Silence descended in the room for a moment.
Cale looked around at everybody, starting with Raon, during that moment of silence.
He then realized it.
‘I forgot for a moment.’
He forgot how vicious these four individuals around him were. They were asking him what Cale was plotting to do after going into the temple alone.
‘No, it’s not just these four.’
Cale got the chills.
‘These four, as well as On and Hong, noticed something. No, if On and Hong know, it is highly likely that Ron and Beacrox know as well. And if Ron and Beacrox know-’
Cale’s mind started crumbling as the extent of his thoughts expanded further and further.
The Sound of the Wind chuckled.
Cale didn’t care as he had a thought on his mind.
‘If I tell them the truth?’
If he told them that he needed to stab his heart with the root dagger the World Tree gave him, and then use that bloodied root dagger to destroy the White Star’s annual rings…
If he told them that that was the only way to stop the White Star’s endless reincarnations…
Furthermore, if he said that the World Tree claimed that stabbing his heart would be beneficial for him…
What would happen if he said all of that?
‘…It would go one of two ways.’
First, they would make it so that he cannot use the root dagger and try to look for a different method.
Second, Cale would have to stab himself with the root dagger while all of the people who knew about this watched him. It was obvious how his allies would react in the second situation.
‘Human! I’m going to watch to make sure you really are okay! I, I will burn the World Tree!’
‘Cale-nim… I cannot even trust the World Tree.’
‘Oh. This is truly the legend! I have no reason to believe in a god anymore. A god is in front of my eyes.’
Cale got the chills. The last person he had thought about was Clopeh. Clopeh Sekka would say something like that and urge him to hurry up and stab himself in the heart like a crazy bastard.
Cale made up his mind.
‘Let’s play dumb.’
That was his only choice.
“What do you mean by that?”
‘Good. I’ll just feign ignorance like this.’
“I am the only person who has come face to face with the sealed god. That is why I should be able to react quickly even if some variables occur in the temple because of the sealed god.”
Eruhaben frowned. Cale felt as if the Dragon’s gaze was turning vicious, but did his best to ignore that gaze.
“Most importantly, getting to the end of the temple is not just a matter of strength.”
Everybody other than Eruhaben frowned after Cale said that. Eruhaben asked with a confused expression on his face.
“Is there something in the temple?”
“What is it?”
Eruhaben’s expression instantly turned serious as he asked Cale for details.
They heard someone laugh at that moment. The ancient Dragon turned toward the person who laughed and flinched.
It was because Choi Han was the one who laughed. He nodded his head as if he accepted something before speaking to Cale.
“So this is how you planned on getting out of it, Cale-nim.”
It was Cale’s turn to flinch.
Raon immediately shouted as well.
“We won’t be fooled anymore! Don’t try to change the subject!”
Cale did his best to hold back a sigh.
Clap, clap, clap-
The crown prince leaned against the head of the bed with a slightly fatigued expression on his face as he leisurely clapped.
“You’re such a good actor. You would be great as a scammer.”
Cale tilted his head with an innocent look on his face.
“What? Who is acting?”
“Okay. Feel free to keep it up.”
The crown prince gently spoke to Cale as if he was enjoying this quite a bit. Cale lightly shrugged his shoulders.
“I don’t know what you mean by, ‘keep it up,’ your highness.”
Alberu raised his body from the bed with an elegant smile of a crown prince.
“I will answer your question about the temple in the grand assembly hall.”
“Huh? You’re not going to rest?”
Alberu peeked toward the white spear next to the bed before channeling his dead mana. His skin, hair, and eyes… They changed color and slowly turned him into crown prince Alberu Crossman’s appearance.
“My mana has recovered a bit, so this should not be an issue.”
Eruhaben scoffed in disbelief at Alberu.
“Are you trying to be like this unlucky bastard?!”
The ancient Dragon pointed at Cale.
“What about me?”
Cale responding as if he had no idea what Eruhaben was talking about made him shake his head before looking at Alberu.
“Get some rest. You don’t have any major external or internal injuries, but… You still need some time to recover.”
“That is why I need to step in now.”
A bright smile slowly appeared on Alberu’s face.
“I need to show up with my current condition to make it seem dramatic.”
The ancient Dragon looked confused. Alberu walked up to a mirror and observed himself. He looked satisfied at how shabby and tired he looked as he continued to speak.
“ ‘The crown prince who took down the monster headed to the grand assembly hall to discuss strategy as soon as he woke up from fainting.’ ”
The eyes of the Alberu reflected in the mirror headed toward Eruhaben.
“What do you think, Eruhaben-nim? Wouldn’t this make Alberu Crossman, as a crown prince, and the Roan Kingdom, in its quest to protect peace on the Western continent, stand out?”
