Chapter 157 - One Year Later (3)
Elsid's group also wanted to sort out the confusing situation, so they accepted Theodore's proposal without raising any objections. However, unlike Baek Jongmyung and his two children who were looking at the mansion, Elsid and Marquis Piris were busy thinking about the unexpected situation.
This was because the plan they had thought of in advance would no longer work.
'What should I do in this situation?'
The awkward atmosphere continued as the group walked through the front door and into the mansion's reception room.
Following Theodore's direction, Elsid sat down and worried about what to say. He had planned to question the two people whose identities were unclear and then buy back this mansion. However, the opponents were much bigger than he had imagined. One was a senior magician praised by a sword master, while the other was a sword master who could be a marquis in any country.
However, Marquis Piris managed to calm his mind.
'...No, it makes no difference even if they are bigger than I thought. Piris is our territory. No matter what status they have, they need to bend down in the presence of the crown prince!'
He didn't know why these people were hiding here, but it didn't have anything to do with his task. After that, he spoke to the two people on behalf of the crown prince, whose status had yet to be disclosed.
"First of all, I would like to apologize for the sudden visit, Sir Ted."
"No, Marquis Piris. This territory is Marquis Piris'. As guests, we shouldn't disrespect the owner."
"I appreciate your understanding." Marquis Piris' eyes shone. "However, before I get to the point, I would like you to identify yourself. If I am the master of this land as you said, shouldn't I have a right to know the secret?"
"They are fair words," Theodore said, nodding politely, "If this was a year ago."
It was a sharp admonishment. Theodore had previously spoken such golden words, and now he was saying this? It was a truly sarcastic remark.
Marquis Piris coughed a few times with a red face before continuing, "Please understand that many things have changed since that time. I wouldn't have accepted the deal if I had known your companion was a sword master."
"Today's topic isn't for me to say. This person here..."The marquis paused. Then Elsid nodded, giving him permission, and so the marquis continued, "He is the next king of the Soldun Kingdom, Prince Elsid."
If Marquis Piris thought that his disclosure would make the duo panic, he was mistaken. Theodore's and Randolph's expressions remained calm.
"It is great to meet Your Highness."
"...It is good to meet you, unknown guests."
Elsid's greeting showed he wanted them to give up their identities, but the duo stayed silent. It meant they wouldn't speak up even if the opponent was a crown prince instead of a marquis.
Elsid understood the meaning of their silence and frowned, but it was difficult to pursue it at this stage. They weren't opponents he couldn't overpower through force. However, his national power was divided in half due to infighting. The crown prince couldn't afford to increase the number of enemies.
Theodore grasped his feelings and changed the subject, "Then Crown Prince, why are you visiting this humble place?"
Then the marquis replied on behalf of Elsid, "There is a story behind it, but I want to buy back this mansion."
"That's right. It is hard to find a suitable residence for Master Baek here, with this mansion being the only candidate."
To be honest, he didn't want to pay the price, but he had to take a big loss now. While the marquis vowed to reduce the damage somehow, Theodore made a strange expression and said, "How much were you thinking?"
"The same amount of gold that you originally paid?"
"Then I see no benefit in this."
Theodore still had a lot of gold left, so he intended to profit from something other than gold. In order to achieve that purpose, the marquis and crown prince had to owe him something. They would be deeply indebted to him if they refused his request.
However, Marquis Piris' mind wasn't as good as Theodore had thought.
"...There is no benefit... Can you really say so?" The marquis asked.
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know your identity yet, but haven't you spent a year in Piris?"
The marquis was advising Theodore to be satisfied with a little gold in exchange for having hidden him and Randolph for a year. In the first place, it was a loss for the marquis to buy it at 1,000 gold. Marquis Piris might've retreated because he couldn't use coercive means, but he couldn't tolerate more damage to his funds. The marquis was determined not to give way any further.
Despite reading these signs, Theodore laughed slightly. He didn't intend to get anything from Prince Elsid and Marquis Piris from the very beginning.
"Well, Lord Piris' words make sense," Theo remarked.
"However, I have a few conditions."
Before the marquis could protest, Theodore turned to Baek Jongmyung and said, "These conditions are for the one who will become the owner of the mansion, not the prince and the marquis."
"Yes, I would like to ask for three simple things."
Simultaneously, Theodore raised his fingers as he began to explain the conditions. The flow of the story naturally switched to Theodore and Baek Jongmyung, with the marquis and prince becoming spectators. In fact, Theodore had no interest in them at all.
"First of all, we are going to leave here quite soon. I hope you will let us stay until that time."
"That isn't a problem. Rather, I am excited at the chance to develop a relationship with natives of foreign countries."
"I am thankful for your words."
Theodore was afraid there would be opposition from the prince or marquis, but they didn't move as expected. The best thing was for Theodore to leave this kingdom quickly, but the next best thing was for them to be able to keep an eye on Theodore.
If Theodore and Randolph stayed at the mansion with Baek Jongmyung, a sword master who was equal to them, then it would be less likely for the prince and the marquis to miss Theodore's trail. If Theodore couldn't be controlled, keep him in a visible place and monitor him.
Theodore had accurately perceived that choice. Then Baek Jongmyung, who calmly accepted the first condition, prompted Theodore to say what was next. "Now, Sir Ted! Please tell us the second condition."
"The second thing that I want to ask..."
As soon as the condition flowed from Theodore's mouth, everyone in the room looked at him with a surprised expression. Only Randolph, who had been with Theodore for a year, laughed with an understanding expression.
Baek Jongmyung also accepted the strange second condition.
