ARTHUR LEYWIN’S POV:
I stumbled coming out of the teleportation gate as I pressed my fingers firmly against my temples to keep my head from popping.
Sylvie scampered next to me, happy to be out in the open again.
“Kyu~” She let out a big stretch on the grass before looking up at me, signalling that she was ready.
‘That man was scary, Papa,’ Sylvie’s voice rang in my mind.
“Yeah, he didn’t really come off as easygoing to me either,” I responded.
The place we landed was a familiar one. It was near the area where Tess first led us in order to get inside the Kingdom of Elenoir. Of course, this time, we were going to have to knock on the front gates like most people. It wasn’t too much of a problem to get inside the kingdom now that the three races were more or less in harmony.
Every time I thought of the word ‘race’ I could hear Windsom saying in his annoyingly serious voice how we were the lesser races.
As much as it irked me, he wasn’t wrong. Compared to the Asuras, even I could see the innate differences between him and me, and from what he led on, it didn’t seem like he was the strongest of Asuras either.
“Well, I guess you know who your mother is now, at least.”
“Kyu?” ‘Mama? Aren’t we going to see Mama right now?’
“No, not that Mama. I mean, Tess isn’t your mother! Sheesh!” I exclaimed.
Sylvie only tilted his head as she looked at me in confusion before scampering around again, leaving me flustered at my bond.
As we made our way to the front gate, following alongside the outer walls of the kingdom, we passed the occasional carriages and wagons followed by people either transporting the goods inside or guarding it.
The economy was rapidly changing since the union of the three races. Opening up borders so that merchants can travel and trade with each other had led to a lot of unique goods becoming available in all three kingdoms. Once we reached the entrance into the kingdom, there was a line of people either riding horses and mana beasts or in carriages, waiting to go inside.
Sylvie hopped on my head as I got to the end of the line beside a group of what looked like mercenaries most likely trying to sell the raw material they managed to obtain.
“Ey! Looky at the lil’ brat! Why you so far from your mama, lil’ boy? You lost?” a rather tall and thin, almost emaciated, man in leather armor too large for him, hooted as he bent down.
“Roger, you’re going to make the boy cry with that ugly face of yours.” A girl that looked to be in her early twenties jumped off the end of the carriage she was sitting on and pulled Roger back.
“There is nothin’ wrong with my face!” Roger lashed out at his female cohort. “Besides, this brat looks to be some sort of rich noble brat! I betcha if we bring him back to his parents, they’ll reward us big time!”
“You haven’t said anything. Are you lost, boy?” asked another man, one that looked to be in his early thirties with a body built like it was meant to wrestle elephants, pushed aside the drooling Roger that was staring at me like I was a money bag.
“No, sir, I’m not lost. I have some business here,” I replied.
“Business here, my ass! Don’t go trying to sounding all snooty-tooty. I bet you just ran away from your momma. Duke, let’s just grab this twerp and take him to the Guild Hall,” Roger smirked as he slowly made his way towards me.
I let out a sigh as I contemplated whether it was worth the effort to shove this bag of bones into the ground.
“Grrr…” Sylvie, who was perched on top of my head again, stood up, baring her teeth at the malnourished mercenary.
These fools were actually thinking of basically kidnapping a child here in the open…
While my stance remained the same, I imbued a thin layer of mana around my body just in case.
“Roger, Duke. Leave the boy alone,” a hoarse voice came from inside the carriage.
“Erk. It’s the boss.” Roger froze in his tracks with a reluctant expression.
“Tch. Let’s head back to the carriage, Roger,” Duke clicked his tongue and gave me one last curious glance before turning his broad back to me.
I just rolled my eyes and stayed put in the line for travelers without carriages that need to be inspected first.
“Sorry, Boss. I know you how you like to keep face, but this time, it would’ve been a totally legit excuse! I mean, all we would do is keep the brat from talking and eventually, we’d just put him in the Guild Hall and sack in a nice reward.”
“Sir, while Roger isn’t the brightest guy most of the time, I think he was right in that boy was actually from a wealthy family judging by his uniform and the peculiar bond on his head. If you didn’t stop us, I think we could’ve—”
“Fools! You think I was protecting the boy? I was protecting you two dolts from him!”
