The queen stared at him in anger while Leorio glanced with a sharp gaze. William turned white in the face once again while Jian and I only observed, having no interest in interfering in such disputes… yet.
Gerald glanced at the queen with a mocking smile and asked amused.
“Excuse me, your highness, but did you try to say something? Your voice is too soft. If you may speak louder.” → Gerald
“Count Gerald.” → Leorio
This time it was Leorio’s turn to open his mouth.
“May we hear what’s the meaning of this?” → Leorio
Finally seeing Leorio, Gerald’s mocking smile widened even more, his tone just as jeering.
“Oho~! Elder King Leorio! But how pleasing to see you alive after adventuring in the Eihwaz region! I thought you’ll no longer show your face after losing your throne to the former Queen Daria, and such starting this joke of a matriarchal monarchy!” → Gerald
The more he talked, Gerald’s tone would change from one of jeering to one of judging and contempt. Lorana seemed incredibly angered by his words but Leorio’s calm face rather bugged Gerald who continued with the same judging tone.
“Just how could you let the throne to a woman, Elder King Leorio? Do you have no pride as a man?! Or are these just your royal preferences, to be dominated by a woman?!” → Gerald
“I was not, and I will never be dominated by anyone.” → Leorio
Leorio’s voice then resounded just as calmly as ever, unfazed by Gerald’s mockery. He then continued with the same calm tone while talking with a professional smile on.
“The policy of this kingdom is for the royal family to give the throne to the strongest member from the youngest generation after passing the age of 17 while having the older generation to teach and guide them on the path of a strong and wise ruler. The old have the role of training and teaching the younger generation to turn into great warriors and wise ruler. If a member were to marry outside the family, then the stronger member would take the throne. While I am of the royal blood and Daria was of the Crimson family, she showed more talent in any and all areas. This made everyone agree that she was the most befitting for the throne, me as well. As such, until my Lorana, as the oldest and strongest from the newer generation, marry with her fated that might or might not show greater talent than her, she’ll remain the Queen while our kingdom will remain Matriarchal until a stronger male heir appears.” → Leorio
“So you truly were weaker than her highness!” → Gerald
“Indeed I was, and if she were still alive, she might still be stronger than me. However-“ → Leorio
His eyes sharp while glaring at Gerald with an imposing air.
“Let’s not forget that she was also even stronger than anyone inside this kingdom. My family and her Crimson family passed the throne to one another for generations, nobody being able to best us for thousands of years. The Daluz family especially.” → Leorio
Silence befell as Leorio and Gerald Daluz locked gazes, making for the pressure to give William a hard time swallowing his saliva.
Right after, Gerald smashed the chest of the guard under his foot and with a dark face he took out a red crystal.
“Alfred, kill him!” → Lorana
“Yes, my queen!” → Alfred
“Not so fast.” → Gerald
Barely waiting for the order, Alfred already shot out like a bullet toward Gerald to cut him in two, but just as his blade was about to land, a crimson barrier surrounded Gerald and the impact sent Alfred flying, crashing on a tower and making it collapse with a tremor.
“Alfred!” → Lorana
The queen and the soldiers had their faces pale while Leorio’s frown deepened as he was unsure if to take action or wait to understand just what happened. Jian had the same expression while I raised an eyebrow from surprise at seeing the stone in his hand.
Hoho~? → Shen
I stared somewhat surprised at the crystal and understood right away what that was.
An Energy Stone? And it has been changed to the element of fire as well… Eh? → Shen
I then observed with my [Devil Eyes], more memory strings coming out from the crystal just like electric cables, connected to more other places around the capital, be them from underground or from the cloudy sky.
Gerald then opened his mouth with a somber expression and boomed aloud.
“Queen Daria might have been an exception! But I’ll never, in my entire life! Will I accept a snotty brat as the rightful owner of the throne! And nor will the people of Victoria! We! The population of Victoria! Will never accept a brat of only Great Warrior power-rank, as our ruler!” → Gerald
“And so you’re thinking of bringing down this entire kingdom?” → Shen
“Lord Shen…?” → Jian
My voice resounded calmly, making the others twitch for a second at the sudden intervention. Jian asked me somewhat confused as for why I was interfering and even Gerald glanced at me sharply, feeling like his plan was in danger.
