"General Miorich, is my father inside?" A handsome young man stepped out of the transport portal. Next to him was another man, just as young and handsome. Judging by his robes, he was already a high-level mage.
"My lord, His Grace is already waiting for you." Miorich dipped his head. "And this is…?"
"This is my friend, Brufit."
"Ah, the friend you've mentioned in your letter. The one that saved your life."
Miorich hesitated, then moved out of the way, "this way, my lord."
The oldest prince of the Maho Empire, Wester, smiled, nodded, and walked into the great hall. Miorich followed the two silently. He was the leader of the King's Guards and had to be on guard at all times. The prince was not an object of concern, but the young man Brufit was. They had only met once, and Miorich did not know who he really was.
The emperor of Maho, Yolanthe, appeared to be a young man. If it wasn't for the wrinkles around his eyes and his slightly bloated physique, he could have passed for a thirty year old. Seeing Wester, he dropped his scepter and hurried over with his arms wide open, "Son! It's good to see you back here. I heard you ran into some trouble on the road?"
"Father." Wester hurried over and embraced his father. "It was because of my carelessness. I apologize for the trouble."
"You saved my son?" Yolanthe's gaze turned to Brufit. "Tell me your name, child. You saved the hope of the empire, and I will repay you for your kind act."
"You're too kind, Your Grace," Brufit said. "Anyone with honor would not have stood idly by. It is my honor to help a prince."
"Well said." Yolanthe laughed as he sat down on the throne. "Honor lives. Wester, you've taken care of your business?"
"No, Father. I heard Alisen Empire's Dark Moon Legion arrived at the front line, and we were facing immense threats. I was worried and thought my business could wait."
"Really?" Yolanthe looked around. This kind of confidential military information could not be kept secret forever, but Wester shouldn't have known about it so fast. The only explanation was that there was someone who had leaked information. After twenty years on the throne, there was no way Yolanthe didn't understand this. Wester had already began gathering his own informants.
"Father, I only have one request," Wester said, kneeling down in front of Yolanthe.
"Speak," Yolanthe said, looking at his son, smiling.
"Our empire is facing an incredible threat. As the eldest son, I cannot sit idly by! Father, I request to go to the front line immediately, so that I may help Granden with the threats from the Alisen Empire."
Yolanthe didn't say anything. Wester was his oldest son, and he had watched Wester grow up. Wester had just started on his road to power, and his plans couldn't evade Yolanthe's eyes. Wester claimed that he wanted to help Granden, but he really wanted to limit Granden's power.
His request was impressive, but Yolanthe could not agree. Granden was a supervisor. With two supervisors, the front line would be filled with quarrels and infighting.
To Yolanthe, Wester was amazing. He was smart, cunning, and knew how to talk his way into things. He was Yolanthe's oldest legitimate son as well, and for the longest time Yolanthe had plans for Wester to take over the throne once he died. However, he was concerned about Wester's ambition. He could not endure his brothers being better than him in any field. When they were, he had to prove he was better.
Even before Alisen sent the Dark Moon Legion, Yolanthe had already detected Alisen's intention of launching a full-scale war. So he sent out Wester to meet someone. Yolanthe knew Wester had never experienced a truly harsh situation, and he was worried Wester would make mistakes, so he had told his entire plan to the man Wester was going to meet. Yolanthe told him to strike a marriage between Wester and the Shansa Empire. This would relieve tension and draw the army from the eastern front to face Alisen Empire.
He never thought that Wester would turn back halfway, overturning his entire plan. After the message, Yolanthe was disappointed, to say the least.
As a father, Yolanthe was amazing. He didn't show how upset he was in his expression and instead had tried to lighten the mood, so that he wouldn't hurt Wester's pride. But for a king to protect his child so much, was he choosing to do the right thing?
"Father," seeing that Yolanthe had remained silent, Wester urged him on.
Yolanthe sighed, ripping off a piece of bamboo from a curtain nearby and tossing it to Wester. "Break it."
Wester blinked but did as he was told.
Yolanthe asked a maid to roll the curtain together and tossed it to Wester again. "Break it."
"Father," Wester frowned. "This is impossible."
"Because it's too thick!"
"You're wrong," Yolanthe said. "It is because they are united. I cannot compare to Baidah or Miorich in terms of military tactics. I cannot compare to Saul in magic, or to Scotty in knowledge. And yet, I am the emperor. Do you know why?"
Wester stared at his father, speechless.
"Compare to the powerful and the skilled, I am the weakest," Yolanthe said, pacing to the curtain and breaking off a piece of bamboo. "You can break me, just like this."
"But," Yolanthe said, unfolding the curtain. He placed the piece of bamboo inside and bundled it together. "Who can break me now?"
Wester looked at the curtain, then back to his father, and sank into deep thought.
"As a king, you must learn how to unite and accept. Accept forgivable mistakes and unite all that you can. That is the only way to become the most powerful man." Yolanthe didn't want to give up on Wester, and wanted to help him understand the situation with his words.
"When Baery became a top-tier swordmaster, I left my scepter and my good clothes behind, and we drank ourselves unconscious in the tavern. When Miorich became a gold knight, I…"
"Your Grace!" Miorich interrupted, fluttered. They obviously did something embarrassing.
"What are you scared of?" Yolanthe grinned.
Miorich looked away, still blushing, and did not make any eye contact.
Yolanthe's eyes turned to Wester, "Child, do not be envious of your subjects' success. Do not strip them of their glories. Otherwise," his voice turned sharp, his scepter turning to his son. "Otherwise, you have no right to sit on that throne."
Wester stared but didn't say anything.
"Granden has always liked the military, and he is stronger in that field than you and I. Let him worry about the war. Do not interrupt him." Yolanthe rubbed his temples. "Once the war broke out, my work increased. I'm old now. Stay, help me."
"I understand," Wester whispered.
Yolanthe waved his hand. Wester stepped out of the hall, wiping his brows. In his memories, his father was always kind and loving, but today his words were so pointed that Wester didn't know how to deal with it.
"My lord, are we still going to the frontline?" Brufit asked.
"What do you think?"
"Stop that. Stop all of that," Wester growled. "I can feel it. Father is angry with me. I can't be too careless right now."
"I understand." Brufit nodded.
The two stepped into a portal and activated it. Wester, standing in the front, couldn't see it, but Brufit's left pinky suddenly became a fragment of a bone. A drop of black liquid fell silently onto the portal and disappeared. When they emerged from the portal, his finger had returned to normal.
"My lord, where are we going?"
"To my mother. My father always listens to my mother. She will talk some sense into him."
"Ah," Brufit said. "My lord is wise."
"From what I can tell… Father always liked me. If I had known about this, I wouldn't have returned."
"My lord, these small problems will surely be resolved soon by your brilliance."
"Hopefully." Wester sighed.
On the other side of the portal, a grey shadow abruptly appeared. It stared at the portal and, finally, sighed.