Cale did not pay attention to any of the gazes headed toward him.
However, he was concerned about Raon’s comments.
– I am proud of you. This feels great. We did it.
Cale tried his best to ignore the emotional Black Dragon. He turned his head toward the Emperor, who was standing one level higher than him.
The Emperor was someone whom you could only see during a situation like this. However, Cale’s thoughts as he looked toward the Emperor was not about how glorious of an occasion it was to see him.
‘Did they say that his body is weak?’
He had heard that the Emperor had become so weak that it was almost a miracle that he was still alive. This was the case for the former Emperor as well.
‘No wonder they treasure the Imperial Prince.’
This was one of the descriptions of Imperial Prince Adin in, ‘The Birth of a Hero.’
< The Emperor projected his greed to Adin, who used this to his advantage. >
The Imperial Prince was born with a strong body and was also talented in sword arts. Adin, who was born with things that the Emperor wished he had, used this to make the Emperor rely on him.
Furthermore, Adin absorbed the martial arts that had been weakened because of two generations of weak Emperors.
The only Emperor in the Western continent called out Cale’s name.
Cale formally showed his respects and the Emperor looked at him as he continued to speak.
“Your actions during the Sun Palace bomb incident were courageous and beautiful.”
His voice was amplified with the magic amplification device.
“A foreigner like you did something that would be difficult for even one of our own Empire’s citizens to do. The Sun Palace did not fall and many people survived thanks to your deeds.”
Cale observed the Emperor’s face as he praised his actions. The Emperor did seem to be frail.
‘But they are still two peas in a pod.’
Although their physical wellness was different, both the Emperor and the Imperial Prince thought the same way.
Cale quickly suppressed his thoughts as he pretended to be a respectful young noble as he looked up at the Emperor. The Emperor raised his voice.
“I am here to present such a courageous young man with the third-grade Mogoru Medal of Honor, as well as some other treasures!”
A silver medal was placed on Cale’s shirt.
Cheers filled the plaza.
The Emperor patted Cale on the shoulder.
“You did well.”
Cale could see his sincerity. They had given him a third-grade medal after all.
Of the many medals available, a third-grade medal with the Mogoru Empire’s name was a significantly high honor.
The first-grade was for officials who had rendered outstanding service.
The second-grade was for heroes of war.
The third-grade was for individuals who had performed exemplary deeds for the nation.
The third-grade was the highest honor a foreigner could receive, and Cale was the only one who had received this honor in a long time.
‘It is probably because the Empire hasn’t done anything well these days.’
The Empire just looked like they were failing over and over in the eyes of the other kingdoms.
They had lost Maple Castle, their palace was destroyed, and the Vice Tower Master was almost assassinated in the Sun Palace.
A shining beacon named Cale appeared in front of them in such a situation.
– Human, I am very proud of you! You may be weak, but your heart is pure!
Cale ignored Raon’s comments.
“Why don’t you briefly share your sentiments.”
The Emperor pointed to the plaza behind Cale.
This was a part of the agenda before the treasure was presented to him.
Cale bowed toward the Emperor before slowly turning around to the plaza.
He could see that the plaza was full of people.
-Human! Billos is in your 3 o’clock direction by the fountain!
Cale’s gaze naturally turned toward the fountain. He had told Billos to specifically come to that location.
‘They’re all here.’
Billos, the alchemist, and even Choi Han and the Cat in his arms were all there. Although he could not see their faces because they were too far away, he could recognize their shapes.
Cale looked around the plaza.
People were cheering and anticipating his remarks.
Cale started to speak.
“I am very happy.”
The young noble really did seem happy.
The people in the plaza cheered for the young noble who was happy after receiving the Empire’s medal. They were feeling good that this young noble seemed to be considering it an honor.
They had heard about the actions of this noble standing on the platform.
They were shocked when they heard that the Sun Palace was hit with a terror incident. However, nobody got hurt and the Sun Palace didn’t fall either.
Of course, it did not have much to do with them. The majority of the people who were saved were nobles.
That was why the only thing they did was cheer.
Cale naturally knew about this.
“I am happy that I was able to save others. I am happy that I was able to fulfill my responsibilities.”
Cale’s continued words made the expressions on the people’s faces change a bit.
He was not happy to receive the medal.
And that was it.
