At the Valentine County.
“Arpen must’ve been attacked by now.”
“That bastard’s pride is through the roof, after all. It’s easy to rile that idiot up as long as you poke at that bloodline he’s so overly proud of, so he probably got beaten to the ground fairly easily.”
There, Count Valentine, and the viscounts as well as the barons beneath him had gathered.
Most were angry, but some were terrified.
Why had they gathered here with such unsightly faces?
Naturally, because of the Sixth Inquisitorial Squad.
Or more specifically, its captain, Callius von Jervain.
“To think a damned child would cut off a nobleman’s head so casually. Does this make sense…”
“Shouldn’t all the nobles in the country stand up in protest? No matter how noble his station, such bloody behaviour…”
“That’s … it’s those royalists, they’re defending him. There’s also the neutral faction who haven’t taken a stance, so…”
It was true that Callius’ actions were radical. However, the defence of the royal faction and the waterproof evidence perfectly compensated for that.
“How can they block us… isn’t this only benefitting the royal family? If all of us aristocrats united in protest, can they still…!”
“That’s true. Really, we’re also doing what we’re doing to help the country, it’s just that we might step on the toes of the law a little here and there in the process. Right? We’re just working together and trying to find a way to survive, isn’t it too harsh to treat us this way?”
All the nobles seated together nodded in unison.
The idea that everything went when it came to working for the country was the foundation of their argument.
The law was just that, a lifeless pile of rules and regulations.
There were things far more important than the law, wherever one looked.
“Anyway, it was inevitable that things were going to turn out badly.”
“Yeah, that’s why we got together like this, isn’t it?”
When the discussions came to a pause, all the eyes focused on the count, who was sitting quietly at the head of the table.
The lord of Valentine County.
Count Hogelten de Valentine.
“Sir, he won’t be able to barge in here, will he?”
Callius’ means was simple and straightforward.
Take the initiative to attack and capture the nobles, and then find evidence of their crimes with the Judgment Sword.
That’s why even the so-called Judge would be powerless if he couldn’t break through the blockade and reach the ones gathered here.
“That’s why there’s such a tight perimeter. If he wants to find a place to die, he can naturally come, but as long as he doesn’t, he won’t come here easily. The count’s garrison has more than a thousand troops. Among them, there are over three hundred knights, so what chance does he have?”
And one more thing.
“The Golden Lion is here. No matter how crazy he might be, if he considers his own life precious, he won’t dare to come.”
“You live up to your name, Count Valentine. You even called in Ruydren’s young lion. I, Allen, am deeply moved!”
The leader of the Golden Lion Knights of the South.
Golden Lion Ruen.
He was here, so even that crazy idiot would know to avoid this place.
The Golden Lion, one of the Five Stars said to be infinitely close to the ranks of the Masters.
“Even the Wolf of Jervain must be afraid of the Golden Lion. Even if he managed to deal with Viscount Arpen, he’ll have to stop there. So. It’s time for us to change our attitude and think offensively.”
That was then.
A messenger came running.
“A man who calls himself Count Jervain has arrived at the county!”
Most of the nobles, who’d been drinking tea with a relaxed attitude, jumped up like they were having a seizure.
Others spewed tea from their mouths, or coughed and sputtered. To them, one and all, Callius was nothing less than the grim reaper.
“Have you seen such a madman? How dare he come here…”
“What did that bastard say?”
“He asked us to serve him a meal.”
“What are we going to do?”
“We must not meet. That guy…”
He had the Judgment Sword.
If he suddenly pointed his sword and tried to judge a lie, they wouldn’t be able to stop him.
Exercising the right to remain silent would be nothing but proof of one’s own corruption.
While they thought about it…
“Why don’t you make him come in?”
“… Golden Lion Commander.”
He was a handsome man with short blonde hair and a tall stature.
The light armour he was wearing had a lion pattern drawn on it.
The knight-commander of the Golden Lion Knights, and a member of the highest noble of the South. The eldest son of the Ruydren family. A talented man who occupied the last place among the Five Stars.
Ruen von Ruydren.
“It looks like he’s come here for a fight.”
“So, wouldn’t it be fine to bring him in here?”
Instead of rushing in with all the inquisitors, coming here to meet? In the face of a thousand enemy soldiers and even the Golden Lion?
As Count Valentine’s expression trembled, the Golden Lion smiled and spoke.
“I wanted to meet him someday, so this is a good opportunity.”
The strong gates to the count’s compound opened with a loud roar.
