The first test to select the heir for the position of Emperor.
In this test focused on harmony, three candidates form a team to complete their assigned mission.
“In the next hour… Please select your teams and submit your list.”
Nobody seemed to move despite the Chief of Staff no longer talking.
They were warily looking around or…
‘They are being choosy.’
Cale smiled a bit while looking at the First Imperial Prince and the Second Imperial Princess.
‘It was unexpected.’
The Second Imperial Princess, who had approached Mary during the opening celebration, did not contact Mary to work together.
‘Neither did the First Imperial Prince.’
Cale’s group was disappointed that they could not be in the same team as the First Imperial Prince.
‘Human, that’s disappointing! We could have learned about that confusing Dragon!’
‘We could have learned about the first young lady of the Black Bloods as well.’
‘I am curious about the First Imperial Prince’s abilities, young master-nim.’
Cale had asked Mary, who stated her curiosity about the First Imperial Prince’s abilities.
‘Who do you want to work with?’
For this test…
‘Mary, I want to do whatever you want.’
Cale wanted to do things as Mary wanted as long as it was not something that would significantly destroy their goal.
Mary and Cale made eye contact.
Mary looked into those calm eyes and recalled their conversation from last night. Cale had asked her who she wanted to team with, and…
‘Is that okay, young master-nim?’
Mary had asked if it was really okay to do as she wished.
‘Shouldn’t we follow the will of our liege?’
The moment Cale made a rare joke to jovially respond to her… Mary was able to smile along with Cale.
Mary thought about what she wanted.
She wanted to work together with other necromancers and compete with them.
That was her will but she had a desire that was more important than anything else.
‘…I saw it.’
Mary had seen the burnt remains of the Duke’s House of Orsena and the destroyed King’s Palace. She had also seen the casualties and the uncomfortable citizens of the Roan Kingdom.
The Roan Kingdom was another hometown for her.
‘The Hunters. We need to learn about them, react, and fight them.’
That was Mary’s top desire.
Of course, there was another desire that was almost at the same level as that one.
‘Help and protect my friends.’
On, Hong, and Raon. Cale and the others… Mary wanted to help her friends.
‘The thing we need the most right now-’
Mary recalled the information about the candidates Cale had explained.
“What would you like to do, my liege?”
Mary responded to Cale, who asked her as if he was a proper loyal subordinate.
“I’ve made up my mind.”
Mary started to walk. She was the first candidate to move.
Many gazes seemed to find this to be unexpected.
People already knew about Mary’s background so they expected her to make her subordinate move since she was a royal.
Mary stopped walking.
– Human! Mary’s choice is interesting!
Raon’s voice echoed in Cale’s mind and the person in front of Mary smirked.
“Hooooo. Are you going to come under me?”
Fourth Imperial Prince Noi.
He was the first team member Mary had chosen.
Mary shook her head and answered with ease.
“I am not under anybody.”
Fourth Imperial Prince Noi’s eyebrow rose a bit and he showed his annoyance, but Mary’s eyes were calm as she looked at him.
“You are not under anybody either.”
Noi’s eyes filled with an odd gaze after hearing what Mary had to say. Mary did not notice it as she continued to say what was on her mind.
“You seem strong and wise. I want to work with you. What do you think?”
Her mechanical voice made it sound even more trustworthy.
The Fourth Imperial Prince snorted but did not deny it.
Cale’s eyes were sharp as he watched them.
‘I thought he was the typical trashy member of the Imperial family, but…’
The Fourth Imperial Prince had been the first to receive information and his reaction had been quite rational when the explosions happened at the palace yesterday.
‘He’s different from how he seems on the outside.’
Fourth Imperial Prince Noi was not as he seemed.
He was a bit calmer and a bit more collected.
‘I understand Mary’s thought now.’
Cale was able to understand what Mary was thinking based on her decision.
‘It would be easy for us to gather information if we are with the First Imperial Prince, but… The First Imperial Prince does not wish to be with us.’
That was why, even though he seemed a bit wonky…
‘The Fourth Imperial Prince was the first to contact us about working together and is likely to have quite a bit of information about the Imperial Palace.’
Furthermore, the Fourth Imperial Prince was likely to have the same backings as the First Imperial Prince as they were biological brothers.
‘There should be many chances to gather information if we are with the Fourth Imperial Prince.’
Cale started to smirk.
‘What is up with that punk?’
