༺ Hegrion (2) ༻
In the tense atmosphere, Hegrion bowed his head.
“Nice to meet you. I am Hegrion Oben, the Knight Commander of Oben.”
It was certainly a formal greeting, but his demeanor was very cold.
It was as if he embodied the bitter cold of the northern region.
The moment Renee swallowed her dry saliva, Vera spoke.
His voice showed no surprise at all.
Needless to say, he didn’t have a surprised expression either.
There were more pressing matters to confirm in the current situation, so he concealed his emotions and continued to speak.
“I understand this may be a rude question, but I still need to ask.”
Vera’s eyes sank.
His voice became a little bit sharper.
“How did you find us?”
Naturally, Vera had to confirm it.
While making their way to Eirene, they had hidden their identities the entire time.
They avoided cities where there might be a lot of rumors, and even after arriving here, they continued to disguise their identities.
Given these precautions, how could Hegrion have known their true identities and found them?
There was nothing more important to Vera at the moment than the source of this information.
The tension in the room deepened with Vera’s sharp words.
Hegrion’s gaze turned towards Vera.
His penetrating eyes swept up and down Vera’s body. Then, he raised an eyebrow slightly and uttered such words.
It was an exclamation.
Vera’s brows furrowed.
How could he answer lousily like that?
As Vera was filled with such thoughts, Hegrion continued speaking.
“Oh, I apologize.”
He briefly bowed his head in a show of respect and then added an explanation with his usual coldness.
“I understand that you might find this surprising. I’m sorry. However, I assure you that I have no ill intentions.”
“That’s not what I’m asking.”
“Yes, I understand you want an explanation. If it’s not too much trouble, may we go inside and continue this conversation? It might take a bit of time to explain everything.”
Hegrion’s eyes were still on Vera.
Vera frowned, finding his gaze somewhat unpleasant, then eventually turned to Renee and asked.
“What do you think?”
“What? Ah, um… Shall we do as Hegrion said?”
Renee answered, surprised by the sudden question. Upon hearing this, Hegrion bowed his head once again.
“I appreciate your kindness.”
Again, his greeting was filled with formality.
Some time later, in the hotel’s meeting room.
Vera’s expression crumpled as Hegrion continued his explanation with the entire party present. The reason he was able to find them was something Vera had not expected.
‘…Was the Hotel, Oben’s National Project?’
The hotel, which dealt with wealthy people, turned out to be a part of Oben’s National Project.
As such, the guest list of the people that come and go in the hotel was given to the Duke of Oben, and Hegrion noticed something strange on that list, which led him to investigate and discover their true identities.
“The Professor’s long-term dispatch coincided with the time that the Saint was in the Academy. And after that, you had been untraceable, but then you suddenly booked a room here… It seems the Apostles’ disguise became your pitfall. Once I started investigating, I immediately found something strange.”
Hegrion’s unique cool temperament seemed to seep through as he elaborated on his point.
“I know it was discourteous to come here like this, but I couldn’t just let it pass, so I decided to come. Also, I would like to ask for your assistance.”
Immediately after he finished speaking, the room fell silent, and Miller broke into a cold sweat.
If they were to nitpick, this situation arose because of his greed for better accommodation. Miller felt like he had jumped into a fire pit without knowing if he would be burned.
Upon seeing Miller in such a state, Vera sighed deeply and shook his head.
“I don’t blame the professor.”
As much as he did not expect this information, Vera knew that blaming Miller would be useless.
Furthermore, they were bound to meet Hegrion anyway.
Meeting him was not an issue, since they planned to ask him to guide them on their way to Locrion anyways.
If there was a problem, it would be what Hegrion said about needing assistance.
The owner of a Masterpiece was seeking assistance from outsiders.
And of all the people, it was them.
It was highly likely that his request would be related to Renee’s powers.
‘…I can’t accept it recklessly.’
Renee’s power uses her life as collateral.
A slight misstep could burn through her life force.
Despite using it skillfully so far, it can’t serve as an excuse.
It doesn’t matter how well she uses it. One wrong move, and it could kill her.
Vera’s gaze turned toward Hegrion.
‘If it was a personal request from the Archduke, I might be able to negotiate with other terms.’
If this wasn’t a personal issue of the Archduke, but an issue of Oben, then it complicated things.
Even kids knew it was wrong to refuse the request of someone who needs help.
Vera pondered for a while before speaking up.
“…If your request is related to the Saint’s powers, I apologize, but we are unable to help you with that.”
He drew a line.
Vera had already made up his mind to concede Hegrion’s assistance.
‘…It’s better this way.’
Hegrion’s help is more of an assurance and not a necessary requirement.
