Rooster Prince and Pearl Princess Chapter 46: A New Scheme
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Nirvana, Capital of Castonia
Leopold had repeatedly examined the letter he was holding. The letter came from Timothy. His first thought after reading the letter was that it was fake.
But it was not. The seal used in the letter was Timothy's personal seal. And it was not forged either because he took the old letters Timothy wrote to him and compared the seals. He spent a long time trying to find fault in the seal but it was perfect. It was identical to the seal used by Timothy in the past.
He next thought that Timothy had lost his mind. This would be a better explanation. The report written in the letter was just too unrealistic. Leopold cannot believe it, no, he refuse to believe that such thing was possible. It must be a lie. Timothy never lied to him in the past, but Leopold could only think of two reasons why Timothy would write such an unbelievable story to him. Either Timothy was lying or he had lost his mind. Leopold's guess was the latter.
Or maybe Timothy was telling the truth? No, he couldn't be. But if Timothy was telling the truth, then this was a historic moment. This moment would forever be remembered by generations to come. The battle of Knightsend, as what future historians would probably call it, will be etched in the annals of history.
He contemplated for a while. And then it occurred to him. It wasn't really impossible for Timothy to achieve such a stunning victory. The Prince was capable, maybe even more capable than Leopold himself. Leopold felt shivers down his spine. He was slowly accepting the validity of Timothy's words.
A month ago, when he schemed against Timothy, he thought that the boy wouldn't survive. But it seems the god of fortune took Timothy as its pet. Leopold does not believe in Gods, but only divine intervention could explain Timothy's uncanny fortune.
First, someone found out about his pact with Skall Wismar and interrupted their plan. The person was cunning and capable. He covered his tracts and until now, Leopold still had no idea who he was. Because of the mystery person, Thespelae's garrison mobilized and joined Timothy.
Next, he received a letter from Knightsend saying that the castle had broken the siege. His current reaction was identical to his reaction back then after he read of the letter. Knightsend broke the siege by themselves. He was really shocked back then and doubted the credibility of the letter. A besieged army breaking the siege by themselves with minimal casualties was the stuff of legends. He never thought that he had such capable soldiers. If he had known that the soldiers from Knightsend were such beasts, he would have recalled them all to the capital.
But even with the help of soldiers from Knightsend and Thespelae, Timothy would still have to face an opponent with similar strength. Even if Timothy retreated back to Knighstend, the battle would still be bloody for both sides. And even if Timothy won, he would still lose at least half of his army. This was Leopold's prediction.
But he was wrong. Not only did Timothy achieve victory, he demolished the Tulosans with negligible casualties. According to the letter he just received, only five hundred Tulosans escaped Timothy's hands. About two thousand Tulosans died and the rest surrendered. What really shocked Leopold was Timothy's report on the Castonians casualties.
Yes, only thirty-five soldiers died. Although several dozens more were injured, the number of casualties was abnormally low. Leopold suspected once that Timothy made a clerical error, but he repeatedly used the word thirty-five to indicate the number of Castonian casualties.
Leopold put his hand on his forehead. His head hurts and he was torn. He wanted to be happy. The great victory of Timothy saved the Western Region. The villages around Solon were also not utterly destroyed despite the loss of three or four villages. This was great, this should be great.
But Timothy did not die. The alliance with Wismar will not be realized as long as Timothy lives. Of course, Leopold could just break his promise to Vanadis, but it would be too risky. He could not afford offending the other Kingdoms.
Furthermore, what troubled Leopold the most was Timothy's growing power. With a victory as complete like this, the people would elevate his name. The bards would sing of Timothy's capabilities. That son of his late wife will become a power not to be trifled with.
Leopold must think carefully about his next move. He needs to be cautious when dealing with Timothy.
Skall threw his cup after hearing of the news. The cup was full and its contents were spilled on the floor.
"Useless horse loving bastards!" he screamed.
His squire, Amir, picked up the cup and put it back on his table. "It seems King Leopold's plan backfired Your Highness. Not only did Prince Timothy survive, he just became the most powerful person in Castonia. The people hail him and he has an experienced army. He's more powerful than the King. We must be careful Your Highness. We can't offend Timothy Castonia"
Skall was thankful that he had Amir by his side. Amir wasn't just his squire, he was Skall's advisor.
"Too bad, we already did." Skall took a coin and fiddled it with his finger. He always does this whenever he was nervous "I think he knows what we did"
"Don't worry Your Highness, I think he won't retaliate. But we need to be careful next time." Amir comforted. He then sat on the chair in front of Skall.
