There was silence after the sound of the door closing.
Deruth Henituse was the first to speak. Deruth, Cale’s father… couldn’t stop his eyes from shaking as he headed over to the robe-clad Cale.
However, someone got in the way of this emotional father-son reunion.
Alberu Crossman quickly walked over to the Duke. Deruth, who was still in his armor, looked more tired than earlier.
“Duke. There is something I need you to do for me. That is why I urgently and stealthily came to find you.”
Deruth, who realized the seriousness of those two words, stiffened up while Alberu heard Raon’s voice in his head.
– I cast the noise blocking spell.
Alberu immediately continued speaking.
“I am going to die soon.”
Deruth wondered what he had just heard.
That was why he asked once more, and Alberu looked at the empty area past Deruth’s shoulder as he recalled what had just happened.
‘Dongsaeng. You returned earlier than I expected.’
‘…Your expression doesn’t look good.’
Cale and Raon had barged into the Puzzle City City Hall office.
Clopeh had just burst out of the room after saying that he would set the rumors straight and tell people the truth, while Choi Han said he had a bad feeling about what Clopeh would do and chased after him.
Alberu, who was left alone, had been organizing his thoughts about what else needed to be done. That was when Cale and Raon had arrived.
He could not feel happy after seeing the expression on Cale’s face.
His expression gave Alberu a bad feeling.
‘Why are you smiling as if you’re going to scam someone?’
Cale Henituse. This bastard was smiling. He was smiling as if he was about to cause a big incident.
Cale had that mischievous smile on his face as he walked over to Alberu and put his arm on Alberu’s shoulder.
‘…What the hell are you doing?’
‘Hyung-nim. Please die.’
As Alberu turned toward Cale…
‘Wouldn’t the only people left to lead the Roan Kingdom’s forces in Puzzle City be the Knight Captain and my father if you were to die, your highness?’
Alberu felt extremely iffy about this, but still responded properly.
‘Yes, as long as nobody else comes from the royal family.’
As long as the current king, Zed Crossman, and the second prince did not come to Puzzle City…
‘Taking into consideration magic, troops, mercenaries, and other nobles, it is highly likely that Duke Deruth would be the Commander.’
The Knight Captain would only lead the knights and soldiers.
‘If I consider the reinforcements coming from the other kingdoms as well, Duke Deruth, your father, would have the proper title to be Commander. Furthermore, Puzzle City is in the Roan Kingdom’s northeast region, so the leader of the northeast region would know about this place best.’
The corners of Cale’s lips curled up.
‘That sounds great.’
Cale patted Alberu’s shoulder with an extremely disrespectful expression. Alberu wondered if this bastard was drunk despite not getting easily drunk, but Cale whispered as Alberu stared with a grumbling expression.
‘Now then, please die so that my father can be the big boss.’
Alberu could see Cale’s face that looked really cold without even an ounce of a smile.
‘I need to catch a damn rat.’
‘Yes, sir. The White Star is currently under my father’s command.’
Cale then gave a short explanation as to what had happened during his meeting with the World Tree and Count Hubesha. Of course, he did not mention the dagger the World Tree gave him. That was something that only Cale and the World Tree knew about right now.
Alberu snapped out of his thoughts and returned to the present.
“Duke. I will not really be dying. There’s just a need for me to pretend to die.”
Deruth’s face stiffened up even more at Alberu’s somewhat firm demeanor.
“…Does that mean that you have your reasons but are unable to explain it to me, your highness?”
“That is correct.”
Duke Deruth’s reaction would be most natural if he knew as little as possible.
“Duke Deruth, I hope that you can take care of Puzzle City once I die.”
“I heard that reinforcements from other kingdoms would soon be arriving.”
“That is correct. Please take care of them as well.”
Duke Deruth still had a stiff expression on his face as he walked past Alberu.
“Let me see your face.”
Cale took off the hood of his robe and Deruth smiled after seeing Cale’s revealed face.
“Looks like you are not injured.”
Cale was still just as skinny and pale, but his eyes were full of vitality.
“I guess you had a safe trip to your mother.”
Duke Deruth was relieved that Cale returned safely from going to his birth mother, Drew Thames’s grave, and then realized something as soon as he looked into his son’s eyes.
“I guess there is a reason I must do this.”
Cale smiled instead of responding. Duke Deruth immediately turned back toward Alberu.
“I understand, your highness. I will give it a go. Should I keep this fact to myself?”
“That is correct. You cannot tell anybody else, even your family members. Only the three of us here should know about it.”
“So this is something that only I should know. You will not have to worry about anything coming out of my mouth.”
Deruth looked toward Alberu. He was looking directly into Alberu’s eyes, unlike his usual self.
Alberu realized something at that moment.
