This chapter was brought to you by AnmesicCat, and StellarAshes.
Elder Sister, Younger Brother
Seeing Dragon Emperor’s sad and pleading purple eyes, Liola had no idea what was wrong with him, but he had nodded unknowingly. He told Baolilong to follow Lancelot’s Unicorn, flew past the Yaron Plains and crossed an ocean. Since these three weren’t ordinary people, it wasn’t difficult for them to fly continuously. This continued for a full day and night.
When he saw the edge of another continent approaching from afar, Liola suddenly had a strange feeling. He didn’t know why he was here. Wasn’t he going to run away to look for Kaiser and Daylight?
Probably noticing Liola’s doubt in his heart, Baolilong slowed down its flying speed, and asked probingly via telepathy, “Papa? Should we continue?”
Before Liola had time to respond, the Dragon Emperor opened his mouth. His thin fingers pointed at the Dragon Continent, “Child, look, that is where your home is.”
‘My… home?’ Liola shook, and then began to urge, “Let’s go! Baolilong, fly faster.”
Although Baolilong thought Liola was acting a bit strange, but it wouldn’t dare to defy the person who was both its papa and its master. Hearing this, Baolilong practically darted towards the Dragon Continent, fearing Liola might think it was being too slow.
Dragons was indeed the kings of the skies. With a dart, even Lancelot was left far behind. Originally, it looked like they were still quite a distance away from the Dragon Continent, but now they were practically instantly there. The Dragon Emperor gestured to Baolilong to fly towards the most important palace on the Dragon’s Continent.
In stark contrast to the skyscrapers in Aklan, the Dragon Empire’s palaces looked completely like an ancient imperial palace. The white walls were built by laying bricks, and the surrounding pillars, whose circumference required three people reaching their hands out to cover, had various majestic Knight mounts carved onto them. Even the boundless gardens had various statues: elegant and majestic white Dragon, divine Unicorn, prideful wolf king, etc.
“Do you like your home? Child.” The Dragon Emperor asked warmly.
For some reason, as soon as Liola thought of this word, the images surfacing in his heart were drastically different from the elegant palace in front of his eyes. What he saw was a simple dormitory room, with an adult and a child each taking a bed, but their sleeping posture being surprisingly similar and strange. Liola could never understand, how this person and Dragon could manage to perfectly wrap themselves into a sushi roll in their sleep.
The Dragon Emperor didn’t seem to like Liola’s silence. He grabbed his child’s hand, and jumped down from Baolilong’s back. Then he took him and walked familiarly through the maze-like garden.
“Where are we going?” Liola asked with a bit of shock.
Without answering Liola’s question, the Dragon Emperor simply smiled mysteriously.
They ran into quite a few Knights on the way. What surprised Liola was they were all at least Silver Knights. The number of Silver Knights Liola saw while he was on Aklan Continent was less than how many he saw when he took two steps here.
The first thing these Silver and Gold Knights did upon seeing the Dragon Emperor, was giving him a Knight’s salute courteously. Liola also noticed, they weren’t afraid of the Dragon Emperor, and there was only looks of respect and admiration. Of course, seeing Dragon Emperor pulling Liola, many of the Knights looked surprised and curious, but no one would ask about it.
Seeing so many Silver and Gold Knights, Liola suddenly felt a bit unexpected. After thinking for a while, he finally remembered; Kaiser seemed to have said there were only ten Gold Knights in the world? Then why did he already see more than ten Gold Knights?
“Why are there so many Gold Knights? Aren’t there only ten?” Liola asked curiously.
Hearing Liola’s sudden question, the Dragon Emperor seemed to be surprised. He thought briefly before answering, “Do you mean the Gold Knights acknowledged by Aklan?”
Liola became even more doubtful, “Is there a difference?”
Hearing this, the Dragon Emperor’s expressions darkened, “Knight ranks had always been bestowed by the Dragon Emperor, but Aklan ignored the Dragon Empire and created their own Knight examinations. They also give people who pass their test ranks of Knight, and they randomly mixed your three royal brothers into their ten Gold Knights, hmmph.”
