Chapter 55 – Sword, light
Along with a fearsome cry, the gargoyle swoop down from the sky and its hook-like claws latched onto Burnley’s shoulders, then raised the ball-like figure into the sky. The businessman reacted subconsciously and tried to wiggle out of the gargolye’s grasp, but realized he was in mid air and paled instantly and stopped moving.
Everyone raised their heads up. Even though they knew they might do the same thing as Burnley, they secretly despised him for his cowardice.
Brendel raised his hand up and yelled admist the army without looking back: “Uom (come back)!”
When he finally looked behind him, the soldiers before him took a step back under his gaze. However, once they did so, they revealed that Ciel was surrounded by hundreds of spears.
“Don’t attack me, I surrender!” The young wizard raised his hands up to show that he did not intend to resist.
[I say, can you be any more spineless?]
Brendel sighed once and shook his head. But Ciel did not seem to see his actions and blinked at him repeatedly, saying: ‘Everything is up to you my lord, I already did my best.’
Brendel wanted to pull his hair out.
The White-Mane riders marched up and circled behind Brendel’s back, as if they wanted to take control of the situation from the nobles.
The Golden Apple Lord from afar started cursing, but there a number of factors that prevented him from controlling the enemy before him. Makavu was dead, Burnley was dangling in the air, Granzon was still in the fortress. There was no one beside him that was of use.
He could only ride forth alone. The truth he was enduring the cold perspiration in his back. He was almost certain that the gargoyle was coming from him.
[But why did he capture Burnley?]
The Golden Apple Lord gestured and brought forth a few nobles along with him, riding towards the center of the army that surrounded Brendel. He stopped in front of Luc Beson. The two parties had nothing much to say as the tension between the nobles and regional army leader of Grinoires was too much for civility.
The ‘Tiger’ Luc Beson stood tall like a spear on the horse’s back. He smirked as he looked at Esebar and the nobles behind him. He might be in the White-Mane army, but his heart was in the monarch’s faction which sought to regain its power. The two parties looked down on each other, so he naturally did not want to waste any time on them.
He was more interested in Brendel and peered at him. The young man managed to create chaos in front of a big army, and managed to either escape or defeat his squadron leaders in the blink of an eye. But he was surprised to find Brendel’s gaze was on him.
[Does he know me?]
Luc Beson frowned but quickly composed himself.
“Young man, I’ll give you a chance to put the pitiful fellow, Lord Burnley, down to the ground. As you can see, your ally is in our hands.” Luc Beson took over the entire situation once he spoke.
Brendel confirmed that he was Luc Beson after hearing his voice. He had heard of his voice during missions in Fortress Riedon before the first Black Rose War.
[The Tiger, Luc Beson. An upper silver-ranked swordsman, one of the stronger fighters in the entire Aouine region.]
Brendel did not dare to underestimate a formidable foe like him. His thoughts moved quickly. He glanced at Luc Beson and Esebar, knowing that his only chance at survival was on these two people.
This standoff between these two men was not by coincidence.
This rivalry between the nobles and the regional army was due to Aouine’s unique political rule. As the country came from the splintered Kirrlutz, its rules were derived from the Black Bible. Due to the long history of the lords fighting one another, the fourth ruler of Aouine, Einz the first created the rule of having a regional army governing their own location.
The lords started to create their own ‘country’ like a principality. Within this ‘countries’ the lords enjoyed complete administrative power and their own laws. However, the king imposed a tax on all the mines, foresting lands and farms, while the nobles were free to impose a second tax. The nobles were also unable to hold their own private armies, and the defense was left to royalty or the regional army.
With this dual system of separating the army and administration, the royal family controlled all the states and created a strong kingdom. However, no matter how glorious Aouine was, there was going to be ambitious offenders that would plague the kingdom. When the royal family’s authority waned, the opposers gradually appeared.
The first appearance of internal strife came around the rule of the ‘Pious Disciple’, King Edelweiss, sixty years ago. It was also when he was succeeded by King Corvado. Duch Arreck, who also had the same succession rights, was spiteful over this event, and when King Edelweiss passed away, the regional armies gradually started to support different factions. (TL: There might be some inaccurate TL here. The history lesson is killing me.)
When the royal family found that they were unable to control the huge armies, the authority in the capital started waning: And ever since the ‘Year of the Empty Beast’, the tax official was unable to gain access to a third of the lands. It was evident that the royal family’s authority had been reduced to be a miserable state.
