Chapter 1:

CHAPTER 1: A CHANGED MAN

The Human Saint is Bored, so I was Summoned to Another World Vol. 5


**Lily**Bookmark here

The entire battlefield was silent as the smoke was rising and swirling around us. My partner, Her Holiness Ruro of the Wolf, was on the lookout for our enemy…Bookmark here

“He’s here!” she whispered.Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

Amidst the smoke came a spearhead and then followed by a charging man. I quickly parried the spear and thrust my sword towards him, yet, much to my surprise, it was all a shadow.Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

For the real attack came from below!Bookmark here

“Princess!” Her Holiness Ruro of the Wolf cried out as she tried to shield me from the thrusting dagger, “Wind Current!”Bookmark here

“Guaahhh!!!”Bookmark here

Our attacker was hit, fair and square, by the wind that the Beastman Saint unleashed. Not wishing to let him rest, Her Holiness quickly followed up on her counter-attack.Bookmark here

“Guoh!!!” I could hear the terrible screams of the enemy as the Beastman Saint rained punches and chops on his body. And then, for the finishing move, she went for a roundhouse kick…Bookmark here

“Wait, Your Holiness! This is just practice!”Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

Her foot stopped a few inches from Kuro’s face as he struggled to stand up. The practice spear and dagger that he was using were already broken, and he could barely keep his legs from wobbling. I quickly reached out to catch him.Bookmark here

“Y-You did well, K-Kuro!” I told him in between my breaths. It sure was exhausting to fight continuously for long, “I’ll cast a healing spell on you; but unlike Maddie’s magic, this one requires you to take a rest, okay? When you wake up, you’ll be good as new!”Bookmark here

Heh, fortunately, the Nerfes Princess was quick to scream that this was only a practice.” Her Holiness said to Kuro, “You still have lots of practice to do before you could actually fight on par with me, Master!”Bookmark here

“Y-Yes!” Kuro suddenly stood up, though it took him a while to straighten his posture. He then went to the rack of practice weapons and grabbed a practice spear, much to our horror, “Th-That’s why l-let’s continue!”Bookmark here

“HAH?” the Beastman Saint and I chorused.Bookmark here

“M-Master! Aren’t you injured enough already? Give it a rest!”Bookmark here

“Yes, Kuro! Please don’t overexert yourself!” We both pleaded.Bookmark here

“Alright…I’ll take a rest for a bit.” he said, taking a seat on a wooden bench nearby, “Then we continue!”Bookmark here

“Master, what’s wrong with you?” Her Holiness Ruro of the Wolf was bewildered by his insistence, “I know you wanted to get stronger as fast as possible, so you could fight properly. But doing these things for that broken sword, this is madness!”Bookmark here

“You wouldn’t understand.” he countered.Bookmark here

“Kuro, please, I beg you…” I tried talking him out of it, “Let yourself rest, for now, okay?” I hugged him so that he could relax. And then I nodded to Her Holiness Ruro of the Wolf.Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

Everything was quick and painless. The Beastman Saint sure knew how to shut the lights off a human being…Bookmark here

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When we finally took our rests, my body was throbbing, and I couldn’t move much from the pain. It’s been a while since I got exhausted like this, and it’s not a good feeling.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“Lily? What happened to you?” Maddie asked. She was concerned about my dirty maid clothes, as well as the few bruises on my arms. Good thing she could heal and restore my injuries once again. Maddie’s quite afraid that it won’t work, just like what happened to us back in Amaranth, “Did you get yourself involved in an accident or something?”Bookmark here

Nah, it’s Kuro.”Bookmark here

“Hah?” Maddie’s eyes almost popped from their sockets, “You mean, Kuro beat you?”Bookmark here

“Well, technically…”Bookmark here

“What do you mean? You guys fought to the death?”Bookmark here

“Nope!” I couldn’t help but laugh, “It’s not like that, silly. Try to read my mind.”Bookmark here

She did what I suggested, and Maddie was even more alarmed, “What? He’s training himself excessively, and you and Ruro even consented by beating him thoroughly as well! Why didn’t you guys ask him to stop?”Bookmark here

Heh, too late, Maddie! Kuro may not cast a spell, nor could swing a sword properly, but his resilience is something.” I told her, “It’s like that guy’s preparing for a big fight, all because of that sword he calls ‘Luisa’.”Bookmark here

