Chapter 252: Twenty-seventh Episode: Chapter 3-1
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation

In the early morning, or to be more precise, right before daybreak, the rain had stopped and the skies had just started to clear. The air became exceptionally fresh. A procession of carriages and a group of knights were advancing slowly on the deserted streets. The clatter of horse hooves played a light and soothing rhythm.

The early spring of Dulin had yet to arrive. The bleakness of the late winter seemed even more rampant. The milky white mist that arose from the center of the city brought with it waves of cold and humid air that filled the main streets and alleys, and even the pedestrians could not be seen! Only the wild dogs with their drooping heads and curled tails wandered on the pavements, greatly resembling the tramps that had nothing better to do.

Although the rising sun was still indistinct, it was already vigorously emitting its light through the mist. The moist morning breeze was gently caressing the withered leaves of the wild West Percian rattans that were twining around the balcony and buildings. Aside from the silence that resembled a revenant domain, it should be said that the city of Dulin was welcoming yet another beautiful morning.

O'Neil Andrew Morisette pulled open the carriage window. He could only make out the city in the cold fog. The buildings in the city had their windows closed and the household doors closed. What surrounded the Prince of the Empire were only the gentle coughs from the knights and the silent panting of the horses. He felt a little lonely and thus started to whistle. This tune was immensely popular in Vielonna, but the people of Dulin had probably never heard it before.

The atmosphere of the city is a bit strange. Although it was still early, on such a beautiful morning, there should be at least some pedestrians in sight. The citizens of Dulin had received strict orders from the Ministry of Justice and the Garrison Command Center. The people were informed that they were forbidden to welcome the Empire's hero that had returned from afar in any form.

The hero stopped the senseless whistling. He was a little weary but he knew that this was just the beginning. Things that were going to make him feel even weaker had yet to come.

The early morning sun had already seeped through the mist, shining its warmth over the seemingly-deserted city. Everything displayed before the Narcissus Knights were illuminated by the rays of light. However, the greenish-gray city buildings and the flagstone road that had weathered the wind and rain for hundreds of years were still emitting a piercing chill. His Highness the Prince and the knights passed through the alleys. The shining forest of armors was prancing forward in the morning mist. Only by looking closely in one direction could one see the faces of the warriors that were as sharp as knives, approaching from the distance.

Through the uninhabited suburbs, through Victory Square where trash the was flying everywhere, O'Neil Andrew Morisette finally came to believe – Dulin was really haunted! This omnipotent phantom had taken away the pulse of the city and also the people that relied on the city for a livelihood.

At a tall apartment building facing the street, the Imperial Prince suddenly ordered his procession to stop advancing. The Narcissus knights evaluated his surroundings, mystified. They could not tell what had attracted the commander's attention. O'Neil Andrew Morisette dismounted his magnificent carriage and a group of Knights clad in heavy armor immediately shielded the commander's silhouette with their chests, but Oscar did not seem grateful for it. He pushed away all those blocking his line of sight, which were a pain in the ass.

The tall apartment building had its floor-to-ceiling windows on the balcony wide open. An old soldier in a wheelchair gazed downward stiffly. Next to the old man was a little girl that looked about three to four years old. She kept the hair of a boy and wore a pale blue floral skirt. She kept waving a toy-like Fierce Tiger of the Narcissus Flag that she obtained from somewhere. The little girl was holding the old man's hand. She looked down at the soldiers below. Her face was full of curiosity, bashfulness, and yet a slightly flashy smile.

O'Neil Andrew Morisette suddenly felt his heart tightened. The sudden drop in blood supply caused his head to become dizzy. If he did not see it with his own eyes, he would never believe that anyone in the city of Dulin would be waiting to welcome the arrival of the suspect in the Emperor's murder by the windowsill. However, now he had to admit that the crippled old man and the little girl with the sweet smile made him feel touched in a way that he never did before.

If one were to talk about the differences between this crippled old man and all the other old people on their wheelchairs, unable to move, it would be the Marshal uniform that the old man had on him, pinned all over with medals. All sorts of medals made of gold lined on the old man's chest. Despite him no longer being able to rely on his own strength to raise his chest and lift his head, those medals and the golden-threaded tassels on his Marshal uniform still emitted a brilliant ray of radiance as before. Each ray of light represented a great military campaign or a distinction that the general population could never hope to achieve.

