Titan Beneath The Heavens - lightnovelgate.com
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The long-awaited rainy season had arrived in Titan at the end of June. The one-week long torrential downpour washed away the once-scorching heats of the earth, bringing with it breeziness and humidity to the intolerable Dulin.
It was the twenty-seventh. On this hazy day, the youngest son of the Andrews awoke from his warm blanket. His girlfriend unwillingly complained, though still unable to resist the temptations of sleep due to her exhaustion. Alanis had put the agenda of giving birth as an imperial purpose, and she and her husband had been putting in great efforts every night.
"Let her sleep, don't wake her up." His Imperial Highness ordered his Household Manager.
Colonel Vick nodded in understanding. He was concurrently the Household Manager as well as the Secretary and was pleased with his positions. When his friends would introduce him as the blue-eyed Colonel of the Guards, the people would be blown away by the positions he had held.
His Imperial Highness the Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette's Family Affairs Manager! This man must be of great caliber and intelligence! It was normal for the Nobles of the Capital to voice out such compliments of Vick Keegan.
Breakfast of His Imperial Highness Prince would always be scrumptious. His Highness took two pieces of bacon dressed with one spoonful of golden creamy egg sauce. It was a daily routine for Countess Aeolia to rise from bed early as she placed much importance on breakfast, with the meal providing the only opportunity in the day to spend alone time with His Highness.
The countess tore open the bread barbarously, and then handed the bread and some smoked fish cakes to His Highness, whose facial expressions demonstrated apprehension.
Oscar meticulously applied the sauce onto the bread, added a piece of bacon, and sent the handful into his mouth. While chewing, he mumbled,
"Are there any more choices?"
Aeolia knowingly summoned a servant and ordered her to bring out the generous portion of fruit cake topped with whipped cream, left over by the previous night.
"Now, I suppose you are satisfied?" the Countess teased His Highness.
Oscar consumed the last piece of bread and let out a few burps in satisfaction.
The morning coffee's temperature was just right. Aeolia loved to add unconventional flavorings to her coffee, such as cocoa and cinnamon powder. While Oscar adored that particular combination, he would not dare to attempt the other versions of the "Aeolia Coffee".
The Prince slurped a mouthful of the cream-colored beverage, injecting surges of newfound energy into his head and chest. His Highness sized up the countess who put on a light makeup that morning. Aya promptly produced a pile of documents from her adjacent seat, "What a responsible Military Intelligence Officer!" it was during these moments would Oscar only recalled the countess' dual identities.
"These are the consolidated analysis reports assembled recently, you can have a look when you have the time. Otherwise, it's fine too. Dulin seemed to be exceptionally peaceful with only the weather being weird. "
Oscar retrieved the files and sorted out those with thicker pages.
"What's this?" His Imperial Highness Prince enquired about a document packaged in red.
"I was about to inform you on this." Aeolia said while putting down her coffee, "Do you still recall the Fat Dog by Madame Zoera's side?"
"The assassin?" Oscar seemed to recall briefly. That Fat Dog had challenged Snowstorm in the past and was rumored to be a brutal character.
"That's right! Ranked third in Westland, the Super Killer Ghost Dog! Following Zoera's capture, he vanished into thin air. The family's investigative personnel once discovered him in Lamington. Unfortunately, the operation failed and we lost some of our men."
"Lamington? What kind of place is that?"
"Situated near Bragg, the city sits in the center of the Empire. You will be passing the city on your way to the Southern hills!"
Oscar knocked on the document's cover, "Will there be a trouble?"
Aeolia nodded in caution, "Zoera had saved Ghost Dog's life in the past. If Ghost Dog hasn't forgotten the incidents of his life saving, he will surely act. "
Oscar shrugged in indifference, "Should I be worried? I have Paul and Shaw with me, and I believe that there aren't many on this earth who are capable enough of facing the Snowstorm and the Black Devil simultaneously."
"The world is full of uncertainties!" concerned, the countess held onto the Prince's hand. "Do you still remember the gunner? Snowstorm and Black Devil successfully countered all blades and arrows, but they failed to do so against bullets…"
"Who says?" the King of Assassins voice boomed, shocking Aeolia to let go of Oscar's hand.
