Titan Beneath the Heavens
Chapter 194: Twenty-second Episode: Chapter 4
Chapter 194: Twenty-second Episode: Chapter 4
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
On a certain day of the twelfth month, Dulin had just snowed. The city had transformed into a dazzle of white, and only traces of black ashes were left under the ceilings and the surrounding of the chimney which had turned black due to smoke. The cinders and the smoke ashes had stained the pure white snow. After the Northern West wind had blown past, the snow and various fine dust particles had completely lost control, covering people's faces on the street and entering their lungs through the air.
Other than the intricate noble residential areas, Dulin was filthy. Even though the descending snow had buried most of the city's rubbish, some corners still had the same appearance, forming a filthy lair together with the bricks of the roofs.
The people had long heard that the nests were shelters of murders and the source of evil. Those who had not been there had viewed the spot with hostile gazes as if this was a slum abandoned by the capital while those who had been there had just been looking around the lair for entertainment. Under normal circumstances, there would be two types of saying among these people. One would be that the lair had destroyed his everything while the second would be that the lair had brought him unprecedented and unimaginable joy.
Viscount Kasrody was one of those who bore the second opinion. Due to the connections of his ancestors, the young Lord Viscount had been able to secure a casual, comfortable and rewarding job at the House of Lords. He was responsible for recording the meeting outcomes and his only task was to compile the number of votes regardless of the names. For Viscount Kasrody, life was a continuous calculation. He had to identify which side had more votes and which side had less and report the outcome.
Youngsters would always find different ways to look for entertainment especially in Dulin. The noble youngsters in Dulin possessed countless ways of entertainment. There was the garden tour in summer, the extremely busy salon to avoid the heat in summer, the hunting festival in autumn, and the "Southern Sightseeing Tour" in winter. If one wanted to have more enjoyment, there were various kinds of clubs in Dulin which could provide entertainment in the forms of chess, smoke, alcohol, food and marijuana. The red-light district and sensual spots concealed in the dark corners could provide the respective beauties originating from each country in Westland!
However, there would always be someone who would not be interested in this, and this was the case with Viscount Kasrody. He had joined the reserves of the Guards after he had graduated from university. Unfortunately, he had been rejected out of the door due to his physical weakness, and this had brought tremendous shame onto the Viscount. He had even thought of hiring a killer to get rid of the instructor of the reserves who had destroyed his future. Even if he had amounted to nothing in the end, he had cultivated a bad habit. He had become fond of shouting to kill as if he was playing the role of a soldier of the empire.
In the nest, there was an exhilarating game. The gaming location was right at the borders of the nest, or to be more precise, it was situated beneath the walls of the old city of Dulin, a massive basement which had been utilized to store soldiers and military machinery several centuries ago. The underground route leading to the massive basement was connected to all directions. Thus, one would not be encouraged to explore alone without the guidance of a guide. As the people residing underground were not friendly at all, the price of a human's life was the same as a glass of vermouth.
The polluted space, swaying fire torch, crowd screaming with insanity – similar events occurred on every single day and night in the underground basement. This was the world's most sought-after kickboxing arena and the deceased and professional kickboxers here were as famous as the singer of Vielonna.
When it was near midnight, the crowd comprising of different walks of lives had been waiting anxiously outside of the arena which was surrounded by ropes. The highlight of the night was the defending fight of "Swift Knife" Roy. Near the fighting stage, Viscount Kasrody had his own table. He had spent fifty Golden Tis on this and was considered as a decent spot in the basement.
Amidst the screams and shouts of the people, the challenger had already gone up the stage. He was donned in a long cloak. While his face was not visible, it did nothing to interfere with their words of humiliation and attacks against him. "Swift Knife" Roy was a famed hero in the basement whose position in kickboxing had been established by his undefeated records of thirty-two fights. As for the challenger on the stage, the people were checking on him as if he was a livestock. Some said he was too skinny, while others said he would not withstand a single blow. Right at this moment, the boss of the lair who was also hosting the fight had announced the gambling rates of the night's defending fight himself.
"Swift Knife versus Mighty Fist Lee! One against four!" Domingo exclaimed while shaking the signage in his hand. His little brother Godot had then taken the signage and passed the gambling rule onto the betting table of the arena. Once the signboard of "Business Closed" had been taken off from the betting counter, the people pushed against one another to head to the counter. They handed their packs of money to the betting counter one after another while the counter handed out the coupons signifying the bets continuously.
