Titan Beneath the Heavens
Chapter 135: Fifteenth Episode: Chapter 8
Chapter 135: Fifteenth Episode: Chapter 8
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
It was only midday, but the entire Dulin city seemed to have already been put to rest. All doors to stores and shops were closed, and even the city residents had tightly shut their house's windows and doors. Trash disposed on the previous night were still accumulated on the end of the streets. It appeared that even the janitors had called off work.
The warm breeze of early spring greeted the empty city center. Stray dogs and flying creatures were picking at those filthy miscellaneous items scattered along the streets, in hope of encountering any remnants of wasted food discarded by the citizens, but the patrolling knights kept interrupting their hunt for food.
Passing through Gate of Light into the vacant Victory Square, the bleak and empty scene somewhat disappointed His Imperial Highness Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette to a certain degree. There was no one present to warmly welcome the hero. His lovers were not there either to throw themselves into his arms with embrace and kisses. To be even more precise, there was simply no one in sight! This was a thoroughly terrible scene for a superhero of success and recognition!
"I'm sorry, Your Highness! You seem slightly disappointed with me," the emperor's confidential secretary Count Philip Goolean tried to console the young prince whom eyebrows were closely knitted together.
"Your return clashes with the meeting of expansion of House of Lords! His Majesty the Third had no alternative but to call off your welcoming party. If you could..."
"Ola! I understand!" young Oscar seated on the horse pretended not to be dispirited, and gave a slight nod. In fact, he sensed an unwelcoming and rather hostile atmosphere in the capital. Although he had been noticed the event of Senior Nobility on his way back, it was of his least interest, and his only concern was to figure out where his dearest family members and lovers were.
Oscar finally felt encouraged when he arrived at Penelope Avenue. A platoon of Narcissus Knights led by a young leader welcomed him from across the street.
"General! Your… Your Imperial Highness Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette?" the bashful young leader asked shyly at the House' hero surrounded by numerous knights.
"Yes, Second Lieutenant, that would be me!"
"Dismount from the horse!" the young leader commanded his cavalry. The platoon of soldiers leaped off their horses and knelt on one knee on the ground.
Oscar readily accepted the greeting, then rode forward.
"Second Lieutenant, where is my father?"
"Your Highness, His Excellency Marshal is currently in Hamilton Palace. Lady Celia, Third Young Master and Young Lady are at the residence, while General Figg is dealing with issues concerning martial law."
"Haha, care to drop by my residence?" Oscar turned around to invite Count Philip Goolean.
"Sure!" Philip replied with delight. "I might even get a kiss from Andrew's Narcissus Corolla."
Oscar couldn't help but grin from ear to ear at the thought of that pair of tender, sweet lips.
31 Penelope Road, similar to his previous return, was fully decorated with fresh fragrant flowers on the arched iron gate and even the walls that surrounded the residence. On the path heading past the wall of plants, there was a snowy white woolen blanket laid, which was scattered with wildflowers and fallen leaves. The midday sun shone on the earth, diagonally casting shining beams upon the knights' silhouettes.
"You're back!" Sasha E., who obstructed the entrance, had her head slightly inclined backward to meet the eyes of the tall knight on the horse. The blazing sun made her eyes squint.
"Yes, I'm back!" at last, delight washed over Oscar's face. How contented he was! Like he has done several times before, he bent forward and wrapped his hands around his sister's waist, then grabbed her up the horse while she screamed in surprise. Sasha leaned against her brother's broad shoulder, as they roamed around the sea of flowers in early spring, quietly whispering sweet nothings into each other's ears.
Lady Celia drew the curtains as she silently blessed her pair of children with long-lasting happiness. She covered her face with a thin veil and paced forward to the self-portrait of Racheff Andrew Nedgabel which was placed underneath the statue of God of Light. The children's mother prayed sincerely once again, in hope that the lone soul would achieve eternal peace in the palace of God. Celia clenched her fist around a pendant silver necklace engraved with the divine image of God. More than any moment in her life she suddenly clearly realized how fair and just the God of Light was. She had obtained another child at the same time she'd lost the other. Perhaps it had been destined since long, the fate of Rachef and Oscar.
Sasha fell asleep in the arms of her brother. Oscar laid on his side beside his loving sister, and with the tip of his finger, he gently traced the outline of her face. She had lost so much weight since the last time they met. Although happiness showed clearly on her face, the circles around her eyes revealed her lingering grief. "Will there really be no more killing and injustice in the world if I always keep her by my side?" Oscar thought to himself.
The young prince cautiously let go of the sleeping girl. He tucked her sister into bed before leaving silently through the door. Oscar felt his agitated self calm down the moment he laid his eyes on his sister. Perhaps that was because of Sasha's particular characteristics, as she never failed to let people near her returned to their simple, unsophisticated selves. However, they were now in Dulin, and everything in Dulin needed to be traded for with fresh blood.
