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Volume 3: Chapter 172 – Spring is Faraway
The small northern country of Orphen was known for two things.
One was the Ivory Tower and the other was the living legend of Oron.
Whenever Orphen is mentioned, the first things to come to mind were these.
The small country of Orphen was enclosed in a land of ice and snow, so it was difficult to invade. Because of that interest in it mainly revolved around these two things.
Oron was an adventurer so famed that he has been praised as a living legend. Minstrels could often be heard singing tales of his adventures, the most famous of which was his feat of subjugating a dungeon alone.
As the story goes, wielding one of the few God Class weapons, the Flame King’s Eye, Marcosius, he went to a small dungeon by himself and subjugated it.
Because of him even the Holy Shushunu Kingdom can’t ignore the small country of Orphen.
As for the Ivory Tower, it was home to all those who pursued knowledge, and was the so-called treasure house of knowledge. As a structure, it is a giant milky-white tower equipped with some divine mechanism that allows it to regulate its temperature.
Many countries send their most brilliant youths to the tower to have them reared into excellent bureaucrats.
This is another reason why the neighboring countries won’t lay a hand on the small country.
Business aimed at the overseas students in the small country is also always flourishing regardless of the wars outside.
Also, because the Ivory Tower understands the necessity of peace in the small country for their continued pursuit of knowledge, they often lend their knowledge.
The Ivory Tower is divided into three towers: the white tower, the red tower, and the blue tower. What knowledge and how much can be shared is decided through a meeting between these three towers.
In one sense, it could be said that these towers are the ones making the decisions in the Ivory Tower. And the meeting between them could be attended by the elders – the leader of each tower – and the various faction leaders under them.
That meeting was currently in the midst of a storm because of Reshia’s proposal.
Ordinary bureaucrats could also attend the meeting, so when they heard Reshia’s proposal to give more rights to human-likes, they were shocked.
“Ridiculous! You want us to give more rights to the likes of demihumans and elves!?”
“I beg to differ. We have long passed the stage where we could prosper with our strength alone. I believe the time has come for us to coexist with other races.”
It was a student of the red tower who so vehemently opposed Reshia’s proposal such that veins could be seen sticking out on his forehead.
“Coexistence!? Hah, we are currently coexisting with them, are we not?”
“What I mean is not a relationship of master and slave but that of friends.”
Contrast the student of the red tower, who was like raging flames in his anger, Reshia was as still as tranquil waters.
“Are you suggesting that we make those savages our equals?”
“By what right do you call them savages? History makes it clear that these people were only tricked, their homes taken, and then themselves driven to the very borders of the world by none other than us ‘humans’.”
“We rule these lands with the rightful blessing of the gods. Moreover, our so-called ‘trickery’ extends to nothing more than what war permits. They have no one else to blame for their loss but themselves!”
The other people of the red tower began criticizing Reshia. As they did, the student from before took that as encouragement and his mouth slipped.
“Hmph, have you began to feel for the monsters after being kidnapped? You’re a disgrace to the title of ‘saint’!”
A faint ripple appeared on that ever emotionless face of Reshia’s as a hint of anger appeared in her eyes, but just when she was about to say something, the sound of bells reached her ears. That was the signal the elder of the white tower, Tanya Fedran, used to indicated she was about to say something.
As an over 70 year-old woman, she was ill-fitted for arguments. But while that may seem to be the case from her appearance, one word from her could destroy a bureaucrat’s career forever.
“I would advise everyone to refrain from such remarks. That is both an insult to the carved seal of the Goddess of Healing and a challenge to the three towers’ authority.”
At that, the gathered people stirred.
The words of the most influential person in the Ivory Tower, Tanya Fedran, caused the student from the Red Tower, who was happily criticizing Reshia, to pale.
“To speak ill of the saint, is to speak ill of the Ivory Tower’s will,” a beautiful young man said as he agreed with the elder of the white tower.
As young as he seemed to be on the onset, he was actually already over 120 years-old. He was the elder of the blue tower, a man rumored to be an ageless magician.
“…Still, I do believe it may be too rash to give more rights to the human-likes,” an old man with deep wrinkles said as he covered for the students from his tower.
