The next day.
Avic’s edict arrived as expected.
Garen dressed neatly, and followed the herald to the palace to see His Majesty.
It was the same study as before; Avic was seated on the bench quietly, looking relaxed and at ease. As he saw Garen come in, a satisfied look flashed across his face.
He stood up and gently shook Garen’s hand.
"Trejons, you are finally here. This time you have truly salvaged the reputation of Kovitan’s royal family."The joy on Avic’s face was void of any pretense. Even his greetings were raised a notch higher.
"Your majesty, that is an exaggeration. This is what I am obliged to do." Garen answered humbly.
Both of them sat down on two separate golden chairs by the window.
"Coincidentally, I am holding an Aegis Ceremony a few days from now. Since you are back, do join us. Never expected that you would become a fourth form master; it is a rare sight in this country. It is perfect timing; I have already notified the rest of the fourth form totem users that you are back. Compared to the average person such as myself, you high form totem masters would definitely have more to talk about."The smile on Avic’s face was neutral. Perhaps he knew that Garen had killed one of the princesses, or perhaps not; either way, he didn’t look like he really minded.
Garen only smiled politely and listened as he continued on.
"Obscuro’s God Cloud – I have heard of his fame previously, and it is certainly distinguished. His experiences are similar to yours; Kovitan’s defense minister Veska had once faced off God Cloud, and I have called him here today so that both of you can interact with one another. "Avic calmly continued, "Both of you are the country’s top talents, and Kovitan needs your vital support to stand strong, have greater stability and to continuously increase in strength for years to come.
"I am undeserving of Your Majesty’s praises."Garen lowered his head in an act of humility.
Avic lightly shook his head. He appeared to be powerless against Garen’s humility.
"Alright. There are two main reasons for the edict. I hope you will be willing to help."
"Please continue, your Majesty."Garen nodded his head.
"Firstly Trejons, you have reached the level of the fourth form. According to the country’s standard procedure, every fourth form will be given the title of Earl, as well as a territory as an inheritance.
Secondly, this is my personal request; I hope you will be able to attend when I hold the ceremony."
"Your subject will be there without fail." Garen nodded his head. "Besides that, the first was a reward; how is that considered as a favor?"
Avic smiled, ready to explain. All of a sudden, a loud announcement was declared.
"The defense minister is here"
Both of them looked towards the entrance of the study at the same time.
Two knocks sounded at the door, and it was pushed open. A serious looking old man with a head of white hair came in.
Just as he walked in, he saw Garen who was humbly seated before Avic.
"Your majesty, it’s apparent that this is the new fourth form Garen?"His voice was composed and unshakable, and through it one could discern an unassailable spirit.
Garen stood up, and started weighing this old man carefully.
He seemed like a typical old pedant from the scholarly institutes; conscientious, without a trace of unkemptness in the way he carried himself. Even the smallest detail did not escape him. It was obvious this person was a serious and strict old man.
But the most obvious thing was not his appearance, but the subtle white glow hovering around this old man’s body.
That was a nearly liquefied totem light! Just glancing across with normal human eyes would evoke a realization that this old man’s entire being was filled with the breath of the abyss within the deep sea.
Garen could vaguely smell the salty scent of the ocean from him. Undoubtedly, his core totem was a water type.
"It’s good to see you, Your Excellency Elder Veska. " Garen politely bowed towards him.
Veska returned the bow.
At this time, a blue light flashed across the back Veska’s right hand.
An invisible force field crashed into Garen. This force field had no form or color; even the air was void of any movement or disturbance. It was as if it appeared abruptly in front of Garen and crashed towards him.
This rush of energy was not large, but it had an unstoppable, all conquering air to it.
In that moment, Garen seemed to hear the sound of crashing waves; a huge large blue wave appeared right in front of his eyes and was about to overwhelm him.
He quickly saw that a swirling blue-black whirlpool had formed behind Veska.
It was a whirlpool of immeasurable depth, like an invisible whirlpool sent from the depths of the ocean. Slow, extremely enormous; it was as if everything was in danger of being swallowed by it.
The side of Garen’s mouth slightly twitched up. Behind him, the nine-headed hydra’s red silhouette appeared.
An invisible force field was sent to the opponent in the same manner.
There was not a sound of collision in actuality, but the force of both powers colliding sent a loud sound reverberating in the hearts of the people watching.
This was purely just a competition between the totem powers. Without the exchange of totems, totem powers are powerless; incapable of changing the nature of matter. Only by changing it into totem light or by using it to manipulate totems will it affect the world of matter. It was similar to the nature of spirit power, as mentioned by Garen in his previous world.
Garen’s totem power was initially not strong, but after feeding on the nine-headed hydra’s totem light, it was not one that a normal totem user would be able to defend themselves from.
This time, two large forces collided.
The light rays between them appeared distorted. There seemed to be a layer of invisible crystal wall.
The light rays only distorted for a moment, and returned to normal quickly.
Garen’s face flushed slightly. This was due to an overwork of the mind, causing the momentary discomfort.
Veska had no expression to his face as usual, but his eyes betrayed a hint of astonishment.
" As expected of a fourth form! And of the highest level."Veska nodded his head,"I now believe you were capable of escaping from the hands of God Cloud."
"It seems it’s true that there is always a succession of talented people in the Kovitan Empire."Garen remained silent, focused on making adjustments to his body.
The defense minister was one of the strongest 3 in Kovitan. Besides the two grand dukes, he was the strongest and most loyal towards the royal family. Garen initially thought that facing off other powerful fourth forms with the nine-headed hydra would not be a difficult task.
