Reflection, Decision, Conclusion – Theo
The Grune tribe were descendants of the former Radol dynasty. Theo Grune had been carrying forward the Grune Tribe’s prestige.
Theo once had a family, a mother who conducted Radol rituals, a father, who was the supreme commander of the Radol army, and a little sister.
His mother Yuuri had been a kind and beautiful lady. She would always dote on him, his sister Lucia, and his childhood friend Calogero for as long as he could remember.
Whereas his father, Tessin, could easily be described as a stern man. He would educate Theo in etiquette, martial arts, military tactics, horsemanship, and other skills that the tribal head would require.
Looking back, Theo remembered being covered in bruises every day, but that was the happiest time of his life.
However, they had friction with the empire, and it had been like that for the past three decades.
Embers of conflict raged due to the deaths of young Radol men. To be more precise, they died due to clashes with several other villages.
These clashes led several high rank nobles to their graves and three Radol villages being completely destroyed. Due to this, neither side could back down anymore.
However, the thing that broke the equilibrium was the sudden disappearance of a certain village.
It was the village called Elm, and was the hometown of the first Radol king and was often used as a site for conducting rituals.
Though it was just a site for rituals and most of the time sacrifices weren’t even needed, on that day, it just so happened that priestesses from several tribes had arrived to conduct a ritual.
The incident came to be known as ‘The Massacre of Elm’. No valuables were touched, no women violated, they just killed and destroyed everything in their way. The only thing left remaining was an imperial flag sticking out of the ground in the center of the village.
Naturally, the Radols began to prepare for war, and Theo, having lost his mother in that incident, was no different. Theo realized that he had an unbearable hatred towards the empire.
However, the Supreme Commander Tessin firmly rejected the idea to wage war against the empire and even forbade it.
His decision was absolute, but unrest began to grow.
Then, when Theo was thirteen, that incident happened. Theo himself pulled the trigger that led to the Radols’s destruction.
At that time, Theo had banded together with Calogero and some others to form a self-defense squad known as the Mountain King squad and was patrolling around with them.
By chance, he spotted some imperials who had moved to the center of a mountain. He quickly went to report it, but was caught.
The man who caught him explained that he was a fellow Radol and released Theo after saying, “This caravan is just a temporary measure for an epidemic. We’re just passing by so don’t tell anyone.”
At the time, Theo was a fool who couldn’t tell right from wrong and only had his ideals to hold him up. Although the man said that he was a Radol, he could only be a traitor if he was with the empire. Theo didn’t even look into the man’s words and just reported him to the army.
As a result, a number of men disobeyed his father’s orders and attacked the caravan. Many innocent civilians and mercenary guards were killed as the Radols gained an overwhelming victory.
As the Radols celebrated their victory, Theo proudly reported the events to his father.
His father shouted, “You fool!! You’ve done the unforgivable!”. His father beat him over and over.
He saw his father crying while beating him and realized just how heavy a crime he had committed.
The attack on the caravan crystallized into a decisive moment for the conflict between the empire and the Radols. One after another, the pacifist nobles began to change their minds.
Things escalated into an armed conflict as the two sides collided and the Radols suffered defeat and subordination to the empire.
The empire enacted several policies which ensured that the Radols could never go against the empire again.
They first dissolved the military tribes by relocating them to other territories as serfs and miners. Radols’ strength lay in their unity, so it was the first thing the empire aimed at.
The second policy banished all Radols from their capital, Camelot. They stole everything they could from the capital and rooted out every last bit of resistance.
His father, Tessin, had forbidden any resistance, but many tribes rose up after no longer being able to bear the humiliation. However, they were promptly suppressed. Afterwards, all the rebels, including the women and children, were executed, striking fear into the hearts of those that remained.
On top of that, they seized anything that could be called a weapon and created an anonymous report system. Now, the Radols were truly just a vassal state.
During this terrible state of affairs, the wind began to change directions; a large number of undead had just been spotted northward, just outside of the Large Forest of Radoa. The undead swallowed up Camelot and extinguished the David Territory in an instant.
Viscount David, who had tormented the Radols so much, had disappeared overnight. They had many speculations about what had happened, but ultimately decided that the heavens had punished the Davids and the topic soon shifted to their next lord.
It was at this moment that the Radols had probably lost their last bit of resistance.
The tragedy continued. Probably due to the disorder that the undead caused amongst the empire, their new lord didn’t show up.
