The girl on the stairs was really small and didn't even reach Grid's waist. Grid couldn't accept the name that floated above the girl's head. Goldhit? It was ridiculous that this girl could be the magician king.
"What is your name? Why are you in a place like this? Where did your parents go?"
The girl made a guileless expression. Simultaneously, laughter emerged from her that was far from innocent. It was reminiscent of an old lady's laugh. "Yohoho... I am Goldhit. Some people call me the magician king."
"...Is this real?" Grid could no longer deny reality and his mouth dropped open. Where was the appearance of the old woman who was over 120 years old? Even the elves, famous for their longevity, wouldn't look like this. Grid regained his spirit and asked, "Is this due to magic?"
Goldhit nodded with her plaited red hair moving cutely. "Correct. Magic is an area that creates miracles. I have been constantly trying to obtain the ultimate miracle, and as a result, I look like this now. Yohohoho."
He should've noticed from the name 'Tower of Eternity.' Grid immediately realized what was the 'ultimate miracle' that Goldhit wanted.
However, it went against providence. Grid bet that Goldhit had been pointed at and reprimanded by countless people for all sorts of reasons. Yet Grid didn't reproach her. After all, didn't Grid want Khan to have eternal life, and wasn't he afraid of Irene's death? Grid understood Goldhit's wish.
"Amazing. Using magic to regain youth..."
Goldhit was indeed worthy of being called the magician king. While Grid was admiring her, Goldhit made a subtle expression. "Your Majesty, did you interpret it as regaining youth? Yohoho... You are really pure, unlike what I expected."
They were meaningful words. If Goldhit hadn't regained her youth, then how did she look like she did now? Anxiety settled in his heart as Grid felt a strange incongruity. He felt a sense of rejection toward Goldhit. However, Goldhit didn't give him a chance to think too deeply. "I want to thank you for answering my invitation. It is an honor to be able to host the best hero of our time."
Her tone didn't match her appearance. She was even standing with her hands behind her back. It seemed that she couldn't abandon the habits of the old.
"Why did you invite me?" Grid asked bluntly. In fact, Grid didn't like Goldhit's emergence as the hidden quest had ended with it.
'If I had continued with the quest, my intelligence could've reached 2,000 points.'
It was possible based on the progress of the quest and the increase in intelligence given. So, it was disappointing for Grid since he could obtain Fireball (Enhanced) the moment his intelligence exceeded 2,500. Then Goldhit made a shocking suggestion, "Can you take me as your disciple?"
The magician king wanted to be his disciple? Grid doubted his ears. "The best magician on the continent wants to learn blacksmithing?"
"No, that is impossible."
Indeed, he wasn't mistaken.
'I heard wrong.'
He had been straining himself since Khan's death, so he was weary. Should he start taking energy supplements? Grid looked seriously worried about himself. Meanwhile, Goldhit added, "I want to learn magic, not blacksmithing."
"What?" Grid's expression distorted. "Did you invite me here to joke around?"
The best magician on the continent wanted a blacksmith to teach her magic? It was a joke that even an elementary school student wouldn't make.
'Has her brain become younger?' Grid clicked his tongue, not hiding his displeasure. He was the Overgeared King and didn't like Goldhit joking around with him. It was like she was ignoring the Overgeared Kingdom.
Goldhit spoke to the displeased Grid with a gentle expression, "Don't be offended. I'm serious. I want to receive Braham's enhanced magic from Your Majesty."
"...?" Grid was startled. The name 'Braham' had unexpectedly emerged from Goldhit's mouth.
Additionally, how did she know that he had learned Braham's magic? Then Grid noticed his mistake.
'Was she watching when I fought the lightning god?'
His opponent was the magician king. The system recognized her as a 'powerhouse of the time.' She wasn't a legend but she could someday become one. If she was that type of person, it was possible for her to see the origin of the magic that Grid had used on the lightning god.
"Of course, I'm not simply asking. If Your Majesty teaches me magic, you will get something in return." A cheerful smile appeared on Goldhit's face. With ruddy skin, freckles, red hair, and round eyes, she was a really lovely girl... At least, when it came to appearance.
"What can I get? What will you do for me if I agree?"
"I have protected the empire through three generations of emperors. It means I am an important person in the empire. I have accumulated enormous wealth and power thanks to my abilities and the halo of the empire."
"It is almost almighty. If you want anything, just tell me. I will listen to any request from you. Yohohoho." It was an irresistible temptation. Goldhit was certain of this.
"The thunder stone," Grid said what he wanted. "The stone that is on the roof of your tower. Give it to me."
"...That is a bit too much to ask." Goldhit frowned for the first time. "You truly are a legendary blacksmith. You know about the thunder stone."
