The Zipple’s objective was to kill Bamel to regain the clan’s dignity. Their reputation had hit rock bottom.

Too many of their atrocities had been exposed to the world by Vamel. And if they couldn’t eliminate Vamel, the dignity of the world’s most powerful clan would plummet once again.

Of course, if Jin decided not to reveal himself, the Zipples would simply downplay it using Karl’s death as an excuse.

“They will soon appoint me as a full-fledged flagbearer, and I’ll just have to live hidden until then. Plus, I’ll always have a safe place to hide,” Jin shrugged as he spoke to Kashmir.

“But that patriarch of the Zipple clan, isn’t he too harsh on his own son? He not only sent him to die under false accusations but even had his own son killed just to lure you in! What happened to family love?”

“It almost makes me think the victim was a double created by Bouvard Gaston.”

“He was probably the real Karl, Sir Kashmir. If it was a double, it would put the Kinzelo in danger if it ever revealed during an interrogation. They have no reason to risk themselves for the Zipples. They are now hostile towards each other.”

The ruthless and dirty pinnacle of magic: that was Jin’s definition of Keliac Zipple.

However, the negative connotations did not diminish the fact that he was still at the pinnacle. He was an enemy Jin couldn’t face at the moment. Even Cyron was cautious of him.

The idea of his identity being revealed to Keliac sent shivers down Jin’s spine.

He would never have revealed his identity if the Zipples had undermined any land other than the sacred kingdom of Vankela because he would be captured by Keliac and beheaded before reaching a safe zone.

At the same time, it was something to look forward to.

If the reserve flagbearer of the Runcandels won by decision against Keliac Zipple in their first battle, the whole world would be shaken.

The Zipples made no statements regarding the Holy Kingdom after Karl’s death. Lani, the loyal officers, and her people could do nothing to punish the clan, although they obviously knew the Zipples had undermined the kingdom.

Their quest for the truth was constantly delayed, and the fervent interest of foreign media began to slowly fade. On the other hand, media outlets based in the Lutero Magical Federation published article after article supporting the Zipple’s point of view.

Of course, Hufester writers responded with criticism of the Zipple clan, but they didn’t do much new harm. Setting aside the Holy Kingdom, clashes in columns and opinion pieces were part of their daily routine, and both clans always considered each other bastards.

The fury of outsiders quickly subsided.

Nobles from visiting nations no longer came to the plaza where Lani and the sacred subjects of the kingdom gathered after realizing it wouldn’t be prudent to side against the Zipples.

The way the Zipples pretended to pay a false price by killing Karl Zipple was certainly unreasonable.

But major factions like the Zipples could always make situations even more unreasonable.

If they really put their minds to it, they could always dismiss the protests of weak victims and even bring down third parties involved.

The press and neutral organizations understood this very well. They had to watch how the Zipples received their actions.

Of course, the third parties also had other benefits in mind.

The incident in the Holy Kingdom would be remembered as a major blunder in the Zipple clan’s history, but every major power always had some kind of flaw. Once the tempers cooled, the Zipples would use their wealth and manpower to line the pockets and sweeten the mouths of neutral forces.

“Turn a blind eye. Then we’ll make it worth your while.”

That’s how the Zipples consoled neutral factions with each incident.

On the other hand, the Runcandels always clung to their rule of fear. The two clans had very different ideologies that affected their way of governing the world. And clearly, the Zipple’s way was more likely to be effective in dealing with the incident in the Holy Kingdom.

Zipple ships entered the territorial waters of the Holy Kingdom, and each one was filled with gold to the brim.

This was the compensation the Zipples rewarded for the political interference carried out by Karl Zipple’s followers, regardless of his death.

The amount of compensation was unimaginable.

The Holy Kingdom could easily fund the national budget for the next thirty years with the gold, should they accept the compensation. Lani rejected the offer, of course, and the loyal forces of the kingdom were infuriated by the Zipple’s maneuver.

“Those bastards. Don’t they have any consideration for the Holy Kingdom? No. Do they have any consideration for others?”

Even the common people expressed their anger towards the clan.

The Zipples ignored them and simply unloaded the gold at the harbor. They seemed to not care who took it, and in fact, they were inciting people to covet it and steal it.

As proof of their intentions, no one was assigned to guard the abandoned gold chests at the harbor.

Gold ingots piled up in the middle of the harbor, shining like a castle made of wealth. Neither the common folk nor the kings had ever seen so much gold in their treasuries. The massive pile of riches not only incited greed but was also intimidating.

The Zipples would never retrieve the gold even if the Holy Kingdom didn’t accept it.

“They’re showing off, alright.” Jin inspected the pile of gold with his arms crossed.

He could see what would happen to the Holy Kingdom if they didn’t accept the wealth.

“Not even in the dens of gold-crazed dragons is there this much gold. Wow. How many limited-edition ecchi illustration books do you think could be bought with that?” Murakan joked.

“You’re crazy. What did you just say? Ecchi books? How do you come up with these things?”

