Leaving the south zone, they entered the North one. They were completely opposite and quite far apart, but compared to his hell training, walking such a long way was just like relaxing.
The north zone was under Duke Highland. The Duke was directly responsible of the army as well as the highest-ranked soldier.
If the zone under the Milaris family was full of stores, restaurants, and others such things, the zone under Highland was calmer and sparsely populated. The atmosphere felt more deary and full of solemnity.
This was the zone where different martial art schools could be found.
All the humans could awaken to mana once they reached 15 years old. But only 10% of them could have a capacity high enough to make a contract with a rank E magical being and if they were lucky to obtain an element could they use magic. Only 1 out of 100 people could make a contract with a D rank magical being.
In short, 99% of the human population was unable to use magic. The fact that even a queen like Lilith was unable to do so showed how rare they were. Though Lilith and her daughter were an oddity in themselves.
Looking at the different dojo on their way, Sol couldn’t help but feel his hand itch a little.
Since the day he awakened, the only one he fought against was Lilith and it frankly wasn’t pleasant. Before that, the sole sparring partner had been Setsuna.
“You will be able to fight all you want tomorrow. For now, let’s continue. I didn’t want to do it today since it’s a rare occasion, but I guess it’s necessary.”
They continued to walk a little until finally, stopping in front of a very large terrain.
Sol’s eyes opened wide at that because it was
A hill, a large stretch of green filled with tombstones, and at the highest place, a black monolith in the shape of a large pillar.
“People get old and get hurt. When they’re tired they collapse. Eventually, everyone reaches their limit. Whether it be an adventurer or a hero. Even if he doesn’t die. These days won’t last forever.”
Lilith spoke with a slight melancholia in her voice as she walked in the cemetery, Sol in tow behind her.
The first he remarked was how the air felt different the moment he went through the door.
Then, the hundreds of tombstones suddenly changed into thousands or even ten thousand. what’s more the monolith that seemed so close seemed so far now.
“So you felt it. This place was created by Jupiter. More precisely, Jupiter used his connection with the witches to create this place. Through space manipulation, the interior of the cemetery is hundreds of times larger than it seems and through time magic even the oldest of the tombstones still seems new and pristine.”
“I see… So why come here?”
Lilith stopped in front of one particular tombstone. On it the word, <<Here rest one of the greatest general Tarrik Luxuria.>>
“In the capital, we have three special cemeteries. The first one is the one that houses all the kings, the second one house all the supreme daughters, and the final one–this one, houses all the dead soldiers, noble and members of the royal family with the highest merit dead during wars and the members of the royal family–when I die, this will be my final place.”
Sol didn’t like the way she phrased her last sentence. A bad feeling filled his mind but he decided to not interrupt her.
She then pointed at the monolith. “Those who have their names there are the individuals who paid the highest price for the kingdom. They are recognized as heroes and the members of their family are assured to live in luxury without having to work for at least three generations.”
With his eyesight, it was easy for Sol to see the name inscribed on the monolith. That’s why he recognized the two highest ones.
<<Blaze Dragna Luxuria>>
Silence settled between the two as the fresh breeze blew in their face. Finally, after a short minute of silence, Sol asked.
“Why bring me here?”
Lilith didn’t answer directly, as she closed her eyes before for a short while.
“Sol, it has now been more than a decade since I took you under my wings. Tomorrow, under the eyes of all the citizens, you will officially become an adult and will become capable of flying by yourself.”
She smiled bitterly at that. “I wasn’t the greatest parent. Because of my own problems, I pushed my daughter too much and made her flee. The same went for you. I always kept a certain distance from you. This had made our relationship rather strained in many ways. So, today I decided to act like the parent I should have been and give you some last advice.”
Another bad premonition filled Sol’s mind.
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t mind the small details.”
A large smile formed on her face as she faced Sol, “Let’s reach the monolith first.”
Then, without waiting for him to answer, she began to walk away.
Up close, the monolith was incredibly large and tall. It easily reached a height of four meters.
What struck him the most, was the hundred of name marked on it.
“During the long history of our kingdom, we had many dangerous situations and many people sacrificed themselves to assure that we would continue to prosper. Now Sol–let me ask you the most important question. Something I should have done long ago but had always pushed back.”
He tilted his head in confusion.
“During all your life, I had burdened you with many expectations, many dreams, and many obligations. I had forced you to train for as long as you remember and I forced you to crame different knowledge in your head. But, I just realized that by doing so I was just acting like my father and like all the king before me. So I want to ask you, here and right now, Sol Dragna Luxuria–Are you ready?”
