Due to its long history, the Roan Kingdom had a lot of palaces.
“It’s been a while since so many nobles have gathered together.”
One of the palaces that were only used when there were significant issues that impacted the whole kingdom was currently decorated luxuriously and welcoming people in.
People were busy chatting in this hall that was the size of most small outdoor plazas.
“…I didn't expect that the awards ceremony and the celebration would happen together.”
Most of the people gathered here were nobles. The people wearing luxurious yet dapper clothes could not easily blend in with the atmosphere inside this dazzling hall.
“I agree. I also heard that the entire awards ceremony would be broadcasted to the plaza via a video communication device?”
“Yes, his highness the crown prince said he wanted to share this joyful and glorious day with the citizens.”
The awards ceremony after the war. It was something that the Roan Kingdom of last year which had been at peace for a long time could not have imagined. Furthermore, nobody expected the stuffy awards ceremony to end up being more relaxed by having the celebration along with it.
All of this was strongly pushed by crown prince Alberu Crossman.
“…I heard that the plaza was decorated like they do for a festival as well.”
“That is correct. I heard the crown opened up its reserves to pay for it.”
The crown prince had not just this hall but the plaza where people could view the awards ceremony decorated luxuriously for the occasion. There were also tents handing out free food throughout the plaza, letting the citizens enjoy as if it was indeed a festival.
However, most of the nobles did not look happy.
“I know. I'm aware.”
The Viscount who swore sighed at his son's comment before calming himself. His eyes scanned around the hall.
‘…There's a lot of people here.’
The crown prince had asked for as many nobles as possible to attend. That was the reason most nobles came to the capital with their families. Of course, they could have declined to participate.
‘But who would do that?!’
Any patriarch of a household, well, any noble with a brain would choose to attend.
Many nobles were sighing around the hall. They were trying their best to smile, but many of them were smiling with their mouths while sharply scanning the hall with their eyes.
“It's going to be quite a headache now.”
The Viscount quickly bowed after hearing a voice.
“No need for such greetings.”
The Count who declined the Viscount's respectful greeting stood next to him and started to whisper.
“Most of the Northeast region's nobles are here?”
The Viscount nodded his head with a stiff expression on his face.
“Yes sir, most of them are here.”
The Count and the Viscount. The two of them were part of the central nobles faction centered around the Roan Kingdom's capital that was led by Duke Orsena.
The northwest region’s Marquis Stan. The southeast region's Marquis Ailan. The central region’s Duke Orsena. The southwest region's Duke Gyerre.
These were the four factions that had led the Roan Kingdom's nobles’ society until now. They were here to witness the creation of another faction, a very strong new faction.
“…The Ubarr household is here.”
The Count could see the matriarch, Viscountess Ubarr of the Ubarr territory, the location of the Roan Kingdom's largest naval base. The matriarch who was with her husband and her successor, Amiru Ubarr, was calmly chatting with other northeast region’s nobles.
‘Viscount Chetter and Count Wheelsman.’
Viscountess Ubarr, Viscount Chetter, and Count Wheelsman were the core of the northeast region’s nobles.
“…They are not here yet.”
The Count nodded at the Viscount's whisper.
‘Yes, the most important people aren’t here yet.’
Marquis Stan, Marquis Ailan, Duke Gyerre, and Duke Orsena. The leaders of the four factions and the only Dukes and Marquis of the Roan Kingdom were here, but most nobles were still waiting for someone. Even the Dukes and Marquises were waiting for someone. That was the reason they were all here earlier than the expected time.
“…Is it something like the main characters show up late?”
The Count sighed before he heard the voice of the servant guarding the door.
“Count Henituse and his family, now entering.”
The servant shouted the same way he had done for every noble who entered. The music that played when the nobles entered was the same and none of the royal knights standing guard gave any special gestures. The other nobles were still gathered in groups of threes or fives as well.
However, all of the nobles were looking toward Count Henituse and his family who were entering through the door. Then all of their eyes opened wide.
Count Deruth Henituse. Next to him was Countess Violan.
There were specific rules and etiquettes about the order family members entered as well.
