Chapter 184 - Quickening of the Northern Continent (1)
The Northern continent... This was a fact which people living there weren't really aware of, but people from other kingdoms thought that the North was closed off and gave off a dreary feeling.
It had already been hundreds of years since the two powers, Andras and Meltor, were at war. This was an environment which couldn't be compared to the Central area, where many kingdoms coexisted, or to the ambiguous south. The citizens' sense of patriotism, as well as distance from other countries, had to be strong.
However, it wouldn't be a problem if the north was just closed off.
The problem was that one of the closed-off northern powers was the most magically advanced kingdom on the continent, Meltor.
They were the leading magical civilization of this age. The Central nations were sensitive to advanced culture and money, so they couldn't ignore Meltor. However, it was also difficult to join hands with the Andras Empire.
"This time, the situation will change," Meltor's current king, Kurt III, spoke while looking around at the crowd.
There were tower masters and senior magicians. There were also 12 people of the court, led by the minister of domestic affairs. Additionally, there were people who were influential in the city. Unlike the nobles of other kingdoms, the leading people of Meltor were gathered in Meltor's palace.
There was only one reason why this gathering occurred every year.
"Starting today at noon, this year's Magic Contest will begin."
It was a place where new theories and items developed over the past year could be shown; it was a paradise for magicians. The Magic Contest was an annual event held in the magic kingdom of Meltor.
While the contest was held, the checkpoints of the city would loosen and residents from other areas wouldn't hesitate to come here. This meant it would be a great event, but it was also a chance for spies from other countries to enter.
"Red Tower Master Veronica."
"Yes, Your Majesty," Veronica responded to the call. The red robe with a golden crest, the symbol of a tower master, fluttered because of her magic power even though there was no wind blowing inside the room.
"As always, the Red Tower is in charge of the capital's security. Thoroughly manage and punish any disturbances that occur in the city."
"As Your Majesty commands."
Kurt nodded and opened his mouth again, "White Tower Master Orta."
"Yes, Your Majesty." The one who stepped forward this time was the White Tower Master Orta, in his white robes and white mask. Orta waited politely for his instructions.
"What happened to the reconstruction of the previous surveillance network?"
"We consumed five times more manpower and materials, and managed to expand the sphere of influence to all of Mana-vil. The consumption of mana stones is great, but there shouldn't be any problems until after the Magic Contest ends."
"Good. Don't neglect to be my eyes and ears."
As mentioned earlier, the Magic Contest was an important annual event for Meltor and a good way to hide spies from other countries. In order to break through Mana-vil's surveillance system, Andras' Shadow Knights were dispatched, but it was human folly to fail many times.
According to one legend, the number of secret agents who died at Orta's hands had already exceeded three digits. This year, the song of the unlucky spies would continue.
"Blue Tower Master, what is the weather like today?"
"It will continue to be clear, Your Majesty. The clouds will thicken three days later, but there is no chance of rain."
"Are there any complaints about the water supply or anything else?"
"Either way, there is no problem."
The conversation with the king was quick and concise. The reason for this was that Kurt III placed more focus on efficiency rather than formalities. Kurt never talked to one person for too long. He didn't speak longer than one minute, and the shortest time was 10 seconds. It was enough to confirm the instructions.
Therefore, Theodore's turn was quick to arrive.
"Yes, Your Majesty." Theodore stepped forward and raised a hand to the chest of the unfamiliar uniform.
This was Quattro's first mission since the formation of the magic division, so William's and Sylvia's eyes shook lightly from behind Theodore. Only Para could be found showing no interest if someone watched her closely.
"I will place a slightly heavy burden on you and Quattro."
"Please tell me."
After hearing that it would be a heavy burden, they became slightly worried. Theodore could feel the two people behind him trembling as he listened to the king's voice.
"Quattro, please listen to me."
"Yes, Your Majesty!" The remaining three people stepped forward and replied.
"You are to meet Elvenheim's delegation, who will arrive at noon today, and bring them to the palace. They are VIP guests of Meltor, so ensure that there are few disruptions when guiding them."
'Welcoming the Elvenheim delegation!'
Two people were confused at the unexpected command, one person didn't care, and another person was convinced by it. Understandably, the convinced person was Theodore. If he went to Elvenheim, he could meet directly with the senior elves and high elves, so he was the right person for this mission.
This was why Theodore raised his voice without any hesitation.
"On behalf of Quattro, we will do as Your Majesty commands!"