Liola briefly thought about Dragon Emperor’s answer. Thus, the so-called ten Gold Knights were simply seven people who passed the Knight’s test from Aklan and the three Princes of Dragon Empire. But they didn’t know, within Dragon Empire itself, there were Gold Knights acknowledged by the Dragon Emperor, and the amount of them were surprisingly high.
Liola suddenly felt uneasy. From the looks of it, Aklan seemed to underestimate the strength of the Dragon Empire. He couldn’t refrain from asking, “Are the strength of Dragon Empire’s Gold Knights comparable to that of Aklan?”
Hearing Liola’s question, the smile on Dragon Emperor’s face and the feeling of spring breeze about him suddenly disappeared. Liola sensed the warm grasp the Dragon Emperor had on his hand had tightened, to the point where he if he didn’t exert forces to resist, his wrist was at risk for fracturing.
A strong force exploded from the Dragon Emperor, and his indescribable expression was now clearly showing anger. Liola didn’t know why the Dragon Emperor would suddenly be infuriated, but he knew, he wasn’t going to stand there and take a beating. In an instant, his Ki filled his limbs, and Liola was on the edge of his nerves.
An inquiry interrupted the confrontation. The Dragon Emperor paused briefly, and the anger on his face completely dissipated. Instead, a look of agitation replaced it. Seeing the Dragon Emperor no longer angry, Liola relaxed unconsciously. Probably due to the doubt of his face being too obvious, the Dragon Emperor’s expression had softened; he said as he were a father teaching his child a lesson,
“Child, never insult the Knights of the Dragon Empire. They have survived the most stringent of tests. They are immaculate in their loyalty, strength, and chivalry, and they’re not something who can even be compared with the Knights produced by Aklan’s idiotic test system.”
Liola now understood why the Dragon Emperor would suddenly be so angry, but because of this action, Liola felt himself even more confused about the man. How could an Emperor who placed such importance on his Knights would be a man who wanted to conquer the world regardless of methods?
The person who spoke trotted to the two, and he was followed by a line of Knights, one of them was even the person with the title of Dark Knight — Blood Wolf. Everyone looked dazed; originally, they sensed Dragon Emperor’s surge of power as well as the appearance of another strong power, so they came here thinking that the Dragon Emperor was being assassinated; however, the scenario they ran into was far from what they had expected.
“You’re chosen a good time to come, Cappuccino.” The Dragon Emperor gestured his third son to come forward with his eyes.
Cappuccino was examined Liola with surprise. If he wasn’t mistaken, this person was the Silver Mask who was hit by his father’s Purple Tornado more than a year ago, and whose fate was never determined.
A man whom his father wanted dead more than a year ago, was actually holding hands with his father and strolling through the garden?
Cappuccino couldn’t get any more surprised than he was now, but he didn’t dare to ignore his father’s gesture for him to go up. He was never scared of anything, other than his enigmatic father.
“Yes, father.” Cappuccino walked up respectfully, but he still couldn’t hold back glancing at Liola few times. At the same time he felt comforted Silver Mask wasn’t dead, and it looked like he had settled his problems with his father. From the looks of it, his sister Lanski wouldn’t have to be sad anymore.
“This is your younger brother, Dragon Empire’s fourth Prince, Liola.” Dragon Emperor announced to Cappuccino and the Knights behind him.
“Huh?” Cappuccino’s mouth became a circular O. His mind went blank for a long while before he fumbled and asked, “How can it be? When did I get a younger brother? Is he your love child?”
The Dragon Emperor frowned and looked at Cappuccino, and he said with a slight reproaching tone, “Nonsense. Liola is the second Queen’s son, the person who went missing more than twenty years ago, and Lanski’s twin brother.”
Cappuccino paused, and said without thinking, “But didn’t Eldest brother’s prophecy say that…”
Before Cappuccino finished, Blood Wolf tugged him from behind, and he immediately closed his mouth after realizing he almost said his brother was going to kill his father in his face. Cold sweat ran down Cappuccino’s back. He was, after all a Prince, even if he was a sloppy one, he still knew things he couldn’t say.