The family head and their spouse were in the front. Behind them would be the future family head, or the individual with the most potential to be the future family head. The ones behind them would enter in order of succession hierarchy as well. This meant that others were able to easily determine the family's current situation and their future based on the entry order.
One of the nobles who were watching started to ask a question.
"…Why is that person in the way back?”
Count Deruth and Countess Violan.
Behind them were Basen, then Lily, and at the end… Cale Henituse leisurely walked in as the last one in the group.
“…Was that rumor true?”
The nobles who were visiting the capital for the celebration had heard a rumor once they arrived.
< Cale Henituse does not want any title nor position. >
The nobles had not believed this baseless rumor that had quickly spread.
It had appeared all of a sudden and it was unbelievable.
People were bound to desire fame and power. But for some reason, the Henituse household had not responded to this rumor that had spread like wildfire.
“…Something is weird.”
The nobles felt that something was off.
It was especially weird that the leaders of each faction were silently standing there without saying anything.
What is Cale Henituse being awarded? Will young master Cale retain his title of Commander? He’s not being given full control over the troops, is he?
The leaders replied that they could not answer any of those questions as they continued to meet behind closed doors with the highest administrators and the crown prince.
‘What the hell is going on?’
Everyone, men and women, old and young were focused on the Henituse household. Then they realized something.
‘Why are they not here?’
Cale Henituse's subordinates/friends. Specifically, they did not see Choi Han nor Mary with them.
‘Shouldn't they have come together to emphasize their influence?’
They had a bad feeling about this.
“Count-nim, do you think it is true that he rejected a government position as well?”
The Count heard the Viscount's question but shook his head to say he didn’t know.
The other rumor.
< Cale Henituse, Choi Han, and Mary have all declined government positions. >
That rumor was quickly spreading through the capital as well.
“Isn’t it a good thing if it is true?”
The Count did not respond to the Viscount’s excited question.
It was definitely a good thing. It was beneficial for the other nobles if those three individuals did not take any positions. Of course, it would be a sad thing for the northeast region's nobles.
That was why they felt that something was off.
‘Why did they decline those positions?’
Why were there rumors that they had declined such great rewards? This was the reason that all of the nobles were nervous.
It was at that moment.
The door opened and the servant shouted again.
“Necromancer Mary, Tasha, the leader of the Dark Elf warriors, and Sesaine, the Captain of the Mage Brigade, now entering!”
A woman in a black robe, a dark woman, and a white-haired old man in a magic robe entered the hall. These people were the Roan Kingdom's new powers.
The rumblings that had started with the entrance of the Henituse household was slowly getting louder.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
However, those rumblings soon disappeared once they heard the beating of the drums. One noble started to mumble.
“…His highness the crown prince is overseeing this now too.”
He then bowed toward the entrance. Zed Crossman was in a villa outside the capital after claiming that he was not feeling well. Then there was only one person who could oversee this ceremony.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
The servant shouted through the beating drums.
“His highness, the crown prince Alberu Crossman, is now entering!”
All nobles slightly bowed. And then they saw it.
‘Why are there two people?’
Alberu Crossman was walking down the red carpet that cut through the hall as he headed for the chair on top of the highest platform inside the hall. Then there was someone following behind him.
“You may all raise your heads.”
They raised their heads after getting Alberu’s permission and saw the person standing behind the crown prince.
One of the nobles gasped.
The Roan Kingdom's new strongest and most popular individual. Choi Han, the youngest sword master.
The person who was usually standing behind Cale was behind Alberu today.
Choi Han’s black hair and black eyes in addition to his fancy black uniform made him look like Alberu Crossman’s shadow that was guarding him.
“How is that person-”
“A commoner dares to-!”
“What the hell!”
The servant shouted again as they all started to shout in shock.
“The awards ceremony will now begin, and the feed has been connected to the plaza!”
The door closed at that moment. The nobles thought about the citizens who were now watching and swallowed their astonishment. They all tried their best to return to their noble and majestic demeanors.
It was at that moment.
Alberu Crossman looked at the nobles while standing at the bottom of the highest platform with the chair as he started to speak.
“Today is a joyful occasion. It is a happy day.”
