“We will now end the awards ceremony.”
The band started to play after Alberu Crossman motioned to the administrator. The crown prince looked toward the video communication device and the nobles as he continued to speak.
“Today is a joyous day, I hope that the people in the plaza and the people in this hall all truly enjoy this moment.”
The nobles who had their heads bowed avoided Alberu’s gaze as if they were at a loss for words.
‘Enjoy? Truly enjoy? Do you think that is possible?’
‘…This is bad.’
A joyous and upbeat song was playing, but the atmosphere inside the hall was oddly calm.
“I'm sure none of you will be able to fully enjoy yourselves if I am here, so I will make my leave.”
The crown prince told the nobles to relax as he headed toward the hall's entrance. Everyone tried to focus on him and walk him out but Alberu rejected all these offers.
However, the nobles could not relax. There was one person who stuck behind Alberu as he left. The person who moved like a shadow as if it was natural started to walk next to the crown prince after seeing Alberu motion him forward.
If the crown prince would allow him to walk next to him, then that meant that the two of them were very close and that the crown prince respected him.
“…Choi Han is that person.”
One noble started to frown after looking toward the crown prince and Choi Han next to him.
The crown prince was standing close to and chatting with Choi Han, who would henceforth be known as his instructor. However, the nobles could not hear their conversation as the music continued even after the crown prince left.
Marquis Ailan, the leader of the Roan Kingdom's southeast region's nobles faction. He was also looking at the crown prince and Choi Han. One of the Counts in his faction walked over and asked in a serious tone.
“…Those two sirs look very close.”
Choi Han had now reached a status where the nobles were addressing him as, 'sir.’ Marquis Ailan could see Alberu’s relaxed smile and Choi Han’s calm yet faint smile.
They truly seemed close.
“Marquis-nim, is it really okay to let things be like this?”
The Marquis slowly blinked after hearing the Count’s question. It was not okay. How could it be okay when Marquis Ailan had not received anything from the results of this war?
‘…But I do not have the justification to oppose it.’
The southeast region’s Marquis Ailan and the central region's Duke Orsena were going to do everything in their powers to prevent the Henituse household from rising from a Count’s household to a Duke's household.
‘…Marquis Stan and Duke Gyerre were already on Count Henituse's side.’
It was not a fight between the crown prince and the Dukes and Marquis; it was realistically a 3 on 2 battle.
‘No. It could even be called a conflict between the Henituse household and the Ailan and Orsena households.’
And they had lost. Marquis Ailan peeked toward Duke Orsena who could not hide his disappointment as he recalled what crown prince Alberu had stealthily told him.
‘Marquis Ailan. Do you want to miss out on something larger because you wanted to protect your power in this puny Roan Kingdom?’
The person who would become the next king had called power inside the Roan Kingdom to be puny.
‘You are aware of the news spreading through the Indomitable Alliance, the Mogoru Empire, Caro Kingdom, Breck Kingdom, and the Eastern continent, right? Are you not?’
Marquis Ailan had heard about the stories spreading through the Western continent.
There was a hidden puppet master behind everything that had happened this year on the Western continent, and that person was trying to throw the Western continent into chaos while Cale Henituse was moving around to stop him.
‘Do you have your eyes closed, your ears shut, and live without any thoughts?’
Marquis Ailan recalled the cold gaze that had looked down on him. Those eyes had told him something. Think straight.
‘Cale Henituse is not alone. He already has his own faction that neither you nor I can have.
Come to grips with reality. Does the Henituse household, no, does Cale Henituse look like just the young master of a Count’s household?
If you want to put everything on the line to protect this puny power, then stay quiet. Aren’t you a smart person?’
Marquis Ailan whom the crown prince had called smart realized that Cale Henituse was now someone whom he could not do anything about with his powers. Of course, it would be possible if all nobles worked together to suppress Cale Henituse.
But that might make Cale Henituse go elsewhere.
“…We can’t lose him.”
They couldn't let that happen.
He shook his head while saying that it’s nothing to the Count while looking at Choi Han and Alberu’s friendly conversation.
