Chapter 19:

The Bet

Battlefield Restart: Mortal God

The House Master's opinion was biased in many ways, but even so his argument held a great amount of weight to it. This was because of how reasonable and logical it was on the surface.Bookmark here

My confidence in my abilities still hadn't faltered considering I was still indeed a 'special case'.Bookmark here

'The the higher the mountain, the more difficult it is to climb.' Bookmark here

This was a fact that is accepted by all magical fighters of this fantasy world of swords and magic.Bookmark here

But so what if it was difficult? Bookmark here

I wasn't going to get a second chance if I waste my time becoming a weak servant. Bookmark here

I might have had a low quantity of Mana, but that didn't mean I wouldn't be able to increase the number of my 'otherworldly techniques' with time. I just needed to do the work to move forward.Bookmark here

So what if I had a low starting point at birth?Bookmark here

It wasn't like I was 'talented' in my past life…Bookmark here

With the trio of bad conditions: Eczema, Asthma, and Hay Fever. I'd almost died just by training…Bookmark here

If I'd missed a daily dosage of my medicine, the condition my body was in would deteriorate fast…Bookmark here

My parents hadn't actually WANTED me to make a career in the military. It was just 'punishment'.Bookmark here

However, I'd stayed there anyway…Bookmark here

It was the only place that made me feel loved.Bookmark here

When I was training, there were people who would take care of me and ask about me… unlike before.Bookmark here

The military became the place that filled the empty hole in my heart. It gave me a sense of purpose.Bookmark here

…Like even my insignificant self had worth.Bookmark here

But to stay there, I needed to fit in.Bookmark here

The tearful man-child I was before needed to be broken down, and a 'man' needed to be created.Bookmark here

It was exactly as Zakk Wylde said:Bookmark here

{There's no substitute to hard work.}Bookmark here

Talent was only an extra benefit that could help you on your way. If you didn't have it, then forget about it. Back then, the ambition I had WASN'T to become a legend or boast about my achievements.Bookmark here

…I just wanted to 'live'.Bookmark here

For that singular goal, I did everything possible.Bookmark here

My instructor broke me down mentally and physically every day. Poking at my soft spots.Bookmark here

It wasn't the same as abuse. By then, I was already a grown man. Leaving had always been an option.Bookmark here

That's why… enduring was my only choice.Bookmark here

Others mastered combat techniques easily. They were also gifted with better things at birth.Bookmark here

Stature, agility, dexterity, health… They took it for granted. They even went drinking sometimes and complained. None of them ever knew what it was like to work hard every day and never get results.Bookmark here

It wasn't good on self-confidence at all…Bookmark here

Hehe… Since when did I need that anyway? A 'real man' only needed to do what must be done.Bookmark here

Nothing more, nothing less…Bookmark here

I'd never been as strong as some of my close comrades, not as smart as them, and definitely not as social as… those softies who'd never seen the battlefield first hand. All I gained was experience.Bookmark here

…The thing anyone could earn while growing old.Bookmark here

Reality was just cruel. There was no miracle in my past life. I reached my limit. Then stagnated-Bookmark here

No, perhaps I'd gotten even worse in old age.Bookmark here

But now, I had many blessing: Knowledge, Wisdom, Health, Potential, as well as a pinch of real 'Talent'.Bookmark here

There wasn't a need to feel daunted. I just needed to do what I always did. Just focus on myself.Bookmark here

Fit in… Just do it the same way as last time.Bookmark here

Abandon pride. Abandon hope. Abandon all that would stop you. Anything that would dispirit you.Bookmark here

If others grew stronger, then just surpass them!Bookmark here

Don't look for shortcuts! Do it the only way you knew how! The stupid, zombie-like way you knew.Bookmark here

If it didn't sink in, bash it into your head…!Bookmark here

Bash it! Bookmark here

Bash! Bash! Bash! Bash! Bash! Bash! Bash! Bash! Bash! Bash! Bash! Bash! Bash! Bash! Bash! Bash! Bookmark here

You're not a wimp looking for shortcuts, right?Bookmark here

The solution had always been plain and simple…Bookmark here

If you had to change something in this life, then let it be your 'focus'. Know… what are you fighting for.Bookmark here

