Skill name changes: True · Heaven and Earth Collapse -> True · Universal Collapse
Chapter 0220 Treasure Vault
“What is the meaning of this? We gave strict orders to secure the king and the crown prince alive!”
The audience chamber in the castle of the Kingdom of Knightley.
There, the angry voice of Linus, the chief adjutant of the expeditionary force, echoed through the audience chamber.
“My apologies, sir. But when we secured the castle, the crown prince was already dead. Apparently, he’s been dead for several days.”
“Yes sir. He died of illness.”
General Alisvar, who led the empire troops into the royal capital under cover of night as a detachment, reported calmly without moving even slightly in the face of Linus’ angry outburst.
“The crown prince has been reported to have been sickly and frail since childhood.”
Mel, the commander of Linus’ escort, added.
“Ah, yes, that’s true.”
That calmed Linus down a little. He then asked the general further.
“I trust that you’ve secured the king.”
“Yes sir. He is locked up in his chambers with a guard.”
“Good. Bring him to the treasury. And Mel, get deputy chief Oscar and chief advisor Hashford.”
In front of the treasury.
Oscar followed Mel, the commander of the escort, to find Marquis Musel, the commander-in-chief of the expeditionary force, Linus, the chief adjutant, and Count Hashford, the chief advisor to the Imperial Alchemy Association, all present.
“It’s finally happening, Sir Oscar.”
Marquis Musel, the Commander-in-Chief of the expeditionary force, said to Oscar with an expression that suggests that his wish is finally going to be fulfilled.
“Right. I am honored to be able to be present at ‘the moment’.”
Oscar bowed his head lightly, and Marquis Musel, seeing this, nodded repeatedly.
Having witnessed this, the Marquis himself is not that bad a person…Oscar thought.
His son, however….
Oscar glanced at the Marquis’s son, Chief adjutant Linus.
He was staring ecstatically at the door at the far end of the treasury.
Is he contemplating what lies behind it, or perhaps thinking of his achievements when he brings it to the Empire….
While it is true that all the measures were prepared by Emperor Rupert VI, it is also true that his achievements as the person executing the plans are also significant.
For it has been a long-cherished wish of the Empire for hundreds of years.
General Alisvar and his men brought in King Stafford IV.
His hands were tied behind his back.
Normally, it was much too impolite to do that to a member of the royal family, much less the king, even if they were enemies, but it was a measure that had to be taken for the sake of what they were about to do since it would be troublesome if he decided to resist.
“Now then, Count Hashford, you’re up.”
Count Hashford nodded, moved to the door at the far end of the treasury, held his hand in front of the door, and chanted something.
That door was the entrance to the ‘Hall of Heroes’.
The Hall of Heroes… was built by King Richard, the founder of the Kingdom of Knightley, and is the true treasure vault of the royal castle.
Inside, there are a number of treasures that are said to upset the balance of the world, and according to King Richard’s will, these treasures are not allowed to be given away.
That’s how extraordinary the treasures inside are.
And now, the expeditionary force was about to open it.
That was the top priority goal of the expedition, and to achieve that goal, it was necessary to secure the king and the crown prince who held the ‘key’.
“Now, bring His Majesty Stafford this way.”
Count Hashford asked General Alisvar to bring Stafford to the door of the Hall of Heroes.
Stafford, either already given up all resistance or was unable to resist, was brought to the door by Alisvar.
Then a green light emanated from the door and irradiated Stafford’s face.
…But the door didn’t open.
Count Hashford muttered quietly and fiddled with the door again.
Then he said.
This time, with Stafford in front of the door, he recited the words he had chanted before.
And like before, a green light emanated from the door and irradiated onto Stafford’s face.
And same as before…nothing happened.
“Marquis Musel, I regret to inform you that he does not seem to have the ‘key’.”
Count Hashford announced calmly, but Marquis Musel’s voice cracked as he retorted in disbelief.
“Either he is not the real King Stafford, or he is the real one, but for some reason has already lost the key to the Hall of Heroes.”
“That’s not possible…”
Count Hashford explained calmly.
In response, Chief adjutant, Linus, involuntarily muttered.
“How is that possible…?”
“Sir Linus, it’s no use asking me…facts are facts. And I can say without any doubt, that this man doesn’t possess the ‘key’.”
At that moment, Oscar was the only one who saw the corners of Stafford’s mouth rise and smile, as he remained on both knees, looking down.