"I'm faster than bullets!" said Paul while stuffing a smoked fish into his mouth.
"You haven't had breakfast? Come, let's eat together!" Oscar pointed at the seat next to his.
Paul shook his head in rejection, "I've eaten, I'm just here to confirm what time we'll be leaving."
Oscar wiped the corners of his mouth with the napkin and rose from his seat, "This is it!" As His Highness finished his sentence, he turned towards the countess, "Have the Military Investigative Officers resume their hunt until they have found the Ghost Dog's corpse."
"Yes, your Highness!" Aeolia nodded sternly. To be frank, she was not confident of their agenda to hunt down and kill the Westland's third most lethal assassin.
"Is my appearance required?" the King of Assassins saw through the countess' worries.
"It's fine!" Oscar rejected Paul's good intentions. "You shall stay with me and head nowhere else!"
"Hey! Are you losing your guts?"
"No, I'm not!" Oscar stubbornly turned his head away. To be honest, the Prince had increasingly been cautious since he was fired with a shotgun to his chest. The world is changing! The scenes would no longer be dominated by blades and swords; a tiny lead shot meters away could end one's life! There was no mistake about it!
"Hey, look! You really are scared…" refusing to stop the teasing, the King of Assassins pursued the Prince to the door.
The Tacheles Fortress' shadows appeared thin in the low domes. On the contrary, light reflected from the Paladin's armor and swords filled the fortress with shades of color, all the way to the gates of the King's sleeping quarters. In the history of the Empire, never had there been a successful invasion into the King's bedroom, the most important space in the whole Tacheles Fortress.
The Captain of the Guards, Colonel of the Guards, and Paladin Viscount Basil Kenny, stationed in front of the King's bedroom, greeted the visiting His Imperial Highness Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette with slight curls on their lips.
"Good morning, Basil!" Oscar gave the Captain a friendly greeting. Accustomed with the procedures, he discarded his Marshall sword, his two Delin Mini Cannons which were the only two in the world, along with two other flying knives and one dagger concealed in the depths of his boots.
Colonel Basil was used to seeing the extent of the Prince's arms. He received the weapons with utmost respect, especially the Marshall sword filled with jewelry and the two guns assembled with top-quality lumber and shining metal. The Paladin then handed these weapons to the Guards and commanded them to safe-keep them.
"Do you want to check if there's anything on me being overlooked?" narrowing his eyes, Oscar stared at the Colonel.
"We'll pass!" Basil laughed helplessly. "It' shameful enough to disarm a Marshall, please don't embarrass me further! You know this can't be helped!"
Oscar chuckled and patted the Paladin on his shoulder. After that, he entered through the main door opened by the servants.
"Your Majesty! Let me see you!" the Prince rushed over to the King's bed upon entering.
Alfa III His Majesty grinned and waved at his nephew, having recovered much of his strength in the past two weeks. Although his upper body remained weak and had been experiencing sharp pain when urinating, the majority of the toxins had been successfully eliminated from the King's system. At that moment, he thought that he ought to thank the lad standing before him. It was far too early for Osli Alfa Morisette to be hanging out with the God of Light.
"I can see that you are in great condition!" Oscar sized up the King in delight and saw a familiar light in the King's eyes.
"Thank you!" the King patted on his bed. Oscar sat atop comfortably.
"How are things on your side?" His Majesty held his son-in-law's hand and was returned with a strong grip.
"Almost done! Just some complications in the details of the troops' assembly. It's two hundred thousand kilometers to reach the Southern hills but I've only one brigade!"
His Majesty chuckled, "How about I grant you an additional corp?"
"It's fine, your Majesty!" Oscar laughed heartily, "I'm aware that Marshall Alan's words in his letter were rather aggressive. He's doubting my one brigade, never mind one corp!"
The King was silenced. He was about to mention Marshall Alan's distrust of the Prince's aims in the South. But the King had no more doubts. Getting cleaned off the family's traditional convictions, Imperial Highness the Prince O'Neil would be the forthcoming standard-bearer of the royalties. Furthermore, the King had expectations for the Prince to achieve more deadly agendas.
The conversation resumed with Oscar explaining about his Southern plans. The King listened attentively and they had a heavy debate about the topic of the government of the Southern Allied Army of the Five Provinces. However, it was nothing more than a debate, and the atmosphere was still very peaceful.
