The court musicians didn't usually have a place to show off their skills, so they didn't miss this chance. The musicians literally used their whole body to pull out beautiful tones from various musical instruments as the sound filled the spacious ballroom. People were naturally attracted to the music, and the number of men and women dancing with each other increased.
It was a great performance that caused even Theodore to shake his shoulders. However, Kurt III hadn't moved from before him despite having handed over the medal.
"Hmm, all the formal procedures are finished." Kurt looked at Theo with his purple eyes and said, "There is a separate person in charge of handing you the national treasure. It isn't hard to recognize the person, so just act according to their instructions."
"Yes, Your Majesty."
"Then have a great time. You should mingle with the people waiting for you."
As soon as Kurt finished speaking, a group of nobles gathered in a place not far away.
People with intelligence and influence in the capital had responded to the sudden ball. Most of them were more powerful and cunning than Earl Bergen. These old snakes were just waiting for Kurt to leave so they could descend on Theodore.
This was the young hero's social debut.
"I look forward to your work in the future, Theodore Miller," Kurt said as he tapped on Theo's shoulders, before moving aide.
No matter how high ranking the noble, they couldn't surround Theo with the king in front of him. Thanks to that, the area around the podium was clear for a moment. It was a golden opportunity for Theo who didn't like this type of bustle.
He quickly stepped down from the podium. 'Okay, I should move quickly toward Master or other people from the magic towers. Who will come to a place where high-ranking magicians are?'
At least in Meltor, the status of the magicians were equal to the nobles. A 4th Circle magician was equivalent to a baron. After that, the number of 5th Circle magicians were drastically reduced due to the presence of the 'wall.' So, it was common for nobles to earnestly honor senior magicians.
However, a barrier of people formed in front of Theo as he had that thought.
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"It is nice to meet you, Viscount Miller!"
"It is an honour to meet you!"
There were dresses which revealed the body, ornaments hanging from the ears, and waists which gleamed in the light of the chandelier. Along with these, there were also colourful fabrics covering white skin.
Dozens of nobles plastered themselves to Theodore while chattering. The soft flesh and sweet fragrance clouded his head.
'D-Dangerous. At this rate…!' Theodore had keen senses.
However, this was the first time that he experienced this type of offensive. Additionally, the charm of the girls who had been raised to increase the honor of their family was fatal. It was natural to manage their skin and body, while they learned how to talk and even trained in the art of capturing a man's eyes.
For them, Theodore Miller would be the most charming husband.
Many of the nobles were much older than them and were frequently involved with concubines as they weren't sincere. So, the young women would do anything to marry the handsome young man who was a hero.
"Viscount Miller, could you please dance a song with me?" A lady with golden hair wrapped her hand neatly around Theo's. The soft texture of her skin and the warmth conveyed made him embarrassed.
He didn't know what to do, as it was a situation where moving the wrong way could cause a situation. As he was thinking about what to do…
"…Wait a minute, Young Lady? Do you know who you are touching right now?" A voice rang out from somewhere. "I'm sorry, but that is mine. If you can't give him up, are you thinking about fighting with me? I don't care either way."
None of the people surrounding Theo dared to stand up to that voice. The pressure coming from the owner of that voice was intense, and there was a large gap in their statuses. Her appearance was revealed after the young women faded out of Theo's sight like a tide.
Just then, Veronica's face appeared in front of Theo. "Ah…!"
She was wearing a black dress which clung to her body, while her clear skin was enhanced by her crimson hair and transparent veil. Her exposed arms and even more exposed chest naturally attracted Theo's gaze. Compared to the upper body which had a lot of exposure, the bottom garment was a long skirt with a deep slit in the left side. The outfit might seem a bit crass, but once her natural presence was added, she shone like a queen.
Theodore, the young men, and the beauties confident in their own beauty couldn't help being silent.
Veronica laughed at them and grabbed the right hand of the newly freed Theo. Then as she pulled him into her arms, she whispered, "Okay, then shall I mingle with today's protagonist for one song?"
The areas where his hands were in close contact were hot. It wasn't due to the mood but the heat that Veronica was emitting. The heat wasn't unpleasant or hard to endure, but her scent and texture combined together to cloud his mind.
Theo grabbed the last bit of his reason and said, "Tower Master, I've never learned to dance."
"Uh, really?" Veronica's eyes widened for a moment before she smiled. "Don't worry about it. It is good enough if you move according to how I guide you."
