* * *
‘Hmm. What a start.’
A beautiful garden, a mysterious tower. Colorful flower petals fluttered in the gentle breeze. Right now, Cadel had a magnificent view of a fantasy world that anyone would have dreamed of at least once before his eyes.
And he was surrounded by an army of fairies who were hostile to him.
“Step aside, Lydon. The elders and warriors of the Fairy Tribe are watching. Any further indiscretions will result in the―”
“I’ll think about it if Mr. Melphis gets out of the way first.”
“Are you serious……!”
If Lydon asked him to convince his father, shouldn’t he be responsible for getting him there? It was his father’s persuasion that Lydon had suggested, not his demanding relatives.
With a sigh of frustration, Cadel pushed Lydon out of his way and turned to see Melphis standing in front of him.
‘I feel like I’m being beaten with his eyes.’
In Melphis’ head, Cadel already seemed to be rolling on the floor as a lump of meat. Cadel, facing the murderous gaze, pulled out his arrogant voice as much as he could.
“The human whom you wanted to catch came to your feet. Shouldn’t you be more than happy? Your welcome greeting…… is not in tune with human emotions.”
Every time he spit out a sentence, he could feel the air around him getting colder. Guess who wasn’t an ice attribute magician here? Melphis looked at Cadel and hissed menacingly.
“How long do you think Lydon will protect your life? As soon as his whims are over, your limbs will be a hundred pieces of meat and fertilize this sacred land―”
“Please wait a minute.”
Cadel raised his arm, blocking Melphis’s relentless threats. Then he placed a hand on Lydon’s shoulder in a casual manner.
“There seems to be some misunderstanding.”
“It’s true that Lydon is my shield. But it’s me holding that shield, Elder.”
“What nonsense is that?”
Eyes filled with composure twinkled. Cadel, who made an expression that resembled Lydon in a strange way, said as he lightly squeezed his shoulder.
“That he’s my hostage. You’re being blackmailed right now, right under your nose.”
The whole area was filled with an uproar over the unexpected remarks. The elders looked at each other and doubted their hearing, and Melphis was frozen in his seat, forgetting to blink, and Lydon…….
“Haha! Was I a hostage? I had no idea, Cadel!”
“Shut up, man. You know how to adjust to the rhythm.”
He seemed to enjoy the situation.
A hostage situation centered around Lydon was not something they had planned ahead of time, but it was necessary. In order to break through Melphis with ‘stubbornness’ engraved on each of his features and face the Fairy King intact, they needed something to stand out.
Melphis, who had been frozen for a while, barely opened his mouth. Killing intent wrapped menacingly and thickly around his muscular body. One could even die at that momentum. However, Cadel nodded his head calmly without a hint of fright.
This hostage situation was entirely made up of bluffs.
A true bluff is to make the other person worry about a ‘trump card’ until right before he dies. The more brazen and brash you are, the more powerful you can be.
“Why do you think I sent all my comrades away and stayed here alone? If I had the strength to let my comrades go, I would have been able to get out. I’m not crazy about dying……. Don’t you think something is wrong?”
“Don’t mess around. Everything is a product of coincidence. If not, it’s because of the lack of ability.”
“You ignored it until the end.”
Cadel, who was holding Lydon’s shoulder, slowly raised his index finger.
“It’s not a coincidence. It’s all my plan. I came to this forest to meet the Fairy King in the first place, and in order to accomplish that elusive goal, I’m going to need to have a hostage in the form of…… his heir, right?”
Embers rose from Cadel’s fingertips. A small flame like a candle flickered dangerously as if it were about to touch Lydon’s neck. Melphis’s eyes widened at the sight.
“Do you think you’ll get your way? This is the land of the Fairy Tribe. I’ll make you realize that it’s not a place that’s easy enough for a mere human to run amok!”
Melphis extended his arms, ordering an attack. The warriors waiting for him immediately flew up and tried to narrow the siege.