“That sword again?”Bookmark here

“Maddie, please do something about Kuro before he self-destructs.” I pleaded, “He’s way too obsessive about his ‘revenge’ for ‘Luisa’s death’. I mean, while I understand he might’ve liked that sword, but to avenge its destruction was something freaky!”Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, Lily. I’ll talk to him about this.”Bookmark here

“Please do, Maddie. You know you’re the only one who can reach his heart. It’s like, ever since we came back from Amaranth, he’s changed drastically. Kuro’s become more serious and grimmer, and there were times I caught him silently staring in the air.” I also added, “I guess, Kuro’s been affected by the battles he was involved in. I mean, before he got here, he’s just someone who’s trying to live back in his old world.”Bookmark here

Maddie fell silent when she heard that. She must be blaming herself once again for what happened to Kuro…Bookmark here

“Hey, Maddie! Please don’t think too much of what I just said.” I was quick to comfort her; it’s not a good thing that she’d be stressed now that her leadership was necessary, “What I meant by that is, he’s not someone who’s used to fighting. So, I guess he needs to slow down and relax.”Bookmark here

“A-Alright, I’ll see what I can do,” Maddie reassured me.Bookmark here

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**Kuro**Bookmark here

“Dame Atkins, I thank you for your time set aside to accommodate my wish to train.”Bookmark here

“Yes.”Bookmark here

“But will you spar with me once again?”Bookmark here

“Eh?” the usual indifferent paladin had her face contorted in disbelief and surprise. She didn’t expect that from me, especially when it’s clear that I exceeded the capacity of my body to train. I knew that myself, but with the threat of war looming, there’s no way I could rest easy.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, but I’d like to get used to the techniques in fighting with a shield.” Desperate, I explained myself, “And you’re the only one who could help me.”Bookmark here

Well, what I told the Dame Atkins wasn’t lip-service; it’s the truth. Lily and Ruro did some training routines with me earlier—almost beating me to a pulp, but then, they insisted I take a rest. So, I had the Dame teach me in her place.Bookmark here

The paladin was happy to do some sparring rounds with me at first; but now, I guess she’s getting freaked out by my insistence to train even though I’m at my limit.Bookmark here

“Sir Kuro.”Bookmark here

“Yes?”Bookmark here

“Rest.” Her voice put emphasis on that one-word answer, “Or, I’ll crush your limbs.”Bookmark here

“…” Well, I think I really should take a break. The Dame Atkins just spoke a full sentence, and when that happens, it meant that she was serious.Bookmark here

“Sir Kuro.”Bookmark here

“Yes?”Bookmark here

“You’re brave.”Bookmark here

“Thanks…I guess.”Bookmark here

“I admire you.”Bookmark here

I was taken aback by her words. No, it’s not because I think she had any romantic feelings for me. I guess it’s just a feeling of pure admiration…Bookmark here

…which, I don’t deserve.Bookmark here

Feelings of guilt and self-loathing then sprung from my chest. The memories from that time, when the Marquise of Monfort was forced to defend me with her life, came rushing back into my mind. Her body, lifeless at the feet of that saint, Seirna, would always play repeatedly if ever I’m reminded of that event. And that bastard’s triumphant smile…Bookmark here

I’ll kill her. I’ll kill Seirna with my own hands.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

If I didn’t get ahead of myself and stayed behind instead of trying to help, she can still be alive…Bookmark here

I couldn’t help but touch the hilt of her broken weapon—the only memento that she left, which I always carried with me.Bookmark here

The Dame saluted and left.Bookmark here

Now, I was alone. I didn’t have the time to remain sentimental for long. Soon, the exhaustion of my body and the light injuries I received from the sparring sessions hit me like a truck running me over to send me to another world…Bookmark here

“Well, fuck. I really should take a rest now.” I muttered as I dragged my half-beaten body back to my room.Bookmark here

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It’s been a while since we escaped Amaranth and returned to the Holy Palatial Gardens. There were a lot of changes that happened.Bookmark here

For one, I found myself become the Captain of the Paladin Corps. While I remembered being assigned the co-captaincy, after the Marquise’s death, I was thrust into its leadership even without the approval of Maddie, Lily, and the others…including me.Bookmark here

And to think, I’m not that confident of my skills in commanding large groups of men and women…Bookmark here

