Chapter 5 – A Branch in the Coffin, Mistiltein (2)
The meeting took place at the House Miller’s mansion.
The House Miller was located in the Howold region in the center of the continent.
The Millers were chosen for three main reasons: they were low-ranking and unwilling to purchase Mistiltein, they were not particularly close to any of the attending families, and they were located in the cemter among the attending families.
I looked at Atzier as I climbed into the carriage.
“Does my brother also want the mistiltein?”
Basically, Atzier doesn't lie.
Since he was the most likely candidate for the Mistiltein, I was curious about his feelings.
Atzier tilted his head, as if he was thinking about it.
“It would be nice to have it.”
──That's what he said.
I nodded, satisfied with his response.
After a short while, the carriage came to a halt in front of the House Miller mansion.
I swallowed hard when I saw the figure standing in front of the mansion.
Lord of the Iron Wall, Enfer de Roach.
If Atzier was the sword, then Enfer was the shape of the finished weapon itself.
He had intense eyes and a moustache that nicely framed his mouth.
His hair and beard were greying, as if to prove his age, but he didn't look frail at all.
It didn't seem right, then, that Frondier was Enfer's son and Atzier's brother.
Just two words.
I thought Atzier was very assertive with his words, but Enfer is even shorter.
And he didn’t look at me once as he spoke.
The mansion's butler led us.
Because it was the longest distance from Constell to here, it was only natural that our family would be the last to arrive.
Actually, it's not that obvious.
We should have left days ago.
It was just a show of force from Enfer, a matter of pride.
Something to demonstrate that he is the only one capable of keeping the nobles here waiting.
With a click, the butler opened the door to the meeting room.
I almost spit the word out of my mouth.
I could feel it already.
What it means to have the greatest families of the Trest Empire gather in one place.
The divine blessings they received from the gods was overwhelming and overflowing out of the room.
“There you are.”
An elderly, gray-haired man offered a brief greeting.
“It's late, and no one has anything to say?”
The head of the family who protects the frontier on the opposite side of the House Roach.
Lidwig von Urfa.
Enfer's rival, and the most favorably regarded of all here.
Hortel de Rishae.
Elodie was standing behind him.
And the rest of the famous lords and ladies of the name, all in one place…….
Then my gaze fell on a woman.
None of the ……
Named characters were as recognizable as her.
Black hair, black eyes.
A jet-black woman dressed in black, and even the fan she was carrying was black.
Quinie de Viet.
The only daughter of the Viet family, and a third-year student at Constell.
A ‘little devil’ who brought the family back from the brink of collapse.
Surprisingly, with such accomplishments, she was only two years older than me.
For some reason, I couldn’t help but notice the coy smile looking at me from behind the fan.
Does she know me?
I don't think so, but it seemed worth paying attention to…….
“Then let's get started.
Miller, do you have a sense of where 'that thing' is?”
Lidwig looked at Miller with his trademark self-indulgent dialect and light tone.
It may seem rude at first glance, but this was the way he spoke with everyone, regardless of their social status.
It was rude.
The patriarch gestured to the butler, and soon the servants were carefully carrying a coffin.
The coffin was placed on the center table of the conference room.
Heldre's eyes lit up.
Those eyes don't seem to have softened at all, even compared to when they were in their heyday – sharp and intense, and just as dark and sinister.
But the gleam in those eye was the same as everyone else's.
“It's quite plausible, isn't it?”
As someone said, the branch in the coffin had a fairly dignified shape.
Best of all, it looked exactly like the description of the Mistiltein that had been passed down.
“So the question is, who gets to keep it? I'll go first.
I'm offering the mining rights to the Idus Mine for five years.”
Someone made a hasty and unexpected deal.
“You're impatient, then I'll-“
From there, it was a race for family heirlooms and rights.
Some gathered all sorts of riches and valued them beforehand, while others offered land and buildings, saying that if they didn't have any property, they would provide them.
Naturally, the children watched, but kept their mouths shut.
They had no say in the matter.
They were just observers.
However, there were three families that did not make a move – Roach, Rishae, and Quinie.
Hortel, head of the Rishae family, had no intention of buying in the first place, and Quinie was watching to see what happens.
Enfer, however, was merely observing the timing .
─and that time was not far off.
“The House Roach stakes their sword.”
“You, you can find one or two two swords anywhere.”
Lidwig paced at his usual tempo and stopped.
“Did you say you would stake your sword?”
“Do I need to say it again?”
With a snap, Enfer removed the scabbard from his waist, the weight of soiled leather and steel was resting on the table.
“You wish to exchange ……sacred artefact for sacred artefact?”
Hortel smiled curiously.
Of the three, it was Atzier who looked the most impressed.
“I've been meaning to do this since I got here.”
Atzier was speechless, unable to say anything.
The expectations his father has placed on him were heavy, but not burdensome.
He was not hung up on to Mistiltein, but he would be happy to have it as his own.
