Kingdom's Bloodline Chapter 541
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Chapter 541: A Piece of Cake
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Thales did not know what the usual order of banquets of Constellation n.o.bility was like, but based on his observations at this royal banquet held in his name, the dining etiquette of Constellatiates were head and shoulders above that of Northlanders:
At the entrance stage of the banquet, people walked about and greeted each other but remained orderly; men sat interspersed among women and both interacted appropriately and naturally; servants and attendants bustled about and offered their service attentively; the guards on watch kept a low profile and were almost invisible; even the clowns and minstrels invited to liven the atmosphere performed suitable music and moderate acts, never crossing into key areas and disturbing the guests.
Thales recalled the banquet that King Nuven held at Heroic Spirit Palace, and could not help but feel regret for Little Rascal for a second—but he immediately remembered that it was still unknown whether the latter was dead or alive, so his condolence in jest turned into pure melancholy.
“His Majesty has arrived!”
“Long live the king!”
“Long live the queen!”
The king's contingent entered the hall and the Mindis Hall that had initially quietened down burst into life; greetings and discussions surged like tides.
“May you be blessed with good health!”
“G.o.d bless Constellation…”
“Congratulations on your father-son reunion with His Grace the duke…”
A huge vortex that centered around King Kessel seemed to have formed in the banquet hall, powerful and overwhelming. It pulled all guests—from honorary counts to appointed barons, from invited officials to honorary military officers—up from their seats and had them swarming over like ants towards the center. It was not until they entered the safe zone and encountered the stern-looking royal guards that they snapped out of their daze.
Many guests in the front row got down on their knees deferentially and knelt in salute, but their fitting etiquette could not mask their impatience.
“The Lochmurray family of Donner River greets you…”
“Your Majesty, on behalf of all the members of Eastern City Police Station…”
“Go forward a little, try your best to let His Majesty see us, but don't be too deliberate, in case we are discourteous in front of His Majesty…”
“Your Majesty, do you remember Hazard from the Battle of the Altar?”
Thales took all this in. He watched as the guests around King Kessel competed for the king's attention, bowing from the front row to the back, like straw being harvested in rows.
Where the sickle reached, the straw fell.
Thales suddenly remembered the Dark Night Temple drama that he watched as a child. In the scene which depicted the arrival of disaster, the same was true of the actors on stage playing the roles of 'kindhearted folk'. During the plot where disaster ravaged the world, accompanied by intense and somber music, they howled in anguish and fell over before the actors who were strangely dressed up as 'disaster'.
The only difference was, after these 'straw' fell, they gradually arose and subtly tilted towards Thales, their gazes restrained yet complex.
King Kessel was composed and his strides steady; beside him, Queen Keya was nodding gently and kept smiling. One silent and dignified, the other friendly and pleasant, they walked forward hand in hand beyond the second flight of steps towards the highest seats which faced the entire banquet hall and were exclusive to the royal family.
Of course, not everyone was pulled into the 'vortex' triggered by the king.
The Duke of Eastern Sea c.u.m Prime Minister Bob Cullen sat beaming at a long table on the second tier, surrounded by Eastern Sea Hill n.o.bles to whom he was close. An endless stream of central officials and important n.o.bles came forward to pay tribute to the Prime Minister. They exchanged greetings and proposed toasts while patiently awaiting the arrival of the king and the prince, occasionally praising each other and lamenting that the kingdom had an heir and that Constellation will prosper.
Duke Zayen Covendier sat across from Prime Minister Cullen. Many low-level bureaucrats and businesspersons of new wealth that approached the long table with antic.i.p.ation but failed to muster up the courage to greet the prime minister chose to pay their respects to this young dignitary who commanded South Coast Hill. Encouraged by the duke, they gradually loosened up and chatted comfortably together. Before leaving, they lauded the approachability, grace, and honesty of the master of Iris Flowers.
In sharp contrast to this table was another long table on the same tier which was much more desolate: in shackles, with silver hair up to his shoulders, the duke of the Northern Territory, Val Arunde quietly sat at one end. He ignored the strange inquisitive gazes from those around him and drank alone. Behind him stood a few royal guards that kept a close eye on him. Apart from old friends, only a few straightforward Northern Territory n.o.bles and honorary soldiers that fought alongside him in battle dared approach to greet him.
