Chapter 117 - Mysterious (3)
"...That is all. I did my best, but from the moment I entered the Red Plateau, I couldn't follow their actions. Perhaps it was because of the White Tower's famous space magic," a knight wearing all black reported.
The black armour favored mobility over combat power, while the black sword was designed to melt into darkness. Compared to the normal knight's uniform, this was an invisible appearance. No such uniform existed out in the open among Andras' knights.
However, if a third party was in this place, they would've reeled back in fear.
The Knights of Shade were shadows who did the dirty work of the empire, from gathering information to assassination. It was a secret organization which even the empire's Seven Swords couldn't mobilize without an imperial order.
They were people who didn't officially exist in the empire, and were famous for carrying poison and self-destruct scrolls with them. In that case, who was looking down at the knight...?
"Indeed, it was a perfect failure. I have to admire the skillfulness of our enemies," someone's voice resonated in a low tone.
The emotionless voice contained an odd sense of oppression, forcing the two knights in front of him to shut their mouths. However, it wasn't a consciously transmitted intimidation; he had merely opened his mouth.
This was the presence of a person who couldn't be ordinary. It was a presence which only came from a person whose pride had been great since birth and whose family had been recognized for decades. In other words, he was someone who had the temperament of a ruler.
"P-Please kill me!" In the end, the Knight of Shade couldn't withstand the pressure and lowered his body while confessing his sin. However, he didn't ask for pardon from the other party. As a shadow of the empire, failing a mission meant death. There was no point in living if he had failed the mission.
The Knight of Shade knew that better than anyone, so he was surprised by the other party's next words.
"No, it isn't your fault. You clearly followed my instructions perfectly. If so, this failure is my responsibility, so don't mention it anymore."
"Stop. Until I call again, go prepare a personal biography of that person called Theodore."
Nobody would dare disobey, so the Knight of Shade trembled and carefully withdrew. Indeed, as a shadow, he walked out of the room without any sound. Then the man looked at the knight who still remained and said in a rare playful tone, "How surprising. I thought you would've cut him down on the spot."
The knight, a black masked man, didn't deny it. "...I thought so as well." Then he spoke calmly with his head down, "But the shadow did its duty until the end. If he took one step forward, my sword would've given him a peaceful death."
"Well, that is an interesting view." The man laughed with satisfaction. Although the man might've snorted at the knight's confidence, he knew the skill of the swordsman in front of him.
The knight had once been the head of the Knights of Shade, and he was now a sword master, promised for the position of the 6th Sword. Despite losing an arm, he still wasn't an easy opponent. His 'Disappear' ability made him invincible against an inferior opponent.
Rather, the White Tower Master who had overwhelmed the superman knight before the man deserved to be honoured. The man's mind stirred at the thought.
"By the way, it is shocking that the White Tower Master is so strong. Did his presence pale due to the Blue Tower Master and Red Tower Master?"
"I think so."
"Well, he is a hidden card."
Despite having been arch rivals for hundreds of years, it was hard for Andras to fathom all of Meltor's power. This was the strength of a magic kingdom, where unexpected things could keep emerging.
At the end of a battle where they were sure of their success, an 8th Circle magician would suddenly appear and destroy the balance. The battle power of the White Tower Master, who had suppressed a middle ranked Seven Swords, also belonged to such variables.
"I heard that the White Tower Master confronted the previous 3rd and 6th Swords directly... They fought in the last war. So, I don't know how many more of his abilities haven't been revealed."
The masked man lifted his head for the first time. A red light shone through the half-shattered mask, and a strong momentum rose from his body. His fighting spirit hadn't been lost after one defeat. He managed to barely suppress it, but his voice which emerged from underneath the mask bubbled like magma as he said, "Next time, I will use every effort to kill him."
"Even with that arm?"
The man's words touched a sore point, but the swordsman wasn't shaken at all. It was fatal for him to have lost his right arm. However, if he could fix his style, he could regain his original strength. It would take a long time, but it was worth it for the master who had rescued him from hell. His loyalty was one of the reasons why the man trusted him.
The man gave a pleased smile and opened his mouth to say, "...Ah, I can't even joke properly."
He didn't know that the immigrant child he'd helped in his childhood would grow into his right arm. It was because he didn't show his ego that the masked man served him loyally. While facing the swordsman, the man took out a box from behind him, then he threw it to the masked man.
The item had been hard to obtain, even with his status. It was a reward for his subordinate, but there was no other person more worthy and dependable to handle it.
