"Surround them so that they can't get away."
Upon his order, the soldiers that had followed him moved quickly.
The guards surrounded Kang Oh and Eder. The Fishman guards he'd fought at the beginning retreated behind the surround.
"Human, you're quite strong," Radium said to Kang Oh.
"Well, I'm at least stronger than a fish," Kang Oh replied.
"We're no fish. We are the noble aquatic race, Lupenia."
Radium spoke of Lupenia with pride.
"Lupenia? That's the first I've ever heard of it."
"You're a land dweller, so I can understand how you don't know about the great Lupenia."
"Alright, sure. That's enough chit-chat. C'mon."
He'll kill them all.
"Alright. Everyone, stand back. I'll take him on myself," Radium said pompously and approached Kang Oh.
Contrary to the guards who wielded coral spears, Radium wielded a sword.
Radium unsheathed his sword.
The sword was studded with a giant sapphire, and the blade itself radiated with an emerald hue.
Even from first glance, it was definitely a fine blade!
"Raise your sword."
Radium pointed his sword at Kang Oh.
"Your sword looks quite nice."
So give it to me!
"Your sword... is quite similar to a sword that I know. Though its atmosphere and color are completely different," Radium said.
Kang Oh said nothing. At this point, talk was pointless.
Kang Oh attacked first. He thrust at Radium's neck with his blade.
Radium reacted instantly. He too thrust with his sword.
The two blades grazed each other.
However, they didn't make much noise. It must be a special quality of Radium's emerald blade.
Kang Oh continued his assault.
He freely swung his weighty sword.
Radium wasn't weak at all.
He was like an unrelenting wave; he flowed from one attack to the next in succession.
The two blades continued to clash.
All that could be heard was the movements of their bodies or the sounds of their breath; the clash of their blades made no sound.
However, Radium's expression was strange.
It was a complicated expression; it seemed as though he was longing for something, but he also looked strange too.
Ultimately, Radium ended his assault and retreated.
Kang Oh began to chase after him.
"That sword is definitely... Lord Valan's sword," Radium said.
Kang Oh momentarily stopped.
The Swordmaster, Valan!
The Masked Gladiator, Lavan!
The previous owner of the Demon Sword Ubist!
To think that that name would come out of Radium's mouth.
"What relationship do you have with Lord Valan?"
"That's my line... How do you know Master Valan?"
Rather than answer, he posed his own question.
"Lord Valan is our savior, the one who fulfilled our long-awaited wish!" Radium replied.
"Master Valan is your savior?"
Kang Oh recollected Valan's life story that was shown to him following the completion of the Trial of the Demon Sword.
The scenes of Valan going around, annihilating anything that could pose a threat to the world!
Of course, there was nothing there regarding Lupenia.
But this is Valan they were talking about, so he could've helped the aquatic race, the Lupenia.
"That's right. What's your relationship with Lord Valan?" Radium asked once more.
Kang Oh was lost in thought.
He honestly didn't have any connection to Valan whatsoever. He'd never even met him.
The only connection he had was that he was the current wielder of the sword that Valan once wielded.
'He's apparently their savior.'
If Valan was their savior, then they'd obviously want to repay him.
If that's the case, then he may be able to receive that payment in Valan's stead depending on how he spoke.
"I'm his heir," Kang Oh proudly yelled.
Just like when he'd acted as though he were the Loxia family's heir!
'Humans are all just distant relatives of each other, so yeah, I'm his heir.'
Kang Oh had used the same rationalization he'd used when he'd impersonated as the Loxia family's heir!
"Ooh, you are Lord Valan's heir!?"
Radium looked at Kang Oh as if he were deeply moved.
"But why has Lord Valan's awe-inspiring Max Gemina changed to that color and atmosphere? That's why I thought it was a different sword at first," Radium said.
[You have found a clue regarding the Demon Sword Ubist.]
[Ubist's item information has been updated.]
Kang Oh's eyes briefly widened and he looked down astonishingly at his demon sword.
'This sword was part of the Max series?'
The Max series were four swords created by the legendary artisan, Max.
Of those famed swords, the most renowned was the Hero Javen's Max Perado!
Javen had achieved so much that Altein's Javen Square was named after him.
His weapon was known as Max Perado, yet Kang Oh was holding a weapon of the same rank as his, the Demon Sword Ubist.
