Chapter 176 - Return to the Magic Tower (3)
"Don't speak nonsense!" The minister for the army, Robert, banged his hand on the table and shouted loudly, "Prime Theodore's accomplishments are enough to make him the new Red Tower Master! He reached the 7th Circle before the age of 30 and defeated one of the empire's Seven Swords!"
"I can see that, Minister!" However, the minister of domestic affairs, Jerome, argued back, "I admit that his achievements are huge, but giving a Prime-level magician the title and estate of an earl might cause ripples in the currently stable political situation. We don't know what the empire is planning, so should we be fighting internally?"
"What are you saying? The discipline behind this kingdom is to award merits and punish faults. Why should we not reward a hero just because of the nobles who are playing politics?!"
"Uh, this man is like this until the end!"
After Theodore had finished his story and received permission from Kurt III to leave, the remaining people had been in a state of shock. However, they then started a debate.
The people around the table were split into two groups. There were those like Robert who wanted to publicize Theodore's achievements and give him a huge prize, while the other side led by Jerome thought it wasn't a good time to publicize it.
It was very intense because neither side was wrong.
The person in question had managed to reach the 7th Circle at a young age and kill one of the empire's Seven Swords. Meltor couldn't be allowed to neglect this type of person.
Likewise, the opposition's opinion was also correct. Up till now, high ranking magicians hadn't been part of the social circle, nor did they cling to fame, so the nobles had never felt hostile or tried to oppress them.
However, that balance could be overturned with the appearance of Theodore Miller.
'It is a funny story because his merits are too big.' Kurt III laughed inwardly as he watched the debate.
His thoughts were closer to those of the minister of the military, but as the ruler of the country, he had to consider both sides. As Jerome said, the empire hadn't revealed everything yet, so Kurt couldn't make a decision which might be a seed for a feud.
"Stop," Kurt III spoke in a stern voice and everyone fell silent. Then he continued speaking, "I understand your opinions about Prime Theodore. The words of both the minister of the military and the minister of domestic affairs are reasonable."
It was as he said. In this world, it wasn't always the case that only one side was correct. It was common for both sides to be correct and for him to have to pick one. Kurt III was devoted to the administration of the kingdom every day, so he was now accustomed to this.
He closed his eyes for a moment as he sat on the throne.
Then he opened his mouth and said, "Listen carefully!"
"Yes, Your Majesty!"
"Starting tomorrow at 9 a.m., invite Baron Dennis Miller to the city where he will become an earl. Once his heir takes over the title, Theodore Miller will become a marquis. It is the same for his estate. Before that, Prime Theodore will be treated as an honorary marquis. Understood?"
"I will follow Your Majesty's words!" The other people stood up and bowed while admiring Kurt's smart judgment.
In Meltor, 'earl' and 'marquis' weren't just simple titles. They were the ranks where nobles could step into official affairs and discuss the administration of the state. What would happen if a magician of the 7th Circle who was also a famous person entered this position? The nobles might not have as much power as other countries, but they would unite in order to avoid losing more power. They would lead a counterattack against Kurt III's strong power.
'But it isn't a problem to be concerned about now,' Kurt thought as he smiled coldly at the ministers.
Since Kurt's rule began, the forces of the nobles had continued to shrink, and the arrogant ones couldn't afford to do anything due to the conflict with the empire.
However, everyone in this room sensed it. The long war with the Andras Empire was nearing its end. The Meltor Kingdom would win and unify the north, or be completely defeated. Whatever the result, there was no way for the nobles to escape losing power.
Theodore was someone who didn't care about power or wealth, but he willingly accepted the noble title in order to move his family to the safe capital region.
"Okay, it has been decided. Prime Theodore will be awarded a prize, and the tower masters will take care of it. I hope you don't argue about the decision."
"We will follow Your Majesty's will!"
From the minister of the military to the minister of domestic affairs, no one argued. In fact, Jerome was only worried that Theodore would cause unnecessary confusion in this country. He didn't actually want to hinder Theodore from getting a good reward.
The king smiled with satisfaction at the unanimous agreement. Then Kurt turned to Blundell and said, "That reminds me, Blue Tower Master."
"Yes, Your Majesty," Blundell responded.
"What is the current state of the Red Tower Master? Has her border patrol finished yet?"
"It seems like it. Based on yesterday's report, she will be back in a week."
Veronica always seemed selfish, but she was actually quite sincere. Just as Blundell had done last year, Veronica was returning after touring the border with the empire. However, when Kurt heard the answer, a question came to his mind.
