TALES OF A WITCHER - Season 6 Episode 23
In the evening, Calvin Kant summoned the nobles of the Northern Region to the castle.
The fireplace in the banquet room burned brightly with swaying flames, causing the guests’ shadows on the walls to dance up and down as if they formed a very unusual painting.
Four long tables traversed the hall, each placed full of steaming hot meat dishes and wine. It appeared to be a highly sumptuous dinner, yet the atmosphere was not relaxed at all. This was even more so after the Duke announced that King’s City had been seized.
“I’ve dispatched men to rescue the platoon that was sent out four days ago. Thankfully, they’ve returned alive,” he declared in a deep voice while sitting on the host’s seat. “But today, the question I want to ask you is… what should we do about the Northern Region?”
The nobles looked around the room blankly. Perhaps, the news that Timothy was defeated in a day was so astonishing that everyone in the hall was speechless and afraid to reply. Calvin could see the fear and regret in the eyes of the lower nobles. “Edith was right. We can’t depend on these people to defend against Roland Wimbledon. Dividing the land was never an option from the beginning—there’s only one path ahead.”
However, for the nobles who had only recently sought refuge with Timothy, it was rather embarrassing to openly turn around and switch allegiance.
“Why don’t we send a spy to eavesdrop on Prince Roland?” Someone in the room suggested after a long period of silence.
“If he doesn’t disturb the Northern Region, we may as well endorse him as the new king.” These words immediately garnered the approval of another noble. “These are the Wimbledon Family’s issues. It doesn’t make a difference to us who becomes the king.”
Upon hearing this, Earl of Lista laughed grimly. “No difference?”
Calvin frowned slightly and knew that the keynote was coming.
Indeed, after the Earl spoke, everyone in the room became silent, and this made Calvin feel a little uncomfortable. In reality, the three families were equal in strength, while the Kant Family was slightly inferior to the others. It was only because he had heeded his daughter’s advice and was first to play up to Timothy that he was able to obtain the position of Duke.
Of course, he also understood that this was one of the new king’s balancing tactics. Timothy was probably glad that the other two families belittled and were dissatisfied with him.
“Have you forgotten about Duke Ise? He was arrested for treason and executed.” Lista asked the room callously. “He didn’t actively provoke Timothy. If we admit defeat so early on, the noose may be tied around our necks at any time, and it would then be too late to struggle! In Prince Roland’s view, we’ve already participated in treason and none of us can deny our relations with Timothy!”
“What else can we do but admit defeat? If King’s City couldn’t even last a day, we would simply be throwing eggs at a rock…” One of Calvin’s feudatories, who looked like he had lost his usual vigor, retorted softly, in accordance with the agreement. Under the incensed gaze of the Earl, he was unable to enunciate the latter half of his sentence.
“Even if we only have eggs, I’ll try my best,” Ed Howes proclaimed. “The rebel king murdered my elder brother! He has to pay for it!”
“It may not be us holding the eggs. The Northern Region’s full of hills and mountains, and dangerous roads are all over. Roland’s army may be able to travel quickly over plains and rivers, but it’ll be a whole new game here.” Earl Howes followed up swiftly. “At worst, the Horsehead Family will retreat to Coldwind Ridge, where I don’t believe that his army will be able to reach.”
“That’s as good as baring your entire back to the church,” Calvin silently thought. “Those f*ckers don’t harbor any good intention for the Northern Region either.” He had heard about what happened to the eldest son of the Howes Family. “It appears that he died in a fight against the lord of the Western Region… but death is inevitable in any war. If shouting could injure or kill enemies, there won’t be a need for weapons and armor.”
The hall started to become rowdy. As the Lista and Howes families stated their opinions, the voices which proposed to “halt the troops and get ready to fight the advancing enemy” gradually suppressed the ones which proposed to “actively pry on Prince Roland’s position and express friendliness.” Although Calvin remained silent throughout this discussion, he was beginning to feel quite anxious.
Surely Edith hasn’t run into trouble?
“What does the Honorable Duke think?” His long silence had become suspicious, and Earl Lista was now staring straight at him.
Calvin’s heart froze when he knew it was his turn to say something. “I brought all of you here tonight because I wanted to listen to everyone’s opinion. This matter is important to the future of the Northern Region and we can’t be too careful…”
Earl Howes interrupted him impatiently. “Enough! I’ve got a feeling that you’ve already planned to swear allegiance to Prince Roland. Why else would all those who expressed cowardly opinions happen to be your feudatories? If we’re to hand over power meekly now, we’ll just become lambs to the slaughter!”
“You…” Calvin felt an urge to toss his wine glass at the Earl but managed to refrain himself in time.
“Since that’s the case, we have nothing else to discuss.” Lista stood up and headed towards the banquet hall’s exit. “By the way, if you want Prince Roland to spare your pathetic life, you may offer Edith, all tied up, to him. I’ve heard that he highly appreciates beauty… ugh…”
The audience’s laughter ceased as the Earl turned silent unexpectedly. A sword tip visibly protruded out of his back. The blood stains on the blade seemed to shimmer dimly under the light from the fireplace.
“Are you talking about me, Sir Snow Fox? I can’t pretend that I didn’t hear what you said.”
The Earl’s body collapsed onto the floor feebly. The tall and lean figure of an armored warrior appeared in front of everyone. She pulled her sword out nonchalantly, stepped over the Earl who was still squirming in utter pain, and walked into the hall.
It was none other than Edith Kant herself.
Calvin immediately felt a great sense of relief.
Her armor plates were stained full of blood, an evidence that she had just been in a violent fight. Even so, she was as composed and elegant as ever—she had the face of a beautiful smiling assassin. A platoon of warriors followed behind her and surrounded the hall in the blink of an eye. By now, everyone that was present understood what had happened.
“The guards!” Earl Howes’ eyes widened as he spoke. “What have you done to the guards outside…”
“How can I deal with you lot if I hadn’t disposed of them first?” Calvin exhaled a sigh of relief and smashed his glass on the floor. “You seem to have forgotten that I’m the one in charge here!”
He had long awaited this moment. This kind of banquet was held every once in a few days, and as such, most of the nobles did not take many precautions. They were each accompanied by less than 100 servants, most of whom they instructed to keep watch outside the castle area. It was the perfect opportunity to capture all of them together. After the guards had been taken care of, the rest was easy.
Of course, the person who planned and executed this trap was his daughter—the Pearl of the Northern Region, Edith.
As the exit doors of the banquet hall were slowly shut, the flames in the fireplace seemed to wobble for the last time.
The feudatories of the other two families pulled out their swords. By contrast, the lower nobles seemed shell-shocked.
“Are you out of your mind?” Ed Howes snapped angrily.
But Calvin had no time for a war of words. “If you put down your weapons and surrender, you’ll be spared.” All resistors will be killed!”
As the words left his tongue, two factions of people began to brawl.