They were the people who were praised as 'pillars' for supporting the empire. However, Mercedes and most of the empire didn't acknowledge the Five Pillars. No, to be precise, they couldn't acknowledge the Five Pillars. It was because the Five Pillars didn't have anything to show. They were strong, but they hadn't achieved any particular feat.
Well, it could be said that they strengthened the emperor by protecting the emperor's side, maintaining the empire's balance as a result. However, on the other hand, what about the former pillars called Piaro and Asmophel? They had defeated countless enemies and protected countless people. They were a paragon of the people and the nobles, saving the empire whenever it was in a crisis and giving courage to the imperialists.
Piaro and Asmophel were great people.
'Don't joke around.' Mercedes couldn't speak her wishes and hopes. It was because her insight was telling her that it was real and not a trick. Piaro's farming power had indeed created a new field in an instant.
"Why..." Mercedes was pale as she bit her trembling lips. She wanted this moment to be a nightmare. However, this was reality. It was terrible.
"Why are you a farmer?"
The occupation of a farmer was exclusive to the peasants.
Mercedes cared for the people but she was still a noble. She had been taught that there was dignity in every profession, and she acknowledged it. However, Mercedes was nobler than anyone. She couldn't understand or acknowledge that the Piaro she had long admired was now a humble farmer.
Piaro understood her feelings as he was also from the nobility. However, now Piaro realized that… "I like being a farmer better than a great swordsman."
Piaro held the pitchfork and pulled out a flail. It was a tool used to thrash grain. "There is no job that is better than another. If we have to discuss it, a farmer is nobler than a great swordsman or Sword Saint. Without a farmer, there is no food for daily use. If there was no delicious food, humanity couldn't have developed this much and be happy."
After all, if there was no hunter, meat or leather couldn't be gathered. Mercedes rejected Piaro's extreme remarks and felt a sense of duty instead. During the past 12 years, she had felt a sense of duty to help the 'broken' Piaro recover from his hellish life.
"There isn't the time for questions and answers."
Her torn silver wings shone brilliantly again.
Mercedes' two swords started to glow. The pure brilliance filled the darkness of the night and swallowed up the moon.
"Piaro! Regain your mind!"
Mercedes' attacks were exceptional. The white light attacks created numerous wounds on Piaro's body. Piaro was only wearing thin cloth clothes and couldn't resist Mercedes' sharp attacks. However, there was a bigger problem. Mercedes started to swap weapons. She accumulated damage on Piaro without giving him time to rest and opened the distance to avoid a counterattack.
Of course, Piaro was persistent. He used his rapid growth ability to create a barrier of plants and cut off ranged attacks. Rice, wheat, potatoes, and cabbages flew in the air.
"...!" Mercedes withdrew. The grains and vegetables contracted like they were going to explode. However, this time they didn't explode. They struck her body instead. Piaro linked this attack with the Free Farming 6th Style. It became a barrage of attacks!
Mercedes shook as the flail hit her back. Her defense was quite weak since she was only wearing old leather armor, so she felt great pain. It was more painful than when she was stabbed by a sword or spear. For a noble knight to be beaten by a farmer... Her mental suffering was incomparable.
"How about it? This is the power of a farmer! I am much stronger and healthier than I was during my days of a great swordsman. I can bring happiness to more people! This is it!"
"This is my new path!"
The earth was in turmoil. The effects produced by two legends fighting was gorgeous enough to be compared to the raid of a great demon. It was on a different scale as all the farmland in the path of the two people disappeared. Grid watched the two people fighting from a distance and gulped. "A dragon and tiger fighting...!"
A dragon and tiger...
However, that wasn't Grid's problem right now. He was too busy feeling in awe.
'Was Piaro always this strong?'
The grains exploded without a break. Crops rose from the ground and stretched around Mercedes' body. Mercedes' actions were severely restricted as her wrists and ankles were caught by the crops that kept growing. Mercedes' perfect balance of swapping between all types of weapons—sword, axe, bow, shield, spear, and so on—on a case by case basis collapsed before the crops.
In the end, was this another nerf? Had Mercedes weakened the moment she became his ally? No, that wasn't it. Mercedes was still strong. It was just that Piaro was stronger than her.
Grid noticed belatedly, "The farmland..."
These were the fields that Piaro had been working on for years. This place...
"It is Piaro's field...!"
Piaro was already beyond the standards of an NPC. The legendary Piaro was now a boss monster. Grid's heart beat excitedly as he had great confidence in Piaro who always showed overwhelming strength. He felt that he could infinitely count on Piaro.
