“It is a report from the scouts.”
“Viscount Donut’s engineering unit has been tied up in Elkas swamp. It is believed that the Thallen Dam collapsed and flooded the river, affecting the swamp.”
“The dam suddenly collapsed? It is Valhalla’s handiwork.”
“Due to the delayed arrival of the engineers, the army of the five eastern nobles—including the viscount—can’t cross the Grand Canyon. The bridges connecting the canyons are too old for us to march over.”
“According to a report submitted by Lord Cran, the canyon’s bridges were repaired three months ago. Yet they are already too old? Is this the work of Valhalla?”
“It appears that the report was fabricated.”
“He made a false report. Immediately put him to death.”
“The 2nd and 3rd armies, who were tracking Marquis Aileen, split into 23 units. It seems that they plan to spread out after determining that the traces of Marquis Aileen ended at Mount Teri.”
“Yes, we have to hold onto Aileen. If he escapes, he can become a focal point of the empress’ nobles.”
“It is said that the spread out 2nd and 3rd armies are being attacked by Valhalla!”
“A battle has begun in Delpito Forest! It is that damn Valhalla again!”
Chensler, who had been responding calmly to the incessant reports, finally jumped up. Originally, his mission was to search for the traitor Edan and neutralize Edan’s forces, but Valhalla’s malicious intervention twisted things.
“These despicable guys decided to break the agreement by using the chaos in the imperial family. Why did Vermont make a peace treaty with these lowly guys?”
Bang! Chensler slammed his hand on the black iron table, and it cracked, quickly splitting in half. Amazed by the ridiculous power, the lieutenant gulped and reported carefully, “I found out a little while ago... The person who led the agreement with Valhalla was the grandmaster, not Vermont.”
“What?” Chensler looked like he had been struck by a lightning bolt. Grandmaster Zikfrector had already served several emperors. He was the transcendent being who acted as the imperial guardian for so long that it was impossible to measure his age. Of course, he never acted as a guardian. He always moved privately and showed disrespect to the emperor. Yet the emperor relied on him.
No, it was more accurate to say that the emperor was forced to rely on him. The grandmaster knew more about the secrets of the imperial family than the emperor, and his armed force exceeded common sense. The emperor relied on him, and as a loyalist, Chensler also respected him.
At this moment, suspicion started to grow. The grandmaster, who had never been involved in external activities, negotiated with Valhalla directly? Now, Valhalla was disturbing the imperial army as if he could see through the army’s movements...?
‘Don’t tell me?’
A turncoat? No, it was still too early to tell. It wasn’t convincing that someone who had been staying in the imperial palace for hundreds of years would suddenly become a turncoat. Then it happened when Chensler was at a loss.
“Breaking news! The remnants of the Red Knights are attacking soldiers searching the capital!”
“Weren’t the Red Knights defeated by the Neo Red Knights?”
“We can’t figure out what is going on! We can’t communicate with the Neo Red Knights!”
His Majesty was in danger. A chill went down Chensler’s spine as he ran out of the barracks.
“Go to the imperial palace right away!”
“Please give permission for the forces of our two families to enter the capital. Together, we will search for Edan,” Duke Grenhal and Morse requested the emperor. Once they learned of Valhalla’s intervention, they realized that the situation was much more serious than they had thought.
Prince Edan wasn’t running wild. This occurring situation was a thorough plan. It was dangerous. There would surely be someone big hiding behind the scenes. The dukes became nervous once they calculated up to this point. They felt compelled to arrest Edan as soon as possible to calm the situation.
“Okay.” The emperor didn’t think about it for too long. He was also fully aware of the seriousness of the situation. Furthermore, he was in a situation where he had to show trust in the dukes. He needed to regain their loyalty after they had been greatly angered by the imperial family.
“Call your army to the capital right now...” At the moment when the emperor was giving a command...
The jade door of the audience hall, larger than a house, opened slowly and an unexpected figure appeared. “Please take back the mandate. A noble’s soldiers aren’t suitable to enter the capital.”
It was the traitor who the soldiers had been searching the capital for—4th Prince Edan.
“Y-You!” The emperor exclaimed, standing up with a red face. He raised his bloodshot eyes and shouted, “Stupid guy...! In order to cover up the sins of your mother, you threatened the nobles supporting the nation and worsened the situation here...! You became drunk on power, and your eyes darkened!”
The moment he learned the truth from Benoit, the emperor vowed to punish Empress Marie, but he had no intention of punishing Edan. It was natural since there was no evidence of Edan’s involvement in the Piaro situation. That’s right. Edan would’ve been able to survive the waves that came. His position might’ve been weakened, but he could’ve avoided a disastrous end. He could have enjoyed the pride of having the great Saharan’s blood and lived his life quietly.
Yet the foolish man did something stupid. He was guilty of the crimes of covering up the truth, pleading for his mother, and imprisoning the innocent dukes. The emperor was also a father. Juander felt heartbroken. He resented the terrible reality of having to kill his child with his own hands.
Edan smiled as he gazed at the red-faced emperor. “Then I should do nothing? My stupid mother fell into a bucket of shit, and I should just suck my fingers?”
