Episode 139. Treasure of Adenstein (5)

Ugh. He told me to do as I please if I’m insulted, but he’s basically instigating everything!

The king’s intentions were clear. He wanted to find any excuse to suppress the nobles’ opposition. By getting them to denigrate Seon-Hyeok and have him retaliate, King Theodore was ensuring that his decision could not be reversed.

This is a show. It’s what it takes to become a part of the royal family.

Seon-Hyeok knew this much at least, and having made his own decision, he was willing to play along.

However, after seeing the nobles’ abhorrent behavior, he lost his desire to respond in moderation.

“Your Majesty. It is true that Earl Drachen’s achievements are unprecedented, but they were simply the acts of a soldier demonstrating his skills!”

So, even in this world, soldiers are treated like dogs.

After risking his life to fight on the battlefield and spilling unwanted enemy blood with his own hands, he was being treated as a show-off. It was not even a question of receiving rewards for his efforts.

“He may have made great contributions, but it was his duty as a knight of the kingdom. Trying to determine a value for his contributions is tantamount to insulting his noble and sacred service.”

That’s not an insult, you bastard.

Being taken for granted after sacrificing their lives for the kingdom – now that was an insult to the soldiers, including himself, who killed and died in battle.

Seon-Hyeok grew angry at the thought of these privileged nobles remaining safe deep within the kingdom while treating others’ efforts and dedication as natural.

“He is a foreigner of unknown origin…”

“There is nothing that can be done about their stupid and crude behavior…”

“If you reward such lowly people because they have talent, then the foundation of this kingdom will collapse…”

Seeing these nobles look down on others infuriated him. Their attitudes were brazen – after all, they were only here because they had been born lucky and received their hereditary titles.

“What do you think about that, Earl Drachen?”

King Theodore gave him an opportunity to interject with impeccable timing. He lifted his visor and took a step forward.

“E, Earl Drachen?”

Those who recognized him immediately paled.

“Ah…”

Seon-Hyeok sighed.

This was not a place he wanted to be, nor was he excited to put on this farce. However, he disliked the nobles even more.

He had an unfavorable opinion of them from the very beginning. After all, when he first came to the royal capital, the nobles had been hell bent on using him for their own machinations. And now? They were blatantly insulting him for being a foreigner. There was no way he could like these self-centered bastards.

“Your Majesty, would you step back for a moment?”

King Theodore gladly nodded at his bold request.

Seon-Hyeok stood in front of the nobles and stared at them as they tried to figure out what was going on.

“Your Majesty, why is Earl Drachen dressed as a member of the Royal Guard here…”

He closed his eyes for a moment as he listened to the voice of a nobleman unable to grasp the situation and blame the king for having his subject secretly accompany him to the meeting.

The situation had been forced, but the fury he now felt was real.

When Seon-Hyeok opened his eyes once more, his aura was that of the dragon.

Thud.

The noble most vociferous in denigrating Seon-Hyeok immediately collapsed on the spot. Unable to realize what had just happened, he tried to get up several times, only to fall down time and time again.

“Huh?”

He belatedly noticed his own shaking body and made a pitiful noise. His eyes rolled back, and he began foaming at the mouth.

“What the hell…”

Seeing this unexpected development, the other nobles glared and tried to step forward before freezing in place. They noticed Seon-Hyeok’s indifferent gaze towards them.

“Hm.”

His eyes were different from the all-penetrating eyes belonging to King Theodore.

From the nobles’ perspective, Seon-Hyeok’s eyes were strange and malicious unlike any other. They felt an overwhelming pressure dominating them, and knew that recklessly stepping forth would mean being torn apart on the spot.

Having never faced a gaze like this, the nobles dared not look at the foreigner. Before they knew it, they were even ignoring their fallen colleague.

These worthless bastards.

The nobles, too cowardly to stand up to him and instead keeping their eyes trained on the ground, were worse than the worst soldiers fighting on the front lines.

They proudly spoke about death, service, and sacrifice, but in reality, they had never been anywhere near the battlefield.

Seon-Hyeok was almost despondent at the pathetic sight.

“Ah…”

He suppressed his violent aura and killing intent.

“Ugh.”

A little while later, the fallen noble finally came to his senses.

“Who are you, and where are you from?”

“E, Earl of Linenman…”

The answer came from somewhere else entirely, but Seon-Hyeok did not care. It was enough that he knew the identity of the one so eagerly denigrating him.

“House Linenman…”

Seon-Hyeok merely mentioned the family name, but for Earl Linenman, it sounded like a death sentence.

“I will come visit sometime.”

He made sure to leave an ominous warning.

“Ah…”

Hearing Seon-Hyeok’s words, Earl Linenman desperately looked towards the other nobles for help.

“Ahem.”

However, the remaining nobles had been completely suppressed by Seon-Hyeok after that brief glance, and they showed no inclination to help their colleague. They feared that opening their mouths could lead to an undesirable grudge against them.

“It seems like Lord Linenman is not feeling well. Go back and rest – you will be informed of today’s developments later.”

