Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
“You’re saying that our dear Count Radcliffe has left his own domain once again and ran off to who-knows-where?”
In the world of Mycroft, within the study inside Morlaix Palace of the Northern Empire, the burly and imposing Israel looked up from heaps of documents. His Imperial Majesty blinked a few times and scrutinized his visitor for a moment, before inquiring with a tone as if it was perfectly normal.
“How long has he been gone?” he asked, even as his right hand was still marking or correcting documents and request for instructions, while his left was holding a unique silver barbell, lifting it in training. Still, while the Emperor’s voice was calm and mild, anyone could discern that it was also helpless and unhappy.
” Ahem . Father, as you know—Moldavia no longer requires direct governance of its liege…”
Before Israel’s desk, Second Imperial Prince Dimore made a soft cough, his gaze lowered and his expression embarrassed. “That’s why everything is running as normal in his territories. We might not have even noticed the fact if not for Adrian’s visit to Winter Fort Academy.”
“Fine. So what that basically means is no one knows where he has run off too, no one knows when he would return, and that his territories had become so accustomed to it that it operates conventionally even without a liege—how many days had he just returned to the Mycroft Continent? How could he run off again!”
Israel sighed, putting down the pen on his right hand but maintaining his training with his left. Leaning on the back of his armchair as he summarized the information, the Emperor annoyedly slapped his own thigh.
“Troublemaker! He is an Imperial Noble in any case, and should at least consider his position! Why is he acting like a wandering adventurer, unable to stay for at least half a year in one place?!
“What if he was away and can’t be found when something suddenly happened, such as an abyssal demonic invasion?”
—Though that probably won’t happen.
Just as the Emperor sat disgruntledly, Dimore stood in a corner, recalling the voice of the black-haired warrior. Abyssal demonic Invasion? He thought. Would that man even miss that?
Dimore kept those thoughts inside, even as he thought about the situation. “The title of Count is truly a little small for an accomplished Legendary champion,” he suggested a few moments later. “It would be normal then that he acts unconcerned about his domain. We perhaps could consider…”
Israel, however, shook his head to cut Dimore short. He stared annoyedly at the numerous documents before him first, before waving his son off.
“Don’t consider, Dimore. I’m not angry, and I don’t find anything wrong with what the fellow called Joshua is doing. Instead, it is a privilege for Legends to live whimsically in the first place.
“Do you even think he would care about titles and territories? If I handed all lands north of the Great Ajax Mountains and awarded him the title ‘Count of the Northern Sleet’, do you think Joshua would be happy?”
Of course not.
Dimore concluded without thinking. Joshua may care about Moldavia’s development, but that was solely because it was inherited from his father. He would not feel allegiance even if the entire Great Ajax Mountains, the Icy Plains of the Extreme North to the Lost Sea were all assigned to him, and would instead find it bizarrely annoying.
“All Legendary champions are unconstrained beings such as him—look at each of them who live on this continent. Who doesn’t behave like that? Master Nostradamus and I are exceptions there: he has an ideal that could only be fulfilled with the support of the entire Empire, while I…”
“I am first Empire Diamond of the Northern Empire, and then Israel, Legendary champion. That’s my duty.”
Israel glanced sideways at Dimore even as he spoke with his mild voice. “My child,” he added as if ruminating, “I kept you around me so that you could assume my duty. But now it seems that you have been lacking in training recently, and your advance in abilities is slowing.”
“My oversight, Father!” Dimore could not help suppress a sinking sensation inside at Israel’s critique, and knelt on one knee as he reflected solemnly, even while feelings of embarrassment welled in his heart. “Life has been too leisurely recently—I have slacked considerably! In a few days, I shall head to the depths of the Dark Forest around the southern fortresses to train, and not be remising!”
“That’s not quite necessary.”
Weighing the silver barbell in his left hand, Israel narrowed his eyes and smile. He rose, gesturing for Dimore to rise as well, and handing him the barbell even as his son looked bewildered.
“Is, is this?! Urgh—”
Dimore was nonchalant at first. However heavy the object was, it was just a barbell—as a being a step away from Gold, he could squash even monsters that were over dozens of tons as if they were paper. However, the moment he took the barbell, the unprepared Second Prince’s rather handsome face contorted at once, the floorboards of the study instantly bursting as veins of cracks spread over all directions.
Exploding and burning with aura, Dimore held the barbell that was about as huge as a human arm. Green veins were popping over the surface of his hands, while blood vessels appeared all around his eyes as he barely mustered the strength to look up to his Father. “Father,” he asked, gritting his teeth, “what, what is this thing actually?”
