Anya Marta's portal, which connected two regions through space, was mysterious.
The moment they passed through the gate, for a fleeting moment, all kinds of strange emotions could be felt, and at the same time, it also seemed like a long time had passed.
Everyone felt it, but the reactions of Ethan's group were more intense.
Even though they were able to grasp the concept of the sorcery gate that led to the palace in Avilius, that didn't make it feel any less mysterious.
'They say sorcery is greater than magic…'
Harboring a thought that most magicians hated, Giovanni walked through the portal. The others were also going through different feelings for the first time.
However, Ethan had a slightly different opinion.
'… avoid the Holy Kingdom.'
It was a thought which made his mouth go dry. Ethan's stomach felt a burning tension.
Of course, it wasn't like he did something wrong.
Although he worked as a mercenary and was teased for throwing everything away for the sake of his name, he had never lived his life in shame till now. The gold-plated mercenary plaque he had was an achievement that was possible because of his skills, his character, and leadership.
Ethan's life was his greatest pride, and it was something that many adventurers would envy.
'Is the pride still there?'
Ethan's complexion darkened.
Honestly, he didn't have much pride or confidence like he used to.
He had no choice but to feel that way.
When he saw the bald expert whom he should have defeated long ago, working with the Wise group, it made him back down.
The moment he saw Brudie Schaffer, he felt cold sweat run down his back.
Even if he couldn't be the strongest swordsman, that was the moment when he felt that his proud life was in vain.
What about after that?
That too was pitiful. He thought a lot about the situation and the evil deeds of Gael Wise.
He was afraid of harming himself. He was afraid that the aftereffects would touch him…afraid that he would be swept away by the opponent…
'I am not as strong as I thought.'
For Ethan, who was aware of his position, meeting the current Holy King, the head of the most powerful nation on the continent, was a burden.
While he was in thought, the scene changed abruptly.
He was now in a spacious and clean place. It didn't have much furniture, and only a large table was seen.
There were enough chairs for everyone to sit.
Across the table, there was an ordinary old man who seemed like a village head.
And he knew who that was.
It was the Holy King who led the Kingdom of Avilius.
'Wow, what should I do… no, can I even speak?'
Ethan gulped. No…he pretended to gulp. It felt like his mouth had turned dry.
Only his eyes moved, and when he looked at the others, he saw that even the perpetually laid-back Vulcanus had a tense expression.
On the other hand, the old man seemed relaxed.
It wasn't known if he was relaxed.
He was just looking at them without any emotions, like a stiff man.
And there was a woman in her early 30s next to him.
'Who is that person?'
When he was thinking, his thoughts broke.
Needless to say, the woman next to the King seemed to be even more terrifying.
Even though she wasn't wearing any makeup, her impression still felt strong, and her presence was very intense.
Of course, the eyes of the woman weren't on him.
The eyes of the old man and the woman were looking at the young hero.
The silence continued. None of them dared to speak.
They were sweating under the pressure, and they tried not to faint.
Was it because they were giving out such strong momentum?
The existence next to the Holy King, and the Holy King himself.
The position of the Holy King was given by the people. The pride and prestige they had because of their high position were oozing out.
And Ethan felt it.
Airn Pareira was the only one who was calm.
He was the only one who didn't get discouraged by the status and the prestige of the others. This was what made him shine even more than his swordsmanship, personal connections, or background.
"I heard you wanted to see me."
"Is there something you would like to say?"
"Then, I will speak what I wanted to say. It is…"
The story of Gael Wise.
… Airn, who started speaking about it, proceeded to unravel the story without interruption.
He didn't miss a single thing, and it was not a sloppy delivery. The contents were arranged smoothly as if his mind had prepared for it for a long time.
When it came to Gael, it was clean and detailed that even Jarin didn't have anything to add.
So, quite a bit of time passed. The empty space was filled with Airn's firm voice and convictions.
However, when the young hero's words were done.
The mouth of the King, who hadn't said a word till then, opened, and everyone got nervous.
"The head of Wise merchant guild, we knew that Gael Wise was up to something bad."
"Well. No matter how clever that sly half-elf is, he cannot escape the eyes of Avilius. Even if he can avoid it once, if he tries to do it twice or thrice his tail will get trampled on. Still…"
Contrary to his old-fashioned appearance, the King raised his crude hand and pointed to Airn.
"I didn't know that he would get harassed by a kid like you."
"If you knew, why did you leave him alone?"
"It was for the peace of the continent."
