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 Chapter 156 - One Year Later (2)

Of course, it wasn't that Theodore hadn't done anything this year. He'd written down pieces of wisdom, and the amount of information he'd received from Gluttony's 'question and answer' was really huge. Additionally, he'd gained a lot of knowledge about inefficient magic and Dragon Words.

However, this wasn't much help in breaking through the wall of the 7th Circle, the master wall.

At the time, Gluttony had given this advice, -User might've already realized this, but 'master' isn't an area that can be reached by steadily climbing stairs. You must redefine your world views and destroy your own limitations.

A magician who lived a long time ago said this: If the process of advancing from the 1st to 4th Circle was like climbing a staircase, then the journey from the 4th to 6th Circle was like climbing a sheer cliff.

In that case, what did the wall of the 7th Circle and the master level look like? Theodore still remembered the explanation. It was from a book placed in an unpopular corner of the library.

It was common sense that no matter how far away a destination was, one could eventually get there by walking or running. If a person kept climbing up a mountain, they would eventually reach the peak surrounded by clouds.

However, it was meaningless for a magician to use hard work to reach the master level. A master could fly without wings and breathe underwater without gills. They were transcendent beings who could do impossible things.

An 'official' way to reach such an area didn't exist. Theodore was looking back through his memories when he was interrupted by a knock on the door.

"Theodore, are you inside?"

"...You already know, so just come in."

Wasn't Randolph a master swordsman with a perceptual ability which stretched out over kilometers?

As soon as Theodore's permission was given, Randolph opened the door and shrugged. "I thought you might be doing something important. Don't magicians hate people entering their space without notice?"

"It isn't just magicians who hate it, though...? Anyway, what is it? I thought you would be training in the backyard at this time."

"Ah, someone came looking for you."

Theodore recalled sensing someone approach his wards. There weren't any hostile emotions, so he had forgotten about it... Randolph must've helped them directly. As Theo looked over with questioning eyes, Randolph took out a letter covered with ornate decorations.

"He asked me to deliver a letter to the owner."

"...Marquis Piris," Theodore murmured as he looked at the seal on the envelope. He was in a strange relationship with the ruler of this territory, Marquis Piris. They were neighbors who didn't have a close relationship with each other.

'In addition, my identity hasn't been revealed.'

Marquis Piris didn't know the identities and histories of Theodore and Randolph. The reason for this strange relationship was that Theodore had bought the mansion at a high price.

After seeing them spend 1,000 gold without hesitation, the marquis couldn't deal with the two people without caution. A hidden noble from another country might bring disadvantages to the whole Soldun Kingdom.

Theodore had easily provided the 1,000 gold. It was something which wouldn't have been possible without the pouch Aquilo had given him.

"I didn't think he would come this year..."

Maybe there was an unknown variable. Theodore was filled with such speculations as he opened the seal of the letter that Randolph gave him. He slowly read the excellent handwriting and raised his eyebrows. "...He will visit tomorrow afternoon? And he will bring guests?"

Marquis Piris' polite words showed caution. Theodore knew there were still some of the marquis' men patrolled around here, so what was this visit for? Maybe somebody else was behind it. Many speculations crossed his mind, leaving a few possibilities behind.

This was impossible to refuse. What justification did he have for refusing Marquis Piris' visit?

Theodore put down the letter with a small sigh. "I should prepare to meet the guests."

He felt some discordant notes in the previously peaceful Piris.

* * *

The next day, Marquis Piris arrived at noon, which was the time written in the letter sent.

Prince Elsid, who was interested in the people with unknown identities, accompanied the Baek Family who had arrived last night. It was possible to rely on their skills with the sword, and Baek Jongmyung was fluent in the language of the continent.

Baek Jongmyung wanted to look directly at the place where they would be staying. As the chateau came into view, Baek Jongmyung's mouth dropped open with admiration. "Oh...! Indeed, it is magnificent enough to be our home, just like Lord Piris promised."

"Do you like it, Master Baek?"

"Yes. The mansion is luxurious, and it is surrounded by spacious gardens and hills. Moreover, the feng shui is very good."

The marquis and Elsid didn't know what feng shui was, but they sighed with relief.

