Published at 21st of November 2020 09:27:06 PM
Editors: Ana_Banana, Yahiko
Someone dropped down from the ceiling.
It was a woman whose face was hidden behind a mask.
She was wearing a tight-fitting nocturnal suit, which made it easy to tell her gender.
Her mask only covered half her face and left her forehead exposed, her rich black hair tied back in one braid.
Overall, she gave off a very cold impression.
“You’re her bodyguard?”
“Yes. That’s right.”
A fake smile would never work on this man, so she didn’t bother to waste her time doing so.
Fiore’s expression changed as she thought of how to proceed with this conversation.
‘I hate to admit it.’
She had to admit it.
This battle had ended in her defeat.
Her complete and utter defeat.
“Using an Assassin as a bodyguard. How eccentric.”
“Veronica isn’t an Assassin.”
Fiore quickly denied it.
It would not be good for her if he used that fact to pressure her.
Frey nodded as he said.
“My apologies. She’s wearing a voice modulating mask, a black leopard skin bodysuit and has nine daggers, so I was mistaken.”
Fiore pressed her temples.
It was a habit that she’d developed when she felt mentally burdened.
She couldn’t even feel admiration anymore.
Finally, she nodded, trying to minimize her losses.
“You’re right. Veronica is an Assassin.”
Even if she admitted it, she knew she wouldn’t get much of a reaction.
At that point, Fiore felt like she might get more of a reaction from a wall of bricks.
She was tired.
She never would have expected that she could feel this tired after only engaging in psychological warfare with this person for a few minutes.
Frey was right.
The woman next to her, Veronica, was an Assassin.
In fact, she was one of the most skilled Assassins on the entire continent.
Veronica’s expression was cold.
She was staring at Frey with an incredibly cold gaze. Her pride had been severely wounded by this man.
“Why don’t you repeat what you said earlier?”
Her eyes were practically burning.
Fiore felt her reaction was unusual and quickly tried to stop her, but Frey’s response was even faster.
“What I said earlier? Ah, I said I could kill you.”
“Ha. A Wizard killing an Assassin. That sort of nonsense only comes out of the lips of Wizards who think too highly of themselves.”
Then, she drew a dagger and glared at Frey.
But Frey simply shook his head at her.
“Are you really threatening a top-class Archmage? You don’t have the strength. Put your dagger away.”
Fiore’s eyes opened wide.
A small skirmish broke out, but her eyes couldn’t keep up with it.
She looked at Veronica’s face.
Veronica had her head down with a somber expression on her face.
The dagger in her hand had also disappeared.
Frey, on the other hand, remained expressionless, and a dagger floated in front of his eyelid.
“I will let this go this time because of your master.”
Fiore spoke out in a cold voice, and when she saw her fierce gaze, Veronica flinched and lowered her head.
“I will forgive you this time. But if something like this happens again, there will be consequences.”
“I will keep that in mind.”
Veronica took a few steps back, and Fiore sighed inwardly before looking at Frey once more.
“Please forgive my rudeness.”
The sincerity in her voice was palpable.
The implications behind this were clear.
It meant that the princess no longer intended to treat this man like the ‘Blake family’s third son’ but like a ‘top class Archmage’.
Frey shook his hand.
“It’s fine. By the way… are you planning to let her stay?”
“My status as the Third Princess makes it difficult to have private meetings without at least one guard.”
If she wanted to keep her status as princess, there were certain concessions she had to make.
There was no way that the things discussed here would be leaked anyway.
Moreover, Veronica’s skills weren’t a threat to him.
The tedious battle of wits had truly come to an end, and now, the truly important topics could be discussed.
“Then I will speak without hesitation. How much do you know about Leita’s plan?”
Even when he said the Duchess’ name, Frey’s expression did not change even the slightest bit.
It didn’t seem like he was talking about the mother who gave birth to him.
‘My preparations were insufficient.’
Fiore bit her lips.
