Chapter 14:

CHAPTER 10: THE SAINT OF THE FLAME

The Human Saint is Bored, so I was Summoned to Another World Vol. 4


In the middle of my ‘long sleep’, I was awakened by the sound of shuffling and soft thuds.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Since I’m still half-asleep, I opened my eyes for a bit. The study room’s door was still closed, but I could see a shadow by the small library to my right. My eyes inadvertently went there to check…Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

And there, right behind the big wooden table of her father, was the young duchess, Eris Braunhauer. She was reading some books once again, as she tried to keep the flame at the tip of her wand for light (I closed the curtains in the room, to darken it).Bookmark here

I’m really admiring this child’s concentration when she’s reading. It’s as if she’s in another world; no one could simply disturb her.Bookmark here

I slowly got up and went to the window. And then I opened the curtains, much to Eris’ surprise.Bookmark here

“Mister Kuro! Eris doesn’t know you’re awake already…or did she disturb you?”Bookmark here

Nah, it’s fine. I woke up on my own.” Of course, it’s a lie. However, I didn’t want to make her feel bad. Besides, this was her house, “What are you reading, by the way?”Bookmark here

“Well, Eris couldn’t sleep.” she admitted, “So she’s reading about history, Mister Kuro.”Bookmark here

So she said. Yet, I noticed that the history book her father gave to her was closed. She was, rather, reading different literature, “Are you annoyed that your mother sent you out earlier?”Bookmark here

Eris didn’t answer. However, I could tell from her face that she’s irritated.Bookmark here

I chuckled, “Well, sometimes a kid has to give way to adults, especially in matters that involve the government.”Bookmark here

Hmph! Eris isn’t a kid anymore, Mister Kuro! She’s trying her best to be helpful, and yet, her mommies don’t want her to help.”Bookmark here

“I think you’re helpful as well…”Bookmark here

“Really, Mister Kuro?” Eris’ eyes suddenly brightened up.Bookmark here

“…however, I believe you’d be more helpful if you try to learn more about the world around you, Eris.”Bookmark here

“W-What does Mister Kuro mean by that?”Bookmark here

“The world isn’t as simple as it may seem, Eris. What you see isn’t exactly the truth, and sometimes, if you’re never careful, it might come to bite you back.”Bookmark here

“Like when some people who say they’re Eris’ friends, but secretly they aren’t?”Bookmark here

“Yep. We humans have different reasons for doing things, so you must be careful. Not everyone can be trusted…”Bookmark here

The young duchess was silently contemplating on my statement.Bookmark here

“However, it doesn’t mean you won’t put trust in people anymore. It depends on the situation and their attitude. That’s why we’re given the ability to discern.”Bookmark here

Hmm…is that why mommy is always angry at Eris?”Bookmark here

“Well, she’s worried that you’re too trusting at all, see?” I explained, carefully rewording Eris’ interpretation of Lady Hanna’s treatment of her. “She’s like that because she loves you, and would want to see you stand up for yourself without help from anyone else.”Bookmark here

“But it’s what Eris is doing!” she defended herself, “Eris admires her daddy a lot, but she doesn’t want to become like him, who can’t stand up for himself!”Bookmark here

Oh…well, that’s quite new. I didn’t know the Duke had that side of him…Bookmark here

“That’s right. Personally, I’d say, just continue what you’re doing. Stand up for your beliefs and defend them with all of your might.” I patted her head, “Take things slowly. Soon you’ll be able to fight for your ideals. You’re still young, and you’ll have plenty of time to do that.”Bookmark here

The young duchess nodded.Bookmark here

“But for now, watch us so you know how adults do things.” I winked at her.Bookmark here

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The next thing when I came to be, Maddie and Lily were both staring at me.Bookmark here

“Rise and shine, Kuro.” my cute fiancée greeted me.Bookmark here

Oh…I didn’t know I fell asleep again after that talk with Eris earlier. The last thing that I remember, I was just watching her read, while she’d put up some questions on me about some matters she was having difficulty of understanding.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

I guess I really went back to sleep. It’s something slow and peaceful that bored me and caused me to drift once again to dreamland…Bookmark here

“You think he’s awake?” Maddie asked her head maid.Bookmark here

“What do you think? He’s not some heavy sleeper like the saint beside me.”Bookmark here

Tch. Shut up.”Bookmark here

Oh well, if they could tease each other like that, then it meant everything’s fine so far. However, I didn’t feel like I got fully rested. I mean, the issue about the ‘hidden enemy’ remained in my mind, it’s slowly making me paranoid.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry Kuro, the paladins were taking turns in watching over this place.” Maddie told me, “I also informed Lily about our precarious situation here.”Bookmark here

