Chapter 179 - Eye of the Storm (3)
The standard saying was the 'difference between the heavens and the earth,' but this was more like the phenomenon where a beast growled at another beast. The words which Veronica whispered into Theodore's ears caused a chill to go down his spine.
Theodore gulped and thought hard about it, 'A bad fishy smell... Is it because of Aquilo's blood?'
It was a completely unexpected problem. Just as Aquilo had noticed Veronica's presence back at the Pirate Archipelago, it was likely Veronica noticed Aquilo's presence on Theodore.
The red dragons and blue dragons had always had a thoroughly troubled relationship which stretched back to the ancient times. As far as these two clans were concerned, the invasion of each other's territories was a declaration of war. Therefore, it wasn't strange for them to be more sensitive to the other clan's presence.
Additionally, there were the words Gluttony had said. It had said that most battles between the two dragons were usually seen when crossing from one territory to the other... or when their possessions were touched.
"Kid. Yes? Don't keep your mouth shut." Veronica's grip on Theodore's neck tightened as she gazed at him with blazing eyes. Unlike her singsong voice, the emotions in her eyes resembled magma which was about to explode.
Despite the fact that there was nothing hard to reveal, Theodore's mouth couldn't open. Did she notice Theodore's cautiousness?
Veronica grinned as Dragon Fear melted away, then her voice became sweet enough to melt Theodore's ears. "I'm sorry Kid. In the meantime, haven't you suffered?"
"I know the importance of breaking through the 'wall' as a magician, but I also know that the process is never smooth. You went all the way to foreign countries, so wasn't it hard?"
"...That..." Theodore's eyes shook at the words.
He had stubbornly pushed himself with a steel-like mental power, but he wasn't an iron man who couldn't feel tired. Theodore had missed his home whenever he looked up at the different constellations in the sky. On the days when he didn't speak, he had longed to communicate with someone.
It had been a little better after Randolph joined him, but he had wanted to have a chat with another magician. However, the people he could feel this kinship with had all been in Meltor. Standing before him was Veronica, one of the people he had missed.
'Ah, I'm comfortable.'
Her affectionate voice and hot temperature interfered with Theodore's cool thinking. Veronica was a person who knew his pain and gave him comfort. Theodore gazed at Veronica and gradually relaxed. As if she wanted to maintain the momentum to the end, a subtle smile appeared on Veronica's face. "Yes, I know everything. How difficult it was for you, how hard you tried..."
"Theodore, you should call me, 'Sister'."
Theodore's heart thumped when he heard her call his name, rather than a nickname. Was this the dragon's voice which had attracted heroes in many myths and legends?
'Should I just tell her? It is hard to hide everything...'
He knew it wasn't wise to reveal everything, but he had the feeling of wanting to confess everything to Veronica. She had the hot emotions as a mixed red dragon, but she was also one of the tower masters who guarded Meltor. Veronica was mature enough to deal with it.
His vigilance almost collapsed as Veronica's voice entered Theodore's ears, "I know everything, so don't worry."
At that moment, the magma bubbling inside her leaked out. "-Where is the fish I should kill?"
An eerie atmosphere burst out from Veronica's body. The innate aversion of the red clan toward the blue clan was stepping on the male called Theodore. If it wasn't for the sake of their relationship, Veronica would've immediately flown away to kill Aquilo.
'No, there is no way I can tell her.' Thanks to that, Theodore barely regained his rational thinking.
He absolutely couldn't let Veronica and Aquilo meet. If he brought Aquilo here, there would be a life-and-death struggle. Aquilo wasn't his enemy, but neither were they in a mutually beneficial relationship.
As Theo hesitated to answer, the light of salvation appeared.
"Stop it, Red Tower Master."
It was Sylvia. She ran forward and used her white staff to separate the two people. Then she stood in front of Theodore and stared straight at Veronica as she said, "You are burdening Theo right now."
"...Hah?" Veronica uttered. This was different from when she talked to Theodore. Veronica didn't calm down. Instead, her atmosphere became even harsher. "Young girl, why are you getting in between me and the kid?"
"I'm his friend."
"Yes, friend. The best."
Veronica smiled strangely at Sylvia's words and said, "Yes, you are the kid's 'friend?' I understand."
This time, Sylvia's expression stiffened. It was an explicitly mocking taunt. Theodore, the eye of the storm, didn't know it, but the two women had already become rivals. They competed with their positions, as well as advantages and disadvantages. Unlike men who just hit each other, this was the beginning of the nerve war called the 'catfight.'
"Does Tower Master know anything about Theo?"
"You are just the tower master."
For the first time, Veronica's face before had a blank expression before her harsh atmosphere returned. She was used to fighting with fists or magic, so this was a first for her.
Maybe it was due to the retorts, but the argument between the rivals, who were fighting over Theodore, became more heated. This was the moment when the dangerous catfight was about to start.
However, the two women's fight stopped shortly before that.
"Veronica! Theodore! Sylvia! Are you in there?"
It was because a person's voice rang from outside the doors of Pentarium. As Theodore hurried to reply, a man entered and rushed before the two people. 'Didn't this happen last time?'
Veronica thought the same thing as her voice filled with annoyance, "Why are you calling me when I've just returned?!"
"Hiik!" The Dragon Fear in Veronica's voice made the knees of the magician weaken. She was an 8th Circle magician and had dragon's blood, which created an ominous presence.