Instead, the Amrzs Kingdom invaded.
The Archive Empire and the Amrzs Kingdom were originally separated by the Radoa Mountain Range. The forests to the east of the Radoa Mountain Range were technically Radol lands which were taken by the kingdom during the confusion of battle.
As the supreme commander, Tessin fought back with everything he had. But the empire had seized all their weapons, and more importantly, the Radols had no will to fight. They were easily defeated and placed under the control of the kingdom.
The kingdom executed Tessin as he represented the Radol’s strongest military potential, took hostages from each tribe, and demanded sixty percent of all their stored food.
Just handing away that much food would cause many to starve to death, but all the tribe heads and citizens obediently handed over their people and food.
It was then that Theo experienced the Radols literally being turned into slaves.
Then, a single monster blew these thick, dark clouds away.
That monster eliminated all the kingdom soldiers in Camelot on his own and summoned all heads of the tribes.
There, the monster introduced himself as Grey, and declared that they would wage war against the kingdom in a threatening manner.
He had annihilated the troops stationed in Camelot, and soon the kingdom would come marching in with a much larger army. Their new lord, Grey, not only declared that he wouldn’t take part in the upcoming battle but demanded that the Radols deal with it themselves. Their food reserves had depleted, so in any case, the Radols had no other way to survive if they didn’t want to be turned into mere livestock.
So, Theo took a once-in-a-lifetime gamble.
Grey was an imperial citizen and the successor to Viscount David, a man from the empire who had caused all these tragedies to befall on the Radols. Hence, no matter what Theo said, nobody would listen.
Above all, the slave life had been ingrained in their bones; nobody would come to arms under the pretense of fighting against the kingdom.
When Theo explained that to the lord, the latter’s lips twisted into a smile so wicked that it would even scare a monster, and said to leave it to him.
Afterwards, he gathered young men confident in their skills from each tribe and began his insane training.
By the end of the training, each and every young man believed that their new lord was a reincarnation of the Wise Mountain King and began to adore him.
Theo was no different. He began to think that if the lord came up with a plan, it would lead to certain victory.
It was probably because Theo was certain of victory and could calmly think things through, but now, he had an idea of why his lord had declared that there was food in Fort Arkroy.
Truly, the Radols had escaped from their invisible chains and started to act like the mountain people they once were.
And not just for the young men. As they were shown downright ridiculous miracles one after another, and many new faces began to show up, and light began to reappear in their eyes.
As war approached, almost all the soldiers began to call the lord ‘Wise Mountain King’ and swore absolute loyalty to him.
This wasn’t something that he had intentionally sought for, but something which had happened on its own.
He was so abnormal that they couldn’t call him a human anymore.
First, he created weapons on par with Materials.
Second, he blessed the Radols, who should have originally had bad affinity towards magic, with magic through Material-like grimoires.
Third, he constructed a nigh impregnable fortress atop the peak of the Radoa Mountain Range in just two weeks.
Theo would have laughed at the very idea of any of those acts just a while ago, and his lord’s childish appearance would have made it even less credible.
And so, his lord provided them with unity, the most essential quality they’d need for the fight against the kingdom. Finally, their war with the Amrzs Kingdom began.
Everyone thought that the war would begin with a hard fight, but they were severely mistaken. The Radol army annihilated the Amrzs Army which was over ten times their size and reclaimed their territory.
Not a single person saw their lord as just an imperial.
But that didn’t mean the Radols’ hatred for the imperials had disappeared. Word around the army was that their lord was not an imperial, but a heavenly being who had descended to save the Radols. Their beliefs had only been transposed.
And truthfully, it might have even been the same for Theo.
His lord was a messiah who had saved them from a nightmare that spanned dozens of years. He truly believed that.
If they were hungry, he’d give them food. If they had no fort, he’d build one. If their land was taken, he’d take it back. He was an absolute existence who wouldn’t lose to any evil – a divine being. And if you only looked at the results, then he was right.
But did his lord really want to be treated that way?
In the first place, why did he give the weapons to the Radols? Just a glimpse of his magic could destroy the kingdom’s army in a flash, so there shouldn’t have been a reason to go out of his way to give them weapons.
Maybe he was trying to get them to find meaning in fighting for their own freedom.
But why? It was simple: to drive away the servile nature that had embedded in them.
But then, before the start of the war, why did he say, “I’ll take full responsibility of their massacre!”? Victory was the most important thing to drive away the Radol’s servile nature and that kind of consideration was unnecessary.
