Chapter 214 - The Swirl of a Civil War (1)
After leaving Ribenda, the voyage of the expedition was very smooth. Thanks to Theodore, the fleet slid through the sea using the momentum of the wind. The waves which should have caught the hull were pushed back, and the wind greatly inflated the sails.
Furthermore, the 'Sea Dragon's Blessing' changed the direction of the wind and waves. The manifestation of this imperfect power was because the user was Theodore.
[Sea Dragon's Blessing]
[The power which comes from the blood of Aquilo, the sea dragon who dominates the sea, is given to the owner. As a sea dragon dominates the sea, a person with the Sea Dragon's Blessing won't die on the sea due to natural causes. If the power increases, you can even breathe in water.
* Your ship will be given additional acceleration.
* You can transcend the environmental disadvantages of the sea.
* The wind and wave directions applied to you will always be favorable.
* You are still unfamiliar with using this power. You can't increase or decrease the wind and wave power.]
Theodore stood at the prow of the ship and looked at the information window again. He remembered the words he'd heard while learning from Aquilo.
'If I accept more of Aquilo's blood or continue to use it, this power will grow...?'
The former required a corresponding price, while the latter couldn't be done in the short-term. However, he felt like he was becoming more familiar with manipulating the currents. Unlike at the beginning when he hadn't been able to concentrate on anything else, he now had room to think.
Theodore stood on the deck and watched the rough currents. After a long period of concentration, it felt like his whole body was exhausted. He might have fainted if he hadn't trained his mental power.
"Sir Theodore." At that moment, a man approached Theodore, who had barely calmed his wobbly body. The person wore a luxurious cloak, had several artifacts, and wore light armor mixed with mithril. It was practical yet stylish.
Theodore immediately noticed the identity of the person and greeted, "How are you doing, Viscount Carter?"
It was Bors Carter, the veteran magician who was the commander of the magic troops in this expedition. He was famous for his 'red flame.'
Carter responded to Theodore's question with a confused expression, "Please speak more informally. We have left home and are heading to the battlefield, so we must thoroughly keep the hierarchy."
"...I will accept your advice, Viscount."
It was as Carter said. Theodore was an honorary marquis, so his status was higher than that of Viscount Bors. Additionally, Theodore was the commander of a unit and had the same authority as the White Tower Master.
'I never dreamed it would turn out like this.'
Aside from what was right and wrong, it felt strange as Theodore was younger and more immature. Carter was a prominent nobleman and veteran who had experienced war in the past, so Theodore must seem like an upstart.
Yet Carter's attitude was politer than expected, so Theodore asked with a puzzled expression, "Apart from the advice, I will ask you once again... Why has the Viscount come to find me?"
"It is nothing big. We will be having a life and death experience together soon, so I thought we could become more familiar with each other."
However, Theodore couldn't accept the remark and looked at Carter. It was because Carter seemed like he had something else to say to Theodore. The two men looked at each other silently for a moment.
However, the silence didn't last long. Carter gazed into Theodore's eyes before letting out a heavy sigh, "Hoo, I understand. I came here to apologize for my rude actions toward Lord Theodore."
"Viscount's rude actions?"
"The incident that happened during the academy."
'The academy.' Theodore hadn't been able to understand what Carter was saying until he heard those words.
In the first battle magic class, Carter had fought with Theodore and tried to keep his pride by using an artifact. That naughty person was Viscount Carter's son. Theodore understood the meaning of Viscount Carter's apology and glanced up.
The viscount didn't know how to interpret Theodore's expression and continued speaking, "My child almost caused a disaster. I will be sure to pay you back according to the Carter family's honor once this expedition ends."
Bors was serious. There was no flickering in Bors' deep eyes, so Theodore didn't doubt the authenticity of his words. Unlike many nobles, Bors wasn't arrogant. So, Theodore was impressed with the excellence of Commander Bors. Bors wanted to eliminate any discord before the full-scale civil war began. His apology was good so Theodore acted accordingly.
"No, I have already forgotten about it. Do we need to make a fuss about the past when we have such great responsibilities toward the country?"
The viscount looked at him with admiration for a while before bowing politely. The younger the age, the more gripped with emotions a person was. However, Theodore's answer was perfect. He'd read Bors' intentions and accepted them in an instant.
"Then thank you, Lord Theodore!"
"Yes, please take care."
The two men shook hands on the deck. It was a strong handshake which shed all the nasty things of the past.
* * *
A fortnight after the expedition departed from Meltor, they reached Piris, a port city in the Soldun Kingdom.
If the sailors at the port had heard that, they would've doubted their ears. Generally, even with the wind blowing in the right direction, it would take 20 days to travel between Ribenda and Piris. There was no need to mention about what would happen if the conditions were adverse.
