Chapter 81 - Silver Medal of Merit (3)
News that the main character, Theodore Miller, had woken up was soon reported to the royal palace.
Even so, the court ball couldn't be held right away. Therefore, the preparations took place while Theo recovered in bed. The date was decided to be four days after Theodore was discharged.
Thanks to him, Mana-vil Capital was suffering from an unprecedented boom.
Even though only the nobles could participate in the court ball directly, performers and wine were released onto the streets. The quantity of wine required was so large that it set a fire under the feet of the merchants, who had been idle after the Magic Contest.
"Alcohol! We need alcohol! Hey, is there anything left in the warehouse?"
"No! We've run out a long time ago! Why is there an event this large so soon after the Magic Contest?"
"There isn't enough alcohol now? If there is no volume at the store, go and strangle some from the merchant companies!"
"No, this is the first time since I've lived that there isn't enough pork!"
None of the people around him, including the court people and tower masters, had expected the king to declare a court ball. So, it was too late for even the top merchant companies closely associated with the nobles to react. The small and mid-sized merchants struggled to pull up any remaining stock that they had as Mana-vil was more vigorous than ever before.
"What is all this fuss about?"
It wasn't just the merchants but also the guards who were suffering from this.
The number of people who entered Mana-vil, the capital of Meltor, was enormous. The biggest event of the year had been the Magic Contest, so after it was over, it was like heaven to the guards. Yet, having been placed on duty again, all the off-duty patrols and guards were now irritated.
The sight of more than 100,000 guards circulating day and night was spectacular in itself. This was evidence of how great the court ball was.
Shortly afterwards, the news of the court ball spread throughout the entire northern continent.
"What? The Meltor Kingdom has called a court ball?"
The other countries didn't have time to dispatch ambassadors or people to the sudden event, but there was a lot of interest in the ball and its protagonist. Even if they were publicly disclosed, Theo's achievements were hard to believe.
Some watched with interested eyes while others criticized him as a hero created by Meltor.
"Isn't it vulgar to spread a foolish story about a hero to increase their national power?"
"Elder lich? If such a thing existed, a campaign would've been launched to take care of it. Meltor must be attempting to mislead the people with ridiculous rumours."
Some were convinced while others reacted violently.
Regardless of whether they believed it or not, time passed by. Then as the date set by the Meltor Kingdom approached, the kingdom naturally fell silent as the people waited for the festival.
Thus, the day of the court ball dawned.
* * *
"Eh?" Theo felt strange as he tightened his tie with his good hand.
So far, he had to be helped by others whenever he wore any finery like a tailcoat. At the awards ceremony, he'd needed Vince's help, and Earl Bergen's servants had helped Theo during his stay there.
However, he was now wearing this outfit by himself.
'There are no wrinkles or folds, so is it okay?' Theo looked at himself in the mirror.
He hadn't even given it much thought while wearing it. His body just moved like he was accustomed to wearing such clothing. Theo casually arranged the sleeves, collar, and tie pin. The movements of his hand weren't possible unless he had considerable experience.
Theo had grown up in a rural estate and only worn the academy's uniforms after that, so he shouldn't be that familiar with it. However, Theodore was able to guess the cause.
"...He was a hero and prince." He laughed lightly as he tightened the tie and then looked down at his palm.
Alfred Bellontes had been a war hero, but he had also been the third prince of the Bellontes Principality which led the War of Independence. It meant Alfred had been an existence whose status couldn't be downgraded. Such a person couldn't be ignorant of etiquette or laws.
Maybe the sixth sense wasn't the only thing to flow into Theo's body after 'Transmission' was used. He didn't know it yet, but his method of walking and posture were slightly different from before.
It was due to the spirit of royalty.
At that moment, the door of the waiting room opened.
"Theo, how are the preparations going?" Vince entered the room without any hesitation, and his eyes widened as he saw Theo's clothing.
According to the attendants, Theo hadn't worn the clothing, yet here he was, perfectly dressed. Everything was perfect, from the posture to the atmosphere around him. If it wasn't for Theo's familiar face, Vince might've mistaken Theo for someone else.
Vince opened his mouth and spoke with a satisfied expression, "Excellent. I don't need to call some attendants."
Then he put a box on the table and unlocked it quickly. The inside of the iron box was revealed with a snapping sound. The item inside was a luxurious cloth embroidered with red and gold thread. Theo was aware of the identity and nodded. "A robe of the Red Tower?"
It wasn't a normal robe. Generally, mass-produced items didn't have such complicated patterns nor did they use such good cloth. Additionally, the magic placed on mass-produced items was only at a certain level.
