“...Now I see.”
Earl Ashur realized as he watched Lauel execute all the prisoners of the Borneo army.
"The reason why the greedy and stupid Grid is able to solidify his position is due to this person.”
Lauel used the alliance with the Borneo army to not just occupy Patrian. He deserved to be accused, but it couldn’t be denied that he was excellent. Choosing the cruel means in order to achieve better results was especially great. Could Grid come up to his current position if it wasn’t for this person?
‘It wouldn’t have been possible.’
Earl Ashur denied it with certainty, making Bland speak.
"Father, with all due respect, Duke Grid isn’t incompetent. It’s true that Earl Lauel’s achievements are big, but his actions would be limited if Duke Grid was incompetent.”
Earl Ashur felt that his son was strange after reuniting after two years. Bland had a bad relationship with Grid and was also held hostage by Grid, yet he acknowledged Grid?
‘Grid even took Irene from him. Now there are no grudges in his eyes...?’
Bland seemed to be brainwashed. How was he tortured? It was truly horrible. Earl Ashur made a heartbroken expression while Bland smiled brightly.
"Father, it’s nothing like you are imagining. I have been enjoying life in Reidan.”
Earl Ashur was surprised. His son Bland could smile so brightly again after losing his mother and brother? After Irene married Grid, this kid definitely should be darker and more pained!
"What is life like in Reidan that you can make such a bright face?”
Bland told the truth to the confused Earl Ashur.
"I eat potatoes every day.”
Earl Ashur was furious. His precious son, a noble of Eternal, had to work in the fields like a serf? He was even eating potatoes like a pig! He had been living this hellish life!
“Ahh! Bland! You’ve gone mad at the end of your life!” Earl Ashur lamented and hugged Bland. “I’m sorry! Your life was ruined due to this foolish father!” Sob sob.
Bland handed a boiled potato to Earl Ashur who was weeping. A rainbow colored potato.
"I’m not going to speak any longer. Eat this potato. Your misunderstanding will be wiped out the moment you taste this.”
His son was crazy. What son would invite his father to eat the same pig food? Earl Ashur lamented. Bland determined there would be no progress in this conversation and acted. He shoved the rainbow potato into his father’s mouth.
Earl Ashur’s eyes shone as the pig food entered his mouth.
‘W-What is this?’
It was a new world. The shock and pleasure that was comparable to opening a new mana circle caused him to be stunned. As soon as it was inserted in his mouth, it melted and the taste was sweet, salty, spicy, sour, and refreshing. It was as if all the delicacies in the world were concentrated in one potato.
Bland spoke excitedly to the shocked Earl Ashur. “Isn’t it delicious?”
"Delicious! What?” Earl Ashur was agitated. “How can you express this precious delicacy with just delicious!? Yes! A heavenly flavor! The food of the gods!!”
Blood was truly thick. Bland and Earl Ashur even had the same taste buds. Either way, it was the birth of a new potato maniac.
“Will you serve Duke Grid?” Lauel arranged the situation and talked to Earl Ashur.
Earl Ashur spoke in a blunt manner with a potato in his mouth. "What are you planning to do in the future? Duke Grid will become hostile to both Eternal and Gauss. It is doubtful that Duke Grid can withstand the pincer attacks of two kingdoms, even with the protection of Marquis Steim.”
Lauel raised three fingers. “There is a part you are overlooking. The countries we will become hostile to in this war aren’t just Eternal and Gauss, but the Saharan Empire as well.”
The power of the Saharan Empire, the real rulers of the continent, was overwhelming. They had over one million soldiers and the number of knights was close to 3,000. There were several great magicians as outstanding as Earl Ashur. In other words, it was an absolute powerhouse. Becoming hostile to the empire would lead to ruin.
"Why would you be hostile to the empire?”
Lauel explained to Earl Ashur with a firm expression.
"The Saharan Empire is behind King Aslan.”
Many circumstantial things prove the cooperation between King Aslan and the Saharan Empire. Lauel was convinced there was a relationship with the empire not long after Aslan was crowned.
Earl Ashur thought silently and nodded. “That reminds me... Recently, the relationship with the empire is changing little by little. The policies have started to become favorable towards the empire? They seemed so trivial that I and the others were negligent.”
It was murky.
"Will there be a future for Duke Grid after becoming hostile to the empire? Won’t I just die a dog death if I serve him?”
