Before Gilead congratulated Eugene, his gaze lingered on his children for a moment.
The eldest, Eward, hadnt even reached the center of the labyrinth. He had spent far too much time studying the various magical traps and monsters on his way there. Truthfully speaking, Gilead was dissatisfied with this result.
He knew that his eldest son had had an overwhelming amount of interest in magic ever since he was young. Since this type of magic wasnt often encountered, it was understandable for Eward to be overcome with curiosity. However… for him to prioritize his own curiosity over displaying his talents during this vital Bloodline Continuation Ceremony, Gilead couldnt help but feel disappointed, both as a Patriarch and a father.
On the other hand, Ciel and Cyans performances left him feeling quite satisfied. The twins had been able to make their way to the center without facing any great difficulty from the traps or the monsters. Although they couldnt defeat the minotaur, that was just because the two children were still immature. And immaturity could be compensated for with experience.
“…All of you showed a great performance,” Gilead said as he stopped focusing solely on his children and addressed the remaining participants. He nodded his head sincerely as he smiled at everyone before continuing, “From here, we were able to see everything as each of you faced the labyrinth. While we had expected it to be a challenging ordeal, all of you have done amazingly well.”
“…Thank you very much,” the children awkwardly received the praise.
Gargith had been staring at Eugene with surprised eyes, now quickly followed suit and bowed his head along with the others. Honestly, he was feeling a little embarrassed. After his fierce battle with the troll, he hadnt been able to make it to the center of the labyrinth.
Dezra and Cyan also felt similar embarrassment, but for slightly different reasons. Dezra wasnt even able to mount a proper fight against the minotaur; and Cyan had allowed himself to get flustered when his sword-light failed to materialize, causing him to fight in a manner that, even in his own opinion, was lackluster.
“Eugene,” Gilead said.
Eugene, who had just been called out, was grinning. He was amused that Cyans shoulders were drooping so heavily, although he was also feeling a little curious. Inside the labyrinth, he hadnt caught even a glimpse of Eward, the main familys eldest son. Though he had thought that Eward seemed to lack the expected skill and confidence for someone of his position, Eugene had never imagined that Eward wouldnt even be able to make it to the center of the maze. Perhaps that was why Eward was also slouching his shoulders and avoiding everyones gazes.
“…Although it seems funny for me to point out the obvious like this, you showed the best performance among all of the nine children who participated in this years Bloodline Continuation Ceremony.”
“Thank you very much,” Eugene said while bowing his head in a humble fashion.
He thought it would be more appealing to give off a modest impression than acting overly proud.
“The way you dealt with the traps and the monsters was impressively flawless. Especially when you fought the troll head-on. Unlike the other children… you didnt even receive any minor injuries in the process,” Gilead continued his praise.
‘No way, Gargith exclaimed inwardly.
Gileads words made Gargiths shoulders tremble in shock. Did Eugene really not get injured at all while fighting that vicious troll Gargith glanced at Eugene with a look of disbelief.
‘How could he have done that when hes shorter and has fewer muscles than me Gargith asked himself. He really was impressive. Gargiths thoughts gave way to sincere admiration for Eugene, but at the same time, he also felt disappointed. ‘If only he had the help of our familys revolutionary muscle growth agent, that poor body of his would also appear equally amazing, was Gargiths thought at this time. ‘As he is now, Id win in an arm-wrestling contest.
Gargith decided that he needed to challenge Eugene to an arm-wrestling contest later.
“Truthfully, we expected all of you to be trapped in the labyrinth for at least two days,” Lovellian said with a smile that didnt show any hint of embarrassment.
Lovellian and Gilead had set reasonable expectations for the participants. After all, no matter how excellent they were, werent they all still children younger than sixteen Moreover, none of the children had ever been to a labyrinth in person. Lovellian had estimated that, after placing various sorts of obstacles in their way, the children would have to wander the labyrinth for more than a day before they could break through.
‘But as expected of the bloodline of the Great Vermouth. It seems that I greatly underestimated them.
Of course, this fact didnt cause him any embarrassment or offense. After all, seeing these gemstones of talent sparkle brighter than imagined could only be a pleasant surprise.