He immediately tried to change topic, “Congratulations, father, on finding my younger brother. Do you need me to show him around, and arrange quarters for him?”
“In a bit.” The Dragon Emperor said lightly, “I’m going to take him to pay a visit to his mother. You go summon the Knights in the palace to meet up at the great hall. I will announce the fourth Prince’s identity in a while.”
“Yes, father.” Cappuccino felt uneasy. He didn’t know where his sister, Lanski, was, and he had a bad feeling about it.
“Let’s go, child.”
The Dragon Emperor paced away. Liola turned to look at Blood Wolf, whom didn’t react at all. He had no choice but to follow the Dragon Emperor.
Liola felt very uneasy about the Dragon Emperor announcing his identity. It seemed it would imply he would be on Dragon Emperor’s side, and would become the enemies of his companions.
* * *
After the Dragon Emperor and Liola walked away, Cappuccino broke into pieces. He pulled his hair as he screamed, “Crap, crap, crap! Has anyone seen where Princess Lanski is?”
The Knights behind him looked at each other, and finally all shook their heads. Cappuccino was so angry, his face turned red. He pointed his fingers around, “You, you, you, and you, weren’t you following my sister closely? So why don’t you know where she is? Bastards! And you guys call yourselves the Princess bodyguards!”
These Knights didn’t know whether they should laugh or cry. As much as they admired the Princess, they weren’t just sitting idly in the palace, so how could they possibly follow the Princess around all day?
“Blood Wolf.” Cappuccino was frowning so much that his eyebrows were about to touch, “You go summon the Knights, I’m going to go find Lanski first.”
Blood Wolf nodded, then shook his head and sighed, “Things have gone big this time!”
* * *
Although he knew the Dragon Emperor was taking him to see his mother’s grave, but Liola didn’t feel anything, and he was more preoccupied with what would happen after. He thought seriously, should he escape before the Dragon Emperor announce him as a Prince?
“Your mother was an amazing woman.” The Dragon Emperor sighed.
Liola’s attention was pulled back by Dragon Emperor’s words. If he remembered correctly, Gle had once said jokingly, perhaps he was ripped out of her mother with her bare hands, and he said it was impossible for Susanna to die from childbirth, so it was probably the Dragon Emperor who killed her.
Because of this, Liola could never believe the Dragon Emperor, even if his back was filled with solitude and sorrow, even if he looked like he was a father treating a child, even if everything Liola had just saw was completely different than the evil empire he had imagined.
‘Never trust the Dragon Emperor!’ Liola told himself.
“Surely enough, Lanski did arrive first.”
Dragon Emperor’s voice sounded comforting. Hearing Lanski’s name, Liola’s body instead completely froze. When he looked up, he had realized he had already unknowingly walked up a small hill behind the palace with the Dragon Emperor. It was surrounded by grass plains, and only two graceful figures stood quietly under a kapok tree. The two familiar figures made Liola pause; he never thought even Jasmine would be there.
The two women seemed to have noticed the Dragon Emperor’s arrival. They both reflexively bowed and said at the same time, “Greetings, father Emperor”, “Greetings, Your Majesty.”
“No need to be ceremonious, child. I told you before, while we’re here, we’re only father and daughter.” The Dragon Emperor said gently.
“Sorry, father, Lan forgot again.”
Lanski answered somewhat uneasily, and Jasmine didn’t even look straight at the Dragon Emperor. She couldn’t possibly forget, the attack dealt by this Emperor in front of her to the person she loved, and thereby causing both her and Lanski to spend the past year or so worrying. They both shed countless amount of tears every time they remembered Liola’s body covered in blood.
Jasmine could look down without looking at Dragon Emperor as a sign of respect, but Lanski couldn’t. She raised her head to look, but suddenly noticed another person. The person’s silver eyes were looking gently at her and Jasmine.
Lanski’s nervous heart felt like it suddenly exploded, and she didn’t know to react to such pain yet incomparable joy. Her throat suddenly felt dry, and she could barely speak, “Sil… Silver Mask?”