The way Alberu, the one who represented the king, treated the nobles was gentle but firm. That gentle smile headed toward the person who followed behind him.
“It is an even better day because I am with my instructor. Isn't that the case, instructor-nim?”
The nobles felt as if a cold spell had hit them.
‘…What is he talking about?’
The nobles looked toward the leaders of their respective factions or those with high government positions.
They could see their leaders and peers remaining silent. They then heard sword master Choi Han calmly respond.
“Your highness, please speak normally.”
“How can I do that to my instructor?”
“That is easier for me, your highness.”
It was a position that made it impossible for someone to have a position nor enter the political sector. Some of the more intelligent nobles had gazes of relief.
‘Yes. He can't touch my bowl if he is the crown prince's instructor!’
‘He can't favor the Henituse household of the northeast region's regions if he is the instructor! Doing that would make him lose face and make the crown prince lose face!’
‘Good! Now the Henituse household can’t treat Choi Han as their subordinate!’
Alberu gently started to speak to Choi Han again as they were quickly thinking.
“Okay then, I should do whatever is most comfortable for my instructor-nim.”
Alberu then looked toward the others and continued to speak.
“I did not have an instructor until now, but I am very happy that I can serve the continent’s greatest swordsman as my instructor starting this glorious day.”
The southeast region's Marquis Ailan and central region's Duke Orsena clenched their eyes before opening them again.
‘The crown prince and Choi Han’s popularities are going to soar again.’
Some nobles felt as if they could already hear the citizens cheering for Choi Han and the crown prince.
The person who would be king was taking a young swordsman of common birth as his instructor. He was doing this based on abilities alone. That swordsman was also one of the heroes who saved this kingdom.
The citizens knew as well.
They knew that becoming the instructor of someone in the royal family meant that they would be far from power and that they could only spend the rest of their lives being the person's instructor.
That was why the people of the Roan Kingdom always respected the king’s instructor. Furthermore, the citizens would admire how such a young swordsman would choose such a position of integrity.
In addition, it wasn't as if the nobles could oppose Choi Han becoming Alberu’s instructor.
Everything that was said was being broadcasted live, and it was better to put Choi Han in a place where nobody could touch him if they could not pull him over to their side.
“Alright then. Let's all relax and enjoy this wonderful day.”
The crown prince leisurely spoke with a relaxed expression. He didn't seem like someone who had just dropped a bomb on them.
"The people here and the people watching this in the plaza, I'm sure everybody was shocked at my sudden introduction of my instructor. However!”
He then continued in a serious tone.
“There will only be happy things and no shocking things from here on, so I hope everybody can enjoy this moment. We successfully overcame a trial and today is the day we show our gratitude to those who took the lead in helping us overcome that trial.”
The nobles were relieved. Crown prince Alberu headed up to the chair on the platform as if nothing happened while Choi Han stealthily moved to the corner of the hall.
‘Hooo, it looks like his highness wanted to separate Choi Han and Cale as well.’
Some of the nobles started to smile after watching Choi Han seclude himself in the corner. One of the administrators handed Alberu a document wrapped in a luxurious cloth once he sat down.
Alberu took the document. The paper inside should have details about the awards ceremony.
Alberu immediately pulled the string that tied the cloth.
The clothe unraveled to reveal the paper inside. The administrator who was watching this immediately started to speak.
"We will now commence the awards ceremony for the individuals who accomplished great victories at the Battle of the Henituse territory, the Battle at the Northeastern Shores, as well as the battles at the Caro Kingdom and the Gorge of Death-”
The administrator looked toward the person who cut him off.
Alberu Crossman stopped the administrator before standing up from his chair. The details of the awards ceremony were in his hand.
The nobles looked toward him after seeing his unexpected action while Alberu looked toward the nobles and the video communication device that was connected with the plaza as he started to speak.
“I had to make a decision that I personally could not accept this time.”
Cale who was acting relaxed looked toward the platform.
Cale made eye contact with Alberu at that moment.
Alberu gave a short smile toward Cale.
‘…Why do I have a bad feeling about this?’