The King seemed to lack interest regarding the Allied Army government, what he cared about was for the taxes to regain its previous level. From the Empire's point of view, the harm of the armed riots was still far and the South's business acumen had once brought the Empire generous amounts of profits. Thus, the King had been anticipating the profits.
While Oscar's intentions were not as simple as the King's, his points were still fairly valid. Reasoning that only when the South had stabilized would the economy recover, Oscar opted for the increase in military prowess to tackle the armed rioters to be established as a pressing matter. While time could wait for the negotiation with businessmen, it was more urgent to have the businessmen lose confidence that armed riots could possibly overturn the nation.
All in all, the Prince's strategy could be simplified into one aspect: to employ physical force! Considerations of the political scene must be preceded by a victory by force. Therefore, the establishment of the government of the Allied Army of the Five Provinces could wait, but not the unification of the Southern Army groups.
After brief consideration, the King agreed with the Prince's plans. There would be no disadvantages to both the Empire and the Five Provinces in the South alike, and the King had no doubts about Oscar's resolution. The energetic Marshall would definitely present to the royalties a stable and prosperous South.
"Have a look at this appointment letter!" in great spirits, the King finally presented the long-awaited document to the Prince.
Oscar received the document courteously. Although he might be elated on the inside, he restricted his desperation from showing.
"The Imperial Commissioner, Imperial Envoy, and the Senate of the Southern Amy!" Oscar read aloud his new titles.
The King grinned, "I'm well aware that these positions may be different from what you're expecting, but you know that this is the only order which can ensure the obedience of all.
"The Holy City of Roman was not built in one day!" Alfa III His Majesty directed his gaze at the young Marshall. "People may view the idiom as a metaphor, but if its interpretation is limited to just a metaphor, there will be no meaning to it. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
"I understand! You're implying that I should take things slowly and that some things are not to be rushed!"
Satisfied, Oscar kept the document. In fact, he long knew that His Majesty had prepared the letter. He was only seizing the chance to persuade the King one step further.
At that moment, the doorbell sounded. Alfa III His Majesty hinted at Oscar. Understood, Oscar headed for the door and opened. The Imperial Confidential Secretary, Philip Goolean, bowed courteously.
"Your Majesty, Your Highness, Her Elder Highness Ashfin has arrived!" the Confidential Secretary informed while stepping aside.
Oscar then witnessed Lobb's French wife stepping into the King's bedroom gracefully.
"Good morning, your Majesty!" standing at the door, Princess Ashfin Kristen paid her respects to the King who was seated on the bed. Her Elder Highness still had her hair tied and bore exquisite hair accessories which were associated with the Nobles of Faran.
"Oh! Good day to you too!" Osli Alfa Morisette sat up in delight and did not bother to mask his passionate demeanor. However, he stared pointedly at Oscar and Philip when he saw them scurrying out of the room suspiciously.
"What are you doing? Both of you, come back in!"
Puzzled, Oscar questioned His Majesty,"Don't… don't you need us to leave?"
"Why leave?" the King's eyes were bulging.
The quick-witted Count Goolean said no words and pulled the Prince in by the end of his sleeve. The two proceeded to stand at the door side awkwardly. Goolean, who was the King's close guard, knew all about his not-so-honorable affairs whereas Oscar, the Military Intelligence Bureau Chief, had received news from the Secret Service Department not too long ago.
What was the King planning in his head? Oscar threw glances at the Confidential Secretary but to his dismay, the Secretary feigned ignorance.
"Alright! Since you're all here, I shall make an announcement!" His Majesty struggled to move. Upon seeing that, the Faran Princess rushed forward and put a pillow behind the King, providing support. She then covered the King with the blanket he flung away previously.
Amidst the King and the Princess' exchanges of gestures and expressions, hints of absurd romantic feelings could be traced, that much was as clear as day to Oscar. Upon realization, the Prince hastily halted his observations and felt chills. He wasn't sure if he was merely disgusted by the scene before him or he was genuinely concerned about the implications.
"Enough, Ashfin! Sit aside, you're making me dizzy!" the King held the Princess by her arm and guided her to sit on the sofa next to the bed.
