Once Han Shuo returned to his official residence, Kallas immediately reported to Han Shuo that third prince Lawrence had been waiting for him all along.
Lancelot Empire's King Uhtred originally had three princes, eldest prince Charles, second prince Cyril and youngest prince Beverly. Of the three princes, eldest prince Charles was intrepid and fond of battle, second prince Cyril was a while the youngest prince was only fifteen, still yet to be considered an adult.
(TL note: I know Beverly is more commonly known as a feminine name, but, 1. That's what is written in the raws. 2. Beverly was traditionally a commonly given masculine name.)
When Lawrence's identity was revealed, he became the third prince. However, the title of third prince was only what the public addressed him as on the surface. The way they silently criticized him was hidden within their hearts.
Han Shuo had just returned to his residence when he found out from Kallas that Lawrence was waiting for him, causing him to exclaim internally at Lawrence's information network. After entering Ossen City from Brettel City, Han Shuo had never showed his face to anyone, only visiting the Babylon Academy of Magic and Force, as well as the Dark Mantle Headquarters. News from Brettel City should not have arrived that quickly. It was evident from Lawrence's arrival that he had other quick information channels.
Compared to his former cheerfulness, Lawrence's expression had an added gloominess. It was unclear if it was because things recently had not gone according to his wishes, Lawrence's temperament had become colder. However when he saw Han Shuo enter, he still embraced Han Shuo while laughing heartily.
After an intimate discussion with Candide, Han Shuo had a new level of understanding toward Lawrence's plans and thoughts. Seeing Lawrence initiating a hug, Han Shuo also had a happy expression hugging Lawrence tightly out of a sudden. He then enquired on Lawrence's health, still laughing loudly.
After exchanging pleasantries, Han Shuo waved his hand to instruct the servant that had sent light refreshments to withdraw. He lightly sipped on his cup of tea that originated from the south of Oden Empire, before looking toward Lawrence and said, "It hasn't been long since we met, I didn't expect that the situation has already reached such an extent."
"Bryan, there's finally news of you. This period of time, my days in the capital have been unbearable. Charles has been undermining me and currently within the capital. Apart from my foster father and Uncle Boris, none of the nobles support me. Ai, this is because my identity is relatively awkward. I know those nobles despise me. However, this situation isn't something I can avoid. Otherwise, Charles and the rest definitely wouldn't let me off." Lawrence didn't hypocritically say anything else, getting right to the point and venting out his current predicament.
Of the other three princes, eldest prince Charles had Grand Duke Ashburn's support. On top of that, his mother was also the current queen. Hence he was the most likely to succeed the throne. Second prince Cyril was usually in the capital and had friendly relations with every powerful noble, conducting himself as someone who was good natured and understood the will of the people. Hence, there was also a group of nobles that supported him.
Although the youngest prince Beverly was not yet considered an adult, his mother was the woman the king currently loved the most dearly. With her constantly whispering sweet nothings to the king, Uhtred appeared to extremely love Beverly. Furthermore, Beverly's grandfather was Northern Bimson City's Marquis and his clan's strength was not to be belittled.
Actually, if not for his overly awkward identity, with his father and uncle's support, in addition to his master being sacred swordmaster Karel Ascot, Lawrence who had joined in belatedly still had some capital. Unfortunately, due to his identity as an illegitimate child, these were not considered as a massive capital, simply unable to provide him with any assurance.
Han Shuo knew from Candide's words that old astrologer Madame Grace had the power to sway the decision with her words. Lawrence's master Karel had not declared his support seemingly also waiting for Madame Grace's opinion. Lawrence did not seem to have an understanding in this field, sighing in despair as he narrated to Han Shuo.
After a while, Han Shuo finally replied, "I've just returned from Dark Mantle and had obtained a piece of extremely important information. Within Dark Mantle, there is a senior astrologer Madame Grace. One word from her is capable to bring about immense benefits for you. The reason why your master has delayed declaring his position is perhaps also due to his consideration of the bigger picture for Lancelot Empire…"
After Han Shuo had described all the information gathered by Dark Mantle to Lawrence once, Lawrence knitted his brows and pondered for a while. He then gazed deeply at Han Shuo, replying, "Bryan, thank you. This information is extremely important. Madame Grace is my father's personal astrologer, and I've heard a few rumors about her. However, astrology is too vague. In any case, I need to make early preparations."
Han Shuo nodded his head, understanding that to a few people that were fond of power, the mysterious astrology wasn't something that would be overly bothered about. Just take the incident this time round. Even though the venerable astrologer Grace said Lawrence would bring prosperity to Lancelot Empire, the other three princes would surely not surrender and willingly yield the throne to Lawrence.
