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That night, the Four Main City Gates of Eternal Star City were not closed.
"Warrant from the king! Make way! Make way!" More than ten knights rode out of the city gates with solemn expressions while holding both the nine-pointed-star flag, and another flag with two cross-shaped stars on it.
"Are these all the messengers?" At the Northern City Gate, the captain of the city defense team watched with a solemn expression as the messengers left.
The city defense officer who had rushed over shook his head. He said, "Not all. There are three other city gates."
The city defense officer knew what was going as he thought, 'The messengers were holding warrants from Renaissance Palace and were going to where the various great personage are located respectively. This is nothing, there are a greater amount of messenger ravens who are sent to n.o.bles living even further away.'
"Something major is happening," the nearly fifty city defense officer tapped his team leader's shoulder and spoke softly.
'Hopefully, this won't be another b.l.o.o.d.y Year.'
After firmly refusing Gilbert and Jines' company ("I apologize, Sir Gilbert and Madam Jines, but this is an alliance between her and myself—I must face it alone. I promise to inform you of the content of our conversation."-Thales, who shook his head firmly) Thales quietly walked beside Yodel.
In the first few minutes, both of them did not speak.
Only after turning past a corner and having the guard nearest to them separate from them behind the wall, Thales stood still silently and looked towards the Masked Protector.
Then Yodel's footsteps stopped.
"We have to discuss some matters in private." Thales exhaled deeply.
Yodel went in front of him and quietly kneeled down.
"As you wish," the masked secret protector said and lightly held Thales' shoulders.
The next moment, it felt as though an odd ripple spread out. Everything around Thales and Yodel became a strange white color.
It was like another world.
"The Path of Shadows." Yodel explained briefly.
Thales nodded. However, his expression was still somber and he was not fascinated by the strange, pure white background before him. He had something more important to do.
Both of them were silent for a while.
Thales constructed his words with difficulty and spoke with considerable effort, "Yodel, how… how much do you know about what happened between me… and the Air Mystic?"
Yodel did not say anything as usual. He only lowered his head slightly and looked towards the black-haired, gray-eyed boy.
"When Morat wanted to talk to me privately in the study room, you intentionally stopped him." Thales shut his eyes and dully recounted the events chronologically.
"You knew that the study room on the second floor has a unique soundproof system and will cut off the Blood Clansmen' hearing and transmission of messages. That was why you insisted that we stayed on the first floor to talk so that you could seek Serena's help, have her relay an incredibly important reminder to me without Morat realizing it… so that I can outsmart Morat's vicious interrogation and conceal…" Thales paused.
He slowly opened his eyes and looked at the purple mask. In the end, he firmly said, "...Conceal my true ident.i.ty. Is that right?"
Thales gazed fixedly at the royal family's secret protector. The mask was turned towards him and remained still.
After another period of silence that could not be defined by words, Yodel lowered his gaze slightly. His low and raspy voice then rang from behind his dark-purple mask.
Under Thales' complicated gaze, the Masked Protected spoke in a deep voice, "I… am not like Gilbert… I am not good with words. After the Red Street Market incident, I did not know how to speak about the topic either."
Thales looked at him with a sparkling gaze. "But you knew from the beginning."
Yodel's voice was laden with a heavy burden as he said, "Yes. That night, I was there all along… I heard what the Mystic said. I also noticed your… peculiarity—your abnormal state when facing the Mystic, the vase in the corridor that cracked for no reason, and the underground explosion at Vine Manor… So, I know that you are…"
Thales took a deep breath. "Then, my father…"
"Only me, young Sir, I am the only one who knows…"
Yodel did not speak anymore.
Thales stared dazedly at this strange person who had always protected him and always hid his face behind his mysterious mask.
'Yes, he knew all along, but he chose to keep the secret for me.'
The transmigrator could hear his own voice hitching slightly. It was full of surprised disbelief as he spoke, "Why? You know that I am… those calamities. You know what sort of tabooed existences those calamities are… why do you still…"
Yodel grasped Thales' shoulders slowly and cut off his thoughts.
"Child," he said in a rasp, "I have seen… a lot of things. A little more than what you imagine."
He continued softly, "Ever since the day this Kingdom and your family were born, they were doomed to be… entangled with those calamities. It was that way over six hundred years ago.
"It was the same way twelve years ago."
Thales heart trembled. 'Twelve years ago? The Jadestar family that… is entangled with calamities?'
"It is also that way now. I have seen those calamities on more than one occasion. I have a feeling that… the thing that is truly scary and terrifying is not the calamities, but ourselves.
"It is how much normal people like us would degenerate, fall into decadence, and sacrifice our principles because of the existence of those so-called calamities."
Yodel paused for a while, as if contemplating his next words.