She should have carried out more investigations on Frey.
However, there was not much information on him as he was treated as a man abandoned by his family and had only been in the academy for a short period of time.
After he came into contact with the Circle, his movements had been even more mysterious.
Fiore decided to change her strategy.
She had already lost the initiative, so she had to at least prove her worth. She couldn’t let the other person think she was incompetent.
That was something she absolutely couldn’t let happen.
“She wants to bring me into the Blake family to isolate me from the Imperial family… and.”
Fiore hesitated as she wondered if she should continue.
It couldn’t be helped. Because the information she was about to say was still unverified.
That alone wasn’t enough.
She could see it in Frey’s eyes.
He was not urging her, he was just observing her quietly.
But Fiore was able to tell what his true intentions were.
‘He’s testing my value.’
She could tell that much.
How long had it been since people started looking at her in that way?
It wasn’t just a blessing to be born into the Imperial family.
If you let down your guard a little or if you showed a flaw, you would be devoured without hesitation.
After that, it was obvious.
You would have to live the rest of your life like a puppet for your siblings.
A truly miserable life.
In order to not experience such a life, Fiore learned how to live.
She made use of every resource available. Just to survive.
The Circle and the Demigods were also tools used by Fiore.
They always tested and questioned her value.
And Fiore knew.
The moment she didn’t live up to their expectations, she would lose her voice and her influence. After all, there were many members of the Imperial family for them to make use of.
She didn’t want to end up like that, so Fiore desperately thought about what to do, and eventually, she found a way to survive.
She had succeeded in showing her value to both sides.
‘I even proved my worth to a Demigod.’
The man in front of her wasn’t much different from them.
So Fiore strengthened her resolve and opened her mouth.
“…they need something from me.”
Frey quietly expressed his admiration.
The look in his eyes changed for the first time.
A flicker of interest could be seen.
“Why do you think that?”
She couldn’t miss this opportunity.
Fiore licked her lips and continued her explanation.
“The Blake family usually purchases magical materials, rare metals and magic tools from me. But in recent years, their purchases have tripled.”
That was not a simple figure.
After all, all the items that Fiore had just mentioned were quite expensive.
Even if the family bought double, it would cost a jaw-dropping amount, not to mention triple.
Such an amount would certainly be burdensome, even for the Blake family.
“On the surface, they said they were using it for the study of magical science, but I didn’t fully believe that.”
“Because items like Black Iron ingots and herbs unnecessary for magical science were included.”
“Black Iron ingots can be used in alchemy. And the more herbs a family has in stock, the better, especially for large families.”
He was arguing, but he wasn’t attacking her.
Rather, it seemed like he wanted to see how she would respond. He even looked a little pleased at that moment.
This was the first time that Frey had revealed any emotion to her.
At that moment, Fiore couldn’t help but see the image of her teacher projected onto his figure.
Of all the Wizards she knew, her teacher was the most amazing.
She could admit that the man in front of her was really amazing, but there was absolutely no way that he could be compared to her teacher.
Fiore calmed herself and said.
“The amount was too much. No matter what they were making, they wouldn’t be able to make use of close to a ton of Black Iron in such a short time. Even the herbs came up to hundreds of kilograms. The amount they bought is well above the standard, even if we include all the members of the Blake family and their servants.”
“And they didn’t need to buy it from the Imperial family in the first place. Those items aren’t extremely hard to obtain, and the Blake family certainly has its own suppliers.”
Hiding the tension she felt inside, Fiore released the last piece of information.
“Troll’s blood, Ten year old Wild Ginseng, Harkon, Emeralds and Bloodstones. Some of them are surely decoys, but I’m certain that there is something among these that the Duchess wants to obtain.”
Frey narrowed his eyes.
She had kept close records of her transactions with the Blake family, which had allowed her to get a rough estimate of the family’s size.
She then analyzed this information without exaggerating any details before reaching her conclusion.