“She already knows about you unable to read the Duke’s mind?”Bookmark here

“And I recommend we leave this place as soon as we’re done with the negotiations,” Lily added.Bookmark here

Maddie nodded. Well, at least Lily’s aware of it now. Even so, I’m nervous…Bookmark here

Ah, hold a little more, Kuro.” Maddie’s got a bright smile on her face, “Soon, we’ll be leaving this place.”Bookmark here

“The Duke summoned the other nobles to his fief earlier, and since they’ve been preparing for war, they’re pretty much nearby.” Lily explained, “As a result, it’s easy to call them over for a sudden meeting.”Bookmark here

That’s quite good news. Now they could discuss my proposals, and we could proceed with bilateral talks between the royal and noble factions sooner than what we originally expected.Bookmark here

“Maddie and I sent a runner to the royal capital as of this moment.” Lily told me, “That is to notify the crown prince to be prepared anytime to come to a designated place where we could put an end to this affair peacefully.”Bookmark here

“And, we’ll be sending another runner at the duchy’s border later, on standby. And once the results of the meeting with the nobles are out, he could rush to the royal capital to summon the royal party.” Maddie added.Bookmark here

Ah! That’s great! Once this is over, then we can return to our lives at the palatial gardens!” I exclaimed. Good thing that the Duke was an amiable person. I mean, based on what I heard about his personality, I never expected that he’s quick to convince or coerce (as in Maddie’s case).Bookmark here

Hmm…now that you’ve brought it out…” I heard Maddie say, “It seems like we’re mistaken about the Duke.”Bookmark here

“What mistake?” Lily asked.Bookmark here

“Kuro just thought that the Duke of Braunhauer was easy to convince.”Bookmark here

Lily then fell silent for a moment, as if to ponder on what I observed, “Well, considering the events that are taking place, I wouldn’t deny Kuro’s opinions. I never expected him to be this easy unless he’s deliberately allowing this to bring down our guard.”Bookmark here

“It could be. But also, I’d like to point out that during my talks with one of his wives—”Bookmark here

“Ahem.”Bookmark here

Maddie, it’s not like what you think. It’s a friendly, parent-to-teacher chat.Bookmark here

“You talked to his wife?” Lily’s eyes were round in sheer surprise.Bookmark here

“To Lady Hanna. I think she’s Eris’ actual mother.”Bookmark here

“I’d like to hear more about the details of your talk with her later,” Lily said.Bookmark here

“And so do I.” Maddie backed her up.Bookmark here

Oh well, it’s not like I got something to hide about. Anyway, I continued with my words, “Anyway, so I talked to Lady Hanna. And based on what I gathered from her about her husband, I could safely say that the Duke was rather a lax man. It’s as if he barely cared for his daughters and delegated the responsibilities to his wives.”Bookmark here

“So what do you mean by that?”Bookmark here

“Well, if we combine your observations with my information, one picture about the duke arises.” I turned to Maddie, “What do you think caused the mercenaries hired by one noble to go on a rampage?”Bookmark here

“Isn’t it because the noble ordered them to ravage the parts of her fief that had royalist sympathies to pay for their fees?”Bookmark here

“Yep. But, if you’d ask the Duke, he did not want that to happen, nor was he in control of his followers.” I pointed out.Bookmark here

“So what you’re saying is, the Duke was a weak leader?”Bookmark here

“Politically, he is. Because if I say he’s weak as an ‘over-all’ leader, then his achievements at the battles you fought against him would be put in question.”Bookmark here

“Is it even possible?”Bookmark here

Well, it was. Throughout my world’s history, some men who rose into prominence had certain ‘inconsistencies’ regarding their character. For example, King Richard the Lion-Hearted of England was an exemplary military commander, but he neglected to rule his realm properly in favor of crusades. As a result, his mismanagement set the stage for his successor, King John, whose reign was marked by barons revolting against his rule.Bookmark here

That certain German-Austrian chancellor—yep, the ‘genocidal guy’ with the toothbrush mustache, was also a man of inconsistencies. He’s an exemplary orator, as evidenced by his fanatical followers, but he’s an idiot regarding military matters, which eventually led to his country’s ruin and his downfall.Bookmark here

I guess it’s all because of the complexities of the human character. Some people live their lives like robots; bounded by the same routine repeatedly. And others were unpredictable as fuck. Well, anyway, it’s better not to lower our guard, even when things were going our way.Bookmark here

