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496 Clash III

 As Tres and his men left, they weren't aware that there was someone looking down at them from a tall balcony in Golden City.

"Huhuhu... This time, I think they've just received a memorable lesson." Lydia shut her eyes and stroked her golden hair while Amund showed a somewhat hopeless smile. "Is this really fine, Your Highness? Even though what the young man did wasn't wrong, their diplomatic group will definitely use this incident to make a fuss. If that really happens..."

"Then it will be great, Minister Amund," Lydia interrupted Amund's words with her left hand. She raised her chin and admired at the azure, endless sky. "... Minister Amund. What do you think the Munn Kingdom means to me?"

"Your Highness?" said Amund.

"Is it merely a piece of land? A territory? A tool for us to fight for our authority and position? Or perhaps a deterrence against the Country of Light's Parliament? If I give up on this land, what path will it and its citizens take? And if it leaves me, where do I go as an Archangel?"

Amund lowered his head and sighed slightly. Even though he was a great Mage of the court, he seldom involved himself in politics. But this time, as Lydia's most trusted person, he knew the current situation clearly. The clowns of the Country of Light's Parliament seemed to have predicted their death sentence and began their final struggles. They were aware that if they missed this last chance, what awaited them would definitely be Lydia's bloody massacre and this Archangel surely wouldn't mind repeating that night from several years ago.

There was continuous unrest in the continent and Amund knew that Lydia was deeply worried about it. Even though this young lady was described by others as a tyrant in many aspects, she, after all, was still an Angel and she wouldn't violate the creed and standpoint of the Angels. It was due to her identity that she was so highly respected and loved in the Munn Kingdom. Yet it was also her identity that restricted her choices.

Lydia was clearer than anyone else about the dark clouds that were about to shroud the entire continent. The changes of the Country of Darkness and the secretly surging tide in the dark world were about to reveal a brand new era and the start of a war. Even though Lydia wished to change and put a stop to everything, things weren't that simple because the Munn Kingdom had internal affairs of their own. In this small country, the conflicts between the Reformist Party and King's Party had been ongoing and they couldn't be resolved that easily.

A long time ago, the Munn Kingdom was still an ordinary kingdom and during those times, there weren't any clashes or divisions. But as their commercial trade developed rapidly, a massive amount of gold and silver streamed into the country and cracks began to form under the impact of this ever growing wealth.

As an ancient, orthodox, and law-abiding country, the King's Party continued to firmly hold most of the commercial trade in the Munn Kingdom, which led to the resistance of the merchants. At the start of the Munn Kingdom's flourishing, the merchants helped the country prosper and now, they had become traitors who tried to overthrow and bury this country.

The economic capital was just like a cunning, sinister beast. When it was weak, it would obey and seek loopholes in rules to make itself stronger. But it would attempt to manipulate and change the rules after it turned stronger to maintain its strength. The King's Party didn't allow this to happen and every generation of Archangels prevented this firmly. This was also what caused the dissatisfaction and uncertainty of the richest merchants because they feared that their wealth would vanish into thin air without the guarantee of authority. They also hoped to receive the support of rules to obtain more profits, but the King's Party never intended to give up their authority in exchange for wealth, which led to the conflicts between them to be unresolvable.

The King's Party wouldn't give up on their ruling authority of this country while the merchants were not resigned to live under their confinement of authority and rules. The merchants were so wealthy that they could possibly purchase one or two cities to boost their powers if that was possible. Due to this reason, they weren't willing to capitulate the suppression of the King's Party and sought changes.

This was also the beginning of the Reformist Party. When these merchants gathered and formed an alliance, they joined forces with some noble families to seek change in this country and with hopes to gain more authority. In order to reach their goals, they even sought assistance from the Country of Light and the Country of Light gladly accepted, perhaps due to their relationship as 'business partners'. Two powerful forces combined and brought a dangerous change in the Munn Kingdom.

As a Court Mage, Amund had seen everything for himself. The previous Duchess had a gentle personality and leaned towards the conservative side. Due to this reason, she chose to concede to the imperious Reformist Party and Country of Light. It was at this moment that the Munn Kingdom had sunk into their most serious and unstable situation and the Reformist Party almost succeeded. With the assistance of the Country of Light, the Reformist Party had almost achieved what their colleagues in the Country of Light had done-deprive the Archangel of authority and gain control of the Munn Kingdom forcefully.