“A training equipment Noble Radcliffe gave me recently. It’s said to be made of a very rare material—now I’m giving it to you.”
Not only was Israel unworried that Dimore looked as if to drop the barbell, he appeared very satisfied, even walking toward his son and clapping his hand on his shoulder. “When you could almost hold that barbell freely without destroying your immediate environment,” he said softly, “Then you would be almost at the level where you could take my place.”
Then, Israel turned and looked outside the window of the study, where the astounding palaces were reflecting the golden radiance of the sun. “It’s time to strive, Dimore,” he continued with a normal, unfettered voice. “The era of war and strife has ended, and a new era has come.”
“When I have done what I have to, I would not stay eternally on the throne.”
Having left those words of profound meaning, Israel left his own study, leaving Dimore who sweated all over his head as he tried his best to control his power and not break his environment. Even as the Second Prince did so, he thought about the deeper meaning of the Emperor’s words.
“Could it be…”
The world of Mycroft, the main city of Moldavia, the North.
Generally speaking, local hunters and farmers of the North would fondly call the City of Black Iron at the center of Moldavia the ‘the old liege’s place”, while those who were a tinge learned such as traders, would reverently call it by its original name –’Moldavia’.
The name of the main city was the name of the territory as well. It was a perfectly normal thing for the Mycroft Continent and especially the Northern Empire, a tradition that had passed down over a thousand years and was the same for virtually any region. However, Moldavia was now no longer the city with a population of just over a few hundred thousand, but a metropolis cluster that hosted over a million people.
With the ‘Inner City’ zone at its center and the former main city as an origin point, four more satellite cities had been constructed with the aid of magical machinery on the north, east, south, and west. Countless herb gatherers and hunters who once dwelled in ancient forests were guided officially to live within those satellite cities and become a part of the city—having lived almost primitively, they had almost been stunned speechless when they noticed the jungle of towering buildings and the distinct mana spires in the satellite city.
If not for the continuous assault by the Dark Tide, Draconic Plague, and cultists, it would have been effectively impossible for those mountain dwellers who usually just wanted to stay in their own settlements apart from coming out to trade materials. The Moldavian officials themselves also had been emphasizing on moving the mountain dwellers to the city because the magical factories in the territories required substantial labor, which was also why they accepted many adventures from other regions or nations, granting them easy permanent residence.
Years ago, when the Moldavian Liege’s Residence and the Northern Runic Dwarves jointly designed the first magical armor, the magical modernization process of the entire territory had been noted down in project records. Afterward, with the founding of Winter Fort Academy and the combined research of the Imperial Mage Academy, Seven Gods Church, and other elite talents, the rather basic magical factors updated their facilities by generation after generation, developing new products and changing the appearance of the city bit by bit.
While it might sound unbelievable, Moldavia had indeed succeeded in half-popularizing within the period of six years. Through the veins of magical crystal ore around Pawprint Lake and the Magical Research Center directly affiliate to Winter Fort Academy that met the demands of the many public facilities, over twenty magical factories were spread across all corners of the four Satellite Cities, producing tools such as magical cores.
At the moment, the Radcliffe family’s business of crafting weapons and armor was slowly replaced by the exportation of magical tools. Having attained massive revenue in return, almost all factor supervisors decided to expand, although there was a lack of facilities and the fact was that it would always be humans who worked the tools. To acquire cheap labor, the factory supervisors hence pushed the Moldavian officials to do their best and absorb outside population, and select suitable candidates to work at their premises. They were not afraid of any backlashes or spilling their technology, since a powerful Legendary champion was the owner of those factories, and apart from him, the Northern Empire’s Mage Guild and the Seven Gods Church were also their shield.
“Brother, is this Moldavia?”
At the trade zone around the main gates to the southern Satellite City, a huge dragon caravan slowly stopped beside a newly-built station amidst the drake’s thunderous footsteps. A crowd was alighting as if without end, while a team of city guards stood in a file and maintaining the order of a queue.
There was a gray-haired girl amongst them who did not look a day over ten, sitting on the lap of a huge man and chewing on her own thumb. “There’s so many people, many more than old people…” she mumbled vaguely, “are we willing here from now no?”
“Yes, little Rani. Houses here are cheaper—we could buy it even with our savings!” A huge man, also with gray hair answered her softly as he held her while carrying two large traveling rucksacks behind his back. There was a scar on his face as if slashed by some beasts, while his robust, uncovered arms bore all sorts of lesions, making him appear fearsome and not to be trifled him. Even so, in that moment, such a man was smiling from his heart. “Moldavia is no a famous metropolis in the Northern Empire. Finding work here would be much better back home.”
