The Overgeared Kingdom was the strongest player force in the game and a threat to anyone. It was a basic thing to target them. There were countless people trying to keep the Overgeared Kingdom in check. But Grid wasn't aware of this fact. He overlooked the fate of the strong. He didn't properly defend his kingdom during the National Competition and allowed the enemy to enter.
Grid thought that Khan's sad end was the result of his own stupidity. Khan was the victim of his ignorance.
After Khan's death, Grid became obsessed with wisdom. If he had been a bit wiser, Khan's end wouldn't have been so lonely. Therefore, Grid challenged being reborn as a wise man. The accumulation of knowledge was slow because of his innate intelligence, but Grid believed that by repeatedly thinking 'infinite' times, he could use his own merits and patience to become a wise man. No, he decided not to believe, but to put it in action.
This was the result. Grid was thinking nonstop. He lacked intelligence compared to others, so he had to think many times more than others. He continued and continued to think whenever facing a situation. His head was constantly working.
Why did he summon only Piaro when he was attacked by the Red Knights and Immortal? It was because Agnus couldn't be seen. As a result, Grid thought that the Red Knights and Immortal members attacking him might be bait. If he caught the bait and summoned all his knights, his kingdom would be weakened and the empty house could be destroyed. That's why he first summoned Piaro.
It was this same context that Grid used to judge that Mercedes' aide should be handled. The reason why Grid was concerned about the aide wasn't because he was smart, but because he was thinking.
Grid was exhausted. It was different from when he chose without worrying, acted emotionally, and depended on others. The energy consumption of this mindset was enormous.
Kasim disappeared into the darkness.
Grid leaned his exhausted body against the carriage. It was like he had just raided a powerful boss monster. Piaro measured his condition and bowed deeply.
"You went through a lot of trouble."
Piaro was proud of Grid. Rather than being frustrated by Khan's death, Grid honored Khan by looking at himself. Grid had done well when facing the emperor. Piaro had this type of belief.
Grid asked the smiling Piaro, "Was I right to handle the aide?"
Grid had witnessed the discipline of the Red Knights. They were shaken by Piaro's appearance, but immediately executed Mercedes' orders. They doubted Asmophel's story, but didn't resist Mercedes' judgment. Grid believed that the Red Knights in this place wouldn't talk about Piaro and Asmophel. But the aide was unknown. It was difficult to judge what type of person the aide was when he protected the horses in the distance. That's why Grid ordered Kasim to handle him.
Piaro nodded. "Mercedes will decide on her own. She will sort out the trustworthy and untrustworthy knights and aides."
"You trust her."
"She's an incredibly smart girl."
That's why she was his seed.
"And she grew to my expectations. She will later become a new pillar of the empire."
In fact, Piaro was very surprised when he was called by Grid and met Mercedes. He hadn't thought she was alive. It was natural. Didn't the brainwashed Asmophel destroy all of the Red Knights in the past? Asmophel wouldn't leave anyone to hit him in the back. It was difficult to expect that Mercedes, a seed of Piaro, would've survived.
But Asmophel saved Mercedes. The reason...
'In his subconscious, he was afraid for the empire.'
Asmophel was reluctant to kill talent even in his brainwashed days. That was Mercedes. Piaro looked up at the night sky.
"I have become greedier because of your words." Grid declared, "I'm going to make Mercedes mine."
Grid faced an unprecedented pressure when competing with Mercedes. He felt like she was reading all his actions. At first, he thought it was just her excellent skills, but looking back, it wasn't. It was clear that she 'predicted' his behavior.
'A scam.' Grid asserted.
Mercedes was in the same class as Piaro. A wall that normal players could never cross. A transcendent named NPC. Grid wanted to make her his own person. Piaro thought the same. When he exchanged blows with Mercedes, he thought the only way to overthrow her was Fated to Perish.
'Once more time passes...'
She would grow to a level of rejecting Fated to Perish. Piaro's greed grew.
"That's right, Your Majesty. She must be gathered by Your Majesty."
Grid nodded. He swallowed down the question of whether Piaro yearned for the empire and his country. He trusted Piaro.
"Let's return to Reinhardt."
Grid thought that it was highly unlikely the empire was behind this raid. It was highly likely the empress was the mastermind. But the issue was too big to judge for himself. He had to quickly meet Lauel. Grid immediately climbed into the carriage.
This one day in the empire was like a year. Grid sat on the seat and his eyes moved towards the window. Asmophel entered his gaze. Asmophel was walking on the right side of the carriage with a pained expression.
'His guilt has gone beyond his heart and imprinted in his soul.'
Salvation would be difficult. Piaro might've forgiven him, but the dead Red Knights and their families couldn't. As Grid predicted, Asmophel was willing to end his life the moment he got revenge on the empress.
'...Wait.' Grid made a sad expression only to come up with something. 'Did all the Red Knights really die?'
The rebels who followed the traitor Piaro. This was the evaluation of the previous generation of Red Knights. Grid heard that 'most' of the Red Knights were executed. Yes, most of them. It wasn't all of them. Some were still surviving as fugitives.
