– Your highness! There was a large explosion in the desert!
Alberu subconsciously jumped up from his seat.
He was not the only one. Everyone in the meeting room could not hide their shock.
The Captain of the Kingdom’s Knight Brigade walked up to Alberu and asked for permission before raising his voice toward the video communication device.
“What do you mean, an explosion in the desert?! No, how did something like that suddenly happen?”
The person being questioned was the diplomat who had gone to deliver Alberu’s letter to crown prince Valentino and was currently in the Caro Kingdom’s Dubori territory.
– That! One moment please!
The area around the diplomat holding the video communication device was completely chaotic.
– Everybody quickly gather in the meeting room!
– Hurry up! Gather at the castle wall! Get the mages in formation as well!
They could hear people shouting and running around as the diplomat moved to a quieter location.
‘It’s an urgent situation!’
The chief executives of the Roan Kingdom who were watching could tell that things were extremely serious at the Dubori territory right now. The Knight Captain could not handle it anymore and started to speak.
“Just report in first!”
The people here had heard from crown prince Alberu that the White Star might strike the Roan Kingdom after hitting the Caro Kingdom.
That was why they were extremely anxious right now.
– Yes sir, I understand!
The diplomat stopped in place and started to report in.
– The ground suddenly started to shake a moment ago before there was a loud noise that came from a large explosion in the desert!
The Knight Captain peeked toward Alberu at that moment.
He finally recalled something he had forgotten about because of this unexpected news.
He was thinking about the crown prince’s sworn brother. Alberu who didn’t show much care for his own family had shown such love and pride for this sworn brother of his.
That person was also the Roan Kingdom’s treasure that would shine even brighter in the future.
Wasn’t that person fighting in the desert just now? Furthermore, that desert was covered in dead mana smoke.
The Knight Captain and the other chief executives stiffened up as they observed Alberu. The diplomat continued to report as they did that.
– The dead mana smoke had turned into a large whirlwind, but that whirlwind is slowly disappearing! However, according to the mage who was with young master Cale-nim…!
Alberu twitched and started to listen carefully.
The mage the diplomat was talking about right now should be Eruhaben.
The ancient Dragon’s words would be more accurate than anything else.
Alberu waited for what the diplomat would say next as calmly as possible. The diplomat continued at that moment.
– …Apparently the foundation near the center of the desert has crumbled! The size was about the size of a mid-sized city, a, and-
The diplomat hesitated without being able to continue.
“Why are you stopping in the middle?! Hurry up and tell us!”
The person in charge of the Roan Kingdom’s diplomacy started to raise his voice. The diplomat finally continued in a shaking voice.
– …He said that h, he could not feel any living presence in the desert, including the enemy White Star’s group.
Silence filled the room for a moment.
– H, however. He said he found some corpses that he couldn’t tell whether they were crushed by the crumbling foundation or by the dead mana smoke.
The person who had just raised his voice could not say anything.
Some people were dead.
But they could not confirm who these people were.
That fact alone put a terrible thought on his mind.
‘What if someone from our side has died?’
‘What if young master Cale or one of his group members was injured?’
Nobody dared to open their mouths. They could only look toward the diplomat who was biting down on his dry lips with concern and anxiety.
It was at that moment.
They heard a light sigh.
“Everybody calm down and sit back down.”
Alberu Crossman calmly started to speak and sat back down in his seat. He looked very calm and collected that they wondered if he had even been shocked just now.
The Knight Captain who was about to speak sat down after hearing Alberu sternly give the order again. He then looked toward Alberu’s face.
The diplomat who watched all this carefully started to speak again.
– Ahem. That, your highness.
The diplomat gulped after seeing Alberu smile majestically.
‘Yes, his highness has always been like this. He’s able to quickly overcome anything and act as he normally does.’
The diplomat who found that to be both scary but reliable continued in a slightly calmer voice.
– He said that the dead mana smoke would continue for at least two to three more days. He believes we can only enter the desert after all of the smoke is gone and they are expected to investigate the destroyed area at that time.
“There are people willing to do that?”
The comments Alberu made extremely stoically shocked the diplomat and made him look around.
Thankfully, nobody was there. Of course, Alberu had checked to make sure nobody else was there before saying that.
The diplomat continued in a less confident voice.