"All set?" the young prince shifted his attention to Baron Messier De Quixote who stood by the side.
"Yes, everything's ready!" Baron replied with respect.
Oscar returned him a satisfied nod, "Let's get started!"
First stop! 16 Georgette Street!
16 Georgette Street, a Rococo architectural style building dated back to 16th century, was situated diagonally opposite of House of Lords. From the fourth-floor balcony of this ancient apartment, the central room of the House of Lords could be seen.
On the four corners of the white marble roof were statues of numerous Gods from the Mythical Age. From the vast dome above hung ten or more thick steles and on them were engraved ancient inscriptions of the codex. A long, drawn-out aisle extended from the street all the way into the entrance of the House of Lords. The whole place was engulfed in silence, and only the shadows cast by the sunlight changed their shapes slowly.
Osli Alfa Morisette His Majesty the Third pulled his young nephew tightly into his embrace! In all honesty, he was extremely proud of this young man, and all this while he'd wished that this little guy was indeed his own son. His Majesty the Emperor kissed on both of the prince's cheeks, repeatedly for several times.
"It's good to have you back! It's good to have back!" the emperor's voice trembled slightly, he feared that this child didn't know of all the great hopes he had pinned on him.
"Your Majesty, as you can see, I've returned, all safe and sound!"
"That's right, that's right!" Alfa III held the young man by his shoulder, and for an extended moment, he stood in that same position to examine his nephew whom he hadn't see for a very long time. "Did the Deiss people let you suffer all this while? You've lost so much weight that I nearly couldn't recognize you!"
Oscar replied to the emperor's question in a light-hearted manner, "Your Majesty, the Deiss people have to wait until the end of the next century for that chance!"
All the cabinet ministers from military and administration department laughed along with the joyful emperor. Gradually, each of them came forward to extend their regards and false smiles to the hero that had returned.
Oscar dealt with them with extra caution. Finally, he glanced to Marshal Robin who stood by the corner of the room, quietly observing all these exchanges. The old marshal only revealed a faint smile but didn't say anything further. Oscar raised his glass toward his marshal cum tutor. The newly appointed Imperial Guards Chief of Staff also cooperated and downed the wine under the young man's attention.
"Your Highness, can I ask why is everyone gathered here today?" Oscar felt slightly confused and gestured at the crowded room.
Alfa III held the young prince in his arms and motioned to the House of Lords located within a stone's throw, "For that, that damnable place, the center of manufacturing of Dulin."
"What tricks do they have up their sleeves this time?" Oscar asked, perplexed. In his eyes, this country was still an object of pleasure manipulated within Alfa III's palm. The nobles' right to speak shouldn't hold too much practical effect.
"Tricks? Haha! They've got plenty!" the emperor smiled with disdain. At that moment, a messenger came forward and presented His Majesty a piece of kraft paper document, which the latter shook out in front of the prince's eyes.
"See?" Alfa III smirked playfully. "Dulin's atmosphere has frightened those men! The bill to elect First Prince as the next Emperor was approved by unanimous vote."
"Of course, Lobb, my eldest! Who else can it be?" Alfa III gave out a sigh of disappointment.
"Who is that tall paladin?" Oscar suddenly pointed to a soldier who stood at the corner of the room. "Is it my imagination or that man is constantly sizing me up?"
The emperor looked in the mentioned direction with a firm gaze, "Hmm! That's Kiener Ritz, regimental commander of Imperial Paladins."
"Regimental commander of Imperial Paladins?" Oscar parroted the emperor as he continued to look at the middle-aged man in astonishment.
"Haven't you realized that you resemble your mother closely?" Alfa III mentioned out of the blue, "Mica passed on all her beautiful features to you, it's understandable that Kiener can't take his eyes off you."
"What does this have to do with my mother?" Oscar glared his eyes at the man as he felt even more peculiar.
"When your mother was young, she and Kiener once swore their pledge of love..." His Majesty the Third suddenly shook his head as if to clear off his thoughts. "Ah, look at me! I shouldn't be telling you affairs of the previous generation. However, Oscar, remember that your father is much more capable compared to that rigid paladin..."
Ignoring the mumbling emperor, Oscar began examining the regimental commander of Imperial Paladins – Kiener Ritz. He appeared to be a knight of dignified manner, not in the least bit negligent. He was also the lover his mother could never forget.
"Kiener!" The emperor unfolded the latest news report and called out for the regimental commander of Imperial Paladins.
"Yes, Your Majesty!" Kiener moved his way through the crowd. He first saluted the Emperor, and then with mixed feelings, he greeted the young prince.
Everyone in the room turned silent, they knew that the most crucial repertoire was about to show on stage.
