“...?” The dukes’ retainers were confused after arriving at Reinhardt through Mass Teleport. It was because they had teleported to the king’s palace, not the middle of the city. They thought they would have to wait until after the king’s big ceremony, yet he returned so quietly...?
‘Why not hold an event?’
The ruler of all countries, including the emperor of the empire. No, even a lord would make a big move. Every time they left the castle, they brought people together to carry out an event and praise them. It was propaganda to capture public sentiment. The ruler’s reason for going out might be trivial and personal, but it was easy to package it as a service and sacrifice for the people.
Yet Grid didn’t take advantage of this great propaganda opportunity. This was despite the fact that he had returned with nobles of the empire.
‘I thought he would use bringing us back for propaganda, but he didn’t even hold a simple return ceremony...? Was he not interested in managing public sentiment?’
Our king returned with dozens of imperial nobles. The nobles of the empire respect our king.
It was a great way to spread positive thoughts among the people. This was a situation where it would be possible to produce a good performance. Yet Grid didn’t take advantage of it. Was it because he was short-sighted? No, he had established a kingdom alone. It was said that he was a traitor who defied the laws of the heavens, but his abilities couldn’t be doubted or denied. This wasn’t about being ignorant.
Then a crazy thought made their eyes widen.
‘It is consideration for us!’
The dukes’ retainers had committed a great sin. They dared to lead an army to invade the emperor’s territory and took out the dukes that the imperial family had locked up in the Abyss. It was an act of loyalty toward their owner, but this excuse was insufficient to make up for their sin as their master was the imperial family.
‘If it is known that we visited the Overgeared Kingdom as well...’
‘Regardless of the circumstances, there would be allegations that we conspired with the Overgeared Kingdom to betray the empire.’
‘The dukes’ position would be even worse. The Overgeared King secretly returned with this in mind.’
‘How many times have we received his grace...’
Admiration and gratitude intersected. There was a strange excitement in the eyes of the retainers following Grid.
Grid led the dukes to their rooms and returned to his office. His mental fatigue was due to the events after the battle that required a high degree of concentration. He took off his armor and cloak, placed them in his inventory, and smiled at Lauel. “Thank you. You advised me that it was better not to publicize their visit to the Overgeared Kingdom.”
“I can’t be negligent.” Lauel hadn’t been excited when he heard that Grid would return with 40,000 imperial cavalrymen and dozens of imperial nobles.
It was likely that the position of the Overgeared Kingdom would greatly increase even if a small amount of this information was leaked. The dukes led tens of thousands of soldiers to visit the Overgeared Kingdom...? This little rumor would spark all types of speculations and cause the neighboring nations to fear the Overgeared Kingdom.
However, Lauel was patient. It was because the empire had a high probability of declaring the dukes as traitors.
‘The dukes shouldn’t be expelled. The dukes must preserve their power in order to become our strength.’
It was a relationship that Grid had worked hard to build up. Thus, it should be used more thoroughly. Lauel thought so. Unlike Grid who was purely concerned about the dukes, Lauel perceived them as useful cards. Of course, Grid also knew this. Even so, he had no intention of criticizing Lauel. After all, this was Lauel’s role.
Grid asked with a bitter smile, “Then Sehee... When will Ruby arrive?”
“I’ve sent the Overgeared Shadows to escort them, and they should arrive in two hours.”
“The Saintess class is a scam. I never dreamed she would be hunting at the Galgunos Temple.”
“Of course, the class is great, but she also has excellent senses. I analyzed her movements during this period and found that she played the game very effectively. Ruby and Sexy Schoolgirl both have talent in the game.”
“Really? She isn’t like me at all...”
Unlike her stupid brother, Sehee was smart. With a good personality and beautiful face, she was different from her brother. Sometimes he wondered if they were siblings since they were different in every way. Therefore, it was reassuring. How many times had he been glad that she didn’t resemble him? The moment that Grid thought this...
“She looks just like you when she is angry.”
“The two of you. When you are angry, your eyes and mouth look exactly the same. The rough tone is also the same.”
“It doesn’t seem like a good thing,” Grid said. Then he quickly asked with a serious expression, “Can the dukes be fixed?”
Sadness could be felt from his tone and expression. Grid was sincerely concerned about the dukes. They had only been together for a short time. However, they shared many experiences and stories, so they quickly became friendly. The shock he had experienced when he saw the dukes still remained.
“Grenhal’s eyes were destroyed, and Morse’s limbs were shattered. That wise woman Basara has become a complete idiot.”
They suffered too many wounds. A Saintess might be defined as a ‘person who creates miracles’, but was it possible to heal such major wounds? Grid had boasted in front of the dukes, but he was actually anxious. His promise that the Saintess could fix the dukes was probably to calm his own anxiety.
Lauel spoke with steady eyes, “The Saintess is someone who threatens even the authority of the goddess of light.”