He thought he could see Cale Henituse in Duke Deruth’s appearance. He thought that they didn’t look similar at all, but they did share the same blood and did indeed look similar.
Deruth said something at that moment.
“However, I do have one condition.”
“What is it?”
“I do not like meaningless sacrifices.”
Deruth’s words stabbed into Alberu’s ears as if they were daggers. That was why Alberu immediately opened his mouth to respond.
“It won’t be meaningless-”
However, Duke Deruth cut Alberu off.
He then smiled.
He did not want any meaningless sacrifices.
“I do not like meaningful sacrifices that much either.”
Alberu scoffed, despite having been cut off.
He realized something.
‘Although it is Kim Rok Soo inside Cale Henituse’s body right now… They’re similar.’
“…Duke, you and young master Cale have many similar sides.”
It was not just their appearances that were similar; their core was similar as well.
“Of course. He is my son. He is a member of the Henituse family.”
The Henituse County had been protecting and slowly increasing their wealth for generations. It was a household that lived in the corner of the Roan Kingdom’s northeast region, with the Forest of Darkness right next to it.
The patriarch of each generation had passed on the following words to their successors.
It was the mindset of the Henituse household and their goal.
‘There is no reason to be recorded in history. Live for peace and happiness instead.’
Deruth had a bitter smile on his face as he recalled those statements.
‘Well, that isn’t happening.’
He was certain that Cale’s story would be recorded quite a bit in this generation’s history.
However, none of the people in the Henituse household had given up on peace and happiness yet.
‘Peace and happiness are difficult to gain. That is why we set it as our goal.’
Duke Deruth continued to speak.
“Your highness, if both you and Cale will take what I just said to heart… I will give this a go.”
He did not like meaningless sacrifices.
He also did not like meaningful sacrifices.
“…I will keep it in mind.”
Deruth turned toward Cale.
“Please take care of your health as you work.”
“Okay. I will do that.”
A gentle smile finally appeared on Deruth’s face.
Alberu quietly observed Cale and Deruth for a moment.
‘…The reason that Kim Rok Soo adjusted to this world so easily must be because someone like Duke Deruth, no, because the Henituse household is his family.’
A bitter smile appeared on Alberu’s face.
‘That has nothing to do with me.’
The current king, Zed Crossman… The king had cherished Alberu a lot when he was a child, however, the current king just started treating Alberu as a future king candidate at some point. He did not treat Alberu as his son anymore.
Alberu had no idea why, but…
‘It’s not like I needed that affection.’
He had his aunt, Dark Elf Tasha. He also had his sworn brother.
‘If I die… Will there be people who are sad? Would anybody cry if I died?’
Alberu closed his eyes.
A few years ago, he would have easily answered that Tasha would be the only one to be affected if he died. But he was sure that it was different now.
‘They would cry. They would be sad.’
The young black Dragon, Cale, Choi Han, Rosalyn, and the others… There were many people who would be sad about Alberu’s death.
Alberu was amazed that he had such certainty about this, while also feeling that he really could not die a meaningless death.
* * *
“Crown prince Alberu! What do you mean by that?!”
– Chhhhh, chhhhhh.
There was a lot of static in the video communication device, so the visuals were not very clear.
They could hear a voice through the static.
– The unranked monster… It looks like we will need to fight that Lion Dragon Guardian thing again.
“Didn’t we agree to discuss it once all of the reinforcements arrive?”
– I, chhhhh, have no, chhhh-!
“Crown prince Alberu! Crown prince Alberu!”
The call suddenly ended.
“We need to hurry!”
Within the southern area of the Western continent…
This was a land of green covered in trees and grass. Inside the palace in the central region of the Jungle…
Litana jumped up from her seat and immediately headed out of her hut.
“Is everybody gathered?”
“Not yet, my Queen. The warriors from the southernmost sections have yet to arrive. It is the farthest from here and they seem to be delayed because of the foreign invaders.”
The elite warriors of the Jungle were gathered together under the cold sun of winter.
Litana, the Queen of the Jungle. She recalled Alberu Crossman’s words during that static-filled call and made up her mind.
“Send them as a second team once they arrive.”
A large black panther offered its back to Litana. She got in its back and gave an order to the mages who were now members of the Jungle.
“We are heading for the Roan Kingdom immediately.”
A large magic circle activated at the center of the Jungle Palace.
These magic circles could be seen in other kingdoms as well.
* * *
There was a bright light and a person’s figure could be seen appearing above the teleportation magic circle.
The first person to appear almost stomped forward.
His step was so strong that the ground shook.
“Where is he?!”
The person’s voice was extremely loud as well.
“Welcome. Commander Toonka. The reinforcements from the Whipper Kingdom are the first to arrive.”