Viscount Kasrody sized up "Mighty Fist Lee" who was on the stage, but he had failed to see the face of the fighter other than the pair of iron-like arms exposed out of his cloak. The Viscount bit his lip and pondered. The truth was that he had no way to compare the true powers of the two participants. It was just that there was some personal grudge between him and Roy. Kirkian who was skilled with dual knives should not have stepped on the challenging Major of the Guards and cut the Major's hair off with his dual knives! This person had humiliated an empire's soldier and deserved to die a thousand times.
Thus, based on his personal grudge, Viscount Kasrody had straight bought the tickets for nineteen fights. To his dismay, Swift Knife Roy had been able to defeat every single opponent of his which had caused Lord Viscount, whose hatred for him sank deep into his bones to lose a streak of nineteen matches. Kasrody still recalled the first time when he purchased credit at the betting counter, he had felt embarrassed and repressed. However, once the bronze clock had sounded for the match to begin, his fear and worries had vanished from him. He swore just like all the other thugs and shrieked with reddened eyes like the rest of the gamblers.
This moment might have been the starting point when Kasrody had begun to lose more and more money, until the extent that his credit purchase had become a habit. He had long lost interest in numbers due to his job in the House of Lords. Therefore, it had been impossible for him to be aware that he would go bankrupt and put his name at risk if he failed to emerge victorious in today's fight of losing one match and paying four folds.
Along with the wave of deafening cheers, the kickboxing champion of the lair showed up. This was another hunk! He bared his upper body naked, carried dual knives, and the shoulder muscles behind his collarbones protruded high.
"Roy! Roy! Roy!" neat shouts were heard from the crowd. Swift Knife Roy leaped onto the stage with clean moves and drew his dual knives at the highest speed. After he pulled out the dual knives, he intersected it to form an "X" and raised them high above his head! The crowd cheered loudly immediately, and the shouts of the swift killer were heard as well.
Viscount Kasrody scrutinized everything in disdain. He had already gotten bored with the entrance ceremony of Roy. To this, the crowd responded with their frivolous whistles and spitting of saliva, cursing for him to shed blood on the spot.
Mighty Fist Lee had finally removed his giant cloak and the crowd had finally gotten a clear look at his face. Suddenly, the whistles and curses died down. The crowd began to exchange words in secrecy. The challenger had firm, tight yellow skin while his black hair was left in a mess behind his head. His facial features were flat and his irises were pitch-black.
"An Easterner!" a knowledgeable spectator shouted.
"Easterner?" the crowd had finally been riled up. It was not an everyday occurrence to come across such a unique figure in the kickboxing scene.
It was apparent that the boss possessing the Eastern slave was not the primary figure and it seemed that the mastermind backing the challenger was very aggressive. Tonight, an exciting fight would be possible.
Viscount Kasrody's eyes radiated with light. Maybe, today was a rewarding season for him.
The Easterner with a small physique moved his limbs, stretched his neck, and sized up the triumphant swift killer expressionlessly. The referee signaled at him with a knife but the little guy shook his head. In the end, the referee could only say helplessly, "The challenger doesn't plan on using any weapons!"
The whispers of the crowd had become louder once again. No matter if it was the Easterner or the Westerner, one of them would bound to die. Since the Easterner was willing to face death, the gamblers who had placed their bets on the swift killer were naturally delighted.
"Where did the fellow come from?" Major Sandinand touched the lair owner beside him lightly. He was seated together with Domingo at the second floor of the basement where the scope of vision was the widest.
Domingo shrugged his shoulders, "I've heard that he had been rescued from the sea by an Italian merchant ship. He knows nothing except for boxing! Moreover, they're the legitimate and authentic Eastern boxing!"
"Eastern boxing?" Devil Sandy mumbled and directed his gaze toward the fighting stage at the floor below, "Will it work?" Maybe it was responding to the words of the Major of the Guards, the bell signifying the commencement of the battle sounded instantly. Passionate cheers had finally erupted from the crowd. Just as Swift Knife Roy was paying his regards to the audience or in other words, right at the instant when the bell had sounded, the short Eastern boxer rushed forward aggressively. Immediately, the cheers the crowd had transformed into shocked cries. Although the killer's reflexes were not considered slow, his dual knives which had repetitive strokes had failed to land on a single hair of Mighty Fist Lee.
