Chapter 233 - Old Books Maniac Heinrich (1)
The trading kingdom, Kargas, which was in the heart of the Central Continent, was close to being a non-aggression zone. Since ancient times, Kargas had known it was meaningless to expand with force. Its military power was just like a reed before the storm that was the Northern powers.
Andras and Meltor... Over the centuries, these two powers had repeated a war which was far beyond Kargas' capabilities. Kargas had long since been convinced that it would be impossible to confront them with force.
-Then we must survive in other ways, someone had said. -The power to control this world isn't just through violence.
Power, financial resources, intellect... all species wielded these things. With politics and the economy, this so-called society wasn't so simple. If the power gap was obvious, then there was no reason to compete with power. Fortunately, Kargas was able to become a key trading area and receive the secret assistance of other nations that didn't want to share a direct border with the Northern powers.
It was like the idiom 'without lips, one's teeth would feel the cold (fig. intimately interdependent).' Over the years, there were a few kings who had tried to gain Kargas' wealth, but no one had ever achieved it.
It was unacceptable for the other kingdoms to let what they had developed to enter into the hands of others. In a sense, Kargas had survived as a result of exploiting human psychology. If it was put nicely, they were clever. If it was put badly, they were sly and cunning. This was the way of survival for weak countries.
「 A strong person doesn't survive. It is the survivor who is strong. 」
This was a type of worldly wisdom. If the Kargas Kingdom had tried a military expansion, it would likely have been destroyed without surviving 100 years. A kingdom with a different name would be built in this place, and this process would be repeated over and over.
As a result, Kargas was successful. The evidence was that it was completely calm despite being the closest kingdom to the North.
Austen suffered from the drought which occurred on an irregular cycle, while Soldun suffered from the actions of the kingdoms it was surrounded by. Lairon, on the other hand, was a kingdom full of fanatics.
So, Kargas was safe and abundant compared to all of them. Moderately famous people settled in Kargas.
'I have been living in Sipoto for 20 years already.' The Old Books Maniac, Heinrich was similar.
After retiring, he had moved to Sipoto in Kargas. He enjoyed buying rare books and didn't plan to leave. Heinrich had completely withdrawn from political circles and thought his plan was going smoothly.
...If only his hobby hadn't brought in a new problem.
"Haha! Sir Heinrich, famous for your collection of books. Your library is truly amazing." The person who spoke had a mustache and a greasy looking face. His fat belly proved his laziness, while his expensive clothing hung in several folds.
The man was like a big toad, and Heinrich barely managed to suppress his sigh as he said, "I am undeserving of your words, Viscount Brahms."
Heinrich wanted to kick him out right away, but Brahms' status wasn't one that was easy to deal with. Brahms was a noble and senior magician of Kargas, and it was rumored that he had recently challenged the wall of the 6th Circle.
It wasn't uncommon in Meltor, but a 6th Circle magician in the Central Continent was strong. He wasn't someone an outsider could handle.
"... What book did you come for today?"
There was only one reason why Brahms would come to Heinrich. Brahms' real purpose was to steal rare magic books in the name of 'renting' them. Unsurprisingly, greed filled Brahms' eyes which resembled those of a toad. "Excuse me, I have to ask you a favor today. There are rumors that you got your hands on 'Book of Clouds'?"
"No, where did you hear...?" Heinrich stopped himself, but it was already too late.
Viscount Brahms rubbed his palms together and urged Heinrich to answer, "I don't know the source of the rumor, but can I borrow it? I swear on my name, I will reward you generously."
"Ummm..." If Heinrich believed that, he would be a goldfish, not a man. It would be fortunate if Viscount Brahms paid even half the price of the book. Moreover, he didn't want to lose a book like the Book of Clouds. Was it okay to refuse at least once?
Heinrich made a cautious look and shook his head. "I'm sorry, but it's a little difficult."
"Hah, thank yo... Hrmm? What did you say just now?" Brahms's frivolous expression turned to stone.
Simultaneously, Heinrich felt his heart grow heavier as he saw Brahms' expression. This wasn't uncommon. The magicians who came to him didn't understand why an old man, not a magician, would collect magic books. They would demand the books, stating that they were the ones who could make the best use of them.
Viscount Brahms had the same look and tone.
"Insolent...!" Viscount Brahms' thick flesh shook as he shouted wildly at Heinrich. "How dare you refuse when you don't even know the greatness of magic? I am Viscount Brahms, who will be in the higest position in the next 10 years!"
"Hey, shut up!"