At the other end of the long table was the casually seated Duke of Land of Cliffs, Koshder Nanchester. The master of Great Deer Antler observed the commotion triggered by the king with a cold eye and occasionally raised his gla.s.s to Duke Val who sat across from him. Many n.o.bles with rich family histories and close ties to the Northern Territory and the Land of Cliffs came over to greet him, but compared to the prime minister and Duke of Iris Flowers' table, this one was considerably neglected and bleak.
In contrast, the third-tier seats right next to the duke's long table were much more harmonious. Those seated here were probably less n.o.ble than guardian dukes and appointed counts, but they were equally, if not more, important. For example, central administration politicians of the Imperial Conference, bureaucrats of the various departments of Eternal Star City and important leaders of the business industry.
As well as the Central Territory hereditary landowners which included the 'Seven Jadestars Attendants'.
“It sure is a large crowd, isn't it?” Baron Stone looked at the king expressionlessly. “There are four dukes alone…”
Baron Stone paused.
He spotted the young man accompanying Princess Elise and chuckled softly. “I beg your pardon, five.”
“Indeed. Iris Flowers and Sun Sword and s.h.i.+eld I understand, but Great Deer Antler and White Eagle, and many others…” at the same table, Viscount Adrian of Swan Province expressed his agreement. He looked towards Mrs. Barney at the other end of the long table and sighed. His gaze focused on her son and the 'toy' in his hands. “I thought I would never see it again in my lifetime.”
“The young master has returned, the kingdom is stable, naturally this will be a magnificent and unprecedented event as there is much to celebrate,” Mrs. Barney responded flawlessly with a smile. She softly urged her son who was playing with the Nine-Pointed Star Emblem, “Luther, listen to me, put away the duke's gift for now. Look, there are so many things to play with on the table.”
Elsewhere, Doyle's father, old Baron Doyle turned around and started explaining enthusiastically to a market bureaucrat at the next table, “So, the grain harvest in my territory this year has been plentiful, even the granaries are overflowing… But as you know, low grain prices will hurt the farmers. If you could raise the market prices of local grain in accordance with laws and regulations when foreigners visit to purchase grains… I mean, set it at a reasonable price… Oh, is it so? I understand I understand, you need to act according to the rules…”
“By the way, do you see the two guards behind the Duke of Star Lake? Notice the more handsome one… Sigh , that's my son Daniel Doyle. He guards the royal family loyally, and is deeply trusted by Duke Thales… So with him here, I feel like I'm going home whenever I come to Mindis Hall…”
“The stern-looking tall guy next to him, that's Caleb Glover. He's my son's best friend that serves His Grace the duke together with him, they are like brothers! He's also the younger stepbrother of Viscount Glover… Which Glover? Oh, you know, Viscount of Lake Mountain County, Lozano Glover, one of the Seven Jadestar Attendants, cornerstone of the kingdom's Department of Finance…”
“Oh? What? You've changed your mind? You feel that low grain prices will hurt farmers too? You need to go back and review the relevant laws and adjust the pricing? I say, good sir, I knew I didn't misjudge you! To be frank, I'm upright and confident, I don't normally think much of mediocre and tawdry folk, so I appreciate getting along with someone as patriotic and principled as yourself, good sir… Here here, drink more…”
As the king and his contingent approached, the important guests at these elegant long tables stopped their conversation. They did not rush forward indecorously like many other guests, but still stood up at their long tables and bowed in respect.
“Salutes are not necessary, everyone,” Thales watched as the king walked past the center of the hall, headed up the steps, and walked from the most ordinary seats past the dukes' long tables, and heard him say, “If I were to wait for each of you to finish kissing my ring, we wouldn't be able to start even by dawn.”
The king's tone was indifferent, but its substance lingered within the hall.
Thales was stunned; he subconsciously touched the back of his hand.
There was no ring on it.
“Keep your behavior in check,” Aunt Elise beside him noticed his unusual reaction. Although she was still smiling, her tone became somewhat stern, “Maybe Jines can behave without care, but you…”
Thales merely felt a tightening sensation on his arm.
“You are the prince. When facing the entire kingdom, your bearing, expression, gaze, tone…your each and every move will be magnified infinitely and over-scrutinized.”
His aunt held his arm, but her words were so powerful that Thales could not help but straighten his back and adjusted his posture.
“Wear your armor properly, or in Jines' words: raise your s.h.i.+eld.”
Thales took a deep breath and tried hard to make his smile seem natural.
Under the guidance of the Chief of Palace Administration, Baron Quentin and the captain of the royal guards, Adrian, the king, with the queen on his arm, familiarly stepped onto the highest tier and comfortably took his seat.
