Chapter 241 - Where is This (1)
It was dawn, when the sky still wasn't bright.
There were a few empty seats in the royal conference room in Mana-vil, the capital of the Meltor Kingdom. The chiefs of each department had firm expressions, while the elders of the magic towers sat down heavily.
Two tower masters were sitting in their seats, but Veronica was missing.
The people present looked different. Some were concerned, while others were angry. There were also some who were sad, and some others who were silent. The way they expressed it was different, but everyone in the meeting room had some 'weight' bearing down on them.
"Attention." The atmosphere calmed with the king's voice.
As they bowed their heads, the tower masters quietly raised their closed eyelids. Once everyone's gazes were concentrated on him, Kurt III opened his mouth, "...I think everyone knows the situation."
The heavy silence was proof of his words.
"Let me share my view with you before we discuss what measures to take. First of all, who is the villain? White Tower Master."
"Yes, Your Majesty." As if they already discussed it, Orta took one step forward. Orta was the head of the white tower that specialized in espionage, and he had a career which was close to a legend. It was hard to find someone who was a better fit than Orta for this role.
Orta's lips moved under the white mask as he said, "The first and most likely possibility is one of the Seven Swords of the Andras Empire. They know that Theodore recently defeated the 4th Sword, so they would've sent at least the 3rd Sword-a strong person that can't be defeated."
Then Blundell asked a question which reflected the feelings of the other people, "Who is the most powerful among the three?"
"Needless to say, it is the 2nd Sword, Zest Speitem," Orta replied quickly. "Many of you don't know this, but Zest Speitem's ability is to interfere with space. He is a person who threatened my life several times in the last war, as flying magic and space magic loses most of their utility before him."
"It means that common methods of escape aren't possible."
"Yes. Additionally, he is extremely cruel on the battlefield. There would be no chance if he was sent as an assassin."
Indeed, everyone nodded at the words. It was an easy to understand explanation for those who didn't have experience in battle. Even Orta's excellent mobility was useless, so other magicians would have no way of surviving if they met Zest.
However, some of the attendees couldn't accept that opinion, and they objected to it. One of them was the minister of the military, Robert. "White Tower Master's words are true, but isn't it said that the 1st and 2nd Swords never leave the empire? Isn't it more likely to be the 3rd Sword or another possibility...?"
Orta shook his heads at Robert's words. "I don't know the capabilities of the 3rd Sword, but I know that he is a prince. It is hard to imagine such a person would go to Sipoto to assassinate someone. And the precedent that you mentioned..."
The 1st and 2nd Swords didn't leave Andras. That premise which had lasted for half a century had literally collapsed overnight. It had allowed for a surprise attack. The vigilant Orta didn't deny the mistake. He just scolded himself for being complacent.
"It means that either Andras' policy has changed, or Theodore is such a threat that they were forced to change the policy."
Orta and the others considered this a series of misfortunes in many ways.
The circles' overload...?
That was a rare phenomenon for senior magicians and was treated as a type of growing pains. If they had thought this would happen, they would've sent Veronica or Blundell to pick Theodore up. However, it was too late now.
Kurt sighed a few times before looking around. "Continue. Is there another possibility aside from the empire's Seven Swords?"
"I have a few hypotheses..." Orta continued the explanation, and the meeting room became heated with discussion. There were the warlocks lurking in the Orcus Company, as well as the Lairon Kingdom, that had lost a crusader due to the Soldun civil war. They might not want to risk a full-scale war with Meltor, but those forces could pursue Theodore.
A few hours passed by.
Then by the time the sun reached the middle of the sky, the people left one by one. It meant that the emergency meeting was over. After most of the seats in the meeting room were emptied, Kurt III turned to the side and asked, "Where is Veronica?"
"Last night, she went straight to the Sipoto wilderness. She will come back after directly investigating herself."
"...Will it end with just an investigation?"
Orta thought about it for a moment before shaking his head. He was well aware of her nature. A wildfire might occur in the Andras Empire, or the rain clouds would evaporate to cause a drought. Directly or indirectly, she would cause a tantrum until this mess was finished.
Kurt's role was to calm her down, but he had no intention of holding the reins at this time. "For the moment, I will let her run around as she likes."
The two tower masters remaining in the meeting room nodded. They would put any blame on Veronica instead of the kingdom. Of course, the topic wouldn't end here if Theodore had died, but they had a unique source.
Kurt stared at a spot where nobody was seated and said, "You can reveal yourself now."
It was then that a bewitching beauty appeared in the empty chair. A blue dress clung to her body and revealed her smooth skin. She was a beauty who would bewitch any shallow man-Sea Dragon Aquilo.
