Chapter 187 - Quickening of the Northern Continent (4)
He might be mistaken, but at that moment, Theodore heard his own heart falling. Ellenoa's eyes flashed with affection as she confessed to him. No matter how insensitive he was, he simply couldn't not understand this situation.
His heart was pounding so hard it felt like it would pop out of his ribs.
Theodore forgot to breathe as he looked at her.
It would be a lie if he said that he hadn't expected it. In retrospect, there were many reasons why Ellenoa would like him.
He hadn't stepped back when fighting against one of the Seven Sins, 'Pride.' She'd been able to tell how scary it was, despite having no experience with combat. Ellenoa wouldn't have spoken a word of resentment if he had abandoned her on the spot.
However, Theodore had fought against that nightmare-like monster.
Ellenoa hadn't seen all of it. As soon as the battle began, she'd been blown away to a safe place by Theodore's magic and only joined the scene later with Veronica. When Ellenoa saw the fight in the vacant lot, she had felt more desperate than ever before.
Theodore's scarred back had been revealed between his torn clothes. He had gritted his teeth and endured the terrible pain. The one soaked in his own blood, her hero...
Theodore had been far from being the winner, and he'd frowned with a serious expression.
The boy who had been injured and covered in blood...
Why? As she held onto the bloody body, Ellenoa had thought he was lovely. He'd jumped into a fight which couldn't be won, just to protect her.
[From that day onwards...]
It had continued since then.
[I have been longing for you.]
Theodore heard Ellenoa's sincere voice. However, it wasn't a sound spoke aloud. She spoke through the connection which had formed between them during Mitra's awakening in the past. This was a type of telepathy. It showed Ellenoa's strong heart and soul.
'...Honestly, I'm glad.' Theodore accepted it honestly. He was glad about her confession.
The fact that someone like Ellenoa loved him, regardless of his surname. She was so cute that he wanted to pull her into his arms. Wouldn't it be good if it was her? Apart from the story of their nations' interests, what would it be like if he lived together with Ellenoa?
"I..." The moment that Theodore was about to impulsively reply...
Shh. Ellenoa shook her head slightly while placing a finger to her lips.
[Please don't be in a hurry.]
Her clear eyes had already noticed the worries inside Theodore. She saw the responsibility and burdens he carried, and even his affection for her.
As she inwardly rejoiced over this fact, Ellenoa spoke in a calm voice, [It was my own choice to become a woman. I don't want Theodore to feel burdened or responsible. If you want to be with me just because of those feelings, I will refuse from my side.]
Those were words which he couldn't decisively deny. Theodore closed his mouth while Ellenoa smiled gently.
[One day, if you have decided to accept me, please tell me in a place where we are alone. I don't want to decide my marriage in a place like this.]
"Ah." Theodore swallowed hard as he remembered the presence of the crowd.
They were engrossed in Ellenoa's appearance, but it wouldn't be strange if they protested how long this exchange was lasting. Theo didn't know why, but Kurt III was watching them with strange eyes and didn't show any signs of urging them on. Thus, Theodore walked out a few beats later than Ellenoa. This wasn't the time to share personal stories.
So, Theodore calmed his heart as he gazed at Ellenoa shining under the lights. Despite her words about responsibilities or burdens, he couldn't help unconsciously sketching out his life with her in his mind.
* * *
On the other hand, a beauty leaned against a table and muttered a complaint while holding her cup, "Ah, this is hard. It is bigger than I thou-"
It was Red Tower Master Veronica. Due to her notoriety in the North and Central areas of the continent, there wasn't a single person at her table. It wouldn't be beneficial if they said the wrong thing to her and suffered massive damage.
That said, there was one other person present at her table today. With silver hair and blue robes, it was Sylvia who had the nickname of Princess of the Blue Tower. Sylvia didn't understand Veronica's words and asked, "What do you mean?"
"You don't understand? It means we have both fallen behind," Veronica replied casually as she filled her cup again.
However, the question in Sylvia's eyes didn't disappear, so Veronica explained with a grumble, "Do you know about the gender of high elves?"
"Yes, it depends on their decision."
"No, it isn't that simple. The pureblood Arv can change their gender at will, but the high elves are different. A decision on their gender is a promise of a lifetime. It is worse because she changed before hearing the other person's answer." Feeling irritated, Veronica stopped speaking and drank from the glass.
The high elves were just fragments of the Arv.
Due to that reason, unlike the Arv who could switch their gender as desired, the high elves were unable to change once they decided on their gender. In other words, after deciding to be female, they couldn't return to a neutral or decide on a male form if the other person didn't accept their hearts.
Most people would sympathize, but not Veronica.
"She is cunning." Veronica put down her empty cup. "As you know, the kid is someone with a heavy sense of responsibility. He won't back down or give up, even if it is difficult. Someone suffering because of him, he won't forget it. Isn't that right?"
"Well, that is his charm, but... will the kid be able to easily refuse the high elf's courtship?"