Cale looked toward the Emperor while a sense of disappointment filled the plaza for such a short speech.
“…I suppose it is now time for the treasure.”
The Emperor motioned and someone walked up with a long box. The Emperor felt that something was wrong as he observed Cale, who was looking at the box that was wrapped in velvet.
He could feel a sense of hesitation.
The noble who had just said that he was happy had a stiff expression on his face.
He could also see him peeking at him.
The Emperor was used to such sight. It was the sight of someone who had something he wanted to say but was hesitating because he was in front of the Emperor.
“Is there something you wish to say?”
The Emperor held back a cough caused by the cold wind as he asked.
“…It is nothing, your majesty.”
“I will ask you a second time. Speak freely.”
‘I will ask you a second time.’
That made Cale Henituse’s expression change as if he had made up his mind and he started to speak.
“Your majesty, I do not know what the treasure is.”
“That is the case.”
The Emperor could see a brave expression that he saw in young nobles from time to time.
“Your majesty, may I exchange this treasure for something else?”
The Emperor had a good idea about what was going on.
His gaze headed toward the Imperial Prince who was right below the platform.
‘Royal father, he is considered a just young noble.’
‘In the views of the foreigners.’
The Emperor knew what would appear when you put a sense of justice and youth together.
“What is it you wish to exchange it for?”
The Emperor could see that Cale’s expression brightened as soon as he heard his gentle tone. Cale put on a bright smile.
– Human, that smile seems so shady!
Cale ignored Raon and started to speak. The conversation between the two of them was being amplified so that the entire plaza could hear.
“My friend told me this.”
The unexpected word made the people confused.
This was the same for the Emperor. Cale continued to speak.
“He said that light brightens up the darkness.”
The people’s expressions changed.
The majority of them were thinking about a specific phrase.
The Sun finds the darkness and shines its light on it.
It was famous for being the foundation for the Church of the Sun God.
It was said in a different way, but it still made them think about it.
“My friend also said the following.”
This friend that Cale was talking about could only be one person.
It was the Saint, Jack.
“Light does not weaken if you share it.”
The Sun is great enough to shine light on all lifeforms.
It made them oddly remember the teachings of the church. Although it was not the same, the followers of the Sun God could not help but recall their teachings.
Even if the Church of the Sun God had committed such atrocities, there were still many believers in the Empire.
The leaders of the church had committed actions that went against the teachings of the church. And now, someone who was not related to the Church of the Sun God, was making them remember their teachings.
Cale’s voice echoed in the plaza.
“That is why I wish to share.”
He sounded happy and excited.
“Since light will not change even if I do.”
The believers of the Church of the Sun God heard Cale’s words differently.
The Sun will still not change.
One of the citizens looking up at the platform mumbled to himself.
“It’s been a while.”
It had been a while since he had felt the teachings in his heart.
However, there were people who were thinking about the teachings in their heads as well.
The Emperor was one of them.
His gaze turned sharp for a moment before returning to normal.
The young noble who courageously asked and seemed to be waiting for his response seemed to be a very common innocent noble who believed that he could create a beautiful world.
‘He doesn’t seem to have done that on purpose.’
The Emperor thought that Cale did not share the Church of the Sun God’s teachings on purpose.
‘But that is not the important thing right now.’
The Emperor did not miss the chance to raise his own value. He started to speak.
“You wish to not use this treasure and instead share it with others?”
“I would like to if that is possible, your majesty.”
The Emperor laughed out loud before speaking loud enough for the citizens to hear.
“I will accept Cale Henituse’s request! We will open the granaries and share more food than the value of this treasure to the citizens in need!”
The citizens’ expressions lit up. The Emperor continued to speak before they could start shouting in joy.
“I will also give the generous Cale Henituse this treasure as planned!”
The Emperor pretended to be a benevolent ruler and the citizens cheered him on.
They were cheering even more passionately than before.
The citizens energetically applauded the Emperor and the foreign young noble. The plaza that had been quiet since the fall of the Church and their defeat against the Whipper Kingdom.
One of the citizens started to speak as he continued to clap.
“Wouldn’t it be great if that noble was a part of our Empire?”
“Right? But look! Our Emperor is so generous too!”
“I guess that is true. Anyways, that noble is quite decent!”