“Come this way.”
Callius drove his horse following the soldier’s guidance.
Lieutenant Diego, inching closer to him, asked cautiously.
“Is this really okay? It’s like going into a tiger’s den…”
“If you’re scared, just scram. And give up your position.”
“Can’t I worry about you?”
What kind of guts did this guy have, that he dared to bullshit at his superiors like this?
Did he really not understand that even if Callius’ hands accidentally ‘slipped’ during a spar and took his life, nothing would happen?
“W-, what! What is it?!”
Contrary to that loud tone, the man’s eyes trembled a little, probably from fear as Callius kept staring at him in silence.
This was the type of person who knew better than anyone that he was being silly.
That underlying hostility had to be due to the fate of the original captain, Druma.
‘Druma did a better job with his subordinates than I expected.’
With the thought that it might be good to hear the story of Diego and Druma sometime, Callius moved his eyes forward and calmly answered Diego’s curiosity.
“It doesn’t matter. They won’t do any harm to me.”
“How are you so sure?”
“The reason I didn’t attack the count is not because there are a lot of troops stationed there. According to the scout who came to reconnaissance, the Golden Lion Knights are stationed here.”
At the phrase ‘Golden Lion Knights’, Lieutenant Diego and the rest of the small group who were all from the sixth squad were astonished.
Who were the strongest knights in the kingdom?
If this question had to be discussed, one couldn’t do without bringing up the Golden Lion Knights.
And the Golden Lion himself, Ruen von Ruydren, who was the leader of them, was from one of the four great noble families, belonging to the Suth.
He was the eldest son of the Ruydren family.
The eldest son of the North and the eldest son of the South.
This would become a meeting of men who would later become the masters of the North and the South as time passed.
“If the Golden Lion is attached to Valentine, wouldn’t it be better to run away?”
“Did all my words go into one ear and out the other? You understand even less than Bruns.”
“No, that servant and me…”
Diego grumbled as if displeased. Bruns also rolled his eyes.
The two didn’t seem to get along well.
“If the Golden Lion is involved, we can’t attack Valentine, but he won’t dare rush at us either.”
In general, the Golden Lion was known for his just and manly demeanour.
Callius didn’t know why the Golden Lion was here, but there was nothing for him to be afraid of, since this meeting definitely wouldn’t be a trap.
‘If it’s the Golden Lion who’s positioned as the last of the Five Stars, there’s nothing wrong with meeting him at least once.’
It’d be an unexpected pleasure instead.
He was mainly guarding the far away border of the South, but now that he’d personally come this far, as long as Callius could meet him and exchange the realizations of their respective swordsmanship, what was this if not a golden opportunity?
Callius was stuck at a wall right now, so maybe the other party could help.
‘Besides, Count Valentine might be up to something, scheming against him somehow. The odds are about half.’
Count Valentine was a typical villain character, so he was prone to committing evil deeds accordingly.
The problem was that his plans weren’t clear. Because there were several possible routes.
It was better to go inside and catch him in person.
The moment he caught the trail of evil, the Golden Lion would come to Callius’ side.
After riding a horse for a while, a magnificent mansion appeared.
Almost like a castle.
The knights under the count, who were gathered in front, split left and right to make way for them.
As the count’s, viscounts’, and barons’ knights gathered together to welcome the sixth squad, it was truly a spectacular sight.
‘I don’t know if it’s a welcome or a demonstration.’
It was like going through the jaws of a tiger, and it birthed a chill along the spine.
At the end of the path, stood an old man with a strong physique, along with a line of people behind him, as well as a man with hair like the sun at the edge of the group.
He had to be the Golden Lion.
“Welcome, Young Wolf.”
Beside him were some of the viscounts and the barons.
The count said something, but all of Callius’ attention was focused on the Golden Lion.
The youngest knight-commander and the youngest hopeful to rise to become a Master, the knight who occupied the end position of the Five Stars.
If one ignored the five Masters, he was one of the five strongest knights in Carpe.
Golden Lion Ruen.
Ruen von Ruydren.
Callius immediately approached the Golden Lion and put his hand out.
“Nice to meet you, Golden Lion.”
“Nice to meet you. Count Jervain.”
Ignoring Count Valentine and shaking hands with the Golden Lion right away naturally gave birth to whispers and cursing from the audience.
Count Valentine, who was uncomfortable in his heart, grunted.
“Did you come as the leader of the Sixth Inquisitorial Squad? Or as a count?”
“First of all, I came here as a count.”