The former Military Affair Chancellor of the Titan Empire, Vann Hewitt Alan, tremblingly shook his hands. The Imperial Prince, who was below, could not make out what his lips were muttering on about.

The little girl seemed to have understood her grandpa's orders. She raised her plaid skirt and carefully stepped onto a small stool on the balcony. Then, she climbed clumsily onto the stone railing of the balcony. The Narcissus Knights below let out startled cries. They had already noticed the dangerous actions of the little girl.

The girl leaned her little body out of the balcony slowly. Her arm was short and slender, but she stretched them out desperately. Like all great families, the owner of the apartment building had a flagpole stuck slanting onto the balcony. The flagpole already had a rolled-up flag tied onto it. According to the tradition of the citizens of the Titan Empire's capital, special attention was paid to this flagpole and flag. In the event of a holiday, a red-striped beast flag would be hung up. During a funeral, an obituary flag with a white background lined with black religious inscriptions would be hung up. The girl on the railing of the balcony had already untied the rope that was holding on to the flag. A flag with a blue background, bearing the military insignia of the Imperial Guards fluttered in the breeze – the ones people would use when they welcomed the triumphant return of the Empire's warriors!

Oscar could not sort out his feelings at that moment. The Alan he saw had changed immensely. Once upon a time… the Commander of the Imperial Guards was also a soldier. He just did not know whether his heart had ever changed! However, Oscar still preferred to believe that Alan would always be a soldier of the Empire.

The banner of triumph fluttered in the wind and the Titan Prince raised his arm to salute the elderly on the balcony. The salute was extremely solemn, and the perfect posture and powerful strength affected everyone who was present.

Oscar abandoned the carriage and switched horses. His little Oslu must stride at the very front of the procession. However, there were always hateful guards that flanked him on either side.

The procession circled along the auxiliary road of the Victory Square and was finally stopped by the people when it was approaching the Titan Gate of Light.

The men who stopped the Marshal of the Imperial Guards, His Imperial Highness Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette, were a group of fully-armed soldiers of the Capital Division. Their commander was a young man by the rank of major. The young man dismounted his horse in a panic and hurriedly saluted the Marshal! His expression, as if it were doomsday, caused the Imperial Prince to laugh, unable to hold it in.

"I say…" Oscar used his golden-threaded horsewhip to point towards the officer the rank of a major who was so nervous that he could not stand properly. "Where were you all hiding? I really thought that Dulin had been taken over by a demon!"

The young major was so embarrassed that he could not even utter a word. His eye just kept twitching, as if he had a black-backed spider resting on his face.

"Let's go!" Oscar beckoned to his knights.

"My apologies, Your Highness!" The youth officer of the Capital Garrison Division suddenly spread out his arms to bar the way of the legendary battlefield devil. Oslu was so enraged that it stamped its hooves. "You… you can't pass through the God of Light, neither can you enter the Road of Kings. This… this is the decree of Her Majesty Empress Alanis I!"

Oscar shrugged. "Get out of the way! Then go and tell your Empress that I've even received a summons from the Supreme Court!"

As soon as the Head of the Family finished his words, the Red Tiger knights who had already lost their patience waiting immediately released the reins. Their strong warhorses and heavy shields dispersed the military officers blocking the entrance of the gates. Oscar spread his hands toward the young officer who was standing alone before him. The other could only retreat to one side without a choice.

"Wait, you!" Just when the Marshal for the Guards brushed past him, the Major finally mustered up his courage to shout.

Oscar tightened his hold on Oslu and gazed at the young soldier with a grim face in puzzlement.

The Major of the Capital Division once again saluted the Imperial Prince who was seated high up on the horse. However, this time he did not hesitate at all. The action of puffing out his chest and raising his arm was neat and clear, precise and firm!

"Sir, whatever business it is… welcome back to Dulin!"

