Chapter 357: Collecting on debts
Chaos, the situation had fallen into utter chaos!
The seven grand dukes had originally gathered here in Sakamimir Valley to deal with Brettel City. But for some reason, all these old grudges and new hatred had erupted, with all of the parties attacking each other and turning the entire thing into utter shambles.
At first, they’d only snuck around to assassinate members of the enemy duchy at night. But as the dead kept piling up, fury deprived the seven grand dukes of logic as they started to use their armies. It’d changed from a meeting to discuss an alliance to an outright battlefield.
“What actually happened here?” Red Archbishop Kosse was nursing a bad headache as he questioned Nehem Beige inside the duke’s tent.
Nehem Beige’s headache wasn’t much better. A wry smile was on his face as he spoke to Kosse, “The seven grand duchies have accumulated too many years of deep bone hatred, and a small fuse is enough to ignite the bonfire. Even I am at a loss to stem this.”
“Aii, it seems we really can’t rely on these people. Oh right, say, could it be that Burt Zili of Boulet Duchy has secretly executed some dirty tricks? He’s from the Calamity Church. I think he definitely won’t agree to something happening to that city lord Bryan.” Kosse asked Nehem Beige.
“I don’t know, it’s possible. But it’s a complete madhouse now, and it’s utterly out of my control. It seems that we have to change our plan.” Nehem Beige heaved a long sigh and responded.
“Forget it, I will think of another way.” Kosse replied helplessly.
On the flat plain of Sakamimir Valley, the seven grand duchies, who’d always been enemies, had suddenly gone from secret assassination to open fighting. Han Shuo had only thrown a small stone behind the scenes, he also hadn’t expected the deep bone hatred among the seven grand duchies to be so deep.
Seeing the area around Sakamimir Valley turn into a battlefield, he no longer paid any heed to the situation here. Instead, he chased after Helen Tina, who was returning to Helon Duchy.
Out of the seven grand dukes, Helen Tina had been the first to become disheartened. Right at the beginning of the battle, she’d instantly understood that this alliance matter had gone down the drain. At this moment, Helon Duchy had just been through an civil war, and its strength the weakest. Therefore, Helen Tina made a wise choice to immediately leave the valley and return to her duchy.
After two days on the road, Helen Tina passed down an order for the army to camp in a small mountain valley. After arranging the guards to keep watch on the surroundings, Helen Tina and Firewind went to take a bath at a small hot spring.
“It looks like only upon staring death in the face will they set aside their prejudices!” Helen Tina lay languidly in the hot spring, speaking angrily to Firewind.
The fire phoenix had transformed into her original body. She stood at the edge of the hot spring, cleaning her gorgeous feathers as she spoke in human tongue, “We don’t need to worry about them, just let them bear the consequences of their own actions. With the way the situation is developing, they definitely won’t be able to fight against that ruthless city lord.”
“Right, I still owe that Brettel city lord six hundred thousand gold coins. Aii, this demon. What should I do?” Helen Tina asked the fire phoenix, her expression worried.
“Keep delaying it. Our duchy has just been through a civil war, and all of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of the aristocrats. If we draw six hundred thousand gold coins from our national treasury to pay him, I’m afraid Helon Duchy will officially be in trouble.” The fire phoenix was also very helpless as she advised Helen Tina.
“But that demon is no generous, forgiving person. The longer we drag it out, the more I’m afraid that he’ll create trouble for us.” Helen Tina knew Han Shuo wasn’t the kind sort. She understood how terrifying his power was, so she was truly afraid that he would make a move on them.
As Helen Tina and Firewind were talking, a faint undulation spread from the outside to the opposite end of the hot spring. A shadow soundlessly appeared like a ghost in the darkness on the other side of the hot spring. Then, it suddenly stopped and stood quietly on a protruding rock.
“Hehe, it seems you understand me well, I’m truly honored. That’s right, this demon has come here today to collect the money, so pay up!” The gloomy shadow in the darkness suddenly opened its mouth to speak.