“Right. Then come in. You’ve come a long way, so I should treat you to some tea.”
After a while.
As Callius sat down at a large round table inside the mansion, he scanned the faces of all the nobles who were seated.
There was no face that he remembered.
As he sat down, the lieutenant continued standing like a guard, but Callius didn’t pay him any attention.
Soon a maid came to fill his teacup.
Steam gushed out of the tea’s surface, but Callius didn’t touch it.
“Don’t you like the taste?”
“I have no idea. I prefer alcohol.”
“Looking for alcohol as soon as you arrive – don’t you think you’re being too rude to the count?”
“It’s ruder for a viscount to butt in. Shut your mouth.”
The nameless viscount was flushed and trembling, and the rest of the nobles didn’t dare to speak up freely either.
As Callius said, his rank was a count, but he was special even among those, because he was not an ordinary count.
The meaning behind being a count of the four noble houses was different.
Even a marquis, although technically above a count’s rank, couldn’t talk to him recklessly.
Because the four noble houses were no different from small independent countries that guarded and commanded a region within Carpe.
“The rumours weren’t exaggerated.”
“Is this why they used to call him crazy…?”
Even so, it was an implicit rule for nobles to be respectful to each other.
But Callius still openly trampled on others by using his rank, and the nobles could only stare at him with unhappy faces.
Callius took a glance at the cooling tea, then pretended to put his hand inside his cloak and took out the box from the subspace.
When the box was put down on the round table, the nobles’ eyes were full of doubt.
“What is this?”
The word ‘gift’, made a few nobles frown.
Because a bloody smell was permeating the air.
They seemed to know what the box contained without even opening it.
Most likely, it was Arpen’s severed head.
“I punished him for being one of the carrion insects gnawing at Carpe’s flesh. He even dared order my assassination. It turned out that this wasn’t his first or second time doing something like this, so I had him summarily executed.”
Arpen was a noble family with a storied history.
The viscount had amassed wealth in his own way, and he must’ve had a strong army, but Callius said it casually, as if he’d just happened to catch a little thief along the way.
A silence began to envelop the crowd, as if they were feeling overwhelmed.
Seeing those indifferent gray eyes made even the innocent ones feel numb.
“No matter what is the reason, it’s rude to behead a nobleman ignoring the laws of the country. Her Majesty would be quite sad if she knew about this.”
While no one was able to speak, Count Valentine answered calmly.
He glanced at the box containing Arpen’s head and quickly closed it as if it was an unlucky sight.
“My actions were on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen. Besides, there was also a personal grudge. He dared send an assassin after me, how could I stand still after that? You can even consider this an internal battle for territory if you like.”
“If the circumstances are clear and the evidence is indisputable, then it’s not a big deal.”
The attitude of the golden lion, who only folded his arms and nodded, made the angry nobles hesitate for a moment.
“Count Jervain. I am well aware that such an event has perspired. But, what does that have to do with this visit of yours to my estate?”
“You can guess why.”
Despite Callius apparently evading the question, Count Valentine’s expression was stern.
“That’s true… But if I’d been in your position, Count Jervain, I wouldn’t have chosen to come here.”
“Arpen probably didn’t instigate your assassination by himself. He wasn’t that infRuential, nor did he have such a deep resentment towards you.”
“So, what you’re saying, Count, is that several people must’ve planned it together, but they hid themselves.”
“Right. And if so, Count, surely the rest of the accomplices would prepare to take the actions they need to in order to survive.”
“Like erasing everybody around you.”
“It might be better for you go back and wait. Of course, by this point, it may already be too late.”
Valentine laughed softly.
When Callius looked around, the rest of the nobles were also holding malicious smiles.
Seeing this, Callius couldn’t help but laugh.
“Why are you laughing?”
“I wonder if you could elaborate a little further?”
“It’s just a guess. An estimate.”
“But I think it’s an unnecessary worry. I’m not a crazy idiot who’ll fall for such measures, I’ve prepared in advance.”
What was this crazy idiot saying now?
“Count, your worries are probably of little consequence. Since I’ve got a good relationship with my superior officer. He often visits my place.”
“A good relationship? What do you…”
Count Valentine’s face suddenly began to stiffen.
Callius von Jervain.
Captain of the Heretic Inquisition of Carpe.
Only one person could be called his superior officer.
“… No way?”
At that place.
Because Genos, the leader of the Heretic Inquisition himself, lay there in wait –
“So there’s really no need to worry.”
None for this chapter.
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