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Chapter 377 - Through Adversity and Towards the Stars (1)

    Chapter 377 - Through Adversity and Towards the Stars (1)

    At dawn on the Baekun Mountains, the wind flowing down to the foothills was quite cool, and there were a few dew drops. The altitude of the surrounding mountain range was so high that the morning sun reached it late, and the clouds caused the mountain peak to be swallowed by fog.

    The fog was like a tide of calmly flowing waves. It covered the window frames of the Fairy Dance Lee Family home a few meters above the ground.

    "...Um."

    The wind blew through the window and hit the eyelids of the man sleeping serenely on the bed. He had a young face, but it contained a lot of weight. His black hair, white skin, and balanced facial features created an intellectual atmosphere like that of a scholar. Theodore Miller-he was the world's strongest magician and only transcendent. He was a great magician at the peak of the magic kingdom.

    'It is morning.'

    Theodore opened his eyes and slowly raised his body.

    "Ah."

    His heart was throbbing. He was almost recovered, but the aftereffects of the fight still remained. Theodore looked down at his hands with a bitter smile.

    The Eight Jade Magatamas was broken, the Heavenly Sword had lost its sharp blade, and two artifacts had been used as consumable items. He had also almost lost one arm. If he had fought the heavenly demon with nothing, the winner and loser might've changed.

    Suddenly, a thought came to Theodore's mind, and he called out to Gluttony, "Hey Gluttony."

    -What is it?

    "I forgot that I had something to ask you."

    As soon as he had been about to lose his left arm to the heavenly demon, Theodore had tried to cut off his arm as a last resort. The situation had been so urgent that he hadn't thought about it, but what if he had cut off his left arm which contained Gluttony?

    Gluttony heard Theodore's question and responded concisely, -The question is sillier than I expected, User.

    -If the contract is canceled because the connection is cut off, how many people in this world would be afraid of grimoires? If this was the case, I would take one eye and one arm.

    "Of course, it wouldn't be that easy. You are right."

    -I have a contract with User, not User's left arm. It is just convenient to set the connection point at that location. If you had cut off your left hand, I would just set the connection point on your right arm instead, Gluttony said in a slightly rough voice.

    Theodore nodded. "I'm glad."

    -Um?

    "If this is the case, then I don't have to put a gauntlet on my left arm?"

    -...That's right.

    Theodore received Gluttony's assurance and looked at his left arm with a lighter expression. The skin that had been blackened down to his elbow had returned to its original appearance apart from a few places. Seimei had also left a Sanskrit word there carved in black.

    The strength of the heavenly demon...

    After the suicide magic, the heavenly demon had lost more than 80% of his strength, but the force was still considerable.

    'Seven types of sacred creature abilities, five types of different powers. There were more than 100 types of magic, shamanism, and so on... It is hard to believe this is only 20%. It will take me 100 years to consume it all.'

    There were a few tricks beyond Theodore's eyes after he became a transcendent, but there was room to expand his current magic knowledge. This was a fairly large gain, but there was a separate power left by the heavenly demon-the Absorption Star Method. It was the ability to disassemble all entities he made contact with into the smallest form and then absorb that power. This had been the power which raised the just born heavenly demon to the level of a demon king.

    "...There is room for me to become a demon king if I make a mistake, but it isn't a useless ability.

    In particular, Theodore needed to be alert. There was a possibility that the management authority of the material world and the Absorption Star Method would collide with each other in his body because it was a power that could make him the enemy of the world. He would explode on the spot, even though he was a transcendent.

    "Damn, I have bad luck this morning."

    Theodore shook off his imagination and changed his clothes. Then he felt someone approaching the door.

    "Taishang, you are awake." (Taishang= title of respect) It was the number two person in the Fairy Dance Lee Family, Lee Joonyoung. He was renowned as a genius and had worked hard to become a master using Theodore's teachings in the past.

    Theodore arranged his clothes and replied after opening the door, "You can send a subordinate rather than coming yourself."