“No, there’s no need to worry. The empire currently has their army scattered due to insurgents in the south. It’s hard to get involved in matters of the north. I’m certain that there will be no direct conflict with the empire for the next two years. In the first place, King Aslan won’t send a request for support to the empire.”
Eternal had a very strong pride as a neutral kingdom. They might have to give a tribute to the empire, but there were few kingdoms with full autonomy like Eternal. What if it was known that King Aslan borrowed the power of the empire in order to be crowned, and in return, implemented policies favorable to the empire? King Aslan’s position would be weakened and it might be the moment when the power of Prince Ren’s faction would be revealed.
Lauel came to the conclusion that King Aslan couldn’t announce his relationship with the empire.
"...You’re a person who can read the situation of the whole continent and use it.”
“Isn’t this the basics?”
"It isn’t something that anyone can afford.”
Earl Ashur thought about it for a moment.
“Okay. I’m someone who can’t return to Eternal already. My base is too weak to build an independent force. I will serve Duke Grid. However, I expect high treatment.”
“They are fair words. You’re one of the 10 great magicians on the continent. Just...” Lauel gave a friendly smile. Then he spoke to Earl Ashur with a gentle expression. "Always remember that your only mission is to serve Duke Grid. It’s unacceptable if you hold a sword to his neck.”
Earl Ashur was curious. How much had Grid grown to be able to make talented people like this serve him?
‘I want to see it.’
His grudge against Grid disappeared the moment he learned that Bland had been living a healthy and happy life. Earl Ashur was full of expectations when he suddenly had a question.
“Where is Duke Grid now?”
The war against Patrian was an important event that would determine Reidan’s future destiny. Yet Grid hadn’t been seen at all during the war. How could he be away during such an important moment?
Lauel replied. "Duke Grid is currently hunting.”
Earl Ashur doubted his ears for a moment before becoming convinced.
"Ah, that's right. He is struggling alone to defend his territory against those who threaten it?"
“Well... Something similar."
Grid’s growth was the absolute weapon. The stronger Grid became, the stronger Overgeared was. But Lauel allowed Earl Ashur to interpret it as he wished. Lauel made a warm expression and sent a whisper to Faker.
-The road to the north is finally opened. As scheduled, go to Marquis Steim and tell him about Grid’s independence.
The moment that Marquis Steim promised to serve Grid.
-We will make Grid a king.
Right now, no big changes could be made if Grid became king. Grid’s kingdom would suffer, surrounded on three sides by the Eternal Kingdom, the Gauss Kingdom and the Saharan Empire. In the worst case, it could quickly fall. But Lauel didn’t care. There was only one reason. He wanted to give Grid the title of ‘First King.’
‘I can’t give it to Ares.’
He bet it was a legendary rated title. Lauel speculated that the effect would be much better than Kingdom's Hero.
"Patrian has been taken?”
“It isn’t just that. Earl Ashur has committed betrayal and joined Duke Grid.”
The capital of the Eternal Kingdom, Reinhardt. King Aslan never dreamt that Patrian would collapse, and he sat down without any strength. He stared into the air for a moment before asking.
"W-Where is the knight I sent to Earl Ashur?”
“He was killed during the war. He was also defeated by a soldier of Reidan.”
Why did he send a knight that was weaker than a soldier as reinforcement? The questioning eyes of the people present stabbed at King Aslan.
Aslan was confused. ‘A soldier defeated a solo number knight?’
It couldn’t be. The news must be distorted. Aslan was sure of it.
‘Duke Grid learned that Nautilus was a Red Knight and took care of it.’
He pretended to be as soldier in order to kill the Red Knight.
‘The empire can’t reveal that Nautilus is a solo number knight. They can’t make a big issue against Grid.’
From the empire’s perspective, how could they announce that one of the solo number knights they were so proud of was killed by a soldier? No. In order to avoid embarrassment, Nautilus couldn’t be revealed.
He was scarier and more clever than imagined. That’s right. King Aslan could never imagine. Grid wasn’t involved in this incident at all. Perhaps it wouldn’t be strange for Grid to not participate in future wars. Lauel was hoping for Grid’s infinite growth. Whether the Overgeared members went to war or a kingdom was established. Lauel desired for Grid to focus on solo play.
Agnus had a guild of necromancer rankers under him. He played solo while his forces gained honor and glory for him. Why couldn’t others do the same thing? Lauel had a rivalry with Veradin, Agnus’ chief of staff. He aimed to give Grid more comfort and glory than Agnus.
It was the beginning of the ‘Grid: Emperor of the World’ project.