"I know that you're not happy in Dulin, so where do you wish to go next to relax?"
The young Ashfin Kristen blinked multiple times, puzzled by the King's question, "To relax?"
The Prince and the Confidential Secretary finally met each other's gazes. There were never slow-witted and thus they understood the King's underlying meaning perfectly. The King meant for a means of retreat for the Princess or her protection.
Ashfin was not a fool either. She came to a prompt understanding of the transpiration of events thus far. Prior to this visit, there had been numerous times she was denied of entrance into Westberg Fort by Her Majesty the Empress, even with the purpose of a normal visit. This only explained that how much of a dangerous situation the Princess was in!
"Are you fond of the South?" the King held the woman's hand. "It's near to Faran, and the ways of living of the Southern Nobles are similar to that of Faran as well. You'll feel amiable and free!"
Ashfin was speechless. Strings of tears fell from her face. Had she just been exiled by the King?
"Oscar!" the King ignored her tears as he believed that Ashfin would eventually understand his reasons, that they were all for her own good.
"Yes, your Majesty!" Upon being summoned, the Prince hurried over to the King.
"Ashfin will traveling to the South with you, is there a problem?"
Oscar swiftly made his promise. He pointed to the heavens and earth and vowed to the King that there would be no troubles throughout his sister-in-law's journey.
The King nodded lightly. He was aware that the perceptive man had discovered his relationship with Ashfin, and thus believed that the matter would be managed by Oscar with great caution.
"Philip!" the King turned towards his Confidential Secretary.
"Yes, your Majesty!"
"The South lies the roots of the Goolean family, so you and your family are very familiar with the terrain. I want you to accompany O'Neil. You're permitted to take a brief rest at home, but keep in mind that the His Highness Prince needs an assistant who knows the ground well!"
"Yes, your Majesty! Never mind resting, I'll be assisting His Highness Prince O' Neil together with my family," promised Philip. He was elated beyond words when he recalled that he had not been back to home for seven or eight years.
Oscar's brain worked fast. He had long foreseen that the King would appoint a trusted man to monitor his each and every action in the South. Besides, he also expected the ideal candidate to be Philip Goolean of the wealthiest family among Southern Nobles. Now that things had turned out according to his predictions, there was no need for him to worry.
"Which reminds me, Your Majesty!" Philip suddenly recalled. "The Cabinet Chancellor Duke Kachev Drakas Ferdinand, Archbishop Karl Amold, and the Speaker of the House of Lords Cadro Budisette have been waiting for you. They had me to relay their urgency of matters."
"Who's the most urgent?" Alfa III His Majesty enquired with a perplexed demeanor.
"The Speaker of the House of Lords, Cadro Budisette!" Philip continued subconsciously, "The Duke's matters seem so urgent that he's walking in circles in your study."
"Who's the least urgent?"
"It's Archbishop Karl Amold, he drank three cups of tea and is now asking for snacks!"
His Majesty had no words, he only proceeded to wipe the tears off the Princess, "Go Ashfin! Go! You don't need to worry, you don't have to face that unlucky son of a fool anymore! He'll only bring you more shame!"
Princess Ashfin stood and excused herself from the King. Just as she was about to leave, the King once again gripped her hand, unwilling to let go. In the end, the King had no choice but to face his loneliness. After the door closed, Oscar heard a long, defeated sigh from the ruler of the Empire.
The room was only left with Oscar. The bright young man once again seated himself next to the King.
"Do you still have any orders?"
Alfa III nodded lightly, "I can only pray that my judgment is correct! I've handed to you the two most important women in my life: Alanis and Ashfin! Regardless of what you'll make of the South, I'll consider your mission accomplished as long as the both of them are safe and sound."
Oscar looked at the aged man before him in shock. The King, aged by the tortures of his illness, grew deep wrinkles. But… had the man aged to the extent of not being conscious of his words? Who would've thought that he would openly admit to his relationship with Ashfin!
"Are you perhaps secretly despised by your father!"
"No! No! No!" no matter how absurd the King was behaving at that moment, Oscar was perfectly sane! He shook his head continuously throughout the King's questioning.
"I can see! That you're just… you're just… I don't really know how I should word it. Emotions are delicate matters that can't be controlled, I… I…" Oscar stormed through his vocabulary only to find that he could not come up with any reasonable explanation.
