༺ Conflict (1) ༻
As Marian fidgeted with her feet alone, Lirya, as an instructor, diligently continued her explanation.
“But there is something certain. There is a hypothesis accepted as a mainstream view among scholars, and if you look at the timing of when the Malevolent Star first appeared, they all-“
As she was about to explain the last of the Continental Seven Heroes, the bell rang, signaling the end of the class. It was natural, as she originally intended to explain briefly during the spare time.
Lirya bid farewell to the Opal Black class, as she needed to prepare for the next lesson, and left the classroom.
Gwyn spoke in a disappointed voice.
“I wanted to hear the story of the Malevolent Star, too…”
“Well, there will be another chance next time.”
Schultz patted Gwyn’s shoulder.
“Besides, the Malevolent Star is quite unique among the Continental Seven Heroes. Even if you believe only half of the circulating rumors, they would still be the overwhelming strongest on the continent. But as rumors often do, there are many bad stories, too.”
“Things like envy and jealousy that inevitably follow heroes. There are stories that he’s a simple scam artist, and since no one has ever seen his face, there are stories that he’s actually a demon who has defected… There are so many rumors floating around that it’s hard to distinguish what’s true and what’s false.”
“Do you want me to tell you more about the Continental Seven Heroes?”
Gwyn nodded her head like a puppy.
Schultz explained various stories about the Continental Seven Heroes to Gwyn.
The story of the ‘Goddess’ Champion‘ who single-handedly held the broken city gate and protected the city.
The story of the ‘Crimson Sage’ who used transcendent-level magic to annihilate the demon insect army.
The story of the hero party, including the ‘Hero of Light’ and the ‘Battlefield Saintess,’ who defeated the King of Nightmares at the end of a great sacrifice, and so on.
Marian watched Schultz intently.
Although he seemed to be explaining it ordinarily, Marian, who excelled at reading subtle emotions of others as she navigated social circles, could clearly see Schultz’s excited tone and unhidden joy.
She had thought of him as annoying because he always maintained a poker face, but now he showed a very unexpected side. He looked like a boy of his age.
You’re a fan, huh?
Even as the son of a noble, he was still a boy. Pretending otherwise, but like other boys his age, he seemed to be enthusiastic about the Continental Seven Heroes.
Wouldn’t we get along surprisingly well if I got him an autograph from my grandfather? Marian made a plausible guess.
Gwyn spoke with an excited face at Schultz’s explanation.
“Then, what about my master? What was my master like?”
“As for the Sword Saint, I guess the most famous thing about him is…”
Saladin, who had been sitting in the corner, kicked his desk hard.
The classroom was instantly filled with silence.
“Really noisy. That damn Continental Seven Heroes, Continental Seven Heroes… Do you two only use the classroom? Huh? Do you two only use it?”
Saladin scowled fiercely and got up from his seat.
“Saladin. Why are you acting like this?”
Schultz, sensing the unusual atmosphere in the classroom, spoke calmly.
“If we were too noisy, we’ll apologize. First, calm down and let go of your anger.”
“Anger? When did I say I was angry? I’m just dumbfounded. Is that story really that interesting? What’s so interesting about it?”
Saladin raised his voice, as if openly picking a fight. Although he claimed not to be angry, he appeared angry to anyone who saw him.
Marian frowned, while Titania and Gwyn looked at the two with bewildered eyes. Batar snickered and folded his arms, while Elizabeth silently stared at Saladin.
Only Oznia seemed to have no interest in whether a fight broke out in the classroom or not.
“The Continental Seven Heroes are ridiculous. I can’t help but be dumbfounded when I listen to it. Why are they the heroes of the continent? They’re just heroes of the well-off Empire.”
“…What do you mean?”
“Did any of the heroes you just mentioned fight in the Al-Kamil Kingdom? They were all busy defending the Empire’s land. We fought the Demon King’s army on our own without the Empire’s help, but they call it a continental effort, which is funny, isn’t it? Right? Huh?”
The Demon King’s army, which had swept down from the north, launched a large-scale invasion into the territories of mankind. Most of the battles took place in the Empire, as it shared the longest front with the demonic territories. However, that didn’t mean other countries were not invaded.
The now-destroyed Iona Kingdom and the Al-Kamil Kingdom were examples. In particular, the Al-Kamil Kingdom received no support from the human alliance.