'You crazy bastard!' Kang Oh cursed at Valan.
But because he was before Radium, who considered Valan his people's savior, he didn't say it out loud.
'You turned a Max series sword into a demon sword!'
What would've happened if Kang Oh had obtained the Max Gemina before it had been turned into the Demon Sword Ubist?
It would easily be worth 100 million won ($100,000 USD) at minimum. That's just how powerful the Max series was.
However, one of those famed blades currently housed the spirit of Ubist and had become a demon sword that threatened its very wielder. It was untradeable too!
'How could you do that to such a precious sword!'
Kang Oh quivered in disappointment.
"Is something wrong?" Radium asked once he saw Kang Oh's expression turn serious.
Upon hearing Radium's voice, Kang Oh got a hold of himself.
"Hoo. Something is wrong. Since such a famed blade of the Max series was used to seal away an entity of darkness and was transformed into a demon sword as a result."
'Are you crazy!?'
As he spoke, Kang Oh thought that there was no one crazier than Valan once more.
"So it was used to seal away an entity of darkness and transformed as a result," Radium accepted.
"Haa. In any case, now that it's come to this, let us sheath our swords," Kang Oh said and Radium nodded his head.
"If you're Lord Valan's heir, then it's only right that we treat you like a guest."
Kang Oh and Radium both sheathed their swords.
Eder, who had been observing the situation, approached him.
"Is it over?"
He looked disappointed.
Eder had wanted to show off his abilities as a Curse Knight!
"Yeah. So put away your weapon."
Eder tied his shield onto his back and placed the mace onto his waist.
"Follow me... No, shall we go?"
Radium's words and actions had changed.
He respectfully guided him towards the entrance of the crystal palace.
"Ah, now that I think about it, I never got your name. Let me introduce myself once more. I am Lupenia's Champion, Radium."
Radium raised a fist to his chest with such discipline. It must be an extremely polite gesture in Lupenia.
"My name is Kang Oh."
"I am Eder."
"Mr. Kang Oh, Mr. Eder. I welcome you to the Lupen Crystal Palace."
Once he was finished, the entrance to the palace opened automatically.
A beautiful world had unfolded before their very eyes.
* * *
Grano had left the lake.
He was covered in a transparent veil. Thus, even if he walked around the lake, he wouldn't get wet.
"I'm done installing the absorber," Grano muttered.
The absorber was a large and transparent device with a diameter of 10 meters. It didn't simply absorb water; it also removed the water of any salt content and purified it as well!
He installed it on the floor of the lake and even drew a defensive magic circle to protect the device. Grano then returned to whence he came.
"I need to see if it works properly, but... I guess I should take a break first."
Grano walked slowly towards a boulder near the lake as if he were a little tired and sat on it.
He was already in his mid 40's.
Because he'd done all the work by himself at his age, both his body and mind became tired easily.
"Hmm. When I'm done with this, maybe I should try to come up with a magic that makes you younger..."
While Grano was resting and thinking such trivial thoughts, he heard a signal from his communication device.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Grano grabbed his earring with his finger.
"Aah, Mr. Grano. Can you hear me?"
He could hear Kang Oh's voice through the earring.
"Yes, I can hear you," Grano replied.
"I can hear you too."
"Were you testing to see if the device was working properly?"
"No. We came into the dungeon, but we've gotten into some trouble," Kang Oh said.
"What kind of trouble?"
"The Fishman has invited me as a guest, so I wanted to invite you to the palace too. But have you finished everything you needed to do?"
"I've finished installing the absorber. You were saying you got an invitation from the Fishman?" Grano asked in a slightly surprised voice.
What exactly happened? They had gone to fight, yet they got an invitation instead?
"To put it simply, the Fishman are close to someone I know. So they're saying they'll treat my party as guests."
"Then please come through the hole you told me about. Oh, right. Apparently, the Fishman didn't know about that hole either," Kang Oh said.
The entrance to the Lapen Crystal Palace was under the sea.
However, the opening that Grano had discovered was more like a doghole, so this was the first time the Fishman had heard of it.
Grano took his hand off the earring, stood up, and headed for the hole.
He then threw himself into the hole.
When the veil of darkness lifted, he saw Kang Oh, Eder, and the Fishman waiting for him.
"Welcome," Kang Oh greeted him as if he were the ruler here.