“Both of you guys are mages, yet you still couldn’t see the clear differences in power? Even I wasn’t able to sense the level of his mana core!”
“But Boss, even if the boy was a mage, he couldn’t have awakened more than a couple of years —”
“Shut up. Just know that if you guys had stepped out of line just then, even I wouldn’t have been able to save you.”
After the first moment of reluctance in letting a possible runaway child into their kingdom, the guards erased their doubts when I showed them the Xyrus Academy crest since showing the royal family’s crest might attract a bit too much attention for my tastes. Before entering, however, the elven guards did give me a stern warning that the use of magic was prohibited in all but the most extreme cases.
I didn’t have the time to explore around much while I was being trained by Gramps so seeing all of this was new to me.
The city that we had entered was bustling with an almost chaotic mixture of people from all around the continent, laughing and haggling around different stands and small shops. The Elven Kingdom of Elenoir was different from the Human Kingdom of Sapin; since the entire kingdom was walled off, the cities were more like giant districts rather than separated settlements.
Since the royal family’s tree castle was located in the far end city of the kingdom, it took me a couple of hours of traveling via a small transport carriage.
The driver dropped us off at the border just before the castle since not just anyone would be allowed directly inside. A major difference from the last time I came here was that there were now guards around the perimeter of the castle as well. While I’m sure they always had guards and security, they weren’t so blatantly placed to ward off intruders like they were now. Again, most likely an outcome of the kingdom opening its doors to the other races.
“Stop. Little boy, I think you’re a bit lost,” a burly elf held his hand out and warned. He looked at me curiously before stopping his gaze at Sylvie who was now next to my foot.
“No, I know exactly where I am. If you’d be so kind as to let me through, it’d be much appreciated,” I replied without taking a second glance at the guard while pulling out the compass with the royal family’s crest Grandpa Virion gave me back then.
“How do you have this?” The burly guard squinted his eyes in suspicion as the other guards gathered around me.
“I thought that having this compass meant that a member of the royal family entrusted it to me.” I couldn’t help but let out a sigh.
When was the last time I was ever given a smooth passage these days? Starting from the teleportation portal to the mercenaries and now here.
“This brat. Is he being sarcastic with us?” another guard growled.
“Sigh… just please inform either Princess Tessia or Elder Virion that a boy named Arthur Leywin is here to see them. They’ll know who I am.” I took a few steps back and leaned back against one of the stone statues in front of the manor.
All of a sudden, a loud BOOM! pierced the air as part of the castle exploded and chunks of the building fell down on top of us.
“What the hell is—”
As the other guards jumped out of the way to avoid the debris, the one that questioned me didn’t have enough to time react after turning around.
I heard him click his tongue as he focused mana into his body, positioning himself between me and a falling piece of the castle wall.
While his attitude was crude, I guess he wasn’t a bad person.
With currents of mana already flowing inside of me, I conjured a gale to circle around us, instantly encasing us in a dome of wind.
The debris most likely wouldn’t have killed any of the trained guards but even with mana augmentation around their bodies, it wouldn’t have been a pretty sight.
I kept my spell active, noticing the gaping face of Guard Number One switching his gaze back and forth between me and the wind barrier.
All of a sudden, a familiar figure jumped backwards down from the ledge of the explosion site, landing just next to us.
“You guys alright down… Ah! Arthur, good to see you again, brat! Sorry for this, but you’re going to need to give me a hand.” As Grandpa Virion returned his focus to the site of the explosion, I dispersed my spell.
“Gramps, what’s going on? Was there an intruder?”
“Bah! You think I’d be having this much trouble if it was just an intruder?” Virion clicked his tongue in frustration.
Another explosion sounded from the site.
“Grandpa! Stop this thing!! I can’t control i~~~~t!”
Out from the giant hole in the mansion appeared Tess, surrounded by dozens of emerald green tendrils made of mana swaying sporadically, destroying everything it hit.
