Chapter 231 - Elsid's Gifts (3)
The conversation ended with Elsid's gift. An alliance might be established, but Orta didn't have the full authority of the state. He needed to clear it with Kurt III first before more details could be discussed.
Thus, the magicians in the secret room decided to return to their quarters. Vince and Carter followed their guides, while Orta accompanied Theodore. The place where the two people were heading was a private room.
It was a room which contained the defectors, whose identities only Orta and Theodore knew. Randolph Clovis and Rebecca Clovis, the successors of Clovis who once excelled in the empire as one of the Seven Swords, were now hiding in this room after defecting from Andras.
The senses of a sword master would've noticed the approach of the Theodore and Orta a long time ago, so Theodore knocked briefly without any worries. Unsurprisingly, the door opened as soon as he raised his hand.
"Ah, you've come?" Randolph greeted him cheerfully as usual, but then he looked awkward when he saw Orta behind Theodore. Randolph's intuition sensed that Orta was strong, so he didn't let go of his vigilance from the first meeting. Theodore was aware of this, so he felt the tension constrict his neck.
Then Randolph spoke with an awkward expression, "...It looks like you didn't come to play, but would you like some tea?"
Theodore smiled wryly and shook his head.
"No, that's okay. White Tower Master?"
"I would like a drink."
Orta nodded and crossed the threshold, while Theodore followed and closed the door. Then he used magic to completely block sound from escaping the room. Spells which could deceive a sword master's senses were rare, but a magician always needed to be prepared for the worst. Of course, there was someone watching Theodore's actions obsessively.
Theodore looked forward and faced her.
"Good evening, Sir Theodore."
She had blonde hair which fell to her shoulders and green eyes that were a different color to Ellenoa's. Her white skin showed she was from a noble family, but her firmly disciplined body showed that she didn't grow up like a plant in a greenhouse. A storyteller would describe her as a 'manly beauty.'
Rebecca Clovis was truly a knight.
"...Good evening. How are you feeling?"
"I'm okay. I had no big injuries in the first place."
It was as she said. Pan Helliones hadn't inflicted any injuries on Rebecca while binding her. He hadn't wanted her to be injured while bound on a big battlefield. As such, Theodore's condition was worse than Rebecca's.
"Captain Theodore." The conversation between the two of them was interrupted by Orta.
He looked down at the black tea Randolph handed him before sighing and placing it on a corner of the table. It was an elusive taste which was hard to express.
Then Orta spoke as casually as always, "The expedition army, including me, will return home two days later in the early dawn. The war mages are Meltor's core power, so they can't stay away for too long."
"Yes, I'm aware of that."
"The magic circle preparation will be done by that time. The problem is... your body's condition is worse than I thought."
The Clovis siblings' expressions stiffened as they listened.
Simultaneously, Orta tapped his index finger on the table. "Your circles are overloaded. It is uncommon for a 7th Circle magician, but maybe it will be rewarding on the way to the next level. These symptoms will get better over time. But..."
Theodore interrupted, "I won't be able to go through the long-distance movement."
"...That's right," Orta confirmed with a heavy voice under the mask. "It is only a little bit painful now, but long-distance space travel can cause serious problems. However, we can't keep the troops in the Soldun Kingdom until you are healed."
"I understand, Tower Master."
Theodore's body was important, but the war mages were Meltor's precious lifeline. They weren't a force that could be left neglected in the Soldun Kingdom. Theodore was well aware of this and accepted it.
Orta's judgment was correct, so Theodore had one favor left to ask. "Then please look after these two people."
Apart from their relationship with Theodore, the two people were ultimately defectors who had come from an enemy country. There might be some who would doubt their intentions, or some people might use them to get closer to Theodore. However, if a famous person like White Tower Master Orta was looking after them, then it was possible to block such attempts.
"..I'll do so. Don't forget that you are ultimately responsible for guaranteeing their identity."
Orta's conversation ended there. He gulped down the rest of the tea and left the room with a simple goodbye. Perhaps that was his own consideration. No matter what they were to Theodore, Orta was still a stranger to the Clovis siblings. Therefore, the contents of the conversation would be greatly reduced.
Randolph looked at Theodore with a subtle expression. "Theo, is that person reliable?"
"Yes..." It was an unexpected question but Theodore replied quickly.
"A worthy ally?"
"...That is for certain. He is a person you should never be careless around, and it is impossible to see the bottom of him. It is reassuring if he is an ally, but I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if he were an enemy," Theodore said, smiling bitterly.
It couldn't be helped. Orta was a completely different type of person from Veronica and Blundell, who openly showed off their presences. He didn't care about right and wrong when achieving his purpose, and used whatever method was necessary to defeat his target, even if it was cowardly. In some ways, he was more of an assassin than an actual assassin. It was no wonder that Kurt put him in charge of important external missions.
Following this, Theodore, Randolph, and Rebecca talked casually. They conversed about what had happened after their separation in the Sipoto wilderness, the reunion with Rebecca, thrashing the rotten elders of their family, and so on.
As Theodore focused on their stories, he would occasionally laugh loudly or smile darkly. There was a bitter story and also a depressing story. Even so, they could laugh. The places and events were different, but they could congratulate each other on the result.
