Chapter 80 - Silver Medal of Merit (2)
Theodore, who had lost consciousness for more than a fortnight, seemed to be sleeping comfortably. However, he was actually in danger. Even if it was just a fragment, Alfred had been named a war hero and the power of his soul was beyond the limit which Theodore could accept. If Theo had attempted to get his hands on all that power, his ego would be shattered like broken glass.
Theo knew that intuitively and chose the next best thing. He might have to give up inheriting all of the power, but it would surely separate Alfred's and Theo's souls.
Surrounded by darkness in the world of his mind, Theo gradually noticed that he was regaining his senses. It was evidence that his mind and body had recovered enough to wake up from the dormancy.
'Is it time to wake up? Thank goodness I somehow succeeded.' Theo looked down at himself with a sigh.
Not long ago, he had stood at the boundary between Alfred and Theodore and hadn't been able to tell who he was. It was only a few hours ago that Theo had returned. He had barely managed to win by walking the tightrope with a precipice below him.
Although Alfred's life had been short-lived, Theo was a young man of only 20 years old. However, Theo was pushed to his limits when it came to the depth of his life and his experiences.
Finally, his consciousness stirred as his eyelids pushed up. "Umm..."
'Stiff.' After not waking up for more than a fortnight, the way he felt could be summarized with that one word. His muscles were stiff like a tightrope, and his joints creaked continuously.
Despite receiving treatment from the royal family, a fortnight was too long. Even his upper torso and spine were aching slightly. Theo eventually gave up on trying to get up and lay down quietly.
'Damn, how long have I been lying down? If I am this stiff, I must've been lying down for at least a week.' He wanted to get up quickly, but it was obvious that he would be seriously injured if he moved with his current body.
Theodore diagnosed his condition using Lee Yoonsung's experience and sighed with relief. He barely noticed it in his mental state, but he might have to rest a few more days. Despite that, he wanted to know where this place was and what had happened to his mentor.
The only consolation he had was what he got from this incident.
'This...? Is it Alfred's senses?' At that time, Theo flinched as he felt a sense of heterogeneity.
Unlike his five senses, this was a sense which wasn't attached to his body. Indescribable information tickled his head.
This was different from Theo's sensory perception which seemed like his five senses were just extremely sensitive. Alfred's talent seemed to be able to see a bit into the future. Born with innate qualities, it was a sixth sense which seemed to bloom on the battlefield. It was one of the reasons why he had become a war hero with only the weapon called Magic Bullet.
However, that didn't mean Theodore's sixth sense had reached the same level as Alfred's.
"...It's hard. It will take awhile to get used to it." Theo closed his eyes for a while and concentrated, before shaking his head.
This was a gift given by Alfred Bellontes, and it was like suddenly obtaining fish gills. Usually, ordinary people wouldn't know who to breathe with gills. Theo had acquired the ability, but he would have to spend a lot of time and experience to fully exploit this talent.
However, it wasn't impossible, so Theo couldn't help smiling.
'Prince Alfred has disappeared, but his traces still remain. I can clearly remember the feelings we shared while fighting together. If I follow that feeling, I will surely reach it again soon.'
Due to having joined together with Alfred, Theo had become strong enough to face the terrifying 'Pride.' Theo's aim was to become strong enough to knock Pride down. Now that he had faced Superbia once, there was no way to avoid being hostile to it.
'I will win next time.' Theo formed a fist as he made such a determination.
Theo froze as he heard a voice out of nowhere. 'W-What? Who else besides me is in this room?'
He hadn't been aware of it because his senses were dull. Where were they? Theo thought of the expressions he had been showing and wanted to hide inside a hole. However, the person only mumbled Theo's name once before falling silent.
Theo was puzzled by the silence, and he lifted his head up carefully. It was then that he was able to see someone.
"Theoo... dead... no..." Sylvia was sleeping in a chair and mumbling ominous things while drooling.
That reminded him, how had she been? He'd had no contact with her since returning from the Miller Barony. Due to his identity as the disciple of the Blue Tower Master, it would be hard for her to walk around for private reasons. Theo himself had been busy with Veronica's special training and then the mission.
That's why Sylvia came to visit him.
'Is this place Mana-vil's infirmary?'
Veronica seemed to have brought him and Ellenoa back to Mana-vil after defeating Superbia. Theo quickly reached this conclusion and lay back down with a smile. It was a bit awkward, but seeing Sylvia's sleeping face was quite nice.
At that time, he felt a familiar sense of discomfort in his left hand.
-...You woke up, User.
Just like him, Gluttony had woken up from its dormancy.