Ah, anyway, I’ll see that the hourglass would be done after we arrive at the Holy Palatial Gardens.” Maddie happily reminded us, “So, hang in there guys; we’re almost at the finish line.”Bookmark here

“Right! Anyway, hurry!” Lily urged me to get dressed, “We’re going to town to witness the proceedings.”Bookmark here

“Got it!” I immediately hopped on and grabbed my coat nearby. Never in the entire time I was staying here at the Braunhauer guesthouse did I feel so elated as now.Bookmark here

Certainly, that’s a great morale booster. Especially to me who’s worried about how things are going.Bookmark here

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The Duke was already at the breakfast table with his wives and daughters, as well as some of his supporters, waiting for the Saint. He was relaxed than earlier, and they’ve been chatting happily about their activities for the day.Bookmark here

However…Bookmark here

Why am I sitting beside the Duke?Bookmark here

“It’s a pleasure to meet you again, Sir Kuro.”Bookmark here

“L-Likewise, Y-Your Excellency.”Bookmark here

I don’t know what happened, but when I tried to sit far from the VIPs, the servants of the House of Braunhauer told me that my place was at the right side of the Duke, to where his wife, Mistress Johanna, should be. I quickly turned to Maddie for help, but she purposefully avoided her eyes from me, all the while gleefully smiling.Bookmark here

This isn’t the time for pranks, Your Holiness!Bookmark here

However, since I’m already here, I’d try my best not to stand out.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“What kind of an elvish way of eating is that?” the Duke joked at my table manners, “Can you even be considered human? Look, this is how humans should eat!” He showed his own way of eating.Bookmark here

The others besides those from our group laughed. However, I’m used to this situation by now that I’m rarely offended.Bookmark here

“My apologies, Your Excellency, but from where I came from, that would be considered a commoner’s way of table manners.” I took great care with my words since I didn’t want to offend the Duke. I could tell that he meant no ridicule to me; it’s just he’s trying to get friendly…though with a touch of rudeness.Bookmark here

“A commoner’s way, huh?” the Duke bellowed, “Well, I’ll be damned! I’d like to come to such a country someday! Hahahahahaha!!!Bookmark here

The dining hall erupted in laughter once again. His Excellency then called in a few bottles of alcoholic drinks to be served at the table.Bookmark here

“Well, let’s see how you fare in ale and wine, Sir Kuro the Elf!”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

The Duke had a triumphant look on his face. The Ban of Kistral noted my silence.Bookmark here

Err…Your Excellency, I think you should stop this.” I heard him say, “Looks like Sir Kuro won’t keep up with drinking.”Bookmark here

“Nonsense! I’m sure the lad could do it! He’s an elf after all!” the Duke countered the Ban.Bookmark here

Maddie had a concerned look on her face; still, she didn’t even try to intervene. So were Lily, Eris, and the Marquise of Monfort. I knew they were thinking of me…Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Several bottles of wine and ale were set on the table. The Duke then poured me a glass of wine, filling it to the brim. He then declared, “Okay! Let’s watch how Sir Kuro the Elf handles his drin—”Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

Everyone’s eyes aside from the Duke were pasted on me as a put the glass down on the table, without a drop remaining, “What is that all?”Bookmark here

The Duke once again filled my glass, this time with ale. Just like before, he announced how he wanted to watch me drink all the wine and alcohol he served.Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

And once again, I amazed everyone at how fast I drank it all.Bookmark here

Not wanting to admit his defeat, the Duke then called for a big mug of ale and wine to be served separately for me. This time though, he didn’t bother to declare his intentions; he remained watchful over me as I emptied the mugs of all its contents.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“Kuro?” Maddie had finally spoken, “Are you okay? Can you tell me how many fingers I raised?” She put up three of her fingers in front of me to count.Bookmark here

“It’s three, Your Holiness.”Bookmark here

“Wha—” the Duke and his supporters were all flabbergasted after watching me.Bookmark here

“What? Is that all, Your Excellency?” I asked. I could feel my body was getting hot. I guess I told no one that I could drink three bottles of wine and several bottles of beer without getting woozy. That’s how much I could handle my alcohol.Bookmark here

You clearly underestimated me, people!Bookmark here

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Ahahahahaha!!! You’re really an interesting man, Sir Kuro!” the Duke kept on slapping my back after his ‘alcohol challenge’. I only took in a few spoonfuls of the food, since the wine and ale stuffed my stomach, “You’re a good man! I bet you could take care of your women as you could handle your alcohol well!”Bookmark here

I think this dude is out of his mind? You don’t equate women with alcohol.Bookmark here