– …Won’t the Caro Kingdom pick the search team?
However, he had no confidence in his words.
The soldiers had fallen into a state of panic as soon as they saw the black mana smoke whirlwind. It was obvious why this was the case. Dead mana smoke was something that would make you die a painful death if you even breathed it in.
However, even if this dead mana smoke disappears, the people who saw this as well as the explosion would not easily volunteer for the investigation.
The nobles had already escaped saying they were scared.
‘…If you think about it cold-heartedly, the people inside the desert are not the Caro Kingdom’s citizens.’
They were still foreigners even if they had come to save the Caro Kingdom. The chance that they would not investigate thoroughly even though they were thankful was high because the potentially dead people were the Roan Kingdom’s citizens.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Alberu tapped on the armrest instead of responding.
The Knight Captain called out to Alberu and had to make eye contact with him.
Alberu looked like a gentle crown prince when he smiled, but he was extremely hard to approach in front of the chief executives around whom he never smiled.
“Send the Captain of the First Knights Brigade and a few knights to the Caro Kingdom’s Dubori territory.”
The diplomat who had been listening flinched and quickly started to speak.
– Your highness! This is a very dangerous place! Of course, I know that the Roan Kingdom’s citizens, that the Roan Kingdom’s heroes are in the desert, but still…!
Many emotions clashed in the diplomat’s mind as he said that.
One was admiration toward the crown prince. The sight of the crown prince dispatching the knights for the safety of the Roan Kingdom’s citizens was something that made him teary as a fellow citizen.
The other emotion was concern. He had to share his thoughts with the crown prince even if that was stepping out of the line.
– The investigation is dangerous! I believe we should pressure the Caro Kingdom to take responsibility to pay us back for our good graces!
He was worried about the Roan Kingdom’s heroes as well. However, he feared more people being sacrificed.
To be more specific, he wanted the Roan Kingdom to take the less dangerous road in this dangerous situation.
– I will pressure the Caro Kingdom and investigate along with them! I don’t think sending the knights is the right thing to do when we might be heading into a war!
Many different emotions made the diplomat start to frown.
He noticed a smile appear on Alberu’s face at that moment.
It was his gentle smile that he was famous for.
“By the way, is it okay for you to say something like that out loud over there?”
The diplomat looked around and tried to hide his head like a turtle. Thankfully, nobody seemed to have heard him. He sighed in relief before looking back at the video communication device after hearing Alberu’s gentle voice.
“Don’t worry. We need to go since they are the Roan Kingdom’s citizens. Just sit back and wait for the palace to contact you.”
– …Your highness.
The diplomat could only keep his mouth shut after hearing the crown prince’s decision to move to save the Roan Kingdom’s citizens.
The crown prince continued to gently speak to him.
“I’m going to hang up now as we need to discuss this situation. Contact me right away if there are any new urgent information.”
– Yes, your highness! I will stay alert and keep myself informed of the situation!
The diplomat watched as the gently smiling crown prince disappeared from the video communication device screen.
And then, once the video communication device completely turned off…
The meeting room Alberu was in became silent.
The chief executives looked toward Alberu’s gentle smile that was slowly disappearing along with anxious hearts.
‘There’s definitely something.’
They did not trust everything Alberu had said toward the diplomat.
Most people were used to the majestic crown prince, but the chief executives here, the crown prince’s trusted subordinates, were used to his cold expressions.
The capital’s lead administrator who had been quiet started to speak.
“I know you are the type of person who would dispatch the knights for the Roan Kingdom’s citizens, however… I also know that you are not someone who would send the knights who are also Roan Kingdom’s citizens into such a dangerous place.”
That made the other administrators, knights, and generals agree in silence.
The crown prince started to smirk at that moment.
“The Land of Death is something that is not very important to the Caro Kingdom. In fact, it will probably become something they want to completely avoid from now on.”
The chief executives nodded their heads in agreement.
The Caro Kingdom had always avoided the Land of Death. However, this incident would make people stay away from it even more.
How could they not after hearing that dead mana smoke started to rise at random intervals throughout the year? They would avoid it because they didn’t want to die.
The crown prince had an image on his mind as he thought about this fact.
“It will turn into a land they want to get rid of from a land that is useless to them.”
Land they want to get rid of.
