This castle was still as magnificent as ever .
Rhode admired the somewhat familiar castle as he strode through the middle of the spacious corridor . It was evening and Lydia had sent someone to invite him into the ‘Inter-Luminous Moon’ after his dinner . If there was an unspoken criticism about this Duchess, it would be the strange names she gave to the rooms . Moreover, these names were not related to their functionality at all . Rhode recalled that there was a player who once received an ordinary daily mission for him to deliver valuable porcelain to the ‘Black Tea Building’ . In the end, this pitiful player roamed around Golden City for a whole day and couldn’t find its location . The player sought assistance from the forums and was warm-heartedly told that this ‘Black Tea Building’ was simply the corner warehouse on the third floor of Golden City .
… God knew what exactly Lydia was thinking when she named these rooms .
Fortunately, the Inter-Luminous Moon wasn’t a warehouse . Instead, it was located on the highest floor of Golden City and it was a place where this Duchess loved to spend her time in . In the game, this was where the players would usually meet her privately and accept their rewards non-officially . After all, players were mainly adventurers and it wasn’t appropriate for them to be receiving formal receptions in the Government Affairs Office .
Due to this reason, Rhode was somewhat dazzled when he passed through the gloriously lit corridor and stood before the white, gorgeous door—it was as though he had returned into the game and was about to receive his rewards from completing a mission .
The large doors opened gradually .
Comfortable, warm air escaped from the room and Rhode tidied his attire before lifting his chin and entering the spacious and luxurious room . Soon, he spotted the back view of a figure facing the night sky .
Although it had only been a few days, Rhode felt that the back view of this figure gave him an unprecedented feel . If Lydia could be said to be a brilliantly dazzling presence, she could be described as looking rather down under the bright crystal lights and against the night sky . She was as though the only persevering little lamp in the middle of an endless, dark ocean .
“Welcome, Baron Rhode . ” As Rhode was sizing the young lady, Lydia turned around and greeted him with a beautiful smile . Light rays trailed along with her every movement and outlined her flawless wings before vanishing into thin air abruptly . The heavy and strange feelings that Rhode felt had as though melted instantly as soon as he witnessed her beautiful smile . It was still the usual, confident Archangel .
“You must be tired from your long journey . Please have a seat . I’ve prepared first-rate blueberry cakes and tea and I bet you’ll like them . ”
“Thank you very much for your concern, Your Highness . ” Rhode nodded slightly before taking a seat on the soft, comfortable sofa . Shortly after, the maids stepped forth to serve delicately sliced cakes and fragrant tea before leaving the room . Rhode didn’t lift up the teacup instantly . Instead, his attention was fixated on another matter .
“That’s right . ” Lydia sat down opposite him . The Archangel was dressed as per her usual outfit . A close-fitting dress made of thin white fabric outlined her slender curves and vaguely revealed her tender skin, confident grandeur, gracefulness, and arrogance . This outfit stood between the lines of revealing and seductive .
“This is a deserving reward for a hero who annihilated the Devils and stopped the chaotic situation in Soraka Mountain, right?” Lydia twitched her brows cheekily as she spoke with traces of dissatisfaction . “In fact, I’ve actually intended to confer you the Earl feudal rank . But if it weren’t for some who disliked it… It’s a pity that it isn’t easy pleasing everyone . ”
Rhode chose to remain silent diligently . In fact, he didn’t expect that Lydia would confer a feudal rank to him this easily . If this happened in the game, it would’ve been a major surprise for the players . But in this real world, Rhode understood her meaning quickly because it was apparent that this wasn’t as simple as bestowing a reward . Rhode believed that this Archangel understood about the Duke Fiend and that her seat as one of the three Archangel would be for naught if she didn’t reward Rhode heavily after he managed to defeat the Duke Fiend .
“We haven’t met for a while and you are still looking great, Baron Rhode… How is Christie doing?”
“Thank you for your concern, Your Highness . Christie is doing well in the Fortress . Even though her body condition hasn’t fully recovered yet… Humans must still live on no matter what,”
Rhode didn’t give a bogus speech about how Christie’s body was getting better gradually because he knew that Lydia wouldn’t appreciate it . Her esthetic conception made her admire sincere beauty . Not to mention, Lydia had sensed Christie’s condition personally and it wasn’t ideal to lie through his teeth . As expected, Lydia nodded at Rhode’s unrestrained answer . “That’s right, Baron Rhode . The beauty of life depends on their desire for survival . No matter where and what kind of hardship one goes through, one must continue to survive… I believe that Christie can overcome these difficulties . Believe me . ”
Lydia gazed at Rhode meaningfully with her pair of beautiful, round eyes . Shortly after, her smile once again emerged . “I have an intuition that Christie will be fine, Baron Rhode . ”
“Thank you, Your Highness . ” Rhode was somewhat puzzled after hearing Lydia’s words . In his impression, this Duchess wasn’t someone who had a glib tongue . Besides, wasn’t she helpless when she failed to help Christie the previous time? Why would she even drag her intuition into the picture… However, Rhode didn’t give too much thought about it . After all, this Archangel was still in her teens and it wasn’t strange that she would come up with a few mischiefs . Rhode gave a few perfunctory responses and got back to the main topic .
