Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
“I do not…”
Thales could not help but to hide his shock by using the teacup he knocked over, until the moment when the young nun who was right beside Melgen, proficiently came forward to clean up the mess he made on the table with great consideration.
“I do not understand?”
But this time, Melgen kept her mouth shut. She just quietly observed the prince behind the study table.
‘This is the boy who affects the future of the kingdom. Ah… perhaps I should not call him a boy anymore.’
His expression seemed to be slightly shocked and doubtful the moment he heard about magic. He was unlike the old nobles, who were born with cunning and the knowledge to scheme. They would apply all sorts of etiquette and wear various disguises as well.
However, he did not have the cautious nature and great ambition of the new nobility in the kingdom.
Gilbert was a little taken by surprise.
“Priestess Melgen! I thought we are only conducting theology lessons today, and you are just explaining to His Highness about knowledge related to the gods…”
“As I was saying, theology has never been about knowledge only related to the gods.”
Melgen interrupted Gilbert’s objection. To her, he was a fool who appeared to be clever to others but was still as hopelessly slow-witted as ever. She just continued to observe Duke Thales, who was right in front of her.
The young duke seemed a little puny and slim. It reminded her of the poor who waited outside the places which had received the grace of the gods to receive aid during winter.
But his eyes shone with life. They were sharp and vigilant.
That was not all. Melgen could also see from his actions that he was not a traditional Constellation Prince based on his casual way of sitting, his swift movements, how he spoke boldly, and other such details.
At least, he was not the same as the previous few princes.
Melgen took a quick glance at the prince’s clothes once again. The color was deep, and it was in a conservative style. But other details such as his collar and sleeves were of a new design. When they were accompanied by the silver threads that were hidden nicely, they could serve as a background for the brooch of the nine-pointed star on his breast.
The priestess nodded in secret.
It seemed that the Royal Family’s royal tailor had also learned to be better. They knew how to remodel the style on the clothes and bring in a new fashion.
Yes, perhaps they were bored with the ancient and solemn trend that had lasted for years in the noble circle in Eternal Star City after the Bloody Year. Since that owner in Renaissance Palace preferred classic styles and cold color, ordinary tailors who earned a living in the capital based on their modern new designs, which applied more bold colors, were pushed to the brink of demise.
But Melgen stopped thinking for a moment before she understood.
No. Even though the tailors hired by the royal palace had been allowing their creativity bloom by practicing their art when they were designing the attire of the great noble families, they did not have the reason nor the courage to experiment on fashion on the second prince, who had just returned, and who had the attention of the entire kingdom fixed on him. After all, he was not most of their idiotic clients, who knew nothing about arts, and who would only express shock and admiration using their acting skills on their faces in order to befit the exorbitant fee they paid for those tailors.
This was not a new pattern.
Melgen felt a thought bloom in her heart.
The clothes that the prince was wearing right then was of the style that the hall’s previous owner more than ten years ago loved the most.
She looked at the stupid duke who was still yammering on by the side, and she continued to ignore the man’s warning look.
From the looks of it, Gilbert, who had been working so dutifully that he had almost turned Renaissance Palace into his second home, had taken great pains with regard to the prince’s clothes.
It was just…
Would it really work?
Melgen smiled slightly.
“You know what I am saying, Thales.”
She did not bother to mention the prince’s title and just called his name, and she also ignored his status.
All souls were equal under the gods.
Titles were meaningless. Devotion was the most important thing, was it not?
“In this world, not every child is blessed with the opportunity to experience the confrontation between the calamities and the Great Dragon.”
Melgen felt satisfied when she saw that Thales’ face had turned solemn.
“Over the past few years, have you not felt puzzled, curious, and sought answers regarding the disaster that occurred in Dragon Clouds City?”
Thales’ eyes seemed frozen.
Dragon Clouds City.
“When you hear rumors of the calamity who destroyed the world, watch a drama about the Battle of Eradication, read about the calamities’ inconsistent descriptions, listen to the explanations provided by the teachers of the noblemen, which are vague and unclear, do you think you can accept them completely?”