Was it worth it…?Bookmark here

"I never really thought about what I'd become in future." As the Duke heard my words, he smiled.Bookmark here

He looked as if he was pleased by the fact I was thinking about my future prospects properly.Bookmark here

But I had to disappoint…Bookmark here

"I wanted to become strong enough to defend myself and my family. At first, I thought that being able to defeat Jack was enough to prove my potential, but I was wrong. Looks like beating him really had no meaning to everyone at all...Bookmark here

All those uncles and aunties were probably shocked by my weird magical abilities, but it seems no one had the confidence to say that I will reach the the ranks of expert Specialists." As the House Master heard my words, his eyes narrowed. Bookmark here

The light in his eyes sharpened. Bookmark here

He stared in my direction with a narrow gaze.Bookmark here

"Knowing that nobody besides your father expects anything from you, will you still continue down this path?" As I heard the Duke's harsh voice, my eyes couldn't help but glance at the face of my parents. Bookmark here

Only to see that their eyes were actually similar.Bookmark here

Their pupils were swimming…Bookmark here

"House Master, I believe in my son as well." My mother declared straightforwardly, causing the Duke to look at her strangely. His expression then changed to one of that couldn't comprehend her.Bookmark here

"Martha, I didn't expect that you too would support your husband in his foolishness." The Duke spoke.Bookmark here

He realised what her words meant.Bookmark here

"Calling my parents foolish is going too far." I wouldn't let him off east, and gave a sharp glare!Bookmark here

You want a staring contest? Bring it!!!Bookmark here

"You think an 'Failure' like you will be able to become a genuine fighter with mere hard work alone? You don't need actual Magical Talent?" The Duke didn't mind my rudeness and continued his argument. He was unaware that I didn't want that.Bookmark here

What did he mean by 'genuine fighter'?Bookmark here

All I wanted was to improve, even by a little bit.Bookmark here

His eyes seemed to look down on me.Bookmark here

Almost like an I was an ignorant child who didn't know anything about the world around him.Bookmark here

Like I was talking nonsense.Bookmark here

"I do, and I'll prove it by creating a Skill Root!"Bookmark here

"And how long do you think that will take?" The Duke flapped his lips in an unconvinced manner. Bookmark here

There was a massive gap between a Specialist with a Skill Root and a ordinary Elemental Specialist.Bookmark here

The Duke probably didn't believe one bit that I would be able pull it off.Bookmark here

Even the Skill Root he had was something he created with years of effort, and a little bit of luck. Bookmark here

The amount of Mana Control and luck needed to create a strong 'Skill Root' was just that large.Bookmark here

"A week." I answered him unhesitatingly. Bookmark here

It was a short time period, but pressure was something that helped awaken human potential. Bookmark here

This was proven in my past life's 'Training Hell'.Bookmark here

I would be sure to train like madman until I'd formed my very own specialised Skill Root.Bookmark here

Then will one day become a 'Skill Holder' myself!Bookmark here

My parents were both shocked by my answer.Bookmark here

They knew that I wouldn't lie or try to bluff in this kind of situation. I couldn't understand the mixed emotions in my parents eyes. My parents started to secretly exchange glances with one another.Bookmark here

There weren't many Specialists who could form a Skill Root. It was due to their lack of talent in Mana Control and the need for 'luck'. Even Jack might not gain the potential doe forming one after maturing.Bookmark here

"Let's make a bet then." The Duke lifted up his index finger and said in serious tone. Bookmark here

I couldn't help but frown at his suggestion.Bookmark here

This was way too sudden…Bookmark here

"The bet is simple. If you're unable to create a Skill Root in a week's worth of time. You will be expelled from my household and will join my personal Knight Order as a squire. You'll train from the basics." Bookmark here

A chill ran down my spine.Bookmark here

He gave such blatantly unfair conditions…!Bookmark here

The House Master was probably taking revenge for the rudeness of interrupting him earlier...Bookmark here

Joining a Knight Order meant losing a great amount of my freedom and having to follow even more dutifully under the Duke's command. I wouldn't have the right to decline any orders…Bookmark here

Especially if they were given to me by the Duke.Bookmark here

I wouldn't have the freedom to see my family...!Bookmark here

"And if I manage to create one?"Bookmark here

"I will reward you with something priceless!" He answered without giving any signs of backing off.Bookmark here