Along with a scream, the short boxer kicked and hit big Roy on his Achilles' heel. This hit was followed by a second kick, a third, and a fourth! Just as the crowd was waiting in alarm for the fifth strike, the little fellow had already leaped into the air and gave another kick with the momentum gained from turning his body while in the air. The swift killer had been dealt with a heavy blow on his head. The long knives had been flung out of his arms' grasps which had been tied onto the ropes. His huge body had shot out like an arrow which had deviated from its course.
"Beautiful! Way to go!"
The sharp cries were such a stark contrast with the silent arena. The crowd's eyes widened and stared disbelievingly at the kickboxing champion who was lying on the ground. Viscount Kasrody went back to his chair awkwardly and had admitted that he was so delighted to the degree that he was shivering. Looking at the people's envious gazes around him, Lord Viscount raised his wine glass casually.
Swift Knife Roy crawled up while swaying. Just as the little boxer thought, his last kick in the air had crushed his opponent's left eardrum. As a result, Roy's responses to the attack coming from his left were slower.
Without giving the chance for his opponent to stand up completely, Mighty Fist Lee threw his entire body forward. The huge Roy instinctively drew his only single knife toward the shadow before him. The Eastern boxer leaped to the side and jumped into the air once again by stepping onto his enemy's knee. Roy felt a surge of sharp wind from the left side of his head. While he wanted to avoid, his bodily reflexes were slower than his senses. Mighty Fist Lee's knee hit hard on his enemy's temple and landed on the ground gradually like a leave falling from the tree. As for his opponent, Swift Knife Roy's head fell loosely onto the floor of the stage. This strike had entirely separated his neck bones from his head.
The referee hurried onto the stage and slightly kicked on the kickboxing champion wielding the undefeated records of thirty-two matches.
Finally, the crowd responded. Some scolded angrily in a loud volume, some Easterners on the stage waved their fists, some tore their coupons of their lost bet into pieces, while some even rushed toward the betting counter in joy! Viscount Kasrody had finally become the latter type of person after a few days. He handed his coupon cover to the clerk at the betting counter and waited for them to give him a large amount of gambling resource.
Domingo and Sandinand stared with widened eyes and spared a glance at the hourglass on the table in unison. It seemed that not even half a minute had passed after the victory.
"That guy has come to take his gambling resource!" an underling bowed respectfully at the lair owner who was seated on the main seat.
"Call him up!" Domingo waved his arms and turned toward Sandinand next to him, "Now, it's time for serious matters!"
Devil Sandy had said nothing. He only stared at the noble young man who had been pulled up the stairs with concentration.
The useless little fellow seemed to have been hurt by the underling's iron grip. He was struggling with all his might and seemed to be shouting to threaten to report to the patrolling soldiers.
"The patrolling soldiers are right at the door!" Domingo said while signaled at his underlings. His two tall men immediately let loose of their hold on Viscount Kasrody who was as thin and small as chicks and crows, "But I must remind you that this is my lair here, Domingo's lair! The people here will never ask for help from the Ministry of Justice's patrolling guards!"
Kasrody sized up the legendary figure, "Are you…Mister Domingo?"
"You can call me however you like!" Domingo waved his hand in dismissal and his men and bodyguards around him retreated down the stairs instantly. Only Gondot and Devil Sandy had been left sitting at their original spot in silence.
"May I ask why did you want to see me? Or is it that…how can I be of your service?" the young Viscount tried his best to appear humbler. He was facing the great boss of the lair, the powerful and influential gang leader of the underworld. The current circumstances simply did not allow him to display his ridiculous expressions as a noble young man.
"Lord Viscount, it's just like what you've said! I need your golden coins!" Domingo flung an account book at Karosdy. "Today, you've won. I saw that and now it's time for you to pay your debts!"
The Viscount flipped open the account book and spared a glance at the contents, "How…how is there so much?"
Domingo shrugged nonchalantly, "If you're doubting this number, I'll lend you an accountant now, and you recall your memories in detail as well. There's a structure in place for the wins and losses in the underground basement, and there's no room for bullying. It's best for you to think through it carefully and look in detail. Don't you ruin my reputation."
Kasrody flipped through the accounts with a pained expression. Just as what Domingo had said, there was his signature on every single page, and he had no way out of it.
"I…I don't have this much money!"
"But the problem is that you've lost this much!"