"Enough! All you have to do is to bring me back two complete women upon your return!" the King cleared the tight situation for the Prince as he did not any consolations coming from him.
Alfa III was in a daze for a while and he suddenly snickered. His Majesty pointed at the door and asked the Prince an interesting question.
"The three men in the study, the Cabinet Chancellor Duke Kachev Drakas Ferdinand, Archbishop Karl Amold, and the Speaker of the House of Lords Cadro Budisette. Do you know why one is the most urgent, one the least urgent, and another neither urgent nor not urgent?"
"Why?" Oscar looked at the King questioningly. Although he had no idea where the questions came from, he was indeed a little curious.
The King pondered and grinned coldly. He first lifted a finger,
"The most urgent is Cadro Budisette, don't be fooled by his disguise as a citizen-loving man, he uses the name of justice and the excuse of fighting for the rights of the Nobles, to cut himself clean from the royalties! But if you ask him, will he ever dare to enrage me? In Dulin, he is by far the most classical epitome of the Neutral faction who sways according to the direction of the wind, cowering before the weak and soaring before the strong!"
At this point, Alfa III could not help but grumble as he lifted another finger.
"That fellow who is neither urgent nor trivial is old Kachev! Now, this sly old fox is the real politician who is both ambitious and capable! What's more is his heart and will to achieve his end goals by any means necessary! Although he is a despicable man, I can't exactly retaliate him publicly. I must admit that he is a superb Chancellor and his wisdom in governing the nation is still required. Thus, his matters are not urgent! Before I've identified a suitable candidate to succeed him, leave him by himself to dream on!"
"As for the Archbishop…" the King lifted one last finger. "Oscar, mark my words! Karl Amold is an absolute bastard! He is a hypocrite from head to toe! Do you know how much wealth has he and his underlings conned? Do you know how many young ladies has this man, this very man who thrived on abstinence wherever he goes, harassed? Do you know…"
Alfa III came to a stop and suddenly coughed roughly. Upon seeing this, Oscar hurried to serve him some tea.
"Ah… Anyway… Anyway, you must keep this in mind! These people dressed in religious coats are all for no good! Shall there comes a day when I've lost my patience for the God of Light, I'll hang every single one of the priests walking on this earth onto the torture rack! Out of these people… nine out of ten have sins to atone for, never mind the one innocent guy, he's just unlucky!"
Oscar chuckled, "Your Highness, I must say that in all the worlds conquered by the God of Light and the Empire, there will always be these three kinds of people!"
"That's right my boy! You're absolutely correct!"
"However…" Alfa III patted the Prince on his hand, "There are the Neutral faction, the conspirators, and the simply despicable bastards! These three all have their own values to be utilized! Like the three guys I've mentioned, Cadro Budisette can aid me in improving the relationship with the House of Lords; old Kachev can moderate governmental affairs in my stead; while Karl Amold can manage religious matters for me. What I'm trying to tell you is, you must be wise in handling these three types of men, they are never useless. On the contrary, they are essential in your life! "
Oscar finally came to an enlightenment, feelings of being touched stirred in his heart. The King was actually nurturing him!
"But… other than these three types of people, others have no thoughts…"
"I know what you're trying to say!" the King cut off the Prince's words. "How would I possibly hand the Empire to such people? They are nothing more than your bargaining chips! As for the few cards determining your victory in a game, such roles can only fall on the fourth type of person: one of unwavering loyalty, of no greed and desires, a fighter who only has his mind in serving the empire and upholding its honor!"
"Marshall Alan!" Oscar exclaimed, how could he possibly forget the key character who was the deciding factor in victory?
"You're right! Marshall Alan!" Alfa III His Majesty smiled. "But he's never on his own, just like the Four Military Houses and Philip's Goolean family! Now, my boy, they are the real warriors of the Empire. In fact, it is all thanks to the perseverance as well as the solid beliefs and principles of the great families that the Empire, ruled by the Morisettes since four hundred years, is what you see today! "
Oscar received a blow to this thoughts. The King's words were not educational, but served as a warning! Regardless of how grand and powerful an empire may be, it could never truly escape from the existence of the irresolute, conspirators and all sorts of evil. In other words, these people were the reflection of reality and were nothing more than the insignificant characters in the events of history. They might be able to raise commotions and all, but the final victory would always go to those at the frontlines of history! And that the applause would always be won by heroes and patriots! These are analogies constant throughout history!
