The Star of Annihilation
Chapter 42 – Insight (2)
Written by : Eleven
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As soon as the sun set, the true chatter and completely different side of the Empire would surface.
In the streets and red light districts of Lazarus, a group of robed and hooded individuals met under the candle light of a dimly lit room.
“Is it done?”
A haggard voice sounded out from one of the 20 or so individuals in the room.
“We are certain of it. The kingdom of the East has already completely fallen to them.”
“What are the countermeasures?”
A skeptical voice among the robed individuals voiced their concern about the kingdom that fell into ‘their’ hands, and was worried for their Empire’s safety.
“Who said we have to have countermeasures?”
Multiple laughs could be heard as the haggard voice replied with sarcasm.
The owner of the skeptical voice didn’t react.
But beyond his mask, the owner of the skeptical voice, Heathrow Dunbar, one of the Viscounts of the Empire, frowned at this kind of cynical response that truly defiled the idea of their safety.
“Are you sure that you can just laugh at that kind of thing?”
“It’s not a matter of whether I can or can’t, it’s not something that needs to be decided by us as our money is what pays for the Empire’s military in the end.”
“You realize what the casualties are, don’t you?”
Viscount Dunbar questioned the cynical man.
“Three Swordmasters, 5 Archmages and an Entire Kingdom. Brushing aside the questions of whether or not they can match up to the Empire’s military, that is eight prized individuals from other kingdoms that were captured and killed after they were sent by the Iron Fist Coalition.”
“What kind of nonsense…?!”
The cynical man knew that Viscount Dunbar was not spouting nonsense, yet he just couldn’t believe that the Empire could possibly lose in a war. Even against the Demons several years ago, the Empire had triumphed and passed a ceasefire with the help of the other subsidiary kingdoms that bordered the Demon’s Territory.
The reason he was reacting like this however, was because he could not let this Viscount ruin the plan he had in mind.
As a noble of the Empire, this group was founded for like-minded nobles that were conservative in nature and almost all of them supported the Second Prince, Howard Ismenian. Some were in support of the Third Imperial Prince, Michael, but none of the ones present were in support of the foolish and idealistic First Prince.
Further than that, it was known that the Emperor did not play favorites among gender when choosing his successor, and it was even a slight possibility that one of the Five Princesses could inherit the throne.
None of these nobles would allow that to happen though, and if it happened, they were not afraid to throw away their territories and titles for other kingdoms.
“It is not nonsense. Furthermore, the Second and Third Prince are going to be sending their prime talents to the tournament of Young Lions. I know that a few of you here, are hoping that your children will be selected to represent the Empire, but the reality is that there are only eight spots for each monarchy to be sent. This is not only dangerous, but I think it is highly likely that if we send our firstborns or other heirs, they could be in danger because of ‘their’ expanding influence. I think all of you should reconsider the support you might send to the Imperial Family this time around.”
Viscount Dunbar spoke gravely.
Two years ago, it was known that a frightening appearance of a creature- no, a monster of mass destruction surfaced within the Empire’s outskirts.
The nobles had found out through their agents and lobbyists about the situation that had unfolded and just how devastating the damage could have been.
The Empire had placed heavy surveillance under other kingdoms in the Northern Continent because there was the possibility of finding more of these monsters called the Dragons.
However, by the time they had already researched into it, an entire kingdom had been taken down from the inside.
The monsters had taken over a kingdom that boasted 4 Archmages and a single Swordmaster which was nothing to scoff at.
But a reconnaissance unit was developed in the Iron Fist Coalition, a republic that was sworn enemies with the Isemenian Empire, and they tried to hunt down one of these beasts.
The results were disastrous.
Even more of the continent’s talents had been murdered in cold blood, and the other factions within the Continent were growing wary of the newfound power of these monsters and were even expecting direct retaliation immediately after their reconnaissance team was completely found and wiped out. But the Dragons did not make any hasty movements.
Viscount Dunbar had dug as hard as he could for information and found out that it was highly likely that the Tournament of Young Lions, the tournament that had each monarchy and republic in the continent participate in, was a guise under the fact that the leaders of these nations and democracies would meet during the tournament to discuss what to do about the imminent threat.
The Tournament of Young Lions was also a tournament that did pose a threat if the Dragons had any hidden intentions.
The only problem was that no information was spread or found about the Dragons’ intentions.
“I’ve also looked into them as much as possible, but it’s an opponent that has power. We can’t be hasty. Think about how we can use this to our advantage.”
Viscount Dunbar had a plan he had been thinking about, as he had attended this meeting regularly and was a prominent figure within their group of nobles.
“These monsters are not something I, personally, want to get along with…”
“Then why the hell should we bow down to them?!”
A voice amongst the several nobles made a cry and chatter erupted between the several hooded and robed nobles as panic and concern was evident in their mannerisms.
“We aren’t. However, it is clear we do not wish to see anybody unfit to succeed the throne. Therefore I have a proposition I think many of you will like.”
“What might that be?”
A certain robed individual asked Dunbar with a slightly indifferent tone.
This noble who asked the question was undoubtedly a calm and calculating individual and Viscount Dunbar knew that his proposition weighed heavily on this certain individual’s decision.