“Apart from Eugene, everyone else should return to their rooms and rest. I would have liked to hold a grand banquet this evening; however… we didnt know that you would all emerge so quickly, and Im afraid that we werent able to prepare the banquet in advance.”
After informing the other children, Gilead turned to Eugene with a smile.
“As such, all of you can have a good rest today, and we will hold the banquet tomorrow. As for Eugene… you can come with me.”
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“Yes sir,” Eugene acknowledged.
“Are you going to give him his reward right now” Ciel asked, her eyes sparkling with curiosity.
The underground treasure vault was a forbidden location, even to those who had inherited the blood of the main family; only the Patriarch was freely permitted to enter. From a young age, Ciel had pestered her father for permission to visit the underground treasure vault with him, but even Gilead, who had such a soft spot for his daughter, wouldnt allow her to accompany him into the treasure vault even once.
“Theres no reason to delay, so wouldnt it be better if he got to choose more quickly” Gilead said as he patted Ciel on the head.
Truthfully, Gilead was also curious to see which item Eugene would pick from the treasure vault.
Lovellion personally escorted the other children back to their rooms, while Eugene and Gilead headed to the main familys mansion. They had quite a ways to go, so they both began thinking of bringing up something to talk about.
“Youre quite skillful to be able to wield multiple weapons,” commented Gilead, breaking the silence.
Although he didnt look back at Eugene, thanks to the warmth in his voice, it was easy to guess his current expression.
“Im not too bad,” Eugene admitted.
“Youre more than not bad. I saw your performance in the labyrinth, and the way you wielded both your sword and your shield was truly adept. Moreover, didnt you use a spear to defeat Cyan and Dezra”
Gilead seemed to have heard the full story of Eugenes spar with Dezra. This wasnt surprising, as their spar had taken place in the open, where any of the annexs servants could have spectated it.
“Yes. I like the spear because its a fun weapon to use,” Eugene responded.
“And swords” Gilead prodded.
“Swords are fun as well.”
“Apart from those, what other weapons do you enjoy using”
“Ummm… I also like bows. Although shooting something from afar isnt that fun, hitting a target from a long distance can be exhilarating.”
Eugene tried to use an age-appropriate tone when speaking with Gilead. Truthfully, at the start of his new life, he hadnt felt like he would need to do something like this; Eugene had thought that it would be fine to just admit that he was reincarnated with the memories of his old life.
However, the more he had thought about it, the more difficult he felt it would be to reveal the truth. If he were to admit that he used to be Stupid Hamel, but he was now reincarnated as Vermouths descendant, who would believe such a ridiculous confession without any proof Also, he felt like it would be galling to admit that he had been reincarnated as a descendant of Vermouth with his own mouth.
‘And itd be just so embarrassing.
It wouldnt be so bad if he had just admitted it from the beginning. But he had already been pretending to be a child for thirteen years…. If he revealed the truth at this point, it felt like all he would receive were gazes of pity. With Eugenes pride, it was absolutely impossible to welcome such pitying looks.
‘It also seems like things would get troublesome.
Not much was known about the journey of the hero and his companions from three hundred years ago. After suddenly abandoning their subjugation of the remaining demon kings, the returning heros party hadnt revealed much about their reasons for their sudden change of plan or the details of their journey. Right to this day, that damn fairy tale was the most famous and reputable account of the heros journey in the world.
The Stupid Hamel, as he was known in the fairy tale, had been reincarnated as the Great Vermouths descendant— if this fact were to get out, the world would be turned upside down. Eugene didnt want to deal with the flood of people coming in from every corner of the world to ask him about the facts of their journey.
But that wasnt his only reason.
Eugene—no—Hamel refused to tolerate the continued existence of the Demon Kings. This hate-filled conviction had not changed even after three hundred years had passed. If somehow, the two remaining demon kings in the Devildom of Helmuth were to learn of Hamels reincarnation, they might begin moving behind the scenes.
Those two had claimed complete devotion to a peaceful existence for hundreds of years and had even willingly opened Helmuth to tourism. But how would these demon kings, who had seemingly flipped their attitudes out of the blue, react to a living witness of their past atrocities Eugene had given it a lot of thought, but it didnt seem like they would welcome him with open arms.
Well, even if they did, its not like Eugen would accept their favor.