'No.' Cold air flowed from Sylvia's body as she thought of this answer. It was only for a moment, but it pushed away Veronica's warm heat around the table.
Sylvia was someone with one of the best innate talents in the world, as well as a genius scheduled to become the next tower master. If Veronica hadn't been here, the bottles at the surrounding tables would've frozen over. The two remained silent as they watched Theodore and Ellenoa for a while.
It was Sylvia who broke the unpleasant silence first. "Then Tower Master, will you step back?"
"No way." Veronica's eyes sparkled at the provocative remark. "I can't do anything today, but I am going to move strategically. This is a saying. If you want to hold onto something for a long time, you should obtain support?"
"It seems like we have the same idea."
The gazes of the two beauties moved from the podium toward Dennis Miller, who was applauding his son's splendid appearance. Since Kurt III had assigned Theodore as Ellenoa's personal partner, there was nothing the two beauties could do. They thought hard and got up from their seats.
As they walked in the same direction, Sylvia whispered, "Will this really help? It looks pretty difficult."
"Huh?" Veronica turned her head and looked at the crowd in the center. The crowd was swarming Ellenoa and Theodore. Veronica's eyebrows twitched as she saw it, but then shrugged her shoulders. "It isn't to the extent that will give us trouble. Isn't that right?"
"...I don't agree. This alone might not help."
"Kik, okay. Let me ask you something? Then what now?"
Fire and ice, the two contrasting colors and atmospheres walked shoulder-to-shoulder. The crowd parted as the two beauties headed toward the table where the Miller family were seated.
Meltor Palace's banquet had just begun.
* * *
At that time, Mana-vil's checkpoints were in full swing because of the crowds of people. Despite the reduced number of shifts, the fatigue continued to accumulate. However, the guards kept their eyes open with the physical strength they had trained from day one.
One of the guards questioned a visitor, "Did you come from Austen?"
"What is your objective in Mana-vil?"
"The drought is getting worse these days... I came to look for water artifacts."
"Ah, it is like that."
The great drought of Austen was a known disaster in the north. The nightmare of the whole kingdom drying up was called the anger of the desert god. In fact, when the guard saw that the visitor's skin was dried up in different areas, he pitied the visitor.
"If you look at the stores in the east, you might find what you are looking for. The artifact stores in the center are expensive, and they don't sell daily necessities."
"Ohh...! I really appreciate it."
"It isn't a big deal. Then you can pass."
The visitor from Austen thanked the guard and entered the capital with a wobbly gait. The guard watched his back view, but fortunately, the visitor didn't fall. Briefly, the guard mourned for the Austen people suffering from the drought, then he forgot about the Austen visitor.
There were too many things for one person to remember. However, the visitor was a little unusual. He walked through Mava-vil's front entrance, headed into an alley, and stripped off his loose robes.
"...This place should be fine. I will turn off the ability," a voice spoke.
Then three more people appeared around the visitors. No, they were originally there. The visitor's ability simply hid their existence. It was Aura Ability, a miracle which even surpassed magic in certain areas. Being able to use it meant that one of the visitors was a sword master.
"Fortunately, we managed to enter. The famous checkpoints of Mana-vil are nothing before Captain's ability."
"No, that isn't it." The sword master called 'Captain' shook his head.
"We didn't go unnoticed because of that. If it hadn't been for the Magic Contest, it would've been a lot harder. This is truly the kingdom that can compete with the Andras Empire."
The sword master was a master of illusion, but he recalled that awful feeling he'd felt when he passed into Mana-vil. There was a scary magic which filled the air, as well as runes written on the walls and gates.
The method of deceiving the checkpoint without using any trickery was effective. If he'd tried to cross the walls, he would certainly have become a victim. As the atmosphere became tense, someone opened their mouth, "T-Then how will we move from now on? If we move around the city, we might be discovered."
"Find the high elf."
At the captain's decisive answer, his subordinate murmured, "Really?"
"We definitely snuck into Mana-vil and did some bad things before, but we just have to beg for mercy before negotiating with Meltor."
"Captain, begging is a little..."
"No, we have to beg," Captain Mujak, one of the prides of Austen, declared in a firm voice. That's right. The four of them had come to the capital of Meltor to beg for help. Of course, they didn't want to, but it was necessary.
"Negotiating with Meltor is the secondary story. As long as we can receive the high elf's help, I am willing to feed my pride to a dog."
"We will confess our sins and beg for mercy on this urgent matter. If you have any pride, leave it here! You are Janissaries who devote your lives to the kingdom and the Sultan!"
The eyes of the Janissaries shook at their Captain's loud voice. They were a little confused, but the patriotism and loyalty engraved deeply into their hearts overcame this confusion. The three Janissaries nodded and replied, ""For the desert sun!""
"Good! For our kingdom, let's go!"
Soon after, four uninvited people emerged from the back alley and mixed in with the crowds of Mana-vil. Regardless of whether or not they could achieve their goal, that was something only time could tell.