“I feel like it’s connected somehow.”
When Theo was being beaten by his father, what was he trying to say?
“You fool! You’ve done the unforgivable! Someone has to take responsibility for the deaths of the innocent. Do you understand how heavy of a crime that is? It’s a crime so heavy you can’t make up for it, even if you atone for the rest of your life, no, even with your death. In your cowardice you have pushed the burden onto others. Do you even understand just how unforgivable of a betrayal that is!?”
So that’s why his lord had said that he’d take full responsibility.
He only saw his lord’s mysterious powers, and nothing else. Grey’s anger towards Zap was probably for the same reason as Theo’s father when he had beaten him.
The Radols had killed thousands of kingdom soldiers during this war. Their enemies had families, lovers, and friends. It wasn’t hard to imagine the tragedies, and someone had to bear the responsibilities.
He acknowledged those heavy burdens and chose to accept the thousands of tragedies into that tiny body of his. It didn’t take a genius to imagine how much those burdens would eat away at his heart.
And yet he took responsibility. Unlike the cheap sense of justice and hypocrisy that Theo had entertained in the past, his lord fully realized that it was a war between people and that someone had to take responsibility.
“Wise Mountain King? A messenger of God? Don’t make me laugh! I’m just running away in the end!”
A messiah would conveniently solve all their problems. It was the same as forcing him to accept all the consequences, good or bad.
A ruler, on the other hand, was different. A vassal takes on a share of the ruler’s crimes and enjoys their success together. Hence, they’re incompatible.
Which would he choose? The answer was obvious. He would no longer push his responsibilities onto his lord.
“Theo Grune’s title, ‘Saved by’—’ has turned into ‘—’s loyal subject.’ Additionally, ‘Enlightened One – Brave Fighter’ has been fully released. As a result, Herculean Strength has evolved into Superhuman Strength.”
A female voice echoed in his head as his body was filled with an explosive strength. Theo used his strength to grab Mezu’s right ankle and threw him off.
Mezu shot through the air, dexterously flipped and landed back on the ground.
“Looks like you’ve found an answer,” Mezu muttered with a smile as he looked towards Calogero who was trying to get up.
“Thanks to you.”
“Good, good. Then let’s begin.” He let out a chuckle before his entire mood shifted.
Theo had started to get an idea of what kind of existence Mezu was.
“Ah, I’ll have you be destroyed for my supreme master,” said Theo.
Mezu twirled his mallet around before shouting into the air. “Show me what you’ve got!!”
And so, their final fight began.
Mezu gathered every last bit of his strength to slam his mallet down onto Theo.
The mallet displaced the air around it but Theo struck back with his left fist and sent his right towards Mezu’s abdomen.
He heard the unpleasant sound of bones breaking beneath his fist as he spun on his right foot and gave a roundhouse kick to Mezu’s head.
As Mezu flew back spinning and bouncing about, hundreds of golden rays flew after him.
The smell of burnt flesh began to waft about.
Immediately, Theo jumped to the ceiling, raised his right foot, and aimed down at Mezu’s head.
Mezu raised his arms to try to block, but his arms snapped in two with a horrifying crunch and his head caved in.
Then, as the ground trembled beneath him, he collapsed.
“Hm, I’ve been thoroughly defeated,” Mezu said while vomiting blood. However, he seemed to look refreshed.
“What are you……”
“You decided to walk the path of carnage with your master, right? Then finish the job.”
Theo struck his chest and Calogero followed suit.
“This is my reward for your victory,” Mezu said. “Hey, Tessin. Give them a farewell.”
“Yes, thanks for everything Mezu.”
“No need for thanks, it was a pleasant fight.”
Like a one-man show, his tone kept changing. Then, his face and body returned to the familiar form of Theo’s father.
“Calogero, take care of Theo.”
“Supreme Commander……” Calogero nodded, breaking down in tears.
Then, he turned towards Theo. “Theo, you’re all right now.”
They were warm, yet powerful words. Sadness, pain, and other emotions whirled around, whipping up a fierce storm inside Theo.
“Theo, my beloved son. Have faith in yourself.”
“I will, old man.”
Then, with a satisfied smile, his father turned into dust.
Theo wiped away the tears and bit down his lips. He could cry later. For now, saving Grey-sama was his top priority.
“Let’s go.” Theo walked forward.
“Yeah.” Calogero nodded and wiped away his tears before following after him.