Well then… should he play the front-liner? Or the three types of bad guys? If not, could he be the hero and patriot? Oscar wondered. These could only be determined by fate.
"Thank you, your Majesty! Thank you for your wise words, and thank you for all that you've done for me!" kneeling on one knee, Oscar kissed the King's hand devotedly.
"Young man! Since when did you learn to be cheesy?" the King drew back his hand happily but at the same time, it seemed that some other concerns plagued his mind. "It is a long way to the South and you'll be deep in the warzones! I must plead you, please don't dive into the frontlines like what you did in Sajio Mountain, you're not single anymore! Do you possibly want my daughter to mourn for you?"
"Oh… your Majesty!" Oscar whined. "This is too ominous! Why would you say such a thing?"
Alfa III His Majesty laughed heartily. He patted Oscar strongly on his arm.
"I wish you success in advance, my nephew! Don't let me down!"
"I won't, your Highness! I swear!" Oscar nodded strongly. "Shall there be a need for it, I'll flatten the mountain territories of the bandits, and you'll enjoy the prosperity of the South!"
"Of course! Oscar paused, and proceeded to lower his voice, "I'll take caution in other areas as well, for instance… I won't allow any gossipers or suspicious characters to come into contact with your lover!"
"Hahahahaha!" relaxed, the King finally cracked up. "Young man, I would have been retired if you had a son! Even Alanis has to stand aside!"
Oscar laughed along with the King with caution, he was perfectly aware that those words of the King were not to be taken seriously.
"You are excused!" the King finally ordered his guest to leave. "Remember to relay to those three people that I'm not feeling well, let them wait for another two hours!"
Oscar couldn't help but grin along, he knew that this was the optimal method to deal with side characters. Urgent or not would not matter, as long as he took great control of his pace, things would never go amiss.
It started to rain again when he left, the clear sky had been replaced with shades of grey. Marks imprinted by the passing of days seemed to have carved themselves onto the high stone wall, water dripped along the patterns of the marks and onto the ground with a crisp sound. Although people seemed to be constantly debating about when the sky would clear, they were never genuinely concerned. Days would always brighten, clouds would always disperse, and all the misfortune in the world would always be overturned.
Stepping out of the gates, Oscar rejected Baron Messier's offer to carry the umbrella for him.
"Are you free?"
Messier shrugged nonchalantly.
"Very! The travel has been arranged! All that's left is to wait for the sky to clear!"
After the Prince went on the carriage with his most trusted subordinate, the drizzle transformed into a downpour with the fist-sized rain droplets hitting the ground. A strong wind blew and whistled faintly, lifting the rainwater into a drift in the air.
While the windows, washed by the rain, became extremely clear, the scenery appeared as weird images, having been distorted by the heavy downpour. Had the rainy seasons of summer always been this vicious? The passengers wondered aloud. On the other hand, Oscar paid no attention and even felt grateful to the sudden torrent.
"I bet Alan is still counting his days at one of the jetties of Paval River!" Oscar looked at Mes in delight.
"You bet!" the Baron was also excited by the idea, "Paval River's water level is still on the rise and the Birou Province is already taking preventive measures. Our Marshall Alan will not be returning anytime soon! Colleagues of the Military Intelligence Bureau have been saying that these days without the sly old fox are simply wonderful!"
"Your Highness! Frankly speaking, things won't turn out like this if Marshall Alan stayed in Dulin. I think his Northern attacks are bound to fail, he's just trapping himself!"
Oscar shook his head in objection, "It's not like what you said!"
"Dulin's battles have just begun! Alan's late arrival will just present us an opportunity to get rid of the chaos," the Prince explained.
Amidst the heavy rain, Kenshin Palace stood high and proud. Rainwater showered the roofs and flowed into the exotic drains, emitting sounds similar to that of a waterfall.
Oscar was not really fond of the carvings of saints and angels on the outer walls of the palace, which was originally meant for his mother. Now, its exterior seemed unfitting for a Marshall.
