Chapter 1470 Award Ceremony Part 2
"Mage Tista Verhen, I've heard of your contribution in taking down the lost city of Kogaluga and I'm pleased to learn that you're following in your brother's footsteps as a guardian of this Kingdom."
"Yet your achievements are too small to allow me to make you into a Great Mage.
Would you be interested in becoming a feudal lord and help Count Jadon Lark in administering the Lustria County
"You would have your personal fief and the authority to protect both your family and friends." The King said.
"Thanks for your kind offer, Your Majesty, but I have to refuse.
The practice of magic requires too much time for me to properly take care of even one single farm.
Yet, I have a request, if you will allow me." Tista replied.
"Speak freely." Meron nodded.
"Before her death, Lady Nerea, Nana, asked my brother to promise her not to seek justice for her.
Yet I don't share his oath and my mentor was precious to me.
I can't live with the thought that even in death she's marked by infamy.
"To make peace with it, I need to know what happened to her." Tista said.
"That will not be a problem." Sylpha clapped her hands, making a small booklet appear in front of Tista.
"Those events happened almost sixty years ago, way before my time, and most of the people involved are dead.
"Those are the official records hence I'm granting you clearance to read its contents but not to divulge them.
Are we clear"
"Thanks, your Majesty." Tista gave a bow in reply.
"One more thing.
My husband and your brother have one thing in common.
They are too stingy." Sylpha made a block of Adamant appear for Tista, almost giving Meron a stroke.
"We can't expect someone to perform great deeds if they lack the proper resources.
Get yourself a decent armor and consider that Adamant as an investment that the Royal Family is making in you."
'She is also getting the damn mansion! You're going overboard.' The King said via their mind link.
'Does Valeron's blood make you a cheapskate or is it just you' Sylpha replied with a scoff.
'You just said that we're saving millions of gold coins from not having to look after the lost cities anymore.
What's the big deal with a bit of Adamant'
'Not saving, reinvesting!' Meron said with a snarl.
'It means we're not getting anything in our pockets.
We are spending the same sum as before but for different reasons.'
'Reasons that in due time will make us a fortune.
Now quit whining and let's get over with the ceremony.' Sylpha cut the mind link and looked at Phloria.
"Captain Ernas, you ranked third at the Academy despite having a single specialization.
After graduating, you immediately enrolled in the army, and from that moment onwards you dedicated your life to serve your country.
"You sacrificed your personal life, you put your life on the line every single day, and achieved one of the most brilliant careers that the Kingdom had ever seen in centuries.
"Alas, the mission in Kulah, of which you weren't responsible in any way, didn't cost you just the life of your loyal soldiers and of the people you had been tasked to protect.
It also cost you your career.
"There's no telling what heights you might have reached if greed didn't blind us all to the point of underestimating the Odi's trickery.
That's why I'm glad to tell you that your trial is finally over.
"After revising the testimonies and the evidence collected, the Crown, the Mage Association, and the Army unanimously declare you not guilty on all charges." Queen Sylpha said.
"Turning an archaeological expedition into a scouting mission was an ill-fated decision to which you opposed with all of your strength." She projected a record of Phloria asking to abort the mission and wait for reinforcements.
"It was the Professors' choice that led them to their doom.
No matter how valiant a defender is, they can't defend someone from themselves.
Yet even though it was the Professors who demanded to continue the mission, they are not the only ones at fault.
"General Berion and us Royals took the decision out of your hand.
If there's someone guilty among the survivors of the Kulah failure that's us.
Yet ensuring the national security will always be worth a few lives and the horrors that the Odi were about to unleash on Garlen proved us right.
"They had the technology and the means to be a threat even greater than the Undead Courts and if not for that ill-fated decision, we'd have discovered their presence only when it was too late.
"For that reason, Berion shall not be punished and the Crown is not going to apologize for doing what was best for the Kingdom.
"Captain Ernas, the Crown appreciated your personal sacrifice during the mission.
We also appreciated you willingly submitting to our judgment instead of trying to muddle the waters and dirtying state affairs with political plays."
Sylpha's eyes glared at Onia and Kwart for just a few seconds, but long enough for everyone to notice.
"We can never thank you enough for your contribution in bringing down Kogaluga even when your country seemed to have turned its back to you.
For all these reasons, I'm ready to reinstate you in the army with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, if you still want to be a part of it.
"I'm promoting you of two ranks because destroying a lost city would have made you a major, and if not for this trial, I'm sure that by now you would have collected enough merits to rise the ranks of your own." Sylpha said.
"Thank you, Your Majesty." Warm tears streaked down Phloria's face, but her voice remained steady.
"Your words mean the world to me and I've been dreaming of hearing them ever since the day I have been suspended.
"Yet my answer is no.
I've dedicated my entire life to join the army, considering it my second family.
It has always been my dream to earn my stripes as a member of the Knight's Guard, but dreams always end at sunrise.
"Now I've got a new family that needs me and new dreams to pursue.
I will always consider the Griffon Kingdom as my home, but if there's something that I've learned during the past two years is that I don't need to be a part of the army to protect my country."
Orion flinched at those words and his eyes turned watery.
He had fond memories of his little flower playing Knight as a child, wearing the huge uniform of her father and pretending to be one of his soldiers.
He had still a beef with the army, the Association, and even the Crown so what hurt him wasn't Phloria quitting the army so much as she changing her life in a direction where he couldn't protect her anymore.
"Your words sadden me, but the choice is yours to make." Meron stepped forward, raising the Sword of Saefel so that everyone could see it.
"I still grant you the army rank and clearance level of a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the army as a reward for your loyal services.