This wasn't the place to openly host a dragon, so she had to conceal her appearance.
"I hope you weren't bored."
"No, I thought it was fun," Aquilo murmured with interest in her eyes. "A kingdom where the selfish interest of politicians doesn't take precedence... This is the first time I've seen it. Personally, I think it was a bit more messy than usual, but it's fresh."
"...You truly are a dragon."
The ability to treat a kingdom as a toy truly belonged to dragons who lived for thousands of years. Kurt lost his thoughts for a moment before asking, "You're sure that Theodore is alive?"
It was a strange question and a strange answer. Despite being thousands of kilometers away from where the fighting took place, Aquilo was certain of Theodore's survival.
"I am connected to the boy by blood. Until this connection is cut off, I am sure that the boy is alive. You don't need to worry because he doesn't seem to be in much danger."
"Sigh, that is fortunate."
Orta interrupted from where he was listening to the conversation, "Lady Aquilo. Can you determine his location?"
"Um... It is a bit strange," Aquilo explained with a slightly confused expression, "I can tell that he is 3,000 kilometers away from my position, but I can't find him. I can tell that he is alive, but I don't know where he is."
"What does that..."
"It means someone has hidden him, or he is far away. Either way, it is hard to understand."
Certainly, it wasn't wrong for Aquilo to say this.
After fighting one of the empire's Seven Swords, Theodore was either hiding or had somehow moved thousands of kilometers in just a few days? Common sense said that this was a situation which could never happen.
Orta and Blundell were in a dilemma.
However, Kurt raised his hand, indicating that it was pointless to feel anxious. "It is fine as long as we know he is alive. We will continue our search for Theodore. In the meantime, complete the investigation into this attack as soon as possible."
"Yes, Your Majesty."
"Andras or Lairon... It doesn't matter who was behind it. We will make them pay a few times over," Kurt III declared. Then a rare enthusiasm filled his purple eyes as he added in a strong voice, "If that is the case, we need to keep war in mind."
They were considering war, just because of a single person. It showed how much the kingdom valued Theodore Miller. Orta and Blundell accepted Kurt's words without objecting. Meanwhile, Aquilo looked on with interest as the emergency meeting in Meltor ended.
* * *
At a similar time, Theodore woke up in an unknown place.
He regained consciousness and could feel the pain throbbing all over his body. His bones were tingling, and his torn muscles brought him considerable pain because they were in the process of reattaching.
There was one area which was causing him the sharpest pain. It was his circles' overload. The pain was unbearable. Fortunately, there were no fatal cracks, but just a little more and his circles would've cracked.
"Well, it is good that I survived."
However, Theodore didn't regret it. That had been an opponent he couldn't hold back against. The empire's 2nd Sword, Zest Speitem... Theodore had no chance against him from the beginning. Yet Theodore had stayed vigilant and managed to survive.
Then at this moment...
A scent passed by his nose. He seemed to have smelled it somewhere before, but he couldn't recall what it was. As he felt a sense of discomfort and deja vu, Theodore looked around the room.
'This is Eastern furniture? Does the owner have such tastes?'
Some wealthy people in Kargas converted their entire homes to an Eastern style, so the room that Theodore saw wasn't unique to the East.
The strange thing was that most of the furniture looked shabby, rather than the charming antiques which rich people preferred. The furniture appeared to have been made a long time ago, or maybe they had been repaired several times.
Theodore hurriedly raised his body, grabbing his pained waist. He wouldn't be able to sleep well for a few days. One step, and then another step... He walked a few more steps like a sick person, before facing a door which was just as tattered as the furniture.
The door wasn't greased, so it opened with a loud noise. Simultaneously, a strong wind blew at Theodore's hair, and he frowned as he felt the coolness. The wind was so strong that it wasn't easy to look ahead. However, there was another reason why Theodore frowned.
'This wind is also somehow familiar?'
He felt a sense of incongruity every time he moved, and Theodore anxiously wondered if his senses were broken. However, after the wind died down, he could finally see.
"...Ah!" Theodore couldn't help exclaiming. The scenery stretched out before him, and the land below him filled his vision. Theodore was standing on a mountain at an incredibly high altitude.
However, that wasn't why Theodore couldn't hide his surprise.
'I know this place?'
It was familiar to him despite never having seen it before. Gluttony's power allowed Theodore to share his memories with someone, causing this sense of contradiction. Yes, this was the landscape that Theodore saw in 'his' memories.
"...Sun Clouds Mountain Ranges?"
The man from the Fairy Dance Lee family had gone to the Western Continent to overcome the deficit he had been born with. The view that the founder of Battle Song, Lee Yoongsung, had wanted to see was stretched out in front of Theodore.