SYS (Novel) Chapter 263

C263 - Returning to the Garden of Swords

"Ouch, ouch! My shoulder still hurts occasionally from the battle against those lunatics. Honey, why don't you come here and give Mom a shoulder massage?" Talaris whined as she rubbed her left shoulder.

As Jin had predicted, he joined Misha and the specters' battle in the Western Sea to protect their territory.

A hundred uninhabited islands were wiped off the map by the battle, and the surrounding sea route was completely blocked.

Even six months after that battle, Shadow Energy, Frost Energy, and mana caused tornadoes that created treacherous winds and surges.

No one witnessed the combat, but the tornado caused major nations to send investigators to the area, who later concluded that a great battle had taken place.

Thanks to the presence of Shadow Energy, Frost Energy, and mana in the tornado, the investigators deduced that the Zipples' Magicians, a Dark Dragon, and the ruler of the Secret Palace had fought there.

The whole world wanted to know the cause and outcome of the battle.

The Secret Palace was known as a neutral force, and people considered Solderet a god who mostly made blood-pact contracts with pure-blooded Zipples.

In fact, most of Solderet's contractors before Jin (and after Temar) belonged to the Zipple clan, including Riol Zipple himself. It was also Riol's overwhelming magic and accomplishments that gave people the impression that Solderet was a Zipple god.

But now, with these forces fighting each other in the middle of the Western Sea without much preamble, the whole world clamored to know more.

"I don't want to," said Siris, Talaris' daughter.

"Mmmh, I ended up in this state after trying to help your future boyfriend. Don't be so cold to me now."

"I know you're exaggerating."

"I'm not exaggerating, alright? My arm hurts, and it feels like it's going to fall off. I can't even lift a spoon."

Kak! Mott, the snow toad, nodded in agreement with Talaris' words.

Siris had a reason for acting relatively indifferent to Talaris' usual self.

"Mother, I still don't understand. Why did you make a statement saying that we lost?"

Talaris recently gathered journalists to make an official statement about the battle in the Western Sea.

She told the journalists, "I don't know why the Zipples and the Dark Dragon were hostile to each other, but I only joined the battle to protect my territory since they were fighting in my land. People seem curious about the outcome and the whereabouts of the Dark Dragon. I don't know what happened to the Dark Dragon, but the Zipples were the winners of the battle. Therefore, I hope there is no misunderstanding involving the Secret Palace."

The cause of the battle, the combat outcome, the relationship between the Zipples and the Dark Dragon – the world's people had no access to these details before Talaris' statement because the Zipples remained silent.

But Talaris revealed everything they wanted to know.

Naturally, the fact that the Zipples won the battle caused the greatest impact.

It was believed that the Zipples had defeated Talaris and the Dark Dragon in the absence of the patriarch, regaining some of the dignity they had lost due to Jin, while the Secret Palace experienced the opposite.

But it wasn't the truth.

"Mother, you killed three specters with Misha, the Dark Dragon, and it was the Zipples who retreated when the Dark Dragon made its escape."

That should be considered a defeat for someone as tremendous as me. With the Dark Dragon present, I should have killed at least ten. Moreover, if I really killed that many, Keliac could personally attack the Secret Palace."

"After you announced the Secret Palace's defeat, all kinds of despicable scum are looking down on us now, mother. The merchants of the Lutero Magical Federation are already bullying the Western Sea merchants. And that's not all."

"Perhaps my sweet and dear daughter could cut off the limbs of that scum and feed them to the sharks? And tell the warriors to reinforce the protection of the people in the Western Sea."

"There are too many of them."

"You can kill them all. We made the Zipples happy, so they won't be able to complain about such insignificant matters. This is what politics is about, Siris. Please try to think about what your mother has to endure."

"I wish no one would dare to cause trouble in the Western Sea, neither the Zipples nor the Runcandels, not even the Vermonts."

Siris sighed and approached Talaris to massage her tired shoulders. She actually understood and respected her mother's decision, but she still struggled to suppress her frustration.

"You can make them feel that way in your time. Mmmh, it feels good. By the way, I wonder when my son-in-law will return. I hope he's not really dead, right? We haven't heard anything from him in six months. All that was found was his sword. I feel anxious. That Dark Dragon, she's cold. I helped her, but she didn't give me any information."

