Rhode revealed a gentle smile as he stood in the middle of the hall. The nobles gathered all their attention on the black-haired young man without speaking a word. The remarks of this diplomatic envoy were indeed startling as the nobles were aware of the incident in Soraka Mountain. However, even if they didn't know the truth, their gazes towards Rhode were filled with astonishment. To be honest, they refused to believe what MP Danny had said. Firstly, the Country of Light;s Parliament didn't have a favorable relationship with the Munn Kingdom and they had defamed the Munn Kingdom more than once. Secondly, Rhode had just been awarded an honor by Lydia and even though it was only a feudal rank of Baron, the nobles knew that this was a political statement and Lydia was declaring that she wouldn't give up on Rhode. If Rhode was the main culprit of the entire incident, would Lydia even do this?
"Please continue your statement, Mr. Envoy." Lydia spoke from her throne without the slightest change in her expression.
Danny lifted his triple-chin proudly and swept a glance of disdain at Rhode before retrieving a stack of thick papers from his pocket. "Your Highness, the next account that I'm about to present has been reviewed and investigated by the Country of Light's Parliament. We have the most appropriate evidence and witness..." Danny swung his arm forcefully and continued. "Please allow me to summon my witness."
"No problem," Lydia nodded in agreement while Danny gestured to his subordinates. Shortly after, the two guards escorted a man into the hall. He seemed no more than 28 years old and was dressed in a luxurious robe. Although he appeared rather handsome, his every movement seemed extremely haggard, as though a gravely ill patient who didn't have enough rest. The man stood beside the diplomatic envoy and bowed respectfully to everyone present. "Your Highness, my name is Zieg Alanic and I am the representative of the Alanic Foundation stationed in Soraka Mountain. I swear by the honor of my family that I've witnessed everything that happened on that day..."
Rhode scanned the man from head to toe. Come to think of it, he did see this man in the hall before the start of the meeting in Soraka Mountain. However, he couldn't remember him after the start of the chaos. It seemed that this man was extremely lucky to have survived the disaster. But, Rhode didn't think that he was just simply lucky.
There were no shortage of troubles that this family had given Rhode.
Rhode gritted his teeth at this thought. Initially, he had pestered Marlene in the Fortress and now, it was regarding Soraka Mountain. This Alanic Foundation seemed really afraid of losing their presence and had continuously found troubles for Rhode. If there was a vote for the best model workers, these guys would definitely be a popular choice. Rhode shifted his attention to the minister beside Lydia. The senior wore a white robe and held onto this golden staff while gazing at the man before him with some disgust. Rhode knew where his sense of disgust came from because this senior was the Patriarch of the Senia Family and Marlene's biological father. Marlene was his only daughter and furthermore, she was a rare magical talent and she had almost turned into the slave of the Alanic Foundation... Rhode was aware that if it wasn't for him taking into consideration the prestige of the Munn Kingdom, he would've gone into an all-out battle with the Alanic Foundation. Even though the Alanic Foundation was second to none in the Country of Light, the mighty generations of the Senia Family weren't for naught too. If both sides did end up in a battle, the battle would be no less than a battle between the nations.
Just that the scale of the war would be smaller, that was.
As though sensing Rhode's gaze, the senior turned towards him. Meanwhile, Rhode nodded in response as he knew he was being somewhat discourteous. However, Rhode didn't expect that the senior would place his idling left hand on his chest and bow solemnly. Then, the senior revealed a kind smile before shifting his attention back to the nobleman who was giving his narration.
Rhode was astonished by his actions because no matter their identity or rank, he couldn't be compared to the Patriarch of the family that held the most influence and presence in the Munn Kingdom. Even though he might have a good impression of Rhode due to his previous contributions, it was unlikely for him to go so far as to bow in public. This was obviously more than just simply favoring Rhode.
Rhode realized that there were a few sharp eyes gazing towards him from amongst the crowd. It was apparent that the interaction between Rhode and the Senia Patriarch had gathered some attention. But Rhode disregarded them and focused his attention on the narrations of the nobleman.
As the saying went, one couldn't convince others with all truths while all lies couldn't cut it to and the best way was to mix both truths and lies together. Such lies were the toughest to expose and this Zieg Alanic nobleman was apparently well-versed on this subject. His narrations were clear and orderly, yet weren't all truthful. From the emergence of the Chairman to the eruption of the earthquake and the appearance of the Chaos Flames, all of them matched Rhode's memories. However, this was where the deviations began. He seemed to have 'neglected' Rhode's presence and claimed that when the Chaos Flames erupted, he left the Mithril Hall hurriedly. Then, he spotted a suspicious man in a black robe, which peaked his curiosity. With the powers of his magical equipment, he followed the suspicious character and witnessed him entering the Rock Shrine. Shortly after, the mysterious man met up with the Supervisor and both of them unlocked the seal, which led to the awakening of the Duke Fiend. At that moment, Zieg had intended to leave, but he discovered that the mysterious man had a dispute with the Supervisor...