* * *
"-Hoh, you were hiding such a good place!"
Baek Jongmyung looked around the area with admiration. There was a vacant lot with a 100-meter radius on a flat area under the hill.
Additionally, around the boundaries of the empty space, there was magic to alleviate any impact and block off noise, as well as hallucination magic which tricked one's gaze. This was why Marquis Piris hadn't discovered their skills despite keeping surveillance of them.
Rather than being pleased by the explanation, Baek Jongmyung just stood in the empty lot. The sword at his waist and his clothing which didn't obstruct movements were preparations for the second condition.
Prepared to fight at any time, Baek Jongmyung stared at Theodore and asked, "Umm... By the way, are we really going to do it in this vacant lot?"
Theodore replied without any hesitation, "That's right."
"But this place... It is advantageous to me, no matter how I think about it. I don't mean to demean your skills, but isn't it hard for a mage to deal with a warrior in such a narrow space?"
The second condition proposed by Theodore was a spar with Baek Jongmyung. Everyone had been confused by Theo's words as it wasn't a knight but a magician who was challenging a sword master. As far as they knew, a magician who hadn't reached the 7th Circle couldn't fight against a sword master.
...That was if he was a typical magician.
"Master Baek," Theodore replied with an expressionless face to Baek Jongmyung's concerns, "You know mages, but you still aren't aware of what a 'magician' is yet. I appreciate your concern, but you shouldn't treat me so lightly."
Over the past year, Theodore had tried many ways to break his limits. In order to develop new magic and master existing ones, he had frequently sparred with Randolph, who was a sword master. Theodore hadn't been able to come to terms with aura's mobility, but he had figured out other things.
At first, it had been hard to last for 10 minutes while using all his skills, including Umbra. However, that duration gradually increased. 10 minutes increased to 20 minutes, 20 minutes became 30, and so on, as he gradually increased the number of conditions.
These conditions ranged from fighting without using Umbra's powers, sealing the magic of a particular attribute on that day, or not using the features of Gluttony. In this harsh year, Theodore's odds of defeating a sword master had increased to nearly 45%. This meant that if the Aura Ability was sealed, even a sword master couldn't be sure of winning.
"Both of you, please greet each other!" Elsid, who had become the referee due to his status, looked between the two of them and confirmed the rules again.
"Master Baek, you can't use your Aura Ability."
"Yes, I'm aware of that."
"Sir Ted, you can't use wide-area magic that is over half the size of this space."
"Yes, I'm aware."
The magician from the west and the warrior from the east looked at each other. Of course, wide-area magic could overcome aura's mobility. However, a special concession was given since this was just a friendly spar.
Despite Theodore's warning, Baek Jongmyung wasn't vigilant.
'Sir Ted can't do anything at this distance... It is best to subdue him moderately.'
The stereotypes which existed on the continent couldn't be removed with just a few words of warning. If mages could only attack from a distance, that meant a warrior had a lot of room if they didn't give the mage time to chant a spell.
As Baek Jongmyung's hand reached for his sword, Elsid's clear voice rang through the air, "Then I will start!"
However, at that moment...
It started! As the last syllable was heard, Theodore's fingers moved.
It was a blue flash. Baek Jongmyung's eyebrows raised as he saw the flash of light heading toward his forehead. His senses, which were beyond human standards, instinctively recognized that Theodore's flash was extremely dangerous.
The flash wasn't just fast. If it hit Baek Jongmyung's body while it was in a defenseless state, the flash would have the power to wreak havoc on his body!
Of course, Baek Jongmyung was a sword master and managed to cleave the magic bullet into two pieces. The shine of his blade was beautiful as it split the flash of light apart. However, the person who produced the scene was stiff. It was because the repulsive force transmitted through his palm was quite strong, despite the good amount of aura he used.
That said, that wasn't the only problem.
'Kuk, I was caught!'
Despite the unpredictable nature of this attack, Theodore fired off another Magic Bullet straight away. The blue flash of light emerged continuously like a comet, giving Baek Jongmyung no room to breathe. He worried about what the result of the attacks would be.
"-It is up to here!"
However, Baek Jongmyung wouldn't be qualified as a master if he was caught by an attack like this. Baek Jongmyung's sword moved at a terrifying speed, creating a storm which aimed for the Magic Bullets approaching him.
Kakiing! King! Kiiing- Kakiing!
The Magic Bullets were deflected into the ground and trees, creating deep holes. Five times a second-no, ten times... or maybe a little more than that. It was a sight which would cause anyone to shudder, but Theodore continued casting, 'Memorize. All Slots Open. Sixfold Thunderbolt. Spell Fusion: Keraunos.'
Lightning emerged from his right arm.
It exploded from the sky without a loud roar, hitting Baek Jongmyung who was concentrating on defending against the Magic Bullets. The lightning bolt could turn a huge tree into charcoal instantly, and it was twice as strong as what he had used to surprise 'Pride' in the battle one year ago.
The ground melted from the blow, and the people watching couldn't help gulping.
Then a voice rang out, "...Indeed, Sir Ted's words were right."
Baek Jongmyung walked out from the epicenter of the attack. He was a mess, but he didn't have any wounds. Theodore had expected this. He had used it several times against Randolph, but he never had this much fun.
"Maybe I am out of touch with what a 'magician' is. I just received a great lesson." Baek Jongmyung laughed with a bitter expression and raised his sword. The unsmiling face was proof that he recognized Theodore as an 'opponent,' not a 'sparring partner.'
"Then, this time I will teach you what a 'warrior' is."