There were many voices praising Cale.
“What was his name again?”
“Hooo. I see. Is he a part of the Church of the Sun God?”
“…I don’t know about that. But he seems like a good person. And he is courageous. A noble like him is rare to find.”
The alcoholic Alchemist Rei Stecker looked around the rowdy plaza. He then looked toward Cale with chaotic eyes.
Rei had heard that Cale was the white-haired priest. He had also heard about Sir Rex.
Rex was also looking toward Cale who was on the platform. He had a complicated expression on his face.
The two of them heard Billos’s voice at that time.
“The young master-nim did the same thing in the Roan Kingdom. He hasn’t changed at all.”
“In the Roan Kingdom?”
Billos nodded his head at Rei’s question and raised his voice on purpose.
“He also prevented the Roan Kingdom’s Plaza Terror Incident on his own but did not want any other honor than the joy from saving others. He only worried about others who may still be suffering.”
The citizens who heard his voice were shocked. The way they looked at Cale started to change. At the same time, the subordinates that Billos had planted throughout the plaza were bringing up stories about Cale.
The noble who had also thrown his body in danger during the Roan Kingdom’s Plaza Terror Incident.
Furthermore, a person who had come to participate in the investigation of the terror incident at the Vatican.
Those stories continued to spread throughout the plaza.
The alcoholic Alchemist Rei almost gasped after hearing Billos’s stories.
“…What an amazing person.”
Choi Han, who had been standing there stoically, then started to speak.
“Cale-nim has always been like this.”
Choi Han sounded proud as he said that. Rei and Rex could not help but look at Cale with an odd expression after sensing a strong level of trust in Choi Han’s words.
Cale headed down from the platform as the Emperor started a short speech.
He could see Imperial Prince Adin at the bottom.
He did not seem to be too happy, although he tried his best to maintain his smile. It was because of Cale’s unexpected actions. Adin started to approach Cale, presumably to talk about that, before suddenly stopping.
It was because of Alberu.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were going to do something like that?”
“I apologize, your highness. The idea suddenly popped into my head while I was up there.”
Alberu’s reprimanding tone made Cale bow toward Alberu and Adin.
That made Adin start to smile as he patted Cale on the shoulder.
“No need to apologize. I thank you for thinking of our citizens.”
“Thank you very much for being understanding.”
Adin, who was observing Cale who seemed to be relieved, heard Alberu starting to speak once again.
“You did something similar at the last terror incident. You always put others before yourself.”
Adin’s expression slightly changed after hearing that Cale had done something similar last time.
Cale smiled back at Alberu before quietly returning to his spot.
Although he had not informed the Emperor and the Imperial Prince about his actions, he had indeed told Alberu in advance.
Daltaro patted Cale’s shoulder once Cale returned to the rest of the envoy.
“Good job. You were very cool.”
Daltaro was looking at Cale with a satisfied and affectionate expression.
“Get plenty of rest until we leave tomorrow.”
The envoy was leaving tomorrow as Daltaro just mentioned. They would only pass through the Gyerre territory for their teleportation magic circle as they had unexpectedly stayed here longer than planned.
Cale responded back with a smile and touched the treasure box in his arms.
Raon’s voice echoed in his head.
– … I feel an evil aura coming from the box! Let’s ask Goldie gramps! No, let’s ask Mary!
The Super Rock chimed in as well.
– Are you planning on sacrificing yourself?
‘I knew it.’
Cale knew that the treasure Adin gave him would not be something good.
He peeked into the box only to see a light sword that was used for self-defense with a jewel at the pommel.
‘…I don’t like it.’
Cale made up his mind after seeing that Adin gave him something useless after claiming to give him a treasure.
He shared his plans with the group at Billos’s secret residence later that night.
“I will definitely destroy the Alchemists’ Bell Tower.”
“Yes. Billos, won’t you make a lot of money if we destroy it and you source the materials needed to build a new one?”
“I fully support your decision.”
Billos quickly accepted Cale’s decision after hearing about the future benefits.
The Alchemist Rei and the Cat Knight Rex looked toward Cale with anxiety. Even Choi Han, who was standing next to Cale, was peeking at him with hesitation.
Rei started to speak.
“… Sir, I didn’t know you were a noble.”
“Is that a problem?”