“It just came to me, I guess.”

Jin shook his head. “That gold is enough to cover the Holy Kingdom’s annual budget for thirty years, or even fifty if spent wisely.”

“That seems right.”

“If they reject the gold, the Zipples will starve them for the next fifty years.”

If the Holy Kingdom accepted the gold, willingly covered up the incident, and turned a blind eye to the truth just this once, then the Zipples would bring prosperity to the Holy Kingdom. If not, they would cut off all sources of income for the kingdom.

That’s what the gold at the harbor meant.

“If the Holy Kingdom abandons its ego and vengeance, the Zipples will promise them a prosperous life. But if they cling to their customs, the gold will be handed to other neutral factions. If that happens, the Zipples will make the Holy Kingdom regret not accepting the offer by interfering with trade.”

For now, the people of the Holy Kingdom had an absolute disdain for the Zipples.

But how long would that last?

Most common people didn’t have unwavering faith like Lani and the loyal aides of Vitura. The life of a commoner was nothing more than a series of days spent surviving and striving for their own happiness as a result of their work.

But once the nation became impoverished, individuals would end up poor as well.

Their compensation for work would decrease, while the intensity of work would only increase. And if their lives didn’t improve under such circumstances…

Would the holy subjects of the kingdom continue to defend the choice that Lani and her loyal leaders made today?

They wouldn’t. They would hold the kingdom’s leaders responsible for the deterioration of their quality of life, not the Zipples who imposed tremendous economic sanctions on the kingdom in the first place.

And the Zipples wouldn’t stop politically shaking them to expedite the process. Lani and her aides would struggle to find solutions and end up being remembered as tyrants or incompetent leaders.

“I didn’t want to think about all those bothersome circumstances, and that’s why I thought about nude portraits.”

“Oh, sure.”

Of course, they still had the Runcandel clan. The Runcandels would certainly do something if the Holy Kingdom encountered such turmoil.

But would they splurge as much money as the Zipples to stabilize the Holy Kingdom?

Not only that, they lacked justification. Many lands in Hufester were grappling with poverty. The Runcandels couldn’t afford to prioritize the Holy Kingdom over their own, as it could cause divisions within the faction.

In the end, the Runcandels would lose if the battle was fought in finances.

“Let’s put an end to this crap.”

On December 24, 1797, Lani decided to initiate the requiem for the Holy King and the victims of the biological golem experiments.

The trials had not yet concluded, but they couldn’t delay the requiem any longer. The saints tried to maintain the integrity of the deceased false holy king’s body with their sacred powers, but it was starting to decompose. Vitura’s body, which had been hung as a warning, had already rotted away.

Furthermore, they had to finish the requiem before the neutral press abandoned the kingdom. And the fact that the trials for the murder of the holy king had not yet concluded provided an extra layer of protection for Jin.

The requiem was scheduled to last three hours.

As usual, Lani recited the prayer for the departed souls.

“Please be seated,” Lani said as she ascended the podium. She spoke softly, but everyone present knelt down and closed their eyes.

“Dear Ayula, your most humble daughter, Lani Salome, stands here today for the evils of the late Holy King Miklan and your holy subjects. Please answer my prayer so that we may commemorate their final moment on Earth with your voice.”

The requiems of the Holy Kingdom were often referred to as the Milky Way prayer by the narrators.

The prayer gathered the sacred powers of all participants in the requiem into a single combined energy, allowing the prayer to resonate and emit the characteristic yellow sacred light in all participants, including those without sacred powers.

The amount of light emitted by the participants was determined by the sanctity of the person leading the prayer.

That’s why Jin and Murakan were completely impressed.

Lani Salome. He knew she had a considerable amount of sacred energy when she managed to protect Murakan from those toxic vapors, but this…

The entire plaza was glowing yellow.

Lani’s body trembled as she recited the prayer. She infused her sacred energy into the bodies of the several thousand holy subjects gathered in the plaza.

It was exactly as the narrators had described it: as if the Milky Way flowed here on Earth.

The journalists thought it would be the last major scoop they would get from the Holy Kingdom. It was the largest requiem the kingdom had seen in many years.

“Therefore, I pray that Ayula’s children may return to your embrace. I pray that our light reaches you and blesses their eternal lives.”

After finishing the prayer, Lani stumbled and clung to the lectern.

It was a perfect requiem.

But no one noticed that Lani’s requiem went beyond perfection and was, in fact, a miracle. It restored Vitura’s body, which had been completely rotten and now buried underground, to its original state.

Not even Lani was aware of this fact. It was a secret known only to Ayula and the soul of the deceased Vitura.

Lani took several deep breaths. After catching her breath, Lani looked at the crowd.

“The requiem has ended. But today, I, Lani Salome, would like to introduce a man who has made a great sacrifice for the Holy Kingdom despite being an outsider.”

The crowd looked around as Jin approached slowly.

He took off the hood covering his head, revealing his blonde-dyed hair. Jin spoke without hesitation.

“I am Jin Runcandel.”


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