“We analyzed the situation at the time and was convinced that Sir Piaro didn’t betray us. It was just that evidence of treason was found, and we couldn’t prove that you didn’t want to betray the empire...”
Piaro had received the charge of treason. It had been impossible for the dukes to defend him without any evidence.
“In the end, we filed an appeal to take care of Sir Piaro’s family. You know the result of that...”
It was a long distant past, but from the standpoint of the parties involved, it was the pain of yesterday that they wanted to undo. Duke Grenhal knew Piaro’s heart and felt pained and heavy. He couldn’t raise his head, and his vision was spinning as he barely controlled his burning emotions.
“...” Piaro was silent.
They didn’t turn away from his pain, but he blamed them. These two facts buzzed in Piaro’s head and tormented him. Piaro looked up at the sky with a somber expression and suddenly asked, “Who do you mean by we?”
“Me, Duke Morse, Duke Rachel, and Duke Rigal.”
Grid stood to the side and bit his lips. Sky King Rigal... It was now clear why Rigal had been agitated when he discovered Piaro at the last minute. Grid reproached himself for having ordered Piaro to kill Rigal. Piaro grabbed Grid’s trembling hand. “Your Majesty, Rigal was an unforgivable enemy for our Overgeared Kingdom. The guilt is what I have to bear.”
‘That is the problem, you madman.’
There was a new weight on Piaro’s rotting heart. Grid was sorry for that. His colleagues looked sadly at the grumbling Grid and sent him whispers:
-Grid, you didn’t know the past. It isn’t something you should feel uncomfortable about.
-In the first place, Rigal broke the statue of Khan and hit the people. How can you care about the old days when fighting the enemy?
-It happened in a war.
Their words were true. Rigal had invaded Bairan and killed many people. He had destroyed Khan’s statue. Finally, he had aimed a weapon at Grid. Punishing Rigal had been a natural thing to do. The problem was that Grid had borrowed Piaro’s power to do it. Grid resented his own helplessness.
‘If I was stronger... If I was strong enough, I would’ve dealt with Rigal on my own without needing to call Piaro.’
Then Piaro wouldn’t have to shoulder a new guilt. Grid grumbled and checked the logs.
[Your level has risen.]
[You have reached level 399 and acquired the 200,000 Army Swordsmanship.]
[Swordsmanship Textbook: 200,000 Army Swordsmanship]
A textbook recording the basics of Madra’s swordsmanship. However, it records the swordsmanship used after Madra became a death knight, so the contents are weak compared to the original.
Only one swordsmanship technique, 200,000 Army Crushing Sword (Degraded) is recorded.
Learning Conditions: Those who have been recognized by Madra. Level 399 or more.]
Prior to summoning Piaro, Grid was able to gain a lot of experience and achieved level 399 because he had inflicted a serious injury on Diworth. Grid could become stronger. The confident Grid made a new commitment, ‘I will bear all the pain in the future.’
Piaro, Asmophel, Braham, and Mercedes—most of Grid’s friends had big wounds in their hearts. Even the wise sage Sticks was cursed by the gourmet dragon and had nightmares every night. It seemed impossible for his first knight Jude to get married, and Minerals Detector Minor studied while taking care of his ailing mother. They were all difficult and sad people. Grid wanted to be a strength for them. He wanted to be someone who could be relied upon and have them say ‘I was happy’ by serving him.
‘Let’s try it.’
Grid wasn’t a great person. He didn’t have the talent to awaken such heated feelings. To be honest, he didn’t know how to do it. Still, he believed that if he kept trying, he would become stronger. Grid was firming up his heart while the conversation between the dukes and Piaro continued.
“The biggest reason I couldn’t protect your family was Marie. She didn’t act directly, but her family and the nobles who served her insisted that the traitors should be punished.”
“It is obvious that fucking woman played tricks from behind the scenes.”
It was ridiculous for a noble of the empire to talk badly about the empress. This was an act of insulting the imperial family and was no different from rebellion. Yet Grenhal referred to Marie as ‘her’, and Morse took it further by cursing. It was a scene that showed they didn’t acknowledge Marie as empress.
Piaro searched Basara’s expression. Basara was a descendant of the third emperor and a close relative of the current emperor. She had the blood of the imperial family, and her order in the line of succession was very high at 5th place. Grenhal and Morse insulting the imperial family in front of her was the same as insulting her.
However, Basara didn’t show any agitation. The way she shook her head and looked away showed that she was also suspicious of the empress. Putting aside the fact that she didn’t have much contact with Piaro, the reason she didn’t step forward for Piaro in the past was the restriction on the imperial bloodline.
“...I’m also sorry to say this,” Grenhal opened his mouth with much difficulty, “There is evidence that Earl Asmophel was involved with Marie.”
Piaro and Asmophel—there was no one in the empire who didn’t know that the two men were close friends since childhood. Thus, Grenhal felt uncomfortable saying this. He was worried that it would give Piaro too much shock and anger. On the other hand, Morse spoke without a hitch, “It wasn’t just allying with her. He completely followed that woman and stabbed in the knife. He was the one who was most active in chasing down the Red Knights.”
“Sir Piaro, it might be unbelievable, but Asmophel was the one who made the biggest contribution to you being called a traitor.”
Piaro answered that he knew. Then Grenhal and Morse shut their mouths at Piaro’s bitter words. They didn’t dare to imagine the betrayal and resentment that Piaro was feeling. Basara interjected, “A number of years ago, there was an incident where Earl Asmophel disappeared overnight. He is officially missing, but I’m certain he was assassinated by someone.”