"Just moments ago, Duke Cadro Budisette, speaker of the House of Lords, proposed a motion, that is for the Imperial Family to provide an explanation for the sudden appearance of an imperial member," the emperor appeared grim-faced, and he shot a quick glance across the room. "It seems like House of Lords' pressing has been turned into a fact!"
"Your Majesty! At your order!" Paladin Kiener knelt down with one knee on the ground.
"Go ahead!" The emperor waved his hands, "Seize down House of Lords at this instance, disperse its members, and dismiss the meeting. But be aware that I don't want to see any bloody conflict."
"Yes, Your Majesty!" the leader of the Imperial Paladins rose to his full height. "Please be assured, I've ordered the paladins to replace their weapons with blunt swords."
Alfa III nodded with satisfaction and turned young Oscar around to face the white marble house.
"Watch carefully! Within seconds you'll be able to see clearly the true features of these rebellious nobles," the emperor cast a look of disdain in the opposite direction.
All of a sudden, a loud and clear bugle call sounded in the city center of Dulin, which spread to all corners of the capital. In accordance with the military deployment of military control, the security forces scattered among the city gradually replied to the sound of the bugle. Brief moments later, when the whole city rang with its sound in unison, the emperor knew that all important facilities and key figures in the capital have been taken over.
The sound of hurried hooves rushed from the other side of the corner, and soon the paladins entered the balcony's perspective. This was a group of divine envoys armed with golden armor and grim masks. Carried over their shoulder were long knight's swords, while in their hands were ancestral tablets which represented countless honors.
The team comprised of paladins marched up the steps to House of Lords like in synchronized unity. Those guards who stood guard by the building immediately gave way to them. Soon, the quiet palace broke out into chaos. Paladins on horses rushed inside and positioned themselves in a neat array in front of the steps of House of Lords.
After rounds of screaming and protests, the disheartened members of House of Lords finally appeared, tripping over each other and cursing violently as they were slowly gathered at the steps. A few habitual rogues provoked the paladins by throwing stones and viciously cursing at them. The commander of the paladins frowned at the sight; he never imagined that among the high-class nobles present, such hooligans would exist.
Kiener read aloud the emperor's instructions to the crowd while simultaneously motioned his knights to intensify their pressure. The knights have long been impatient to, and they hit at those noisy, shameless people with their wide sword ridges while they reflected sunlight with the ancestral tablets to confuse their sight. Strong warhorses charged forward from time to time or rose to their hind legs to frighten these nobles to take to their heels. Some left behind their shoes while trying to escape, while many tore at one another's clothes in panic. The scene was complete chaos! These lords from House of Lords resembled defenseless bunnies being chased one after another into a tiny cage by those ferocious beasts. Indeed, they were being chased into the wooden carriages, and paladins eventually evacuated the scene as arranged beforehand.
"Hahahahahahahaha!" with one of his hands draped over the young prince's shoulder, Alfa III burst into laughter as he enjoyed the dismay of the noble lords. "Hey! Young man! Did you see that? Those guys look like a bunch of shirtless acrobats, and although their performance was terrible, I did enjoy it when they made their exit."
Oscar only nodded but didn't comment further. He knew this was the prestige of imperial power! He glanced at the weaponry in the paladins' hands, and then again at the Senior Nobility members who were being chased like a bunch of rabbits. An illusionary thought suddenly appeared in the young prince's mind; that in this world, apart from the few rulers of Westland, not many people could be called men. As for the rest, their existence was nothing more than mere non-entities.
"What are you going to do next?" The young prince shifted his attention to the emperor beside him, "As far as I'm aware, it's mandatory to reply to the motion suggested by House of Lords. If they're once again in conflict with your decision, then..."
"Then I shall hold a knife to their necks!" Alfa III replied with a smile as he retreated from the balcony. He had had enough of the amusing performance.
"You just have to hold a knife to their necks!" the emperor seemed to be puffed up with his success. "What matters to these men are only coins and power. When their life is at stake, ha! They all turn out to be even more brilliant than the God of Light!"
Oscar wanted to make a comment but he felt someone tapped lightly on his feet. As he turned around, he was surprised to see Marshal Robin shaking his head vigorously at him.
"Just look on coldly regarding this matter."
Young prince gave a slight nod, while quietly making a mental note of his tutor's advice.
"Oscar, I can't describe how delighted I am at your return!" the emperor exclaimed and motioned for His Imperial Highness Prince to sit down beside him. "You should tell me about your plans! You know, things are only beginning for you!"
"Yes!" Oscar received the teacup handed over by the emperor himself. "Thank you, Your Majesty! I think… I'm now capable to shoulder the duties entrusted to me by the Empire and fulfill my obligation as an imperial member."
"What are you going to do?" His Majesty the Third looked at the young man with expectant eyes.
