'Greatbear of the Rusted Blood -- Shame of the Empire!'
That was the new headline Melindor daily used a few days after Kurdak's capture. Even though he hadn't been brought back yet, word of his capture by the wandering lance had spread.
In the article, the newspaper described Kurdak as a deserter who attacked a kingdom official and harmed the first prince. Every single one of those allegations was a huge offense. Some other tabloids irresponsibly guessed that Kurdak was a spy sent by the Stokian military.
In an instant, everyone in Melindor was enraged. A small number of people even held a protest parade in the center of the capital and demanded for the empire to rescind the military merit given to Kurdak and have him beheaded. Some 'patriots' even believed that everyone associated with Kurdak should die as well as they could be spies from Stok too.
Leguna powdered the office desk he spent hundreds of gold coins on in anger. Sawdust could be seen all over the floor.
Xeno lowered his head as he bore Leguna's rage. He knew that his boss was more than pissed and all he had to do now was to quietly listen to his instructions without making any movement or sound.
"What's going on?" Leguna said as he looked at Xeno with a grim look, "Didn't I say not to pursue bo-- Kurdak? Why did he end up captured?"
"Information about Kurdak wasn't provided by the bureau." Xeno had made his preparations in advance and handed Leguna some documents. "We never revealed any information to other parties. Kurdak's location was detected by other departments in the administration…"
"Then why didn't you remind me?!" Leguna roared like an angered lion.
"Sir… I did inform you about it, but you instructed me to ignore it…"
[Don't vent your anger on unrelated people!] Only Gahrona could reprimand him in such a situation.
Leguna closed his eyes tight and took deep breathes and recalled that Xeno did, in fact, tell him about this a few days ago. He had said that Kurdak was rather tightly pursued over the past few days and there was probably another intelligence agency tailing him. Back then, Leguna was still angry about being betrayed by Kurdak and chose to ignore the information. Xeno had mentioned it to Leguna twice, to no avail.
Leguna subconsciously believed that it wouldn't be hard for Kurdak to escape from Hocke.
However, he predicted something wrong. He had never expected that Kurdak would hang around in the north. No matter how badly he was chased, he never left the empire. That was because he was still trying to find a chance to capture Alan and figuring out some other methods to rescue Vera. Eventually, his range of activity got more and more restricted and it wasn't surprising he ended up captured.
When he had heard Kurdak was being chased to the ends of the world, all Leguna felt was delight. You wanted to kill me to raise your status? Come on! Let's see how you do it! Oh, wait, you're being pursued like a dog right now and running with your tail between your legs!
But when Kurdak really ended up captured, Leguna felt only rage and regret. Would he really let Kurdak die just like that? Even if Kurdak had been using him, he did save his life before.
He was fraught with hesitation.
"Sir… Do you want me to do something about it?" Xeno asked.
"What can you do about it? It's the Wandering Lance we're talking about!"
"It's true that the one who captured him is the Wandering Lance, but that man has close ties with His Highness Alissanda," Xeno said. "If we reach out to His Highness, he might go talk to his teacher for our sake. After all, even saints are human. There will be times when they doze off or fail to pay attention, so there's nothing odd about a person or two disappearing, is there?"
"You actually dare to do something like this under the nose of the emperor?"
Leguna said with a cold glare and noticed that he didn't quite understand this Stokian after all. While he appeared obedient and easygoing on the surface, he could do some surprising things. Going to cosy up to Alissanda at a time like this would definitely not sit well with Larwin. What in the world was he thinking?
"I wouldn't dare!" Xeno looked straight at Leguna and said sincerely, "I only feel that despite the unpleasant disagreements between Kurdak and you, Sir, you still see him as someone important. I'm only trying to help you save him! I have no other motives!
If Xeno had kept his head low just now, Leguna might've suspected an ulterior motive. However, he had said that while locking eyes and showed only sincerity without the slightest hint of avoidance. He didn't seem like he would be lying.;
Leguna softened his attitude and said, "Let me think about it…"
He pondered in silence for a long time, thinking back at how Kurdak had cared for him, how he didn't cut his head off that night but broke his heart, and how the two of them cut off all relation.
After half an hour of grueling thought, he shook his head firmly. "No! He has nothing to do with me! You don't have to worry about this!"
"Sir!" Xeno looked like he wanted to say something else as if he was more concerned about Kurdak than Leguna.
"Shut it!" Leguna yelled, "This matter is settled! Get the heck out of here and stop bothering me!"
A complicated look flashed across Xeno's face. He seemed disappointed with a hint of regret and apology. He quickly hid his inner feelings and said, "Since your mind is made up, I won't say anything else. I'll take my leave now."
After Xeno left, Leguna sat back in his chair dispiritedly and muttered, "I'm sorry…"
[Since you're sorry, why not help him?] Gahrona asked.
[But I just can't forgive him.] Leguna recalled their heated fight that night. If Kurdak was before him now, he might want to fight him there and then. He would step on Kurdak's head and curse him for being so heartless.
[Humans really are contradictory creatures. Even though you have something you want, you stop yourself from getting it because of some crazy reason and would rather do without it. Whatever, at least, you'll be able to retain your position in the empire this way.]
Leguna didn't make a sound. He sat in his chair blankly for an hour before getting someone to get him a new table for him to continue his work.
That night, he got into an argument the first time ever in his life. Leguna had always treated her warmly and Eirinn was always easygoing and non-confrontational. They would never get into any heated fights.
Yet, he still got into the half-elf who understood him the most.
Eirinn insisted on getting Leguna to rescue Kurdak, but he simply didn't agree no matter what. They each brought up their reasons for why they did what they did. But this time around, Leguna didn't agree with her like he usually did and Eirinn was surprisingly stubborn.
In the end, Annelotte and Innilis, whom Eirinn forcefully dragged over, got involved. It was three women against one man. Leguna had to face the sharp-tongued Innilis, Annelotte, who would lash out at him for the smallest reason, and Eirinn, who knew the maze of his heart like the back of her hand.
He didn't stand much of a chance from the very beginning, but he stubbornly kept to his viewpoint like a cockroach that wouldn't die. No matter what the three girls did, whether it be gentle advice, threats, or baits, he didn't relent.
In the end, the three of them wasn't able to make him change his mind. Even Annelotte seemed genuinely mad.
"You don't care? Whatever! I'm a principal of a magic academy so at least I might be able to do something! We don't need your help for this!" Annelotte said before she left.
The other two tagged along like her minions and left without and goodbyes.
[What are you waiting for? Why are you being so stubborn?] Gahrona asked.
[I need a reason…] He sat in his chair with his arms hugging his head. [I have more than enough reason to get Kurdak killed, but I don't have even one to save him. Why am I always the wrong one? Why do I always have to bear the consequences?]
No matter how conflicted he felt about it, Leguna didn't act. A few days later, Kurdak was sent to Melindor by Kevin and locked up in the capital's dungeon.Previous Chapter Next Chapter