Thales leaned against the back of the chair and frowned.
‘So, “the problem that has been bothering you for a couple of years” is referring to this because of my experience back at Dragon Clouds City.
‘And it’s not because of…’
Underneath the table, Thales applied pressure on his left palm, and he felt the scars that were left by countless cuts from a dagger.
He cast his anxiety aside as he also cast aside every possibility that came to his mind just now.
Had the Secret Intelligence discovered any suspicious signs while they monitored him? Had the thing about the half-baked Doctor Ramon been discovered? Did he leave any clues behind in Dragon Clouds City while he searched for books there? Did he reveal hints when he had class with Asda? Did Little Rascal accidentally reveal some secrets? Or did some old ugly-faced witch whom he had met many years ago release some rumors and betray him?
“Priestess Melgen, you should have discussed with me much earlier…” Gilbert’s coughing suddenly went away, and he recovered. Instead, the coughing was replaced with a sigh.
Melgen turned her head around elegantly.
“There is no need to avoid mentioning it, and there is no need to cover it up.” Only Sunset Goddess knew just how much effort she needed to stop herself from saying the word ‘idiot’ out loud. She retained a smile on her face and said, “Count Caso, speaking about wizards will not bring the calamities over. Having thoughts about magic will not lead to the end of the world as well.”
She had not bothered to use other nicer words for those words, and they caused Gilbert’s expression to change.
“Only those who refuse to listen to reason, who believe blindly in superstitions, will walk down the path of never return.”
Melgen turned around and looked at Thales, who had a complicated expression on his face.
“And that will all be because of being ignorant and being arrogant.”
Thales remained silent for a long moment.
Gilbert’s sigh sounded deeper and deeper. “Long ago, I have explained to His Highness about the evils of the calamities…”
Melgen’s tone was gentle, but she did not show any sign of weakness when it came to debates.
“Count Caso, do you truly think that he would be that sort of fool who would run off to enjoy his life right after his lessons and lectures, as well as not caring about what he learned?
“Do you truly think he would put all his worries behind, be content in being ignorant, and no longer care about the things that will threaten his life for the rest of his life?”
Gilbert was slightly lost for words. His and the priestess’ eyes flew over the table at the same time, landing on the prince behind the study table.
However, Thales only remained in silence. No one knew what he was thinking about.
Gilbert’s tone became slightly weaker. “He is still young…”
But Melgen’s retorts grew stronger by the second. “He is already at the age.”
The old priestess spoke coldly, “If magic has truly triggered a young man’s wild curiosity, then there is no need to wait until now. Six years ago, when he was far from your sights, he would have abandoned himself to live however he wanted, become addicted to that life, ignored taboos, and started down a path you would never be able to imagine.”
Gilbert looked at the prince, and he furrowed his eyebrows a little bit, but he said nothing.
‘All right, then.’
The young man whose thoughts were complicated and who was anxious a few seconds ago let out a breath.
“All right, it is true.” The prince’s tone became relaxed. “I do really want to know about it.”
Thales revealed a smile on his face as he said sincerely, “Magic and calamity?
“Gilbert mentioned a little about them a long time ago. The books of the Eckstedtians have also mentioned a little about them, but not too much.”
Gilbert’s expression changed once again.
“Look, Thales, the gods know about the questions that bother you.” Melgen looked at him gently. She seemed confident. “The gods will bless you if you believe in them.”
‘Oh, Sunset, if you could bless me, could you stop her from sounding so much like a fraud?’
Thales did not even bother to try and hide his sigh.
Melgen watched his expression, and she came to an understanding.
As she expected, Thales, who grew up in Northland, did not believe in gods.
That was not odd. Ever since the Battle of Eradication came to an end, most of the Northlanders no longer believed in the gods that were treated as the legitimate gods by the Empire, or rather, they did not believe in every belief that was related to them. Instead, they turned to believe in the things that were brought over by the shameless king who founded the kingdom and who was involved in bestiality.
