Chapter 50 – King of the underground (1)
“Stop!” Kodan shouted.
He realized there was something wrong at the gathering site. Not a few seconds after his yell, the place suddenly shook violently.
Brendel, Medissa and Scarlett’s expressions immediately changed. Thunderous splitting sounds followed as the walls repeatedly cracked until it reached the ceiling. Dust and pebbles quickly rained on their heads.
“Leave this room now!” Brendel’s yell woke everyone up from their shock. He had naturally assumed that the area collapsed because of their fight.
He quickly retreated to one of the exit tunnels, but Scarlett’s urgent voice rang out behind him:
“My lord, watch—”
But before her words were finished, Schafflund’s mine shook again, and a large piece of the ceiling collapsed under the tremors. The light to the room dimmed immediately as the exits were blocked by the falling rocks.
It was impossible to dodge the rocks, and Brendel cursed in his mind before everything turned black.
The terrifying vibrations extended all the way to the surface. Perkins who was near the entrance lost his footing and rolled down the steps. He got up unsteadily with a bleeding forehead with much difficulty.
The rumbling sounds did not stop, and he paled as dust fell over his head. He quickly climbed back out and saw a chaotic scene unfolding before his eyes. Many of the workers were down on the ground because they fell over, but even more were fleeing the valley.
[Did an earthquake happen? Is Mother Marsha angry?]
He started to shiver.
============ Princess Gryphine’s POV ===========
There was a scent of bleakness in Vlada’s autumn. Princess Gryphine’s silver eyes glinted as it reflected the moonlight. She stood on the balcony and watched the thick ink-like mist cover the forest’s crowns.
Some of the trees’ leaves had completely fallen.
The sobering cold was a contrast to the warm room. A robust fire was consuming the wood in the fireplace, sending occasional ashes that landed on the bricks outside.
Gryphine was wearing a red robe interlaced with white threads over her nightgown. Although she was barefooted, she was standing on a white fur carpet. Her silver hair rested a little untidily on her shoulders, and she yawned once before turning back into her room.
She threw her robe onto her table, causing several parchments to fly off lightly, and she laughed a little before changing into her formal attire.
Oberbeck would have scolded her for not watching her conduct if he saw her. He was currently busy with the documents on his desk. It had been three days since the knights’ tournaments, and Maynild had delivered the results in person.
She was standing in front of him, wearing a black knight uniform, which contrasted against her exposed hands and neck; many would gladly ogle at her.
They did not speak and time continued to pass.
Finally, the silence was broken when Gryphine entered the room after knocking on the door. She appeared to be slightly listless because she had just woken up, but she brought her eyes up to look at her two retainers.
“My apologies, Ser Oberbeck, Ser Maynild, I’m a little late.” She said.
“You should watch yourself. Work and rest go hand in hand,” Maynild said.
Oberbeck glanced at Maynild. The knight wore her usual taciturn expression, but her concern for the princess far surpassed what a retainer would have for their lord.
“What’s this report about?” Princess Gryphine took over the papers that Oberbeck reached out to her. She briefly read it, frowned, and placed her hand over a crystal ball the size of a fist on the table.
The crystal immediately glowed, and its surface showed a series of moving images.
It was a record of the tournament for the knights, and Gryphine recognized the girl in the scene, Freya. She was slightly surprised and replayed it again.
“Is there something wrong?” She looked up to Maynild.
“Her swordsmanship,” Maynild replied.
“There’s a little problem with the girl’s swordsmanship,” Oberbeck said almost at the same time.
“She’s Duke Everton’s daughter, what problem could she have?”
Maynild nodded to acknowledge her question. She took a bell from the table and shook it. After the ringing ceased, the door opened and a young knight wearing a chest plate and a red robe with white thread, not unlike the one that Gryphine wore earlier, entered and greeted Maynild and the princess:
“Your highness. Captain Maynild, what are your orders?”
“Attack me.” She gave a simple command.
The knight was slightly taken aback, but he did not question her orders. He took a step back and pulled out his sword. As a personal knight of the royal family, he had met the requirements of a Gold-ranked swordsman. His actions were clean and smooth and showed a clear understanding of Aouine’s swordsmanship.
Maynild took a single step back to avoid the range of his sword’s thrust, while she swung her sword together with its sheath and struck her opponent’s sword downwards. Once his sword was deflected away, she immediately kicked the side of his right knee with the same leg that withdrew a step, pulled out her blade and thrust it at his throat, stopping at mere inches.