Helen Tina, who’d been bathing in the hot spring, let out a deafening scream. This familiar voice had been the object of her resentment for so long. Helen Tina didn’t need to see the person to know that Han Shuo had arrived.
Still letting out a scream, Helen Tina hastily ducked her smooth shoulders into the water, afraid that Han Shuo would see her white bare skin. The fire phoenix, who’d been cleaning her blazing red feathers, also let out a shrill scream. She flapped her wings and shot towards Han Shuo.
The fire phoenix flapped her wings once, sending a violent flame rolling straight towards Han Shuo. However, Han Shuo didn’t wait for the fire phoenix’s flame to approach. The spring water right before Han Shuo suddenly gathered into a water screen under the influence of magical yuan, churning back at the fire phoenix in a huge wave. It enveloped the flame that she’d shot out.
The hot spring water transformed into a water curtain, instantly extinguishing the surging flame. Not only that, even the fire phoenix was dragged onto the hot spring and became a drenched sorry-looking chicken.
Without waiting for the furious fire phoenix to rise in fury, Han Shuo instantly cackled, “If you guys value the lives of your underlings, don’t be in such a hurry to make a move.”
As these words fell, Helen Tina screamed at the fire phoenix, who was fluttering her wings and about to keep on attacking Han Shuo, “Big sister Firewind, don’t!”
Upon hearing this scream, Firewind immediately stopped. She flapped her wings to fly out of the hot spring and landed next to Helen Tina, before furiously shouting at Han Shuo, “What did you do to them?!”
Helen Tina was a woman, so when she came to bathe in the hot spring, all of the guards around her had to be female. The strength of these female guards weren’t bad, but Helen Tina knew that Han Shuo’s power was even more terrifying. She was worried for their lives, and she was well aware that Firewind wasn’t Han Shuo’s opponent, so she stopped Firewind upon hearing his words.
“Nothing, let’s just get to our business!” Seeing Helen Tina’s body shrink under the hot spring, Han Shuo first asked with a smile, “Grand Duke Helen Tina, your skin truly isn’t bad. Hehe, but you still owe me gold coins, shouldn’t you be paying them back already?”
“You, you demon, shut your shifty eyes!” Helen Tina yelled out, before saying, “I don’t have that many gold coins at the moment. Wait for a while, I’ll pay you back. Don’t worry, I won’t renege on my debt.”
Both Firewind and Helen Tina were experts with fire. This was why Han Shuo had chosen this hot spring to show himself. With this hot spring, ordinary fire magic was basically useless. Upon hearing Helen Tina’s words, Han Shuo said smugly, “Your Grace, lying is a bad habit. I’ve been here for a while already and personally heard your conversation. I think, you should just take out six hundred thousand gold coins and pay me back.”
“You, you’ve come for a while already?” Helen Tina was dumbstruck, before yelling loudly, “Then, you have seen me bathe. You despicable demon, sooner or later karma will visit you!!”
“Eh… Let’s not talk about this. Less nonsense, hurry up and pay it, or I’ll come into the water!” Han Shuo was a bit embarrassed at first. Honestly, he’d seen Helen Tina’s body from head to toe through the yin demon and even had a physiological reaction while doing so. Now that he listened to Helen Tina shout about this, Han Shuo was embarrassed to the point of anger, so he could only shout over her.
Helen Tina was so furious that her entire body was trembling. Upon hearing Han Shuo speak so unreasonably, Firewind would have already laid down her life to attack him had it not been for the still rational Helen Tina holding her back.
“Come down if you want to then. You’re a demon who already spread that vicious news. No one would want me now anyway, so just kill me already. I’m not paying you any gold coins.” Helen Tina was going insane because of Han Shuo’s torture. Her mind now blinded by fury, she disregarded all decorum and shouted at him.