Jasmine was shocked, and immediately raised her head to look. She took a deep breath, and sobbed, “Liola! You’re still alive, you really are still alive.”
Liola also panicked; he could only nodded his head and replied, “Mmm, I am still alive.”
Without any hesitation, Jasmine threw herself against Liola, grabbing his shirt in front of his chest to wipe away her tears like a handkerchief, while complaining to him, “You bastard, you didn’t even tell us you didn’t die. Do you know how hard it was for me and Lanski?”
Ignoring her father who was standing to her side, and ignoring her identity as a Princess, two streams of tears also ran down Lanski’s face. She slowly walked in front of Liola, no longer able to control her emotions. She lightly put her forehead on Liola’s shoulder, allowing the tears to wet her loved one’s shoulder, as if this was her punishment for him.
Seeing the two girls’ tears, an indescribable feeling erupted from within Liola’s heart. Even though they were two different girls, they both treated him well. At this time, Long Yandi’s words also jumped into Liola’s mind: Did Lanski and Jasmine wanted to marry him?
“So Lan and her younger brother are already affectionate to one another. Father is very comforted.” The Dragon Emperor smiled.
Lanski, however, was stunned. Although she heard her name, she could not understand what her father was trying to say. Jasmine also heard what he said, and for some reason, she had a bad feeling about it.
“Child, your mother loved kapok tree the most, so I planted one on top of her grave. Go over there and let your mom take a good look at you.”
The Dragon Emperor gestured at the tree a few steps away. Liola looked, and surely enough, there was a tombstone underneath the tree. The simple tombstone had only a few words of epitaph, “In loving memory of my beloved wife, Susanna”. The signature underneath was “From your husband, Caffey.”
It was so simple that even their identities as the Emperor and Queen were not carved on it. The Dragon Emperor walked over, and looked up at the kapoks. His expressions looked gentle as a calm lake. He lightly took a blooming kapok, and stooped over to put it in front of the tombstone. He said, “Susanna, our child is here to see you.”
Could this man have really killed his own wife? Liola began to believe those words less and less.
Lanski asked rigidly. Her brains didn’t seem to function, or perhaps she was forcing herself not to understand what it implied. Jasmine, on the other hand, already understood. She held Lanski’s hand tightly, and her face looked even worse than Lanski’s. She could practically predict the amount of shock her best friend was about to receive.
The Dragon Emperor turned, and looked at the pair of twins. He smiled and said, “Yes, Liola is your twin brother. As the elder sister, you better take good care of him.”
He didn’t know, how cruel his sentence could have been to her. Lanski’s frail body began to shake. She looked unbelievably at Liola’s silver eyes, and asked with trembling voice, “Brother?”
Seeing Lanski was practically pleading him to deny it, Liola really wanted to shake his head and shake no, but the truth was in front of him, not allowing him to say no. Liola slowly nodded his head.
‘I… fell in love with my own brother?’ Lanski felt dizzy, and her legs gave out; she practically fainted into her good friend’s arms.
The Dragon Emperor, on the other hand, didn’t know what was going on. Although he knew Lanski had met with Liola before, he had never imagined Lanski’s feelings toward Liola was anything more than ordinary classmates. He asked caringly, “Lan? What’s wrong? Are you unwell?”
“Your Highness, Princess Lanski hasn’t eaten anything since the morning, I think maybe she has low blood sugar.” Jasmine tightly held onto her good friend, and made up an excuse, “Please allow me to take her to rest and eat food.”
“Go rest. If you feel better in a bit, come to the great hall. Father will declare Liola as the fourth Prince.” The Dragon Emperor kindly reminded, but Lanski’s face became paler.
Seeing Lanski in despair, Liola felt really uncomfortable; but as someone who didn’t have the slightest clue about love, he had no idea what to do. Comforting people was something Liola had practically never done, so he couldn’t do anything, especially in such a complex situation.
Seeing Lanski’s pale face, Jasmine was so angry that her cheeks were bright red. She said mockingly, “Prince Liola, Your Highness, please excuse us.”
