Chapter 258: Gigantic Duel 3
When the army troops were disbanded according to their units and left for their residences, a messenger was sent from Marquis Valentino asking Luke to come and see him.
"You were being summoned to the Holy Palace. It was said that you would be rewarded for your achievements," said the messenger.
"Is that so? Take the lead then."
Following the messenger, he was taken to Marquis Valentino, who was there along with numerous other leaders of the army.
"Lev's the only one who has been asked from the mercenaries?"
"His army's achievements are beyond that of any army."
"Could it be because Arch Duke Gregory had asked him to not be bothered to take him into the Saint Guard?"
"Well, it could be because the Saint Guard had never taken in a mercenary."
There were conversations where the commanders talked about Luke.
Luke hadn't given him much attention, but Count Marcus was different. His expression was distorted.
Count Marcus had done a lot to gather up achievements and attracted mercenaries to rub it in Gregory's face.
Lev and the Red Wolf Mercenaries were recruited for such a purpose.
They played a huge role in the subjugation.
The only problem was that their greatness didn't end with being in the 4th squadron. On the contrary, the 4th squadron had fallen for him.
‘Dammit, that mercenary…'
Marcus couldn't hide the jealousy in his eyes. Both of them had the same status now.
Even after knowing that, he tried his best to not show what he truly felt.
"If everyone is already here, then let's leave."
At the words from Marquis Valentino, the group went to Bless in a prepared carriage.
As they passed the inner gate across the city, they could see the magnificent and antique buildings made of pure white marbles.
And at last, they arrived at the Holy Palace.
The most splendid building in the Holy Empire was the palace, which was used by the pope.
The sunlight in the crown room turned into a colorful glow once it passed through the delicate stained glass.
The light that was full of mystery made the statues and murals of the saints much more decorative than they were.
The palace was very vivid.
‘It is awesome. To be able to create such a beautiful and solemn atmosphere! This might make me believe in God.'
Luke was admiring the palace.
The servant, who was in front of the enormous bronze gate that was inscribed with a wooden crucifix that symbolized the Holy Empire, spoke, "Marquis Valentino and the commanders of the army have arrived!"
As the door opened, they entered and saw Reina seated on the highest level of a golden glowing throne.
The next ones they saw were Archbishop Constantine and Arch Duke Gregory with dozens of other high ranking priests and nobles standing on either side of the red carpet used in the center.
"The Apostle, blessed by El Kassel to be the Holy Pope!"
At the words of Marquis Valentino, the commanders, including Luke and Marcus, bowed their heads.
"You have all suffered a lot," said Reina with a smile.
"Not at all, Your Holiness. We only fulfilled our duties."
"Oh my, really? Then is it alright to not reward the men who just did their duty?" Asked Reina.
"Hohoho, it was a joke. How can I not reward the men who went to fight for their empire?"
At the vicious yet cheerful words of Reina, the leaders and commanders looked embarrassed.
It was because, in the past, she couldn't express herself or even talk properly in general.
In addition, when the pope spoke, they couldn't even think of talking back because they let an assassination attempt happen while she was in their presence.
So it was natural for them to react in such a manner.
Luke, who knew the situation, sighed internally.
‘I knew it. There is a little bit of Veronica III's personality remaining inside her.'
"Uhm, uhm, there are things we need to do. Let's thank them already."
At the words of Archbishop Constantine, all the commanders once again bowed their heads.
Reina was handed a roll of parchment from the servants. She got up upon receiving it and began to read it out loud, "Marquis Valentino, listen. It was you who had made great efforts in defeating the rebels in the Konrad territory and served the people. For the victory you've given to this empire, I hereby promote you into a duke and an estate near Bless, and you're now the commander of the 1st squadron…"
The parchment held the rewards that were going to be awarded to the commanders and the influential figures of the Anti Revolutionary Army.
Named members were called and received their awards. Some were satisfied and a few were dissatisfied with what they got, like Count Marcus.
In the end, however, Luke, Lev's name was called.
"Red Wolf Mercenaries' captain Lev, you have killed Schmidt in the Gigantic Duel and saved Eisenberg and countless other soldiers and residents from the Meteor Strike. Along with the title of viscount, you will be handed the estate of Albertville. Congratulations, Viscount Lev."
