Episode 154. The Sacred Relic of House Griffian (2)

At that moment, the ring on Fontaine’s finger glowed, and the griffins began to groan as if they were being suppressed by an external force.

“Good! Good!”

The envoy shouted excitedly as the griffins slowly began to bend the knee.

“N, n, no!”

Astonished, the Adenburg representatives pointed and panicked.

However, Seon-Hyeok remained calm. He had expected this much.

Griffins did not even consider the riders they spent significant time with their masters. If the Griffindor rulers had been able to control these beasts for generations, Seon-Hyeok imagined they had some ace up their sleeve.

But that was all.

He did not care how great that ring was.

“Your Majesty, please stand back for a moment.”

Seeing the griffins with their heads almost on the ground, Seon-Hyeok spoke to his king.

“I will trust you.”

With that, King Theodore backed away.

Having confirmed that the king and the Royal Guards were at a safe distance, Seon-Hyeok took a deep breath.

“Hup.”

Free to act, Dragon Fear began to emanate from his body.

Growl! 

Whimper!

The griffins were now so shaken it was incomparable to when Fontaine tried his cheap tricks. The fierce monsters chirped as though they were having convulsions before dropping their beaks to the ground and remaining still.

Pop.

Around that same time, the light from Fontaine’s ring reached its peak before disappearing. Likewise, Seon-Hyeok also pulled back his Dragon Fear.

“Ugh.”

Momentarily distracted by the Dragon Fear’s overwhelming pressure, Fontaine belatedly shook his head to get a hold of himself. He hurriedly checked on the griffins’ condition, not forgetting his objective.

The griffins remained motionless with their heads bowed.

Fontaine let out a sigh of relief. He still seemed terrified because of the Dragon Fear, but his face was full of joy.

It was like he was taunting Seon-Hyeok, saying his tricks were useless.

However, Seon-Hyeok remained calm as he looked at the envoy’s ridiculous, half-fearful, half-elated expression.

Annoyed, Fontaine gave a command to the griffins.

“Rise.”

The griffins did not move.

“Rise!”

The command was more forceful this time. Until now, Fontaine had remained confident. This did not last.

“Rise! Devon! Mionte!”

He called them by name, but the griffins did not budge. At first, he screamed in disbelief, but then, he almost begged the monsters in a despairing voice.

After watching Fontaine quietly, Seon-Hyeok approached and spoke.

“Get up.”

Seon-Hyeok’s order was neither authoritative nor desperate. It almost sounded casual.

Growl.

But shockingly, the griffins immediately rose up at the insignificant remark.

“How the hell?”

Still shaken from the effects of Dragon Fear, the envoy was unable to look directly at Seon-Hyeok as he clumsily protested.

Instead of responding, Seon-Hyeok simply pointed at the griffins.

“That’s ridiculous!”

Fontaine stared, dumbfounded. The monsters, known for their pride and aloofness, were bowing at Seon-Hyeok’s feet.

“Then do you have any other business here?”

With impeccable timing, King Theodore approached and put an end to the situation. However, Fontaine remained unconvinced and activated his ring once more.

The results did not change.

Flash!

A metallic sound rang out as Fontaine repeatedly used his ring. Spent, the relic lost its luster as it snapped in half and fell uselessly onto the ground.

“Ah…”

Fontaine turned deathly pale as he looked at the destroyed ring, specially given to him by the Griffindor king.

“I hope your liege keeps his word this time.”

King Theodore spoke coldly as he saw Fontaine slumped on the ground.

“Tsk. To think that this is a kingdom’s emissary…”

The king clicked his tongue before giving Seon-Hyeok a look and excusing himself. The foreigner quickly followed.

Fontaine remained spaced-out and sitting on the ground.

“I believe you deserve a reward for your contribution in achieving this unexpected profit.”

King Theodore asked Seon-Hyeok what he wished, as he would soon be receiving the promised compensation from the Griffindor Kingdom. He was more than happy to share this newfound wealth.

“Nothing comes to mind at the moment.”

Seon-Hyeok had not yet spent all of his rewards from the previous war. He could not possibly want anything else at the moment.

“Well, you never ask for anything ordinary. Please consider it. I will happily await your request.”

The king’s smiling face as he answered was the splitting image of the princess’ when she asked him for his wish not long ago. Seon-Hyeok laughed as he noticed this uncanny resemblance.

“I wish the celebrations had continued a little longer…”

The princess had looked forward to the end of the banquet as much as Seon-Hyeok, but when the time came, she found herself depressed.

“Now that the ceremony is over, I guess you will soon be leaving the capital.”

The princess no longer hesitated to express her feelings. Just as Seon-Hyeok was determined to change his outlook in this kingdom, the princess seemed to have the same goals.

“I will complete my duties as quickly as possible and visit again.”

By now, he had grown fond of the princess and felt sorry about leaving. He sincerely tried to appease the disappointed princess, and her ears perked up at his words.