"So, what's your advice?" Skall put down the coin and looked sternly at Amir "We can't remain idle. Father just wrote to me a few days ago. He said the treasury is losing money fast. Trade is slow because Vanadian goods flood the market. We really need to invade Vanadis next year."
"I actually have a plan Your Highness, but you won't like it"
Skall raised his brows "Tell me" he demanded
"I said you won't like it, but I will make you" Amir smiled "First, I will tell you of another piece of news."
"Just tell me Amir" Skall sighed
"I just found out who interrupted our plan to kill the messengers." He revealed
"Who is he?" Skall immediately asked. He clenched his fist. That person was the cause of all of this. He also killed two of Skall's best guards.
"Not a he, but a she" Amir produced a letter and handed it to Skall "Lucia Vanadis" he said
Upon hearing Lucia's name, Skall frowned. She was his enemy, the daughter of King Edmund Vanadis. A few years ago, his father also offered a royal marriage to Vanadis intending to marry Skall to Lucia. With a royal marriage, the two trading giants will cease their competition and work as one. But Edmund Vanadis refused and resumed the trading competition with Wismar. The two Kingdoms were on par with each other at first, but Vanadis slowly got the upper hand.
"What is this?" Skall asked
"It's Prince Timothy's letter to Lucia. I already read it. Lucia was also the one who informed the garrison of Knightsend about Timothy's situation. You don't need to read it." Amir gave him a strange smile.
Skall liked Lucia once. When his father sent the request for royal marriage all those years ago, he also sent Skall. Wismar always sends members of its royal family whenever it makes diplomatic ties.
He spent a month at the Vanadian Palace and met Lucia a few times. He fell in love and tried to woo her. But Lucia refused his advances. In the end, King Edmund refused Vanadis and Lucia refused Skall. He failed diplomatically and romantically.
"That was years ago" Skall gave Amir a bitter smile. He may have felt something for her in the past, but it was gone now.
He then read the letter and frowned
"They're really close" Skall commented.
"I told you not to read it" Amir then looked at him "So?" he asked
"Let me ask you first how you got this"
"Our spy handed it to me"
"Just like that?"
"Your Highness, spies are powerful. A single capable spy can bring down a whole Kingdom" Amir said.
Skall nodded. Spies really are powerful. Trust is a dangerous thing. "So it was her. She's capable. It's a shame she and her father refused Wismar." He leaned back on his chair "But I can't see how this relates to our plans"
"We need to get rid of Lucia Vanadis" Amir said directly
Skall was stunned. He considers his own self as a sly person, easy to accept both violent and dark schemes. But he was still stunned by Amir's plan. "Why?" he asked
"Because Lucia likes Prince Timothy. Prince Timothy is also the same. Both of them are capable. Only the heavens know how powerful they'll get if they work together. In fact, they already worked together. The result was devastating for their enemies. Look at the Tulosans Your Highness. A month ago they had 40,000 soldiers, now they only have 25,000. We need to stop their union. We can't let that happen or else we will face a monster that devours everything on its path. Also if we kill Lucia, the alliance between Vanadis and Castonia will end."
Skall contemplated for a while. For the first time, he was reluctant in following Amir's advice. It's not because of his past feelings for Lucia. He was afraid. King Leopold Castonia will be furious. Since no one else knows that he was in Nirvana, all the blame will fall on Castonia. The other kingdoms will suspect King Leopold of assassinating the Princess. Leopold will have no choice but to accept Wismar's alliance, but Skall was still afraid of the King.
Also nobody knows what Timothy Castonia will do. The Prince really cares for Lucia. With her death, he could run amok. This plan felt like stepping on two lions' tail.
Nevertheless, he saw the sense in Amir's plan. They can't let Lucia and Timothy unite. Both of them are weak at the moment, but they will soon become an unstoppable force. Also like what Amir said, they could force King Leopold into an alliance by doing this. With the hate from other Kingdoms, Castonia would have no choice but to accept Wismar's help.
"I don't know Amir, this is dangerous" Skall shook his head "You said earlier that we can't afford to offend Prince Timothy. This is offending Prince Timothy"
"I know what I said. Prince Timothy is a dangerous opponent. But this will be the last time."
"For the first time, I'm reluctant in following your advice"
"Good" Amir said "Because this plan of mine is dangerous. Nevertheless, we have no choice. Like what you said, we can't remain idle"
"Okay" Skall finally said after thinking for a long time "Make sure it's clean. Make it look like an accident"
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