Unreasonable, stupid, arrogant, and conceited.
Melgen pursed her lips.
Only the gods would know how much Bright Moon and Dark Night Temple had sacrificed in order for them to survive in that land.
But this was what was amazing about beliefs, was it not?
Her past self many years ago was the prime example. Did she not immerse herself in vanity and impulsiveness too, thinking that she understood everything about her own life and had found the things she was after, thus ignoring God’s teachings and arrangements?
Fortunately, the gods were selfless.
They only provided protection and forgiveness.
Melgen did a praying posture in her sleeves where no one could see. In that way, the nervous little Niah would not need to follow her and repeat the same posture.
“First of all, how did magic come to be?”
Thales remained smiling as he shrugged to show that he did not know.
‘What a joke. It would be great if I knew.
‘No, it would be bad if she knew that I knew.’
Melgen nodded at the young nun behind her.
The girl with a veil covering her face seemed thin and pitiful. She received the priestess’ notification, and she exerted strength to carefully take out a huge square box shining with a metallic reflection from their luggage. Then, she put it on Thales’ study table.
‘Wait a minute, this is not a box. There were layers of thin boards stacked together from the top to the bottom, and leave no gaps in between.
‘It seems like… a book?’
There was a carved portrait on top of the metallic box, which appeared as if it were alive. It was of a fully-armored king who was surrounded by people. The style of the carved portrait was simple and plain, but it was easy to perceive. There were also symbols that seemed familiar to Thales carved around the portrait. They were similar to the symbols of the Ancient Empire.
“What are these?”
Thales frowned. He subconsciously reached out and wanted to open up the ‘book’ made of metal.
“Do not touch it!”
Thales felt pain at the back of his hand. In his shock, he quickly pulled his palm back. He noticed that the person who smacked his hand was actually the little nun called Niah.
Niah extended her arm, just like how she used to all the time. Thales could slightly see the ferocious face hidden underneath the veil.
It looked like she had executed the move countless times to warn people who wanted to touch the metallic book.
In the next second, however, when the young little nun realized who she had smacked, she was instantly taken over by panic.
Niah lowered her head as she muttered, “Sor-Sorry…”
Thales could only smile awkwardly. What else was he supposed to do? Let Doyle come in and drag her out, then behead her? He sulkily withdrew his left hand, which had been acting out of bounds.
But Melgen helped him handle the situation soon after.
“This is the metallic nameplate discovered in King Anzac’s tomb.”
Thales’ eyes moved a little.
“Hold on for a second, I’ve read about this name somewhere…”
Thales started to utilize that small head of his as he recalled the time he spent in the study room in Dragon Clouds City.
Yet, Melgen did not give him the chance to show off his memory and his knowledge as she immediately interrupted him. “He was one of humankind’s kings during the era of multiple kings. He was a royal in-law of the ancient chauvinistic countries.
“When the final defense line crumbled, the Iron Blood King died in battle, Northland fell to enemy power, and the ancient chauvinistic countries vanished. Meanwhile, during the era where the Ancient Orcs marched south en masse, it was King Anzac who called the people to arms with loud cries. He overrode all objections, united the kings of men who were fleeing toward the south, formed the conference of the allies, defended their forts, and waited for the opportunity to strike…”
Thales hummed at the perfect moment. He remembered the founder of the multiple kings’ conference and the icon of the era of multiple kings. But when he looked at the metallic nameplate on the table, his expression became a little strange.
“Did you… raid his tomb?”
Priestess Melgen’s expression froze soon after that. “Not us.”
She sounded a little displeased.
Thales coughed as he continued to speak sulkily, “Of course not.”
‘All of you are just… good, naive, and innocent buyers and collectors, right?’
“And this…” Thales turned his attention toward the sheets of metallic nameplates. He watched Niah turn the pages like she was used to doing it. A few scenes appeared briefly on the pages.
Walls crumbled. Outposts were blown to bits. Countless men were beheaded and slaughtered.