* * *
The four members of the magic division, Quattro, left the audience hall after receiving the order from Kurt. It was already almost noon, and they needed to prepare before meeting Elvenheim's delegation.
"It was at the north gate?"
"Yes," Sylvia answered instantly.
As they walked out of the palace toward the north gate, William didn't seem to like the muted atmosphere and approached Theodore.
"Excuse me, Captain," William said.
"Have you and the princess been to Elvenheim once before?"
"Yes, we stayed for around two weeks."
A few days after arriving, Theodore had gotten embroiled in a battle against a legendary grimoire. Thinking about the awful burning pain from that time was enough to still make Theo shudder. While Theodore was engrossed in his bad memories, William didn't stop talking.
In retrospect, the next White Tower Master would've been a good candidate for the Elvenheim mission. However, he wasn't present.
Indeed, William complained while scratching his head, "Ah, I'm so envious! I wanted to go, but I was already on a mission. At that time, I really moved my feet to try and get there, but it was already solved."
"Was there some reason why you wanted to go?"
"...Captain probably doesn't know since you are popular, but all men dream of seeing elves once! Stupid normies!"
"N-Normies?" Was it a new magic term? Theodore was confused by the word which didn't make sense, when his robe was suddenly pulled. "Sylvia?"
"Don't worry too much. That guy is a little weird," Sylvia told Theodore.
William would've been hurt if he heard it, but he was busy imagining a beautiful elf. Turning away from William, who was laughing heavily, and Para, who was silent, Theodore and Sylvia started talking.
"Theo, who do you think will come?"
"Let's see..." Theodore thought for a moment before offering a plausible answer. "It is pretty important, so I think a guardian will come."
"Oh, the one who keeps calling Theo, 'Benefactor'?"
"Or maybe Ellaim might come. It might be a person we don't know, but it would be easier to send someone familiar. Maybe Sir Edwin will come?"
William suddenly interrupted the conversation, like he was interested in their words. "Guardian? What is that?"
"It is an expression referring to an elven warrior. The two we saw were both master level elementalists."
"Oh, that is awesome! Is there any chance a high elf will come?"
Theodore frowned in response to William's question. It wasn't because he felt uncomfortable, but because it was an unexpected possibility, albeit not impossible. However, the possibility wasn't high, so Theodore didn't hesitate to shake his head.
"They can come, but it is almost unheard of. High elves are the center and pillars of Elvenheim. They wouldn't appear just to announce an alliance."
"Is that so? I was looking forward to it..." William sighed with dissatisfaction but accepted Theodore's words.
Then around 30 minutes passed by. The four magicians exchanged words and eventually arrived at their destination.
The north gate of Mana-vil was an inconvenient area for guests to enter through, so the number of guards was low. However, common sense was broken today as there were a huge number of guards.
"Stop! Please stop and identify yourselves."
As the four people approached, a man dressed in armor stopped them politely. The strap hanging from the shoulder indicated he was the leader of the northern guards.
"I'm Theodore Miller, the captain of the magic division, Quattro."
"Ah! It is an honor to meet our country's hero!" The chief of the guards looked at him with a fierce joy and saluted.
In the meantime, Theodore's name value had gone up beyond his imagination. Theodore returned the guard captain's salute. "Did you receive the command?"
"Yes! I was ordered to follow the directions of Quattro and to help you with your mission."
"Then I'll ask for your cooperation, Captain."
"Of course! Whatever you say!"
Thanks to the enthusiastic guard captain and his subordinates, Theodore was able to arrange the area much quicker than expected.
The roadside stalls were put away, arranged for people to stay away from this street. It was impossible for the measures they were putting up to escape the public's eyes, but then it was Quattro's turn to act.
Para, who hadn't spoken a word the whole time, gave a command, "Build."
She took out a staff from somewhere and pounded it on the ground. However, the following phenomenon was really different.
The air vibrated. Then the ground sprang up suddenly and turned into a greyish white wall, creating a border around the northern gate. It wasn't simply a clump of soil. The hard materials in the soil were picked out and rebuilt to the desired shape and strength. It was alchemy at a much higher level, so the magicians were forced to feel admiration.
"Ohh...! That's great, Yellow Tower Kid! You are still a little young, but this is no wonder why you are the candidate for the tower master!"
For the alchemist's grimoire, Paragranum, this level of alchemy wasn't difficult at all. Para ignored William, turning away from his loud voice. She might be cooperating with Theodore, but she had no interest in the Magic Contest or Elvenheim.