Spitting out these words, she felt as if the grievances she’d suppressed for so long was gushing forth out like a torrent. She stood up in the hot spring, displaying her perfect body right in front of Han Shuo as she continued to vent, “Look! If you want to look then look! Just kill me, haven’t you been torturing me enough? How many evil vicious tricks you actually have, show me all of them!!”
Once a woman went crazy, it was basically impossible to reason with her. And that was precisely the portrait of Helen Tina at the moment. Ever since she’d returned from Brettel City, she’d suddenly discovered that her whole world had changed. It was all because of Han Shuo’s appearance that her life had been so completely screwed.
All of the previous looks of respect and admiration had become those of contempt and disdain. Even the originally loyal citizens treated her like she was an unclean woman, as if a violated woman didn’t deserve to be the grand duke of their Helon Duchy. Helen Tina, who’d always been quite proud, had to put up with many grievances and feelings of utter helplessness during this time.
Now, the culprit who’d caused all of this was standing right in front of her, aggressively threatening her without easing up, wanting to push her to the point of death. Helen Tina was unable to fight, nor could she escape. She simply had no way to deal with Han Shuo, always worried that he’d take the lives of her and the fire phoenix. Her rational mind had finally snapped.
Facing this onslaught, Han Shuo was more than a little dumbfounded. His eyes wandered up and down her perfect, stunning body. He took a few more glances at her full peaks and the grassy land under the abdomen which still lingered with some sparkling water drops. Han Shuo secretly swallowed. Looking at Helen Tina’s fierce posture, fearless in the face of death, he didn’t know what to do for the moment.
“I only want you to pay back the money. You shouldn’t want to die at every little thing. There’s hope as long as you are alive, I don’t want to kill you.” Han Shuo discourteously swept his gaze over Helen Tina’s body again, before looking at her in the eyes and saying with a dry smile.
“It’s because of your appearance that my life has lost all hope!!” Helen Tina screamed resentfully, furiously glaring at Han Shuo.
“I can’t stand it, Helen, don’t stop me, I’ll risk my life with him!” The fire phoenix looked up to face the sky and let out a cry. She struggled out of Helen Tina’s grasp, her entire body blazing with violent flames as she desperately shot towards Han Shuo.
Seeing the fire phoenix angrily hurl herself over, Han Shuo’s palm lightly tapped down on the surface of the hot spring. He circulated the magical yuan before flicking up his hand. Water curtains rose up one after another from the hot spring, rolling towards the fire phoenix.
The furious rushing fire phoenix was hit by five, six water screens and once again swept into the hot spring. Han Shuo laughed sinisterly and shot towards the fire phoenix, saying smugly, “Lucky I chose this place, otherwise, it’d be somewhat troublesome.”
“No. I beg you, don’t kill big sister Firewind. Demon, I’ll give you the gold coins!” Helen Tina burst out into tears and yelled loudly upon seeing Han Shuo shoot through the air towards the fire phoenix.
Han Shuo only intended to catch the fire phoenix. He hadn’t expected Helen Tina to care about her so much. He smiled delightfully and said, “Very good, I won’t kill her. Give me the gold coins.”
“Helen, don’t give him the gold coins. If you do, Helon Duchy will truly go out of control!” From inside the hot spring, the fire phoenix who was flapping her wings and about to fly up suddenly shouted out.
Han Shuo was about to shut the fire phoenix up when he suddenly sensed several powerful presences approach. He furrowed his brows and had the yin demon scout them. Han Shuo’s face changed into a stern expression, “Perhaps, your Helon Duchy is out of your control already!”
Helen Tina’s heart took another shock at those words. She stared at Han Shuo and said, “What do you mean?!”
“There are people coming. One of them is a general in your army. I can see that the incoming people must belong to your Helon Duchy. It looks like you’re in trouble.” Han Shuo looked at Helen Tina.
Helen Tina and the fire phoenix traded glances. Helen Tina seemed to recover her rational mind upon facing something she could actually deal with. She turned her back on Han Shuo and stepped ashore, putting her clothes on.