An administrator from the finance side raised his head and looked toward Alberu.
“…Your highness! Are you thinking about-?”
He stopped for a moment before cautiously continuing to speak.
He couldn’t help but whisper even though the meeting room was protected with soundproof barrier magic and nobody could hear from outside.
“Your highness, are you trying to acquire the Land of Death?”
They had worked with Alberu for a long time already.
They could predict his thoughts.
It was at that moment.
“The Dark Elves and the necromancer will find the Land of Death to be a great place.”
Alberu’s voice seeped into the chief executives’ ears.
“And the Dark Elves and necromancer are Roan Kingdom’s citizens and our strong allies. They are part of the Roan Kingdom’s strength.”
The chief executives were aware of this after the last war as well.
“Shouldn’t our Roan Kingdom provide land for them to live on?”
Silence, instead of affirmation, filled the room again.
‘The crown prince-nim truly is thinking about taking another step forward at all times.’
They trusted Alberu a lot because he always thought about a brighter future for the kingdom while protecting the citizens.
The Knight Captain started to speak.
“I will immediately gather the team to dispatch to the Dubori territory.”
The administrator in charge of diplomacy started to speak.
“Please don’t start the investigation right away; first stay at the Dubori territory and tell them that the Roan Kingdom will do what the Caro Kingdom is wary of doing. We will make them feel indebted to us. Ah! We will send some people from our side to do that. That should be better, right, your highness?”
Alberu smiled instead of responding and the other administrators started to chime in as well.
“Anyway, these things related to former commander Cale have become much larger than what we have originally discussed with the Caro Kingdom. In the end, young master Cale had to work hard and suffer.”
“That’s right. Young master Cale should receive a reward as well, but we must peck at them that the Roan Kingdom should receive a reward as well. We need to rake in everything we can!”
The capital’s administrator stealthily added on.
“And then we will slowly control it to make the Land of Death ours.”
The other administrators blinked as if they all knew that was the plan without needing to be told.
Alberu Crossman. One of the things his trusted subordinates did the best was controlling public opinion.
The administrators didn’t feel bad for taking this land away because the Caro Kingdom’s citizens hated the desert and nobody lived there.
Furthermore, the Caro Kingdom might welcome that they wanted to take this useless land away instead of asking for a different reward.
“The Caro Kingdom was the first to declare war. As such, they will need to spend a lot of money. They would probably prefer to hand the Land of Death over than to give us money.”
The Commander nodded his head.
“It’s better for us who need it to take it and offer it to the Dark Elves and the necromancer.”
He then cautiously asked Alberu a question.
“Your highness. Then the investigation……?”
“We will dispatch some Dark Elves soon while the knights buy us time.”
“Hooo! You must be planning on having them use the investigation as justification to keep staying there! That’s right. The most important thing is that the Roan Kingdom’s citizens can freely cross that land that has no Caro Kingdom’s citizens!”
The Commander showed an exaggerated response before smiling at the fact that Alberu was not putting any knights in danger.
“If the Caro Kingdom is not willing to give us the land, we must at least ask to use that land for a long period of time.”
“No! If they don’t want to give that land to us, we can ask the Caro Kingdom to pay the price for the Dark Elf-nims protecting them from the dead mana smoke! That way we can let the Dark Elf-nims live peacefully on that land.”
“That sounds good too.”
The administrators exchanged ideas as they quickly came up with a plan.
Alberu who watched all of this from a step away closed his eyes for a moment.
His fists under the table were clenched.
He had a dream.
He dreamt of a world where the Dark Elves could live freely.
He dreamt of finding land for them to live on.
Coincidentally, there happened to be an opportunity.
It was an opportunity for the Roan Kingdom’s citizens to openly step on the Caro Kingdom’s Land of Death.
Of course, those Roan Kingdom’s citizens were the Dark Elves.
It was much better in the Roan Kingdom, but the Dark Elves were still despised and scorned by most of the Western continent.
For Alberu who had to live his whole life hiding the fact that the Dark Elf blood flowed through him, he dreamt of a world where people like him did not need to hide a part of their identity anymore.
‘The Underground City will remain a secret forever.’
The Caro Kingdom might provoke them or be greedy for it if they knew.
Alberu was disappointed that they could not openly show off the Underground City.