He faced the guests and overlooked the entire hall.
Thales, led by Mallos and Gilbert, sat at a long table that was one tier lower than that of the king. Aunt Elise and Jines sat to his left; both glanced concernedly at him.
A few meters away, Zayen Covendier at the next table smiled at Thales, a smile that seemed to carry profound connotations.
Countless gazes looked up in unison and focused on the people seated at these few tables.
The guests had different expressions and reactions; Thales could see it all from where he sat.
Of course, from the king's perspective, Thales' action must have been equally apparent.
Thales listened to his own heartbeat, but 'unprofessionally' allowed his mind to wander for a second. He suddenly recalled that, in the memory of his past life, the moment one stepped onto a podium, all the luck and fantasy one had in their school days will be shattered.
It turns out that, in those thousands of days, those small acts that you thought were well-hidden, low-key and unnoticeable that you did on the podium and under the desk, the teachers could see everything clearly without missing a thing.
But they still pretended that nothing happened, still patiently continued teaching with a smile.
As if the students in the cla.s.s were all good children who were listening attentively, did they not?
At this moment, Thales maintained his smile and quietly looked at the 'good students' in the hall, suddenly realizing the significance of the elevation of the king's seat.
“d.a.m.n it, Zombie, shuffle over a little, otherwise the pretty maids…I mean, attendants, can't pa.s.s when they serve the food…” Doyle said through gritted teeth behind Thales.
“It's a little too narrow here, isn't it? Has this really been prepared for the prince? It was wider at the Barney family manor banquet…”
“Or is it that personal attendants have no human rights…”
Next to him, Mallos, who was sat at the same table as Gilbert, shot a piercing look over.
Doyle's hushed complaints instantly disappeared from Thales' ears.
The banquet hall gradually quietened down.
The master of Eastern Sea Hill c.u.m prime minister, Duke Cullen stood up smilingly. He raised a hand to stop the music before bowing to the king, his protruding belly almost pus.h.i.+ng the table over a few inches.
“Your Majesty, there hasn't been such a grand royal banquet in Eternal Star City for a long time. This is a national event…”
But Kessel the Fifth merely waved his hand a little, casually stuffing the prime minister's words back into his mouth.
“I know why you are all here,”
“You clearly know why I'm here too,”
The king's cold voice reverberated in the hall and, just as in countless Imperial Conferences, the temperature plummeted.
“Let's not waste time,”
Prime Minister Cullen, who had obviously prepared a lengthy opening speech, choked a little.
King Kessel leaned on his seat and said calmly, “Let's eat.”
In the hall, the guests that attended this rare royal banquet in antic.i.p.ation of a joyous and warm celebration were all stunned!
In that moment, whether it was the calm and appropriate lords and dukes, the splendidly dressed ladies, the performers that enthusiastically hoped to make a name for themselves on this occasion, or the guards and attendants that tried their best to maintain order…
It felt like a bucket of cold water was splashed directly in their faces.
The hall was reduced to absolute silence; the atmosphere was extremely awkward.
Beside Thales, Aunt Elise sighed, and Gilbert next to him furrowed his brows.
After a few seconds of silence, endless murmurs could be heard throughout the hall; the guests were whispering in each others' ears like bees buzzing.
Duke Cullen was rooted to the spot, in a blur and slightly overwhelmed.
Thales sensed the atmosphere around him. He could not help but rolled his eyes and lowered his head subconsciously.
I've underestimated you.
You are the kingdom's greatest mood killer!
But, speaking of mood killers…
It would be nice if Duke Fakenhaz was here. A wisecracker like him must know what to say in such a situation.
Amidst the raucous buzz, every guest had a different opinion.
“You know, Kessel wasn't like this before…” Aunt Elise pressed close to his ear and whispered awkwardly in explanation, “Perhaps it's because the royal family hasn't held a banquet for too long…”
At the Seven Jadestar Attendants' table, the old Viscount Patterson ignored the terrified gazes of his two nephews, and scoffed disdainfully and disrespectfully, “No matter how many years have pa.s.sed… even with a crown on his head, that kid's speeches are still terrible,”
“My guess is, when he's going to bed a lady, this is what he says: let's do it.”
This fl.u.s.tered the guests at the same table, who smiled but said nothing.
Until Viscount Adrian responded appropriately, “Simple and efficient, straight to the point,”
“His Majesty is indeed a role model to us all.”