Now there seemed to be more of a problem. No wonder God Cloud gave such an assessment.
During the battle just now, he was slightly weaker than the other party. The defense minister’s totem was a ginormous ocean whirlpool; when it came to how he managed to get produce that, Garen had absolutely no idea. Even the nine-headed hydra was far below in comparison.
Even though his totem was incapable of winning, Garen was not worried. His strength lay in his being and not his totem. The totem was only there as a complement to his being.
The ceremony of becoming an Earl was fairly simple; An edict was written by Avic and then passed on to Garen, together with a few prepared letters and documents.
The capital was in a highly complicated situation at the moment; Avic was obviously not in the mood to hold an official awarding ceremony. Those were not compulsory. The most important thing was to receive the tangible benefits.
And then the demarcation of territories.
The one given to Garen by Avic was a territory situated a distance from the capital, the surface area the size of a province. It was a broad prairie plateau named Pato, the name signifying the place of birth. It was initially a place in the capital where livestock grazed freely; now, a huge number of livestock have perished, leaving a numbered few to graze around and Pato subsequently being emptied of its prior purpose, vacant of civilization. All of these was passed on to Garen by Avic.
After leaving the palace, Garen carefully considered the implication behind Avic’s actions.
To summon the defense minister who proactively initiated a face-off was obviously meant as a warning for him to know his place a little, as the kingdom was completely capable of controlling its people. All along, they had turned a blind eye. As long as it was not too overboard; that will not turn out well.
And the broad prairie plateau was obviously a compensation after the blow.
Recalling the defense minister Veska’s capabilities, Garen made some rough estimations. Although he wasn’t sure how much of his capabilities was shown, he made guesses based on the performance earlier.
The opponent’s totem was indeed stronger than the nine headed hydra. If only totems were taken into consideration, he would be on the losing side.
Not only that, the opponent definitely possessed heirlooms. Each of the 3 masters, also known as the pillars of the Kovitan Empire, had a high-level heirloom.
If he really had to battle the opponent.
Garen estimated that if he did not use his own body, he would not be up to par. It was obvious the opponent would have a powerful card that was kept hidden. If they really had to battle for their lives, it was unknown who the actual winner would be.
As he left the palace, he headed towards the secret department.
On the way there, the streets near the kingdom’s palace were much cleaner; many villagers and business owners were putting up lights and decorations, they seemed to be in celebration of something.
A pair of newlyweds stood high on a wooden car with two huge white eagles pulling two ropes from the front; the eagles flapped their wings while propelling the car forward.
Surrounded by two rows of guards tasked to protect, many little kids were holding on to flower baskets and scattering rose petals.
The wooden car passed by Garen’s left side; Garen could see the happy smiles on the faces of the newlyweds.
"It’s a wedding?"Realization dawned upon Garen.
"Yes, master."Driver Josephine answered immediately,"These two people are Viscount Leliyah’s son and his wife. Viscount Leliyah had often helped the people and the businessmen, earning himself a good name in this part of the streets, so everyone is genuinely wishing them the best.
"Viscount Leliyah?" Garen tried to search his memory but came up with no recollection of this name. It was obvious that the man played a small role in the kingdom.
The people outside the carriage were extremely noisy, one noise topping the other.
Garen let down the window curtains.
"Wedding…Such a pity, this would be your last taste of happiness." He closed his eyes. Not long from now, the entire kingdom will enter a state of extreme chaos, leaving no trace of peace and stability behind.
In order to stop the killings, the biggest key laid in the hands of The First Concubine, Delouse. When it came to revealing her scheme in a way that was believable to Avic, it was a huge headache.
As the First Concubine had the identity of a double agent, to convince Avic of her rebellion would be extremely difficult.
Obscuro’s plans were almost bulletproof.
The information that was in Garen’s hands decreased. Thinking about it on the way, there seemed to be no clue.
Delouse was laying low at the moment. From what he’d heard, she’d completely cut off contact with the outside world, staying deep within the palace in preparation for the loyalty ceremony.
And as he entered the palace this time, Garen was indecisive on whether to save Avic.
The key to the fall of Kovitan was not on the death of Avic, but whether or not someone would be able to centralize power and take control of the big picture.
To prevent the assassination appeared to be too difficult. Even so, aiding the kingdom in centralizing the power after Obscuro left seemed to rank much lower in difficulty.
To be honest, Garen was not keen on being involved in this mess. The impression Avic left on him was not good, or at least, not to the extent where he would put his life on the line for him.
Moreover, the 3 major departments were the foundation of the royal family. As long as the 3 departments stayed in place, everything would slowly return to order.
As long as the original heirlooms were not taken away, Kavitan would eventually return to peace.
If his hypothesis was correct, Obscuro’s real goal was to obtain the original heirloom Caeserton, which was also an absolute sanctuary according to legend.
As he was in deep thought throughout the journey, the horse carriage arrived at the secret department without him realizing it – Wells castle.
A castle made of grey stone silently stood in the middle of grassy lands.
As Garen dismounted from the carriage, a few men and women covered entirely in black armor walked out; they had a blue emblem on their chest.
"Blue team?"Garen immediately recognized the meaning behind their emblem.
The secret service team, from the bottom to the top, were distinguished into 9 colours – red, orange, yellow, light green, dark green, blue, purple, white and silver. The higher the team was on the list, the stronger they were. Blue was amongst the top 4, also known as one of the top leveled teams.