On the other hand, think about Renee.
She is the center of this journey and the events ahead.
Without Renee, we cannot stop the things that will happen.
Moreover, Vera was not the kind of person who would use Renee’s powers as a bargaining chip.
So, he gave his answer even before asking for Renee’s opinion.
He was relieved.
However, all of Vera’s determination and concerns became futile at Hegrion’s following words.
“Oh, there seems to be a misunderstanding. The person I want to ask for help is not the Saint.”
Whether he knew about Vera’s pondering or not, Hegrion looked directly into Vera’s eyes and spoke in his usual composed and calm manner.
“I have a favor to ask you, Apostle of Oath.”
Hegrion’s green eyes stared right through Vera.
At that, Vera tilted his head.
Subsequently, at Hegrion’s request to continue the conversation privately, everyone but Vera left the room.
Renee stepped out onto the terrace wearing a somewhat gloomy expression and spoke.
“Hmm, that was unexpected. When he wanted to ask for a favor, I naturally thought it was for me.”
She said that because she recalled the conversation they had in the reception room.
Miller responded with a smile.
“Oh, I thought the same way. How many people here would have thought that the Archduke would have something to ask Vera?” ””
Miller’s face lit up with a sunny disposition, celebrating the fact that what could have been a dangerous situation had been successfully defused.
Seeing his expression, the twins each said a word.
“The professor is smiling too happily. It’s disgusting.”
“Yeah, he looks vulgar.”
Just like that a fight broke out.
By now, the group had become somewhat used to this situation.
Everyone except for Norn, who had to mediate between them, ignored them and continued to talk amongst themselves.
Hela, who had brought some tea, handed a cup to Renee and said.
“Well, I have a rough idea of what is happening.”
“I’m talking about the Archduke. He was only looking at Vera in the reception room.”
Renee tilted her head.
Of course, as someone who couldn’t see, she had no way of knowing that information.
At that moment, Jenny agreed with Hela’s words.
“That’s right. The white man, the scary man, scanned through him.”
Without realizing what she just said, Jenny combed through Annalise’s hair.
Renee’s expression stiffened.
Annalise remained silent but suddenly spoke when she saw Renee’s hardened expression.
[Let’s see… Come to think of it, this Archduchy is a country that allows same-sex marriage, right?]
It was a bold lie.
There was no such country on this continent.
Annalise had invented this lie out of a desire for Renee to feel uncomfortable, and it worked.
Renee dropped the teacup she was holding.
“W-What are you talking about…?”
Her voice trembled like she was denying reality.
Renee turned to Aisha, who had been silent until now, and asked with trembling eyes.
“A…Aisha? It’s not true, right? They are just mistaken, right?”
Aisha, who had been poking the piled-up snow on the table with her finger, suddenly fell into deep thought.
Closing her eyes briefly and swaying her tail, Aisha pondered. Then, she suddenly pricked up her ears and asked.
“But, what will happen to Renee if Vera marries that man?”
All expression vanished from Renee’s face.
As the strange silence began to rise, the gazes of the twins and Miller, who had been fighting until then, turned to Renee.
The same went for the rest of them.
While feeling the strange silence emanating from Renee, everyone felt tense as she uttered.
“…What will happen?”
Renee continued with an empty smile.
“That’s just one more I have to tear apart, then.”
It was a catastrophic disaster.
At the same time, in the reception room.
Hegrion and Vera were the only ones left, and Vera asked Hegrion with a face full of doubt.
“Will you tell me now? What is it that you wanted to ask after sending them all outside?”
What does he have to say after going this far?
And why am I the one left behind?
As Vera was filled with all sorts of questions, Hegrion straightened himself and looked straight at Vera.
Then, he spoke.
“Before we begin, I just have one question.”
He continued speaking with a very serious expression. This made Vera’s expression serious as well.
“Go ahead and ask.”
What does he want to say after pushing it off two or three times now?
As Vera became more focused on that question, Hegrion asked.
“How is your diet?”
It wasn’t just his body. Vera felt everything freeze at Hegrion’s incomprehensible words.
Meanwhile, Hegrion asked again, with a more serious tone.
“I meant your body. I want to know what kind of diet you have.”
His words were conveyed clearly.
At that moment, Vera thought.
‘Is this guy crazy?’
It seems as if the last hero isn’t in his right mind either.
T/N: An Archduchy can also be a country based on history, however, the reason in this case is due to how the Eastern and Western political systems differed in the past. While a Duchy or Principality is the closest they could come up with for the translation, it is not necessarily ‘exactly’ the same. There is an instance where the same word will be used for a Principality later on, and the leader is a Prince. It’s a bit confusing.