Chapter 155 - One Year Later (1)
The representative port city in the Soldun Kingdom, Piris...
It was the only international port on the continent which had ships traveling directly to the east continent, and it was the lifeline of the coastal kingdom. Therefore, the power of Marquis Pirus was unique, since he was in charge of this crucial port. There were jokes told about how the birds would tremble and fly away from him.
However, even Marquis Piris had to be polite today. It was because the guest who visited the mansion was the crown prince, the next king of the Soldun Kingdom, Elsid.
"Glory to the descendants of the Great Wave King! Marquis Piris, David El Piris, greets the crown prince."
"It has been a while, Marquis. I'm sorry to come so abruptly."
The crown prince had the lemon colored hair and sea-like eyes which were passed through the Soldun royal family. He had the same color scheme as that of a prince from fairy tales, making many young females unable to sleep at night. Although he was only 26 this year, he was destined to be the next wave king of the Soldun Kingdom.
Marquis Piris advised him with a difficult expression, "Forgive me, Your Highness. But didn't I tell you to come here stealthily?"
"It can't be helped," Elsid sighed and shook his head a few times. "As soon as I left the royal palace, Duke Cornwall's men chased me. If the escort knights hadn't blocked them, I wouldn't have been able to hide my tracks."
Marquis Piris gritted his teeth, and his eyebrows twitched. Then his brown eyes filled with uncontrollable anger. "Cornwall... That traitor will surely...!"
Since ancient times, the Sodun Kingdom had been subservient to the other kingdoms due to its unique geographical nature. It was difficult to grow crops along the coast, and the population of the Sodun Kingdom wasn't enough to keep troops at the borders of the other countries.
It had only been half a century ago when trade with the east continent first opened up, but the nobles with interests in other kingdoms were busy keeping the Soldun Kingdom's prosperity in check.
Duke Cornwall, who had relatives in the Kargas Kingdom, was the most prominent among them. He even dared to track Prince Elsid's actions.
"Well, let's stop with the unpleasant story. There is nothing we can do right now. Don't we just have to do what we can?"
"...Hoo, Your Highness' words are correct. I was too excited."
Despite the prince's words, Marquis Piris' face was still flushed. Duke Cornwall's actions always made the loyalists angry. Prince Elsid knew this and was thankful, but the story they had to discuss right now wasn't about the traitor.
"Rather, Marquis, what about 'that'?" Elsid whispered in a low voice.
"Please be delighted, Your Highness. There was a big profit," Marquis Piris replied with a small smile.
Some of the loyalists, including the crown prince, had been pushing this plan for 10 years. Now, they had finally achieved something.
It was impossible for the people of the Soldun Kingdom to overcome these adverse conditions with their own strength. The bordering states of the Kargas Kingdom and Lairon Country were busy suppressing them, and the only area with no obstacles was the south, where there were swamps as a barrier.
Therefore, the people of the Soldun Kingdom turned their eyes to the continent beyond the sea.
"I have received a promise from a famous family of the Western Xia region in the east that they will move to Piris."
"Finally!" At the welcome news, Elsid's face brightened like a rising sun.
If he couldn't grow seeds, then he would import them. Fortunately, the Soldun Kingdom had tremendous financial power to make up for its lack of military power. They promised a noble title, fertile land, gold, and valuables.
"They are the Baek Family, and they were a prestigious military power in the Western Xia region." (Baek= Bai in Chinese spelling. They seem to be a Chinese family, but since the rest of the family members' names are in Korean, I chose the Korean spelling of the surname).
"Hoh, a prestigious family is migrating?"
"Yes, I investigated it." Marquis Piris recounted the contents of the report, "30 years ago, there was a battle with the central regions. The family took responsibility for the defeat and resigned from the military. The place the Baek Family occupied was taken by other families, and now they are economically and politically isolated."
"Indeed, our offer would seem quite attractive."
"That's right. It is said that head of the Baek Family is bringing all his family members and belongings to Piris. They will probably arrive today or tomorrow."
Elsid couldn't help forming tight fists. Due to the kingdom's weak military power, they had been forced to rely on foreign ships.
However, the humiliation ended here. On the eastern continent, the power of martial arts had evolved as the level of magic declined. If two warriors were at the same level, the one from the east would be stronger. If there were two people from the country, one would be a sword master.
It was the same for the Baek Family migrating here.
"In the east, a sword master is called an expert."
The master of the Baek Family, Baek Jongmyung, was an expert. It was unknown as to why he had been punished in the Western Xia region, but he was literally worth an army of thousands.
The Baek Family had 100 skills aura users, including a sword master. This was enough power to change the balance toward the crown prince's favor, even if the troops of Cornwall and his allies were to combine.
"...You did a really great job, Marquis. I will never forget your hard work."
"It is only natural, considering my role in the kingdom, Your Highness. Your words are enough. The important thing is what will happen from now on."