‘Am I ready?’
“I had wished that your coming into power would be in a peaceful era, but it wasn’t to be done. Soon, we will go to war against Wratharis. No matter what the outcome, we will be pulled into a spiral of problems. War, diplomatic issues, internal issues. There are so many problems we will have to face. In those turbulent times, new heroes will abound. Some of them will shine will others would fall. I–do not wish for you to be one of those who fall. So here and now I am asking once again.”
With eyes more serious than anything, she repeated with a low voice,” Are you ready? Are you ready to fight for your kingdom? Are you ready to brave the tumultuous time ahead of us? Are you ready to direct your soldiers to face the enemies who are threatening our safety?”
She took a deep breath as she continued, “To be honest, Wratharis is our greatest enemy. Since the founding of the kingdom and the death of our first king, Jupiter, against them, the two kingdoms fought and fought, from simple skirmishes to full-scale war. Each of them, extremely violent and extremely extensive in casualties. We have been fighting for so long that we even forgot why we fought in the first place. As such, you must be ready.”
Generally, it was the moment where he should have affirmed his resolve. He should have patted his chest and assured her that everything would be alright.
But he didn’t do it. Sol wasn’t the bragging type. He would never presume of his capacity or his knowledge.
What did he know about war? He never even killed a person with his own hand and he wasn’t conceited enough to think that reading a few books about strategy would make him a genius.
What did he know about running a kingdom? Quite a bit to be honest but, he knew that at the end of the day, theory was never enough. And more than anything,
“Am I even suited to be king?”
This time it was Lilith’s turn to be surprised by this sudden question.
“During the ritual, I discussed with luxuria and she compared me to all the previous kings before me.”
He asked wit a little smile full of gravity,
“Say… Do you think… that I should really become king? I remember the words of goddess Luxuria. A king is a father for the nation. Someone who abandons his own self and only thinks and acts for kingdom’s sake. Using everything he can use and discarding everything he should. But… if I had to choose between the kingdom or you guys, I would undoubtedly choose you. I am not like my father. So… Do you still think I am fit to become a king? If I were to become a king, I would be a very selfish one.”
Lilith was a little dumbfounded before finally exploding in laugher, the sound she made was like that of beautiful singer bells.
“So what If you are selfish? Isn’t changing yourself the same as running away? Why can’t you just accept who you are?”
“But, don’t you want me to become like my father? A great hero appreciated and respected by the mass?”
Lilith didn’t deny this. She truly saw in Sol the second coming of Mars. But, this wasn’t the subject right now.
“Do you know what is the difference between a naive fool and a hero of justice?” She clenched her fist, a fierce expression on her face. “It’s their strength. The first requirement of being a hero isn’t being right. It’s being strong. That’s why the hero always wins.”
“As crude as it may be to say that, what made your father a hero wasn’t his lofty but naive ideal, neither was it his gentleness. But it was his strength. No matter what, no matter how, there was only one truth. Your father was the strongest and as such he was the representative of Justice. This is the sad truth of this world.”
“Sol, there’s no one born with the quality to be a king and there’s nothing wrong with being selfish. What matters is how strong you are. On the day of my awakening, I was deemed as nothing more than a stain to the royal family name. A girl with absolutely no talent aside from her beauty and whose sole goal in life would be to give birth to more children of royal blood. But now, people praise me and call me the representative of all mana users. Why? Because I am strong.”
“You say that you want to protect us? That you only want happiness for your loved ones? Alright. But, be it me, Edea or Camelia, we all stand near the pinnacle of this world. Anything that can threaten us would be a mortal danger for you. So you need to be strong. Stronger than anyone else. Stronger than us, stronger than your father. Then, even if you are the most selfish king ever, people will still praise you as the best king ever.”
As she said this, she walked toward Sol and took him in her arms.
“Sol, a parent’s duty is to guide the children. Do not take my words today as an absolute truth. They are nothing more than the way I decided to follow after many struggles. But, you are not me.”
“Sol, my dear child. Your life will be full of struggle and you will live through many things some will be good and others will be sad. But, no matter what, never give up, never look back, always stand up and one day, you will find the answer that fits you the most.”
Many years later, Sol would remember this day with a slight smile. Until that moment, many things made him understand the importance of power, but those words said under the shade of the heroes’ monolith were something he never forgot.
It was the moment the path he was destined to walk stopped being foggy in his mind. The day he made his greatest resolution.