At that moment, King Theodore stepped up to remedy the situation.

“What are you doing? Help Lord Linenman get his rest.”

At the king’s words, one of the waiting knights approached and dragged the earl out of the room.

“Distractions aside, as I said before, I intend to finish discussions on the matter today.”

The nobles glanced at each other when they heard the declaration.

Since Seon-Hyeok was right in front of them, it was difficult to so vehemently oppose the reward as they had moments earlier. In addition, they had witnessed firsthand what had happened to Earl Linenman for his transgressions.

Coming face to face with a knight at the pinnacle of his craft was akin to encountering a vicious tiger in the wild. This was exactly how the nobles felt in front of Seon-Hyeok.

They were completely overwhelmed and unable to resist. Nonetheless, they did not readily allow the joining of House Adenstein and House Drachen.

“It could be a joyous event, but there is no need to rush…”

“It would be best to take some more time and find the appropriate moment to reach a decision.”

“Earl Drachen only just arrived from the front lines, so should he not rest as well?”

The nobles tried desperately to delay the king’s decision, but of course, King Theodore was not one to be swayed so easily.

“Bring them in.”

Determined to see an end to this, the king called for his hidden trump card.

Click. Click.

Two men entered the meeting room and knelt before the king.

“We greet King Theodore Tiberius Ro Adenstein, the rightful ruler of Adenburg!”

The nobles were bewildered by the sudden appearance of the unfamiliar knights, but their eyes grew wide upon realizing that the knights’ armor differed from those of Adenburg knights.

“They are Sir Gilbert Sylvain Lafayette and Sir Jean-Marie de Roland from the Griffindor Kingdom.”

The king smirked as he introduced the two men.

“Knights of the Azure Sky!”

The nobles’ jaws dropped as they realized who these men were.

“They should be at Fort Kalstein, so why are they here…”

The nobles were unable to come to their senses at the unexpected appearance of the griffin riders. However, the surprises did not end there.

“Sir Lafayette and Sir Roland have decided to leave their kingdom and remain in Adenburg.”

King Theodore added casually.

“And it was Earl Drachen who persuaded them.”

This time, the nobles truly could not keep their composure.

“Do you still think that Earl Drachen’s achievements are lacking?”

Instead of calmly reasoning with the nobles, King Theodore completely overwhelmed them, refusing to give them an opportunity to voice their opposition. His plan was a resounding success.

The nobles were already on their back feet, having witnessed Earl Linenman’s disgraceful exit. Shocked by the defections of two of the Knights of the Azure Sky, they were unable to say anything.

Even they could not imagine anyone converting the griffin riders – the pride and treasure of the Griffindor Kingdom.

“After some consideration, I do believe that some of your opinions are valid. As such, I will arrange for Earl Drachen and Princess Ophelia to be engaged, and not have them rush straight into marriage.

When the king even pretended to compromise by suggesting the marriage be pushed off for later, the nobles no longer had any room for opposition.

“We will follow your wise decision.”

At this moment, the month-long debate ended anticlimactically.

“You’ve done well. Your accomplishments are truly admirable.”

“Ugh.”

Seon-Hyeok unknowingly groaned when he heard the king.

When he thought about it, his actions had essentially ensured his engagement with the royal princess. His thoughts grew complicated, feeling as though he had taken the initiative to marry the young girl.

“Ah. What the hell did I do?”

He was not sure whether he had done the right thing.

“Your courage prevented the kingdom from falling into chaos.”

At the princess’ invitation, Seon-Hyeok joined her for tea. He wondered whether the princess even knew what she was talking about.

“Admirable. Truly admirable. You are a true knight.”

Hearing her repeatedly compliment him, Seon-Hyeok could not stand it anymore and blurted out.

“And are you fine with this? You’re fine with your marriage being decided in this manner?”

He wondered whether being forced into marriage was too harsh a reality for the young princess, but was shocked by her response.

“You are a foreigner. You are not marrying me out of self-interest for your own family, and you are not lacking in any way as a potential husband. Is there any reason I should refuse?”

Ophelia saw even her own marriage in a political light. Seon-Hyeok was not sure whether he should praise or pity her.

“In addition, there is no better match on this continent. The nobles opposed our engagement because they wanted to join hands with you instead.”

In the end, Seon-Hyeok gave up on asking about her personal feelings.

“So, do you not like me?”

The princess’ question was sudden. Caught by surprise, Seon-Hyeok choked on his tea.

“Tsk. You’re clumsy.”

Even as she clicked her tongue, the princess personally reached out with her handkerchief to wipe the tea he had spilled.

“T, thank you.”

“More importantly, you still have not given me a response. Do you not like me?”

Despite the brief incident, the princess was determined to hear an answer. Seon-Hyeok found himself asking the same question.

Do I dislike the princess?

Because of their complicated situation, he had never thought too deeply about the princess. Suddenly realizing this, Seon-Hyeok forgot that she was right in front of him and fell deep into thought.

Seeing this, the princess calmly waited.

“I…”

After some internal debate, Seon-Hyeok hesitated before slowly opening his mouth.

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