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    Shadowless Night

    Chapter 25

    Translated by Wook
    Edited by Iris Sakura


    The servant, who was standing outside the door of the Emperor’s office, went inside. As soon as he announced Ricardis’s visit, the door opened. In the center of the ornate interior, the bright-blonde Emperor had a stiffened face as if he was ill at ease.


    “Blessings of Illavenia that calls the white night. I see the Laurel of the Snowfield, His Majesty the Emperor.”


    “Blessings of the white night. Welcome, Ricardis.”


    Ricardis sat down and looked at the papers on the table. When he combined some of the words and phrases he saw, he could see they were various reports from Illavenian land adjacent to the Balta Kingdom. It’s proven that the activity of the Black Moon has been increasing recently. It was understandable that the Emperor’s face was stiff.


    “The witch opened her mouth.”


    “Yes, this is the first poison used in the last hunting competition. Recently, assassins also intended to use it within the Moonstone Castle. May I see this document, Your Majesty?”


    “You may.”


    Ricardis grabbed the piece of paper laid out on top. The seal of Count Drythorne was engraved on the top of the dozens of stacked documents. She was the ruler of Vista, a large territory where hunting competitions were held. Count Drythorne held the title of a marquee. Unlike other nobles, who only had the duty to defend their territories granted by the Emperor, she also had the right to invade other countries first. She had autonomous military power, which made her more powerful than the other counts. An intelligent and warlike figure is the inheritor of the legacy of the many generations of Drythorne.


    Even so, she succeeded Drythorne County only two years ago. She was a war fanatic to the point of being incomparable with her predecessors. Those who looked down on her because she was a woman were drenched in blood in an instant. Even among the strongest people guarding Drythorne estate, she was considered someone with exceptional senses in battle. Her tactics of dispersing, merging, and fluidly moving her army were as vivid as if they were alive. Many of her tacticians gave her such a rating. She was the ‘Border Slayer’ and ‘Mad Dog’. A person who brought about the best in any adverse situation… But the document that Ricardis is looking at now describes something quite different from his perception of her. To put it bluntly, it’s terrible.

    [E/N: “…vivid as if they were alive.” This pretty much means her war strategies were so creative and effective that they had a life of their own, and her army as a whole moved organically as one body. ]


    Forty people took advantage of the darkness to cross the mountain and inflict over four hundred casualties. Neither human power nor holy power was of any use. The Black Moon wields a different threat than in the past, so there was a long message saying that the Emperor should look out for the young people in order to convey the glory of Illavenia forever and ever. In truth, the four hundred deaths were not much damage to the Drythorne estate. However, Count Drythorne seemed to think that the influx of corpses was unusual when similar things began to happen simultaneously in her estate as well as in other domains adjacent to her. The Emperor wiped his tired face again and again.


    “I’m getting a headache. How long can I hide this…”


    Ricardis snorted inwardly. Is this something that he can hide somewhere? The new poison created by the Black Moon did not respond to the power of any doctor or any priest. Their movements, which were quiet after the hunting competition, became active, and at the same time, the use of poison gradually increased. Border territories, which have to face frequent battles with the Black Moon, will question the poison with a high lethality soon.


     “I thought it would be a good idea to get Balta off the map before the poison’s uses and effects escalate, but…”


    ‘Stupid. He’s so stupid.’ Ricardis stared at him with a puzzled look. ‘He really is Elpidio’s father. What a pair of father and son.’ 


    It is said that the Black Moon’s leadership reaches up to the royal family of Balta, but the official position of the royal family has always been different from the truth.


    Even if the Black Moon was stationed in Balta, it had nothing to do with the Balta royal family, and they said that Balta was also making every effort to expel the Black Moon. Of course, there was no country anywhere on the continent that would believe that story. In any case, Balta’s royal family needed to take such a position, at least on the surface.


