Translator, Editor and Proofread: theunfetteredsalmon
Juguli added, “The Pharaoh and the main Ejyptian legions are waiting for reinforcements. Our plan is to eliminate them step-by-step. Once we ensure that no more support will come for them, we will methodically dismantle the rest of the main army and concentrate all our forces on them. Even if we fail to capture the Pharaoh, we’d be able to kill him. In short, there is no way out for the Pharaoh.”
Golier stroked the back of his chair. He glanced meaningfully and said, “That would be the best way to make use of our troops to get the most optimal result. The first thing we should take off the board is the An-Ra legion. It’s a miscellaneous army known for its weakness in battle due to the lack of experience. However, I cannot help but feel worried. Although Amon, the Head of the legion, is very young and new to leading an army, he has travelled a lot and experienced many things in his life. Perhaps he will pull a trick off. I’ve warned the Nanar brigade to take precautions, but I still feel uneasy.”
Prince Asher chuckled and replied, “Don’t worry so much about that, Lord Golier. Amon is but a young warrior. How could he expect to turn the tide of battle with nothing but a miscellaneous army under him, even if he has great ability and intellect? Our Nanar brigade would be able to kill them with their stare. We intercepted several messengers from the Pharaoh, which tell us exactly what the An-Ra legion plans to do. Are we not ready for them to walk to their demise?”
When the prince finished speaking, the secret report Celia dispatched was finally delivered by a sixth-level magician, who had been travelling on a Wind Shuttle overnight. When people heard that the king had been abducted by Amon, they all jumped up in surprise from their chairs. It was a bolt from the blue. Although the death of the king would not change the outcome of the war thus far, no one was willing to say or do things without taking their king’s interests in their consideration.
On the other hand, the influence the news would have over the spirit and morale of the military units was immeasurable. The situation of the war could change in an instant. The first thing the top leaders had to consider was how to rescue the king. Several lords, after urgent consultation, decided to leave Prince Asher in command of the army temporarily. Golier then personally drove a wind shuttle with Juguli to the king’s camp.
Golier did not bring along a personal guard. The supreme mage saw the circumstances very clearly. There were only two assassins, who were relying on the king staying in their hands. Having more people on the Hittites’ side was of no use. Furthermore, Golier himself was one of the best leaders of the Kingdom of Hittite. He reckoned that the objective of the seizure of the king was for peace talks. Of course, for such matters, the appropriate audience would include the Prime Minister of the country. As such, many things would be solved and decided on the spot.
Metatro and Amon took the king to ‘rest’ in the second-most lavish-looking tent in the camp. The three remained silent all night, which passed uneventfully. The air in the area the next morning was fresh. The crisp and melodious calls of birds from the surrounding forest could be heard. Just not too long ago, the place was desolate. There was never birds around the area. A lot had changed since the great flood.
Celia scanned the tent with detection magic. The king and the two assassins holding him never left, but her magic was met with a disturbance. The other party was using detection magic as well, but they did not block her prying.
“Dear warriors, we are delivering breakfast to His Majesty the King. Both of you also need to eat, so please allow us to open the drapes to the tent.” The breakfast was an opportunity for Celia to finally enter the tent and assess the situation. At the very least, she could make sure that the king was safe.
“Breakfast is not necessary for us, but we can’t possibly afford to neglect the needs of our host! We will serve His Majesty his meal. If you want to see the king, come in.” The voice belonged to Amon and came from within the tent. As he finished speaking, the heavy curtain rolled itself upward.
The lineup of meal delivery for the king was nothing short of strong. Celia still had her staff in hand, tray floating in front of her. The two warriors Aruka and Affi had their weapons sheathed and hanging from their waists. Both of them were also carrying a tray each, following Celia into the tent. Then, all their eyes opened wide as if they had seen something more dumbfounding than the abduction of the king.
As expected, there were three people in the tent. Amon was standing in front of the dining table, preparing a broth with utensils that no one knew he had. No wonder there was a savoury fragrance when the front curtains rolled up. Amon also prepared some warm, freshly-baked pastries. The king was seated opposite of Amon with an empty plate alongside a glass of wine. The wine was pale rose in colour and very fragrant. It was a good but rare wine.
Metatro stood at the king’s side once again, brandishing his sharp dagger as if he was manicuring his nails. The tip of the blade circled the king’s neck, sweeping around with detection magic. The little blade also seemed to be roaring intermittently with power that shocked the mind. On the middle of the table was a magic artefact with a gold base that was carved with a strange pattern. The object resembled a lamp. A parangon was in the position typical of a wick on a candle, emitting light.