Another weird thing was that, once the Marquise died, it’s as if everyone forgot about her. I became the captain, yes. However, the circumstances of my sudden promotion were ‘it was this way from when Maddie summoned me’.Bookmark here

Isn’t that she summoned me just because she’s bored?Bookmark here

And it’s useless to correct them, for I am the only one who could still remember that a girl named Dusis Luisa Braunhauer-Monfort lived and walked in this world. I tried it before, but Maddie, Lily, and the rest of the paladins thought I was just affected by the stresses of battle.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Even her sister Eris can’t even recall that she had a sibling once…Bookmark here

Haa…it’s painful to see those people the Marquise of Monfort…no, Luisa had loved and cared for, forgetting her. It’s not like I could blame them; maybe their memories were altered. Just like how that popular blue-haired demon maid got eaten by a ‘flying white whale’ and vanished from the world of that certain edgy anime about having limitless deaths and retries.Bookmark here

And come to think of it, that attack that killed Luisa was meant for me. She only saved me, at the cost of her own life and existence.Bookmark here

That fucker, Seirna, wants to remove every trace of me in this world!Bookmark here

Anyway, so that’s how it was ever since we returned. On our way back, we also warned the other human kings of what transpired in Amaranth, and Maddie requested they hurry to the Holy Palatial Gardens for the Holy Congress. I guess she was still trying to salvage the peace she had worked hard to achieve, and so she also asked for the Emperor to come and explain his men’s actions in the Amaranthine kingdom.Bookmark here

I know only little, but personally, I believe that whatever the Emperor’s words were, it’d only amount to lies and attempts to delay the other human kingdoms to react to their invasion of Amaranth.Bookmark here

And Maddie…if she wanted to implement her peace, she should also be prepared to make war.Bookmark here

But, knowing her, she would avoid conflict at the first opportunity, making her vulnerable to the schemes of others. Human diplomacy doesn’t work that way; if one plans to emerge at the top, honesty was the first thing that they should throw away.Bookmark here

It’s a pretty ‘evil’ concept. Regardless, it’s practical and based on reality. And I learned it the hard way, too.Bookmark here

That’s why I resolved to do this. If Maddie would keep on dreaming about her ideals, I would be the one who would turn those ideals of hers into a reality…even if I became the villain in doing so. I would never allow someone else to die for my foolishness once again.Bookmark here

Ooh…you’re pretty brooding now, Master! Are you fine now?”Bookmark here

“How long have you been there, Your Fluffy Holiness?”Bookmark here

The Beastman Saint stood by the door of my room, “Well, I just came to tell you that the Imperial convoy just arrived along with the envoys from the other kingdoms of Chersea. It’s what you requested me to do, remember?”Bookmark here

Ah yeah…thanks.”Bookmark here

“Well, what do you plan to do? I’m intrigued by what goes on in your head, honestly.” Perhaps Her Fluffy Holiness had read my thoughts, that’s why she asked me that. I didn’t plan to hide my actions, anyway. And I’m doing this because it’s for the best…Bookmark here

“I’m going to support my fiancée, as usual.”Bookmark here

Hmm…are you sure it’s what Maddie wanted?” she asked.Bookmark here

“It’s not.” I admitted, “But, it’s the way to the fulfillment of what she desires.”Bookmark here

“You sure changed a lot after coming back from Amaranth, huh?”Bookmark here

“I did not change. I’m a human, and like most of my kind, I can also adapt to the events that happen around me.”Bookmark here

“Well, it’s not like it’s a bad thing, Master.” the Beastman Saint shrugged, “Just be careful that you don’t lose sight of what’s really important in the pursuit of your goals.Bookmark here

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The Holy Congress called forth by Maddie was supposed to be the one for this hot season, that’s why the rulers of the Chersean kingdoms were already on their way to the Holy Palatial Gardens even before the saint requested their presence. She decided to prioritize this over the seasonal mass since time was of the essence in saving the ‘Saint’s Peace’.Bookmark here

Compared to the last ‘Holy Congress’ I attended; this one was more somber. The flashy welcomes and pomp vanished. One could feel the tension hanging in the air, and all seemed to be in a hurry.Bookmark here

“Kuro!”Bookmark here

Once again representing the kingdom of Nerfes, Sir Simon and King ‘Rambo’ made their appearances. Sir Simon was the one who approached me first, followed by the king.Bookmark here

