Episode 243: The Sword Star (1)

“Drachen, no, Ophelia gave you the title of duke, so I guess I should call you the Indomitable Duke?”

The old voice no longer held the same vigor it did in the past. 

It had been a while since Kim Seon-Hyeok had seen Theodore Tiberius Ro Adenstein, but now, the king looked as if he was an old man in his 70s.

His hair had turned white and looked quite dry, and his wrinkled face looked dry as well while his eyes seemed dull. 

But nevertheless, King Theodore’s charisma remained.

“Your Majesty.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok paid his respects to the monarch who sat high above and oversaw all the citizens.  

“Come closer. I can’t see your face very well.”

Perhaps even his eyesight was getting worse. Seon-Hyeok felt his heart aching even more at those words. 

When he had first fallen into this land, the royal family of Adenstein seemed no different than a terrible loan shark who forced the foreigners to take on debts in order to have them under the royal family’s control. 

They had dumped him, who had known nothing, into a training center and once he was classed as Dragon Rider, he was swept into war on the periphery.

At that time, all Seon-Hyeok wanted was to get out from under the royal family’s influence.

However, he had abandoned that idea after talking with Count Mangsk. He also learned that he had a prejudiced image of the royal family.

The royal family of Adenstein was a reasonable ruler.

The royal family gave plenty of rewards every time there was a victory on the battlefield. He had also received a great deal of trust from the royal family. Discrimination against the foreigners were nowhere to be found. 

His rank had gone up and he also received the title of the next queen’s spouse. 

While he had to fight on harsh battlefields, when he left the battlefield, he was more noble than anyone else. He had enough wealth and title that he would never be envious of anyone and, on top of that, he had a beautiful and wise wife. 

It was no exaggeration to say that everything he achieved was actually due to the reasonable governing of King Theodore.

But now, King Theodore was dying. 

The reason behind this was the curse on the Adenstein’s bloodline had made the wise and powerful monarch.

“Don’t look at me like that. It’s still bearable right now.”

“Forgive me, Your Majesty.”

Unintentionally, Seon-Hyeok’s inner thoughts had been revealed on his face. He hurriedly apologized when he heard King Theodore’s words. 

The king waved his apology away. Kim Seon-Hyeok became depressed again when he saw the king’s wrinkled bony hands expose how thin the king had gotten.

“This reminds me of the first time we met.”

King Theodore looked into the distance as he reminisced.

“You had made a great deal of contributions, but there were many aspects where you were still clumsy. But now, you’re a giant among men and even the position of duke doesn’t seem awkward. As someone who has watched your growth from the beginning, I am very proud of you and find you admirable.”

His eyes were truthful, there wasn’t a hint of a lie in them. 

“Ophelia is someone who is even more talented than I am as a monarch, but she is too straight and rigid that I’ve always worried about her. I was worried that her firmness would become the poison against her and push her into a corner. But now, those worries are in the past.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok became anxious.

“Noctein, who had often violated the western region of our kingdom, no longer dares to encroach upon our kingdom. Right now, the kingdom is peaceful and prosperous. As all of this was done by the regent, she is already a great monarch.”

King Theodore sounded as if he was saying his last words.

“Your Majesty.”

Unable to continue listening to what sounded like a will, he quietly called King Theodore, but the king did not stop talking.

“Now that all the burdens I’ve carried through my life are gone, I am at peace more than ever.”

“Your Majesty!”

Seon-Hyeok called out again. Only then did Theodore look at him.

The murky eyes that had been looking far off into the distance now looked clear as if he was back in reality.

“I heard about it from Ophelia. You have found a solution to remove the curse from the Adenstein bloodline in the far west.”

With the legacy left behind by the Mother Tree, even a life eaten away by the curse could be revived. 

“I will not accept it.”

“Your Majesty!”

Kim Seon-Hyeok was startled by King Theodore’s unexpected words. But the king continued to talk as he gestured for Seon-Hyeok to be quiet. 

“Though I may have been lacking, I gave it my all to govern the kingdom and I’ve raised Ophelia as a great successor. Wouldn’t you say that I was a decent king, then?”

King Theodore laughed.

“Whether as a monarch or as a father, I have no regrets. Even my last moments are satisfying, so even after my death, I can say that I’ve lived a good life. So don’t make me dishonor myself.”

Although it was soft, his voice was dignified.

“Give the Qeishas’ treasure you obtained to Ophelia.”

King Theodore meant that since his daughter wasn’t free from their bloodline’s curse, he wanted her saved first. 

Kim Seon-Hyeok tried to convince him several times. He said that since Ophelia still had a lot of time left, he would somehow find another solution for her.

But he couldn’t persuade the king.

“Although I won’t be able to attend the welcoming banquet, I am welcoming your return with all my heart, so don’t be disappointed.”