Then the conversation between the three people ended. It happened when Theodore got up from the chair and stood in front of the door.
Sururung. Rebecca abruptly pulled out her sword and approached him. Theodore didn't feel any hostility, but it was natural to be confused. However, it was nothing compared to what followed.
"I swear on the Clovis name, this body..."
Randolph knew the meaning of the phrase and his eyes widened, while Theodore remained silent because he didn't know what was going on.
Thanks to that, Rebecca's words echoed in the room, "From now on, this body will serve you like a piece of steel. I swear that this body may break and melt, but it will never bend. My heart will jump at your command, or stop at your command."
"I will serve you until the day that the sun no longer sets."
Rebecca reversed the sword she held in his hand, placed her right knee on the ground and bowed deeply.
Theodore didn't know the meaning of this gesture, but he could feel the weight behind it. It was a covenant an Andras knight used when they wanted to serve a master for the rest of their life.
"Rebecca, Clovis's daughter, sees her master."
Rebecca raised her sword with both hands, laughing with an expression that Theodore had never seen from her before.
* * *
"Hah..." Theodore sighed as he fell onto his bed.
Setting aside his physical fatigue, Rebecca's vow was very shocking. It was something that a warrior could only do once in their lives. The knight who swore this oath devoted their life and death to their master. Randolph had explained so with a heavy sigh.
-Sigh, I am asking this of you.
Randolph didn't even try to persuade her, probably because he felt the weight of her words and her stubbornness. If she intended to withdraw this oath, she wouldn't have made it in the first place.
His only sister had become the subordinate of his friend. Theodore was reliable. However, as Rebecca's brother, it was natural for Randolph to feel disturbed.
Rebecca's words still remained in Theodore's ears.
-I won't follow My Lord right now, Rebecca said. Then she laid her hands on her heart with a face filled with joy and continued, -This body of mine is not yet able to be your sword and protect you. I will come find you again on the day when I won't be a burden to you.
Rebecca said she would become a sword master for Theodore and then stubbornly bowed her head. She showed her intention to fulfill her oath, even if he refused. Theodore reluctantly accepted her sword and returned it. As a result, an unofficial relationship formed between the two.
"...Well, it can't be helped."
Fortunately, he couldn't find any feelings of affection on her face. He already had the courtship with Ellenoa, so fortunately the situation hadn't become more complicated.
Right now, Theodore's current capabilities were more important than Rebecca's actions.
'Let's think about this instead.' After all, the problem with Rebecca wouldn't have another answer even if he worried about it. 'Let's replay the fight against Pan Helliones.'
It was easier to think about magic than love relationships. His body cooled down as soon as soon as he imagined Pan Helliones' face. Pan Helliones was the owner of a destructive power which could collapse a mountain in one attack. It wasn't the first time Theodore had confronted a sword master, but it made him realize that the world was truly wide.
Additionally, it helped him to realize what he lacked.
'I fought too crudely. If I combined my techniques effectively, I wouldn't have had to gamble with Abraxas.'
It wasn't arrogance but the truth. Theodore's total powers already exceeded those of a normal master. He had the fires of Muspelheim, the blood of a sea dragon the divinity of the wind, and the divinity of Mother Earth. There were also the dimensional abilities of Umbra and his Forced Harmonization. For him who was nearing an 'almighty' state, Theodore had many options.
What if he had moved Hellfire through space by exploiting Dimensional Leave?
What if he had bombarded Pan Helliones in all directions with lightning strikes?
What if he had used Mitra's power to soften the ground?
There were a few effective alternatives. However, at the time of the fight, he hadn't been able to come up with these solutions. Why hadn't he thought of those ideas at the time? He had stayed cool in his own way, but he still hadn't been thinking calmly.
'...This is the problem with having too many powers.'
The skills each had strong personalities, and if even one ability reached its peak, that would be the ultimate power.
Umbra, Muspelheim, sea dragon, Mother Earth, wind god...
A person normally devoted their life to studying one power, while Theodore was trying to grasp all of them. Was this greedy method wrong?
-Don't misunderstand. Gluttony trampled on the anxiety which sprouted within Theodore. -This diversity is User's strength. Right now, it is meaningless to pursue another way. You will eventually reach the peak of all of them when joining them together.
'...Is that so?'
-That's right. You can fill up what you are lacking. Eat them, eat everything. There is no reason for User to feel ignorant.
Indeed, this was the remark of a gluttonous grimoire. Theodore couldn't help laughing as he acknowledged that Gluttony had a point.
If Theodore consolidated his powers into one, he would surely become stronger. However, he couldn't relax before it was consolidated. Currently, it was difficult to demonstrate the true value of Forced Harmonization, which mixed all magic into one.
So, he had to eat until it was all filled up.
Then an idea flashed through Theodore's mind. "I've decided."
"I will head toward Kargas."
Before Gluttony could ask why, Theodore explained, "I am going to meet that old man again."
The elderly face of a competitor he'd met in Kargas' underground auction rose into his mind. It was Heinrich. Unlike Theodore, Heinrich had been collecting original books for decades. The value of his library couldn't be measured.
Thus, Theodore's next destination was Sipoto.