Chapter 252: A high rank
Han Shuo was overjoyed upon hearing that his rank had jumped up by two ranks. He quickly handed his iron identity badge over to Candide.
The Dark Mantle organization existed on an enormous scale, holding various resources of the Empire. Candide and the other two heavyweights held power that placed them under one person and above ten thousands. No one could afford to overlook them. Promotions here were directly tied to greater benefits and access to information that others had no idea of.
Holding Han Shuo’s badge, Candide couldn’t conceal his excitement as he went back to his seat. He changed the rank indicated on the badge before handing it back to Han Shuo. The stars on the back of the iron badge had disappeared, replaced by four crescent moons.
“Many thanks, Lord Candide!” Han Shuo glanced at the badge and placed it back into his space ring. He smiled and thanked Candide.
Candide spread his hands, the odd smile still hanging on his face. His mood was great as he laughed joyfully, “No need to thank me. This is the reward you deserved. You, brat, are very good. It hasn’t even been a year since you joined and you’re already a rank four Dark Moon. What a miracle.”
“This was just thanks to my good luck and also master’s promotion!” Han Shuo wasn’t arrogant or cocky as he replied humbly.
“Alright, alright, you little bootlicker of a brat!” Candide laughed loudly as he heckled Han Shuo a bit. Then he raised his brows and looked at him closely, “I want to know all the details of how you came across this handwritten notebook.”
Han Shuo knew early on that Candide would carefully question this matter, so he’d already prepared a story. He briefly described the situation at the forbidden land, hiding what needed to be hidden and saying what he could say. Han Shuo gave the credit of lifting the confining force completely to the Cyclops and Gold Dragon, saying only that he was extremely lucky. He was careful enough to say that only after the two big creatures left did he enter the forbidden land and obtain the handwritten notebook.
Candide was amazed after Han Shuo had finished. He murmured, “I didn’t expect the legendary forbidden land to be so strange that no one would be able to leave. Now that it’s lost that power of imprisonment, it’s still simply unbelievable. Could it be that demigod Ayermike died there? There is something weird about this.”
“I carefully swept over that area once. After the two super rank creatures left, there was nothing left except for the tombstone. Even if you have someone go to investigate, I’m afraid there is nothing left to discover.” When leaving the forbidden land, Han Shuo had erased all traces that had been left behind in it. Even if Candide really sent someone there, they wouldn’t find anything.
“Is that so?” Candide said softly and continued, “However I should still send someone to investigate. This is related to the deity Ayermike, so it shouldn’t be dealt with carelessly. I think his Majesty would do the same.”
“Up to you! I’m not going to go back there. I’ve just returned from that place and didn’t find anything after searching every nook and cranny!” Han Shuo appeared uninterested in this mission, as he shrugged his arms in seeming laziness.
“Up to you, if you don’t want to, then I’ll just find someone else!” Candide glanced at Han Shuo and didn’t nag him. He gave Han Shuo a puzzled look then said, “Right, if you don’t have anything there, why keep running into that Dark Forest? That area isn’t for ordinary folk to enter!”
“Heh heh, not answering this question is also my right, isn’t it?” Han Shuo laughed shamelessly because he knew that the Dark Mantle couldn’t pry into its members’ private matters.
Glaring at Han Shuo, Candide helplessly waved his hand and said, “Forget it, forget it. You already brought back this item, so I don’t care for your private matters. In giving me this handwritten notebook, you’ve already done a deed of great merit in public, and so I owe you a big favor in private.”
“That’s great!” Han Shuo laughed joyfully then inquired, “Mhm, good. I’ve already reported in, so if there is nothing else, I’ll be leaving first. I still have some other things to deal with!”
“Wait wait!” Candide stopped him, them murmured, “I’ve actually prepared a mission for you, but since you brat could even come back alive from the depths of the Dark Forest, and you’re a necromancy adept mage now, this simple mission seems unsuitable for you now.”
“Well, I have three that are a little more difficult. The first is to go to Balthazar City and assassinate a traitor called Angel. This traitor has an official role in Balthazar City, so all of his acts appear to be legitimate, so we can only assassinate him in order to avoid troubles.”