However, at that moment...
"Hey, why are you ignoring me... Eh? What is this?" William was grumbling at Paragranum's blatant disregard when he suddenly asked a question.
"Hmm?" He asked as if he was talking to someone, then turned to Theodore and said, "Captain, they are almost here."
"Oh, did the White Tower contact you?"
"Yes. It is a sound like an arrow, but you won't be able to hear it if you don't know how to listen. I'll tell you how at a later time, so let's talk about the message first." William spoke like he didn't know himself. "Is there no need to open the gates?"
"Huh? What are you saying?"
"I don't know. Is there another entrance besides the gate?"
"That's impossible. Besides, tha-" Theodore firmly shook his head when he stopped as he felt a sense of discomfort.
A few days ago, something about the walls had changed. Theo didn't know what had changed, but his senses warned him that something had. He looked around at the wall and gate, and soon realized the reason.
'The sky barrier... It's turned off?"
In the present era, there were several sword masters who jumped tens of meters in one step, as well as magicians who knew how to use flying magic. Before them, the walls were nothing more than worthless structures.
Thus, the walls of the large cities in Meltor, including Mana-vil, were equipped with ambush magic to deal with enemy infiltration. However, the magic tricks on Mana-vil's wall were currently turned off. No, strangely enough, it was only the magic near the north gate which was broken.
"Perhaps..." Theodore recognized the meaning and opened his mouth.
His blue eyes looked up at the sky. He realized that something was approaching in the sky filled with thick clouds, then the sun revealed its appearance.
It didn't take long for the members of the division to recognize their captain's abnormal behavior, and they looked in the same direction. Theodore was unable to see the details even while using Hawkeye, but the homunculus' eyesight exceeded that of humans and she grasped 'it.'
"Eh, a lotus?" As Para mumbled, the object expanded. No, it didn't expand but came closer. It blinked a few times and crossed a few kilometers every time. The faces of those who saw the unrealistic scene were staring blankly like fools.
Like Paragranum said, it was a lotus. It was large enough to be compared to a house, and the bud which hadn't bloomed yet flew through the sky.
"I-I-It is descending?"
"Yes, it is descending."
Theodore responded to the stuttering William as he waited for the large lotus flower to come down. Despite its size, the lotus landed quietly like it had no weight at all. There was no sound either.
No one opened their mouths. No one could speak. Everyone, including Quattro, watched silently as the large petals slowly opened up.
Finally, the lotus bloomed. Then an elf emerged amidst the petals. He found Theodore in the front and cried out, "It has been a long time, Benefactor!"
It was as Theo had half-expected. He smiled and exchanged greetings with Edwin, "Yes, it is nice to see you, Sir Edwin."
This was a shocking sight, but he calmed down after seeing a familiar face. Yes, the first person he saw was Edwin.
"Um, I've heard a lot of stories, Theodore." Ellaim, the guardian of the Great Forest who had struggled against the 2nd stage Laevateinn, appeared behind Edwin.
"...Sir Ellaim?" Theodore greeted Ellaim with a stunned expression.
There were two guardians? It was a sign that Elvenheim considered the alliance important, but this was still too much. Theodore looked at them and said, "Uhh, I didn't know that two guardians would come."
However, the two guardians looked at each other before Edwin shrugged and replied, "I'm sorry, but the two of us are just escorts."
"Huh?" For a moment, Theodore's mind blanked.
There was only one type of person who would need to be escorted by two guardians: the managers of the world tree, the Arv's descendant. They were the ones who could summon the elemental rulers in the Great Forest.
It was the high elves. They were the blessings of life which caused buds to bloom on dead land, as well as produce fruits from withered crops.
"...My greeting is late." A loud voice rang out from among the petals, and the surrounding people all paid attention to it.
Just like quenching a dry throat with cool water, the refreshing voice moistened their ears. Then the owner of the voice walked out from the petals.
She had light green hair which appeared akin to fresh vegetation. Her unfocused eyes gave her a mysterious atmosphere, while her white outfit revealed her simple yet feminine curves. Slender arms were revealed, as well as a curve to her chest which hadn't been there before and a softly curved waist which hadn't been seen before.
"How have you been?" Her gentle smile was like warm sunshine.
Theodore could barely speak her name, "...Ellenoa?"
"Yes, Theodore," Ellenoa, who had become a full-fledged woman, smiled beautifully as she happily spoke his name.