'Maybe I can give Asmophel a chance to atone?'
Grid didn't delay. He immediately gave an order to Asmophel, "Asmophel, travel through the continent and find the survivors of the Red Knights."
Surprise and fear. Asmophel's face turned grey from the unexpected command.
Grid stared into his wavering gaze and explained, "I will absorb the previous generation of the Red Knights. It isn't impossible to absorb them. Isn't that right?"
"You want to gather the survivors of the old Red Knights?"
"Is it really appropriate for me to be the one to find them? Why are you leaving it to me instead of Piaro…?"
Asmophel stopped talking. He grasped Grid's intent but he didn't dare say the word 'atonement.' He bowed his head with a dark expression.
"Piaro forgave you."
"Won't the others be the same? They will all feel like Piaro."
"Find them. Then talk to them."
Asmophel could only think that the command to 'find the old Red Knights' was purely out of concern for himself. It was also a chance to bring the 'power of the previous generation' to the kingdom. It was an example that showed Grid's mindset of thinking about his precious people, which was the greatest driving force behind the Overgeared Kingdom.
"Always be happy."
"This is the dying wish I received from Khan. Let us try to be happy together."
"...I will keep that in mind."
Asmophel stopped walking and bowed deeply. He didn't raise his head until the carriage that Grid was in had disappeared from view.
Piaro cheered for Asmophel on his journey of atonement.
Please come back with old friends.
[Hwan Kingdom's Resident (1)]
★ Hidden Quest ★
You have to meet the minimal qualifications to challenge the Chiyou test.
First, go beyond the level of an ordinary person.
Quest Clear Condition (1): Don't die until you reach level 400.
* Every time you gain 20 levels without dying while the quest is ongoing, you will gain a large number of additional stats.
* If you die, you will lose all the additional stats you have acquired. The lost stats can't be restored.
* If you die, the quest clear conditions will change to number two.
Quest Clear Condition (2): The number of deaths must be less than 5 until you achieve level 400 (Number of Deaths: 2/5).
* This is the last chance. If you fail to complete the second clear conditions, you will completely lose your qualification to challenge the Chiyou test.
In the past, Veradin visited the East Continent and completely focused on the yangbans of the Hwan Kingdom. He anticipated that he could benefit from the greatest power on the East Continent. As a result, he was the first player to visit the Hwan Kingdom and received the hidden quest to become a 'yangban.'
It was because he gave off a good impression to the yangbans. At that time, Veradin was level 290. He tried hard to go over level 300 without dying and secured a tremendous amount of stats as a result. But it was all blown away. He touched the Overgeared Kingdom and died two times already.
Veradin gulped with a pale complexion. Grid's words 'the first time' constantly revolved in his head. Grid really would try to find and kill Veradin many times.
"...In the meantime, I will hide."
Veradin always believed he was better than others. For a person who manipulated other people, Grid and his items that violated common sense caused him to feel a new shock and horror. He didn't want to face Grid anytime soon. It was the first time that Veradin feared another person.
'I can't believe I'm feeling like this towards an ordinary person...!'
Anger filled Veradin's body. He suddenly had a question. It was about the reaction of the Red Knights to the farmer summoned by Grid.
'Why did they look so shocked?'
The necromancers were in the rear of the battlefield. They were too far away so Veradin couldn't hear the conversation. This was bad.
'There is something. Something....'
Maybe the key to breaking the current crisis was the farmer? Veradin looked at new possibilities.
At the same time, the outskirts of Titan.
Mercedes' sword blocked a dagger flying through the darkness. Sky belatedly realized that his neck would've been pierced if Mercedes hadn't acted and hurriedly raised his shield. Mercedes looked into the darkness.
"Tell the Overgeared King I know what he's concerned about. Please let me handle it."
A chill went down Sky's spine as a gloomy voice was heard from the darkness.
'What? Why was I on the brink of being assassinated?'
Mercedes said to the frightened Sky, "As of today, you are dismissed."
"You can never set foot in the imperial palace again."
"W-What is this...?!"
What the hell was this all of a sudden? It happened when Sky was confused and going to ask for an explanation.
[You have lost your qualifications for the second class 'First Knight's Aide.']
[All Red Knights quests currently in progress will be destroyed.]
[You are denied entry to the imperial palace.]
[The 7 points of affinity built up with Mercedes have been reset to 0.]
"Eh...? Eh eh?"
Sky trembled from the unbelievable reality. He was worried that Mercedes had noticed the darkness inside him. After a while, he was left alone. Sky reflected on this incident and realized that Grid was behind it. He had to think about the circumstances.
"You...! You son of a bitch!"
Sky felt extreme anger at Grid because he could no longer fulfill his goal of making Mercedes his slave. But after a moment.
Sky started to feel fear instead of anger. He feared Grid's transcendent power that could destroy one person's life so easily. The presence of the new and matured king was too great to compare to the previous one.