Episode 175. Royal Vault (2)

Soon after Seon-Hyeok entered the royal treasury, Ophelia appeared.

“Did my husband go in?”

Marquis Reinhardt immediately glanced at her when she casually used the word ‘husband’. He was moved that Ophelia, the little girl he had watched over since childhood, was now grown up and married.

But unlike the emotional marquis, Ophelia remained expressionless. The shyness she occasionally showed while discussing Seon-Hyeok was nowhere to be seen, and she had a dry expression.

“Yes, he just entered.”

However, Marquis Reinhardt took this for granted.

He knew that those of House Adenstein showed few emotions immediately following their coming-of-age ceremonies.

He vividly recalled her father, King Theodore, from when he was known as the Iron Prince.

Of course, enough time had passed now that the king would laugh and show anger, but King Theodore was once a stoic figure with no emotions. At that time, even the crafty nobles of the capital were reluctant to face the king.

Considering that, Ophelia was much more approachable. At least unlike her father, she had an innocent, milder outward appearance.

“Inform me when the vault doors open once again.”

It seemed she thought it would take some time until Seon-Hyeok re-emerged, as Ophelia turned to leave.

“Your Majesty.”

The marquis reached out to her.

“This old man does not understand why you went so far as to grant him your access to the vault.”

This opportunity was available only once every era. He wondered whether it was necessary to go so far for a person married for political reasons.

“I am not so incompetent that I have to rely on such trinkets.”

It was an answer befitting the pride of the Adenstein royal family, but the marquis still could not accept this.

“The Indomitable Duke is also skilled – if only on the battlefield.”

The value of the treasures held within the vault was too great to give up out of sheer pride. And in fact, some of the previous rulers of Adenstein had left behind tremendous accomplishments after visiting this treasury.

There was no way of knowing what these individuals took out of the vault, but Marquis Reinhardt knew that Ophelia was inherently just as capable as her predecessors.

It made it feel even more regrettable that she conceded her right to enter the secret vault.

“Do you know why my predecessors restricted access to the royal treasury to once every era?”

“Wasn’t it the will of the Adenburg kings to have their successors develop and become true monarchs without resorting to such relics?”

The head of the Royal Guard was a figure closely linked to the royal family, and as such, many stories had been told from one leader to the next.

However, there was a secret to this vault that even they did not know.

“There is always a price to pay for strength. The artifacts of the royal treasury are double-edged swords.”

There was a dark side to the sealed treasures.

“Especially to those with the royal blood of Adenstein.”

The marquis looked simple and unsophisticated to outsiders, but it was not actually the case. The courageous outward appearance was nothing more than a mask of his own creation, as inside, he was intelligent enough to prevent the schemes of the cunning nobles in advance.

As such, he was able to understand Ophelia’s words at once. Nonetheless, he still had lingering questions.

“Then are you saying that harm could come to the duke?”

The face of the talented and high-ranking, but naïve Drachen suddenly came to mind, and the marquis’ expression hardened.

“Are you worried about the duke?”

“I apologize.”

He had momentarily wondered whether she did not care about the safety of her own partner. As the head of the Royal Guard, responsible for putting the royal family as his top priority, there was no greater act of disloyalty.

“The duke is now also a member of the royal family, so it is not wrong for you to care for his safety.”

However, Ophelia did not reprimand the marquis.

“The reason I permitted the opening of the royal vault…”

Her golden eyes were transparent and shone, as though she was momentarily looking through the vault doors.

“Is because I was certain he would not come to harm.”

The marquis was able to let go of his worries for Drachen upon hearing her confident voice.

“Inform me immediately once the duke leaves the treasury.”

“I will do as you wish.”

***

[It’s surprising. Surprising. To think that such items still exist in this world.]

Geheimnis expressed her admiration the moment he entered the vault.

[But even more surprising is the fact that despite the presence of such incredible treasures, their energy does not leak through that door.]

From Seon-Hyeok’s perspective, the royal family’s vault did not seem much different from a dusty warehouse. However, he strained his eyes to see what Geheimnis kept admiring.

But no matter how hard he tried, he could not find anything special among the dust-caked relics. All he saw were ancient, antique junk.

[Most of the objects here are magical in nature. They are not mere imitations, but relics containing magic of old.]

“Oh!”

Seon-Hyeok celebrated, thinking it really was a good idea to bring Geheimnis into this vault.

“Can you tell me what objects are imbued with magic, and what kind?”

[It’s not difficult to tell you.]

The small creature continued with a voice seemingly full of regret.

[But what would be the point? They’re all objects you can’t use anyway.]

Confused, Seon-Hyeok asked the fairy dragon for an explanation.

[Didn’t I tell you? Most of the objects here have real magic from ancient times. If there was a relic you could use, you’d have recognized it as soon as you entered this vault.]

The small dragon smacked her lips with regret as she continued.

[The magical instruments of those times choose their owners.]

Considering this world had spirits, magic, and dragons, it was not particularly strange that there were weapons that chose their owners. It was simply disappointing that none of these objects selected him.

“Ugh. I feel sorry for Ophelia.”