He was Serion Harlon, the archbishop of the church of the Ancestor God Who Birthed Nations, Ativ, the greatest god of the many gods.
If the people arguing until now could be said to have been rabid dogs, the people who spoke now were elephants.
As silence filled the room, not a student from any faction willing to open his mouth, Reshia spoke.
“I beg to differ. If anything we have taken far too long, and at this rate, I fear it may be too late.”
When Reshia said that, the student that had been openly criticizing her before looked at her with blank amazement.
Students from every tower gulped as they watched her.
“Late?” The red elder looked sharply at Reshia.
Everyone else but Reshia herself drew cold sweat.
“If the people who have been driven into a corner were to unite, humanity is sure to receive a crippling counterattack. When that time comes, it will be too late to mend relations, and the prosperity that humanity has built until now will vanish like blown dust as they swallow one nation after another.”
Reshia said that without even the slightest tension.
Being at the center of attention while everyone was as quiet as mutes was sure to have been nerve-racking, but she acted like it was nothing at all.
“Pu, …Ku ha ha ha! I give, as expected of the saint! You certainly do have guts! There’s no doubting Lord Tanya has taught you indeed!”
The elder of the blue tower finally couldn’t hold it in and he guffawed out loud, causing the white elder to chuckle, while the red elder wryly smiled.
“Hey, kids… Can you face the bigwigs and propose a plan to help the country like this? As future bureaucrats who are meant to help your respective countries, this is the first thing you need to learn!”
The students looked liked they had their souls sucked out of them as they powerlessly nodded to the blue elder’s words.
That advice was meant for the bureaucrat candidates. There wasn’t anyone in the room who didn’t understand what those words meant.
“Saint Reshia Fel Zeal, that is indeed a novel proposal, if I say so myself. Unfortunately, it isn’t so easy to increase the rights of the human-likes,” the blue elder said.
Reshia calmly replied. “But why? Shouldn’t we make a move now while there’s still room for negotiations?”
“Of course, but giving them more rights to avoid bloodshed isn’t something easy for the majority to accept. Surely, you are aware of our history.” The red elder said in place of the blue elder.
Humanity has paid a grave price to stand where they are today, and many of those who stand at the helm of the country have lost an acquaintance in those wars.
The price to gain ‘privilege’ was paid with blood itself, and the price was even higher when the enemy was a fellow human.
Sometimes one would have to face against the king, sometimes the aristocrats… Regardless, it was in a similar way that the Ivory Tower made others acknowledge it.
The price paid is also what gave value to the so-called ‘privilege’.
Because of that there aren’t many people who would agree to just give demihumans their rights.
“That’s… true, but…”
“It is worthy of consideration, yes, but implementing it right away is impossible,” the white elder said.
Reshia nodded. The white elder was both her benefactor and her greatest backer. She had no choice but to back off now that she’s spoken.
“Hmm… Tell me, saint, what is it that you fear so much? What did you see in the west?” The blue elder asked.
Reshia closed her eyes. She believed it was not fear that filled her heart.
Would it be fine to speak of the Goblin King here? Not as a saint, but as Reshia?
Reshia spoke. “…Are the goblins truly depraved creatures? Somehow, I’m not so sure anymore.”
At those words, silenced filled the room once more.
This was not a silence on the level of her earlier suggestion.
After all, this was a question regarding creatures that have been nothing more than enemies until now.
When the elders heard her question, they fell into silence.
If Reshia had asked her question to royalty or knights or adventurers, they would have surely laughed in response.
They would surely say, ‘Are you drunk? Of course, they’re enemies!’
But the silence of the three elders, who were well learned and full of experience, was grave. That silence filled the meeting room.
The students did not understand either, but they did not have the courage to break the silence. No one was fool enough to say anything.
The silence was finally broken when the blue elder sighed.
“I guess it’s true what they say about seeing things when you live long enough… Who would’ve thought I would hear such words from a less than 20 years-old girl, but… I suppose that’s why you’re the saint.”
The distant gaze of the blue elder was filled with a deep sadness.
“This meeting has gone too long for these old bones of mine. Let us end here,” the white elder said with a sigh.