However, the more surprising thing was the response of the Magic Society magician. His legs quivered, but he still delivered the news to the three people in a trembling voice, "H-His Majesty called all of you...!"
"Me and the kid?"
"S-Sylvia as well!"
Veronica and Theodore were understandable. There were many reasons why they might be called. After going beyond the wall of the 7th Circle, the magician was a pillar which supported the nation as well as a symbol of strength which was comparable to an elite army.
However, why was Sylvia summoned as well? The three people couldn't guess why and exchanged glances.
'Phew, I'm saved thanks to His Majesty.'
In any case, Theodore narrowly escaped.
* * *
Kwaang! The door opened roughly. Who would dare do such a thing in Meltor's royal palace? Even the empire's Seven Swords wouldn't dare do such a thing. However, no one yelled at the culprit.
Veronica's eyes were burning brightly as she kicked open the door!
"Your Majesty!"She roared.
As Theodore and Sylvia stayed back, Veronica snapped at Kurt on the throne, "Do you think I can travel like Orta? I flew all the way here! If I work without resting, of course I will be exhausted! In addition, what is this? Why is the chairman of the Magic Society here?"
"Hmm, it has been a while," the chairman of the Magic Society greeted.
"It has been a long time since you left the central tower," Veronica stated.
It was as Veronica said. The chairman of the Magic Society was different from the other tower masters.
The magic towers played an active part in the administration of the kingdom, and the chairman was a caretaker who always stayed in Meltor. He was an old magician who would help if war broke out, but otherwise, he put his own research first.
The chairman frequently didn't show up for big meetings, so today must be unusual if he was present.
"Now, let's sit down and talk."Kurt declared.
"...I will listen."
Kurt smiled bitterly as Veronica sat down. Once the three people who had entered sat down at the round table, Kurt rose from his throne. He said, "I would like to express my gratitude to you who have gathered in the middle of your busy day. I'll skip all the small chatter and let you know that the reason I've brought you in is to talk about the Magic Contest."
"Magic Contest... Already?"
"It is a bit sooner this year."
The event was held once a year in the Meltor Kingdom, and it was literally the greatest attraction in the North. It was a matter which had a great impact on the whole kingdom, so the king gathered all the top magicians in the kingdom to discuss it in advance.
However, the discussion about the Magic Contest was held periodically once a year, so there was no need to summon everyone. Kurt focused on the group and revealed the reason, "The Magic Contest this year will be more special than any other year."
The same questioning gaze appeared in the eyes of all the magicians. The king continued, "I was contacted just last night. An ambassador from Elvenheim will come to announce our alliance at this year's Magic Society."
"A-Ambassador from Elvenheim!"
"Announcing the alliance?!"
The others asked with disbelief and confusion, making Kurt nod with a gentle expression before continuing.
"Of course. They don't need to come to Meltor if they have no intention of announcing it. The present partnership would be enough. Doesn't it seem like the North is going to turn upside down?"
"Huhaha! There is no time to rest in my old age!"
White Tower Master Orta touched his chin, while Blue Tower Master Blundell laughed and pounded the table.
Until now, Meltor was the only kingdom remaining undefeated by the vast territory, population, and armies of the Andras Empire. Every so often, they fought back when a great magician emerged, but the roots of the empire's pillars were never broken.
However, that story was only when both sides were fighting 1:1.
The alliance with Elvenheim and the emergence of a new master, who had killed one of the empire's Seven Swords, meant that Meltor's power had climbed to a point where they could compete with Andras.
The war which had lasted for hundreds, maybe thousands of years might be approaching its end.
"In fact, this discussion occurred last year, but it wasn't accepted because the main party wasn't there. It is Theodore Miller, not Meltor, that Elvenheim thinks of as their savior."
Theodore bowed his head. "I'm ashamed."
"No, there is no need to apologize. You returned with even more profit. You took down one of the empire's Seven Swords and gave this kingdom another master. This meeting isn't only to discuss Elvenheim's delegation." Kurt III paused for a moment before making a gesture.
The servant, standing silently behind the throne, approached Theodore with a box. It contained a symbol representing the Meltor royal family. The box was made of precious wood, and an unbelievable amount of magic power spilled from the seal on the box.
Theodore took it, and Kurt continued speaking, "Once the ambassadors from Elvenheim arrive, it will be hard for you to show any kind of credibility if you remain as a magician with no rank. So, I want to give you a worthy position as your personal reward."
Kurt's words weren't wrong. As a 7th Circle magician, there was no one more senior than Theodore except for the tower masters and the chairman of the Magic Society. How could such a person be left without a title? It would clearly be a waste in such a situation.
Theodore opened the latches of the box in accordance with Kurt's instructions.
Slide. The lid of the wooden box slowly opened, revealing its contents.
It was a suit of clothes. There weren't enough decorations on the clothes for them to be robes, and it was too luxurious to be a combat suit. It was like shadows had been weaved together in order to make these clothes.
Theodore looked at the clothing and murmured, "...This?"
The gold pattern embroidered on the heart area was in the shape of an owl, the symbol of Meltor's tower masters. Theodore understood the meaning and looked surprised.
Then Kurt started to explain, "In anticipation of the war with the Andras Empire, I proposed the formation of a magic division consisting of the next tower master candidates. I got consent from all the tower masters except for Veronica, and the majority of state administrators have approved it."
Theodore's eyes widened as he grasped the situation, and Kurt nodded.
He clapped a few times before making an edict, "I will make you the head of the magic division, 'Quattro.'"