A martial artist in the east was similar to a nobleman in the west, and a sword master of a family was equivalent to a marquis or a duke. Baek Jongmyung had to move due to difficult circumstances, but it had been a long time since he had been treated as an ordinary person.

Elsid spoke to him in an informal manner, "That is a relief. I will take back the mansion and give it to you, so let me finish the preparations."

"Yes. Thank you for Your Highness' generosity."

Inwardly, Elsid felt bitter as Baek Jongmyung maintained a polite and formal attitude. If Elsid had one or two more military retainers like this sword master, the kingdom wouldn't be in this state.

The current Soldun Kingdom was a battlefield between the loyalists who struggled to defend the kingdom and those who were loyal to the neighboring kingdoms, trying to suck everything out of the Soldun Kingdom. The determination to give this house to Baek Jongmyung was firmly established in Elsid.

Suddenly, Baek Jongmyung stopped moving.

"Master Baek, what is it?"

"...Hoh."

As the marquis' question entered one of his ears, Baek Jongmyung looked at the outskirts of the mansion with an admiring expression.

Then he started to explain the reason for his reaction to the confused people around him. "Well, there is an excellent mage in there. I have seen a considerable number of mages, but I've never seen one capable of making such wards. This is truly the western continent."

"Mage... Are you talking about a magician?"

"Yes. I don't know who it is, but I'm impressed."

Elsid and the marquis looked at each other with perplexed expressions. A sword master was praising the magician staying in the mansion?

According to the report, there were only two people staying here. A young man called Ted and his bodyguard. According to the laws of elimination, the young man called Ted must be the magician...

However, the two people in question appeared before they could come to a conclusion. The main gate was opened, and a young man with black hair walked out. "Welcome, Marquis Piris."

Behind the young man was a blond swordsman, who stood in a prepared stance. It was proof that the swordsman hadn't taken the job just because of money. Just as the marquis was about to greet them...

"Hah! This is literally a sleeping dragon!" Baek Jongmyung's sudden cry attracted everyone's attention. Baek Jongmyung looked at the two people with truly admiring expressions. In contrast, Theodore's face stiffened slightly.

The strong always recognized each other, and the three powerhouses perceived each other's strengths the moment they faced each other. Baek Jongmyung observed Theodore and opened his mouth first to say, "One is an incredibly strong mage at such a young age."

Then he looked at Randolph and cried out, "The other person is an expert! My views of the world has broadened today."

At that moment, a heavy silence fell over the seven people. The two people who had come with Baek Jongmyung were amazed at his praise, while Marquis Piris and Elsid needed time to grasp what he was saying.

Only Theodore, Randolph, and Baek Jongmyung could perceive each other's skills and anticipated how the situation would flow.

"...Wait!" After a short moment, Elsid regained his spirit before anyone else, as befitting of a prince. His eyes were still shaking with confusion as he asked Baek Jongmyung to confirm again, "Master Baek, are the words you just spoke... the truth?"

Elsid's eyes were begging to hear that it was a lie. However, Baek Jongmyung heartlessly told him the truth, "Yes, that's right. You should be friends with them, rather than enemies. They are strong people, so you shouldn't face them as enemies."

"...This is nonsense." Prince Elsid, who finally embraced the ridiculous situation, shouted as he looked at the two men, "Why is a sword master hiding like this!?"

His reaction was natural. A sword master wasn't just a strong and strategic weapon treated as the pillar of a nation. They were also assassins who could cut off a king's head.

For this reason, Meltor always had Veronica or Blundell stay by the king's side. The presence of a sword master in Soldun, which had no such precautions, was no different from a grim reaper's visit. So, it wasn't unreasonable for Elsid to reply like this.

However, Theodore and Randolph stood with calm faces as always. They were prepared to fight, but the easterner didn't show any hostility towards them. The young man, who seemed like royalty, was flustered, but he didn't show any signs of wanting to fight either.

'It is better to settle it with a conversation than a groundless fight.'

Royalty and a sword master... The two guests were more than he'd anticipated, but Theodore calmed his mind. This wasn't much compared to the turmoil which had occurred a year ago.

"I'm sorry, but I don't think this is the place for this conversation." Theodore casually suggested, "As Marquis Piris said earlier, how about we relax and talk in the mansion?"

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