“Then, Priest won’t be going to fight those monsters?” the little girl asked worriedly, “or disappear more than half a year, leaving me alone at our aunt’s place?”
“No, Britney. This place is very safe, and I would never leave you.”
The huge man named Priest showed a sad expression as he remembered how the bizarre Dark Tide and Draconic Plague that engulfed half the continent years ago. Many regions of the Northern Empire had been struck variably, and his hometown incidentally was near a place where green dragons inhabited.
The siblings’ parents had paid for their lives to protect their homes and hold on until reinforcements from the Imperial Army arrive, while Priest himself was heavily injured as well. In the end, although the Imperial Army killed off all rampaging green dragons, their homes and farm had been corrupted by toxic and rendered unusable for decades.
To make a living for himself and to prevent his young sister from living a hard life, Priest entrusted her to the wife of his father’s younger brother, while he joined a band of merchants with his well-built body and helped transported specialty products between the northern and southern reaches of the empire… though difficult, and occasionally ambushed by monsters and bandits, the wage was considerable—two years of striving and Priest already had some capital, and could consider finding a place to settle themselves and live a stable life.
And Moldavia was the place Priest chose.
“This place is really peaceful…”
The huge man could not help breathing out in delight as he remembered their journey: The Draconic Caravan had crossed four to five jungles and two flatlands from the Ural Mountains to the main city of Moldavia, and yet there were neither nor bandits or ambushing monsters! It was inconceivable for the people of Mycroft—who would not come across any monsters?
And yet, there was none around Moldavia! Or perhaps it would be more precise to say that even there were, they would not dare to harm humans.
After all, it was a city where a Legendary champion presided. Priest felt glad to have made the choice—where the might of that dragon-slaying liege shrouded, even the fiercest of draconic beasts would not dare a toddler.
Having rested for a moment, the huge man took out a map from his pocket, and carried the little girl who appeared groggy and about to fall asleep to the other end of the city—Priest had certainly made all preparations after having chosen to settle in Moldavia. He had a friend from the merchant team who had left to settle here as well and it was exactly thanks to his invitation that Priest made the decision to journey to the edge of the continent, to the distant North.
“Priest! So, you’re here already! And I thought you would arrive come autumn… That’s your sister? Such a cute little girl. She will be an elegant beauty once she grows up!”
Having arrived beside a majestic pyramidic building east of the southern Satellite City, Priest who had been shocked by the pyroxene streetlights and mana towers had asked the locals according to the address he was given and handily found his friend’s place: a two-story detached house. Priest knocked on the door and took one step back when he heard the sounds of rushed footsteps, and the door opened, while he saw the delighted face of his friend he had not seen for a long time.
“Dear Dahl. It’s your invitation that encouraged my choice.”
The siblings were invited into the house, where Dahl got Priest and Britney to sit in a corner while he prepared tea. A blond man whose face appeared to bear the vicissitudes of life then served the thankful Priest, while little Britney had already spread herself over her chair, asleep from the fatigue of the journey.
Dahl put a blanket over the little girl before reminiscing about the old times with Priest, after of which he said a little emotionally, “Thank the liege for his kindness and generosity. The housing prices in Moldavia is almost no different from being given out free—even I, a fellow without much savings could have a little building belonging to myself.”
“That’s really enviable. You have to know that back in my home at the cities around the southern wastelands, a detached house built from stone would cost fifteen hundred gold coins.”
Priest emptied his cup of tea; he was certainly envious. As partners of the same merchant team, both he and Dahl had aided one another, saving each other’s lives and bonded deeper than real brothers. It was also why Priest knew that Dahl’s would not have saved more than he did since he had been careless with money—and if he could buy a nice house, Priest himself would not be any worse.
“Don’t be too concerned, Priest. Such low-cost housing would not last long,” Dahl said softly and rather mysteriously as he poured another cup of tea for his friend. “To be perfectly honest, because there are so many people requesting for Moldavian citizenship nowadays that the liege’s estimation, the four Satellite Cities has added conditions to housing purchases.”
Priest naturally became extremely nervous upon hearing those words. He had been living adrift on the southern avenues of the Empire before he came and prepared to settle down in opportunity-filled Moldavia, and to learn out of the blue that were conditions for buying a house certainly made him nervous.
“Don’t worry, friend. I had definitely thought of everything since I invited here… Though it’s a little lack of manners, I must mention that I have my own intentions to.”
Despite not too old a person, Dahl smiled with a weathered face and cut into the heart of the matter without keeping Priest in suspense. “Anyone who wants to buy housing at the offer price before must first attain ‘Moldavian Permanent Residence’, and to get that one must have an actual job in Moldavia! As for what actually counted as an ‘actual job’… it’s not adventurer, cleaning plates in a tavern or even merchant—only working for the liege’s residence counts as an ‘actual job’!”
