“Open the gates!”
“Open the gates!”
Reynolds and his men continuously howled with anger. The enemy only had three hundred in total, while Neil City had tens of thousands of soldiers. What was there to be afraid of? After making their way back here, Reynolds and his men had thought that their lives had been saved, but now…
“Slash!” A warblade chopped down towards a knight’s neck, bifurcating him into two pieces. His intestines rolled out.
“Die, all of you, die!” The leader of the enemies laughed wildly.
Reynolds’ side was quickly decimated. In the blink of an eye, only a few were left. Staring at the enemies, Reynolds couldn’t help but feel despair.
“Am I going to die?”
Reynolds had many goals and dreams which he had yet to accomplish. But now, he was about to die.
On the city walls, a group of nobles were surrounding an ashen-faced middle-aged noble.
“Your Imperial Highness, are you alright?”
“Don’t be afraid, your Imperial Highness. The enemies won’t be able to break in.”
After continuous reassurances, the middle-aged noble slowly calmed down. This man was the administrator of the Southeast Administrative Province, the younger brother of the Emperor, Prince Julin.
Prince Julin wasn’t born with any spine or ability, but he was the younger brother of Emperor Johann, and Emperor Johann doted on this younger brother. Thus, Prince Julin was living quite a comfortable life.
He knew that it had been over a decade since the O’Brien Empire and the Rohault Empire had engaged in any large scale battles. Thus, he had been happy to come here to ‘take a look at the borders’. His arrival had caused all the local nobles of Neil City to surround and pamper him.
But who would’ve thought that just as he was bragging about the military might of the Empire up on the wall, an arrow had shot towards him. Fortunately, the guards next to him had blocked the windows.
“Open the gates!” A desolate, angry howl from below.
The surrounding warriors’ eyes were turning red at the scene. There weren’t many enemies. If the army of Neil City were to charge out, they could definitely kill all the enemies with ease. But Prince Julin refused to let them open the gates.
“Your Imperial Highness, there aren’t many enemies below. Let me lead my men to go kill them.” A military officer begged.
“Bullshit.” Prince Julin pointed at his nose and cursed, “What the hell do you know? Can’t you see that far away, there are several hundred soldiers?”
“But your Imperial Highness, our city of Neil has thirty thousand soldiers.” The military officer argued.
Prince Julin sneered, “It is dusk right now, and in the distance, there is a great deal of tall grass. Who knows how many enemies are lying in wait? Think about it, for just a few hundred people to dare attack, surely they must have some sort of support, yes? It isn’t worth the risk and the additional bloodshed just to rescue a few dozen soldiers of the Empire.”
Prince Julin spoke with authority and determination.
“But your Imperial Highness…” The military officer didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. Clearly, this Prince Julin didn’t know anything about military affairs. Given how sturdy the city of Neil was, even if their enemy had a hundred thousand soldiers, they wouldn’t find it easy to break through the defense of Neil City and its thirty thousand soldiers.
What’s more, his side was just going to go kill the enemies below the city walls. It wasn’t as though they were going to chase and counterattack.
Prince Julin wiped away the cold sweat from his forehead.
“Isn’t it just a few dozen common soldiers? If they die, they die. I don’t want to be in any risk.” Prince Julin secretly said to himself. He immediately said with severity, “Remember, you are not to attack without authorization. Otherwise, if something happens, don’t blame me for being merciless.”
“Your Imperial Highness, the leader of those people seems to be Reynolds.” Someone suddenly said.
“Which Reynolds?” Prince Julin frowned.
“The Reynolds who is in the principal line of descent for the Dunstan clan.”
“The Dunstan clan?” Prince Julin frowned, but then he laughed uncaringly. “To die for the sake of the Empire is a glorious thing for their clan. In addition, the Dunstan clan is a large one. So what if a single descendant dies?”
Prince Julin didn’t care in the slightest.
“Open the city gates!” That desolate cry rang out again. And then, there were no more cries to be heard from outside the city.
Reynolds body slumped down, falling against the city walls. An arrow was in his shoulder, and a terrifying wound could be seen in his chest. Fresh blood flowed everywhere.
