Chapter 153 - Tell me your wish (1)
Theodore discovered a familiar face when he opened the door. Both of them had sensed each other, so they weren't greatly surprised. Bandages covered half his skin, but Randolph talked as cheerfully as always, "Oh, did the naughty and oversleeping Young Master finally wake up?"
"Meanwhile, Randolph can easily run around," Theodore spoke with in admiring voice as he examined Randolph's body.
It was as he said. After receiving Lee Yoonsung's knowledge of the human body, Theodore's diagnosis was more accurate than that of a normal healer. The noticeable injuries would take at least one month to heal. When including the injuries which weren't visible, it would take at least three months of recovery. The evidence of the survival for life and death was inscribed on Randolph's entire body.
However, Randolph nodded with a satisfied expression. "Of course. I've gained some profit from this battle, so how can I lie down and forget it?"
"Profit, surely not...?" Theodore asked with a surprised face, while Randolph laughed like he had been waiting for it.
"Well, it has only been half a day since I caught sight of it," Randolph spoke casually, but the meaning of his words was never light.
There was only one thing which would count as profit. It was the prerequisite to being a sword master-awakening the Aura Ability!
Randolph, who had been relying on his powerful aura and physical abilities, had finally stepped into the realm of transcendence. The fight with Superbia had acted as a catalyst, and another master had emerged into this world.
Theodore admired Randolph's achievement, "Congratulations. Now you are a complete sword master."
"It is complete, but if I want to use it perfectly, I'll need to train for a few years. Well, it is nothing compared to when I was wandering around aimlessly."
However, Randolph couldn't hide his joy as he chuckled and knocked against Theodore's shoulder.
If he had been practicing alone, it might've taken him five or maybe 10 years. Even though he might've gone through several dangerous situations, this achievement was the result of his relationship with Theodore. The last fight with Superbia had made it possible for him to accumulate dozens of years of experience.
After a short moment of chatting, the two people went down the stairs together.
"By the way, where is this place? No matter how I look, it doesn't seem like a dragon lair," Theodore asked.
"Ah, she said that this is a villa. It is on an island on the outskirts of the Pirate Archipelago. It is an area that the pirates can't enter."
Well, a dragon didn't have to sleep in a cave. Theodore understood the explanation and looked around the interior. It wasn't comparable to the Sea God Festival, but the paintings and decorations seemed expensive. Rather, it was similar to Earl Bergen's mansion which he had visited in the past.
However, the crucial difference was the owner's presence. As soon as they stepped into a long corridor off the stairs, a clear voice rang in their heads, [This way.]
It was a voice which surpassed 'space.' It was very different from the words which were transmitted in the form of a 'voice.' Theo couldn't understand the principles, but as soon as they heard her, the structure of the mansion was fully engraved in their minds.
'Surely this... Is it Dragon Words?'
The dragon's language was the power to shorten dozens of pages of information into a few syllables. Numerous magicians in the past had tried to recreate this system, but there had never been a single successful case. Theodore's curiosity as a magician was boiling, but now wasn't the time.
The duo soon faced Aquilo at the terrace of the villa.
"Welcome. Is this your first time in a villa?"
They were lost for words as they saw her smiling faintly under the afternoon sun. Unlike before, she hid her two horns and tail, so she just looked like a beautiful woman. If there was a title of 'country's top beauty,' she would be one of the most powerful candidates on the continent.
Aquilo raised a finger toward the two people.
"Don't just stand there, sit down. I've prepared things in my own way, so let's start the story."
As Theodore and Randolph sat in the chairs, people emerged from the villa while carrying something.
They were steaming hot dishes with delicious scents. Theodore hadn't eaten in three days, so his mouth naturally started salivating. It was a type of dinner he had only seen when eating with Kurt III. The servants finished setting out the lavish meal, and Aquilo smiled while raising her glass.
Thus, the infamous dragon's luncheon began.
* * *
Some people might've been suspicious about this luncheon, but Theodore didn't think so.
Anyway, she had plenty of time to kill him in the last three days. So, there was no reason to use an unsightly method like poison. That's why Theodore reached out toward the prepared dishes without any hesitation. He carefully ate a bit of the meat, and...
'...Uh, isn't this really delicious?!'
It was comparable to a dish made with the skill of the Meltor royal chef, and it wasn't simply due to good ingredients. This was a dish that a first-class chef had to cook with the finest ingredients. It was gourmet cuisine which a person needed to pay dozens of gold coins for one table of food. Theodore looked at Aquilo with a surprised expression and was amazed again.
She had the most perfect table manners out of anyone he had seen so far. The location of the tableware was perfect, and no sound was made as she expertly used the knife. Her mouth had no dirty stains nor drops of sauce, leaving the napkin untouched. A dragon was faithful to their basic needs, and food was one of those.