The young noble bit his lips and stared around helplessly. It seemed that no one could lend him a hand. He would lose the mansion left by his ancestors and lose the chance of an engagement with a Baroness. His name would be ruined if he were to go around to borrow money. If someone was to report his actions to his superior, he would lose that decent job of his at the House of Lords as well.
"Allow me to introduce myself!" Devil Sandy rose from his seat gradually, "Baron Sandinand Wollums, Major of the Guards. I'm from the Southern Army Group."
"Nice…nice to meet you!" the panicking Lord Viscount wiped off the sweat on his forehead. He had no idea what business a Southern soldier would have with him.
The short but agile Devil Sandy grabbed onto the shoulders of the votes recorder of the House of Lords, and pointed at the floor below, "Young man, there's two ways presented to you, one is to get up on stage, win against Mighty Fist Lee, and we'll clear your past debts! Two, we'll sit down, enjoy a glass of liquor, enjoy the fine culinary arts of the basement chefs, and have a transparent and honest discussion."
Kasrody stared at the fighter on the stage in disbelief. He was faced with a question of which he had no other options.
"Where's my seat?" the young Viscount showed a pathetic smile.
"Your seat is right here!" Duke Modia Sirte, the Spokesman of the House of Lords, greeted courteously at His Imperial Highness Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette.
Oscar sized up the main meeting hall of the House of Lords. It was his first visit here. Titan's nobles had decorated their meeting venue with golden dazzling ornaments. Oscar saw the massive crystal hanging lamp which was extremely valuable and the tables of chairs of walnut woof which had been arranged into a circle. In the end, His Imperial Highness the Prince's gaze had fallen onto the signage hanging at the entrance of the main hall. The time and agendas for the day were recorded on the wooden plank with a number board.
"Church's year 800, the nineteenth day of the twelfth month, evening. One, regulations for the lake salt exports of Kinostras Province (first revisit). Two, to implement "Public Toilet Maintenance Tax" in the entire country (second revisit). Three, solutions to the many issues of the wild boars at the Royal hunting ground (first revisit)."
What were these? Oscar retracted his gaze. He had already made up his mind – if there was nothing serious, he would never touch the House of Lords. The nobles here had all sorts of mental issues.
"The third revisit of the establishment of a unified government of the Five Provinces of the South will be the final agenda," Duke Modia Sirte said while handing a cup of hot black tea to His Imperial Highness the Prince who was seated next to the rostrum.
"I'm sorry, your Highness. This arrangement might occupy a portion of your evening. But as you've seen, the other agendas are very pressing as well. The locals are all waiting for conclusions!"
Oscar nodded softly at the smiling Duke Sirte and did not show any expression of impatience. However, his curiosity had been aroused as it was quite refreshing to see an empire's Duke be living like Modia Sirte. From Oscar's perspectives, the Great Dukes whom he had known in his earlier days were all-powerful and influential figures who were capable and brilliant, while this Duke Sirte…if it was not that Oscar had trusted his wife's judgment, he would still be misunderstanding that there had been some affairs between the two of them whenever the saw the looks Modia Sirte threw at the empire's empress.
"I'm a little puzzled…"
"Please do speak, don't be concerned!" old Modia got closer like a prostitute. Ingenuine light of feigned kindness shot out from his pair of eyes which were full of flattery.
"Why is the agenda of the Five Provinces of the South being arranged after that the what 'Public Toilet Maintenance Tax'?"
"Hehe! Your Highness, now, it seems that you're not so clear about this!" the Spokesman of the House of Lords spread open a scroll, "Do you know how many public toilets there are within the borders of the empire?"
Oscar had almost spat out a mouthful of tea, "Why do I have to know this?"
Sirte widened his eyes in purpose as if it was a serious matter, "It's not right for you to say that! The number and locations of the public toilets are the determinants of our country's hygiene and the successes of the businesses, these public toilets demonstrate the structure of our country and the moral standards of our people! Of course, all that I've said has yet to include the toilets controlled by the Guards, do you know? From the qualities and compactness of the public toilets, one can see the welfare standards of the empire's soldiers…"
Throughout the entire evening, what Oscar had heard were all similar discussions like these. He had even witnessed an argument between two members who were old enough to be his grandfathers just because of a mere issue regarding the parking of their cars in front of the palace, which had eventually escalated into a fight! If O'Neil Andrew Morisette had the slightest longing for Dulin left in his heart, it had completely vanished at this point in time. At the very end, it was finally time for the third revisit of the establishment of a unified government of the Five Provinces of the South. The Southern nobles present in the meeting rubbed their palms against each other. They cheered for each other and had even directed an inspecting gaze toward the high and mighty His Imperial Highness the Prince.
