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Published at 27th of December 2018 03:17:06 PM

Chapter 12

The King frowned .

" It seems his Majesty is not happy with my offer" the emissary said

King Leopold was silent for a long time

" What does Wismar want in return?" He looked at the emissary straight in the eye .

King Leopold was not a fool . It took decades for Wismar to accept Castonia as a trading partner . They wouldn't just offer an alliance on a whim . They must have wanted something in return .

"His Majesty's opinion of Wismar hurts my feelings . " The emissary put his palm on his chest as a playful sign the Leopold's words hurt him . "Your Majesty, a friend wouldn't demand something in return from his friend . Wismar just wants to be a friend of Castonia . It's just . . how should I put it… a friend sometimes doesn't approve of his friend's other friend" The emissary smiled again .

" Be direct" Leopold demanded

"We want you to cut all ties to Vanadis"

Leopold understood what the emissary was talking about . Wismar and Vanadis were trading rivals . Relations between the two countries were strained . For Wismar to be friends with Castonia, the latter must first be an enemy to Vanadis .

Between the two countries, Wismar would be a better ally . Its armies were strong and it was a rich Kingdom . Leopold had long wanted to have Wismar as an ally . He spent decades improving relations with Wismar . Now that it was the Wismarines themselves who were reaching out, he should be overjoyed .

But Leopold already promised Vanadis an alliance . He already spread the news of the partnership between Castonia and Vanadis . What would the other Kingdoms think if Castonia breaks its promise of friendship to Vanadis? Nobody would want to forge relations with them in the future . Even their current trade partners would probably close their ports and gates to Castonian goods .

" Why didn't you come earlier?" Leopold frowned . If they had come earlier, he would have chosen them over the Vanadians . "I already spread the news of my Kingdom's alliance with Vanadis"

" It's because you forged partnership with Vanadis that Wismar is now reaching out to you . We don't want our greatest competitor to benefit from Castonian strength" The emissary looked him in the eye .

"If I go back on my words, Castonia's name will live in infamy . We can't have that" He firmly said

" That's a small price to pay for Wismar's friendship" the emissary insisted .

Braun whispered to his ears, "We can't agree to this, Your Majesty . "

"I know" Leopold replied "But let me think of a way"

Leopold thought for a while . Suddenly an idea came into his mind" We can't go back on our words . It's okay to replace Vanadis with Wismar, but our reputation will suffer . But there's another way" he smiled

" Oh? And what would that be?" The emissary raised his eyebrow

" I told the Vanadian King that my condition for an alliance would be a royal marriage" Leopold said

" And you intend to cancel the wedding . Am I wrong?" The emissary correctly guessed

Leopold shrugged " Without the wedding, there won't be an alliance . "

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" But if you cancel the wedding, then Castonian reputation would still be ruined"

" Not if I had no choice" Leopold smiled

" Your Majesty, it's my turn to ask you to be direct" the emissary frowned

" Timothy is the only one among my three children who's unmarried . If, say, something bad happens to Timothy and he dies, then I would have no choice but to cancel the wedding . The Vanadian princess can't marry a corpse" he said in a cold tone . Behind him, Braun gave a low grunt and tried to talk . He opened his mouth but Leopold stopped him with a gesture of his hand .

On the other hand, the emissary remained silent . He frowned and contemplated for a while . And after a while he smiled . " I didn't expect His Majesty to want this alliance so much . He's even willing to sacrifice his son for it"

" Just like what you said, it's a small price to pay"

Timothy's life meant nothing to him . He hated Timothy for a long time . Timothy was never his son to begin with . Timothy was the product of a blasphemous affair between his late wife and a palace guard .

After he discovered them in bed, his heart broke into pieces . He loved his wife with all his heart . He gave her everything . He loved her dearly . He was willing to give his life for her . He was willing to die for her . She was his beloved, the joy of his life, his main reason for living . Leopold killed the guard with his own hands . He strangled the bastard in bed until every bit of life was squeezed out of his throat . Even that wasn't enough-no, it was never enough . The bastard took everything from him, his wife! It was so painful that even if he strangled him a hundred times it wouldn't be enough . As for his wife, he loved her too much to touch even a single hair on her body . Leopold forgave his wife immediately . He can't get mad at her no matter what . He knew that he had been wronged, but love makes a man do strange things . So he forgave her with all his heart . But it was already too late, his wife was already pregnant with that bastard's son . He couldn't do anything . Ironic, he thought . He was the most powerful man in Castonia, but he was so powerless that time . After his wife gave birth to a baby boy, Leopold decided to treat the child as his own . He fed the child, clothed him and even made him a prince!

