Chapter 248 - Ominous Identity (1)
The emperor's authority was absolute in the Empire, the middle kingdom of the East Continent. As the duel trial was conducted in the presence of a notary who had been appointed as his agent, the result was absolute and impossible to overturn or distort.
For this reason, Lee Inyoung's power decreased and the dispute of the Lee Family, which had lasted for over 100 years, came to a close. Even so, the integration process was never going to be smooth.
It was true that the faction war was over, but the majority of the Fairy Dance Lee forces didn't think much of the 16-year-old Lee Seol.
They were afraid of the eyes of the imperial family and pretended to be quiet, but there was nothing strange about indirect insults. Since Lee Seol had no support base, Theodore's share of authority shot into the sky. Therefore, Theodore didn't intend to hesitate if he needed to use force.
Yes, he stopped at this thought.
Theodore sat on the unfamiliar cushion and said to the man sitting in front of him, "...I am grateful for your help."
However, Theodore couldn't figure out why the person was helping him. There were no favors which were done without compensation. Despite this, in the wide world, there were adults who didn't follow this principle. However, there was something fishy about the person before him.
"I never thought I would come forward to help."
"Speak more informally."
Lee Joonyoung, the man in front of Theodore, corrected his manner of speaking with a polite and formal attitude. He was a mess due to the injuries of the duel trial, but he was strong because he was close to being a master. The bandages wrapped around his body couldn't hide his peculiar ambition.
"If you have difficulty calling me by name, just called me 'Outsider.'"
"I will do so. Outsider, can I answer your first question?"
Lee Joonyoung spoke his reply to the question, "This is the right thing to do as a member of the Fairy Dance Lee family. Your position has been established with the duel trial, so we can incur the anger of the emperor if there is dissonance."
"That is a superficial reason. I hope that you will tell me your true feelings."
"What I said earlier... those are my true feelings. I knew that my father pursued his own desires, but I thought it was a necessary evil to end the hundred years of confusion. However, more paths have emerged, so I am just following them."
In reality, Lee Inyoung was the person who was supposed to be head of the family. However, his faction had been defeated in the duel trial and his position was reversed. During the duel trial, the family's missing hidden techniques had been shown by the foreigner, Theodore Miller.
Due to this, Lee Seol had been accepted as the next head of the family by the emperor's notary. It was a chance to restore two lost hidden techniques, so he needed to latch onto it. For Lee Joonyoung, who was born and raised in the Murim world, switching positions was a natural choice. (TL: Murim = easy way of explaining is the martial arts world)
Of course, Theodore hadn't been born in Murim and couldn't agree.
'He is serious.'
His super sensitivity, which had evolved to be close to a psychic ability, recognized that Lee Joonyoung's words were true. Lee Joonyoung was a young hot-blooded person, so he disregarded his father's fall.
He was a person Theodore couldn't easily let down his guard around.
However, without Lee Joonyoung's assistance, the integration of the Fairy Dance Lee family would've taken months, maybe years, instead of weeks. It was hard for Theodore to understand the reasons, but he finally acknowledged Lee Joonyoung and let it be. It didn't matter as long as Lee Joonyoung didn't betray Lee Seol.
"...Okay, I believe that," Theodore acknowledged. Then he asked Lee Joonyoung. "Can you explain why you requested a meeting with me?"
"Yes, of course," Lee Joonyoung answered, pausing as he chose his words. Then he looked at Lee Seol sitting next to Theodore and said, "I think the mountain's keeper already knows."
Theodore's eyebrows twitched for a moment at the title. There had yet to be a proper inauguration for Lee Seol yet. So, calling her 'keeper' was like showing her what her position actually was.
However, Theodore denied that idea. Lee Joonyoung wasn't stupid enough to reveal it on the surface, even if he might feel that way. Then he must have a good reason for it.
Unsurprisingly, Lee Joonyoung responded to Theodore's speculation, "In the duel trial, Lee Seol's inauguration was decided. But there is still room to act."
"There are three qualifications needed in order to become the Fairy Dance Lee family's head. Firstly, it doesn't matter anymore but the knowledge of at least one hidden technique that has been passed down for generations. Secondly, the agreement of the majority. This isn't difficult either. The problem is the third requirement."
