely! I'll get permission and go out on my own as soon as His Majesty enters the palace!”
“Let me ask Duke Momori something!”
Prime Minister Marco, too, raised his voice, as if he didn't want to lose.
“Can the Duke slay a thousand elite guards with only ten of your knights with you? Moreover, in just half a day?”
Duke Momori exclaimed enthusiastically without hesitation.
“Even if the adversaries are on par with our Empire's elite warriors, who have the continent's strongest battle capability, if it were me and my knights, I am confident that I could kill that many soldiers!”
The aristocrats in the Court began to grumble again when Prime Minister Marco’s words fell short on the ears of the Duke.
“This time, let’s show those bastards who we really are! Since when did the Swallow Kingdom think about any other Kingdom in the first place?”
“Duke Momori is correct! The more we keep our silence, the more our neighbors will think less of us!”
“We must make use of this opportunity to spread the empire's splendor throughout the entire continent!”
Duke Momori nodded his head, satisfied at the responses of the nobles..
“Don’t try to stop me, Prime Minister Marco! I will go by myself now.”
“How can you just make such a hasty decision—”
Prime Minister Marco's face soon changed into a contemplative expression as he was about to say something.
It was because he understood that, no matter what he said in this environment, not even the slightest of it would be heard by anyone.
'The only option is to wait for His Majesty to rush into the palace—'
His Majesty the Emperor, who went to the flower garden with the princess, would have heard the news by now.
It was a special time the two of them shared after such a long time apart, yet it was now going to be cut short because the situation had become what it was.
Prime Minister Marco's long sigh echoed silently in the atmosphere where the aristocrats raised their voices.
A lovely flower garden with a wide variety of flowers.
Behind the army of Knights, a man and a woman were talking.
Emperor Verona, who made people feel at ease just by glancing at him, smiled as he opened his mouth.
“Ah! Yes Father?”
The blonde beauty who was strolling alongside him, turned and answered his call.
‘Hasn’t she just turned twenty?’
A blonde woman with melancholy and huge eyes.
She was in a pristine white gown, and her aura was eerily similar to Emperor Verona's.
Her name was Yerona Belle Grace.
Emperor Verona had three daughters. All of them were extremely brilliant and smart, but he treasured his youngest daughter the most.
“I’m thinking about a lot of things lately—”
Princess Yerona straightened her stance in response to Emperor Verona's anxious voice.
“Is there something bothering you, father?”
Emperor Verona sighed and resumed his speech, which had been disrupted by an introspective memory near the end of it.
“I have a hunch that if I had given Demero the throne, more and more of the Empire's people would have been happy.”
“Why are you saying this all of a sudden?”
Princess Yerona, whose eyes widened for a brief period at Emperor Verona's surprising comments, stated as she remembered something,
“Is it due to the Thran Principality’s affairs?”
“They are our people too. I usually think of them as a subordinate country, but I hate it when the situation is twisted like this… I don’t want to call them our enemy. I find this situation very unpleasant.”
Princess Jerona remained silent in response to Emperor Verona's statements.
It was because she sensed a tremendous longing in the Emperor's heart for all of his subjects.
“Do you have a number of policies in place for the Principality of Thran? They too must have a better comprehension of your heart than anybody else.”
“Look at this.”
Emperor Verona reached into his bosom and handed Princess Yerona a parchment.
After reading the contents of the parchment, Princess Yerona’s eyes gradually began to enlarge.”
“…guards were wiped out—”
“I'll have to look into the details, but this wouldn't have happened if I had handled it properly in the first place.”
Princess Yerona whispered, her voice seemingly melancholy.
He was a father who had adored his children beyond all else, and after them, came his people.
That was why he was blaming himself and condemning himself for the current predicament the Empire was in.
Princess Yerona, whose face had hardened, opened her mouth.
“With my shallow eyesight, I can't foresee everything, but… At the very least, we're aware of one thing.”
Princess Yerona resumed her speech while her father turned to look at her with a perplexed face.
“The people of the Empire would have suffered far more than they do today if Uncle Demero had risen to the throne. On the first day I left for the palace with father, I will never forget the smiles on the faces of the Empire's people, and the way they honestly honored father.”
“Father… You've done a good job thus far, as the sun of the empire, and my father, of whom I am the proudest of. I am sure that you'll do much better in the future. As a result—”
Princess Yerona paused her speech and snatched both of Emperor Verona's hands.
“Don't hold it against yourself. Of course, I don't want my father to be like this, and neither do the people of the Empire.”
“Thank you so much.”
Emperor Verona instantly smiled sweetly.
For a brief period, Emperor Verona raised his head toward the heavens, smiling at Princess Yerona’s words.
“I can't help but think of Demero at moments like this... he was the most dependable person—”
Princess Yerona's visage had become a frosty scowl.
“For more than ten years, he hasn't shown himself. He probably doesn't care about the Empire because his life or death is unclear.”
Emperor Verona remained silent as he saw the fluttering birds in the sky.
‘I was reminded of the previously amicable Empire and the Principality of Thran when I watched those birds playing together.’
“Please, don't let any more blood pour into this land—”
Emperor Verona, who had been mumbling a little, moved hurriedly and stiffly to somewhere.
“I have to refuse.”
Icarus was taken aback by Joshua's quick response.
“I’m not a worthless servant so I won’t be a nuisance to the Young Master.”
Icarus spoke urgently but Joshua kept his mouth shut.
“All I want is to prove myself to the Young Master! I will never wish for anything! You don’t need to compensate me or anything! Please reconsider—”
“On the contrary—”
Icarus was taken aback when he noticed Joshua interrupting his speech in the middle and shouting loudly.
“I'm saying this because I believe your worth is excessively more than for my benefit alone."
“If you really want to show me how valuable you are—”
Joshua said firmly, looking into Icarus's lovely eyes,
“After I leave, change this place yourself.”
Icarus' eyes widened as he heard Joshua's following remarks.
Joshua continued speaking and a warm smile spread across his face as he looked at Icarus.
“Well, if it is necessary, you can always use the name of my family. Besides, staying here where so much knowledge has been accumulated is more beneficial to you rather than following me and being my servant.”
Icarus quickly comprehended what Joshua was trying to tell him and muttered something incomprehensible.
It was difficult to believe that the proud Agnus family's child in front of him was so caring towards Icarus.
When Icarus saw Joshua get closer and approach him suddenly, he was surprised and gasped a little.
Joshua finished his last words, directing a deep, deep gaze on Icarus, whose face was now blushing red.
“I don’t want my person to be a servant.”
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