Chapter 230 - Elsid's Gifts (2)
It was that night.
Meltor's commanders, who had been resting in their rooms, were escorted somewhere by knights. The destination didn't seem to be a public place like the hall where executions took place. Every time they took a step, the shadows lengthened and their guess was proven correct.
Theodore, Orta, Vince, and Bors took their own paths and soon arrived at the same place.
"I'm sorry for making you come so late at night." Sure enough, the haggard looking Elsid was waiting for them in a secret room.
That wasn't all. From Marquis Piris to Baek Jongmyung who had become the marquis of Atron, all of the king's closest associates were present. These were the people who would lead the next generation of the Soldun Kingdom. It was too big a group for empty flattery or gifts.
'If so, is there another reason?' Theodore's brow furrowed as he grasped the meaning. If all the leaders were gathered together, this meant it was for more than simply saying 'thanks' to Meltor.
The conditions were normal, so it wasn't easy to think of an answer. In such a case, it meant there weren't enough clues to come to a conclusion yet, or that the hand prepared by the other party was unprecedented.
What did Elsid call them to talk about exactly?
Four pairs of eyes turned to Elsid, and he raised his right hand like he had been waiting for this moment. Then one of the knights standing behind him disappeared into a secret passage. Then Elsid's firmly closed mouth opened, "The full story will begin after 'that' is brought out... but I will say a few words before that."
The young man, who had become king, looked around with dignified eyes, and spoke with a much more solemn face than before. "First of all, I would like to express my deep appreciation for Meltor's help. You have your own interests, but that doesn't change the fact that you helped us. As long as this body of mine is on the throne, think of us as solid allies."
"Thank you for Your Majesty's words."
"But I am well aware of how meaningless words are when it comes to international relations. So, I prepared my own sincerity."
The moment that Orta was about to reply...
"Your Majesty, here is the sinner." The knight who had disappeared into the secret passage a short while ago returned pulling a large chain. The clanging sound of the metal echoed in the confined space, but nobody complained about the noise. It was because the subject was more important than the chains.
Vince and Viscount Carter cried out first.
It was the sword of the Lairon Kingdom, Crusader Ruben.
The paladin who had been captured on the Babarino Plains now appeared before them. Both of his legs had been cut off and left untreated, while the thick chains wrapped around his arms and chest looked like they could be used with an anchor for a sailboat. Something had been placed in his mouth to prevent him from recovering his divine power. It was made of ogre tendons which even a killer whale would find hard to chew.
Elsid looked down at him with cold eyes and ordered, "Release only his mouth."
"Yes, Your Majesty." With an iron gauntlet, the knight pulled out the string, which was made of tendons, from Ruben's mouth. In the process, some parts of Ruben's lips were torn, but nobody rebuked the knight.
Blood dripped from his mouth. Ruben rubbed his mouth and spoke for the first time in almost a fortnight, "Cough! C-Cough! D-Damn, cough!"
His saliva was dry and his lips were torn. Even so, the wounds were already beginning to heal. Ruben looked at the representatives of Soldun and Meltor, and spoke with a distorted expression, "You are worse than dogs! Do you know that? How long can you keep me as a prisoner? I, Ruben, will never forget today's humiliation!"
The quietly listening Orta suddenly looked at Elsid and said, "Your Majesty."
"I will allow it."
'Allow it...?' While the crowd looked confused, Orta kicked Ruben's chin. The sound of his jaw breaking rang out.
Of course, those bones would recover soon, but Ruben stopped speaking. It was because Orta's violence had come without any notice, and Ruben feared Orta's ability to push him one-sidedly. Above all, there was killing intent coming from behind the white mask. Orta's eerie aura was a serious threat.
Elsid raised his hand again to stop Orta and said, "Crusader Ruben."
"...What is it?" Ruben was like a mad dog who had become well-behaved after being punished. The eyes of the Soldun officials twitched, but they didn't do anything.
Elsid simply smiled and looked down at Ruben placed below him.
"Did you hear His Holiness speak? I heard that the crusaders of the Lairon Sacred Order can hear his words at any time."
"Hah, his eyes and ears aren't far away." Ruben laughed and color filled his cheeks when he heard the words 'His Holiness.' "He said he would be benevolent. If you release me now, as well as cut off that barbarian's limbs and send them to Lairon, he will acknowledge your crown."
"Yes. Give up on the delusion of communicating with the land of barbarians and be baptized by Lairon. Then Lairon and Soldun will be able to get along peacefully."
Ruben was far too arrogant for a prisoner, but the Lairon Kingdom was difficult. It wouldn't end here if Elsid killed the crusader.
Unlike normal masters, the Sacred Order was able to cover the vacancy of a crusader after a certain amount of time. The true power of the soldiers, berserkers, and paladins in the Sacred Order had never been revealed. Ruben was acting like this because he knew that Soldun couldn't afford another war after their civil war.
"Get along peacefully..." Elsid murmured with a sneer.
They would become a tributary and have to make 'donations.' Just the name 'Lairon' made him sick. These disgusting donations were to be packaged as 'peace?' Thanks to Ruben, Elsid was able to make a decision without hesitation. "Sir Orta."
"This is the present that I-no, the Soldun Kingdom has prepared for you," Elsid spoke firmly as he raised his left hand.
Simultaneously, there was a flash inside the room.
Puok! To be precise, a blade pierced the back of a person's head. Ruben didn't understand it even at the last minute when he collapsed onto the ground. His brain, where his divine power had been stored, was now destroyed. The brain was the place where the soul dwelled, so even an immortal being would be seriously hurt. Undoubtedly, a half crusader wouldn't be able to endure it.