The fire phoenix also rose out of the hot spring to return to Helen Tina’s side. After Helen Tina put on her blazing red magic robe, she walked over to face Han Shuo. Her entire body radiated a refreshing light after a bath, giving him a feeling of stunning beauty.
“Demon, what exactly did you do to my guards?” Helen Tina inquired as she stood face to face with Han Shuo.
“Nothing. They are all outside. I only glided past them to come in here and set up a soundproof enchantment around you. However, they can’t fight back against those people, that I’m sure of!” The majority of these female guards had the strength of journeyman and senior swordsmen. There were twenty-seven of them in total, staying about three hundred meters away from the hot spring where Helen Tina was.
These female guards were useless against Han Shuo, who could traverse the sky and tunnel through the ground. He basically didn’t need to attack them as he could just soundlessly go underground to enter the hot spring area without disturbing any of the female guards.
“Protect the duke!” From around the hot spring suddenly echoed the sounds of fighting and the surprised screams of the female guards.
When the sounds from outside reached this place, Han Shuo knew that the enchantment had been broken. Afterwards, the sounds of fierce fighting quickly approached, and three female guards broke through the trees with panic on their faces. The leader, a middle-aged women, anxiously shouted, “Your Grace, Ferrodias has rebelled. He led people here to attack you! We can’t stop him anymore. Your Grace, hurry and escape!”
At this moment, Helen Tina and the fire phoenix stood together with the three female guards. Helen Tina took out her magic staff and asked, panic in her voice, “How much longer until they reach this place?”
“Hehe, we’ve already come, haven’t we!” The smug voice of a middle-aged man suddenly rang through the air. Then, an earth rider riding a warhorse in full body armor, suddenly appeared alongside thirty knights and six mages.
A long brown haired middle-aged man rode in front. His body was quite sturdy, so this must have been the Ferrodias the woman had just mentioned. Upon his appearance, he immediately led his people straight to Helen Tina. He first respectfully bowed ceremoniously, before saying with a smile, “Your Grace, you are completely surrounded. The knights of Helon Duchy no longer need you, so just tie your hands and resign yourself to capture!”
Helen Tina’s pretty face flared up in rage. Her finger rose to point at him, accusing and enraged, “I never thought you would dare to betray me. When you were still a civilian, it was I who let you join my knights. From a civilian to a count, it’s me who bestowed everyone on you, and yet you betray me!!”
Shaking his head, Ferrodias said, “It’s not me who has betrayed you, but rather your people that have betrayed you. I can only conform with the public opinion. Your Grace, there is no need to resist, otherwise you will see more unpleasant things.”
Raising the magic staff in her hand, Helen Tina furiously said, “I won’t satisfy your wishes!”
Finishing those words, Helen Tina was about to chant a magic incantation to burn the traitor in front of her to death. However, she had yet to complete the incantation, when the middle-aged female guard next to her threw out a huge, glittering ash gray net. The net caught Helen Tina and the fire phoenix by surprise as it shrouded them.
Helen Tina completed the magic incantation only to discover that her fire magic had produced no effect at all. The gray net above her head had sealed all of her magic.
“Aunt Wellie, even you have betrayed me?” Helen Tina’s heart sank into grief. She looked to the aunt who’d taken care of her ever since she was a little girl with a desperate expression.
The middle-aged women indifferently took a few steps back, her voice cold as ice, “Helen, accept your fate.”
“Hehe, Your Grace, I advised you to not resist or you’d encounter some embarrassing situations, yet you didn’t believe me.” Pausing for a bit, Ferrodias once again smiled, making Helen Tina despair even more as he said, “I will hand you over to Grand Duke Benedict Sackville. Even though you are no longer a virgin, that person is still willing to take fifty thousand gold coins for you. But of course, in his hands, I’m afraid that you will no longer be a goddess of his heart, but just a slave under his feet. Haha!”
Precisely at this moment, a polite voice rang out. “Everyone, you seem to have forgotten my existence!” Han Shuo stepped out, grinning at the traitors surrounding Helen Tina.