At least, in the field of mental calculation and reasoning, Fiore could be considered among the best on the continent.
If even one aspect had been lacking, she would not have been able to produce the same results she had thus far.
“Excellent. Among the five materials Your Majesty mentioned, the item Leita is aiming for is listed.”
“Ah… thank you.”
Fiore responded while blushing subconsciously.
At that moment, she was filled with a sense of accomplishment and pride from successfully answering his question.
Rather, Veronica, who was standing beside her, watched this scene with wide eyes.
‘Who the hell is this guy?’
It was always Fiore, the Third Princess, who embarrassed those old men who believed they were experienced and strong in politics.
At least, Veronica had never seen her lose a battle of wits.
To be exact, she couldn’t even imagine such a thing happening.
Yet, this man before her was treating Fiore like a child and praised her like he was her superior.
But the thing that truly shocked her was Fiore’s response to it.
Why was she acting proud and happy like she had been praised by her teacher?
It had been almost ten years since Veronica had stood beside Fiore, and she had never seen her in such a state before.
“Which of the five materials does the Duchess want?”
“Before I answer that, can I ask one question, Your Majesty?”
“Yes. Please ask.”
“Are you going to continue being neutral?”
At that moment, Fiore’s expression hardened, and her blushing face regained its cool.
“…that’s none of your business.”
“I know my rudeness, but dare I ask, Your Highness. How long do you think you can remain neutral?”
“What do you mean?”
“The Demigods will soon take over the continent.”
Fiore’s eyes widened when she heard that ridiculous statement.
Veronica’s reaction was not very different.
But Frey didn’t say these words without reason.
“I am telling you in advance. This isn’t a guess nor a delusion. In a year at the earliest and two years at the latest, they will begin acting in earnest to take control of the continent.”
“B-, but… why now? They have been silent for thousands of years…”
“It has been a long time. Enough that we might have forgotten their nature. But don’t be fooled. They could do it at any time, and they want to.”
Even if he said this, she wouldn’t believe his words easily.
This was what Fiore’s expression told him.
But it didn’t matter.
Nothing he could say would be able to convince her.
Frey spoke without hesitation.
“And before that happens, Your Majesty will die.”
Silence descended on the room for a moment, then Veronica spoke out in outrage.
“You, I don’t know what you…”
As a guard, it was clear that she was very loyal to her charge. In the face of such words, it was natural for her to express her anger when she heard someone talk about her master’s death so openly.
But Fiore, on the other hand, remained calm as though they were not talking about her life.
“Can I ask why?”
“To answer your previous question, the material that Leita needs is Harkon. And the only one in the Imperial family who could supply it to them is you.”
“Ah… that’s right. I’m the only one in the Imperial family who knows how to obtain Harkon. But that… it’s not a very useful metal.”
Fiore tilted her head slightly and closed her eyes, seemingly trying to organize her thoughts.
“…they want to restrict me in order to find out the origin of Harkon or its location. Is that what you’re trying to say?”
“Yes. And if their schedule hadn’t changed, it might have happened already.”
If Riki hadn’t injured the apocalypses to the point where Lord and Leyrin had to run around to treat them, it almost certainly would have happened already.
After all, if they were able to mass produce Illuminium, they would be able to act without restraint.
If it was Leyrin, she would be able to wipe out Kausymphony on her own.
“Leita judged you to be a true neutral, but I think differently. Your Highness’ life is in jeopardy. If you take even one step in the wrong direction, you would fall off a cliff where you couldn’t even see the ground.”
Fiore bit her lip because he wasn’t completely wrong.
It was true that she was forced to gamble with her life dozens of times before, and if she had made even one mistake, then she wouldn’t be sitting there at that moment.
She spoke in a slightly disheartened tone.
“Then are you recommending I join the Circle?”
“No. They can’t protect you.”
“Not the Circle. Join me instead.”
Frey looked into Fiore’s shaking eyes.
“I will be your shield.”
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