The second is to go to the Bimson City in the north of the Empire. It’s said that someone stored a large amount of weapons within the barren hills around the city. We need to send someone to investigate this. The third mission is to guard someone you know, Prince Lawrence.
Eh, even though his identity hasn’t officially been recognized, I think you already know of it. This third mission was personally issued by His Majesty the King. Although he’s already arranged some of his own men, the King is still worried that it’s not enough. You can participate if you’re interested.”
Assessing the matter a bit, Han Shuo believed that there was still some danger on Phoebe’s side. He’d just returned to the Empire and still had a lot of things that he needed to handle, so he couldn’t leave immediately. Han Shuo said, “Alright, I choose the third mission. I’m already familiar with Lawrence anyway, so protecting him is killing two birds with one stone!”
“Then it’s up to you. However, Lawrence’s identity is special, so you have to tread carefully to avoid bringing trouble upon yourself!” Candide had long reminded Han Shuo to deal with Lawrence properly. He once again advised the same when Han Shuo accepted the mission, explaining that it would even be more intense once the princes began their fight for power.
“Rest assured, I understand!” Han Shuo nodded in understanding. Then he hesitated for a moment and asked, “Master Candide, what kind of person is this Duke Ashburn?”
Candide was surprised for a moment and stared at Han Shuo suspiciously. “Why? Does he want to recruit you?”
Shaking his head, Han Shuo said in a low voice, “That’s not it. I think I may have offended him, so I reckon that he won’t let me off easily.”
Shocked, Candide said with a darkened expression, “Politically speaking, Grand Duke Ashburn is the Empire’s minister of operations. His younger sister is the Queen, so he is the uncle of the eldest son, Prince Charles. This person is vile and always seeks revenge for the slightest grievances. He reigns over a large amount of death sworn warriors, relying on his position and the covert support of the Queen to murder many of his political enemies. You must be careful after offending him.”
“Are you afraid of him?” Han Shuo was silent for a while before he suddenly asked.
Rolling his eyes at Han Shuo, Candide said, “It’s not that I’m afraid of him, but more that I don’t wish to recklessly provoke him. You already know that our Dark Mantle is the King’s hand in the shadows. Everything we do represents the king. Particularly us three rank five Dark Suns are directly under his charge.”
When the King is still healthy, no one can do anything to us. Even Ashburn has to tread carefully, preventing us from grasping his weak points. However, once his Majesty the King abdicates and the power shifts, if the new king nullifies our authority, Ashburn won’t have any more scruples about moving against us. Do you understand?”
Nodding, Han Shuo said in a low voice, “I understand. Alright, I’m going to find Lawrence then!”
Han Shuo immediately turned to leave after speaking. Candide suddenly spoke up just when he was about to leave, “You are one of mine, and as you are now a rank four Dark Moon, even if Ashburn wants to deal with you, he’ll have to be cautious. Heh heh, since I’ve received the handwritten notebook of Ayermike this time, I’ll help you in a moment of need!”
“Thank you!” Han Shuo turned his head and sincerely thanked Candide, then left the room.
Leaving Mt. Ordas through transportation matrices, Han Shuo headed for the house of Finance Minister Eevee. He intended to ask about how Lawrence was getting along and how things were on his side.
“I’m Bryan. I’ve come to call upon Lawrence. Please notify those within for me.” Han Shuo smiled at the guard after arriving at Lawrence’s house.
Han Shuo had long been aware that clothes made the man. He was adorned in a perfectly tailored blue warrior outfit, the collar trimmed with several precious stone fragments. While Han Shuo looked capable and alert, the confident smile on his face made him appear even more unusual.
The guard, who normally looked down on folks, realized that this was an exceptional person. He didn’t dare to make things difficult for Han Shuo and respectfully said, “Please wait a moment” and quickly went inside.
Lawrence personally came out not long afterwards. He already started laughing heartily before reaching Han Shuo, “You’ve finally returned! I came to look for you at the necromancy department several times already.”
