Chapter 22 22: The Wizard King

As Cedric and Elena approached the castle gates, the sight that greeted them was nothing short of awe-inspiring. The castle stood tall and proud, its walls reaching high into the sky, with turrets and towers that seemed to scrape the heavens. The massive structure exuded an air of grandeur and ancient power, as if it had stood here for centuries, witnessing the ebb and flow of time.

The gates were made of solid iron, adorned with intricate patterns and symbols that hinted at the castle's rich history and magical heritage. As they drew closer, the gates creaked open slowly, as if welcoming them into its enigmatic embrace.

Massive stone statues of majestic creatures lined the pathway leading to the castle entrance. Gryphons, dragons, and other mythical beings seemed to come to life under the pale moonlight, their stoic gazes watching over the visitors with an air of solemnity.

The courtyard within the castle walls was vast and well-maintained, adorned with beautiful gardens and fountains that seemed to dance to a melody only they could hear. Flowers of every color imaginable bloomed in intricate patterns, emitting sweet fragrances that filled the air.

The main entrance to the castle loomed before them, an enormous double door made of polished wood, engraved with runes that glimmered with an ethereal light. As they stepped inside, they found themselves in a grand foyer, its ceiling soaring high above them, adorned with intricate chandeliers that bathed the room in a warm glow.

As Cedric and Elena made their way through the grand corridors of the castle, they were greeted by a regal figure with flowing blonde hair and a mysterious eyepatch. "Ah, Lady Elena, it's good to see you," the woman said with a warm smile.

Elena returned the greeting with a nod. "Reia, it's been a while. Thank you for escorting us."

Reia turned her gaze to Cedric and extended a hand. "And you must be Cedric Montclair. It's an honor to meet one of the rare Unique mages."

Cedric shook her hand, a curious expression on his face. "Unique mage? I've never heard of that before."

Elena chimed in, eager to explain. "Reia is one of the twenty S-rankers in the world. Her magic is unique for any mage."

Cedric raised an eyebrow. "But can't anyone do any spell, as long as they learn it?"

Elena chuckled. "Oh, Cedric, you're right, to an extent. C-Rank spells are accessible to most mages, but as you progress to higher ranks, your magic becomes more dependent on your mage type and element."

"Mage type?" Cedric queried.

Elena nodded. "Yes, there are five mage types, each determined by personality and the color of their mana."

As they walked, Elena explained further. "Enhancers are mages who excel at magic that enhances their physical abilities. Most mages in this category become magic swordsmen. The Wizard King is an Enhancer, for example."

Cedric looked thoughtful. "Interesting. What type are you, Elena?"

A proud smile graced Elena's lips. "I'm an Enhancer too."

Continuing their conversation, Elena went on to describe the other mage types. "Eletims are mages who specialize in elemental magic. Remember your friend with the red hair? She was one such mage."

"Ah, Lily," Cedric nodded, recalling his fiery companion.

"Then there are Guardians," Elena continued. "They specialize in support magic, such as summoning, shield manipulation, seer abilities, and healing magic. Your friend with the orange hair was a Guardian, and a unique one at that. He used all three of those spell types and supplemented them with honed C-Rank spells."

Cedric thought back to Oliver's impressive abilities. "Yeah, he was quite something."

"And lastly, there are Uniques," Elena said, her eyes locking with Cedric's. "They often don't fall under one type or can use magic completely unique to them."

Cedric furrowed his brow. "Like the spell I used yesterday?"

Elena nodded with a knowing smile. "Exactly like that. You and Reia both fall under the Unique type."

Finally, Reia led them to a luxurious room with plush furniture and a breathtaking view of the castle gardens. "You may wait here for your audience with the King," she said with a bow before taking her leave.

Cedric settled into the room, his mind buzzing with newfound knowledge. He looked at Elena, a mix of excitement and trepidation in his eyes. "So, what happens next?" he asked.

Cedric sat in the opulent room, his mind racing with thoughts and nerves. The tea in his hands had long gone cold, forgotten as he pondered the reason for the King's summons. "What does the King want from me?" he whispered to himself, the weight of uncertainty settling upon him like a heavy cloak.

He knew his family's history was tied to the royal bloodline, and he couldn't help but wonder if that was the reason behind the audience. The Montclair name carried both prestige and stigma, and Cedric couldn't shake the feeling that he was being called to the castle for reasons beyond his own understanding.

After some time lost in thought, Cedric determined that the King might want to meet him to explore the connection between their families. He took a deep breath, attempting to steady his racing heart. "Yes, it must be about that," he reassured himself, finding some measure of comfort in his rationalization.

Just as he was starting to regain his composure, a soft knock on the door interrupted his musings. "Come in," Cedric called, setting the cold tea aside.

The door creaked open, revealing a vision of loveliness in the form of a pink-haired maid. Her emerald eyes sparkled with warmth, and her delicate features were framed by loose tendrils of hair that cascaded gracefully around her face. She carried a tray filled with delectable pastries, their sweet aroma filling the room.

"Good afternoon, sir," the maid greeted with a gentle smile, her voice a melodious tone that seemed to soothe Cedric's nerves. "I've brought you some pastries and fresh tea. Please enjoy."

Cedric's eyes widened in surprise at the sight of the tempting treats. "Oh, thank you," he replied, a hint of appreciation in his voice. The maid's arrival was a welcome distraction from his anxious thoughts.

She set the tray on a nearby table, arranging the pastries with delicate precision. "Is there anything else I can assist you with, sir?" she inquired, her gaze warm and inviting.

Cedric hesitated for a moment before speaking, "Actually, I... I have a meeting with the King soon. Do you happen to know why he requested to see me?"