The ancient Dragon quietly gasped. Alberu asked Choi Han to get him something to put over himself as he continued to speak.
“I can’t miss an opportunity like this.”
His gaze headed toward Cale who spoke without any hesitation.
“I have mentioned the topic of getting support from the representatives of the different kingdoms for the restoration project.”
“Support? We don’t need it.”
The Roan Kingdom was fully capable of financing the restoration of Puzzle City.
In fact, Alberu was thinking about returning Puzzle City with a new look in a grand vision about maintenance of the city.
‘From Puzzle City to the capital, Huiss City… The roads are pretty good. Puzzle City can be considered the center of transportation in the Northeast region. It’ll be good to make some changes to this place with this opportunity.’
He did not want to get help from foreign nations for that.
However, his eyes were sparkling as he looked at Cale.
“We don’t need the support, but we can properly erase any debts.”
“Okay. That’s how we will do it.”
For the Roan Kingdom… And for the Western continent…
Alberu had stepped forward without any selfishness, but they should take any benefits they could get for the Roan Kingdom. He organized his thoughts and then spoke to Cale.
“Then you can go.”
A confused look was on Cale’s face this time.
“Am I not going with you?”
“No. Choi Han, Eruhaben-nim, and I are enough.”
Alberu put on an extremely radiant smile.
“You should go to the Duke. Isn’t family first? Leave the other problem to us.”
That was the thought that immediately came to Cale’s mind.
The person who had just asked him what the hell he was planning to do after going into the temple alone was trying to keep Cale out of the meeting.
There was definitely something there. But it wasn’t as if Cale didn’t have any cards up his sleeves.
He thought of the golden top’s whip in his inner pocket. He just needed to ask the Wind Elementals later about what happened in the meeting.
Cale had no intention of letting the others see him stab his heart with the root dagger and destroying the White Star’s annual rings.
“Then I will head over to see my father.”
“Yes, yes. Goodbye.”
Raon flew over and landed next to Cale. The black Dragon waved at the others while he walked out of the room with Cale.
“Crown prince, I left some apple pies next to you! Eat some before you work! Take care of yourself! I’m heading out with the human!”
* * *
“Your father has fallen asleep.”
Cale was looking at the sleeping Duke Deruth’s haggard face before turning toward Duchess Violan. She still looked flawless but there was some fatigue visible in her eyes.
“Please get some rest.”
“I am fine.”
Inside a small room compared to the rooms at the Duchy… This place was very quiet compared to the complicated and loud outside. This was probably the quietest place after the room where the crown prince had been.
A cold light roamed within Duchess Violan’s eyes.
“Even I have not heard the details regarding your father’s abduction yet.”
Ron had returned the rescued Deruth Henituse to Duchess Violan’s side. Deruth, who had remained firm during the whole time he had been abducted, fell asleep from fatigue after relaxing a bit after seeing the Duchess.
“He tried to stay up while saying that he needed to tell you about what had happened, but he had no energy and fell asleep.”
Cale quietly observed the veins visible in Violan’s hand as she clutched the armrest of the chair. She continued speaking in a calm voice.
“I do not think that the conditions behind how he was abducted are important now. However, I do not have the confidence to forgive the bastards who messed with my family.”
Cale and Violan looked at each other.
“If there are things you must get from the abductors, hand those bastards over to me once you get what you need.”
“Of course, the royal family may try to take those bastards. However, shouldn’t our family finish the issues that involve our family?”
The pressure coming from Violan right now as she mentioned finishing the issues would give any knight a run for their money.
Cale did not say anything and Violan did not push for him to answer.
“Just think about it.”
“Yes, ma’am. Then I will be back later.”
The black Dragon, who had been warily rolling his round eyes around at the heavy mood, slowly raised his two chubby front paws.
“I brought something for our human’s papa!”
He was holding a piece of apple pie in his paws.
“Thank you very much, Raon-nim.”
Violan smiled brightly and patted Raon’s head.
Raon smiled and put the apple pie on the side table next to Deruth’s bed.
Violan, who had been watching Raon’s cute action, spoke to Cale.
“Are you heading over to the next room?”
Cale said goodbye to Violan and headed to the next room with Raon.
He opened the door and entered to see the fake Hilsman who was sitting on the chair with his limbs bound.
“Duke Deruth has woken, mm. I guess not based on your expression.”
The fake Hilsman had a sly smile on his face as he greeted Cale. Cale plopped down on the chair across from the fake Hilsman.
He saw Alberu, then Violan and Duke Deruth. He had thought about a lot of things he needed to take care of during those meetings, which had made him a bit tired.
However, he started speaking as he needed to take care of this fake Hilsman issue as well.
“Will you meet my father when he wakes up?”
The fake Hilsman seemed to debate it for a bit before lowering his body toward Cale.
Cale realized something the moment he heard the fake Hilsman’s stealthy voice.