Rei quickly shook his head at Cale’s question.
He was just amazed that Cale was willing to go up against the strong forces of Alchemy and the Empire in order to share the truth with the citizens of the Empire when he could just ignore all of this and live peacefully. ((TL: Cale should seek advice from Rei on how to live a peaceful life.) )
“I am leaving tomorrow. I came to tell you a couple of things before I left.”
Rei focused back on Cale after hearing what he said.
Rex, who was still in his cat form, continued to quietly observe Cale.
Cale quickly got down to business.
It would be difficult to move Rex and the others of his organization since the Empire was frantically searching for them. Rei also needed time to gather the other Alchemists that were not a part of the Bell Tower. They needed to bide their time.
That was why Cale was planning on remaining as quiet as a dead rat until the Empire had its guard down when the Northern Alliance attacked. (As quiet as a dead rat is a Korean idiom for laying low. )
Wouldn’t that be the best time to hit them the hardest?
He needed something to rally them in order for that to happen.
“The Saint and Holy Maiden are still alive.”
Rei let out a gasp.
He had understood the two meanings behind Cale’s statement.
They are still alive.
Furthermore, I know where they are.
That was the hidden meaning behind that statement.
Rei and Rex had already heard from Choi Han that the Church of the Sun God was hit with the magic bomb because they were trying to reveal the secrets of the Alchemists’ Bell Tower. He had also told them that the Empire tried to kill the Saint and Holy Maiden after framing them for the incident.
Cale noticed all of the eyes on him as he continued to speak.
“I will return within a year.”
He then gave an order.
“Endure until then.”
He followed up with the reward they would get if they succeeded.
“I will bring you everything you want if you endure until then.”
Everything you want.
That phrase made Rei and Rex’s expression change.
The alcoholic Alchemist of the slums and the Cat Knight on the run for attempted murder.
This man in front of them would bring them the things they wanted but found difficult to obtain.
The only thing left for the two of them was death or a life in seclusion anyway.
“I will endure until then.”
Rei had no problem answering back. He could see a smile on Cale’s face as he looked at him.
“It is great that you don’t smell like alcohol anymore.”
Rei started to smile as well.
Rei, who had shaved his beard, combed his hair, and dressed himself nicely, albeit in shabby clothes, looked more like a scientist than an alcoholic now.
“I will endure as well.”
Rex soon answered as well. He then turned to make eye contact with Cale.
All that was left for him was to run forever or die. If that was the case, he would rather endure and get one more chance to do what he wanted.
Cale got up from his seat.
Rex tightened up after seeing Cale approach him, but he soon returned to normal.
Rex became anxious after hearing Cale’s quiet voice.
At that moment, Cale took out multiple items from his magic bag and piled them up in front of Rex.
Boom. Boom. Boom.
These heavy items piled up in front of Rex’s eyes.
“Read all of these books.”
Rex’s eyes opened wide.
They were books.
There was a tall pile of thick books in front of him.
He could see the titles of the books.
‘…Leadership? Politics? Military science?’
“…Why do I need to read these?”
The confused Cat looked up at Cale. However, Cale did not answer his question.
“Just read it if I tell you to read it. It would be even better if you thoroughly studied them.”
Rex slowly nodded his head after seeing the look in Cale’s eyes.
Cale then started to smile in satisfaction.
Who should fill the empty spot left by the Imperial Prince?
Although this was just Cale’s thoughts right now, he petted the Cat’s red fur with a satisfied expression. Rex flinched, but stayed still.
Raon’s voice echoed in Cale’s mind.
– Human, why are you smiling like that again? Isn’t everything done?
‘Done? This is just the starting line.’
The day that Cale returned with the Saint, Holy Maiden, and the divine item.
That day would be the day it all begins.
* * *
“Human, I am six years old now! I’ve also grown bigger!”
Raon pointed toward Cale with his short front paw.
“Human, you are twenty years old now!”
Cale thoughtlessly nodded his head and started to speak to the driver.
“Choi Han, are we almost there?”
“Yes, Cale-nim. We are almost at Harris Village.”
It was now the new year.
Cale had been slacking off in the Henituse Castle ever since his return from the Empire and had come out for the first time since his return.
It was going to be a pretty long trip through the Tiger Village, the Whale Village, and the Paerun Kingdom up north.