“Looks like the Duke was in an excellent mood, huh?” I whispered to Lily.Bookmark here

“Well, everyone is, Kuro.” she replied, “If our proposals would be accepted by the nobility, then this will be over before the ‘long sleep’.”Bookmark here

“Right.”Bookmark here

“So yes, let’s enjoy this moment for a while.” she told me, “And you know, I’m impressed you could handle your alcohol well.”Bookmark here

“I don’t know about that. I rarely drink beer and wine back in my world. But when I do—especially at parties, I got a ridiculously high tolerance for it.”Bookmark here

“Interesting…and now because of that, I guess you amazed the Duke. He’s been monitoring you ever since we arrived here.”Bookmark here

“If it helps in the negotiations, then I guess it’s good.”Bookmark here

“Well, Sir Kuro, what do you think?” the Duke suddenly turned to me and asked a question.Bookmark here

“Your Excellency?”Bookmark here

“I was just talking to Her Holiness about you.” he explained, “She says you’re a commoner from a faraway country and is currently staying with her at the Holy Palatial Gardens. I’m asking you if you’d like to be adopted by our house.”Bookmark here

“!!!” I almost choked on my food. Lily was quick to assist me in freeing my throat.Bookmark here

“That’s a great idea, Dad!” Eris happily aired her approval.Bookmark here

“Heh! Would you look at that…” the Marquise of Monfort had a sly expression on her face, “Nice having you here, brother!”Bookmark here

“Hey! I didn’t approve yet!” I countered her.Bookmark here

“But Your Excellency, Sir Kuro is with me.” Maddie reiterated, “He’s my responsibility!”Bookmark here

“Well, that’s why I’m asking him, Your Holiness. If he decides not to return to his country, maybe Sir Kuro would consider becoming a Braunhauer.”Bookmark here

The Duke’s servants and supporters were all astonished by his proposal. Still, unlike the reactions of the ministers in the Crown Prince’s court, it’s more subdued. Maybe he had a reputation for doing something unusual, after all.Bookmark here

“Your Excellency!” the Ban of Kistral finally spoke up, “While I am not against your idea, but I guess your intelligence is enough to lead your house to success. Are you sure you really have to adopt a commoner, like Sir Kuro, just because he displayed a sound mind?”Bookmark here

“It’s all fine, Stefan!” the Duke dismissed his objections, “Another thinking mind is a welcome addition to my house.”Bookmark here

The Ban fell silent and glared at me.Bookmark here

Hey dude, it’s not like I told him to say it in my favor! What’s your problem with me, anyway?Bookmark here

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The town of Coventry was once again brought to life by several nobles—VIPs—of Amaranth. They gathered at the courtyard of the town hall, with their escorting soldiers waiting around the main square. The Duke then finally showed himself, accompanied by the town mayor, and proceeded with the meeting.Bookmark here

“Ladies and gentlemen, noble lords of the land of Amaranth, I bid you welcome to our duchy!”Bookmark here

The other nobles responded by giving their bows and curtsies. After all, the Duke was a respected figure around these parts.Bookmark here

“As you know by now, Her Holiness the Saint of Chersea has come to our land to bring a peaceful resolution to this conflict that was brewing.” the Duke spoke with dignity and conviction, “She had clarified that her priority is that we reach an accord with His Majesty, the King, through his son and heir, the Prince David of Amaranth, all for the sake of the people’s welfare.”Bookmark here

“But what about our demands?” a noble asked, “Don’t we have something to say about it?”Bookmark here

“I already talked to Her Holiness about our complaints, well, most of them. I would not speak of other petty matters to her; that is for you to solve.” the Duke then brought out a paper where he had his wife wrote my recommendations, “However, if you would listen, here are some suggestions brought forth by the Saint’s wise counsel.”Bookmark here

The nobles drew near the Duke as he read the contents of the paper.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Maddie, Lily, and I watched from within the town hall as the nobility listened. Lily had specifically instructed the town mayor to keep quiet about our presence, so as not to influence the nobles in their decision. It’s how human politics work—there’s a possibility that if they knew we’re here, they’d keep quiet about their reservations on our proposals to please the Saint.Bookmark here

It will make the purpose of our mediation practically useless.Bookmark here

Everyone was quiet, with an air of light tension permeating the room where we’re staying. Silently, I hoped that these men and women in-charged of ruling Amaranth would see reason in my suggestions, and agree. We already had a runner ready to dash towards the Amaranthine capital to notify the prince once we succeeded.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Uh…is Maddie alright? She kept on staring at me from time to time.Bookmark here

