Barbarian King Legg
"The barbarian king... hmmm..." Larwin's thick fingers rapped on the table while he was in thought. "Does the bureau have any way of assassinating him?"
"Assassination?" Leguna widened his eyes in surprise before he shook his head oddly. "I'm afraid that will be a tough ordeal. According to our reports, the barbarian king's might is not to be underestimated. Even though he's young, he's a powerful 18th-stratum warrior. And...""
"And... he's also a gifted. He relied on his gifts to defeat the previous barbarian king."
"Gifted?" Larwin furrowed his golden brows. "I recall there was a barbarian gifted that participated in the tournament we hosted. Why is the current barbarian king a gifted as well? The northern highlands only have a population of around 200 thousand, so they couldn't have produced two gifted within such a short time-span, right?"
"No, Your Imperial majesty, this barbarian king did indeed participate in the tournament. He's called Legg."
"What did you say?!" Larwin was stupefied to hear that. He already felt a sense of familiarity after reading up on the barbarian king. Yet, it was unimaginable that he would be the same barbarian that joined the tournament.
"What in the world is going on? If he participated in the tournament, that means he should more or less be in the high order. But only a short time passed since then. How could he have grown into the 18th stratum that quickly?"
"I already looked into that," Leguna explained, "It seems to be a kind of barbarian shamanic ritual that can suppress one's stratum for a long time without affecting one's growth. When the time is right, the spell can be lifted and the full power of the wielder will be restored."
"It sounds like a seal then," Alfreid said with a nod.
"That is exactly it," Leguna agreed.
"What good would that do?" Andro asked.
"In terms of growth, nothing. But Legg was willing to do so because of the previous king."
"As we have explored, every time a new barbarian king is enthroned, the previous one would suffer an ugly fate. So, every reigning king would be on guard and fearful towards anyone that may have the potential of exceeding them. The previous barbarian king used his authority to suppress many of his tribesmen that might pose a threat to him."
"So to prevent falling to the previous king, the current one used that ritual to hide his true abilities. Only after he made sure he was powerful enough to defeat the previous barbarian king did he undo it and make the challenge, am I right?" Larwin guessed.
"That's exactly the case," Leguna said, "Even though there are still some questions in the matter, that is all we managed to find out."
"Questions? What sort?" Alfreid didn't miss out on that detail.
"It's no big deal," Leguna said with a casual shrug, "This ritual seems to have been newly created. So far, it seems that only Legg has underwent its effects. However, he's a warrior, not a shaman. We still haven't managed to find the one that created the ritual."
"I see..." Alfreid nodded his agreement. It was indeed not a big deal, so he didn't really mind it.
"That means we have no way of dealing with the barbarian king?" Larwin brought the topic back to focus. Was there a way to get rid of the barbarian king to sow seeds of chaos among them?
Is there no other path than mutual bloodshed? Leguna thought.
Initially, Leguna bore a great hostility for Legg because he gave Kurdak a good beating in the tournament. However, after getting to know the difference in their cultures and winning because of Legg's concession, Leguna's view on that man changed considerably. While he wouldn't call himself Legg's friend, he at least wouldn't get straight into a fight with him.
He felt rather perplexed to be discussing how to kill Legg outright.
[Feeling soft?] Gahrona asked.
[A little...] He didn't bother to hide anything from the one who arguably knew him best. [I feel that Legg isn't a bad person per se. But we're talking about how to kill him... It's a little...]
Gahrona kept silent for a moment. [You're still a child after all...]
[Huh?!] What does she mean? I'm already eighteen, alright? If I were a noble, I would be fathering a dozen of illegitimate children by now! Even a commoner would've gotten married already! How am I still a child?!
[I'm not talking about your age,] she said, guessing what he thought, [I'm talking about your naïve and soft-handed line of thought.]
Leguna didn't have anything to say in response.
[Let me ask you this. If you're standing before Legg right now and he's completely defenseless against you, will you have the courage to surprise attack and kill him?]
[I... I don't know,] he replied uncertainly.
[Then what if he has his blade on Innie's neck? Would you kill him then?]
[If I were confident I could kill him without harming Innie, I would,] he said candidly.
[That's right. At least you still have your priorities in order.]
[What do you mean?]
[You understand the importance and weight of certain matters. It's good that you know who is important to you.]
[But in actuality, Legg isn't holding a knife to anyone's neck.]
[Still, he's the barbarian king,] she got straight to the point, [He's going to lead a force down south to raid and pillage. Are you only going to worry when they finally reach Melindor?]
[Ley, even though you're an assassin, you're not someone who can do ruthless, underhanded things. So, there are many times when you're passively moving according to your enemy's pace. I am not saying that it's a bad thing. If you're a normal person, you might lose out on a bit because of your personality, but you'll also gain true friendship. However, you mistakenly stepped into the world of politicking and scheming. You stand among people filled with cunning and betrayal. I can almost be certain that you won't be able to survive with that personality.]
[I still managed to work as bureau head for half a year, you know,] Leguna talked back.
[While you did in fact put effort into that, you mainly had the help of others like Annie, Marolyt, Arikos, Kurdak, Vera, Eirinn and even Alissanda. Without them looking out for you, how long do you think you can hold out in a place like this?]
Somehow, Gahrona's comments gave his self-confidence a huge blow. Even though he joined the bureau to protect those he loved, Gahrona said he was actually the one being protected. It was as if she were taking care of a reckless, selfish child. He, who thought he had matured, was incredibly against that notion.
[I know they care for me a lot, but I've also been trying hard myself! I'm giving it my all!] he said with some dissatisfaction.
[Then you better show me you're trying! If you can't even deal with someone like Legg, how can you protect those around you? Legg is still a threat you have to look out for. If you want to continue playing this game of power, you need to show your worth! Worthless people won't be able to survive in this game!]
After a pause, Leguna replied solemnly, [I got it! I will prove my worth to them! If that is something I have to do to protect them, I would be more than willing to kill Legg and even exterminate the barbarians! I won't hesitate even if I have to become the vilest demon in this world!]
That was a response Gahrona hardly expected. She only wanted to stop Leguna from being so soft. Yet, he seemed a little too fervent in his response. She didn't want Leguna to remain so light-handed, but she didn't want him to become a merciless fiend either.
She had overlooked Leguna's pride and rebelliousness common to people of his age. She also underestimated how deeply Leguna held Annelotte and the others in his heart.
Leguna wasn't lying. He would be willing to go all lengths to defend his loved ones from harm. Since Gahrona said that he had to change to be able to protect them properly, he wouldn't hesitate one bit to change.
Did I go overboard here? Gahrona thought, Whatever. We'll see whether he can stand his own ground in the playing field first. We'll consider the rest later. Still... it's quite a pain to be a teacher...
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