Lightning suddenly fell from the dry sky. The encirclement was scattered by sudden thunderbolts, and the movements of the warriors spread chaotically.
Cadel sent another bolt of lightning through their panicked midst.
“Don’t you know what a hostage means? If you touch me, he dies. What if he dies? I’m not dying though. Why do you think?
Smiling, Cadel stretched out his remaining hand, and at the same time, a sharp gust of wind centered around him.
A heavy gust of wind ripped through the garden. The fairy warriors in flight were swept away, as well as the elders who watched the situation.
Only one among them. Only Melphis withstood the fierce gale head-on and glared at Cadel with his bloody eyes.
“Right, right. Let’s add one more from there.”
His face was tilted at an angle with a nasty smile on his face. The fingertips that had been wandering around Lydon’s neck slowly turned toward the sky.
Melphis’s gaze flickered to the small flame pointing to the sky. His lips, never one to show embarrassment, slowly parted.
Over Melphis’ head, hundreds of strands of ‘thread’ were revealed, coloring the sky. A feast of thin threads engulfed in red flames. The flames that had appeared out of nowhere had suddenly filled the garden’s sky, sizzling and burning.
“Haha, timeout! The correct answer was the genius magician who can use chantless spells!”
After the tutorial quest, it was the [Fire Arrow] that Cadel was reluctant to use because he was wary of excessive mana consumption. However, there was no skill more suitable for the bluff that sniped many. Letting out a booming laugh that grated on his opponent’s nerves, Cadel stared straight at Melfis.
“You’ve got a lot on your mind, don’t you? How good is this unheard-of 3-attribute magician, how do you get your precious heir, and will he obey you when you do……. Your head must be hurting.”
“……What the hell are you doing?”
“I hate to explain it in detail here. I just need to meet the Fairy King.”
“For what reason do you human want to meet Lord Hyron?”
“Negotiating with the hostage? Let’s leave it at that. I’m not going to fight if I can get a meeting with the Fairy King, so why don’t you stop being so uptight?”
Cadel prepared the [Fire Arrow] in advance, but he really had no intention of using this skill. He expected that just showing the image right before the execution would feel enough intimidation.
[Fire Arrow] was a skill that consumes a lot of mana, and if he executed it, there would definitely be injuries. No matter how strong the threat of taking the hostage, if he went that far, the room for negotiations had already converged to zero.
So, Cadel hoped that Melphis would take a step back.
‘No fairy looks stronger than Melphis, and everyone is waiting for him to tell them what to do.…….’
Then, after all, if he defeated only Melphis, it was not impossible to face the Fairy King. Cadel, still unpretentious and arrogant, twirled his finger pointing at the sky.
In front of Cadel, Melphis stared at Lydon with an unprecedentedly cold gaze.
“Do you realize what you’re doing, Lydon?”
“Hmm? I don’t want to get hurt, so I’m quietly staying put.”
“You are insulting the entire Fairy Tribe for your own personal enjoyment. You made your people threatened, lowered the dignity of Lord Hyron, and tarnished the value of the existence of the Fairy Tribe by lowering the value of your life. Do you not understand?”
In an instant, Lydon’s shoulders trembled. The corners of his lips, which had risen softly, stiffened. Sensing his agitation, Cadel tightened his grip on his shoulders.
Here, a single word or action could set off a chain reaction that could spiral out of control. In particular, since Lydon was stuck in between both sides, he should refrain from talking even more. Because of that, Cadel struck first before Lydon could open his mouth.
“Don’t do anything stupid. Isn’t it me, the blackmailer, not the hostage that you should coax?”
Melphis’s gaze shifted. He had a knack for creating stifling pressure just by making eye contact.
His wrinkled face turned completely towards Cadel. And the next moment, a completely unexpected remark echoed through the garden in an angry voice.
“Our only goal is the preservation of the forest and the maintenance of our race. Anyone who stands in the way of that is to be destroyed. So, everyone! Do not hesitate to repel the human in front of you!”