But it was this moment that Lydia took over the position of the Archangel. Amund remembered that day on the Succession Ceremony; the mood he had when he and his colleagues gazed at the 10-year-old girl sitting on the throne that was much bigger than her. All Amund felt was total darkness for the country's future and he had even thought of resigning and returning to his hometown to be a scholar living in seclusion. This way, at least, he didn't need to witness the collapse of this nation.

But everything changed after that night.

No one had expected that this delicate little girl would release an ultimatum to the Reformist Party within a few days after she took office. With the series of crimes that the Reformist Party had committed listed out by Lydia, over a hundred people were captured in one night. Afterward, it was all trials and massacres. Not only did this shake the entire Reformist Party, but Amund was also flabbergasted as he had never expected this Archangel would be this vicious and merciless. The Country of Light's Parliament sent their men to release their ultimatum after receiving cries of help from the Reformist Party. However, even so, Lydia insisted on her opinion. She had even hastened the speed of execution and by the time the members of the Country of Light's Parliament had arrived at Golden City, the core members of the Reformist Party had all been executed and none of them were spared.

And it was no longer meaningful to exempt the dead from their punishment and request for their release anymore.

The Reformist Party took a huge hit and they began to slowly hone their strength while avoiding Lydia temporarily. On the other hand, Lydia chose to grind them out slowly and once their exuberant momentum had been ground entirely, she would then remove all these malignant tumors completely.

Amund's confidence returned gradually as he witnessed the growth and behavior of Lydia. He thought that with Lydia's rule, the Munn Kingdom could return to their glorious past quickly. But it seemed that there was an even thicker and taller wall blocking their path this time.

And Amund wasn't just worried about the Reformist Party and the Country of Light's Parliament.

The Court Mage squinted at the thin black-haired young man walking up the steps by the base of the castle.

Rhode Alander.

He had once thought that this young man was just another talent in the Munn Kingdom like Marlene Senia. Both of them possessed outstanding talents, sufficient self-control, and wise judgment. In the future, they would even become the pillars of this nation.

However, the young man's behavior seemed to overthrow his views.

This wasn't the first time that he had assisted the Munn Kingdom in overcoming a disaster. From the riot in Paphield Region to the Liberty Wings Guild during the Midsummer Festival and the matter that recently happened in Soraka Mountain... Rhode resolved them by himself. Amund couldn't figure out his true identity nor background.

On the surface, all that Rhode had done seemed to be unrelated. But as Amund linked all the events together, he realized that there were immediate relations. This young man was like a chess player looking down from a height where every step he took restrained the Country of Light's Parliament entirely and destroyed their threats at their budding stages. It seemed that this young man was totally aware of the Country of Light's Parliament's next steps.

No matter how talented one was in politics, one couldn't possibly possess such abilities. Amund had once asked Lydia if this young man was the secret trump card of the King's Party because, after all, Rhode performed outstandingly well and it didn't make sense for him to be just a noble of the Eastern Plains. There were plenty of nobles in the Munn Kingdom and yet, less than a handful were talented. On the other hand, this young man was prominent in various aspects and he even possessed unswerving determination and decisive faith. His talents shouldn't be overlooked unless he was indeed the secret trump card of the King's Party.

But the answers told otherwise. This young man had nothing to do with the King's Party. The Eastern Plains were a piece of territory that the Munn Kingdom had sealed off relatively due to the unique missions that they carried out. Therefore, there weren't many who were aware of what the people in the Eastern Plains were up to. The only thing that Amund felt relieved of was that this young man seemed to favor the King's Party. Rhode's actions towards the Country of Light's Parliament and the Reformist Party were the best indicators.

But now, Amund was rather fearful as he gazed at Rhode's back. It had something to do with Soraka Mountain. The outside world was unaware of the truth, but Lydia and Amund knew everything about it. Not only did they receive Rhode's report, but they also had their own information channels. Due to this reason, Amund felt threatened after hearing that the Duke Fiend was defeated by two of Rhode's men.

Amund hadn't experienced the strength of the Duke Fiend personally, but even so, it didn't disrupt his judgment of their abilities. How can the two beings who possessed Legendary strength and even defeated the Duke Fiend be ordinary humans? Not to mention, these two beings were two young ladies. When were there so many talents in the Munn Kingdom?

According to the intelligence they received, the two young ladies with unique names were Rhode's men. How much influence did one need to have two talented men in the Legendary Stage? Could this young man be the spokesperson of one of the secret legendary associations? After all, no matter what, his grandeur didn't waver whenever he faced the Country of Light's Parliament and he responded to every one of them appropriately. Moreover, there were so many powerful beings gathered around him... Amund would never believe that Rhode was only a little noble from the Eastern Plains. But what were his intentions in doing all this in the Munn Kingdom if he were really the spokesperson of a certain force?