“I heard what happened to Amaranth!” he began, “Is Maddie okay?”Bookmark here

“She is.” I reassured the 2nd Prince, “But we have to reach a decision on how to deal with the events in that kingdom.”Bookmark here

“I agree.” It was Rambo who said that “Those Imperial dogs couldn’t be trusted. Everyone in these parts knew they were only looking for an opportunity to invade. They still treat us as provinces they lost long ago…”Bookmark here

“Indeed, brother!” Sir Simon concurred, before turning back to me, “Don’t worry, Kuro! We’ll support Maddie as usual. The armies of Nerfes will be at her disposal.”Bookmark here

“Thank you, Your Highness!” I gave them my respects, “And Your Majesty as well!”Bookmark here

“Hey! I didn’t do this for you!” Rambo reiterated, “It’s for Maddie!”Bookmark here

“Yes, yes…I know, Your Majesty.” As tsundere as ever, eh, Rambo?Bookmark here

Hmm…by the way, the Emperor just sent another ambassador for his congress appearance.” Sir Simon pointed at the Imperial delegation. True enough, it was a different person.Bookmark here

“Well, of course it’s expected, though unprecedented. He skipped two Holy Congresses already.” Rambo noted, “That old bastard wouldn’t dare attend a meeting with everyone’s swords pointed at his throat. The emperor’s a sly fox, not a brave griffin, see?”Bookmark here

I could understand Rambo’s rationale. Even I, if I knew I did something wrong, would never dare to show my face to a hostile crowd. In fact, I would never bother to send someone else to speak for me, since I’m about to break my promises.Bookmark here

But then again, sending someone here in his stead can mean one thing for the Emperor…anyway, I’d observe more before I jump to conclusions.Bookmark here

“Your Majesty, Your Highness…” a maid finally approached us and called the attention of the Nerfes royals, “Pardon for the interruption, but Her Holiness the Saint would like to begin the Congress as soon as possible. Please follow me.”Bookmark here

Without further delay, Rambo and Sir Simon walked after the maidservant. As I intended to come to watch the Congress as well—I’m currently the captain of the Paladin Corps and one of my duties is to keep order inside the meeting hall, I also came along with them.Bookmark here

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The Congress for this season was straightforward, and it had a different ‘format’ compared to its earlier versions. While the first ones were usually tripartite talks between the two opposing parties and the Saint acting as the mediator, now Maddie had all the monarchs gathered in one place. Once they showed up at the venue, she immediately hopped to the topic.Bookmark here

There were no welcoming remarks, no mincing of words either.Bookmark here

By the way, much to my surprise, the one who represented the kingdom of Amaranth was no other than the princess, Jessica von Albert, who shed her servant clothes for the occasion.Bookmark here

The moment all of them had settled in, she opened with, “Your Majesties, I’m glad that you took the time to come here for such an important moment. As many of you already knew, there was a sizeable army of the Imperial legions that landed at the kingdom of Amaranth.”Bookmark here

Some murmurs and whispers went around the room, as some rulers had been told about it just now. With the noise getting out of hand, I tried to enforce the peace, though I was feeling awkward by the sudden duties passed on to me. Fortunately, the vice-captain Dame Atkins and the other paladins who were with us acted swiftly and firmly as well.Bookmark here

Thanks to them, I saved my face from embarrassment.Bookmark here

“Goodness…for how long I would do this?” I muttered to myself. I may be a teacher before and could therefore deal with students. However, I knew I couldn’t enforce peace and order to grown-up adults; compared to children, they’re a bunch of headaches.Bookmark here

Anyway, with the Congress hall hushed up, the Imperial delegation spoke.Bookmark here

“On behalf of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor Jean of Chersea, I, the Prince Hughes Vendette, would like to explain our actions in Amaranth.” the Imperial envoy began, “As some of you may have known, there were voices of dissent within the kingdom of Amaranth against the abuses committed by the government of its king and the crown prince. The nobility there knew that alone, they would be defeated by the might of royalty and their supporters, and so their just pleas would only fall onto deaf ears. Because of this, they came to us for support and seeing the excesses of such rulers, we came to help them in their moment of need.”Bookmark here

“LIES!” it was Jessica who shouted, “The negotiation between the noble and royal factions had been going well for some time before someone intervened to assassinate Her Holiness and derail the mediation!”Bookmark here