"Your Highness, I would be so glad if you officiate my wedding! My wedding with Princess Alanis can't be delayed anymore!"
The emperor raised his eyebrows, "You are going to marry my daughter?"
"Is there anything wrong with that?"
His Majesty the Third suddenly drew his eyebrows together. At that instant, many concerns flooded his mind at once.
"Of course not!" the emperor hugged his son-in-law, "Oscar, haha, my child! I give you my words that you're going to have an unprecedented, majestic wedding of the century!"
O'Neil Andrew Morisette boarded the carriage as the Narcissus Knights who guarded the carriage were chasing away those members of House of Lords idling on the street. These men shouted the respected name of Andrew, as if in hopes that the mentioned would help deliver their message. Dulin at this time was not at its safest.
Oscar silently counted the notice boards erected on the roadside. One, two, three... six, seven, eight! After what seemed like forever they passed through eight streets, and eventually, he arrived at his second destination – Sabac Manor!
The sun continued to roast the earth. The warm breeze and luster of early spring added some colors to the ancient estate. This place was a patchwork quilt of feeble hints of history, light green weeping willow, flourishing pot plants, the intense fragrance of coffee, and black and white spots on those milking cows. Sabac Manor hadn't changed a bit. Outside the gate were several carriages decorated with flags and insignias representing different governmental departments, while along the corridors stood attendants that received the lords with unchanged methods.
Military control didn't have any effects on the business of this guildhall. On the vast lawn were several ladies in small groups taking a stroll, their arms linked together. Under the shades of parasols were gentlemen tasting coffee, all seated in comfortable poses. The arrival of an imperial prince didn't seem to disturb anyone. As if they had been informed beforehand, the waiters at Sabac Manor opened the door to the extravagant carriage which was carved with the Andrew House totem and brought the visitors into the main room. Oscar alighted with Black Devil, whereas Snowstorm and Baron Messier were nowhere to be found. Perhaps they had gone to carry out some confidential affairs.
An attendant led His Highness Prince and the assassin into the complicated building with an interior resembling a real-life maze, and finally, they paused in front of the door to a massive room.
"Who's that?" the person on the other side of the door questioned impatiently at the sound of knocking. "Lord Almodovar Godzilla doesn't wish to be disturbed! Have you not been told?"
The attendant shouted back at the wooden door, "Please send a message that an old friend of Lord Almodovar Godzilla wishes to meet him!"
For a moment silence filled the atmosphere, and soon the door was unlocked.
"Is it a friend of my Lord?" the door was opened slightly ajar to reveal a pair of eyes, which tried to identify the incoming visitors.
Oscar moved a couple of steps to the side and gave a signal to Black Devil Shaw Curlink.
Instead of usual courteous greetings, Black Devil performed a violent kick that smashed the wooden door into pieces. The poor guy behind the door flew across the room and fell flat to the ground. Black Devil walked into the chaotic room, his dirk already out of its sheath. The sounds of metal clashing intertwined with shouting and loud cries. Furniture collapsed, and tiles were broken as the former imperial assassin fiercely engaged with numerous guards.
Oscar turned toward the attendant standing beside him, whose jaw had dropped to the ground, and patted on his shoulder encouragingly, "Don't worry, it will end soon, and you'll be fine. So why not you go ahead and prepare some quality Sabac coffee for me and Lord Almodovar Godzilla?"
The frightened attendant quickly nodded and took off.
Ignoring the violent fights happening in front of his eyes, Oscar casually examined the decorations of the corridor. Sunlight spilled from an overhead window into the aisle and a pot of fresh flowers trembled slightly under the sun. A bust sculpture of some famous person was positioned next to the flower pot and candlestick, but Oscar couldn't quite figure out who it depicted.
"Your Highness, please!" Black Devil reappeared by the door and gave the prince a somewhat contented look. There were twelve professional guards with incomparable grappling skills, but Black Devil didn't let His Highness down.
"Thank you!" Oscar nodded toward Shaw Curlink and headed for the room.
Passing through the room filled with dead bodies, His Highness pushed open the door to the inner room and burst out laughing at the sight laid in front.
Sea Monster who was sitting on a massive bed was paralyzed with fright. This pile of fatty meat was trembling vigorously, and in his hands was what seemed to be a shining short knife. Oscar felt rather worried for the Sea Monster because the shaking blade could pierce through that pile of meat any moment.
"Godzilla! My old friend! Is this how you receive me? Honestly, that plaything in your hand is such an embarrassment to this scene. Hurry and put that away already!"
The deeply frightened finance minister sized up His Highness Prince who beamed with joy. After a long while, he finally calmed down his heart which was beating wildly.
"You little lunatic! What… what do you want from me?"