After a few years, his wife died . At first, he tried to be a father to the boy . He tried to love him as much as he loved his other children . He really tried, the heavens know that he really did . But as Timothy grew up, he looked more and more like him, that bastard who stole everything from him . His hair, his eyes, his face, he looked like him . Every single time he looks at Timothy, he could remember that night- the night he strangled the bastard with his bare hands . In the end, he made a compromise with himself . Since Timothy had his wife's blood, he would not reveal that he was not his son . He would treat him as a prince . But he couldn't bring himself to love Timothy . Now that there was a way to forge an alliance with Wismar at the cost of Timothy, he was more than willing to sacrifice his 'son'"

" So, you want to assassinate the prince?" The emissary asked . The speed at which he accepted the Timothy's assassination was astonishing . What a sly man, Leopold thought . But then again, who is he to talk?

" No . " He refused firmly "A member of the royal family being assassinated would be a heavy blow to the soldier's morale . We can't afford it" Leopold doesn't want the people to doubt the capability of the crown . If a member of the royal family was assassinated, then they would lose morale . That will dangerous especially with the Tulosan invasion .

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" So how do you plan to kill him?"

" The Tulosans are currently invading . Wars are… messy affairs . Princes die left and right" he believes that the emissary understood his meaning

" Smart . You won't only have an alliance, you'll also have a hero prince . If the Prince was killed in battle, as popular as he is with the soldiers, his name would become a battle cry . So what's your plan then?" The emissary was right . Instead of lowering the morale of the people by assassinating Timothy, he would use his death wisely . Timothy would be a hero . That would be the last gift Leopold could give to his late wife- that son of her becoming a hero .

" I might need your help . " Leopold said " There's a 10,000 strong army currently razing the villages near Solon . Timothy suggested that we should send Castonia's two western armies to stop it . I'll let him lead that army"

The emissary pondered for a while . " But what if he prevails? Tulosan knights are strong, but no one should underestimate Castonian soldiers . "

" Who said something about the soldiers? He'll lead a small detachment of militias . The soldiers from Thespelae and Munico won't come . " Leopold explained

" So your plan is to not send messages to the two armies to assist Prince Timothy . He'll go into battle expecting reinforcements, but they won't come . "

" No, I'll send an order . I'll send two messengers and a carrier pigeon . If I didn't, the people would question me . " There were two main ways to send messages and orders . The first one was using carrier pigeons . These birds were fast, but they were very unreliable . Many orders and messages were lost due to the pigeons being killed, hunted, losing their way or dropping the letter . Because of this, the most secure way to send a letter was still through the use of human messengers . This method was slow, but it guarantees the safe arrival of messages . In Castonia, the usual practice for sending red-sealed letters was to send a pigeon and two riders . Leopold would follow this practice to avoid suspicion .

" So the letters are blank?" the emissary asked

" No, they will contain actual orders to meet with Timothy . If the message somehow got through and it's blank, then the people would also start suspecting me . "

"Your Majesty, if you intend to send messengers and if the letters they deliver contains actual orders, then the two castles will mobilize to aid Timothy . " The emissary frowned . Leopold can see that the emissary was still confused . This man can be stupid sometimes, Leopold thought .

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" That's why I need you to hire assassins . You must be the one to hire the assassins so that in case they fail and get captured, they won't have links to me . I need you to kill the messengers I send . I'll send one this evening after I tell Timothy of his new task . I'll send the second one during Timothy's departure two days from now . You must kill them before they deliver the messages . Treat this as our first joint effort . "

" And what of the pigeons?"

"Pigeons sometimes lose their way so it will not be surprising if they fail to send the message . "

"And what if I fail to stop the messengers?"

"Then that would mean you're incompetent . I wouldn't want to be friends with incompetent people . Stop acting tough . You want this alliance as much as I do . " Leopold smiled

The emissary was silent for a while . He then extended his hand to offer Leopold a handshake .

" As expected of King Leopold Castonia . I hope this cooperation lasts"

" Likewise Prince Skall Wismar . " Leopold shook his hand

The emissary looked at Leopold

" Since my identity had been revealed to you, then you must have known already that I have the authority to make this alliance with you . Wismar is serious . " Skall looked at him with a serious expression .

" Yes . " Leopold said "Long live our alliance and may our two Kingdoms benefit from this partnership . "

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