This wasn't unusual for Heinrich, but he lost sight of who Brahms was. Intense magic power filled the room and pressed down on the old man. Even though Heinrich wasn't familiar with fighting, Brahms' killing intent was instantly revealed. "It is annoying to visit here every time. I'll just erase you here."
At this moment, Heinrich regretted his past for the first time. It was because he realized that by forgoing other relationships and status, he had made himself vulnerable. There was no reason for Brahms not to kill him. Sipoto's rich old man, Old Books Maniac Heinrich, was only this much.
'Huh, it is ironic.'
He had chosen Kargas because it didn't choose the path of violence, only to get robbed and killed here. Heinrich predicted his own death and laughed hysterically.
"Laughing? You, don't you understand that you are going to die?" Brahms was furious and started chanting a spell.
There were rare books here, so he couldn't use a massive attack spell. In the first place, why would he need such a strong spell to handle an old man who didn't know how to fight? A few Magic Arrows would be enough. The blue magic power grew and turned into arrows.
Then at that moment...
The magic arrows were dispersed, and the recoil hit Brahms. His five circles creaked, and some of his blood vessels broke, causing him to kneel on the floor. If the magic had been more than the 4th Circle, then he would be vomiting up blood.
[This garbage can't be recycled,] a cold voice rang out in the room at that very moment. [You dare to use your magic as a means to look down on others? I didn't want to do this, but I can't let you go.]
"W-Who... are you?" Aside from his rotten personality, Brahms was a 5th Circle magician and knew the meaning of this phenomenon. His magic had been intercepted by a superior magician! Moreover, a difference of more than two circles was required to block his Magic Arrow. In other words, Brahms' opponent was a magician of at least the 7th Circle.
However, Brahms didn't get to know the identity of the other person even until the end.
"You don't need to know," Theodore said, appearing behind Brahms. Then he sentenced Brahms with a grim expression, "You will no longer be a magician."
Brahms lost consciousness before he could say anything. Magic power flowed from his spine and carried it all the way to the circles in his heart. If Brahms were conscious, the two powers might've collided and he would've died trying to repel the force.
This was what Theodore intended.
However, it was annoying to kill a person who was a senior magician, and he didn't want information to leak by showing his face. Therefore, Theodore went for the next best thing-Circle Sealing.
Circle Sealing was closer to the application of magic power than a spell, and it was a way to seal the circles of a weaker magician. The Magic Society occasionally used this technique as a method of discipline. However, Theodore was a 7th Circle magician, so it was equivalent to a seal.
Kargas didn't have a 7th Circle magician, and the masters of other kingdoms weren't willing to be hostile to another master for someone they didn't know. Since someone at the same level as Theodore was required to remove it, Brahms' future as a magician was dead.
After Theodore finished the procedure, Brahms sprawled across the floor like a broken doll. For the time being, he would remain unconscious from the shock. This was Theodore's first time using it, but it had turned out great. He felt a strange sense of accomplishment. Theodore expected Heinrich to have a startled expression, however...
"Circle Sealing, this is the first time I've actually seen it." The old man was gazing at Theodore with interest, rather than surprise. "Besides, the capability to block the circles and the age of your voice, despite your changed appearance... Theodore Miller, Meltor's hero. I never thought I would directly meet the rumored person."
"...You are very quick to notice."
Theodore's identity was discovered as soon as he appeared. The battle of Babarino Plains had revealed that Theodore was a master, but Heinrich was very quick to put the rest of the information together and come to a conclusion. From the very beginning, Theodore had a hunch that Heinrich wasn't ordinary.
Then Heinrich shook his head at Theodore and gazed at the collapsed Brahms. "It isn't that I noticed everything. Maybe you don't realize how famous you are."
"I never wanted to be popular."
"Hoh, if you don't mind, I would like to hear more about you."
Heinrich's mood changed easily, and Theodore couldn't help laughing. He didn't know their meeting would turn out like this. If he had been a few minutes later, Heinrich would be dead. This was truly lucky.
"Then I should greet you since we are reunited."
'Reunited?' Heinrich thought.
Before the bewildered Heinrich, Theodore raised a hand to his face. It was to reproduce the appearance he had used as a disguise the last time he had been in Sipoto. Heinrich's fearsome intuition would notice it without needing an explanation.
Indeed, as Theodore thought, Heinrich's eyes widened. "...Huh, d-don't tell me?"
"Yes, your thinking is correct." Theodore was satisfied with Heinrich's reaction and nodded. "Thank you for your actions at the underground auction house, Sir Heinrich."