Reynolds had already lost consciousness.
“Senior captain?” Reynolds’ armor revealed his status.
The leader immediately grabbed Reynolds, tossing him onto his shoulder, then shouted to his men, “Let’s go.” As he spoke, those ten men left as fast as lightning.
From start to finish, aside from shooting arrows atop the city walls, the defenders of the city of Neil didn’t open the city gates or engage the enemies in battle at all.
The Dunstan clan possessed tremendous influence in the military. Soon, the news of how Reynolds’ entire unit had been wiped out, while Prince Julin had given the ridiculous order that his men were not to leave the city and engage in battle, reached its way to the Dunstan clan.
Not long after Prince Julin returned to his residence, his subordinates told him something shocking.
“Your Imperial Highness, that Lord Reynolds who died in battle was an extremely close friend of Master Linley. The two studied together at the Ernst Institute, and their affection for each other rivals that of real brothers.” A bearded middle-aged man said respectfully to Prince Julin.
“What? Master Linley? The two are as close as real brothers?” Prince Julin instantly jumped to his feet.
“Those…those bastards! Why didn’t they tell me up on the wall?” Prince Julin said frantically.
“Your Imperial Highness, there aren’t many people who know of the relationship between Linley and Reynolds. Even in the imperial capital, only a few nobles know. How could those distant nobles of Neil City know about this?”
Prince Julin immediately began to frown.
He wasn’t afraid of offending the Dunstan clan. No matter how powerful the Dunstan clan was, they relied on being in the good graces of the Emperor. It was just one clan member, after all. All he had to do was to say something to the Dunstan clan, and this matter would definitely be at an end.
But offending Linley was something else entirely.
“Immediately reach out to the Dunstan clan. Also…prevent any news from coming out of the city of Neil. Don’t let the information get to the imperial capital, especially to Linley. Just say that Reynolds’ death was in battle and in service to the Empire.” Prince Julin was truly beginning to panic.
Yulan calendar, year 10009. September 15th. This was the day when Wharton and Nina were going to get married. Wharton was the younger brother of the world-famous Master Linley, while Nina was an Imperial Princess.
Their grand wedding was naturally an incomparably important affair.
Within the palace, beautiful music wafted throughout the halls like flowing water. All the nobles were toasting each other while chatting and laughing.
“Emperor Johann, excuse me.” Linley said with a calm laugh as he nursed his cup of wine.
Linley truly was not accustomed to dealing with these nobles. After saying a few words to a few people, Linley left the main hall and headed towards a garden, with Delia soon following him there.
“What is it, Linley?” Delia laughed.
“Not comfortable.” Linley chuckled.
“It seems that today you aren’t in a very good mood.” Delia saw that an unhappy look was on Linley’s face. Linley nodded. “I don’t know why, but for some reason, I feel anxious and irritable.”
When one’s spirit had reached Linley’s level, it was quite rare that one would feel irritable and uncomfortable.
“Today is Wharton’s grand wedding. Be happy.” Delia consoled.
Linley let out a long breath and nodded.
While Linley and Delia were in the garden, Emperor Johann received a secret letter. His personal attendant said in a soft voice, “Your Imperial Majesty, Reynolds of the Dunstan clan died in battle.”
“Reynolds died? Which Reynolds?” Emperor Johann glanced at his personal attendant. Why did a single person’s death have to be brought to the attention to the Emperor? Did he, the Emperor, have nothing better to do than to worry about this?
“This was a classmate of Master Linley’s at the Ernst Institute. He is on extremely good terms with Master Linley.” His personal attendant said in a quiet voice. “Your Imperial Majesty, this matter involves his Imperial Highness, Prince Julin.”
“According to our reports, Reynolds and his men were pursued by the soldiers of the Rohault Empire to the walls of the city, but Prince Julin ordered his men not to open the gates and to strictly defend only.”
“Defend? How many soldiers did the enemy have?” Emperor Johann frowned.
“Three hundred.” The palace attendant said.
Emperor Johann’s eyes bulged out. “Three hundred, and he had them defend only? This Julin…jeeze…” Emperor Johann felt a surge of anger, but then, in the blink of an eye, he understood what had just happened.