"What is the third qualification?" Theodore couldn't hide his doubts as he asked.
However, it was Lee Seol who responded before Lee Joonyoung. "Age."
"Yes. The law states that the minimum age to become the head of the family is 17. And there is still a year left until my ceremony of adulthood."
"Even so, it was a duel trial conducted by the emperor. Isn't that enough to disregard a small law?"
Lee Joonyoung nodded like Theodore was right, but he then smiled wryly and explained, "Yes, it is normally not a problem. However, similar provisions exist in the law of the empire. The decision of the duel trial can't be reversed, but it is enough reason to buy time.
"...The grace period can be extended?"
Theodore understood what Lee Joonyoung was trying to say and stroked his chin. They couldn't oppose Lee Seol becoming the head of the family, but they could use this law as a pretext for a grace period.
Anybody would be able to notice their intentions.
'They intend to treat her as a figurehead. Even if she isn't naive, it will be troublesome in many ways. I thought they gave up because they couldn't win from the front.'
One year wasn't a long time, but it wasn't short either. The internal assets of the Fairy Dance Lee family hadn't been grasped yet, so it was more than enough time to hide them.
After a year passed, they would act like they were giving the leadership of the family back to Lee Seol, but they actually wielded the real power. After all, there were some who might find fault with Lee Seol's leadership.
However, it was difficult to overthrow them all with force. Above all, it was doubtful if Theodore would remain on this continent. Despite this, instead of panicking, Theodore asked Lee Joonyoung, "So, the solution is?"
"There are two effective measures."
Indeed, Theodore nodded. Perhaps Lee Joonyoung had thought of a solution before coming here. He was an outstanding martial artist and also quite smart.
Lee Joonyoung was a master of the pen and sword. If Theodore hadn't come at this time, the Fairy Dance Lee family would've fallen into his hands. Then why was Lee Joonyoung smiling? No tigers had been born since a long time ago. However, in this case, a dog had given birth to a tiger.
Lee Inyoung was probably just the face of the faction, while Lee Joonyoung was definitely the head. Otherwise, it wouldn't have been possible for him to integrate the factions together so quickly.
Theodore listened curiously without forgetting his vigilance.
"I will take full responsibility and launch a preemptive strike with Sir Theodore's forces. In the end, the other side will choose if they should fight or not. If they fight, we can win."
"Dismissed," Theodore refused Lee Joonyoung's suggestion with a single word. "Is it right to shed blood for wrongs that haven't been committed yet?"
"It is called cutting the grass and pulling out the roots as well."
To cut the grass and dig out any roots...
That was the act of eliminating the root of the problem in advance. From a short-term point of view, this method was really efficient. However,
Theodore just sneered cynically. "Right now you aren't a farmer but a weed who has abandoned the other weeds. Do you think it makes sense to execute the members based on your words?"
"Then I will tell you the best solution." Lee Joonyoung had thought this would be the case from the beginning, and gave his opinion without worrying about Theodore's contemptuous words. "If Sir Theodore becomes the temporary head, then everything will be solved."
"Kuk, I'm not telling you to take Lee Seol's position."
Lee Joonyoung took a step back from the momentary explosion of pressure coming from Theodore while simultaneously inwardly admiring it. He thought he had understood Theodore's strength in the duel trial, but the scale of the power Theodore just revealed by was well beyond that.
Quickly bowing, Lee Joonyoung gave his solution to this problem."In the case of the Fairy Dance Lee clan head, it is possible for the guardian of the next head to temporarily take the spot if they aren't qualified yet. This is based on family law, so the other side won't be able to do anything."
Certainly, it was a solution. Behind his protesting attitude, Theodore understood that this was the most efficient way. Theodore met the first qualification. No one would raise any objections because Lee Inyoung, the chief of the largest faction, was under his authority. The biggest problem was that Theodore had no intention of staying in this place for a long time.
"Sir Theo..." Lee Seol, who was beside him, looked at Theodore with an uneasy expression as it seemed like Theodore would disappear soon.
Lee Seol had acted as the mountain's keeper for more than 10 years and maintained her pride as a member of the Fairy Dance Lee family. For Lee Seol, Theodore was the first protector she had ever met. It was thanks to him that she had managed to acquire the Fairy Dance Lee family.