Cale slowly started to feel nervous. They had planned for today.
‘Cale, I will set the mood and then introduce you. So, just play along with me.’
‘Your highness, you won't make a big deal out of it, right?’
‘Yeah, I won't. I'll even tell you what to say. Then you just need to say that, so it’ll be simple, right?’
‘You won't make me say anything weird, will you?’
‘Ho! I'll tell you what it is right now, and you don’t have to say it if you think it is weird. Is that fine?’
‘Good. Also discuss with Count Deruth and the Countess before giving me an answer for my suggestion.’
He wasn't too worried because Alberu had already promised him, however…
- Human! The crown prince is smiling weirdly!
Cael decided to stop thinking about it. Alberu had continued to speak while Cale was thinking.
“The person whose name should be at the top of this list. I removed his name from it.”
The nobles started to whisper to each other. Some of them looked toward Cale. The person whose name should be at the top of the list. It was obvious who that was talking about.
“Cale Henituse, I decided not to give you any positions or titles.”
Alberu could hear the whispers of the nobles and felt as if he could feel the shock from the citizens in the plaza. He felt the changing atmosphere as he headed down from the platform.
He then walked between the splitting masses as he approached a person.
“Cale Henituse, what do you think? Are you satisfied with this?”
Cale looked toward Alberu who was smiling in front of him. He then said what they had previously discussed. It wasn’t very long and fit this situation well.
“Your highness, I am satisfied. I hope that this honor could be shared with the many soldiers and others who suffered more than I did during the battles. I am satisfied with the fact that we safely made it past those difficult days. I do not need anything for it.”
Small gasps could be heard around the hall.
The rumor was true. Cale Henituse would truly not receive any positions or titles.
That was what he himself wanted.
Furthermore, he wanted his rewards to be shared with others.
‘Is he being serious? He’s not shrewdly planning something in secret, is he?’
‘…If he means what he is saying, then he’s amazing.’
‘He really is a hero.’
Many different thoughts filled the hall. Cale then said something that answered all of those questions.
“I just pray for peace and prosperity for the Roan Kingdom.”
Cale looked around and felt the atmosphere in the room before looking back toward Alberu. He then added something they had not discussed in advance.
“Your highness, I am just a small person who wishes to live a quiet life in a peaceful world.”
‘This should be enough for nobody to mention giving me a title, right?’
Cale didn’t notice the gazes that looked at him as some sage who separated himself from the material world as he processed his thoughts while looking at the silent nobles.
It was at that moment.
Alberu suddenly grabbed Cale’s hand.
‘What the hell? What is he doing?
Shouldn’t he go back to the others on the list since my part is done?’
As Cale became nervous dealing with this situation they had not discussed in advance…
Alberu had a look of admiration and put on a bright yet heartrending smile as he started to speak.
“Cale, I am truly, very proud of you.”
The crown prince was using such a relaxed tone toward Cale in an official setting, but nobody had the time to notice that.
“I am very happy to have such a precious younger brother like you.”
‘Younger brother? A precious younger brother at that?’
The nobles silently gasped after hearing Alberu's comment while the Dukes, Marquises, and the highest-ranking officials showed their resignation at what they each knew…
‘I thought he wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it? Isn't this going too overboard?’
Cale was also gasping silently as he looked toward Alberu, but Alberu just stood there looking deeply moved.
“There’s probably nobody in the world who is upright and has no greed like my younger brother.”
‘What nonsense is this? Who is he talking about?
Me? He’s saying I'm like that?’
- The crown prince may be crazy, but at least he knows that you are a good person, human! The crown prince is a good person too! I'm not only saying that just because he gave me a lot of cookies!
Cale was shocked.
He kept his mouth shut while looking at the deeply moved Alberu's satisfied expression as well as his father Deruth and mother Violan who were nodding their heads.
He could also see a rare smile on Choi Han’s face.
“Younger brother. I wish to hear your voice in this deeply moving moment. Won’t you call me hyung out loud?”
Cale started to think as he looked at Alberu who went beyond going overboard and now seemed to be acting out a play where two brothers had been reunited after being apart for about one hundred years.
This is driving me nuts.’