Oscar didn't answer his question. Instead, he walked toward the small hill of fats. With two fingers, slowly and carefully he removed the knife from Sea Monster's grip and passed the weapon to Black Devil. The moment the knife left his hand, Almodovar Godzilla became weak and limp, as if all his body strength had left together with his weapon. On his forehead were beads of perspiration the size of beans.
"Relax, will you?" Oscar stood tall amidst the sea of corpses, trying to not let himself appeared intimidating. "Godzilla! I'm just here to visit an old friend. You see, I've immediately come to meet you once I arrived Dulin, but it seems that I'm not very much welcomed?"
The finance minister thought about this for a moment and soon realized his life was not at stake anymore. Right now was a crucial moment for the capital, and Alfa His Majesty the Third would not be out for his life. If the young prince did kill him, he had no alternative but to issue a complaint to the God of Light. Moreover, if His Highness revealed the secret of his gold smuggling affairs to His Majesty or the Secret Service... Forget it! Sea Monster shook his head at the nightmare that he hoped would never come true.
"My friend! You made me extremely nervous! This man you brought with you killed all my guards. What was that for?"
Oscar returned the question with a smile and sat down on a sofa.
"Godzilla, why are you behaving like this? You intentionally avoided me although you're completely aware of my return, and your guards rushed at me without basic courtesy. Is this how you always treat your friends?"
The fat pig wiped the sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand, "Ha! This is only a misunderstanding, am I right? My friend, this is only a misunderstanding!"
"Yes, indeed!" Oscar smiled with a slight nod. "But there's one thing I know for sure that isn't a misunderstanding!"
The prince's stiffening smile sent a shiver down the finance minister's spine.
"Godzilla! I'm sure you know clearly about what I'm going to say. First of all, it was Count Levis Sakya who was killed by my man, then it was Director of the Financial Secretary of State Council. I'm sure you can remember that I met this man before, in your Fat Lords Club. He was one of your partners, who died of fever on his way home after his resignation when His Majesty dissolved the State Council organization. Followed by Marquis Yael Owen, the empire's taxation minister, who committed suicide to escape punishment! So, is it safe for me to say that these are all your doing? You wish to send those who knew about your gold smuggling affairs to hell, including myself! I was nearly smashed into lumps of meat by those damned Deiss secret agents!"
Almodovar struggled to sit up, "My friend! I see where you're coming from, but I swear that apart from Levis Sakya, all of the other mentioned has nothing to do with me! Those were just accidents!"
"Accidents?" Oscar snorted. "At least the appearance of Wystan is not an accident, right? Don't tell me you have no idea that Wystan is also known as Left Hand, the ringleader of southern largest thieves' guild? He was the middleman for all your illegal businesses and trades abroad!"
"Wystan!" Sea Monster appeared to be perplexed, "Oh! I know this man! Indeed, he was once at my service, but that was before he was imprisoned! He's now being locked up in Damorga!"
Oscar took a few moments to calm himself down. Sea Monster was indeed not easy to deal with! He could still keep a clear head after being intimidated by Black Devil. Indeed, Wystan was in Damorga, but what Sea Monster didn't know was that the real thief of the century had been rescued by Oscar! Although the Secret Service Department and His Majesty the Emperor have more or less heard about this, however, if the truth was exposed to the public...
Young prince smiled faintly at the intelligence of Sea Monster, but fortunately, Oscar was also a brilliant man!
"Alright, old friend! There's no point in refuting anymore! The southern thieves' guild has a record listing each and every one of your dirty dealings!"
"That's not true!" Sea Monster's expression suddenly went sullen. "I witnessed Wystan destroying it with my own eyes!"
"Ola..." Oscar revealed a smile of victory, "You just admitted it, old friend!"
Sea Monster turned his head away, enraged as he realized his slip of tongue. His utmost concern remained in that book of records, which he believed Wystan could have made another copy of.
"Alright, friend! Let's not beat around the bush anymore! I knew I'd caused you loads of trouble during your Deiss trip, but I believe there's a chance for us to come to an understanding!"
Oscar nodded slightly after careful thoughts. Initially, he'd wanted to just slit the throat of this fat pig, but Almodovar Godzilla was the finance minister, after all, the super accountant whose service His Majesty the Third heavily relied on! No matter what, numerous problems would arise if Godzilla was killed, and perhaps it would anger the emperor too. Besides, he actually hadn't obtained any concrete proof to accuse the finance minister of stealing gold from the national treasury as Sea Monster had already removed all the insiders and proof from this world.
"Do you have any suggestions?" Oscar found out that the only choice he had was to compromise!
"Hahaha! I know you're a smart guy!" Godzilla returned to his usual delightful self. He even spread his fleshy arms to embrace the gloomy looking young prince.
"My young Oscar, apart from Wystan and Zoera, haven't you realized that I've been secretly helping you all this while?"
"I really don't!" Oscar clenched his fists, he couldn't wait to tear apart this horrendous face of Sea Monster.