I couldn’t help but curse under my breath. I initially blamed Windsom since he was supposed to have cured her of the beast will that was trying to take over her body; paying attention, however, since Tess was still conscious and quite rowdy, I deduced that she most likely couldn’t control the mana she released even while awake and aware.
“Tch. That aura is pretty frightening. Those tentacle-like vines protect Tess as well as attacks anything within its range. Even if I try cutting it, more tendrils take its place. Brat, I’ll support you from the back. Try to reach Tess; my techniques aren’t really useful for anything other than assassinating and right now, we need a way to overpower this aura.”
I gave Virion an affirming nod and took a step forward, concentrating more mana around me.
“Elder Virion. We can assist as well! Please instruct us on—”
“No! You guys would be useless against her. Just clear the area and make sure no one comes near here.” Grandpa Virion waved his hand without turning back.
I took a peek at the baffled guards. When I checked their mana core levels earlier, they seemed to be around the solid to light orange stage, which would be considered top tier considering their ages.
“But Elder, the child is—”
“Go. Now! I don’t have time for this,” Grampa Virion growled.
These elites that were probably never called useless in their lives muttered in confusion, looking at me with peculiar eyes before clearing the way.
“You know, Gramps, they probably still could’ve helped.”
“The less people that know about my granddaughter’s powers, the better. At least at this point. Now focus, brat,” he breathed, keeping his gaze on Tess.
“Aye aye, sir,” I smirked.
At Grandpa Virion’s signal, we made a break for Tessia, who was on the edge of the mansion.
Augmenting my legs in wind attribute mana, I waited until a condensed gale formed underneath my feet before launching off from the ground.
Even though Tess’ back was facing us, the tendrils responded as soon as we got close. Immediately, the vines that were erratically swaying straightened up and shot themselves at us.
“Keep going! I’ll cover you!” Grandpa Virion shouted from the back.
While I had my back turned to him, just by the change in his voice, it was obvious that Grandpa Virion had initiated the first phase of his beast will.
The two of us hacked our way closer and closer towards Tess, who was struggling to gain control over the emerald green aura surrounding her.
I stuck with using wind spells, afraid that the aura would conduct any lightning attribute spells. Since we were in a mostly wood environment, I also held back on any fire spells.
As soon as our wind blades severed the tendrils, they dissipated, another batch of tendrils taking their place.
It wasn’t working.
I took a deep breath, relying on Grandpa Virion to cover me for a couple of seconds.
After finishing my chant, I felt a sizeable drain on my mana, along with a slight tingling sensation coursing throughout my body.
The tendrils that were evidently growing in number appeared to be overwhelming us in slow motion. Having the luxury to take a glance back, even Grandpa Virion’s attacks slowed down enough where I could see his movements.
Dodging the tendrils, I avoided wasting mana on other spells until I reached Tessia.
Every step forward at this point involved me dodging at least five tendrils, until I finally reached arm’s length of the troublesome princess.
Grabbing her by the waist, I prepare my final spell.
“Eek! A-A-Arthur?” Tess squealed in surprise.
Before I had the chance to respond, the tentacles suddenly retracted and gathered around the two of us before springing us off the mansion through the hole made by the explosion. With my technique still active, I was able to react in time to hold onto her before the two of us skyrocketed up into the air.
“KYYYAAAAAHHH!” Tessia’s voice echoed loud enough for the whole kingdom to probably hear.
“Hold on tight!”
Locking my arms around her, I surrounded her in a layer of protective mana before casting my spell.
The amount of time it took to cast my spell took a lot longer without using the second phase of my dragon will.
As the layer of frost slowly spread out from around us, freezing the tendrils trying desperately to separate me from Tess, I had to keep my concentration to the max to keep the spell going.
“Break!” I roared before taking a kick at the completely frozen tendrils, shattering it into countless shards of shimmering little diamonds.
It was a gamble to try and freeze the tendrils that Tess manifested and, like expected, my spell wasn’t strong enough to completely freeze everything, but I was able to separate the tendrils from their source of fuel, Tess.
Tess had a glazed look in her eyes as she hung onto my neck, mesmerized by the thousands of falling ice shards reflecting the amber lights of the city.
Our eyes locked and Tess immediately blushed.
I gave her a playful wink in response.