“What blasphemous words!” Surprised by the harsh tone, Duke Grenhal shouted on behalf of the emperor.
Still, his shout couldn’t stop Edan. Edan’s nostrils flared, and he continued to speak nonsense, “This is the fault of my father for not doing his job. Why didn’t you let go of your expectations for my weak first brother, my unqualified second brother, and my third brother who left home to wander? You should’ve appointed me as crown prince after I worked hard, proving my qualities and gaining the achievement of discovering the ancient weapon—the magic machines."
“...Shut that mouth.”
“Why didn’t you make me the crown prince? Is it because I was the offspring of a concubine? No, that can’t be. Wasn’t your father the child of a concubine as well? Then why? Is it because I’m not the blood of Aria who you loved?”
“You should shut up! Emperor! Don’t you know that you have always been the problem?! If your arrogance hasn’t pierced the sky...! If your gaze had been directed to your side instead of the East Continent, my mother wouldn’t have dared to commit the sin! Empress Aria wouldn’t have died, Piaro wouldn’t be labeled a traitor, and today’s events wouldn’t have happened.”
“...!!” The emperor read the poison and killing intent in Edan’s eyes. Now, there was no turning back. There was no point in any conversation beyond this. He made a sorrowful expression and ordered Bain behind him, “Grab him right away and lock him in prison.”
“Yes.” Bain showed no hesitation. His loyalty to the emperor, which hid the fact that he was a Lantier, was false. He had no respect for the royal family, so he had no hesitation to kill the imperial princes. Duke Grenhal felt wind pass by his ears. Then Edan, who was 30 meters away, was seen flying.
“Kuek...!” Edan rolled on the floor covered with red carpet and wiped the blood flowing from his lips. He stood up, unaware that he had fallen at the emperor’s feet, but it was useless. Bain appeared behind him and grabbed Edan’s back with his hand, making Edan unable to move.
“Get rid of your dirty hands! I am the future of the empire! I am the only person qualified to be emperor!” Edan shouted and launched his red energy. The blade-like red energy emanated from Edan and threatened Bain, causing him to jump away. Edan finally regained his freedom and pulled a sword from his waistband. It was a black sword surrounded by a dark red energy.
“That sword!” The emperor’s eyes widened. The sword that Edan pulled out was made from smelted black mithril, but the level of red energy injected into it was unusual.
‘Is it above my level of red energy?’
It wasn’t enough to say that he was inferior. This was an altogether different dimension. Who did this red energy belong to? The moment the emperor felt doubts.
‘What?’ Bain stopped in place as he tried to subdue Edan again. He was convinced that he would be cut the moment he approached Edan.
Edan smiled as silence fell. “Didn’t you wonder why His Majesty’s army couldn’t find me?”
Step. Step. Step. The sound of someone’s footsteps could be heard from the corridor outside. They were unhurried footsteps, moving without the slightest hesitation. The footsteps were familiar to everyone.
Edan’s words continued, “There is only one place that His Majesty’s army can’t reach.” It was the Celestial Palace—the palace where Grandmaster Zikfrector lived. “It was because I was hiding there.”
At the same time as Edan’s shocking words...
Step. The footsteps from the corridor stopped in front of the audience hall. The emperor, the two dukes, and even Bain couldn’t take their eyes off the owner of the footsteps.
“I will now install 4th Prince Edan as the new emperor. The proof of qualification for the replacement is the sword of the founding emperor, Saharan,” the master of the footsteps, Grandmaster Zikfrector, declared with a polite expression.
Simultaneously, in Marquis Aileen’s territory...
“Isn’t it past the scheduled time that Prince Edan should arrive?” Ares, who faced the increasingly fierce imperial army, felt that things were going wrong. The current situation seemed abnormal. Didn’t the military adviser Sima Qian guess all of the imperial army’s paths and hinder their advance? Why were there so many imperial forces surrounding the castle? There were at least three times the number that Sima Qian expected. It would be hard to hold out against the offensive unless the imperial prince, the magic machines, and the Red Knights joined quickly. Yet they weren’t present.
Ares’ anxiety grew.
“...It seems we have been used,” Sima Qian said desperate words. “It seems that the grandmaster has been using us. Prince Edan won’t be here. I’m sorry. It is my fault. Please cut my throat now.”
“...” Ares’ mind was blank. After a moment of self-doubt, he quickly came to his senses and ordered Luck and Scott, “Take away the military adviser. We have no future if the military adviser dies here.”
On this day, most of the players in the Ares Army—including Ares—died. Valhalla lost the bulk of their food and troops that they had been stockpiling for years. It was a big blow for the entire country.
On the other hand...
“Okay.” Grid succeeded in melting the Star Sword and gaining adamantium. He was going to act with Basara from now on. In order to infiltrate the emperor’s treasure house, it was necessary to enter the imperial palace. It was virtually impossible for Grid, the king of another country, to enter the imperial palace without the invitation of the emperor. Thus, he planned to enter the imperial palace in advance, disguised as Basara’s subordinate.
‘It is an opportunity to try out a face mask.’
He was excited. He wanted to create the new mineral soon. Grid’s spirit was raised as he shouted, “Sticks! Send me and Basara to the outskirts of the capital of the empire!”