“Priest.” Dahl’s expression slowly became serious. “Have you heard of ‘magical factories’?”
“Not bad, fine little fellow. Your physique appears suitable for work here… Dahl, you scoundrel—your man is really not too shabby. Go then, take this certificate and claim your reward at the financing counter.”
“Alright, Mister Rondeaux, I’ll be going—Priest, stop being such a worrywart. You’ll definitely fit the requirements!”
Days later, the nervous Priest stood inside in a huge stair-shaped building constructed entirely of steel and crystal components, fidgeting a little as he looked down at the stout and heavily-bearded dwarf who was slapping at his knees. He called himself the man in charge of the factory, and appeared very satisfied with his physicality. “Us here at the ‘Runic Spirits Factory’ don’t demand high skill and is easy to learn on the go, but it does dictate attention to detail, and more importantly a body that could keep going up to eighteen hours for added hours… of course, there would be incentives awarded for overtime in compliance to the standards set by the liege’s residence, so you don’t have to worry about going unpaid.”
As the factory owner called Rondeaux chattered away, Priest finally understood the present circumstances: his friend Dahl was working here at the Runic Spirits Factory that produced certain unique magical equipment. However, due to a lack of manpower, it was very difficult for the factory to usually meet orders which in turn led to added hours. That was why the dwarven owner had set up a reward system for those who added to their employee reserve, which led to Dahl thinking of his good friend at once, and the reason why he invited Priest here to Moldavia.
Of course, Priest was extraordinarily delighted—as that Rondeaux had put it, producing magical machinery did not require any knowledge of magic on part of the maker. So long as he remembered the proper operating procedures and having enough physical strength for working overtime, the man believed that he would be able to meet the requirements. Moreover, the Runic Spirits Factory were producing an uncomplicated magical machine called ‘Fairy Cards Table’– its core components were produced in other factories or research centers, before being transported here for assembling.
After a brief few days of training, Priest had already learned the method of assembly, with his serious personality earning Rondeaux admiration even as Dahl helped him to form a fine, natural rapport with other employees of the factory.
As workers, their wages were correlated to their working period, but even their most leisurely eight-hour work period would earn more money for Priest than when he put his life on the line as a merchant escort. And for some reason, the Fairy Card Table they were making were selling unusually well, with rumors having that even Nobles or even the Imperial Family was buying those things. Therefore, the Runic Spirits Factory never lacked orders, or leisurely period for that matter.
Time flew along with the urgent work pace, and several months passed in the blink of an eye.
One day, as Rondeaux the dwarf patrolled the production department, he walked over to Priest who had been seriously controlling his work platform to assemble a Fairy Card table.
“Priest, come to think of it… you’re not twenty-five yet, right?” He suddenly asked beside Priest. “And you look a little over twenty.”
“Ah, boss. I’m twenty-four this year, twenty-five before winter.”
Priest answered while he worked, not sure why Rondeaux would ask about that. In truth, he was just twenty one—but having faked his age when he joined the merchants, he slowly got used to being twenty-four now since it did not matter much.
“I see… To be honest, our factory belongs to the liege’s residence and Winter Fort Academy. There are a few recommendation spots for the factory for combat-class in the academy, with all taken by children of our employees who met the requirements—save one. You’re not twenty-five yet, and rationally speaking, fits the conditions to try things out.”
“The assessment is before winter. To be frank, I could tell that your physicality and strength is unmatched even for some existing students… I also heard from Dahl that you fought green dragons and lived to tell the tale. That’s natural divine power!”
There was nothing much to add at that point. Priest, gaping at the dwarven factory owner’s earnest gaze, clenched his fist and said quietly, “…boss, I will do my best!”
“Doing your best isn’t enough. You have to put your life on the line—and there’s no need to be to that grateful to me: compared to having a laboring worker, it’s more worthwhile to groom a potential adept, and you could only back and keep working for me even if you fail.”
Waving him off, Rondeaux smiled briefly and soon put on a stern face as he turned to leave. “Alright. Keep working, our partners might come for quality inspection of the products today, don’t be distracted.”
“Of course not!”
The official guest house built by the liege’s residence in Moldavia.
Sixth Prince Adrian sat rather helplessly by his bed, looking at the four little humanoids of varying colors and little wings resembling dragonflies’ having a passionate discussion about something he completely did not understand.
