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Now I remember! It’s THAT guy! I guess Zoreya is pretty upset right about now. I thought.
A few years back, she told me the story of her childhood and how she ended up becoming a crusader. Apparently, this Dankyun fellow was one of the main reasons she chose this path. I couldn’t say I agreed with it, but I had no right in forcing her to change her mind. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t enforce my authority on her because she belonged to the Melkuth Order not the Aunnar Kingdom.
With a sigh escaping my lips, I looked back at Zoreya. Despite her earlier outburst, she regained her calm quickly and looked down without sketching any sort of emotion. No wonder she was one of the top Apostles of her order! No matter the circumstances, she had to remain loyal to her missions and complete them without fail. Straying from her path was an unacceptable offense.
While I admired this side of hers, I also understood just how much she wanted to go after the killer of her brother.
With a sigh, I scratched the back of my head and looked between my neurotic brother and her. Reynolds was laughing and looking at the papers in front of him, while Zoreya was gripping the hilt of her sword.
“Brother, you said that you were going to work towards abolishing slavery in our kingdom?” I asked.
“Yes! Of course! But it doesn’t have to be just for one day, but forever! If I don’t come up with something fast, I’ll die!” he whined.
If I was like any other royal out there, I would have left you to die, but I’m not… lucky you. I thought and then walked over to his desk. “I’ll give you a hand with this… project of yours, since I was meaning to do it anyway, but you must agree to step down from the king’s position.” I told him.
Through this, I would know just how devoted he was to get rid of this curse. The reason why we were two ruling powers instead of one was because of his selfishness in the first place.
“YES! You can have the bloody thing! I’ll even wrap it up for your if you want to!” he told me without even so much as stopping for a second to think about it.
“Huh? Alright…” I said blinking confused.
This Dungeon Lord must have really scared him… I thought.
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, brother!” he said with actual tears in his eyes.
“Ah… yes. That’s what brothers are for, right?” I showed him an awkward smile.
“Then I must show you immediately all that I have managed to accomplish so far! I’ll be right back! Erm, most of the documents are in my chambers!” he said and quickly ran past me.
When he reached the door, he stumbled on the spear of one of my knights and fell face first on the floor. I gulped and was prepared to defend my subordinate, but my brother got back up, dusted off his clothes and ran off without so much as shooting a glare back at him.
“Your Highness, I’m not mistaken, but… that’s Prince Reynolds, right?” that same knight asked.
“Yes… or I think so.” I replied a bit dumbfounded.
I cleared my head for a bit and then walked over to my brother’s desk. He was researching the culture and laws of all our neighboring countries, everything from the first time the slave system was proposed. It was a rather interesting, complicated, and also very extensive piece of work.
Maybe I really had no idea what my own brother was capable of? I thought as I looked at one of the parchments filled with possible laws and their resulting effects.
“Interesting…” I said.
After brother returned with his research, which could be easily described as a big pile of parchments, notes, and books, I began to regret my decision of helping him out. Those were a lot of documents I had to read… Fortunately, if I did this, then there was no need to start a coup. The people would probably suffer if divided into two opposing sides, so it was better this way actually. It was an option I never thought off because I was never showed anything but my brother’s disgusting and selfish side.
Of course, I wasn’t able to look at everything shown to me, but I got the general idea. Reynolds was struggling with population management, legal rights, procedures, and all sort of things like that.
A couple of hours later, I took a break to from this and went to settle in my room. To my surprise, I discovered it was nothing more than a pile of rubble with all the furniture burned down and a big gap in the ceiling. As such, I occupied one of the guest rooms.
Afterwards, I called for Zoreya.
“Prince Reginald?” she asked after she entered.
“I’m over here.”
I was sitting in front of my window looking at the devastation brought upon my palace. Zedor was struggling to repair it, but this place was built over the course of many years. Every brick was enchanted with powerful spells. It wasn’t easy to destroy it.
“Theos and Zara brought me some interesting information about Illsyore.” I said.
“I have yet to receive word, your Highness.”
“Well, apparently, he came to this city on a peaceful quest. He disguised himself as a simple adventurer and stayed at Tannaor’s Inn. The slave merchant Deroak was his initial quest giver, but according to the Adventurers Guild, he didn’t make a correct judgment on the difficulty of his quest. Illsyore didn’t seem to mind it though, but he encountered a group of black magic users who overtook the Mehalom Ancient Dungeon.” I turned around to look at her.
“Black magic users? This deep into the kingdom? If I knew…” she asked surprised and also a bit conflicted that she let them slip past her grasp.
Her initial mission to our kingdom was to reduce their numbers and stop some devil-possessed mages. Her second one was to protect the royal family until a proper king was elected, and to be more precise, one who valued and respected the Melkuth Order values.
“Yes. Thankfully, Illsyore and his group dispatched them with ease. The Dungeon was cleared, and adventurers were regularly sent off to scavenge its remains. I came to understand that its core room was completely destroyed, so no chance of it reviving itself.”
“Why would this Godlike Dungeon Lord bother himself with something like this?” she asked me.
“I don’t know, but afterwards, he went to Deroak and apparently managed to win in the coliseum, but he didn’t fight.”
“Then who?” she furrowed her brow.
“Apparently, his wives and slaves were the ones who fought against Deroak’s slaves. The interesting thing is that all of them were far more powerful even than Dragnov. They might be just as strong if not stronger than you. Also, the way this Illsyore brought down the palace was with a strange weapon capable of shooting out beams of light. Witnesses reported that he could even shoot them out of his palms.” I explained what I was told by my knights.
“Beams of light?”
“Yes. However, the reason he attacked was because my foolish brother imprisoned and harmed his slaves without him having broken any of our kingdom’s laws. Illsyore didn’t kill him, and since he was partially justified in his attack, I cannot agree with sending out a hunting party after him. This is the first Godlike Dungeon I have heard of who’s not just the fictional character of an old story. He cannot be taken lightly nor can we afford to lose him out of our sight. If by chance he were to join our enemy’s forces, then Aunnar Kingdom would be in peril.” I let out a sigh and looked out towards the window.
Zoreya remained quiet, but I knew what she was thinking about. Ever since she heard that her brother’s killer was the one who attacked the palace, she wanted to go after him, but her mission and orders prevented her from doing so. To be honest, I didn’t wish to let her run after the Dungeon either, but in our current situation, she was also our best bet against him. So far, our neighbors haven’t made any suspicious movements, so her power wasn’t needed here.
Besides, given her old age, I was starting to wonder just how many more years she had to live before she was forced to lay down her shield. Letting her go now would probably lead to her having some closure in this matter. As an Apostle, she couldn’t dream of a family, so there was no one left waiting for her anywhere. At most, she would only have to return her shield to the Melkuth Order before passing away.
It was a decision only I could make as the prince and probably her friend. It was a decision between selfishness and egoism, a rather easy one for me.
“Zoreya, from this moment onward, you are free of any duty towards my kingdom. All that I request is that if you go after Illsyore to keep me informed of his movements.” I declared as I looked back at her.
“Your Highness… are you sure?” she asked.
I closed my eyes and nodded.
“Yes.” I replied after opening my eyes again and showing her a gentle smile. “You have been both my friend and ally for a very long time, Zoreya. I was never able to fully repay you for your help, that’s why I believe that letting you go would be the best reward I could possibly offer you unless, of course, you desire something else?”
“No, your Highness, but what of the kingdom?” she asked.
“Zoreya, you know just as well as I do that you never had a duty towards my kingdom. The Melkuth Order sent you here to protect its people, scout possible new acolytes, and to take care of the black magic users who at that time ran amok throughout these lands. The ones killed by Illsyore were probably the last of them. Besides, I’m certain the Order will send another brave crusader in your place to take care of any aspiring black magic users. You only stood by my side both because of my father, who was your friend, and probably me because I also see you as a friend.” I spoke without regret.
Through my words, I was willingly parting ways with the only Supreme present in this country, but with the Melkuth Order’s backup, we had no fear of an outside invasion. At least, not for a long time.
“I understand, Prince Reginald. Then I will pack my things and leave right away! I also worry about this Godlike Dungeon Lord. As a crusader, I cannot leave him be! As Zoreya Eleanor Alttoros, I desire closure for my brother’s death! But my Order stands before my personal quest… Even so, it has been a pleasure and an honor to serve by your side, Prince Reginald. I will send word to the Melkuth Order of Crusaders to have one of their best Apostles sent to watch over this kingdom.” Zoreya said with one last bow.
“Thank you and take care, my friend.” I told her and then turned around to gaze at my kingdom.
“May Melkuth watch over your kingdom, Prince Reginald.” she said before closing the door behind her.
A few moments after she was gone, I let out a sigh.
“I know that this sudden separation from her may have been a bit abrupt, but I couldn’t allow this kingdom to depend on the Melkuth Order any longer. The people of Aunnar have to be strong with or without a Supreme watching over them! That’s why, I can only say my thanks to this stranger, Illsyore, who offered us this opportunity to be reborn from our own scattered ashes.”
[Illsyore’s point of view]
A month passed since we left the Aunnar Kingdom. To our left were the thick woods spreading all the way to the ocean, and to our right were the vast expanses of sand specific to the desert climate. The heat was a killer, but not enough to bring us down.
There was one problem though…
“Illsy? What are we going to do about ‘that’?” asked Nanya curiously and pointed behind her.
“Don’t look back, just ignore it.” I grumbled.
“Does no one know who she is?” asked Shanteya.
“I have no idea. Did any of you feed it by any chance?” I asked looking over at Ayuseya.
“Why are you looking at me? I do have a soft spot for animals, but not armor plated knights.” the draconian retorted.
Taking a peek back, I saw a certain full-plated armored woman carrying a big shield ‘hiding’ behind a skinny tree. It was the same as trying to hide a modern tank behind a street lamp. Or maybe she was like one of those NPC characters from an old RPG I used to play, where if you placed a bucket on top of their head, you could empty their shops without them screaming thief at you.
As long as I don’t see you, I am hidden from you. That sort of logic, huh? I thought.
“At my mark make a run for it.” I told them.
“Why?” asked Ayuseya surprised.
“Because I don’t want to take care of strays! Now run!” I shouted, and we all blasted off at full speed out of there.
Looking back, I saw the woman running behind us nearly as fast as we did.
“How the hell can she run with that much weight on her?!” I whined.
“This is fun!” Tamara said eating a fish on top of my head.
She was the slowest, so I had to carry her.
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