    Illavenia and Balta had never had a major war yet. Unlike one or two people fighting individually, clashes between countries tend to cause significant damage. That is why declaring a war was so important. Balta wiped out the motive to do so by separating the group called Black Moon from their royal family. In such a situation, the Emperor wanted to start a war with a just cause. But he forgot about one thing: Let’s not mention other countries, but as the Holy Empire, which worships the God of Light, they should invade another country first? Even the people of the Illavenia Empire would blame the Emperor.


    Ricardis raised his eyes and looked at the Emperor. ‘You’re not going to start a war, are you?’ It was a look with that meaning. The Emperor seemed to have read that too.


    “However, Elpidio wants to take a closer look at what’s going on.”


    ‘It seems that Elpidio’s head is a little brighter than the Emperor’s.’ Ricardis sighed in relief.


    “It’s a wise choice.”


    “It is.”


    The Emperor slowly tapped his finger against the armrest. Tap. Tap. It broke the silence between the two at a steady rate, creating discomfort. 


    “I would like to send a delegation. Elpidio also agreed with this opinion.”


    ‘Elpidio, you bastard.’ Ricardis hardened his face. Like everyone in the Imperial Palace, he was very good at hiding his emotions and expressions. Didn’t he play the role of a lovable little brother even to that Elpidio? At this point, when large and small battles take place in the provinces adjacent to Balta, sending an envoy would be very risky. Also, there is no research or perfect detoxification method for the newly created poison. So this situation will be much more favorable to the enemy. 


    “Even if you send a delegation, the result is likely to be low compared to the effort and risk involved.”


    He exposed a little of his emotions to the Emperor. Fortunately, the Emperor did not notice it because he still had more things in mind.


    “Wasn’t it two years ago when the delegation last visited Balta? It’s been quite a while. It’s time to put pressure on them… They’re like filthy guinea pigs.”


    He wondered why Elpidio had been looking for the Emperor this morning. Apparently, he was a smart guy. He was trying to persuade the Emperor to send Ricardis as an envoy. It was just being an envoy. But under current circumstances, it was more like going out on a limb. If one day, the opponent whom he desperately wanted to kill walks into his territory… Prince Haqab of Balta surely wouldn’t miss this great opportunity.

    [out on a limb: Doing something one strongly believes in even though it is risky or extreme, and is likely to fail or be criticized by other people.]


    Shortly after recovering from the hunting competition, the Emperor again tried to drive himself out on a limb. If the 2nd Prince Ricardis dies in Balta, there could be no better cause for war than this. As an envoy, it’s enough to get something from Balta, and even if Ricardis dies, it will create a reason for war. There must be such a calculation behind Elpidio’s idea.


    “You worry too much, Ricardis. Who am I? What is the name of this country? The light of glory that blesses the continent is also felt by those who are blind and deaf. It is not a brilliance that can be subdued by just one poison.”


    It seemed like he was upset that the new poison would turn things in Balta’s favor. The Emperor acted as if his authority was being chipped away. Ricardis clicked his tongue secretly at the slightly rough attitude and voice. 


    “You are right. The wild dogs of Balta are so ignorant of their position, and these days, their momentum has grown even more ferocious… It seems that I was worried about nothing.”


    As Ricardis bowed his head, the Emperor’s voice softened a little. He wasn’t a three-year-old kid. Fatigue overcame him.


    One attempt to dissuade him has already failed. Ricardis made no second attempt to go against the Emperor’s will. The Emperor’s attitude, as he seemed to have already made up his mind, did not give him many options. It looks like Elpidio had skillfully convinced his father. Ricardis closed his eyes once and then opened them. Countless deaths passed through his mind. Ricardis got off the couch, knelt on his knees, and bowed his head.


    “I will obey the will of the Emperor.”


    The Emperor laughed and tapped Ricardis on the shoulder. He said that it would be a few days before an official announcement of sending an envoy would be released. Ricardis replied ‘yes’ and left the Emperor’s room. Isserion, who was following Ricardis, heard the note of displeasure. He didn’t say much, but he spoke his mind with a harsh breath.


    Ricardis clenched his teeth so tightly that his jaw hurt. The fishy taste of blood came from his slightly chapped lips.


    “Return to the Moonstone Castle.”


    The escort knights in white uniforms followed him.


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