Mightiest Melee Magician Chapter 83

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Mightiest Melee Magician

Great Mage’s Power 083

Irene, who had been preparing a fearsome spell powerful enough to annihilate the entire gorge, stopped her magic immediately and came down below the gorge. She then looked at the ‘Silver Mane’ in my hand and asked,

“That was a close call. But why are you holding that?”

“…Not sure. It seems to have been torn off a while ago.”

I deftly skirted around the subject and shoved the silver mane into my bag.

Irene gave me a suspicious look, wondering why I picked it up, but I continued to focus on the ‘quest’.

《’Silver Werewolf’s Mane’》

《Quest-starting item.》

《The Calamity of South Mountain. The mane of the silver werewolf, Mentos.》

《Used as proof of Mentos’ death.》

《Objective: Find someone who would appreciate this mane.》

《Reward: ???》

Find someone who would appreciate this mane…

That was the content and the end of the quest. Unlike the previous quests with clear objectives and rewards, this one was unkind, providing no hints.

‘A sign of death… Perhaps someone wishes for the werewolf Mentos to be dead?’

That was the only slight inference I could make.

Then Irene spoke up,

“Master Luin,”

“Yes?”

“There’s been a weird rumor going around among the students of the Imperial Magic Academy.”

“What rumor?”

“They say the Grand Tournament winner might be a half-ogre.”

Calling someone a half-ogre, that’s really harsh.

But actually, do those even exist?

Is human fertility that strong?

“Ardel’s true nature, I have witnessed it myself… I do not believe it, but your appearance just now might fuel such baseless suspicions.”

Was it because of the ‘Kunkan’s Visage’ that appeared behind me?

Of course, there was some validity to why such rumors were spreading.

My powers were certainly moving beyond human limits.

However, no special explanation was necessary.

“Perhaps it’s because of that artifact you were chosen for at the tower?”

The tale of how I obtained the oversized artifact, ‘Kunkan’s Fang,’ from the tower.

It was a well-known secret among those who should know.

“Yes, that’s right.”

Of course, leaving out the part where the ogre himself crafted the artifact in the Sky Mountains.

I deflected again and got back on the horse.

“Shall we set off again? It seems we should reach Eight-Lakes before it gets completely dark.”

“Yes, let’s.”

Fortunately, Irene didn’t pry further, and we again used trace magic to head towards Eight-Lakes.

Of course, there would be no detour to find ‘humanoid monsters’ this time.

♦ ♦ ♦

‘Eight-Lakes’ is a city without ‘walls’.

If you have money, they’ll trade even with pirates – that rumor isn’t for nothing.

Therefore, there’s no need for identity badges or shields to operate in this place.

Better put, they’re indifferent to one’s status.

Given that tens of thousands of people visit daily from various regions, it’s natural for them not to take particular interest in each visitor.

Such was particularly critical for us, the ‘illegal immigrants’.

“How can the borders be so lax?”

“There’s no need to strengthen security. Eight-Lakes is under the Empire’s protection.”

“Yes, I suppose. It just feels a bit anticlimactic.”

We arrived at Eight-Lakes around 10 PM.

Being illegal immigrants, without an identity to claim and a place to entrust ourselves, we naturally headed towards the nearest inn.

An inn.

Not exactly a familiar space for us, mere 16-year-olds.

Although we intended to use separate rooms, the inn’s unique atmosphere hesitated my steps.

“…Ahem. Shall we go in then?”

“Ah, yes.”

Taking the lead, I stepped into the inn, followed by Irene.

The innkeeper glanced at us as we entered and nonchalantly said,

“One big bed in room 40, silver. Would you like breakfast with that?”

One big bed?

At this remark, Irene’s face flushed red, and she hung her head low, while I quickly shook mine.

“No, no, absolutely not. Two separate rooms, please.”

“Two rooms? Aren’t you a couple?”

“We’re not.”

This lady…

What in the world is she suggesting?

On top of that, what’s with that doubtful look?

We’re only 16 years old, you know.

♦ ♦ ♦

Waking up the next morning, after a simple wash-up, I descended to the first floor.

The dining hall was empty, and it seemed Irene had yet to come down.

I ordered a modest breakfast of rye bread, corn soup, salty bacon, and beans, and as the table was being set, Irene appeared right on time.

“Oh, you’re up?”

“Yes…”

Why, what’s with the sudden awkwardness? The inn during the tournament felt so natural, but now it suddenly feels so odd. Perhaps it’s because we’re the only two here, but it’s too awkward.

“…Ahem.”

Breaking the silence with a cough, I said,

“I’ll tell you about today’s plan.”

“Oh, yes.”