"This is a reward for your loyalty. I will shoulder the responsibility for this failure. I also understand how big the loss of one arm is for you."
"I won't speak for long. Take it."
The swordsman didn't dare refuse and opened the box. A storm of power flowed out, like it had been waiting. The seal around the lock was released, and there was a silver light as the thing trapped inside the box broke free.
Flash! There was a blinding light, and in the box, something in the form of a sword flashed clearly.
The sword master couldn't keep his composure any longer. This wasn't something made by human hands but a relic hidden in a forgotten history. Anyone who wasn't at the master level would probably burn as soon as they held onto this.
It was the relic of a divine species which had lost its original name.
"Train your left arm so that you can use this in one year."
The mask swordsman shook his head and didn't dare reply. He held the radiant silver sword to his chest and pledged allegiance to his master.
The man looked down at the scene with satisfaction before staring into the air. "Not yet, not yet. In the next five years... I will bring down my incompetent father and change this empire."
It was a law that those who used violence and climbed over the strongest would conquer the throne. In the Andras Empire, the royal family was the strongest. and their blood had never weakened since King Fernando took the throne.
The eyes of the empire's third prince, Prince Fermut, shone.
* * *
After reaffirming their relationship with Elvenheim, the delegation and Theodore passed through the new Red Plateau.
The concept of a few kilometers didn't matter when they were accompanied by the White Tower Master. As the sun rose a day after they left the Great Forest, they had already crossed Meltor's border. It was literally at a speed which couldn't even be expressed with lightning. The old saying that those who walked were spoiled was moot, as the White Tower Master barely breathed roughly.
"...We will rest for 30 minutes. I don't have enough magic power to use Mass Teleport."
However, there was a restriction on Shukuchiho. The group could move a great distance quickly, but the burden on the user was huge. Anyone who didn't have the almost unlimited power of a 7th Circle would be depleted after a few uses. Well, even so, it was a charming magic.
Orta leaned against a wall and started rotating his circles.
Theo squinted at the White Tower Master and muttered inwardly, 'If I can learn that space magic properly, it will be a great power, but... I shouldn't be too greedy.'
H'de met the sage at the Fountain of Wisdom, and right now, Theodore's power had already exceeded his own vessel.
The power of Laevateinn, Umbra, and the essence extracted from treasure ranked artifacts... If he swallowed an artifact related to the White Tower Master's space magic, it was possible that his remaining grace period would become even shorter.
'Five years... If I think about it properly, it is more like three years left.'
His body would collapse. He didn't know what that meant, but he could sense something ominous from it. It was clear that something bad would happen. So, three years... Over the next three years, he needed to build a vessel which could handle his abilities. Thanks to this incident, his name value and treatment would increase.
No, he shouldn't take advantage of it.
-Get rid of the day-to-day fighting and eating of a magician, and live like a beast. Explore the wide world and increase the size of your vessel as you bump into many people.
That was Myrdal's advice. Theo could roughly guess why Myrdal hadn't mentioned the solution directly.
The 'vessel' wasn't a generic concept in Meltor, which was known for its magic knowledge. Instead, it was an unknown field which couldn't be calculated or accessed. So, Myrdal had given a past example which Theo could understand.
-Just like how you once struggled through the years, do it again this time.
Five years after starting Bergen Academy, Theo had met Gluttony and then became qualified. At the end of a long path without any hope, he had faced a fate which could be called legendary. If he had been told that at the time, he might not have acted so sincerely.
If so, what did Theodore Miller need now? Fortunately, he was accompanied by someone who could answer any questions.
'A question and answer.'
Once he returned, he would report his achievements to Kurt III and then ask Gluttony.
In a sense, this time limit was due to using Gluttony's power. It wouldn't want to lose its contraction, so it shouldn't be difficult to obtain Gluttony's cooperation. Gluttony wouldn't hesitate to teach Theo how to widen his vessel.
Of course, the fundamental question lay elsewhere.
'The purpose and the identity of the other Seven Sins... and the truth of the world that I still don't know about.'
It was the fate of a magician to follow the mysterious and unknown.
His immature self had no answer yet, and Orta had already finished resting.
The struggle with the legend ranked grimoire, the talk with the nearby neighbours, and the unforeseen adventure had all ended. No matter what event was waiting for him this time, he had to go back...
...Back to the heart of the magic kingdom of Meltor, Mana-vil Capital.