“What do you think Maddie?” Lily asked her, “Do the nobles agree?”Bookmark here

“I’m really having difficulty in reading their thoughts.” Maddie admitted, “That’s why I’m occasionally looking at your mind, Kuro. I need to make sure it’s not me who’s having problems.”Bookmark here

Lily and I exchanged horrified looks.Bookmark here

“This is bad…” the head maid muttered.Bookmark here

“Hey, Maddie! You said before that this is a work of a saint like you, right?” I asked her.Bookmark here

“Yes. We’re the only ones who possess that magic to read minds, and also the power to keep the privacy of our thoughts.”Bookmark here

“How many saints are there, anyway?”Bookmark here

“We got one for each race, so that’s five, plus an overseer appointed by our Lord Gaius, so it’s six of us.”Bookmark here

“Do you know them?” I hoped Maddie would know some important information about these saints’ personalities so that we could determine who were we fighting against.Bookmark here

Hm…if you’re asking me about their personalities, I don’t know them that much. I became a saint just recently, so compared to them, I’m the newest.” Maddie tried to dig deeper within her memories, “But I met most of them several times in the past; it’s just that, I didn’t talk to some of them.”Bookmark here

“Okay, so let’s determine the likely enemy in this scenario by elimination.” I took a pen and paper and began writing, “Ruro wouldn’t be our enemy, since logic dictates that she’s been a big help to us a lot of times before. Also, that black-haired saint can’t do it. She’s giving me advice in the past as well.”Bookmark here

Hoh…I didn’t know you already met the Saint of Darkness.”Bookmark here

“Who? Natasha?”Bookmark here

Maddie nodded, but she stared at me with jealous eyes.Bookmark here

I tell you, Natasha wasn’t someone you should be jealous of, Maddie. We’re just friends.Bookmark here

“Indeed, ‘friends’. Well, maybe you’re the only one who’s thinking that way.”Bookmark here

“Ha?”Bookmark here

Nevermind. Well, Natasha’s also a friend to me.” she confirmed, “In fact, she’s the only saint whom I can peek into her thoughts freely.”Bookmark here

“Oh…”Bookmark here

“So that leaves three saints to determine from friend or foe…” Lily commented.Bookmark here

“Yep, the Elven Saint, the Dwarven Saint, and the Overseer.”Bookmark here

“Got any useful information on any of them?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Well, the Elven Saint should be out of the equation.” Maddie told us, “That elf girl is the most introverted person I ever knew. It’s said that she never went out of her room for about 300 thousand seasons already.”Bookmark here

“Wha—” Lily and I were both flabbergasted about the figures. Even for me, who has had no ideas on the equivalent earth-years of Chersea’s seasons, such number was still high.Bookmark here

“Is she even alive?” I asked.Bookmark here

“She is. Elves are among the longest-lived in all the five races here. Besides, we’d be having an enthronement ceremony if a new saint was proclaimed. So far, there had been no record of that event taking place in the elves’ territory of Cherwoods, not even in my ancestors’ time.”Bookmark here

“Okay…so that leaves us with two. The dwarf saint and the overseer.”Bookmark here

“If that’s so, I’d pick the overseer,” Maddie advised.Bookmark here

“Me too, as well.” Lily seconded.Bookmark here

“And what made you guys say that?”Bookmark here

“Well, the dwarf saint had been in slumber for a long time now, since there were only a few worshippers and ‘old believers’ left in the dwarfs’ land.”Bookmark here

“They’ve been focused on their craft that they isolated themselves as well.” picking up on Maddie’s answer, Lily further explained, “The dwarves also stopped in venerating their saint, that she grew weak and had to sleep to preserve her powers.”Bookmark here

“Well…that’s sad.”Bookmark here

“But she’s not dead yet, so she’s still a saint,” Maddie confirmed.Bookmark here

“Alright.” with the suspect narrowed down to one candidate, I proceeded with my follow-up questions, “So we got the overseer saint left.”Bookmark here

“Right. That would be Seirna of the Flame, Lord Gaius’ most trusted servant.”Bookmark here

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The flame. For many cultures on Earth, the flame was a symbol of hope, enlightenment, and of righteousness. It was even featured prominently on many government-sponsored educational institutions around the world, like in the agency that I worked for before.Bookmark here

Well, that’s because, on Earth, we had the concept of long, total darkness. However, in Chersea, it’s a different matter…Bookmark here

“Flame? It’s associated with destruction, Mister Kuro. Coincidentally, Seirna of the Flame made it her symbol as well, that’s why she’s called like that.” Eris explained to me when I went back to the Duke’s private study in the Braunhauer guesthouse.Bookmark here