"Brainwashing innocent elves, breaking their minds and selling them to ugly human nobles… is that the way to attain peace on the continent? You even helped him broaden his influence through that. Why did you leave it unattended?"
"Do you know how many donations that man gives us a year?"
"Even I can't dare to say the precise figure. It is an amount that is too high, beyond common sense. Let me kindly explain it to you. So that it is easier to understand."
The King got up and cleared his throat, and closed his eyes. It seemed like he was trying to sort the thoughts in his head before speaking about it.
But, he couldn't.
Because Airn Pareira spoke first.
"I don't want to hear it."
"No matter what the reason was, even if you make excuses for it, even if you have reasons for it, there is no justification for the sacrifices of the elves."
At his resolute remarks, everyone was surprised. Ethan, who could barely stand there, wanted to scream, and Jarin, who was most sensitive to this matter, had gone pale.
Above all, the woman next to the Holy King, who hadn't shown any change in expression, smiled.
She shook her shoulders, and her earrings and necklace moved. The silence of the room made her actions stand out even more.
"I know. Even if I don't listen to His Majesty's explanation, I am well aware of the support that man and his guild gives to the continent. The food he provides for those in famines, the scholarships he gives to the common people's children who want to learn,and the libraries he has built. Recently, I heard he was even providing weapons and armors to help handle the demons and devils."
"It is all true. You seem to know about it well."
The King nodded his head. His expression was gentle, unlike before, and he seemed to be curious about what conclusion Airn would draw.
"Right. Then, what are your thoughts? Tell me. The Guild of Wise is a large one which supports the current continent from collapsing on itself. How can you say that Gael Wise should be punished after knowing that?"
"There is no value in promoting peace if you are condoning the damage dealt to the elves and gaining support through that. The act of sacrificing something valuable for a gain is no different from the contract with the devil."
"That is your own opinion. The world isn't filled with people like you. There are countless people who are ready to risk their lives for a piece of bread. They are also just people. Are you saying that they are ready to make a pact with the devil and that they aren't worth saving?"
"That was your idea. I didn't add the other part."
"Putting aside the ideals. Tell me."
"In this world full of chaos, what do you think is the solution?"
A silver light rose from the King's body. It was different from before.
This momentum was now radiating, and it concentrated so that it only pressured Airn.
It was powerful enough that he unknowingly took a step back.
But he didn't back down. Giving strength to his stomach, Airn raised the aura in his body and managed to withstand the foreign aura.
Rather than a long and eloquent reply, an absurd and empty answer came from Airn's mouth.
"I don't know."
"I have been thinking about it for a long time, but I don't know."
"So please. Wise majesty, the Holy King, unravel the chaos and the complexity of the present."
"Are you pulling my leg?"
"It isn't like that. but…"
He could honestly admit that his abilities were too weak to solve this problem.
Airn, who said that out loud, took a deep breath and proceeded with his story.
The incident with Gael Wise wasn't much different from the trouble he went through when he was traveling four years ago.
What happened in the Alhad Mountains, and what he learned from Durkali.
The other things he saw, heard and felt while traveling… things that didn't have concrete answers. Difficult and painful events where one would have to give up one thing to gain something else.
Things that caused him to sink and be in a slump.
Just two years back, he was obsessed with a wall. He felt he couldn't solve anything on his own, and that wall seemed impossible to break.
There was no way he could solve the problem by himself and uplift the entire continent alone.
"Lord Lloyd told me this."
"Since your dream is one that cannot be achieved only with brief effort, with individual efforts or with a single generation's efforts… don't worry if you can't get it right. Don't obsess over it."
"It is as he said. I don't have to force it. As a kid with a lack of experience and knowledge, it isn't required of me to come up with a solution to a big case like this by myself. The only thing I can say is that peace is built on the basis of someone's sacrifice, wealth etc… It is an ideal theory that anyone can say with their mouths, but it will collapse one day… in this regard, I would like His Majesty to enlist people, those who are wiser than me. Please do not be angry at my shortcomings."
"Instead, I can try and do my best."
Airn interrupted the King. It was rude, but no one mentioned it.
Instead, they watched Airn emit a huge golden aura. They just stared at him.
Amid the blooming aura, the hero said,
"The Warrior's Festival. I will win it."
"To show you the skills worthy of that, so that hope can bloom in the hearts of everyone on the continent and so that the fear can disappear. I will do my best. That is…"
"…it's the only thing I can do right now."
Airn's face, as he finished speaking, was filled with determination.
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