There were 30 pillars on each side in intervals of four meters. Grid was overwhelmed because the size of the great hall, which was just the tip of the palace, was bigger than he imagined. He felt helpless since the kingdom he and his colleagues worked so hard to build was just a speck of dust in front of the empire.
But the source of the alienation and fear that Grid currently felt wasn't the great hall. Grid gulped and cautiously moved. At the far end of the hall, a person on the throne was watching Grid.
Step, step, step...
As he stepped forward, Grid's fighting energy responded to this 'era's powerhouse' and the color deepened. Some people observed the purple red glow with interest, some people looked upset, and some people didn't notice.
In the silence.
"Overgeared King Grid greets Your Majesty the Emperor."
Grid reached the stairs of the stage where the throne stood and bowed his head. He knelt on one knee and bowed politely. Emperor Juander. The greatest power of this age. Numerous people and a huge army that covered the land followed him. Grid didn't disagree that he was the master of the continent. Juander might be a present and future enemy, but Grid couldn't skip the courtesies. The bitter blades were hidden behind his back.
"You truly are the Hero King." He seemed to have natural white hair. The emperor's white hair was shining, unlike the usual hair that elderly people had. "King of the Overgeared Kingdom, I sincerely welcome you to the empire. I will greet you. I am the emperor."
Was a long introduction needed? The word emperor meant he was already the master of heaven and earth. Juander wasn't arrogant, but being the emperor was a huge position.
'What is this?'
Grid knew immediately after entering the hall. Grid realized why there was a chill down his spine and realized why he felt fear. Was it due to the lines of strong people on the left and right? No. The direct source of this huge fear was the emperor.
'...The last boss?'
It was impossible to observe the emperor using the Legendary Blacksmith's Eyes or Character Observation. The difference in levels was too great. But Grid's high insight told him that the emperor was strong. Grid couldn't overlook him!
'Isn't this beyond expectations?'
As mentioned several times before, an NPC's strength was often proportional to their status. In particular, those representing a nation or clan were really great. The water clan and the evil eyes were good examples. How strong was the emperor, the master of the continent?
Grid expected that the emperor wouldn't be easy. But he didn't know it would be this much.
The system might make the 'emperor' equivalent to a 'legend.' It was natural when thinking about it. Wouldn't the founder of the empire be a myth? The royal pedigree was special.
"Yes, did you like the welcome?"
"It's more than I deserve. I'm glad that you were willing to accept my sudden request for a visit."
"It might be temporary, but we are allies. It's only natural for me and my people to respect you. Just as you were just polite to me."
The words were full of hidden meaning. The emperor was smiling with a good face, but no favor could be found in the grey eyes that seemed like a beast.
"Yes, what's the reason that you came to find me right now?" The puzzled emperor watched Grid.
"I came to say thank you to Your Majesty, who gave us the mercy of a truce."
"Mercy of a truce..."
The emperor's eyes twitched. What was the reason for the empire first offering a truce to the Overgeared Kingdom? When the empire was about to invade Valhalla, the large army of the Overgeared Kingdom gathered on the border of the empire.
That's right. The emperor didn't want to admit it, but the empire had folded before the Overgeared Kingdom. The empire, which had always one-sidedly trampled on foreign countries, was forced to be diplomatic for the first time. This was a painful shame to the empire. If possible, Juander didn't want to be reminded of it again and hoped it would be erased from the empire's history.
Now this person brought up the empire's embarrassment. Grid didn't have such intentions, but the emperor misunderstood it.
'This son of a bitch dares?'
Punching King Rigal. One of the empire's seven dukes and captain of the air force. He lead a squad of 500 griffons and 300 wyverns. Rigal also led an army of 100,000 to 1,000,000 troops and had tremendous pride in himself and the empire. Rigal couldn't forgive Grid for ignoring the empire and suddenly claiming to be a king.
Rachel, another duke who had been looking at Grid's fighting energy from the beginning, calmed him down.
"The other person is an honored guest. Don't get caught by his provocation. Will you cause international embarrassment just because you can't suppress your anger? Well, I don't know if that was really a provocation. Kukuk!"
Rachel was a descendant of Dehakel, a meritorious retainer at the founding of the empire and a legendary spearman. She used a spear and was the competitor to Kirinus, the best spearman on the continent. The Twilight Spearsmanship that she raised in a war made her comparable to the Red Knights.
Grid felt the atmosphere and inwardly grumbled.
'They came here to greet me, only to not say hello.'
It was nasty. But what could he do? They were powerhouses and Grid was weak. He must endure any treatment that he received. For now.
'Are they the Five Pillars?'
Grid was confirming the information of these strangers when a new voice was heard in his ears.
"Did you really come up this way just to say thank you?"
Even the emperor treated Grid as a king, yet the owner of the voice ignored all his titles. Grid and the emperor frowned at the rudeness.
"Reinhardt was recently attacked by the organization called Immortal?"
The information of the person starting an argument appeared in Grid's eyes.