Several unfamiliar faces walked behind Lawrence. Each possessed an extraordinarily calm bearing. They were evidently experts with great skills. What Candide had said wasn’t wrong indeed. Lawrence was exceedingly cautious about his safety.
“Alright, nothing should happen in broad daylight. You guys can stop following me.” Lawrence turned his head to say after walking out. He then strode quickly towards Han Shuo and gave the latter a warm hug, saying, “Why have you suddenly remembered to come looking for me?”
“Eh, I actually didn’t remember to look for you, just that I was tasked with a mission and that’s why I came!” Han Shuo explained honestly as he smiled wryly at Lawrence.
Lawrence was stunned and then laughed out loud, “So that’s why! It doesn’t matter, it’s good that you’ve come.”
“Come come come, come with me. We can find a comfortable place to chat.” Lawrence dragged Han Shuo along, making straight for the carriage at the entrance.
Seeing that Lawrence was coming, the normally lazy coachman immediately became extremely spirited. He hastily ran to the side and lifted the curtains for Lawrence to enter. The unfamiliar experts spread out, either blatantly or covertly following behind, carefully ensuring the prince’s safety.
“Go to the Rose Garden at the north workshop!” Lawrence ordered the coachman as soon as they had settled down.
“What’s that?” Han Shuo was practically dragged into the carriage by Lawrence. He couldn’t help but ask after the carriage started to move.
“Heh heh, you’ll know when we get there. Don’t concern yourself so much. Tell me, where did you go to mess around after we parted ways?” Lawrence smiled mysteriously, asking Han Shuo.
“Nothing much, I just stayed idle in the Valley of Sunshine for a while, then went to the Dark Forest to kill some magical beasts.” Han Shuo smiled slightly. He responded effortlessly and concealed everything.
“It can’t be that simple. I heard from junior sister Phoebe that you did some stunning things in the Valley of Sunshine! Heh heh, you guys made such a mess of the Rainbow Sickle mercenary band. Did you really think I’m that ignorant?” Lawrence made a you-don’t-consider-me-your-brother face. He squinted his eyes and curled his lip at Han Shuo.
“Hehe, it was really nothing. Speaking of your junior sister Phoebe, you’re her senior brother and yet you don’t know anything. Her merchant guild was insulted and bullied, and you actually didn’t help her?” Han Shuo wrinkled his brows, reflecting the blame back onto Lawrence.
Lawrence paused and was surprised by these these words. He then furrowed his brow and asked with puzzlement, “What happened?”
Han Shuo looked carefully at Lawrence and hesitated. He asked in surprise, “You don’t know?”
“This junior sister of mine doesn’t like owing anyone favors. Whenever something happens, she never wants to bother others. I know her temper, so I just didn’t know what exactly happened.” Lawrence replied frankly.
“It’s like this, Cameron’s merchant alliance wanted to acquire the Boozt Merchant Guild. Cameron seems to be backed by Duke Ashburn and almost captured Phoebe in the guild.” Han Shuo’s face was cold and grave.
Suddenly furious, Lawrence slammed his hand on the carriage. He coldly snorted, “Ashburn seems to spare no effort for Charles huh? Such despicable means.”
Stopping for a moment, Lawrence heaved a long sigh, “Oh Phoebe, really. I could’ve helped her with this, but she still won’t confide in me. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have even known had she been taken over by Cameron’s merchant alliance.”
Thanks to the Dark Mantle’s intelligence network, Han Shuo had a general understanding of Lawrence’s abilities. He also knew that Lawrence’s men in the Gryphon Legion had taken complete control of Valen City and had now become the new chief of the Gryphon Legion.
Moreover, if Lawrence won the favor of the king, then his identity as the prince could be officially recognized. As such, he would have hopes in becoming king.
“Bryan, you offended Ashburn this time. It looks like even if we didn’t want to be good friends, it’d be hard not to.” Lawrence looked deeply at Han Shuo and said, “I currently have a good position for you. If you wish, I can help you quickly obtain a high rank in the army. This also wouldn’t conflict with your identity in the Dark Mantle. What do you think?”