Instead of answering, Siris simply looked at the magnificently blooming snow flowers outside the window.


***

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***


More time passed. It was February 1799.

The Runcandels and Zipples had still not revoked their arrest orders.

But the news of Jin's death was no longer a rumor. It was accepted as true. The youngest son of the Runcandels, who had caused a sensation worldwide, soon faded from people's memories.

The knights, magicians, and mercenaries who had been after the astronomical amount of gold were no longer searching for Jin.

Journalists also stopped writing articles about him. Only tavern storytellers or minstrels reminisced about the name Jin.

The world seemed fine without him.

But in reality, the world was very different after Jin's disappearance. It changed since Jin revealed the Zipple clan's hypocrisies and brought the new giant power, Kinzelo, to the surface.

Meanwhile, in the Runcandel clan...

"Kehehehe, kuhuhuhu. What? Say it again? Beg for forgiveness? Repeat that, you twisted worms. I feel so thrilled every time I see people's convictions shatter."

"Sure, sure. Between you and me, I'd also like to spare your lives. But what other choice do we have? This is what we do."

Deitona and Heitona spoke as they looked at a group of bound individuals.

After becoming full-fledged Flagbearers last summer, they earned the nickname "Darlings of Hell" and accumulated a series of achievements on various missions.

They were especially adept at elimination tasks, especially killing Zipple extremists who started to act after the Zipples' atrocities were revealed to the world.

"Now, we'll just do away with one of you. We don't know who the lucky one will be, but the survivor will tell all their friends, okay? Tell them that no matter where they hide, we will find every last one of them and crush them like roaches under our feet."

"But you just said you wanted to spare us too."

"Roaches can't talk. Roaches are not supposed to talk, alright? So if they start talking, it will prove me wrong, won't it?"

The long saber and the chain sword mercilessly sliced through the bodies of the Zipple extremists.

"Oh, right. We were supposed to spare one. We ended up killing them all."

"That's fine, Heitona! Kehehe, we can go hunting for them again."

"Deitona, something definitely smells fishy here. These bastards, I swear they must be receiving support from the Zipple clan. How else would they get those mana bombs to blow themselves up?"

The extremists were causing trouble in all regions of Hufester. Acts of terrorism, kidnappings, propaganda, and more. They were engaged in daily criminal activities against the people of Hufester.

Deitona had developed a habit of laughing maniacally every time she killed someone, which only ceased when she saw enough blood. "We must find evidence that the Zipple idiots are supporting these extremists, and that's our job, remember?"

"And to do that, we should have spared one's life and followed them."

"That's right! I told you, we can hunt more of them down."

"True. The last time we spared one's life, they fled and suddenly poisoned themselves to commit suicide. Sometimes, I feel like they're being controlled, like puppets. Hmm."

"I feel that way too, sometimes."

"For now, let's return. Ugh. Miu and Anne. Do you think those bitches are waiting for orders at the clan house?"

"Probably, I suppose? Damn, I wonder what they're going to make us stumble upon this time. I don't even want to think about it."

As expected, Miu and Anne had returned to the Garden of Swords that morning. It wasn't just them. All the Runcandel Flagbearers were gathered in the Garden of Swords.

The clan patriarch, Cyron Runcandel, had left the Black Sea to stay at the clan house for some time.

"Well, well, look who it is. It's the Tona idiots."

"Look at those eyes staring at us now that they're Flagbearers! Seriously, they don't want to see the light of day anymore, do they?"

Miu and Anne confronted the Tona twins for no reason when they saw them. To be precise, they weren't really fighting. It was a one-sided verbal abuse.

The Tona twins still feared their sisters.

"Sisters, it's been a long time."

"Why are you scared? Have you been talking behind our backs?"

"No, that's not true."

"Hah, come on, don't deny it, hellish idiots."

"What's all this commotion?" Joshua spoke quietly as he walked past them.

"Hello, Joshua."

"I just received news from butler Heinz that Father will arrive in two hours. We have no time to waste, so grab your ceremonial armor and get in formation."

"Understood."

Everyone in the Garden of Swords prepared to greet Cyron.

