14-14 The Prince's Melancholy

 The prince sat sorrowfully in his chair in his office.
 There was so much to think about.
 But for now, one thing was on his mind.

"What was my father thinking when he gave the Black Sword to that unknown man?

 On second thought, it would have been much better to have given him half of the labyrinthine relics that lay in the treasury.
 It was something that had been accumulated over a long history, but in other words, it was something that was never used.
 It has a considerable monetary value, but it is unnecessary.
 At best, it is a modest utility item or a work of art.


"Really, of all things, that sword...

 The Black Sword, on the other hand, is different.
 It's a piece of utility.
 It has no value whatsoever compared to the mundane treasures that lie in the treasury.

 Before the prince was born, when the current king was an adventurer, he and his party of six saints ventured into the depths of the Labyrinth of No Return, and returned from a life-threatening journey that took several years.
 The black sword would not be damaged by mithril, orichalcum, magic iron, or any other metal, no matter how hard you tried to scratch it.
 Once, as a test, I struck it with the Dragon's Hammer, a hammer said to have been made from the tusks of an ancient dragon and used by the Dwarves to forge Orihalcon weapons, and the hammer shattered miserably.

 The material is completely unknown. It was an unknown substance.
 After the sword was brought back to Japan, every possible investigation was conducted.
 The conclusion that was drawn was that no known technology, skill, or magic (・・・・・・・) could make even a hairline wound.

 As far as is known, there is no metal in the world that is harder than that.
 It is also unclear why that material, which is supposed to be "unharmed by anything," was damaged to such an extent.
 What happened in the past in the innermost part of the labyrinth, and what was the labyrinth all about?
 This is one of the most important artifacts in the world.
 It should be at the top of the list of "national treasures".

 Other countries drooled over it, wanting to catch a glimpse of it.
 Other countries would drool over it and even pay huge sums of money to have it.
 Until now, my father had refused them all.

 And to hand it over so carelessly to a mysterious man whose identity I don't know.
 I really don't understand.

I know you're clinging to straws, but...

 Who the hell is he? That man...
 Apparently, he's the real deal.
 Gilbert tried to fight him in a mock battle and he was outmatched.

 The question is, is he really on our side?

 That guy.
 Some unknown character named Noll.
 Apparently, it's true that he saved her sister from the Minotaur.
 That's why I can understand why my strict father offered it to Lean as something worthy of his life.
 But even though he is my sister's benefactor, there is too little information for me to trust him.

 The princess happened to be there at the time of the attack by the Minotaur...?
 He appeared under unnatural circumstances and left without identifying himself for unreasonable reasons.

 In addition to his out-of-the-ordinary strength that seems to have come out of a heroic tale, he has that attitude in front of the king of a country.
 Call him crude and ignorant, but he has no loyalty to his country.
 Lean seems to be quite smitten with that man.
 Under the circumstances, it's understandable.
 But I really don't think I should let that man near my sister...

 The fact that he has the power to defeat the Minotaur...
 In some cases, he could be a tremendous threat.

We don't have enough to trust him yet, but...

 But the fact that my father approves of this man is significant.

 The king is the highest authority.
 My father's decision is absolute.
 At least as far as the people of the House of Crace are concerned.
 If I'm told to trust the man, I have no choice but to obey.
 But that kind of order hasn't been given yet.

 That's why I don't think my father fully trusts the man at the moment.

"Does he know what's going on?

 No, it's still my father.
 He must have sensed it.
 He's aware of the unsettling atmosphere that surrounds this country.

And if that's the case...

 A bet against it...
 A last-ditch gamble in a difficult game.

 In that light, the other day's inexplicable decision makes some sense.

 Perhaps my father bet on that man.
 A bet on something to come.
 Whoever that man is, he can wield that sword...
 There's no difference in that.

 Even the [Immortal] Dundargu, who is known for his monstrous strength, groaned when he swung his sword.
 Sig of the [Thousand Swords] refused to accept it, saying it was too heavy to wield.
 I'm not sure what to do, but I'm sure it's a good idea.

 He wielded it with one hand.
 It's certainly a good place to keep it now.

 But it's a double-edged risk...

Something's going to happen.

 Disturbing movements in the surrounding countries.
 The use of summoning magic in the heart of King's Landing.
 A blatant terrorist attack on the lives of the royal family.

 What will they do next?
 If I'm in their shoes, it's now or never.

 I'm sorry Lean, but I think it's a good idea to have him stay with us.
 If he's not an enemy, then he's got enough guards to slaughter the Minotaur by himself.
 On the other hand... he could kill him at any time if he wanted to.
 At the very least, if they don't do that, then they're not our enemy yet.
 I like to think so.

"Not enough time, not enough people.

 There are too many uncertainties with that man.
 But we have to believe him anyway.
 That's how desperate the situation is in this country.

 Right now, this country is at peace.
 But that's just on the surface.
 Underneath the surface, things are progressing rapidly.
 We have a critical shortage of manpower... and there's no time left to wait and see what the enemy will do.

"We must gather information.

 The prince muttered and put on his gray coat, which was hanging on the wall, and left his office and headed for the city.