The reason was simple. From the Empire’s perspective, they were heretics.
The most widespread religion on the continent is the Goddess faith. Regardless of nationality or ethnicity, most humans worship the Goddess. Batar, whom Marian often dismisses as a barbarian, also refers to the Goddess as a mother, worshiping the same deity, albeit in different ways.
But the Al-Kamil Kingdom is different. They worship another monotheistic deity called the ‘Father of the Sun.’ Historically, their faith has been incompatible with the Goddess faith, like oil and water, causing numerous conflicts and disputes.
From the perspective of the Holy Kingdom, the heretical group disappearing due to the invasion of the Demon King’s army might have been a cause for celebration. The Empire, which adopted the Goddess faith as the state religion, probably wasn’t much different.
As a result, the people of Al-Kamil had to fight against their own destruction, barely receiving any aid for appearance’s sake due to their distance and other places being deemed more urgent.
Marian knew the facts well, so she somewhat understood Saladin’s remarks. Although his tone was a bit aggressive, it was understandable considering the bitterness from the numerous deaths in his homeland. But that was only up to a certain point.
“First, calm down. I understand how you feel, but I don’t think this is the place to discuss it.”
Schultz seemed to think the same way, as he tried to calm Saladin down instead of getting angry. It wouldn’t be good for them to start their relationship with animosity since they would be together for a long time.
However, Saladin’s remarks were increasingly crossing the line.
“Did I say something wrong? I asked if they were heroes of the continent or heroes of the Empire. No, actually, it’s even doubtful if they are really heroes. Did that great hero single-handedly defeat the Demon Army Commander? It was only after the Imperial soldiers were heavily sacrificed that they finally struck the last blow. There are even rumors that they deliberately used the soldiers as arrow fodder just to deliver the final blow – what kind of-“
Elizabeth cut him off coldly.
“Your words are unacceptable, as a member of the Galatea royal family, I can’t overlook them.”
What Saladin just said was not only questioning the achievements of the Continental Seven Heroes, but also undermining the honor of the legitimate Emperor Wilhelm von Galateia and the Empire itself. Moreover, the problem was even more serious since he blurted it out in front of a Imperial Family member.
Although her voice seemed calm and soft, her message was clear.
“Can you handle the consequences?”
“Be careful. There won’t be a second time.”
If Elizabeth hadn’t taken issue with it, his words could have caused a diplomatic dispute between the Empire and the Kingdom. Elizabeth said she would let it pass once, which appeared as if she was sparing Saladin.
Feeling humiliated, Saladin clenched his fists in anger and shame, but he refrained from mentioning the hero again, perhaps sensing that insulting a royal family member again would be dangerous.
Instead, he switched his target to someone else.
“What about the Malevolent Star?”
“That guy seemed like a total fraud. He covers his entire body with black armor? If he were an upright person, would he hide himself like that?”
Unlike the other six heroes whose names and identities were clear, the Malevolent Star’s existence itself was uncertain.
And there’s no crime in insulting someone who doesn’t exist.
Saladin seemed to be taking advantage of that fact. The other Seven Heroes had many direct connections within the class, but the Malevolent Star didn’t.
However, from Marian’s perspective, who knew the true identity of the Malevolent Star, Saladin’s words were extremely irritating.
What does he know to have the audacity to spout such things?
Is there any need to appease him kindly? It’s really annoying now.
In retrospect, that guy had been uncooperative in the class since the beginning.
He always had a displeased look on his face, full of discontent, and he never left his room in the dormitory. Even when Schultz approached him first during physical training class, he only showed a sharp response.
And it was the same now. Saladin still didn’t stop his aggressive remarks.
“We don’t know his name or face, so how do we know if there’s a real demon under his helmet or what? How can you call someone like that a hero? In fact, the reason he’s hiding his identity could be because he’s a criminal.”
Marian finally couldn’t hold back and opened her mouth.
“Hey, seriously, enough-“
It wasn’t Marian or Elizabeth who shut Saladin’s mouth.
A purple current brushed past Saladin and embedded itself in the wall.
“Shut your mouth.”
Sparks sizzled from the tips of Oznia’s fingers.
“Before I kill you.”
She, who had always been impassive, was glaring at Saladin with an icy gaze she had never shown before.