“Maynild, your skill has improved again.” The half-Elven princess’s eyes brightened.
The knight who was half kneeling on the ground was not frustrated at all. He grabbed Maynild’s offered hand after she sheathed her sword and got up, and said with a lowered head: “I’ve disappointed you!”
Maynild was Gryphine’s knight commander. Although her position did not fall under the same system, she could command the royal family’s knights, and it would not be wrong to say she was their commander too. Most of the young knights were impressed and admired her skills. Those who were jealous spread her infamy as someone who had nothing but swords in her mind.
Maynild nodded and said nothing else.
“This is a new military swordsmanship created to finish a battle quickly.”
Gryphine thought for a while and nodded: “Yes, I can see the differences between the old and new.”
“The new method is supposed to improve on the original to make it more practical instead of relying on standard forms of attacks. In its core, it relies on using the simplest methods to cause the opponents to lose combat prowess.” Oberbeck said as he pointed at his neck, arms, knees, and the abdomen area.
“The method targets vulnerable spots like the joints in order to strike through the weak points of an armor, but it’s unlikely for someone to develop it without spending a lot of time in the battlefield.” He continued.
Gryphine thought for a while and once again watched the images on the crystal. She noticed several similarities between Maynild and Freya.
“The counterattacks and attacks?”
“Ser Maynild and I have studied it carefully. The counterattacks that she made against her opponents were unrefined, but it is clear that the essence of the newly developed military swordsmanship we’re preparing to propose is distilled in her actions!”
Gryphine first furrowed her brows at Oberbeck’s subtle insinuations, before she displayed an interested expression.
“You mean to say it’s impossible for her to develop a swordsmanship like this because you need an extraordinary amount of experience in fighting. She clearly did not spend years on the battlefield and was only a militia. The amount of time that she spent fighting against Madara was at most only a few weeks long.”
“Yes,” Oberbeck nodded, “But there’s another possibility.”
“Let me guess, a veteran? Captain Marden?”
“No, I investigated the old guard captain. He is competent and experienced the November War in the past, but his swordsmanship sticks closely to the original method.”
“…… Indeed. His protege Bannett didn’t display this new swordsmanship in the tournament.”
Gryphine briefly considered the possibility that Freya was a genius, but there was no indication that she showed off her skill at any given time. Everyone had followed her progress from the start, and the possibility was so small that Oberbeck and Maynild did not mention it.
“Who could have taught her?” She was a little troubled: “There are not many people she knows.”
“But there is, your highness, and that person has always been in our sight.”
“You mean to say it’s him?” She made a strange face as she immediately realized the answer.
“But he’s just as young as Freya. Did someone teach him…… Were you able to uncover more information about him?” She tilted her head, and her eyes sparkled with anticipation.
[…… Wait, why am I feeling this way? Am I really so curious about him?]
“No. Unless we return to Bucce.”
“Is there no information to be gotten from the people who fled from Bucce?”
“They are not acquainted with him,” Maynild cut into the conversation, “I have privately asked Bannett and sent out men to ask the refugees from Bucce, but they said they don’t know.”
“Bannett said he doesn’t know and not that he’s unclear about it?”
“Yes.” Maynild also found it questionable, but no other information was gotten.
“Let’s put it aside for the time being,” Gryphine sat down and combed her hair with her fingers before tying it with a silver ribbon, “let’s go back to Freya’s swordsmanship. Are we able to get any useful information about it?
“That girl is unable to teach us anything. Ser Maynild observed her for a while, but her understanding of that young man’s swordsmanship is fuzzy at best.” Oberbeck shook his head.
“It’s pointless unless we can find that person, right?”
“Maynild, are you really unable to glean anything from Freya— that man’s swordsmanship? You’re a genius in our kingdom after all.”
Maynild seemed to be pondering on something, and it took a while before she finally responded: “I’ll try my best, but you shouldn’t expect too much from me. I’m not a fighter after all.”
“I don’t understand what you mean by that.”
“Without a certain amount of experience in the battlefield, it would be hard to figure out the essence of the swordsmanship.”
“I see….. Oberbeck, please arrange to have a few veterans from the November War discuss with Maynild when she returns from the trip to Ampere Seale. Maynild, spare some time on this matter during your trip. I expect great things from the new Military Swordsmanship.”
“Yes, your highness.” Both of them said.