Viscount Patterson scoffed and mumbled sarcastically, “Us all?”
On the other side, Baron Stone turned around and nodded expressionlessly, “Us all.”
Further away, at the table reserved for foreign guests, a gleam flashed across the eyes of Administrator Jorge from Elaphure City in the North. “This king sure has guts…”
The bearded man chuckled, ignoring the glances of those around him. “d.a.m.n it, I'm starting to like him.”
This scene lasted for a good few seconds, until Duke Cullen let out a sigh and a few coughs to suppress the rising chatter. He resumed his earnest and well-meaning advice, “Your Majesty, but by convention, you need to make a toast and give a speech at the start of the banquet…”
King Kessel looked up slowly, as if waking up from deep slumber. “Really? I've almost completely forgotten.”
Duke Cullen nodded with a smile. “That's right. Think back to the banquets you attended when you were young. There were many that were held here, weren't there…”
The king narrowed his eyes, his voice majestic as ever; everyone could not help but look solemn. “But it was never my turn to speak then, was it?”
The Duke of Eastern Sea shuddered. “Your Majesty, this…”
His face was pale as his mouth opened and closed but still failed to come up with a response.
Thales watched Duke Cullen's attempt to be mindful of the public impact and preserve the king's prestige which culminated in his embarra.s.sing state of being at a loss for words, and could not help but feel sorry for him.
To think that this poor grandpa was the prime minister and was probably put on the spot by King Kessel every day at the Imperial Conference…
“Alright,” King Kessel said softly. He let the poor prime minister off and looked at the seats a tier below. “Son, you do it.”
Thales met the king's gaze, and in accordance with his etiquette training instincts, subconsciously nodded to His Majesty the king in response.
Perfect etiquette, appropriate smile.
To show unwavering loyalty.
After a fraction of a second, the young Duke of Star Lake came to himself and his smile froze.
Wait a minute.
What did he just say?
Do, do what?
The next moment, the gaze of everyone in the hall unanimously closed in on him!
Like countless glistening blades taking him hostage.
Duke Cullen exhaled and sat down trembling.
The king lowered his head again and started to fiddle with the wine gla.s.s in his hand, as if what happened earlier had nothing to do with him.
Thales recognized the current situation.
He turned around stiffly and saw Queen Keya's antic.i.p.ating look, Jines' shocked and worried gaze, Gilber's anxious expression, Mallos seemingly deep in thought, and countless…
Princess Elise, her smile unfaltering, composed as ever, nudged his arm under the table and muttered softly without moving her lips, “Hurry up, don't hesitate, make a speech.”
“Just say whatever.”
After a few months of training, without the need to be reminded again, Prince Thales stood up instinctively.
Thanks to Jines' etiquette lessons, his posture was elegant and his gaze was calm.
Only Thales knew, it was all fake.
At this moment, the Sin of h.e.l.l's River was desperately helping him stabilize his physical reactions, from his joints and muscles to his blood vessels and heartbeat…
Like a poor panting plasterer bustling back and forth, plugging holes as they appear but still failing to stop the roof from leaking.
Thales took a deep breath and, as he desperately maintained his calm smile, started racking his brains.
That's not right. Speech? What speech?
Was there such an agenda on the program?
No one mentioned this at the banquet rehearsal!
Thales pivoted his neck stiffly, which from an outsider's point of view seemed calm and collected, and raised the wine gla.s.s that contained some wine that he did not know and did not have time to find out.
He looked around the hall at the pairs of eyes that were filled with various emotions: doubt, curiosity, expectation, enthusiasm, schadenfreude…
The Sin of h.e.l.l's River was at a loss and kept changing repeatedly, but still could not figure out what its master wanted in that moment: Explosive power? Speed? Endurance? Agility? Heightened senses? Balance?
Or the fearlessness to battle to the death without retreating and eliminate everything in his path before stopping?
Thales struggled to suppress the rising ferocity of the Sin of h.e.l.l's River, which had been aggravated by the delay in finding its target.
After all, this was not a life-and-death battle.
Thales smiled vexedly, raised his wine gla.s.s, nodded slightly, then cleared his throat to kill time.
No, this was much harder than battle.
Battle? Deal with rivals like Star Killer, Raven of Death, Legendary Wing, and Knight of Judgement?
That's a piece of cake!
Kingdom's Bloodline Chapter 541
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Kingdom's Bloodline Chapter 541 summary
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