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Chapter 269 – Three Days Free (3)

    Chapter 269 - Three Days Free (3)

    Theodore's face stiffened. There was no scent remaining, but Veronica precisely sensed what had happened between him and Aquilo.

    This might be a magician's insight, or perhaps the senses of a quarter dragon.

    Otherwise, maybe it was the senses of a woman. Veronica's thin arms started to silently tighten around Theodore's body. Then his warm body temperature started to heat up. It was a testament to the fact that her powerful magic power was wriggling out of her control.

    "T-That." He shouldn't lie. Theodore desperately thought and managed to come up with a convincing excuse. "We spent three, almost four, days together while crossing the sea."

    "Hrmm." It was lacking. Veronica made a sullen expression before sighing. It was a sign that she would let it go, rather than she was being convinced. "Well, this is fine... It's not like I was there, and I am too tired to make a fuss..."

    It was just a month since the war had started, yet Veronica's face had already lost its usual vibrancy. She was an 8th circle magician who had inherited the blood of a red dragon. The absolutely strongest human was making an expression like this... Of course, she only revealed it in front of Theodore, but it let him know how hard the battlefield was.

    Veronica hugged Theodore tightly one more time before letting go.

    "Kid." There was no playfulness in her deeply sunken voice. "Now, there aren't many people who can teach you. Vince is decent, but he can't see everything because he trusts you completely. This is my role."

    A half-breed wasn't just a mixture of the blood of two species. Their natures were also obtained.

    A half-elf had more than three times the lifespan of humans, was friendly with nature, and had gentle personalities. Meanwhile, half-orcs were larger than humans, lacked intelligence, and had violent tempers.

    In Veronica's case, she had obtained the wildness of the red clan and the insight of a dragon that had lived for thousands of years. So, she saw a gap that Theodore was yet to be aware of.

    "Theo, you experienced a civil war in the Soldun Kingdom. You acted in your own way and probably thought that you have adapted."

    "It isn't the case?"

    "No." Veronica patted Theodore's cheeks in a friendly manner. "The only thing you did in the Soldun war was face a few masters, Marquis Fergana and Pan Helliones, not the 'enemy.' You didn't experience leading a group or bearing the hatred of the enemies with your body."

    "That..."

    It was an undeniable truth. Theodore had been a third party in the Soldun civil war. He had acted to prevent Andras from interfering in the Soldun war. However, his position in this unification war was different.

    Theodore would stand at the front lines as the hero of the Meltor army, and he would be the target of hundreds of thousands of enemy soldiers. It was completely different from defeating one powerful person. This time, he would have to step over mountains of bodies and lakes of blood.

    Just how many talented young people had broken down because of this? It wasn't unreasonable for Veronica to be concerned.

    "Well, I don't have to be afraid if it is you," Veronica continued talking with a soft smile. "We have to be careful not to allow our hearts to be cut. Look down at the ground from the sky, and don't get drunk on power when you kill a thousand people with a single spell. Have a sense of fear when you are above someone."

    "...I think I understand."

    Humans were naturally emotional. Those with power were naturally superior to those without power. The Andras Empire was such a place which functioned based on strength.

    Theodore also wondered sometimes. He wanted to see the classmates, who had despised him in school, bow down to him. Knowing this wasn't the answer didn't mean he could shake it off.

    Moreover, the battlefield was a breeding place for power to corrupt. Law and order lost meaning there, while strength was the only value. Turning the dignity of life into numbers and resources, it was a hell that many people fell victim to. Some people became drunk on the feeling of superiority caused by the slaughter, while others got carried away by their wartime achievements.

    It wasn't uncommon for them to become cruel and actively participate in murder.

    "But in the end, aren't we magicians?"

    So, as Veronica said, Theodore should take care of his mind.

    "Don't forget that while you can use this power to fight, you can't use it for murder. Understood?"

    Theodore closed his eyes at the warmth coming from his cheek and nodded. It wasn't just because of the warm body temperature but Veronica's voice as well. Perhaps that was why Theodore unconsciously replied, "Yes. I will keep that in mind, Sister."

    "...Uh!" Veronica's face reddened. Then she cleared her throat and pressed firmly on Theodore's face to stop him from seeing her face. "Y-You really caught me off guard! Where did you learn this technique? Are you really a player?"

    "P-Player...?"

    "Don't act like you don't know!" Veronica withdrew her hand from Theodore's head and stepped back. "...It is time to go."

    The sun had started to descend, and the sky was red from the sunset. Veronica's expression was shadowed, like she was looking at the distant battlefield which couldn't be seen from this tower.

