Volume 2 – Growing In Power
Chapter #86 – Panic And Pride
One hour later.
The pot-bellied man standing in the air beside Radagast had a serene expression on his face as if the image of the gargantuan beast ramming into the palace’s barrier was just a sight he would see on his daily walk.
Suddenly, his expression turned stoic as another priest appeared in the air in front of him.
“Is it true?”, he asked, his calm demeanor gone as the visage of one in authority superimposed onto him.
“Yes, my Lord. Although the authenticity cannot be verified, the rumor has spread throughout the outer city. If this has been orchestrated by someone in the city to make us draw out our true forces, then there is an additional force in the Kingdom which we must be wary of.”, answered the man, bowing.
“Humph. It is easy enough to check.”, said the pot-bellied man before taking out what looked like a stone tablet of his pocket and speaking into it.
A few minutes later, his expression turned into one of slight frustration as he said, “It’s true. The ancient trinket has gone missing from the Sect. Begin Plan-B.”
Waving his hand over the beast below him, he startled everyone waiting for the barrier to collapse by making the beast disappear.
Taking out a small golden pill-shaped object from the hidden compartment in his belt, the man sighed before saying, “The Arch-Bishop will not be pleased.”
A similar scene played out at the location where the TriCobra Society had been drilling into the barrier. After one of the men received some sort of communication, the battering ram was put away while a gleaming red live serpent was taken out from his coat pocket which he caressed in his hands.
Inside the Palace, an elated expression appeared on the King’s face when he saw the beast and the battering ram disappear.
“They stopped the attacks! Are the bastards finally giving up?”, he exclaimed, making the Vice Sect Master glare at him again.
Yet, the glare turned into one of absolute shock when he saw the objects that had been taken out from the two men’s pockets.
Just at that moment, he seemed to have received some sort of transmission from his sect which made his face then redden in a fit of rage.
Grabbing the eldest prince’s collar, the fuming Vice Sect Master raised him up into the air and snarled, “Spies have confirmed that the ancient trinket was missing from the Sect Treasury! They checked for the trinket as if they knew exactly what to look for and identified that it was a fake placed there to deceive the watching parties! I told you to take care of one thing. ONE. AND YOU STILL FAILED?! HOW DID THE INFORMATION ABOUT THE TRINKET GET OUT?!”
His voice rose in intensity until at the end, he was outright screaming at the Eldest Prince who had taken on an expression of fear.
As the King saw this sight, he felt for the first time that maybe he had made the wrong decision. All this time, his son had been telling him that it was an equal relationship. But now, seeing the Vice Sect Master’s actions and the fear on his son’s face, he knew that he had been lied to.
Of course, the orchestrator of all these events had been Daneel. After finding out that the forces outside had no idea about the real situation, he decided that the best course of action would be to leak the information and have them resort to desperate measures.
After all, they had already spent countless amounts of time, money and effort to get to this stage. Thus, it was only common sense that they must have prepared some backup plans in case things went awry.
Daneel’s plan was to push them to resort to those plans. The only thing he needed was the barrier to break. If he got to the heart, then it didn’t matter what plans or means anyone had.
In other words, this was a perfect example of “killing with a hired gun”. Only, Daneel did not have to pay anything for hiring in the first place; he already had two guns pointed at the target, needing only a small impulse to shoot with their full power.
The Domination Corps had already been dispersed throughout the city to wait for orders. Thus, he had simply transmitted the message to spread this rumor in the city. Due to the resources of the two forces, he suspected that there was some way for them to verify if the information was true or not.
Thankfully, his suspicions had been correct. He would later find out that the sect had been aware of the possibility of the information leaking out, and had decided that the best thing to do was place a fake artifact in the original ancient artifact’s place. After all, anyone could put two and two together and deduce that the Vice Sect Master had the ancient trinket with him to master the palace in a shorter time frame if the trinket was missing from the treasury.
Only, this plan fell apart because it was almost impossible to make a replica of an ancient artifact. Anyone could recognize the falseness of the artifact with just a closer look. Hence, their plan hinged on keeping the information hidden that the Vice Sect Master was in possession of the artifact. He had in turn relayed this job to the eldest prince trusting that the Royal Family would take care of this matter effectively.
“I-I made sure! It is not possible for anyone here to have passed the information, as they know very well that doing so might result in the death of the whole family! Even their identities have been verified!”, sputtered the Prince, before he was thrown aside, hitting the wall of the barrier with a THUD and falling to the ground.
An appalled expression appeared on the King’s face as he saw a member of the Lanthanore family treated in this way. Yet, he hesitated to speak knowing the power of the man in front of him. In fact, the suspicion arose in his mind regarding whether he had been too blinded by the yearning for a longer life to notice that everything wasn’t as normal as he had thought it to be.
With his expression turning into one of resentment, he recalled his actions. Hearing his eldest son’s proposal that he could retire to the sect and train with the best of materials while all the problems would be solved by the sect itself, he had initially been apprehensive. Yet, with the assurance that it was an equal relationship where the eldest prince would only have to allow the sect to recruit from the population, he had agreed blindly due to the fear of dying an early death and led this man to the heart of the formation.
The image of his son crumpled on the floor made him understand how wrong he had been. Regardless of the sect’s intentions with the Kingdom, as a King, he knew that his son would simply be a placeholder while the sect would govern the Kingdom. Over time, his family name might even be completely erased and replaced by the sect when it suited their purposes.
As this realization dawned upon him, an anger erupted in his heart. Although it was true that he did not care about anything other than his own longevity, he still had a pride which stemmed from the years of living as a figure adored by many and feared by all.
This pride woke up and roared in his mind, letting him know that it would not allow him to just stand there and watch as the Vice Sect Master started looking at the people around the room with an intent to kill.