Oscar had remained seated at his original spot, and he had felt neither surprised nor delighted. He sized up the bunch of people with honorary noble ranks who were noisy, incompetent and had zero contributions to the country and its people. They had been able to be seated by relying on their family backgrounds and the ranks of their ancestors and were speaking nonsense and words of flattery to the Royalties, discussing unrealistic and ridiculous matters which they had claimed to be the country's affairs. If he was holding Alanis' position, he would make the insufferable system of the House of Lords' meeting to become a historical noun and allow the descendants to only be able to discover such ridiculous historical remains of the House of Lords only on historical teaching materials! However, it would soon be time! It could be said that it would be almost instantly!
"The final agenda to be revisited for today!" Duke Sirte hit the hammer heavily on the rostrum. He surveyed the present nobles, and said with measured intonation, "Misters, gentlemen! This is already the third revisit of the agenda of the Five Provinces of the South's unified government establishment since everyone understands the rules, I trust that you'll consider and reconsider with utmost caution! Well then, from now on…"
The old Duke glanced at the clock at the side of the hall, "I'll allocate five minutes for everyone to weigh the pros and cons, and then we'll commence the anonymous voting! Write down your agreement or disagreement on the cow-skin envelope in front. Remember the rules, any blurry handwritings or empty envelopes will be considered as abstained votes! Lastly, please do hand the envelopes to our vote counter Viscount Kasrody!"
"Lord Viscount, are you ready?" the Spokesman of the House of Lords turned toward the seat of the vote counter at the bottom of the rostrum.
Viscount Kasrody knocked his hammer as usual, which signified that the vote counter had completed his preparations. However, right at this moment, Lord Viscount's gaze met with that of His Imperial Highness Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette who had happened to look in his direction. As if he had been shocked, Kasrody avoided meeting the Prince's gaze immediately. Fortunately, nobody had noticed the curled lips with a cold smirk of the husband of the empire's empress and the flowing sweat of the vote counter due to his extreme nervousness.
Time ticked away with each and every minute and second. The followers of the counter had walked past the entire hall. They had collected the votes of one hundred and twenty-eight old members of the House of Lords and had handed them over to Kasrody who kept on wiping his forehead.
Kasrody questioned, could his sly acts slip past the near three hundred pairs of eyes in the hall unnoticed?
However, he was even more concerned about his wealth and the short Easterner on the stage! The young registrar was stunned! He seemed to have completed the switching of the votes, but it was still a damned matter! It looked like the training by those few thieves still had some advantages for him. He had almost subconsciously accomplished the difficult, yet relaxed task.
Sweeping his gaze across the noble elders who had nothing to do, Viscount Kasrody calmed himself down. He had long heard about the Southern businessmen and Southern nobles' wealth. If His Imperial Highness the Prince on the rostrum was to really fulfill his promise after the matter had been settled, he would own a large boxing club. Then, he could enjoy the hot-blooded fist fights of life and death in his very own club.
"Vote for…one…vote against…one…"
The counting of the registrar had begun! The Southern nobles waited anxiously. Nevertheless, there were still many people present at the scene who were gloating over the interesting unfolding of events, and they envied the wealth of the Southern people. If the establishment of a unified government of the Five Provinces of the South would accumulate more wealth for these people who had become rich overnight, they would definitely not allow it. Furthermore, everyone knew the purpose of His Imperial Highness the Prince on the rostrum attending the meeting today. It had not been only one or two days since O'Neil Andrew Morisette had managed the South, while the high and mighty Her Majesty the Empress had her eyes on this particular agenda for a few weeks. At this time, anyone would know what to do! However, had they heard wrongly?
"The final revisit of the establishment of a unified government of the Five Provinces of the South!" The meeting's vote counter announced the outcome aloud, "55 voted for it, 52 voted against it while 21 had abstained from voting. According to the procedures of the meeting, this agenda…"
The cheers of the House of Lords members had drowned the final word of Viscount Kasrody. Some young members of the nobles had even jumped onto the table and hugged each other with great force.
"This isn't right, is it?" the spokesman of the House of Lords had left the rostrum and flipped the cow-skin envelopes on the registrar's table in havoc.