“Are you accusing us, Princess von Albert, of the dreadful act of conspiring to kill Her Holiness?”Bookmark here

“Huh?” someone ignored the argument between the Princess von Albert and the Prince Vendette. He raised the point about Her Holiness’ botched assassination, instead, “Her Holiness is nearly killed?”Bookmark here

“This is preposterous!”Bookmark here

“Who did such a despicable thing?”Bookmark here

The Congress was once again in uproar. The human kings were calling for blood against the conspirators who tried to kill their beloved saint. The vice-captain and the other paladins moved in to calm the kings and other rulers. Prodded by my instinct, I moved in to protect Maddie.Bookmark here

“Please be silent, everyone!”Bookmark here

Ruro also came with me to help to pacify the angry royals by using her ability to manipulate her voice through the air. At once, the crowds immediately stopped the commotion and went back to their seats.Bookmark here

Now Maddie explained herself, “While I understand your indignation at what happened to me, I’d like to ask Your Majesties to focus on the issue at hand, which was the presence of the legionnaires in Amaranth.”Bookmark here

“We apologize for our uncouth behavior, Your Holinesses!” the king of Calabria told her, “However, we certainly would like to hear the explanation of the Empire about this matter, and their intervention in Amaranth.”Bookmark here

“The Empire maintains its position that we’re only supporting our allies in Amaranth until a peaceful solution has been found.” the Prince Vendette reiterated, “As for Her Holiness’ foiled assassination attempt, we denounce the perpetrators of this unholy crime!”Bookmark here

“Your Highness, I’d like to point out that one provision of the Oath of the Saint’s Peace that your Emperor signed, was to not allow his forces go beyond the allowed numbers.” Jessica countered, “I believe that your empire went beyond the 200-man limit.”Bookmark here

“Of course, Princess von Albert!” the Imperial envoy replied, “The security of our forces would also be put into consideration while supporting our allies. We couldn’t aid them effectively if we’re only sending 200 people!”Bookmark here

“Then, by all means, Your Imperial Highness!” it was now Maddie who spoke, “Do you admit that your empire went past beyond the limits I set when your emperor signed the oath?”Bookmark here

“Yes, Your Holiness. It is as you have heard, and so I stand by my explanation.”Bookmark here

“Well, Amaranth is a sovereign kingdom.” Maddie reiterated to him, “If there’s anything that could fix their own mess, it would be the Amaranthines themselves. We could only do so much. Also, the kingdom didn’t even ask this Congress’ help in resolving their disputes; what makes you think that intervening in their affairs could make a difference?”Bookmark here

“My apologies, Your Holiness!” the Imperial envoy bowed, “For that question, only the Emperor himself could answer!”Bookmark here

“And that’s why I’m repeatedly asking for his presence here!” I could feel that Maddie was getting frustrated by the Imperial envoy’s mincing of words. She was already pounding at the armrest of her throne, “This is the second time that he ignored my summons! Does he think that he’s superior to me?”Bookmark here

“I could only offer my sincere apologies, Your Holiness!”Bookmark here

“I don’t need your apologies, Prince Vendette!” Maddie finally snapped and slammed the table before her, “What I need is a proper explanation from your emperor why he hasn’t been showing himself! If he wanted to be excommunicated, then just say so, and I would be glad to grant it!”Bookmark here

“I-I’m sure there are still other options…”Bookmark here

“Listen here, Prince Vendette! Tell your emperor to come here as soon as possible. The longer he delayed, the more people in Amaranth would die in this senseless conflict that he started. If he failed to do so, I would be forced to slap sanctions on his empire.”Bookmark here

“S-Sanctions, Y-Your Holiness?”Bookmark here

“Yes! We discussed this before, in the last Congress! I decided to cut-off trade from the rest of Chersea to your empire if your emperor would keep on being stubborn!”Bookmark here

“B-But Your Holiness—”Bookmark here

“Silence! I would hear no more of your explanations!”Bookmark here

The Imperial envoy was visibly shaken by the exchange with Maddie. However, realizing that the Saint would never back down, he then fixed himself and declared…Bookmark here

“Your Holiness, this is the most impudent discourse I ever had! As the representative of His Imperial Majesty and his proud subjects, I won’t tolerate this utter disrespect to my sovereign. If so the rest of Chersea wishes to enact these ‘sanctions’ against our people, then we’d consider this as an act of war.”Bookmark here