‘No! I have a feeling that this situation…!’
He felt as if he would hear something he shouldn’t hear, something that would hinder his slacker life.
Cale urgently started speaking. His eyes were full of urgency as if he had never been tired.
“I think a Hunter has appeared.”
Cale couldn’t help but swear.
“As I expected. You truly do have the blood of the Thames. You can’t hide your anger as soon as you hear about a Hunter.”
‘No! That’s not it!’
Cale felt everything go dark while thinking that he heard something he didn’t need to hear right now. He lowered his head to see Raon, who was waiting for the fake Hilsman to continue speaking with a sparkle in his eyes.
His future seemed quite cloudy.
The fake Hilsman looked at Cale, who looked as if he lowered his head because he could not control his anger, with pity as he continued to speak.
He had originally not planned on saying something like this to Cale, but decided that he should at least tell Cale a portion of things after seeing Cale in battle.
Cale Henituse seemed to have a tight relationship with the Roan Kingdom and the different kingdoms of the Western continent.
The fake Hilsman continued in a warm voice.
“The damn Hunter bastards who appeared seemed to have a sponsor.”
The Hunters who hunt single-lifers…
They were back and there was someone sponsoring them.
“I followed the flow of their funds to the Roan Kingdom.”
The sponsor for those Hunters was in the Roan Kingdom.
“Do you know of the Flynn Merchant Guild?”
Raon raised his paw.
“Billos, the guy who looks like a piggybank, is a part of the Flynn Merchant Guild!”
Billos Flynn. He was the merchant that Cale had met in the Henituse territory, the bastard of the Flynn Merchant Guild who had been living quietly until he met Cale and ended up achieving many things that helped him rise to the position of a strong candidate for the future leader of the Flynn Merchant Guild.
Cale raised his lowered head. His eyes were full of questions.
“…Is the Flynn Merchant Guild that sponsor?”
‘There’s no way.’
Billos was not someone who would sponsor an organization like the Hunters.
He was someone who was interested in making money and not interested in things like gods or immortality.
“The funds came from the Flynn Merchant Guild. That information is accurate.”
Cale subconsciously mumbled at the fake Hilsman’s confirmation.
“…There’s no way that Billos Flynn would do that.”
“Hmm? Are you talking about that bastard who will die soon?”
Cale questioned his ears for a moment.
‘Die? Who is going to die? Billos Flynn?’
Billos Flynn had been a strong candidate to succeed the merchant guild the last time Cale heard from him.
“What are you talking about?! Why would Billos die?!”
Raon shouted in shock.
“That bastard was pushed back.”
“Pushed back? Billos?”
Cale found this to be unexpected. Maybe it was because he had expected Billos to plow his way to the top as he had done in ‘The Birth of a Hero’ after meeting Choi Han.
“Yes. The second child of the Flynn family who has received young lady Orsena’s sponsorship will soon become the merchant guild leader. The succession will happen as soon as things are settled here in Puzzle City. Then Billos Flynn will probably be executed.”
“…The Orsena Duchy-”
Cale’s expression stiffened up. He had leaned forward at some point and was tapping on the armrest with his index finger.
The Orsena Duchy.
The Northeast region, Northwest region, Southeast region, and Southwest region. In addition to those four, the Roan Kingdom had five noble factions with the central region being the fifth. The distribution of power in the different regions had become faint as they had to deal with these recent battles, but there were Grand Nobles who represented each region.
The Orsena Duchy represented the central region.
The successor for the Duchy was young lady Karin Orsena.
Cale’s eyes opened wide as he continued to think.
“The Flynn Merchant Guild’s future merchant guild leader received sponsorship from the Orsena Duchy and the funds sponsoring the Hunters came from the Flynn Merchant Guild?”
“Yes. Do you see the picture now?”
The fake Hilsman bluntly commented.
“The reason I came to see Duke Deruth, no. I’ll be honest. There is only one reason I came to the Henituse Duchy.”
The look in his eyes was probably the look that someone would have after having had to suppress their wrath for a while. The fake Hilsman’s eyes were giving off a vicious glow. He spoke to Cale almost in a whisper.
“The funds to resist the Flynn Merchant Guild. A household to go up against the Orsena Duchy. The Henituse Duchy is the only place that meets both conditions right now.”
The fake Hilsman’s hair color slowly started changing.
“Furthermore, it is the one place I can trust as it has my bloodline.”
His hair slowly started to turn red, similar to the color of the sun setting in the sky.
* * *
At that moment…
“Then this is the team we will first send into the temple.”
Alberu was standing at the center of the grand assembly hall with a paper in his hand that listed the individuals who would be the first to enter the temple.
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HIS HAIR TURNED RED. HIS HAIR TURNED REEEEEEED!
What will happen next?
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