"It is impossible for me to not know."
"Then don't you know that it is an impossible request? The value of the thunder stone is incomparable to anything in the world. It can't be obtained unless a great demon descends..."
"You know." Grid cut Goldhit off. "You know that the thunder stone is closely related to a great demon and yet you left it like that without disposing of it? Don't you know what a great demon can do?"
"The thunder stone is the symbol of Astaroth, one of the great demons who lost his flesh due to Muller and is disqualified from being a great demon. How can he be a big threat?"
"The thunder stone has enormous magic power. It is a great help to the development of magic and weapons. How can I dispose of such a precious treasure just because of a weakened great demon?"
"Hat!" Grid burst out laughing. Weakened great demon? What would happen if it became known that Astaroth had been playing in the empire for the past decade? One thing was clear. Goldhit's reputation would nosedive, and her presence in the empire would weaken.
An alarm sounded all over the tower the moment Grid was feeling convinced of this. The magician Raji hurriedly ran over. "Master! Something is happening in the imperial palace!"
"I know." Goldhit reached out into the air. Then a space similar to the players' inventory was created, and a white robe popped out. Goldhit put on the robe and looked at Grid. "I have to delay this story for a while."
'Yes, go.' He would smash the thunder stone in the period of time when she wasn't here. Grid was convinced that the disturbance in the imperial palace was linked to Gyuratan. Goldhit read Grid's intentions but didn't feel uneasy. "Stop any silly talk. Nobody can access the thunder stone without my permission. I'll just get mad at you."
A large number of traps and five lightning gods were protecting the thunder stone. It was a thorough defense that not even Astaroth could get through.
"I will go and come back. I will solve the problem so that my precious guest won't wait long. Yohohoho..." Goldhit laughed bizarrely, and the small body in white robes disappeared. Grid waited for her to disappear from view and headed straight upstairs. His destination was naturally the top of the tower. He planned to destroy the thunder stone for Mercedes' safety and then pick up the wreckage.
However, how could it be that easy? On the next floor, Grid faced a maze. It was a huge and complicated maze, and he couldn't see a way out. A magician came up to him and said, "Goldhit has asked me to take care of Your Majesty. Now, let's go down. I will serve you respectfully."
"Can't I go up?" Grid refused the friendly magician's offer.
In turn, the magician scoffed, "The Tower of Eternity isn't a place that any dog or cattle can climb."
"I can't see anything with my eyes. Are you a dog?"
To think that the king of the Overgeared Kingdom and the peak of two billion users was being called a dog or cattle? There was no reason for Grid to endure his anger. He eagerly pulled out the Enlightenment Sword, consuming the fighting energy that had risen during his encounter with Goldhit.
Kwa kwa kwa kwa kwa kwa kwa kwa!
The red and purple energy blades penetrated the maze in a straight line. From there, the maze started to collapse, and an explosion occurred in a corner of the Tower of Eternity which had been firmly in place for ages. There was now a small hole in the high tower.
Did Grid just blow up a magic trap with force? Furthermore, did he call out 100,000 Army Massacre Sword? It was then that the magician discovered Grid's identity. "T-The Undefeated King's descend... Keok!"
However, the current Grid wasn't lax. He didn't hesitate to kill the eyewitness and climbed to the next floor.
"Uh...!" Mercedes' scream resonated in the hall. As a matter of fact, Gyuratan had been aiming at Mercedes, not the emperor, from the beginning. It was because he knew that Bain would come out when he reached the emperor. It also meant that Bain wouldn't act unless the emperor was being aimed at.
"Sir Mercedes!" The knights heard the turmoil and were aghast. They roared angrily and came to rescue her from Astaroth.
"Don't move if you want this woman to live." Gyuratan was holding Mercedes by the neck. She was poisoned by the demonic energy that entered her body through the sword cut.
The knights were stunned while the emperor gave an imperial order, "First Knight, I will allow you to be armed."
"Sir Mercedes!" Two quick-witted knights threw their swords toward Mercedes.
Two flashes of lights gleamed around Gyuratan's body. "Kuk...!"
They were truly agile movements. Gyuratan trembled as he let go of Mercedes. Mercedes stood before the emperor and tore at the bottom of her blood-stained dress to allow for easier movement. She faced Gyuratan and opened her mouth, "12 years ago, you committed the sin of killing the Red Knights and their families who devoted themselves to the empire."
"You have committed the sin of deceiving His Majesty and the empire's people."
The reception hall was tense. Gyuratan was dumbfounded while Mercedes was crying.
"...You have committed the sin of placing a stigma on Piaro. I will never forgive you," Mercedes declared with no fear in her eyes.
Justice would destroy evil.