    "I wanted to see to Taishang directly. I can't neglect you."

    "Isn't it too much for someone who is almost a lord in name?" He playfully asked Lee Joonyoung, who shook his head with a stiff expression.

    "Nobody in the family would think so." Lee Joonyoung didn't have a joking nature.

    Theodore knew this from past experiences and laughed without saying anything else. It was because Lee Joonyoung was such a person that Theodore could entrust Lee Seol to him. He knew grace and didn't hesitate to be polite. The East Continent didn't have knights, but his chivalrous nature was no different to a knight's.

    "Thank you for your words. Now, let me guide you."

    Theodore knew the structure of the mansion but he didn't say it. Lee Joonyoung smiled and bowed deeply. It was time to meet the leaders of this war.

    *     *     *

    "Theo!"

    As soon as he entered the dining room, a woman called out, and the heads of everyone present turned toward him.

    Theodore Miller was the person who had overthrown the catastrophe that had been about to hit the East Continent by himself and who exercised the greatest rights in the empty territories. He was a person who couldn't help attracting attention.

    "Did you sleep well, Becky? And..." Theodore held Veronica in his arms and looked around.

    White Tower Master Orta was wearing a white mask as usual. Lee Seol was sitting on a chair and swinging her palms. There were also the two representatives of Japan, Suzuka and Nobutsuna. Then finally, he saw a miserable looking woman whose body was bandaged.

    "A-Aquilo?"

    "...Boy."

    A bandage was wrapped around her body, and her right arm was in a splint. Who would imagine seeing the evil dragon of the sea like this?

    Her beautiful face looked no different than before, but the paleness in her complexion meant that the injury was pretty serious. It was a serious injury that couldn't be repaired with her natural recovery power. Considering that it had been a long time since the injury, she must've been at risk immediately afterward.

    "How did you get hurt?" Theodore couldn't help being angry on her behalf.

    Meanwhile, Veronica answered for Aquilo, "Theo killed it."

    "Huh?"

    "The tiger that came after me. He attacked her. It was a serious injury since she was in a human body."

    King Hodae had been the variant who rode the wind and fought with Veronica in her draconic state. No matter how strong she was, Aquilo hadn't been able to stand against him in a human body. She had received a surprise attack from King Hodae on the way to Hyungkang Castle.

    '...Moving while avoiding the eyes of the variants. I should've told her to fly in the distant sky.'

    It was also fortunate in some ways. Encountering King Hodae and suffering a serious injury meant she hadn't been able to meet with Lust. Aquilo would've suffered quite a bit if she had been there. Theodore felt sorry for the evil dragon and reached out a hand.

    「 Full Recovery. 」 White light shone.

    The light coming from Theodore touched Aquilo a few times. Soon after, Theodore pulled the bandage off Aquilo's finger.

    "Ah, wait..."

    The bandages were removed before the confused Aquilo could stop him.

    "Ohh, it is fine? As expected of Theo. You fixed her."

    "What?" Aquilo stopped at Veronica's words and conjured a water mirror in the air. She saw that her smooth skin and color had returned and immediately rushed to Theodore. The shock of her defeat and the pain of her wounds were removed at once.

    "Boy, I love you!"

    Veronica's eyes burst into flames. "Hey, this woman! Who is in front of you right now?"

    "Oh, my. Can't you sense the atmosphere, halfling?"

    "You are the one who can't read the atmosphere!"

    "How many days do you want me to say thanks? Do you have no conscience? You would've been in big trouble if it wasn't for me!"

    "Have you forgotten that I saved you? You are the one who needed defending!"

    As soon as they got better, they started fighting. It seemed like they were half joking and were unlikely to get to throwing blows, so Theodore sat down in the right spot for him. The meal began, and the story unfolded with the sound of tableware. It was White Tower Master Orta who started it.