She had given up her one chance to enter the vault, so how despondent would she be if he gained nothing from this visit? Seon-Hyeok’s heart felt heavy just thinking about it.

[Let’s just go. Half of the relics here have had an owner before. It might have been different if you were chosen by one, but given that’s not the case, these are not treasures, but dark objects. Being unnecessarily greedy will only be a detriment to you.]

“Hm.”

Now that he thought about it, Seon-Hyeok did not enjoy the spine-chilling sensation he had felt starting a while ago. It was as though someone’s invisible eyes were trained directly on him.

“Okay. Let’s leave.”

He felt a pang of regret leaving like this, but he had no choice but to listen to Geheimnis.

[You chose well. Your greatest weapon is that you share a foundation with her, and not these ungodly instruments.]

The small creature flapped her wings and was about to leave the vault when she turned around.

[Aren’t you leaving?]

Seon-Hyeok did not respond. He simply stared somewhere in the innermost corner of the vault.

[Relics that have tasted blood seek hosts, not owners! Focus your mind and protect yourself!]

The warning was long overdue.

[No!]

Seeing him standing motionless, the fairy dragon spread her wings wide and blocked his path. It seemed as though she would cast her arcane magic.

[Huh?]

Geheimnis let out a bewildered noise.

She thought Seon-Hyeok would have been lost to an evil relic, but his eyes shone brighter than ever.

“Geheimnis.”

After a while, Seon-Hyeok called out the fairy dragon’s name.

“How do I know if I’m the owner of a relic?”

[If it selects you, you’ll know. That’s the way it is.]

Hearing her response, he raised his finger and pointed towards the corner of the vault.

“Then I think I found it.”

***

Thud.

The vault door opened, and Seon-Hyeok emerged.

“Hm?”

Marquis Reinhardt had been standing with his back to the door, but he immediately turned upon noticing Drachen. His eyes moved towards the object in the foreigner’s hand, then back to Seon-Hyeok’s face.

For someone so full of expectations when entering the vault, Seon-Hyeok seemed quite disappointed.

“Hm. Seems like something didn’t go your way.”

There was no rule saying that a person entering the vault would find something useful. After all, it was difficult to find something without even knowing what was inside in the first place.

“Well, it’s none of my business.”

After mirroring Seon-Hyeok’s look of disappointment, the marquis spoke indifferently before telling him that Ophelia was waiting.

“Go. She should be taking a break in the palace garden right now.”

Hearing the marquis’ words, Seon-Hyeok nodded and headed towards the garden.

“Tsk. She would have been looking forward to this.”

The marquis clicked his tongue. Somehow, even the plodding footsteps demonstrated Drachen’s disappointment.

***

As Marquis Reinhardt said, Ophelia was resting in the inner garden with her eyes closed.

“Ophelia.”

When Seon-Hyeok carefully called out her name, she immediately opened her eyes.

Sensing her gaze trained towards the object in his hand, Seon-Hyeok apologized with an expression full of guilt.

“I’m sorry. It seems I chose something weird.”

There was nothing else he could say. After all, of all the weapons inside the vault, he had left with something broken.

The weapon in his hand was anything but normal.

The leather wrapped around the handle was worn and on the verge of breaking, and the wide, cone-shaped head was chipped in several places. Even more shocking was that the body was cut off, as though something had ripped it apart.

Seon-Hyeok had left the vault with a spear missing half of its shaft.

Even Ophelia, who never stumbled with her words, seemed to be at a loss.

“Can I ask why you chose that?”

When she finally opened her mouth after a long silence, she inquired as to why he picked this spear.

“This was the only choice I was given.”

This broken spear was the only object to recognize Seon-Hyeok as its master among the various evil relics eager to eat away at his life force.

‘I’m certain it’s a magic weapon, but because it’s broken, I can’t tell what kind of magic it was imbued with. But seeing as you haven’t been chosen by any others, there’s nothing else you can do about it.’

Geheimnis recommended that he take this seemingly useless spear over facing the consequences of taking a relic he had not been chosen by.

That was why he had no choice but to choose this spear.

“If it is as you say, then your choice won’t be wrong.”

Ophelia spoke solemnly, but her voice lacked its usual confidence. It was clear she was saying something did not believe in order to comfort her disappointed spouse.

“Ugh.”

Seon-Hyeok once again glanced at the spear in his hand as he unknowingly groaned.

The hollow part of the broken section looked quite threatening, almost like the open maw of a wild beast. However, that was all.

Where would I ever use one-half of a spear?

He once again let out a sigh.

“The griffin riders have finished their preparations.”

Ophelia then notified him that the griffin riders were ready.

“You wasted 3 days because of me, so you may leave whenever you wish.”

Her suggestion that he wasted his time lingered in his head.

In spite of this, he realized that he had delayed too long and said farewell to Ophelia.

“I’ll return as soon as possible.”

“When you return, I hope you are as you are now.”

She sent him away with a determined look, before adding one final recommendation.

“It may seem useless, but take the broken spear just in case. If it is something you truly need, it will reveal its usefulness when the time comes.”

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