By the end of the conversation, King Theodore had run out of energy so rapidly that it was overwhelming for him to connect his words.

“I should get some rest. Come visit me again next time. Whenever it may be, I will never refuse a visit from you.”

The king closed his eyes. And after standing still for a long time, Kim Seon-Hyeok had no other choice but to withdraw.

***

The Indomitable Duke, the war hero who had led them to victory against the Noctein and laid the foundation for the Adenburg Kingdom to take the stage and had contributed more than anyone else in the big war in the central region of the continent.

Naturally, the welcoming banquet was more magnificent than ever.

However, the banquet, which only nobles could attend, wasn’t to Kim Seon-Hyeok’s taste. 

The banquet where he was surrounded by people who hid their true selves as they repeatedly said things they didn’t mean was nothing more than torture for him.

As he was already anxious over King Theodore’s matter, Seon-Hyeok left the banquet early on the pretext that he was still tired from his journey.

Of course, no one dared to hold him back.

“Huu.”

Frustrated, he wandered around the garden in the inside of the castle after leaving the banquet hall.

“Do you have something you’re worried about?”

Ophelia must have been concerned about her husband whose face had looked stiff all throughout the banquet because she came looking for him.

“Your Highness.”

“This isn’t a public place.”

Under that subtle pressure, he smiled even in the midst of his anxiety. 

“Ophelia.”

At her name, she slowly smiled as she approached him. 

“Seeing how your expression wasn’t great the whole time, it must be because of His Majesty.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok couldn’t answer her. No matter how determined she was, it wasn’t easy for him to bring up the topic of her father’s life.

“I have implored His Majesty countless times as well, but he didn’t listen.”

But contrary to his expectations, Ophelia already knew about her father’s decision. 

“As his child, it is impossible to accept. So it’s frustrating that he will not change his mind.”

In her grief, her face expressed her devastation

“I will try to persuade the Qeishas.”

The Qeishas had more than one Eternal Flower. They had a total of three Eternal Flowers and if he could get one more, then King Theodore could stop being stubborn.

“Even if it goes your way, His Majesty will not accept it.”

But that was only his belief. 

“When I ascended to the position of Regent, all of His Majesty’s authority was given to me and this was his intention.”

Ophelia had a bitter expression. 

“His Majesty’s trust in you is no different from mine, however His Majesty didn’t think you would find a solution in time. Therefore, he handed over all his power to me so that the nobles would not challenge the authority of the regent.”

Authority wasn’t something that could easily be given or taken away like a spare coin in a pocket. Thanks to King Theodore’s determined action, Ophelia now had transferred authority firmly in grip. If it were to be returned now, then the monarch’s authority may be divided.

There was no way that King Theodore, someone who had suppressed the nobles and strengthened the monarch’s authority, would allow something like this to happen.

For Kim Seon-Hyeok who was ignorant of the nature of power, it sounded like a ridiculous story, but he could vaguely understand her meaning. 

But that didn’t mean he agreed to it.

However, he didn’t talk about King Theodore any longer.

He belatedly saw Ophelia looking as if she would break at any moment. If he talked about the king, then it would be no different to making her suffer.

After silently sighing so that she wouldn’t know, he approached her and hugged the royal daughter’s slender shoulder. 

***

It had been a day since Kim Seon-Hyeok entered the royal castle, and it became another day. The capital was still in a festive mood and was crowded with nobles’ carriages that were entering the capital one after another to celebrate the return of the Indomitable Duke. 

The Sword Star visited such a castle again.

The previous day, Kim Seon-Hyeok had heard from the Grand Chamberlain that the Sword Star would be returning so he calmed himself down by taking a deep breath.

His chaotic thoughts about King Theodore and Ophelia were slightly settled. It seemed like the pressure of a strong opponent such as the Sword Star had pushed his worries away.

“Lead me.”

Without delay, the Grand Chamberlain led him to the reception room that had been built to greet those who had the noblest status.

“The Indomitable Duke, Seon-Hyeok Reinperle Kim Drachen is entering!”

The Grand Chamberlain loudly introduced his arrival, then stepped aside from the door. 

“Please, enter.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok quickly calmed his breathing, then he placed a foot forward. However, he stiffened and stopped.

A monstrous presence beyond the door was mercilessly pressing down upon him.

“Hm.”

It wasn’t a weak provocation. The energy he could feel from inside was too clear and quiet.

It was most likely the presence of the Sword Star himself.

“Huu.”

He took a short breath. The presence felt over the door remained, but he was no longer pressured by it.

He had completely shaken off the giant’s presence by simply breathing in and out.

Nod. 

At his nod, the Grand Chamberlain opened the door to the reception hall. 

The door slowly opened and inside the room was the Reclusive Duke Marek Schnail Roachim.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter