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Magicians who participated in the contest sent out their disciples for the Pupil Tournament. Speaking bluntly, it could be called a child's playful banquet. This year was a bit unusual, but it wasn't a competition which high ranking magicians or nobles would attend.
However, that awareness was turned upside down due to just one person—the King of the Meltor Kingdom, Kurt III.
"W-What? His Majesty himself?!"
"Doesn't he usually stay at the palace?"
"If this happens, my face needs to be like jade… I can't look ugly in front of royalty."
"Attendant! Prepare my dress!"
"Where is the Pentarium?"
The nobles of Meltor were in an uproar after they heard the sudden news.
Even though Kurt III had risen to the throne under the halo of the Magic Towers, he held all the military and administrative powers. So, the officials didn't dare oppose him, especially after some of the noblemen, who had tried to act for their own interests, had been beheaded.
'Now is the time to bow my head.'
'I don't want my head to fly away…!'
'It is best to wait for the next generation.'
If they couldn't win, it was best to become close to the king. They had to bow their heads in order to live for a long time in a society like this. In the end, the nobles gave up on fighting against Kurt III and tried to look good to him. Funnily enough, the actions of the nobles strengthened the king's power.
However, Kurt III concentrated on governing while pretending to listen to their flattery. All the gifts were sent to the treasury to maintain the budget while the young women filled with greed were sent back to their families. Kurt III was the example of a perfect ruler, with no flaws at all.
So, why had the perfect ruler suddenly decide to hand out the prizes for the Pupil Tournament?
Anyone with a brain would think there was something special about the awards ceremony. That's why so many nobles had gathered in the main hall of Pentarium, where the final match of the Pupil Tournament had been held. When the magicians heard that the disciple of the Blue Tower Master was involved, the scale of the ceremony grew to a bizarre level.
It was natural that the face of the young man, Theodore, was pale, since he was the center of the ceremony.
"Professor, isn't the audience in the stands really strange?"
"Hrmm… I can see that. The bureaucrats of several departments have come flocking. Huh, this place has become a spectacle. The three most powerful families of the kingdom have gathered."
"Uhh, why is this situation…"
It was an event involving the king, but the big shots had gathered in only a few hours!
Theo had never even met an earl, so he couldn't help feeling alarmed. His skin was already prickling from having multiple gazes on his face, so it was more torturous at the thought of all these high-ranking people watching him.
Theo thought up to there and suddenly looked towards the right.
Sylvia was looking at him. She didn't know what to do for a moment. Looking embarrassed, she then waved her hand stiffly. He almost smiled at her awkward movements but nodded without doing so.
Sylvia was relieved by his actions and smiled brightly. She seemed more concerned about Theo's reaction than that of the people in the stands.
'Indeed, there is no need to be nervous until I come out.' Theodore's tension was released thanks to Sylvia.
Theo looked more relaxed than before as he waited for the king with Vince. He recited the basic etiquette in his head and prepared himself to be ready for whatever happened.
Before long, the king emerged from behind the curtain.
"Presenting His Majesty!"
As they heard the booming voice of the servant, the people gathered lowered their bodies simultaneously. The movements of the bodies were similar, but the difference in the bows showed each person's status.
Commoners lay flat on the floor, while nobles bowed at a 90 degree angle.
Magicians, however, knelt down on one knee. Their right hands, placed by their hearts, indicated the circles and, in other words, the magic system. One knee against the ground was to show loyalty, while the standing leg was meant to honour the magic, not the king. If this were the Empire, they would be punished for disloyalty. However, that was not the case here.
This was Meltor, a kingdom where magicians were the cornerstone. It was a unique etiquette that could only be seen here. As everyone remained silent, a man's voice rang out, "Everyone present, raise your heads."
It was indeed the voice of the king. There was power in his voice. In the past, magicians had stated that the power of words were a lie. They thought that the shorter the chant, the stronger the spell would be.
It was currently treated as an old saying, but Theo could now understand it. The people were guided by Kurt III's words and raised their heads unconsciously. Their minds were overwhelmed by the king's dignity, and they raised their heads before they could think about it.
Similarly, Theo raised his head and saw the king for the first time in his life.
The king had golden hair and purple eyes which shone mysteriously. His appearance and atmosphere meant one could see at a glance that he had a noble lineage as well as the elegance of a king. He gave off such an intangible presence that Theo was convinced everyone would recognize the king even if he wore rags.
'This person is the king, Kurt III…!'
As Theo felt unfamiliar feelings, Kurt opened his mouth again, "It has been a while, Tower Master Blundell. Three months, perhaps?" It was a very familiar tone.
The tower masters were basically treated as the most distinguished people, with no one else having a higher status than them as they accounted for more than 70% of the national power. So, it wasn't unreasonable for the king to treat Blundell like this.
"Hahaha! It feels like it was the day before yesterday for this old man, Your Majesty."
"If you hadn't missed the meeting without any notice, it really would've been the day before yesterday."
"C-Cough!" The smiling Blundell immediately became silent at the sharp criticism. He now looked like a child who was being scolded.
Kurt III looked at Blundell's awkward expression and changed the topic while smiling. "Did you take a vacation to look after your disciple? This king came here because I wanted to see her."
"Ah, right. I will definitely show her to you."
"So, you kept her a secret for 10 years?"
It seemed like Blundell received damage every time he opened his mouth. As Blundell fell silent, Kurt looked down at the two people before him. One was the disciple of the Blue Tower Master, and the other was the one who had knocked her down.
These children would support Meltor in the future.
"Then I will proceed with the awards ceremony."
He hated pretentious things, so he started the awards ceremony without any congratulatory remarks.
According to instruction, the person in charge of the Pupil Tournament came forward. He called the identification number and then announced the names of the mentors and the amount of prize money given to the participants.
In the end, there were only two names left, leaving only two children in the center of the stadium. Kurt made the host step back and picked up a handmade plaque.
"Sylvia, Blundell Adruncus's disciple, come forward."
"Yes, Your Majesty." Sylvia moved forward at the call and bowed slightly.
Even though she was told to rise, it was blasphemy to look directly at the king's face. Kurt accepted the bow and spoke while handing her the plaque, "As the runner up of the Pupil Tournament, I will give Sylvia 'Jack Frost's Staff' and the title of a baron."
"Sylvia, disciple of the Magic Tower, thanks Your Majesty."
"Yes, I look forward to your future growth."
It was an exceptional reward, but no one objected to Kurt's declaration. Once beyond the wall of the 5th Circle, the title of baroness had no great significance to Sylvia. Moreover, she could gain gold and artifacts from Blundell.
Then Kurt called out Theodore's name next, "Theodore Miller, Vince Haidel's disciple, come forward."
"Yes, Your Majesty," Theo barely managed to reply in a calm voice as he rose from his spot.
"As winner of the Pupil Tournament, I will give Theodore 200 gold, the 'Protection Bangle,' and the title of a baron."
"Theodore, Bergen's student, thanks Your Maje—"
Theo shut his mouth hurriedly when he was interrupted by Kurt. After receiving 200 gold, an artifact, and a title, Theo hadn't expected that there would be anything else.
"After he succeeds the title of Baron Miller, Theodore Miller will receive the title of a viscount."
Theo's eyes shook at the shocking declaration, but his mouth was a step ahead of his brain.
"Thank you, Your Majesty!"As Theo lowered his head, chatter quickly spread through the stands.
A promotion… it was an honour that wasn't possible unless many merits were accumulated. Yet it was given to the winner of a small contest? It was an unprecedented situation, so some of the nobles couldn't hide their confusion.
Regardless of whether people understood it or not, Kurt looked at Theodore and Sylvia with warm eyes and finished the awards ceremony.
"This Meltor Kingdom of ours is surrounded by the Harkan Mountain Ranges in the north-east and by the Andras Empire in the north-west. In order to defend our homeland from the savage imperialists who desire war, we need to raise people like these two young magicians. The Magic Society should spread today's events and don't slack off… Understood?"
The people gathered in the stadium replied simultaneously to their ruler:
"Yes, Your Majesty! As you command!"
Finally, Kurt III left Pentarium.
Afterwards, the nobles swarmed around him like a tide, and the most magnificent event in Theodore's history came to a close.
Theo and Vince finally went to the restaurant they hadn't been able to go on the first day. They then returned to their accommodations shortly after the sun set, and Theo lay on the bed while holding his belly. He usually preferred to eat less, but his mouth hadn't listened at the restaurant in the capital.
Vince laughed at him before saying, "I don't need to hear you speak to know that the meal was satisfactory. Isn't that so?"
"…It is exactly like you said."
The two people looked at each other and laughed lightly. It had been a great day.
There was no better way to enjoy his victory. Vince even took out a few bottles of expensive wine, but they didn't get drunk. It was because both of them were magicians.
Not long after, the moment they had been waiting for came.
A red tongue crawled out from a hole in Theo's palm. It was the grimoire which ate magic books. Gluttony had woken up.
–Hungry. Bring meal.
Gluttony swallowed books and absorbed their knowledge. After satisfying its hunger, it would take the time to answer one of its owner's questions.
The two people had been waiting for this time. Theodore and Vince's contract… The moment for the first question and answer had begun.