SYS (Novel) Chapter 269

C269 - Reliable but Unwelcome Flagbearer (2)

As Jin left, the Elder Council disbanded as well. Jed followed him and nudged him in the side.

"Uncle Jed, I apologize for not being able to greet you earlier due to the circumstances..."

"That's not the first thing you need to tell me! I was wondering how the hell you completed that Mahmeet mission in your intermediate class days. And to think it had been through magic! When did you learn all that magic then? Oh, it must have been Lord Murakan, I suppose."

"I had no other choice if I wanted to survive. I apologize."

"Oh, it's not cheeky of you to say so."

If only Jed could open his young nephew's head and see how he was wired.

"Jin?"

"Yes, uncle?"

"I rushed ahead because your actions were quite refreshing, but Chief Elder Jorden is a tougher man to deal with than you think. He may seem like a petty old man full of ego, but he's actually a strong figure with a lot of cunning as well."

"Yes, I'm aware. I assumed so since he survived his rank war against my father."

"Well, I guess it should be said that your father let him be, actually. But why would a boy aware of his character bark like a rabid dog?"

"I simply stayed true to your teachings, uncle."

"What did you say?"

"Wasn't it you who told me to fight and strive every day when I was in the intermediate class? I've stayed true to those words my whole life, and my provocation against the Chief Elder was an extension of that effort."

Jed couldn't speak for some time.

He, too, seemed to have had gall the size of a house in his cadet days. But look at this crazy little brat! Not even the patriarch was like him in his youth.

Just like in the days of the intermediate class, Jin instantly captivated Jed.

"Everything in moderation. If you keep this up, you might die before even getting to use the final movements in a real battle. I'll teach you the movements soon, so wait for my call."

"Thank you, uncle. I won't forget what you've done for me today."

"But I'm willing to forget you completely if I see you straying from the path."

He said it in earnest.

He knew it. Anyone who shows me favor always seems to regard me as a villain as well.

A villain, or possibly the prodigal son who returned.

That's exactly what the people of the Runcandel Clan saw in Jin.

Cyron and Luna were the only two people who welcomed Jin wholeheartedly, but Cyron never showed it, and Luna still couldn't openly show her favor towards Jin.

Emma was also one of those who welcomed Jin. But her motive was to use Jin to ensure the safety of the Tona and her own. Jin didn't really sit well with her.

Discrimination and prejudice.

Jin had already mastered fighting against those things in his previous life. At least in this life, there was a reason people treated him like a villain. It was more or less acceptable.

After bidding farewell to Jed, Jin was about to head back to his room where Gilly and Murakan were waiting for him.

"Young Master Jin."

A middle-aged man with neatly combed back hair approached him and bowed his head.

Jin inspected his clothes for a moment and returned the greeting.

"Congratulations on your promotion, Petrow. I see you've been promoted to first-class butler."

"Thank you. I just wanted to inform you that the patriarch has called for a flagbearers' meeting. I must congratulate you as well, Young Master. It's your first flagbearers' meeting. Please head to the Patriarch's office."

Just returning to the clan, Jin endured Cyron's sword strike, went through the appointment ceremony, met with the elders, and now had to attend a meeting. By this point, Jin was starting to feel like his first day back was quite eventful.

"I see."

"I'm very glad you've returned safe and sound. I hope I can be of great use to you in the future, Young Master."

"Thank you for welcoming me."

It was the first time someone from the Garden of Swords warmly and sincerely greeted him since his return. But for some reason, Jin had a bad feeling about the way Petrow spoke.

It wasn't because he thought Petrow meant something different than what he said, but rather a random bad feeling about what was about to happen.

As Jin arrived at the office, the gazes of his siblings, who had been waiting for him, fell upon him.

Jin looked at them and didn't notice anything in particular, aside from the sadness on Luna's face.

Has something happened to Luna? He had a feeling that Petrow was acting in a way that hinted at something bad.

Petrow was on Luna's side.

"Everyone is here. Please have a seat."

"Yes, Patriarch."

Jin sat in the last seat.

Without any explanations or preamble, Cyron began with these words.

"Starting today, I will be returning to the Dark Sea (Black Sea). There have been several occasions that made me return to the clan lately, but this time, I intend not to leave the Dark Sea until some significant progress is made."

The flagbearers nodded with heavy hearts.

No one dared to ask what kind of progress he sought in the Dark Sea.

"In addition, the first flagbearer and three black knights will accompany me on this mission to the Dark Sea."

That was why Luna looked so down. Jin intentionally avoided looking at her.

Luna's sudden call to the mission was quite a shock. But showing concern for Luna in front of Cyron would prove to be a critical mistake.

His father could always interpret those slight actions as "I can't do anything without my older sister Luna."

"To say that I've had many occasions to return from the Dark Sea means that the flagbearers have not met my expectations so far. I hope you all improve on this."

"We apologize, Patriarch."

"We apologize."