"I won't make you regret this decision, Holy Pope," answered Lev.
When Reina winked slightly, Luke couldn't help but smile.
Arch Duke Gregory couldn't help but look at the two with objectionable eyes.
"What? No matter how active he had been in the war, isn't it a bit too much to provide land to a mercenary?"
"That is right. Albertville is known to have a great manor, and to just give it to some…"
There was quite a rumble of words among the high-ranking priests and nobles in the crown room.
They didn't expect that something of the sort would be awarded to the mercenary.
For something so excellent, given the popularity and the ability that the man got, it was necessary to hold onto the man.
However, Albertville had a fairly fertile farmland and a significant population compared to the Ranghel Province where the rebels of Marquis Suleiman thrived.
Before the rebellion, the lord there ruled the region, and it was too big to be handed over to some mercenary just because he was promoted to a viscount.
The old nobles glanced at Constantine.
They wanted to receive the Albertville Estate for being in Constantine's faction. They even bribed a regent for it.
But for someone who had no relation with the place to get Albertville…?
Constantine was flustered by the looks on the noble's faces.
It was because he had handed a clear list of rewards along with whom it had to be given too.
But for such a reward to be given to a mercenary...?
"Holy Pope, is something wrong?" One of the impatient nobles came out and asked.
He thought that Veronica III might have misread the rewards of another person to Lev.
"Would you mind looking at the parchment once again?"
"What words?! How dare you doubt the words of the pope herself!"
Before Reina could even say anything, Arch Duke Gregory shouted.
The noble, who shook his hands wildly, began to take back his words.
"Ah, no, it wasn't like that. I just didn't understand…"
"The reward given to the captain of the Red Wolf Mercenaries is the final decision of the pope!"
"Ah, I understand!"
The nobles and high-priests, who saw the man back out, realized that the mercenary, Lev, was recruited by Arch Duke Gregory himself.
There were fellow men from the same army who heard about the same rumor, but they couldn't believe things unless they saw if for themselves.
‘He did tell us not to bother him and just let him be, so this was the reason!'
‘Like a viscount…'
All the misunderstandings between the nobles and everything that they had believed were cleared away.
The expression on Constantine's face was serious.
Gregory had never raised his voice in the throne room.
Was he just never interested whether Constantine was in charge of the power or not?
Or was it just an expression of willingness to actively intervene in the future?
‘No, people can't change this easily.'
Constantine began to shake off his thoughts.
In fact, it was Reina who had decided to give Luke the title and the Albertville Estate.
Constantine wasn't aware of that, and Arch Duke Gregory, who heard it beforehand, opposed to it. It was because of the thought that they were going to hand over the empire's farmland over to Luke, a noble from the Baroque Empire.
However, Reina raised her hand, persuading and insisting that the enemy wasn't Luke and that he was an ally of the Holy Empire.
‘Hohoho, making a foundation for me?'
‘Thank you. It might be a little shocking for you, but without your help, things wouldn't have come this far.'
In that cold atmosphere, Luke and Reina communicated with each other.
Honestly, Luke was sure that he wouldn't get anything, but getting an estate and a title was something he never imagined. It was because he knew that there was very little Reina could manage to do with her poor political power.
But in the Holy Empire, she gave him a title and an estate.
‘Perhaps, she's telling me to build my strength up in that estate. I won't let her expectations go to waste.'
Luke opened the parchment handed to him by the servant.
It was a document stating his status and the Albertville Estate. At the end of the document was a map showing the location of the estate.
‘It is close to the border of the Baroque Empire. If necessary, I can lead my troops and move right into the Baroque Empire,' thought Luke.
Luke was more than grateful to Reina for her considerate way of thinking for him.
"The awarding ceremony ends here. See you all at the victory celebration in the evening."
Finally, Reina left the room, leaving the nobles and the high-ranking priests mumble to themselves in protest.
Luke was a bit down because his reunion with Reina didn't last that long, but that made him look forward to the evening banquet.
Seeing that, Archbishop Constantine and the nobles in the throne room looked at him suspiciously.
The rebellion was over, but another storm seemed to be coming for them from afar.