"I am asking this of you." Lee Seol stepped back and bowed flawlessly.
After seeing that, Theodore smiled bitterly, knowing that he couldn't refuse the request.
'Sigh, it can't be helped. I was going to stay for a month anyway... and I have to pass on both of the lost hidden techniques.'
It would take some time, and it was necessary to examine the 'Boundary of Heaven and Earth' that Lee Yoonsung left behind. Was there a saying about how he shouldn't be too hasty?
It would take several months to return to the West Cntinent, and it was natural that he take responsibility for what he had done. Theodore rationalized his decision for a number of reasons and shrugged.
Then he patted Lee Seol's head lightly. "If you don't mind me for a few months, I will be your guardian."
"I might be a foreigner, but I will temporarily lend you my name. I will act as the head of your family for you. Understood?"
Lee Joonyoung politely replied, "As you command, Temporary Head."
Temporary Head... This wasn't a title Theodore was used to. Realizing he would have to get used to it, he sighed.
This was still the prelude of his journey in the East Continent. Thus, Theodore Miller embarked on acting as the head of the family.
* * *
Then it was three months later.
"Okay, the tenth book has been completed." Theodore wrote the last sentence and put down the quill in his hand. The text was a different color from that of the West Continent, and all the letters written on yellow paper were Chinese characters. The lines were a little crooked because he wasn't accustomed to it, but anyone who read the contents wouldn't be able to discount the book.
This was the Fairy Dance Skills Series.
Lee Yoonsung's memories were written down perfectly. Originally, there had been no plans to put so much content, but there were many parts of the Fairy Dance which were lost. Therefore, it was difficult to fill the gaps without writing everything down.
Theodore had quickly decided that and spent at least eight hours a day writing.
'Well, I haven't just been sitting down writing a book.'
To know with the mind was different from knowing with the body. Theodore was well aware of this fact and devoted himself to training. Unlike magic, of which had already reached the top, he felt like he was developing day by day for this.
In the end, he couldn't catch a clue to the final hidden technique, but he trained the remaining three to a level which he could somehow use. Would he now be able to last 5 minutes against the 2nd Sword?
His circles were now able to rotate more strongly and smoothly than before. His body had also become robust by acquiring the hidden techniques, so he couldn't really be called a magician anymore.
The time he devoted to martial arts had resulted in his overall development. The feeling of being blocked by the 8th Circle subsided, and he could now place his full concentration on the Fairy Dance.
"...Is it time to go soon?" Theodore asked himself in a quiet voice.
It was sooner than planned, but it wasn't a bad thing. This just meant that the jobs he had to do had been quickly reduced. The dissonance in the Fairy Dance Lee family had almost stopped as Lee Joonyoung assisted Lee Seol.
Once he finished the last book of the Fairy Dance Skills Series, it would be time for him to say goodbye.
'I need to talk about it when Lee Seol comes back.'
There was a meeting in the nearby estate. The two people had been on the road since early morning, and there was still a long way to go. It was a long time to sit and wait. Then at the moment when Theodore was about to get up...
Thumping sounds rang out from the hallway, and an attendant rushed to the door with an urgent expression.
"Being so noisy indoors. What is going on?"
"I'm sorry! A guest suddenly arrived and said they wanted to see you..."
"What?" Theodore's expression drew a blank. It wasn't comparable to its prime, but this was still the Fairy Dance Lee family. Yet there was a person who dared cross the threshold to confront the head without a prior appointment? Who would do such a rude thing?
However, Theodore's questions were soon resolved as the person entered.
'She' opened the door without hesitation and smiled as she found Theodore. No, it just felt like she smiled. The cotton cloth from last time was still covering her face.
"It has been a long time, Lord Theodore." The voice which seemed to melt the eardrums of whoever heard it was also still the same. The voice and ominous presence caused Theodore's body to immediately prepare for battle. She was a person who made his neck go cold.
Theodore was convinced that nobody could stop her if she came as a guest.
"...It has been a while, Shim Samho."
She was a delegate of the emperor and the notary of the duel trial. The woman who introduced herself as Shim Samho stood before Theodore.