After Adrian made a series of agreements with the Moldavian Liege’s Residence and the Northern Dwarves and attained the assistance form four large runic factories in the North, the Fairy Cards Table that initially required costly raw materials became low-cost thanks to everyone’s wisdom. Now, virtually all taverns in the North provided a few tables for customer users, and it was even something worth showing off amongst nobles for them to have special card backs and private Fairy Card Tables. At first, Adrian thought it to be a little something with considerable potential, and found it unbelievable that it had sold so well at once.
“Could it be that I’m a genius entrepreneur?”
Though the thought occasionally rose in his mind, Adrian knew very well that if not for his father being the Emperor Israel and Count Radcliffe being a good friend of Israel, or for the loyalty of the Northern Dwarves to the dragon-slaying liege or his fine rapport with the fairies… He would have accomplished nothing, and even the production of the Fairy Card Tables would have ended up being seized by some other powerful factions.
Naturally, the most vital part was the ‘fairies’ before him who had designed almost all Fairy Cards.
On Adrian’s bed, the four Elemental Fairies who had left the Morlaix Palace at some point in time were having a speech of extreme passionate atmosphere.
‘Tempest’ was speaking loudly. She was an entirely green fairy and seemingly an incarnation of the wind element, and now her little doll-like face was filled with hot blood. “Back in the Glorious Era, the Fairy Kingdom had held great influence in the seven continents of the Mycroft world—even if us fairies were not the greatest of all races, we were a mainstay in the very least! Be it stabilizing the state of the continent or calming all calamities, we had exhausted all efforts with nary a mistake, and almost attaining rule over the continent… Fine, fine—not almost. And don’t talk about that overpowered Sage, I mean who would have thought that a being like the Sage would suddenly spring out amongst men? Us successors of successors notwithstanding, even the Fairy Queens of old never once imagined that it would happen!”
Despite being retorted at the very start of her own speech by the other unforgiving fairies, Tempest did not show a hint of shrinking back. “Leaving that aside—the Fairy Queens back in Fairyland had now learned of our feats… Their Majesties believe it to have great potential! Fairy Cards are unquestionably the vital path for our first capital so that us fairies could return to the physical realm! We have to act our own since Israel don’t have the time to help us!”
“We shall have those humans know—us fairies don’t beg!”
“Well said, tempest. So when can we return?”
The other three fairies who respectively represented Earth, Fire, and Water cheered her on disharmoniously, with the one named Fluorescence complaining rather impatiently to the prince at the moment. “Adrian, this is boring. I don’t actually want to keep Tempest company and design the so-called cards—take us out for a whirl, eh?”
As she spoke, Fluorescence attempted an approach to the Sixth Prince’s arm, only to be promptly chased off by Tempest. “Shoo, shoo, shoo. It’s bad enough that you’re not helping, and now you’re actually trying to kidnap my student! Go look for Israel if you want to play—I found Adrian, and I’ll never let you guys have him!”
Uh, I am not actually your toy.
As he sighed inwardly, Adrian, who was somehow very popular amongst the fairies had really wanted to roll his eyes. However, he could only smile bitterly as he played along with Tempest.
“Yes, yes, Master Tempest…”
In fact, the Sixth Prince knew that Tempest hit the crux of the matter. The Fairies could assuredly use the awareness and capital earned from Fairy Cards and return to the world of Mycroft honorably… When the time comes, most in the human world of Mycroft who had played Fairy Cards would not ostracize the fairies. Still, while would the fairies who dwelled in isolation for almost a thousand years in Fairyland would suddenly think about returning to the continent? Adrian believed that there must be something he did not know transpiring behind the scenes.
But having gained the direct support of her own apprentice, Tempest became full of herself. Looking around at the other washed out fairies, she flapped her little wings behind her back, and spoke with a clenched fist and utmost solemnness. “I shall say it once again—us fairies don’t beg! The promotion of Fairy Cards must be done by all means!”
“Yeah…” the other fairies answered at once albeit unenthusiastically.
Meanwhile, in the distant Great Ajax Mountains, most of the champions in the Main City of Moldavia and Winter Fort Academy abruptly looked up. An entirely-white airship that had dense layers mysterious runes floating around it hence pierced the dimensions amidst pale-blue ripples and appeared over the Great Ajax Mountains.
A black-haired man, holding the hand of a Drakonid girl, walked out of the airship and stood in the air, overlooking the land.
The man showed a smile as he watched the familiar land, the familiar city and the familiar mountains. Behind him, two Legendary mages stepped out of the airship as well, spreading their Legendary-class energy signature without a hint of concealment. Everyone in Moldavia knew at once as the unequaled majesty unfurled.
That their liege had returned to his home soil.