I didn't believe that the Duke would let go of his pride in order to lie to me.Bookmark here

If the Duke was to say that the reward was 'priceless', then it must be something that even other ancient bloodlines of nobility would fight a bloody battle over. His words carried weight…Bookmark here

Just thinking about obtaining such a reward excited me. I wonder what this treasure will be?Bookmark here

"You're excited, aren't you? Bookmark here

Though don't get too happy. It's not like someone with multiple Affinities will have a good time trying to create a Skill Root. In fact, there hasn't been any cases recently regarding a Universal Specialist creating a Skill Root over a hundred years. Bookmark here

It mostly had to do with the flexibility of a Universal Specialist. I mean, they usually had more options for growth than a regular people. Being a Universal Specialist and a Skill Holder would make you the most unique existence in history." He said. Bookmark here

The Duke's knowledge about my growth had been way too thorough. Who told him about everything?Bookmark here

A strange look appeared in my eyes. I glanced at my 'dearest' father, who was playing innocent at the side. Even my mother couldn't help but tiredly sigh. She now understood why the House Master was so well-informed about my techniques.Bookmark here

So we had a spy all along…?Bookmark here

Not sure what to think about this 'betrayal'.Bookmark here

It's not that I wanted to keep my multiple Affinities a secret, it's just uncomfortable to talk about.Bookmark here

One of my occupational habits became worrying when someone else knew too much about me. Bookmark here

It was an ominous sign…Bookmark here

This kind of information wasn't supposed to be shown to people I didn't properly understand. Bookmark here

I had only outwardly displayed only a few types of Spells and Arts in my match against Jack.Bookmark here

That was why it felt a little surprising when the Duke knew about my affinities from just that…Bookmark here

It made me grab my arm nervously…Bookmark here

"You don't have to be so reserved. Bookmark here

Even if you created an ability that was stronger than the Sword Emperor's Mana Sharpening Art, no one will even try to interrogate it off you. Bookmark here

After all, that would cause the our Drakeyol Kingdom's ruling King to spare no effort in erasing that individual from this world." The smile on the Duke's face was quite scary.Bookmark here

When he spoke till here, he looked quite eerie...Bookmark here

"Hmm? Why's that?" I couldn't help but ask in surprise at the Duke's nonchalant words. Bookmark here

I forgot how valuable my techniques are to others.Bookmark here

"The King hates those that try to obstruct the road of those talented in creating techniques. Bookmark here

As for why he becomes hysterical when people try to steal the techniques of others… you will definitely find that out in future. Just focus on improving your magical techniques for now." The Duke didn't seem interested in going into detail.Bookmark here

After the Duke was finished advising me out of his good will, my legs walked out with my parents.Bookmark here

They now seemed troubled over something. My curiosity was picked. I tried to find out what it was.Bookmark here

"What is this priceless reward that the Duke will reward me if I succeed?" Bookmark here

As I asked them, they stopped in their tracks. Bookmark here

I stopped walking and turned to look at them. Bookmark here

They had never hid anything from me before. so there shouldn't have been a reason for them to hide what this 'priceless' treasure was. The only thing was… their expressions being suspicious.Bookmark here

"Simon, do you know why we agreed to serve the Swordwick Household in the first place?" My mother had completely changed the subject, but her eyes seemed serious while asking this. Bookmark here

She awaited my answer patiently…Bookmark here

"Wasn't it for money?" Although this bland answer sounded crude and insensitive, it at least cut straight to the point. Even I felt the pay of being a common servant here was quite rewarding~Bookmark here

"Well considered." My father praised me, but my mother just gestured at him to stay silent. Bookmark here

Father wasn't… too dumb. He understood that mother wanted to speak to me in private, so he left. Bookmark here

The strict guy waved his hand towards us.Bookmark here

He then started putting on the cold facade he usually wore when facing other servants.Bookmark here

"I can't remember anymore if it was due to gratitude or greed, but I remember that one of the reasons we chose to become servants was to settle down someplace safe to raise a child.Bookmark here

You don't understand right now, because seeing what the world is like is better than hearing about it. There are plenty of people in this world, but remember that outside this kingdoms borders, the true rulers of the world are the Devas. Bookmark here