Theodore marveled at her elegant appearance and continued to eat. Sometimes, the sound of tableware banging could be heard, and the three people's meals ended after an hour.
As the owner of this place, Aquilo was the first to put her utensils down. "Hrmm, it was pretty good. Does it suit your taste?"
Theodore nodded without any hesitation. "It was really good. This is the level of a royal palace."
Randolph said, "I haven't experienced that, but the food was really impressive."
Their reaction was satisfactory, which caused Aquilo to smile and clap her hands several times. Shortly afterward, the people from inside the villa removed the empty plates and placed fragrant tea before the three people.
Then Aquilo turned towards the two men. "Then let's settle the debt I owe the both of you."
It was now starting for real. Theodore couldn't help holding his breath as he waited for her to speak.
"The dragon clans have different inclinations. It is emotions for the red clan, wisdom for the gold clan, life for the green clan, purity for the silver clan... and like me, the blue clan puts emphasis on interest."
It didn't mean that she liked to obtain benefits. If she was gracious, she had to receive something in return. If she owed someone, she should pay them back. Repaying back any debts was the nature of the blue dragon.
This was the reason why Aquilo took a tribute from the Pirate Archipelago in return for her protection.
"The two of you saved my life. My own strength helped me overcome the crisis, but the debt I owe is still heavy. I can't pay back my life with half the gold on this archipelago."
Then she raised three fingers.
"One for the swordsman, and two for the boy." Aquilo looked rather regal as she made the pronouncement, "I will give you three favors for your grace toward me. If you want, I can even pass over sovereignty of this island."
The two men looked at each other and came to a silent agreement, causing Randolph to open his mouth first.
"I don't care about this island. Rather, I need a sword."
"My swords were completely broken in the fight against the monster. If you have any good swords, can I receive two? That is what I want to ask of you."
He looked at his two falchions with a bitter expression. There were large cracks like spiders webs in the center of both swords, and they looked like they were going to collapse at any moment. Randolph had barely regained the heirlooms from the Miller Barony along with the techniques inside it, but his inexperience had caused them to break. If he had fought with the integrity of a master, his swords wouldn't have broken.
However, Aquila had an absurd expression on her face. "Two swords? Are you serious?"
"A dragon owes you a life debt, and you ask for two swords?"
She looked outraged at Randolph's words but soon exerted her power.
Simultaneously, dozens of swords suddenly poured out. These were all famous swords. They had value as antiques but were also in an excellent state for practical use. A few masterpieces from the dwarves hidden deep in the mountains were included. Looking at the happily jumping Randolph, Aquilo sighed with a sad expression on her face.
"Take everything that is there. Wouldn't it be annoying if the value of my life is only worth two pieces of scrap metal?"
"No, I'll give you armor as well since yours broke. Pick your favorite one."
Aquilo snapped her fingers and shiny armor poured out. Randolph's head was hit by the heavy rain of metal, but he didn't feel any pain as he hugged the pile of armor. Theodore and Aquilo couldn't help laughing at the sight before they looked at each other.
The two remaining favors belonged to Theodore. 'Don't disappoint me this time' was expressed in Aquilo's eyes as Theodore took a deep breath and opened his mouth.
He said, "First of all, I want you to dismantle this Pirate Archipelago."
"Hrmm?" Aquilo made a strange noise as she stared at Theodore. Sensing the strange atmosphere, Randolph looked up from his armor. Theodore's request meant destroying the vast supply of goods Aquilo was receiving. The pirates' tribute equaled to hundreds of thousands of gold every year, so wasn't this huge damage?
However, Aquilo was surprisingly calm.
"I'm sorry, but that isn't my responsibility."
"I organized the Pirate Archipelago into this structure, but the pirates have been living here since then. I don't have the right to do that unless you ask me to kill everyone or to destroy this island."
Indeed, Theodore was convinced by the explanation. Aquilo emphasized that her 'right' and her 'power' were of two different regions. It was possible to destroy the Pirate Archipelago, but the ownership of the island and the residents' rights couldn't be handed over by her.
However, Theodore was able to figure out another way to dismantle the Pirate Archipelago.
"If so, I want you to take back your blessing. Is that possible?"
Aquilo smiled as she confirmed it. "Of course. That won't be hard."
In some ways, this favor was crueler. Theodore chose it despite knowing this fact. Until now, the Pirate Archipelago had been able to move freely in the sea due to the blessing of the sea dragon, Aquilo.
The pirate ships which lost their power could now be defeated by the military. It was natural for them to lose their lives once the blessing was gone. After all, criminals should be judged by the law. The fate of the pirates was decided.
"Now, what is your last wish, Boy?" Aquilo whispered as she cupped his chin. The blue hair hanging over her white skin naturally attracted attention, but Theodore was too busy thinking. The last wish was for real. It was his last chance to receive something from her.
The magician, who held this opportunity in his hand, spoke carefully, "The last thing that I want..."