He understood his younger brother very well.
Julin was a person without much ambition. His main problem was that he was a bit of a coward. Emperor Johann didn’t consider this much of a flaw. After all, he didn’t need to rely on Julin to lead his armies or to do anything else.
But now, the situation had just gotten complicated. If Linley were to find out…and if Linley were to cause trouble…
Thinking back to the terrifying power Linley had displayed at Mt. Tujiao, and how powerful those two magical beasts were, Emperor Johann immediately understood that unless the experts from the War God’s College were to intervene, there was no way he could suppress Linley’s forces at all.
But how could the War God’s College intervene for the sake of a mere prince?
This was impossible.
“Julin. All he ever does is create disasters for me.” Emperor Johann rapidly considered what to do. Although he was furious, he still had to protect his little brother.
“Your Imperial Majesty, as Prince Julin tells it, they didn’t have a chance to rescue Reynolds before Reynolds and his men were killed at the base of the city walls. At that time, it was already very dark, and they weren’t sure as to exactly how many men the opponents had.” The palace attendant said softly.
Emperor Johann nodded slightly. He carefully considered how to manage this affair.
There was no way this could be totally hidden!
This was Emperor Johann’s first reaction. It was best not to try and hide something from a peak-stage Saint like Linley. Otherwise, once the lie was discovered, things would go catastrophically wrong.
Emperor Johann immediately walked out of the hall and headed towards the garden in search of Linley.
“Emperor Johann?” Linley, who was strolling alongside Delia, saw Emperor Johann walk over with a dire expression on his face. He couldn’t help but call out to him questioningly.
When Emperor Johann saw Linley, the look on his face became all the grimmer.
“Emperor Johann, what exactly has happened?” Linley frowned.
Emperor Johann sighed. “Linley, I’m going to tell you something, but you have to be calm.”
“What happened?” Linley was growing nervous. These past few days, Linley kept feeling irritable and restless. Hearing Emperor Johann’s words, he began to worry.
It seemed as though something terrible had happened.
Emperor Johann let out a low sigh. “Just now, we received word from the Golden Flame Legion based in the Southeast Administrative Province. A squad of knights led by Reynolds was ambushed by enemy forces, and was chased back the entire way…”
Linley’s heart instantly sank.
“Reynolds and a few people managed to make their way towards Neil City, but the soldiers of Neil City didn’t have enough time to save them. Reynolds and his men…all died in battle!”
“All died in battle!” “All died in battle!” “All died in battle!” ….
These four words struck Linley like thunderbolts, reverberating and echoing in Linley’s mind. Linley felt as though his mind had gone blank, and all strength had left his body. Everything had gone blank!
After a long time…
“Fourth Bro…Fourth Bro…he died?” Linley stuttered.
“Hi there. I’m Reynolds, from the O’Brien Empire.” Linley could still clearly recall how he had met Reynolds for the first time, as they were registering to enroll in the Ernst Institute. The first person he had met was Reynolds. At that time, Linley had been with Uncle Hillman, while Reynolds had been with his Grandpa Lomu.
Two young children had become friends, just like that.
The eight years after that, they had been together day and night. Reynolds’ sloppiness, his mischievousness, his sincerity…his joyful laughter. One scene after another swam to the forefront of Linley’s mind.
“Fourth Bro, he died?”
Linley couldn’t believe it. Just a while ago, his Fourth Bro had been chatting and laughing with himself and Boss Yale. But just like that, he had died in battle.
Linley could clearly remember how he had looked and how he had sounded.
How could Fourth Bro have died?
“Master Linley, I hope you can restrain your grief.” Emperor Johann, seeing the look on Linley’s face, began to grow nervous. He was afraid that Linley would go crazy.
Linley turned to stare at Emperor Johann, his gaze stabbing at Emperor Johann like sharp daggers. In a low voice, he said, “Emperor Johann, tell me, what exactly happened? I hope you won’t lie to me. If you are wise, you can probably guess what the results would be for someone lying to me! Tell me, what exactly happened?”