The King was so happy at those words to need his sheer willpower to prevent himself from gloating openly.
He didn\'t want to lose someone of Varegrave\'s calibre, but as too often happened, his wife was right.
Showing leniency after a major blunder in times of crisis, would be regarded as another sign of weakness from the Crown.
Unless of course they had a good reason for it.
That good reason had just been served to King Meron on a silver platter.
- Seems that I have lost a battle, but in the end, I have won the war, dear Sylpha. He rejoiced via their mind link.
We cannot deny our saviour\'s request.
It would be impolite beyond reason.
Sylpha mind grunted, she had been looking forward for Varegrave\'s execution.
I don\'t think there is nothing to be happy about.
Peace after war is good, prolonged peace is great on paper, but it\'s turning out to be a venomous snake in the grass.
The upper echelons of the Kingdom have forgotten that discipline and loyalty are key to survival.
They are so engrossed in their dirty secret pleasures to turn lazy, profligate or even treacherous.
I am already purging the Mage Association from the bad apples.
Keeping them on their toes is the only way to make them fall back in line.
The army needs some pruning too, Varegrave would have set a perfect example.
No matter how loyal, influent or successful one is, treason has to be punished fiercely and mercilessly.
Endangering the Kingdom, no matter if by mistake or on purpose, must be treated as treason, otherwise all officers will come up with excuses or pettifogger arguments.
I partially disagree, Sylpha. Meron replied.
Everything you said is right, the decline of the Kingdom is due to our and our predecessors\' inability to recognize the temptations that the long peace aroused in our most dissolute subjects.
But killing Varegrave would set a dangerous precedent.
If loyalty and past success hold no value, then there would be no way to inspire devotion in our officers.
They must know that their actions, be it time of peace or war, matter.
Otherwise we would have only lazy bums that do nothing afraid of making a mistake that will cost them their lives.
Leniency, if bestowed at the right moment, is not weakness, it\'s strength.
Sylpha wasn\'t convinced, but felt some truth in her husband\'s words, so she didn\'t raise any more objections.
Still, I don\'t like this turn of events, it\'s too sudden.
Varegrave\'s life will hang on a thread more in Lith\'s hands rather than ours.
He\'s been waiting for his death for so long that the sudden relief could potentially compromise his loyalty.
He is bound to feel indebted to his saviour, especially after having wronged him many times.
If Kilian is right, we are facing a first class schemer, who is bound to have a hidden agenda.
Meron\'s good mood popped like a bubble.
Gods, I hate when you are right.
But maybe you and Kilian are overreacting.
He may be a dangerous sociopath, but is still very young.
I don\'t think he can plan so far ahead.
Think what you want.
I never underestimate an opponent, especially one that might be a natural Awakened one.
I\'m really curious about what Tyris will do if our suspects are right.
The King, the Queen and Salaark\'s Feathers were all artificial Awakened ones.
There were only a couple differences with a natural one.
The first was that despite their body would age much slower than normal, their lifespan wouldn\'t be extended much.
Were a normal mage in good health would live around one hundred year, they could live around one hundred and fifty, but rarely more.
The second and more important difference was that they had no idea how to turn others into Awakened ones.
They all had been kept unconscious, while the Guardians had emptied their mana cores, allowing them to perceive the world energy upon waking, in a was much similar to Hatorne\'s parasites after their removal.
The incomplete Awakening was the last safeguard against betrayal the Guardians had devised, and why both Tyris and Salaark only bestowed such power to a fixed number of humans at the time.
Do you think she would conscript him or just kill him Meron pondered.
In her shoes, I would either kill him, to stay on the safe side, or take him as apprentice, friend, boy toy, whatever rings her bell.
Just like Leegaain did with the current Magic Empress.
Tyris already had a human husband, giving him an offspring.
If it happened once, it can happen twice.
By the gods, he is just a child! The thought disgusted Meron deeply.
And she is millennia old.
Waiting a few more years or even decades would not be a problem. –
Lith\'s request took everyone by surprise, even Kilian and Varegrave.
After the communication ended, everything that the Queen feared happened like in a script.
Having removed the sword of Damocles that had hovered above Varegrave\'s head for so long, the Colonel was on the verge of tears.
Thank you, thank you so much! He couldn\'t stop himself from holding Lith\'s hand like it was a lifeline.
I\'m so sorry for misjudging you.
I can\'t wait to see my family again. Kilian took out Varegrave\'s last will from his pocket and burned it on a candle to celebrate the crisis\' double happy ending.
If you ever need anything, don\'t hesitate to ask. Lith and Varegrave linked their communication amulets.
Surprisingly, Kilian did the same.
Sorry if I barge in, but I want you to know you have my gratitude too, Lith.
Also, I have a family too.
If something bad ever happens, you are the best healer I know, and I\'d really love to have you on my speed deal.
Having someone in the Queen\'s corps and the Mage Association was an unexpected bonus, but Lith wasn\'t the type to look a gift horse in the mouth.