-For the time being, it is impossible to get the same privilege as last time. I won't be able to release my autonomic function until the next seal is released.
'You won't be able to exercise your autonomic function?'
-I am also part of the grimoire, so the system has authority over me. It is possible to put a temporary ban on me after I released the 4th Seal through such an unusual path.
Indeed, no matter how much it wanted to, Gluttony couldn't release its own seals.
-Then, hurry, next seal...
Theo nodded as Gluttony fell asleep again. It seemed like Gluttony had also been challenged during the fight against Superbia. Maybe it would be difficult to talk like before until the next seal was lifted.
As the infirmary quieted down again, Theo closed his eyes. He was going to rest until his body recovered. However, that silence didn't last long.
"Theo! You are awake now!" Vince, the middle-aged magician who came to visit, looked at him with a pleased expression.
* * *
Theo's mind might've been in a risky state, but his body was already completely cured.
It was because Ellenoa had focused on treating him for a few days, and there was no trauma except for his right arm. If he hadn't received a psychological shock, he would've regained consciousness the day after he collapsed.
Thanks to that, Theo had no problem telling his story. "...Yes, Elder Herman died."
Vince's face filled with regret as he heard about what happened to the convoy. Herman, a magician of the previous generation, had been there since Vince had been an apprentice.
Herman had been famous for his talent and ability to take care of his juniors, so he had been a spiritual pillar of the Red Tower. After his retirement, he had continued making strong contributions to Meltor.
The fact that he had died made Vince's heart ache. However, Vince soon suppressed his sadness, and his complexion returned to its original state. As a veteran war mage, he was accustomed to sending off many comrades on the battlefield.
He was just grateful that his senior had performed the mission to the end and returned his disciple safely.
"Then it is my turn."
After Theodore lost consciousness, he didn't know about anything which had happened outside his body. Thanks to Sylvia, Theo knew he was in Mana-vil's infirmary, but that was all.
A secret meeting had been held at the palace, and the high elf's convoy had been a topic of discussion for a few days. Theo had now become one of the greatest celebrities in the present Meltor Kingdom.
He was unfamiliar with people's attention, so his forehead immediately creased as he frowned.
Sylvia was also listening in, and her eyes shone at the words. "Wow! Great, Theo! You are probably the only one who has become so famous at our age!"
"Well, Sylvia's words aren't wrong," Vince chimed in playfully. "An academy student won against a tower master's disciple, and a few days later, he defeated the elder lich. Not long after that, you rescued a high elf. This might just by the introduction of a remarkable hero."
"B-But Professor was with me as well...!"
"That isn't important. The royal family has already started work promoting you as a hero."
Then Vince pulled out a newspaper and showed him the contents. Theo's eyes shook as he read the contents while lying down. By the end of it, he was shaking almost at the level of a seizure. It was the announcement of a national scale event.
"M-Medal ceremony? Furthermore, a court ball?!"
The court ball was a social event held several times a year in any other kingdom, but it had a special significance here in Meltor.
The king of Meltor, Kurt III, hated useless luxuries. His character was known for avoiding excesses, so this applied to the ball at well. It was said that there were no court balls in Meltor except when the delegation of another kingdom visited, or at the opening or closing ceremony of the magic contest.
However, the letters written in the newspaper didn't make sense.
"This is all because of me...?"
Hearing his disciple's disbelieving voice, Vince affirmed, "That's right. Perhaps they want to highlight your presence over what happened to the high elf convoy. Comedy is always used to conceal tragedy."
"Am I worth that much?"
"Of course. Although if they were only going to use your name, you wouldn't have been awarded a medal."
'Medal, medal...' Theo gazed at the illustration drawn in the newspaper.
'Silver Medal of Merit?' He had read the books in the academy's library, but he had little knowledge about this type of thing. Theo wasn't interested in things related to the nobility and preferred to read the encyclopedia about monsters.
'Is this medal that great?'
As Theo gazed at it, Vince spoke in a pleased voice, "By the way, that is the Silver Medal of Merit! It has been 30 years since someone last received it. I never thought that it would be my disciple, Theodore!"
"Is it unbelievable? Well, that is understandable. It is a medal equivalent to a viscount title."
Theodore tried to stop Vince who had misunderstood him, but his words were blocked.
A medal equivalent to a viscount title...? Something so preposterous existed in this country...? If this were true, it meant that the value of the medal couldn't be converted into money.
Soon, the reason emerged from Vince's mouth, "The Silver Medal of Merit is worth a national treasure. You will probably receive a national treasure at the medal ceremony! You should be surprised and happy!"
One beat-no, two beats later, Theodore's mouth dropped open.