The maid's expression remained soft, and she offered a comforting smile. "I'm afraid I do not know the specifics, sir. The King's audience requests are often kept confidential until the appointed time."

Cedric nodded, understanding that the maid was bound by her duty not to divulge sensitive information. "Of course," he replied with a sigh. "I guess I'll have to wait and find out."

The maid's smile never wavered, and she gave a slight nod. "Indeed. If there's anything else you need during your stay, please don't hesitate to ask. My name is Alenia, and I'll be at your service."

Cedric's heart skipped a beat at her introduction, charmed by her beauty and gracious demeanor. "Thank you, Alenia. I appreciate your assistance."

Alenia curtsied gracefully, her pink hair swaying with the movement. "It's my pleasure, sir. I'll be nearby if you require anything else." Letting out a mischivous smile as she walked away. With that, she left the room with an elegant stride, leaving Cedric to enjoy the pastries and ponder the imminent meeting with the King.

As Cedric sat in the room, contemplating the upcoming meeting, the door opened once more, and Reia, the royal ranker with blonde hair and an eyepatch, stepped in. Her presence commanded respect, and Cedric couldn't help but feel a surge of nervousness as he stood up to greet her.

"Good afternoon, Reia," Cedric greeted with a polite bow. "Thank you for coming to escort me."

Reia nodded, her expression serious. "Of course. It is my duty to bring you to the King's audience. Please follow me."

Cedric followed Reia through the castle's grand halls, his heart pounding in his chest. Reia was known as one of the 20 S-rankers in the world, and her unique magic had earned her a formidable reputation. The weight of her words about the importance of this meeting only added to his anxiety.

As they walked, Reia turned her attention to Cedric, her gaze sharp. "I must warn you," she began in a low voice, "the thorn room can be an intimidating place. The King will have several dignitaries and people of great importance present. They will be observing your demeanor and how you conduct yourself during the audience."

Cedric nodded, absorbing her words. He knew the importance of first impressions, and he couldn't afford to falter in this pivotal moment. "Thank you for the advice, Reia," he replied earnestly. "I will keep it in mind."

Reia's expression softened slightly, her keen eyes studying Cedric. "Remember, no matter what the King says or does, do not back down. Show respect, but let him see the strength within you."

Cedric felt a surge of determination at her words, and he straightened his posture, ready to face whatever challenges awaited him in the thorn room. "I won't let you down," he said with conviction.

As they approached the grand doors leading to the thorn room, Reia stopped, turning to face Cedric. "Good luck," she said, her voice filled with a rare warmth. "Believe in yourself, and you will do just fine."

"Thank you, Reia," Cedric replied, grateful for her encouragement. He took a deep breath, steeling himself for what lay ahead.

With a nod, Reia pushed open the doors, and Cedric stepped into the thorn room. The grand chamber was adorned with intricate designs, and the thorny vines that covered the walls added an air of mystery and power. The King sat on his throne, surrounded by dignitaries and influential figures from all corners of the kingdom.

As Cedric entered the thorn room, his eyes were immediately drawn to the figure seated on the imposing throne at the far end of the chamber. The King, with his vibrant pink hair cascading just beyond his nape, exuded an air of regal power. His kingly red robes were draped around his waist, leaving his toned arms and muscular chest exposed by the skin-tight, sleeveless black shirt he wore underneath. The crown, worn on his wrist rather than his head, was a testament to his unconventionality.

Though young, in his early thirties, the King's presence commanded respect. His handsome face bore a hint of maturity and wisdom, a stark contrast to his youthful appearance. As Cedric stepped forward, the King's scanning eyes met his, studying him intently with a gaze that felt like a lion scrutinizing an intruder in its territory.

The room fell into a hushed silence as all eyes focused on Cedric, who felt the weight of the King's scrutiny. Despite the initial nerves that coursed through him, Cedric stood tall and composed, meeting the King's gaze with unwavering determination.

The King's lips curled into a half-smile, and he spoke with a voice that resonated with authority and charm. "Cedric Montclair, welcome to my court," he said, his tone warm yet undeniably regal. "I have heard much about your family's legacy and your recent achievements as a wanderer. But are you worthy?"

Seated on the throne, the King suddenly sat up, his eyes gleaming with intrigue as he regarded Cedric. "Worthy of what?" Cedric asked, genuinely curious about the King's assessment.

In response, the King's face bore a mischievous smile as he released an overwhelming surge of mana pressure. The effect was immediate - everyone in the room, except Cedric, Reia, and Elena, fell to their knees, unable to withstand the crushing force. Elena struggled to stay upright, her legs trembling as she fought to resist the overwhelming power.

ραndαsΝοvεl ƈοm "Mana pressure," Gasping for breath as she thought to herself. "Every mage possesses a unique amount of mana within them. It's like an internal reservoir of magical energy that fuels our spells and abilities. When someone with a vast amount of mana, like the king, exerts their power outward, it creates a pressure that affects other mages' mana.This is mana pressure at its strongest. Cedric must have an incredible amount of mana to withstand this."

What Elena didn't realize was that the reason Cedric remained unaffected was not due to his immense mana, but rather the opposite. Cedric had no mana to attack, and thus the King's powerful technique had no effect on him.

With each step the King took toward Cedric, the mana pressure intensified, forcing Elena down to her knees. Her breaths became labored, and she could feel her energy waning under the pressure.

Finally, the King stood before Cedric, and the young noble couldn't help but offer a nervous smile in return. The King's laughter reverberated through the room as he released the mana pressure, placing his hand on Cedric's shoulder.

"That does it," the King declared, his voice filled with amusement. "You are going to be my temporary Court Mage!"

Cedric blinked, the words taking a moment to register in his mind. "Huh?"