The artefact was a Lamp of Pursuit. At the moment, it was placed in a magical array to observe the four corners of the tent. The array also had several Terroculos and Ventussalte parangons that moved in turn, forming a very delicate magic array that could detect all movements inside and outside the tent. If magic was used to stimulate it, its detection range could expand to that of the entire camp and the sky above.
What the Hittite lords saw was but a corner of the entire array. In truth, Amon had used an arrangement with spatial magic to form the array. In total, twelve Terroculos and Ventussalte parangons were being used for this array. The magical effect of the array was astonishing, but the preciousness of the objects being used was even more so!
Celia wanted to seek out a flaw in Amon and Metatro’s defence to rescue the king. However, she was more afraid of the Tiamat’s Wrath scroll in his hands. But now, seeing the Lamp of Pursuit and the short blade in Metatro’s hands, the supreme mage realised that even without Tiamat’s Wrath, she had no opportunities to rescue the king without disaster falling upon them.
The Lamp was in a constant state of excitation, and any movement around it would invoke an immediate reaction. It was also surprising that such an artefact required so little magic power to maintain. However, continuous usage of it to monitor movement day and night was non-stop consumption of magic power, which ordinary mages would not be able to bear. Now it was clear that Metatro was the one running the Lamp. It was now apparent that both assassins had skill in magic and magic power, and they did not have a care in the world.
But compared to something else in the tent, this magic array was nothing.
Amon and Metatro did not fail to be courteous. The king sat while both of them stood. One prepared breakfast while the other stood beside him like a trusty guard. However, the king was not sitting in the middle seat as he usually would. Instead, he was sitting on the left, a spot usually reserved for the minister. On the king’s throne was, instead of the king, a cat!
Now, of course, the cat was not tall enough to reach the table from the seat. So, with Amon being considerate, he cushioned the chair’s legs to prop it up so that the seat and the table were on the same level. The cat sitting on the chair could just reach anything placed in front of it, which, at that moment, was a bowl of the broth Amon was preparing. Alongside the broth were some barbecued meat and an entire bottle of wine. The cat was holding the bottle with its paws, emptying the fragrant liquid into its mouth.
Amon invited the king to have his breakfast. The food he made was first served to the cat. Meanwhile, the king’s plate was still empty. Looking at Amon’s indifferent look, it seemed reasonable. The cat was calm and content.
Celia’s face changed into anger quickly. The floating tray fell on the table. She pointed at Amon with her staff and exclaimed, “How dare you be so rude? Where did the cat come from? How dare you let it sit in His Majesty’s throne!”
Schrodinger loosened the bottle between its paws and looked up at Celia. It looked at her like a person would, calmly and with a sneer. Then, the cat looked at the King of Hittite next to him. It lowered its head and began licking its serving of broth.
Amon bowed a little and explained politely, “This is my cat, Schrodinger. It slipped in in the middle of the night last night. I hope it didn’t disturb your rest. It’s used to such a lifestyle. Regardless, have I not kept my word? I have no rude intentions towards the king. I am preparing breakfast for him myself.”
When Amon first met Schrodinger, he felt that it was just spoiled. However, this cat has never changed in all its time with Amon. The mystery shrouding it only became more interesting. Eventually, this cat became one that was only comfortable with Amon, so it was that much more incredible. As a poor miner, the cat’s self-importance was normal to Amon.
But when Amon became a supreme mage and warrior, ranked amongst the top legends of the mainland, the cat remained spoiled. When Amon became the Head of an Ejyptian legion, commanding thousands of men, horses and even mages, the cat was still spoiled. Despite the fact that the cat was now sitting beside a king, it hadn’t changed its attitude. It moved and behaved like a god.
Metatro quietly watched Celia. He clipped his knife to the back of King Lucier’s ear. Celia stepped back, blushing from irritation. She cried, “Amon, this is shameful. I cannot accept it! Do not think for one second that just because you hold the king hostage you can do anything you want! No matter how this turns out, I will officially challenge you to a duel!”
Normally, duels were the result of boredom in the aristocratic warriors. Unexpectedly, the supreme mage made such a challenge to Amon after being provoked. As Amon continued stirring the broth, he asked, “How would you like to fight?”
“It’s a private duel between us. I will never let go of the humiliation you have brought me. You took the king from right under me, proceeding to then put a little cat on the king’s throne! When this war ends, I will summon a beast, and you take your cat and we shall have a real competition! I am Celia, a supreme mage and a noblewoman of Hittite!”
“I am Amon, the son of a miner in the now-destroyed town of Duc under the city of Syah, and am now the Head of an Ejyptian legion,” Amon looked up and spoke. “I accept your challenge for a duel, but that will have to wait until this war ends, that is, if we are all still alive by then. I know you are dissatisfied that you lost to a trick. You want to win a duel to wash away your shame. I have no reason not to agree. To tell you the truth, I admire you very much. Few women can become mages, let alone become a supreme one. As for a female supreme mage, you are only the second one I have ever met.”