Since it was taking time, Maddie and Lily remained at the town to watch over the negotiations between the nobility, while I researched about this saint named Seirna of the Flame. Good thing that Eris was here; she had been helpful to me in looking for the books I needed.Bookmark here

It pays to know the enemy you’re fighting, see. Why is she a potential enemy? What can be her motivation to go against her fellow saint? And what are her abilities?Bookmark here

Those were the questions I’d like to find the answers to. And hopefully, I could find some clues at the Braunhauer study room while waiting for the results of the nobility’s meeting.Bookmark here

“Seirna of the Flame is a saint and a former servant of the god, Lord Gaius.” she explained to me, confirming the information I was reading on the book, “According to the records, she was appointed as the overseer among the other saints after Lord Gaius left.”Bookmark here

“Left, as in he’s gone?”Bookmark here

Hm…Eris only knows that Lord Gaius dreamed of being a mortal, and so he left his divine realm to become one. Eris just couldn’t remember from what book did she read that…” the young duchess further added, “Eris just couldn’t believe how a powerful god-like him would like to live as a human…”Bookmark here

“Oh…” Well, that’s interesting. I only read of vampires dreaming to be mortals, but this was the first time I learned about a god wanting to be one. For most of the time, the gods that I’ve encountered in literary and gaming worlds were jackasses bent on experimenting with humans.Bookmark here

That’s why an edgy Spartan boy got pissed when his family got played with by the gods…Bookmark here

“Here, Mister Kuro!” Eris gave me a book, “Eris thinks this book would help him know more about Saint Seirna.”Bookmark here

‘The Saints of the World’. Pretty simple for a title, if you asked me. I turned the pages, and my eyes were caught on a familiar name across the page…Bookmark here

’Ruro of the Wolf is the 115th saint of the Beastmen race. She’s a big fan of the knight, Jimmy Nee Rubinforth, and loves cookies and tea. Her three sizes are—’Bookmark here

I got to the next page. I didn’t think I’d need that information.Bookmark here

’Madelaine Ann Rubinforth is the 241st and the current saint of humanity. She was a former general under the famous Iron Princess of Nerfes and is well known for her advocacy in promoting harmony and peace in all kingdoms of Chersea, the human realm. Saint Madelaine also gained prominence back in the Nerfes’ Dawson Valley campaign, where, in the middle of an ambush, she went berserk while leaking herself—’Bookmark here

I felt this book would be forbidden by Maddie, on the pain of death and torture. Come on, where’s Seirna’s article?Bookmark here

“Are you having difficulty in looking for Saint Seirna, Mister Kuro?” I heard Eris asked.Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah…sorry, but this book’s got a lot of pages, it’s pretty hard to find the saint I’m looking for.”Bookmark here

“Give it to Eris.” she offered, to which I obliged. And then she flipped near the end, and with a few turns of pages, she gave back to me the book.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“Saint Seirna’s articles are always written at the back-end of the books about saints, Mister Kuro.” Eris giggled, “Eris thinks Mister Kuro knows it already.”Bookmark here

Well, I don’t mind, actually. In fact, I’m quite happy I found some information about those two saints I’m close with…albeit those are quite useless.Bookmark here

‘Seirna of the Flame, the overseer of the saints. Confidante and the most trusted among Lord Gaius’ servants. There had been a few sightings of her, and even fewer is the information about her. It has been documented that she was given the power over life, as well as influence the mortals on their thoughts. Below is the list of her ‘supposed’ abilities, documented over a long—’Bookmark here

“It’s ripped.”Bookmark here

“Mister Kuro?”Bookmark here

“Eris, this page is ripped.”Bookmark here

“Huh?” the young duchess was surprised, “Ripped? But that’s impossible, Mister Kuro! Daddy would never do that to a book, even if he hates the article!”Bookmark here

I showed to her the ripped page regarding Saint Seirna. Eris was utterly horrified. Yep, if I’m the owner of this book, my expression would be the same.Bookmark here

“B-But…who could have done such an atrocity?” she cried out, “Those pages were sturdy, it won’t easily get ripped!”Bookmark here

Well, I guess that explained the part where only a third of the page was missing. Maybe the one who did this was in a hurry, and since that person didn’t know the sturdiness of the pages, just ripped it apart without fully destroying the entire article.Bookmark here

Despite that, it’s way too coincidental for this to happen. First was the inability of Maddie to peer into the thoughts of the people involved with the mediation, second was this.Bookmark here