At once, the other rulers of Chersea rose from their seats with their hands going for their swords. Only the quick actions from the Dame Atkins and the other paladins saved the integrity of the Holy Congress from the bloodbath.Bookmark here

Maddie then told the Imperial envoy, “I don’t wish for you to lose your life here, Your Highness. If you so decided on behalf of your empire, then so be it. Remember that I do not wish for war, but if your emperor would never show up within five long sleeps, then we’re going to end this talk.”Bookmark here

Incensed, the Prince Vendette took his bow and stormed out of the Holy Congress along with his delegation.Bookmark here

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Once the talk (or sermon) with the Imperial envoy ended and their delegation left, Maddie then discussed the future actions she was going to take, along with the rest of the rulers of Chersea.Bookmark here

“Your Holiness!” the king of Colveente raised a point, “By ‘sanction’, what do you intend to deny access to the Empire?”Bookmark here

“Everything.” Maddie answered, “I request we deny them every trade opportunity until they submit to my authority as the Saint.”Bookmark here

“B-But Your Holiness…” the king of Calabria stood up, “The Empire is our biggest trading partner. If Your Holiness would demand that we cease trading with them, then my people would go hungry.”Bookmark here

With that, I could tell that Maddie was surprised being confronted by such a fact. This was the downside of applying sanctions. Those countries that had their economies closely linked to one another would surely suffer should one be subjected to blockades.Bookmark here

If Maddie would want to force the Empire to bow to her will, she had to stand her ground, even if it meant that others would have to go hungry.Bookmark here

“Your Majesty, the King of Calabria, please be assured that I’m going to take this matter into consideration. But for now, my request stands. We need to force the emperor not to show contempt to this Holy Congress, or everything that we have worked out so far would be thrown into the mud.”Bookmark here

“I…I understand, Your Holiness.” the King of Calabria backed down. However, I could tell that he did that reluctantly. If this king would not be willing to sever his ties with the empire, then he’ll be a problem in the future.Bookmark here

I better tell Maddie that she should exclude the Calabrian king from her plans regarding the events in Amaranth.Bookmark here

“Your Majesties, for now, I know you have been tired from the long journey from your lands to this humble place.” Maddie announced, “For now, we have prepared accommodations for you, so please take a rest for the Congress after one long sleep. Your dinner would be served shortly.”Bookmark here

With that, the human rulers adjourned their meeting and their delegations left the room one by one, led by the other paladins and servants.Bookmark here

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***The city of Amaranth, in the siege’s aftermath…***Bookmark here

The empty hallways of the royal fortress in Amaranth were suddenly brought to life by the sounds of people screaming and soldiers bellowing orders. And then noises from the chains being dragged across the stone floor followed.Bookmark here

“Have the prince brought before our commander.” an Imperial officer told his men, “He gave me specific orders for that.”Bookmark here

At once, his soldiers obeyed. From the long line of captured royalty and their supporters, they singled-out the crown prince, David, and pulled him aside.Bookmark here

“…” The crown prince, though he was not used to rough treatment, maintained his dignified silence. The members of the rebellious nobility were watching from the distance and kept on jeering and leering at the defeated party.Bookmark here

“Bastard!” Someone threw an insult to him, “Looks like the high and mighty Prince David has fallen so low he forgot to speak!”Bookmark here

“He’s only powerful when his allies are with him! Otherwise, he’s just wee lad with curly hair!” another noble mocked and laughed.Bookmark here

The others also jeered at the prince, the object of their disdain for the royal family of Amaranth. Even though the nobles hurled insults at him, Prince David remained quiet.Bookmark here

“With all due respect, Your Excellencies, may I ask you to be silent?” the Imperial officer tasked to fetch the crown prince told them. His contempt for the rebellious nobles was obvious; he did not even hide his irritation from the loud-mouths.Bookmark here

“What did you—” a noble was about to pull his sword.Bookmark here

But his companions were quick to stop him, “That’s enough, Heere! It’s an Imperial officer, you cannot just touch him without grave consequences!”Bookmark here

“Hmph!” The officer triumphantly bragged, “If you rebels think you could take on our armies, attack me at this very moment!”Bookmark here