Heni Wishrop. Fourth Imperial Prince Noi, who had been looking at this girl who was a rising star candidate for the position of Imperial Crown Prince, frowned while looking at the subordinate who was looking at her with an extremely satisfied look on his face.
‘Why does he have such a look on his face when he looks even younger than she does?’
There was almost no information about her. However, he thought that it was completely understandable.
‘She’s the royal of a perished kingdom.
She probably lived a difficult life because her family was one that did not escape to another kingdom and chose to protect their land until the end.
Furthermore, she probably lived a quiet life because even though her kingdom perished, the fact that she is of royal blood would cause a lot of interest from others and they might threaten her life.
But there is too little information about her.’
There was not much information regarding Heni Wishrop’s three subordinates as well.
They all had brown hair and green eyes.
They seemed like brothers but the facial features visible under the masks seemed a bit different.
‘One looks like a swordsman.’
There was one guy with a sword around his waist. Then there was one guy who had his arms crossed and was leisurely looking around.
Finally, that punk who was smiling with satisfaction toward Heni Wishrop just now…
‘Why did this punk have a black hawk on his shoulder?’
This guy had come with a black hawk on his shoulder earlier.
Of course, that hawk flew away earlier, potentially because its master had sent it away.
‘I need to look into it.’
Fourth Imperial Prince Noi still thought that First Imperial Prince Sanders was the strongest candidate.
However, he had subconsciously contacted Palace 19 for her to be on his side the moment he saw the white bone dragon.
‘…That’s not a real dragon but a dragon made by a necromancer…’
Noi could not forget the moment he saw the dragon flying up into the sky from the celebration palace.
The world was said to have started to perish from the moment the dragons disappeared.
However, a human, a necromancer, had made such a dragon out of bones.
Nonetheless, that dragon had held a significant aura.
Noi did his best to ignore the back of his neck going numb and snorted before looking at Mary to ask in a grumbling voice.
“And the other team member?”
“Do you have anybody in mind?”
“I have no interest in dregs.”
Cale gasped in admiration after hearing what Fourth Imperial Prince Noi said as he raised his head.
He realized something at the same time.
The punk who had been glaring at Mary at the beginning for speaking informally to him had now accepted it and did not include Mary when he was talking about the dregs.
“Then can I choose someone?”
“Do as you please.”
Noi answered as if he was annoyed and just wanted her to do as she pleased, but Cale realized that he was attentively watching Mary’s actions.
However, Cale didn’t pay much attention to it.
– Human, Mary is heading that way!
He simply followed behind Mary.
‘Alright, now that she has figured out a way to get information from the Imperial Palace side, where will she choose next?’
Cale found it unexpectedly entertaining to watch Mary’s actions.
The reason was simple.
‘Our thoughts are in sync.’
Mary’s decision was similar to Cale’s.
The candidate in Palace 9… Zero’s eyes opened wide as he pointed at himself.
He couldn’t hide his shock after seeing Mary standing in front of me.
“Yes. I want to team with you.”
“Hooooo. Will his Royal Highness be of the same mindset?”
Zero looked toward Noi who answered as if he found the question to be ridiculous.
“Do whatever you want. Just don’t get in my way.”
Noi still responded as if he was a punk but his inner thoughts were a bit different.
‘That was unexpected.’
Zero, the man with mercenary origins. He was probably the candidate with the least amount of information available after Heni Wishrop. Of course, Zero’s origins and current personal information were clear, but…
‘The middle is missing. The middle.’
There was about ten years of information about Zero missing.
It was as if he had disappeared from this world and then reappeared.
Heni Wishrop chose someone like that as a team member?
There was only one reason for it.
‘Zero. No matter what his identity is, she probably thinks that she can handle him.’
As the Fourth Imperial Prince’s gaze sank lower as he observed Mary…
“Oh, great, then let’s work together! I’m quite talented. I won’t get in your way! Hahahaha!”
Zero laughed out loud before shaking Mary’s hand.
However, his mind was quite complicated as well.
‘Why did she choose me?
Is it because we worked together a little bit yesterday to take care of the black mud monsters?
But that can’t be it since she didn’t choose the Second Imperial Princess?’
As Zero’s question was about to get bigger…
“You sent the most people to our side so I thought you wanted to work with me the most.”
The corners of Zero’s lips stiffened a bit at Mary’s calm comment.
Zero did indeed send a lot of people to Palace 19.
But he had sent them stealthily.
He told them to gather information.
‘She’s saying that to my face?
What is she plotting?’
Zero looked into Mary’s eyes and realized something at that moment.
‘…She’s no joke.’