At this point, Meltor was ahead of any other country.
'I haven't seen this scenery in a long time.'
He couldn't help noticing the lights of the city of Piris shimmering in the darkness. Theodore admired the night view with a sense of nostalgia, then he turned reflexively as he felt magic in the area.
A white robe fluttered in the aftermath of the space movement.
"White Tower Master."
"Umm," Orta suddenly appeared and spoke in a low voice, "We've arrived five days earlier than expected. The sooner the better, but the prince's side might not be ready."
"Yes, that is true."
They had arrived at a speed so fast it went beyond common sense. Prince Elsid and Marquis Piris couldn't be expecting them yet. So, it was possible that even if they sent a signal, the response might be delayed or there might not even be one.
However, since it was impossible to wait in this ambiguous place, Theodore prepared the signal which had been written in the letter. It was a magic light which couldn't be seen without special magic tools.
Covert Glow, the magic for the signal, was used. The light leaving Theodore's fingertip caused a faint explosion in the air, but no noise or light accompanied it. However, anyone who looked in this direction using a magic tool would be able to witness the enormous surge of light.
"Wait for a while. If a response doesn't come back, I will go and meet with Marquis Piris."
"That would be best."
The two men discussed the future as they waited for a reply.
After waiting 30 minutes, there was no reaction from the direction of Piris. Had they arrived too early? This might reveal the existence of the expedition. Theodore sighed and raised his magic power. He was going to see Marquis Piris himself.
Then at that moment, a sound tickled his ears. It wasn't just him. The White Tower Master heard it as well.
"Tower Master, did you hear that just now?"
"Well, I heard it."
The two people looked in the same direction, and something moved closer through the shadows. It was a small boat. The trim hull waving the flag of the Soldun Kingdom was coming through the water. The expedition had turned off all their lights, so it took some time before they could see who was on the boat.
Theodore was startled as soon as he saw the person on the boat. "Marquis Piris?"
Marquis Piris cleared his throat and greeted Theodore, "It has been a while, Sir Theodore."
Orta stepped back without intruding once Theodore had identified the person. It indicated that he would let Theodore talk to Marquis Piris. Theodore asked Marquis Piris about the thing he was curious about, "This is a little bit different from what was written in the letter. Was there a hidden password or something?"
"Kuhuhum! No, that isn't it..."
Marquis Piris' description had been very concise. The tool to send a reply would only arrive tomorrow morning.
It would've been fine even if it were delayed three days, but Meltor's fleet had arrived too quickly. So, Marquis Piris had been forced to move personally. He was accompanied by a few of his most trusted knights.
The marquis looked around carefully and whispered in a small voice, "Sir Theodore, all these people... Does this mean that Meltor is completely siding with Prince Elsid?"
"Of course. We were planning that from the beginning."
"Oh, very good! If we finish this fight successfully, I will repay you for all your help!" Marquis Piris was so delighted by Theodore's answer that his shoulders shook a few times. He was so excited that he seemed drunk. However, he didn't forget his job. Marquis Piris pointed his finger in one direction and showed the place where the expedition could hide.
"Go that way. Outside of Piris, there is a coastal cave that is invisible to the human eye. It is possible to secretly anchor the ships there."
"I understand. I will follow your words." Theodore nodded, and the soldiers pulled up the dropped anchors.
This time, there was no need to control the sea currents. As the ships got closer to their destination, Theodore questioned Marquis Piris about the situation in the Soldun Kingdom. "By the way, I'm curious about the situation. We came as soon as possible, but I've heard a lot of rumors..."
"What, you've heard it as far as Meltor?"
"Yes. There seems to be a lot of talk about Lairon."
This wasn't a lie. It wasn't a rumor among the general public, but the agents of the white tower had clearly investigated and seen that the Lairon Kingdom had shown some movements. Marquis Piris couldn't deny Theodore's words and made a serious expression.
Then he replied firmly to Theodore, "We still aren't sure about the information. Do you still want to hear it?"
"Yes, it is better to assume the worst than to not know anything."
"Then... it can't be helped," Marquis Piris said while shaking his head like he didn't want to think about it. Then he opened his mouth, "This is a recent message from a spy I attached to Duke Cornwall. He saw a man in silver full body armor and holy relics hanging from his waist."
Theodore and Orta stiffened at the same time.
"...It can't be."
He had never seen them before, but Theodore knew of the people who fit that description.
They were the strongest swords of the Lairon Kingdom, fanatics who shielded the famous cardinals. The cardinals were people who claimed to be the agent of god, and in the old days, a fragment of the divinity of 'Lairon' had been planted in their body. Then every cardinal after that had the power of the god.
"Crusader." It was a name which magicians proclaimed with disgust, as if they were chewing on shit. "In the end, the nobles have drawn in Lairon's mad dogs."