The nobles were aware of the contempt the Imperial officer was giving them. But they knew they were powerless to confront him while the Imperial legions walked around the kingdom virtually unopposed and intermingled with their own armies. They had no other choice but to back down from his challenge.Bookmark here

Hah! Spineless cowards!” the officer scoffed at them. Walking in chains, the Crown Prince David silently approved of the Imperial’s treatment towards the rebels.Bookmark here

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The legionnaires dragged the prince away from the noisy crowd and took him to a room within the royal castle where the expeditionary army commander, General Umberto Benicci, set-up as his headquarters. The general was waiting for them, all the while watching the legions reorganize themselves outside.Bookmark here

“Your Excellency, we brought the man as you requested.” the Imperial officer told him.Bookmark here

The general, after a few moments of silence, then turned to face the prince, “Well! Look at what we have here! The son of a baron is playing the role of a prince. Such a huge development of character, is it?” He gestured for the Imperial soldiers to leave them, which they did.Bookmark here

“Prince Umberto!” Prince David uttered when he recognized him, “I thought you’re already dead!”Bookmark here

“It’s General Umberto Benicci now, crown prince!” the general replied, “Well, I thought I’m dead as well. However, here I am, in the flesh. Ready to bring forth your Baronial House’s destruction by my hands!”Bookmark here

“You wouldn’t dare!”Bookmark here

“Oh, I would!” General Umberto countered, “And not only to your house, but to that accursed Saint as well!”Bookmark here

“Her Holiness’ got nothing to do with this, Umberto!”Bookmark here

“Was she? If my memory serves me right, wasn’t Lady Madelaine the one who plotted the downfall of my royal house and replaced it with your pathetic father? She may be the saint now, but the blood of the people she killed to attain her goals remains in her hands, naïve fool!”Bookmark here

“She did that because the people were clamoring for reform! You know that as well, Umberto!”Bookmark here

“She also did that to further her own selfish ambitions! Tell me, David, wasn’t the Rubinforths possessed the largest trade fleet in Nerfes that your ally, the Duke of Braunhauer, would often raid before the so-called ‘Saint’s Peace’? She knew she had to stop us, for it would cripple their arrogant house!”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“And, lest you forget, Lady Madelaine is a friend to that ‘Iron Princess’ of Nerfes, who wanted to destroy our lands and subordinate it to their own kingdom!”Bookmark here

Prince David had no counter for that. He knew very well that those accusations were true, for his father had told him about it before. But David also knew that Her Holiness had long since renounced her ties to the kingdom of Nerfes and was working only for the welfare of the people of Chersea.Bookmark here

Jessica had told him so and is supported by Her Holiness’ actions in trying to mediate the peace in Amaranth…Bookmark here

But he doubts whether this man before him would understand that. Thus, David remained silent before the Imperial general.Bookmark here

“Of course, you wouldn’t know of that, you’re just a son of a baron, after all.” Umberto snickered.Bookmark here

“What do you want from me?”Bookmark here

“Are you daft? Did you hear what I said before? I wanted revenge for my family, you and that Saint killed!”Bookmark here

“Then have it your way! Kill me now!”Bookmark here

Oooh…I won’t do what you wish, you know. See, I plan to give you the full price of what you did to me. As of now, your parents were being tortured until they die. And soon, I’ll have you watch them as they cry to you for help!”Bookmark here

“You murderer!”Bookmark here

“Oh? Am I the only one? May I remind you that your father killed my family with his own sword? I narrowly escaped death, you know? And now you dare call me a murderer? Where’s the justice in that?”Bookmark here

With his hands and feet shackled, Prince David had no way to avenge his family, no matter how hard he tried to free himself. But, in his desperation to get equal with his enemy, he spat on his face, much to the general’s surprise.Bookmark here

At that point, the general snapped. He drew his sword and was about to strike the crown prince when suddenly…Bookmark here

“Argh!!!”Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

General Benicci had to let go of his sword, for its handle became too hot it seared his hand.Bookmark here

“Stop with the revenge games, you dolts!Bookmark here

“Who are you?” Prince David was surprised to see a woman suddenly appear in the room that he almost tripped when he backed out.Bookmark here