As for the regret that he felt about Piaro becoming a farmer? That had blown away. It would be strange if Grid felt regretful about it. After all, Piaro was now fighting several times better than Sword Saint Kraugel!
"Piaro!" Grid's cry resonated in the farmland. "Show me the power of the strongest!"
His shout echoed. It pierced through the sound of the hand plow and sword colliding in the air and into Piaro's ears. Piaro's hands trembled as he held the farming equipment. "If this is Your Majesty's wish...!"
The wind raged, and Mercedes' silver wings fluttered like in a storm. Piaro's hands rotated. "Free Farming!"
"...!!" Mercedes' eyes widened. It was because her two swords were sucked into Piaro's rotating hands.
'Supreme Swordsmanship 4th style...!'
Piaro's old swordsmanship had been a great contribution to bringing down the great demon Astaroth.
It was sublimated and expressed as a more powerful agricultural method. This was enough to neutralize Mercedes' weapons and cause the ground to shake. Then a water pillar erupted and struck Mercedes' body.
"Ah..." As Mercedes flew through the air, she realized, 'One occupation isn't more noble than another.'
Her way of thinking expanded. At this moment, 1st Knight Mercedes set up her first chivalric code.
'Don't be prejudiced.'
At this moment...
[Legendary Knight Mercedes had created a new chivalric code.]
[All of the legendary knight Mercedes' stats will increase by 10% and the chance of weak spots being exposed will decrease by 80%.]
"...?" Grid's expression became one of astonishment as he watched the two people duel. Mercedes crashed to the ground and bowed her head to Piaro. "We have been reunited after 12 years. I wasn't able to show my development but I received your teachings. I am ashamed and thankful."
"I have also learned a lot. I can't be assured of victory if you fought with all your power."
"No. I would've lost anyway."
"Huhu, you are too modest."
The night deepened with a warm sight.
"Are you just leaving?"
After the battle was over, Mercedes and Piaro unburdened their hearts all night and came to Grid in the morning. Piaro said he would leave for the vampire cities. "Yes. Now that the best knight is with Your Majesty, I can leave feeling reassured."
"Why are you so diligent? Hasn't it been a long time since you reunited with Mercedes? Why don't you stay for a few more days?"
Piaro was a valuable person to Grid, so he didn't want Piaro to be stressed. Piaro spoke a surprising name to the concerned Grid, "I was shaken when I heard the news about Khan. If I had succeeded in growing the golden walnut a bit sooner... If I had, Khan might've been able to live a bit longer."
Grid's grief and suffering at Khan's sudden departure was passed onto Piaro, who lived with regret.
"Your Majesty, I am going to be more diligent."
Piaro's true heart was transmitted to Grid, and Grid could no longer stop him. Feeling thankful, Grid grasped Piaro's hands. "Thank you. But keep this in mind. Don't overdo it. I won't forgive you if you leave like Khan."
It was a touching scene. Mercedes smiled as she saw the leader and subordinate caring about each other.
"Piaro, wait!" Someone's shout rang out. The person who showed up was Administrator Rabbit. He first politely greeted Grid before handing a piece of paper to Piaro. "This is the cost of the damage dealt to the farmlands yesterday! I'll get it from your pay!"
The reason why the Overgeared Kingdom had been able to make steady progress during Grid's absence was thanks to all the people who worked so hard.
"What amazing children." Sage Sticks was now the principal of the Overgeared Academy, and the smile couldn't disappear from his face. "They were a bit slow to learn at first. But once they got the hang of common sense, they evolved remarkably. All 23 children will surely grow into great scholars and magicians."
They were talking about the children Grid had brought over from the Tower of Eternity. The children, who had been misunderstood as Grid's children, had recently been the topic of discussion in the Overgeared Kingdom. It was because all the children had genius brains.
A smile appeared on Grid's face. "This is good news. Are the kids healthy?"
"Yes. The shades in their hearts have been removed. I think that the affection Your Majesty showed while bringing the children here healed many of their wounds. You did well. You did very well." Sticks' eyes were warm as he gazed at Grid.
The noble elf species—they disliked the selfish and violent tendencies of humans. Were they any elves in history who felt great affection for humans? There were none. Yet Sticks felt great affection toward Grid who gave him new feelings. Thanks to Grid, Sticks got rid of his prejudices against humans. It was a hasty change.
"I finally found it." Merchant King Kir was the first player to find the World Tree's Forest. A species quest was about to be opened by a player, and it was actually in the worst form.