Liola paused. Jasmine, who had always been cheerful and generous, had never spoken to him in such an angry and sarcastic tone. He looked at Jasmine’s glaring eyes, and in his heart he felt he had been mistreated. He didn’t wish to be the Dragon Emperor’s son either, but he had absolutely no choice.
Perhaps sensing Liola’s helplessness, Jasmine did not speak a word. She held her friend and slowly left. Nevertheless, Liola heard the sound of her deep sigh.
* * *
After visiting Susanna’s grave, the Dragon Emperor asked Liola to put on a black formal attire. A few Dragons in their human forms brought Baolilong in its little Dragon form. On one hand, Liola wanted to see Lanski and Jasmine again; on another, he really was unable to find an opportunity to escape, so he had no choice but to go to the great hall.
Perhaps, after being declared the Prince, the Dragon Emperor would let down his guard. As such, he would have an easier time to run away, Liola decided on this plan.
When he was at the great hall, Liola finally understood why the Dragon Empire was truly the Kingdom of Knights. Even for a summon on such a short notice, the wide hall stood four to five hundred Knights. Although the majority of them were Silver Knights, there were more than fifty Gold Knights, and he didn’t know how many of them were Dragon Knights. Liola thought to himself, this much power could probably destroy Aklan without much hindrance.
The Knights were worthy to be called the perfect Knights by the Dragon Emperor. Even though a Prince popped out of nowhere, all of them looked steadily at the Dragon Emperor with the utmost respect, and no one would even look at Liola with scrutinizing eyes, until the Dragon Emperor introduced him, “… Luckily, the Dragon Empire still found our youngest Prince. I hereby announce the fourth Prince, Liola.”
The eyes of the Knights suddenly converged onto Liola. Suddenly becoming the focus, as an Assassin who was usually hiding in the dark, Liola felt a bit uneasy, although on the surface, he still looked coldly as he did before. All the Knights immediately performed a Knight’s salute towards him. The coordinated and uniform action shocked Liola a bit, and luckily he still remembered, he had to return the salute in the same manner.
“Child, go get familiar with everyone. Father must go take care of business.” The Dragon Emperor instructed to Liola, “If there’s anything you’re unfamiliar with, just ask your sovereign brothers. Cappuccino is easy to get along with.”
Liola nodded. As soon as the Dragon Emperor disappeared from the great hall, Cappuccino ran up as if he couldn’t wait anymore. He looked anxious but also at a loss for words. He scratched his head crazily and said, “Sigh, h-how could you be my brother, and now I can’t even find Lanski…”
“I’ve already seen her just now, at the kapok tree.” Liola opened his mouth and said.
“Ah… she already knew?” Cappuccino asked with a stutter, “T-then what was her reaction?”
Liola remained silent. Truth was, Cappuccino already had an idea of how his sister would probably react. He said uneasily, “You know, in the past year and more, she has always been worried about you, you… sigh, I already don’t know what to do. Just comfort her whenever you have the time.”
Liola nodded cautiously.
Suddenly returning to the palace, Baolilong seemed unhappy. It turned back into human form, and then climbed up Liola’s back. It held on tightly, as if it was afraid someone would try to take it away from Liola like Latte did.
“Oh, the Sacred White Dragon seemed to be rather attached to you.” Cappuccino was amazed, “Why wouldn’t my Little Fireball treat me like it?”
As soon as Cappuccino said it, the Knights around were making restrained laughing noises. Their eyes were looking in the direction of the Dragons in human-form who brought Baolilong over.
Liola looked in that direction, and saw one of them with black lines rolling down his face. The fiery red hair indicated its identity as a Fiery Dragon. Unlike Flames, however, the gender of this Dragon was obviously male. His body was also unlike Flames’ thin body, and instead it was very muscular.
“Little Fireball?” Liola couldn’t help but glanced.
The strong, red-haired man didn’t seem to want to admit, but he nevertheless bowed respectfully, “Yes, Your Highness, fourth Prince.”
Liola turned his head and saw Cappuccino looking enviously at Baolilong climbing onto his back, then he looked back at the Fiery Dragon, whose face looked like he had been wronged. Little Fireball was probably infuriated by his own master acting like a sulking woman. He said with repressed anger, “Stop fooling around, do you really wish for me to climb up your back?”