Got to say, Zieg was really great in making up stories because according to his narrations, it was rather similar to what Rhode had experienced. Zieg ingeniously tampered with some crucial portions and it meant that his guy wasn't purely imagining things. There must be someone who provided him the information-and that person should be one of the ones who escaped alongside Rhode.
But who exactly was that person?
Rhode hadn't gotten an answer to his question and he continued to listen silently.
"... Lastly, I witnessed the terrifying Devil heading towards the Light Dragon Soul. In order to warn my country to prepare for its invasion, I didn't pursue further. Instead, I left with my teleportation item into the Country of Light and I have no clue what happened next." Zieg ended his narration.
"I understood everything that you've said." Lydia nodded in acknowledgment before gazing at Rhode meaningfully. "So, what has this got to do with Baron Rhode?"
"Please pardon my rudeness, Your Highness. I have unintentionally spotted the face of the man in the black robe... And that was the face of this man here," Zieg added on.
"... Are you sure you haven't mistaken him for someone else?"
"Absolutely not. I swear by the reputation of the family. Besides..." Zieg looked at Rhode slyly. "I can't forget his face even if I want to, since he has such distinctive features."
Soft laughter filled the crowd. Even though they hadn't concluded the integrity of Zieg's words, they agreed that he was right that Rhode's striking appearance that would definitely leave a deep impression. Just like the pair of young noble heirs in Eagle City. They only met Rhode once during the Midsummer Festival and they could immediately recognize him when they were escaping.
Sometimes, sharp features weren't a good thing.
"I've heard your assertion," Lydia turned a deaf ear to the laughter and she gazed at the man calmly. "But this is only from your account, Mr. Alanic. You have to admit that you don't have any evidence to support your statement."
"Your Highness, his account was reviewed and verified by the Country of Light's Parliament and is the truth!" MP Danny knitted his brows and replied coldly. The fake smile on his face vanished gradually and it was obvious that he was extremely dissatisfied with Lydia's behavior of finding excuses. "After Mr. Zieg returned to the Country of Light, the Country of Light's Parliament has dispatched Mages to trace his spirit memories for the scenes that he had witnessed. It was according to the scenes that we have confirmed that he wasn't lying. In order to search for the main culprit that led to this disaster, Mr. Zieg had even dragged himself out of his sick bed to go through Spirit Tracing."
MP Danny pointed at the man emotionally to signal for everyone to observe how haggard he was. "For the sake of justice, he was willing to damage his spirit to find the culprit. Isn't this enough to prove the authenticity of his recount?"
Even though the fat parliament member seemed to feel indignant at the injustice, it wasn't that easy for the crowd to take the bait. Shortly after, Lydia raised a new doubt. "So then, as evidence, I would like to see the magical image traced from his spirit. Surely this won't be a difficult request, right?"
"Of course not." The fat parliament member seemed to have a card up his sleeve, which peaked Rhode's curiosity. Even though great Mages were indeed able to trace the entirety of one's personal experience with a spell, this spell, after all, would establish only around the truth. No matter how rich this Mr Alanic's imagination was, he couldn't possibly store memories that he hadn't experienced in his spirit. But, this fat pig seemed so calm... What exactly was he up to?
Soon, Rhode received his answer.
"But, before that, I hope that Your Highness Lydia can explain why the seal of the Duke Fiend that the Munn Kingdom was responsible for guarding was unlocked? Furthermore, what was the purpose of that man heading into Soraka Mountain?! Why would he unlock the seal of the Duke Fiend with the Supervisor?!"
So that was why!
Rhode finally understood why the Parliament was this fearless.
Even though their recount was fabricated, there would always be a hole that Lydia couldn't avoid falling into, and that was the necessity to explain to the parliament the reason why the Duke Fiend's seal was removed. It was apparent that the Parliament must've heard about the situation and revised the truth. This way, as long as someone criticized that this incident was caused by a human, Lydia couldn't blame an accident to lessen her responsibility. The Parliament didn't wish to give Lydia any room to retreat.
But it was a pity that Rhode wasn't a pushover.
"Please hold on," Rhode said with a smile. "Sorry for interrupting. But... I have an entirely different opinion about Mr. Alanic's recount."
"What...!" MP Danny glared at Rhode and shouted furiously. "You are openly doubting the judgment of the parliament and tarnishing the reputation of the Parliament!!"
"I'm sorry, I have no interest in the thoughts of some old man who always sits around a wooden table while clinging on to his own viewpoint," Rhode swept him a glance and responded instantly. The entire hall fell into absolute silence as though an ice-cold breeze had frozen everyone to the spot.
The nobles widened their eyes in disbelief as they had never seen anyone behave so disrespectfully towards the Parliament on a formal occasion. Even though the relationship between the Munn Kingdom and the Country of Light's Parliament had reached a point where their conflicts couldn't be defused, the nobles of the Munn Kingdom would only grumble privately no matter how unhappy they were. However, this young man who had just been conferred a feudal rank actually dared to give them a hard time in front of everyone!