"I know that perhaps, you are a 'calamity'." This was the first time the Masked Protector, who was silent all the while, say so much in front of him.
He continued speaking hesitantly, "However, I know that many people in this country… they have already become uglier and scarier than those calamities.
"They have already brought about disaster, but are not aware of it."
Thales furrowed his brows in a bizarre fashion and asked, "Such as Morat?"
"He is just one of them. The Black Prophet has long since ceased to be a prophet, he only has darkness left."
Yodel raised his head. His dark-colored gla.s.s lenses reflected the pale white color of their surroundings. Thales stood alone in that image reflected on the lenses, and he looked thin and miserable.
"Compared to him, Sir Thales, I am more willing to believe in you."
Yodel seemed like he had not spoken this much in a long time. However, the awkward manner of him trying hard to find the right words, and the sincerity behind his actions made Thales' feelings complicated.
At that moment, the transmigrator did not know what type of facial expression and mentality he should use to face the secret protector.
Thales inhaled deeply for a few seconds and asked again, "But why me? Just because I have the Jadestar blood in me?"
Yodel slowly shook his head. "I am not Gilbert, and what I believe in is not the alleged bloodline. I believe that a seven-year-old boy, who protected his friends with all his might under a hopeless situation, is a different existence from those ugly people.
"I am also willing to believe that you, a Jadestar with humble beginnings… will become an extraordinary king in this decadent kingdom."
'An extraordinary king?'
Thales instinctively spoke, "Just like crown prince Midier, my eldest uncle?"
Yodel was silent for a few seconds.
"No," the masked protector answered. His voice was deep and filled with grief. He spoke firmly with his raspy voice, "You will be better than him. I know that you have within yourself something he does not."
Thales trembled slightly. His breathing quickened.
Looking at Yodel, whose expression could not be read, he found that he could not speak for a long time.
After a long while.
"Thank you." Thales, who finally calmed his state of mind, could only utter these two words. The usually articulate Thales was promptly at a loss for words.
The kneeling Masked Protector nodded heavily with force.
Yodel spoke again. This time, his words seemed even more sincere.
"Yodel Cato, at your service."
Thales sucked in a deep breath. He did not speak for quite a while.
Then, he heard himself asking with difficulty, "One more thing. If you were there all along that night… Since when were you… there?"
Yodel's hands pushed down on Thales' shoulders slightly.
The sounds of Thales' light pants could be heard before he spoke slowly.
"Did you see, see Quide in..." Thales clenched his teeth and asked in a trembling voice, "... the Abandoned Houses?"
The Masked Protector relaxed his grip slightly. He did not speak.
He simply did not speak.
At that moment, Thales only felt that Yodel's mask and the pair of lenses on it were ice-cold. It was as though a deluge of coldness suddenly coursed through his heart.
Trembling, Thales asked, "You didn't stop him. Even when he entered our house… you didn't stop him… Why? The prince… might have been among the child beggars, right?
"And… those children…"
In truth, Thales already made his guess a long time ago. But he was unsure…
He had to ask.
Yodel slowly stood up and cut him off.
He said plainly, "We should go. They will be suspicious of us."
At that moment, the Masked Protector was like an emotionless robot. This made Thales recall Asda's smile.
It had no warmth.
Although Serena's room was not one hundred meters away as what Jines had said, it was not as near as he imagined it would be.
The Blood Clansmen' guest rooms were situated in Mindis Hall's s.p.a.cious storage cellar, away from the sunlight, the people, and Thales.
"Good evening, Sir Thales." The pale-faced Blood Clan member, Chris Corleone—who had lived for an unknown amount of years and months—bowed slightly at the 'entrance' of the room. He flashed a smile at Yodel, a smile that seemed to belong to the dead.
"Welcome back, Masked Esquire. Your sudden appearance just now really scared all of us."
Yodel did not respond.
Chris was not bothered by it. He turned towards Thales and nodded softly. "Her Highness is waiting for your arrival."
Thales, whose emotions were perturbed and complicated, raised his head and looked at Yodel standing beside him.
The latter nodded almost imperceptibly behind his mask and walked out of the door. He stood at the entrance together with Chris, like doormen.
The transmigator also nodded slightly. After inhaling deeply, he pushed open the room door and walked towards Serena, who was already waiting inside.
The one who saved his life just now...
And was the next trouble to be handled after Morat.
"Ah, my long-awaited allwy."
The red-eyed loli's expression was profound. She lifted the hem of her black dress and curtsied at him.
"It seems that under my a.s.sISTANCE," the lisping Serena emphasized the word 'a.s.sistance' and continued talking with an unsettling smile, "You have aweady gotten out of twouble.
"Isn't it now time to discuss our issue of remuneration and repayment?"