“So then, Your Highness . Regarding Soraka Mountain…”
“I’ve understood the entire happenings of that matter, Baron Rhode . ” Lydia spoke and this was the first time she revealed some agony on her face .
“It pains me to see Sonia suffer . In fact, I do know what was going on . ” Lydia let out a sigh and she began to explain everything to Rhode .
Rhode finally understood what exactly did the so-called Supervisor did . During the ancient era, a huge war erupted in Soraka Mountain and for unknown reasons, the channel that linked the Bottomless Abyss and the main Plane of Existence was opened . Thus, the Duke Fiend invaded the surface with its troops while the Light Dragon and Dark Dragon joined hands to defeat and seal it between their Dragon Souls . However, that was a long time ago and as thousands of years had passed, the tragic battlefield turned into a rare, stable land known as Soraka Mountain . Similar to historical records, the Country of Light and Country of Darkness broke out in a war in order to snatch the natural resources of Soraka Mountain .
And it was during the final stages of this battle that both sides discovered the seal of the Duke Fiend . The seal had loosened due to the war between the two countries and as the heirs of the Dragon Souls, both sides knew how powerful the Duke Fiend sealed below was . If they continued with the war, perhaps there would be huge trouble even before any of them managed to get their hands on Soraka Mountain .
Due to this consideration, both countries ceased the war and chose to retreat . The reason why they forbade armies from entering the Soraka Mountain was that apart from political negotiation, they also wished to avoid further conflicts that would affect the stability of the seal . Thereafter, both sides chose the Munn Kingdom to hold the meeting in order to monitor the seal at all times .
“Sonia has been the seal guardian since the previous selection while my Mother was alive . However, I began to worry as the reports from Soraka Mountain were delivered every year… When you are watching the abyss, the abyss is watching back at you . I don’t know what exactly Sonia faced while she was guarding the Duke Fiend’s seal, but it was apparent from her letters that she was perplexed and the powers of Chaos seemed to be affecting her . I couldn’t enter Soraka Mountain due to my sensitive identity and therefore, I could only choose speech to suppress the Chaos in her . But it seemed that it wasn’t too effective as she was completely overcome by the power of Chaos and became a believer of Chaos . As for the issues regarding Soraka Mountain, I was also aware and intended to move her back . But never did I expect…” Lydia eventually didn’t continue her sentence .
In the entire event of Soraka Mountain, Rhode was most suspicious about why the Duke Fiend appeared in the first place . But now, he finally solved the mystery—and the reason was the Chairman .
In the history of the game, Soraka Mountain declared to join the Country of Darkness and their choice wasn’t faced with obstacles at all . This proved that the Chairman must’ve been dead and he wasn’t around to stop parliament members from joining the Country of Darkness through a decision . Judging on the information that Rhode heard while escorting the Chairman, Soraka Mountain chose the Country of Darkness not solely because of the pressure applied to them by the Country of Light . Instead, they were using the Country of Darkness as a shield from the Duke Fiend . And in the end, history had proven that they made the right choice as the Duke Fiend eventually woke up and forced the Dark Dragon that was facing the Munn Kingdom to leave the battlefield and fight the Duke Fiend instead .
This was the truth in the game world that Rhode had experienced .
However, history had changed here . Rhode rescued the Chairman and the Chairman had chosen the other solution . Instead of leaving the seal alone to slowly free itself, the Chairman attempted to reinforce the strength of the seal, which further triggered the Supervisor, who had been contaminated by the Chaos . In the end, she awakened the Duke Fiend in the face of the Chairman’s threat…
It seems that my actions have brought huge changes to the events .
Rhode let out a bitter smile at this thought . Rhode felt that it was a pity that he changed only these minor details . “So then, Your Highness, pardon my rudeness… This upcoming hearing…”
“I was about to explain to you, Baron Rhode . ” Lydia kept her smile . “According to you, there’s only a handful of people who know the truth of this incident . But now, the Country of Light;s Parliament have sent their diplomatic group… They seem to be aware of the truth and they hope that our Munn Kingdom will take responsibility for the failure in maintaining the seal in Soraka Mountain . ”
This so-called responsibility means to make Lydia step down? What a great plan .
“Is Your Highness aware of exactly how much they know about this incident?” Rhode asked . Depending on who was present during the incident, the incident would change even if one was present . Rhode, Corina, the Elderly Mage of the Order Alliance, Di, and his Undead Knight were present when they met the contaminated Supervisor . Later, only Corina was present to witness the end of the Duke Fiend’s life, while Di and his Undead Knight had fled before Bubble and Canary arrived at the scene . On the other hand, the Elderly Mage was unconscious and he only woke up after the incident . Therefore, everyone had a different understanding of the situation .
Amongst them, it was hard to determine who would tell the truth to the Country of Light’s Parliament .