After locking gazes for a protracted period of time with the young soldier, O'Neil Andrew Morisette then returned the salute. His face showed confidence, pride, and a contented smile. The situation was almost as he had anticipated... The soldiers of the Empire were always soldiers! The things that soldiers abide by were very simple.

The group formed by the Red Tiger soldiers and the Imperial Prince poured slowly into Titan's Gate of Light. They were met with the famous Road of Kings. As soon as they stepped through the massive city gates, Oscar suffocated! The breathing of the thousands of people caused everything within that side of the world to freeze momentarily.

"Attention!" A resonant shout came from the Road of Kings.

The next moment, the sound of military boots colliding with each other as the knights stood to attention sounded out over the entire main street! The soldiers, the countless Empire soldiers had formed a tranquil ocean as far as the eyes could see. This ocean was difficult to distinguish under the sunlight. Only the azure of the military uniform resembled the surging tides. The dazzling medals and Imperial warriors with faces of unswerving determination formed a thin golden line under the morning sun. Behind the golden line were the ridges formed by the numerous young company officers. The ridges went all the way to the tall buildings on either side of the road, resembling range upon range of mountains. Far off, the military flags that moved up and down among the waves were fluttering in the wind among the azure, clear and hidden harbor. All these flags symbolized the four army groups of the Imperial Guards, the nineteen regions, and sixty-three armies! They symbolized all the Titan soldiers that were willing to fight with the God-chosen Warriors to oppose the invaders together!

"Sa… salute!" The one who had issued the command to the soldiers assembled at the Road of King was the Chief Scheduling Officer, Commander of the Imperial Guard's Twelfth Region, General Bencil Donnis. This recipient of the Empire Warrior Medal had completely lost the commanding position during the first defending war of the country. He initially intended to win back the votes in the second defending war of the country, but his dreams were dashed by Her Majesty the Empress' documents and drafted agenda.

Thousands of soldiers simultaneously saluted the Marshal of the Empire standing under the Gate of Light. Only the people near the gate could see O'Neil Andrew Morisette's smile. His smile exhibited a brilliance as splendid as that of the Sun God! He laughed at the cowardice of the capital aristocrats, laughed at the loyalty of the Empire soldiers, laughed at the pitifulness of the invaders and laughed at the stupidity of Alanis!

O'Neil Andrew Morisette did not return the salute to the soldiers on the scene. He merely raised his arms towards the heavens and clenched his fists.

"Long live… the Imperial Guards!"

The soldiers also laughed! Following the cheers like a torrential tsunami, the first person rushed forth to embrace the national hero and military model in his eyes, yet he was pushed away by the Red Tiger knights that were pale with fright! Next came the second, which ended with failure. It was followed by a third that yielded no results! After that came the fourth, fifth… a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand!

Numerous arms reached for the Empire soldiers' symbol of spirit! It was this young commander that foiled the conspiracy of the Deiss with a weak armed force! It was this young commander who eliminated the southern bandits with a tenacious fighting spirit! It was this young commander who conducted a long-range raid on the Buzaberg ferry crossing, burying thousands of corpses of the invaders within the riverbank! It was this young commander who led the Division of Justice in the expedition to Slovenia. He retrieved millions of gold and ten thousand acres of land from the infidels!

"Long live the motherland!"

O'Neil Andrew Morisette once again shouted! He, of course, chose to put it pleasantly! He would not tell these adorable soldiers in front of him about what had happened to the motherland, neither would he tell the soldiers that the conspirators that harbored unfathomable motives murdered his son before he was even born. More so, he would not tell the soldiers that he wanted to change his direction and replace the front courtyard gates of the Hamilton Palace, which stood at the end of the Road of King. He only told the soldiers, "I've returned! Since I've returned, I will not leave with regret!"

The arms of the soldiers formed a wave of wrath, which surged forward at a magnificent scale. The undulating waves lifted O'Neil Andrew Morisette onto the palms of the people, bringing him along with the crowd. He shook each pair of hands tightly. These people were heroes, soldiers, warrior covered with scars, and staff officers with smooth skin. Oscar dropped down in a camp composed of a group of small soldiers. He laughed as he gazed at the cadets with sentimental faces; there was not a single military rank in their soldiers.