They always lined up in elegant armor whenever he came to the garden, but it was quite rare to see the cadets also joining the formations. That's how significant this visit was.

After Jin's disappearance, the cold war between the Runcandels and Zipples worsened. It was necessary for Cyron to personally encourage the members of the Runcandel clan.

His mere presence was more than enough to dispel all the fears and anxieties that hung over the Runcandels and Hufester.

A Divine Star Knight: that was the presence of the world's greatest swordsman.

The formation was ready in two hours.

Luna, Joshua, Luntia, Dyfus, Ran, Vuigo, Maria, Miu, Anne, Deitona, and Heitona.

The eleven Flagbearers, except for Yona, who was in Sameel, stood at the front of the formation, holding the banners of the Black Sword Shield.

Behind them were the elders, executioner knights, and all the guardian knights from each division. Even the cadets stood in their ceremonial armor with uniform swords.

But there wasn't a single foot soldier in sight. There weren't any in the Garden of Swords to begin with. Only the knights, the knights in formation, and the cadets were part of the Garden of Swords forces.

Cyron's entourage soon arrived.

"The Patriarch has entered the garden!" Luna shouted as she stomped her foot. The knights stomped after her in a square formation.

"Formation, Sword Tombs!"

"Formation, Sword Tombs!"

The Flagbearers and knights repeated Luna's command.

Sword Tombs was a ceremonial formation exclusive to the Runcandel clan.

The several thousand swords stuck in the Garden of Swords were each a tomb assigned only to those who had made great contributions to the protection and prosperity of the clan.

The Flagbearers and knights dispersed, each taking their position in front of a sword tomb. It seemed as if they had broken the orderly formations. But this was the epitome of Runcandel's ceremonial rites.

"Loyalty to the clan! We face the Patriarch of the clan!"

"Loyalty to the clan! We face the Patriarch of the clan!"

The Flagbearers raised their flags as the knights saluted with their swords. Their voices were perfectly synchronized and resonated as one.

Cyron and Rosa surveyed the entire clan on horseback. Ten active Black Knights kneeled behind them.

"Excellent. Sheathe your swords."

At Cyron's command, each sword wielded by the living returned to its sheath. Only the swords stuck in the garden gleamed under the sun.

Cyron remained silent for some time.

He felt something approaching the Garden of Swords from the sky.

For now, only the Divine Star Knight could perceive the approaching presence. It was too far for Luna and the Black Knights to detect.

"It seems someone else wants to welcome this old man too," Cyron said.

"Patriarch, what do you mean by that?" his wife asked.

"Rosa, you've become dull too. A formidable force is approaching the Garden of Swords, and at a rather fast pace."

Rosa's eyes widened.

Soon, Luna and the Black Knights perceived what Cyron mentioned. The other Flagbearers and higher-ranked knights realized it later than they did.

"Patriarch, may I prepare the anti-air defenses?" Luna asked cautiously, but Cyron shook his head.

"It won't be necessary, First Flagbearer. Regardless of who it is, it wouldn't be right for the entire Runcandel clan to take action."

"My apologies, Patriarch."

Cyron was right.

No one on earth could single-handedly bring down the Garden of Swords in its current state. The entire Runcandel force, including Cyron, guarded the Garden of Swords.

Therefore, it was unnecessary for the entire Runcandel clan to sensibly react to a single target.

Ten seconds passed.

Finally, a gigantic dark dragon revealed itself in the sky above the Garden of Swords.

Murakan.

Its shadow covered the garden, causing the knights to gasp inwardly.

Despite the sudden turn of events, they had to be cautious in the presence of Cyron.

But what truly shocked Luna, the Black Knights, and a few talented Flagbearers was not the appearance of the dark dragon.

What shocked them was the fact that the formidable force mentioned by Cyron did not come from the dark dragon. Despite Murakan's enormous size, its energies had been concealed with Shadow Energy.

Murakan descended slowly towards the Garden of Swords.

A rider on its back was revealed as the dragon landed. It was the force approaching the Garden of Swords.

Everyone, except for the newly recruited cadets, recognized the face of the rider.

It was Jin Runcandel, now nineteen years old. He saluted his father with a simple look.

"Father. Provisional Flagbearer Jin Runcandel has returned after completing his training."

-
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