"Your Highness, do you really intend to do this?" Even though Amund knew that Lydia wouldn't change her mind, he continued to ask with softened voice. "Do you know what this means? That young man has a mysterious background. I admit that he indeed favors us and has done a lot for us... But..."

"I understand what you meant, Amund. Humans crave for the warmth of the sun and yet, they are afraid of the overly dazzling radiance. But that isn't an excuse for fear." Lydia turned around with her charming, unwavering smile. "Fear is the start of an abomination, Teacher, but, we shouldn't rely on our guesses and individual preferences to judge a person before we fully understand him. Furthermore, your worries are too negative, Teacher. No matter what, why aren't you willing to believe that Mr. Rhode is kind towards us from the amount of hard work that he has done?"

The young lady revealed a cheeky smile before folding her arms by her chest. "Perhaps, this man is an emissary sent by the Creator Dragons. If that's the case, aren't we the lucky ones?"

"If that's true, we are indeed lucky, then." Even though Lydia was smiling brilliantly, Amund couldn't force out a smile. But the Court Mage was aware that his thoughts couldn't influence the young lady any more. He chose to keep quiet and bowed deeply with folded palms. "I hope this young man will be as you've described... Your Highness, I shall take my leave."

The corner of Lydia's mouth quirked up as she held her white jade-like finger against her smooth chin. "He will surely be as what I've mentioned, Teacher. Huhuhu. So then, I shall also see what this emissary from the Creator Dragon decides to do this time."

To some people, the matter had already past. However, to others, it was only just the beginning.

"... You're saying that the young man didn't only reject the orders of the Parliament, but also attacked you?" The flabby cheeks of the man sitting on the sofa made from expensive snow leopard skin twitched as he supported himself with the sofa handle using his short, fat arm. He glared at Tres with two small eyes that seemed to be on the verge of exploding. "And then? You people returned with your tails tucked between your legs from the plaza outside Golden City?! Under the watchful eyes of that damn tyrant?!"

"He is really powerful, MP Danny." Tres was raging secretly as the fat man barked at him. However, he suppressed his emotions and proceeded to explain calmly. "He defeated all my men-I can't even do that. It was obvious that this young man was much stronger than what we've heard from the rumors! We should be more careful against such an opponent!"

"A load of crap!" The fat pig swung his right arm angrily and he fell back on the sofa after losing his balance. "Damn it! We have the official documents of the Country of Light's Parliament and we represent the civilians of the holy Country of Light. That bunch of country bumpkins dares to treat us this way!? This is provocation! Provocation! Someone, get me a pen, I am gonna raise a protest against Golden City. That bunch of damn bastards..."

The fat pig paused for a moment before glaring at Tres once more. "Scram! Where the hell is our dignity now that a barbarian has messed us up so badly!? I should consider getting the Parliament to send someone else to replace you! Get lost right now!"

"Yes! Sir!" Tres saluted respectfully with an unwavering expression and left the room. Until the door closed behind him, he revealed a gloomy expression.

"Sir? Are you alright?" One of the guards by the door expressed his concern for Tres while Tres let out a long sigh. "Alright? I guess so... Damn it... By the way, how are our guys doing?"

The guard revealed a pained expression. "... We received news that due to the powerful blast, their right arms are crippled now. We have sought help from the Clerics, but their injuries are too grave..."

"I get it!" Tres swung his arm and interrupted his words. He clenched his fists and gritted his teeth. All these guards were capable troops that he had nurtured personally and they were able to stand here because they had been through countless tests. And now, their futures were gone entirely. Even if they were to recover, what could they do in the Country of Light? They had lost their most competent weapon and how were they going to continue living their lives?

"..." Tres remained in silence for a brief moment before lifting his head once more. "Get them to focus on recuperating and once they're feeling better, get them to return to the Country of Light."

"But... Sir, are we really just gonna forget about it? Those barbarians of the Munn Kingdom actually treated us this way and our brothers wouldn't end up like this if MP Danny didn't give such an order! Damn it..."

"That's enough!" Tres howled furiously. "Shut your mouth... This is my problem, so cut your crap. Don't forget that we're here to carry out orders. I hope that you will just butt out with everything except the orders!"

Tres gestured wildly. "All you have to do is to carry out orders and leave the following matter to me... I will not let it end just like this!"