MP Danny's exasperated voice broke the silence in the entire hall. "Y-You are provoking and humiliating us! I want to raise a protest! Protest!"
"Please be quiet, Mr. Envoy," Lydia's words showed that she had no intentions of correcting Rhode's behavior. "This is a sacred and fair venue. We have the rights to listen attentively to the statements of everyone. Since you've spoken your part about the truth that the Country of Light's Parliament had presented here, isn't it only right for us to hear the words of the accused?"
"T-This..." MP Danny hesitated. Lydia didn't deny that this matter had nothing to do with Rhode. Instead, since the Parliament had said that Rhode was related to this matter, they would naturally hear Rhode's narration on the matter.
MP Danny was also aware of this, which was why he calmed down quickly. "No problem, Your Highness Lydia. But I don't think that a criminal is capable of speaking anything that is worth our time."
"We shall know after we hear it from him," Lydia nodded at Rhode while Rhode stepped forward swiftly and bowed respectfully.
"Like Mr. Alanic, I am also willing to swear by the honor of my family and that everything I say will be the truth. But before that... I hope to receive Your Highness Lydia's approval because my statement may implicate some classified matters."
"No problem, Baron Rhode. Please go ahead," Lydia granted her permission.
"Thank you, Your Highness." The nobles sat straight and prepared to listen attentively. After all, Rhode declared that there might be some classified matters that he would reveal. Humans tend to long for gossip and Rhode's solemn behavior had earned him a few points of trust from the nobles.
"... A few days ago, my guild received a special order from Royal Highness Lydia." Rhode spoke after he had captured everyone's attention. "At that moment, there was some trouble in Soraka Mountain and the Chairman of Soraka Mountain's Parliament had been attacked by some unknown forces for certain reasons. Royal Highness Lydia was aware of the situation, but due to the unusual nature of Soraka Mountain, she wasn't able to dispatch a proper army for assistance. Therefore, she entrusted Starlight to enter Soraka Mountain and rescue the Chairman."
Many of the nobles nodded. After all, they were clear about the rules and position of the Munn Kingdom. Moreover, it was logical for Lydia to rely on a mercenary guild since she couldn't dispatch an army due to the unusual nature of Soraka Mountain.
"... I shall not recount the minor details of the process. In the end, we rescued the Chairman and successfully escorted him into the Mithril Hall just before the start of the meeting... This point was also iterated by Mr. Alanic," Rhode paused before smiling at Zieg whose face was slightly ashen. "Am I right, Mr. Alanic? The Chairman was around when you joined the meeting in Soraka Mountain, right?"
"T-That's..." Zieg was somewhat bewildered as he had never expected that Rhode would ask him a question. However, he could only nod in agreement since he couldn't swallow his words back into his throat. "Right, the Chairman had indeed participated in the meeting. But we weren't aware that he was..."
"I only asked for your confirmation on this." Before Zieg finished his sentence, Rhode interrupted mercilessly before turning around and continuing his speech. "But we are also clear that the attack targeting the Chairman was likely to happen again. For safety, we sought the help of the Supervisor and for the peace of Soraka Mountain, Madam Supervisor had agreed to join us in searching for the culprit who attacked the Chairman. But at that moment, the forces that witnessed their failure in keeping the Chairman away from the meeting actually turned to attack the sacred grounds instead while the Supervisor was occupied during the meeting. However, we weren't aware of the methods that they used to unlock the seal in the sacred grounds to awaken the Duke Fiend by force."
Rhode's expression sulked slightly. "Although Madam Supervisor and I managed to return to the sacred grounds on time and annihilated the culprits, the unlocked seal was irreversible. In order to stop the Duke Fiend from damaging the continent even further, Madam Supervisor had to sacrifice her life to defeat the sinister Devil while I escaped Soraka Mountain with the remainder of the seal. In the end, we managed to lure the Duke Fiend away and eliminate it successfully..."
"A load of crap!" MP Danny interrupted angrily before Rhode finished his sentence. He glared at Rhode with widened eyes. "You cunning criminal! No matter how you talk your way through, it will never remove your crimes! You are uttering nonsense! This isn't the truth at all! Besides, you mentioned that there was a force that attacked the sacred grounds and removed the seal. Why don't you tell me who exactly that force was?"
"As for this question... Are you sure you want to hear the answer, MP Danny?" Rhode questioned with a curious tone.
"Of course, do you dare to tell us? In front of so many people? I do want to know which force dares to do something this presumptuous in Soraka Mountain," Danny revealed a proud smile while gazing at Rhode slyly. It was apparent that he thought that Rhode didn't have any information about them. However, Rhode didn't need it in the first place. "Can you tell us?"
"Of course." Rhode patted and tidied his clothes before reaching into the fold of his clothes and retrieved a brass badge. "I got this from the attacker... A four-leaf clover outlined with gold and carved with two dragon wings..." Rhode turned around and faced the ashen diplomatic envoy. "If I remember correctly, this belongs to the Country of Light's Parliament. Doesn't it, MP Danny?"