Duch Arreck had forced King Oberg the sixth to change a new set of defense laws, and they only controlled the minor kingdom’s armies. Cifahd’s black bladed army and Ampere Seale’s eleventh voluntary calvary.
Under such circumstances, the royal family’s hold over many areas were becoming weaker. However, the contest for power was becoming more intense between the nobles and the regional armies. In the Grinoires region, the earl and the archduke’s enmity was well known as a source of entertainment in pubs.
And in Fortress Riedon, this conflict was present in the nobles and Luc Beson. They held the same attitude in abandoning Bucce, but Luc Beson was in a disadvantage as he was weaker in political maneuvering and capability. Someone had to take responsibility for the failure.
But now there was a change when Brendel and his partners came along.
If they were truly Bucce’s militia and they were still present for questioning, Esebar’s excuses would become a lie, and it was a considerable matter for deceiving the king. Even if the royal family was reduced nothing more than just a name, the ministers in the capital would be able to legitimately use this as an excuse to turn on each other.
[And because of this… I have at least a chance to escape from this unharmed. Even if Esebar wants me dead, he had to seek Luc Beson’s approval.]
Brendel felt a little sad. He knew that this would be the outcome but he was unable to explain it clearly to Freya. If she knew that the final conclusion was still to leave it to these warring factions, she probably would not be able to accept it.
[But even if it’s sad, it’s thanks to your short-sightedness that I can use this excuse.]
After hearind Luc Beson’s words, he could not help but display a chilling smile: “That is certainly laughable, my esteemed nobles.”
Everyone was stunned from hearing his conflicting tone.
“Laughable?” Luc Beson smiled from his horse as he looked down from the higher ground: “Why do you find it laughable?”
[Your grin is going to be wiped off soon.] Brendel beckoned the gargoyle to come to him, and held his Elven sword from the left hand to his right.
“Ser Luc Beson.” He turned his head to him once again. “You want me to let down this fat bastard down?”
He smacked Burnley’s face with his hand, recalling the events that happened two hours ago. It was when Earl Dunn took away his sword and raised it to take a close look– (TL: OH? Gee, that event felt like it happened WEEKS ago. I wonder why.)
The memories played back smoothly across his mind like a flowing river, calming him. He tilted his head and answered: “I find it laughable that, some people don’t even know they are heading to the gallows. Do you really believe you can stay in Fortress Riedon safely and Madara’s army wouldn’t invade Aouine’s territory?”
“Madara?” Both Luc Beson and the Golden Apple Lord were confused..
“What are you trying to say exactly, you bas—, you fellow.” The Golden Apple Lord asked while considering his status that was related to Buga’s wizards.
Brendel did not want to waste anymore time, and he took up his sword and place it at Burnley’s neck. Before he finished speaking, the Elven sword flared up with brilliant light.
“Lord Burnley’s family is well reputed for its wealth and knowledge, can you tell me what history this sword has?” Brendel copied a certain man’s tone with a cold sneer.
That fat man suddenly struggled with all his might in the gargoyle’s grasp and tried to retreat backwards.
Brendel finally confirmed the suspicion in his heart and ignored him. He rebuked angrily at the two men: “This sword is called ‘Thorn of light’, a sword that was created admist light. All undead creatures are revealed by this sword’s brilliance, but you short-sighted morons only sought to admire it, but forgot what happened when Earl Dunn took it.”
“My esteemed nobles, do you really believe this fat pig is your ally? How remarkably laughable, you don’t even know Tarkus have planted a spy amongst you—”
Luc Beson and the nobles were tongue-tied as they did not know whether this was true. Even though the White-Mane army’s captain already believed Brendel’s words, but he wished that it was untrue.
Brendel thrust the sword into Burnley’s ball-like figure. The latter shrieked pitifully as his body rapidly shrank, and his appearance changed to that of a ugly and desiccated monster.
“A lich!” Luc Beson recognized this creature in an instant.
Esebar was even more exaggerated as his body sagged as he yelled. “Impossible!”
His response frightened everyone and they cast their eyes on him. Brendel’s expression was cold. He finally knew what happened in Fortress Riedon and why it fell so quickly.
[But history— or the future… cannot be changed now.]
Esebar felt the perspiration on his forehead. The words from the damnable fat bastard appeared like a deadly trap now. In order to capture Brendel, he had took out a third of the Fortress’s guards and placed them under Burnley.
And these private troops, were most likely undead creatures by now.
When they still hesitated over this matter, ghastly blue flames could suddenly be seen from Riedon’s west and northern areas. Everyone understood what happened by now.
Esebar felt the world was spinning.
“Re-retreat! To the south gate now!”