༺ Continental Summit (4) ༻
There was one thing Vera learned as he sorted out the memories of his past life.
It was none other than the way he used to wield his powers.
‘I forced the opponent to act.’
Clearly, the certain conditions were that he imposed restrictions on himself and his opponents at the same time and then created a sort of Sanctuary.
The deal with Nartania was in that dynamic, just as the promise he made to Renee as they exited the Citadel.
And what Vera was about to do was no different.
“Everyone here will know. What kind of power I possess.”
Vera drew his pure white sword and stabbed it into the tabletop.
There was a sound of someone swallowing dryly somewhere.
It was a reaction that came from already knowing what this sword was.
Even though there had been no separate announcement, those who already knew were all aware of the sword emitting a dazzling glow.
“My power is the governance of all promises, vows, and oaths. And thus, I intend to use this power to end this negotiation.”
Vera looked at the reactions of the people around the table.
Some looked relieved, while others looked dissatisfied as though they had a goal with this military move.
However, it didn’t matter at all.
“The problem now is the disruption the military movements will incur and trust in each other. You will no longer need to worry about that.”
On Vera’s right forearm, the golden stigma began to glow.
“I will have each and every one of you in this room take a vow in the name of Lushan, and I’m certain that none of you would break a vow made in the name of a God, right?”
It was posed as a question, but its meaning was unmistakable.
Do not even consider breaking it.
It was a threat not so dissimilar from what Vargo had done before.
Of course, the response to it was the same as always.
It was a situation where the Sword of Oath broke his silence.
Meanwhile, Holy Emperor Vargo and Saint Renee stood behind him.
Those people had no means to stop Vera’s actions.
Vera knew that too.
So, he spoke again.
“First, I will make a vow. I confess that I have no ulterior motives in this war and will not hesitate to punish those who seek to satisfy their own desires.”
His stigma answered with a roar.
A golden oath was added to Vera’s soul.
“If I violate the condition above, once again, if I have ulterior motives in this war, or hesitate to punish those who do, I will lose all of my powers. I will also lose my sight, speech, and ability to walk, and I will live alone in darkness for the rest of my life.”
The brutal penalty meant one thing.
It was a warning.
A warning that no one should seek personal gain in this war. It was a warning that if they did, he would chase them to the end of hell.
What followed was what Vera gained through this.
Even that could be seen as an extension of the warning.
It served as nothing more than a forceful reminder to those present of the one who would hunt them.
“Through this, I will gain possibilities. The possibility to face an army of a million, the possibility to confront a formidable opponent I dare not hope for, and the ability to thrust the tip of my sword into the heart of evil.”
The light of the stigma floated into the air.
It spread like a mist and engulfed all around them.
From now on, all that was left was to recreate the act he did in the previous regression, as he remembered it.
“Take the vow.”
An expression of intention through language.
It represented the most fundamental form of commitment while simultaneously acting as the trigger for the Sanctuary that confined the audience.
A heavy silence fell over the room.
First, it was because it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see an Apostle demonstrating their authority, and the second reason was that the ability was currently holding their leash.
The venue was basked in golden glow.
Vargo was the first to speak.
“I vow. I harbor no wicked intentions in this war, and I will punish those who do.”
With his right hand raised, he recited the same vow that Vera had uttered.
In the air, another star was added.
“I will also vow. The exact same as what Vera has said.”
Renee raised her hand.
Another star appeared in the air.
Next, Maximilian, the Crown Prince of the Empire, and Albrecht, the Second Prince of the Empire, stepped forward.
“I make the same vow.”
“I also vow.”
They were followed by three men from the Royal Family of Oben and the Keeper of the Great Woodlands.
The stars added up.
Two stars from the Empire, three stars from the far north, and one star from the Great Woodlands in the southwest.
Eight in all, including the one Vargo and Renee had just made.
The situation was changing rapidly.
It began to flow in a direction that could no longer be stopped.
In the midst of it, there were those who lamented.
This was no mere place for vowing to have no wicked intentions.
It was a place to share Vera’s authority with those present.
It was not just his power, but also the penalty for violating it.
If they made a vow and backstabbed the others, they would receive the punishment vowed by Vera.
At the same time, they would be pursued by the other that had vowed.
The pursuers would be relentless and ruthless, as it was for the sake of their own lives.
Vera spoke again.
And the eight stars floated in the air.
The person who came forward next was Miller, who stood behind the Headmaster of the Academy with his eyes sparkling.
“Me! I will also take the vow! The content is exactly as you have said, Sir Vera!”
Raising his hands above his head, Miller shouted, and the Headmaster almost passed out.
However, it didn’t matter at all to Miller.
Miller was already deeply immersed in thinking about the phenomenon manifested by the power of the Gods, the underlying principles it held, and the potential application in sorcery.
The ninth star materialized simultaneously with his vow.