"Yes. In the east, there is a saying that 'martial arts' equals 'dance,' so it won't be hard for you to follow." She winked a golden eye at Theodore who was still frowning. "It will be okay. This kid, don't you believe in me?"
It was a question often asked by people who shouldn't be believed.
* * *
As a result, Theo and Veronica's dance was highly praised.
Veronica's words were correct as she had considerable skill, and he just needed to follow along. More than half the cheers were for Veronica, but there was some cheering for Theodore.
She touched him with a sweaty palm and said, "Now, shall we go out for a breath of fresh air?"
Theodore made a puzzled expression while Veronica smiled strangely and indicated toward a direction. It was the terrace of the ballroom which was covered with thick curtains. Simultaneously, Theo's face turned several times redder. "T-The terrace?"
"Yes, do you not want to?"
"That's not it, but…"
The reason why Theodore stuttered was simple. As she said, the ballroom's terrace was intended to be a resting place to cool off from the heat, but it was tacitly implied to be a place where men and women did covert activities. Theo wasn't well-versed in social knowledge, but he knew this much, so it was an embarrassing suggestion.
Veronica walked past a few people and disappeared beyond the curtain first, with Theo carefully following behind. It was probably an illusion, but he felt like the buzzing sounds increased behind him.
Finally, Theodore appeared on the terrace where Veronica was. She was in a position where one smooth leg was placed over the railing of the terrace. However, it wasn't a posture intended to seduce him. Rather, it seemed like she was trying to jump over the railing.
Theo felt like something was wrong and asked carefully, "Excuse me, Tower Master? Where are we going?"
"Huh? Don't you want to go to the place where your natural treasure is hidden?"
"…So this is why you wanted to go to the terrace?"
"Of course. What's wrong with that— …ahh."
Veronica finally realized the agony of a healthy young man and raised her index finger with a cheerful smile. "Heh, isn't it too early for you? You will have to grow a few more years before wanting to challenge this Veronica."
"T-That isn't it!"
"Okay, let's go. The location of the national treasure shouldn't be known to other people."
Without giving Theo time to make any excuses, Veronica swung her body over the railing first.
In the end, Theo also jumped from the terrace. It was different from what he had expected, but he couldn't neglect the national treasure. So, he followed Veronica's red hair through the royal gardens.
Less than five minutes later, the two people came to a stop.
The place where Veronica led Theo was a huge fountain surrounded by marble sculptures in the center of the royal garden.
Before he had time to wonder where the national treasure was, she placed her left hand into the fountain and started to explain, "It is enough to keep common treasures in warehouses, but things like national treasures can't be kept in one place. Each one has such a mighty strength that they can't coexist. It is possible for some of them to explode when tied with space magic, so the royal palace decided to keep the national treasures in certain areas inside the palace."
As Veronica spoke, the place where she inserted her hand began to boil, and the water soon turned to steam. After all the water turned into steam, the bottom of the fountain was revealed. Then she climbed into the dried fountain and placed the palm of her left hand on the magic circle drawn on the bottom.
"The heads of the magic towers memorize different areas according to their position, and I am in charge of the national treasure hidden in this fountain. I know what is hidden, but I'll explain after it is taken out."
Magic power emerged endlessly from Veronica's left hand into the magic circle and broke it into pieces. Whenever a part of the magic circle broke, a green light emerged from the statue at the center of the fountain. Once there was only one left, it shone with a brilliant light.
It wasn't magic power or aura. This was a power which belonged to an area completely separate from Ellenoa's vitality.
Soon enough, Veronica dismantled the last of the seal.
As soon as the magic circle disappeared, the statue where the national treasure was hidden wriggled. It wasn't a power which mere marble could withstand. The sculpture couldn't withstand the massive eruption of power and eventually burst from the inside.
Kwajik! An emerald bead emerged from the debris of the statue.
It was indeed a strange sight.
"…What?" Theo couldn't help muttering when he saw the bead.
There was no sense of distance or presence, but no, that changed within a minute. The bead looked like it was in front of him as well as beyond the horizon. It felt light and fluffy but heavier than a sledge hammer.
Theo knew about all types of treasures, but he couldn't fathom such a strange thing. Therefore, he listened closely to Veronica's description.
"National treasure no. 3, Umbra." She came to Theo's side as she eyed the emerald bead. "It is the legacy of a species that resides on a different level from the material world in which we live. They are said to exist like spirits and don't know the concept of time and space. The one who has the bead can gain their abilities, but… I don't know anything more than that. Anyway…"
Veronica gently pushed Theo and said, "From now on, Umbra is yours. Take it right away."