At Orta's questioning look, Elsid shrugged and added, "I didn't say it in advance, but all prisoners have been executed. With this, we are completely Lairon's enemies."
"...What does that mean?"
"As a religious country that doesn't acknowledge magic and sticks to Andras, the Lairon Kingdom can't coexist with you. Of course, we are weaker than Lairon, but Soldun would like to form an alliance with Meltor."
Orta's mind moved quickly. It was natural for Lairon to join Andras, and Meltor needed as much power as possible. They had an alliance with Elvenheim thanks to Theodore, and they were also in negotiations with Austen. Soldun's land warfare was slightly lacking, but the fleet of a coastal kingdom couldn't be neglected.
"I will speak to My Liege positively about this."
"Sigh, thank you. I have barely managed to stop myself from stepping over the cliff."
It wasn't an exaggeration. If Orta refused this offer, Soldun had no place left on the Central Continent. They were Lairon's enemy and their national power was weakened due to the civil war.
However, what if Soldun joined hands with another kingdom? In just a few days, Orta's actions of taking down 11 estates had already spread through the central region. No nation would preemptively strike with his name attached to the Soldun Kingdom.
Then Elsid turned his gaze toward Theodore. "Sir Theodore."
"Yes, Your Majesty."
"It was through chance that I fortunately made a connection with you. It is clear that if it wasn't for the connection with Lord Baek and his son, Meltor's support wouldn't have made it in time. Your impression of me at the first meeting probably wasn't very good, but I am really grateful that you answered my call."
"I am undeserving of those words."
Elsid grinned and gestured to the knight behind him again, who then brought out a pole wrapped in cloth. The pole was like a spear or a cane, and it was hard to know its purpose.
'If I look at it with X-ray Vision... eh? It isn't working?'
Theodore's eyes shook after using Hawkeye, which was a power he had obtained from absorbing an artefact. However, it had evolved to become several times more powerful than it had been originally. Moreover, this vision magic was supplemented by his seven circles and the two divinities.
Yet Elsid didn't give any explanation about the item as he unwrapped the cloth.
"Ah..." A strange expression appeared on Theodore's face as he saw it.
It was because the blue presence coming from the stick, which was less than 2 meters long, made his skin tingle. Be it a blessing or a curse, an unbelievable amount of power was contained in that rod.
"This is an artefact handed down through the Soldun royal family. It's called the 'King's Flagpole.'"
It was said that a king had crossed the ocean and set up a kingdom in a corner of the Central Continent. The name of the 'Wave King' was Okeanos.
Some speculated that he was from the East, while others worshipped him as a divine human who had fallen from the heavens. The works he had done during his life were so wonderful that it was hard to think of him as an ordinary human.
Be it protecting the country by controlling the rough ocean currents in nearby waters, mitigating the flood damage which occurred several times a year, or sending away a malicious sea dragon...
The king of that kingdom had evidently been a sword master or great magician, a mysterious hero whose stories were still being passed down. Furthermore, according to Elsid, this was the first flagpole that the Wave King had used to hang his flag.
Theodore wanted to have it, but he asked before that, "Is it okay to give me such a historic object?"
"Well, normally it is forbidden." Elsid smiled and pointed at the flagpole. "But the Wave King said that someday a qualified person would come to get this. The proof is that it is shining blue right now. As soon as I thought about you, it started emitting this light."
"Everyone has agreed. Anyway, this was just used as a decoration, so it is several times more useful to give it to our benefactor."
Theodore couldn't refuse. So, he politely extended both his hands and accepted the King's Flagpole. A cool power seeped into his palms. Unlike Aquilo's blood, this felt cool and refreshing like the waves of the sea.
He instinctively used it as always, but suddenly-
[Please note! The divine artefact is damaged!]
[You can only see some of the information with Appraisal. It might be further damaged if you try to obtain more information.]
[+28 ――――'s ――dent (Divine Artefact)]
The god of the sea, ――――'s is his treasure. All ――beings stabbed by it, a person stuck by this ― will become extremely vulnerable. ――'s divinity, and it won't exercise its power unless the person possesses a corresponding divinity. ――――――
* The rating of this magic tool is '――.'
* It can't be viewed.
* It can't be viewed.
* It can't be viewed.]
This was the first time he had seen an information window like this.
'W-What?' Theodore's eyes widened with confusion, causing Gluttony to react to his emotions and wake up. What happened to make the User stir Gluttony awake? Gluttony yawned a few times before looking out.
'Ah, what a surprise!'
Theodore was scared by Gluttony's shout and rebuked it, but it didn't listen. Gluttony was gazing at the King's Flagpole with a strange expression. Theodore noticed its gaze and asked, 'What? Do you know that rod?'
-Of course, Gluttony spoke heavily. -The god who ruled the oceans, ――――'s trident. Damn, I can't say the name. Am I still bound by causality?
'Wait a minute, that is a trident?'
-That's right. I don't know where the ends are, but this was originally a trident. It was a treasure that could cause tidal waves just be stabbing once.
Then Gluttony noticed something while explaining to Theodore.
There was the contract with Dmitra, who became an ancient elemental, as well as Aiolos' Pocket which had been removed from the Library. Now, Theodore was handed a divine treasure by a descendant who didn't know its value.
There was only one step left until the four world outlook was complete. If the last remaining fire divinity in this age came into Theodore's hands, he would no longer be a mortal.
Gluttony felt agony and anxiety because it couldn't rejoice over this fact, but those emotions soon faded. No matter what was involved, Gluttony's role was to guide the breakthrough. Only one question remained.
-What is your intention, Prometheus?
It was a monologue that no one could understand the meaning of yet.