“No, but ever since you were young, you’ve never played with me.” Cappuccino seemed very depressed.
Veins popped up on Little Fireballs’ head, “When I was young? When I first saw you, I had already matured. At the time you were still tiny, and you were often flighty with me. Whenever you had nothing else to do, you would grab on to me and call me ‘Little’ Fireball.”
“Is that so? It’s been hundreds of years, and I don’t remember anymore. You know older people tend to forget.” Cappuccino said with a laugh, and then immediately changed the topic, “Brother, I’ll show you around, and take you to your palace. You’ve just become a Prince, so there are many things you must do, such as choosing the Knight who serve under you. Oh right, since everyone is here, go and look to see if there’s any you like.”
Liola frowned. He had no plans on choosing a Knight. Why would a Prince who was going to escape choose a Knight? He glanced around, and noticed many Knights looked at him with eager eyes.
“Do you need me to introduce any to you?”
Without waiting for Liola’s response, Cappuccino had already began saying a long list of names, while asking him what would his preferred personality in a Knight was. He then said, “Lanluo and his buddies seemed more lively, but brother, you seem to be the colder kind, so Tande seemed to be more suited to you, he’s as cold as an ice cube…”
Seeing Liola didn’t seem to be much interested in choosing a Knight, Cappuccino thought briefly, then nodded and said, “Actually, it doesn’t really matter if you choose one, since they all have to work for you after all.”
“What?” Liola glanced at Cappuccino curiously because he didn’t understand.
Cappuccino shrugged, “Every Knight of the Dragon Empire must obey the Dragon Emperor.”
“What does it have to do with me?” Liola paused briefly.
Hearing Liola’s question, Cappuccino pointed Baolilong with a surprised expression as he explained, “The Dragon Emperor has always been succeeded by the Prince chosen by the Sacred White Dragon, so without a doubt, brother, you are the next Dragon Emperor, especially since father has been getting older, the day of your coronation probably isn’t very far.”
Liola’s body froze. He suddenly remembered what Bariui had said about the thing the next Dragon Emperor must do on the day of his coronation: to eat his father’s heart. Liola’s face suddenly went pale, “No, I don’t want to become the Dragon Emperor.”
Cappuccino looked at Liola strangely. After thinking about it briefly, he patted Liola’s back and comforted him, “Don’t worry; though you’ve just become a Prince, no one would oppose you being the next Dragon Emperor. Eldest brother is a fortune teller, so he had already given up being a Dragon Emperor. I like to roam around the world, and telling me to stay in the palace to be an Emperor is my worst nightmare. Lanski is also someone who doesn’t care about power. Hahaha, brother, I’m glad you can be the next Dragon Emperor. I thought I wouldn’t even be able to run away from it.”
Liola went quiet. It looked like Cappuccino didn’t know about eating their father’s heart was a part of becoming the next Dragon Emperor.
“Papa! Baolilong is hungry.” Baolilong’s little face was hanging above Liola’s shoulder, and it showed a look of hunger.
Without waiting for Liola to answer, Cappuccino came up with a smile, “Your Dragon looks hungry, so let’s all go eat.” Cappuccino suggested to his brother as he looked at his own matured Dragon, as if ordering him to feed the smaller Dragon. Little Fireball’s mouth began to twitch at his bad master.
Ignoring Little Fireball’s murderous eyes, Cappuccino led Liola to their eatery and to “feed the Dragon”. As soon as they walked to the great hall’s entrance, a familiar and graceful figure appeared, with an unusually cold expression on her face.
“Can I bother you for a moment, Prince, Your Prince?” Jasmine said rigidly.
Liola quietly handed Baolilong to Little Fireball on the side, and said, “Could you please take Baolilong to find something to eat?”
Little Fireball nodded, while Cappuccino didn’t say anything. With an expression of “hope you take care of yourself”, shaking his head, and sighing, Cappuccino walked away with the two Dragons.
Liola stared at Jasmine, “Let’s go.”