Elsid nodded at his loyal subject. "Of course. It is my duty to embrace them as my own people and to forge them into the Soldun Kingdom's sword."
The young prince once again vowed that the kingdom wouldn't remain weak in his generation. For that goal, he would spend as much as was needed. He gazed at the sunlight coming through the window, before looking at the marquis again.
"That reminds me, what about giving them that mansion?"
"That one. It is a bit expensive, but it is a decent chateau. It can build up their pride, as well as fit everyone that will come." Elsid made the suggestion after looking back through his old memories.
The mansion that he'd seen in the past was perfect for this purpose. It was a well-built mansion, but the location wasn't very good. There was the drawback of it having been built on a hill, and the surrounding areas were all mansions, making the price jump exponentially. This was enough to make the interested people sigh and back off.
However, it was a different story if it were given as a gift to someone. It couldn't be sold anyway, so it was better to use the mansion to make a good impression. Since they were warriors, living on a hill wouldn't really be a disadvantage.
However, Marquis Piris showed a strange reaction. "Hrmm, well, that is..."
"Huh? What's the problem?"
Marquis Piris was silent for a moment before explaining with a grim expression, "The mansion Your Highness is talking about has already been sold."
"Huh?" Elsid failed to hide his disbelief. "Wasn't the price 1,000 gold? Who was insane enough to buy the mansion at that price? According to kingdom law, even if the price was lowered, wouldn't it have been at least 800 gold?"
"It wasn't lowered. The person paid 1,000 gold on the spot."
Therefore, Marquis Piris had sold it without any hesitation. He shrugged with a bitter smile. Indeed, from his position, an unused mansion was a wasteful expense. So, it was natural to want to quickly dispose of it.
Elsid didn't know how he felt about this as he clicked his tongue. "Tsk, they are a big spender. A noble?"
"Yes, perhaps. He didn't say it with his mouth, but his actions show it."
Marquis Piris nodded and explained, "He is escorted by a person who seems to be a bodyguard. Even though I am not an expert with swords, the bodyguard seems unusual. The buyer seems to be a person hiding his identity."
"Hmm... It happened around one year ago. How has he been living?"
"There are occasional visitors, but he rarely leaves the mansion. Ah! He is famous for purchasing original magic books at an expensive price, around three or four times the normal price? So, sometimes people come from foreign countries."
As the prince worried about it, the marquis remembered the names of the two people.
"The young man who bought the mansion is Ted, and his bodyguard is called Adolf. Those are their names."
"Ted and Adolf..."
It was common to find three or four people with the same names from the villages in the north and central parts of the continent. If so, these names were likely pseudonyms. As Elsid stared at the hill where the mansion was located, he decided it was necessary to visit it at least once.
A variable had appeared out of nowhere, and it was unknown if it was good or not. It was something he couldn't fathom at all.
* * *
Kkiruruk- kiruk kiruk-
As always, the seagulls cried out from the sky as the wind carried the scent of the sea.
"The weather is good today," Theodore muttered as he looked at the thick book on his desk and then patted Mitra, who was crouched in a flowerpot.
A year had passed since he'd left the Pirate Archipelago, and he was more mature than before. Theo's face had matured early due to undergoing various hardships, and a mysterious depth was found in the magician's clear eyes.
Mitra was snoring while sleeping. [Horororong...hororong...]
Theodore smiled at the cute snoring and thought back to his days in the Soldun Kingdom.
Since Theodore and Randolph left the Pirate Archipelago, there had been no one pursuing them. So, in the past year, Theodore and Randolph had focused on improving their skills. Randolph trained in his awakened Aura Ability while Theodore researched on how to reach the next level.
'My progress isn't bad, but...' Theodore looked out the window with a dissatisfied expression.
There were many things he'd gained during this time, but it would still take more time to reach the target area. Gluttony had said half a year would be enough in the future, but it was inevitable that he would feel nervous with the deadline approaching.
Right now, Theodore was facing the wall of the 7th Circle, the master's wall. He only needed one more step to escape from the confines of a mortal. It was a transcendent area which couldn't be easily overcome, even with Gluttony's power.
"I have one and a half years."
Almost half of the three-year deadline, which Myrdal had given him at the world tree, had passed.
Of course, there was a lot of room left due to all the original books he ate. However, the fundamental solution was for Theodore to become a master. A master went beyond the limits of the 'natural vessel,' so there would be no need to worry about his vessel overfilling.
However, if it was as easy as it sounded, the continent would be covered in masters.
Theodore sighed and closed his eyes, falling into his inner self. He focused on the circles inside his body. A magician could diagnose their body, just like a warrior could do so with aura. The circles soon appeared before Theodore.
Like sophisticated machinery, the six circles turned together. The seventh circle only had the outline formed and was sitting idly. Theodore just couldn't figure out what was lacking.
'An opportunity is needed.'
Ultimately, he needed a decisive opportunity to overcome this stagnation.