Yet, he was never one to complain. Oscar liked the interior of the palace, from the walkways to the bedrooms. When he entered the halls while discarding his raincoat, he would shout, "Oh! I'm home!". When he stepped into the guest hall, he would kiss his wife and his most beloved woman. When he entered the bedroom, he would… that was not for anyone's discussion. Doors were locked and lights were off whenever the Prince and the Princess were doing things they love.
"Oh! I'm home!"
Colonel Vick responded swiftly to the friendly voice, he moved to the main door and brought along a large towel for His Imperial Highness Prince.
"Oh oh! This is awesome! This is just what I need!" Oscar commented while snatching the towel and wiping his clothes dry violently. "Hell! The rain reminds me of winter, what's wrong with Dulin this year? I clearly remember that its only June!"
"Is everyone here?" Oscar flung the towel away and stopped his complaints.
"Yes, your Highness, new and old friends are all waiting for you in the guest hall!"
"Alright! Let's go!"
Colonel Vick alarmingly halted the Prince from barging into the hall, "Your Highness, aren't you changing clothes?"
"Not at all! It'll be fine to just ignite the fireplace! Seriously, what's the problem with the weather!" Oscar lamented on his way, but his laments were perfectly justifiable. While reparations in Dulin had been completed and all personnel had reported to their stations, the God of Light was still making it rain! The day would brighten up eventually, but the time spent waiting was absolutely depressing.
"Furthermore, traveling to the South is never an easy feat. Who knows what the roads will become after this downpour!" the Prince concluded his dialogue in displeasure.
"Attention!" commanded First Lieutenant Kirk Douglas, who was guarding the guest hall entrance.
Oscar, having just entered the guest hall, was shocked by his own officer. He also heard the sound of soldier boots coming from the hall.
The leader of the Guards appeared at the entrance, saluting the young Marshall with an utmost respect! Their movements were neat and powerful.
Oscar's gaze swept across the present officers. They were all donned in military uniforms, golden rays shining from their insignias.
"Rest!" after the Marshall returned the salute, he laid his arm down and walked past the crowd to his main seat.
"Alright! Everyone, have a seat! This is my home, not that tin can manufactory."
The Guards all laughed casually. The 'tin can manufactory' had long been the people's nickname for the military's courtyard since hundred of years.
"Who should I start with?" Oscar looked to Messier, who just sat beside him.
"Old friends, I guess?"
"Okay!" Oscar sized up his old present who were present, "Let's first have… Gondol Abassia!"
General Gondol Abassia smiled bitterly, "Your Highness, I've nothing to report! I initially thought that I'd have a good direction since I've been recovered from my military status and demonstrated results on the battlefield. Yet, here I am, assigned by Marshall Alan to a ridiculous station…"
Gondol seemed to realize that his words might have offended a superior and immediately shut his mouth.
"That's nothing to be bothered about!" Oscar waved, "Haven't you been assigned back to your original position? Save your deal with Marshall Alan for later."
The Guards in the hall were all laughing and seemed to bear ill intentions towards Alan, but it was no news. Almost every Special Warfare Officer was against the Commander of the Guards demolishing the Special Combat Brigade 8341! It was O'Neil who united the officers anew for them to head to the battlefield very soon. What even more delighting was the fact that they will be facing the same old opponents! Those people still had blood to pay for Brigade 8341!
Torry, who loved to butt into commotions, was the second to speak and proceeded to let out all his sufferings as the Brigadier General of the artillery soldiers. Nevertheless, there were still benefits presented to Viscount Sukhoi upon his unexpected promotion, at least he now had an artillery reserve and five brand-new fortress artillery.
"However, please don't have high hopes for me in the South! A fortress artillery weighs 389 kilograms! Topping up with the artillery tractor and the cannon bases, only the combined force of four cows can move the equipment!"
Oscar grinned nonchalantly. The cannon bases are the most valuable warfare assets, he was only planning to train Torry's artillery soldiers. He had yet to bear the intention of getting down with the "Mountain Lion" armed thugs using cannons.
"As for me, I've nothing to report!" said Colonel Tantalus Piche, or rather, Major General Tantalus Piche, considering Marshall Robin had promoted his Academic Secretary to Major General.