    "I'll report first," Orta said as he organized the documents. "The number of variants is declining every day. It is estimated that 15% of the total population of the empire is still alive. Our troops and those of Japan have cleaned up three areas... The empire has already collapsed."

    "It is an ownerless territory?"

    "Yes. The north and south still haven't figured out the situation and are defending their borders, but Western Xia is already showing signs of moving a large army. They will soon cross the western border."

    Theodore ate a spoonful of eggs and asked, "The variants in the west of the empire haven't been cleaned up yet?"

    "That is why I would like to make one suggestion."

    "I will give you permission to delay the subjugation of the variants in the west. Focus on protecting the survivors of that area. You don't need to do the job of Western Xia."

    "Yes, I will do as Chief Tower Master says."

    It was obvious what would happen to the East Continent once the supreme empire disappeared.

    The greatest nation on the East Continent was gone!

    This would be an era where a war to occupy the territory and resources would occur. It was clear that the countries who had been suppressed by the empire-the Bukhae Kingdom (North Sea) where there was almost no agricultural land, the people of Western Xia who held a long grudge due to the tributes, and so on-would gather their soldiers to take possession of the land.

    It wasn't a big deal for Theodore, but the majority of refugees were likely to be slaughtered or become slaves.

    'I didn't defeat Lust to see this happen.'

    Even if he couldn't completely replace the empty seat of the empire, he needed an organization to fill the gap. That organization had been planned for since a long time ago.

    "Sir Nobutsuna."

    "Yes, Lord Savior."

    In this situation, Nobutsuna was more suitable for dialogue than Suzuka, who had no experience with politics. He soon understood Theodore's intent and opened his mouth, "Japan will treat the refugees of the former empire as if they are our own people. We will consolidate 20~30% of the old territory at the border."

    "I will give you time to discuss it with the officials. Choose someone appropriate to deal with it and send them to me."

    "As you wish! I will make sure they aren't too greedy."

    Theodore received Nobutsuna and Suzuka's words and looked back at Orta. Japan couldn't miss the chaos that would come to this land. Power was needed. Theodore needed the strength of a nation, rather than the power of a transcendent. Meltor, which had a large number of troops and space gates, would be able to suppress three countries alone.

    "White Tower Master. Our Meltor base will be in the Baekun Mountains, and we will follow the laws of the Fairy Dance Lee Family as they are the rulers of this area. It will work much better than the words of foreigners from another continent."

    "I will keep that in mind."

    They would need to talk over the details in a few weeks, but he said all he could say here. In the meantime, Theodore put down his empty bowl and turned his eyes to appreciate the scenery outside the window. No, the moment he turned his head...

    "Chief Tower Master." Despite finishing the story, Orta had something else to say.

    "Why are you calling me?"

    "His Majesty asked me to deliver a message to you."

    "His Majesty?" Theodore was surprised by Orta's words.

    Orta smiled through his mask. "In the East Continent, Meltor managed to occupy territory that is almost the size of a country. There was no need to wage a full-scale war, and we acquired land with a lot of resources and farmland. Most of this achievement is due to Chief Tower Master."

    "...I had no choice about it. What do you have to say?" Theodore frowned as there was no need to repeat the story.

    Then Orta cut to the chase. "It is a simple evaluation of a meritorious deed. His Majesty made a suggestion."

    "Suggestion?"

    "Chief Tower Master has a position with a land. This means you have the right to have a manor. However, His Majesty can't make Chief Tower Master a duke when you deserve more than a dukedom. Therefore, he had a good idea."

    The conclusion could easily be reached if he connected it with the words mentioned above.

    As Orta spoke of the idea, Theodore realized what it was. "A royal duke."

    Orta disregarded Theodore's stiff expression and kept talking, "Chief Tower Master, His Majesty has said that he will raise you to the position of royal duke. If you wish, you can be called a royal duke, and the Miller family will be raised to a royal household." (TL Note: Literal translation is duke king. So someone who is more than a duke and is considered royalty, but below the actual king)
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