"Haha! It was me who secretly provided the funds for Marshal Alan and your Red Tigers. Don't you know that old Kachev has been trying to hold back on military expenditure?"
Oscar gave a slight nod, he'd roughly heard a thing or two on the affairs happening in State Council and the cabinets.
"This is where we join hands!" Sea Monster clapped his hands together. "According to the current situation, the Imperial Army's budget is severely overspent, but in the proposal suggested by the State Council and cabinets, the new department - the Military Intelligence Bureau wasn't being mentioned at all! My friend, I certainly do not wish for you to be a poor wretch as soon as you take office."
Oscar nodded once more, as it was genuinely an attractive idea. War required an abundance of golden coins and so did a large-scale intelligence department. Without them, one could only stay idle in the office all-day, with no task at hand.
"Continue on! I'm all ears!"
"Alright my friend! Give me the records, and I will compensate you with golden coins in return! I can also offer the Military Intelligence Bureau your independent accounting rights! Do you understand what it means? It means that the Military Intelligence Bureau will be excluded from the finance budget, and you can utilize the resource of the finance department at your own wish!"
"Deal!" Oscar exclaimed without hesitation. "But I can't give you the records because I don't have it with me. In fact, I haven't seen that thing previously at all!"
"You..." Sea Monster was about to fly into a rage but he immediately he held back his anger, although he was well aware that he had just been tricked by the young man.
Oscar stood from his seat, "Godzilla! My old friend! That's about it! The deal is closed! You know me and my ways of doing things. You should be glad that you're not among the pile of dead bodies!"
His Imperial Highness Prince said his goodbyes to the finance minister who was glaring at him. He knew that even though Sea Monster must be enraged, he would still stand by his promise because the suspicious man didn't know for sure if the young prince had obtained the records or not. This man who knew how to protect himself would rather choose to believe that there was indeed something that could threaten his existence in the world.
Horses and knights galloped their way to the third destination – the lair!
Baron Thomas Aulet was pacing back and forth in his opera house, which was as massive as a palace. He couldn't regain his composure with the thought of His Imperial Highness Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette's return on his mind. The person who had given him power and wealth was back. This person who had easily turned him into a mega boss was also capable of kicking him down into hell.
A troop of Narcissus Knights and the exquisitely produced carriage entered the street and stopped before the opera house. There was not a single person idling in the street. The martial law imposed was effective in the area of the lair too. However, there were still a couple of busybodies who poked their heads from behind the display windows and doors. Baron took a deep breath in the hall, readjusted his posture, and headed toward the carriage.
"Your Honorable Highness Prince, welcome back!"
Oscar nodded at the man outside of carriage, "Thomas, come on in!"
Baron boarded the carriage, and a Narcissus Knight closed the door behind him. Inside of the comfortable and spacious carriage, Thomas suddenly felt ill at ease. His Highness Prince was giving him strange looks that he failed to comprehend, and it made this boss desperately anxious.
"Your Highness! The men you needed are all ready and on standby!"
"Hmm!" Oscar didn't speak further, instead, he only nodded.
Thomas felt uncomfortable with the tense atmosphere that cramped the carriage, but he had made up his mind.
"Your Highness, I would like to explain myself regarding the incident about Zoera!"
"Oh?" Oscar raised his eyebrows with curiosity.
"It was a shame to learn about what Zoera had done to you! As you might have known, Zoera is my… Your Highness…"
Obviously, Baron Thomas Aulet didn't get to continue his defense further. His eyes widened in disbelief as the young man exposed a dagger and rammed it deep into his stomach. The baron felt like a deflating balloon that was slowly thinning into a flat surface.
"Zoera is not just your lover but also your accomplice! Although it was Doramy who contacted Left Hand and brought him in as part of the rescue team, it was you who has been taking care of his basic necessities in Dulin, it was you and Zoera who had been the messengers between the ringleader of robbers and finance minister. Zoera genuinely loves you, as she didn't reveal your crime even until the last minute, but we are not all fools; no matter how well you covered up, you still gave yourself away. For instance, the secret report delivered back to Dulin by hawk eagle was written by Left Hand in "Underworld" code words. It was you who translated the code words into epistolary style, before handing them over to that intelligence collector called Fat Otter. Haha! You're never going to succeed in Secret Service or anything similar like that, Messier recognized your penmanship in an instance!"
Thomas puffed and panted intensely, as he watched the young man with confused eyes. All he saw was a blood-red blanket filling his sight, and all he felt was every part of his body slowing giving away.
"Thomas! You could have been a big boss if you just did your job quietly without attempting betrayal! But? Greed filled you up! The more you're afraid of losing, the closer you are to vanishing into thin air. Close your eyes! Zoera is waiting for you!"
Baron Thomas Aulet finally closed his eyes, which meant that the next destination would be the cemetery.