Oh, hello there, Prince David! I’m the Saint of the Flame, Seirna.” she reached out her hands to him, and the shackles fell from his arms and legs at once, “I’m glad I came just in time before you were diced and minced by this old Amaranthine prince. Shall we have a little chat, alone?”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Though he wanted to strike the crown prince right at that moment, General Umberto Benicci had no other choice but to follow the cue given to him by Seirna. She wanted to talk to David, and with no one listening. He went out of the Imperial headquarters without a moment’s delay.Bookmark here

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Why didn’t you allow him to kill me?” David asked Seirna when everything calmed down, “Aren’t you two allies?”Bookmark here

“Nope. I was never an ally of anyone.” Seirna laughed, “If there’s anything about alliances, it’s more like, they had to ally themselves with me, so I have no choice but to oblige. Besides, I’m a Saint, not a murderer. And, you’re not someone who’s trying to keep me from achieving my goals, so why should I kill you? Oh, and I also stopped the torture of your parents, see?”Bookmark here

David had just finished putting back the royal robes that Seirna herself brought to her. Though he was confused on what and who was this person in front of him, he just went with her flow.Bookmark here

Hmm…the princely clothes fit you after all.”Bookmark here

“Aren’t you afraid that I would turn against you at this moment?” the prince asked, “I’m an ally of the Human Saint, you know?”Bookmark here

“Really?” Seirna countered, “Have you not heard that I’m a saint, so I could see into your heart, including the confusion you’re having over Madelaine’s goals?Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“And, I doubt if you could kill me right now. Technically, I’m more powerful than you. In one snap of these fingers of mine, I could take your life…yet, I refrained from doing so…”Bookmark here

“What’s your goal, Your Holiness Lady Seirna?” David asked her, “You would not free me on a whim.”Bookmark here

“Nice. I like straightforward people.” Seirna then began floating, “First, let’s address your doubts over Madelaine’s goals for Chersea. You see, Prince David, the Human Saint is leading this realm into its stagnation and ruin.”Bookmark here

“Wh-What do you mean by that?”Bookmark here

“The Saint’s Peace. I know that you’re thinking that the peace was beneficial for your people in trade and economy. Of course, it’s good, this stability you’re experiencing. However, without conflict, humanity would remain as is for seasons to come. And the next thing you know, the demons could once again come knocking at your doors for another invasion, complete with newly developed weapons to kill you and your people.”Bookmark here

“What are you saying?”Bookmark here

“That man with the black-hair that Madelaine brought with her before.”Bookmark here

“Sir Kuro?”Bookmark here

“Yes. Do you even know how he became famous as the Fist of the North Lands?”Bookmark here

“Isn’t he the one who saved Her Holiness’ honor against the Imperials by punching the Imperial prince’s face?”Bookmark here

“Exactly. And that man, not only did he display incredible intelligence, he also knew about the demons’ new weapons. In fact, it was a demon weapon that he used to reach the second round of the tourney in Fen before.”Bookmark here

“So, I heard, Your Holiness Lady Seirna…”Bookmark here

“And this ‘Kuro’, he was aware of the devastating effects of this weapon on the battlefield. He used it to defeat a knight in one shot! Now, Prince David, imagine if those kinds of weapons were in the hands of the multitudes of demons marching to attack your land. Do you think your knights would stand a chance?”Bookmark here

Terror befell on David’s face, “Does it mean that Sir Kuro was conniving with the demons?”Bookmark here

“I wouldn’t know of that, prince.” Seirna smirked, “However, what I know is that the Human Saint kept on promoting the peace she had created, at the cost of humanity’s technological advancement. Those plate armors you’re wearing now isn’t a product of peace; it was forged amidst the fires of war!”Bookmark here

“And she had a person with links to the demons! Could it be that this was another prelude to the demon invasion of Chersea?”Bookmark here

“Now you see why I kept you alive, Your Highness, Prince David!”Bookmark here

“This can’t be!” the prince was shaking in anger, “I’ve been tricked! Humanity has been fooled! Lady Madelaine could be in danger, and this clown named Kuro should be eliminated!”Bookmark here

“That’s great!” Seirna clapped, “Coincidentally, you and I have the same goals in mind. We’re both on a mission to save humans. The Saint’s Peace was hindering your race to achieve its greatest potential: to rule this world. So, Prince David, may I count on your cooperation in this matter?”Bookmark here

At that moment, the doubts on Prince David’s mind vanished, and he had his answers. Without a second thought, he reached out for Seirna’s hand for a shake.Bookmark here

Bookmarked
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