All the flagbearers bowed their heads. Rosa spoke next.

"With the sending of the first flagbearer on a long-term mission, you will all experience an increased workload, but with our new twelfth flagbearer, we hope that part of that burden will be covered. Flagbearers, therefore, stay alert, but there is no need for great concern."

With that statement, Rosa downplayed Luna and predicted Jin's future.

Rosa's words made the first and twelfth flagbearers sound equal and essentially meant that Luna's tasks would be passed on to Jin.

It seems she is determined to bleed me dry.

Jin was glad. It was better to be assigned impossible tasks and somehow deliver results than to be given no mission at all.

Sabotage and intentional misinterpretations would come later, of course, but he just had to carry out all the tasks assigned to him without ever failing.

Once that continued, Jin would eventually gain control of the situation.

Mother and Joshua would resort to all sorts of dirty tricks to ensure that day never arrived.

Rosa's methods were not much different from how Joshua, Miu, or Anne pressured Jin. But even if they resorted to a similar trick, Jin had to stay on guard if it was Rosa executing it. She was much wiser and stronger than Joshua.

For several decades now, she had commanded the Garden of Swords in Cyron's absence, who was always in the Dark Sea. She had the entire clan in her hands.

"As always, Rosa takes supreme command of the clan in my absence. Deciding ranks among each other is important as well, but always keep in mind that these are not good times."

It was quite surprising to hear Cyron tell them to be calm in the rank war due to the current state in his own words.

He basically strengthened Rosa's words and also reminded Jin that there were heaps of things he didn't know in the world of flagbearers.

"Third flagbearer?"

"Yes, Patriarch?"

"How many Zipple spies do we have in the Garden of Swords at the moment?"

"As confirmed so far, there are ninety-seven servants, twenty low-level guardian knights, twelve medium-level guardian knights, five high-level guardian knights, fifteen second-class or higher butlers and scribes, two second-level flagbearers, five execution knights, seven elders, and one black knight. We estimate there are at least another twenty who may have access to critical information."

Jin almost let out a gasp of astonishment after hearing Luntia's report.

A black knight as well? Seriously?

Second-level flagbearers and execution knights were already quite shocking, but it was truly astonishing to hear that a confirmed spy was a black knight.

"How many spies do we have in the Zipple Clan?"

"In the Zipple Clan's household, we have forty servants, ten low-level magicians, five medium-level magicians, one elder, one magician in the magic tower. That's all, sir."

For a moment, Jin wondered if this conversation was some kind of initiation ritual meant to scare the incoming flagbearer by exaggerating the current states of the information war.

But Cyron Runcandel wasn't someone who cared for such petty games.

"As you can see, they maintain a high level of security with different enchantments and artifacts. On the other hand, the Garden of Swords seems to be literally within their crystal balls' reach."

"It's all my fault, Patriarch."

"I can only lament the fact that our enemies still have the upper hand even after all this time since I reached the Divine Star. It's not your fault. However, we would need to get rid of that black knight spy immediately."

"I plan to assign the task to the twelfth flagbearer as her first mission."

The only ones who remained unfazed by his words were Jin himself and Joshua.

The rest of his siblings startled for a second.

Some thought it was too much, some were glad that Jin was given a difficult task, and some feared that he would use the power of Murakan, his guardian dragon, to successfully complete the mission.

Even accounting for the secrets of his Shadow Energy and magic, Jin had always returned triumphantly from every mission where they thought he would surely die.

That's why his siblings were anxious to see if he would truly be able to kill a black knight.

"I'll leave that to your discretion."

Rosa made a slight bow, and Cyron directed his gaze at Jin.

However, he didn't say anything in particular to his son.

Cyron's personal guidance and instruction, both given directly and indirectly, had come to an end.

But that also meant that Jin had truly earned Cyron's trust.

"The meeting has concluded. The first, second, third, and fourth flagbearers will stay behind. The rest may leave and await further instructions from Rosa."

The flagbearers left the office and dispersed to their respective residences.

Ran and Vuigo gave some instructions to their butlers, who were outside the office, and left the hallway. Miu and Anne didn't forget to flash a disturbing smile at Jin before disappearing.

The Tona twins seemed to want to strike up a conversation with Jin but stood still and left because they couldn't think of what to say.

Jin chuckled as he watched the Tona twins walk away. The last of his siblings gave him a strong tap on the shoulder.

"Hey! Look at you, brat. You've come back after remarkable growth! I'm so glad."

"Hello, sister Mary."

"I was super anxious as soon as I saw you. I thought all my hair would fall out from stress. Let's go. It's time for me to receive my reward for that phoenix heart."

"I thought I needed something too to clear my head from all these thoughts. Shall we grab a drink and share some long-overdue stories?"

Mary immediately frowned. "What? What the hell are you talking about? Do you think I've been waiting all these years just to drink with you? Come and follow me. Let's spar."

Jin looked at her and gave her a smile.

"I'll have to say no, Mary."

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