Gigantic shadows approached in a flickering manner. They carried human heads and weapons while they approached a group of soldiers who had nowhere else to run.
The king on the cover sat beside a round table. He waved his arms while giving a vehement speech.
“Long ago, before papers and printing machines even existed, human beings recorded all important events and histories on special sheets forged from special alloy in order to not forget these events.”
Melgen remained seated in the same spot as she continued to speak softly, “According to my knowledge, that tradition is still being kept, including some of the places in Northland.”
When he was still back at Northland, it was rumored that the White Blade Guards’s ‘Legend of the White Blade Guards’ was written in that form. However, Thales never understood it. It had been over centuries since the White Blade Guards’ establishment, so the records of the White Blade Guards must be over tonnes. Could that dead face lift it with his thin arms and legs?
In the distance, Gilbert, who was shocked, wanted to come forth without losing his elegance. He could only crane his neck and look while he remained in his seat. Thales could see his shock for seeing the metallic nameplate from his eyes.
“At the beginning of all beginnings, before the world had been fully explored, while beliefs were still fragmented, when human beings remained small and insignificant…”
Melgen spoke in a calm and slow pace. Nun Niah cooperated with her as she turned the pages.
The crowned kings on the page of the book were tiny. They stood back to back among a group of gigantic shadows.
“That time, those who surrounded humans were powerful, foreign species. They were bloodthirsty orcs who admired their ancestors and marched south to expand their territory, the elven countries who believed in nature and who reigned supreme, and the dwarven kings who worshiped metal and fire, and who were ambitious.
“There were even great dragons and disastrous beasts…”
Thales suddenly moved. “Urk… what?”
Melgen had to stop again. She sighed and said, “They found evidence in some archaeology expedition showing that, long before the pictures and words of mankind existed, our world was dominated by many gigantic beasts.
“Their size cannot be imagined.
“The great dragons were their leaders.
“They went across the skies and lands freely and without hesitation. They ruled over the mountains and the seas, had the entire world as their hunting ground, using living beings as their slaves, and took everything from small, insignificant living beings to show off their boundless might.”
It was only then that Thales understood.
Niah turned to another page.
A man with a crown on his head stood at the forefront of the city. Many shadows of men stood right beside him, armed with weapons. Some of them wore long robes, some of them held staffs…
“And among the human beings was a group of advisors. They made plans and strove hard to fight for a chance for humankind to catch their breaths based on their experience and wisdom. They did their best to work in the tents of the tribes, in the palaces of the nobles, and in the high towers of the cities.
“They are the same as Duke Caso by the side.”
In the distance, Gilbert’s face turned a little darker.
“At that time, the treacherous environment had practically forced human beings, who had the lowest status and the weakest strength, to the brink of destruction.”
Niah turned to another page.
The carvings on this page hooked Thales’ attention.
A blurry shadow appeared in the picture of the sun in the vast sky. That shadow looked down from the sky and reached out to the king and his warriors.
“Then, the gods looked down, and they decided to show compassion to the weak.”
Melgen’s words sounded more and more profound.
“Prophets and messengers of gods were born into the world one after another. They pointed out the paths for the future for humans and spread the beliefs toward the gods.
“And part of the people I speak of accepted the gods and their beliefs, and they were very sincere and modest.”
Melgen raised her head.
“The others were doubtful. They even regarded it in disdain, and they even objected to it.”
Thales shuddered. He then saw Niah turn to the next page.
Under the sun, the man wearing a crown stood in the middle. There were a few groups of men standing at his sides. The two groups of men at the end of each left side and right side were the most eye-catching. The men on the right side were bowing in respect to him, and they looked respectful and modest. Meanwhile, the people on the left side stood with their backs facing him, and they had different movements.
Thales’ expression started to turn solemn as he looked at two completely different people on either side of the king.
Melgen continued to talk.
“The people on the right built temples, took their place among the people, and educated the people.
“The people on the left gathered together, formed their own group, and found other paths.”
Melgen suddenly changed her tone.