Even though they were united when facing the Imps and escaped the attacks of the Duke Fiend, their difference in identities and standpoints had decided that they couldn’t possibly give up their responsibilities due to their same sufferings .
“I don’t know the specific situation . ” Lydia shook her head slightly . “But this time, the Country of Light insisted that you must be present for the hearing and that means they perhaps are aware of something… Besides, there aren’t many people who know about you . ”
I see . It seems that I have to be pragmatic, then .
Rhode lifted his head and gazed at the young lady . “Don’t worry, Your Highness . I know what to do now . Thank you for your time . ”
Rhode bowed respectfully and left the room while Lydia gazed at his back meaningfully .
The diplomatic group was indeed fast . It was only the second day of Rhode’s arrival in Golden City and they had requested for a hearing with Lydia . Besides that, there was also a strongly-worded letter that reprimanded Rhode for causing harm to the diplomatic group . They requested for the Munn Kingdom to hand Rhode over to apologize and compensate for the damages to them . Of course, Lydia threw the letter into the bin without even reading it .
“What an eyesore . Those foul, squeaking rats trying to win over my sympathy . But I won’t grant their wish,” Lydia said plainly as she wiped her hands with a handkerchief as though the letter was a filthy item . Amund gaped as he observed Royal Highness Lydia’s childish behavior and the thousand words that he wished to speak turned into a single breath . “… Your Highness, are you ready?”
“I have always been uninterested in comical dramas that have their ending decided . ” Lydia turned towards Amund with her elegant, yet proud smile . “But this time, I’m sort of excited, Teacher . What surprise do you think Baron Rhode will bring us?”
“Please pardon my words . I have long passed the age of looking forward to a surprise . I will be more than happy as long as there’s no trouble with this hearing,” Amund spoke truthfully . Lydia’s unscrupulous behavior was more than enough to give him a headache . Now that there was Rhode, who Lydia agreed to let deal with the situation by his own actions, in this solemn occasion with the diplomatic group of the Country of Light . Amund felt butterflies in his stomach .
“That’s not very right, Teacher Amund . No matter how old one is, one must be filled with anticipation towards the unknown future . It isn’t just a day or two that the Country of Light’s Parliament has tried to deal with me . It’s about time this hilarious drama comes to an end,” Lydia twitched her brows while a glint flashed in her eyes . “I hope this ending wouldn’t disappoint me . ”
The deep bugle horns sounded and Rhode strode into the grand hall .
The round-shaped hall was filled fully on both ends . The nobles stood by the railing on the second floor as they gazed at the guards leading Rhode into the hall . As nobles who had lived in Golden City for most of their years, rumors spread faster than the speed of light amongst them and as of now, almost everyone knew the role and identity that this young man played in Soraka Mountain . The nobles had expected that Lydia would be conferring this young man a feudal rank considering her personality in awarding huge rewards and the young man’s hard work .
However, this reward wasn’t as simple as just a reward . Based on the reward that Lydia would bestow, the nobles would understand the decision that the King’s Party had made .
If Lydia gave Rhode a certain amount of gold or other rewards, it would mean that she had given up on this young man and would leave him in the hands of the Country of Light’s Parliament . However, Lydia actually gave him a feudal rank as a reward, even if it was the smallest rank, the nobles knew that this meant that Rhode had become a part of the Munn Kingdom’s political body and was no longer an ordinary mercenary . Although he might have a rich family background, there would be no value if the reward wasn’t anything that graced his honor .
MP Danny stood in the middle of the hall with an ashen expression under the protection of Tres and the other guards . He stared coldly at the black-haired young man entering the hall casually and at this moment, a crisp voice sounded from the front of the wide hall . “In this sacred Glory Hall, I shall represent the Munn Kingdom to witness this hearing… Are there any objections, MP Danny?”
“No objections, Your Highness Lydia . ” Danny stayed calm and nodded firmly . “This time, we, the Country of Light’s Parliament, are here to investigate the incident that happened in Soraka Mountain and the problem of the Munn Kingdom’s negligence to the seal… The Devil re-emerged from the broken seal and the Munn Kingdom wasn’t able to fulfill their resolution in guarding the seal . Therefore, we, the Country of Light’s Parliament, have come to a consensus that the Munn Kingdom shall take up the responsibility in order to answer to the Light Dragon, the Country of Light’s Parliament, and the civilians of Soraka Mountain who have suffered miserably in this disaster… Does Your Highness Lydia have any views on this?”
“I don’t have any opinion about it . ” The young lady’s smile remained the same . “Although the Munn Kingdom is indeed serving Her Majesty Light Dragon, we won’t decide based on the words of just some people . So then, MP Danny, I’m sure you have the evidence to prove your point?”
“That’s for sure!” The fat parliament member’s cheeks bounced as he nodded with all his might . Then, he turned around and pointed at Rhode . “We have eyewitnesses who escaped from the disaster and they can prove that it was this man who single-handedly led to the breaking of the seal!”