"That's right! It must have gone wrong somewhere!" an elder of the House of Lords with protruding stomach responded immediately. This should be impossible! Although the proposal of the Southern people had been rejected by a small difference in the previous two votings, the members who were hostile toward the Southern citizens had all aligned themselves in this final voting. There should not even be an occurrence whereby the Southern people had won by three votes.
Viscount Kasrody's panic was apparent on his face. He stuttered his explanation to the Spokesman, "I…I don't believe this either! But…but I've calculated thrice!"
Finally, the scene of the meeting had transformed into total havoc. A huge group of elders was shouting for another voting while the passionate Southern nobles and the elders supporting them were naturally reluctant to do so! The two parties had split into two formations and scolded, humiliated and threw gloves and all kinds of ridiculous things at each other.
Duke Modia Sirte looked at the voting outcome in his hand and looked again at the two noisy parties. The scene was simply too chaotic and the Spokesman of the House of Lords realized that the numbers of the two parties were actually quite similar to each other! On the other hand, those with "abstained votes" who just sat on their post and observed the events were still incapable of saying anything.
'How…how am I going to explain this to Her Majesty the Empress?" Duke Sirte glared at Viscount Kasrody who was cowering like a chicken.
"I think you should explain to me why can't we acknowledge the conclusion of the third revisit? Haven't we voted according to the standard procedures?" the chilly voice of His Imperial Highness Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette was heard.
Duke Sirte shivered in shock and surveyed his surroundings for a moment. A noble with the loudest voice shrieked as if he was tearing his throat apart!
"One more voting! One more voting! Let's conduct another voting with our names known!"
"Aha, that's right!" after getting the hint, the Spokesman of the House of Lords quickly voiced his agreement, plastered a grin on his face, and turned to face His Imperial Highness the Prince who had a sunken expression. "Your Highness, look, they're asking for another voting session with the names known!"
Oscar shook his head softly, "Lord Spokesman, if you think that there's a mistake to the voting session, I agree to repeat it with the names known but only under the condition that you're able to identify any evidence according to the Titan Codex and any relevant regulations. Otherwise, you'll have to come with me to present your explanations in front of Her Majesty the Empress."
Modia Sirte was never an opinionated person and he believed that this was exactly why Empress Alanis had pushed him up to the position of the Spokesman of the House of Lords. The panicking Duke looked at the lashing of the Southern nobles and stared at His Imperial Highness Prince who seemed to be unconcerned but was spreading chills to his surroundings at the same time. Maybe, it would be a good idea to leave the mess for Her Majesty the Empress to call the shots.
"Everyone, silence! Everyone, quiet down…" Duke Sirte's voice had finally calmed the chaotic meeting scene. The noble elders had all gathered in the front and everyone was waiting what the chair of the meeting had to say.
"Since everyone has their own opinions, please allow me to bring along some votes to meet Her Majesty the Empress. Only Her Majesty the Empress will be able to make a fair decision!"
"Yes! For Her Majesty the Empress to decide!" ear-piercing cheers exploded simultaneously from the Southern nobles and the opposition.
However, those who self-proclaimed to be smart grunted, "Why all the trouble? Let's just do a head count here. Wouldn't it be clear of who agrees and who disagrees?"
"That's right that's right! There are some problems in the voting! This isn't fair!"
Suddenly, Oscar waved his arm. The voices at the scene quieted down one after another. It seemed that nobody had yet dared to openly offend the status of His Highness.
"I don't mind telling you all! I only care about the outcome of the voting, anything else is none of my concern! You shall wait here! Whether it's by headcount or group fight! As long as Her Majesty the Empress' orders have yet to reach the House of Lords, no one can leave here!"
"What say you, Lord Duke?" Oscar turned toward the meeting chair who had kept on wiping off his sweat.
"Yes…" Modia Sirte moaned. "We shall wait here for Her Majesty the Empress' orders!"
Oscar was the first to move and leave. Once he had stepped out of the main door with Duke Sirte who was holding the votes, the scene had once again slumped into chaos. The Southern nobles humiliated the opposition with various words describing a stingy person while the opposition started to do a head count within them. They wanted to know the real outcome of the voting session, but at the very least, the cold grin hung on the corners of His Imperial Highness the Prince's mouth had implied that they could never figure out even by counting.
Amidst the chaos, Viscount Kasrody slipped into the pantry at the corner of the main hall. He needed a glass of strong liquor to calm his emotions fast. The words of the noble elder earlier had scared him to death! Once the opposition had confirmed the true number, his head would be bidding farewell with his neck forever!