“The boy who supposedly summoned a creature to combat this monster. His name is Roy Stone, a mere commoner and someone that is currently holding the backing of the First Imperial Prince. The Emperor also seems to hold this boy in high regard.”
“….. Go on.”
The influential and calm noble motioned for Viscount Dunbar to explain further what some boy had to do with all of this.
“First, there are speculations. But as ridiculous as it may sound, it was a creature that the boy summoned that was able to defeat the Dragon that was named Argenta, apparently. Even moreso, it has been said that it is highly unlikely that this boy can summon such a creature again….”
“Are the sources of your information credible?”
This might have normally been an insult to one’s own pride amongst most nobles, but Viscount Dunbar knew that it was just an honest question that was being taken into account, as it seemed that the influential noble in question was already catching onto what Viscount Dunbar was going to propose.
“Yes, I am very certain of their skill. Would you like to continue hearing my proposition?”
The robed noble, nodded their head with a silent gesture that neither was subservient nor overbearing.
“I think we should try to lobby for this child to take up a spot for the Empire’s selection of the Young Lions Tournament and possibly some of his friends that were heard to be similar in skill level that also come from dirty backwater origins. This way, we can protect our Empire’s true talents and our heirs while also seeing what these monster’s intentions are.”
After Viscount Dunbar spoke the words, many of the hooded nobles started to chatter once more, seriously deliberating the proposition.
Despite the fact that it was dirty to see such a dirty commoner take up one of their rightful spots to represent the Empire, all the nobles present knew what kind of implications it meant as it was a gamble that weighed heavily in their favor.
If this boy were to somehow…get injured or sully the Empire’s reputation in a loss, it would be a good and easy strike to the First Prince’s small faction that had been gaining traction lately, and also uplift their own status by having kept their talents back.
It was obvious in everybody’s minds that some twelve year-old boy would be a joke to be sent to the prestigious tournament of Young Lions, as the average age of the representatives was at least sixteen to seventeen.
In the process, the wild card, known as the Dragons, which were clearly an imminent threat, would likely be attending this tournament either through a proxy from the kingdom they have taken over or… more open and overbearing means. This would allow their group to discern their intentions based on how the Dragon’s acted this tournament, and was quite possible that the Dragons might even murder the annoying boy.
This in itself was a very likely situation that the Dragons would be hostile to a boy that had killed one of their kin, and was even more likely that their plans would turn in their favor while they measured the power of the opponents.
As the chatter in the room started to die down, Viscount Dunbar spoke up.
“I would like to see if my proposition is a viable solution to our troubles. Shall we take a vote? Those against, raise their hands please.”
Viscount Dunbar asked the question, yet not a single noble who was cloaked, raised their hands.
Viscount Dunbar and all of the nobles in the room except for one gave a pleased expression as they grinned beyond their hoods.
The one noble who did not, was certainly pleased, but they were quite skeptical of the situation itself.
The influential noble who had checked Dunbar with their own questions, Count Mateo Lancer, did not smile, but was not dissatisfied.
He just felt that something was quite off about one thing.
It wasn’t the Dragons or the nobility, or the faction of the First Prince that concerned him.
It was the dirty commoner boy named Roy Stone that concerned him.
He felt that he needed to find out more about the boy.
As the individuals attending the meeting finished their agendas and topics and started to head out, Count Mateo Lancer motioned his hand as he walked out the entrance to the secret location.
“I need you to investigate someone for me.”
“Anything you command sir, who might the individual be?”
A servant that was closer to an assassin if anything, asked the question as they bowed in a sincere manner.
“Roy Stone. He is a commoner boy that the Emperor holds in high regard and is known to be under the First Prince’s protection. He is twelve years-old and likely to be attending the Imperial Academy this year.”
“Your wish is my command, sir.”
The servant disappeared into the night and Count Mateo looked up as he lifted the hood from his robe.
His dark blue hair rustled as his piercing blue eyes and sharp jawline that clearly displayed youthfulness, was poorly hidden behind his mask.
“Roy Stone…Roy Stone…. Is he the kind of person that I have been looking for…?”
As he removed the mask from his face, a deep scar that went across his right eye was revealed as the face of a young eighteen year-old boy was revealed under the moonlight.
“If I can meet him first and see for myself just what kind of person he is… He might just be able to help overturn the tables from the three Princes’ Factions.”
Count Mateo was currently a double agent.
He was not in support of any of the Imperial Princes, but rather a different individual that he found to be far more suited for the throne.
The First Imperial Prince was a very solid pick for the next ruler in Mateo’s mind, but the individual he had found a few years ago, was the true epitome of a ruler that would lead the Empire to glory. In comparison, this person that Mateo supported, very different from the friendly and idealistic First Prince. They were cunning, incredibly rational, imposing, yet tactful.
Count Mateo who had recently succeeded his position as a Count due to a terrible struggle within the family in which his father and mother had passed away early, was someone that was extremely loyal to the Empire despite having no affiliation to the three Imperial Princes.
“For the glory shall be for the most fitting of all…. Princess Sistine Ismenian…”
Count Mateo muttered under his breath as he roused his aura as the Seventh and youngest Swordmaster ever birthed in the history of the Empire, and disappeared into the darkness of the night.
Chapter 42 – Fin