The cemetery was situated behind a small church on the outskirts, and it was well taken care of. The graveyard stretched out to only about forty squares and didn't occupy much surface area. All of the gravestones looked like they had only been installed recently, and etched on their polished surfaces were words of praise of the good deeds performed by the deceased before death.
A priest dressed in pastoral robes stood tall in front of the freshly-dug grave, as he sang out the words of God in prayer for the souls to be at peace. Beside him stood a couple of men dressed up in peculiar clothes. Fully covered in cloaks with the hilts of longswords peeking out from the corner of their sleeves, they resembled Death.
Oscar's carriage came to a halt beside this new grave. The young prince alighted and one after another, those men who resembled Death bowed to him. These were actually secret agents who worked for the Military Intelligence Bureau. Their gazes were fixed but bleak, and all they knew to do was to obey orders.
At the prince's order, these agents removed the corpse of Baron Thomas Aulet from the carriage and threw him in into the new grave. From below appeared a woman's weak moan of despair. Oscar walked forward to realize he was looking down at Zoera, who was already on the verge of her death.
"I'll take that as a thank you for bringing you your lover," the prince smiled.
Zoera's pale lips quivered, she was too frail to even muster the energy for hatred.
"Zoera, although you're always rebellious, you still can't run away from the destiny of a whore. You should just continue with your career down underneath! Haha, adulterous couple, this grave is just perfect for the both of you!"
When the first pile of soil fell upon the grave, Zoera began to struggle violently, but her lover's dead body weighed heavily on her like a big rock. When the last pile of soil intermingled with the scent of spring had completely covered her face, she ceased breathing while her stiff and rigid hands remained stretched towards the sky. Eventually, the grave was completely filled. Pastor closed the book of praise in his hands and bowed slightly to the prince, and left without a word as if nothing had happened.
It seemed rather ironic that the pastor was heading to the church in front of the cemetery to host a wedding. Coincidentally, that unattractive church was listed as the fifth destination on the prince's agenda of the day, as Oscar needed to attend a friend's wedding in the aforementioned place.
The pastor felt rather strange at the wedding he was about to host. Not even one family member from the groom's side attended the ceremony, but the church was crowded with friends and relatives of the bride. Just as the pastor wanted to ask the groom about it, someone appeared to be a friend or relative of the groom finally arrived, and eventually, the pastor motioned for the ceremony to commence.
Oscar held Ricky in his embrace. The liar extraordinaire was overwhelmed by the gesture, as he had no idea this old friend of his would attend his wedding.
"I heard that she's Little Stammerer, the girl you fell in love with while on the boat? I never thought you are such a romantic person!"
"Hahaha! Yes, that's her! You have not met before, but she's a cute and romantic girl!"
Oscar sneered, "Haha! Is she better than those servant girls you gifted me before?"
Ricky bumped at the young man's shoulder, "Forget about it, it's human nature to save the best for themselves!"
His Highness Prince stepped a few steps backward as the door to the church was opened. Fresh flowers fluttered in the air, and the guests gradually rose from their seats. Indeed! The bride was a beautiful girl. Dressed in a dazzling white gown, she appeared bashful under the shower of blessed flower petals. Step by step, she moved slowly further into the palace of bliss and happiness.
"Ricky! We need to talk!"
"Now?" the extraordinaire liar looked at his friend with surprise.
"Yes! Right now!"
"What is it about?"
"It's about my plan to turn each and every person in this church into corpses, and of course, that includes your wife and the baby in her stomach!"
The surprised crowd gazed after the groom who turned around and left while his bride was approaching. Naturally, they began to guess and discuss the identity of the groom's friend, as it was rather apparent to their eyes that he was something no one dared to offend.
Although the cemetery was only a stone's throw away from the blissful church, a chilling atmosphere lingered in the air. Sunlight overshadowed those gravestones lazily, casting gloomy silhouettes over the stones.
"Messier's secret agents apprehended your friend, the Clown, by the Deiss border. Remember him? I've not met him in person but I heard that he was a skillful make-up con artist."
Ricky gave out a low sigh. What needed to happen would eventually happen, but this timing seemed rather extraordinary. It was his big day, after all.
"Your Highness, can we speak about this after today?"
Oscar shook his head, determined. "No! I must understand the reason for your doing so before you marry, because... you wouldn't want to bring your wife into trouble, would you?"
With no alternative, Ricky nodded helplessly, "How did you find out?"
Oscar replied with a nonchalant shrug, "I didn't, I always thought you as the loyal companion who saved my life, but Messier's investigation shows that many years ago, it was Duke Kachev Drakas Ferdinand who persuaded the authorities for your lifetime imprisonment instead of the death penalty by hanging. According to Clown's confession, he was the messenger between you and Kachev, and all this while he had been hiding in Dulin, by your side."