“And these are beliefs and magic, priests and wizards, temple churches and magic towers that appeared later. This is the beginning of the division.”
Thales, who managed to think things through, could not help but to speak, “What?’
He looked at Melgen. Melgen only smiled slightly.
“Now, do you know why only theology lessons will mention the mysterious magic which had disappeared in the past?”
Thales found it a little difficult to believe.
The old priestess became serious as she said seriously, “Belief and magic come from the one same source. The two are dependent on each other, and are both utterly important to each other.”
Thales stared at Priestess Melgen in a daze. He had countless thoughts rampaging in his mind.
Melgen did not stop talking. She seemed to possess the momentum of a tall and imposing mountain. Even Gilbert could not help but sit up straight in a proper and strict manner.
“They were initially brothers. They both received visions from the gods.”
Melgen slowly sighed.
“However, the eldest son was loyal, and the youngest was rebellious.”
Melgen’s words sounded respectful in a very vague manner.
“But they worked hard for a common goal before this: the survival and growth of human beings.”
Thales listened to her words in shock and bafflement. ‘This is yet another perspective on the matter.
‘Beliefs and magic, religions and wizards are the same source, you say?’
“The eldest son of the gods molded the spirit of humankind. They brought to them the beliefs to protection and salvation, causing humans to abandon their weaknesses, disperse their fears, left behind tenacity, and created bravery.
“The youngest son of the gods brought powerful weaponry to humankind, allowing them to handle their battles with ease in the victories that were yet to come.”
As Niah turned the pages around, multiple scenarios on the metal nameplates were projected into Thales’ eyes.
Fleeing. Feasts. Mobilization. Marriage. Celebration. War. Funeral.
And so on.
But the two groups would show up occasionally.
The people who bowed would always sing out loud at the ceremonies and banquets. The people who turned away would always show themselves on the battlefields and the forefront of the cities.
Thales looked at the carvings which seemed simple and yet carried deep meanings, and he furrowed his eyebrows.
“Both sides collaborated with each other without a word, and when they worked together simultaneously, humankind gradually rose to power, and they began to strike back.”
Melgen slowed down in talking.
The old priestess took a deep breath in, and she felt overwhelmed with mixed emotions.
“Finally, on Quiquer Iceland, in the battle of the world where both sides brought everything out of their sleeves and bet on their futures…
“King Anzac and the remaining six other kings of the human race charged into the tens of thousands of heavy infantry orcs together with their three thousand cavalry units, who had the sincerest beliefs and who faced death with a smile.”
Thales was instantly stunned!
This story was…
“They never returned, but with the price of their lives, they managed to kill the greatest Holy Chief of the ancient orcs.”
Niah reached the last few pages.
The king was covered in wounds, and he held his precious sword while he lay quietly at the center of the battlefield. However, those huge figures who held human heads in their hands were long gone. Only countless minuscule figures tugged at the horses and held spears to surround the king. They lifted the flags and stood around him respectfully.
And the clouds had already dispersed in the sky so that light could shine on the battlefield.
“Once they lost their greatest Holy Chief, the ancient orcs who were without a leader lost.”
Melgen raised her head, and she raised her voice so that she could be heard clearly. “Hence, the battle that had launched the wars that lasted for a generation was known as the Holiness Exorcism Campaign.”
Thales fell silent.
Niah was panting heavily when she laboriously closed the metallic book with various inscriptions in it.
She shut the book that only had dozens of pages but recorded King Anzac’s grand life, which was over one thousand years ago.
“Once the Holiness Exorcism Campaign was over, the days of old was over, and the boldness of the orcs was no longer terrifying. The rule of the elves fell into decline just like that, and the arrogance of the dwarves vanished completely. The fear brought by the Great Dragon and the disastrous beasts were, in the end, categorized as legends that cannot be proven.”
“Hence, the foreign races went into seclusion all over the land, and the belief in gods spread through the land.”
There was a distant expression on Melgen’s face when she looked at the setting sun outside the window. “The flourishing age of humans was about to arrive.”