But, where did the smoke in the pantry come from? Kasrody looked at the thick smoke hovering above his feet and then noticed the source of the thick smoke. It was the water-boiling room next to the pantry and the smoke had flowed in through the gaps beneath the door of the water-boiling room!
Puzzled, the vote counter opened the door and he was being hit in the face by the flames and smoke. Kasrody immediately retreated several steps backward but a firm human body blocked his way.
"It's on fire! Hurry up and get someone!" the Viscount exclaimed at the silhouette in the smoke but the individual had not moved an inch from his original spot.
Kasrody sized up the person in fear. His irises had contracted much due to the stimuli from the smoke, or in other words, his spirits had been overwhelmed with terror. With a sidekick from the petite Eastern boxer, the skinny body of the vote counter flew into the fire instantly.
Mighty Fist Lee did not rush to flee the scene. Instead, he smashed a few bottles of strong liquor onto the floor.
The smoke in the air had finally captured the people's attention. A noble elder had been the first to notice the flames spurting out from the interior of the pantry. He let out a scream as if he was slaughtering pigs and then manically pushed against the people blocking at his front.
An elated member pulled on his arm, "We've counted fifty votes, hadn't you raised your arm just now? You're fifty-one, right?"
"Fire! This place is on fire!" the fifty-first voter freed himself from the fool and rushed out of the main hall's entrance with all his might.
The crowd had finally noticed the impending accident. Unbeknownst to the one who opened the pantry door, the flames and smoke had immediately flowed into the meeting hall! The fire rose up to the ceiling along the wallpaper and the thick smoke had brought upon pitch-black darkness to the House of Lords where one could not even have a clear view of their fingers. The elders escaped in four directions. But it was still crowded in all directions nonetheless.
The entrance guards who had been notified of the situation rushed into the main hall while the nobles who intended to evacuate the scene pushed outward with all their might! Screams sounded from the crowd. Under the external pushing forces, the person from the opposition who had shouted in the most aggressive manner fell onto the floor. While the plump guy with a huge physique had landed on the people beside him, a chain reaction had been invoked among the crowd who were squeezing against one another. One stepped on another, one landed on one another, everyone wanted to flee the hell which was shooting flames.
Finally, a noble had taken advantage of an opening and managed to rush out of the fire. On the other hand, the nobles behind him followed suit and rushed out just as he did as if they had clung to a life-saving straw. There was a continuous stream of escapees and those who had successfully escaped from the danger increased in numbers. The flames from the House of Lords had lit up the evening skies of Dulin. The crying and shrieking elderly nobles had all fallen to the ground in relief once they had been out of the house and the servants on the carriages and the soldiers of the Guards had all rushed forward. Some were busy evacuating, some were occupied with putting out the fire, while some were also busy looking after the old men who had been frightened to the extent that they had almost loosen control of their bladder…
A black silhouette leaped onto a carriage which was getting further from the fire scene. Major Sandinand Wollums did not pull the door close. Instead, he signaled at the Eastern boxer whose body was littered with traces of smoke and fire in the direction of the door, "You're free!"
Mighty Fist Lee seemed to not have comprehended his words and remained seated still in the carriage.
Sandinand then spoke slower, "Look at me. Free…you're…free!"
The boxer shook his head. Other than this strange bunch of people, he had nowhere else to go.
Sandinand closed the door tight in glee, "I can see that you're a person who knows what's fun. I like you!"
When the news of the House of Lords being burnt into a huge furnace had reached the Hamilton palace, His Imperial Highness Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette and Duke Modia Sirte were in the middle of a meeting with the Empress. Alanis I Her Majesty was seated on her throne and sized up her husband with a joking gaze. Oscar could not tell if she was angry or not. He only felt that her gaze had somehow thinned their past relationship.
Her Majesty the Empress had been silent for some while. She did not inquire about the strange voting outcome nor was she bothered about the faraway fire. At the end, when her husband could no longer control himself from stifling a yawn, Alanis opened her mouth and said to Oscar, "It seems that nothing can change your decision."
Oscar was in silence. He was never foolish to the extent that he would think that Alanis would believe the whole incident was a mere accident.
"However, I have my suspicions! Do you even know the implications of your decision?"