Major General Tantalus Piche was one of the very few soldiers who were dressed poorly. He sat cross-legged and had a large pipe in his mouth.
"His Imperial Highness the Prince mentioned that he lacked a Chief of Staff by his side, that's why I'm here. To be honest, I still miss the menial tasks in the Imperial Military Academy! I have no interests in Southern thugs whatsoever, I only know that they should all be sent to hell."
"They are nothing more than a group of poor men, it was only due to their lack of choices that they happened to be used by the cunning businessmen for selfish purposes!" Major General Krapitch Drake replied the Chief of Staff in displeasure. The Infantry Commander was also summoned by the Prince.
"Sir Major General!" Monia Amerson stood abruptly. She might not be a soldier anymore, but she saluted the General nevertheless, "Your understanding of the thugs is mistaken. My comrades have fought against them and death has brushed past us multiple times. I'm positive that you wouldn't want to know how those thugs murdered the Guards!"
Major General Krapitch Drake was silenced. He was an officer coming from a civil background and he was just annoyed by the tone Tantalus spoke with.
"Monia! Enough!" Major Luke Citel interrupted. His order made Monia Amerson reflexively returned to her seat.
"I believe that everyone is perfectly clear that all of us here are warriors! All of us may be bestowed with the Empire Warrior Medal, but the piece doesn't mean anything! In the deep woods of the Southern hills, such shining medals will only turn you into the targets of the thug snipers. Therefore, I must make this clear, once we've reached the hills, all of you are to follow my orders. I don't care whether you're a Lieutenant or a Major General, or if you're from the Nobles or…"
"Wait!" Oscar interrupted his Special Combat Brigadier, "Hey Luke, haven't you received news of promotion?"
Oscar hit his forehead, "The damned organization, what is it doing? Luke, you're now my Brigadier General of the Military Intelligence Bureau's First Special Combat Brigade! Skipping two ranks altogether! How do you find it?"
Luke Citel was stunned for half a second. Recovering from his initial shock, he finally nodded at the young Commander in acceptance, "Thank you for the honor!"
"You're welcome! You deserve it!" said Oscar while observing the intimidating soldiers around the Special Combat Brigadier.
"Aren't you going to introduce your fellow comrades to me?"
Luke Citel nodded in understanding, "It's better to let them introduce themselves!"
Oscar directed his gaze to the hunk who first stood up.
"Reporting Marshall, I'm 'Bison' Bill, Heavy Armor Commander of the Special Combat Brigade!"
"Reporting Marshall, I'm 'Big Worm' Blasky, Ambush Commander of the Special Combat Brigade!I tend to complain a lot, and only the war can shut my mouth!"
"Reporting Marshall! I'm 'Ghost Archer' Mitchen, your Commander of the Archers! I've heard that your former messenger is also a legendary archer, it's been long since I've met a deserving rival! Can I have his address?"
"Reporting Marshall! Don't listen to his nonsense, he's blind! I almost forgot. I'm 'Fire Eyes' Arthur, in charge of the commanding of your scouts."
"Reporting Marshall! They call me 'Gay' Mike, but please don't misunderstand, I've no business with those disgusting acts!" I'm your Guerilla Commander! My nickname means nothing other than the fact that my men and I always strike our enemies hard from their butts!"
"Reporting Marshall! I'm 'Alligator' Macier, your Assault Commander…"
Looking at his Special Combat officers rising one after another, O'Neil Andrew Morisette beamed in confidence and had the impulse to dive deep into the Southern hills right at that moment. He might not understand the battle tactics of these imposing men, he might not know how the war will progress, but he had carved the names of Luke and the six officers into his heart.
As initially imagined by His Imperial Highness Prince O'Neil, names of the warriors and patriots, no matter dead or alive, would always shine the brightest on the stages of histories. In the future, those familiar with this part of history would refer to Luke and his comrades by "The Seven Warriors of Emperor Andrew"!
"Your Highness!" all of a sudden, Kirk pulled open the guest hall's curtains.
With the downpour completely subsided, a ray of blinding sunlight shone through the thick clouds and penetrated past the glass window. The newfound light lit up glimmers of hope on the previously dark land.
"The skies are clearing!" Oscar beamed.