There’s got to be a ‘mole’ working against us.Bookmark here

“Kyaaaaa!!!”Bookmark here

Eris suddenly shouted. But it’s not because of her I almost jumped in surprise. I hurried to the window to check on the town, for there was a succession of explosions that came from that direction.Bookmark here

“What the heck?” I blurted out. From a distance, I saw a horse coming back to the Braunhauer guesthouse. It was a paladin, and she was sent by Maddie.Bookmark here

“Sir Kuro!” the paladin called out, “Her Holiness sent me here to tell you that the nobles accepted your suggestions! The mediation is a success!!!”Bookmark here

Oh? Then what are those explosions that I’ve heard?”Bookmark here

“Ah, those were from the magicians. They were celebrating with magic explosions.”Bookmark here

So, it’s like fireworks, huh?Bookmark here

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As our arrangement, Maddie sent a runner from the Duchy of Braunhauer back to the royal capital to ask for the royal faction’s presence at a ‘neutral’ field she had selected, between the duchy’s border and the royal lands. She had specifically asked for the crown prince to represent the royalty, and the Duke of Braunhauer would stand for the nobility.Bookmark here

I arrived back at the town hall to see Lily preparing the draft document we’ve written before, detailing the demands of each side to one another, as well as Maddie’s own demands, to seal the peace agreement. Well, we all knew it’s still a long journey ahead, but with this breakthrough, it’s no doubt that the peaceful end to this conflict was in sight.Bookmark here

Just don’t let that Saint, Seirna, spoil this moment.Bookmark here

“Where’s Maddie?” I asked.Bookmark here

Oh, she said she’s going ahead.” Lily replied, “She had me prepare these papers to follow her. Don’t worry, the Marquise of Monfort and the other paladins are with her. Haha! Finally, Kuro, our efforts had borne fruit!”Bookmark here

“Of course!” I excitedly answered, “Well then, shall we go after them?”Bookmark here

Ah yes, can you get those sets of documents? I’ll carry these.”Bookmark here

“Right!” I took the set of papers and parchments Lily told me to bring. However, I remembered something, “Hey, Lily, speaking of which, where should we hitch a ride?”Bookmark here

Oh, about that…”Bookmark here

A black carriage suddenly came speeding in front of the town hall and then stopped. A paladin was driving it, but the coat of arms on its sides showed that it’s a property of the Duke of Braunhauer. Its door opened, and Eris came out.Bookmark here

“Big sis! Eris is all set!” she waved at us. Inside, I’m surprised to see that Lady Hanna Hanna was also waiting.Bookmark here

“The Duke’s wife would come with us?”Bookmark here

Lily nodded, “Well, His Excellency would never leave his fief without one of his wives accompanying him. It’s just that, Maddie was in a hurry, so he was forced to move even though without a companion. Anyway, we’ll be hitching a ride with the Lady Hanna.”Bookmark here

Hmm…I guess, this is better than nothing,” I muttered.Bookmark here

“I wouldn’t move without being thoroughly prepared, Kuro.” Lily winked at me.Bookmark here

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Our carriage hurried over to the border between the duchy of Braunhauer and the fief of the Amaranthine royal family. Once near, the path became crowded by various carriages and carts that carried the soldiers and other nobilities that went with the Duke of Rubinforth to the meeting site.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

The field at which Maddie chose to meet with the leaders of the royal and the noble factions was carefully considered by her since it was an open place with a few—if there were any—obstacles to hide an army, should one decided to spring an ambush and sabotage the proceedings. She wanted to pick a more ‘central’ spot, since the current one was still inside the noble territory, only a few distances away from the royal lands, but that space was occupied by a royal army barricade that would take time to remove.Bookmark here

And Maddie was in a hurry to get something done, lest our ‘hidden enemy’ destroyed everything we had built so far.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

The soldiers of both sides were kept away from the tent set up at the ‘neutral’ spot by the Paladin Corps. Only the leaders of the opposing factions, some of their most trusted people, and the Saint were allowed in.Bookmark here

The crown prince appeared with his Minister of the Right, the Margrave of Nocturna, and a royal army official, flanking him on either side. The Duke had two nobles behind him—one of them was the Ban of Kistral, and they stood to his right. Maddie had the Marquise of Monfort to her left, as the right was reserved for Lily.Bookmark here

When we arrived, to present an air of neutrality, Lily and I deliberately distanced ourselves from the Duke’s daughter and wife, who stood beside their old man at the negotiation table.Bookmark here