A race that's supported by the great Lightning God." Her eyes seemed to suppress a bitter emotions. She spoke that last sentence while grinding her teeth. Her eyes weren't focused.Bookmark here

Of course, I didn't tell mother that I already knew about them before I even reincarnated into Gaia. Bookmark here

The purple-skinned race who looked a lot like they came from India.Bookmark here

They seemed to be the law makers who governed the four other neutral races. Bookmark here

From what I'd read in the Duke's library-Bookmark here

I mean, DIDN'T read since it wasn't like I had sneaked into such places more than a few times…Bookmark here

Ahem… Anyway, the Devas actually promoted a 'all should be in harmony with nature' propaganda. Bookmark here

I don't know what they're up to, but seems the other four neutral races were very inclined to listen to the Devas.Bookmark here

The Human Race was ignored...Bookmark here

Perhaps this has to do with the special relationship between the other godly entities… like the Fire God and the Water God had with the Lightning God. It was hard to believe that the battle loving species like Dragons didn't have any qualms about this.Bookmark here

To them, following the rules and regulations set by Devas must have been hard. It didn't fit them…Bookmark here

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Devas actually had the strangest magic among all the beings on Gaia. The magic used by most of humanity could be considered straightforward when excluding 'Time Users' birthed by Royalty.Bookmark here

However, the magic used by Devas was unusual due to how they were able to affect anyone.Bookmark here

It targeted those who swore by their God's name or joins their worship towards the Lightning God.Bookmark here

Regardless of the distance…Bookmark here

For example: When anyone gives a promise and swore it on the name of the Lightning God, those who broke their promise were mercilessly struck down by lightning falling out of nowhere.Bookmark here

To be perfectly honest, I actually thought Devas were a peaceful race overall.Bookmark here

I mean, look how they were able to solve many problems between humans and other races. Bookmark here

Humanity had always been the one of the two largest groups on Gaia. They had given birth to many criminals. Those who would harm those of the 'neutral races' for their own petty gains.Bookmark here

It's was a good thing that humanity had a lot of morally upright heroes as well…Bookmark here

…or else we would have been destroyed by the combined might of the 'Mystic Races' already. Bookmark here

The only thing that bothered me about the Devas was the date they appeared... Bookmark here

It was a little suspicious to me that they arrived on Gaia the same day I was summoned here...Bookmark here

Either way, there was no reason for anyone of this world to hate Devas the same way Mother did.Bookmark here

That's why I felt shocked. I looked at my mother's face. It was twisted with malice and… Bookmark here

…'something else'.Bookmark here

I couldn't put my finger on what.Bookmark here

My mind was't understanding what could have caused her to grow such deep rooted animosity... Bookmark here

However, my heart was also affected by her wrath. Bookmark here

I don't know what happened to my mother in the past but anyone who's her enemy is my own. Even if they are considered a neutral race that have no real conflicts with humans, it didn't mean there couldn't be any of them with bad intentions.Bookmark here

"After you grow up and become a splendid Specialist. Make sure you go to the Hunter Branch of the Mercenary Guild. Remember to register there as a Bandit Hunter and Goblin Cleaner. Bookmark here

This is the only thing I want you to do after growing up into fine warrior. My child, promise me that after you becoming a true Universal Specialist. you'll become a Bandit Hunter in future." Mother spoke.Bookmark here

Her eyes had a fire in them…Bookmark here

"I promise." After hearing my heavy answer, a tear fell on my clothes as my mother hugged me. Bookmark here

A feeling of helplessness invaded my heart. My mind started to think back to her words. Bookmark here

Why did mother hate them so badly? Bookmark here

I didn't know why, but accepting her request like this makes me feel a little... uncomfortable. Bookmark here

I didn't like it...Bookmark here

Why is that so? I'm not promising to kill innocent civilians or helpless children, right? Bookmark here

Every race had their fair share of criminals, so killing them shouldn't be a crime, right...?Bookmark here

"I will be leaving then." I said before leaving. Bookmark here

My mind started to spin…Bookmark here

I separated from her to go back to my room to think, and my clouded thoughts finally cleared…Bookmark here

It felt like a worm was digging into my thoughts as time went on... What was this sensation…?Bookmark here

This 'instability'… was ominous.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.