Mary’s eyes were transparent and clear.
‘She can say such things and act like this with such eyes?
…The First Imperial Prince is not the only one for me to pay attention to.’
Zero thought about his reason for entering the Imperial Palace and let go of Mary’s hand.
“Wow! I like our team so much!”
He smiled brightly and walked over to the Fourth Imperial Prince’s side with his sighing helpers. Mary’s group followed behind them as well and their whole team gathered as one.
Cale made eye contact with Mary for a moment and nodded his head.
Mary was relieved after seeing his calm demeanor and recalled some information she had heard from Sui Khan earlier that morning. Cale and the others had all heard it together.
‘I found the people Raon mentioned.’
Raon had identified all of the people who had left the Garden of the Stars yesterday after the palace explosion and monster attack.
Sui Khan and the church sought out information on the people who left the Imperial Palace during that time.
‘Most went to information guilds or the factions of the respective candidates. However, there was just one person who I could not track down.’
Sui Khan had an odd smile on his face at that time.
‘The team leader lost track of someone?’
Mary saw Cale finding that to be odd and waited for what Sui Khan had to say.
‘Palace 9. I couldn’t track down Zero’s subordinate.’
‘Why couldn’t you follow him?’
‘He left the capital.’
Sui Khan added on.
‘Stealthily and on his own.’
Basically, he did not use proper means to go through the city gates but stealthily over the city walls to leave the capital.’
“Okay then, let’s do our best? Hahahaha!”
Mary turned her gaze after seeing Zero laughing out loud.
The Chief of Staff opened his mouth.
“It looks like most of the teams have been formed.”
He raised his hand.
“We will now move to the western edge village.”
There was a scroll with a teleportation magic circle inscribed on it in his hand.
“You can use the teleportation magic circle to head toward the assigned location.”
Cale heard Raon’s voice in his mind.
– Human, you just need me to use magic when you rip the scroll?
Cale’s group had already learned the coordinates of where they were headed.
After Raon, Cale heard Eruhaben’s voice in his mind.
– We can’t use a magic circle scroll given to us by the enemy. I will just pretend to use it.
The Chief of Staff continued to speak.
“Each candidate can teleport separately to start.”
They seemed to be teleporting by candidate because each team teleporting together would be a large-scale teleportation.
A black bird flew over and landed on Cale’s shoulder. The corners of Sui Khan’s eyes tiredly curled down once he made eye contact with Cale.
Cale heard the Chief of Staff’s voice at that moment.
The Chief of Staff’s voice was still calm.
“I pray that nobody dies during this first test.”
The Chief of Staff said that while smiling.
And that day, the entire capital was informed that the first test of harmony was started to select the Imperial Crown Prince.
* * *
Precinct 9 of the edge village.
There were a total of ten precincts following the western border of the Empire and Precinct 9 was as large as a noble’s territory.
It was the largest of the ten precincts.
“A rain cloud of dead mana is coming in! All members evacuate to the shelter!”
“Lock the doors!”
“Move the residents home!”
It would also not be weird if this land would be eroded by dead mana and destroyed at any moment.
Furthermore, this was the edge village on the west side of the Empire that was closest to the capital.
– Human, that-, that is amazing!
Cale was on the top floor of the central castle of Precinct 9, the former Lord’s Castle, as he looked toward the large wall to the west.
Furthermore, he saw beyond the wall…
And the black rain cloud that was heading over.
“Shit, we don’t even have time for greetings! Cast the shield along the entire precinct immediately!”
The Margrave in charge of Precinct 9 left the nineteen candidates and ran out.
“Please wear the masks!”
“The dead clouds do not last over thirty minutes so we will escort you at that time! Please follow our guide until then!”
The aides quickly approached and handed the candidates and their helpers some masks while the employees of the castle urgently closed and locked all of the windows.
This was a regular routine for those who lived in a place that feared dead mana.
Cale heard the cheapskate’s voice as he looked out the closed glass window.
Black rain was falling from the black rain clouds as gusts of wind blew across.
However, the rain did not manage to land in Precinct 9.
A black half-transparent shield was cast over the entire precinct.
Around 100 black mages had cast the shield together.
Cale quietly observed the black rain cloud, the dead cloud as they called it, while Zero gasped in admiration.
He heard the cheapskate’s voice in his mind.
– That rain cloud looks like it’ll completely disappear if you send a small fiery thunderbolt at it, doesn’t it?
‘I know, right?’
Cale had been having a similar thought.
Zero so sus.
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