Translator: Dess Editor: EbonyFrost
Kieran saw another squad of soldiers around the street corner.
They looked quite different from the city guards though as they looked sharper not only in terms of arsenal but also spirit. At least when the squad of soldiers saw him, they didn't forget their duties even though they were afraid and nervous.
"The remaining troops from Lightning Fortress and the imperial guards of the palace?" Kieran wondered.
Lightning Fortress had a total of 3,000 soldiers stationed there all the time and Kieran didn't kill all of them when he first charged through the fortress. The imperial guards were obviously the soldiers that were loyal to James VIII.
Regardless of how Jeanne used her powerful forces to seize Riverdale single-handedly when she was still alive, a handful of them were still loyal to James VIII.
Still, it was a rare, good piece of news for Kieran.
If he had to rely on those city guards, Kieran really had no idea what they could do except lose their heads to their enemies at the end of the road.
The good news lightened Kieran's steps.
Although the soldiers were afraid and nervous when he looked at them, Kieran easily felt the soldiers were not too friendly. He still acted calm and confident though.
When Kieran saw Mary at the end of the squad, he curled his lips into a rare smile.
Mary was wearing a pure white knight dress with her blonde hair tied to the back, just like how Kieran remembered her. Her narrow blue eyes had maturity beyond her peers and the short sword around her waist boosted her maturity and increased her valiant presence.
It was hard for a girl to have such a temperament and even though she wasn't a beautiful girl, she would shine brightly as well.
"Greetings, Mary" Kieran saluted.
Mary nodded slightly. She held her mature temperament together with her integrity but her blues eyes were looking at Kieran like a burning fire.
"Come with me!"
Mary said to Kieran while trying her best in suppressing the impulsive move in her heart.
She then went into one of the houses close by, leaving her soldiers behind. The house was beside a crossroad and the windows were reinforced with wood.
"A temporary command center?"
Kieran was surprised after a quick glance.
Based on what he had seen around the city, even if Mary were to choose a temporary command center, Riverdale Palace would be a much ideal location. Other than its grand decoration, it could be used as a bunker during the actual war.
It also seemed like Mary's ancestors had thought about the worst case scenario when they built the palace.
The door was closed.
The moment the door was shut, Mary turned around suddenly and ran into Kieran's arms. She hugged him tightly around his waist and stuffed her face on his chest.
It was quite hard for Mary's height but it would make her feel better if she could do it.
Mary gave her best effort by tip toeing.
Kieran was frozen though, his hands were wide opened in an unusual way. He was absent of any emotions, expressions, actions or words to reply to her gesture. All he did was stand there like a dummy.
That was until Kieran realized Mary was tipping her feet off the ground to the limit and wanted to jump up to shorten the distance between them.
Kieran's senses came back to him right away. He didn't move his body but placed his idled hands on Mary's shoulder lightly and unusually, thus calming Mary down when she tried to jump up.
Mary frowned hard that a small bulge appeared in the middle of her brows.
"You owe me a farewell… So you should compensate me!" She said.
"Um... So I came back." Kieran smiled.
"I want something else!" Mary emphasized.
"Something else… But we have more important matters at hand. The Prairies spies have infiltrated Riverdale. Although Bosco is already on it, I don't think he can get anything out of his search. Those spies possess the secret techniques of the Prairies men and we need some mystical individuals to deal with them." Kieran changed to topic right away but it sounded forced.
"You owe me a compensation!" Mary wasn't distracted at all and emphasized her intentions.
Kieran nodded once more after thinking for a while to balance out his priorities.
He felt Mary's arms around his waist was getting tighter. The power came from the gaps of [Armor of Excellence] as if she could ignore the defenses of the equipment and reached him directly.
Kieran raised a puzzled brow right after he was relieved. He noticed something unusual about Mary.
"What is it?" Kieran asked.
"He is ready to give up. He wants me to bring a portion of the people and retreat to the south and he intended to end his life here, as for how a king should be. The foolish, ridiculous pride of a king!" Mary said in a mocking tone.
Kieran who tilted his head down noticed the helplessness and unwilling sadness on the little girl.
Mary tilted her head down even more when Kieran looked at her. She hugged him tighter and stuffed her face onto the cold armor plate.
It felt like the persistence of hers was trying to hold on to the slightest of hope when she had fallen into despair, like the last hope of a drowning victim.
Kieran took in a deep breath and slightly shut his eyes. He clearly felt the girl was helpless and hesitating. Her impulsive move was not just because of her feelings but also the instinct of requesting help.
She had gotten attached to Kieran after going through a life and death situation with him, and now it was like a stray puppy that had gotten a temporary shelter from the rain.
Kieran opened up his eyes and it shone slightly. He squatted down and looked at the girl at her eye level.
"I don't have any words to comment about your father, I am not too familiar with him… but the only one that I am familiar with in this world is you."
"So… What are you thinking? Or what do you want to achieve?"
Kieran didn't think about others at that moment, all he wanted to do was to complete his main mission and make the girl before him happy along the way.
He knew the girl was unwilling to give up the father that she mocked as useless, it felt like she was hating her parents for dumping her and at the same time wanted to meet them badly.
It was conflicting but real.
Kieran's own wish was impossible at his stage but if it was within his strength and the realm of possibility, he wouldn't mind fulfilling the girl's wish that shared a similar fate with him, especially when it was along the way.
"I...I…" Mary stuttered.
She wanted to speak her mind but she shook her head right away followed by a sudden silence.
"You're worried about me? Don't! I'm good at creating miracles, turning the impossible into possible. You've seen it before right?"
Kieran saw through the little girl's worries. He tapped her head, trying to comfort her.
"But it's different this time! There isn't a thousand man vanguard anymore but fifty thousand troops! The looks of the fifty thousand troops from high was like the whole land was tainted by black and you couldn't even see the end!" Mary shook her head again.
"So what? I'm asking you what are you thinking, don't care about the invaders! Be it fifty thousand or five million, none of that matters! Tell me what are you thinking, Mary!"
Kieran asked once more.
"I...I want to… defeat the invaders and protect Warren!"
Mary's voice shivered at the start but turned steady at the end.
Kieran smiled as the answer was within his expectations.
He gazed at the girl's persistence and stood up.
"I'll lend a hand!" Kieran said.