In that moment, Miller marveled at the surge of power that coursed through his body.
Alongside it, there was a sensation of pressure, as if something were compressing his heart, yet he paid it no mind.
The root of sorcery was an authority.
It would be right to think of it as a type of downgraded ability that mimicked that authority through mana.
Miller laughed, realizing that his theory had been proven correct.
‘…It must be Ardain who created sorcery.’
Based on what he had learned so far, it was likely that sorcery was also one of the things Ardain had prepared.
Miller trembled and rejoiced, and immediately looked at the Headmaster and spoke.
“You should do it, too, Headmaster!”
The Headmaster wanted to shower Miller with curses.
He was born a weak person.
He was also afraid of getting into trouble, so he kept a low profile at public events.
Therefore, he hoped that this time, as well, he could use his position as Headmaster of the Academy to step aside and observe, but that didn’t work out either.
Now, he had to join the war to survive.
As the dispirited Headmaster vowed, the stars in the air became double digits.
Vera’s gaze went to the air.
Ten stars floated above the golden mist.
While slightly distinct from the one he had employed in the previous regression, Vera felt contentment knowing that this star held significantly greater potential in terms of functionality.
Then, he continued.
He said it while looking around the room again.
There were some who hesitated.
Some were afraid.
Even so, then there was someone who stepped forward.
Nedric, the King of Horden.
He raised his hand.
The old fighter’s gaze turned to Vera.
“I vow that the remainder of my life will be dedicated for the sake of the next generation, that my actions will be driven solely by the pursuit of the greater good, and that I will not hesitate to punish those who commit malevolent deeds.”
Nedric recalled with satisfaction.
He felt that this situation and the opportunity presented by Vera would be the crowning achievement and a fitting conclusion for his lifetime dominated by endless wars.
The eleventh star appeared.
As the old warrior from the east vowed for the peace he would present to his son, the rest reluctantly began to vow.
The stars shone.
Golden lights with different chromas embroidered the space.
Vera thought that this scene truly suited the concept of a ‘promise’.
It was brilliant, but it was like an illusion; it looked so clear, but it couldn’t be touched.
This was the essence of a promise.
Nevertheless, it would never break.
A total of thirty-five stars began to illuminate the space, and the authority began to permeate the bodies of those in attendance.
“Thank you for your willingness to take the vow,” Vera said.
“Although it’s a promise without a tangible form, there are witnesses who can testify to it. Moreover, the means of proof also exist in the form of my authority. You are now bound together by a bond stronger than any other, and there will be no need for suspicion or sleepless nights.”
It was a coercive measure, a demand teetering on the edge of duress, but now that the vow had been made, they couldn’t take it back.
“Now, the banquet is ready. The warm climate of Elia and the blessings bestowed upon this land are offering us sweet fruits. It’s a joyful day, so please put aside your worries and enjoy the banquet.”
Though the words were delivered with a touch of kindness, the combination of the prevailing situation and Vera’s gloomy demeanor made them sound like mockery.
Vargo laughed heartily at that, and the leaders at the table were horrified.
At that, the summit ended with Vera’s intervention and an unsatisfactory result for some.
“You were cool.”
At the Grand Temple after the summit, before the banquet began.
Rene sat on a bench in the flower bed and smiled at Vera.
Vera’s cheeks reddened.
“Come on, you did well. You were so confident.”
The way he spoke without the slightest hesitation made him look so cool.
Renee thought so and praised Vera, yet Vera heaved out an involuntary sigh.
“I’ve stepped up somehow, but I’m concerned about what lies ahead. From now on, everyone’s eyes will inevitably be on me, and not only me, but also the Saint…”
“Hasn’t it always been like that?”
Vera’s mouth closed.
Renee continued, slowly stroking Vera’s hand.
“It’s natural to draw attention when we’re in this kind of position. I’m fine.”
She said it to comfort Vera, and she was also telling the truth.
The Apostle of the Lord.
The position of the holder of the power to change fate was such a place, so Renee paid no heed to Vera’s words.
She didn’t want to see Vera so worried, so she added a few comforting words.
“You will do great, Vera.”
Then, she added with a bit of mischievousness.
“You are the Ki… pfft, the King of the Slums who once ruled half of the continent, no?”
Vera’s face turned red as Renee ended up laughing when she was about to say something.
The corners of his eyes slanted up.
“…I’m grateful for your words.”
He answered through clenched teeth, not wanting to show his embarrassment, but it didn’t work with Renee.
Renee smiled awkwardly and slowly leaned over to Vera and hugged him.
Then, she patted him on the back.
“Are you upset?”
“No, I’m not.”
Vera couldn’t help but laugh at the way Renee acted slyly.
And then, he hugged her back.
As the two of them were hugging each other in the warm weather, in a garden filled with a flowery scent…
Rohan, who saw that scene while passing by, made a face and shoved his hands in his pockets.
…He felt so lonely.