There were many people looking at them. One of them was Cale.
“When did they get so close?”
Choi Han and Alberu seemed close no matter how many times he looked.
Cale decided the two of them would figure things out and turned away. Choi Han and Alberu were quietly chatting at that moment.
“Instructor-nim, shouldn't you enjoy the celebration as well?”
“Shouldn't I at least walk my student out?”
Alberu smiled gently and a faint smile was on Choi Han's stoic face.
“Yes, your highness.”
“I heard that my instructor-nim was a terrible actor.”
"That seems to be the case.”
Alberu smiled in silence before asking Choi Han a question.
"Are you really thinking about taking me as a student?”
“…Please take this.”
Choi Han took a small pile of papers out of his uniform and handed it to Alberu.
Alberu looked toward Choi Han in confusion as Choi Han erased the faint smile from his face and responded with a stoic expression.
“I am great at teaching sword arts.”
The smile disappeared from Alberu’s face and was replaced with disbelief. He nonchalantly looked through the pile of papers. There were images of the basics for multiple simple sword arts. Choi Han seemed to have personally drawn these images.
‘He’s really going to teach me?’
Was he really planning on being his sword art instructor?
Alberu was someone who had never had an instructor in his life. The closest he had was Tasha, but she was family.
Alberu heard a stiff voice by his ear.
“Shouldn’t you at least know how to protect yourself?”
Alberu looked up from the paper and stared at Choi Han. Alberu was thoroughly observing Choi Han to see the true intentions hidden behind those words.
Alberu observed for a while before starting to chuckle.
“Instructor-nim, I'm actually pretty good with the sword.”
“You're not as good as me, your highness.”
“That’s why you are asking me to learn?”
“It’s great to learn. Living a long life without getting hurt is best.”
Alberu started to laugh out loud. The nobles at a distance focused even more on Alberu, but he didn't care as he looked toward Choi Han.
“Looks like similar people move around in a group.”
He put the papers into the inner pocket of his outfit.
“Okay then, instructor-nim, stay back and enjoy yourself with my dongsaeng.”
Choi Han slightly bowed.
“…The message you asked me to deliver. I will make sure to deliver all of it.”
“Yes, yes. Instructor-nim, teach me some sword arts later.”
Choi Han and Alberu made eye contact. Alberu had a bright smile as he started to speak.
“Of course, student-nim.”
Choi Han smiled and Alberu said, ‘you're surprisingly like us,’ before heading out of the banquet hall alone. The knights and servants stationed outside started to follow him.
Choi Han watched them leave before turning around. He could see the gazes of the nobles looking at him.
‘Toy? No. Is he a treasure?’
Choi Han's expression did not change at all while seeing these greedy gazes that looked as if they were staring at a new treasure. He greeted Mary, Tasha, and the Mage Brigade Captain with his eyes before looking for someone.
He noticed the person quickly walking through with plates full of desserts on both hands.
Choi Han quietly followed behind him.
Cale nodded his head and headed to a terrace at the corner of the second floor.
Cale turned his head after hearing a voice. The noble who was reaching his hand toward Cale shut up at that moment.
‘Why is he like this?’
He subconsciously curled up in fear after seeing the way Cale was looking at him. Cale was giving off an aura that made it difficult to approach him, making the noble think that this was how it would feel to look into the cold eyes of a Dragon.
‘…He looked like a slacker as I was approaching!’
But looking into Cale's eyes after approaching him made the noble feel like he deserved the titles of, ‘Young master Silver Light,’ and, ‘Silver Light Hero.’
‘What can I do for you?”
“…Ah, never mind.”
The noble quickly pulled his hand back and stepped back after hearing Cale's cold voice that sounded as if Cale was pointing a dagger at his neck.
Cale looked away and continued on his way.
Cale slowly continued to walk while listening to Raon’s comment and having the Dominating Aura surrounding his body.
The noble finally realized that his fingertips were shaking once Cale left before finally managing to let out a relaxed breath. One of his friends came over and consoled him while patting his shoulder.
“A hero is really different up close.”