Last night was a haze due to all the chaos and darkness. Celia was still no longer wearing a cloak. However, Amon hadn’t seen the supreme mage’s appearance until now. She was stunningly beautiful. With the cloak removed, the skin on her face and hands looked as tender as milk as if it was snow under the sunshine. A supreme mage with a cute, babyface, a slightly pointed chin, round face, big eyes, long eyelashes and hair that ended above her eyebrows in bangs.
When she was angry, her eyes grew bigger while her white, milky face would grow rose pink. Her chest continued to heave from seething anger, but she could never look fierce. Woe to anyone who would be deceived by her innocent looks. She was, after all, a supreme mage. Metatro had learned the hard way the previous day.
Celia put down her staff and murmured, “Well, Commander Amon, I hope you will remember today’s agreement if we are still alive after the war ends.”
When the broth was ready, Amon prepared a big bowl and walked around the table to the side of the king. He placed the broth gently in front of the king and said respectfully, “Your Majesty, please enjoy your breakfast! For safety’s sake, we are using only the food and water we brought, and thus you shall have what we are having as well.” Then, Amon turned to Celia and the two warriors and added, “You three have not eaten yet, no? Since you’ve brought food, please indulge me in having breakfast with us!”
Amon did not touch the food the three lords brought. The king did not have an opportunity to touch the food they served either, which embarrassed Celia and the two warriors. Instead, Amon stood there preparing food for the king as needed before cooking for himself. Metatro remained on guard throughout the debacle.
King Lucier was calm. Now that he had fallen deep into Amon’s hands, he did not want to lose his dignity any further for any reason. He waved and said, “My supreme mage and two supreme warriors, please sit down and let us eat together.”
The king made himself comfortable as Celia, Aruka and Affi thanked the king and proceeded to sit down. The taste of the meal was… difficult to describe. No one could truly say what they had eaten. Once they had almost finished their food, the king coughed and turned to Amon. “Amon, I admire your bravery. If you were a warrior of the Kingdom of Hittite, I would have rewarded you for your actions. Could you tell me your true purpose in infiltrating the enemy lines and going through all this trouble to get me?”
Amon replied with a question. “I’ve said before it’s for peace, and that statement still holds. I would like to ask Your Majesty, what purpose do you have in this war? In other words, why did the Kingdom of Hittite decide to wage war against the Ejyptian Empire?”
Celia interrupted Amon to answer, “Do not forget that it was the Ejyptian Empire that declared war. We are just standing up in self-defence. The purpose of this war is, of course, to defeat some of our most powerful enemies so that they would never dare invade Hittite again in fear of losing more power, and henceforth we will rid our status of subordination, washing away the century-old humiliating tradition.”
Lucier nodded. “We received guidance from the gods and have practically won! Amon, it is pointless for you to hold me hostage. Even if you were to kill me and escape successfully, you cannot possibly change the outcome of the war.”
Amon frowned slightly. He suddenly asked, “This oracle you speak of, is it from Enlil? Did the oracle say that it was necessary to destroy all of the shrines and temples to Horus in Hittite?”
“Yes,” Lucier quickly answered. “It was nothing but a symbol of obedience to build places of worship dedicated to Horus, the king of Ejypt. Of course, they must be demolished!”
Amon lowered his head and began counting on his fingers. He spoke as he counted, “First, they want to ensure that the Ejyptian Empire would not invade Hittite again. Secondly, they wanted to break away from its subordinate status, in which case the Kingdom of Hittite will not pay tribute any longer. Thirdly, they want to demolish all the Horus temples and shrines in Hittite, refusing to accept the imposed beliefs… This third point is an extension of the second. If we can achieve these goals, would you agree to sit down and talk?”
Lucier took a glance at Metatro, who was still holding his sharp dagger. He coughed again in a dignified tone, “If all three goals can be achieved, it would mean victory for Hittite without drawing any more blood. The better question is, what could we not talk about? However, you kidnapped me and then let me stipulate the peace conditions of Hittite. As a Head of an Ejyptian legion, can you meet these conditions?”
“I am not here to assassinate you, let alone die, for the sake of all the people involved in this war. If the Ejyptian Empire agrees to these conditions and both sides swear it upon their respective gods, then this matter would be solved and naturally, I will not hurt you, Your Majesty.”
Celia scoffed and said, “Could you even make the Pharaoh agree to these conditions?”