I could feel the eyes of the people from the royal faction looking at us with suspicion. Not only did we arrive late, Lily and I also came from the nobility’s side.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry for suddenly bringing up this matter, Your Highness, Your Excellency.” Maddie began, “It’s just that, I deemed it necessary to hurry, for time is of the essence. The people are suffering, and some people within this kingdom endeavors to derail the peace I’m offering.”Bookmark here

“Surely, it isn’t our side, Your Holiness!” the crown prince vehemently denied Maddie’s words.Bookmark here

“And neither do ours.” the Duke of Braunhauer answered.Bookmark here

“Please keep it down.” Maddie ordered them, “I did not specifically say whose side is it; I just informed you that there are some people within this kingdom that wanted to end this conflict through force of arms, which, in my terms, I had you signed before, is unacceptable. Be on your guard.”Bookmark here

“Yes, Your Holiness.” they both answered.Bookmark here

Then Maddie motioned for Lily to bring over the set of treaties she had written earlier to the negotiation table. The head maid also gestured for me to come—as I carried the rest, and we handed over the documents.Bookmark here

“Gentlemen, based on your complaints and from what I observed, these are the arrangements we could work out to preserve the peace of this kingdom. I’d like you to review it carefully, and air your reservations, so my servant here, Lilyhaven, could write them down, and iron it out later.”Bookmark here

The Duke and the Crown Prince read the terms that Maddie laid before them. Since Maddie had her own copy, I tried to peek at the terms she had written. Luckily, she seemed to understand what I wanted, so she deliberately exposed the paper to my side.Bookmark here

No monarch nor noble nor commoner should be treated above the law.Bookmark here

Anyone—including members of the royal family, the nobility, and the commoners, would be accorded equal rights to a fair trial, without the interference of higher authorities.Bookmark here

The settling of disputes should take place on a court of law, rather than on the battlefield.Bookmark here

I’d say Maddie’s demands are good. The list went on further, but I could not read all the articles, since the spot where I stood was obstructed by Maddie’s back. Only the first three demands were visible to me.Bookmark here

“I see no problems with these demands.” the Duke was the first to agree.Bookmark here

“And as the representative of His Majesty the King, this is a good measure, Your Holiness.”Bookmark here

“Good.” Maddie continued, “Now please proceed to the demands of the nobility, Your Highness.”Bookmark here

“An establishment of a ‘parliament’ and a codification of the law of the land?” the Crown Prince’s voice had doubts, “What exactly does this mean?”Bookmark here

Maddie explained to him how a parliament works, and the benefits of the codification of the law. The Crown Prince listened intently, and I could feel cold sweat crawling down my cheeks as I waited for his answer.Bookmark here

Hmm…I could say no objections to that if it quells the discontent of the nobility.” the Crown Prince agreed, “I agree that our authority is centralized, and this parliament thing could solve this problem. Did Sir Kuro offer this solution?”Bookmark here

“Certainly, he is, Your Highness,” Maddie confirmed.Bookmark here

The Crown Prince threw a glance at me and winked. It felt awkward. I mean, dude, I’m not used to a big, grown-up man winking at me like that.Bookmark here

“Your Excellency, now it’s your turn to look at the demands of the royal authority.”Bookmark here

The Duke silently read the text carefully, outlining the financial reforms I proposed to the Crown Prince. The look on the other nobles’ faces while reading their own copies was that of relief.Bookmark here

I think it’s a good sign of the success of this mediation attempt.Bookmark here

“I agree with the crown prince, Your Holiness. These demands, we could grant to the royalty,” he answered.Bookmark here

“Well, that’s great!” Maddie then produced a quill pen and a bottle of ink, “If you agree to those terms without reservations, then we could finish this affair with your signatures, gentlemen. I’d like you to sign all three copies of this document, which are in my hands. And then we could have it signed by the other nobility as well.”Bookmark here

At once, the Crown Prince took a step forward and grabbed the quill pen. Upon dipping it into the ink, he signed the treaty.Bookmark here

The Duke also followed his godson. He signed all three copies before returning to his seat.Bookmark here

Whew! Everything’s happening so fast and smooth, I’m getting nervous. It’s like anything can happen at any given moment…Bookmark here

“Now that both parties agreed to resolve this peacefully, I, the Saint of Chersea, Madelaine Ann Rubinforth, would now affix my signature here, so that its effectivity would be immediate.” Maddie declared. She took the quill pen, dipped it in the ink bottle…Bookmark here

“Maddie!”Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

I quickly dove towards my fiancée to shield her from an incoming magic attack from the Ban of Kistral. And then the tent exploded.Bookmark here

Bookmarked
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