“And who might you be? An outsider like you shouldn’t interfere in Victoria’s troubles, only if you’re some kind of invader!” → Gerald
“I’m not, nor do I have any intentions of invading other territories. But rather than talking of myself, just who are you to judge whenever she’ll achieve the throne or not? Are you the people’s voices? From what I heard from the elites, many villagers and residents of Victoria Kingdom would willingly give their lives for her highness if needed. The former queen was able to win the hearts of many, and after her death, all those wishes and feelings were now passed down to Queen Lorana as the successor. Those who now wish to take her throne away are mostly the power-addicts. Now the same question: who are you? A power-addict? Or truly the voice of the people? If you’re the voice of the people, then I’ll recommend you to put that crystal down.” → Shen
“… So you know what this is.” → Gerald
“Got a hunch.” → Shen
Gerald’s face turned even darker. He then raised the crystal and a burning red shine emanated from it.
“W-what is that?!”
“Count Gerald! What are you planning?!” → Lorana
The guards, the queen, and Leorio finally became restless as they felt the elements of fire twisting and swirling wildly everywhere inside the capital, feeling like a monstrous amount of fire element was suddenly released in the atmosphere.
“Yes… I am indeed the voice of the people. But only the voice of those who matter for the kingdom. The voice of those who bleed and die for Victoria’s land! And I, the voice of the warriors, won’t let this sacred land fall under the rule of a foolish child!” → Gerald
“So you’ll rather destroy it?!” → Lorana
Lorana asked shaken, her confidence wavering. Feeling Gerald’s unyielding and domineering aura of a true king, Lorana felt unable to look into his gaze. Gerald then destroyed the crystal and the cloudy sky suddenly reddened.
“By burning this place to the ground, I will be able to rebuild it on even higher ground, to even higher heights. Everyone will then understand the true power of a Daluz, and the wish of the warriors who only seek the strong!” → Gerald
Gerald then glanced at me and Jian, and with the same sharpness in his eyes he said such:
“For the kingdom’s guests that arrived in troubled times. I’ll be sure to make profitable negotiations for both parties once everything is over. If you show us kindness and give a helping hand, I’ll be even more gratified and gifts will fill your arms.” → Gerald
In different places of the capital, great storms of fire suddenly erupted while from the sky, balls of fire fell like rain, setting aflame everything and everyone. The wooden buildings were now burning, the homes, the marketing area, the streets, the four races, and the animals, everything was set on fire and slowly crumbling. With a few exceptions, one could say that the entire capital was set aflame after that one crystal broke in Gerald’s hand.
The sky was red while the ground was burning. Everywhere one could see only fire and smoke, smell only burnt wood and flesh, and hear only screams and the smoldering fire. I then asked Jian telepathically, feeling Gerald’s proposal quite intriguing.
What do you say? King Jian. → Shen
His face just as expressionless as before, only his eyes shining with a glint of surprise and understanding after hearing my question. He then looked my way and answered accordingly.
He knows how to take advantage of others. Even though we interfered quite a bit in their internal problems, Count Gerald seems quite flexible at the idea of acquiring new allies. He might’ve shown some malice at first, but he quickly grasped the situation he was in and tried to win us over. All in all, an intelligent and crafty individual. If turned into an ally, he could prove to be a great help for the future. → Jian
Are there any chances of having a back-stabber? → Shen
Hmm, for sure. If Leorio truly is of Royal blood, then I say that we’d rather trust the royal family which with we already have bonds than to side with cornered rebels that will even set their own allies on fire to win what they wish. → Jian
I heard you… Then… Let’s force the hand a little. → Shen
I then turned to Leorio and with a slight smile, I asked directly.
“For my assistance one of your requests will be nulled, and a price of one thousand gold will be paid. Do you accept?” → Shen
“What?” → Leorio
Leorio glanced at me surprised but then he instantly understood what I meant. With a slight frown, he nodded but said no more.
Using this moment to nullify one of the agreements of losing the duel… I never expected for Lord Shen to be such a shrewd person. And also asking for money… at least it’s not an exaggerated sum for the royal family… → Leorio
Seeing the approval, I smiled and my body started to levitate. In a flash, I appeared in front of Gerald. His aura was no more domineering, he stared at my glowing red eyes while sweat fell down his forehead. Even so, his voice still firm and his spirit strong.
“Shall I take this as a refusal to my proposal? Once I free the throne, I could even make you the king! What I seek is not the power, but a strong and wise lord to serve under!” → Gerald
His proposals becoming even more enchanting and making even Jian open his eyes wide in shock. This time even Leorio felt like the changes of me turning my back to them were growing limitless. While feeling my monstrous aura, not just the guards, but even the queen felt her hands shaking. Thinking that such an entity might turn against them at any moment now, left everyone from the royal side with sweaty palms. William was already long since hidden behind a boulder, away from any danger that might befall him.