“I know, right? Such presence… It was like-”
Like a ruler.
However, his pride would not let him say such words. The other noble pointed elsewhere as if to lift the mood.
“Let’s not worry about things out of our control and choose the sides we can approach.”
His friend was pointing toward Count Henituse, no, Duke Henituse and his family, as well as the northeast region’s nobles.
“I'm saying that we should pursue other avenues rather than trying to win the hero-nim over and facing his wrath. What do you think?”
The two nobles headed toward the northeast region's nobles who were the center of attention.
The other nobles were busy doing the same thing such that none of them noticed Mary and Tasha slowly exiting out of the hall. Only the people watching the feed from the plaza noticed.
Most of them were disappointed that Mary and Tasha were leaving so early, but they didn't pay much attention to it.
“Let’s eat and play all we want today!”
“That’s right! His highness the crown prince gave us all this food for free!”
“Kahahaha! This is a great day! Who knew such a day would come?”
They were all too busy enjoying the moment. However, there were some people stealthily leaving the plaza that was the center of this celebration.
The two people who were covering their faces with hoods pushed through the crowd and headed out.
One of the people whispered to the other.
“What do you think?”
Bear King Sayeru’s eyes underneath the hood headed toward the White Star whose face was also covered by his hood.
“I'm not sure.”
“Aren’t you debating between the Roan Kingdom's Northwest region and the Caro Kingdom right now?”
The White Star did not respond and Sayeru started to think as if he didn’t need a response.
They had quickly rushed over to the Roan Kingdom’s capital after hearing about how the awards ceremony would be broadcasted in the plaza. Of course, it was easy for them to avoid the attention of the Roan Kingdom's soldiers.
Sayeru organized his thoughts and mumbled to himself.
“Mm, someone like Cale Henituse should know that we would do whatever we could to see this feed. But he made it obviously visible that he's in the Roan Kingdom?”
Something was weird.
“…It feels like he did this on purpose so that we would turn our attention toward the Roan Kingdom.”
Sayeru made eye contact with the White Star at that moment. The White Star started to speak.
“The Land of Death. You sent the illusionist to the entrance of the desert, right?”
“Then we will head there as well.”
Sayeru smirked as he asked.
“Didn't you see it?”
The White Star looked toward the video screen as he continued to speak.
"Choi Han, the Dark Elf, the Necromancer, and even Cale. All of them left the hall. After tricking us to come to the Roan Kingdom-"
“They’ll probably use the opening to head to the Caro Kingdom and take the power for themselves?”
Sayeru and the White Star soon disappeared from the capital.
At the second floor of the palace where the celebration was taking place… In a corner not visible in the video communication device…
Raon quickly wiped the chocolate cream around his mouth with Cale’s handkerchief as Cale opened the terrace curtains and unlocked the door.
Choi Han entered through the door as the curtains opened.
He looked toward Cale and asked.
“Will the White Star come to the Land of Death?”
Cale crunched on a cookie as he nodded his head.
“Then are we going as well?”
Cale stood up from the chair. There were other things on the table in the terrace other than the plates of dessert he brought.
There was a map of the Roan Kingdom's Northwest region, files on the Northwest region's nobles and finally… A letter from the Dark Elf Mayor that Tasha had handed him with a look of urgency this morning.
< Urgent news! >
< That time will arrive in the Land of Death two days from now for four days. >
< We only noticed it today as well. I am sending the message through Tasha as it is urgent! >
The reason that the Dark Elves built their homes underneath the Land of Death. Dead mana rose up as smoke twice a year at irregular times in this desert covered in black sand.
The Land of Death would be covered in dead mana smoke two days from now.
< We have evacuated all residents and finished the preparations as discussed, but will the plan still proceed as discussed? >
Cale put the letter in his pocket after reading the last sentence from the Dark Elf Mayor.
< As you already know, people without the darkness attribute cannot even breathe properly in the desert during that time. >
< Young master-nim, will you be able to fight? >
Cale gently smiled toward Choi Han before starting to speak.
“Shall we go cut off the White Star’s right arm?”