Occupation: Sword Duke
The master of the Red Knights and the best swordsman in the empire. Grid had also heard of Sword Duke Limit. Limit ignored the unhappy Grid and the emperor and kept on talking.
"The organization called Immortal is now here in Titan. The real reason you came to the empire is to hunt them... Can I say that?"
"Coming here to hunt Immortal?"
The empire might be a bigger nation than the Overgeared Kingdom, but Limit was a duke and Grid was a king. Whatever the truth, it was basic courtesy to at least outwardly treat him as a king. Yet Limit didn't show any manners towards Grid. It felt like the entire Overgeared Kingdom was being ignored. A smile appeared on Limit's face as he saw the fighting energy of the angry Grid.
'Yes, reveal it.'
There were few people who liked the exchange between the empire and the Overgeared Kingdom. Emperor Juander requested a truce with a small kingdom. He was called the most incompetent of all the emperors. What if at this time, Grid showed hostility to Limit, the representative of the nobles?
Limit's loyalty to the emperor would weaken and he could turn to the empress. That's right. Limit's provocation towards Grid had a clear purpose. At this moment, Grid was on the verge of being provoked.
Grid's agitation was an ideal situation. Juander would be a pathetic man ignored by the king of a small kingdom while Limit, the leader of the empress' faction, would suppress this king. As soon as such rumors spread, the position of the empress would become much bigger than before.
Limit was looking forward to it.
"...If I visited the empire's capital for such a reason, things would be much more enjoyable than they are now. I would be able to punish them with my own hand. But isn't it a pity? I didn't know that those villains were hiding here until now."
Grid didn't fall for Limit's provocations. Reaching the top spot among two billion users made him more prudent and wise.
"But it's strange. Duke Limit, how do you know about Immortal? Are you the one who sent Immortal to the Overgeared Kingdom?"
Grid wasn't just suppressing his anger. He returned the provocation to Limit in another form. Playing one side against the other.
"Are you dissatisfied with the armistice agreement that His Majesty made? That's why you attacked the Overgeared Kingdom while breaking the armistice agreement that HIs Majesty made himself?"
Grid highlighted 'His Majesty' several times. It was to push Limit as going against the will of the emperor.
'Of course, it won't work.'
Grid was the emperor's enemy and would be an enemy any time in the future. It wouldn't be hard for the emperor to see that Grid was playing one side against him. Grid was playing one side against the other and Limit was doing the same. But surprisingly, the emperor fell for it. He didn't think it was ridiculous. The problem was that Limit was in the empress' faction. In particular, the emperor had frequently disciplined Limit and the Red Knights recently. The emperor believed that it wouldn't be unusual for Limit to have a grudge against him and for Limit to be behind the Overgeared Kingdom's invasion.
But he didn't show it on the outside. It was impossible to doubt a servant in front of Grid.
"The situation has become noisy. Let's enjoy dinner."
The emperor tried to calm things down as much as possible.
'What can I do about the low level of the non-combat classes?'
Grid was floored when he confirmed the names and level of the supporters attending the dinner. The average level of the powerhouses of the empire was higher than Piaro. The problem was that Piaro had a farmer class. The power of the empire was a huge pressure and Grid felt anxious about the uncertain future. But there was a person even more nervous than him.
It was the beautiful woman who gave off an icy feeling, Mercedes. The owner of this beauty, the First Knight couldn't take her eyes off Grid. It was obvious vigilance. Mercedes was afraid of Grid. It was because her inborn insight at understanding the talent and potential of the target couldn't measure Grid correctly. There was an unknown feeling in the shoulder that Grid had touched an hour before. It was the first time she felt like this, causing Mercedes to feel greater confusion.
"He isn't insignificant."
Sword Duke Limit came to her side and whispered, "Hit Grid."
"You don't have to kill him yourself. Just tell Grid that the empire ordered you to strike at him."
"You want to make it clear that the empire is attacking an honored guest? Can I ask why?"
"The intention is for Grid to break the armistice first. What would happen if the armistice agreement that His Majesty made was one-sidedly destroyed by the other party? It will be an absolute disgrace. His political position will fall to an extent that can't be imagined."
Limit was a person conflicted between the temptation of the empress and his loyalty to the emperor. Now he seemed to be firmly entrenched next to the empress. The emperor's actions of keeping the Red Knights in check had brought about the worst result.
Limit whispered to the sad Mercedes. "The empress will give troops to support you. They're good necromancers. Strike at Grid when he's returning to the Overgeared Kingdom."
Was this right? Mercedes was certain that it wasn't right. All knights were loyal to their master. It was the knight's fate to remain faithful even if they didn't like what their master was doing. Mercedes felt like she was being denied her very existence.
Mercedes bit her lips until blood flowed as she looked between the emperor and Grid. At the same time, in Empress Marie's palace.
"This is a great opportunity. We'll show Grid."
Veradin, the mastermind between Limit joining with the empress, convened the elites of Immortal.