The mysterious astrology was only one aspect. Those that strived for strength and power would definitely not willingly resign to their fates. Lawrence was such a person. When Han Shuo heard Lawrence's narration, he couldn't help thinking of Lawrence's plans and nodding inwardly. Han Shuo knew Lawrence was definitely not easy to deal with.
However, Han Shuo's choice was Lawrence. The tougher Lawrence was to deal with, the more relieved Han Shuo was. He smiled and nodded after hearing what was said, replying, "Be at ease, whatever the final conclusion of the astrology is, myself and Brettel City would stand behind you. Who cares about what divine prophecy, we would still stake it all. Hehe, of course, if the situation is beneficial to us, that would naturally be even better."
"Bryan, thank you. If I am able to succeed the throne, Dark Mantle will only have you as the head in the future." Lawrence solemnly promised Han Shuo.
"I'm not taking into account your promises for the future. I'm only basing on your previous assistance and our friendship, that I spare no effort in aiding you." Han Shuo smiled as he explained to Lawrence. Things in the future were forever hard to predict, nothing was absolute. Promises of the future were just like astrology, both matters only vague and illusory.
"I understand. It looks like I should make a move through Madame Grace. Although I know such an action might be fruitless, i still need to try." Lawrence understood that to characters such as Madame Grace and Karel Ascot, they viewed the future of Lancelot Empire with utmost importance, rather than who obtains power.
After Lawrence received Han Shuo's guarantee, he felt as though a weight has been lifted from his shoulders. He then discussed further with Han Shuo on a few details, before departing Han Shuo's residence.
A while after Lawrence had left, Han Shuo couldn't help knitting his brows as he exited the hall and look toward the adjacent roof. As though he was muttering to himself, he said, "He has already left, why have you still remained here?"
After he said that sentence, a shadow descended from the opposing roof. Bollands, who Han Shuo had previously seen in the Rose Garden, suddenly appeared in front of Han Shuo. A killing intent reeking of blood slowly drifted out, flooding Han Shuo from all directions.
The old assassin Bollands face was covered with scars, appearing terrifyingly malevolent. He had been hiding there ever since Lawrence entered entered Han Shuo's residence. When Han Shuo arrived, he could already sense the strong smell of blood on Bollands' body. He knew that Bollands's objective was to protect Lawrence, hence he didn't bother about his existence.
However, after Lawrence and Han Shuo had finished speaking, Bollands theoretically should have left. Yet, Han Shuo saw that he did not depart together with Lawrence. Hence, he puzzledly stepped out, appearing to be talking to himself as he questioned Bollands.
"How were you able to pinpoint my location?" Bollands somewhat suspiciously inquired, his gaze focused on Han Shuo while killing intent pervaded his whole body.
Han Shuo knew that owing to his hands have been dyed in blood and that he deliberately trained in this aspect, Bollands was able to cause a killing intent to pervade naturally. It wasn't that his heart was filled with killing intent. Han Shuo smiled faintly before saying, "The killing intent on your body is too strong. Also, you don't know how to completely conceal your aura. Naturally I would be able to sense it. Hehe, I suppose that ever since you trained your killing intent, you should have stopped being an assassin?
The top assassins could completely conceal the killing intent from their bodies. Only in that way would they be able to kill the target in one strike before the target can even react. Bollands was formerly one of the finest assassins. However, he clearly focused on researching the users of the killing intent. Gradually, he was unable to contain the strong killing intent and the scent of blood on his body also becoming thicker. To a top assassin, these were unacceptable flaws.
Bollands was stunned from what he heard. After a while, he replied, "That's right, when the killing intent from my body was unable to be concealed anymore, I stopped being an assassin. However, when in actual combat, my killing intent is able to destroy the enemy's willpower. When fighting head on against someone of the same strength, I am able to hold absolute advantage, even two opponents attacking together might not be my opponent."
This person was actually a good sapling. With such a body condition, training in the demonic arts would result in twice the result for half the effort. With Han Shuo's meticulous guidance and by only specializing in a demonic god slaying martial technique, he definitely could become an outstanding character and his strength would also advance rapidly.
"Actually, I have a method to conceal the killing intent on your body and also a way to better control and utilize the killing intent. Heh Heh, your self-created path has similarities with the martial technique I train in. If you train in accordance with my method, you would definitely be able to substantially raise your strength in a short time. Furthermore, there's still unlimited potential to improve." Han Shuo suddenly recalled that King Uhtred previously had the desire to let him inherit the Martial Skills Hall. This Bollands was a suitable candidate, however, the only apprehension Han Shuo had was the relationship between Bollands and sacred swordmaster Karel Ascot.
As long as Bollands cultivated the technique Han Shuo imparted, Han Shuo had complete confidence in controlling Bollands and making him a loyal henchman in the future. Hence, Han Shuo began testing him.