However, the magic power coming from this crimson robe was around the same level as the magic imbued in a rare artifact. The crimson robe was then tied around Theodore's neck.
"Oh...!" Vince said admiringly as he looked at Theo.
The red robes fluttered like a flame as they wrapped around Theo like a coat. Theo was wearing a black suit, so the robe gave him a great finish as a magician. This was all done in preparation for the ball.
The two of them then spent some time exchanging personal stories, and Vince kindly warned Theo what to be careful about. Theo was calm for his age, but the nobles had tongues like snakes.
"Finally, don't bend your back." Vince put his hand on Theo's waist while saying so. "You are the main character of this ball. Who can be rude to you, the one who is receiving His Majesty's medal? You don't need to make enemies, but you don't need to shrink back before anyone either."
"I will do so."
"Well, you will do well even without me saying anything."
Theo had already met high ranking people: the Blue Tower Master; the Red Tower Master; and Kurt III. So, he wouldn't be scared even if he encountered a marquis or a duke as far more extravagant people were hanging around him. Truth be told, Veronica's fist was far scarier than the power of the nobles.
'I can't see her fist properly... that is much scarier...'
Theo ignored his shivering and turned around because he heard a voice calling him.
"Baron Miller! Please enter the venue!"
Vince and Theo met each other's gazes for a moment. Simultaneously, Vince patted Theodore's shoulders. "Now, go first. I'll see you later in the ballroom."
"Yes, Master." Theo left Vince behind and followed the guide.
Thump, thump. His heart pounded every time he took a step.
Theo's keen senses picked up the presences of hundreds of people, and he knew that they were all waiting for him. He could never get accustomed to this amount of interest in him. Theo had been hurt by all the interest he'd received previously in school. Still... 'I'm not trembling thanks to you, Prince Alfred.'
Alfred had learned dignity as royalty and as a hero. In both cases, Alfred hadn't been the type to shrink back from ordinary nobles.
It was only a fraction of Alfred's but Theo had a similar air wrapped around him. The tension of standing before all those people faded into nothingness. After all, a tiger wouldn't be intimidated by a herd of dogs.
At that moment, the host's voice started booming loudly, "Then let me introduce him! The main character of this ball and the first recipient of the Silver Medal of Merit in 30 years...!"
Theo took a few steps further than the guide and found the spot designated to him. There was only a curtain blocking him from the ballroom. Shortly after that, the barrier was taken away as a loud voice said, "The Red Tower's Average ranked magician, Baron Theodore Miller!"
As Theo took a step forward, he was covered by a dazzling light. 'Don't shrink back.'
This wide ballroom was Theo's stage. The grace left behind by Alfred and Theodore's upright nature were displayed in his steps. Some of the nobles expecting to make fun of a rural baron were confused as they murmured to each other.
"No, isn't he a member of a declining noble family?"
"No matter how I look, he seems like a young master from a good family..."
"He must have a good education. It isn't easy to not shake in a big place like this."
Their evaluations of Theo were good.
Theodore stopped five paces before Kurt III, who was waiting for him at the high podium. Theo naturally fell to one knee, not as a noble but as a magician. However, he didn't seem subservient and looked more imposing than the nobles surrounding him.
"An Average of the Red Tower, Baron Theodore Miller greets the Great Sun of Meltor."
Kurt III laughed with a cheerful expression at Theodore's greeting.
"You can rise, Young Hero."
Theo didn't rush as he got up. It was dignified without being impudent. This was an exquisite balance which even veteran nobles couldn't easily imitate.
Kurt III admired him from the podium. In order to honour the hero who had accomplished praiseworthy feats, the king was standing at the same level as his servants. How many people in the records had achieved such glory at the age of 20? He wasn't sure but there wouldn't be many.
In front of hundreds of eyes, the king and hero faced each other.
"Theodore Miller, listen," Kurt III said with a small box in his hand. "You have rescued a high elf from slavery and saved her from an unknown enemy. This feat is one that can never be disparaged. Such a loyal servant deserves to be rewarded."
He placed the box on Theodore's hand and declared with a profound voice, "Listen carefully."
All the nobles and magicians present lowered their bodies. Then as Theodore knelt down again, Kurt III knocked on Theodore's shoulder.
"From this moment on, Baron Theodore Miller will be given the title of a viscount, and he will be awarded with the Silver Medal of Merit! Additionally, he will be given 1,000 gold coins, a national treasure, and this court ball to recognize his glory!"
"We will obey, Your Majesty!" The crowd's thunderous cheers announced the start of the court ball.