But, truly, was the thing truly worth putting up the ‘Gram’?
Gram, the sword of the hero Sigurd.
Sigurd was arguably the most famous hero of Norse mythology and while he was not a god himself, but the term ‘sacred artefacts’ includes hero’s weapons too.
And in the case of Gram, it surpassed even the weapons of the gods.
“Now, now, let’s calm down for a moment.”
Miller panicked and took control of the situation.
“The deal has been going on for a while, but there's a matter that needs to be settled first.”
“Is this a real mistiltein in the first place?”
All eyes turned to Quinie.
She had been watching the situation unfold, but now she stepped forward to calm things down.
“If this isn't mistiltein, then this transaction is a whole different matter.”
It was too early to make a deal assuming that it is genuine.
In the first place, it was only valuable because they didn’t know if it was real or not.
“Then, who's going to verify it?”
Lidwig gestured to the transparent coffin surrounding the mistiltein.
There was only one simple way to find out and that was to break that casket.
Right now, the mistiltein couldn’t sense any divine energy.
But if its because the coffin has 'erased' the energy, mistiltein could be a 'new thing', including that transparent coffin.
If so, breaking the coffin was a risky endeavor and no one wanted to receive divine punishment.
“I'm not checking.”
“I can't confirm whether this branch is mistiltein or not.
Maybe it is, maybe it isn't.
he value of this object is inherently that.
We need to remember this and proceed with the deal.”
In other words, the value that this object creates by itself.
If you make an expenditure equal to that value, the deal is made.
That was Quinie's thought.
If you trade on the assumption that this was the real mistiltein, Quinie cannot impose any conditions that are worth it.
Nor does she want to.
However, if they assume that this is just a symbolic Mistiltein that cannot be used in reality, the price will drop and the families who want it will change.
One that doesn't want the Mystiltein as a weapon, but as a heirloom.
That's Quinie, and the families like hers.
At this rate, we might be able to get it fairly cheaply…….’
“I don't care.”
A word that cut off her thoughts then.
In a voice like a verdict, Enfer said.
“As long as you can prove it's real, that's all that matters.”
“……Yet you're willing to stake your sword? What if that isn't real?”
Hortel asked, surprised for once.
“If it's not real, that's it.
What does it mean to offer 'Gram-“
The voice was mingled with a light breath, and the air sank that much.
“My days are long past.”
Those were words I dared not say.
Everyone looked at Enfer in bewilderment.
“Atzier will surpass me.
So what good is a sword to me?”
“……You, are you really going to throw away the Gram?”
“Do not make me repeat myself again and again.”
Enfer's eyes were hard.
He's never been like that.
“Mistiltein belongs to Atzier.”
The words that stunned everyone present.
They were conclusive, clear and definitive.
She hadn't expected Roach to be so insistent.
But she couldn’t help it, it was time to step back.
He's offering the gram, but what could she do?
There were other things of value.
Everyone seemed to agree with him.
However, at that moment, a voice, akin to a blade of grass, drifted from somewhere.
“There is no need, Father.”
A voice that was so different from Enfer's, so relaxed, as if it were a casual conversation.
However, the words were anything but lighthearted.
The gap between the tone and the content was so wide that everyone reacted one beat later.
“Frondier, refrain from speaking.”
My brother, Atzier, cautioned.
Enfer narrowed his eyes too.
A low, boiling voice came from his mouth.
“Do you know what you are talking about?”
My voice was still flat, as if I was oblivious to the atmosphere.
Lidwig leaned in uncomfortably close to me.
“How old is he? The second son that Enfer has been hiding.”
For the first time, Lidwig looked directly at my face, which he hadn't been interested in before.
It was languid and carefree.
In a good way, it was, but in a bad way, it had the color of laziness and indolence.
Will he be the one to go into battle one day with such a peaceful face?
You don't understand the topic and you're interrupting, huh?”
I glanced at the snarling Lidwig for a moment.
Just for a moment.
Then I looked away and pointed at Mistiltein.
“Father, there is no need to give up Gram on something that isn't even real.”
Lidwig was momentarily stunned by my words.
Did he just ignore me?
“Who are you to say such things without knowing?”
“How I know, I have no way of proving.”
I took a step forward, as natural as water flowing.
In a relaxed manner, as if going for a walk.
At the end of that peaceful stride, no one was any less certain that there would be peace at the end.
I stood in front of the coffin and placed my hand on it.
“It's easy to check.”
When I said those words, everyone knew what I meant.
From the moment I stepped up, everyone had a bad feeling.
Enfer, Atzier, Hortel, and Elodie all moved at the same time and stopped.
They tried to stop me, but it was too late.
No matter what they did, I was already ahead.
For them, I might get my hand cut, or even get myself killed.
“If you're really fed up with that, aren't you afraid of God?”
Flustered, Lidwig's dialect became even more bizarre.
It was a laugh that didn't read the real mood and made the air around me languid.
“I've never been afraid of anything.”
The coffin shattered.
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