"White Tower Master," Kurt called out.
"Yes, Your Majesty."
"Has this news entered Veronica's ears?" Kurt meant Theodore's return. Orta immediately understood and nodded. "Perhaps it has. I told my intelligence service that conveying the news to her was top priority."
Blundell and Kurt sighed deeply at the same time.
"...I guess she will be back in three days."
"This old man thinks so as well."
The two men thought about how crazily Veronica would behave once she heard the news and looked at each other.
The news of the emergence of a new 7th Circle magician and the death of one of the empire's Seven Swords... how much of a storm would that cause? Additionally, it would become worse once Veronica returned to the capital.
They couldn't help getting a headache at the thought.
At that moment, Orta whispered in Kurt's ear from where he was standing next to the two troubled men. [Your Majesty, there was a request from the Yellow Tower Master.]
Kurt was confused by the sudden words and scratched his chin in a gesture to tell him more.
[It is a request for a meeting with Prime Theodore. How should I deal with it?]
"Hrmm." This time, Kurt couldn't hide his confusion.
The mysterious Yellow Tower Master had kept quiet even when the owner of the throne changed a few times, so Kurt couldn't guess the reason for his sudden interest in Theodore. However, the Yellow Tower Master was different from the other tower masters.
Kurt didn't answer and nodded before raising his voice, "Everybody listen up."
As all eyes concentrated on him, Kurt firmly declared, "Apart from the promotion of Prime Theodore and Baron Dennis Miller, I will strictly prohibit everyone from approaching him for the time being. He is a hero who achieved a great merit. I want him to rest comfortably."
"I will follow Your Majesty's words!"
Orta understood the hidden meaning behind the command and smiled faintly. This was Kurt's answer to the Yellow Tower Master's request. It was the consideration of Kurt II, who stopped any meetings so that Theodore could rest comfortably for the time being.
* * *
On the other hand, Theodore returned to his room after the meeting with the top people of Meltor.
"Hah, did I make any mistakes?"
He wasn't a hero who was good at talking.
Theodore had reached the 7th Circle, but he was still a young man in his early 20s. He couldn't be calm when facing the king and two tower masters. It was fortunate that he didn't stutter or stop talking while telling his story. Besides, what good was it to regret what had already happened?
Theodore relaxed slightly as he looked at the room he hadn't seen for more than a year.
Someone had looked after it. Theodore had cleaned his room before leaving, and it looked exactly the same as back then. There was no dust on the bookshelves, while the bed had a fragrant scent like the sheets had been washed and dried in the sun.
He changed his clothes and lay on top of it without any hesitation, feeling like he could fall asleep right then. All the tension which had unknowingly piled up was being released.
'I really am back.'
In retrospect, it had been an absurd adventure from beginning to end. He had encountered enemies as soon as he crossed the border.
There had been an unexpected windfall at the underground auction, and he'd poked the Orcus Company and its warlocks. Then he'd run to the Pirate Archipelago, stumbled across Aquilo, and fought against Superbia.
What about the way back? Nobody could've anticipated meeting a sword master with a god-sword. Even with nine lives, it was a crisis during which he could've lost everything.
"...Ah." All his tension was released as he lay down on the familiar bed, with his tired body feeling like it was melting into the bed itself.
From tomorrow, life in the magic tower would begin again. He had to meet Sylvia and look at the magic formulas, theories, and incidents which had newly developed in the kingdom. Even though he hadn't met her today, he had to say hello to Veronica...
However, Theodore's thoughts lasted up to there. His eyelids moved down slowly and covered his blue eyes. Then his breathing settled as he stopped thinking such complicated thoughts. The expressionless face, not suited for his age, relaxed as he fell asleep, leaving a sleeping Theodore that did fit his age.
[...Horororong...] Then Mitra suddenly appeared on his white pillow and snored while sleeping. She had been sleeping since leaving the Soldun Kingdom. Theodore hadn't realized it, but the leaves and stem of her bud were longer than before. An ancient elemental was different from ordinary elementals, and her 'growth' was still continuing.
Mitra groaned into the pillow as she slept. [Hoiii...horong?]
It might be a coincidence, or maybe it was caused by her drool.
The bud of the sleeping Mitra moved. It split in two, and something grew from the center. The seed of the world tree had been planted in an ancient elemental, and a flower was now growing from the bud.
However, the sleeping Theodore didn't know it yet.