"Thank you. But who is this?" Grano carefully asked as he looked at Radium.
"Radium, the general of the aquatic tribe, Lupenia. He's also the one who invited us."
"It's a pleasure to meet you. My name is Grano."
"I am General Radium of the great Lupenia. I will guide you. Everyone, please follow me."
Radium took the lead, walking with confident steps.
* * *
The Lupen Crystal Palace could be defined by one phrase: 'It's beautiful.'.
Grano marveled at the sight.
The palace shined with the lights of seven different colors!
So much so that he wanted to call it the Palace of Light.
"It's good to be alive. If you're alive, you eventually get to see things like this."
He Who Rejects Death, or Eder, admired life.
"Things that glitter are nice, but it'd be even nicer if the palace shone gold instead," Kang Oh said.
He'd rather have a palace made of gold than a palace made of crystals.
"Hoo, hoo. The Lupen Palace is the pride of the Lupenias..." Radium said, his voice filled with pride.
"The queen is waiting for you, so please meet her first and then tour the palace later at your leisure," Radium added.
Eder, who'd been a bachelor for so long, perked up when he heard the term 'queen'.
In fairy tales and stories, princesses and queens were always so beautiful!
He had also read some romance stories with love that transcended species.
If that's the case, then could he too...?
"Is she pretty?" Eder asked, his face filled with anticipation.
"Of course! The queen is Lupenia's most beautiful woman," Radium replied immediately.
Eder clenched his fists.
"Wake up. Plus, she's probably already married," Kang Oh said calmly.
"She hasn't gotten married yet," Radium said.
"Does she have a lover?" Eder asked.
"Oooh! Mr. Radium, please take us to the queen immediately."
Eder was on fire.
Kang Oh looked at him and clicked his tongue.
To him, Eder had no chance with Lupenia's queen. Since it was Eder he was talking about!
If... he sees that Eder actually has a chance, then Kang Oh will rip that away from him.
'You're going to start dating before me? No way. Can't let that happen!'
But then, Kang Oh looked at Grano.
Grano didn't seem interested in any of the topics regarding the queen, her marital status, or if she had a lover or not.
What was it? It was like he was relaxed because he possessed something they didn't; as if he had resigned himself.
"Mr. Grano. Have you gotten married already?" Kang Oh asked.
"I also have two daughters," Grano grinned and replied.
"You're a mage, yet you've gotten married?"
Kang Oh had a certain prejudice towards mages.
He thought they were gloomy, were too arrogant, researched day and night in their rooms without fidgeting like an invalid, and ultimately thought that they died of old age, alone without ever dating anyone!
This bias only intensified from his experiences with Bercy and Gospel, who had yearned for her for so long.
Therefore, Kang Oh had assumed that Grano hadn't been married.
"Mages aren't clergymen. It doesn't matter if they get married or not."
Grano misunderstood Kang Oh's question.
However, Eder suddenly grasped both of Grano's hands.
"I'll treat you like my brother from this point on!"
Eder's eyes burned with passion.
"So please tell me how you get married!"
"Seriously, wake up."
Kang Oh tried to pour cold water over his hopes.
"Why!?" Eder cried out.
"You guys sure are interesting."
Radium, who had been watching their interaction, smiled.
"Now, this way."
Radium led them.
Kang Oh's party passed the entrance to the palace and went inside.
The inside of the crystal palace was a lot less showy than the outside.
It was because there was thin cloth covering the walls to keep the light from coming through.
However, the light flared out from behind the cloth, which made for a subtle charm and atmosphere.
The unusually shaped coral ornaments, as well as the bronze statues of Lupenio's warriors, were quite nice too.
They looked around the palace's interior and soon found themselves before the queen's room.
The huge cloth concealed half of the giant hall.
Radium approached the cloth.
"My queen! I've brought them to you."
He placed a fist to his chest, took a knee, and bowed his head.
A bright and mysterious voice resounded throughout the hall.
Is this what a siren would sound like, one who bewitches their targets through their songs?
At the same time, the cloth which hid the queen's appearance was beginning to be removed.
Eder stared forward with eyes wide in anticipation.
"I wholeheartedly welcome you to the Lupen Crystal Palace."
Once the veil was removed, they saw the queen in her entirety.Previous Chapter Next Chapter