The biggest penalty of the Saintess class was the necessity to do dozens of good deeds every day. Lauel had already heard hundreds of times that Ruby had healed people with disabilities. It was a divine force that destroyed even the soul of a great demon. The system explained that it wasn’t the goddess of light’s power but a Saintess’ own aura.
“The power of the Saintess is real. I think it is good to believe in her.”
One day, somebody would pull down the fallen god. The new goddess of light would be born from this fall. This was Lauel’s guess. It meant the class of Saintess was extremely special, and it wasn’t difficult to estimate that it had the potential of a myth because its abilities could directly influence the worldview.
In front of the room where the dukes were lying, each retainer expressed their opinions.
“The empress must be behind this event.”
“That’s correct. It doesn’t make sense that Edan would do these things to the dukes just to cover up the truth. How could he do these extreme things without being completely insane? It is hard to see that Edan did this on his own.”
“His Majesty has been giving power to the Five Pillars. Maybe he is using this opportunity to oust the dukes and increase the power of the imperial family...”
“This is an unreasonable assumption. How will he handle the resistance of the nobles after touching the families of the founders? The emperor has been somewhat depressed since the empress died, but it is impossible for him to do this.”
“That’s correct. Now is the time to worry about His Majesty. Maybe Prince Edan has already sinned against His Majesty. That’s why he could do this without any fear.”
“What can Edan do to His Majesty? Edan’s talent is excellent but His Majesty is already complete, and he has the protection of the Five Pillars.
“The pillars might’ve betrayed the empire. The problem is the grandmaster. We need to know if he has given any strength to Edan.”
The retainers were speaking in low voices, but the dukes’ hearing capabilities had reached the highest limit. Morse lay in bed, listening to the voices outside and not missing a single word of the discussion. “Kukuk, it’s funny. No one knows that Edan is a completely crazy guy.” Their explanation was also lacking. It was too hard to give a laborious explanation. Honestly, it was hard to stay sane.
“...Shit.” Morse looked down at his trembling limbs. No matter how hard he tried, there was no strength in his fingertips or his toes. It was natural since all the tendons were destroyed.
“...Hat.” He could only laugh. He didn’t want to think about anything. He hadn’t expected to lose the use of his limbs one day. How could he have imagined that he would end up like this?
The most disturbing point was that he was too helpless. Despite having fully grasped the weakness of the magic machine in the Berith raid, Morse hadn’t been able to cope with their ambush. The genes of the dukes who had served the royal family for hundreds of years were imprinted with the nature to submit at the right time.
“Dammit!” Morse, who could only move his neck, hit the pillow with the back of his head. He honestly wanted to bury his head somewhere and die. Did he have to live as a vegetative person for the rest of his life? It was better to die. He had heard several rumors about the Saintess, but he wasn’t expecting anything. Even divine power that had risen to the highest level couldn’t cure permanent disabilities.
While Morse was cursing, Grenhal lying on the opposite bed was just silent. “...”
He was also feeling complicated.
‘It is shameful.’
Why had he been loyal to his country and the imperial family? Was it true that he was loyal? If he were a true loyalist, he should’ve seen that the bloodline of the royal family was moving on the wrong path and held him to the right one. Yet that didn’t happen. He had been incompetent from the time he couldn’t protect Piaro. The wounds on his body weren’t as noble as heroic medals.
“Shit! Shit! Kuaaaaak!”
Morse’s craziness gradually grew worse, and Grenhal’s expression steadily darkened. For both of them, reality was hell. Then just as they were going crazy… in this terrible despair...
A bright light that was warmer than the sun surrounded the two people, and a calm feeling came over them. The spirits of the two men—intertwined with anger, resentment, pain, and futility—were instantly refreshed. Morse came to his senses and turned to the side with wide eyes.
A beautiful girl with black hair was smiling.
Would there ever be another intense encounter like this in the world again? Morse glimpsed a halo from the girl. The darkness restraining his body melted in front of the light. However, this impression was short-lived.
The girl waved her wooden staff. Her staff started to beat Morse’s limbs like a scarecrow at a training camp.
“S-Saintess?” The retainers were shocked by the unexpected development and didn’t know what to do.
“Huup! Uh! Uhit!” Then as he let out reflexive groans, one of Morse’s fingers moved. It was real and not an illusion. Everyone saw it. Grenhal’s retainers witnessed the miracle and sucked in a breath.
‘W-What will happen?’
‘Will the duke’s eyes have to be hit with that staff?’
Why the eyes…?
Their hatred for Edan grew even bigger. Grenhal’s retainers shed tears of blood. Additionally...
“...Gulp!” Grenhal trembled with fear. He might’ve lost his eyes, but he could guess what was happening thanks to his developed senses. Grenhal fidgeted and eventually started snoring. He intended to buy time until he was ready by pretending to be asleep.
Then another girl, who appeared to be the Saintess’ companion, poked his cheek with her finger. “This uncle is cute.”