“Sir Piaro, did you punish him?”
Asmophel had been staying in his mansion. It was a mansion in the middle of the empire’s capital, Titan. The intruder had to find Asmophel and hurt him without leaving a trace. There were few people in the world who could do so. Moreover, the one who had most cause to kill Asmophel was Piaro.
Basara’s reasoning was worthy of being right. Grenhal and Morse nodded in agreement. Yet Piaro’s answer was unexpected, “The person who visited Asmophel at that time was King Grid, not me.”
“...!?” Grenhal and Morse’s eyes widened. Overgeared King Grid was strong enough to overwhelm the follower who had mastered 10 secret techniques and had already been operating through the empire’s surveillance without any constraints for years...?
‘At the time, Asmophel was a waste compared to his old self and the Overgeared King could easily handle him...’
The dukes were easily convinced of it. The past Piaro and Asmophel were more influential than the dukes, but they were vulnerable to Grid. In fact, the strong Piaro was serving Grid.
‘I’m certain. The Overgeared King is a master on the same level as the grandmaster.’
The existence that connected Pagma’s skills with the lineage of the Hero King... These two achievements were already more than a common legend. By the way, Grid could also use magic like a great magician.
‘To build up such skills at this young age...’
‘A genius beyond this world.’
It happened when the dukes were gazing at Grid with admiration in their eyes.
“Additionally, Asmophel said this. Simultaneously, the empress joined hands with the Yatan Church and destroyed the Red Knights in order to increase her authority. In the process, Asmophel fell into the empress’ trap and took the Yatan Essence. He lost his sense of reason and betrayed me and my colleagues,” Piaro said shocking words. “...I’ve forgiven Asmophel. He is currently serving King Grid with me.”
“...?!” The dukes’ mouths dropped open.
The dukes were so amazed that even Basara, who always had her eyes closed, opened them.
‘Pretty.’ The Overgeared members marveled at Basara’s beauty once she opened her eyes. She looked to be in her late 20s, but Basara’s actual age was estimated to be in the 40s. Basara was a beauty who gave off an extraordinary feeling. It was a dignified elegance that couldn’t be measured. There was such nobility that even her husband didn’t dare freely hold her hand.
“Forgiveness... Was it because of the Overgeared King’s persuasion?”
Asmophel had fallen into a trap and taken the Yatan Essence. That was all an excuse. No matter what, Asmophel was still the demon who had betrayed his friends and colleagues while killing their family. He was an unforgivable person, even for the dukes who prioritized political issues before humanity.
Basara didn’t think Piaro forgave Asmophel because he wanted to. She cleverly speculated that Grid forced Piaro to make concessions in order to increase the strength of the Overgeared Kingdom. Still, she had no intention of criticizing him. She purely marveled at the talent of a king who was sometimes ruthless.
Piaro shook his head at Basara’s question. “No, it was my judgment. The object of my grudge isn’t Asmophel but Empress Marie who used him. Additionally, Asmophel is obliged to clean up after his sins.”
“Then that means the former pillars of the empire are in the Overgeared Kingdom...”
The views that the dukes held toward Grid and the Overgeared members changed. Those who already acknowledged Grid now admired the power of the Overgeared Kingdom itself. The Overgeared Kingdom was different from ordinary kingdoms. It could even threaten the empire. Indeed, it was a great fortune that the discovery of the Ruins of the War God brought a lull to the war between the empire and the Overgeared Kingdom. To the dukes who were misunderstanding...
“Do you know that Mercedes has become a legendary knight?”
“Of course. However, she left the empire as soon as she became a legendary knight.”
“She is also serving King Grid.”
“Have you heard of Sage Sticks?”
“He is also serving King Grid.”
“A direct descendant vampire and the best demonic beast of hell also follow Grid faithfully.”
Piaro started to boast. The dukes of the great empire saw Piaro’s admiration for his master.
“You have been living well and eating well,” Morse grumbled about Piaro’s constant chatter.
“Hahaha...” Grenhal burst out laughing. The pain and sorrow that had been with him for many years were being healed little by little. The thing he needed to do in the future was correct the wrongs of the past by telling the emperor the truth and holding Empress Marie responsible. He needed to restore the fallen honor of the old Red Knights and ask forgiveness from their family members who were buried in the ground.
‘In the end, we must have a friendly relationship with the Overgeared Kingdom,’ Grenhal and Morse made this judgment. It wasn’t good to be hostile to the Overgeared Kingdom. Then they got headaches as they wondered about how to convince the emperor.
Would the emperor believe in their words?
It was true that Piaro had been framed, and the one behind it was Empress Marie who conspired with the Yatan Church. Would the emperor fully accept the truth? He had lost the empress and gotten betrayed by a friend. The emperor had suffered a great wound in his heart and relied on Marie for many years. The emperor’s confidence in her might be far deeper than they thought.
‘No matter how much we shout the truth, His Majesty the Emperor might not forgive Piaro. If he knows that Asmophel and Mercedes left the empire to serve the Overgeared Kingdom, he might feel a bigger betrayal and won’t tolerate the Overgeared Kingdom.’
What should they do? Basara whispered to the frowning Grenhal and Morse, “His Majesty the Emperor will be glad.”
“What do you mean?”
“Huhu, you’ll find out sooner or later.”
Did the emperor truly not know that Mercedes was serving the Overgeared Kingdom? Why did His Majesty the Emperor banish the legendary knight? Basara was convinced that the party who sent Mercedes to the Overgeared Kingdom was likely to be the emperor.