Indeed, Oscar was not clear of what his decision represented. Was it a breakdown? Or a breach of agreement? He had vowed to protect Her Majesty the Empress' honor and life. However, there was still some disparity between what he was doing now and what he had vowed. Thus, the Imperial Prince just shook his head in front of his wife. He still stayed silent nonetheless, neither expressing any affirmation nor denial.
"Oscar, oh Oscar…" Alanis sighed with a moan, "You're wearing me out!"
Oscar smirked to himself in a self-mocking manner. Speaking of being worn out, how would he not be tired as well? If he could share the entirety of his plans of the "Arson of the House of Lords" with Alanis, he believed that his wife would know how exhausted his spiritual and mental state was.
"Go…go…" the Empress stepped down from her throne and the palace servants rushed forward to hold her arm immediately, "Go wherever you wish to! I wish you the best of luck! Just remember to inform me when you're leaving…"
Oscar stared at the leaving silhouette of his wife and had never said a word all this while. The main door leading to the inner rooms of the palace had been shut closed. There was no longer the lonely noble lady in his scope of vision. There were only the memories in a certain time and corner where the cute and endearing princess was smiling sweetly at him, acting like a spoiled child, expressing her love to him, and asking him for pleasure. No matter what, he could not arrange these memories together. In the end, Oscar had given up.
"Have you heard that?" the Imperial Prince turned toward the blank and dazed Spokesman of the House of Lords.
Duke Modia Sirte had recovered his attention instantly. Facing the cruel and cold prince consort of the empire, his old spine bent downward.
"Your Highness, according to the legal procedures, the notion of the establishment of the Five Provinces of the South's unified government had been passed in its third revisit in the elders' meeting of the House of Lords! Congratulations!"
After some time, there was still no response or echo of any sort. The Spokesman of the House of Lords could only straighten his spine slowly. It seemed that His Imperial Highness the Prince had already taken his leave and the old man let out a breath of relief.
Around midnight, Alanis had yet to fall asleep. She did not know the whereabouts of her husband and this troubled her and made her spirits drop. Her Majesty the Empress who had nothing to do bared her feet naked and it had been a long time since she had gone on a stroll like this. Although every single stove in the serene palace was still being lit, the chilling cold floor still hurt the lady's feet.
A huge group of servants followed the Empress, but no one dared to disturb her as her temper flared easily. She either lectured one with her scepter or gave the other a caning. The Empress' emotions were irregular which made her a natural match with her husband.
Speaking of her husband, a rumor had spread within Hamilton Palace that His Imperial Highness the Prince had used a machete to cut the black gorilla who knew how to act into a lump of meat and had tormented the animal tamer with all sorts of cruel tortures.
Thus, this couple of husband and wife was not very sane.
Suddenly, Alanis felt an additional cloak on her shoulder. She turned her head backward slightly. The most loyal dog of the Morisette Royalties instantly beamed with a smile just like a huge grey wolf which was wagging its tail nonstop.
"Don't smile like that, it grosses me!"
Rudolf Hoss then switched to an extremely stern expression. He followed Alanis with the utmost courtesy and sized up the footprints on the cold marble floor left by Her majesty the Empress' warm feet with a devoted gaze.
"The fire has been extinguished, the House of Lords has been burnt all the way to the roof", the Head of Secret Service observed Her Majesty's response, but Alanis did not even move an inch of her eyelashes.
"Few staffs have died, and more than ten noble elders have passed away."
The Empress still showed no response.
Rudolf Hoss rolled his eyes. He could only continue the topic, "You guess what I've thought of when I saw the fire? Accomplishing the aim of having a certain side occupying more votes through some tricks, and then invoking a huge fire, destroying all corpses and traces of evidence, and then resulting in the passing of notion. Now, we can no longer investigate the actual numbers of the votes of agreement or disagreement as we've just lost more than ten attendees of the meeting!"
Alanis finally stopped in front of a stove. She slumped into the lounging chair and put her feet which had turn red due to the chills closer to the warm flames.
"Your Majesty, I must remind you that this tie, it's the House of Lords which has been burnt down to ruins and it may be Hamilton Palace's turn the next time!"
There was finally some response from Her Majesty the Empress. However, she only sized up Rudolf Hoss with a mocking manner.
Alanis poked the forehead of the Secret Service Head with her fingers and said to him with a frivolous tone, "If you dare to say something like this, I'll dare to convey these words to Oscar. When that time comes, we'll see how my husband is going to settle you!"
Rudolf was silenced instantly. He realized that he could no longer see through the young Her Majesty the Empress in front of him.