    She barely managed to calm her breathing, neatened her disheveled hair, and waved to Theodore. "I won't be able to come see you again. Rest for three days, and let's meet again on Karul Plains."

    "Yes, Sister should also take care."

    "Yes. You take care, Theo."

    With this exchange, Veronica finally left. The sound of her footsteps faded until nothing could be heard coming from the corridor. After she left, Theodore gazed at the empty chair with a blank expression.

    'A real war... is it?'

    He might've been thinking about it shallowly before... Theodore acknowledged his own arrogance.

    Until now, he had mostly fought people who were stronger than him.

    Sometimes they had been monsters, not humans, so there had been no room for conscience and morals. How could he consider the circumstances of the opponent when it was an emergency situation?

    "I have to think about it from now on."

    In a war, he would have to kill people who weren't a threat, like moths flying toward the flames. It would be a massacre that even the war hero, Alfred, had never experienced. Theodore couldn't be sure that his spirit would've been safe without any preparations. So, he had to be ready for this moment.

    It was for the sake of his parents and younger brother who lived in Meltor...

    For his fellow magic tower magicians who would be shedding blood...

    For Veronica was struggling, Orta who was injured, and the companions who would accompany him.

    '-Um?' At this moment, something flashed through Theodore's mind. 'Is it possible? No, it is quite possible. If I time this correctly, it will be an effective opportunity...'

    After the negotiations, he had 70% of the medicine from the spirits left. He also had 50% of the materials obtained from Paracelsus' laboratory. There was a bright flash in Theodore's mind. Both the empire and Meltor were unaware of it. In order to deceive the enemy, it would be more effective to deceive your friends first.

    "Okay, let's try it."

    Theodore forgot his fatigue as he made his decision.

    *     *     *

    At Belfort Castle in the capital of the Andras Empire:

    "―Hoh," the man looked down at the kneeling knight and made an admiring sound. The man had gorgeous blond hair and reddish eyes. There was a blood-soaked sword hanging at his waist. This was Fermut, the 3rd Sword who had returned to Belfort after defending Rutben.

    "'He' is back?"

    "Yes, he arrived at Ribenda Port. He entered the port with the sea dragon, supposedly Aquilo. The dragon dropped him off and headed back to the sea."

    "...Sea dragon. It must be that woman who was at the meeting." Fermut clenched his fists upon recalling the bad memory.

    After escaping from Veronica's bombardment, Crowd had explained why he had chosen to step away from the fight. The blue-haired beauty, who had accompanied the witch, was supposedly a dragon. Therefore, Fermut couldn't reprimand the 1st Sword. Perhaps that dragon was involved in 'his' return?

    "That damn lizard dares to interfere...!"

    Still, Fermut couldn't admit that he was afraid. Was it because of his arrogance that soared into the sky? Fermut wasn't really afraid of her, just purely angry. Of course, only the shadows in this place were crushed by his pressure.

    Soon afterward, Fermut calmed down and asked, "That is enough for the report. What did the emperor say?"

    "He will leave commanding the front lines to you."

    "I see... He doesn't want to go to the front lines at this age."

    Fermut had grown up knowing the strength of the present emperor, his father. Despite being an elderly sword master, the emperor was powerful enough to subdue all Seven Swords.

    Witch of Heat, Sage of Water...

    Even the two biggest obstacles in Meltor could be beaten by the emperor. Fermut was sure of it, since his memories of his father were so amazing.

    "It can't be helped."

    Fermut wasn't willing to give up. From now on, his era was coming. It wasn't necessary to send the fallen sun back to the battlefield to revive his glory. After this unification war was over, Fermut would be coronated.

    He suppressed his fear of the emperor and looked at the battlefield, which had been ongoing for less than a month.

    It was a big accomplishment that he had stopped the White Tower Master in Rutben. After all, Orta was a magician that Andras found hard to deal with. Fermut was able to predict how long the White Tower Master's injury would last.

    'For at least two, maybe three weeks. He won't be able to move for that long.'

    Fermut had wanted to kill him, but a traitor had appeared and ruined it. He visualized the Clovis family and smiled grimly. 'I'll have to complete this war within a fortnight.'

    In Meltor, the White Tower Master's role wasn't just of an assassin and secret agent. He was the one in charge of all flows of information, which could determine the shape of the battlefield. It wasn't an exaggeration to say that Meltor's army had lost 30% of their efficiency after losing him. If he didn't take advantage of this time, the whole world would laugh at Fermut.

    "Tell this to the entire imperial army," Fermut rose from his seat and spoke in a malevolent tone, "Gather all the troops, leaving a minimum of guards behind, and head to the Karul Plains. I will destroy Meltor's army there!"
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