- Are you really going to join the military Or was it just an excuse to pursue an angle Solus was too used to Lith\'s web of deception to think he had helped Varegrave out of the goodness of his heart.
I\'m considering it, at least for a while.
I will be able to travel freely only once I reach sixteen years of age, and I am considered an adult.
But even then, I would be nothing more than a nameless mage, at least outside the Marquisate.
I need some real training and a badge, if I want to have free access to the information I need.
The Mage Association would ask me for favours and knowledge in exchange for what I want, and I don\'t want to waste time bartering for every single piece of information.
According to what Kilian told me, as a full fledged mage, I\'d have access to special corps, like the Rangers, that would allow me to move freely inside the Kingdom and act solo.
Sure, I\'d have to complete missions and obey orders, but thanks to Varegrave, I can skip a few ranks and get the freedom of movement that I need.
Instead of traveling as a nameless adventurer that has to comply with idiotic requests, is much better to move with the Crown watching my back, with a badge that both nobles and mages have to obey to.
Also, I can gain more merits and be paid for it.
Many birds with one stone.
Kilian and his unit personally escorted him outside the camp and opened a Warp Steps to Derios, the capitol of the Marquisate.
According to Professor Marth\'s prediction, it would take at least another week to wipe out the last remnants of the plague and return back to the academy.
Lith could afford going back home for a couple days, at least to make sure everything was fine.
He wanted to reassure his parents about his well being.
The few times they had talked, he could see how worried they were.
Now that he was outside the Small World, he could finally use the communication amulet and check how the others were doing.
House of Yurial Deirus, two days after Lith had left the academy
Being the lessons suspended, most students had returned back home, either because of nostalgia or forced by their parents.
Even with the information blackout, the news of the problems in Kandria had spread like wildfire after all the academies had been shut down.
The six big academies were like small countries, following their own rules.
Even in time of war, they were supposed to continue their activities.
The only exception in the past had been when the country was invaded, hence all hands were needed on deck.
The situation was so serious that many noble families had packed their things and left the Kingdom with most of their wealth.
As soon as the Crown had noticed the rats abandoning the sinking ship, it exploited the opportunity take out some trash.
A decree had been issue, that whoever left the Kingdom in times of need, would be considered a deserter, losing his noble title, the lands and having all their assets frozen and confiscated by the Crown.
Many of the old nobles\' faction, discovered to have become homeless commoners while they were still traveling past the borders, to reach their distant relatives in the Gorgon Empire.
Yurial was discussing with his father, Archmage Deirus, the opportunity to expand their lands by reclaiming the title their neighbours had relinquished due to their escape, bringing into their grand duchy another of the six big academies.
Their lands accommodated the Fire Griffon academy already, with the Black Griffon they would have a major role in the Mage Association\'s business, achieving an authority on par with the Distar Marquisate.
Great minds think alike, my son. Velan said, puffing his chest with pride.
Unlike his useless siblings that did nothing but drink, gamble and have s*x all day, Yurial was being recognized by the White Griffon academy thanks to his hard work.
He was also demonstrating a very practical and scheming mind, exploiting every opportunity he had at hand.
Maybe the Deirus household wasn\'t doomed, after all.
If even Yurial turned out to be like the rest of his children, Velan would have been forced to adopt.
But it will not be easy.
With a title of Grand Duke we already have too much land and money.
By getting more, we could be considered a threat to the Crown.
But that\'s ridiculous! Yurial was outraged.
The Deirus household never had any political ambition, we have always served the Kingdom, improving the lives of our subjects.
You are still too naïve, my son.
I know it, you know it.
The King doesn\'t, though, and would be stupid of him not thinking of the consequences of letting a single individual get his hands on so much power.
We need something big, and I think I have just what we need.
Being his heir, Velan shared everything with Yurial, because he trusted his judgment and because he wanted to prepare him for the moment when he would inherit everything.
Since Lukart attacked you, I have started to suppress his assets.
Remember, attacking someone\'s life is a crime, but bringing down a rival\'s business empire is perfectly legal.
It also hits that pompous b*stard where it hurts the most: his wallet.
Velan took out several papers, filled with numbers, places, names and dates.
I know he is behind all this civil war bullsh*t, and I bet my magic that he is also behind Kandria\'s problems. He showed Yurial a stolen document bearing the Lukart\'s emblem, that reported several massive payments from the household to Coirn Hatorne.
Always follow the money, son.
Now, this Hatorne is already one of the Kingdom\'s top most wanted.
Guess where one of his main labs was
Kandria Yurial had a greedy light in his eyes, matching the one in his father\'s.
Exactly! Ever since the Kandria incident started, this insignificant piece of paper has become my beacon.
I\'m digging all that I can from banks and credit institutions, investing a fortune bribing underpaid clerks to get things like this and you know why
Because if Hatorne turns out to be the responsible, and we can link her to Lukart, we can legally get rid of him and get the Black Griffon too!