"Where are you all from?"

"The Knight Academies and Military Affairs Academies from all over the country... from the first grade to the seventh year... from the preparatory classes to training classes... the student representatives are all here!"

"What did you all come for?"

"To fight a victorious battle with you!"

Oscar was naturally satisfied, but he suddenly frowned. "What if I lose?"

The cadets did not reply. They took the lead in singing the military songs of the Imperial Guards. The loud and clear singing quickly became a deafening chorus. Under the shouts of "Advance, Guards!", O'Neil Andrew Morisette could only spread his hands and said to the people around him, "Okay kids, I admit that even if I fail, I will stand up once again!"

Countless officers crowded around the Marshal of the Guards and walked towards the Tower of Heroes. They used the most passionate song to welcome a soldier of the Empire that was destined to be bestowed the title of The Great.

Oscar hesitated slightly for a moment while climbing the podium that was built last-minute below the Tower of Heroes. He knew the significance of the step he was going to take. Once this step was taken, he would either achieve a lifetime's glory or be labeled as a sinner of the ages, this was something that only the God of Light would know. However, this step must be taken. It had nothing do with his reputation or his family, nothing to do with the intimidation of the capital nobles or the oppression of the southerners that was seemingly not there… No matter the intimidation of the capital aristocracy or the oppression of the southerners... life existed in the world! One had to be responsible for their own life. To be responsible for one's life, some things must be done.

The singing of the soldiers gradually died down and finally, there was a absolute silence. The Road of King was bathed in the morning light. The blue ocean formed by the officers and soldiers of the Imperial Guards once again became calm.

O'Neil Andrew Morisette took a step forwards and climbed onto the stylobate of the Tower of Heroes. The soldiers held their breath and watched his silhouette attentively. He could feel just how intense the tens of thousands of eyes were.

The Tower of Heroes towered into the heavens. The ordinary people were tiny and ridiculous at its feet. Marshal O'Neil also developed such a feeling of being negligible. He lifted his head and gazed towards the top of the tower. Floating clouds drifted across his eyes. What was the secret of life existing in this world? At that moment, he still had no answer to it as he was afraid that the answer he had received was wrong. However, when he lowered his eyes and faced thousands of soldiers, his conviction was once again strengthened. Thus, he shouted to the soldiers present, "let your blood boil!"

***************

Alanis turned her back and leaned against the windowsill. She had had enough of her husband's show. The noble bureaucrats present did not even dare take a deep breath. They shivered with apprehension in each of their seats! O'Neil Andrew Morisette had returned. He had brought not only a group but eight hundred thousand Imperial Guards! The nobles could not believe that the martial law of Dulin City had actually turned out to be useless. They dared not expect that Marshal of the Guards, who was issuing a call to arms below the Tower of Heroes, would quietly sit in the judgment seat of the Supreme Court. However, if Prince O'Neil did not take that seat, then what other ways could they deal with him?

"How did all of this happen?" Alanis gestured towards the Head of the Secret Service who kept wiping away cold sweat. "It was all well last night. Overnight, the capital has nearly ten thousand soldiers more that are even crowding around the Road of King, basking in the sun! Aren't you going to give me an explanation?"

Federick sighed miserably. "Your Majesty… the Secret Service System… the Secret Service System indeed has a dereliction of duty…"

"You're really hopeless!" Alanis waved her hand impatiently. She had already resumed her seat in the golden chair. "If, at this hour, I still don't know that a problem had arisen in the Secret Service System that the Empire's Imperial Household relied on to maintain national security… then it would be stupid of me, wouldn't it?"

The Head of the Secret Service shook his head. "Your Majesty, the university students headed by the Imperial Military Academy have almost turned Sparjoxin upside down! The line of sight of the Secret Service, due to University Town's student movement…"

"Enough!" Alanis pointed outside the window. "I did not ask you the reason for the dereliction of duty. I am asking how you will handle what is happening outside!"

Federick shut his mouth. Outside, there was close to ten thousand soldiers. If at that moment someone went forward to arrest O'Neil Andrew Morisette… the consequence would surely be a sight to behold!

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