“It will be my 15th birthday soon. This is my one and only coming of age, so even if you make no progress with your responsibilities, you must come and visit me on that day.”

“I will have to prepare a present.”

Seon-Hyeok jokingly responded.

“But do not be late because you were unable to find an appropriate gift. The important thing is not some gift…”

Belatedly realizing what she had said, the princess’ face turned crimson. It was the inner clash between her desire to always maintain a mature appearance, and her attempt to be honest with her feelings.

To Seon-Hyeok, this looked quite endearing.

“I will keep that in mind.”

He wondered how much she would have changed by the next time they met.

“Then, I hope you will be at peace until we meet again.”

Seon-Hyeok left his regrets behind and got up to leave.

“Next time we meet…”

The princess mumbled as she looked at him. Her voice was so small that it was hard to discern – it was almost like she was talking to herself.

However, for Seon-Hyeok, this was not an issue. His hearing was amplified by his control over the wind attribute.

‘You can call me Ophelia.’

He smiled as he responded.

“I will do so next time.”

“I didn’t say anything.”

Seeing the princess feigning ignorance, it was clear that it would take some time before she was truly honest about her feelings.

“Right. You didn’t say anything.”

The princess once again mumbled to herself as he teased her.

‘Well… I did.’

Seon-Hyeok just laughed as he noticed the girl’s ever-changing feelings.

***

Seon-Hyeok left the capital, followed by his cavalry and Asha Trail.

“So, Earl Drachen has left.”

From the highest point in the palace, King Theodore looked out the window as he spoke.

“Are you disappointed?”

Princess Ophelia wordlessly stared out the window without answering her father.

“My beloved daughter, Ophelia.”

Seeing his daughter like this, King Theodore continued with a voice strangely filled with remorse.

“The unique ability granted by the blood of House Adenstein is a blessing as a ruler but a curse as a human being. This is a fate that you cannot escape from.”

The ruler, perfectly inscrutable in all circumstances, was simply an ordinary father in front of his daughter. His usual, matter-of-fact attitude was nowhere to be seen as he spoke to Ophelia in a voice full of complicated emotions.

“Earl Drachen, as a person I cannot observe, may be someone you must keep at a distance. However, this is simultaneously why I wish that he remains by your side.”

“Perhaps you are regretting sending my mother away?”

The wordless Ophelia opened her mouth for the first time.

“Regret…”

A pained look flashed through Theodore’s eyes.

“Your mother and I walked vastly different paths. She was the one capable of making me feel most human, but at the same time, I was forced to lose my compassion because of her. She was a queen and royalty before a wife, and she was never able to discard that façade.”

Nobody in the capital spoke of the queen’s existence, almost as if the word did not even exist in this world.

“I have come too far to regret, so that word is meaningless now.”

It seemed there was a reason behind this absence.

“Let us stop talking about your mother. I did not call you today to talk about that.”

Theodore exchanged his bitter smile for a stern expression.

“Ophelia, my daughter.”

“Please continue.”

The princess’ light brown eyes were strangely clear. King Theodore knew better than anyone that this was a sign of her imminent awakening.

“As of now, I retract your role as the representative of the royal family.”

“I will do as you wish.”

Ophelia did not question her father’s decision.

“This command will be nullified once you have come of age. Until then, you must not make any contact with the outside world.”

“I will neither meet, nor speak to, anyone.”

Theodore warmly touched his young daughter’s face as he spoke.

“Keep this in mind. The pain you endure now is nothing compared to the harshness you will have to suffer in the future. I hope that you do not let this coldness freeze your tender soul.”

***

“To think that I’d come back to this place.”

Seon-Hyeok’s face was full of emotion as he looked at the worn-down gate of the fort.

“You really stayed in a place like this?”

Clark looked back and forth between his lord and the fort before speaking with a dumbfounded expression. The training camp was so run down that it would not be strange if it collapsed at any moment.

“Yeah. This is where I started.”

This fortress was the place of nightmares for the foreigners. It was where they had to roll around in the mud without any semblance of freedom. At the same time, this had been their starting point in this world.

Seon-Hyeok gazed at the shabby gates before looking back at his party.

“Welcome to this damned chicken coop.”

The kingdom’s military instructors had called this place a training center. For the foreigners, it was closer to a chicken coop.

This terrible fort was also the safest place the royal family could provide for Seon-Hyeok to train his 60 foreigners.

Creak.

With a disconcerting creak, the dusty and unused gate opened.

“It’s been a while.”

Beyond the fortress gate, Seon-Hyeok saw a welcoming face.

“Instructor Gibson.”

At one point, Gibson had tormented him and classified his dragon rider class as low-tier. He was also responsible for later rectifying this incorrect placement.

“I have been waiting.”

Behind Gibson were 60 black-haired men and women uneasily staring at Seon-Hyeok.

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