“King…?” → Shen
I asked amused and Gerald felt like something wasn’t right. My red eyes smiled in amusement while my spiky hair was dancing with no wind, together with the dark cloak I was wearing. My voice then turned more ethereal as a dark aura enveloped me, making for the mana to vibrate almost everywhere inside the capital.
“I must be a fool to not understand that such a title is more than just too small for me. Being locked inside a uselessly large house, ruling over a patch of land, in a world of conflict and change, having to sacrifice my own time for you lot. I refused to rule over my own kingdom, do you really think I’d accept to rule over yours?” → Shen
Memories from my visions, together with memories of me as a spirit resurfaced in my mind, making me remember that feeling of invincibility, of dominance over everything and over the world itself.
“Then what do you desire?!” → Gerald
Completely baffled, Gerald asked unsure as of what he could offer to someone who thought of the role of king as undesirable.
I closed my eyes and tried to remember the sentient feeling of being a complete spirit, a memory that resurfaced inside my mind after Rosabhi used my body to fight against the Umbra-type demon inside the young dungeon. That memory was now so alive in my mind, I was able to almost feel like I was living that exact moment once again: Having all my senses awaken, making the surroundings crystal-clear, such giving me full access over the essence of the world itself. To have the feeling as if all and everything is under control, and the power to destroy the moon, to halve planets being some of the many things able to do. The power to command thousands of other godly spirits, and the spiritual strength to face dozens of thousands of devils, this feeling can be described the best by just one word:
“Godly…” → Shen
“W-what?” → Gerald
My voice vibrated while my domineering aura forced the clouds to gather and for thunder to rumble. Just my aura alone made the fire to die down on an area of one kilometer around, and for everywhere the eye could see, for dark clouds to gather and cover the earth into flashing darkness, the lightning striking through the clouds a few times every second.
“A true God is what I wish to return into being. A king over the living is nothing more than a mortal title. But a king over one lair of Heaven is but the true beginning of a soul’s destiny.” → Shen
My voice then resounded again, making for great thunders to strike through the clouds, looking as if the heavens themselves were tearing and breaking apart. Heavy rain then befell over the entire capital and even further past the walls, while the only thing still illuminating the skies to be the blue and blinding lighting, flashing with a deafening and quaking thunder. If before it seemed like the sky was reversing its rage over Donaria, now it appeared as if the heavens were falling apart, the lightning seeming like cracking the sky itself. The wildfire had no chance in front of the torrential rain that fell in heavy waves, making even an adult man bend from the heavy downpour.
Gerald and everyone else observed my dark silhouette and a shiver ran down their spines as they observed the red shining eyes, not losing their glowing power even when lightning was illuminating the sky.
A-a God?! That’s ridiculous! → Gerald
“Your words are blasphemous! Are you even aware of what you’re talking?!” → Gerald
“A mortal? Turn into a God?!”
“Watch it so you won’t get smited by the real gods of Sario! You fool!”
Gerald and even the guards felt indignation at my words, but I gave them no mind. Even queen Lorana looked my way shockingly, while King Jian and Leorio were more or less already used with my ridiculous ideologies and my incomparable arrogance. A mocking smile appeared on my face as the guards and Gerald’s vision started to blur. The last whisper resounded in their heads, in the heads that emanated negative energies and thoughts against me, making them fall asleep with a revolting feeling:
Your fake belief will never shake my own creed. The fact that you stand no chance in front of me, a half-devil, is proof to your defect religion that can’t summon the true power of Divinity through your blind souls. What you’re believing in is but a lie made by mortals to turn gods into puppets. Your own God is but a puppet you all ignore but respect! → Shen
Afterward, they all passed out, waiting to wake again but with no recollection of the former conversation.
Afterward, Yuri contacted me with an alarmed tone.
S-Shen?! This ridiculous storm is your doing, isn’t it? Had the devil took control over you again?! → Yuri
Calm down, Yuri. That insect will never be able to touch me again. This power might be his but it’s for me to use now. → Shen
Huh? A-alright then? → Yuri
Even though I said such, Yuri was still staring dumbfounded at the sky, a slight shudder enveloping him every time the sky lightened up and the colossal face of a devil created by clouds flashed with a menacing gaze downwards, as if staring mockingly and even disgusted downwards at Victoria’s capital Donaria.
After all the fire died down, I focused and with a wave of my hand, the clouds separated in two and made way for the sun rays to envelop the now drenched capital. I then lightly levitated beside everyone else and the queen asked me with a somewhat irritated tone while looking at the sleeping guardians.