Amon smiled. “I know of the current situation on the battlefield. Is there any other choice for the Pharaoh? On top of that, the leaders of both nations are at the frontlines, so they must be willing to talk. Supreme mage Celia, you must send someone to the frontlines to inform them of the situation here. Then, we shall negotiate and come to common ground. With the result of our talks, I will send someone to deliver a message to the Pharaoh.”
“What if the Pharaoh refuses?”
“In that case, I will release His Majesty the King and request that I am pardoned for my offences these few days so that I can return to my legion and continue to fight honourably on the battlefield. But if Ejypt agrees to your conditions, please end the war and sign a peace treaty. Your Majesty will need personal time to consider all we have talked about. Once you have finished eating, I bid you excuse yourself.”
The breakfast talks about the situation was only tentative. No matter the decision, it should not be made by a king who has a knife to his throat. Even if the king was to reluctantly send orders, the army at the battlefront may not be able to carry those orders out in fear of the king’s safety.
A regular person ate three meals a day. Even if Amon could not eat, the king couldn’t possibly go hungry. At lunchtime, Orbene, a longtime member of the Nanar brigade, and Vyven, the Chief Mage, arrived. Amon continued inviting people to have a meal with the king so that they could see that he was safe.
At noon, the scene was not as embarrassing as it was at breakfast since Schrodinger only had one meal a day and was not attending the ‘luncheon’. The king then sat in his throne. Once again, Amon cooked the meal personally and served the king first. Even the water he served was taken from his spatial artefact. Orbene was also a supreme warrior, and Vyven was, of course, a supreme mage. Excluding Amon, the table was now sitting three supreme warriors and two supreme mages.
When Orbene’s eyes met with Amon’s, he moved his hand to rest on the hilt. “Are you Amon? How could a noble warrior like you resort to such despicable methods? We should be fighting honourably and bravely on the battlefield rather than hiding your fears and weaknesses like this.”
Metatro jeered. “Fear and weakness? Are you saying that we are not brave nor strong enough? You should try capturing the Pharaoh yourself!”
This sentence burned Orbene to the core. Amon waved his hand and said, “The Head of the Nanar brigade. I did not expect to see you here. I wonder, should I leave you a word of good luck? I think our armies have had their fair share of fighting, but now we are in the presence of the king. Sit down and eat well, my lord, and remain courteous!”
Their lunch was silent while old words were repeated. Amon persuaded Hittite to negotiate to allow the Pharaoh to withdraw once they agreed to three conditions, thus ending the war. Orbene and Vyven were not in charge and the king did not give a definite opinion, not to mention he couldn’t make a decision under his current circumstances.
Vyven came to rescue the king, but instead, he ended up analysing the state in the tent. Once he saw the magic array under Amon and spoke with Celia, he realised that there was no way to ensure the safety of the king, hence, he chose to wait.
The people in the camp were waiting for dinnertime, where they will finally meet Golier and Juguli., the commander-in-chief of the battlefield and the prime minister of Hittite! This dinner was the climax of the day.
As soon as Golier arrived, he asked to meet the king. After he symbolically obtained the king’s grace, he immediately ordered Orbene and Vyven to return to camp to look over their brigade, warning them not to neglect the war ahead. Golier saw everything clearly. It was impossible to rescue the king directly from Amon. Even without Tiamat’s Wrath, Amon would surely take the king’s life long before he dies.
To defeat Amon, Golier would have to do it himself, but such a move would provide little to no reward.
At dinner, the king sat once again in his throne while Metatro stood by his side watchfully. The light emanating from the Lamp of Pursuit shone on the table softly, illuminating the dining area. Amon sat on the left while Juguli and Golier set opposite of him. It looked as though the king and his group of lords were discussing things.
The same conversation at breakfast and lunch played through at dinner again. Golier listened thoughtfully, stroking his beard. He twisted the loose hairs sticking out from his beard and smiled and asked, “Amon, I admire your actions, but what makes you think we will accept your proposal? Have you considered, son, that you cannot escape this place, and this is how it will continue until the entire army of Ejypt is destroyed, and the Kingdom of Hittite will achieve its goals in the end anyway? Think about your destiny. You cannot hold the king forever, you cannot stay here, entrapped, forever.”
Amon smiled back. “I have thought of all those possibilities, my lord. I will just try my best. Honourable supreme mage, may I invite you to another game of chess? The chessboard and pieces are ready.”
The tableware on the table was quickly removed. Amon took out a military sand table from nowhere. In the middle of the sand table was an ocean. Hittite and Ejypt were across the sea from each other, connected by a bay and the desert. They could reach each other by land. The northern edge of the desert was the main battlefield for both sides of the war. The chess pieces on the chessboard were the distribution of forces between the two countries. Amon invited Golier to continue the fight on the sand table.
Silavin: Again, one chapter this week. 4K words… wow.
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