In truth, when Erna collapsed, the wizards of Hessenguard thought similarly to the four kingdoms. If she continued to remain unconscious, her magic would run out and she would eventually stop breathing. Erna would have avoided death in only one way: to replenish her magic power. Because of this, not only those with magic, but also ordinary people flocked to the Grand Castle of their own accord, in the hopes that Erna might regain consciousness. Until the moment they all left, they prayed for the duchess to wake up safely. The Grand Castle inevitably became a cursed castle where everyone fell asleep.
It wasn’t enough, however. So, Kalion assembled an army, which consisted of himself and several of elite knights, and entered the ancient ruins, where he found Pieces of Sea at random and brought them back.
Each time she absorbed the magical power of the Piece of Sea he brought, Erna’s features brightened. Kalion became more driven to retrieve Pieces of Sea. While the four kingdoms thought he was resting, Kalion was fighting the craziest of battles.
“Then, shall we pay the price for lying low?”
Erna stretched out her hand towards the army of the four kingdoms. Dozens of magic orbs began to rise from the ground to the sky.
“What is that?”
The enemy wizards stared at her magic in awe. The runes that emerged from the ground were ancient magic that had been long buried in history. A combination of new and old letters floated in the skies.
“What is it?” Erna said, “These are the things I made.”
The flat ground where the armies of the kingdoms gathered rocked and split as if a huge earthquake had occurred in an instant. Screams rang across the plain, but Erna was unstoppable.
“While I was gone! Invasion of Hessengard! Killing people! Aiming for Kalion!”
Her raspy voice displayed her resolve to show her enemies no mercy. The rapid use of magic caused her body to stagger, but Kalion immediately grabbed her by the waist as if he had expected it.
“I know how you feel,” he said, “but do it in moderation.”
“Would you look at them?”
“I do not care about them, I’m afraid you’ll fall again.”
An intimate conversation took place amidst the mayhem. Orpé and Cedric, who were standing at a distance behind them, looked at the two with tired, but glad, faces. They were well aware how Kalion had stayed by her side and looked after her while she was unconscious—and the times he had tried to wake her up. So, when Erna finally awoke, they expected the two of them to grow closer. Orpé and Cedric murmured as they watched the couple gazing at each other lovingly while a terrifying scene unfolded before them.
“Wouldn’t that be nice…”
They were content that Erna and Kalion were happy and strong together.
Thus, the four kingdoms suffered another crushing defeat. And today, the kings of each kingdom came together in person to sign a new treaty that significantly increased the compensation several times higher than in the first negotiation.
In such a treaty, the successor to the throne or other high-ranking nobles would come as a proxy in consideration of the face of the royal family, but Hessenguard demanded that the kings themselves come in person. This infuriated the kings, but they had no choice but to come. The letter from Hessenguard was threatening to double the amount of compensation if they refused to comply.
Among them, there was one who was a little less worried than the other kings. It was Erna’s father, the king of Haband. He recalled his daughter, but she had become vague in his memory. He took a woman from the Wizards Tower as his wife to bear a child with their mother’s magical abilities; however, what was born was a useless, flawed product.
If only I knew it would be like this, he thought. The more he thought about it, the more regretful and resentful he became. If he had known it would become like this, he would have cherished her since she was a child. The king recalled Adelaide, who was no longer of any use, and realized that only his life was at stake. If he had cared for Erna as much as he cared for Adelaide, Haband would have had a great mage comparable to the Wizards Tower by now. Then Hessenguard and all the lands of the other kingdoms would have been in his hands.
The king recalled Erna when she was a child. She was quite clingy, having lost her mother with no one by her side. He remembered she had begged for his affection, but he had never given her so much as a glance.
Damn it, I should at least take care of her once in a while. He regretted it, but it was already too late. Even so, the king of Haband did not lose hope. No matter what she would say, he was the father of Erna Hessenguard. He must have remained deep in her heart, longing for the love she never received as a child. If he expressed his remorse and begged, her heart would certainly be swayed.
At that time, a sound was heard from outside, signaling the arrival of Erna and Kalion. Moments later, the rulers of Hessenguard, impeccably dressed, walked into the meeting. The seated kings rose from their seats without even realizing it and greeted the two. The king of Haband was dumbfounded when he saw Erna, whom he had met properly for the first time since she was a child.
That’s the daughter I abandoned? He approached Erna like a miner who had abandoned his jewels without realizing their worth.
“Erna, it’s been a while. It’s a pity to see you again in a place like this,” he said.
Erna turned her head to stare at the king of Haband with expressionless eyes and said coldly, “Sit down, King of HaBand. I will end these negotiations as soon as possible, so please refrain from speaking unnecessary words.”
Anyone in the room would have flinched at the iciness of her voice.