"Haha!" Ricky scratched his head, "Seems like I underestimated those agents, I never thought they're capable of digging out this old news. Yes, Duke Kachev has had some relations with my family, and it was him who saved my life from death by hanging penalty. When he learned about my escape from the prison, he began to control me in secret without giving me a choice! It was the same for Clown, and if I remember correctly he's had a more agonizing past than mine."
"Why did you betray me?" Oscar asked, depressed, "Simply because Kachev saved your life?"
"No! The main reason for my doing is because I crave for a life of peace and quiet, but Kachev wouldn't let me! He could kill me or put me back in jail again!"
"I will never let that happen!"
"Ha! Forget about it!" Ricky shook his head, "You can't win old Kachev, neither can I! Besides, no one knows you better than me, O'Neil Andrew Morisette! Young fella! Already a terrifying monster in Damorga, and now you don't care about anyone else apart from yourself!"
"These are all just excuses to cover for your own wrong behaviors, I'm not..."
"Forget it! I beg of you! Forget about it! What good will it do for us to argue over this?" Ricky flung his hand aside, "So what if you learn about the reason behind my betrayal? You will not let me live in the end! So what if I didn't get married? You will still kill everyone presented here today! O'Neil Andrew Morisette! Like I said earlier! No one knows you better than me!"
Oscar lowered his head without saying a word and kicked at a tiny rock next to his feet. Indeed, he didn't want to discuss the betrayal any further.
"Why did you save me? If it wasn't for you, I'd have long since been killed in the Deiss castle!"
Ricky shook his head, "It wasn't my own intentions, but according to Kachev's plan, you should only die at the hands of Andrew and not Deiss! Only if you're killed by Andrew house's internal rebels would it cause the house to segregate. As a result, Kachev could take control of the rebel forces of Andrew to raise himself to a more favorable position in future negotiations with Andrew House. That's because once he discloses the fact that the Andrew rebel forces murdered you, these people would never have a place to stand in anywhere again! The retaliation of the emperor and the House's internal resistance will gift them a violent death!"
"I have to admit," Oscar sighed softly. "That at least for this moment, I'm not as wise or capable of fighting that old monster Kachev."
"Haha! You're getting there though, at least you found me!" Ricky smiled faintly.
"No! It was you who exposed yourself to me. You could have fled to a faraway place once you knew I'd escaped from danger, but instead, you stayed! I don't understand if you are trying to atone for your own crimes or are you forcing me to kill you?"
"Force you?" Ricky snorted, "No one in the world can force O'Neil Andrew Morisette to do something against his will. It was because of true love that I decided to stay, I want to marry her, and raise a couple of children together."
"Are you capable of that?" Oscar glared into Ricky's eyes.
"Doesn't seem like it anymore! I never thought you would be so meticulous with the investigation work, and I would never have imagined that Kachev's plot would fail so miserably," Ricky exclaimed with disappointment.
"Final question! Who murdered Berkley Andrew Nedgabel?"
"Marquis Erdogan Vas Ferdinand, old Kachev's daughter, who is responsible for dealing with the traitors in your house. It was her who performed the murderous scheme and left behind false pointers, but it was unexpected that that Secret Service Advisor of yours was not easily fooled."
Oscar turned around to head toward his next destination, "No matter what, I would like to thank you, Ricky! You taught me abundance, and in fact, I enjoyed those servant girls that you gifted me. Besides, you really do know me well, I'm not intending to let anyone here live to see any sunrise!"
Ricky revealed a dagger out of nowhere, "Come on then! I will fight for the person I love."
"I'm sorry, I'm not giving you that chance!" Oscar shook his head and waved at the vast open field. Immediately, a burning arrow shot across the sky. The moment the tail of the arrow disappeared in the church, the whole building burned vigorously. Fuel that had previously been hidden burst into raging flames and wails of agony rose one after another as the people within knocked desperately at the church's windows and door, which had been locked securely beforehand. Ricky threw himself at the brutal murderer, but Oscar avoided his attack with ease.
"As you should know, anyone that betrayed me will receive their punishment."
For the first time, Ricky's eyes reflected hatred and vengeance, "Even so, you shouldn't harm the innocents!"
"No! No! No one in the world is ever innocent, and I live by this truth!" Oscar turned to leave as Ricky continued to shout and curse out of anger while he was being held back by several tall men. Even at the moment when a short sword pierced through his body, he never once shifted his gaze from the murderer's disappearing silhouette. That stare was incredibly terrifying, and no one would have thought these two good friends of many years would end up like this.
Oscar shifted his attention to the burning church after boarded the carriage. The church's roof had already fallen, and he noticed his agents throwing the traitor's dead body into the raging fire.
"Ferdinand Manor, the last destination of today. Every story needed an ending!"