‘In return, the land above the Underground City… The desert… I will give that to the Dark Elves and the necromancer.’
Shouldn’t they receive rewards for working harder than anybody else for the Roan Kingdom?
Alberu’s eyes that were open once again were sparkling.
‘The chance of the Underground City remaining a secret from the world will become higher once the Land of Death becomes the Roan Kingdom’s territory.’
Of course, earning that territory will be difficult.
The Caro Kingdom in the west and the Roan Kingdom in the east were quite far from each other. However, it was worth trying.
It would be great if it could be accomplished.
‘The Dark Elves will be able to walk freely above ground and the people of the Underground City can be accepted as the Roan Kingdom’s citizens as well.’
The people who ran away from the Dubori territory and continued their lives in the Underground City.
The people who could never leave the Underground City may get a chance to roam the Roan Kingdom’s territory above ground as well.
Of course, Alberu was thinking about taking them in as citizens partially because he felt sorry for them, but there was another reason as well.
It was something that came up when he was chatting with Cale about how to smack the White Star from behind at the land of the Whale tribe. Cale had said something to Alberu who had brought Tasha up.
‘Your highness. The education style of the people in the Underground City was really good.’
‘Is that so?’
‘Anybody who wants to learn can learn and anybody can freely test for a government position. There are many topic-specific experts as well. Each of them is talented in their field. A chance to learn is open for everyone.’
Alberu had looked into his mother’s hometown a little more thoroughly after that. He got the chills the more he learned.
It felt as if he had found something he had been looking for.
The image was drawn in his head.
The free city that would soon be created for alchemy and magic.
The Underground City with their own way of life created from the cohabitation of humans and Dark Elves.
Alberu drew the future of the Roan Kingdom through these two places.
New opportunities known as the Alchemy Tower and the Magic Tower would soon appear, and there were a lot of things to learn from the Underground City as well.
He would dedicate his life to mold all of those things together into a wonderful picture.
The White Star.
The Roan Kingdom will be busy even after their war with that bastard.
Each day might be more difficult than fighting against him. He himself might be in pain.
Troubles were bound to come with changes.
However, he needed to move for a more developed and for the shining Roan Kingdom.
He turned his head toward the administrator who was calling for him. The administrator cautiously started to speak.
All of the administrators were looking at him.
“Is it okay not to start the investigation right away? Young master Cale and his group should be okay, right?”
They finally addressed the elephant in the room.
The administrator could not say anything even though he was cut off and looked toward Alberu.
The corners of Alberu’s lips twisted up.
He had jumped up in shock after hearing the news.
He had quickly calmed down after that.
‘Eruhaben-nim is staying at the castle.’
The diplomat did not say that Cale’s mage had left.
Eruhaben would have left or flipped the desert over if something had happened to Cale.
‘The fact that he didn’t do that-’
It was at that moment.
Knock knock knock-
Someone urgently knocked on the door and Alberu had to stop his thought.
“Your highness, your highness!”
He heard an urgent voice from the other side of the door and a few shocked administrators got up and tried to head to the door.”
“It’s fine. I’ll go.”
Alberu had them sit down and headed to the door himself.
He opened the door and saw a shocked and urgent look on the servant’s face.
“Your highness, right now-!”
Alberu cut the servant off and gave him an order.
“Lead the way.”
Alberu leisurely started to walk. He checked his appearance and had the servant bring a basket of cookies as well.
He then opened the door into his bedroom.
The door slammed open and Alberu started to speak with a majestic smile on his face.
“People might think this is your house and not my bedroom.”
Cale Henituse who was lying on the couch sat up and kind of bowed.
– Sorry, crown prince! This is your house and not our house! I had to set the coordinates quickly, so I accidentally set it for here instead of the royal garden!
Alberu’s smile became even brighter after hearing the great and mighty but cute Dragon’s words in his mind.
He put the cookie basket on the table and leisurely looked toward Cale.
“You look more relaxed than last time, your highness.”
“Of course. My dear dongsaeng, your hyung is not someone who is easily shocked.”
Alberu who was gently responding to Cale could hear Cale’s response.
“That, it looks like the White Star will soon invade the Roan Kingdom.”
Alberu instantly started to frown.
“You’re driving me nuts.”
Cale who heard Alberu’s mumbling smiled awkwardly.