The smile was really only for a moment, a moment so fleeting that some people might think they were seeing things.
But Oscar noticed the ‘smile’ because he had been observing Stafford’s expression closely ever since he was brought in.
(His Majesty the Emperor said that Stafford IV had been drugged for the past two years and was supposed to be suffering from various lapses in judgment, loss of motivation, and the like. Perhaps he could have returned to his senses from time to time.)
Oscar thought, looking back at the momentary smile he had just witnessed.
Either way, the expedition’s top priority goal had been crushed.
With Marquis Musel in a state of dismay and Chief adjutant Linus teeming with anger, Oscar left the treasury.
After leaving the treasury and walking down the corridor, Oscar pulled out a small box from his pocket.
He then chanted something and the box glowed. After confirming this, he recited some words.
After about two minutes of chanting, the box disappeared.
“Is it a report to the imperial capital?”
When Oscar turned around at the sound of that voice, he saw Count Hashford approaching.
“Oh, sorry about that. I couldn’t help it seeing as it’s an alchemy tool I improved a long time ago.”
Count Hashford said while laughing softly, and Oscar was convinced as to why he knew.
“Still, it’s such a shame. How I would have loved to see the inside of the Hall of Heroes built by King Richard.”
Count Hashford said with a smile.
“You mean the vault itself, rather than the treasures inside?”
“Of course. I may not look it, but I’m still an alchemist.”
With his imposing figure of more than 180 centimeters, his long gray hair and the cloak of the Imperial Alchemy Association fluttering in the air, it is hard to believe that he is an alchemist over 70 years old.
It would be more apt to call him a general who once strode the battlefield.
“I see. In that case, I have a question for you, Count…”
“Oh? For the Explosive Blaze Magician himself to personally pose a question to me, this should be interesting. Please, ask away.”
“I was told that only the king and the crown prince have the key to the Hall of Heroes. But the crown prince is dead, and the king does not have the key. Does it mean that…the Hall of Heroes will never be opened again?”
Having heard Oscar’s question, Count Hashford slightly nodded his head several times.
Perhaps he had already asked himself that question as well.
“Of course, I haven’t done a detailed analysis of the Hall of Heroes, but…I think there may have been times in the past when those two individuals died at the same time. And I believe the possibility of that happening would have been a factor that King Richard, would have considered.”
And then Hashford stopped talking.
After a pause, he continued.
“If, indeed, there is no one left with the key, then I imagine there would be some sort of emergency operation mechanism built in.”
“Emergency operation mechanism…”
“That’s right, for example, the key could be transferred to a registered third party…or there could be a way to open it without the key…. But, to be honest, the most likely scenario would be ‘someone else has the key’.”
Count Hashford said this with a frown.
And he might have an idea as to who that someone might be.
Oscar didn’t dare to ask beyond that.
As they parted, Count Hashford said.
“A word of advice, Sir Explosive Blaze Magician.”
“Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to destroy that Hall of Heroes with your magic to get in.”
When he said that, Oscar’s eyebrows moved just a little.
An ordinary person would not have noticed, but Count Hashford must have noticed it, and he smiled and continued his words.
“The one who created that Hall of Heroes was King Richard, who can be called a rare alchemist. A top-notch alchemist is also a top-notch magician. More than likely, there should be a powerful magical defense mechanism integrated into the Hall of Heroes. For instance…uh right, let’s say you unleashed <True · Universal Collapse> as you did previously, and then that <True · Universal Collapse> would simply reflect back to Sir Oscar, something like that.”
Oscar could no longer maintain his blank expression when he heard those words.
“Yeah, it is.”
Hashford nodded genuinely at Oscar’s words.
“You mean King Richard was such an impressive alchemist.”
“More so than the best of the Empire, Count Hashford?”
At Oscar’s question, Count Hashford smiled broadly. He then answered.
“You give me far too much credit, Sir Oscar. I don’t even come close in comparison. Okay, let me put it this way, there are two leading alchemists of our time in the Central Nations. Baron Kenneth Hayward and Count Frank de Verde. Even if you put them together, they’re still far from being able to compare with King Richard.”
Oscar was frankly surprised.
“Those who have reached the summit of their craft can only look down on those struggling below.” (TLN: Lit. Those who have mastered any art can’t be compared to the ordinary)