The Whipper Kingdom’s Commander Toonka. He gathered just his personal troops as the first round of reinforcements and teleported over after sensing danger through his call with Alberu.
He frowned after looking at the person who appeared in front of him.
“Who are you?”
The man in armor took one step forward.
There was a golden turtle crest visible on each of his shoulders.
“I am Duke Deruth Henituse. I have temporarily taken the Commander position while his highness went out to the battlefield.”
“…You…are Cale Henituse’s father……?”
“That is correct. I hope that you will follow my orders.”
Toonka seemed extremely happy to see Deruth. However, Toonka shook his head and quickly started moving.
Toonka tried to get out of the location of the teleportation magic circle, an open area behind the City Hall building.
“I first need to figure out the situation on the battlefield! What happened all of a sudden that he started to attack-”
It was at that moment.
Toonka heard a loud explosion.
People barely managed to stay standing and had to cover their ears because of the sudden explosion and the resulting vibrations in the ground.
But Toonka moved as quickly as an animal, as if something like this was nothing to him.
He finally arrived at the front of the City Hall building and could see everything.
He could see the large white monster, the Lion Dragon. The Guardian that had not been moving was slowly raising its shield.
However, Toonka was focused on something else.
“Those two are-, Choi Han and the crown prince?”
Only the individuals who forced the Lion Dragon to move were in Toonka’s eyes.
The Roan Kingdom’s soldiers who were waiting nearby gulped as they watched.
“The white armor must be his highness, right?”
“I, I think so!”
“And that black armor-”
“He’s holding a sword! It must be Choi Han-nim!”
The two knights standing in front of the Lion Dragon…
One was wearing black armor and a black helmet, while the other was wearing white armor and a white helmet.
Of them, the person wearing the black armor…
He was quietly mumbling to himself.
“He will make me suffer if I break his sword? Pffft.”
The man scoffed in disbelief while thinking about the owner of the sword in his hand.
“How dare a human say such things to a great existence like me. Don’t you agree? What do you think, Bone Dragon?”
He asked the Dragon half-blood who was now the black Bone Dragon. The Bone Dragon scoffed at the voice above it.
“Even you will suffer if you look down on Choi Han, you bastard.”
The black-armored swordsman slashed the sword up and down, as if he was practicing, while his eyes sparkled underneath the helmet.
“There is no way this great Dragon will lose to a human. I also will not lose to a damn monster.”
Rasheel, the buzz-cut Dragon. This Dragon who had the ‘Indomitability’ attribute was leisurely smiling while on top of the Bone Dragon Dragon half-blood.
He then turned his head and continued to speak.
“I just need to pretend to be Choi Han? Then am I your instructor? How about it, crown prince?”
Alberu was in the white armor and white helmet, standing next to Rasheel with a white spear in his hand.
“You are not my instructor, oh great being.”
Rasheel was about to get angry before he started smirking after being called a great being.
He then turned back toward the Lion Dragon.
“What an interesting monster. It reacted to that old man immediately, but it doesn’t react at all when a great Dragon like me appears alone?”
Rasheel’s eyes looked disgruntled.
They felt a gust of wind at that moment.
“But it reacts to two? How entertaining.”
The gust of wind came from the sky to the ground. That strong gust of wind was caused by a being flying above it.
The people down on the ground, especially Toonka, who was taking in the sights at Puzzle City for the first time, couldn’t help but be astonished.
A beige-colored Dragon that was almost the same size as the Gold Dragon from before was headed toward the Lion Dragon.
The people on the ground couldn’t help but talk about the appearance of another Dragon.
The Lion Dragon that had not reacted to Rasheel alone, was slowly raising its shield.
This Dragon with the beige-colored scales…
Mila snorted as she gently spoke.
“What a truly interesting monster. It didn’t pay any attention to me when I was polymorphed, but it does now that I am back to my Dragon form. I guess with Rasheel here and me in my Dragon form… The two of us are probably about as strong as Eruhaben.”
The Lion Dragon was looking at both Rasheel and Mila. It was focused on the two of them as it started to react.
At that moment…
“I will go now.”
Alberu jumped off the Dragon half-blood’s back.
“Please take good care of me, Mila-nim.”
Alberu landed on Mila’s back.
Rasheel, who was pretending to be Choi Han, was on the black Bone Dragon Dragon half-blood’s back.
Alberu was on top of Mila, who was back to her Dragon form.
Alberu heard a person’s voice in the mini video communication device that was reduced to the size of a thumbnail.
– Please get started.
Alberu swung his sword after receiving the order from the true Commander… not Alberu, not, Deruth, but Cale.
– Hello again, Alberu-nim. I, Taerang, will support you to the best of my abilities.
The Lion Dragon’s shield and Alberu’s Unbreakable Spear crashed into each other with a bang.
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