“I thank Founder Johan for his assistance. But I would have appreciated it even more if your magic wouldn’t have affected my people as well.” → Lorana
At her tone, I answered back calmly with a matter-of-fact tone.
“Negative thoughts are poison for someone who controls nature. If such thoughts were to interfere with my magic, nature would go wild and rampant. I only created a mental barrier around myself which would make anyone who sent their negativity my way to strike back and send them into the world of dreams.” → Shen
In short, it was their fault for falling into such a trap. I intentionally made Gerald’s iron-mind shake and weaken, so once he struck my barrier with his revolted thoughts, to fall asleep for more than five hours. The fact that some other idiots cursed and revolted against my words was entirely their own fault. → Shen
Seeing how the relationship between the queen and I started to shake, Leorio hastily interfered and asked in a hurry.
“Your Highnesses, now that the danger has left us, why don’t we go to the other side of the walls and assist Archduke Andreas? The reinforcements you told us about should also be on their way to here by now. Founder Shen, King Jian, we will have to move ourselves to a safer place outside the capital for the time being. If there’s nothing else to do, mind coming with us? There must be a summer villa only one day of flight from here to North.” → Leorio
“I accept your proposal. As you already know, we must talk about this alliance with the utmost care. A calm environment would prove to be a more favorable place for such discussions.” → Jian
Jian nodded approvingly while I thought for a while, thinking that the alliance has already been set inside Antara, so there was basically no need to discuss it. What I really needed, for now, was to create a new base for the bandits when they’ll come back. Even though it was quite underhanded for me to make their base on an ally’s territory, If I wished for the so-called mafia to extend on the entire continent, then I had to start right from the outside.
While thinking, William took a step outside the hiding place, soaked from head to toe because he was unable to create a barrier around himself, then he bowed to the ground in front of all of us.
“N-now if I may! I request to return home and start gathering the necessary amount to pay my fine!” → William
“Do as you see fit. Don’t return until you gathered all of my 200 gold. Dismissed.” → Lorana
“Y-yes my queen!” → William
He bowed once again then got up to leave as the queen ignored him, not before I stopped him and asked calmly.
“Well, until you all finish cleaning up this mess, how about I go and take my time at this guy’s place? I don’t really have any money on me to stay at an inn so I might as well do this as another form of punishment for going against her highness. Is that alright?” → Shen
“Huh?” → William
Everyone looked at me dumbfounded, William even baffled with his mouth wide open. Leorio then looked again at the destroyed palace and smiled wryly.
“I understand why you don’t wish to stay here, Founder Johan. Well, if you think you’ll have a good rest at Lord William’s place then feel free to do so. Even though the royal family has no rights to invade the private space of any noble, this can indeed be considered a befitting punishment for planning on going against her majesty. The promised gold will be sent right to his place after one month until everything calmed down.” → Leorio
“I’ll allow it.” → Lorana
Leorio laughed while Lorana nodded in approbation. Jian then shook his head and continued.
“I for one will remain here and help Sire Leorio and Sir Yuri. I still have more things to discuss with Queen Lorana as well.” → Jian
At Jian’s words, Leorio and Lorana looked at him with a curious glint in their eyes while I shrugged my shoulders then turned around.
“As you wish. Well then, Queen Lorana, Elder King Leorio, until the next time.” → Shen
I then turned around and while grabbing William by the shoulder I shot out in the air with a thundering noise.
William shouted in a panic as he saw the ground distancing from under his feet at an incredible speed. Because of the protective barrier, there was no air resistance striking him, so his breath, albeit rushed from panic, was in no danger of being stopped from the pressure.
“Stop screaming already and tell me in what direction I should go to reach your place.” → Shen
“J-just why do you wish to come to my home?! I did as you wanted!” → William
William shouted alarmed while I felt like my throbbing temples bursting from the irritating noises. I seriously thought of letting him go at that moment when we were more than three thousand meters in the air in between the clouds.
“First of all, QUIET DOWN!” → Shen
At the thunderous roar, even the clouds parted away from around me. William covered his mouth in a rush, his eyes big as onions.
“Second of all, it is just as Leorio said: I am coming to your place because it’s more retreated from the capital and I can actually relax for once.” → Shen
“… Is there a third reason?” → William
Through his hands, William asked sheepishly.
“You’re not stupid. Indeed, my third reason for coming to your place would be to also see that adventurer. I’m quite curious about what kind of personality you got there.” → Shen
“Personality…?” → Shen
As I used this excuse to actually have free-way inside the kingdom, I was also looking around for a good place to build the base for Alexander and his people.
Starting from now, our connections will continue to grow throughout the entire Sario. → Shen