“Every day at 11 AM, the representatives of the eight trading companies meet for a luncheon to discuss the day’s schedule. The venue is right there, ‘Hall of Gold.’”

Although we had arrived at the inn during the dark of night, we hadn’t just picked any place to stay.

The eight mansions constructed by the side of the lakes where the representatives of the eight hold their daily luncheon meetings.

‘Hall of Gold.’

We had set up our base camp at a spot with a clear view of that place.

With the conversation transitioning to serious matters, the awkwardness from moments ago vanished, and Irene’s eyes sparkled with curiosity.

“What’s next?”

“We’ll have to go there. While everyone is gathered.”

“Just barge in?”

“Yes.”

“Will they agree to meet us? Shouldn’t we arrange an appointment?”

“An appointment? Now’s the time to make one.”

This was it.

My strategy ended here.

In the face of my lack of contingencies, Irene squinted incredulously but knew…

“If it’s Master Luin, then it must be doable.”

My confidence was not empty boasting.

The chosen mage of the future emperor of the Laynark Empire.

Luin Ardell.

Embarrassing as it is for me to say this,

Adding a little grandeur – everyone wants to meet with me.

This much was clear fact.

“Have you made an appointment?”

At 11 AM, as splendidly ornate golden carriages of the eight representatives pulled up in front of the hall, I stepped out of the inn and crossed the lakes. Unfortunately, the city guards stopped me, and I replied honestly,

“I haven’t made an appointment.”

“If you haven’t set a prior appointment, you can’t proceed further. This is the private property of the Eight-Lakes representatives.”

“Yes, I know. I will wait here. Could you possibly pass a message for me?”

“If you wish to arrange an official meeting, please visit the Central City Hall to fill out a visiting form. After a week’s review period, individual contact…”

“Luin Ardell.”

..?”

“The winner of the Grand Tournament. Luin Ardell has come to visit. Just deliver that message, please.”

The guards’ expressions shifted at the mention of the Grand Tournament winner. Even people not interested in magic knew what the ‘Grand Tournament’ was and understood the kind of treatment its victors received. Moreover, here in the Laynark Empire federation.

Within moments, their demeanors took on a sudden change.

“…Are you sure?”

What was initially treated as an unwelcome visitor now needed to be verified as a VIP guest. I presented my identification stamped with the ‘Ardell’ owl seal. Recognizing my identity, the guards’ attitudes changed yet again.

“Forgive me, I did not recognize you. May I assist you with the request you made?”

The guards’ faces turned anxious. Going inside to relay my message might not come as welcome news to those inside. Yet, sending me back now might have potential consequences later on.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, they had a difficult decision to make. I almost felt sorry for them.

“What’s going on here?”

“Ah, captain.”

The guard captain arrived and began to assess the situation. After verifying my name, his judgment came quickly.

“You fools, learn to discriminate. Report to the butler immediately; an esteemed guest has arrived.”

“Yes, sir!”

“Shall I continue to wait here?”

“No, I shall escort you to the lobby immediately. Please, follow me.”

“Yes.”

“But, wait…”

The guard captain halted as he was about to lead me in, noticing Irene Prius behind me. She, with a stoic face, presented her ID.

“Ah, Irene Prius…”

Recognizing her true name, his face stiffened even further.

A sorceress destined to shape the future of the Laynark Empire.

Of course, no citizen of the Laynark Empire federation would be unaware of her.

“What an honor it is to meet you. To have two such distinguished individuals here… Today is full of surprises. The representatives will be quite shocked.”

Following the captain, Irene and I entered the ‘Hall of Gold.’

“It’s incredibly magnificent…”

“Indeed.”

The Hall of Gold was second to none in splendor among the buildings I’d seen. Whereas the imperial prince’s villa, Moran Palace, focused on ‘beauty’ and ‘harmony,’ the Hall of Gold was, true to its name, designed to subdue the spirits of its visitors.

‘Do you deserve to be here?’

As if asking this with every golden decoration from the marble corridors to the gilded statues, columns, and even the door handles.

Holding a substantial sum of 42,400 gold, I felt insignificantly humble amid such opulence.

The wait wasn’t long.

“Sorcerer.”

“Yes?”

“The representatives have responded.”

“What did they say?”

“They’ve requested to see you immediately.”

“That’s good to hear.”

Yes.

So far, so good.

Now, all that remained was to get their confirmation.

“Please, come in.”

The grand golden doors, too magnificent for mere words, swung open.

The spacious interior revealed a circular table standing alone at the center.

The eight men sitting around it were the representatives of Eight-Lakes.

They gazed at me, and I gave them a casual nod.

“Pleased to meet you. I am Luin Ardell.”

There’s no need to appear weak.

I came not to make a ‘request,’ but a rightful ‘deal.’

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